Initiation

You know you’re an online journaler when you get random flames from strangers–it’s almost like an initiation of sorts, and this blog has received its initiation today! Go me! And naturally, it’s from an anonymous commenter (on the January 30th entry):

“Congrats on making such a big decision! But, here is some advice: I know you say you get stared at. It’s probably not b/c you are a ‘foreigner’. Slap on some makeup, straighten that hair, and for goodness sake don’t dress like you live in the 90’s. That’s all. Oh, p.s., don’t be so critical of others.”

Awww, thank you, you shouldn’t have! But let me return the favor and give you some advice: get a life and stop trying to belittle the looks of random strangers on random online journals. Do I even know you? Why do my decisions about my appearance seem to bother you so much? And are you so insecure that you have to insult strangers to make you feel better about yourself?

Oh, and PS: don’t be so critical of others. Pot, kettle, black. Idiot.

Anyway…I should post something so that this isn’t a complete waste of space. For example, how I discovered vegetarian ramen tonight, while having a really inexpensive dinner with Lindsay, Hannah, and Nate! And it was good! (They just left out the meat/fish and replaced the usual fishy broth with miso soup.) SCORE.

Another high point this week–I’ve finally figured out a way to teach phonics that the kids really enjoy. It’s all thanks to Lindsay and a book on word sorting based on vowel sounds that she left on my kouminkan desk months ago, the potential of which I’m only now beginning to tap. I have to change it up a bit so that the kids don’t get tired of it, but if I can rush them through this in the next month, before the rokunensei graduate and are thrown headfirst into the rigid, imperfect English curriculum of the Japanese school system, maybe I still have a chance to do them some lasting good. They know a lot more than they let on–somehow, they can read and string sounds together! It’s definitely my predecessor’s doing, but still. Wow. I’ve been so surprised and thrilled this week. Even my Double-Length Class Of Doom was a huge success yesterday.

And speaking of the DLCOD, at the first class this term, one of the teachers had asked me if I wanted to switch around group members. I didn’t really see the point of it, so I just said that no, it was okay. After talking to Lindsay and understanding the rationale for the groups a bit better, though, I did suggest it to the teacher supervising this week’s class. I couldn’t help but feel a really smarmy surge of satisfaction over the fact that the two boys who were passing notes back and forth a few months ago (during one of my phonics lessons, ironically) are now sitting on opposite sides of the room. However, one of the kids, a 6th-grader, is now sitting next to this really, really adorable and shy 3rd-grade boy, and the 6th-grade boy sort of jostles the 3rd-grader around roughly. At least, though, there’s only one more month before the 6th-graders graduate and go to junior high…I feel mixed about it, though, because while he’s obviously bored and can get a little snarky about it, he’s really precocious and definitely the best student in this class, and when he’s challenged, he’s actually a great kid. I think that being in a more challenging junior high setting will do him more good, though the English classes there may bore him a bit. This is the one school that doesn’t feed into my junior high, so I won’t be seeing these 6th-graders after March.

Tomorrow kicks off high school entrance exams for the chuugakkou sannensei (junior high 3rd-years). Hannah’s getting all dressed up (the junior high kids actually go to the high schools to take the tests), and her boyfriend Nick, a high school ALT about 45 minutes east of here, was told to be at school by 7 AM because he wouldn’t be able to find a parking spot otherwise. I really hope my kids do well–the 3rd-years are the most outspoken ones, the ones who come up and chat with me (however briefly, but they do it) in the teachers’ room, the ones who start bellowing, “Good morning!” as soon as I walk through the classroom door…they’re a great crowd and I’m going to miss them a lot. I wish I knew more of their names and a little more about them.

Something I realized recently…there are a bunch of different personality types in these classes. There are the shy and sweet ones, the shy and insecure ones, the moderately social, the ueber-social, the jocks, the smartasses (sorry, Mom and Dad)…and I like them all. Being a teacher completely changes how you view these things. I can very distinctly sort out which “group” I would’ve been part of if I were in that class (the quiet, nerdy ones…however, I think that being a nerd in Japan, so long as you aren’t an otaku, is a far lesser offense than it is in grade school in the US–but I can write a separate entry on that, and probably will later), and which “groups” I would have stayed close to or avoided. But all these kids are just great towards me, and I still can’t really explain why. After school, they all take great pleasure in trying to use English with me when we pass each other, and I’m always getting “hello!”s and “see you!”s in the halls or at the bus stop or wherever. I love it–it’s such a warm and fuzzy thing.

All right, I’m going to go review tax forms, look for my install CDs with the hopes of finding my copy of Adobe InDesign, and get some work done on the playbill design for the musical, before Desperate Housewives comes on tonight. Later!

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