Well! This has been an amazing and somewhat terrifying week! I finally have visited all my schools and am creating a nice routine. And I survived a typhoon.
The typhoon was actually one of the worst ones I’ve been in and I’ve been in a few of them. I was drenched by the time I got to school on Tuesday and I wasn’t the only one. Roads were flooding, sidewalks were flooding, everything was flooding. I gave up on trying to keep my shoes dry and just sloshed through the water so I could get to school quicker. We had multiple warnings for evacuations and to stay away from rivers.
Come Wednesday, it’s just REALLY windy. But I had already taken nenkyuu (paid leave) so I decided to clean up my apartment and take advantage of being able to listen to music while I planned lessons. Sun was out and shining Thursday in time for my visit to my elementary school.
I love my elementary schools. Like, absolutely adore them. The kids are great, the teachers love talking with me and the classes are so much fun. The only thing I don’t like… is that the 5th and 6th year classes are ALWAYS on the 3rd or 4th floor of the building. When you have four classes back to back and your teachers insist you go back to the main floor so the students can escort you back to the class is taxing to say in the least. I’m not the most fit person in the world and yes, I will admit that walking up 4 flights of stairs every 40 minutes hurts.
The upside is that I have a fan club at each elementary school. Each school has a group of boys (and girls at one school) that follows me around ALL DAY. They know where I’m going in the building before I do! It’s cute, don’t get me wrong, but when you’re exiting the restroom and there’s a group of 15 some kids standing out there waiting for you… it’s odd. I’ve also been given a nickname by almost all of my classes at all of my elementary schools.
In my introduction powerpoint, I mention that I love Pokemon and that my favorite pokemon is Weaville; however in Japan, that is not its name. Here, it’s known as Manura. So. Guess what the students call me?
I think that it’s just adorable to be honest and encourage them to keep calling me that. Like today when I was walking to my elementary school, I hear this chorus of “MANURA-SENSEI!!!!! HELLOOOOO” And I’m tackled by about 10 kids. The teacher’s I work with at this school didn’t understand why they were calling me that so I had to explain it about 18 times today.
For the junior high school, I only have one or two classes that I’m iffy about, but mainly because one is SUPER quiet (it’s like pulling teeth to get them to do anything; the other teachers agree with me) and the other just doesn’t listen. It was bound to happen though; we all have THAT ONE class. The majority of my 1st year students (7th graders) have great energy and it fuels my lessons. Take my Friday classes for example. I was in charge of creating review activities for the two 1st year classes I had on the previous three lessons they had learned. So, I made two activities, one with high energy, and one with low energy. The low energy one went great. They were engaged and saw it a challenge to complete the entire puzzle.
The high energy activity is another story entirely. They REALLY got into it. Like, REALLY REALLY into it. For the high energy activity, I had various flashcards stuck on the chalkboard. The class had been divided into two teams evenly down the middle. We moved all the desks and chairs out the way and they stood in the back of the room. I would say a word, for example, tennis. One student from each team would have to run up to the board and touch the flashcard for tennis first. If they were the first one to touch it, they would ask the other person, “Do you like (tennis)?” and then the person would respond. This repeated itself over and over again. The girls were fine. They didn’t push or smack their faces into the blackboard. The boys however are a different story. The boys were pushing each other, running into the board full force and at one point, a pair of boys aiming for “rock music” hit the board so hard they recoiled back onto the ground. Needless to say both my JTE and myself were on the floor with laughter. Now, I didn’t see this as a bad thing. Both my JTE (his homeroom was my first class of the day) and the Japanese teacher (her homeroom was my last class of the day) were apologizing over and over again for how loud and energetic the students were and the Japanese teacher even went as far to encourage me to do what my pred did (basically tell them to be quiet/shut up all the time). I had to explain to them though that I didn’t mind loud classes at all. In fact, I liked it when classes are like that. I feed off of that kind of energy. If I see my students are having a good time, then the lesson was a success for me. I did apologize however for how loud the lesson was; I didn’t take into consideration how loud that activity was.
The afternoons are fun, I get to hear all the classes practicing for the upcoming Sports Day, which is this Friday! I want to go out and see what they’re doing, but at the same time I don’t want to interrupt or distract them. Buuuuuut, my curiosity was just too much and I left the teacher’s room to investigate. From my understanding, it was the chant practice for the different teams. At Hokubu, the three years are split into four teams: Blue, Green, Yellow and Red. They do it this way so if all the first years are competing there is still someone in the crowd to cheer for them. I believe I listened in on the Blue group. The MOMENT I walked around the corner to listen every single one of my 1st and 2nd year students in the group (I don’t teach 3rd years sadly) shouted in Japanese “Miranda-sensei! Miranda-sensei is watching!” Many of them waved at me and I waved back.
Their chant was really good! I’m excited to be able to see the other three! From what the Japanese teacher told me, they were all surprised that I had come out to watch because teachers were assigned to teams, to help and whatnot; I hadn’t been assigned anywhere so it was assumed that I would pick a team to cheer with or not align with a team at all. I believe that by me going to see what they were doing, I had aligned myself with the Blue team. After their practice, a flood of students came over to me, thanking me for watching them and I think for joining their team? It was hard to tell because so many students were talking to me at the same time. Soo….guess I’m gonna be cheering with the blue team Friday. But maybe to keep from looking like I’m favoring specific students, try to cheer for the other colors as well.