Ask Ibaraki JET PAs #014

Question:

Some of my team teachers always insist I plan lessons. I feel they do
not contribute to the lesson and after each lesson criticize the
activity. What can I do to prevent this from happening in the future?

Answer:

Answered by: Emily

It seems like the problem you’ve mentioned is actually two separate
but related problems. One is that your JTEs don’t contribute to the
lessons. The other is that they criticize your activities after the
lesson.

As far as planning lessons goes, once a precedent has been set that
the ALT does the planning, it can be hard to change, so it’s important
to have a conversation with your JTEs about team teaching balance at
the beginning of the year. You can look at the ALT-JTE Communication Guide in the guides section of the website for ideas
about how to talk to your JTEs about team teaching balance, and how to
set common goals for your lessons. However, you shouldn’t have to feel
like the responsibility for the lesson belongs to you alone, and there
are some things you can try to get more input and assistance from your
JTEs if they’re not contributing.

If you’d like to encourage your JTEs to be more active in lesson
planning, two things you can do are elicit information about the JTEs
own lessons, and ask open questions to get their ideas about your
team-taught lessons. Some ways to get information about your JTEs
teaching habits are:

–       Ask your JTEs what they do in lessons when you’re not there.
–       Ask JTEs if you can watch their lessons to get ideas
–       Ask JTEs how they usually organize their lessons.
(Do you do a warm-up? How do you break-up lesson time?)
–       Ask JTEs if they have a textbook for the class that they want to use
in their lessons.

You can also ask your JTEs questions about how they would like to use
your lesson time together. If your JTEs frequently come to you asking
“What are we doing this week?” it might help to propose a broad topic,
and ask the JTE to contribute specifics. For example, “Well, I think
it would be interesting to talk about Japanese culture, but what
topics do you think the students would be interested in talking about?
What kind of activity do you think would get them talking?” etc. Even
though JTEs are often very busy outside of lessons, it might be easier
to have this conversation if you come up to the JTEs yourself asking
for their input, rather than waiting for them to come to you to ask
about the lesson.

As for the JTEs criticizing your activities, a good way to head off
critical conversations about lessons is to initiate the conversation
yourself. If you feel that something in a lesson didn’t go well, or
that students didn’t understand the activity, try mentioning it to
your JTE immediately after the lesson. Sometimes JTEs are busy during
the ALT’s preparation periods, so the walk back to the teachers’ room,
even though it’s short, is a convenient time to have the conversation.
You could something like “So-and-so Sensei, I noticed [problem] during
the lesson today… what do you think we can do to fix that in the
future?” or “Do you think it would help if [possible solution],” or
use whatever phrasing feels comfortable to you. This gives the JTE a
chance to troubleshoot while the lesson is still fresh in their mind,
and lets them know that you’re aware of the problem and want their
feedback.

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