Strike That; Reverse It

We keep roll books for each class of children and are expected to keep detailed records for each day we teach. Naturally, we must keep our remarks professional and we should, of course, say something about each student’s progress so the staff will be able to give some good news to their parents. We check off who came to class, who was late, who turned in their homework, who was adorable. I’m quite good about keeping these records, even if I do tend to write the same thing over and over in an effort to save time when I have little to spare. My classes are scheduled back to back with 5 minutes in between and if I’m not punched out exactly when my shift ends, I miss my train.

A typical entry in my roll books:

Today was a great class! We all had fun learning about plant life and everyone enjoyed the games! Nobody was late and everybody did their homework. Ari was so sweet today and let Aya borrow her crayons when we drew pictures of our favorite flowers. Kazu really loved playing Ring-Around-the-Rosy and impressed me by remembering all the vocabulary from last week. These kids are TOO CUTE – I really look forward to teaching them!

For the most part, my comments are truthful; my schedule this year has given me little to complain about. Sometimes, however, on the days I deal with the disrespectful ones, I lose my temper and end up writing half a page of complaints that I end up scratching out furiously as soon as I’ve written them.

Today was a pretty good class. I reviewed with them for the presentation, but Ren and Yuki didn’t listen to me as usual so not surprisingly theirs were the worst in the class lacking. Miwako, Genya, Hiromi and Miyabi did wonderful jobs! Genya is so helpful after class – he always helps put the desks straight after Ren and Yuki have destroyed the arrangement like a couple of ungrateful thugs. Ren is a VERY smart young man but he thinks he is so smart that he doesn’t have to listen to me when I talk. Disappointing. Unfortunately, Hayato was absent today. We missed him!

Today was a good class! Aoi wasn’t in the mood to participate and pretended to sleep for the first 15 minutes of class and since her mother is about as useful as a piece of wood, she simply watched as I pulled stuffed animal after stuffed animal out of my ear in an effort to make her child look at me. When Aoi finally “woke up”, We had a lot of fun making sock puppets and giving them names. Aoi is a beautiful little girl but she is a little shy. Hopefully she will soon feel more confident! This is the third week Chika hasn’t come to class – we miss her!

Today went well! We learned about the past and future tense for regular verbs. Naoko and Kana work very hard on their pronunciation and are very bright. They are doing so well in class and ask me a lot of questions about grammar. I am very proud of them; they are two more examples that support my theory that females are better at learning new languages than males are. Shunsuke is also doing well but, naturally, not as well as Naoko and Kana and for the last time, please take Kenji out of this level. He is four years younger than the other kids so of course he can’t keep up with them. Since he can’t understand what is happening, he ignores the lesson and quells his boredom by drawing pictures of anime characters on the wall with pencil and calling the girls 6-year old versions of mean names. he needs a little more help with reading. I will help him after class! Kenji sometimes gets a little active; I wonder if he is a little young for the class? He is still a good boy!

Good class! Today’s lesson was about learning the names of celestial bodies. We had a lot of fun comparing the Japanese names with the English names. We would have had a lot more fun if freaking DAISUKE could be quiet for two seconds. He is so hyper and out of control I suspect his mother is feeding him a diet of pure sugar. He can never give me a straight answer to any question – he has a pathological need to twist his face into a gargoyle mask while crossing his eyes and picking a new silly voice with which to annoy me each time I ask him what his favorite _____ is. If I were in a better mood I would probably be applauding his creativity and telling you to make sure you remember his name because this child will no doubt be one of Japan’s great comedians when he grows up. Fact: Nakamori Daisuke will be the next Kojima Yoshio. Unfortunately, though I can appreciate the budding comedic genius in our midst, I have a pathological urge of my own: to smack Kojima Yoshio upside the head. I like this kid, so please ask the principal if I may duct tape this child’s mouth shut during lessons for the sake of the other children’s English and his own safety. I am really proud of these kids. They are very well-behaved. Daisuke is very hyper so sometimes the classroom gets a little wild but he is so smart and funny. I should discipline him more often – he is very funny so I let a lot of his antics get out of hand but he really is very loud. He is a good boy! I will take care to calm him down.

Scribble, scribble, scratch, scratch: these are things I, obviously, can not hand in and upon realizing that I’ve written something so awful, I wilt in shame. I’m an adult for pete’s sake; it’s just plain pathetic for me to say such things about children. Furthermore, some of the things I cross out are things any of my own teachers could have said about me, in particular my comments about Daisuke. 17 years after the fact, I retain the memory of Sister Ignatius glaring at me the day after I returned from a bout of the flu in the 5th grade and in an even, resentful voice saying, “You know, E … it was quieter when you weren’t here.” I’m sure she was right; my compulsive need to prattle nervously stems from childhood and I know I annoyed many a teacher with what Mr. Meade called “cutesies” and Mr. Heil called “rudeness.”

It all comes full circle.

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