Saturday, March 22, 2014

Arigato and Sayonara: Students

In March, English classes began to dwindle as the teachers used that time to practice for the kindergarten and 6th grade graduation. Although, only two classes were graduating, the other grades were involved in the ceremony’s preparation and performances. I welcomed the break from teaching, but I couldn’t help but feel a little sad when I realized I would no longer see my 6th graders. That feeling did not extend to my Satan 6th graders, as I counted the days to the final English class, only for it to be canceled. Thank you Japanese Jesus!

At the other schools, the homeroom teachers ran out of ideas and relied on me to plan the lesson. In elementary schools, it’s not encouraged for the students to learn how to write English, since they are taught in middle school. However, I decided to chuck the rules out of the window and have the students write compliments to one another. I taught them the basic 'You are' and added adjectives such as 'funny, beautiful, handsome, smart, nice, cool, etc.' Then, they would write their names on a blank sheet of paper and pass it to their neighbor. Their neighbor would see the name and write 'You are (insert compliment)' with the explanation in Japanese. The exercise went well and they were really excited about the compliments they received. Surprisingly, a few got daring and wrote “you are handsome/beautiful” to their crush. For the next lesson, I taught them how to insult each other. It sounds foul, but the insults were used to create a 'cootie catcher' or 'paper fortune teller' where fate would either give you a compliment or an insult. It was all in good fun and no feelings were hurt.

Cootie Cather! Will you get a compliment or an insult? Let fate decide!

Never underestimate the power of Pokemon for youe English lessons!

The day before the graduation, my favorite 6th grade class called me outside and thanked me for teaching English. Moreover, they sang a traditional farewell song and posed for a picture.

I'll miss them!

 Graduation day for all three of my schools fell on a Thursday, which meant that I would be forced to watch my Satan 6th graders graduate. Thinking ahead, I used polite Japanese to ask my coordinator if I could visit all three graduations. I would spend half an hour at each starting at Satan school, and quietly excuse myself to visit the other two.

My coordinator thought it was a wonderful idea and granted me permission.  Thank you once again Japanese Jesus!

Elementary graduation is not very different form our own in the U.S. The gym was beautifully decorated and the ceremoney consisted of slide shows, songs, longs speeches, and tearful goodbyes from their homeroom teachers.

Graduation decorations at Satan school
It was a wakeup call that the school year and my time with some of my favorite teachers had ended.

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