It’s funny how fast things can change in elementary schools. The atmosphere in a classroom can be the complete opposite of what it usually is. Today, in my Monday school, I was teaching 5-1 and 5-3. In case you forgot, 5-1 is the best class and 5-3 is the average class. What I usually end up doing during the first part of the class is read a storybook to the kids. I really can’t stand this part of the job for one big reason. In 5-3, the teacher really doesn’t help me with any translation. While this isn’t too bad when you’re reading a simple book, it’s a pain when reading more complex ones. I only have a limited selection of what books I can read and I’ve finished all the simple ones. 5-1’s teacher does a good job in translating the major plot points in the story but 5-3’s teacher just looks at me, without trying to help at all while all the kids are confused and lose interest fast. It seems like a pointless task to me. By the time I finish reading the book, everyone looks at me awkwardly and slowly return to their seats. Today in 5-3 was no exception until Unko-chan managed to really piss the teacher off. At first, she stopped me until everyone was quiet. Then, when Unko-chan interrupted once more, she stood up, dragged him into the hallway and proceeded to scream at him. At this point, I knew I wanted to distract myself and the kids so I just kept reading, not really caring if they got the story or not. Half of the kids were actually paying more attention to me while the other half were looking in the hallways. When I finished, most of the kids applauded, something that never happens. It’s as if they were applauding for my feeble attempt to make things less awkward for all of us. 5-3 never sympathizes with anything I do, so it felt a bit strange but happy, even if it was a small gesture.
Next up was the main lesson. The lesson we were teaching today was an overview of what we have learned so far in addition to jobs. Each kid had to fill out a worksheet full of questions like “What color/sports do you like?”, “Where do you want to go?”, “What do you want to be?”, etc. 5-1 had a tough time filling out the sheet so I had thought doing this with 5-3 would just be a disaster waiting to happen. Explaining it was tough (once again, the teacher didn’t help me out at all), but I managed to get them writing. I saw some kids give up fast initially but after I personally explained the questions to them, they proceeded to write again. Maybe it was them noticing the effort I was making to get them to understand or maybe it was something else but something strange happened. Kid after kid ran up to me, asking me how to write things in English. Full participation is also something that never happens with 5-3. Most of the lessons crash and burn with them but for the entire period, I was checking on answers, translating words into English and writing them on the board for all the kids. Even Sass was checking answers with me and asking questions. It felt great to have a class that never participates complete the activity. It was definitely a good day with 5-3.
During lunch, I managed to sneak into 5-1 again and was seating with MGS and some other kids. I noticed one of the kids crying in the corner. As soon as 5-1’s teacher walked by, the kid went up to them and they started talking. It didn’t take too long for the teacher to start screaming at this kid…I’m guessing he screwed something up. 5-1’s teacher is usually a gentle, kind man but if you piss him off, you want to get the hell out of his way. So while I’m eating and trying to make discussion with my lunch group, I just hear him yelling at the top of his lungs to this poor kid. Unfortunately our lunch group was sitting right next to the teacher’s desk so we ended up just being quiet for the majority of lunch. Starting a conversation was impossible and really awkward. It has been the only day so far where I regretted going to 5-1 for lunch. It felt like Opposite Day or something.
Today was also Club Day. I wanted to check out the tea ceremony club but I couldn’t find the room. I ended up going to the Go club again and played against the same kid who was crying. He seemed like nothing happened, which further proves my point that kids forget everything in a flash. I got my ass kicked the first time but I managed to beat him the second time around. While we were playing, Fishman started his usual annoying antics so I said “Shut up, Fishman.”
Shorty: “Wait, what did you call him?”
M: Yup! Isn’t that right, Fishman?
Fishman: Yes! I AM FISHMAN!
Go Girl: *starts laughing* Wait, that means fish person in Japanese right?
Fishman: Wait, WHAT? NO NO, I’m a fisherman. NOT FISHMAN!
At this point we all lose it and start laughing at him. I never would’ve thought he would figure it out but six months later, he has. The payoff was so great. Now anytime I say “Fishman” to him, he’ll reply with “NO, that’s WRONG! I’m not FISHMAN! FISHERMAN!” It irritates him greatly so now I have something to fight back if he ever annoys me. Try calling me Diego-chan again, brat! In terms of Go, I got my ass kicked by Shorty but I came back and beat him the second time around. Once again, I was up against Go Girl but time ran out. One day I’ll play her for real!
My English classes with my fifth graders in this school is wrapping up in a couple of weeks. Soon I’ll be getting a new batch of kids and my opinion on the classrooms will probably change. I wonder how it will turn out?