I haven’t talked about some of my junior high students in detail in a long time. As graduation approaches, I’m thinking back how much has changed with some of them compared to when we first started the school year. I also have gotten to know them a lot better. While my 2nd years were always a fun bunch ever since I started teaching them (when they were 1st years), I think I didn’t really get to know them until this year. It’s only made class a lot more fun.
I think out of all the students, Ina has changed the most since I first met her. She used to avoid me a lot and complain that I could understand next to nothing, but she’s a lot more kind nowadays. Not that she was ever a jerk, but she will usually go out of here way to greet me or just start some sort of chit-chat. It really surprises me because some days I have to leave early and will have to sneak out of school. Ina will usually spot me though and yell “Diego! See you!!” and wave. It reminds me of Maido; it feels nice. Maybe Maido’s personality is rubbing off on her? Recently, her thing has been saying “Really?” to everything I say. For example, during class:
My JTE: Diego, yesterday we went to the ramen museum!
Me: Oh really? I have been there before!
Me: Yes, really.
At this point, without fail, Maido will yell “YOU ARE KIDDING!”. This happens almost every time when I talk about something. Ina will say “Really?” with Maido following up with “You are kidding!” Good teamwork, at the very least. Ina has been trying to speak English with me more too and I’m surprised she’s starting to understand me more as well. I guess it’s more her trying to understand me, as opposed to her giving up immediately. She’ll usually assure me afterward by saying in Japanese, “Of course I can understand you Diego. Come on, that’s easy English!”
Maido hasn’t changed much at all; she is still the happy-go-lucky girl that will say random English phrases to me and grin. Her yelling out answers in class is pretty common.
I don’t just talk to girls, I talk to boys as well. Ootsuka is probably the one I talk to the most. His English is pretty bad but he’s an interesting guy. He reminds me of me back in my school days: likes to read, enjoys nerdy things and stays quiet in class. He’s also quite the tinkerer: he managed to fix a music box Mrs. Omoto had broken within 20 minutes in the library. We will sometimes talk about comic book heroes and our opinions of them. He’s a nice kid.
In terms of hardworking, I would say Mao takes the cake. I don’t think I have ever mentioned her, but she’s one of my favorite students. While her English isn’t as awesome as Manami’s, she tries her best to understand. Every time during break time, she will be sitting down, working on her English homework. We’ll chat about random stuff (usually with Yuna, another friendly girl). She is very reliable and will go out of her way to greet me.
Nao is a tiny girl who is freaking adorable. Her English comprehension isn’t great and she doesn’t like English a lot. Nevertheless, she’ll always be asking for my help during class, so at least she’s trying. I’ll sometimes run into her in the library and we’ll talk about class or other random stuff. Despite her meek appearance, she’s actually pretty sassy.
Kimiya is one boy who has been on my radar recently. He’s always trying to pronounce the English words we go over in a grandiose voice. He’s also been getting really friendly with me for some reason. I will randomly get hugs from him, which initially threw me off but now I’m cool with it.
The rest of my students have been mostly the same. Manami is still the English ace with excellent pronunciation, Ayu, aka Yuuyuu (she now switched nicknames) is really quiet during class but will happily tease me outside of class, and the other boys will randomly chant my name or wrestle with me. In April, my 2nd years will become 3rd years. I hope I get to stay with this school the entirety of next year as well. I started my teaching career in Japan when they were 1st years, I would like to see them off when they graduate next April. I can’t believe time has been flying by so fast. They have been growing so fast! It’ll be a sad day when I see these great kids off but that’s what part of a teacher involves.
Speaking of graduation, my current 3rd years are on the cusp of graduating. I only have one more class with them. I’ll talk about them next time.