Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wrapping Up

The school is almost over.  Unlike other areas in the U.S, the area we live is not like June.  Although the calendar is cheerfully telling us it's almost summer, people call this month "June-iary".  Still, kids and teachers look forward to their upcoming summer break.  The temperature doesn't stop them from the excitement. Right before this, you must experience the extreme intensity for wrapping up the school year, though.  Let's call it the final torture, oops, the obstacle.  It almost seems like this intensive school business is the price to pay for the relaxation and freedom. 

The teachers are madly finishing their students' report cards and filing them in the individual envelopes and accumulated folders.  If you are in the school around this time, you WILL feel and fully comprehend what exactly restlessness, chaos, and even panic mode mean without a dictionary.  There are a millions of items in the to-do list.  It seems like items are growing as you mark one off from the list.  There is no time to complain, but sadly some people do anyway.  During this time, people make mistakes, get easily get frustrated, get exhausted, forget smiling. 

Early in the morning I was responding to the principal, "It's OK, we are here to support you," when she apologized for her mistakes.  Another teacher joined, "Yeah, I do that kind of mistakes all the time."  She seemed like feeling little bit released.  There is no perfect people anyway, even a principal.  Hats off for the American principal to admit the mistakes because it is an impossible scene if you are in Japan.  The principal must be perfect.  So teachers divide up several duties as committees.  Japanese teachers are like working "for" the principal instead of being told.  The principal's mistakes are unforgiven.  That's why they have so much distance between teachers and administrators.  It is almost like "awe" beyond respect, dignity, and loyalty.   Picture this; the Shogun sits on the comfy cushion on the higher stage listening to the report from the samurai lowering his head. Let's say, one samurai staff brings back to his boss (Shogun) the head of the opponent shogun.  Shogun heartlessly takes over that triumphant credit from this samurai as if he did all by himself.  Samurai staff is still happy because he will be promoted.  You could see that in the Japanese schools. 

Later in the day, the principal asked me, "What area do I have to improve?"  Yes, this year has been tough and obviously she has felt the same way, but that was not all her fault.  It was a brave question for her. (Hats off again! ) Although I appreciated her trust in me and willingness for her improvement, there was no point for me to criticize another individual.  (Technically, it is not about criticism, but really, she is asking for what she didn't do good, right?) Remember, you are the one who can only change yourself.  Self reflection will definitely help discovering yourself.  So, I said, "What do you think you have to improve?"  Her tone of voice calmed.  I listened.  It's almost like she wanted to tell someone for a long time about somethings that she could not control.  I wish I could have conversations like this with her long time ago. 

As she was about to march out the door, she quickly turned around.  "By the way, thank you for showing your support this morning."  I almost forgot about what happened in the morning during the crazy day.  The thoughtful word like this eases a stressful mind and helps create a positive atmosphere.  During the time of chaotic days in June, the intentional kindness should be wrapped up with a polka dots ribbon and delivered to as many people as possible.  That, I think, is a ticket for the summer break you deserve.