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View Full Version : Doing JET with no teaching experience



weepinbell
April 9th, 2015, 11:47
What's it like? I TA'd for an acting class before, so I've just done super bare bones stuff. I know we get orientations, I'm just wondering how long it takes to kinda get in the groove of teaching, prepping lessons, etc. (provided you're not a tape recorder in ALL your classes :P).

ambrosse
April 9th, 2015, 11:51
Trial, error, research, and observation.

mothy
April 9th, 2015, 11:53
If you're asked to prepare every aspect of your class it may take a long time. If you're a human tape recorder it'll take one lesson and you'll be good.

Zolrak 22
April 9th, 2015, 11:56
What's it like?

I can't say from personal experience, but every situation is different.

If you are good at prepping, improvising or just rolling with the punches then you are gonna do just fine.

I would imagine that with acting experience you are good at a few of those things.

Virgil
April 9th, 2015, 12:31
Yeah, even as someone who went through years of teacher training shennanigans and has had actual experience as a classroom teacher.... it' still taking a lot for me to figure out how I'm going to approach things. I guess the only real advantage I have is that I'm pretty comfortable with the idea of having to lead a bunch of hellions on journey where they hopefully learn something.

hypatia
April 9th, 2015, 12:37
II have some experiences with "teaching" (tutoring, plus leading small groups/training seminars), but no experience with this kind of teaching. It took me until about October to start feeling comfortable, but blah, blah, blah ESID. I have a lot of schools, so I have a notebook where I keep track of what lesson/grade I'm teaching at what school and on what day, and what I'm preparing for the next week. It helps me keep everything straight, and it also lets me keep track of what lessons work and what lessons tank. Since I rotate between so many schools I'm not there with enough consistency to actually teach new material. My JTEs mainly utilize me for review of material that's already been taught with games and activities (with the occasional tape recorder bit when the students are working on one of the dialogues)

But seriously, try to get as much info from your pred as possible as to what you can expect. Also, ask them to to email/leave you any of the teaching materials/worksheets/activities that they've accumulated, because there's no reason you should have to recreate everything from scratch (like I'm having to do). I'm looking forward to year two mostly so I don't have to deal with that feeling of trying to pull something out of my ass every week. It will be nice to be able to pull from previous activities/materials. http://www.englipedia.net/ will be your best friend.

Virgil
April 9th, 2015, 12:50
My case is completely different too (ESID, yo) I have few schools and I'm given the freedom to develop my own mini curriculum of sorts. I guess it can range anywhere from the tape recorder gig to that. Be flexible, and you'll do fine I'm sure.

soh
April 9th, 2015, 13:01
Having no teaching experience may be a plus sometimes. :P

Refer to books, manuals for activity ideas. There are a few PDFs on the official website. The JET Programme--Official Homepage of The Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (http://www.jetprogramme.org/e/current/pubs/materials_collection.html)

Your elementary schools might also have activity manuals written in Japanese. Some of them are pretty good actually.

word
April 9th, 2015, 13:07
Having no teaching experience may be a plus sometimes. :P

word

One of the best ALTs I ever knew had zero teaching experience and quickly discovered, once he was here, that he positively despised teaching.

ALTing is definitely about a lot more than teaching. This dude was one of the most beloved ALTs the town had ever hosted; they're still using his name to refer to his successor's successor. Don't stress.

Virgil
April 9th, 2015, 13:12
He was great at it but he hated it? I guess I kind of get that.

word
April 9th, 2015, 13:26
Yeah. I actually use him as an example when I've been tasked with giving presentations about ALTing; I think it's important for JETs to understand that they can still be an effective, beneficial part of their students' academic careers, even if they hate teaching/ALTing, hate kids, hate Japan, etc. (This dude actually loved Japan, in more ways than one. He's the only guy I know who managed to bag two JTEs during his short stay.)

Lorenzo
April 9th, 2015, 16:38
Can you be a little more specific as to why he was so loved/good at his job, even though he hated teaching and had no experience?

Ini
April 9th, 2015, 16:50
just turn up sober and in something vaguely more professional looking than beach shorts and a van halen t-shirt and you'll already be in the top 10% of JETs

word
April 9th, 2015, 17:11
Can you be a little more specific as to why he was so loved/good at his job, even though he hated teaching and had no experience?90% just his natural personality. I f*ckin' loved the guy, even though he spilled booze all over my car and was kindof an arse. He was also very outgoing around the school in general; he coached the boys basketball club and taught them a little east-coast rap. He was very expressive and flamboyant, but also aloof and carefree. He was one of the two male JETs I'd have been willing to try being gay with, but since we're both straight, we settled for getting trashed-arse drunk together on a semi-regular basis.

I guess if someone was looking to be like him I'd say avoid the internet as much as possible and spend time hanging out with people as much as possible.


just turn up sober and in something vaguely more professional looking than beach shorts and a van halen t-shirt and you'll already be in the top 10% of JETsThis is unfortunately true.

JET ProgramCoordinator SF
April 10th, 2015, 01:48
http://www.ithinkimlost.com/images/misc/quote_icon.png Originally Posted by Ini http://www.ithinkimlost.com/images/buttons/viewpost-right.png (http://www.ithinkimlost.com/showthread.php?p=911252#post911252)
just turn up sober and in something vaguely more professional looking than beach shorts and a van halen t-shirt and you'll already be in the top 10% of JETs


This is unfortunately true.

For the newbies, this is sarcasm. Can confirm that the vast majority of JETs are professional and appropriately dressed. There's always the outlier, but by no means is that the standard.

As for teaching experience, I think you're fine without any. To me the most important thing you can do is connect with your students on a personal level. They may not remember passive voice or how to properly pronounce "March" but they'll remember you and their feelings towards you. As long as you're outgoing and friendly you'll leave a lasting positive impression.

BifCarbet
April 10th, 2015, 01:55
As long as you're outgoing and friendly you'll leave a lasting positive impression.

100% true. You can change lives.

weepinbell
April 10th, 2015, 02:51
Thanks guys. I'm not really anymore nervous about teaching specifically than I am moving to another country where I basically don't speak the language lol. I'm gonna be lost no matter what, so whatever, but hopefully I'm in a situation where my pred leaves me SOMEthing to work off of with lessons. If not, good to know there are plenty of resources, and if all else fails, I'll just try to charm them with my bright and shining personality (possibly to a classroom full of children staring at me blankly, tbd...).... ;)

BifCarbet
April 10th, 2015, 04:56
You're ready.

JET ProgramCoordinator SF
April 10th, 2015, 05:07
Personally I prefer the "summer camp counselor" type over the "teacher" type for the JET Program. Because you are an Assistant, and not the main teacher, you're going to be using more people skills than teaching pedagogy. If you're asked to read off vocabulary words or do rote pronunciation practice with the kids, if you have a good attitude about it and see it as a chance to connect with the kids, it's not so bad. I always tried to do things to make them laugh or think of the class as fun, something that they're not dreading going to.

Sometimes though you are the main teacher, especially in elementary school. Even then, though, I don't think that having taught in America would completely prepare you for teaching in Japan. One of the JETs that went over with me was a high school teacher in Ohio. He loved teaching and connecting with his kids back in Ohio. The problem he encountered was he couldn't speak Japanese and thus couldn't connect with his kids like he could back in America. He was able to entertain them with his funny drawings and diagrams on the board and general attitude, but he often lamented how he wish he could really speak to them. I think this barrier hits teachers in America who don't speak Japanese the hardest. They're better equipped for crowd control and overall classroom management, yes, but having a teaching background doesn't necessarily mean that you'll be better at motivating students; it takes warmth and friendliness for that to happen. In that regard, I encourage my JETs to think of themselves not only as instructors and motivators, but also as big brothers / big sisters. You'll usually be closer in age to the kids than you are the main homeroom teachers. These kids are really looking up to you as role models.

mrcharisma
April 10th, 2015, 07:29
100% true. You can change lives.

Going in with the attitude of "I can / will change lives" is quite possibly the worst, most patronising thing you can do as a JET.

Virgil
April 10th, 2015, 07:43
Going in with the attitude of "I can / will change lives" is quite possibly the worst, most patronising thing you can do as a JET.
You know a lot of new teachers are discouraged when going in with this attitude.

singinglupines
April 10th, 2015, 07:47
I spoke no Czech while teaching in Czech Republic and some of my closest bonds were with my 1st graders with whom I could not communicate at all. My last day was rough.

I found creativity and flexibility to be key. The internet is a fantastic resource.

mrcharisma
April 10th, 2015, 08:07
You know a lot of new teachers are discouraged when going in with this attitude.

As a JET, you are there to teach English in a manner the children find enjoyable and beneficial. Nothing more.

The JETs determined to "make a difference" inevitably become the same JETs that cause irreparable damage to vulnerable Japanese children by hanging around orphanages at the weekend.

word
April 10th, 2015, 09:20
For the newbies, this is sarcasm. Can confirm that the vast majority of JETs are professional and appropriately dressed. There's always the outlier, but by no means is that the standard.LOL sorry; I should really be more clear when I'm being sarcastic in Applying, just in case!

Yeah, most folks dress pretty appropriately for the job. For dudes, the ol' khakis and button-down/polo uniform seems to be the standard. For girls, it varies a bit more (I'm jealous) but most folks are pretty professional. I do have a couple of weirdos in my area.


Personally I prefer the "summer camp counselor" type over the "teacher" type for the JET Program. Because you are an Assistant, and not the main teacher, you're going to be using more people skills than teaching pedagogy. If you're asked to read off vocabulary words or do rote pronunciation practice with the kids, if you have a good attitude about it and see it as a chance to connect with the kids, it's not so bad. I always tried to do things to make them laugh or think of the class as fun, something that they're not dreading going to.word

BifCarbet
April 10th, 2015, 13:42
Going in with the attitude of "I can / will change lives" is quite possibly the worst, most patronising thing you can do as a JET.

I am not saying you're going give people all kinds of enlightenment from a condescending perspective, but what about helping a kid realize that they're not limited to being a sea cucumber catcher in their 1900-person village? I had a student who formed an attachment with me and asked me to help her study for a speech competition. She did well, and we started an English club. Then, she asked about a one-month exchange program in the spring to Australia, and I helped her for her interview. She came back and asked about studying abroad. She's been in Washington state for two years and she is engaged. She told me, "I never thought this was possible until I met you."

BifCarbet
April 10th, 2015, 13:49
You know a lot of new teachers are discouraged when going in with this attitude.

Yeah, if you're a new JET and your attitude is, "I'm here to change lives every day, and I will accept nothing less," then you're in for a hard time. But if your attitude is, "I'm not going to have any impact," then send in your reply form with a no, and let an alternate go in your place.

Virgil
April 10th, 2015, 15:50
Yeah, if you're a new JET and your attitude is, "I'm here to change lives every day, and I will accept nothing less," then you're in for a hard time. But if your attitude is, "I'm not going to have any impact," then send in your reply form with a no, and let an alternate go in your place.

Absolutely. I was just comparing it to teaching in general, and the same could be said in that case. Young teachers are often bright eyes and expecting to make a huge impact in their student's lives.... and they probably will.

The let down for many is that they will never be able to see how their presence in that young person's life had an impact. It's usually subtle, and the ones that appear to be the furthest away from you are the ones you will end up changing (for better or worse.) That's why it is sad to me when teachers seem to "give up" on their most troublesome students. They are the ones that need a positive role model the most.

Camp counselor, teacher, parent.... whatever. It's all just semantics at some point. Maybe the rigidity of the teaching structure changes, but it is all the same. It takes a whole village and stuff.

BifCarbet
April 10th, 2015, 15:59
Absolutely. I was just comparing it to teaching in general, and the same could be said in that case. Young teachers are often bright eyes and expecting to make a huge impact in their student's lives.... and they probably will.

The let down for many is that they will never be able to see how their presence in that young person's life had an impact. It's usually subtle, and the ones that appear to be the furthest away from you are the ones you will end up changing (for better or worse.) That's why it is sad to me when teachers seem to "give up" on their most troublesome students. They are the ones that need a positive role model the most.

Camp counselor, teacher, parent.... whatever. It's all just semantics at some point. Maybe the rigidity of the teaching structure changes, but it is all the same. It takes a whole village and stuff.

Totally.

I'm pretty sure most people go through "This is stupid; I'm not doing anything." phases in their lives. It's a part of the deal. My general attitude in this whole forum is that it's not naive or stupid to have energy and enthusiasm. Enthusiasm may feed on naivety on some issues, but I would gladly pursue a few lost causes to maintain my grip on a purpose.

toumasu
April 10th, 2015, 16:15
I think you can make a gigantic impact on your students, but it will most likely not coming through anything you teach, really. Rather, it'll be through being friendly, positive and giving them a good image of 'gaikoku' such that they grow up to have an independent interest in learning English. The worst thing you can ever do to your students is to let your temper slip because they will forever associate the asshole teacher who yelled at them with "anything outside Japan."

My philosophy is if you can get them to like English enough to spend some time abroad, either on a trip or a school exchange program or anything, then you can very well be the spark that turns them into a fluent English speaker. But yeah, as others have said, if you go in thinking you're the main teacher and are going to change them from nothing to fluent in your time here, you will be sorely disappointed.

So, @ OP's main inquiry, no, you don't need any teaching experience. I've known many full-on teachers to come on JET and leave after a year, in fact, because they didn't realize how much they'd be on the sidelines. The more important thing is just to get kids to like you enough to go out an actually learn English on their own.

Gizmotech
April 10th, 2015, 19:13
I think you can make a gigantic impact on your students, but it will most likely not coming through anything you teach, really.

WHAT?!?! What a load of horse hockey. Any teacher who says that just means they're shite at their job. It should be through what you teach that you create impact on a child's life.


My philosophy is if you can get them to like English enough to spend some time abroad, either on a trip or a school exchange program or anything, then you can very well be the spark that turns them into a fluent English speaker. But yeah, as others have said, if you go in thinking you're the main teacher and are going to change them from nothing to fluent in your time here, you will be sorely disappointed.

So, @ OP's main inquiry, no, you don't need any teaching experience. I've known many full-on teachers to come on JET and leave after a year, in fact, because they didn't realize how much they'd be on the sidelines. The more important thing is just to get kids to like you enough to go out an actually learn English on their own.

I agree you don't need teaching experience. I do disagree with going into class to make change, it can be amazingly effective.

greyjoy
April 10th, 2015, 19:59
WHAT?!?! What a load of horse hockey. Any teacher who says that just means they're shite at their job. It should be through what you teach that you create impact on a child's life.
.

Don't be shitty. I can't remember a thing that the teachers who had the most impact on my education taught me. Mostly because a lot of them were literature teachers who don't actually teach the subject so much as how to approach the subject. You're not changing anyone's life by telling them what a fucking gerund is. You might change someone's life by suggesting books to read that will facilitate different thinking. Of course, that's teaching too, but don't bust out the semantics when it's clear what he meant.

word
April 10th, 2015, 20:49
Cool cool; you guys are making some good points, but let's be sure to keep things civil in here! Applying and all...

greyjoy
April 10th, 2015, 22:04
Sorry. I'm on Tapatalk and can't tell where I'm posting half the time.

weepinbell
April 10th, 2015, 23:12
You're not changing anyone's life by telling them what a fucking gerund is. You might change someone's life by suggesting books to read that will facilitate different thinking. Of course, that's teaching too, but don't bust out the semantics when it's clear what he meant.

Yeah that's amazingly true. I have a few teachers that stick out in my mind, and not necessarily because of what they taught me in the classroom, but more their attitude and their attentiveness to me as a student and also as a really confused young adult trying to figure out what the hell to do with my life lol. It's more the support/confidence they had in me that really affected me in a positive way. I guess all you can do is really invest in your students and hope they get something out of it?