Monday, December 14, 2009

An Assortment of Random Information

Questions about bonenkai to which the answer is no:

Did you do karaoke? Did you have to give a speech? Did you sit quietly while all those around you talked to each other instead of you?

Questions about bonenkai to which the answer is yes:

Was there a ton of delicious food? Were some of your coworkers rocking some mad 'Asian flush'? Were there games and did you win a cute prize? Was there an onsen? Does that mean you got naked with some of your coworkers?! Did they gossip about the male teachers? And did you pass out long before anyone else in your room?

One of the topics of conversation was how my main JTE (Mikan-sensei) is overworked. I totally agree. At first I thought he would naturally have been assigned to me because he is both the newest and therefore not likely to be shipped off to another school in the near future, and because he has the least other bunch of crap to handle. But the latter's not really true. On top of the regular classload that basically everyone has, he also is more than just nominally involved with his after school club-- that is, he is their coach and teacher, and not just partially in charge on paper. He also has a homeroom class, and unfortunately his class contains two of the three most badly behaved students in the school. They're mostly harmless, just cut-up a lot and get out of line, and he has to deal with them all the time. The patience and good humor with which he does so is sometimes astonishing; sometimes these kids can get on my last nerve.

There are a few students in the 3rd year who really need my help when we do worksheets in that class, which we'd been doing a lot lately. At first I liked that, because it meant I didn't have to plan anything. But I've begun to not like it much.. it makes me feel pretty useless. But, like I said, there are a few kids who can use my help as we go through these grammar things. There are two that come to mind first, and they couldn't be more opposite. One kid like, basically tries not to let me look at his paper even though he should know by now I'm basically going to ensure he gets the right answer. He scooches as far from me as he can and will. not. look at me. And seems entirely uninterested in getting an answer at all, much less the right one. It's frustrating. His opposite is in the other class, a girl who actually looks for me and raises her hand when I walk by so she can ask if the answer she's written down is right. It rarely is, but she always smiles at me and gets me to help her, and goes along with my coaxing toward the correct answer, which soothes my sense of ethics (I don't actually just give her the answer, although I do lead her right into it). And generally makes my day helping with worksheets not a waste.

Anyway, back from that tangent... Now, today, all of the woman who stayed in my room at enkai (there were five total) are keeping an eye on each other, because one of our number is out sick with OMGSWINEFLU. And another just took her temperature, and has been sniffling all morning. And they are like, "Are you okay? No omgswineflu?" (so maybe that was a loose translation..)

No, but it does continue to affect my life. The teacher who is out is the math teacher, and usually English classes are half normal class size because we split them with math. This means that on a normal day at middle school, I teach each grade in four sections, though there are two 'classes' of students per grade. Each of the sections I teach is about 15 or so students, rather than the 'class' size of around 30. Today, though, I'm only teaching two sections of 1st years, and they'll be full rooms. I've only ever done this once before, with the 2nd years and Mikan-sensei, but the chaos that day was a lot of fun.

The windows are almost entirely fogged over because our warm snap ended last night. I accidentally bought 47 New Year cards instead of like 20 (even the saleslady was like "That's a lot, isn't it!"). But when I made a list of all the families and friends I haven't seen for a while, to whom I should send assurances that I am still alive and well (the once-upon-a-time reason for these cards), I hit the 47 mark easily. That's what you get for having a huge family I guess.

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