Teaching English at Elementary school is one of the most challenging and most rewarding experiences on the JET Programme.
Preparation, preparation, preparation
Preparation is the most important factor to making Elementary lessons go well. Having pre-prepared teaching materials is a must, as is having some kind of meeting with the JTE before the class starts. The more time you spend discussing the lesson plan the better the lesson will be.
Always start Elementary lessons for any grade with some kind of warm-up. If you jump straight into the lesson material then the students can be a bit cold. The idea of a warm-up is that you can set the atmosphere for the rest of the lesson (i.e. fun!) and get the blood moving.
For lower grades (1st-4th) this means something to get them moving like a song and dance or the TPR warm-up. Higher grades (4th-6th) can sometimes be a bit shy about dancing around and making a fool of themselves so something where they have to use their brain is sometimes better, like the Finger counting warm-up.
Discipline should really be the responsibility of the JTE, and it's useful to keep it that way. If you start getting scary with the kids when they step out of line, you can ruin the class atmosphere. Try and leave discipline to the JTE (who knows their class far better than you) and you can associate yourself with just the fun side of the lesson.
When you're getting the class to repeat after you and you want to coordinate them so that the repeat all at once, the magic word is "Seh, no!" (せえ、の！). Say this phrase and the class will magically start all together and in time. Another expression that Japanese teachers use is the slightly longer "Seh, no, san, hai!" (せえ、の、さん、はい！) or just "San, hai!".
If you want to remove as much Japanese from the classroom as possible, you can substitute this for a "One, two!" with the same rythmn.
A nice and easy way to end an activity and get the kids to sit back down in their seats is simply to shout out at the top of your voice: "10... 9... 8... 7... 6... 5... 4... 3... 2... 1!" The kids will usually understand what you want of them without any explanation because homeroom teachers tend to use this technique in Japanese too.
A new text book called "Eigo Note" is being used in some Elementary schools. Here are some English translations for the teacher's guides:
As much as possible try to talk to your JTE about how the lesson went. if language is a barrier, then you might be a ble to try the Feedback Form (in Japanese).
See more information about how to get started at the Central Wikia tutorial.