Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sometimes I'm a Teacher

One wouldn’t know it from my bog, but I still teach here in Japan. I typically only write about the friends, food, and travel, but last Friday one of my classes went so well I simply must share it.

Four days ago I taught my international education class a lesson on music. These five kids are the best of the best when it comes to English students. They do their homework, are constantly trying to start up conversations with me in the hallways, and they work to retain the English I teach in my classes with them (so many kids see me once a week for class and just forget everything we do). So, on Friday class started with genre and playing samples of different styles of music from all over: folk, jazz, blues (they got really into Muddy Waters), heavy metal, prog-rock, hip-hop, country, and punk to name a few. After a clear sampling and sharing of the various other musical stylings beyond the ever present, and horribly ear rotting, J-Pop, we began a new activity I had thought up. Back in the summer camp seasons teaching art I used to do a painting and dry pastel activity where I played a song and the students had to fill their page with color and lines based on how the song made them feel. They had till the end of the song to fill up as much of the page as they could. I wanted an activity that would encourage communication and quick thinking without focusing on grammar or sentence structure. So I made a list of six questions for them to answer while listening to various songs.

1. What would this music taste like?

2. How does this music make you feel?

3. Where would you like to listen to this music?

4. What picture does this music make you think of?

5. What color is this music?

6. What instrument in this song would you like to be?

We listened to three songs, and the students and Japanese Teacher of English got so into it. We listened to: Beirut , Weezer , and Old Crow Medicine Show. Each song produced well though out images and fascinating responses from my students. As we listened to more music it was great to see the mood of the students shift from tired Friday morning blues to alert and focused on English expression. After a lot of talking about their various color and taste (these were their favorite questions to answer) till the bell rang my JTE thanked me for a lesson like she’d never had.
Perhaps it’s a bit of patting myself on the back to post about a teacher complimenting me, but having a lesson go exactly as you desired it to is quite rare.

The first band linked above, Beirut, is probably my most listened to band of the past year, and I am so freakishly excited to have scored tickets for this January in Osaka! The gangs all going, and we're going to have probably the best time ever! So I leave you with my favorite song of theirs. Enjoy!

More to come.

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