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My students are changing

June 17, 2007

Well, I haven't posted anything in a long time. I even see that all the style and everything have changed in my absence. I'll have to get onto fixing that back up soon.

We're a few months into the new school year now, and things have settled into the new system nicely. The new teachers are all a part of the system, and the new students are getting along well with everybody. What's sad, though, is the fact that the students are changing. My second-graders have become third-graders.

Last year, the third-grader class frequently annoyed me. They were dead in class, just sitting there staring at the front of the class, or down at their tables, and hardly ever contributing to the class at all, or even letting me know if they understood what I was saying. There were still good times, but by and large they were easily the most moody of the classes. The second-graders were always my favourite. The kids were always happy and energetic, but old enough to be over the shyness and lack of confidence that the first-graders have. They always tried to talk to me, even if they couldn't speak a word of English.

But now, as the new school heirarchy is getting into place, and the new pressures and calls of life in the final year of Middle School are settling in, and they're growing up, they're changing. And becoming the third-graders from last year. They hardly ever stop to talk to me anymore. Some of the kids who I really liked and who would always chatter on about stuff that I could never understand… it's hard to have much of a talk with them at all these days, even if I initiate it. The classes have become alot less fun, and more about just doing what has to be done. Alot of English work involves making sentences like "I like to-", "I want to -", etc. Where their work used to reflect an enthusiuasm for English, it now reflects a jadedness with it (is that even a word?) – "I don't want to study English".

It's a shame, but one good thing that's coming out of it, is that my first-graders are becoming second-graders. The first-graders were always very cute, but didn't have alot of … substance. They always just smiled and hardly ever said anything, as they were far too shy. Well, now they are no longer the smallest kids in the school, and their confidence is developing. Kids who I've always liked, but never really talked to, are starting to talk me alot. They always wave and grin when they see me. I'm starting to acually learn some of their names! And I really like that. Some of these kids are ones who I've wanted to get to know for a long time, and now I finally am getting the chance.

The final thing that's happening is that my Primary School kids have become Middle School first-graders. They look so out of place. At first they were really happy to see me at Middle School, as I was a familiar face. But now that they are getting used to everybody (and see them all a damn sight more often than they see me), they are beginning to take on the first-grade traits of silence and awkwardness. The little-kiddy way I used to interact with them at Primary School doesn't work anymore now that they're in a bigger pond. They don't seem to know quite how to interact with me.

I think alot of the distancing from me might also be to do with the fact that my class time has been severely chopped. I now am at Primary School (including two new ones) two days every week, meaning I'm only at Middle School 3 days a week. And even when I'm there, the teachers are getting more and more confident in refusing me class time. They need to drill grammar, and unless I explain complex rules in Japanese, they don't seem to think I'm worth their time. I wonder why I'm here, half the time. Last year, one of my girls told me that some people stopped liking the previous ALT because she stopped seeing them so often, and they seemed to take it as a sign that she didn't care about them. Well, now I hardly ever see them, and I wonder if that image might be growing on me. I really need to try to do something about it. I don't want to lose my kids!

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