You arrive in Japan. Reality begins to set it. Teaching is merely part of your job. Learning to work with the Japanese teachers is goal number one. And every single one of them has different expectations.
Every. Single. One.
Some teachers are completely in control. Some want balanced team teaching. Some don’t participate at all.
Although I have only been an ALT for six months, I feel I have already learned the most important aspect of my job: roll with the punches. Or go crazy.
So for sanity’s sake:
- Talk to teachers before class. Being on the same page during class is crucial to having a good lesson.
- Be proactive. If you don’t know Japanese, study. Especially in elementary schools (such as mine) most teachers hardly know any English.
- Be genki. People-attitude is important! Even if you make lots of mistakes, smile and try your hardest. Everyone will love you.
- Listen, consider then respond.
- Develop a thick skin. Sometimes things will happen that could be taken offensively-let them roll off your back. 99% of the time it isn’t you.
- “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Remember you are constantly dealing with a different culture and language. Be respectful, even if you don’t agree or understand everything.
One last thing-remember that even though you are teaching, this is also a learning experience for you. Enjoy it!