Monday, April 20, 2015

Teaching Update...Again

It's a new school year and I have new coworkers! However, I wanted to discuss the situation before and after the staff change.

M. Elementary
Kindergarten = Weekly
3rd 4th = Now, Monthly
5th & 6th= Weekly
M. Elementary quickly became my favorite school due to their super kawaii kindergartners, who I affectionately called, "The Kinderbabies." The students were so kind and well behaved thanks to their kind, yet firm kindergarten teacher. I really enjoyed English playtime with them, and I ruined my make up crying during our last class and their graduation. I see them in the hallways and wave to them goodbye when they walk home, but it's not the same.


The grandma-esque 5th-grade teacher was a joy to work with because she would become so frazzled during class. Her plans for English class always went array but somehow, it worked! My 同級生 6th-grade teacher always made English class fun for the students. Since we are the same age, he also felt comfortable enough to speak with me about things going on in  his life, like that he and his wife are expecting a little girl. 
My only issue at M. Elementary was watching the deteriorating relationship between the principal and the vice principal. There is a term in Japanese called パワハラ pawahara or "power harassment,"  which means that a superior is harassing a suborinate in the workplace. It's like a boss treating you so badly that it makes you want to quit. But why not fire the person, you ask? Because Japan; that's my only answer. Anyways, the principal needed to know where the vice principal was at all moments of the day. If the v.p. stepped out to use the restroom, the principal would walk in and, in a loud voice, demand to know where he was. On the day the principals and vice principals had to submit their transfer paperwork, he told me that he decided to move on to another school. He looked so relieved and I felt sad that I was the only person he felt comfortable telling. Not that anyone hated him, but my coworkers LOVE gossip and he knew I wouldn't tell anyone. My 同級生 6th-grade teacher has, thankfully, not changed and my new set of kindergartners seem very well behaved. Aside from planning more English classes, I don't see any foreseeable problems in the future.
K. Elementary
Kindergarten = Weekly
 3rd & 4th = Monthly
5th & 6th= Weekly
 I loved my coworkers at this school, but I was beyond bored with English class. My unofficial JTE just gave up and taught English class in Japanese. He was always late for class and, because he was also the science teacher, he would sometimes turn English class into an extended science lesson. I  became particularly upset when he would give the students the wrong information -  like how the words for "bat" (animal) and "bat" (baseball) were pronounced differently. In the midst of class he would run out of ideas and ask me if I had any games they could play; I had none.  I can't think on the fly for English; I need time to prepare.
My monthly classes with the 4th graders were absolute hell. They went through four homeroom teachers in one academic year! Moreover, their supporter teacher (from this post), left early as well! They were uncontrollable and there was a war occurring between the boys and the girls.  I lost all 英語の先生元気-ness when a saw a boy hit a girl. When I ordered him to apologize, he gave her the finger and told her to die. I did not have English class after that ordeal.
Because of the change, I had to say goodbye to my favorite vice principal. He was such an amazing fatherly figure. He always practiced simple phrases with me and it was fun to hear him say "oh my god" throughout the day. I have a new JTE-like person; the former 6th-grade teacher. He's really cool, but I am the main teacher for English class. I was worried about weekly English class with the new 5th graders but they have a super strict homeroom teacher and now they are a joy to teach. So far, I haven't had any issues and it seems like gender war is over. Hallelujah!


K. Elementary has a new principal but no one is happy about it. The new principal was a vice principal at this elementary and also worked at the B.O.E., but I've only heard terrible things about her. I was told not to worry, but I still tread lightly. During the entrance ceremony, I watched the principal speak rudely to my coworkers but with the sweetest voice - kind of like Umbridge from Harry Potter. I also noticed that the traditional Okinawan decorations, like the shishimai shisa and the haarii boat were gone. Luckily, I have a coworker that speaks Spanish and they update me on any drama that's occurring at the school.

 G. Elementary
Kindergarten = Never
1st - 4th = Bi-weekly or Monthly
5th & 6th = Weekly
This is an exert from this post because nothing really changed:
  The 6A class remains silent with only one star student answering all the questions. However, they will repeat a word or sentence after me and answer questions when asked individually. The 6B class is more active, but has a few pranksters like Rin-chan. What sets them apart from the previous Satan 6th graders is their lack of animosity towards me. I'll take that as a success! So far, my favorite class is the 4th grade. I am convinced that their homeroom teacher, Mika-sensei, will become Japan's first female prime minister. She's a tough lady and has a handle on her 40-student class! They have the best English out of all 3 schools and it's because she makes sure they both understand and diligently complete the activities. I do more advanced English with them and it's been a lot of fun! 
Helping out the 5th graders with a tug-o-war contest
Now for the update: Mika-sensei is now the homeroom teacher for the new 6th graders and boy has she whipped them into shape! They are a a lot less rambunctious than before, which is good since I am trying to get their English to the 4th-grader's level - it's that good. The new 5th-grade teacher was last year's 3rd grade teacher. At first, he seemed to be a little stressed, but once he saw how well the students did in English, he relaxed a bit. The 5th graders start the year with simple English, like "hello" and "how are you" but since they can already answer that in both English and Spanish, I try to to make it  harder in order to improve their English.

It's a little bit more work than last year, but I am up for the challenge.


  1. Just found your blog on google :) We have a facebook page called 'Bloggers of Okinawa' if you'd like to join our little community!

  2. I have always wanted to teach abroad, so I find your blog really informative, fascinating, and well written. I've had friends who have done the JET program-- do you know how JET teaching in Okinawa culturally differs from teaching on the mainland? Thanks!