Schools Like ALTs Who…

Every year we (the CIR PA and Japanese PA at the International Affairs Division) visit 1st yr ALTs at their school and watch a class.  During this time we also have the opportunity to talk with tantoshas, JTEs, and school principals.  The following are a list of desired qualities that schools like to see in their ALT.  And so without further ado, Schools like ALTs who…

  • GREET OTHERS in a loud voice.  Below are some basic greetings.  For extra brownie points, lower you head slightly when passing others in the hall in acknowledgement.
おはようございます Ohayo gozaimasu “Good Morning”
こんにちは Konnichiwa “Hello” (during the day)
お先に失礼します Osakini shitsurei shimasu said when leaving for the day
お疲れ様です Otsukaresamadesu said when leaving for the day
  • ARRIVE EARLY (10 min.), not just on time.  This is especially the case in Junior High Schools.
  • STUDY JAPANESE and try hard to speak it.  If you have a question about Japanese or Japanese customs, ask those around you!
  • Are ORGANIZED.  Line your shoes up neatly in the entryway or after using the restroom.  Keep your desk tidy.  Write neatly on the chalkboard.
  • Are WILLING TO HELP in any way they can (making materials for class, checking student homework or notebooks, preparing school lunch, cleaning up after lunch, cleaning the school, etc.).
  • ACTIVELY ENGAGE STUDENTS.  For shy students who are hesitant to talk to an ALT, having the ALT start a conversation with them can make them really happy!
  • LEARN STUDENTS’ NAMES. 
  • PARTICIPATE in school and community events.  Some municipalities base their evaluation of an ALT on the community’s evaluation of the ALT.school_chiritori_houki
  • CLEAN during cleaning time and participate in other volunteer activities at school.  Public education in Kumamoto tends to emphasize cleaning time.  By helping to make your school look nice, you are honoring the principles of 「組織」(organization, group), 「和」(harmony), and 「協働」(working together, collaboration), all of which are highly valued in Kumamoto.
  • DRESS APPROPRIATELY.  Especially in junior high schools, many teachers are very strict about enforcing the dress code on students.  It’s nice to set a good example.  Not sure what’s appropriate?  Ask!
  • Are HUMBLE and DILLIGENT.  Show that you are willing to learn!  If you don’t have class, prepare for the next class, study Japanese, or go find some students to talk with.
  • SPEAK LOUDLY in class.
  • LISTEN TO OTHERS and don’t try to get their way all the time.
  • Are MINDFUL of others’ feelings.  Especially for students, praise from the ALT can really boost their confidence.
  • ADAPT to circumstances.  Each class, grade, and school has particular characteristics.  How can you contribute to your school and help your students given your situation?  Be flexible.  If others can’t change, look at what you can do to enact the change you want to see.
  • COPE well.  Living in a foreign culture can be stressful.  If you need time to yourself, set aside the time.  Do what works for you to thrive.
  • SMILE.  For some students, it may be their first time ever interacting with a foreigner.  Something as simple as smiling makes a bigger impact than you might think.