Friday, August 31, 2007

They're Gone!!

Finally, after three weeks of stress, my Japanese exchange students have all gone home. When I first agreed to teach the elementary class at this small Christian School, I had forgotten about the foreign exchange students that always come each year. And I had forgotten that usually it was the elementary class that took them in! I do not speak a word of Japanese. I can barely pronounce their names...though by the end of the three weeks I have to admit that I think I figured it out. I even said my DH's wedding boss's name today and got the pronunciation right!

It's been such a tough three weeks and not a good way to start out school. I feel like having the disruption of foreign students in the class has set a precedent for unruly behavior with my own kids. With mixed ages as well, it is hard to teach to everyone's level. And not being able to communicate just made it worse.

Many days I would spend the majority of the lesson time writing words on the board for the Japanese students to copy onto their worksheets. Is this cheating? I do the same for Cassie and Eric and anyone else who asks "teacher, how do you spell.....?" I could tell them to "sound it out" or ask leading questions like "what letter makes a "K" sound?" but honestly, writing the word out is so much easier. Especially when I have the K5s crawling under the table or trying to climb shelves to reach books/puzzles/games etc that are put out of reach for a purpose.

I remember one day leaving the room to make some photocopies and coming back to discover 4 kids writing on the white board with various markers - not all of them dry erase pens! One was even a permanent marker!! This was done under the watchful eyes of my "helpers". Needless to say a lecture erupted out of me on what exactly the children were allowed to touch/climb/do and who needed to be monitoring this when I was out of the room! Thank God for Magic Erasers!

It is Labor Day now and back in Canada, school would officially start on the day after Labor Day. With my class finally free of the Japanese children, I feel like school will really "begin" tomorrow. These past three weeks have been the "assessment" phase. In other words, tomorrow is a new day!

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