Friday was a long day. I woke up at six for my hour long commute (1 bus and two trains) into the heart of Tokyo for my new school. This is my fifth regular (as in not temporary) elementary school. It's basically in the political heart of all of Japan, so there are many kids who speak English. One sixth grader is from San Francisco! My other four schools are in a very educationally progressive area of north Tokyo. I would not be surprised if it is the best place for English in public elementary schools in all of Japan. This new school has a high average English ability, but the mean is still a little lower than my other four schools.
Class was easy. It was my second day at the school and my first time with each of the classes I was teaching. I did my self introduction, questions, and an easy lesson (days of the week). The more I teach the more I realize that I'm the best with 3rd-4th grade. I can handle the other levels, but 3rd and 4th are the perfect balance of high energy and ability.
It was the hottest and most humid day yet this year. I played basketball at lunch and even some 1 on 1 with this sixth grader. He was pretty good and can actually palm the ball (it's not full size). I went a little easy and kept it at a tie (I don't like to let people win), but I was sweating like crazy in the heat. I left work pretty early (2pm) because this school contracted with my company directly instead of through the BOE. That means I can leave whenever the principal says it's OK.
I had some time to kill, so I cruised over to Ikebukulo (north west Tokyo, the gateway to where I used to live). I had been there Thursday night with Andrew Bush and Tim Rogers. We went to a music studio and they practiced while I messed around on keyboard a little. I don't think I could ever be in a rock band. Even if I spent the time to get good at guitar or something, rock just doesn't give me the feeling in my gut that I get when I listen to or play really good jazz.
So I killed time by walking around Bic Camera. It was getting dark, but still really hot, humid, and now rainy too. I went to the Sunshine mall. This place is like an American mall. It has one of four or five Burger Kings in Tokyo, Cold Stone, 3 or 4 McDonalds (no, really), Eddie Bauer, Gap, Toys R Us, and much more. The layout and feel is similar to American malls, but one look at a womens clothing store will clear up any confusion.
At 5 I went up to Fujimino (where I used to live) and killed a couple hours at Mr. Donuts. At seven I played a variation of soccer they call futosaru. This is a word in katakana, but I don't know what foreign word it's supposed to be. What's Foot-sal? Two of my Fujimino schools and another school played for a couple hours. It was awesome, and I was sweating more than anyone else there. I don't think Japanese people sweat very much.. or maybe I just sweat a lot. My friend Marc came too, because he teaches at the third school now.
The teachers told me that the kids have been coming into the teachers room and asking to get me back. The new English teacher doesn't speak Japanese and the level of tension has slowly been escalating as the kids start loathing English. I don't know what the hell that company was thinking putting a teacher who doesn't speak any Japanese in rural elementary schools. It's plain irresponsible. I would have liked to stay in Fujimino, but I can't deny how interesting and educational Tokyo has been. If for some reason I were to go back again now, I think I'd be a much better teacher.
After soccer I went drinking with one of the schools. Many of the people from last years staff came to hang out. It was pretty nostalgic. I had to go early (11pm) for the hour long train ride home. The bus home from the station ends kind of early, so I had to walk a half hour to get home. I could hardly believe I had gone to school that morning. It was a really long day.