Lest my posts of syrupy sweet children lull you into the false reality that my teaching career is all peaches and cream, let me share with you my experience today.
On Mondays we ALTs take turns going to local elementaries and kindergartens to do brief lessons, which mostly involve singing and games. Today I went to Sakamoto Sho-gakko (elementary school), which is about 45 minutes away by bus. To set this up, let me mention that last time I went there (which was my first time to go) I got off at the wrong bus stop and walked around Omika for an hour, and eventually the school secretary had to come pick me up along the side of the highway. So I was not on a roll with Sakamoto, although once I got there last time things went rather well.
Well today I was with 3rd graders, who are apparently demons disguised as seemingly innocent and rather cute Asian children. I taught 4 classes, three of which acted like hell's own angels, but one of which was good. There was screaming... oh there was screaming. I have never been so loud in my life as I was today trying to scream above their deafening roar. Then to add to the noise chaos was a violent game known as "karuta." This game involves a lot of slapping. Cards with pictures of the vocabulary are set out before a group of 4-6 children, and when I yell out a word and the first person to slap the corresponding card gets to keep the card. You can imagine what that leads to.
The day finally climaxed during my last class. The biggest boy in the class was being a real butthead (pardon my language ;) ) through the whole class, but of course the teacher was doing nothing about it. Finally as we were wrapping up the day singing that classic song, "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes," the big boy ran at full force and bulldozed another kid in class. My eyes went wide, but the teacher didn't seem to care, so I kept on singing. About half the class ran over to the kid who had been plowed down, but the other half kept right on singing with me. The little victim didn't get up for a while, and the teacher finally started talking to the big bad boy, but she seemed to be consoling him more than anything. She took pity on the bully! I seriously almost told the teacher and the bully what for. So finally I go over to check on the kid lying on the floor, but I obviously couldn't do much. So I did what any good teacher would do; I ignored the situation completely and just kept on singing. The teacher began to talk to the bully and the hurt kid, and just ignored me completely. We sang Bingo, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and the Alphabet song. I stayed 15 minutes after class singing to try to babysit the other students. Ugh. During several points during the songs I just burst out laughing at the ridiculousness of it all, and made all kinds of vows not to come back to the 3rd graders at Sakamoto. So there you have it-- being an ALT is not all flowers and sunshine.
Ah, I focus on the negative, but my one good class was really adorable. When Japanese kids are good, they're very, very good... but when they're bad, they're horrid. :)