It’s pretty standard for ALTs to come up with their own unique introduction game for the first lesson of EVERY class. I decided to play ‘2 Truths and 1 Lie,’ and prepared by drawing and coloring some 30 cards grouped into categories of two things about me that are true and one that is a lie. Things like “I have been to China, I have been to Australia, I have been to Mexico” and “I have been bungy jumping, I have been sky diving, I have swam with dolphins” are statements I say and magnetize to the chalk board, then have students guess which is the lie. Since this game deals with things that are false and somewhat difficult sentence structures, I anticipated some INITIAL confusion. What I didn’t anticipate (although I should have since I’ve been warned time and time again) was that students would be talking through class, walking around in the back, moving their desks to the hallway, sitting out of the window, and basically acting like crazy jungle babies!! ALL of the classes I have helped teach so far are not THIS wild. Only about two or five have had SERIOUS behavior problems. The other three or so are a mix between the talkers and the sleepers. The talkers don’t even face the front, and the sleepers appear to be in immense pain with the most horrendous look on their faces. It’s actually quite funny because really, REALLY?? Is life really THAT bad?? The more classes I do my intro-lesson with, the more I learn about what works and what does not. I also have TOO much free time, only teaching on average 2 lessons a day, so I have a lot of time ponder about what to do with the different classes next time around.
When I walk around school, the kids say “Hello!!” and I say “Hi!!” and then they repeat the way I say “Haa-iii!!” Kids come in and out of the teachers room (even when they should be in class) to talk to me. At first I was going to have a strict ‘no Japanese rule’ but as I quickly found out, the kids won’t understand a word I say if I only speak English. Instead, I usually say what needs to be said in English and then slowly translate it to Japanese. Some kids are super cute and sweet, while others think they’re Mr. Thang, with their feminine haircuts and un-tucked uniforms.
After decades of training myself to eat and drink just about anything, I'm able to say that the lunches are pretty delicious. They’re full course meals with bowls of rice, soup, some kind of meat, milk, and vegetable dish. The first day I tried to make conversation with the kids I was assigned to sit by and wondered why they weren’t up for talking with me or even their peers…and then the bell rang. I guess we only get 20 minutes for lunch and I wasn’t even half done yet!! The next day I nearly gave myself heartburn, swallowing chunks of un-chewed shrimp and rice and still couldn’t finish in time. The following days I JUST finished in time, and now understand why the kiddies don’t talk much at lunch. Hmm, I wonder what today’s lunch is going to be?!?
I haven’t visited any of my elementary schools yet because the man who was supposed to have made my schedule weeks ago still has not gotten it to me. I’m really looking forward to playing around with tiny kids, and working with the teachers at those schools.
What else…oh yes. It’s hot and humid as heck in school, as they don’t turn the air conditioner on until the students leave, and that’s only in the teachers’ room. Besides that, the only other room that has air conditioning is the lunch room, which NEEDS it since speed eating should be the next new Olympic sport (especially if they get rid of softball and baseball!!). I sweat all day long, the other teachers drip sweat from their faces, and the students walk around with hello kitty sweat rags. The way I see it, I don’t care if I reek like nasty smelly sweat if everyone else smells just as bad. The trick is to wear clothes that are airy and don’t draw attention to pit-stains.
Built into the students’ schedules are designated ‘cleaning times’ where they sweep the floors and vacuum the teachers’ room and run around in the hallways. Everyone has indoor shoes and must change into them before walking on school floors. The students stay in the same classroom and the teachers change rooms depending on what they are going to teach next. There is a teacher’s meeting at the start of everyday and I have no idea what they’re saying and when I ask, I usually get a reply “Ummmm I think it is a little difficult to explain...it’s ok.” Good answer!!