I feel like a lot of people aren’t exactly aware of what I am doing in Japan. Sure, most of you know I’m teaching, but the teaching I’m doing deserves quotation marks. So, yes, I’m “teaching” in Japan.
I’m actually considered an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) here. Please notice I would like to put a substantial emphasis on the word assistant. My role is much different than it was when I was teaching back home.
At the moment, I work at Yoshikawa Minami Junior High School. (In January I will transfer to a different school.) I “teach” in every English class, which means I teach in 21 different classes. I do a rotation schedule, so for my A rotation I see a certain group of students, and a different group for B and C rotations. By the end of a three week period, I have seen all 800 or so students. There are five different English teachers here, so when I “teach” I am actually just assisting these teachers.
Three of the teachers seem to really appreciate my contributions. They ask me to plan lessons or activities and value my advice. The other two teachers don’t seem to mind my presence, they just never ask for my opinions.
Depending on the day, I teach between two and four classes. The day is broken up into six periods, so that gives me a lot of down time. Back in the States, this down time would have been AMAZING. I would have been able to get all my grading done and plan lessons, instead of staying until 6pm and then continuing to work for another two to three hours at home (I did this almost every day in the States, so roughly 14 hours of work a day, being paid for 8 of them…). But having all that down time here ends up being pretty boring. Sometimes I’m asked to grade things, but often because they are so simple it only takes me around 10 minutes to grade an entire classes’ assignments.
So, think of my as an assistant teacher. Sometimes I act as a tape recorder, so the students can listen and repeat the proper pronunciation. Sometimes I get to lead whole lessons (those are the best days). Sometimes I administer speaking tests (I like those days, too). Sometimes I just stand in the corner (the WORST days).
Anyway, as you can see things are quite different here. I don’t think there’s any need to continue to ramble on about it, but I thought I’d clarify for those of you weren’t quite sure what kind of teaching I am doing here.