Mondays for me are probably the toughest and it has nothing to do with it being the first day of the work week. The school is an elementary one and it’s the furthest one away out of the four that I go to. I have to leave early, transfer trains around three times and walk for about twenty minutes to reach it. The first few times I was going there I got lost several times but I finally got the route down. It is also the school I go to the least due to national holidays usually falling on Mondays. This is the lovely view I get to start off my week:
If distance was the only problem with this school, I wouldn’t even be whining about it. The worst things here are the asshole kids. In almost every school you will run into kids who just act like dicks during class, that’s a given. Here though, there are tons of those kids lurking in my 5th grade classes. It’s as if the worst kids were just dumped in my classrooms. I’m not exaggerating. Normally my patience is above average but these kids really test it; I usually want to throw a kid out of a window every Monday or bash his head on the desk. It’s that bad.
Luckily for me, I only have to teach 3 classes: 5-1, 5-2, and 5-3. Here’s a little rundown of each class.
5-2 is by far the worst class out of the three. It’s usually my first class to teach on Mondays. There are about 15 asshole kids out of the 40 I teach in there. These kids simply talk loudly during class, interrupt my talking with random bursts of yelling, or mock my English. There is this one kid in particular that really gets me pissed off; I call him The King of Assholes (KOA). KOA usually leads the charge when it comes to interrupting and it sucks because kids still find him funny so of course he’s going to keep trying to get attention. Unfortunately 5-2’s teacher is a pushover and no one ever listens to him, which is why there is no control in there. I tried to discipline them early on but I eventually gave up since they are a lost cause. I can only count a couple of kids that are somewhat interested in my class but they are drowned by the apathy and rudeness of the rest that they hide their interest.
One day was really bad that we spent around 15-20 minutes trying to learn the words for that day. Eventually, Pushover-sensei stopped the class and talked to the class for around 15 minutes about their behavior. Then, 5-1’s teacher came in and then screamed at them for another 10 minutes. Here I was, standing in the middle of the classroom for the entire thing. Afterward, class ended but before they could leave, Pushover-sensei said “Now, let’s said goodbye to Diego-sensei”
Everyone (weakly): Bye, Diego-sensei.
God, so awkward. Ever since then they haven’t gotten as loud as that one day and 5-1’s teacher comes in every 10 minutes or so to keep them in check. Still, nothing gets done. My mind simply shuts down and I just plow through the entire lesson, ignoring all the random hijinks that surround me. I know it’s bad to do it but I really don’t want to deal with it.
5-3 is the average class. There are still some asshole kids in this classroom but there are only around 6-7 as opposed to 15. Still, this is much higher than out of any other of my classes that I teach. However, there are noticeably more kids that are eager to talk to me outside of class. During class, not so much. While interruptions continue during class, 5-3’s teacher actually has some power over the class and will discipline any kid who gets out of line. It works for awhile, but they soon go back to their dickish ways not too long afterward. Unlike 5-2, I know a decent amount of the students there. These include:
Fishman: Fishman is kind of a dickish kid but he doesn’t interrupt my class and follows along so I don’t really mind him. He basically hounds me with dirty questions like “What does penis mean?” or “How do you say big dick?” One time he grabbed my junk and said “BIG.”. Anyways, the first day I met him he told me he liked to fish. “Fish, fishing-u!” he would say while gesturing holding a rod. I asked him what he liked to fish and then he said “Fishman.” I don’t think he knew what he was saying or I didn’t understand it but it stuck. Whenever I would get annoyed at him I will tell him “Shut up, Fishman.” Soon I just started calling him Fishman. Every time I see him now, he points at himself and says “Fishman”.
Sass: Sass loves to mess with me. I didn’t notice it at first. She would always ask me questions while I presented stuff. They were pretty simple questions so I answered them but then I realized she was asking me something right after I talked about it. For example, during my Thanksgiving presentation:
“So, we eat stuff like turkey..”
“Is it good?”
“And pumpkin pie…”
“Is it good?”
“I see, I see.”
“And mashed potatoes…”
“Is it good?”
Despite her sass, she still follows along so she’s fine with me.
Sporty: Sporty is as her name describes, a big sports fan. She’s a tomboy; while some girls wear cute sweaters and shirts, you’ll see her in a track shirt. She apparently loves taiko drumming. Her Osakan accent is really thick so I can barely understand what she’s saying. She’s a good kid though, and is often curious about what certain English words mean. Usually quiet, but dependable if you really need her to participate during class.
Unko-chan: Unko-chan is the brattiest kid in 5-2. He’ll yell random shit while I speak, mock me, run around class while we’re doing some worksheet, or some stupid crap. The HRT (home room teacher) ends up yelling at him every other class, which doesn’t seem to have any effect on him. I call him Unko-chan because one day while I was walking around the class, I saw him drawing at least 5 different pictures of poop (unko). That and his personality is shitty to begin with. Still, it sure beats having 15 Unko-chan’s in a class (like in 5-2).
5-1 is one of the most angelic classrooms I have been in. There are no bad kids at all. It even rivals some of my favorite classrooms! The teacher is excellent; he tries to team teach with me in English only and really knows how to keep his students interested. I always leave with a smile on my face after a class with them. 5-1 is the last class I usually teach, which is probably a good thing because I always need a morale booster after having one terrible class and a mediocre one. The kids are always excited to see me and try to talk to me as much as they can. There are a few memorable characters in there as well:
Fashionista: Fashionista is probably my favorite kid in my Monday school. Her clothes are always very chic compared to her friends and she always salutes me with a smile on her face. We will have conversations about random things in both English and Japanese. I usually get dragged into playing a game with her every other week and they’re always fun. Fashionista is usually accompanied by her smart friend who knows a lot of English and if need be, she translates for her. She is the ideal student.
MGS: Aside from Fashionista, MGS is my second favorite kid. She’s very curious and approaches me a lot with questions. She usually does it while I’m teaching too but unlike Sass, her questions are genuine. MGS stands for Metal Gear Solid, a video game. The reason I call her this is because one day she realized I like video games. We started to talk about the PSP and then she asked me what my favorite PSP game was:
“Me? I like MGS.”
“MGS? What’s that?”
“Oh um…Metal Gear Solid.”
“Ohh, okay! I think my brother has that game. I’ll check!”
“You don’t have to…”
“Diego-sensei! He does have Metal Gear! He has Peace Walker!”
“Oh really? That’s a good game.”
“It is! I played it and I really like it! I want to keep playing it!”
“Awesome! (Wait, should a 11 year old really be playing this..?)”
MGS will sometimes update me on her progress with the game, it’s cute.
Monday is when the teachers ask me to eat lunch with the kids. Eating lunch with kids is very hit-or-miss. Either you have an awesome conversation with them or everyone is completely quiet. The first time I ate lunch there, the kids were fighting for their lives to see who could sit next to me. They all played janken (paper, rock, scissors), and the kid who won screamed in victory. When I sat by them, dead silence welcomed me. I think this happens to every ALT here, but it’s just so weird how the mood just suddenly shifts afterward. I like to eat with 5-1 the most and I find myself trying to sneak into their class every time during lunch. Unfortunately, they have been catching on and now ask me to specifically eat with certain classes and rotate every week.
One cool thing about my Monday school is that every other Monday is Club Day. Unlike middle and high school, elementary schools usually don’t have clubs after class. However, my Monday school has one during 5th period. I like to check out what my kids are doing in the clubs and I eventually got dragged into one. I’ll talk about that in another post though.
That being said, my Monday school is a struggle sometimes, but it isn’t all bad. It’s the worst one of my five but that doesn’t mean it’s an awful school. I think I really lucked out when it comes to student behavior; I have heard stories where kids will wreck shit during class, insult the teacher, and all other crazy shit. If noisy, interrupting kids is the worst thing I get, then I’ll take it.