I'd been lucky with the ichi and ni nen-sei students at Hitsujigaoka. They laughed, they were interested, they asked lots of questions. But I'd been warned that third grade was difficult, and I was ready for it when I taught their classes for the first time this week. The first two classes went really well, and I was feeling confidant. Then came my third class. Usually when I step into a classroom, I'm greeted by "hello"'s or clapping, or a little of both. This class was dead silent. The usual things I say that always get a laugh, got nothing. They just stared at me with their big brown eyes, with nary a smile or nod of agreement among the 37 of them. But I didn't get frustrated or discouraged, if anything, it made me want to perform even more. To make it even more challenging for me, I also had to eat lunch with this class. I usually really enjoy eating with the students, but none of them would even look at me, much less talk to me. But I think I've figured out why the third grade is so afraid to speak English. I think they know what to say, but they're so afraid to get chastised by their peers, which would happen every time one of them would talk any English to me. Somehow it got in this grade's head that to speak English is embarrassing, and that only the "nerds" do it. This is something I've never experienced since I've started teaching here, and isn't the case at all with the first and second graders. Am I up for this challenge? Do I even have enough time with this school to make any kind of difference?
In the end, I don't know if this class got anything out of my presentation, but I'm proud of what I did. You can take the girl out of the theater, but never the theater out of the girl, apparently.
*FYI, "genki" means "cheerful" or "healthy". I like to think I'm both!