For the past 3 weeks, I have been working on making my halo shine as brightly as possible. Either that or I'm making retribution for undisclosed heinous atrocities committed in another life. I'm not yet decided. I have been ever so patiently coaching students for the speech competition that was held in Akashi on the weekend.
I had three first year students in the recital competition, which involved them memorizing a passage about some kind of 'heart-warming' rubbish about courage or another one about the importance of the earth to Native Americans. One of the girls I was ready to strangle and nearly bit my tongue off in the attempt to not explode at the seventy gazillionth fuck-up of the pronunciation of 'the'. 'Za' is not 'the' and until Japan understands this and stops using katakana (the alphabet used for foreign, mainly western, words), they will not make progress in developing confidence in speaking English. Ooh dear, I think I'm ranting. Anyway, we finally had a breakthrough, 'za' was miracurously turned into 'the', and my sanity was preserved. It helped somewhat when the passage was actually explained to the girls and they were actually able to understand where the emotion in the passages comes from.
The two second year girls were easier and not nearly so frustrating to work with. They had to write their own speeches, so the understanding was already there, it was merely a matter of sorting out intonation (so more impossible than it sounds) and dodgy pronunciation. One girl wrote a emotive essay about her grandmother's wrinkled hands, and how they reflected her difficult life, while they other girl wrote a rather timely essay on Australia's water crisis.
Three weeks of not leaving school until 5.30, watching the wonderful autumn afternoon sunshine disappear into darkness, was not more fun than a barrel of Yakushima monkeys (and they are SO fun!). Using the apparently bottomless well of patience that I managed to dig out of god knows where was certainly a learning curve (cue teacher being taught cliches), but come Saturday, I was able to send the girls off with the ability to bluff total confidence, if nothing else.
Proof that I am a great teacher. The second year who may be the solution to Australia's water dilemma won the speech competition, and the other girl came third; one of the first years came third in the recital competition and the other two were happy with their performance. Excuse me while I go and buff my halo one more time.
Oh, and to my first piano teacher, Mrs Timoney, who coached me to many a Narrogin Eisteddfod First Place - you have the patience of a saint. Teaching a belligerent, lazy student with a modicum of talent who, unlike my students, did next to naff-all practise must have made you a millionaire at the karma bank.