6 Things They Don’t Tell You About Teaching Kids in Japan

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASnot explosions are inevitable and far more frequent than you would imagine. (This may be due to the belief in this country that blowing your nose in public is rude, and that frequent, revolting sniffing is preferable.)  If the parent of the snot-covered child is nowhere to be found, it is up to you to locate tissues and clean up whatever remnants of the eruption remain after said child has done his or her best to dispose of the mess themselves (whether that be by way of their own mouth or onto another child depends on the case).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACreepy touching can be defined as any form of touching that is unwanted and unasked for and depends entirely on where you draw the line with your students. I personally have no problem with kids that like hugs, or like to be swung around like a helicopter.  The ones that get me are the kids who feel incomplete unless part of them has contact with part of you at all times.  The main culprit in one of my classes is a 6 year old boy whom insists on putting his hand on my leg whenever we sit down to do alphabet practice.  An imaginary wall which he isn’t allowed to cross is in a state of constant reconstruction in my classroom.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGetting sick constantly in your first year is a given when you’re around so many kids, so often. With all the high-fives and flash card passing (and creepy touching), the catching of colds and occasionally influenza is unfortunately unavoidable.  All you can do is wash your hands thoroughly and regularly, and keep that immune system boosted however you can.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAInexplicable tears are a constant occurrence for at least the first few months of every school year, and can continue right the way through. As a teacher, it is often your responsibility to ascertain what caused the sudden outburst, who needs to apologise to whom, and how the situation can be remedied.  Of course sometimes one simply must endure 60 minutes of gut-wrenching sobs coming from lungs that seem far too small to create such a cacophony.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAvoidable injury – that wouldn’t have happened if only… is a phrase often uttered by teachers, and with good reason. Kids have a dangerous mindset of presumed immortality, and they will often go to great lengths to prove this invulnerability.  As a big person, you just get in the way of their violent games; or sometimes you’re a great target and can be a big part of the fun!  Either way, injuries to you and to the children happen often and could almost always have been avoided if only you’d kept a sharper eye on the stash of balls, or on that one kid who always causes trouble.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALanguage acquisition isn’t always a good thing. You might think that living in Japan is a great reason to study and learn Japanese.  You’d be right!  Of course you should do your best to pick up at least the basics of the local language; but just know that being able to understand your darling little munchkins has its draw-backs.  You may think they think you know what they’re saying when they say the same thing 500 times while looking at you expectantly; DO NOT BE FOOLED!  This is a trap – show even a glimmer of understanding and the little monsters will jump on it immediately, exclaiming “Teacher understands Japanese!” over and over again until you want to throw them all out the window.


All photos in this post were taken by me in Yokohama during winter break
Some pretty pictures for those of you who couldn’t give a rat’s arse about snotty kids, and want to feel like clicking on my blog was worth your time.



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