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,