Small Miracle

[Julie]

Last Thursday I visited a first grade class and a fourth grade class at an elementary school in Noheji.  In the first grade class, I tried out a technique to quiet down the students during a lesson.  It’s called “Quiet Coyote.”  The basic idea is to hold up your hand in the shape of an animal’s mouth (like what your hand looks like inside a sock puppet) and then hold up your pointer and pinky fingers.  This is a quiet coyote.  The point is that its mouth is closed and its ears are open.  When you don’t speak the same language as your students, it really helps to use picture to explain these kinds of things.  Here’s what I came up with:

I couldn`t resist having them demonstrate what they thought the crossed out coyote sounded like.

I couldn`t resist having them demonstrate what they thought the crossed out coyote sounded like.

The teacher of the fourth grade class was amazing!  He had each student pick a nickname and use it to introduce themselves to me.  This is how it went:

Hello, Julie!

My name is [normal Japanese name].

Call me [love, soy sauce, anime-superhero`s name, taiga (tiger), etc.].

Nice to meet you!

Each student then recieved a handshake and a sticker.  The small miracle happened during this part of my day.  The teacher had warned me before class that one girl would not participate because she is too shy.  She did not even try to introduce herself when they were practicing the day before.  He said she never speaks English in front of other people.  However, when it came to her turn in line, she piped up and said the whole thing.  The teacher was so impressed and kept saying, “It’s never happened before, it’s never happened before!”

You never know what you can do when you have a few stickers for motivation.

After class I stayed to eat lunch with the fourth graders.  The elementary students eat lunch in their homeroom classes at their desks.  It was during this time that I got a chance to ask some of the girls who had drawn the beautiful welcome sign for me on the chalkboard.

The very energetic, middle-aged man-teacher drew this for me.

The very energetic, middle-aged man-teacher drew this for me.

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