May 16, 2019
Just a few weeks ago I was attending my company orientation for my first and current ALT position. I was so naïve at orientation that I believed everything they told me and was ready to follow every single rule. They taught us many things and tried to make it relevant to all one hundred of us, but in reality, so much of the stuff they told us does not apply to me. I have made the switch from orientation to reality with the help of my direct hire peers.
My company told me many philosophies that they want me to follow, but my JTEs have told me contrary information. So to all of the people that have to go to an orientation like me, absorb the information, but be ready to throw it all away once you meet your schools.
Some examples include:
Don’t let the students know you can speak Japanese!!! My company drilled it into my brain, then in my intro lesson my JTE bragged to the students that I have N2. Plus, my wise direct hire seniors said, that trying to get them to only speak English at lunch is great, but you will never be able to bond with them by talking about likes and dislikes. And they were right, especially in my elementary schools, but students were not opening up to me until I started using some Japanese and that is partially because they just don’t have the language to do so.
Another struggled that slapped me in the face was at my elementary schools. There are three main teachers at a time the HRT a JTE and the ALT, aka me! My company only talked about HRTs in elementary school, so adjusting to the dynamic with three teachers was a bit of a challenge. Although, I am happy to report that it has all worked out now!
My school also asked for my personal information such as my phone number and address, which I gave to them. My company advised me not to, but my coworkers informed me that the schools hate working with companies and that cooperating would help me get a direct hire gig the the future. It makes since why the company wants to be kept in the loop, but I am happy to do what I need to become a direct hire in the future!
I guess the most important key is to just be flexible!
What do you think about ALT company orientations? How was reality for you?
Teacher, Traveler, Dancer -
Currently living in Gifu -
I love Japan, dance, cats, food, and fashion!
Haken company employees who conduct these so-called orientations are not educators. They’re company people. Sure, ALT work is good for getting a taste of school culture and some experience, maybe improving your Japanese language ability and maintaining a visa status while you raise a family or get skilled up for a different career. But you’re going to managed by the uninformed, and they’re taking a big chunk of your salary to merely manage payroll. And remember where that money is coming from - everyone’s taxes. Do your best and move on when you figure out what you want to do for a career, whether that’s in education or another field.
I Hate orientations and trainings! Huge waste of time. Haha, yeah students will figure out that you speak Japanese for sure, but you can tell them 'I don't use Japanese during class' or whatever rule you decide. I think it's fine for the school to be able to contact you directly - as long as they only do it for things like school cancellations or urgent questions. The company rule is probably to protect you from any staff who might be too needy / creepy.