Monday, June 18, 2012

So... you're saying I look like crap?

I'm totally used to being confused.  It happens every day in Japan.  In fact, I think it's going to be shocking when I get to America and I can understand everything again.  It will be sensory overload when I can understand all of the little conversations going on around me.  It will suck to have to sensor my conversation topics because people around me can understand that I'm talking about lascivious things in the family restaurant waiting area. 

Anyway, I was confused this morning.  A teacher I work with called me last night and said that the students would be staying home today because of a typhoon, but that teachers had to attend school.  I'm used to this strange system as well.  But when I got to school today, students were swarming into school and teachers were bustling about.  I went to a fellow English teacher to explain what I was told and to ask if that was still the plan.  She said that 1st period was cancelled, but that the rest of the day would be business as usual. 

And then she held my arm and said, "But you are sick."

"I'm not sick.  Do I look sick?"

"Mmmmmmmmmm, No."

"Ok.  Thank you."

I went back to my desk, where the teacher that had called me to tell me there were no classes was waiting for me to go teach 1st period with her, which I was just told again, was cancelled.  It wasn't.  All this confusion is common ground in Japan, due partly to my foreigner... -ness, and partly to the way business is conducted here.  If I understand correctly, last night close to 800 people called each other in a chain to notify that there was no school today, and then they called again this morning, chain-like, to cancel the cancellation.  I like Japan.  Things are so innocent. 

But, my main concern in all of this is... do I look like crap today?  I've been using my fancy new face cream for two nights and my fancy new Dior eye shadow for two days.  Sure, I'm no morning person and maybe my hair is a little fuzzy, but do I look so bad that people think I'm sick?  I mean, yeah, I'm wearing the T-shirt I slept in, but they don't know that (and I'm only wearing a T-shirt cause someone called me and told me I had no classes).  

I'm gonna go to the bathroom and assess the situation.  I'm gonna get some coffee. 

On the upside, I taught a class yesterday with a substitute JTE (Japanese Teacher of English).  Highly respected by the students, he is a very nice man who takes his job very seriously.  And, he's like 7-feet tall.  So, I was happy when we were walking back to the staff room after class and he paid me a compliment.  He said that there was a very good atmosphere in my classroom.  It meant a lot to me coming from him. 

In truth, I do resent the great deal of time I am expected to sit at my desk with so few classes to prepare for and so few tasks to complete.  But, when it comes to the work I do have, I want to do it well, and when it comes to being in the classroom, I intend to do and I think I do a great job.  I have learned the customs and attitudes in the classrooms at my school, and I have optimized my tactics for engaging the students and ensuring they learn as much as they can in the little time I have with them.  I not only want them to speak, I want to leave them with a lasting impression of foreigners and of English, so that they have a will of their own to keep learning, and to pay attention to learning opportunities when they encounter them in the world.  I'm a crap office worker, but I'm a really good ALT.

So, despite the chocolate stain I just noticed on the T-shirt that I wore to bed and am wearing to work, I taught a kick ass class this morning.  We laughed, we learned, and my clothes and my fuzzy hair didn't matter. 

You have a good day.  Yeah, YOU.

From Japan,


1 comment:

Sophelia said...

My guess is that the teacher was hinting that you could take a sick day and avoid the rain... I've been given that one before! "We have to have a meeting now for the entire afternoon. If you are ill you should visit a clinic now." XD