Week two of teaching my new classes went better than week one. Week one was spent familiarizing myself with my students – learning names, getting a feel for the level of English I’d use in my classes, and trying to get a grasp on the individual personalities of my new charges.
I have 54 students.
I see each student once a week for about 50 minutes (on average). It’s not a lot of time to get to know each person, but I’ve been surprised with how forward many of them have been. The easiest have been the youngest kids. I mentioned in my last post a 6 year old girl apparently very fond of my legs.
This week a 4 year old boy tried to take things a step further by getting a look up my skirt (he failed, for the record). I was sitting on the floor, and our conversation went like this (him speaking Japanese, me speaking English):
Him (Pulling at my skirt, at my knees): “I want to SEE!”
Me (pushing his hands away): “NO.”
Him (grinning up at me): “WHY NOT?”
He tried later again from my waistline, and was also unsuccessful.
It’s times like this I want to stop using English and reprimand the kid in Japanese, but I can’t because his mother is sitting right outside the door, and I’ve been specifically asked not to use any Japanese in these classes because their parents are paying for a strictly English experience. I’m slowly developing a firm, stern teacher persona I have to use with this kid and also with a junior-high school boy I teach later that day.
I’m typically not a stern person, so this is a challenge for me. Thankfully, these are (at this time) my only “difficult students”. Most of my kids are easy to work with and are often pretty funny, too.
This week, I played a game with some of my returnee kids. I wrote their names on the board to keep score. I wrote one boy’s name (Nobuharu) down, and was immediately corrected:
Him: “No, wait, just write ‘Nob’.”
Me: “What? Not Nobuharu?”
Him: “Yeah, just Nob.”
Me: “Do you want me to call you Nob, too?”
Me: “So when it’s in writing, it’s Nob, and when it’s spoken, it’s Nobuharu?”
I have no idea why this kid wants to be called “Nob” on paper (he says it like “knob”, by the way). There have been several moments like this in classes where I have to hold back giggles caused by my gutter-brain. If I burst into laughter I suddenly owe my students some kind of explanation, and I know I can’t provide them with one. I’m sure I’m going to laugh the next time I write his name…but that won’t come until next week!
Fridays are the days I have the class I’m starting to refer to as “The Mob”. Not “mob” as in the mafia, but mob as in a screaming, wriggling, mass of bodies I somehow wrangle into one coherent class. “The Mob” is 6 kids, all age 7 (I think they’re all 7), and they are LOUD. They were comfortable harassing me from day one, and I had to learn quickly how to suck their attention in to what I wanted them to do.
I had to burn off their energy today with “head, shoulders, knees and toes” this afternoon, and was unpleasantly surprised at how winded it made me. Why is that so much harder when you’re wearing tall shoes?
I quizzed the kids on actions they can and can’t do, what they like and don’t like, and even managed to get them to do a listening activity (with CD) today, which my colleague seemed impressed by. I am slowly developing a child lasso, I suppose.
I won’t lie, though – I’m still glad I just have these kids for 50 minutes at a time.
I finish that class and my co-worker always gives me a moment of silence when I exit the room. I won’t be surprised if one of these days he greets me with an army blanket and a cup of coffee to try to take the edge off of the intensity I have just experienced.
They’re great kids. Just…loud. And excited. And they all want my attention. All the time.
I guess I can sum up this week of teaching as another good experience – another learning experience, too. I ended the week by getting some food with my colleague. I asked him: “What do you think is the hardest part about teaching these kids?” His answer:
“Continuing to come up with new things; always being creative about how you can teach the material to the kids, how you can keep them interested and enthused.”
I can already see how that’s a challenge – I’m on the lookout for new games to play with my students, so if you have any ideas, please please please leave a comment or email me! I’d love to try them out!
I’m excited for the weekend – there’s a festival I’m going to check out on Sunday morning/afternoon at Mt. Takao, and I plan on putting together a video. I’m really looking forward to it! Until then!