Finding the ways to fill the time
When I came to this class in September, it was the first time I’d ever been a classroom teacher. I’d taught in Eikaiwa, and did my training in this school, but this is the first time I’ve ever had full responsibility for a class, as their teacher.
It’s been amazing. It’s hard to describe how much I’ve enjoyed the last 6 months with you. You have made me happy everyday. You are so curious, have so many questions, are so keen to learn. You made me excited about teaching. When I was planning, I was always thinking, “Would my kids like this? Maybe this will be fun?” and I hope it was for you.
I want to thank the parents, for accepting and supporting me as their children’s new teacher, when I came in September.
I want to thank my amazing teaching partner. I have learnt so much from you.
And I want to thank my class. I don’t know what I’ll do without you. I know you’ll have an amazing time in elementary school, learn new things, make new friends. I know I will have another class, and they will be wonderful too.
But you were my first class. And I don’t know if I will ever love another as much as I have the first.
My speech to my graduating students yesterday. Suffice it to say, I was a mess, and the kids laughed at me for all the water dripping out of my nose. Compared to other days of parting, like when their classmates moved – compared even to the week before the ceremony – there were hardly any tears. The parents, M my Japanese teaching partner, and I, cried way more. I think the kids were embarrassed by us. They were having more fun playing hide-and-seek under the tablecloths and behind the couches in the room they had for our ceremony after-party.
I will miss those kids so much though. Teaching in Japan has always been a lot of fun, but usually it was as the “Eigo no sensei” – a teacher the kids had contact with for 30 mins – 1 hour every week. A classroom teacher to bilingual kids is a whole different emotional connection. I got to blow their minds with new information. Deep sea animals, the gigantic scale of the sun, mythical Greek monsters (When they got nervous I told them: Don’t worry guys, they don’t live in Japan!). M and I were a perfect match too, supporting each other, picking up where the other left off, being strong in different ways. She was definitely the ‘mum’ of the class, the one the kids wanted to hug, hold hands with when going to the park, sit next to at lunch. I was the ‘dad’, the one who could be strict, and stern, but then also play tag, soccer, chess, uno etc with them. Sometimes M and I wanted to change roles of course – she would have loved to have played soccer with the kids occasionally, just as I wished secretly they’d fight over sitting next to me at lunch, but in the end it was role that we were most comfortable in anyway.
So I will lose M, as she quits the school and its dramas for now. I will lose my kids, going on to be big Grade 1s. I will become a Grade 1 teacher myself, at a different campus. It’s a time of exciting change for all of us, which is why maybe the kids weren’t as sad as I feared they would be. They are too keen to start their new lives, the one they’ve been looking forward to all year. I will miss them so much, but I am happy for them too. Kids have to grow up, teachers have to move on. But for both, in future, there remains so much still to look forward to.