William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson

64. Rainy season + junior high math

It’s now the beginning of rainy season here in Japan. I had been skeptical about the idea of a “rainy season,” as the weather here has been more than temperate, but I wouldn’t call it tropical, and I had thought that rainy seasons were for places with rainforests. But I don’t really know anything about this, which is why I had dismissed the ‘season’ appellation as an attempt to add more variation to the rather steady and level state of conditions. The seasons don’t seem to change here on Shikoku, they merely crossfade.

But boy, is it ever raining. It rained today. I mean buckets. For hours. It was so wet that it was drizzly inside my umbrella. It rained a lot last weekend, to. And it rained a lot earlier this week. We’ve had lots and lots of rain, and only a very little sun (though the sun came out this afternoon). I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much rain.

All this rain meant the water rescue training that had been scheduled for this afternoon was cancelled. (When it rains, the water seems to go right through the glass roof over the pool, at least from what little I’ve seen. Plus it was probably too cold to use the pool anyway – it’s not heated.) That would have been kind of fun. Instead, I taught a Year One class. At first I was down about it, but once I got in and got going it wasn’t bad – it went quite well! Of course they were well behaved while A-sensei was at her desk doing her own work (I’m a big proponent of the Japanese teachers being in the room at the same time – they exude a moderating influence!), but the best part was that after she left, things didn’t descend into total chaos. This class’ homeroom teachers are running a tight ship, and it’s paying off.

But among the erstwhile and sundry Japanese teachers there is one who stands out above all else in terms of quieting down a class, and all S.G. teachers past and present know exactly who I’m talking about. One time I was teaching my Year Threes and all of a sudden all the little bubbles of conversations, all the little chair noises and squirms – it all vanished into stone-cold silence. At first I was confused, because my homeroom partner coming back wouldn’t have that kind of impact – no, it was just this certain other teacher, just standing in the hall by the window. Of course, she doesn’t “just stand” anywhere without purpose, and she’s a busy person – since she won’t be able to make an appearance every day, I wish I could get a decoy version of her to use when my classes are getting too rowdy. Oh, and the time she came by to run the afternoon meeting! You never saw a more well-behaved group of Year Threes in your life, I tell you.

Ah, where was I?

The rain also changes things inside the school – this afternoon, most the staff room smelled like old socks. When the other foreign teachers came by, I brought it up – and this gave M2 cause to mention that I should get some “Mizutorizosan” doohickey to absorb some of the moisture in the air and keep things from going moldy, especially in my closet.

I’ve also been running my mosquito coil. (I imagine today’s rainstorm will spawn approximately thirteen nonillion more mosquitoes, so I’ll probably be running it some more very soon.) And when I ride my bike through the rice patties to the supermarket, I often have to cover my nose with my hand and breathe as such to avoid inhaling bugs. It’s a good thing I wear glasses, or else bugs would find my eyes, and a few manage to do so already. You hit the swarms suddenly, so if you happen to be taking a breath as you do so, you’ll find yourself hawking and spitting and to hell with Japanese decorum: acccch-plut!

* * *

Junior high math has been getting cancelled a lot lately, which is great a terrible shame. (Such a shame that even W-sensei jokes about it.)

Last week, the students were writing some kind of exam, so my classes were cancelled. What happened was I went to the high school building, materials in hand, got to the classroom and there was the exam, and the teacher telling me my classes were cancelled.

Yipee! This meant having lunch at the normal time, and also having time to fix up the Sankanbi decorations, and not having to stay at school until some ungodly hour in the evening! I was so giddy that, as I skipped down the stairs and reached a landing, I spilled my magnets and pens all over the place. (“That’ll teach you to be giddy,” D. remarked later.)

And after I’d gotten back and gotten settled in, ten minutes or so after the class would have started, W-sensei got a phone call. She relayed the message to me that junior high math was cancelled.

I wondered aloud why they bothered with the phone call after the fact. D. said that it was an improvement, though – last year, when he taught junior high math, there was no phone call at all.

This week there was a sports festival going on over there, but since I didn’t know if it was just for the high school (the junior high and high schools are sort of separate even though they’re in the same building), I thought I’d better go to my classrooms prepared just in case. So I passed through the annex and to the hi- oh, the door’s locked. Odd. I go around the back. Locked. Up by the administration building? Locked. Front entrance? Locked. By now our principal is there too, trying doors – she tries the staff room door. Locked. As I walked back to the primary school, I saw some of the junior high IEC students participating in the sports festival activities, so I guess I was off the hook for the day. I found it kind of odd that they seemingly locked up the whole school, though.

That whole day was kind of whack; it inspired the phrase, “So low on the totem pole you need a shovel.” I can’t really use it in context without unnecessarily or fictitiously griping, but you can.
Tags: classes, insects, japan, rain, school, teaching, weather, work

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