Wednesday, October 04, 2006

it's not always easy standing in the classroom knowing that i'm in the middle of a crap lesson. a lesson so beyond saving that it's painful to roll my eyes. he's cut the reading section once again. G thinks he does it because he can't teach reading. Since he has never attempted to teach it while i've been here, i am inclined to believe her. His reasoning, most last times, "no time." we have no time! of course we don't. students are barely given a chance to have two weeks worth of classes without any interruptions. We have covered 3 lessons in 4 months. How does that make sense?
Today, it was a section entitled "Chat Corner." Had eight or nine ways to describe an experience, such as "great," "exciting," "boring," etc.. He had a plan, i didn't have time to even consider different options. we get into the classroom and all of a sudden we're having a conversation that wasn't in the plan. i follow along. instead of having them look at what we're talking about in the textbook, he hands out a worksheet with all the eight or nine words written with their japanese translations, followed by a dialogue, basically made up for students to use in interviewing a friend and me. so then i say a word, they repeat in voices that do not sound "fun," or even "not bad" and he tells them the japanese translations.
i know for a fact, they can read Japanese; it's the English they have trouble with.
at least they enjoy interviewing me and i attempt to walk around as much as i can during the activity and ask students the questions to get them involved.

on tuesday, played jeopordy with both 3rd grade classes and one 2nd grade class. the 2nd grade class was the last period of the day. it's unfortunate that they are my least favorite class out of 5. the kids in that class do not get involved at all; nothing is ever good enough for them to pay attention to. yesterday, two girls in a group were laughing at something i said, i don't even know what it was, but it really got to me. and then half the class would talk as i was asking other groups questions and nothing the teacher said to make them be quiet worked. i almost gave up.
it's probably my fault. the questions were too hard, only three groups got to play 'cause the "smart" students were in them and dominated.
same thing happened in one of the 3rd grade classes were only two groups actually got to play because for half the game a group with Ryo, a top English student, dominated, and then they faltered and it went to another strong student, one of the girls in my English club, and stayed there for the remainder of the period. i felt bad for the students in the other groups, but couldn't change rules half way through the game.
next time we play, i'll modify it so that it doesn't happen again and everyone gets to play.
thing is. it's not that Ryo or the other students who answered correctly are brilliant. it's just that they actually study. the rest of them, especially in 2nd grade right now, just don't bother. they don't have homework that makes them repeat the things they've covered in class. they don't have reading or writing assignments. it's all just a bit frustrating sometimes.
and i'm not angry with the students. 'cause the students are good people most of the time. i handed lottery tickets (a prize system i started a while back) to the top two groups in each grade that played Jeopordy, and the group with Ryo wrote his name on all 4 cards. that made me smile.

it's not all bad, really. had a good english club. played a couple of games and then watched "billy elliot." didn't want to do too much with them today, 'cause half the kids from the club were practicing for Saturday's athletic meet. the movie went over well, although i wish i had time to explain the story line with the miners and the strike, but prolly too much for my japanese and their english. they liked the movie, and i'm glad. although i forgot how much swearing is in it; i really hope that the subtitles didn't reflect too much of it. oops.

oh. and on monday we were at the All Okinawa Speech Contest. my student didn't place and i only had a faint hope of it anyways. not 'cause she's bad, she's quite good, but her pronounciation just wouldn't improve beyond a certain level and i knew that the competition would be tough. and it was. and i don't envy the judges, although i did not at all agree with one of their picks for a place. i asked for comments, and was told that the theme of my student's speech was too serious for a JHS student. they had decided last year, apparently, that speeeches shouldn't be so heavy handed because it doesn't reflect the JHS students' actual opinions. They're telling me that a 15 year old girl can't talk about war because it's too much? Didn't want to argue right there with the judge, it's a tough job, but i didn't write the speech. she did. i didn't tell her to think about war, and stories that are lost with each survivor that passes--she wrote it. made me angry. monday afternoon was not happy.
good thing i met Kelly for dinner in Chatan, and we had yummy pasta and i felt better. Then had tea at Starbucks with Louise and was feeling much better when set of for drive home after 9pm.

Chiye and i are doing a seminar during the Mid-Year Conference. It'll be exclusively for the JTEs and we'll have it both days of the conference. Am looking forward to it. It'll be good to talk to the JTEs and get their opinions and to find out how they feel about working with ALTs and to clarify some things from our perspectives.
Like the fact that most people i know don't think that teaching to the lowest denominator in a classroom is a good idea. but that's what they do here. which is why we have classes like i did today.

my supervisor showed me the papers for re-contracting. he'll give them to me on Friday. I have until the 3rd of February to make a decision about staying for a 3rd year.

To stay?

i know it's on a few 2nd years' minds..
how to make the decision that feels right? it needs to feel right, right? or does it need to add up to everything that seems right?

also, please pick up a copy of "The History of Love" by Nicole Krauss from your library or bookstore. You'll be doing yourself a great favor by reading it. I can actually say i have a favorite book now.



Chi said...

I think recontracting for a third year is the hardest decision to make in JET. Even I am having doubts. I don't know if its whether you make it on whether or not everything adds up or if it is just better to stay (or go). A lot can happen in 4 months...hell, a lot can happen in two weeks...

Kevin Thomas Hurley said...

I just got done with a trilogy called Memory of Fire, by Eduardo Galeano. It is a great history of the Americas, mainly south and central, and is composed of very short(sometimes just a sentence) versions of historical events. Best part is that Galeano is not a historian so the way he writes it is very interesting. If you stay another year we will be in the same country! Is that a plus?