Vision and Hard Work
by Satoshi Miyata
Keep going, and you will eventually get there.
This is what I would like to write about.
First of all, let me look back to when I was in high school. Unfortunately, I wasn't a diligent student. I didn't participate in any club activities, and I didn't put much effort into my studies. I would go home, sleep, eat, and go to school again the same way the next day. It was very disappointing. I cheekily thought that it didn't matter whether I did or didn't study, and that I didn't feel the need to study. As I entered my senior year of high school and started to prepare for the entrance examinations, I was trying to study to a certain extent, but it was clear that I was feeling tentative.I was able to get into the university of my choice. My university has many programs for studying abroad, however, I had not practiced speaking English at this point because I had been studying English mainly for the exams, memorizing vocabulary and syntax, reading sentences, and writing essays. In my first year of college, I had a native English-speaking teacher who focused on the so-
called four areas of English, so I had a very hard time keeping up with the assignments and other aspects of the class. However, if I were to talk to myself at this time, I would say, "There are things that are clearly different from my high school days". I think I would also say, "You are finding meaning in your studies". Specifically, that university listed the score of the English exam called TOEFL as a requirement for various English-related programs. For example, in order to participate in a special program where you can take classes with international students, you need to have this score or higher, and in order to apply for an exam to study abroad in a foreign university for one or two years, you need to have this score or higher. I don't remember my score exactly, so it’s an approximate score, but when I entered my first year of college, I had probably a 420 on the TOEFL. By the end of my first semester, I had a score of 460. By the time I was a sophomore, I was able to participate in the programs I mentioned above based on my TOEFL score, which was very rewarding. I had been taking a teaching course since my freshman year, and I wanted to study pedagogy and French, which I had taken as a second language, there. The standard TOEFL score for the program was 550, and the exam was to be taken after the summer break, so I had a score of 520 before the summer break, which was still not enough. I asked a trusted professor at my university about how to study for the TOEFL, and he instructed me to analyze my mistakes and why I made them, so I spent the summer vacation in the library from morning to night studying for the TOEFL. As a result, my score after the summer vacation was 583, and I was able to apply for and successfully pass the exam for the study abroad program. At that time, I was able to look at my studies as if I had acquired a ticket for a new journey, something I had not felt the significance of in high school. In other words, learning itself had become a way to expand my possibilities.
Let's move the clock forward. After graduating from college, I became a teacher in a private school and then in a public school. When the students I was teaching at my first school entered the third grade, I decided to do what I could to work with them, and I set out to obtain the French Language Proficiency Test Level 1, which I had been studying for. In a sense, I had acquired English through studying abroad, so I wanted to acquire French through study, and as a result of my efforts, I was able to pass the exam. At that time, I was convinced that "if you do it, you can do it. I would be happy if I could, and that would give me the strength to move on. What I had been vaguely and unconsciously thinking about since high school, through college, studying abroad, and my teaching career, became clear to me. The next school I was transferred to was a regular high school. At this school, there were students with various backgrounds such as truancy, futoko (refusal to go to school), and learning disabilities that they had had since they were in junior high school. As a homeroom teacher, I told the class, "If you do it, you can do it. I always raised this theme in LHR and when I talked to the class. I don't know how much of this was conveyed to the students, but I came to believe that the students themselves could overcome their own problems, even if they were frequently absent or late for English class. I then believe that my job is to provide the students in front of me with the appropriate support that they need in order to overcome their challenges.
In this way, I have formed my own teacher identity. Professor Shinya Yamanaka, a Nobel Prize winner, has two words that he values: Vision and Hard Work. I think that teacher identity can be rephrased as vision. It is only with this that we can do hard work and provide support to our students. Lastly, I want to mention that “vision and hard work” is not only my teacher identity but a basis of my personal identity. As a family man, I would like to tell my children the joy of getting over the challenges and the strength it gives them to move on.