Worked with the special needs kids today. I was a bit worried about that class. Not because I thought they might be trouble – I’d seen them around and they seemed nice kids – but I worried that I’d be way off the mark with my class and they’d end up bored or frustrated or both. Plus since there’s only two of them, a lot of the “old reliable” games just wouldn’t work. But it actually went pretty well. Aya, the younger of the two is an ichinensei and from what I can tell is a little kid in a 13-year-old’s body. She always seems quite cheeerful and is very affectionate, I have seen her hugging some of the other teachers when she talks to them, and this morning when I got in she put her arm around me and started leading me to the staffroom, saying “Go put your stuff down!” My pred also says her skull is not properly developed and so when you’re playing games or something, you need to be careful she doesn’t fall and hit her head. Chiharu, the older girl, is a sannensei, and basically the same thing – little kid in an older girl’s body. She’s more advanced than Aya, but can be a bit funny about talking to new people – when I asked a question she often craned her head around and sort of mumbled it to the special needs teacher instead. Apparently depending on her mood she can be very stubborn and completely ignore you sometimes, which worried me when I read it, but the special needs teacher is always there and would know what to do if ever I got stuck. She seemed OK today apart from the talking thing, and she seemed to get into this Maori dancing we were doing. They haven’t actually picked up any English, even Chiharu, and even with my pred who had professional teaching qualifications, so he hit on the idea of doing a lot of cultural activities with them. So today was the self-intro, like the other classes, but in Japanese with some simple words in English as well, and since there was just the two of them, I could hand them the stuff I was showing them. I also asked them questions about their daily life and explained what things we did differently in NZ. Then at the end I brought out my Maori music CD and showed them how to do the haka (ad-libbing in parts because I only know the bit they do at rugby games and the CD has this whole tangent at the beginning that I don’t know the moves for.) Chiharu really enjoyed it, and Aya didn’t want to have a go, but she seemed to enjoy watching me and Chiharu. On the whole, it seemed to go well.

The only other class I had today was Year 2-1. Again, I was the assistant and am beginning to get the hang of this assistant thing, which atm mostly involves reading stuff in English and helping out the kids when they don’t understand. I noticed that a lot of them had trouble with questions involving interpretation (perhaps because of the way they’re taught – there’s an awful lot of rote memorisation, and I remember my mum, who’s a teacher aide, saying something very similar about the effect it has.) Anyway, they had to answer questions about a story we were telling them, and stuff like “What did the man and his wife give the old lady?” were a piece of cake for most of them, but the one asking “What did the old lady say ‘That’s very good’ about?” flummoxed them. Was quite happy that I managed to help a lot of them work it out without actually telling them the answer.

Light workload today – 2 classes as opposed to the other days when I have 4 – so in my downtime I prepared for my ninensei class at Ariake West by updating the animal flash cards and karuta cards left behind for me, which were starting to show their age and weren’t all that interesting IMO (crudely drawn black and white pictures, which were getting a bit scraggy round the edges to boot.) I practically live on the internet, so I cruised Google Images and found photos of 8 different animals and made A4 flash cards, then shrunk them down so they all fit on one A4 page and made karuta cards. A quick flip through the colour printer, laminator and guillotine, et voila! Prettyful animal cards to be used for any number of classes for years to come. :D I plan on doing the same with the fruits, foods, body parts and so on as I come to them. I may even find photos for the colours. Am also planning on taking these two soft toys I have, a little cat and dog. If the amount of squeeing my two Silver Fern Beanie Babies have produced is anything to go by (even Junior High kids have been known to reach up onto the teacher’s desk and try to touch them during class) Jingle and Jangle should be a hit. I think I may actually, possible, maybe not be too bad at this shit after all!

Rain again this afternoon, but Day 2 of no aircon and it is still cool! Ding dong, the heat is dead!!!!! :D :D :D