Today was cold. 12 degrees F when I woke up. Which is, luckily, the coldest it's been since I've been in Iwate that I can remember, so it's at least not something that I have to live with everyday. Reading a friend's facebook status update she said that her door was frozen shut and she couldn't get inside, so I'm lucky in that way.
Today I overslept and woke up when I was supposed to be leaving my house. When that happens, the most important thing of course is getting to work on time, so I end up taking a cab, which isn't so bad here as it is in San Antonio because it's a lot more normal to take cabs here. People do all the time, but not necessarily for work. Normally I step outside and walk a couple of blocks until I see one, but today I walked all the way to the post office and there weren't any, and then I stood on a big street for 20 minutes waiting for an empty one to come by. But it was cold=frozen roads=people in a hurry/traffic jams=no cabs. I finally got one and I got to work technically late but in time for first period. Luckily in Morioka the schools have a "oh, it's winter, of course we want you to come in time for class, but just don't kill yourself, k?" mindset. Which is completely different from the rest of Japan, another reason why my job spoils me.
Another way it spoils me is that my boss at the BoE is so cool. Yesterday we led a workshop together for elementary school teachers on how to teach effectively, and we did activities where they would have to communicate what I was saying without translating, which is something I think the middle school teachers need to learn as well. My boss and I talked a little bit on the way home, but I was trying not to be too critical of the Japanese education system. At least now they're going to start introducing English in elementary school, instead of middle school. In my opinion, I think English should be mandatory in elementary school so the kids get a good foundation, and then it should be an elective after that so the kids that start to learn the harder stuff don't have a bunch of ruffians in class with them. Now, it's mandatory in middle school, and they learn all this dumb grammar crap, and a lot of them don't like it as much as I wish they did.
Today also there was a meeting after school with the English teachers and me, and it was basically a checklist of how things are going in that subject. Most subject teachers don't meet that much together, the science teachers have their curriculum laid out for them by the federal and prefectural governments, and the teachers of the same grade work together instead. So, all the 7th grade teachers meet together instead of all the math teachers. But today the subject teachers met together, which I think would be good if they did more often, but whatever. They talked about what problems they were having, and shared ideas on methods, and gave each other advice. But I'm really turning Japanese. They asked me for advice to all of them and it was very difficult to not tell them things I thought they were doing wrong. For instance, the 8th grade teacher I wanted to tell to stop interrupting me when I spoke English in class, or to not call on people during my activities so that I can do it, but that kind of thing would be challenging authority. To the 7th grade teacher (Mr. Spiky Field) I wanted to say to have more discipline, consistency AND variety, encouragement and support, emphasis on communication over grammar, creativity in lesson planning, and follow-up. But I didn't say any of that. I just said I think they needed more basic practice. So then the 8th grade teacher suggested drills at the beginning of class, where they conjugate verbs or something, and he seemed amazed by that idea. But I had suggested that in the past, and offered my reasons of why I thought it would be helpful, and offered to make them, and he told me he would think about it and that was the end of that. Grr...
I don't know how much actually got done at the meeting, but Japanese people are masters at not saying much. You can say to your neighbor "You play the piano very well!" and they will know you meant "Please stop playing the piano late at night because I am trying to sleep then." So I don't actually know what's going on. Japanese people have this secret code that white people don't get which is part of the reason the language is so difficult. That and defined subjects of sentences or direct objects aren't always required, etc.
After the meeting I went to a play that the science teacher that had helped me before was in. I didn't have anyone to go with, but tomorrow was the last night, and I knew if I didn't go then I wouldn't because I would have already gone home and wouldn't want to leave my warm house. It was about 5 sisters and their men, and one is pissed at the other for something, so she tells him she's pregnant to mess with him, and another really wants to get married but her boyfriend isn't ready, and there's an annoying girl who's at their house all the time for comedic relief. The parts that I could understand were pretty good, even though it was a romantic comedy. I liked that it was just as much about the sisters as it was their love lives. The theater was pretty small, only about 150 people fit. I'm going to ask her tomorrow what the play was actually about, because I think I missed a lot.
Ok, off to bed or whatever. Goodnight!