Sure, report cards are due at the end of next week, but they’re not particularly onerous – I was able to do mine last term in a day or two. They’re graded holistically, so it’s not like I have to average out a bunch of test scores or weigh assignments against quizzes or stuff like that. It’s about as low-tech as it gets.
The parents also have a lot of expectations about report cards – they want to see progress from year to year and term to term. So you have to grade based on accomplishment, but leave room to improve – they think a perfect report card means actual perfection. (A laughable notion, but I digress.) At the end of the year, ideally nobody should be getting simply “Adequate” in any category. We have to be lenient on speaking and listening, because that’s what the kids are here to do. Parents like to compare report cards, too, so everyone should get the same amount of comments. And the directives go on like this.
If it were up to me, I’d say the teachers themselves should set their own standards, within reason. Teachers are human beings and each one values things differently from another. We’ve all had experiences with “hard markers” and those who were more “forgiving,” and we’ve adapted. In any case, they should certainly have the freedom to call things as they see them, framework or not. We still can do that to some extent, but we have to be extremely adroit about it. While I have reservations about being explicitly instructed to do this, I still see the point – there’s nothing to gain in wrecking a child’s desire to go on by issuing an unforgivingly bad report card.
I sometimes wonder, though, what these parents think they’re buying. They should want teachers who put education first by a longshot and treat all ceremonies, formalities, and fluff as means to an end. Well, at least that’s what they’re getting with me – I wish I was a better teacher so that I could have some credibility while taking this
I didn’t meant to write so much about report cards, but I feel like I’m being tacitly censored with all these directives, and I find that somewhat offensive. It’s bad enough that the open lesson felt to me like I was participating in a bait-and-switch campaign. To be helping parents maintain their precious illusions shouldn’t be in my job description.
Anyway, most days I don’t have to think about these things. There’s enough value in what actually does go on that I guess I can stomach some mild deceit in the name of the greater good. I can’t change the environment around me on a wholesale basis, but I can change and improve myself, which involves accepting certain dichotomies.
The one thing that I’m more pressingly concerned about is the upcoming quake-proofing renovation of the staff room! At least we won’t have our full load of regular classes during this time, but it’ll make it harder to stay organized having to do everything without our regular desks.
We also have to prepare a booklet of homework for the children to complete during their holiday. It seems a little silly at first, especially to us North Americans (“Homework? In Summer?” we exclaim), but I now know how astonishingly quickly people can forget what they know of a second language – true, the re-learning is rapid, too, but why risk its necessity? A few pages of English homework to keep the language alive may be just the trick. It’s not like I’m asking them to read Clarissa (although they could read it in Japanese, I suppose…).
Oh, and the other “big” item – I’m not going on the overnight YMCA Camp trip. Earlier this week, D. and I noticed that my name was no longer present in the English translation of the camp itinerary, and we’d thought it was just a typo. But today Mk. told me that W-sensei had to go (fair enough) and that there wasn’t any room in the budget for me to go, too. In fact, the entire trip had already been cut back from including all years to including just Years One through Three, so I guess I could have seen this coming. It’s a bit disappointing, because I remember how much fun the Takamatsu trip was, and canoeing and kayaking and just chatting with the kids outside of the class would have been lots of fun, too, but on the bright side it’s one less Saturday I have to work. I almost bought a staff shirt just for the occasion – I would have if we weren’t on the wrong side of payday. Naturally, I’m glad I held back on that.
I should do something special with that weekend, then. Maybe I’ll go climb Mt. Tsurugi, or visit Temples 11 and 12. And it’ll be D.’s last weekend here, too.
I’m overwhelmingly grateful to be here right now because I’ve learned a lot, I have a lot to look forward to, and there are a lot of things still to be learned! I’ll miss this place, even as I’ll be happy to be home, hitting the ground running.