Mellen (absentmammoth) wrote,

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oh, being a teacher means teaching stuff?

so today was my fourth day of work at the school, but my first day of actual teaching. it was actually a relief to be doing what i felt like i was hired to do, rather than sitting around the teacher's room looking like a jerk. i'd been eating lunch with the kids, but i hadn't really had a face to face introduction and they had all been really shy about talking with me. now i feel like i'm moving into better territory with them, as well as with the other teachers. i did do a lot of prep work, and even though classes didn't go perfectly, i made it clear that i'm not lazy or totally incompetent.

having done all the things for class the various teachers asked, i was actually way over prepared for the amount of time classes lasted. each period is about 50 minutes, and i had enough stuff for a good hour and a half, even if i'd needed to change something at the last minute. my first class (ever!) was with the three handicapped students, who are absolutely precious. i showed them pictures of my home and family, and they introduced themselves to me. we had just a little time left at the end, so the teacher decided we should sing the alphabet song, which i was told they knew. turns out starting from the letter "L", there is a variation of the song that doesn't change the tune, but slows down the LMNOP part, and then the whole song is the alphabet instead of the "now i know my abc's..." bit. the other way is burned into my mind so heavily, i couldn't sing it for you even if i tried. it was nice to spend some time with these kids though, and they're really endearing. during their free time, one of the two girls came over to my desk and talked with me, and we drew a picture together in her art book. that was one of the best parts of the day.

i had the ichinensei (first year jr. high aka 7th grade) class next. again, i had way too much material and we only got through part of what the Japanese Teacher of English (JTE henceforth) asked me to prepare. It was nice to get an idea of where the students are on their english levels, because before today i had no idea. they've got some basic english, and they know the more "ritual" phrases, like "how are you", "what is your name", "what's your favorite..." but phrases like "raise your hand" and questions like "do you think..." are not in their command yet. tomorrow i'll be working with the ninensei (second year) students, and they should have more english under their belts, but the only way to really know their level is to just get out there and see how their class works. i've revised the lesson so it should work better for tomorrow. it was good to really get some bearing on how this stuff all works. i'm actually a bit more confident that i can do this well (and i think probably better than the JTEs). and that makes me happy.

lunch today was with the ninensei, and i finally got the question they always ask (i'm amazed it took 3 days!), if i was married. i answered with "mada kekkon shite inai..." which is "i'm not married yet" and the same kid asked "shojo desu ka". i replied first in english with "that's rude" (even though i knew they wouldn't understand's the english tone that mattered) and then said in japanese "watashi no himitsu desu" (that's my secret) to which there were gasps and giggles, because they didn't think i would know the word for "virgin". sadly "that's my secret" is the closest to "it's none of your business" that i know in japanese. still, at least these kids talked to me, and i expected this sort of thing, so no worries there really. i got a kick out of it. besides which, i know the answer and they don't, hehehe.

at the end of the day, it was sports festival practice (in the gym because it was pouring). i went with the girls for the first period of practice, and they did a ridiculously complicated dance i couldn't even pretend to keep up with. second period they worked on racing a version of a three-legged race where the whole class is tied together. watching these kids fall all over the place was hilarious, though i'm amazed from some of the falls that no one got seriously hurt. they'd never do this on a wood floor in america...japanese kids beat themselves up hella good. the teachers also touch the students a lot more than you'd find in an american school, chasing them about, bopping them on the head. and the students actually go up and hug the teachers, or punch them around to get punched back in return. so far i've just had my hand held (by the same girl who i drew pictures with), but i'm less likely to get the punches because i'm a girl. thank god.

i also recieved an email and a phone call from my japanese little sister ryoko. she's visiting with her parents in nagano-ken right now, but she'll be back in tokyo before school starts. i'll probably visit her on a long weekend or something like that. when mom and kath visit too, we'll probably stay in tokyo a few nights, so we'll all visit her then. while we may not be the super closest buddies, it's nice to have at least one more japanese friend in japan, and i'll enjoy visiting her for the first time instead of the other way around.

at the end of the day, just as i was about to depart into the pouring rain, i got a wonderful email that 'sploded my heart all the way out with goodness. sorry i forgot to call you love! i'll remember tomorrow for sure though. glad you made it up okay. setting an extra alarm never hurts, hehe. on top of having the day wrong (for some reason i really thought it was tuesday), i was also out of the house buying more cheap engrish shirts (my neighbor and i went to the grocery store for some bread, and you have to walk through the department store sales to get into the market...we couldn't help it!) i bought three shirts for 750 yen (about 7 dollars), and their great. i think they are maybe the best thing ever. kelly proceeded to make an awesome dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup, the perfect rainy day dinner. we watched an episode of cowboy bebop and chilled out.

now it's time to go to bed. all my work for tomorrow is ready, so i can relax. except for forgetting what day it was, i had a really fulfilling, even fun day. all's well.

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