Here are a few gems, picked out from a meeting with the English teachers at the high school where I will be teaching. Ah, where to start... How about:
"The kids here don't like English so much. They have a hard time paying attention in all of their subjects"
"I didn't want to be an English teacher. It just sort of happened"
"We have problems with violent students at this school"
"You should be gentle with the students"
"The last TNET (Temporary Native English Teacher, basically the same as a JET ALT, except with generally more experience and less pay) was very strict, but we think she was a good teacher. We want you to be different. Last year, she started to cry in the middle of a lesson, and had to leave the classroom"
"The kids here have ended up in this school, not because they are interested in agriculture or gardening, but because they have nowhere else to go"
"The food at the school cafeteria is horrible. We never eat it. Don't forget to bring a bento on Monday!
"There are many bad students at this school. Try to look at the faces of the students to find the good kids."
I feel as if I am about to embark on a perilous adventure like a character in the movie "Battle Royale", but I'm not worried. I'll do my best, but I know that it's going to be a challenge to reach through to these kids. Of course it would make me really happy if I could teach like the teachers in "Stand and Deliver", "Dangerous Minds", or "Renaissance Man". I'm going to set my goals low to match my expectations, starting with "I will not let the students make me cry and then run out of class". The hurdles are all lined up in front of me, and now it's time to run full speed ahead. To be continued...