Tuesday May 11, 1999: Oh, What I Would Give...

Today was just an all-around, trying kind of a day and as my first journal entry, unfortunately, I don't have much to say.

Other than I really wish that there were such a thing as the Holodeck; y'know, like in Star Trek. Then I'd simulate a classroom environment so I could strangle a few of my kids and not get fired from my job.

Wednesday May 12, 1999

Today was the sports test day. They just ran some timed races, kicked the ball and measured the distances, and some other stuff like that. Pretty boring; I only had one class today. The head English teacher said he needed some pictures of me and the kids together outside of class so I figured that today would be a good day for that. Friday at English club would have been better, but he had some kind of meeting and couldn't make it.

I felt like some the president or some company big-wig going around for good PR! I was totally legitimate, but the camera made me feel fake, and guilty too because the students' and my fun was solely for some other agenda.
But in a wierd way, it was just like any other day. Whenever I'm at school I feel as if I'm "on stage". I always put on a cheery smile for the kids and teachers and feel ... just all the eyes. I can't exactly relax at school, it's a tense place for me. Don't get me wrong, I really like my job, but I can't let my hair down at work and just be Jeff. I must be Jeff-gaijin. It's not as if I feel fake or anything, but I always have to have poise and a sureness of step, eye movement, gestures. Hmmm.. it's difficult to describe.
At any rate, I really like the kids here though.. it's too bad I have to leave on Friday.

Thursday May 13, 1999: Culture Shock

Akiko's an English teacher I work with who I talk to just about every day while I'm at Seiwa JHS. She likes to talk about traveling, culture, teaching and outdoorsy type stuff; she's a diverse gal and she's pretty interesting. Today we made plans to go out to a restaurant then later go back to my place to watch a movie.

The restaurant was really nice, she ate tongue, I had the chicken (hey, I'm not a neophobe! I've eaten tongue before; tastes like steak). We talked about Japan and America, her fiance, and other stuff, but mostly we talked about teaching. She's fresh out of college, has no experience teaching, and is currently a substitute (all college grads who want to be full-time teachers have to be a sub for a couple of years). ALL of the teachers I know who are just out of college are nervous as hell, not too secure in their abilities as a teacher and almost none can keep the classroom under control. She said that all her life she wanted to be an English teacher, and now that she was one she didn't like it at all! She was thinking of doing something else, like private tutoring.

Her only real problem, I told her, was that she really needs to relax. Everyone knows that if you're tense you're just going to make more mistakes. We talked a lot about this. She was really interested in my theatre background. Sometimes I think that the teachers would be better off if they'd received theatre training instead of actual teaching training! We talked for hours.

I wanted to show her a little of American culture, and since many of the TV shows I have on tape are too entrenched in humor or maybe might even shock her sensibilities, the only thing I could think to show her was "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"; in my opinion an embodiment of an American icon. The movie had no subtitles so I stopped it every now and then to make sure she understood a particular idiom or just what was going on. She said she got culture shock just by watching the movie!

Friday May 14, 1999: It's All in the Delivery...

Today was my last day at Seiwa. I'm kind of bummed. I really like this school and I don't really like the school I'm going to next week. I heard that this was the last day they were allowed to wear their winter uniforms, so I made a trip back home so I could get my camera and take a few shots of the kids. I like the winter uniforms better than their summer ones, but they're also more expensive. Getting kids to pose for those pictures was like pulling teeth.

I talked to Akiko during two of my free class periods. She said that she wanted some good English games to spruce up her lessons so I gave her some warm-ups which have worked for me and instructions on how to deliver them. Most of teaching is in the delivery, like stand-up comedy or acting. Same difference.

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