School’s In Session

Today was my first day of actual classes at T Junior High School! And today, I managed to not get lost! Haha.

My first class of the day was with first year students. Oh, in case you don’t know, the Japanese school system is split up like this: six years in primary school, three years in junior high school, and three years in senior high school. Rather than continually counting up grades like we do in America, the number just resets after a student reaches the next school. So, my first year students are actually seventh graders.

I wandered the halls a bit before this class, unsure of whether I was supposed to meet the teacher I work with at the classroom, or in the staff room. Everywhere I went I got a chorus of, “Hallo!” It feels a bit silly to wave and greet so many kids, and I think I ran into the same group of giggling girls about twenty times during the day. After wandering around I found the teacher, and we headed to class together.

This class was really enthusiastic. I’ve been told that first years are, as it’s their first chance to study English formally. The teacher first asked, “What’s her name? It starts with ‘co’!” Without even being bribed, the students raised their hands and began to come up with all kinds of answers. The students had to ask in the form of, “Are you ________?” My favorite came from a kid up front who shouted, “Are you Miss Korea!?” I was also Cola, and a couple of other strange nouns I can’t recall.

The class went smoother than I thought it would, as the teacher with me did a good job of explaining things and helping me along. A lot of my worries dried up right there. There were other trivia-type questions in my self-introduction, and I took note of one kid with a broken arm who was extremely eager to answer questions as well as ask them. There was also one girl in the front who told me she enjoyed studying English, and seemed genuine about it.

After this was lunch, which is served by the students in the classrooms. I ate with class 2-3, a group of second years. The food they serve is delicious, as well as healthy. American schools could learn a lot from these schools, but unfortunately I can’t really imagine the same system being implemented back home. The kids scarfed down their meals in the short amount of time we were given to eat. The classroom was pretty loud, but the kids around me weren’t… I didn’t really get to talk to them. I think they were just shy, or maybe thought themselves too cool for me.

I wandered around a bit more during recess, answering another chorus of hellos. The school is pretty big as far as Japanese schools go. The layout is logically simple, but my bad sense of direction mixed with the school’s size made it easy for me to lose my way. I wonder if the students noticed me doing U-turns at random intervals.

The second class I had was a group of second year students. During recess the teacher tweaked my original presentation a bit to turn it into a competition between groups. So instead of simply presenting information, the kids were asked to make a guess.

This class was fun. There were six groups of six, and four of these six groups each had loud students who would rally the rest of their group to answer and get points (I gave them cutesy erasers as prizes). After I’d introduced myself, the kids were given points to introduce themselves to me. Groups who got all their members to introduce themselves to me would get 100 points. The loud students were all boys, but it was fun to watch as they riled up the girls and got everyone to help them in their quest for points.

In this class there several students who stood out to me. First was one boy who actually remembered everything I’d said during my speech to the whole school! He remembered my name, for one. Then,when someone asked if I could speak Japanese, and he said, “Of course! She went to Hiroshima University!” He definitely won some brownie points.

Then there was one kid with a broken finger who was obviously the class clown. At one point he told me, “I love studying English!” The teacher then asked, “Really? Who thinks he’s telling the truth?” The room was silent. “Who thinks he’s lying?” The entire class raised their hands, one kid shouting in Japanese, “That’s definitely a lie!”

This boy had what I might call a lackey. They were in the same group, and at times during the quiz they would jokingly bicker over the answer. A couple times the class clown would slap this kid lightly on the head, again jokingly, when he tried to say something “clever.”

Then there was one boy and girl in a group who continually tried to cheat. “What’s your name? What’s the answer?” they would keep whispering to me when the teacher wasn’t looking. I just smiled at them and shrugged. No cheating, kids!

Those were the two classes I had today. The rest of the time I spent studying English (it’s amazing what I don’t really know) and thinking/researching possible future activities.

On my way home, at the bus stop, another group of junior high boys greeted me. “Hallo! How are you? Nice to meet you!” they said in one breath. As they continued on, one of them said, “I love you!” and blew me a kiss. I think I gave him an incredulous look. You kids are silly.

Tomorrow I start classes at my other school, H Junior High. The nervousness I had before has settled a bit. I’m looking forward to seeing what these kids (and teachers) are like!

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~ by megumiwasframed on September 5, 2012.

2 Responses to “School’s In Session”

  1. Too bad nobody guessed constantinople!

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