In spite of myself I let out the secret that I could impersonate some voices pretty well, up to and including Mickey Mouse. I did this as an icebreaker so the students could see that while I was serious about English I like to have fun too. Well now I have been asked on more than one occasion, “Do the Mickey voice.” I’m all for making the kids laugh but that was one I should have kept in my back pocket for a while. Two of my seventh grade teachers are apparently a real cut up because that class is always laughing at what they say in Japanese. I have no idea. One of them was spelling words backwards in Japanese to help with pronunciation of vowels and it was a real riot. I was laughing too but mostly because the students reactions were hilarious.
Student reaction is great for the most part when I walk the halls during school. In general I get about three different greetings from the junior high students. I get the, “HELLOMR. KEHOE.HOWAREYOU?IMFINE.SEE YOU!!!,” greeting where the student simply recites all of the English he can remember. This is done to show off and always done by a boy. Second is a blank frightened deer in headlights. They just give me this wide-eyed look that says, “Why is he talking to me in not Japanese? Please go away I am embarrassed you even noticed I was in the room.” This is usually followed by a glance at the person in the desk next to them looking for confirmation that I am a crazy person who speaks complete gibberish. Finally I get the students who cautiously say, “Hello,” or, “Good morning,” to me. From the boys I get a quick bow. From the girls I get a quick bow, hands covering their mouth and a stifled giggle. Usually.
Not surprisingly I have had different girl students tell me, “You’re handsome,” and, “You’re cuto.” Cuto is cute in Japanglish. To which I always respond, “Thank you.” Although I am not certain how to handle that sort of compliment coming from a 13 year old. In class the students had to introduce themselves to me and tell me something they liked. “I’m Andrew Kehoe and I like football.” This one girl said, “…and I like you.”
“UUUUUUMMMMMMM SOOOOOOOOOOO…….. Sensei….. Can you uh…. like take over now.”
Whenever I show a picture of Shana I get, “OOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAA.” Or thereabouts from all the boy students. Also not surprisingly many of the boys learned how to say, “Very beautiful.”
Anyways enough about that. I am currently blowing all the teachers away with my power point and excel skills that I picked up at SBD. I am showing off with all kinds of worksheets and animated presentations to wow the students with. One of the first activities for the 8th graders was a “show and tell” about a hockey jersey. There is a short paragraph in simple English that introduces the concept of past tense through a story about a hockey jersey that was received as a gift. Most of the students had never seen a hockey game, clip, high-light or ice skated. My first lesson as an ambassador of the West was a lesson in hockey.
I brought in my Sharks jersey and gave my own show and tell. I even got to show some hockey clips in two of my classes (AWESOME). I picked the series-clinching goal from the playoffs against the LA Kings two years ago by Joe Thornton, mainly since I was at that game and it was followed by a decent celebration. I also showed them Jonathan Cheechoo’s legendary between the legs goal from his Rocket Richard Trophy season. I taught them the Sharks power play cheer (theme from Jaws). I also reminded the children that even though hockey comes from Canada; all of the good hockey is in San Jose and that Canada is a barren wasteland filled with moose, flannel, beavers and maple syrup. Go Sharks. (Just kidding about Canada, but seriously, Go Sharks).
The schools here have about 7 or 8 large flat panel TV’s with HDMI inputs for multimedia. Pretty much anything I can dream up on the computer I can use in the classroom. However when it comes to internet at the school they are a little lacking. For instance, there is a wireless network at one school but no one seems to know the password. Are they using the network? They have a station set up for “internatto,” but I cannot save any pictures to a thumb drive on that computer because it has been disabled. I have to go to the student computer lab to use the internet if I want to save a picture of anything. Google Images is blocked at Japanese schools. That kind of blew my mind. If I want to do any research on a subject, get images or just flesh out an idea with some graphics I have to either do it at home or work with what I can find on Wikipedia.
Almost everyday there is a teacher leaving cool little snacks or treats on everyone’s desk. It is almost always chocolate. Which is great. I eat a small breakfast because lunch is usually massive at the school. Lunch isn’t until 12:45 though. By about 10:30 I feel like an African lion that hasn’t eaten in several days ready for a kill.
Lunch with the students is a new experience. Everything is eaten with a large spoon. A few days ago the school nutritionist served (たこうやき) takoyaki (it’s like a bland deep fried doughnut with octopus inside and a savory sauce on top) and the students were basically fighting over who got the extra takoyaki at the table. The food is actually really good as far as cafeteria lunches go. I mean I’m not going to mistake the miso soup here at the school for French Laundry or anything but its pretty good. The lunches are good enough where I’ve had a couple students brag to me about how good their school’s lunch is.
The best I saved for last, yesterday I received a compliment from one of the teachers, “I can’t believe this is your first time doing this.” I dropped the mic and left the school after that. It can only go down hill. Just kidding I was as gracious as humanly possible but seriously GO SHARKS.