The end of the school year is quickly approaching. In a week, my kids will be graduating and moving on to the next grade. Meanwhile, my 3rd years in junior high will be off to high school. I suppose for me the only emotional good bye would be with my 3rd years as I will be seeing everyone else next year. While my 5th graders might be graduating, I’ll still see them around school as well as my 1st and 2nd years in junior high. That’s not the case with the 3rd years though.
I recently had my last day with them. My JTEs suggested that I should make a game for them to have fun with. I decided to try out a Mario Kart game using review questions; I had heard this was a hit with my friend’s students. The night before I had a dream where I was teaching them the game but everyone was dead quiet and didn’t participate. I yelled at them “Why the hell aren’t you trying?” which they replied “Because it’s English! Who needs it?”
I woke up a half an hour earlier than I should’ve and couldn’t go back to bed. I headed to my school in a drowsy state. When the final class for the 3rd years finally began, I explained the game’s rules and started asking questions.
Dead silence. “Maybe the questions were too difficult?” I thought. I decided to dumb it down to see if participation increased. It barely did. A couple of girls like USJ and Yankee started to participate but the majority of the class was zoning out or just staring at me. My dream had come true. Having no choice but to push on, I continued to make my questions more varied. The game kinda picked up but it was still considered a failure in my opinion. At one point, Yankee asks me, “These questions are way too easy! Why don’t you make harder ones?” to which I replied, “Because none of you are participating!” Needless to say it was frustrating. Luckily, one of the girls got really lucky and won the game pretty fast. The next activity we did was every student had a part of a sentence. They had to find their partner and complete it, writing it on a piece of paper. This was a hit. I suddenly realized my mistake: my 3rd years like their games simple. I always wondered why we played Karuta and “Find your Pair” game often with them and always wanted to try more complex things. They simply didn’t like the latter though and were happy playing the same games over and over. Sadly, I was too late to figure this out and the final class ended with a whimper than a bang. Slightly bummed out, I headed to my next class with the 2nd years.
The 2nd years were a bust as usual. Kouki is still trying to wrestle me down; his recent attempt was right before class started. I somehow reversed his grapple and playfully jabbed his stomach in front of everyone, embarrassing him. During lunch time with them, Kouki proclaimed to me “Diego! I’m going to take you down! Just wait and see!” The entire class started cracking up. Was this the equivalent of a fight after school? The thought amused me.
During cleaning time, I was hanging out with Mr. Aoki. As I was talking with some of the 2nd years, I noticed out of the corner of my eye a group of five boys: it was Kouki and some classmates. Kouki and his crew nod to each other and look at me; it wasn’t difficult to realize what they were going to do. I sighed and stepped back as I saw the group sprinting towards me; it was going to be a group takedown. Somehow, I thwarted all five of them by throwing them around, sneaking under their grapples and pushing them. Mr. Aoki watched for awhile until he said “Okay, okay, get back to cleaning.” One of the witnesses looks at me and says “You won.”
“Maybe…but just for today,” I chuckled. It was true, the bastards were going to try again next time I saw them. While this is going on, I can hear Tsu yelling from the 3rd floor “Yoo-hoo! Shin-san! You’re so cool!” Shin, the kid I was talking to shook his head profusely, yelling “Shut up Tsu!”
“Shiiin! Kakko-ii!! (you’re so cool!)”
“Kakko-ii!!!” I couldn’t help but laugh. Why she was yelling this, I don’t know. This entire scenario is just your average day in my junior high. It kinda cheered me up.
Once again, the 3rd years were leaving school early. I was in the office when Momo told me I had forgotten some materials in their classroom. I stepped out to ask specifically what I forgot and after she told me, we parted ways. I completely forgot that was the last time I was going to see her; I have a feeling she wasn’t aware of it herself. She was a fun student who was never afraid to talk to me so I’m sad to see her go. Before I went back in, I noticed May and another girl just chatting with the math teacher. We started talking for a bit until May brought up the obvious:
“Good bye Diego! Oh wait, this is bye for real, right?”
“Yep, this is my last day with you.”
“Huh…are you sad??”
“Yeah, I am!”
“Liar!” We talked for a bit about what high school she was going to attend, stories about me in school, and how my progress with Japanese was going. Finally we parted ways with her saying “Goodbye Diego! See you some day. But now, I have to go to the toilet.” So funny. I decided to walk upstairs to visit the library when I heard some 3rd years yelling from outside, “Goodbye Diego! See you sometime in the future!” It was bittersweet. I kinda wish I spoke more Japanese so I could’ve got to know them better, but what can you do? The last day was a bit anti-climactic compared to what I have been hearing about my friends but that’s okay. I’m happy I was able to speak to some of my 3rd year one on one before they left for real. I wish them all the best of luck!