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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Teacher

Since I've had over a dozen schools, I have had the chance to interact with many different kinds of teachers. Some of them have been a pleasure to teach with; giving me control during class and just having a great attitude towards me being in the classroom. They essentially become students themselves, especially if they are elementary school teachers as they almost always don't know any English. On the other hand some can bit a bit difficult to work with, mainly in the sense that they have problems trusting that the students will understand what it is I am trying to teach them which leads to issues giving up control.

Thankfully, I've never had huge issues with a teacher and very few teachers actually fall into that latter type above. I have had, however, one teacher that turned me into a puerile school girl.

He taught at one of my first schools as a third grade elementary school teacher. I was twenty-two years old and he was likely well into his thirties. He was handsome, with a smile that you knew was genuine. His hair was utterly fantastic and he always dressed really, really well (which is rare for elementary school teachers). He also really loved being a teacher. Every time I taught his class he would join in the games with the same enthusiasm as his students. Seeing him interact with them just turned me into a huge pile of goo. I was putty in his hands.

Me, roughly third grade. Maybe.
I never seriously thought about pursuing anything with this teacher. The conflict of interest alone was too much for me to handle. But boy, did my heart flutter every time I saw his name on an upcoming schedule.

There were a couple of instances that I still remember of him just capturing that thirteen-year-old-girl part of me. I had shown up to school with my hair tied up in a bun atop my head. At that point I was still in the habit of really caring about how I looked at school. Not that I don't care currently, I was just more concerned with looking cute than being comfortable during the day. That meant wearing my hair down almost daily regardless of the fact that I would spend just as much time pushing my curls from my face as I would spend teaching. But I was cute doing it, and that’s all that had mattered. Now, my hair almost always sits in a messy bun on my head while I am teaching. But I am comfortable and that, truly, is all that matters; especially when the teacher's room is nearly thirty degrees Celsius.

So, it was a rare day of me wearing my hair up. I can't really remember having a reason for it, just that for that day I had decided to wear it up. The third grade teacher walked in during break time and just stopped and looked at me. His English was worse than my Japanese so our communication was always a little awkward. After a few seconds of silence he finally said, "You hair," while using his hands to simulate stroking an invisible ponytail resting on his shoulder, "it's nice…like," then pretending to push all of the imagined hair onto the top of his head. Clearly, he was trying to say that my hair looked good when it was up in a bun. This, in my mind, was the equivalent of the popular boy at school giving my glasses-wearing, braces-having, frizzy-hair-sporting thirteen-year-old self a compliment.

I am pretty sure I just smiled awkwardly and said, "Thanks," in English.

And then he walked off silently.

After that he stepped up his "game". In class he would always say how the students really looked forward to my lessons. He would consistently look up phrases in English so that he could communicate with me and even started to tote around a Japanese-English dictionary. Every time I went to that school my crush on him would grow and grow. I'd never had a guy act in such a way around me. I still don't think I have ever been treated in such a fashion by another guy.

It all climaxed when I had lunch in his classroom for the last time. Eating with students is always a mixed bag. Sometimes it is fantastic, the kids are excited and try to engage with you in conversation and you become closer with the students. On the other hand, you can get put with students who just sit there in awkward silence, scared to even look at you or speak in Japanese. This third grade class was always fantastic thankfully.

I had crammed myself into one of their tiny, third-grader-sized desks with my knees out to the side and bent up taller than the desk itself. The kids are all lively and talking with me, clearly excited that I am there to eat lunch with them. They all finish their food rather quickly and sit down.


The teacher pulls out a piece of paper and reads, "We have made you a present." Then he pulls out a guitar.

Yes, a guitar.

He starts playing it and the entire class bursts into a very well-rehearsed song. I just sit there grinning like an idiot. There is really nothing else you can do in that situation, is there? What the song was, I'll never know. It was all in Japanese and the tune was vaguely similar to a Beatles song. I honestly have zero idea what it was they were singing about.

The goodbye pizza gifts
Nothing ever happened with that teacher and I can't even remember his name anymore. The time before my last visit to that school he came over with his memo pad that I had grown to recognize and read, "What is your favorite food?" from the pages.

This time I didn't turn into a teen aged girl and simply replied, "Pizza," which he wrote down in the notepad and walked off.

On my last day at that school he came over to be just before I left and handed me a bag. Inside were various snacks, all of them flavored "pizza".

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