Where to start? I guess I can rant about the expectations surrounding ALTs anytime, so I will do that at the end.
First I will talk about today.
So yesterday was the beginning of Typhoon Danas. It pretty much went right over us starting last night and it ended around this afternoon.
Yesterday school was canceled because they didn’t want to endanger students by making them come to school in bad weather. Well I would have rather gone to school. I sat in the Board of Education all day where I have no internet, no one to talk to most of the time (everyone is busy running around. my teachers usually have free class periods and we chat then) and nothing to do. I brought my laptop thinking I WOULD be able to get internet long enough to download this application for a project we are doing because I have to translate it into Japanese and it’s taking forever and it weighs on me emotionally. and doing it after school …. well let’s just say I’m too exhausted after school to even think about doing it after I get home. So that was not an option. I also prepared for no internet by bringing two books. A Japanese novel (Hidamari no Kanojo – see last post) and a book on Critical Thinking in Education.
I read Hidamari no Kanojo ALL. DAY. And did nothing else. Honestly I would have used that time to be productive and make things for school but with no internet, that wasn’t going to happen. So I read. I got pretty far into it, and I love it so far. The story is interesting, the writing isn’t very difficult to get through, although admittedly I grew lazy and started skipping over kanji I didn’t know ;p
So that was fun but I would have rather seen my kids’ cute faces and had internet and been productive.
So I was excited about today. I made sure to note the bus times since I didn’t want to ride my bike for 30 minutes in a typhoon. So I woke up extra early to get on my bus. But it looked ominous outside, no one was anywhere to be seen, and I had a feeling we might get another day off. So I waited. And then I looked up the bus times again and found another leaving later that would just get me to school on time. So I left the house preparing for the storm of my life.
After about 10 minutes we didn’t even need our umbrellas anymore. But it was too late. I was going to be late if I went back for my bike. I didn’t even have breakfast and I didn’t have time to run in the conbini. I peeled my eyes away from the promise of not going hungry and trudged on to the bus stop.
When I arrived, a bus pulled up. It wasn’t my bus. I looked at the time schedule. Welp. The time I had seen online was for the WEEKEND buses, not weekday. So basically if I didn’t hop on the bus in front of me for a few stops, I would definitely be late.
I got on, rode it about 2 or 3 stops, and got off. I messaged my JTE and she didn’t answer. I called. No answer. I ran. I ran and ran and ran some more. I got to my school FINALLY and by that time my legs were sore and I was huffing and puffing.
I felt SO stupid. Hadn’t I learned my lesson? Haven’t I taken one too many buses that miss my stop or go the wrong direction altogether? I had planned to take the earlier one, but I was paranoid and thought maybe we won’t have school and then it would be a waste to have gone all the way there. I felt dumb.
But more misery came along. I had class in about 15 minutes, but I barely had time to look at my schedule before it changed a million times. I hadn’t even sat in my seat yet and one of my JTEs came over and told me, “Monica, today you don’t have 1-5, you have class 1-3 with me ok? Second period! Write it down!” I wrote it down. I crossed out 1-5. That meant I had one free period for the entire day.
THEN. Another one of my JTEs came up and told me, “Oh, sorry, so I thought today was Thursday and I didn’t prepare anything for the three classes we have together. Do you have anything prepared that we can do?”
I had read about this situation. JET tells you a million times to prepare for things. That your teachers will never tell you in advanced to do anything, and then 15 minutes before class they will be like, “oh by the way I need a game for this specific grammar point today…”
He saw the look of terror on my face. I was still red from running up the hill. He told me it was ok, that I could just not go to his classes that day. But I assured him that I could come up with something. He let me skip first period so I could have time to prepare something on gerunds. I got to work. I found two activities, a bingo type game that elicits conversation and gets them moving, and the Typhoon game. I thought that one was pretty appropriate.
I was about halfway done finding pictures for the typhoon game. I tried to print off the bingo sheets but the printer wasn’t having it. It gave me errors, said I put the paper in the wrong way, the ink came out badly, etc. I gave up. I was panicking. This Typhoon game prep was taking too long and if they printer didn’t work I couldn’t do the bingo activity. But I didn’t let my glances at the clock deter me. I kept going.
Finally, I had to go to second period. Class was decent. I did nothing. Basically read a few sentences aloud. The kids were bored. Same ole, same ole.
I was ready to finish working on the activities for the last two classes of the day during third period, which was my free period. Again, how wrong I was. My JTE came up and asked if I was ready for class. I looked at her in terror. “I don’t have your class today,” I said. She informed me that when I went to 1-3, that had been switched with 1-5, and I still had to go. Again, terror kicked in. I told her I wasn’t done making things for the next class with another teacher. She looked at my expression and said, “Ok just come for 10 minutes and then you can leave.”
I went. Again, I did nothing. I think I said good morning and asked two kids questions like, “Do you like sports?” and then she let me leave. But the thing is, that’s normally what I would have done anyway. Asked two kids questions, stood in the corner and been useless.
I ran back downstairs and started to finish my activities. I had to print out pictures and most of them were too small, so I printed them off a little bigger, cut them, and then tried to print off my bingo cards again. This time it worked. I sliced them in half and ran upstairs.
Here’s another little thing that adds unnecessary stress to my day: They change the times of classes and breaks and NEVER TELL ME what time I have to be in class. So I was late to class but I walked in and my JTE was like, “Ok class I’m going to let Monica do whatever.”
The bingo game went well and was good practice for the Typhoon game. And let me tell you, they LOVED the Typhoon game. I had found pictures of snoopy, Slam Dunk, Mickey, Mario, Yamapi, and tons of other stuff Japanese 12 year olds generally enjoy, and all of them were doing something: watching tv, cooking, swimming, etc. I don’t feel like explaining the rules right now, but it was a fun game.
I did the same thing after lunch with the last class of the day.
I got to my desk exhausted. I brought Hidamari no Kanojo to keep me busy today but I haven’t even looked at it since yesterday. Tomorrow I think I have a lighter schedule. And one of my other JTEs was really impressed because she heard the classes who had me today talking about class and she asked if we could do the same lesson in her classes.
I am proud of myself. I rolled with the punches and I never threw my hands up and quit. My kids had a good time learning English for an hour, something they don’t normally do. Usually it’s “Ok repeat this sentence 10 times to yourself” or “Write these verbs down 5 times” and they don’t have any fun.
I really want to sit down my JTEs and talk to them. I want to tell them I think using katakana readings over English lyrics for the songs they listen to in class is stupid and is teaching them nothing. I want them to help me out a little by telling me what time class will start and end. I want them to give me a projection of what lesson we will be on when I go to their classes so I can have activities for them if I need to.
I think it’s safe to say a lot of us first year JETs are in Stage Two. I don’t think I’m really in a stage of culture shock. I am not in a “WOAH EVERYTHING ROCKS” high, nor am I in a “EVERYTHING SUCKS” low…. I have hard days, bad days, happy days, and moments in between.
The only thing I can do is keep trying and keep a good attitude.
Let’s all let each other vent, but let’s try to figure out solutions to our problems if we can.
Also: Danas. You didn’t beat me. You tried. But wind can’t knock over a girl of stone.