The Perils of Being Cassandra

There are still those who doubt my powers, but they were scrambling for warm clothes today and probably cursing my name.

At least I like to think they were.

I’ve written before how one of my basic mantras is that “It always gets cold one more time.” There are people who doubt this–they claim that sudden warm weather is proof that winter is over–but today, to celebrate the first day of spring, we got snow.

It didn’t stick, and it only came between bouts of sleet and rain, but it did snow for a couple hours.

It didn’t effect me much, but I had fun walking in the snow with our youngest to get lunch. Also, as is a tradition, we are using our last drips of kerosene.

Now, there are those who will think this is the last time it will be cold. They are wrong. It always gets cold one more time.

What Day Through Yonder Window Breaks?

It’s only day three of the break between school years and I’m already not sure what day it is.

I managed to get myself to the speech contest on Saturday but since then I’ve had no place to be and little of importance to do. This means it’s easy to sit back and do little and have a very good time doing it.

On occasion I’ve listed things I want to sell and even dusted off old camera gear to take some pictures of the gear but other than that, I’ve done little else that required me to know what day it is.

That will change soon when I once again am “responsible” for “work” as required by the company for which I work.

I’ll be annoyed, but at least I’ll know what day it is. Probably.

Out and About

Spent the day doing nothing. Spent the evening with old friends. Because of that, this post will be only filler. (I may throw out an extra on Saturday, if I can only be bothered.)

The last time this friend was here I was working hither and thither and we couldn’t arrange a meeting. This means we haven’t seen each other for 14 years. We met a thousand years ago in the last millennium. (1999, which was in the last millennium, which was 1,000 years ago. More or less.)

A lot has changed during that time, including spouses and the number of children. She’s met our oldest but our youngest didn’t exist. Also, my hair didn’t look as gray back then because the lighting was better back then. (Yes, my hair isn’t turning white; it’s just bad lighting. No. Really. There’s bad lighting everywhere. It follows me. Something like that.)

Hopefully we won’t have to wait 14 years for the next meeting.

 

Farewell, But First

Anyone who thinks the Japanese are nice and polite has never seen them wait for booze.

Tonight was the farewell party for the teachers who are leaving the school where I work. This usually involves shockingly precise timing and those who arrive fashionably late miss the opening toasts and at least one course.

The toasts are important because, technically, no one can drink or eat until the toasts are made.

However, tonight, the toasts were delayed because beer arrived quickly, but the mixed drinks didn’t arrive for quite a long time. As a result, we just stared at empty glasses or slowly warming beer.

As the beer degraded, several staff members began to complain. This didn’t hurry things along as two large parties and the regular guests were being served by only three staff.

Eventually drinks arrived and toasts were made and we then enjoyed the tradition of slowly starving whilst waiting for the various courses.

A few of us were wise enough to meet before the party to have a few beers and eat some food. This meant we were more polite than many of the Japanese, which was a bit odd.

Now school is out and we won’t have to be polite again for a few weeks.

Riddance is Good With Near Profanity

I said goodbye to one of my worst classes today. I was ready to swear at them as much as they were pretending to swear at me.

One of my worst students saw his final exam score and said something that sounded like “F@#kity F@#k” but which was most likely “Huckity Huck”. It seems they think they can get away with saying “Huck” since Japan doesn’t have a proper “fu” sound. It’s more of a “hu”.

Well, at least they can get away with it today. (On a regular day I’d make them write the swear words 500 times with a promise that the next time they’d need an entire notebook to finish.)

Today, though, I couldn’t have cared less. This led a couple students to experiment with “Sit” and “City” which in Japanese pronunciation usually come out as “Sh#t” and “Sh#tty”.

The funny part is, this is the best they’ve pronounced either of these words all year so I just let them sort of swear.

In the end, I was glad to be rid of this class. This means, of course, that I’ll get a large portion of them in class next year.

Huck that sit.

Locked in Place With Red Ink and Bad English

I get up and move around every now and then, but it doesn’t help much. Oddly, my students have been helping.

I’m the last push of marking my last batch of exams. This is an easy test to mark but I hit the wall a long time ago and have been subconsciously refusing to establish a rhythm. This means I’ve been taking a lot longer than necessary. It doesn’t help that these are some of my worst classes.

However, several students have either written no long writing or have written only a few lines. This is good because it allows me to quickly mark the writing, or lack thereof, and that makes it easier to finish.

I just wish I could convince them to write nothing at all.

Once More The Wall

Even with a modest amount of exams to mark, I always find myself hitting a wall where I find I just can’t be bothered to finish. I feel as if I’ve been working hard but I don’t seem to be making much progress. Sometimes this is the fault of the exam, but mostly, I suspect, it’s my fault.

It’s a bit like those moment when you’re reading and you suddenly find you’ve been rereading the same passage for twenty minutes and still don’t have a damned clue about what it was you just read. You then spend 20 more minutes rereading and never get a damned clue.

In the case of exams, it’s mostly a lack of focus caused by constantly reading bad English through questionable handwriting. I’m convinced that constant exposure to bad English from students has a permanent effect on a teacher’s ability to use English correctly.

Eventually, I push through, and my standards either get tougher or easier. Don’t have a damned clue which it will be, though.

Partial Goodbyes at the Partial End of Business

Today I said “see you later” to groups of students I probably won’t actually see again or won’t see for a couple years except in the hallways at the school where I work. None of us were actually moved. Pretty soon I’ll remember names but won’t be able to match them to faces.

The end of the term brings a certain good-riddance feeling to even good classes. We’ve spent the better part of the year facing each other and it’s time to be done.

Complicating things is the problem that even though we are finishing some classes we are only partially done. We turned in JHS 3 marks (9th grade) today and high school marks are due Wednesday. After that we have another week of marking to do before we finish with the JHS first and second year students.

In my case, my worst classes are all either first or second year meaning I still have to deal with bad students. The dread of dealing with them one more time (and, knowing my luck, next year as well) has me more glum than I should be at the end of the year. This is especially true as there’s only a few weeks between “see-you-later” and “later”.

That Which is Important to Them is Not You

This week all the classes I taught were review classes. One student refused to review my class. Others understood a pun that almost got them bonus points.

Depending on the class, I’ll let the students study any subject for the last 20 or 25 minutes of the lesson. I usually give them material to work on for the first part of the class and in case they neglected to bring anything else to study.

One student, though, refused to even take out a pencil when he had the material for my class. He kept complaining that he wanted free study and I kept saying no. I also postponed the free study time for an extra five minutes.

Eventually I let the students study whatever they wanted an the the student who didn’t study started to study.

In my worst class, when it was free study time, four students just stood in the center of the room chatting and playing air sports. When I asked them what they were studying they said “Social studies”.

I said “I see. So you’re talking and being social.” They seemed to get that and then sat down and didn’t do any work.

Because they at least seemed to get the joke I almost gave them bonus points. Except that they didn’t actually do anything so I couldn’t.

Back in Being Almost Finished With Business

Two studied. A few pretended to study. The rest weren’t even aware they were supposed to be doing something. I didn’t care either way.

This is a strange week and it makes it hard for me to care very much.

A few classes still have class. A few classes have been moved and have class at a different time. A few others are not having class at all. At the same time I’m marking final exams but the constant on-again/off-again nature of the week, and the small number of exams currently in hand, makes it easy to put off dealing with them.

At the same time, if I have one or two classes in a day, I don’t really care what happens as long as blood or protruding bones aren’t involved. (i.e. As long as I don’t end up having to do any paperwork and/or interviews). If the students don’t want to study for their final exams, it’s not actually my problem. In fact, anything that increases the chances of them passing in a blank exam is good as that makes my job easier.

Eventually, I’ll be passing back completed exams on the same day I’m collecting exams for the classes I’m still teaching. At least then I’ll have large blocks of time available and will be able to get into a marking rhythm.

I still wont’ care, but at least I’ll get through things faster.