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Amparo Bertram

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04:38 pm: New beginnings
To start off, I asked my vice-principal today about my contract. He told me the following:

  • They will have a contract for me to sign, eventually. My current one doesn't end until July, so they don't feel in any hurry.

  • They don't know yet how negotiations will go with Ritsumeikan. Until further notice, my new contract will last through next year March 31st.

  • If negotiations go well and they decide to keep the Adrian ALT position, they will extend the contract through next summer.

    I had my first day of classes today, and they all went reasonably well. I was a bit dubious when I had the following planning session, though...

    Teacher: I want to use a hanko (stamp) sheet in this class. I know you're against it, but...what do you think?

    Me: <blink, blink> You know I'm against it, and you're asking me what I think? Is this some weird Japanese version of politeness? "I'm going to do it whether you like it or not, so I'm giving you a chance to pretend to agree..."? If YOU want to, go right ahead.

    The class itself went fine. In fact, there were cries of protest at the end of class when the bell rang and we had to cut off our introduction activity. (Oh, if only students protested class ending more often!) There seems to be one student in the class who's practically fluent (from her name, I'm guessing maybe one of her parents is English-speaking).

    The third year language lab class went okay (the Window on Britain class), but I can see that it will probably go the way of last year's Listening class before long. And the team teacher wasn't kidding when he said he wanted me to "mostly handle" the class. He didn't even offer to help distribute handouts. (Apparently the students don't have textbooks this time, so the entire class will be run using handouts.) I will try to do what I can to keep the students engaged...at least some of them appear kind of interested in the topic (at the moment).

    In random other news, the English club members will be making a video to play at the "welcome" event for new students next Friday. (This way they don't have to get up on stage to introduce the club.) They came to see me today to let me know they have a script and to make sure I show up to read my part. I wonder what the script is about...

    It seems the construction in front of my house has finally ended. They've moved away all the large machinery. Now they just have to repave the road.

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    [User Picture]
    From:melf42
    Date:April 13th, 2005 03:20 am (UTC)
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    Glad the construction has ended and the contract has not!

    He didn't even offer to help distribute handouts.
    What kind of lamo teacher doesn't help with handouts! Put him to work, girl!

    I want to use a hanko (stamp) sheet in this class
    What kind of stamp sheet? Like she gives her hanko as an incentive and later a prize to whoever fills in their sheet? I've never used one, but my JTE has one where he gives out points and they fill in little circles that go around the world. It seems cute enough, but I can see how it doesn't help much with intrinsic motivation.

    And I'm still baffled by Japanese social motivations. It seems like everything has two meanings (and they assume everything I say also has two meanings, which does not go well with my tendency to babble.)
    [User Picture]
    From:spacealien_vamp
    Date:April 13th, 2005 03:42 am (UTC)
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    Glad the construction has ended and the contract has not!

    Me too!

    What kind of lamo teacher doesn't help with handouts! Put him to work, girl!

    <sigh> This is after he had me make all the handouts to begin with, too. The last teacher I worked with for last year's version of this class also had me do most of the instruction, but at least he would make photocopies and pass them out. What did this one offer to do? Start and stop the video. That's it. That, he feels, is the extent of his duty.

    One bright spot from the class was that the students had to check that the video showed an image of the queen. They were like, "The woman!" I prompted with, "What woman? Who is she?"

    They responded, "Princess?" I tried again, "Higher than a princess."

    "...Best Princess?"

    What kind of stamp sheet? Like she gives her hanko as an incentive and later a prize to whoever fills in their sheet?

    Pretty much...except I guess it's not so much a prize, it's more that the number of stamps (it's called a hanko sheet but stickers are used instead) contributes toward the final grade. It's kind of a way to measure student participation.
    [User Picture]
    From:mangaroo
    Date:April 13th, 2005 09:49 am (UTC)
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    "...Best Princess?"

    Love!

    I'm impressed by the student's creativity. I just mentally tried to do this exercise English-to-Japanese. I know hime is princess in Japanese, and I assume they have a different word for queen (honestly, with all the Juuni Kokki I've seen, you would think I would KNOW this), but it didn't even occur to me to try to "up" hime. (Hime-ou! Sure, it's incorrect, but it's creatively incorrect. No hanko for originality? *sniffle*)
    [User Picture]
    From:spacealien_vamp
    Date:April 13th, 2005 02:02 pm (UTC)
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    I just mentally tried to do this exercise English-to-Japanese. I know hime is princess in Japanese, and I assume they have a different word for queen

    That depends. If she's a queen in her own right, it would be 女王. If, however, she's only queen because she married the king, it would be 妃 or 王妃.

    The issue becomes vastly more complicated if it's an emperor rather than a king, because an emperor can have an entire harem of wives, each with her own title.

    (honestly, with all the Juuni Kokki I've seen, you would think I would KNOW this)

    I think in that series they use ou regardless of whether the person in question is male or female. It's...confusing.
    [User Picture]
    From:wednesday_10_00
    Date:April 13th, 2005 04:02 am (UTC)
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    Hurray that you still have a job next year! I'll cross my fingers that things go well enough that they extend your contract to August.
    [User Picture]
    From:spacealien_vamp
    Date:April 13th, 2005 01:56 pm (UTC)
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    I'll cross my fingers that things go well enough that they extend your contract to August.

    Thanks! It would be sad to have to leave early.
    [User Picture]
    From:firesign10
    Date:April 13th, 2005 05:32 am (UTC)
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    They will have a contract for me to sign, eventually. My current one doesn't end until July, so they don't feel in any hurry.

    I guess I can see where it's no hurry for them, but it would have been nice to let you know this! Good news though, that you are at least o.k. till next spring, and maybe even more!

    Is this some weird Japanese version of politeness?
    It sure seems that way! Maybe it's a good thing that the other teacher is at least trying to be polite about it? (As opposed to Mr. You-Do-Everything Teacher!)

    I'm sure there's more dust yet to settle, but it was good to hear you're starting off well and that you were not lost in the shuffle! :-)
    [User Picture]
    From:spacealien_vamp
    Date:April 13th, 2005 01:55 pm (UTC)
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    I guess I can see where it's no hurry for them, but it would have been nice to let you know this!

    No kidding. When I went up to my vice-principal saying, "About my contract...?" He answered, "Oh, yeah, you've heard about the big school change, haven't you?" Um, it's only now occurring to you to ask? After we've had two assemblies on the subject? I mean, I know you have a lot on your mind, but your desk is right next to mine! You'd think that might prompt some kind of explanation...even something as simple as a comment in passing...

    Maybe it's a good thing that the other teacher is at least trying to be polite about it?

    I appreciate politeness. I just wish I always recognized it. ^_^;
    [User Picture]
    From:sara_tanaquil
    Date:April 13th, 2005 06:21 am (UTC)
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    Yay for a prospective contract!!

    Joining in the crossing fingers group... I really hope you're there through the summer, it would be so sad if we can't do Tokyo Trip 2006. Sounds like the indications are pretty good, I hope?
    [User Picture]
    From:mangaroo
    Date:April 13th, 2005 09:56 am (UTC)
    (Link)
    it would be so sad if we can't do Tokyo Trip 2006

    I know Moriyama Girls' High School's woes really aren't all about me and my needs, but YES! I won't rest easy until they have confirmed Amparo's contract through August 2006.
    [User Picture]
    From:spacealien_vamp
    Date:April 13th, 2005 01:48 pm (UTC)
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    Sounds like the indications are pretty good, I hope?

    The positive sign is that the superintendent has promised that the curriculum will remain the same until the current students all graduate. In essence, for three years, all the classes and teachers are guaranteed to be there. Now, technically this only applies to the real teachers and not the ALTs, but it would be really hard for the English teachers to offer the same curriculum without the ALTs. And since the new school will also have an English track, they may very well see the value in having an ALT (or two, since there's another who comes in the afternoons) around.

    I won't find out definitively for quite a while, though.
    [User Picture]
    From:megory
    Date:April 13th, 2005 09:22 am (UTC)

    Me, too! Me, too!

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    I'm really happy for you. Now, with this beautiful collective sigh of relief, you can relax a bit from some of that anxiety and tension brought about by this recent news. I know I can.

    So, exactly how does this team-teaching thing go? One teacher gets to tell the other teacher what to do, is it? It's not as if you are a "student teacher" earning your certification. I'm sure I don't understand exactly what's going on. Is it just the male teachers who treat you that way? Maybe they just push as far as possible, but will respect a dialog requesting more give and take in the relationship? I am so out of touch with the Japanese culture in this respect, and I know you have a great handle on it that I should trust your instincts. Actually, maybe the more control you have over the class and what happens, the more you can steer it the way you want it to go. What do you think?
    [User Picture]
    From:spacealien_vamp
    Date:April 13th, 2005 01:41 pm (UTC)

    Re: Me, too! Me, too!

    (Link)
    So, exactly how does this team-teaching thing go? One teacher gets to tell the other teacher what to do, is it?

    Hmm, well, technically the JTE is in charge of the class and is supposed to tell the ALT what to do to help out. Mostly it's something along the lines of, "Could you think of an activity?" or "Have them repeat these phrases" (...or "What shall we do today?"). The JTE is in charge of overall grades, so if the JTEs really want to use a hanko sheet, that's their prerogative.

    It's just this one particular teacher who wants the ALT to run the class while he sits there and tosses in the occasional translation for clarity. The other teachers know he's like that; I was, in fact, warned about it when I first arrived, and they've intimated that my predecessor had problems with him too.

    Actually, maybe the more control you have over the class and what happens, the more you can steer it the way you want it to go. What do you think?

    That's exactly it...I can't stand to refuse to do it, because I'm horrified by the prospect of what he would do if he were running the class. He doesn't seem to care whether the students are actually paying attention or not. He "covers" the material, completely unconcerned when half the class is sleeping and most of the others are chatting and fixing their makeup. If the alternative is suffering through that, I'd rather run the class myself. At least it's only one hour a week.
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