The training session for new teachers in Kansai District was held Oct. 8-9 2011 in beautiful autumn weather, with an overnight stay. In total, 44 members—31 new teachers and 13 experienced teachers from as far away as Nagoya and Hiroshima—gathered at the Japan Christian Academy’s Kansai Seminar House in Ichijoji, Kyoto.
The participants, including staff, first introduced themselves by showing a piece of paper on which they had written their names and subjects taught, along with statements on such themes as: “My school days”; “If I compared myself to an animal (or a plant) it would be...”; and “In ten years time, the color that would represent me is....” All made memorable self-introductions, using these key phrases. Perhaps because of the power of these impressive introductions, a harmonious atmosphere was created during meals and chats throughout the session.
Next, an Osaka Jogakuin Junior and Senior High school teacher named Inoue Masato introduced six inevitable problems that arise in the field of teaching, such as: “How strict should we be with students?” “Coping with both home and work”; “Developing mutual understanding with guardians who have different values.” Later, during group sessions, we discussed things like what was good about becoming a teacher and what was troubling, putting the answers in various categories. Most were related to such topics as subjects, classes, management of classes, but the experienced teachers brought forward other issues, including school management, facilities, personal relationships between teachers, and separation of work and private matters, from the viewpoint of the whole school and education as a whole, which new teachers barely realized, thus pointing out their narrow field of vision. We had the new teachers’ training session’s first “nabe” (pot) cuisine for dinner, which helped us have a good time talking to one another and exchanging information about schoolwork and club activities.
On the second day, we began with a Sunday morning worship service and then continued the discussion in the same groups as the previous day. The themes were varied, and the group I took part in focused on two topics: “Guidelines for suspending students from school” and “Keeping work and home separate.” Opinions were divided, especially on the subject of “Guidelines for suspending students from school,” but there was a good discussion from various standpoints. Among those opinions expressed was that of a teacher from Kinjo Gakuin Junior High School named Gotoda Noriko, whose words left a deep impression on me. “It is important to stay close to students’ lives not only during their junior and high school days but also thereafter.”
During the last session, we sat in a circle, with each of us telling about what we had learned and felt over the past 24 hours, as a time of conclusion. Finally, a teacher named Sugiyama Shuichi, from Poole Gakuin Junior and Senior High School, led a commissioning ceremony during which individual teachers were commissioned as a teacher to each school. It was a powerful message that “a life of perseverance and dedication based on the message of the Bible and modeled by Jesus” is at the heart of what it means to be a teacher at a mission school. Through this seminar, Sugiyama expressed through actions the “prepared heart of a teacher.”
Finally, I would like to express my deep gratitude to the teachers who served as advisors and to the many other people whose cooperation enabled us to have a productive time of learning. (Tr. SM)
Kirisutokyo Gakko Kyoiku(Christian Schools and Ecucation) No. 649
—Tabata Ayumi, teacher
Hiroshima Jogakuin Junior and Senior High School