Thursday, September 14, 2006

hold on, hold on (neko case--check her out)

friday, at last. i'm in pretty good shape to relate my adventures because i'm not under the influence of desperate dread or euphoria, though i've hit both in the last week. i think the entire experience of working with JET is all about taking what miniscule bits of information you're given, making something out of them, and then convincing everyone you know what's going on.
monday: day o' depression. the classes went fine (i did my self-introduction in each one...even I'm sick of hearing about me), but when it came to planning the next day's class with one of my teachers, i had no idea what he wanted me to do. you could say he gave me a "blank slate." he claimed not to use the text book, nor could he give me any idea what vocabulary the students might know. so i proceeded to make up a "crappy lesson." in the meantime i was thinking, "if it's this hard to make one lesson with one teacher, how am i going to cover the other 16 lessons i teach each week and still have time to knit (or sleep!?)" a wave of can't do-it-iveness washed over me. then another bout of "what the hell was i thinking?"
when i pitched my ideas to this very, um, intimidatingly attractive young teacher, our lack of understanding/communication precipitated a parade of cringing and nervous smiles. finally he told me to teach the class a drawing lesson...they can learn english through an activity. that night, for the first time since i got here, i had trouble sleeping...i had an anxiety dream about my old landlady in durango...i got up way too early. but my lesson went great the next day! as an extra bonus, i discovered a western toilet in the ladies bathroom when, for weeks, i believed there were only japanese toilets. now compared with most american girls, i'm pretty cool with japanese toilets. i have, after all, done a lot of camping in my life. but there are just days i don't want to hover.

the rest of the week has more than made up for monday. i really enjoy the students; i don't think they'll ever know how great i think they are. i see my hand writing something on the chalkboard, and i marvel at really feeling like a teacher (and i marvel at enjoying it).
yesterday i met the last of my 13 classes, and later i rode to mos burger to meet kara and emily for a junk food/english fix. as i parked my bicycle, i was spotted by a mob of my female students inside. they jumped up and waved violently through the window, and i waved fervently back. i think being recognized (and acknowledged) outside of school officially marks my entry into a life here. just like turning that metaphorical corner, i have finally had the first warm feelings of belonging to this community. now i can't go anywhere without a student calling my name or waving, and that has made all the difference.


  1. Kim from MarketingSeptember 15, 2006

    Hey Lauren, seems intimidating, but it sounds like you're working it out. Do your students have enough English understanding to pick out verb and could make up a Madlibs type game that would be fun. You could also try acting out verbs as a group. Like you call out "dance" or "crouch" or "hop" and then start repeating them in random order and watch them scramble! Sounds like they love you and that will go a long way for being a great teacher. Good luck!

  2. Ok, Just so you know I have a japanese toilet in my bathroom and I live in Colorado, AND I'M NOT A WOMAN. Unlike most Colorado men, I am surprisingly cool with the Japanese toilet.

  3. intriguing. did you choose said toilet or did it come with the house? and do i know you? i assume so since you're not telling me who you are. hmmmm.

  4. hey kim! thanks for the great ideas. i'll definitely try both. i'll let you know how it goes.