Feb 2, 2018

Teaching in winter

Here in Gunma prefecture, winters can be harshly cold. There isn't often snow on my southeastern corner of the prefecture, but the bitter winds keep things chilly and my fingers and toes frozen all winter long. The two different apartments I have lived in haven't had insulation and keeping warm at home means hunkering down and conserving body heat. The strong winds easily penetrate right through the walls, however, a mountain of blankets does a great job.

     But when I still worked, teaching English, that wasn't an option. It's not like you could walk around school with a blanket wrapped around your shoulders. Very tempting though. Instead, I enveloped myself in about four to six layers of clothes and multiple pairs of socks.

Teaching in winter photo

    Can you tell we all have 2 or more pairs of pants on? 

"Outdoor clothing" was frowned upon if you were sitting at your desk and not going outdoors, even though the indoors was sometimes colder because it was shaded from the life-giving sun.

My desk always happened to be right next to the doors. Everyone coming in and out, always pausing with the door open to say their "year 1 class 2's (insert name), ummm, umm I need this or that" on entering and their "shitsureishimasu" on the way out. So, I invested in about a trillion long-sleeve undershirts and a heated blanket I could run back to after each class in an attempt to feel my fingers and toes before the next class started.

It was a completely different situation at the elementary school I taught at. My desk wasn't even remotely near the door. No, instead it was directly in front of the heater. The back of my chair touched the metal grill vent. The secretary would always be kind and try to turn the heater off before I arrived at school, just at the end of the morning meeting. I couldn't leave my cell phone or anything that would melt from the heat in that desk. I lost plenty a laminated flashcard to those metal drawers that turned into mini kilns while I would be in class.

I always felt for the students though. You could see one side of the class shivering in the measly two layers of clothing they were allowed.

Teaching in winter photo

     The P.E. uniform. A short sleeve t-shirt with a thin jumper on top. 

Those were the students near the hallway. The bitter Gunma winds would rattle the sliding doors. On the other half of the room, there were students in short sleeves and sweating. These were the desks in front of the heaters. And us teachers at the front, shivering but well layered. At the end of class, the room would be a flurry of children running to the opposite side, rushing to or from the heat.



American step mom with beautiful Brazilian babies. Raising them in Japan. I'm a crafter too