Treat Yourself

Pro-tip: Get a chalk holder. In winter especially, the feeling of chalk dust on my fingers is just disgusting. It gets all over my clothes and my hands and I just accepted that horrible situation for years. But, there is another way! One of the third grade teachers had one of these. I grabbed it and used it in class and was blown away. Not only does this puppy have a thick, pen-sized barrel, but the cap has a powerful magnet to stick it to the chalkboard when not in use. Never have to hunt for scraps of chalk on the fly ever again! I carry this in my regular pencil case. No mess! I got mine at Tokyu Hands, but they sell it on Amazon.co.jp for pretty cheap, too.

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The 6 Kids I Have in Every Class

It seems like every class has these six kids.

Justice Kid

Justice Kid can be identified by their favorite word: “Zurui!” Everything is, “No Fair!” Before every game, the Justice Kid must ask at least five questions about all possible contingencies to make sure that all possible rules are written in stone. Justice Kid will then make sure every kid follows those rules on threat of death. Justice Kid will call out for teacher to settle all disputes because Justice Kid is always right. Justice is on Justice Kid’s side, after all. Justice Kid will not settle for fun. Justice Kid demands it be fair.

Meme Kid

Meme Kid knows what’s hot right now. Meme Kid will tell you what’s hot right now. And, Meme Kid will not let that Meme die until the next Meme is in full swing. Meme Kid is the kid who has to sing PPAP in every lesson. Meme Kid is the one who knows Koi Dance backwards and forwards. Meme Kids of years past wanted to know “WHY JAPANESE PEOPLE???” and they wanted to know it when? “IMA DESHO!” Meme Kid is like the internet, but in a tiny kid body. At least Meme Kid keeps me on my toes in terms of pop culture.

Future Television Personality or Career Criminal

I can never tell which one this is. In another generation, in another country, I’d maybe call this kid the class clown. But, they’re more than that. Really, Meme Kid is more of the class clown. This is the kid who can do Crazy Eyes at you. This is the kid who gets in your face without fear. Last year, this is the kid who waltzed into the principal’s office and pretended to BE the principal. For the most part, this kid is a boy. And, for the most part, this kid is entertaining. And then they do that one thing that makes me wonder how long it will take before this kid is in jail.

Same Jersey Everyday Kid

Before meeting a small army of Same Jersey Everyday Kids I used to think that anime series where the main characters never changed their clothes were unrealistic. They are not unrealistic. There really are kids who just wear the same clothes all of the time. I can’t tell if most of them do so because mom has given up, or if mom tries that much harder. It’s seldom Same Tshirt Everyday, either. It’s almost always Same Jersey Everyday. Most of these kids are sporty kids who have one super expensive Under Armor shirt or official Barcelona FC jersey that they never take off. Occasionally it’ll be a girl with a pop culture shirt. Hell, in one first grade class it was a girl with a My Little Pony rainbow tutu dress that she wore everyday. But, it’s almost always a dust covered jersey.

The Hidden Twin

I have never spotted a set of twins on the first day. Same with nearly identical siblings of different ages. Sometimes, it isn’t even actual relatives, just besties that dress alike and wear their hair exactly the same. It’s like being in the Matrix and seeing that glitchy deja vu cat. In every class there’s a kid that I could have sworn I already saw today. Oh, right. That’s because I had your brother in second period. Oh right. That’s because I saw your twin in the hall. Oh right. That’s because your best friend owns the exact same set of hair clips and tshirts.

The “Eigo Wakannai” Kid

Eigo Wakannai Kid doesn’t have to speak English, duh. Eigo Wakannai Kid is Japanese. Japanese people don’t speak English, duh. Hell hath no fury like an Eigo Wakannai Kid who learns about WWII in history class.

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Red String

Some of these kids are just dangerous.

In one of my wild school’s 6th grade classes there’s this sweet faced boy who hasn’t had his first big puberty growth spurt yet. Most of his friends are taller than me, this kid is like four inches shorter. He’s got shining innocent eyes and fluffy hair. He’s what the internet would call a cinnamon roll.

He’s also deceptively impish. This junior Loki or Pan or what have you came up with the genius idea of bringing a pack of red string (well, red embroidery floss) to class. I asked him about it and no, there were no craft projects. No, there was no other reason. The kid had just brought red string to school to tie around other kids wrists to cause mischief.

You see, a red string of fate is a thing that exists out here. An invisible red string connects those bound by fate. It also pops up in the recent movie “Bakemono no Ko”/”The Beast and the Boy” where the boy ties one symbolically around the wrist of the girl he likes. Well, our little evil genius had his seat mate tie one around my wrist and cut me a second length to give to my love. I just tied it to my work notebook because… Because.

He then went off to recess to sow the seeds of anarchy in a bunch of 12-year-olds’ lives. The best to you, kid. You will go far in life.

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There’s no such thing as Half.

For a white person who grew up with some serious white privilege in a predominantly white city with a history of segregation, the problem of Japanese racial discrimination of children isn’t one I have any real vocabulary or experience to deal with. But last week I had something of a classroom break through. It came from the Japanese language itself.

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Top 5 Biggest Red Flags in the English Dispatch/ALT Teaching Industry (My own personal shit list!)

Let’s start things out on the right foot: Your employer is not your friend. They are not looking out for you. They do not have your best interests at heart. There. Now we can begin.

I have worked for companies that do all of these things. Some of the pitfalls can be avoided, and I have avoided them. Some of them can’t. If you’re in Japan teaching just a sort of way to see the world and find yourself in your 20’s, then maybe you don’t mind being taken advantage of. If you’re trying to live a life, these red flags become really disruptive. It’s pretty much impossible to find a job in Japan that doesn’t do at least one of these things. The goal, though, is to opt out of as many as you can. Don’t go blindly into the con and get taken for a ride.

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