When I walk through the halls my students greet me, in English, hello! Sometimes they’ll ask, how are you? I’ll say I’m good, or great, or happy. When I ask my students how they are they tell me that they’re either very very hungry or very very sleepy. Me too, I say, very very sleepy too.
Sometimes my students will ask me questions about myself. Like: Where are you from? Are you Japanese? Where did you learn English? Why is your English so good?
Once, a student reached up and touched the ends of my hair and said: Why is your hair curly like that? and How does it do that? I told her that it’s natural, that I wake up and my hair is curly. She didn’t understand. I tried my best to explain, but she still didn’t understand how it all worked, so I gave up and said, “magic.”
To get to the English room, the other English teacher and I walk down the hall where the 1st grade classes are. If the 1st graders are on break, they’ll run out of their classrooms and call out “Julia-sensei and *****-sensei are here!!” And an ambush of first graders will rush out and cling onto our arms and shout hello!!! and spit out as many English words as they can before we reach the end of the hall.
During the 30 minute break before third period starts, sometimes a few 1st, 2nd, and/or 3rd graders will stop by the English room to visit me and my partner. They’ll write our names on the chalkboard in katakana. They’ll tap on the electric board while I pull up my PowerPoint for the next lesson and they’ll ask what the other grades are studying today. They’ll talk to us, joke with us, tell us how their day is going. They’ll complain about being very very very sleepy.
When classes start, my students file in, green English folders and patterned pencil cases in hand. They’ll wave at me and my partner and say good morning or good afternoon. A few scream it. One of my 3rd grade students always enters the classroom pretending to be a zombie. He’ll come in with wide eyes and dangling arms, walk up to me and my partner and scratch at our arms like a zombie until we say “zombie, zombie!”
Some come up to me and stare at my name tag and then touch the heart sticker I stuck in the corner.
My students are obsessed with stickers. (I suppose stickers are a big deal no matter where you are in the world.) In Japanese they’re called シール, or seals. I’ve bought a bunch of sheets from Daiso, the 100 yen store. I buy extra because sometimes at the end of the day I like to take leftover stickers and stick them on my lessons plans or the back of my name tag.
Recently I’ve been trying to include more activities where I can hand them out as a reward.
Because I only have about a month left with my students and I know that I’m going to miss giving them stickers.