January 24, 2004 – 4 months in Japan

Nova Classrooms - a maze of glass boxes

Nova Classrooms – a maze of glass boxes

As of today I have officially spent 4 months in Japan. I celebrated this momentous occasion by… working.

At work I managed to distract two other classes during a man-to-man kids class. “Man-to-man” is the term used when a student specifically requests a one on one class with the teacher, regardless of the gender or age of the student. A “lucky man-to” is the NOVA student term for when they book a group lesson but happen to be the only student to show up.

The first distraction was caused when I needed to go to the teacher’s room to get some teaching material that I forgot. NOVA classrooms are little glass boxes, so you can see what’s going on around you. A student from another class stopped listening to her teacher and watched me go all the way to the teacher’s room and back. It was a little strange.

The second distraction came when I was teaching using the “throw the paper ball at the flashcard” technique. The target language had phrases and pictures from a short story. I would read one of the cards, and the student would have to throw a paper ball at the card and knock it down. Then she would pick a card and read to me, and I would have to knock down the card. This sounds a bit dumb, but it involves both listening to English to identify the correct target card, and reading English to tell me which card to hit. Also, kids absolutely love this.

On one turn, the paper ball took a bad bounce and rolled under the wall into the next classroom. Without thinking about it too hard, I was down on the ground (in my shirt and tie) reaching under the wall into the next classroom to retrieve the lost paper ball. I had just closed my hand around the ball when one of the students noticed an arm grabbing around on the floor and screamed. I popped up and explained what happened, which cracked up the entire next classroom. I basically brought both classes to a complete stop, but everyone seemed to have a good laugh about it.

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