Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Teaching Special Needs Class
I don't know if this is common in Japan or what, but they let me teach the kids with special needs. I get to create the curriculum, plan the classes, teach them (a Japanese teacher is there to help) and make the tests. They don't especially care what I teach them but we still have to test them - that's Japan for you. I teach them twice a week and most other students only have me once a week. Also, I cleaned with them every day last year. We're pretty tight.
I can hardly express how much I enjoy these kids. Last year there were 5 and this year there are only 4, but they're the same kids. The girl in particular is such a sweetie. When I first met her she was so terribly shy. She would hardly look through her thick glasses to glance up at me. It took her ages to even repeat an English word. How she has bloomed! She shouts out answers with the boys, runs around looking for hidden flashcards and otherwise participates just as enthusiastically. When I say hi to her in the halls she smiles a big goofy smile back at me (almost as goofy as mine) and says hi back.
They don't tell me what makes the kids "special" and I clearly have no training in this sort of thing, which is pretty messed up actually. Luckily, they're all really bright and high functioning. We just focus more on speaking and listening than reading and writing.
The special needs kids have it pretty good. They get to go on special field trips, plant stuff in the garden, bake treats they sell to us teachers and do other fun projects the other kids don't get to do. They all know each other really well and it's nice they get their own supportive group to be in. It's interesting to see how different cultures deal with differences.
There are a few kids who probably should be in the special needs class who are integrated instead because their parents want them to be. Then, last year there were a few girls who had no special needs but simply didn't like being with the other kids so they let them be in the special needs class. Finally, there are about 10 kids who should attend our school but are "hikikomori" and stay home instead. I think my school may actually be more progressive than others. At one of John's old schools they relegated the special needs kids to a trailer out back and he hardly ever had classes with them.
All I know is I have pretty severe patience problems so it's been good practice for me to teach these kids. As they say, I'm probably learning more from them than they are from me.