This was a tough week at work. It should have been really easy because our 2nd graders are away on their school excursion so our schedules were lighter than usual. This is supposed to give us more time to catch up on evaluations and lesson planning.
I am slowly making progress on a joint excel spreadsheet we made for evaluating 120 speeches from the annual speech contest held at my school. It took a while to figure out that two people cannot work on the same spreadsheet, even in different tabs, without messing something up.
The most stressful thing though was watching certain 3rd graders flounder as they made their big final presentations for an elective course I teach. We've been working on these presentations since June, and I thought their Power Point slides were well done, but even if you have great slides, you still have to practice the presentation. As always, more practice was needed, but I see these 3rd graders are kept really busy in their other classes as well as preparing for their university entrance exams. It kind of hit home for me when I realized that every presentation ran over time, I was doing way too much trying to manage all of it (there is only ONE of me, you know!), and what would have been a 2-hour class turned into a 3-hour class because we made students stay after school to finish the 1st-day presentations. Why did they run over time? Because even with the 10-minute time limit, they had not practiced enough to know that they should make some cuts. They each had a 1/2 hour appointment with their teacher during the week before, but for many, this appointment was their first and possibly only practice! I see that now. On the teacher side of it, could I have done something differently? Well, just to get through the 2nd day of presentations, I will be asking some of the students to help with classroom management during the next class. This means that one student will need to work the video camera, one student will be in charge of the timer and one student will be operating the remote control for the presenter. This way, I just need to introduce each presenters and then sit down and concentrate on the the initial evaluations during their presentations, and manage the Q and A session after each one. That's enough for one person, right? You may wonder where my co-teacher is during all of this. Hmmm, good question.
As always, I need to look back on my week and figure out what I learned and/or what I am thankful for. This is a good way to decompress after a hard week.
I learned that 8 (students) is a really good and perfect number to make the current English class work well. 20 is way over the top. We are planning to request that since it's an elective and the Japanese teachers don't want to limit the number of students, there should be a student teacher ratio of 8:1. This means that 3 teachers (and three separate sections) would have been ideal this year.
I learned that excel spreadsheets really cannot be edited by two people at the same time even if they are working in different tabs.
I learned that pumpkins at Costco cost 1280 yen this year, and that it feels really good to buy one after all these years of never needing to.
I learned that English teachers and other teachers really don't care what we Native teachers are doing.
I learned that I am still responsible to clean my section of the school even if my students don't show up to clean.
I learned that, as a working mom, I need to take advantage of every opportunity to take a day off either for myself or to do catch up on housework.
I learned that communication is really important and if others don't feel the need to communicate with you, it doesn't mean they don't have something to tell you.
I learned that staying late at school to help my students makes me very tired, and that I am getting old.
I learned that if I get over the habit of staying up late and I get up really early instead, I can probably accomplish more, lose weight faster, and feel healthier. (This is from a student's presentation.)
I learned that Ailin has a really good memory. I promised to carve a pumpkin with her this weekend and she has been asking about it every day since.
I learned that Yusuke is still in his own little world and really doesn't pay attention to anything I am doing (or not doing!) unless it's related to housework. (Then he notices big time!)
I learned that Luka loves to push buttons, so this will explain why the hot water suddenly turns cold in the middle of a shower, and why the rice is only half-cooked when I am ready to serve dinner. You should hear me swearing then.
I learned that when I stay late at work to help my students, it is not helping my kids or myself because then I am too tired in the evenings.
I learned that parenting is not always teamwork, and that I can't count on my husband like I imagined I would.
I learned not to send my husband to do the grocery shopping by himself. He spent more money than usual and he still couldn't get everything on my list.
Out and About:
I learned that Kiwiberries taste really good. They are like miniature kiwis but without the hairy skin. Even Ailin likes them.
I learned that old computers fixed up to be as good as new are just as expensive as brand new computers.
Okay, I feel a little better. Decompressing has begun. Hopefully this will be a nice weekend as I promised Ailin we would carve that darn pumpkin and we would decorate our apartment for Halloween.