Thursday, April 19, 2007

Making lemons into lemon shake-ups

As this school year begins for new teachers and new students, remarkable changes have already occurred. It is difficult to express the environment that now exists at the high school. Here is my top 10 list of "New Year, New Chatan"....

10) Japanese is minimal in my classroom. And that is great! The new teachers are willing to speak slow English so students understand instead of constant translating. It is amazing how much more students will pay attention when I am speaking and when I am flapping my arms and jumping back and forth from desk to desk to demonstrate a game.

9) The first years are apparently the spawn of Satan. The teachers have had emergency intervention meetings about their behavior already and I have seen numerous students sitting with their teachers and parents getting yelled at. The punks don't particularly bother me, but I have brought out "Ms. Dorsey" a few times, including intercepting flying objects and newly-formed paper swords. Apparently, the old finger wave "give it to me" is international. Hey, if the teachers don't control their classrooms in the first few days, they're setting themselves up for a long year, especially with these urchins. I'm just helping. I hope they see it that way. But, with that said, apparently being rambunctious and unacademic means you are much more willing to interact with your ALT and speak some actual English, even if it is inappropriate.

8) There is no snorting. NONE! NO SNORTING! Do you have any idea how much better my days are now? I sit in relative peace with Takako and Seiko and rarely any other teachers. In fact, I am almost completely alone now. It is quiet and I can enjoy my morning cup of coffee without sniffing, snorting, and sucking noises. Fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. The only thing that breaks my zen moments is the ringing phone behind my head that I can't answer and instead a teacher from a different department comes flying out of nowhere and sprints to answer it with a breathless, "Eigo desu." All I can say is a meek "Gomen."

7) Teachers are trying to really challenge the students with real lessons. No one has told me to play Jeopardy to fill the time yet. I have already had some very successful classes thanks to the sensei enthusiasm and really working to make English very understandable. I was worried about one new English teacher who seemed very frazzled speaking to me and he basically just said that he wanted to work on introductions with a bunch of kids that already know me. I could barely understand his English and thought the whole thing was going to be a gigantic flop. Instead, this dude turns out to be the craziest, most high-energy teacher that exists at Chatan and we had a blast with all the "bad" girls who I happen to enjoy.

6) I have a real class that I am semi-responsible for. I am the substitute 3-2 homeroom teacher (easily the best class in the school... same class that did the turtle kicking skit) and a new class was actually formed just for them to learn more oral communication stuff. I teach it with Seiko twice a week and I also see them in their reading and eiken (practical English) classes. And I am getting a homeroom shirt, so now I feel like I am an actual teacher on some days with actual consistency. Plus when the girls have to clean the staff office, they have to report to me and say, "Finish." I love the power of being able to say, "Okay. Good job. You can go now." Great class.

5) No snorting.

4) The new teachers are fairly fascinating folks. Last weekend at our Eigo party, I discussed the electoral system, the death penalty, life in Kansas and New Orleans, etc. It's nice to have people who want to discuss things other than how the weather is and all that normal monotonous Japanese conversation stuff. One teacher wears dresses in distractingly bright colors made of some crepe material every single day and by the end of this year, I will find out why.

3) Speaking of weather, spring/early summer is here and I'm sure full-on summer is not far behind. The nice breeze and sunshine gives a nicer feel to the day. Although the pouring rain days have also increased. Plus, knowing that I only have three more months has also helped with getting out of bed in the morning.

2) I have found a partner in crime. Seiko is more than willing to give me the "it's okay if you leave a little early for lunch..." when I'm wasting away at 12:30. And last night we had a teacher's welcome party that was basically some food, 30 newbie speeches, and a short "Do-Re-Mi" performance by the new male teachers. After about 15 speeches and the quite hilarious skit, I got the "let's-bust-out" head nod and we were out nice and early. It's ballsy and I admire it. Completely non-Japanese.

1) I am content. So far I have been the epitome of pleasantness to everyone. I am still reading excessively large books and doing crosswords on my downtime, but I feel less like growling and more like smiling these days. I honestly think it is related to the snorting. When I am being cooked alive in the metal barracks in a few more weeks, then it might be a different story... The bubble is guaranteed to burst at some point.

And that's my last two weeks in a nutshell. Do I have 10 things in that list? Don't want to look foolish. (Ahem.)

In other excitement, last night I woke up suddenly at 4 am and figured that I just had to pee or something and then as I was sitting up, my building started shaking and the windows started rattling. It only lasted about 10 seconds, but I was seriously freaked... my first earthquake! The dogs of the neighborhood started barking as a result and by 8 am, I was thinking that I just dreamed it all. I looked online and apparently yesterday that were really strong earthquakes off of Okinawa (over 6 on the Richter scales) and tsunami watches for Miyako Island (going there in a couple weeks). I didn't feel those big ones, but the report said there would be more aftershocks. At least it verified that I'm not crazy and having earthquake dreams.

1 comment:

Juhi said...

point 5 made me roll on the floor laughing :)
am so glad to read that you are happy... :)