So the kids and I are starting to understand each other a little bit more. At first they used the super honorific speech with me, and I would get freaked out and tell them not to do that, I'm not even a certified teacher, I'm just a 22 year old!! They also used to get really scared when I walked by and saw them writing notes, and they would put them away in their desks really quick and look guilty, and now I just laugh at them. Also, if I catch someone catching me trying to suppress a yawn (because it's really tiring having to be on all the time), I'll put on a guilty face and the two of us have a Special Moment. Awww. Sometimes I do have to grab kids and make them face the front and stop messing around with the people behind them because the teacher is talking. But lately they've noticed that I really don't care what they do, and I hardly ever even tell them to tuck in their shirts or not to run, mostly because sometimes the actual teachers don't do it so I don't know when to tell them that and when not to. And the kids and I have been making lots of secrets. Like, when I'm checking their work, and something like this happens:
[essay] "When I grow up, I want to be a male nurse. I want to help many sick people."
Me: "Male nurse?" (crosses out male.)
Girl: "Why did you cross that out?" And she points to the chalkboard where "male nurse" is clearly written.
Me: "Whaaat? That's wrong! Here, this is how it has to be, don't tell the teacher, because he'll be embarrassed that he made a mistake in front of the class."
Girl: "HAHAHA! TEACHER! YOU MADE A MISTAKE! YOU CALLED ME A MAN! HAHAHA!"
But usually the last part doesn't happen. Usually it's just "Oh, ok, yay, secrets from teacher! I love Kim!"
On Tuesday, I was going to go to a class (with the teacher from the above anecdote, by the way) and he briefed me very quickly in Japanese what we would be doing that day. Warm up, homework check, page 52. Great. Then he said he had to go do a "dljfadlfj." A dakslfjladjf? "uhh, like...a speech, how do you say? Oh, well, never mind." and he went into the AV room and I didn't hear what he said after that. So I waited around for a few minutes, and all I could see was his waist because there were posters on the windows, and I didn't know if there was another student in there or not. So I hung around, lalala, then I decided that since class had started a long time ago I should just go.
So I went, and there was another teacher there, I think he was math or something, and he was sewing up a student's broken uniform. So I came in, and he was like "oh, there you are! good." So I skipped the bowing and greeting and stuff because I thought the actual teacher would be coming in a few minutes and I didn't want to take his special honor ritual thingie. So I did the warm up, hrm, lets check homework. So I got to stamp everyone's homework. Hrm, now what? By now the students were really confused as to where the regular teacher was, and is he coming, and should we go look for him? And I was like hell if I know, but whatever. Uhh, repeat after me! So we did that, and I didn't have the vocabulary cards, so I had to write it on the board, and I did a very strange job of explaining the meanings, and explained both formats of "If A, then B." and "B if A." and they were like, yeah, we got it. S0, if they understand, what next? I wish that there was some other mistake they had been making a lot of recently, like handwriting or pronounciation that I could work on, but I didn't go to that grade very often so I didn't know what their weak points were. So I was just like, ok, let's hang out. I guess he's not coming. So I hung out and sauntered around the classroom, and by now the other teacher had gone. Some girl had her pirikura (bright colored snapshots from the arcade) out and I asked to see them. At first she denied even having any, and I expressed my surprise that they would be banned from school. So a few minutes later she showed me when she was sure I wouldn't turn her in. And I oohed and awwed and oh how cute, and who is this girl, is she in another class? and so that became another secret.
When I got back to the teachers room the teacher came over and was all "I'm sorry, thank you very much!" and I was like "It's cool, whatever, we just practiced a little bit." but what I was thinking was "What the hell? Why would you assume I would know what I was doing if I didn't even know you wouldn't be there or what you had already taught them mister man who has a teaching certificate and is therefore much more qualified than I am at this job, how irresponsible!" But I was still pretty proud of myself. If I had had a few minutes to think about it, or knew exactly where they were in the curriculum, I could have had a kick ass lesson, but for what it was it was pretty fun and laid back.
Also, in the last couple of days I've been doing practice oral tests for an English certification exam. When I do them I try not to make the kids nervous, because I'm asking things like, "When you go shopping, what do you like to buy?" instead of "Why do you like shopping?" or "What do you want to buy?" so when they can't think of an answer, I don't harass them, I just act like I have to go poo and make funny pained faces to show them that I really want them to do well. I don't know if this actually helps them, but their friends that are watching seem to think it's funny. And I had a kid do perfectly today.
So one girl, who I called Wind Child, because that's what the kanji in her name means, was pretty cool.
So it was like, "Ok, Wind Child, please hand the card back to me."
"Wind Child? Huh? Oh, that's me! Ok." so it was pretty funny.
Then she got a question wrong:
Wind Child: Shit.
Me: Try again. Wait, what?
Me: Whaaat? Did you just say shit?
So I laughed a whole lot.
Me: You better not say that in front of the other teachers, that's a bad word.
Her: Yeah, I know.
Then her friends started pestering her, what does that mean, what does that mean?
Pretty good for country kids. I'm sure if I was in the city I'd have a whole lot more stories, but you know.
Then after that they asked me if I like Obama, and I was Oh, god yes. Thank the Lord. And they asked if I liked McCain, and I was not so much. And I told them about Palin, and how in her interview she said she read all the newspapers, and didn't have a grasp of her job description, and they were "oooooooh." in the scandalous kind of way. And I told them that topic makes me very animated and they laughed.
Also, because Obama won, I've been talking a lot about that. So yesterday for the warmup I would talk about him in front of the class, because the teacher had been pretty interested in what my thoughts were. So the warmup speech went like this:
T: So Kim. Obama won, didn't he?
Me: Yes, I am very happy.
T: Oh. Why are you happy, Kim?
Me: Because I like Obama very much.
T: Why do you like Obama?
Student: [Because he's black?!]
Me: No. Because he can fix America!
T: I see. Why, is America broken? Is it because of Bush?
Me: (thinking this would never happen in an American school) Well, our economy is bad, and we are in two wars.
T: Aah, I see. So Obama can fix America that Bush broke. Class, did you understand?
Student: [If you like Obama so much, why don't you marry him?]
But I was very grateful for the freedom to talk about my personal opinions. In the States everything has to be so PC. But in Japan, everyone knows Bush screwed up, so they love to hear about it. But I still had to hold myself back alot, both from getting really into Bush bashing, and to dissuade the teacher from asking questions that would encourage me to do so, and from laughing out loud the whole time.
Today I was asked about my eyes three times. The first was when I went to an elementary school, and one of the questions they asked me was why my eyes were blue. I said because I was a foreigner. They also asked if I was married, and if I've ever been on a date. I guess that's better than asking if they have math in America like happened last time.
Then when I went back to my middle school, I was walking with a couple of the boys and I heard them say [blue eyes], but I didn't hear the context.
Inbetween those, I was cleaning the classroom with missing-teacher-class, and one of the kids asked me the same question! And I was like, "That's the second time I've heard that today!" and they didn't know what I said so I took that opportunity to teach them the words second, heard, and time. Then I drew a picture of DNA on the board, and told them how my family has all different color eyes. They were so impressed. The DNA picture made secret-purikura-girl ask if I knew Heroes, and I told her of course I do, and I even know what happens at the end of the season because Japan is late nanny nanny boo boo! and she covered her ears. Then I told her I know what happens to the white guy that is a samurai, and to illustrate this I drew a picture of two jail cells with people in them, and she was like, [Oh, the people that can't teleport out!] so I told her that the end of the series for that character is really interesting, and that's all I would say. Because really, trapping an immortal guy in a box forever is all kinds of revenge.
There's always so much I want to say, but this has taken about an hour. Remind me to tell you how annoying it is to ride a bike here.