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School Stories: Part One

July 7, 2012

There are too many great stories that arise from being an elementary school teacher in Japan, so I decided to create an ongoing theme in my blog where I share a few stories at a time. I write them down as they happen, so I have a pretty decent log of stories from my couple of months of teaching! For now, I’ll share the first five stories.

MES — April 23rd. There was a little girl who I think was left behind by her big sister after school. At first I thought that they were just separated but her sister really did forget her and go home without her. She just sat at her teacher’s desk looking all sad and forlorn while the other teachers (understandably) worked around her. It wasn’t like they completely ignored her, it’s just that they had to continue working. I couldn’t take it anymore seeing her just sit and wait so I grabbed my crayons and my markers as well as a few sheets of paper and wheeled my chair over so I could sit next to her. She was pretty quiet (I would be too if a teacher I’ve never met before– and a foreigner on top of that — all of a sudden appeared) but we decided to draw our favorite animals and I had her choose what she wanted to draw with. She chose the crayons and got to business drawing her bear and I started working on my lion. For those family members reading this, yes, wolves are still my favorite animals, but I like lions as well and they’re easier to draw! At the end I gave her my lion and she gave me her bear. It’s hanging on my wall at home. 🙂

MES — April 23rd. Today I had lunch with one of my fifth grade classes. I ended up sitting next to a boy who kept his back completely turned to me. So, after a while I copied him and would make faces at him over my shoulder. The girls sitting across from me were in hysterics, they were laughing so hard. Glad to know I’m making friends.

THES  — 1st week teaching. Today I wore my black suit and got a little too close to the chalkboard. Oops! My backside was covered in chalk. The kids got a kick out of that, and it took me a little while to realize what had happened.

TES — April 24th. I bring a lunchbox to school, which always gets some good reactions. Today’s lunch was half a peanut-butter sandwich, a bunch of carrot sticks, and peanuts. Yes, I know I had peanuts and a peanut butter sandwich, but I was running low on food supplies. Anyway, the students had noodles and soup, some veggie mix, and doughnuts for dessert. My table had two talkative and inquisitive boys. Apparently eating raw carrots isn’t really done in Japan, so I had a lot of surprised students when I bit into one and it made a snapping noise. 「先生!うさぎですね。(Sensei! Usagi desu ne)」, they exclaimed, which means, “You’re like a rabbit, aren’t you?”

The boys answered all of my questions about the meals too. They explained what the food was and what was in it, and when we got to the doughnut, I asked, “This is a doughnut, right?” The answer: “Yes.” My next question: “Does it have cream in it?” “No.” The boy sitting next to me then broke off a piece of his doughnut and offered it to me, saying, “Want to try some?” Immediately afterward the other boy burst out laughing, telling the next table, 「彼はなんぱしています!」which means, “He’s trying to pick Carolyn-sensei up!” Poor kid. He turned bright red and got so irritated. After trying to deny the offered piece a few times, I finally accepted it. Then it turned out that there were some extra doughnuts, but one kid had decided to claim them all for himself. He was quickly set straight by his peers and a small plate with a doughnut soon appeared in front of me. I ate the whole thing and it was delicious.

FES2 — April 27th. Big accomplishment! Today I bonded with the principal who scared me when I was meeting my schools for the first time. He was asking me serious questions about my ALT experience and how much of it I had. I was scared that he wanted someone with more experience and would ask for someone else. What did we bond over, you ask? Why, Thailand, of course! He asked me if I had been to any other countries, to which I responded with, “Only Thailand.” It turned out that he was going there this summer so we talked a lot about the tourist attractions I had been to. I had my computer with me, so I showed him some of the pictures I took while I was there. Later in the day he called me into his office to help translate the website of the hotel he was reserving at. Although the website did have some Japanese, there were sections in English that he didn’t fully comprehend. Luckily he had a teacher there whose native language is English! I’m glad we found a way to break the ice.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. john permalink
    July 7, 2012 9:54 AM

    Your kids sound awesome, as they know that donuts are delicious and should be shared with all.

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