Wrapping up School

There’s already only less than a month of the final semester of the school year.  This is my the final full year that I will be teaching at my schools—I will stick around only for the first semester of the next school year until I finally part ways with them.  It’s kind of crazy to think about and I’m sure I will be looking back even more when the time to leave draws near.

This past year has been pretty good overall for a final full year.  While it’s not the best one (and honestly, it would take a lot to trump over the last two years in certain schools), I’m definitely at a point where I am comfortable and able to deal with just about anything that comes at me at work.  I used to not look forward to going to certain bad classes to the point where I would just feel ill.  Nowadays though I just grin and bear it.  I think my past experiences with some of the worst classes at my Friday school last year and the entire 6th grade at my Monday/Tuesday school two years ago helped with that.  So I guess that’s a good thing…?

Anyways, most schools have been turning for the better.  My Monday/Tuesday school continues to be my favorite school, mainly because of the great staff there.  I have been there long enough that I’m comfortable with everyone and can start small talk with just about anyone.  I know this sounds really dumb but it’s something you take for granted when you can achieve it somewhat easier back home.  Mondays are probably my least favorite days of the week because the 3rd/4th grade students I have to deal with can be a pain.  Luckily I’m used to dealing with them so I can get by with minor issues. Let’s not talk about this past Monday though.

Tuesdays are my favorite days of the week because of my 5th graders.  While they and the teachers I have aren’t as good as last year’s (but frankly, that’s a hard act to follow), they are great in general.  All of my teachers but one were promoted to 6th grade teachers but I still have a great batch.  Goto-sensei has his kids under control and is happy to participate, even though he knows when I’m unsure about certain complex questions.  It keeps me on my toes!  And I finally get to teach with Naka-sensei, the short, casual-wearing, overly apologetic yet funny teacher.  My friend told me she had a great time teaching with her in the past and I can see why; things just always flow so well when I’m teaching with her.  Also my students are awesome.  I think ever since I started reading and writing back comments to every kid’s reflection sheets last year (keep in mind, that’s about 140 sheets in a day), my interactions with them have been great.  I learn a lot about them as well as they do me and everyone seems to enjoy class.  I’m calling the shots and control everything so it really makes me happy to see that I’m doing something right.

Recently I attended the final Winter Festival at that school.  I’m really going to miss them because I just loved going from room to room and playing different themed games that were created by the students.  It was the closest I was ever going to get to attending a Cultural Festival.

Wednesdays have been okay but it’s definitely past the Golden Age when I had the greatest teachers and students.  Now a lot of them have transferred out and the students are now in my junior high school.  I do a lot more work now and there is less conversation going on in the staff room between me and others.  I guess it’s a shadow of its former self.  That’s not the say it’s a bad school, I’m just a little bummed out that things are no longer like they were when I first came here.  It’s kind of weird to think that it used to be my favorite school for my first three years here.  I suppose all good things come to an end though.

My junior high school is doing as fine as ever.  I still enjoy my chats with the librarian when I have a break.  The new, young JTE is no longer a rookie and is getting more comfortable coming up with ideas and teaching the class; it’s like almost looking at me when I first started and started getting accustomed to school life.  One of my favorite batch of students graduated last year so I’m not having as much fun as I used to but I’m still really enjoying it.  My first years are an energetic bunch, even if they aren’t the greatest in English.  My second years continue to be as genki as ever.  My third years, the kids I have been with since the 5th grade are approaching graduation.  Hell, my last class with them is this Thursday.  It’s kind of funny thinking about them because we’ve had quite a roller coaster ride when it comes to our relationship.  I loved them when they were young but I wanted to strangle them when they hit those awkward teenage years and yet in the end, we’re all chums again although with a different light to it.  I guess that’s called maturity?  I suppose it’s only fitting that I leave not too long after they do.

Finally, Fridays are a lot better than last year.  While I enjoyed experiencing firsthand how an elementary school operates by assisting Hiro (the Peruvian boy who could only speak Spanish), I’m a little relieved that I no longer have to worry about translating tons of homework for him, especially now that I have homework of my own to deal with.  My fifth graders this year are a mixed bag but my teachers this year decided to take the reins and lead the class while I assist.  It’s the change I have been wanting for years.  I’m fine with leading classes but if the kids are awful, it’s really hard to control anything.  That’s when the homeroom teacher steps in.

I’m lucky to have Yama-sensei, a new transferee who loves languages and is super gung-ho on teaching English and only using it in class!  G-sensei is cool and really nerdy but his kids are really awful.  I could only imagine an alternate reality where his kids were awesome and we would have the most hilarious classes.  Alas, it was never meant to be and so we usually just have a mediocre class.  Sadly, I think it’s because of his teaching style because last week Yama-sensei was subbing for him and I was wondering how she was going to react to such an awful environment.  Instead, she threw me for a loop when she taught the kids the same way she taught hers and it was the best class I had ever had with them.  Even the kids noticed the difference with a different teacher present.

Now my greatest obstacle on Fridays is not falling asleep in the staff office as I only really have an hour of a half of work.   Finding stuff to do can be really hard.  Fun fact:  Fridays are usually the days I get all these blog posts written.  Now that grad school has started up again though, I end up spending all the free time working on my studies so it’s actually a good thing to have a bunch of free time.

Recently I had a New Year party with the staff members of my Friday school.  It was the first time I was invited to a party there and because one of my English coworkers was coming, I decided to tag along.  I was really surprised at how much fun I had.  I already knew this but I was once again reminded how much people come out of their shells when they leave the workplace.  The clerk that is usually quiet but sometimes makes a quick joke was quite the jokester during the party.  The new nurse who seems friendly was hilarious and they quickly established the table we were sitting at was going to be the “English table” where only English was spoken.  Needless to say, this led to many amusing situations where people couldn’t word exactly what they wanted to say but tried their damn best.  I really wish I was invited to these earlier because they might be my new favorite parties.

Well, that’s school life this past year in a nutshell.   As the end of the year approaches, I wonder how much things will change with teachers possibly transferring.  It’s always a nerve-wracking event but I can’t help but think that in July, I will be that teacher transferring out.  It makes me wonder if others will remember fondly as I do them.

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