Middle school athletics coach Chrissy Chang spent part of October and November in Japan as this year’s exchange teacher with Tamagawa Academy K-12 & University in Tokyo. While teaching grade 7 boys basketball and a coed grade 8 international baccalaureate class, Chang noticed some of the things that make Tamagawa unique. “Each week, different classes had the responsibility of cleaning the campus,” she said. “Literally, brooms in hands sweeping up leaves in piles, throwing bags of leaves away, working diligently.”
She also noticed that Tamagawa students “were given the responsibility to govern themselves without adult supervision during break and lunch times. Students could check out equipment from the P.E. room and go out and play on the field by themselves.”
Working with the Tamagawa faculty, Chang said, was “awesome,” noting that “the physical education staff were fun and energetic.” She expressed eagerness to welcome the Tamagawa exchange teacher, Nobuya Osawa, in January. “I look forward to the opportunity to show him our great school and area as he did while on my visit,” she said.
During her visit, Chang embarked on some exciting cultural experiences and outings, including a tea ceremony and two “amazing home-cooked meals” by Osawa, who was also her host teacher. She also rode the “shinkansen” – Japan’s bullet train – to Karuizawa, a popular tourist destination, where she “spent a long weekend relaxing and sightseeing.” Later, she visited Kyoto to see a “geiko” (the Kyoto dialect word for “geisha”) and “maiko,” an apprentice.
Aside from the cultural experiences and bonding with faculty and students, the trip also gave Chang some instructional ideas that she plans to work into her own method. “I learned some new teaching practices that I can put in my lesson plans,” she said. “I was able to take some videos and pictures of new ways to teach particular skills and games.”