The First Day 2: Second Day

2 Sep

Today went a lot better. I don’t think I reached out a whole lot more, but there was more I got to do. I also remembered to take my lunch and an umbrella, which was a big plus.

I actually spent a lot of the day with Miura-sensei and the special needs class. The big activity today was a cooking class, and we made crepes. Pretty basic recipe: pancake mix, egg, and milk. Then more milk when it turns out you’re making pancakes instead of crepes (interesting to note, pancakes in Japan are called hotcakes predominantly).

However, it’s the toppings that get a little interesting. Toppings included marmalade, sweet corn, azuki beans and wasabi (!?). I decided to make one with marmalade and sweet corn, and I mean, it was a bit different, but I can’t say it was terrible. Could have been wasabi anyway.

Umai kureepu o dekita yo! (We made delicious crepes!)

Afterwards we went upstairs to the 3rd floor and cleaned the art room. There were actually some pretty neat projects in there, a bit of woodwork even. Someone had made a mock baseball field with a spring-loaded pitcher and batter, and there was a maze you could guide a marble through by shifting the angle of the board. It even had a ramp so that you had to get to the finish by making the marble hop over a wall. These kids are doing a lot more amazing stuff than I ever did in junior high art class.

The room also has a very nice view outside of the baseball field, rice farms and tree covered mountains. Working in the countryside is pretty awesome.

After that, we took a little break in the activities room, where we initially had cooked. Miura-sensei and I just chatted it up a bit, and then I told him the story about chiritori vs. shiritori (see the previous post). It turns out that shiritori is actually a word game wherein one writes a word, and the other person has to write a word starting with the last character of the first word, and so on. Words cannot be reused, and one loses if the use a word that ends in n (since in Japanese words cannot start with n). While that may sound easy, I actually lost twice with udon and gohan, and Miura-sensei did once with doragon.

I think we did this for the rest of the hour. I felt a little weird, like I should have been doing something productive, but it was fun, and if Miura-sensei was fine with it I may as well have enjoyed it too!

After lunch I actually took a bit of time to talk to the students. A lot just kind of gave me blank stares and/or laughed when I talked to them in English, but, at least according to the teachers, it sounds like they like me. A girl named Kii actually spoke to me for a bit, and we talked about various things, mostly food. She likes cheese a lot, which surprised me a little since cheese isn’t big here. She really likes Camembert, which is surprisingly popular here. I see a lot of specialty pizzas with Camembert, but really never heard of it in the states.

However, while she knew of Swiss, cheddar and cream cheese, she was totally clueless to the likes of Colby, Munster and ricotta. I said I’d make and bring a lasagna sometime, which was probably a terrible promise to make sine I have no idea how I’ll find the ingredients or make enough for everyone (or even make any since we don’t have ovens).

I boasted that Kii had to be best in her class with English, but she disagreed and said she was third (which by American standards is still pretty boastful). She said my Japanese was better than her 12 year old little sister, so I surmised my Japanese is at a 13 year old’s level.

The outside of Okishio Junior High School.

For the rest of the day, and at other small bits in between, I did a little work contributing to lessons, namely making a word bank of Arizona terms and their Japanese counterparts, perhaps for a future lesson. It seems for next week, when classes actually start, I will get to do an introduction lesson and have the students make similar introductions about themselves, and then have the students make name plates so I can learn their names. The latter was my idea. I’m going to have them draw their favorite animal on them too, since that will make them more unique and help me remember them.

I do hear from multiple ALTs, however, that it’s often the case where you and the teacher decide on a lesson, then you come to the class and they have something totally different prepared. Or they tell you they have a lesson ready, then you come to class and they ask why you didn’t bring any lesson or game. I guess I’ll just have to see how it goes, though Takeuchi-sensei seems very on top of things and organized. I feel like we are on the same page.

All in all it was a much more fun and productive day. Except that I got on the wrong bus after I left and had to go to the end of the route before I could catch a bus that went back the right way. I don’t think I got home until around six. Fortunately it didn’t rain much during the times I was outside waiting for the bus and biking back home.

I don’t intend on doing constant daily journals about my school job, but for now it’s new and interesting so they’re the main topic. I hope to get back to more interesting things about Japan and my non-school adventures.

Hooray weekend!

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One Response to “The First Day 2: Second Day”

  1. Theresa and Tom September 3, 2011 at 12:11 am #

    Say hi to your teachers and students from us! I love your articles.

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