Bad Moon Rising
When I took this new teaching job, they told me they wanted me to be an “Active ALT.” In other words, it wouldn’t be enough to just go to class and be the obedient English teaching monkey. They wanted me to get involved–join the kids in their sports clubs, go to school events and activities, etc. I considered this, to some degree, unfair–the teachers who are responsible for the sports clubs don’t even go sometimes!* Not to mention that many teachers, in their free periods, would stack up some student notebooks, use them as a pillow, and take a nice nap, or retreat to the back room for a smoke break. But fine, whatever, if I wasn’t in class, I was probably bored at my desk, and I liked interacting with the kids anyway.
*I’ve found that the teachers’ involvement in the sports clubs tends to be hit or miss. It seems like they get assigned a club almost randomly. Sometimes, they end up being the coach for a club they know nothing about. The home economics teacher back at the School of Peace was somehow assigned to Girls Basketball. The poor woman would just stand there and say things like “Okay…now dribble! Good. Now shoot! Good. Hey, is it legal for you to drop-kick your defender like that?” The industrial arts teacher was somehow assigned Girls Badminton. I was talking to him one day, and he was telling me that he had no idea what he was doing–he showed me a badminton magazine he’d bought, and to try and look convincing as the badminton coach, he’d sometimes tell the girls something he mind-copy/pasted from the magazine. Then sometimes, you’d have the teachers who got a wee bit over-zealous…like Noisy Fucker, who went to practice every day, with his bull horn. “Hey. Tanaka-kun. You call that running? Run faster. Hey. Yamamoto-kun. I’ve seen grandmothers take better swings than that. You call yourself a tennis player? And don’t think I don’t see you Takahashi-kun. You think that racket is just going to swing itself?”
Anyway, so I was going to have to be an active ALT. Fine by me. However, this school was quite large, and in order to get me going to as many classes as possible, I was going to four, five, even six periods a day. This is quite a full schedule. So when I did actually have a free period, I choose to go back to my desk and use the opportunity to relax between classes. However, the vice principal, perhaps, did not see it that way. If I was sitting at my desk, he began to come by and ask me to do certain things–translate something here, take something there, recommend my participation in something some class is doing in the dungeons of the schools. I don’t mind being helpful, but there was something about the way he asked me to do these things…as if he was trying to force me to work.
One day, the week before the students would be taking their big midterm exams, the VP came up to my desk, in a rare moment when I didn’t have class. He said that the students were holding special study sessions for the tests after school–wouldn’t I drop by and help the kids with English? Kind of a hard offer to turn down, so I said I would. Not long after school ended, the VP came by my desk again, and offered to take me to the study room.
Upon arriving, we found a few of the math teachers already there. Apparently, the teachers and students had decided to work together and organize the study sessions. Yesterday had been English–today was math. The math teachers had prepared practice worksheets for the students to work on, and were helping students and answering questions.
Now, everyone had at least one subject in school that they just weren’t good at. For me, it was math. That shit started in the 1st grade for me–if someone asked me what 2 + 2 was, I pulled out my calculator and used it to smash them in the face as I ran away, screaming and crying. Nothing changed much throughout the years–except in high school, they gave us those big graphing calculators so the Calculator Face Smash could really do some damage, and considering I was now a large black man, the crying and screaming was made even more magnificent. Going into university, I foolishly choose a computer science major, believing that my love of computers would somehow cancel out my hatred of math. I realize now that this was a lot like trying to believe that my love of women would somehow cancel out being held down by a group of them and having them throw chunks of glacier ice at my testicles.
So, I kind of thought that this was the end of my involvement in the study day. Nope. The VP turns to me and says, “Well, you can at least help them with math, right?”
Let me tell you, it took every fiber of restraint in my being not to smash a Casio in his face.
I explained that I was terrible at math, and he pointed out that as I’d graduated college, I should at least be able to do junior high school math. Obviously, he wasn’t going to give me any slack on the issue, and furthermore, he himself stayed put, ensuring I couldn’t make a silent ninja escape. The VP got an extra worksheet and handed it to me. I found an empty desk and prepared to call on all the hidden math reserves I had left in my brain to start working on it. As much as I didn’t like his tone, he did have a point–I must have at least passed some level of math in order to graduate from high school, and college. I promised the Math Gods I’d sacrifice a 18 year-old Japanese Virgi…er…I’d sacrifice an 18 year-old American Virgin later (don’t wanna make any impossible promises here).
All right, problem 1. Junior high school math. Can’t be that hard, right?
1. Find x: 23x – (56x * -298)^3 = 41Q – NCC-1701D * 525,600M / (^3^) + 牌
What the fuck is this shit?
A student comes by and sees me stressing over the problem, and actually somehow solves it. I’m fairly convinced he sold his soul to Satan to do so. However, considering that this was only problem 1, and the problems got progressively harder…yeah, I wasn’t going to be of any math help today. The VP, still not letting me go, begins to walk around and ask students if they need any English help…but this is obviously a math day, so they’re not interested. Only when the VP is convinced that there’s absolutely, positively nothing I could have done to be of service there, did he let me go.
The whole incident left a bad taste in my mouth. This, and other similar incidents, led me to believe that the VP was trying to force me to do things–as if I was a lazy, uncultured slob otherwise. I didn’t like that too much. As I said before, I didn’t mind getting involved in other activities at the school, but I hated the idea of being forced to do it. Especially when they were already dumping loads of classes into my lap.
My class load wasn’t going well either. Aside from the difficulty of four to six classes a day, the teachers were increasingly coming by, and with anywhere from five minutes to 30 seconds before class, asking me, “So…do you have any plans for today’s class?” And it wasn’t like I could just bust out Game Time, or Nap Time, or Everybody Wang Chung Time, they were expecting me to come up with actual, instructional content lesson plans in the span of one hot minute. Man, it’s a good thing I went through teacher training and got my certification to do this kind of work…wait…no, I don’t have any sort of teacher credentials, at all.
Add to that that the teachers were also starting to just leave the entire class to me. They’d go take a seat in the back of the class, and maybe chime in occasionally if they had something interesting to say (but usually not). Isn’t this supposed to be “team teaching”? Maybe I’m not hip to today’s lingo, but I wasn’t aware that “team” meant one of you do the work while the other chillaxes in the back. Perhaps we should start calling it “Los Angeles Lakers Teaching”?
So basically, I’m going to 90-100% of the classes in a day, having to do 90-100% of the work for them, and then in my few moments of not actually working, go be involved in the school. I know I’ve said “I’m becoming Japanese” before, but I really didn’t mean it! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all opposed to working hard. What I AM opposed to is getting taken advantage of, and this situation is starting to stink worse than Mr. Atomic Bomb’s daily morning shits.
I’m really starting to not like this…