Thursday, April 22, 2010

first day at elementary...

A new experience. I wasn't sure what I was in store before hand. I never met the staff and I only saw the school from outside. Luckily, it is close to one of my junior highs, on the way really; making it easy to find. On a nicer day, I could walk to school, it would be a long way but the exercise is much needed. I have been fairly out of shape since leaving fedex.

I arrived at the school much earlier than I needed to. In all seriousness, I arrived about an hour early. I didn't know what time class started and thanks to my parents making up that du
mb 'be and hour early rather than a minute late'.... I pretty much had to. Tardiness isn't good in Japan.In America, no one really does a thing about it. Usually just shrugged off.

I got there early and walked into the school. I met some of the staff and somehow I managed to understand their Japanese. They wanted me to move my car and park it in a different spot. Maybe I just might have been reading their gestures much more than the language. Cause in a honesty, I can't speak much Japanese. Still am practicing.

I moved my car, to the wrong spot. Then I moved it again. The Japanese being as polite and humble as they are, still apologized for giving me poor direction. I wish America had a little more humility. It is a good virtue.

When I arrived back in the teachers room, I sat at my desk for a while. Said 'hello' to some teachers. One of the teachers at the school speaks really good English. In the past, when I have encountered a Japanese person who speaks English, I generally talk slow. When talking to her, I was speaking full speed. I wasn't concerned so much about annunciation and pronunciation and slang. That is something I haven't experienced.

I had to know where she stayed in America to know how to speak so well. It was an American accent of course. She spent some time in Southern Idaho, near Utah. Then later in College went up to Port Angeles. She didn't know I was from the north west so when she would say 'I went to Tacoma for shopping'. I would tell her, 'Oh, I was born there and lived the first few years of my life in the city'. Its kind of rare to come across a Japanese person that ends up traveling to the littlier known cities in America. Seattle is probably the smallest city they might visit. LA, NY, San Fran, etc... You get the idea.

The English teacher arrived at around 8:20 and I got to meet her. She is very nice and speaks English well. There was a teachers meeting but afterwards, she gave me a thorough run down of today and a snapshot of the following days. I don't think she knows how much I appreciate this. It is nice to be informed of what is going on before hand. I have had some of this at my other JHS but not this thorough.

Before class, she was curious as if I had any pictures. I had a few that I printed out but my attempts at printing on a Japanese photo machine were less then acceptable. The pictures came out really small.

I then showed her a project I did my first day of school. It is an introduction of myself in some psydo-comic book form. She liked it a lot and then decided that I should make it huge! So we did. We made a gigantic version of it. Which, throughout the day, during my down time colored. The measurements are about four feet tall by about two and a half feet wide and is stitched together with various papers and tape. It was a bit of a puzzel putting it together but I am glad she suggested it.

As far as class went, I ended up helping out with third grade, fifth grade, and sixth. Both the 3rd and 5th were great. The kids are very excited to talk and shoot their hands up as fast as they can when you ask a question.

'Let me try!' Is what you hear from about fifteen kids at once. They are so anxious to tell an answer. A proper answer is sometimes rewarded with a sticker.

As for the sixth grade, for whatever reason they were really shy. Both the boys and the girls. Its kind of weird. As the class progressed, they opened up a lot more. I found that if you can talk to them with something they can relate to, they seriously open up. There were some kids that asked what one of my favorite video games was, so I said 'Street Fighter'. Then I did a hadoken towards one student, they busted up laughing.

Since I have been drawing so much over the past couple weeks, I am surprised at how many different characters have been committed to memory (both American and Anime). After I told the kids I liked Street Fighter, I asked the girl who questioned me 'what is your favorite game?' She told me 'Final Fantasy'. I then proceded to draw a main character from the seventh one in the series 'Cloud'. When I did this, the kids were dying of laughter. It made the class much easier because everyone was much more opening and willing to participate.

Class ran so smooth, it was great. It is a bit different in Elementary. Its not only me and the Japanese English Teacher but also the teacher of the grade in their class. Which does add a bit more variety and sometimes but rarely ever more authority. Japanese kids are really well behaved but they get noisy just like any other group the same age.

What amazes me the most about them, is how similar they are to their JHS counterparts. When lunchtime or cleanup time arrives, they get down to business. Split off into assigned groups with out having the teacher tell them. No one slacks off and everyone pitches in. There is a leader for each group but that is to only make sure the task is accomplished.

If anything like this were to occur Stateside, the moment the teacher leaves a room, kids would just jump around.

It seems to be that the teachers give the kids the chance and the time to get out their energy and act up but when it is time to be formal, everyone follows. It is so different from back home. Sometimes teachers in the US have a hard time just getting everyone to shut up.


As far as lunch went, I spent it with the third graders. Word must travel quick because a lot of kids knew I drew spongebob from some of the JHS students. Maybe it was their older brother or sisters that mentioned this.
Who knows... Or maybe they just really like spongebob.

I think that is about all for now. I am sure there is probably plenty more I could say.


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