Wednesday, November 16, 2005

One Fine Day

It's Wednesday, and I feel good.

This is not as simple a sentence as it may seem.

Wednesday has generally been "Hell Day at Work". Middle of the week, starting to feel tired, mandatory staff meeting after school, nothing ever good on TV, plus my classes generally suck on Wednesdays.

Usually, at the end of a Wednesday workday, the above sentence becomes "It's Wednesday, and I hate everything."

Today was different.

First, let me explain a bit about my work schedule on Wednesdays.

  1. 3rd Gamma Elective - These students are a great group of kids, but it is hard to motivate them to do anything at all.
  2. 2nd Beta Elective - Most of these students would prefer to sit around and tell dirty jokes or draw pictures of cartoon characters.
  3. Open Period - I usually sit around and feel depressed about how bad 2nd period went.
  4. 1st Year Students - Time to practice the English Play! (followed by a lunch break)
  5. 1st Year Students - More practice.
  6. Open Period - I usually sit around and feel depressed about how little we accomplished that day in practice.

Followed by a staff meeting after school. Yeesh.

The English play is something that got shoved on Jack and I. Our predecessor at Starfish High felt compelled (probably by Satan, but I can't say for sure) to have the first year students perform a play last year, and because they did it last year, they gotta do it this year. The big problem with this reasoning is that Mr. Last Year had some semblance of what he wanted to do. Compare that to this year, where Jack and I are about Alicia Silverstone level "Clueless". I was in quite a few high school plays, but that doesn't put me anywhere near qualifying to direct 60 students in a play. I cover the acting bit, Jack has to cover everything else, too many students goof off, and it generally ends with nothing accomplished except giving me a colossal headache and clinical depression.

However, today was a good Wednesday. First, during the morning staff meeting, the principal tells us, "Since we don't really have anything to discuss after school today, there will be no staff meeting."

WOO-HOO!

I understand enough Japanese that I am expected to participate in these meetings, but with some of the discussions, I lose track of what is going on. Either I can't follow the Japanese or the subject has no direct (or even indirect) connection to what my job. When that happens, I tend to zone out. And when I zone out, I start doing what Jeff Foxworthy calls "The Jello-Necked Head Bob". Not good. I'm getting better about it, but nothing beats not having a staff meeting.

First Period: We have a bit of English conversation, but the big comedy moment comes when one of the nosier students in class finds a set of fake moustaches. As there is not much else to do for entertainment in Muroran, this was like having a brand-spankin'-new mall built in the middle of town. Minutes of entertainment were had by all. Then, once we'd all had a good laugh, we stuck the moustaches on the wall and went back to some conversation before the bell rang.

Second Period: I found a game-show style buzzer in the English classroom and took it with me to class. We started off as we always do (lousy), but partway through class, one of the students said, "Why don't we play a quiz show game?" Brilliant! I start firing off questions, and the students start answering them (and actually participating!). It was quite possibly the best class I've ever had with those guys.

Third Period: I sit at my desk and feel good about life for the first time in a long string of Wednesdays. I also did a little preparation for...

Fourth/Fifth Period: The Play. We'd had a meeting the day before with the student directors, where we set down specific goals and made a list of which students needed to be with which group doing what. We're planning on performing one of the scenes in front of the entire school for our Christmas assembly, and things just haven't been coming together at all. So we had a meeting.

What a difference one meeting can make! The dance director was a lot happier with life today. Today, we added a fight scene and a couple of other new ideas in to the scene we're practicing, but by the end of fifth period, we had the lights and music matched up well and the overall flow of the scene improved a hundredfold. Set and prop design got a LOT of work done today. By the end of class, I was grinning and generally enjoying a feeling that I hadn't felt at all after play practice: happiness.

I had to kick myself for not setting up a meeting earlier, but now that we've got some momentum, we may be able to make something of this darn play.

Sixth Period: I sat at my desk, exhausted yet satisfied with the first good Wednesday in a long while.

After work, I went over to Hiroshi's house and had dinner with his family. His mom is up visiting from Shimane, and she called me up and told me to haul my sorry buns over to Hiroshi's place so I could eat a decent dinner. Never one to turn down a Yamane meal, I agreed.

And as always, it was good eatins.

Of course, no day can be perfect. There was one bittersweet moment of my day today.

Starfish High has a school trip for its second year students. Up until now, the trip has been to somewhere in the States (Seattle, Sacramento, San Francisco, etc.). There is also an intensive languague study course available for all second-year students interested. I've been told that I will be accompanying the trip next year as a chaperone, which I thought was cool because it meant that not only would I be able to go home for free, but I would get paid for the time I spent there. How cool is that?

One problem. Apparently, this year's trip had some problems that left our principal extremely dissatisfied with the way the program was run in the States. Today, the program coordinator came to Starfish High with a guest: the principal of a language school in Cairns, Queensland. He gave us a short presentation about his school and the study/home stay program they offer. By the end of the presentation, it seemed as if our principal is leaning toward Down Under instead of The Big Fifty.

I'm not complaining, not really. I was just planning on heading home next summer and visiting the family. Now I don't know what will happen.

Still, the thought of getting paid to go to Australia for a month...is not so bad.

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