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Stuff of Lately

July 9th, 2012 No comments

Nothing especially noteworthy has happened in awhile, but it’s been a long time since my last entry so I might as well just write down a few things about how things have been going lately.

Summer is pretty much in full force now, with temperatures approaching the 30s (that’s like the 80s for you Fahrenheit-minded people out there) and nasty humidity. During some classes I end up sweating so much it soaks through my shirt. Luckily the teacher’s room here is air-conditioned, a benefit not all ALTs get to enjoy (although it’s not on today for some reason). I’ve only used my air-conditioning at home once so far, though my fan has been eating up plenty of juice. Without it things would be pretty unbearable.

The 4th of July of course passed with no fanfare. To celebrate I went with Jack and Lily and a few other Josai students to a sushi restaurant. We could have easily eaten American food at one of the many family restaurants around here but I guess they were going for irony. When I got home Trey called me, apparently suffering from America-withdrawal, wondering where his hot dogs and Budweiser and fireworks were. I of course couldn’t be less phased. I haven’t been in the states for the 4th of July in four years.

This is the last five-day school week before Summer Vacation. Next week is just a four-day week from Tuesday to Friday, and then classes don’t resume again until September. I’ll be asked to come into work though, as preparations for this year’s dreaded Speech Contest are beginning and I’ll be expected to coach the competing students during the break. Unfortunately for them, I’ll be gone for most of the break so they won’t get as much of a chance to practice with their ALT as some of the other students will, but I didn’t come in until September last year either and there seemed to be plenty of time to tweak their performances. Besides, over-rehearsing can be just as bad as under-rehearsing.

As for the students who’ll be participating, we held “auditions” for the second- and third-graders last week and auditions for the first-graders will be tomorrow. I put “auditions” in quotes because almost nobody came. Speech Contest teams consist of two first-graders who do a dialog, one second-grader, and two third-graders one of whom does a recitation and the other a speech they write themselves. Only two second-graders came—the same two boys who worked together and came in 2nd-place last year—and three third-graders, so we only had to cut two people. The low turn-out doesn’t surprise me at all. There’s nothing fun about the Speech Contest—I’m surprised anyone does it at all. If it didn’t look good on a high school application I’m sure nobody would.

Of the two second graders, I was surprised when the one whom I thought was the weaker of the two last year gave a much better reading than the other, so there was no discussion at all among the English teachers in selecting him. That’s “S-” for future reference.

One of the three girls was M-, the one who was robbed of a victory last year but who apparently wants to subject herself to that torture again. I’ve got mixed feelings about that, as while I admire her perseverance I really hate to think of how terrible it will be for her if she loses again. It’s one thing to try extremely hard and lose once, but to come back again and try harder and still lose…I’ll just have to do everything I can to keep that from happening. She’ll be pronouncing those “R”s and “L”s like it’s second-nature. If she’s the one who writes the speech I’ll make sure it’s the best damn speech those judges have ever heard. Unfortunately, I have no control over the other competitors, and if there are five better ones out there she’s out of luck.

The other two girls were Y- and M-, the latter being quite possible the sweetest girl in the entire the school but whose pronunciation wasn’t quite as good as Y-. Y- is a very intelligent, athletic girl who I was surprised to see at the audition because I’d assumed she was devoted to the track-and-field team, but I guess she wants this on her high school application. She’s very serious and not particularly friendly, but I have a lot of respect for her and think she’ll do well. She gave a speech at the graduation ceremony back in March so she’s got some public speaking experience, and from what I heard it was a pretty good speech too. It was a long discussion over whether to include Y- or M- and while I agreed that Y- had given the better audition I refused to say which person I’d cut and left it up to the others to make the final call. I feel bad for M- but in the end I think it’s better for her. She’s a sensitive type and I could easily imagine her crying if she loses, while Y- seems strong and confident and I can’t picture her crying over anything, let alone a Speech Contest. So M- is spared months of torturous English-recitation practice and a potential crushing defeat—not the worst deal ever.

As for the first-graders, I was hoping R- from Team C would want to do it but she’s too busy with other things. She’s joined other club activities and doesn’t come every day anymore, but she still makes it once or twice a week. When I asked her if she wanted to do it she said she couldn’t but knew that a couple of boys from her class were planning to audition. I’m not too familiar with the speaking ability of those boys, but there are two first-grade girls whose English and pronunciation skills are clearly head-over-heels above everyone else and who I think could easily win if they choose to do it. On Friday I had an opportunity to ask both of them about it and neither one was sure but they both said they’d think about it. But they both seemed honored to be asked. We’ll see what happens after school tomorrow.

As for after-school, the “explosion” of Team C has settled substantially and the mad rush of students coming to spend their Kyle-dollars has disappeared, much to my relief. I usually get just two or three students now and the group varies but there are some who come more often than others. There’s a pair of second-grade girls who sometimes come but it’s mostly first-graders. There’ve only been two days in the entire school-year where third-graders came, but I should have expected that, as they’re now the leaders in their respective clubs and fully devoted to them.

There haven’t been as many Team C days recently because the schedule has been strange due to exams and sometimes the students go home early and all after-school activities are cancelled. There was also that Speech Contest audition day, and last Thursday and Friday I was asked to help some third-grade students prepare for an interview test administered by some organization that I guess gives them a credential for their high school applications if they pass. Of the six I helped, I felt that two would easily pass, four were a toss-up, and two unfortunately didn’t really stand a chance. I did the best I could though, giving them as many tips and tricks for responding to English questions even when they couldn’t fully understand them.

As for actual teaching of actual lessons, that’s been going as well as always. I’m currently doing a particularly fun lesson for second-graders on “must”, for which I came up with a bunch of commands and students draw them from a cup and they must do whatever the command is—things like “You must give every student a high-five” or “You must not laugh for one minute.” I give a Kyle-dollar to everyone who does it, so I get a few boys volunteering and then I’ve got to pick students randomly, which I do with a random-number generating iPhone app. It’s exciting and entertaining for the students—especially when someone is forced to sing—but not necessarily for the unfortunate students whose number gets called by the iPhone. Most of the commands are easy and non-embarrassing and there’s only been one time where a girl who was told she must sing the school song all but begged me to let her choose another one. I couldn’t really oblige or it would defeat the whole purpose of teaching “must” so I had another student come and join her. Of course they only had to sing the first line, and I sang with them as well, so it wasn’t so bad for them. I hope she forgives me.

On Friday, K-sensei was too busy to come to his first-grade lessons and they were just going to cancel them and have their home-room teachers do something with them instead, but I told their homeroom teachers I could teach them myself and they let me go ahead with it. So I got to teach completely on my own for those two periods, only the second and third time I’ve had that opportunity, though when I did it last year one of the senior teachers remained to keep his eye on me. This time there was nobody there to watch me so I was truly on my own, but it went really well both times. The students seemed to behave even better than when the JTE is there, and pay extra attention because they couldn’t expect a Japanese translation if I said something they didn’t understand. The lesson was on “how many?” which was simple enough to not have to explain too much, but I did have to explain the game I’d planned. I had just enough Japanese to do that successfully, so it all worked out.

And that’s everything of note recently. I’m flying back to the states two weeks from Friday and I’m really looking forward to it, but I’ll be enjoying the weeks in the mean-time. I start to miss this job when there’s a three-day weekend—I’m really going to miss it when I’m gone for a whole month.

The Explosion of Team C

June 9th, 2012 No comments

It felt nice to finally be back in normal teaching-mode this week, though unfortunately I didn’t have any third-grade lessons.

For my second-grade lesson I had to teach future-tense using “will” and one of the things I did was make a class schedule where we’d all stop and do something at 50 past the hour, 5 past the hour, and 20 past the hour. I started the lesson by teaching them “the wave” like we do in baseball stadiums, and the first thing on the schedule was always to do the wave again. For 5 past and 20 past I let the students vote on three options each, the first being 1- Shout “What’s up!” (the first “phrase of the week” I taught them) 2- Chant “Let’s go!” (second phrase of the week) and 3- Dance “YMCA”. Most classes vote for the easiest thing so it was usually “What’s up!” but one class voted for “Let’s go!” and one totally awesome class voted for “YMCA”. For 20 past the options were 1- Make noise, 2- Be silent, and 3- Sing the school song. The students got a kick out of my singing of the first line of the school song to demonstrate, but no classes actually voted to do it. 5 out of 6 voted to be silent—the least fun option—but I made it funny anyway by shushing everyone who made the tiniest peep, thus drawing laughter which would prompt more shushing. The rest of the lesson was also fun, but it would be too much trouble to explain.

For the first-graders I had to teach “Is he/she___?” and I made a gesture game out of it, where a student would come and draw a piece of paper with a gesture-prompt on it (both in English and Japanese) and have to act it out for the class. Easy gestures included cold, sad, a baseball player, a dog, etc. and more difficult ones included bored, a mother, a geisha, a chicken. The student’s own team would get to make the first guess (every student had a Hint Page with all the gestures in both English and Japanese) and then the whole class would chant “Is he a baseball player?” or “Is she a chicken?” or something, and then I’d either point to “Yes, he/she is” or “No she/he isn’t” depending on whether they were right or wrong and we’d chant that. If their team got it wrong, the other team would get a chance to guess and steal the points, 6 for easy gestures and 10 for difficult ones. At first I couldn’t solicit enough volunteers so I used a random number generator iPhone app to pick students, but when I started offering Kyle-dollars, there was no shortage of volunteers. I gave everyone who tried a Kyle-dollar even if they were completely flummoxed and I needed to walk them through the entire gesture. Some students were surprisingly good at it, but most were clueless and needed help. In any case, it was lots of fun for everyone and had them all using the target language enough times to hopefully have it stick.

But the real story of the week was after school. When I handed out the price list for items from “Kyle’s Shop” (カイルの店) I painstakingly explained to the students that they can come to Team C even if they’re in another club, something they clearly didn’t understand before. I drew a line on the board representing the after-school time, which lasts from 4:15 to 6:00 and shaded the time from 4:15 to 4:30 pink for Team C and from 4:30 to 6:00 blue for their other club to drive the point home that even just coming for 15 minutes was okay and then they’d still have 90 minutes for their normal club. And of course, every time they come they’d be able to go shopping AND get an additional Kyle-dollar.

I was not at all prepared for how effective this pitch would be. On the first day, after having showed some of the gifts and handed out the price-list to just 3 second-grade classes, I had about fifteen students show up to go shopping and get their Kyle-dollar. I couldn’t just hand out the money for nothing though, so I’d ask each student a few questions in English like, “How are you?”, “What did you eat for dinner last night?”, or “What music do you like?” and help them give the right answer before letting them have the dollar. The boys just did their shopping, got their dollar and left, but some of the girls stayed behind and we looked through the Sports Day pictures I’d taken from Saturday.

The next day, after making the pitch to two more second-grade classes, about twenty-five students flooded in and it was a little overwhelming. I had my laptop out for anyone who hadn’t checked out the Sports Day pictures to look through while students lined up to have their brief interview with me to earn their Kyle-dollar and go. This is not at all what I had in mind when I envisioned Team C, and I was already starting to think of ways to fix the situation. Once all the boys had left there were still a decent number of girls willing to stay behind and actually try some actual communication, so at least some of the original intention behind the idea was honored.

But on Thursday, after teaching the final second-grade lesson along with two first-grade lessons, there was just this giant flock of boys crowding in and surrounding the table with the gifts, all eagerly waiting to get their interview over with to get their dollar. Some of the girls who’d been there the previous days just looked in and decided it was too crazy in there to even bother coming in.

But the biggest problem is that some of the boys obviously had far more Kyle-dollars than they could have possibly earned on their own in the few lessons I’ve had with their classes so far this school-year. They’d obviously just gone up to other students and taken Kyle-dollars from whoever didn’t want them. I’d known it was possible that might happen but I couldn’t think of a way to avoid it that wouldn’t be a complete pain in the ass. But this sucks because they’re buying up the best items before any other students—particularly the third-graders because I didn’t have lessons with them this week—could have a chance to. I’d thought that after the first day or two they’d run out of Kyle-dollars even from their other classmates, but on the Thursday they were still showing up with enough money to buy all the best stuff, stuff that should take students weeks to earn enough to buy.

Once the shopping and interviewing was over, only two students remained. One is a first-grade girl named R- who has been at every single Team C meeting since the very beginning, the only student who has. She’s an absolute joy of a person and the reason I didn’t despair of the whole Team C idea even during the weeks when it was only one or two students coming. Her English is still extremely basic but she’s totally determined to learn. On top of that, she’s a pretty good teacher on her own, extremely patient with me when I try to speak Japanese and always gently correcting me when I make a mistake and helping me figure out how to say something I’m struggling to say. If R- were the only person to ever come to Team C it would still be worth it. The other student is a first-grade boy who comes occasionally for lack of anything else to do. The three of us played a game with the “Elfer Raus” cards I’d brought back from my dresser-drawer in America and that was pretty fun, but I left knowing I really need to do something differently. I’m getting a lot more people to come, but I’m still barely getting anyone to stay, and if I don’t fix the Kyle-dollar issue the entire store is going to be sold-out before any of the honest students honestly saving their money get a chance to buy anything.

I had three first-grade lessons on Friday and when I handed out the price-sheet I implored them not to give their Kyle-dollars to other students, and the JTE helped me explain why this was unfair. So when after-school time rolled around, at least none of the first-graders showed up with absurd amounts of cash-in-hand. But the second-grade students who’d been buying all the best stuff still came with their seemingly never-ending supply of Kyle-dollars, I had to struggle to explain to them why what they were doing was unfair and that I wasn’t going to sell them any more items for which only one remained. I also told them that next week’s Team C would only be for third-graders, so that should give those students a chance to buy things as well, and I’ll at least be able to explain when I hand out the price-list that they shouldn’t be giving their Kyle-dollars to other students and if any of them showed up with more money than they could have earned on their own, I won’t sell them anything. Just to be sure, I’m going to start making students write their names on the back of the Kyle-dollars when I hand them out and they won’t be able to use any Kyle-dollars unless their own name is on them.

But at least the week ended on a high note, as R- got three of her friends to stay and play a card-game, the same game we’d played the day before and which she really liked. It’s a game called “Dötsch” (I’m unsure of the spelling because it’s just a dialect-slang) which roughly means “stupid” or “fool” but for which the Japanese have a word “baka” which actually translates much better. So we called the game “baka” and spent an entire hour playing it. It felt surreal and pretty cool to be playing a German card-game I used to play as a kid with my grandmother and cousins with a bunch of Japanese schoolgirls who totally loved it.

At any rate, this was a milestone week for Team C and it came with many pros and many cons. Starting next week, I’m going to attempt to do what I’d had in mind for Team C ever since I thought of the idea and bring in a sign-up sheet for each day. From now on if students want Kyle-dollars they’ll actually have to stay and communicate (even if that just means learning a card game and playing for fifteen minutes) and not just answer a couple of questions in English. I’ll have six slots per day, so students in their groups of friends can find a day available and plan to come then. Anyone can still go shopping, but only those who participate in the communication activity will get the Kyle-dollar. Had I done this earlier nobody would have signed up, but with the gift-shop/Kyle-dollar element it stands a much better chance. I’ll make an exception for R-, the Original Team C member, who is always welcome to come and join even if all the rest of the slots are full. She’s earned that privilege.

There’s no doubt that the gift-shop idea has given Team C a much-needed boost in participation, and hopefully once I get a few more of the kinks worked out I’ll finally end up with something close to what I’d intended with the idea in the first place.

Categories: Personal Tags: , , ,

Back On Semi-Solid Ground

May 23rd, 2012 No comments

After a week of sailing and horrendous amounts of flying I’m back in Japan and back at work. The trip was mostly a fantastic time, with just a few little things having happened that I’d rather hadn’t happened, the most significant being the premature death of my camera which took an unplanned swim in the salt-water on my second night there. I’ve yet to determine whether all the pictures from that first day are gone or if the memory card still functions, but I’ll need to buy a whole new camera before I figure that out and I have to wait until I get paid first.

I also find myself extremely busy back at work, which is actually a very good thing otherwise I’d really have to struggle to fight back sleep. The jet-lag still has ahold of me and I know I’m not all there in my head, but luckily my first few classes have been speaking tests so I haven’t had to do much by way of actual teaching, and the small time I have spent in front of the classes has gone pretty well so far. It feels as nice to be back among my students as I’d hoped it would, and indeed after this first day I almost feel as though I hadn’t been gone at all.

But as it stands I don’t know when I’m going to have time to get around to writing the obligatory blog entry about the sailing trip, and as of now I have no pictures to accompany the narrative anyway. Gerry and Rob should be sending me the pictures they took but that could take awhile. I’ll get to it eventually, but it might be extremely late.

There are only two things to mention about today at school. The first is having returned with a full beard after several months of clean-shavenness. Only a few teachers commented on it and the students’ reactions were unreadable. They were all third-graders so they remember me with a beard, but at this point I don’t think they expected to see it again. I got the feeling that while many of them didn’t like the change at first, after getting used to the clean-shaven look they now feel I looked better that way. I think I agree with them. I certainly looked younger without the beard, and now that I actually am getting old I see no reason to make myself look any older. So the facial-hair resurgence is sure to be a brief one, and I plan on playing with it a bit before making it disappear completely.

The other thing has to do with a favor I asked my mother to do while I was on the sailing trip, which is go shopping for cheap little presents to give to my students as rewards. I’d originally envisioned giving students points as little stamps on a grid in a notebook page I’d given them and giving a prize whenever anyone reached 20 points. But since the gifts my mom bought vary so much in value I decided to adopt a different idea that K-sensei had told me another ALT he’d worked with had used. I found a program online to put a picture of my face on a dollar-bill, and this morning I printed a bunch of sheets of these “Kyle-dollars” (14 to a page) and cut them up, so instead of giving points I’ll be giving fake dollars and letting students buy the presents whenever they feel like spending them. They can buy the cheap stuff right away at 1 or 2 Kyle-dollars, or save up and buy the better, more coveted stuff for upwards of 10 to 15. For 20 dollars I’ll let them go through my music library and burn a CD with songs of their choosing.

One Kyle-Dollar

So far the students have responded with a pretty good level of excitement to this, and I think it’s going to be a great tool to motivate them. I gave one Kyle-dollar to everyone who got perfect As on the speaking test today, which was the vast majority of students because they were clearly trying hard. Some students were already clamoring to buy some of the gifts, but I’ve yet to make a firm list of what the prices will be.

In any case, once students catch on to the fact that they get 1 Kyle-dollar for every time they come to a Team C meeting, I’ll hopefully get some more participation there. I really just want to go straight home after school today because I’m exhausted (though I’m still determined to go for a run) but I’ll be showing up to Team C anyway to talk a little about my trip and play a quick card game I brought from home before heading out.

Unless something of interest happens in the mean-time, my next entry will shoot back to the beginning of the sailing trip over a week ago, and depending on how detailed it looks like it’ll end up being I may break it up into several parts. I don’t envision going into too much detail about it, but I almost never do and wind up writing novellas anyway.

One thing I will say about sailing—it wasn’t hard to get used to the feeling of constant motion on the water. With all the seismic activity around here it hardly feels like solid ground anyway.

Categories: Personal Tags: , , ,

The Original Team C

May 3rd, 2012 No comments

My last entry was titled “Who the F*** Am I?” both because that was the central question I was asking myself in the entry and to serve as a warning to some of the people who read this journal that they probably weren’t going to like that one. I don’t like it either, and now I’ve taken it down. Regular readers have already read it so they know what happened, but it doesn’t need to remain part of the public record.

I mention it now because after a few days of pondering I’ve come to a solid conclusion regarding the question it posed. I realized that now that I’ve done what I did that night, it’s no longer something I feel I can’t do. I’ve been to dance clubs many times (especially considering the fact that I hate them) and until recently I’ve never managed to attract the interest of any of the women there, let alone dance with them. That always made me feel like there was something wrong with me, that I was somehow less of a man. But now that I’ve managed to do it, I’ve realized that actually makes me feel like less of a man—at least less of the kind of man I want to be.

And that’s the conclusion I’ve come to. Now that I know that I can be that kind of person, I can choose not to be. And these past two days at school have solidly reinforced that feeling to the point where I don’t see myself ever engaging in that kind of behavior again. As I said, it seemed like I was a different person during that whole experience, and I didn’t like who I was. When I’m at school in the role of a teacher, I like myself. That’s the person I want to be. And that person is nothing like the guy I was on Sunday night.

It’s Golden Week, so there were only two days of school, and I only had two second-grade lessons each day. I thought I had strong material going in but as usually happens, every little flaw in the plan gets revealed the first time you try to execute it, and unfortunately on both days the lessons were back-to-back so I didn’t have time to fix it until I’d already done two sub-par lessons that first day. But on the second day I’d changed my approach to the presentation phase and simplified the game phase, and the lesson was a smashing success of the highest order. The kids not only seemed to solidly learn the grammar point I was teaching, but had an absolute blast doing so.

All four of those lessons were with To-sensei, whom I’ve now fully proven myself to. She was the one who started off by taking half the lesson to herself as a typical boring English lesson and only bringing me in for the game at the end, but after showing her that I could do the whole thing from warm-up to presentation to activation, when it came time to plan next week’s lesson she just trusted me to put the whole thing together on my own. The same goes for the other JTEs, so any fears I had about the replacements not letting me teach to my full potential have now completely subsided.

The other major milestone of the week was the beginning of my after-school activity, the Communication Club, or Team C. When I went to English Room 1 after school on Tuesday, I had no expectation that anyone at all would show up. When I introduced it in front of each class at the end of every lesson last week, I didn’t get the impression that anyone was interested, and as most of them are in other clubs anyway I figured I’d probably have to keep reminding students after every lesson until one or two finally showed up.

But on the first day, three students actually showed up: two second-grade girls and a first-grade girl, which was surprising enough as it is because I’d also assumed only third-graders would feel confident enough in their English to try and practice with me. But it turned out not to matter much because most of the time was spent speaking Japanese anyway. I started by practicing self-introductions, starting with me saying whatever I could say about myself in Japanese, and asking the students to correct me or help me figure out how to say certain things like, “I like to ride a bicycle.” When I asked them to practice introducing themselves in English, they first had to write it down on a piece of paper before they felt comfortable enough to try it out. I gave them some gentle corrections, and got a bit more comfortable myself as I recognized the similarity between this and the kind of small-group teaching I did in Germany. Just as I’d hoped, those three years were adequate preparation for this kind of thing.

I’d brought my laptop with all my pictures, and when I reminded them I’d lived in Germany for three years I was able to show them pictures of Hannover, which they really enjoyed. That also gave us an opportunity to learn some vocabulary words from each other, like the words for “church” and “power plant”. When that was done two of the students decided they were finished for the day and the third was ready to leave as well, so that was the end of the first ever Team C meeting. It lasted about thirty minutes.

Incidentally, one of the second-grade girls, M-, is actually a student I mentioned in my entry about my first day of teaching. She was a first-grader then, and in her self-introduction paragraph all the students had been instructed to write, her last sentence was, “I long for the good old days” which really stood out and I got a real kick out of. Because of that she’s one of the first students whose names I learned, and now she’s one of the first students to come to Team C. Turns out she’s just as cool and pleasant of a person as I’d imagined.

When I went yesterday afternoon, I again figured nobody would come. It was raining, it was the last day before a four-day weekend, and I figured the three girls from the previous day probably wouldn’t be back for awhile, if ever. But all three of those girls came back, and one first-grade boy joined us as well. I started off by asking them to write their names in Kanji and see if we could figure out their English meanings, but that proved too difficult even with my iPhone program to identify kanji. I then just went around and practiced the most basic Questions & Answers like, “What’s your name?” “How old are you?” and “What are your hobbies?” which allowed me to teach them (or at least remind them of) important English phrases like, “years old” and how to properly say their full birth-date in English. All four of them were born in 1999, which is crazy to me. I was already in high school, already in the full midst of my Aimee-obsession, when they came into the world. Man, I’m old.

But I also asked them what their favorite bands were, and when M- mentioned Gorillaz I felt slightly less old. Gorillaz are one of my all-time favorite bands and have been ever since college. Still, it’s weird to think she was just a little baby when their first album came out.

Once I felt we’d done enough straight-up conversation practice I busted out a deck of cards I’d made for the special needs students at the end of the last school-year, cards with pictures and names of all kinds of simple things like days, months, numbers, colors, etc. Each card had a pair, so the easiest game to play is “Go fish” which we slightly changed to “Go fishing” because they’d heard that expression before and when I came to think of it that’s actually what you say in real life. But it got them to practice the “Do you have…?” phrase as well as brush up on English names for dates and colors and such. They enjoyed the game even more than I expected them too, which was great because other students from other clubs kept coming in and out of the room (students were keeping their bags in the room because it was raining and sports teams were practicing indoors) and when they saw us Team C people laughing and having a great time, it made me hopeful that more of them will warm up to the idea of coming in the future.

I ended it when the game was finished at about 5:20. That meant we’d been there for over an hour, but it hadn’t felt like it at all. I’m technically off work at 4:15, but it’s not a bad way to spend my free time. And I’m getting more valuable Japanese-speaking practice than ever.

We’ll see how things develop, but I’m happy with the start it’s gotten off to. K-sensei explained that most of the students are in other club activities and they don’t feel comfortable asking their coaches to be absent for a day to do Team C instead. I explained that students could just come once a week or once a month, however often they wanted, and K-sensei said he needed to bring up the subject with all the teachers, so perhaps he’ll do that at the next teacher’s meeting. Again, I’m incredibly lucky he’s here this year. To have somebody else who believes in the idea is invaluable.

At any rate, it was nice to get back into my comfortable teaching-shoes after the insanity of the weekend. As a whole, my entire experience in Japan so far has been one of discovering the different kinds of person I’m capable of being. I don’t have to be everyone I’m capable of, but a good teacher and positive influence on young people’s lives is definitely someone I’m happy to be.

Categories: Personal Tags: , ,