Thursday, October 23, 2008

School Visits






Over the past three days I have had one of the most amazing educational experiences of my life! After ten long months of anticipation the day finally arrived for the school visits. On Tuesday we visited Haramachi Junior High School, on Wednesday we visited Haramachi Elementary School, and on Thursday we visited Haramachi High School.

On both Tuesday and Wednesday the entire student body greeted us first thing in the morning with a school wide assembly. The students stood in perfectly straight rows. One of my teacher friends gave a speech each day. Then we took turns introducing ourselves in Japanese. I said, “New Jersey kara kamashita Rebecca Vecchione desu. Watashi was sho-gakko no tokushu kyoiku no kyoshi desu.” I said, “I am Rebecca Vecchione from New Jersey. I am an elementary school resource room teacher.” A student even gave a speech in English to our group. We had a similar experience at the elementary school on Wednesday. Their brass band performed during their welcoming assembly. They were AMAZING! They sounded like they should be playing in a high school! We were so impressed! The students, teachers, and administrators were so warm and welcoming to us at all of the schools we visited!

When we entered each of the school buildings we had to remove our outside (regular) shoes and leave them in a special area in the entry of the building called the gokan. We wore our slippers, but the students in each school had special inside shoes or sneakers that they wore. In fact, all of the students were also required to wear school uniforms to public school. Do you think that it is a good idea to have students wear uniforms to schools? Explain.

Each day we spent most of our time observing (watching) any of the classes that interested us. While I enjoyed all three days of our observations, visiting the elementary school was certainly my favorite. I spent time in every single grade level and a special education classroom. I was able to watch math, Japanese, science, social studies, art, computers, home economics, health, calligraphy, music, physical education, and special projects. In the calligraphy classroom, the teacher set up an extra desk and I was even able to try the lesson myself!

At lunch time at the elementary school and junior high school we joined the students in the classroom. In Japan students eat lunch in their classroom with their teachers. High school students bring lunch from home, but elementary and junior high school students do not bring lunch to school. Everyone eats the school lunch and the students help to serve and clean up lunch. We had chicken, rice, vegetables, and milk. I tried to eat with my chopsticks, but my sensei (teacher) called for a fork! The children laughed. They presented me with a paper flower necklace and gave a short speech. They asked me to do the same. We had a great time together, even if we did not always understand each other!

When the students finished eating they cleaned up their lunch trays and plates. Then they went out into the hallways to brush their teeth. Next, at both the elementary school and junior high school it literarily was “clean up” time. The students with the help of their teacher were responsible for taking care of their school. The cleaned their school top to bottom! They swept the floor, cleaned the floor with rags, cleaned the windows and blackboards, and even cleaned the bathrooms! During the whole time, classical music played throughout the classrooms and hallways and the students seemed to be cheerful. Should we think about trying this idea at Lincoln School? Why do you agree or disagree?

At the end of the school day at the high school, some of the students stayed after school for club activities. On the day we were visiting we were able to watch the art club, jujitsu club, and Japanese archery club. The students really seemed to like these activities.

I so enjoyed visiting the schools and I hope that someday I will be able to make the same experience possible for another teacher!

20 comments:

Mrs. Ribaudo's class said...

Wow! It sounds like you are having a great time! It seems like although there are many similarities between American schools and Japanese schools there are also many differences. How long does it take the students to clean the school? (and by the way - our class does not want to start cleaning the Lincoln school bathroom). Did they let you eat with a fork when you had trouble with the chop sticks?

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Tufano's class said-
Japan seems like a really nice place. The food and the drinks in Japan look the same as ours, especially in McDonalds. The city in Japan looks like NYC. The Japanese schools are nice and clean. Have you seen a Japanese Spider Crab?

Anonymous said...

From someone who cares for a large family, I think it is a wonderful idea. It teaches respect for the school. It is a lesson that will carry over into the home and eventually the workplace.

Anonymous said...

BSI 4th
I think it would be fair to clean your own classroom at the end of the day.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Zevin's reading gr. 2

Can you send us some pictures of Japanese writing? Do the students in Japan learn how read and write in English?

Anonymous said...

Ms. Zevin's reading 2/3
We are glad that we don't have to clean the bathrooms in our school. Do the students in Japan have computers in their classrooms? Do they have recess? How long is the school day?

daniel and said...

We don't think it is a good idea for the kids to clean the school because it is too hard. Also, we would not want to clean up after someone else. How long did it take them to clean the school?

Anonymous said...

Well I think brushing your teeth is good but cleaning the bathroom is not good!!!!

miss niglio's class said...

We're happy to hear you are having a great time. We have a few questions...Do the students have a special room to brush their teeth? Do the children have recess? How long is their school day? We decided we would not like to clean the school.

2/3rd language arts said...

What do the students do in gym? What are they working on in art? Finally, what kinds of books are in their library?

Anonymous said...

Hello Ms. Vecchione,

This is Mr. Williams.

I think the teachers and the principal should wear uniforms, but I should still get to wear a different tie every day. I definitely think the children who go to the school should clean the school. I think we should have great respect for the place we are in and do our best to keep it looking wonderful. Mr. Higgins and Mr. Jones, who are our wonderful and kind custodians, should only have to do the things that are too hard for children, like keeping the snow off the sidewalks and keeping the boilers running and getting ready for big events. They spend too much time sweeping up and wiping tables when there is a mess. I think we should have new school rule: if you help make the mess, then you should help clean the mess, even if it was an accident.
Did you have fun in the Japanese schools?

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Leven's 4th grade

We would like to go to the MacDonald's but we aren't sure about the other foods in the restaurants. About brushing their teeth in school, are there long sinks and faucets out in the hallway? We are glad we have custodians because we would be lazy about cleaning up after ourselves. Do you think the kids are that good in their own homes?

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Mouravieff's class ...We like learning about the schools. We were surprised that the children had to take off their shoes to go in the school. We were interested in the snacks the children ate. We like chips and popcorn. What do they like? We also wondered if they have Boy Scouts and Brownies?

Miss Vecchione said...

Currently, students begin English class in Jr. High School, which starts in 7th grade. In a few years, the Japanese education system is going to change and students are going to begin learning English in elementary school much like we are now starting to learn Spanish in the lower elementary grade levels. Isn't it interesting how out two school systems across the world are so similar?

Miss Vecchione said...

I believe that the average cleaning period was about 20 minutes.

Miss Vecchione said...

I was given a fork when I had trouble with the chopsticks, but I tried my best to use the chopsticks. I got better with the chopsticks during my trip.

Miss Vecchione said...

Mrs. Leven's class, you are exactly correct with your prediction about the long sinks in the hallways. The elementary and junior high schools are all lined with long sinks with multiple faucets. Students use the sinks for cleaning as well as brushing their teeth.

Anonymous said...

Hi Miss.Vecchione,

I forget if you said this already but I got a lot of candy from Halloweeen but do Japanese celabrate Halloween?
Jodi
(P.S When you get back if you still have some Japenese money left could you bring some in for Mrs.Tufano's class?)

Miss Vecchione said...

Mrs Tufano's Class,
As soon as I googled a picture of a Japanese Spider Crab I knew for sure I had not seen one. I did however see many regular spiders that seemed larger than the average spiders we see in NJ. Their webs were huge. I took some pictures of the spiders that I posted online for you to see.

Miss Vecchione said...

Hi Jodi,
People in Japan don't celebrate Halloween like people in the US. Halloween is just starting to become more popular and there are some decorations. They do not have the same traditions that we do. They do not dress up in costumes and go trick-or-treating so there is not a reason to have Halloween candy. However, people in Japan do eat candy.