Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Visitors + Influenza Outbreak = An Interesting Day at Elementary School

I guess the best way to spread a disease is in the halls and classrooms of an elementary school! Influenza has been wreaking havoc on the 6th graders at the largest ES in the town. I had the 6th grade class was sent home. I was playing tag with some 1st graders and they expressed their jealousy of the 6th graders leaving school early. I gently explained the “motions” that occur when you have the flu, but they weren’t buying it. graders on Tuesday and in one class, 10 students were absent. Yikes! Today, at recess one entire 6 grade class got to leave school early because of the flu.

I taught the 5th graders today and to my surprise, they were quite lackluster. They didn’t have much energy and they really seemed to despise English class before it started…I’m going with the thought that they all felt sick. Today was a special day in the sense that about 15 people from the lunch center (the people who make lunch everyday) and the Superintendent of Education and the Mayor of Mitake came to my ES to have lunch with the kids. However, due to the outbreak, the special guests had to eat in a conference room.

I will admit to one downside of being a 6 school ALT: the waiting game. Being at a different school nearly every day means that in order to plan for the next class, I’ve got to be ahead of the game and plan it on the day I’m at the school. This is where the waiting game occurs. I rarely ever teach a 6th period (only at the “tough” ES…), which means I have from about 3 to 4:05 to kill until my official work time is over. However, the teachers never fully migrate into the teachers’ room until 4:15 or at the latest 4:45. Let’s just say, I do a lot of sitting and waiting (it reminds me of the Jack Johnson song). Once the teachers are in the teachers’ room, no one will approach the ALT. I’m almost like a hazard to their health or a real evil thing (ok, I might be exaggerating). However, planning is supposed to be a Japanese teacher and ALT process. Since the HRTs are very busy, it’s my job to create the lesson plans and they just follow along. The “waiting game” to talk to the HRTs is quite agonizing, and this is one of the main parts of my job that annoys me the most. I try to be the happy and encouraging ALT, but when teachers aren’t happy to work with the ALT, it makes the atmosphere quite depressing. Oh, I must add, the teachers know they have to meet with the ALT; this is a typical routine they’ve been following since April. I also remind them after class, but it never seems to sink in. Oh well, I guess I felt like sharing some frustrations of being an ALT. On the upside, 1st and 2nd graders get cuter everyday. Too bad I don’t teach them more than 3 or 4 times a year…

HUGE Snowflakes!

Interesting things so far this week:

- One 1st or 2nd grader noticed that my eyes were blue and made the comment that they weren’t Japanese. He then called my eyes scary. Huh.

- At the gym I go to, I haven’t noticed an increase in new patrons, maybe New Year resolutions are bigger in America.

- Being a Type-A person doesn’t work well in the education system. For example: I showed up at an ES and the classes they had planned for me were not what I was previously told. Just a quick trip back home and I was good to go.

- We are in the final trimester of the school year (it ends in March) and I can really tell that the teachers and students are beat. I was doing some team teaching planning for ES and the teachers politely told me not to expect much from the students when I get there (I have them tomorrow). From my inference (remember, the Japanese never say exactly what they mean, they want you to come to the conclusion on your own), they said, “this plan is way too difficult and I don’t think this will work or the students will want to do it.” Yikes!

Drying My Clothes: Always the Adventure :)

1 comment:

  1. The kids here (and probably the teachers too) are dragging as well. I personally blame it on the weather. Foggy, gray, cold. Blah.
    I find it interesting that you like the little guys. Do you find that they require more micro-managing?