Two years ago, I left Japan for the first time and started to live in Palau. I had never traveled abroad, so it was my very first time to be out of Japan. However, looking at people driving Japanese cars and listening to people speaking Japanese, I started to wonder if I was actually living out of Japan.
I have been teaching Math for two years in Ngaraard Elementary School, where we call inaka in Palau. For two years, I have been thinking how I can make students confident in doing Math when I teach them. In order to do so, I thought of easy ways to explain and what materials to use in classes every day. I tried to take in the good ways of teaching in Palau, without persisting the Japanese way. Using PowerPoint was a good example. By using PowerPoint, teachers were able to save time for writing and drawing figures on the board and use color pictures. As a result, students were able to concentrate more in classes than before.
Moreover, I decided to make classwork by myself, because students concentrated on their work more when they worked on a paper worksheet rather than writing answers on their notebooks. Students studied harder than before and they became confident in studying math.
I’m proud of my students. Students used to call my name repeatedly until they were able to solve problems, which have become my best memory. My coworkers always trusted me and supported me. There were teachers who went back to study at PCC or stayed late at school to prepare for classes, which stimulated me a lot. The other day, based on our principal’s suggestion, we implemented math open class at the school, which was a good experience for us. I hope my school would continue to be active even more.
By the way, one may be surprised to hear that there are no teacher’s license system and employment tests for teachers in Palau. It is obvious that this relates to the teaching ability of teachers. However, as a realistic problem, it is difficult to introduce those systems in Palau, because the number of people who are willing to become a teacher is not enough. Therefore, the Ministry of Education is conducting workshops for teachers to improve their teaching skills and recommending teachers to study at PCC. My colleagues also study at PCC almost every day after school.
Furthermore, through the open classes, I could see many teachers making efforts to improve their teaching skills, while struggling with their students. Through work, I was able to realize the strength of people involved in education. In fact, at the basis lay the wish that they all want to work for creating children’s better future. It was a precious time for me to work with them for the past two years.
I really appreciate a lot of people whom have supported me during the two years. As the day when I leave Palau approaches, my colleagues are talking about my farewell party in Palauan. Most of the time, they are discussing about food, and I will surely miss this kind of atmosphere. I hope to enjoy the “Palauan style” for the rest of my days. (Yoji Tamayama)