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Monday, May 14, 2012

A Bucketful of Salt

So it's been over a YEAR since I started this blog. Wow. Time's been flapping its wings away at a ridiculous pace, it seems. So much so that it's almost time for a whole new generation of JETs to step into the Big J. So, what's my advice to anyone about to embark on JET?

Well, the single biggest piece of advice I would give to anyone coming on the JET programme is this: learn to laugh at yourself. Whatever age it is you find yourself teaching, the inevitable truth is that, for the next year at least, you’re going to be thrust up at the front of the class on a daily basis, forty pairs of eyes watching you, waiting for you to fuck up. And trust me, you will fuck up. And they won’t miss a second of it.  

In my first few months here, I was a little self-conscious about it all. Not understanding what it was the kids were whispering about when they were sniggering amongst themselves, I assumed the worst. Are my flies undone? Have I pissed myself and not realised again? WHAT’S GOING ON. Then one day my teacher pulled me aside, “Err, Jim-sensei… the kids think it’s kinda funny that they can see your phone in your pocket.”

That was literally it. Nothing personal. Nothing to be upset about. Just kids being kids. And once you can get past the fact that even your most innocuous “mistakes” are going to be met with raucous laughter, everything suddenly becomes a whole lot more enjoyable. (You should hear my kids when I try and pronounce their names. Lord). What’s more, if you can laugh along with it all and show everyone that, you know what, you’re actually not afraid of fucking up in front of a crowd, then you might just be able to inspire the same kind of confidence in your students. Lose your inhibition, don’t be afraid to make an ass of yourself and JUST GO FOR IT. Lord knows I never would’ve tried my hand at baseball with a bunch of semi-professional 15 year-olds before.  But now, even though my swing probably isn’t strong enough to qualify me for even a “Good Effort” rosette, I’ve got no qualms in hanging with the Baseball Boys and giving it a shot. I’m Godawful. They know it. I know it. But when you’re laughing so hard you can’t breathe, something tells me it doesn’t really matter.

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