My coordinates on the map of education has me sitting between Math-Sensei who always expresses great amusement when I proudly tell him the new Japanese words I had learned the previous night while watching TV, as they are almost always words used exclusively by men, and my favorite English teacher. I value Life-saver-sensei more than world of warcraft gold and do not know what I would do without her. Not only does she teach me Japanese, like the kanji for beef so I don`t order liver by mistake but also imparts some slices of sage advice on me, like the fact that cotton tofu is better for frying and silk tofu is best eaten plain. She is also an invaluable teammate while playing Japan`s national sport of bureaucracy.
|Silken on the left (Kinugoshi), Cotten on the right (Momen)|
Every Tuesday and Thursday we are graced with the presence of snack-time-sensei who instituted the practice of 3-lunch-Tuesday followed closely by 3-lunch-Thursday (We literally eat 3 lunches that day). We all put out our bento (lunch boxes) at the same time and Snack-time-sensei adds whatever food she had cooked that day. It is a hit and miss game that has had me enjoying noodles wrapped in flatbread to planning an escape strategy for octopus on a stick. As snack-time-sensei is also the art teacher, I have been drawn twice and even Roland has been thrown under the paintbrush one afternoon after school. Snack-time-sensei kept muttering about how Japanese men just don`t strike a perfect profile without such a good nose.
|Free Japanese pears (Nashi) from a kind teacher|
|Rooibos tea that I brought for the teachers (one of them made the sign to explain to the other teachers)|
There is a fair amount of prep work that goes into entertaining 15 classes a week for an hour at a time. My five English teachers all have different styles and requirements that range from very specific, like `today Furiida Sensei let`s listen to a song and fill in the blanks, please find a suitable song and create a few activities, to `today Furiida Sensei lets have fun. I teach 1st, 2nd and 3rd year senior high school kids ranging from sugary sweet girls to sleepy third years and a few rowdy little characters who are not aware of the fact that I am used to South African kids and so their best efforts come across as chatty with a sprinkle of bad English jokes. My two favorite little chancers call themselves Antonio and King Bob. I have six 1st year classes and all of them are super genki (lively). They all fall head over heels for the games we play and scramble to get the right answers so that they can obtain the holy grail of rewards I employ in my arsenal of motivation: the passport stamp. Collect enough stamps and you are on your way to prize town on a train filled with World cup merchandise and beaded key chains.
|My student`s passports|
Before you know it, the clock strikes 4:15 and its home time again. (1) Pack up bag filled with little white boards bought at 100 yen store, prestic and SA flags designed to be placed on the castles I draw for a game of the same name, (2) Stay a little longer than required since it is rude to leave early, although I sincerely doubt my five minute effort is even scratching the surface of diplomacy, (3) Stand at the door and say `otsukaresama deshita` (thank you for the hard work), (4) Swap in and outdoor shoes, (5) get into the little blue Honda, (6) wave at Grumpy-but-loves-crackers-sensei, (7) Start the next mini adventure.