A Brand New Year: Wednesdays

The start of a brand new school year will always have its ups and downs.  So while my Monday/Tuesday school has improved significantly, there had to be a downfall somewhere.  Unfortunately, my Wednesday school took quite a hit.

In terms of transfers, we only lost two people.  But because the schoolis so tiny, you really feel the loss.  The two people that transferred out was the vice principal and Moriguchi-san, our school janitor.  I had a feeling that the vice principal was going to transfer because usually they can only stay at one school for around 3 years.  He had already been there for four years.  My Wednesday’s vice principal is one of the greatest people I have worked with.  He was always so energetic and awesome whenever we have a work party.  My favorite work party moment is still when we had gone to karaoke my first year and he started singing “You wa Shock”, the opening theme for Fist of the North Star.

Other memories include my first day on the job, he was happily waiting at my bus stop to make sure I got off on the right stop.  He then gave me a school hand towel and a mug that I still use to this day.  I had a chance to talk to him at the kansougeikai¸the welcome/farewell party.  He told me that his new school was a lot tougher and he was trying to make the school office environment bright and cheerful (like our schools’ is) but it’s difficult.  He also told me I was the best ALT by far and we should go out for drinks one day.  I hope we will have that chance someday, he’s still the best vice principal I ever had.  Luckily, our new vice principal is a nice guy.  He looks very young and speaks a bit of English.  I like him, and despite him not being super energetic like my old VP, I’m sure we’ll get along just fine.

Moriguchi-san was our school janitor who always made conversation with me when I was in the office alone, looking bored.  I really liked that he always took the initiative and we had long chats about the most random things.  I’ll miss him as well as he was one of the people I talked to the most.  Oddly enough, Yoshioka-san, my junior high’s janitor replaced him.  Him and I get along despite me not understanding half the things he says to me.  He’s the only guy in Japan that calls me by my nickname back home, “D”.  I like him for that.  Also, we have a stupid inside joke where he will say “Ohayo (Good morning)” to me and pat me on the back, regardless of what time it is during the day.

So what is there to complain about?  Yes, I lost two awesome people but I got good people to replace them.  However, there was another unexpected bombshell news I received the day before I came back.

I messaged Chika-sensei as she was wondering if I was going to come back this year.  When I told her I was going to, she replied back “Actually…now I’m on maternity leave.  I’ve been pregnant for four months but due to my age (34), they suggested I start early.”  This was by far the worst news.  Chika-sensei was my best friend in terms of teacher relationships.  She and I talked a lot during our downtime and at parties as well.   She usually brought people into the conversation and made me feel even more at home.  She was also a great teacher and willing to try anything when we taught classes together.  Her being in charge of the English department last year made my life a lot easier as she kept track of my schedule and made sure everyone lesson planned on me in time.

Now, the office feels so empty without her.  Sure, I still chit chat with other teachers from time to time, but it’s not the same.  My schedule and lesson planning sessions feel a lot more half-assed nowadays.  The teacher who replaced her is still a little nervous and clueless so I have to help her a lot.  While Chika-sensei still technically works at our school, odds are I won’t be seeing her for a very long time.

This year’s 5th and 6th grade teachers (the ones I work with every week) are Kiya-sensei and Ogura-sensei.  Kiya-sensei is clearly the weakest link out of the two because she’s always so frazzled and forgetful whenever we teach classes.  The students are smart so they can see through her when a class is half-assed.  I don’t like the image she portrays so I guess that means I have to be in charge of that class. Ogura-sensei on the other hand usually calls the shot in his class and there is always a comedic feel to the classes themselves.  Jokes are said often and we are always laughing.  I like the change of pace plus my favorite kids in the school seem to enjoy it too.

At my Wednesday school, a JTE always teaches alongside me and the homeroom teacher for 5th and 6th grade English.  Usually, Mrs. Morita or Kitada would switch every year.  However, a new JTE replaced Mrs. Morita this year (more on that on another post).  He’s a young guy called Mr. Taichi.   Actually, he used to work at my Friday school but I almost never interacted with him.  He’s completely new at the job so the first month has been me showing him the ropes of teaching.  It’s a bit difficult in elementary when everyone except me doesn’t have much experience teaching English every week.  Things are getting better though as time progresses.  Mr. Taichi is willing to try anything and help in whatever.  As my friend said to me “It’s a good opportunity to shape him into a good JTE.”  She’s got a point, if I can turn him into a great teacher for my successors, they would surely appreciate it.

That’s Wednesday in a nutshell.  The best days in that school are behind me but it’s still a nice school with great kids.  I guess it couldn’t be heavenly forever.

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