Tuesday was my first real challenging day of teaching on my own. The previous Saturday I had taught on my own, although this was with an adult class, meaning more steady conversation and more focus from the students. In contrast, Tuesday was to start with afternoon classes at Kuki Kindergarten, a younger (4-5 years) and an older class (5-6 years) of about 5 students each. What I had planned seemed to fill only a small section of the lesson for the younger class, so they got bored and stole my flash cards and started throwing them around the room. It is difficult to get hyper Japanese kids to do what you want when you cannot speak Japanese. The older class were a bit better, more behaved, although again my plan did not fill the allotted time and they started to get confused when I started improvising. Tuesday was also Shunsuke`s actual birthday and I got him a kit for making cardboard models of cars, which he loved. This made the morning less of a failure.
Back at school I had to prepare for another two young classes. Again I was quiet ill prepared and boredom set in quickly with both these classes. It really shot my confidence and I was starting to feel pissed off with myself. Despite this I still had another three classes to teach. It started to get better as the students got older. The next lesson was two high school kids, about 13 years old. Conversation flowed a bit better. Following this was two adult classes, which were much better again. I could open up a bit. I found out more about the “Studio Ghibli” museum in Tokyo. I told them more about Brighton and its big gay scene. They were also interested in the London Olympics and were surprised to hear that, like them, I had only watched it on TV. This day left me feeling confused about my teaching ability.
Wednesday. I was feeling apprehensive about this day as it again was going to be a long day of teaching on my own. However, the morning started beautifully. Teru texted me in the morning to cycle to work as I had inherited a bike from Blaine. Our first lessons was a Fudoka preschool, which is only a short way away from the school, so we biked it there. The journey takes you through Kazo, along a river and into a vast open space occupied by rice paddies. Nestled between these paddies, some ripe and some still growing, is Fudoka. Here the lesson went really well. We got the children to play games and generally the whole class is fun and energetic.
At the end the kids were asking me to raise my hands as high as I could so they could try attempt a challenging high five.
It was back to school to carry on with the lessons planned for the day. First again was two younger classes. All the students of these classes were about 7. These went a bit better at first. I had tried to plan a bit more. I played Karuta with them (I am not sure of the English translation but it involves the kids placing there hands on the correct card as quickly as they can. I recognized it from the adapted version on “Takeshi`s Castle”, where the contestants are dressed up as hands instead using their own). This entertained them for a bit, although, time seemed to creep by and I ran out of ideas and had to repeat material and make stuff up on the spot, which inevitably bored the kids. After these classes were over I had to teach some more high school kids. All about 14 years old. They were a bit better to handle and came with some interesting questions, which again included if I like girls. We talked about musical instruments and we joked that one of the kids, Yuya, loves to play the recorder.
Wednesday was a much more relaxed day as there were only two classes scheduled at 5. I learned from my mistakes and prepared as much as I could for these classes. When me and Teru were out after taking my bike to a specialist to have it looked at (the light was a bit fucked) he got a call from an old friend. It was one of the old teachers, Kyle, that used to work at Intersect SFL about 6 years ago and as we were walking back to the school we noticed him and his wife, Ashley, standing outside the school. This was a big surprise for the Teru as he hadn`t seen him in years. This emphasized the relaxed feel of the day. They joined us for some tea with Teru`s parents and sat talking with Shunsuke, who they had never met before, and Kumiko as me and Teru taught the lessons for the day. I felt my preparation had allowed me to excel in these classes and I felt so much more confident. Kyle even complemented me saying that I was doing a great job, better than he did. I told him not to ruin my ego, but it was still good to hear.
The original plan for the evening was for me to go to Kumiko and Teru`s for dinner. Although as they had unexpected guests we were taken to a sushi restaurant in Kuki. This was my first real experience of sushi and “oh my god” it is good. The menu is endless and some things looked a bit too exotic for me, Kyle told me to stay well clear of the “uni” (sea urchin), I thought this was too brave for my first time so I obeyed his orders. Despite this I had, tuna (in three different styles), salmon, mackerel, kobe beef and a range of other tasty dishes. My limited Japanese allowed me to order some dishes afresh and a round of beers. I am learning little, but enough day by day.