Teaching in Japan Troubleshooting: Eek Think Fast!

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If you teach in a Japanese public school, that time will invariably come when you have to teach a lesson at the spur of the moment. “Why would you have to teach an English lesson at the spur of the moment?” you ask. As an ALT you have your schedule given to you every week by your dispatch company, right? Well, it really depends on the company you work for. I have no doubt that some companies are going to be better than others at providing you with your weekly schedule. I must say that I haven’t had a problem with that at Interac, not as of late anyway. Initially I wasn’t getting my schedules from the company, but just ended up getting my schedule from the the Japanese teacher that doubles as the English liaison. I’m sure a company like JET leaves nothing to chance, and that everything is shown to you clearly and professionally (but then again, JET isn’t exactly a dispatch type deal). The other ALT dispatch companies…I’m not really sure.

The problem isn’t necessarily having your schedule on hand. The issue lies in what happens when your schedule does get changed. Are you notified? Are you left to figure it out? Usually I know exactly what’s going to happen and my schedule reflects it, but there are those instances where Interac may not be notified of a change, and some important detail (because I’m still learning Japanese) gets lost in translation. It’s never a fun thing, but it’s something to try to prepare yourself for.

If you didn’t know, I had one of those very moments today. I was prepared to teach two second grade classes, one during second period, and one during fifth period. I was feeling pretty good about the day, and was preparing some final classroom props when two fourth graders came rushing to the teachers lounge asking for me. Uh oh, if they’re asking for me, something must be up. I found out right then and there that the school’s Wednesday and Thursday schedules had been switched, and that I would be teaching fourth grade during 1st period, which started, oh…six minutes ago. I panicked for a hot second, but then I realized I had actually planned what I was going to do one week prior (I don’t always do this, but this is one case where I’m glad I did). I was just a matter of going to my room, grabbing my, prepped fourth grade lesson, and doing my thing.

In the end, class went as smoothly as it could’ve considering the circumstances, but it’s never a good feeling getting put on the spot like that. You know, I think I’ll go and prepare for a few of my other classes right now.

Catch you later,

Donald Ash

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  • http://alanagreen.blogspot.com Japan-a-lana

    I didn’t know you were an Interac! Me too. I feel closer to you! But, I teach high school, thankfully.

  • June

    I know the feeling. Anyway, I plan to apply at Interac but I’m worried about some things. First of all, I’m not a native speaker but I do have experience on teaching English. I also don’t have that much money yet and I believe it is expensive to live in Japan. Did you happen to see Filipino teachers in Interac? I heard they accept Filipinos. How much money should I have when I get accepted? Sorry, I have too many questions but I just really want to know. Gomen ne.

    • Donald Ash

      Hey June. Tokyo of course is a little more expensive than some places, but it should be bearable. I don’t live in Tokyo, so it’s not all the expensive to be here. I did happen to see quite a few Filipino teachers at my last training. How much money. It’s hard for me to say, because I didn’t originally come with Interac, I came with AEON. I’d say bring enough money to cover between two and two-and-a half months of living expenses. I started working for Interac on April 1st (officially). I didn’t get my first check until the end of May. Please don’t be sorry, your questions will probably help somebody else. I hope that helps.

      • June

        Thank you very much for answering all my questions. Now I’m feeling a bit confident in applying at Interac, but I must say that THAT is still in the far-off future. I must save save and save more moolah so that I won’t worry when Interac says yes to my application. Thanks again Donald-sensei ^_^

      • June

        Oh and one more question. Do you have any idea whether Interac helps new teachers find an apartment or not?

  • Roger Starkey

    Is there a problem with Filipinos? The Philippine Islands are officially an English-Speaking country. Are you a racial bigot, or just a language bigot?

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