Published: April 23rd 2012April 23rd 2012
Morning walk to school
Everything is an experience in Japan. Upon opening my box of Camembert Cheese, I found a tin, like a tuna can, and inside that was foil wrapping, and finally: cheese!
I ate the cheese, but only God knows what I will do with all this packaging!
The Japanese walking up and down the street like to give me a good stare as I sit in the window typing. When I wave and bow to them, they are in shock that I am not a puppet in the window, and that I can see them with my eyes. There is always a pause of disbelief before they hurriedly bow in return, (hurriedly to hide the fact that they were staring).
Yesterday and today have been so very cold, so I am staying rugged up inside with the heater on. Hot tea has also helped. Usually the sun comes through the big windows and warms the apartment up during the day, but it has been overcast and rainy. This morning the fog sat in the mountains like Santa moustaches, and was picturesque, but c’mon! Bring on some warmer weather! (I will eat my words when summer comes.)
was the particular mad rush of a Monday: swimming day. The problem is that the majority of students arrive at 10.05am, and the bus to swimming arrives at 10.10am. After arrival on a Monday, each child must put their notebook (parent/school communication book) in its pocket, put their hat in the hat basket, put their lunch bag and drink bottle on the lunch rack and get changed into their bathers, with their clothes on top, and to top it off: fix up their swimming bag with goggles, a towel and a change of clothes. A few of the children are able to do this themselves with a bit of prodding and pointing, but the majority need help, especially with getting changed. It doesn’t help at all when the manager comes in and yells at the children, confusing them, and yells at the teachers, frustrating them. I stopped helping the children and waited for the manager to finish telling me off before I went back to helping the kids get changed. If she hadn’t come in, I might nearly have got them ready in 5 minutes flat!
Swimming was great fun; the children again did the obstacle course. One child
cried for his mother the whole time till the last five minutes, in which he obviously got over it and was fine. One little girl, who I saw last week fall into the deep section (to be rescued in 2 seconds flat by the watchful swimming instructor: who must have five sets of eyes in the back of his head!), cried and was totally terrified today. She was ok when she could hold on to the edge of something, but when it came to wading through 2 metres of water that came up to her shoulders without something to hold onto, she totally freaked, and had to be carried across every time. A few times some of the other girls held her hand and tried to coax her which was nice. A new thing in the Panda class is for students to help each other (usually with glue and scissors), but this time it was hand holding. These girls helped without being asked, which was very grown up, (especially when there is a slippery slide waiting!).
Still, I spent most of my time reattaching goggles and hair hats.
This afternoon the classroom became a battle zone, and several
Not to be outdone by the cheese
The Ritz box comes with three packets inside
knees, wrists and fingers were bandaged up with the heroic Band-Aid. Unlike what I remember as a child, these children are ashamed of their Band-Aids and try to cover them up with their clothes, pulling their shorts down to cover their knees, and sleeves down to cover their arms and hands. Whenever I had a Band-Aid, I’m pretty sure I showed it off with pride, and probably would even rip at one side to show whoever came across my path the gory mess of squishy scab underneath!
Tomorrow I will be in charge of activity time, and am still thinking of what to do. Most of my lesson plans are too intricate and detailed, and I need something very simple and fun for the kids to do. I’ve come up with a lesson plan for Mothers’ Day, but that will have to wait a couple of weeks, it’s a bit too early to do it now. I am thinking that we will go over the colours tomorrow, and will then colour in a rainbow.
Rebecca has come up with a schedule for our classroom for the week, which is really calming, as it is hard to focus on the moment, when I’m busy trying to hold a whole weekly schedule and plan in my head. Mondays are swimming. Tuesdays, Rebecca will do Mat Time (reading books, singing songs, flash cards, vocab: all speaking and listening) and I will do Activity Time (generally something crafty, written, paper: reading and writing). Thursday we will swap, I will do Mat Time, Rebecca Activity Time. Wednesdays and Fridays are Music Lessons. During Music Lessons (which are held at Nagata san’s house), half the children go inside to the lesson, and the other half stay outside with the teachers and do an activity. Because the class is split in half, it is an opportunity to do a short but intensive lesson, where each student can have more one-on-one time with the teacher. I’m actually looking forward to this, but want to see how it goes before I jump right in. And that’s the week, that’s it!
Today I was given a yearly schedule from the school, which has rough dates of when festivals and school events are, but generally it just says what month they are in, rather than a particular date. This is probably because a date hasn’t been decided yet. A lot of the excursion dates depend on when the mothers (note: not “parents” but “mothers”) are available to come on excursion with the children.
The town bells chime at 5pm every day. Wine o’clock!
Every day I am finding new ways to trip over this blasted guitar case. It seems too good to throw outside in the rain with all the other rubbish, but at the same time, it makes me angrier and angrier every time I look at it.
This morning whilst wandering to school admiring the fog, the music teacher pulled over in her car and gave me a lift to school. We spoke in a broken mess of English and Japanese, she speaking a little English, and me speaking a little Japanese.
Another thing I thought I would note down is the importance of Jan Ken Pong here. It settles all classroom disputes.
Can’t decide who gets the orange crayon? Jan Ken Pong.
Can’t decide who touched the Lego piece first? Jan Ken Pong.
Decide who is ‘it’? Jan Ken Pong.
If it weren’t for this simple mediator, I would spend all day settling these disputes. Some major disputes can’t be solved with Jan Ken Pong, however, I have never seen it, when used, fail.
Left-overs for dinner (gyoza, croquets and rice) as I am trying to really budget my food budget this week, and see how little I can live off (not to the severity of 19yen, however!). Back into the kanji and grammar study also.