Friday, November 12, 2010

iPhone antics

Today, I headed in to see what the "Qualification Acquisition club" (such a difficult name!) was up to. There were two students and they were both drawing. I started to talking to them about what they were up to this weekend, their favorite kanji, etc.

When we got to  a word I didn't know, I whipped out the trusty iPhone to look it up. I did and then my student wanted to see it, since she's a high school student and not with a group of crazy students, I decided to let her.

She kept trying to use her finger nail to do things (as did I when I first got it). I explained that you had to use your finger.

Her next question was if it could read finger prints. I told her no, it moved by heat. And when I hadn't wanted to stop what I was doing I had once used my toe to pause/quiet it. Another time, when it was cold and I didn't want to take off my glove, I used my nose.

Next, she wanted to know if a cheek or a chin would work, I told her probably the chin would, but the cheek might be too big. Then she asked about an elbow. I said I didn't know, so we tried it. We rolled up our sleeves and found out that you can control an iPhone with an elbow (in case you wanted to know).

One of the most hilarious moments I've had in that club. My student was laughing so hard and so was I. Great end to a tough day.

I'm on a boat! (In the classroom . . . kind of)

Today my students learned transportation words. Bus, train, subway, bike, car, airplane and ship.

After learning the words. I had to announce that I was on a ____. If the kids had a ticket, they were supposed to give it to me and get in the "boat" with me (two jump ropes tied together). It was quite fun. When we were an airplane, we stuck our arms out; when we were a subway, we got down really low; when we were a bike, we pretended to pedal; and when we were a train, we went really fast.

The best moment, though was when we got to ship. I wanted to announce "I'm on a boat," but realized that wouldn't stick with the vocab that we had been learning, so I announced that I was on a ship, but secretly giggled inside.

Just in case you haven't seen the video that has been giggled at many times by various friends and I, here it is:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Don't forget!

I want to participate in Operation Christmas Child this year, but being in Japan, I can't get a box in before the due date.

BUT, I can remind all of you kind folk in the US not to forget that packaged shoe boxes are due next Monday. You've got about a week to go.

Bless a child with a Christmas gift!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Stay or go?

The other day, I read a friend’s Facebook status about being homesick and really being stuck about whether to re-contract or not (most of us have received the papers by now). I remember being in that same spot, last year. Struggling with my job and the little bit of teaching I actually did at the time. Struggling with the tiny amount of Japanese I could speak and the fact that so many of the English speakers in Hokkaido are so far away. Struggling with the fact that I had left all my amazing friends at home and hadn’t made any friends that were near so good. Being in strong debate as to whether I could do another year here.

About this time last year, I came out of the super home-sick feeling. What changed? I took on some challenges, a friend and I posted a blog everyday. I started really pushing hard to study Japanese (what I was studying at the time was over my head and I eventually stopped, but it gave me a goal). I realized that I needed to do things I love and keep my house the way I want it (rather than being lazy and letting living alone be an excuse not to clean).

Last winter, all of us ALTs went to Mid –year conference. Vicki (the old PA – Prefectural Advisor) had the previous PA come and talk about re-contracting. I remember that she had us list the three  things we liked most about our job and the three things that we hated the most. Not being in the presence of my co-workers, I could be completely open about it. I hated the distance between me and friends (by this point, I had become pretty good friends with a few ALTs here – so both them and friends at home), I hated a couple of other things (I don’t remember now). The things, the “stranger” (another ALT I hadn’t met before) and I talked about were all things that with some energy and time, could be remedied.

Here, I sit, on the other end of that decision, knowing that I made the right decision. It was just before my first year was up that things really started to improve. I got to know the JET community as a whole, I got over my fear of getting stuck in a situation and not knowing what to say and started jumping in and trying, people started talking to me more.

I’m really glad I stayed, I don’t love being a human tape recorder, but more and more I am convincing my JTEs to let me have a small part in the classes. Not always huge change, but sometimes small things. Because I now have a relationship with them and some rapport, I can make suggestions and ask questions.

More and more I just feel included instead of excluded. This weekend, my supervisor invited me to go to her son’s school festival. I went and it being the largest school in town, lots and lots of my students were there (any kid that was there was either my student, my future student or my predecessor’s student). It was fun being surrounded by people I knew, rather than being in a crowd feeling lost. I got introduced to the kids who were sitting behind me, yochien kids (preschoolers) and was told that one of them would be in the first grade next year and I’d get to teach him. I had a fun time between performances tickling their toes and playing silly games.

In the end, recontracting is a hard decision, if you hate your job now, it may or may not improve in the next year, but on the other hand, having relationships around you just might make the difference. I don’t love everything about my job now, but I’ve built relationships with the students and teachers around me and really am loving living in Japan, now. 

Not yet sure what I'll do next year, but at this point, I'm leaning toward staying. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Some lunch time fun.

At one of my schools, the students have started playing janken (rock, paper, scissors) at the end of lunch. If a student loses, they have to take something from the other student's tray during clean up.

Today I was invited to play by one of my first graders whose birthday it was today. Usually I'm not included in this madness, but today I was and anytime my students include me in things like this, I gladly join.

The first round, he played rock, I played paper. I gave him the stack of bowls I had been taking from other kids (when you stick one in the stack, you might as well stick 5, it's no more work).

Second round, he played rock, I played paper, again. And, again, I won. He got my milk carton.

Third round, I thought he'd catch on and realize I was playing paper. He played rock, I played scissors . . . and lost. I not only got my own milk carton back, but the other three that he had on his tray.

Then the bell rang.

Luckily I don't mind rinsing milk cartons and tearing them down.

My winnings from the day

Monday, November 1, 2010


Next month on December 5, I'm taking the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test). I have a bit over a month to go and SOOO much studying to do.

I don't know if I'll pass it, but I have to try!