Here is a collection of advice from your senpai. Listen to them, they have smart things to say!
What I have learned
A Japanese teacher once told me that as a student she was painfully shy. One day she was standing at the bus stop and her ALT, who spoke no Japanese turned to her and asked her a few questions about the schedule. She was able to help him with her broken English and she suddenly realized just how powerful a second language could be. She decided that day to become an English teacher and she is amazing at her job. You might have a huge influence on your students and never know it . Do your best and chat to your kids. ~ Beppu 2010-2015
The most important thing I've learned in Japan is that many times it makes life much easier to go with the flow. Many things in Japan are the way they are because they've always been that way. You will not be able to change it and questioning it stresses Japanese people out because they have no answer, so just relax and accept it for what it is. ~ Bungo-ono 2012-2015
What I will miss
I will miss my morning walk. I`ll miss the silence from the old man around the corner as I greet him. He never did forgive me for shouting at what I thought was a tanuki one dark morning. I`ll miss hiding under a tiled roof as lightning strikes all around me. I`ll miss the blur of elementary school kids and their endless questions. I`ll miss feeling the sonic rush past. I`ll miss trying to explain to a train full of students what the discworld looks like, while they read over my shoulder. I`ll miss racing the deaf salary men up the hill to my school. I`ll miss cherry blossoms getting stuck in my hair and my baseball boys shouting `Friiieeezzzaaa` as I walk past. I`ll miss the snow and the wind and every broken umbrella. I will miss every step. ~ Beppu/Hiji 2010-2015
Festivals and food !!! ~ Beppu 2013-2015
I'll miss my wonderful friends, my beautiful (and short) commute to work, my hilarious colleagues, the best bar in the prefecture (EKAMENA in Usuki of course), rained-out barbecues in the summer, the mutual joy shared with a student who has finally cracked some grammar point or other, my hand-cranked KR shower, Katsudon from Hotto Motto, sneering internally and/or externally at the latest "Chopsticks ne good" , popping over to Miemachi for a booze-up, A frog diving into a pond (plop), begrudgingly paying through the nose for festival food, hoards of raiding crows destroying the rubbish bags left out on the pavement again, the English summer camp in Yufuin (go Slytherin SSSSSSSS), cheap whiskey, the constant rotation of omiyage in the staffroom, English club, trying not to laugh as the kids bully a teacher, the sound of a tree falling in a forest when there's nobody there to hear it, the words of commiseration shared with the JTE after every class with 2:5, bombing up a mountain on my fixie (we do not have mountains back home), collapsing on the ground in agony after bombing up a mountain, monkeys, mind-bogglingly close-minded or just straight up bizarre preconceptions about foreigners, hot mihonshu in the winter, grumbling about the lack of central heating, Damon Graham, Damon Graham, and Damon Graham.
~ Usuki 2012-2015
What I will miss most is the laid back atmosphere of the countryside and the wonderful people who live there. I have never been able to relax as easily as I have in Japan, whether it be onsen, riverside barbecues, or cool matsuri, Japan can be a very relaxing place and a lot of fun. ~ Bungo-ono 2012-2015
Speak slowly and clearly. Sharing snacks in the office is a great way to break the ice. Get a chalk holder and save your hands. Have a game ready that you can play on short notice.
~ Beppu 2010-2015
If you are unsure about something, keep asking questions. Be proactive!
~ Beppu 2013-2015
At work if you have some periods off try going to classes of other Subjects. This will get all the teachers on your side and give you more time to spend with the students in a different atmosphere than English. It also helps pass the time when you have days where you sit and do nothing. ~ Bungo-ono 2012-2015
This may sound counter-intuitive but my best advice is to adopt the motto, "Because Japan." When you first arrive in Japan and start getting acquainted with everything, it's fun and weird and interesting all the time. Eventually you settle into life here and develop a routine, and that's when this becomes useful. Now you know your way around, you know which bottle is soap and which is lotion, you know where you're likely to run into your students outside of school, etc. And yet, there are still things you can not quite explain or understand. Why are there vending machines everywhere? Why did that car just "park" in the middle of the road? Why are people still asking me if I can use chopsticks or eat sushi? Why would they sell soft shell turtle ice cream? Why are my elementary students telling me I'm so young? Because Japan, of course. It's kind of my way of telling you not to sweat the small stuff. This silly phrase became a way for me to laugh off whatever logic was escaping me and carry on embracing inaka life. Certainly, since you decided to try working and living in Japan you're up for adventure and experiencing new things. You'll have days when nothing seems to go right and days when nothing is wrong or especially good but everything is weird, and it's all because Japan! Do not worry, we're all confused sometimes. ~ Taketa 2012-2015
It doesn't matter what it is but always have something prepared. It can be anything. For example I have a famous character guessing game that I can always whip out whenever I need it. Or jeopardy, or even hangman. Ask your fellow JETs for activities you can do. The reason being that sometimes the teacher may finish their lesson early and when they do that they'll panic a little and just throw the class at you. You'll have no time to plan so it helps to have little games you can use with zero prep. Hopefully it doesn't come to that, but be prepared for the worst people!
~ Bungo-ono 2013-2015