parasitegirl: (Default)
A year and a half after putting a theoretical lesson plan about what I MIGHT be able to teach into my roster of lesson plans  (the first year no one asked for it and the first semester this year I had setbacks)…I have finally spent a day teaching "Months and Maori" to 6th graders. It was a hit. It was well worth the afternoon I spent making 60+  ti rakau sticks from the recycle paper and newspaper bin at a school and burning clips at home from You Tube to a DVD using Toast Titanium.

It started with me showing 4 pictures of Mount. Fuji. The kids then figured out that the pictures represent the four seasons and we named the seasons in English, putting a season title under each Fuji pic. Then the months, out of order, got matched with seasons (to practice that vocabulary) and THOSE cards went on the board…and I checked who has a birthday in which month if they were still excited by months. I actually do the same thing with 4th graders for one if I get a 6th grade that did it 2 years ago, it will make the kids who remember it feel smart, like they can do it, but it's been enough time that it isn't overly familiar.

After that the lesson diverged and becomed all new for 6th graders. We said goodbye to Mt. Fuji  as I removed those four pictures and I put up four different season pictures…and which point the students started yelling at me that I had them out of order…at which point I moved the season signs  to match the photos I've put up, letting the months remain as is...the sign and picture for summer is over December, January, February..etc.
At which point the class continued to scream about how wrong I am. I continued to insist that I wasn't crazy. I asked them questions until some kids started realizing that they've vaguely learned about this in another non-English class. A few kids ventured that we're talking about Brazil/Australia/New Zealand. I show them the map, where it is now Winter and where it is summer…and where New Zealand is.

Then we brainstormed about what they knew about New Zealand (only one class said earthquakes, which wasn't in my picture collection but is something the kids are aware of) I started putting more pictures up on the board, including rugby teams, sheep, the kiwis, and Maori and talk a little.

Then I added a plus sign between Maori and Rugby…and showed the kids a clip of the All Blacks doing a Haka before a game. Some kids knew of this because the team did it in a Japanese commercial of some sort and there are a few rugby fans. Kids LOVED the clip. I showed them a few clips of more traditional Maori dances and games, pausing to show some of the facial tattoos, and then it ended with a stick/Ti Rakau clip…which the students also thought was pretty damned cool.

Once we confirmed that that looked cool, I directed their attention to the back of the English room…to the BIG PILE OF STICKS FOR THEM! They each got two, moved the desk and chairs to the back, and sat down. I took them through left and right and some basic solo combinations in English, adding new combos to the ones we'd learned and then got them doing pair work with hits and passes until we had solo and duet moves.

We used the song E Papa Waiari to keep beat but sometimes I played a steady beat with my zills in clack mode to control the tempo and gradually speed up.

Some classes got that so well I let them spend 5-10 minutes in groups of four making their own combinations and we watched volunteer groups do original ones.

Yeah. Beating the floor….very popular. Sticks are awesome.

At the end we watched a bit more Haka and…because I wanted to…I made them, row by row, show me their Tu face for battle…and, yes, because I have watched too much Full Metal Jackets I did occasionally shout "Show me your WAR FACE"…which may be taking liberties…but I really couldn't help myself.

I could put a little more content…an extra stick combination or two. I should also learn a few greetings to teach.

And…after resisting…I now have an iPad2. I realized that my love of hardcover notebooks was being litteraly out weighed by having to heft a satchel with multiple dance notebooks/work notebooks/ and sometimes a laptop.

It arrived last night. I've spent the afternoon at work entering in my  elementary class d school info into Pages so that I can stop carrying my large lesson planner.  I also started using Audio Notes to record and annotate my zill combinations and mark when and where I have taught them so I can start transferring the dance class notebook info. On my way home I stopped at the convini to pay for the stylus I ordered last night so I can more easily handle handwriting and note-taking.

Tonight, I am going to eat well and sew. It's getting chilly.

Job Update

Feb. 17th, 2011 01:17 pm
parasitegirl: (Default)
My next contract year starts April 1st.

Changes have been made. Tof will be moved to Jr. High with no major change in salary. I met all the interview candidates for the two other Elementary School Supervisor possitions that will open. One who was hired was in my top two "please please please hire this person" picks and the otehr new one seems sweet and willing to try...and was the only canidate I felt needed a hug....which I gave.

It looks like we will no longer rotate schools. Each of us will get 5 schools and visit those schools once each trimester, no I've put in my requests. If I get most of what I ask for I will be at schools interested in my style...most of which are a quick bike ride for me.
parasitegirl: (Default)

Today, when my supervisor and I were leaving city hall, one of the Japanese security guards who sits in the main entrance stopped us. He proceeded to tell me that one of his…relatives…something…lived in Istanbul for 5 years. Then, seeing my confused expression said (and made a gesture) “Bellydance!” I smiled.


Then, when we exited the building I asked my supervisor…”How does he KNOW?!”

“I don’t know! But yesterday he stopped me to tell me you’re beautiful!”

…”The other security guy sometimes goes out of his way to tell me you’re waiting for me….I get so pissed that people don’t know what my job was, or what I do now…but I can’t ever complain they don’t know who I am.”


My current supervisor and I get along much better as people and now as teachers since we've spent the mornings this semester in the same car (first semester I biked to all my schools)…now that he knows my teaching style and gets excited about talking teaching with me…well...the more I suspect that he has little to no power over my future. I think my last supervisor had the most vision, the most control, and dropped the ball and communicated nothing to anyone when he was shifted to being a vice-principal.


Ah, well.


My back still hurts, hurts a bit more after teaching four 2nd grade classes. I think I might be getting sick. Blech. Better now than on my vacation.
parasitegirl: (Default)

My supervisor and I drove to two Jr.High schools today to meet with ALTs. Before we left city hall my supervisor had to drop into the security room to check out a car. He mumbled “Time to check my alcohol level…”


Japan has 0 tolerance for alcohol and driving, but I thought he was making a joke.


Nope. This year, getting a government car is preceded with a BAC check…and specifically it is done in the morning.


I laughed my ass off.


I wonder how many issues with government workers showing up drunk, or drunk from the night before, prompted this change.

parasitegirl: (hate)

 I’ve been making paper airplanes for the summer English program. I am ready.


It was hard to walk past the rows of desks, with my handfuls of paper airplanes, and not launch an attack on the government workers here.


I have also become the trash queen today. The recycle bins are giving me the PET bottles I need for the bowling lesson as well as the newspaper for tonight’s packing.


A large chunk of my morning was entering the info for all the summer camp name tags. The Japan version of creative name spellings is creative name kanji…although I was relieved to find that if I got stumped on how to enter a kanji on the computer despite having the reading… it was hard enough that my co-workers also struggled. The two worst kanji I managed to find in my giant kanji dictionary before my Japanese co-worked found them in electronic dictionaries. I have kanji-cred for the day


(for the しいreading in a name was one of the stumpers…as was 滉 in some context)


My brain is fried after 150 names.


Jul. 9th, 2010 03:05 pm
parasitegirl: (Default)

Four rounds of the Ninja Game with 6th graders and we top off the week with 12 or more special needs students from 1st-6th. I am knackered. It is Friday.


I love working with special needs classes (in part because the teachers get my style in ways normal teachers often don’t) but this group should have been broken into two smaller groups (1-3 and 4-6) for sanity sakes. Still, we touched colors, talked about fruit colors, talked about color mixing, and then mixed colors in our hands and made a handprint flag. Then I answered questions…which were more about trying to understand and then reacting to whatever a child with a raised hand wanted to say to me and thanking them…for example the question of “Haruna…Banana!” get answered with “Haruna, nice to meet you. I like Bananas too! Haruna likes bananas! Thank you, Haurna.”


Like 1st and 2nd graders, they still find magic in hearing what words are in English and they still need a great deal of repetition and structure. Those students, unlike more grown-up students, don’t crave new experiences…because it’s all new and confusing for them. You have to work the new in carefully and then repeat repeat repeat.


Next time I am here I know the special needs teachers will be requesting me, they are very happy right now.




parasitegirl: (Default)

Sweaty hot today, still. One of the teachers tried to tell me that it was 120degrees…but I suspect his calculations were wrong. It’s simply in the 80’s with high humidity.


Tomorrow is my last school teaching day of the semester. I’ll be doing the Ninja game with 6th graders and then a special class with the special needs students. I’ve made a hybrid of a few lesson plans for the special needs group but it will all be around color and will culminate in us mixing two colors with our bare hands and making a class hand print flag of our original colors. I miss doing special needs classes.


In other schools occasionally the special needs kids come in with their assistants and join the regular students when it comes to English Communication classes…but that can be embarrassing because those special needs kids kick more English ass than the regular students: they’re not embarrassed about answering, they enjoy simple memorization tasks and grouping words, and they are probably more in touch with “learning to watch for clues as to what to do when you don’t understand” than the average kid…and have probably been better drilled in how to deal with the frustration of not understanding.


I realize that much of what I do is teach students how to cope with frustration. I usually have to talk to teacher before class and say “Yes, the first time they get into groups and have to answer this questions they will be very confused, but you need to let them be confused because after they try…and they see my reaction… they will fully understand what is needed of them and will be able to do the task and will be better able to deal with the stress of answering while not being 100% sure in future English classes.”

teaching stuff )
parasitegirl: (Default)

A teacher here told me that moving in Japan makes people sick. I believe that…although I am never sure what to believe about “We Japanese…”


Last week a teacher, when I couldn’t come up with the English word for electric fan quicky, said “Aaaaah, that’s because you don’t have fans in America. Everyone has air conditioning!” I explained that in America, like Japan, we have a variety of hot-weather solutions including electric fans, thank you.


Still, it doesn’t top my favorite myth of America. My old school, at lunch time, once let it slip that they thought American women don’t go through menopause. This group included a school nurse.


At the high school I worked at a teacher once told my coworker (Giles) that he couldn’t help Giles find a podiatrist because Japan doesn’t have podiatrists because, due to taking their shoes off at the entrance, they don’t have foot problems. Universal gaijin reaction to hearing this has always been “has he ever LOOKED AT HIS STUDENTS' FEET?!?!” as Japanese high school girls are always a rich source of some crazy pidgeon-toed and knock-kneed issues.


Jul. 7th, 2010 02:55 pm
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A little boy in my third grade lesson today started things off by raising his hand and telling me that his father told him there's no reason for Japanese people to learn English. I'm guessing manners aren't stressed in his home either.

I didn't tell him his dad is an ass. I told him his dad is right..unless he wants to ever travel the world or make new friends who aren't Japanese, or enjoy movies and comics that don't get translated into Japanese, or work anyplace that isn't Japan...because in those cases, English is mighty useful.

I did get him under control and past moaning about English.

I also worked with a teacher I had to narc out (at another school) last year for being unprepared and an in-class mess. This year, she did ok and seemed to trust me in the class and genuinely enjoy the lesson. Yay!
parasitegirl: (Default)

The Waiting Game:

My mind is allowing all connections right now. I don’t think I’ve been this randomly rorschattted since I was in Taiwan with Paul, except this isn’t fun and I’m not next to the ocean with an old friend and some vodka.

I’d loosely planned to be back in Taiwan next month, over the long weekend, and that is now my in-limbo moving time.

“All around the mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel…. .” This monkey, however, does not think this is all in fun. I sit here at my desk. My duty for today, unstated, is to wait until my boss gets the call. I twiddle my thumbs as “Pop goes the weasel” plays on a loop between my ears. Ring, click, what will explode from that mystery box? Will I have my apartment? Will it be Pennywise, bad teeth and all? Will I be pounded-foolish again? How low can I go? Is the cat alive or dead…for it is both in my mind.

What happens next?

Whatever happens I will have a place to go tonight. My gig bag sits behind me. Around 5:30 I will roll into Shimokitazawa. I’ll be dancing to live music I love. I hope to be fully in my dance and not to be clinging to it to save me…but right now it could go either way.

parasitegirl: (Default)

I am trying to access the part of brain where I am happy.

Teachers are coming to see me later today, because they want feedback on a lesson plan they’ve constructed. I am valued.

As I spend more time at schools all day, and teaching with regular homeroom teachers, my pre-lesson pep-talk to the students has evolved.

All of my lesson plans start with the homeroom teacher announcing (in Japanese) that today’s lesson is going to be all in English. That this is something he/she is going to be trying to do along with me, no translations!…but that students shouldn’t worry. They can participate by any means needed, even Japanese. They shouldn’t worry about having the answers perfect, or raising their hands, just say it as it comes and try!

This set the stage and made sure the homeroom teacher and the students KNEW the ground rules…but it was more for the teacher.

I usually followed that up with my own (Japanese, so that everyone understand that I don’t translate by choice, not because I can’t) talk about how the only rule I have is…no whining. I don’t want to hear the screams of “I don’t understaaaand!...because when you don’t understand then it’s time to look, listen, think…or even ask the person next to you.”

Nowadays, in part because of research done on how hearing positive or negative things about one’s race/ethnicity/sex/whatever prior to tests can change performance scores in positive/negative ways, my current speech goes something like this, but in Japanese.

“Yes. We’re reallllly going to do this in English. ALL ENGLISH and I have a veeeeeeeerrry important rule when I teach…no crying.” (the next part is done in a high-pitched wail with a scrunched up face and clenched fists)”’ IIiiii doooooon’t understand! Use Jaaaapanese! English is haaaaaaaaaaard!’  (pause for laugher) is not allowed here. (look a little worried) You’re all X graders…right? (look relieved when they confirm their grade) Ok. I know that Xgraders can do this lesson. Y graders couldn’t, it’s too hard, but X graders definitely can handle it. There will be parts that are hard. When you study math, there are parts that are hard, right? But you can’t cry ‘Seeeensei, this is tooo hard, giiiive me the annnnswer’ can you?....(pause for laughter and understanding) English is the same. When you don’t understand, watch me, watch the gestures, see what the other students are doing, take the time to ask extra questions in Japanese…Ok? GREAT! English tiiiiime!”

When I teach I do use Japanese, but it’s never to translate. I mix some Japanese words into my English sentences when I think they need an extra clue to release confusion/tension. I use Japanese to help students think through what they don’t understand, but without giving them the answer…and I use it for praising.

And, when class is over, if the teacher has tried…I make sure her whole class applauds her for the great job she did.

This all makes my job easier. For the students and teachers, it makes the medicine go down.

parasitegirl: (Default)
The good thing about having a like minded co-worker is that I am no longer the only person muttering foul words at computer screens.

"Whaaaaat is this shit.?"
parasitegirl: (evil2)

“35!? Get outa here. I was worried I was going to have to read up on Twilight to converse with you.”


This is how Tof (My new co-worker is henceforth dubbed The Other Foriegner) greeted me this morning. I guess he had a delayed reaction to the fact I’ll be turning 35 this weekend. He has yet to tell me how old he is…but he is older than me.


It’s the month of doing nothing. We’ve been balancing good conversation, crack-each other-up banter, non-sequitor insanity with hours of not talking as not to burn out…we’ve also been plotting what things need to change around here and making plans for possible conflicts. Need to get some coffee up in this office.


We also talk about possibilities of combining my dance with his music. The secret life if teachers. K the Bellydancer and Tof the Rock Star. He also does a lot of martial arts…and we both write.

parasitegirl: (Default)

Going a little crazy here. There are now two of us supervisors…and the school schedule has changed…and our supervisor has changed…and we have no clue what we should be doing. The new Mr. West, Mr Mi, told me there will be a meeting with the schools on the 20th…but waiting until then to really help identify what it is we are to do is insane. Today we sit doing nothing. I brought my personal computer so that I could share the work-computer internet with my partner here..because goodness knows when he’ll be given his work computer.


I’ve burned a set for tonight’s gig in my hood, Matsudo. They called me last minute (last night) but it’s only 9 minutes away and the same price for a shorter set…so I can never say no. I do say “If you gave me more warning I could bring you customers” but…oh well. I’ve mailed a few people from Zumba, but they can’t make it, and a local dancer…who knows. There is a party of Japanese women who want a dancer and I can do that. (Yes, I asked for party specifics, I learn…last time it was odd old J men, one of whom longed to go to Oshkosh for the air show). Ramses is now called Sahalin. I checked the gourmet online listing for them and it is specific about the fact that belly dancers are available on request and that the default dancer is Russian but that an American dancer or Japanese dancer are also a possibility.


The last few weeks have been busy. I’ve drilled and practiced and thought about choreography when I’ve had a free night (except last night) but I feel behind. I don’t want to loose the momentum I felt I had a few weeks back. The Istanbul sets are doing well, but I feel I could really get in there and polish up a few of the songs with practice choreography to help drill a better sense of repetition/ variety/complexity into my improvisation. Friday, I danced at Istanbul Akasaka-mitsuke. People really do respond well to the “you will get up and have fun with me” command to dance now that I’ve started to own it. I thought one gentleman was doing to kiss me. More women and men have been hugging me. A birthday group wanted me to stay longer, but I was getting worn out and trying to pace myself. Saturday morning I had to be up early for the lung doctor and to swing by my ob/gyn for more pills.


On Saturday I danced at Ginza. One women not only enjoyed the set but also identified where I had bought my lovely wedge shoes when I changed into my street clothing. “I loved it! And your shoes! Jocomola!” An American business man, cute and around my age, could be heard from my changing area preparing his Japanese counterparts for what bellydance is…and some of it was correct. When I danced he kept attempting to speak to me in a language I could not place. After my set I was happy to hear him explaining that I was a good dancer and they’d been lucky. He approached me after I got changed to figure out where I was from. The language he’d tried was Russian because in his travels he’d learned that many of the dancers now working in Turkey and Egypt are Russian, so he’d assumed Japan might be the same. In retrospect I probably should have given him my card, he was cute and very polite.


I still need to think more about workshops, but I think that requires I ask around to dancers who know me about what they think my selling points are…what are the sorts of things people want from me if I do teach. What are my unique qualities that set me apart from the average Tokyo dancers and what are my own strong points. Jo has offered to help organize my first workshops when I decide what I’m doing.


Tomorrow I’ll bring in my two big old books on Dreamweaver and start trudging ahead on that as well. I think I have a bio page finished and from there I should be able to take it live, get feedback and use it as a template for the other pages. Let us hope.


The next few Fridays I’ll be at Konya in Ginza. I still need to figure out what I am doing on the 17th for my birthday. I’d rather not spend my birthday dancing.

parasitegirl: (Default)

I finished my work for the school year this morning and now I am coasting through the day.


Final counts for what I’ll be handing each support staff members:

5th and 6th grade lesson plans, flows, worksheets: 89 pages (20 lessons)

1st-4th grade lesson plans, flows, worksheets: 50 pages (12 lessons)

One cd of the plans and all needed visual and audio aids (except for the few that they’ll have to make for their specific schools): 700MB…and 100% full.

Really, when I realized I was doing the sort of work that goes into making a textbook...I was not exaggerating.

parasitegirl: (Default)

Oh, my heart hurts.

I have just learned that Mr.West, my supervisor, will become a vice principal in seven days. This is wonderful for him, and I think he will be great at it, but it means that I shall lose my best supervisor yet. First the Milkman’s Sister (lovable but ineffective) returned to the class room after her year with me and now Mr. West…who, despite the language barrier, really got what it is I do.

In 7 days I get my new “Co-English Advisor and we get to start figuring out how to train him in what it is I do here while still respecting the fact that we will have different strengths as teachers. I also get a new supervisor. He/She will speak English, but the fact he/she comes from a middle-school English background (where the goals and teaching style is different from what I’ve been brought her to do) worries me.

Mr. West has sat me down and explained all of this. He has explained how my being here, and the power I have as a teacher, has put this city far ahead of the cities next to it in regards to English…and that people know it…but how he worries about the pockets of teachers and schools who, over the last two years, are still nervous about me. I will be spending more days in schools, all day, which will either alleviate this or…worsen it. He’s given me a pep talk about being strong and yet gentle and how I will get through this.

He’s told me which new support staff we will take on and where they will be and I agree with most of it an am happy to be retaining my strongest support staff (Mrs. N and Mega Sensei…the team you may remember from my health scare last year…).






I know I can do this. 

parasitegirl: (Default)
I appear to have at least 16 mostly polished lesson plans finished. They will need a few points of translation, and fixing AND a simplified Japanese step-by-step for the homeroom teachers, but the hard work is done and 6 of them already have a step-by-step written. interest

I am ruminating on two more. One is partly finished, but needs a re-make of the second half as it failed dramatically in trials. The partly finished one needs to be loosely tied to the theme of"daily schedule" and time.

The second lesson is harder to tackle as the theme sort of bores the fuck out of me as a focal point and I tend to cover the topics of that chapter as the arise naturally in  teaching other lessons.

Here's a translation for what the Eigo No-to claims it is doing for that chapter.
Encouraging interest in foreign loan words (and learning a few)
Ask for things you want. (What do you want?..., please.)
Making students aware of the differences between Japanese pronunciation and English if having a complex about that isn't epidemic in Japan and a HUGE hurdle I need to get homeroom teachers over every time I make them talk!!!
...and many foods.


Mar. 16th, 2010 02:11 pm
parasitegirl: (Default)

My brain is frazzled.


I’d been putting off writing new lesson plans for next school year (next month).. I think I was in denial at how many more I’d have to write. This week and next I am plowing through about a lesson and a half a day.


If I simply taught by myself I wouldn’t need to do as much. I could sketch out a loose plan and improvise. I know my support staff don’t make plans like this.…but these lessons go out to 14 support staff members and 15 Japanese teachers in charge of their schools “English communication programs ”who usually can’t speak English..…so that means detailed planning, description and doing all the nit-picky stage directions and instructions in Japanese and hoping I have the imagined responses and comprehension levels right…and that's not even to talk of teaching supplies/visual aides.

parasitegirl: (Default)

I’m working on a new lessons for 5th and 6th graders.


Next year we still have the “Eigo-noto” textbooks that we have the option of using or not…they will be discontinued in a few years. We have no clue what replaces them. English in elementary school is technically “Foriegn Language Activity time”, is not graded, and falls within another general course.


I never use the Eigo Noto, they are a bit to “English lesson-y” for me.. I prefer to do total physical response styled communication activities to show teachers (support staff and homeroom) what kids are capable of and what an ideal Foreign Language Atcivity can be like… but I won’t deny that Eigo-Noto do provide a general structure for schools and support staffs to use as a base for building a more interesting program on top of.


So I am here pluging my style into the themes of the Eigo Noto so that teacher can request me (or use my lessons) in a way that makes schools still feel like they have some semblance of structure for the “English” classes. Many of my previous lesson plans can be used this way but there are gaps and I have a few weeks of no-teaching time at work to make a batch to fill those gaps.

Season/months and...Maori? )
parasitegirl: (Default)
I had one of those homeroom teachers today. I wasn’t surprised. I remembered her from last year…

Sometimes the resistance is about a teacher hating English and hating foreigners. Sometimes it’s about a teacher being a bad teacher. Sometimes it’s about fear…and sometimes the teacher is just a nasty/poorly socialized creature to everyone…

I tried not to take it personally, as it was obvious she was all of the above. I mean, really, who bitches about English and how it’s too hard for her students…and bitches about the fact I’ve told her that other classes did just fine and they can handle the lesson….to other teachers only desks away from me…before class even starts?

Moments after I explained to her students, in Japanese, that they can answer in Japanese or English, she told them they can only respond in English?!? When another teacher, confused about the schedule, came into double check which period I would be teaching a different homeroom..she would only say in loud, sarcastic, English “I’m sorry. I don’t understand English!?!” even though they asked in Japanese?

But it was pretty clear from past visits that she’s a grump, crazy, lady and everyone else avoids her. I think she resents foreigners and English…but I also think she resents everyone else too.


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