From front, left to right- Row 1:Gruff but kindly teacher, Ms. Nakai, Mr. Satoh,an endearingly cheerful teacher who sat next to me all year who naps and snores during lunch.
Row 2: Me, a friendly teacher who often goes to Australia and loves to paint, a very kind Japanese teacher, a math/computer teacher, mysterious but cheerful teacher (standing)
Row 3: Mr. Ando, a popular sporty teacher, a cool art teacher, friendly biology teacher, mysterious gruff looking teacher, friendly but rarely there teacher...

My first experience with teaching in Japan started with Mr. Satoh, my taciturn and rather grim supervisor. He took his teaching responsibilities very seriously, which I respected, but somehow we never quite seemed to be on quite the same wavelength. One day I tried to compliment him on his tie. He looked really startled and said, oh, I have heard that American women compliment men sometimes- Japanese women never do that. I was properly chastised. However, he was very careful to include me in his lessons and invited me to his classes when I didn't have any others to teach, so I was grateful for that. He had a passion for classical Japanese music, and played a traditional guitar like instrument. He very kindly invited me to see a concert he performed in, and I was intrigued. I think he was always rather disappointed that I didn't share his passion (or talent) for music. He had the unpleasant task of informing me every time some bureocratic problem came up. He left our school after a year, and the last I heard from him was a very early morning phone call reminding me of a Taicho drum festival- on a Saturday morning. I think we were mutually glad to not have to deal with the other afterwards.

Ms. Nakai was my first friend in Japan. We hit it off right way, and because her desk was immediately facing mine, it was really easy for us to chat about life and work together. I always found her to be a really kind, charming, and intelligent friend, who made me feel very comfortable at school. The other teachers in the room, many of whom didn't speak much English, relied on Ms. Nakai to act as interpreter and go-between for me.I enjoyed learning about her life and she brightened up my day every day. She always had a cheerful smile for me, no matter how tired she was, and always tried to help me out with any little project I was working on. She made little humming noises as she worked that cheered me up, and had a terrific sense of humor. Nakai loved watching movies and I think that's partially why her English was so good- all that listening practice! I was really sad when she had to leave our school because her 10 years of employment at the school were up. I knew I had lost a friend and special collegue. Her students were also very sad to see her go. The daythat Ms. Nakai gave her good-bye speech, a girl student in one of the classes we'd taught together must have thought I looked sad, because she gave me a big hug good-bye.

Mr. Ando is the only teacher still teaching at our school, but now he's in a different teacher's room. I always liked teaching with Mr. Ando because he is such a happy, pleasant person to be around. He was pretty much universally liked by his students- he was always kind to them and was very considerate of their feelings. He has an adorable little boy that he brought to school for the cultural festival, and I think he and his family must be very happy together. Mr. Ando loves to travel, and though I think he was initially a little shy to speak with me, we always got along well. He is a kind person, and always remembers to give me pictures of students or teachers that he thinks I might like to have. I enjoyed teaching with such a considerate, kind person.


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