What are the most common ALT mistakes?
Answered by: Emily
One experience that is common to many ALTs, especially in the first few months of their time on JET, is the feeling of having an endless list of questions. Although Japanese teachers are often quite busy and ALTs may feel reluctant to “bother” them with questions, it’s a mistake to refrain from asking other teachers for help or information when you need it.
Moving to a new country and adjusting to a new work environment are big changes, and it is natural that you will have many questions about life and work during that time. It may seem as though the teachers around you are very busy, but it is your right and your responsibility as an ALT to be informed about your job responsibilities, work schedule, and office environment. And most of the time teachers, and especially your supervisor, will really want to help you, so make sure you ask questions when you have them.
It’s okay to ask your supervisor if the paper that appeared on your desk is important, it’s okay to ask the teacher next to you how to use the coffee machine, and it’s okay to ask a nearby English teacher if you should come to the school assembly next period – in fact, you should ask those things!
Additionally, communicating as early as possible and as much as possible with your team-teachers can help ensure that you have common goals for your lessons together and that everyone’s responsibilities are clear. Feel free to ask questions about the textbook, students’ strengths and weaknesses, or about what has worked well for the JTE in past TT lessons. You can even ask to sit in on an English lesson for a class that you don’t teach with, to get an idea of how Japanese education works.
In addition to making you feel more secure about your environment and responsibilities, asking questions shows the teachers around you that you are interested in being part of the school community and in doing your job well. Also, not asking questions can lead to cultural misunderstandings, so it’s important to ask when you’re not sure of something.