Sunday, October 24, 2010

Elementary School Musical PART 1

Midterms are a strange time. Students come into school, take their test, then take off for the rest of the day presumably to practice their club activity or maybe even study. Either way, there is nothing for ALTs to do during midterms. There are no real classes and no midterm test for English conversation class. As such, I was “voluntold” to teach at an elementary school Tuesday and Friday. I gladly olbliged. What follows is a tale of cuteness, creepiness, and all around awesomeness:

Hour 1, 2: 6th grade
Hour 3: 5th grade
Lunch: 6th Grade

Hour 1: I was told beforehand, I would be teaching 5th and 6th graders. My first thought: cool, a nice class of energetic kids! As I walked into the school’s multipurpose room, it became apparent to me that I would be teaching ALL of the 5th and 6th graders. Was I nervous? Hell no. I live for this.

For the first hour, I did my jiko shokai (self-introduction). I brought my laptop and showed the kids a tailored version of my high school powerpoint. The school provided the screen and projector. Win.

The best part about teaching at the elementary school? EVERYTHING I do is awesome to these kids. I might very well be their first extensive experience with a white guy. I showed pictures of my house, so the kids now think I’m a millionaire. Seriously, they think my house in Florida is HUMONGOUS. As the picture came up, a symphony of “OOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHH” erupted from the children. When they saw I had a pool, one of the kids’ heads exploded. I might as well wear a monocle and swish brandy.

Hour 2: The kids escorted me to gym where I was exposed to a variety of games.

Game 1: A strange mix of “Red Rover” and “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” Basically two lines of kids shout stuff at each other, then challenge the other team to RPC. One person from each team comes to the middle, play RPC, then the loser joins the winner’s team. I was called out EVERY TIME. I won twice and lost once.

Game 2: Very much like Sumo. Two kids enter a small circle at the center of the basketball court, then they try to force the other out of the circle. The largest of the children challenged me. Mistake. I picked this kid up and carried him out of the circle. In retrospect, I probably should have let him win, but I couldn’t resist.

Game 3: Dodgeball. Good ol’ fashion dodgeball. They play with slightly different rules. For example, if you are hit, then you go to a “prison” on the other team’s side. These “prisoners” can get a hold of a ball and still try to peg someone. If they do, they can return to their original side. Also, catching the ball means nothing. I held back, A LOT. My inner child wanted to whip the ball at some poor child…but I was nice. Sigh…

Game 4: The two teachers took out a large jump rope. The students and I (maybe 8) lined up along the rope and attempted to jump in tandem. The problem? I am waaaaaay taller than ALL OF THEM. When I jumped, my knees kept kicking the child in front of me. I tried to buckle my knees, but it was for naught. The kid and I laughed and still had a good time.

Hour 3: I did my jiko shokai again, this time for the 5th graders. This went pretty much like hour 1, but maybe the 5th graders aren’t as enthusiastic. They were still really genki (lots of energy), but the 6th graders had more.

Lunch: At elementary schools, lunch is provided to the kids. The food is really good…for school food. The teacher and students help serve food to everyone in the class. Once everyone has their food (and milk), everyone yells “Itadakimasu!!!” (bon apetit). We clap as we say this, then dig in. The food was meatballs, a tuna and seaweed salad, white rice, and soup (carrots, cabbage, pork, egg). Students are required to eat ALL of their food. Teachers are forced to eat all of it as well to set an example. This was hard. The meatballs and rice were easy (and good), but everything else I had to choke down. During lunch, the school plays a variety of really creepy songs over the loud speakers. They played an Enya sounding song, the Japanese version of “it’s a small world,” and other creepy kids’ songs. When the meal is over, everyone yells “Gochi so sama deshita!!!!” (That was a filling meal!)

This wraps up Part 1, Tuesday. Part 2 is on the way.


  1. Elementary is a great age group, it sounds you had a great time. How did you communicate with them?

    Are the houses in Japan so much smaller than ours? I find it strange that they think its a mansion.

  2. Communication was really limited:
    What is your name?
    How old are you?
    What is your favorite food?

    Japanese can be large, but they are usually very small. Also, NO ONE has a front yard. I think it was the yard that first set them off.

  3. LOL, I did not realize the error, that certainly changes the context!

    I can't wait for part two!