It’s time to conclude my school summaries with my Friday school. My Friday school, also an elementary one, l is a bit of a mixed bag because of the range of kid’s behaviors in each classroom. Some are great, while others are pretty bad. Still, nothing beats Monday’s 5-2 class in terms of awfulness. Anyways, my Friday school rivals my Monday school in terms of the commute. I have to ride a train and then walk for 20 minutes to reach the school. It’s not too bad but on a rainy or hot day, it’s unbearable. During the fall I had to always bring a backup shirt because by the time I reached the school, I was drenched in sweat.
When I arrive at school, one of the 5th grade teachers usually gives me the rundown of what we’ll be teaching today. I say usually because if she ever cancels her class or is ahead of the others, she will not consult me on what to do with the other classes. This can be really frustrating because I have to come up with something super last minute and pray that it works. She did this a few times in a row during the end of the fall and it was really irritating. My Friday school is probably the biggest one out of the five that I go to. I teach 5 classrooms every day, so I’m never bored. Anyway, here’s the rundown of each classroom:
5-4 is the first class that I attend to. In terms of attitude, 5-4 ranks as one of the loud/rudest classrooms I teach. I have a love/hate relationship with them; sometimes they can be fine, other days I want to kill them. Even the girls, who are usually the most polite ones, are bratty. Since they are all jerks, they blend in and I don’t really remember anyone except for one kid. I call this kid Shin. He’s one of the louder kids that tend to interrupt the classroom but oddly enough, his English is pretty solid. I’ve noticed a trend that the brattier kids tend to know more English because they’re not afraid to participate during class, unlike some of the good kids who are nervous about making any mistakes. I don’t mind Shin too much because despite being an ass sometimes, he will usually follow the lesson and always does the morning greeting correctly. He’s definitely a class clown but not to the extent that he will be messing with you. There are other kids in that class that are like that which piss me off.
5-4’s teacher is a young female with a deep voice. I feel like she has the making to be a badass but since she’s a first year teacher, she doesn’t know how to completely control a classroom yet. But damn it, she will try her best to get her class in line which makes me appreciate her effort. I feel like we’re comrades because we’re both rookies and we’re both stuck teaching a somewhat dickish class. If Pushover-sensei from my Monday school was like her, I wouldn’t dislike him so much. Hopefully she will figure out how to manage a class soon.
After 5-4, it’s off to 5-1. 5-1 is one of the best classes in my Friday school. They are taught by a young male teacher who knows how to keep them in line. He usually takes the lead when it comes to teaching English, which I don’t mind at all. All of his kids are very polite and thoughtful, something that they probably learn from him. No one really seems to come to mind in terms of student except this one kid who always says hi to me. He has some sort of disability but that doesn’t stop him from being so eager in learning English. He will always run up to me and show me pictures and words that he learned in English. He’s a cute kid and I’m happy that his disability isn’t stopping his enthusiasm.
5-3 is most well-behaved class out of the five I teach. They are taught by the teacher who gives me the lesson plan every morning. She’s a damn good teacher because she knows how to control all of her kids and if anyone, for some reason, decides to misbehave, will feel her wrath. I rarely ever see this though because all of the kids are super polite. I think she manages to control her classroom by having a point system for each group of kids. If anyone screws up with anything, she will deduct points from their group. I’m not sure what these points represent but kids are always heartbroken when they see points being deducted. The teacher runs the entire class while I follow her orders to the point where I feel like I’m a student listening to directions. It’s not a bad thing though; I participate enough during class where I don’t feel like I’m just a tape recorder like in my Tuesday school.
One thing 5-3 kids like is Paper, Rock, Scissors. If we ever have free time at the end of class, she will tell me to play with the entire class, which always gets them psyched. When we play, I take on the entire classroom. Any kid that loses or ties sit down; the last remaining kid is the winner. At first I thought they loved the game but then I realized that they really like it because whoever wins gets their group additional points. While I’m playing, I can see kids who have lost cheer their teammates on all for the sake of getting more points. It’s a clever system, really.
Before I really got to know Monday’s 5-2, I claimed that 5-5 was the worst class ever. It didn’t help that my first day with them was a complete struggle to just finish the class. Before the class started, the teacher told me “Sorry, my class is kind of noisy.” Understatement of the year. 70% of the kids are yelling half the time and it’s impossible to hear anyone. There is one particular fat kid that is a complete asshole. He was yelling at everything and throwing his desk to the ground, stomping outside of the classroom and screaming. I ended up teaching the class by myself because the teacher had to try to keep an eye of the kid in the hallways. It was one of my worst days.
However, things seem to have gotten better lately. I think it’s mainly because they’re used to me. Even the fat asshole kid has calmed down. Anytime I see them, they will always salute me energetically. I’ve actually come to like them quite a bit. While they are really loud, they’re still willing to sit down and learn English, even if it does take longer for them to get through lessons compared to the good classes. There are a few kids that I know from 5-5:
Beaver: I call this kid Beaver because he looks like one. He’s one of the loudest but like Shin, he knows a decent amount of English due to his participation. If he happens to get out of hand, I can almost always pull him around to the lesson again, unlike most bad kids. I will usually catch him screaming answers. It took awhile to get used to, but if you accept the fact that everyone is loud as hell in this class, it’s not too bad.
Class Rep: While not the class rep, this kid acts like he is one. Just like Beaver, he’s extremely loud but can speak pretty well. For some reason, he is super polite to me. Every time I come in class he will yell out “DIEGO-SENSEI. GOOD AFTERNOON,” and give me some formal bow. If for some reason the class is getting out of hand and I get pissed off, he will stand up and yell “DIEGO-SENSEI, I AM TRULY SORRY!” and bow once again. Kinda bratty but at least his heart is in the right place.
Mellow: Mellow is one of the kids that is not loud. He’s super laidback and not bratty at all. He always says hi to me and seems to ignore the craziness occurring in his classroom. I like him a lot because it’s nice to not have someone screaming in your ear. A good kid in a classroom full of delinquents, he seems to get along with everyone just fine. I think I have adapted his attitude towards 5-5’s environment and it has made me less stressed about it.
Miki: Miki isn’t her real name, I just thought it fit her for some reason. Miki is just like 90% of the girls in 5-5, loud and pretty blunt. However, you can tell that deep down, she likes to study English. She puts on a front in front of her friends but whenever I see her on her own or in a small group, she’ll be happy to practice some English with you. That doesn’t stop her sassiness though; she’s probably just as sassy as Sass. She’s quite the smartass but I usually just fire back at her. She seems to like the color black and can be always seen in her black jacket. She must have a good rep with the other girls because once I became friends with her, all the girls started to talk to me more.
5-5 is pretty infamous in my school. I have heard from Judith (who shares my Friday school with me and teaches 6th graders) that the school has meetings about them occasionally. The school disciplinarian used to hover around my class during the beginning to make sure they didn’t get too crazy. Then again, I wonder what defines “too crazy” because everyone was screaming during the first few weeks and he didn’t try to prevent it.
I’ve come to like 5-5 a lot though. As long as you know what you’re expecting, they can be a pretty fun class. I’ve accepted the fact that it’s never going to be quiet, and that some kids will randomly show up in front of the classroom with a random interruption. However, that doesn’t mean I’m a pushover. If they somehow piss me off (which rarely happens), I will simply say “Alright, I guess class is over since you guys can’t behave. See you later,” they will immediately stop everything and apologize profusely to me. It’s definitely not a boring classroom to teach.
The final class that I teach on Fridays is 5-2. 5-2 can be noisy, but they’re not bratty. They’re enthusiastic kids that are eager to learn but aren’t super polite like 5-1 and 5-3. In other words, they’re normal kids. I like 5-2 a lot because the teacher is really good and we work well together. I feel bad because 5-2 usually gets the shaft when it comes to English classes. Once a month, I have to go to ALT meetings, which usually occur during the time I would be teaching 5-2. Needless to say, I have had to skip a lot of their classes.
In terms of students, no one really sticks out except this girl I like to call Moxie. Moxie well, has a lot of moxie. She’s energetic, forward and excels in class. She is really short but she makes it up with her attitude. She doesn’t talk too much because she likes to communicate through gestures for some reason.
One funny story about 5-2 is their obsession with the word “red pants”. Sometime in the fall, I was teaching them about clothes. Because we had already learned colors, I was combining colors and clothes (pink shoes, yellow hat, etc). I usually go through flashcards with all of my classes in which I say the word and they repeat it.
5-2 for some reason loves the word red pants. Whenever I would show the red pants flashcard, they would yell out “RED PANTS!!!” I have no fucking clue why, but it always cracked me up. Red pants became a running inside joke within the classroom. Some kid would always bring up red pants in every lesson and sometimes I would throw it in there to their amusement. To this day, I will still hear “red pants!” once in awhile during class.
Like 5-3, 5-2 loves to play Paper, Rock, Scissors. However, 5-3 seems to enjoy the game on its own since there is no point system with them. Every time when class would almost be over, some student will yell out “Are we going to play “Rock, Scissors, Paper???”. It’s definitely a great game in case my lesson is failing miserably. It always psyches the kids back up and I almost always have to play it with them every time I see them. Oh well, I don’t’ mind.
That’s another thing. Over where I teach, the kids and teachers always say “Rock, Scissors, Paper” instead of “Paper, Rock, Scissors”. I tried it the American way once and it didn’t catch on. Eventually, I gave up and started saying “Rock, Scissors, Paper”. Also, you don’t simply say those three words and show your hand, you have to continue on by saying “1, 2, 3!” It was weird at first but now it’s second nature to me. I have a feeling if I played the game in the U.S., I would be doing it the Japan way now.
And with that, I have talked about all of my schools! It took forever to write about each one and sadly, everything will be changing soon! The end of the school year is nigh so that means I’ll be getting new 5th graders meaning the classroom environments will all change! But I’m glad I got to talk about each school now, as they were the first batch of kids that I taught. I got a lot of experience through good, bad, quiet and loud classrooms and I think I’ll only get better at teaching thanks to them!