I haven’t been blogging much lately mostly because school has been super busy since I’ve gotten back. After the first couple of hectic weeks, Golden Week came around and I spent most of it traveling. Now that everything has slowed down, I finally have time to write about what’s been going on lately! But I suppose I should start from the beginning..
Awaiting me past South Korea, hanamis and relaxation was the beginning of the new school year. It was always in the back of my head. I wouldn’t have thought about it much until I heard that staff transfers were super common as well as teachers changing grades. It feels like a random draft for some reason; teachers are put into certain grades for specific reasons but they can also request to be placed in a grade. Whether they honor that request is up to the principals.
Seeing that I teach five different schools, you can imagine the amount of changes that I was going to be witnessing the first week of school. I got a sneak peek the final week of the last school year when I heard Aiko-sensei was no longer going to be at my Wednesday school. While it was a major change to me, there were many more to be had during my first week back.
First up was my Monday school. My favorite staff member transferred out, which bummed me out. I also learned that 5-1’s teacher was now going to be a 6th grade teacher, which sucks. He’s one of the best I’ve worked with and while I knew I had little chance to work with him again, that chance was still there. On the bright side, 5-3’s teacher was still teaching that grade and has been swapped to 5-2. Pushover-sensei is no longer teaching 5th grade and has been “demoted” to teaching 2nd graders. Needless to say, I’m very happy that I won’t be dealing with him anymore. As for the two new teachers that I’ll be working with, I don’t have a clue how I’ll interact with them. One of them is an old guy who seems on the quiet side, so I’m a little worried about him. The next teacher is a young lady who seems to be cool. The best thing I heard that day though is that I won’t have to deal with my shitty kids from 5th grade. While I’m sure there will be some brats this year, I didn’t detect the amount of asshole kids compared to last year’s.
The funny thing about the teacher switcheroo is that the school and the kids all assemble at the gym and the vice principal makes the announcements on where the teachers are going, as well as welcoming the new kids. This is called the nyuugakushiki; the entrance ceremony. Therefore, we get to see firsthand how the kids will react. You could see kids cheering when they found out their favorite teacher will be with them or laughter when they found out Pushover-sensei is now teaching younger kids. I’ll admit, I’m a bit jealous of the ALT who will be teaching the 6th graders because they have a good team of teachers. Even with the shitty kids, they will probably scare them straight. I’m also a bit sad that I won’t see my old kids but the new ones don’t’ seem so bad. Since there were no classes, I simply studied that entire day.
Tuesday rolled around. The staff changes and transfers don’t really affect me that much for this school because it’s just me and the English teacher working together. I’ve finally come up with a nickname for her, Subarashii-sensei. Subarashii means wonderful in Japanese; the reason I call her this is because she uses this word way too much during class. She’ll always say, “Good, great, subarashii!” at the end of every sentence. I used to like that word but now she has ruined it for me. Anyways, apparently on Tuesday we got to see all the transferred staff one last time and they said their tearful goodbyes in the staffroom and during assembly. As one might guess, this is called the “farewell ceremony”. Each one of them got a personal message and a bouquet of flowers from the kids. It was really sad. All of the 5th grade teachers have been changed at this school; I only know a couple of the new ones and I have no complaints. I guess the 3rd grade teacher changes do affect me here since I teach the kids on my own on those days but the changes seemed alright. I got a lot of love from the kids during that day though. They stopped me nonstop and kept greeting me as well as saying “Long time no see!” Mana and Nami in particular lit up when they saw me. In case you forgot, they’re the (link) ones that escort me to the station after school. I’m bummed that I won’t be teaching them this year but at least my friend Judith will have fun with them. She’ll also get to teach with H-sensei, who is now a 6th grade teacher! I still plan on visiting his class though, as well as say hello to my old 5th graders. They can’t stop me!
Then there’s my Wednesday school. This is the school that I was the anxious the most about. I knew Aiko-sensei was leaving but who else was moving on? I had no idea until I went in and I was in for a shock. At least 3/4 of the old staff had been transferred out, including the awesome math teacher, the wonderful nutritionist, the nice 3rd grade teacher and Aiko-sensei’s assistant. Needless to say, when I got the new staff roster, I was a bit depressed. Would I still be having as much fun as this school than before? It’s hard to say right now. As for grade changes, the 4th grade teacher, Kimoto, is now the 6th grade teacher. I actually think this is quite the amusing change because we get along with each other pretty well and since he’s also young, I have a feeling we’re going to have some fun with my favorite class. I’m not too sure how we’re going to lesson plan though because when I taught his kids last year, I had to come up with everything. I hope we can apply Aiko’s team-teaching magic in this class but I’m doubtful. The 6th grade teacher is now the 5th grade one which I’m cool with; she’s a nice lady who has good lesson plans.
I’m very skeptical of our new 2nd grade teacher. When I walked by his classroom and said hi to all the adorable kids, he kinda gave me a strange look. When it was time to lesson plan, he took out this sheet of paper that summarized everything I had taught my kids last year:
“So, you did all of this last year, correct?”
“Looks like it.”
“Okay…but it looks like you didn’t get to animals, right?”
“I guess so.”
“Shall we do that?”
“Okay. What should we do?”
“Well, we can introduce the animals to the kids and then use “What animal do you like?”
“Okay. What else?”
“…that’s not enough?”
“…um…that’s not going to be enough…” Having an activity like that takes 20 minutes max to do. With a 45 minute class, you have to plan a lot more than what you’re going to introduce them. He didn’t seem to get the picture though and we had a rather awkward moment. Luckily, one of the veteran teachers swooped in and explained our style of teaching. Thank god. I have a feeling I’m going to have trouble with that one. The other new teachers seem rather serious compared to the old ones but I think it’s because they’re not used to the school yet, so I’ll give them more time. Not everyone is weird though. One of the office assistants is really cool; he likes to talk to me a lot about various things. He reminds me of a distant uncle for some reason. When I was waiting out in the pouring rain for my bus, he offered me a ride. I think we’ll get along just fine! I apparently received an “awesome teacher” who transferred in this year according to a fellow ALT, who is now teaching 4th grade. I’ll see how that works out.
At least my kids are still a blast. They were all happy to see me again. It still feels weird to see them a grade higher than last year though, especially my old 5th graders. When I walked in the 6th room, Hiro gave me a hug and I saluted all my kids. Mimi played it cool for a few seconds, only to cling onto me moments later. I’m glad things with them haven’t changed.
Another big change was the revamp of the English room. I was introduced to the English room last year but we barely used it because there really wasn’t much there. Things are different now though; the entire room has been redecorated and my 5th grade teacher was nice enough to put all the English materials in the room. Before I had to run around the school to see who had what English flashcards but now they’re all in one place! It looks like we’ll be taking the kids to that classroom often compared to last year since everything is already there…so I guess you can say I have my own room! However it’s still a bit of a mess so I have to also finish the decoration process…who knows how long that’ll take.
It’s going to be a little tough adjusting to all the changes, but I guess that’s how things are in this country. You can’t get too attached to people because they’ll leave sooner than you think! I wonder what the other two schools will bring…