Friday, March 09, 2007

A week of ups and downs

After the great news about my cracked rib on Monday, the week seemed to flow on this strange path of ups and downs. It seemed like an excruciating long week and I just wanted Friday night to grab hold of me. But now I'm sitting in my apartment, bathed, fed and in my cozy clothes wondering how I got here.

Tuesday was a great day of lessons followed by an observation of a Jr. High English conversation class. The Kurobe City ALTs have monthly observations of each others' classes followed by an evaluation/discussion meeting. I really enjoyed watching these 'older' kids using English, since I could very well be teaching Jr. High within the next month. Which leads me to other topics discussed at this meeting. It seems that the board of education, in their infinite wisdom, thinks that we should be shuffled around for the next school year (it starts in April). There are 5 of us and there are a lot of issues surrounding this particular move. I won't go into them here, but I certainly wasn't happy with the way they are dealing with us as employees.

I know that in Japan teachers rarely stay in the same school for more than 3 or 4 years. They are shuffled within their own district which sometimes means working in other cities or at schools they don't necessarily want to teach at. They don't really have a choice. The idea is that it keeps things fresh...I don't know. What I do know is that I've only been in my position for 7 months and I'm definitely not ready to move to other schools. The kicker here is that we won't know which schools we'll be moved to until the week before school starts. This goes for all teachers everywhere in Japan. The announce all the changes on one particular day and teachers have a week to pack up and go. It's a brutal way to do things if you ask me. Not to mention the mind blowing idea that you have a week to prepare for the upcoming year. My UofL education didn't cover this...

Ok, where was I? Oh yeah, Tuesday's low point. After the meeting things looked up again. I went for sushi with Rob and Lee and we started to hash out what might happen, should happen, will probably happen in the upcoming year. These guys are great, they listen to all my bitching and actually agree with me sometimes. After dinner I met up with Mihoko for cocoa and chit chat. We are really trying to get together more often -she's one of my longest standing friends here and one of my most supportive. We are trying to squeeze in some Japanese along the way, but once we start gossiping...

So I went to bed on a high note only to wake up to freezing temps, a dead car, a co-worker who had forgotten her cell phone at home, and no contact number on hand for my school (due to my own stupidity). Of course the school finally called me and they managed to change the schedule around for me and my co-worker came and picked me up. When my car dies last week the sun was shining and I just rode my bike to school. But on this day it was snowing (what the???).

I had a minor melt down, but K managed to console me before my co-worker picked me up. Of course my school was great about it. In fact I still got to teach all the classes I was supposed to AND the first grade students had prepared thank you cards and presents for me. Back on a high...

Wednesday night...the night before K's b-day!! Panic, no car and no prep done yet...I actually had to borrow HER car so I could go and pick stuff up for her party. I was up until midnight trying to get my ducks in a row -went to bed on a stressful low.

Thursday morning I was boosted -both my car and my spirits by my ever-caring and giving neighbor Johnny P. He came over before work and patiently waited for my car to charge off his little yellow plate. Seriously, what am I going to do when these two leave me!??

Thursday continued to go well with fun classes and the grade 6 students giving me farewell/thank you speeches. All in Japanese, and I understood every part of it. It was great.

I rushed home from work to finish prepping for K's party. Johnny came over and picked up the goodies and then Chika-chan came and picked K and I up to 'go out for dinner'. We failed miserably at giving her a real 'surprise' party. But it was a party nonetheless. Yay, more ups!! Thank you to everyone who brought food and photos to share.

Finally, Friday arrived. The only down was that I was still tired from the day before, but my car started on it's own and I wasn't late for work! I had my last lessons with the grade 3s at my big school. There are 3 classes of them. Two are full of angels and the other is the class from Hades. We have been prepping for self introductions for the past two lessons and today was the amalgamation of our efforts. Each and every student stood up with confidence and gave it their best effort.

My name is Linea
I like pink.
I like cats.
I can play baseball.

The looks on their faces when they had completed their introductions was priceless. I can't wait to see their progression over the next year (even though I probably won't be their teacher). The most rewarding part was that even the terror class did a great job!

The day just got better after that. While waiting for lunch to be served one of the 2nd grade students came into the staff room for something. As he was leaving we caught each other's eye and he paused before closing the door, pulled down his little white face mask (the students where them for serving lunch) and boldly said, "Hello!". So of course he got other teachers' attention with this. 'Kawaii" (cute) and "Sugoii" (great) were flying around the staff room. But then it got better. He didn't stop there. He then asked in the same bold voice, "How are you?" -keeping eye contact the whole time...I said "I'm fine, thank you, and you?" (I'm sorry, but this was the most appropriate answer). Without any hesitation or thought, he replied with, "I'm hungry! See you!!" and excused himself from the room. The staff was in an uproar!! They loved it! Yay, my job has been done! Up up up.

And finally, to top off the week I was invited along with all the other teachers to a thank you luncheon party hosted by the graduating grade 6 students. We gathered in the music room and played games, ate food and had fun! It ended with students giving each teacher a flower and a book of hand-written thank yous. It was an excellent way to end the week.

So now I'm home on a Friday night exhausted from the lows slowly coming down from the highs...I'm looking around my apartment and realizing that I've got a week's worth of cleaning to do...and tomorrow my car goes in to the shop for an undetermined amount of time. I'm hoping the concert I've been invited to by my Nyuzen High School students makes up for it. If not, maybe the pro soccer game on Sunday will help!!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

It hurts to sneeze and reverse is a bitch.

Since my last post it has been confirmed that I have cracked one of my ribs as a result of my stellar boarding practices.

Sneezing is absolutely not an option. Neither is coughing.

If you've ever driven a standard VW you will understand what the title of this post means. Down and down is nearly impossible (the rib that's cracked is on the right side, in the back, near my spine).

People keep telling me that this will probably be the end of my boarding for the season. That's great considering it finally snowed and STAYED yesterday. I bit of a change from the 19 degrees we had on Sunday and Monday. What is going on here??

I don't deserve any sympathy for this particular injury since it was my own idiocy that led to this condition, but a few "awww"s and "poor you"s might help me recover quicker...just no hugs please.