April 8th, 2008


41. First Day

Today we had the Opening Ceremony. The children came into the gym by class. The last school year only ended two weeks ago, but even so, my old Year Fours (now Year Fives) seemed to be three inches taller. "Yeah, we're in Year Five now," they seemed to say in their gait. They oozed confidence the whole day. I think they're in for a terrific year.

I'm getting along well with my new Year Threes. They're an energetic and talkative bunch, and sometimes they can be loud, but they have a redeeming, cheerful attitude.

The rest of the day was somewhat chaotic. In the afternoon they had us foreign teachers go out with the classes to help clean, in preparation for tomorrow's Entrance Ceremony to celebrate the new Year Ones. I suspect the cleaning is partly done to keep the kids busy - the "cleaning" jobs done by most children with their lone resource (perhaps a wet rag) isn't exactly Molly Maid-quality. The problem was that the directive to stay with them used up quite a lot of time that might have been better spent elsewhere. You'll see what I'm getting at - I saw Sk-sensei carrying a parking sign, and I remembered that we needed to dress up and put out the special event sign, but in the ensuing confusion the memory quickly slipped. It would have been perfectly acceptable to tell M-sensei that we foreign teachers needed time to get the sign ready, could we go do that, and that should have occurred to me.

At 5:00, I had everything ready for my classes tomorrow, and I headed home to enjoy a nice big bowl of rice and curry. I chilled out, checked my e-mail, started listening to Prime Time Sports, heated up my rice and curry and started to dig in... delicious! By now it's just after six.

Then there was a knock on my door.

It's D.

"We need to go back to work. We forgot to put up the school sign."

Few words could have been less welcome then than, "We need to go back to work." Oh, don't get me wrong, I assume my share of the responsibility for this, but that didn't make me any less cheesed. I just had to be careful not to direct it at D. - he was just the messenger. He was the senior teacher, so they phoned him first.

C. came back, too - his family was just about to have dinner! ("The Missus will kill me," he said even as he left.)

After I got my head on straight, being back at work wasn't so bad. And everyone there was really nice about it, too, and thanks were given even though they weren't strictly necessary. We finished the sign.

We didn't put the sign out yet, though. Early last academic year, S. and D. put the sign out the night before an event. The de facto head of the school, who lives across the street, looked out her window and noted that the sign wasn't colourful enough. The Japanese teachers then worked long hours into the evening making and applying paper flowers to the sign.

So now we always put the sign out the morning of. =)