November 1st, 2006

Andrew Magnum

Giannormus School Update

I must confess, my relationship with my school is a bit strained at this time. It soured greatly after the Andrew should not be allowed to reap what he sows ruling a few weeks back. My new sentaku classes are good kids, but they are not my good kids. The second class of the two is particularly trying. I still have a lot of fun, but in comparison, the last batch was so much more fun. One of the kids I have had for the last 3 semesters, but due to the new rule could not have this time, came up to me and said, “Andrew, English good. Art bad! I want English!” Had he not been the kid that likes me just a little too much and is frequently a step too far into my personal space, I would have hugged him on the spot. Instead I told him that I wished he could take English again, and that I miss him in the class.

The other huge problem at school right now is that I am constantly feeling like I am an underling rather than a partner. One teacher in particular keeps springing things on me. Though we sit next to each other and see each other all day, I will come into school in the morning and she will ask me to make a quiz, or find song lyrics, or print pictures for first period, over lunch, or with not much warning at all before the deadline. This gives me very little time to accomplish her task, which she has probably known about for somet ime. Complicating the issue is the school only has one (and that is not a hyperbole) and only one computer hooked up to the internet, and it is not networked to the good color printer AND google image search is blocked by the school’s inept web filter: as are a lot of song lyrics sights where I might find LYRICS!

I don’t mind doing any of these tasks, but it really angers me that she just springs this stuff on me. Sometimes I have not even taken my backpack off or signed in for the day when she is already giving me a list of things that she needs me to do in approximately twenty minutes. I work really hard to have everything I need to have done for the next day, done by the end of school.

My first grade teacher wants me to take on a more active role in lesson planning and has told me he wants me to plan a lesson a week for him. Luckily when I asked when he wants it done he said, no rush, but it is still out there in the ether waiting to strangle me. I have been giving some thought as to what I want them to do, but it is tough to work with the first graders as they know nothing (no offense to them). Also planning another lesson a week at this time would be pretty crippling, as I am already planning two lessons a week and preparing a 70 minute presentation (more on all of this later).

Meanwhile another teacher has been adding tons of classes to my schedule everyday. I come in expecting to work 2 periods only to find it is now 5. Again, it isn’t that I mind working this time, but I don’t like to be surprised. He also has a lot of “come up with a good presentation for class in the next… 2 minutes!” I guess the real problem is that I am currently working on a presentation that I have to give at the Mid Year Seminar November 17th. I also plan two special lessons a week (one for second graders and another for first graders). My teachers probably plan about 1.5 lessons a week and just do that lesson 5 times. They don’t seem to realize that in many ways I have more to do then them. My time is very important right now and I budget it accordingly. It really angers me that my time seems to be of such little value around here the last few weeks.

In all fairness to my teachers these last few weeks have been crazy. One of the two 3rd grade English teachers has come down with a very serious eye thing (I don’t know much else, medical stuff is impossible to translate properly) so she has been out for the past week and a half! You don’t have substitute teachers in Japan, so the other teachers are doing her work too. So I know that I have been, partially, drafted into this cause. That is why I have not said anything about what is going on to my teachers. If it continues once she returns I will bring it up.

The other issue is it is Culture Week in Japan. Friday is a national holiday (wa-hoo!) and tomorrow (Thurs) is the culture festival at my school. The school nurse tried to draft me into doing an impossibly well choreographed dance number that would have shattered my ego in front of everyone. I told her no. It upset her, but the fact is I am perfectly willing to make an ass out of myself. I do it on a pretty regular basis in the classroom, but I am just not comfortable dancing in front of people. I don’t like to dance or sing. I’m an act like a fool kinda guy, not look like one. That being said, I am participating in the festival.

One of the third grade classes came down Monday and begged me to help them. I promised I would, provided my part was easy as I would only have 4 days to get ready. Thus, I am “Papa” I bestow the “Microphone of Legend” to the group of heroes as they journey to beat the evil demon through rock and roll. I couldn’t make this up if I tried. I have two lines, both in Osaka-ben which is Japanese Osaka slang. I say: “Maiku attayo!” (“マイク あったよううう!”) Something along the lines of “Here’s a mike” and “Hashitate ni nateta yo!” (“はしたて に なてた よううううう!!!”) I have no idea what this means, but if I comedicly draw out the “yoooooooo!!” the kids love it. For all I know, I am yelling, “I’m a big white goon who doesn’t know what he is saying, yoooooooooo!” Like I said, totally willing to make an ass out of myself, provided it is only verbally.

I’m just under a lot of pressure with my presentation, all the “big favors” I have been doing for my teachers, adjusting to the fact that I am punished for being a half way decent teacher, planning new lessons, and not going insane.

Gotta get some sleep tonight. I have a show to steal tomorrow. “Maiku attayo!” “Hashitate ni nateta yo!” DON’T FORGET THAT ANDREW!
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