Tales Of The Classroom

As previously mentioned, I teach English in a small after-school place in rural Japan. 
I’ve been there 3 months now and the fun just never stops. Not really. It’s often not fun. It’s often hard, tiring, boring and annoying. The lesson plans are pretty repetitive, the kids are boisterous and I get no breaks between classes. 
However, at this point, I’ve started to bond with the kids a bit. It’s tough, considering I teach well over 100 different kids. In fact, there are two sets of over-100-kids. I have one set and the other teacher has the other. Every two months we switch. Last time, it didn’t make any difference to me, I didn’t know any of the kids anyway. This time (1 December was the switch date), it was hard. I’ve been busting my butt to learn all their names and it’s so damn hard. I mean, for one – they’re Japanese. 
Not to say that “all Japanese look the same” or anything, but they kind of do. They all have straight dark brown hair and brown eyes. Every single one of them is ethnically Japanese. In many countries there would be variations in skin, hair and eye colour. Not here. Also, I don’t recognise the names. If they were called John, James, Sarah and Claire, it wouldn’t be so bad. 
Here, not only do I not recognise which names are boys’ and which are girls’, a lot of the names are the same, or very similar (in one class I have a Tatsuma, a Tatsuya and a Takuma – there’s a Takuya in another class). It’s an exercise in frustration to try to address them by name. 
Anyway, now and then funny things do happen. This week – 
1. In one class, I have six girls and one boy. He’s a slightly weird little kid (maybe 6 or 7) who refuses to sit (kneel) like all the other kids in the circle. He turns around to face the other way, mashes his face into the carpet and points his bum at me. His skinny little bum. It’s weird. Anyway, the other day while breathing in carpet fluff, he found a hair on the rug. A long, blond hair. Mine. He showed it to me and the class (who got all excited about it – it’s not like they don’t see blond hairs on my head every damn week). I apologised and told him to put it in the bin. He put it in his pocket. Then resumed his butt-pointing. 
2. On Wednesdays, I have a class of 1st year junior high school boys. They are rowdy as anything. Yesterday, I decided to let them watch the movie “Robots”. One of them was sitting where the tv is supposed to go, so while two other boys were carrying it across the room I tried to get the boy to move. I gave a quick “Hup! Hup! Hup!”. The other boys thought I was saying the f word (in Japanese there’s no proper f sound, it’s more just blowing through pursed lips, like the start of “which” if you don’t say it like “witch”). The two tv-carriers set down the tv and almost wet themselves laughing. The others started doing star jumps around the room shouting “F*ck!!” I tried to shush them and not laugh at the same time. I failed. 
Oh, if you’re wondering, that’s one of my little ones dressed as a ladybird for Hallowe’en. He has an apple in his mouth. It’s a teeny tiny mini-apple. Yes, he’s that small. 

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