I have a few more small stories from this week at work, so I thought I’d write them now before I forget about them. Actually this is entirely about today, not “my week.” Whatever…
Saturdays for me mean waking up much earlier than the rest of the week (7:30) and driving about 20 minutes from my house to teach some elementary students in a nearby town (my normal work place is a 2 minute bicycle ride from my apartment and start time is no earlier than 11, unless I go to a local high school/junior high school). Although early and more out of the way than a normal work day, these three classes are some of my best. The students range from 6 years old to 12, but in almost all cases they are some of the hardest studying students out of all Hello School’s students. To top this off, they all have personalities that make the classes go by just as quickly and easily as their willingness to work does. They always do their best to have not just correct answers, but interesting ones; they aim for perfect pronunciation; they never take the easy way out of any challenge and they clearly appreciate any effort that I put into making the class funny or interesting for them. I’m pretty sure a teacher could ask for almost nothing more.
These classes do, however, sometimes manage to get me smiling even more than my simple enjoyment of 3 classes that run almost on autopilot. For starters, my “Japanese mom,” Etsuko always joins me in these classes and my small conversation time with her in between classes and during workbook time always puts me in a good mood. The students always give me little confidence boosters as well, such as “My teacher is Scott, I like him a lot, he’s fun!” in a speech to hundreds of students and parents. They’ve also given me lots of presents for my birthday, halloween, christmas and valentines day. Three separate students have even had to switch from Mama (the town these classes are in) to Hello Shcool private lessons, and have BEGGED their parents to find a time in their family’s schedule when they could come to Hello School so that they could be fit into my schedule instead of changing teachers. My last Mama class of the day is two 6 year old girls who I’m convinced are the #1 and #2 cutest little girls in all of Japan. Every week when they come to class they climb on me and ask me to play tag or some other game with them. Today, one of the girls who had been absent for the past few weeks returned to class, and when seeing me, RAN and JUMPED up on me and hugged me for at least 15 seconds. I’m a little bit curious if she has no father figure in her life and if that might have something to do with her liking of me, but she seems like a happy girl so I’m not too concerned, and it makes me feel like a successful teacher since she likes me so much. She did the same thing when I saw her at the movie theater a couple of months ago, which got me a lot of weird looks from old Japanese men.
Finishing up my day at Hello School is a class of 3 girls and one boy. The boy is a bit silly but he has fun and is a generally good kid. The three girls are really smart but as shy as anyone I’ve ever seen. Yet, at the same time, they’re the opposite of shy in many ways. It’s really hard to explain other than they seem to be conditionally, irrationally, off and on shy. Even when being shy though, I can tell they’re enjoying my class, I’ve seen solid improvement in their English and they have become more comfortable than before at least. This class includes the girl who had to pretend to tie her shoe to get the courage to give me a Valentine’s present after class (from my last post).
Anyway, long story short: my Saturday classes are some of the best classes I could have asked for and they leave me with a great feeling and sense of accomplishment going into the weekend. I thought maybe 1 or 2 people who would read this would appreciate it- especially anyone who has tried teaching and actually cares what the students think about them or what kind of effect you might have on them, personally and educationally.
After typing this, as usual, I feel it’s incredibly boring. So, sorry. I typed it already, I’m posting it.