I've been eating a lot of rice in the last few days. You would think I would be eating it more often, because I'm living in Asia and all, but usually I don't have the patience to wait 45 minutes for the rice cooker, so I just eat other stuff. But I've been cooking a lot more lately. I go back and forth between wondering why Japan is so obsessed with rice and craving it. Maybe it's the texture. Mmm, sticky sticky sticky!
Who wants to see pictures from my new camera?? You do! Yaaay!
During O-bon, which is the holiday for revering your dead ancestors, there are festivals all over the country where people put the names of dead relatives on paper, and put them in these boats that they then float in the water and burn.
Here is a boat before it goes into the water.
And here is the boat burning:
And here it is all burnt up:
They would them push them somehow to a big pile on the bank where they would let them slowly die out. There were a whole lot of boats, it took a while. There were also a lot of firetrucks.
So I know that there are firework pictures from a year ago, but these are so pretty! Right?
New school. New self introduction. New self-promoting quiz. What fun!
And a self-promoting board. A very very simplified family tree.
A picture of my new school. There's about 400 students, or 150 less than the old one. Behind me are lots and lots of rice fields.
Told ya. And a bike.
I walk by this house every day.
And funny things. Like the bus from Gunma.
And yay look it's me.
I'm listening to the radio right now, and there's hardly any music, and they're talking about toll roads but I don't know exactly what.
So I have really mixed feelings about my new school. So far there are some incredibly nice teachers and some that are more concerned with their own work. I've had the problem though where people want to talk to me so much I just get exhausted. Especially when I'm asked questions like, "Can you eat rice? Is it ok?" Yes, yes I can eat rice. If I hated rice that would be a big problem. I'm not allergic just because Americans eat only bread and steak.
The English teacher for the seventh graders is also already driving me crazy. I know I shouldn't compare schools, but the disciplinary standards are so different. At my old school I saw a girl get chewed out because her ponytail was too high, and one time two students switched seats in class as a joke and the teacher let them have it. At this school it's the complete opposite. The teacher I'm with now tells them to be quiet in a quiet voice himself, and when they're supposed to sing a days of the week song he just stands there and doesn't sing along himself, so of course the kids don't either, then later he asks me if he should get rid of the singing part of the lesson because it 'doesn't seem like it was very popular'. No, if you want them to sing make them sing! Also at my old school if the kids didn't answer a question quickly enough they would get in trouble, but here they're allowed to whisper to their friends about the right answer to "How are you?" for two minutes in the second semester. Today during warmup, the kids aren't allowed to sit down until they answer a question correctly, and a girl tried to sit down three times, slumped in her chair or with her head on her desk because she didn't feel like doing it, so I got tough with her and made her cry. Whoops. Oh well. But how is she going to learn how to answer "Are you from Japan?" if she doesn't try? The teacher here just asked her to stand up again, but if a kid did that even once at the other school she would have been in biiiig trouble.
I'm really conflicted as to how I should act in this. While sometimes at my old school I did wish I was in a position of more responsibility, it was also nice because I could be the link between the students and teachers. Now, with this teacher standing off to the side of the room teaching instead of behind the desk, effectively giving up his authority, the kids give me the guilty look when they do something, instead of me being the one offering them a comforting smile when they're in trouble. I feel too new for that. I would rather get their trust first, but with the way they're running wild and can't answer "Is this a pen?" I would be uncomfortable with letting that continue.
There is one class that's the worst so I made little sheets where if they collect enough good behavior stamps they can get a prize. I hope it works.
I see my old teacher on Thursday for the speech contest. Maybe I'll ask her advice. How do I do that without making my new teacher sound bad though?
On the plus side, I've already designed a bunch of games and worksheets, which I didn't get a chance to do before, and the teachers seem really excited about them. Probably because they don't have to do the work, haha! I'm also grading papers all the time, and have hardly any free time, which I actually prefer. I also have my own cleaning area now: each teacher has a spot in the school where they stand around and make sure the kids are cleaning right, and then at the end they stand around in a circle and say things like, "You guys played around too much today," or "Thank you for noticing to clean the ___" or something and I have a stairway! Yay! I don't know enough about the process, so yesterday I said, "Wow, sure is clean, huh?" and everyone laughed, and then today I told a really funny girl to use more water when wiping the floor, and she said, "Me, more water, yay!" I like the eighth graders a lot.
Friday I have an elementary school visit. The teacher came to give me the lesson plan today. I didn't really like her, she wouldn't look me in the eye at all. Maybe I don't have to teach with her that much. Maybe I'm also really tired right now. But I'm gonna be tiiiiired on Friday: five classes, and two of them involved jumping up and down with second graders, with me being the main teacher which I'm super super not used to. But this weekend is a music festival in Morioka.
The phrase "main teacher" used in reference to myself is really weird. I also wonder how strange it is that so many little chillins look to me as a teacher. I'm not a teacher! I'm a twenty-something. Ooh, that's weird too.
It's 10:00 and my mind is wandering in case you hadn't noticed. I'm gonna have a popsicle.