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Thread: need advice

  1. #1
    Senior Member JestersJ's Avatar
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    Default need advice

    So, I'm a new ALT for JET and I work at one school. It is a mixture of junior and senior high school.

    I teach about 3 junior high school classes a week: 1 ichinensei class and 2 ni nensei.

    But I have one class... that I'm at loss with. of course it is ni nensei.


    They are beyond disrespectful to the JTE. With me, they aren't outright disrespectful but some kids will say things in Japanese (thinking I don't understand) that are rude. Like today one kid said in Japanese, "English is too difficult. You should know Japanese by now. Hurry up and learn it so you can teach us" I chose not to respond or act like I knew what he said.

    Today, two boys in the class got into a fist fight. One delinquent boy that has had zero respect since day one. (he will walk out of the class room in the middle of lessons, put his feet up on the desk, and completely ignore the JTE when he tries to get him back) The other is fairly average with misbehavior, you can tell he gets bored with the grammar lesson and sometimes will start doodling but nothing too bad.

    This is a class of 30; out of this 30 I literally have 3 that will do their work and contribute to the lesson. 2 girls and 1 boy. The rest will mock the JTE the whole time, ignore him and chat with their friends, or just put their head down on the desk and not work.


    I teach with this JTE a few times a week and I think he's a very good teacher. He's understanding and commands respect in the other classes, but this class is just way too far gone. We've had principals sit in on it a few times, and they will stay quiet on those days but then misbehave again when they're not there.



    Any advice? My JTE is open to ideas too, he and I are starting to dread going to the class. He said to me this morning, that if it was his 1st period class he would just give up for the rest of the day.

    * we have tried games. they refuse to respond.
    When the fighting boys went to the principal's office I was able to play Bingo with the rest of the kids but still a few did not participate.
    ** we also have a sticker point system (used for the whole school) if they ask the teachers English questions or just respond well they can get sticker points that will count as 'extra credit' at the end of the term
    Last edited by JestersJ; June 19th, 2015 at 17:56.

  2. #2

    Default Re: need advice

    I've been put into a lot of situations like this, and the only time a class changed for the better was after the new school year and a change in the JTE. If your JTE cannot get the students' respect, then nothing is going to change, no matter what kind of fun lessons or gimmicks you try. It's not you, it's them, and despite what motivational movies want to tell you, you probably can't change these kids. What I did to make it through those classes was focus on having positive interactions with the students. I gave a lot of extra attention to the kids who were actually participating. I also spent a lot of time just shooting the breeze with the delinquents. This probably isn't the advice you're looking for, but I'd like you to know that you're not the only one in this kind of situation, and that while you can help support your JTE in making changes, the change has to come from him, not you.

  3. #3
    Professional Fun Killer hypatia's Avatar
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    Default Re: need advice

    I feel you. I teach at 5 JHSs, and two of them are "bad schools". At the worst one they recently split all the classes in half for teaching purposes, so now each teacher only has to deal with ~15 kids per class. Even so, it's a struggle. A few weeks ago I a had a kid get pissed off and put a desk through a window because I called him out on crumpling up his worksheet and throwing out said (half open) window. Last week I had a similar conversation to yours with a bad student (telling me that he was Japanese and English was stupid, etc), but instead of ignoring him I responded in English commenting that he didn't need to know English for the activity we were doing that day (it was random skill/memory tests to eventually practice the grammar point "It's easy/hard for me to~). I'm a bit jealous you only have one class of this to deal with, actually. But, as has already been said, if the JTE doesn't command any respect from the kids then there's not really anything we can do. *sigh* Which is pretty disheartening at times, really. Wish I could offer more help than sympathy!
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  4. #4

    Default Re: need advice

    Echoing what the other posters have said; if the JTE can't control them, you probably can't either. Some classes will just go bad, and that's that.

    The one thing you can do, depending on how comfortable you feel, is make friends with the kids outside of class. Talk with them, make jokes with them, don't just look angry/authoritative all the time (with a class that far gone, you have every reason to be angry, but.) It's a long shot, and it might not improve the class as a whole, but you might be able to get one or two students more motivated.

  5. #5

    Default Re: need advice

    He did say his JTE does work well in other classes. Some classes just don't mix well with some teachers even if that teacher is fantastic in other classes. Also at the end of the day some classes are just sht no matter who you put in front of them. You can't kick kids out sadly and this allows kids to throw temper tantrums in class like throwing desks and being shts.

    Only things I can advise.
    *Revert to simple activities which keep the kids in their seats.
    *Make sure all your lessons are easy for the kids to understand and complete without thinking too hard. A little bit of frustration is all it takes to throw many students from willing participants to shtheads.
    *make sure you JTEs explanations are easy to understand and clear in Japanese.
    *learn the death stare. Hands by side, expressionless face, all tension released from the body. Last part is important if the kids think they are getting you at all they will continue.
    *try to avoid pissing contest of your power vs the kids. If one happens either you or the kid will not want to back down, even if you win he will be looking for the next chance to get back at you.
    *writing activities tend to work better with worse kids, sadly this means lots and lots of worksheets. (Idol hands are the devils playground blah blah blah)
    --Make these in a format where the kids know instinctual what to do.
    * work with a fun individual activity prize system (English posters, word searches, crossword puzzles) that are only given out once the students have completed their work (Finish a worksheet allow them to work on a fun project.)
    *When working with the students one and one, or even as a group use little bits of Japanese to provide context, hints, time and other information that is needed to scaffold.
    *make sure to look the students in the eyes when giving instruction. Just keep switching around for a few seconds with each kid. This will let you see if they are listening and understanding.
    *start shoving in info about kids favorite bands, or local dialects in explanations, or any info they can relate to. Sure its corny as fck but oddly works sometimes.
    Last edited by jwkelley; June 22nd, 2015 at 12:07.

  6. #6

    Default Re: need advice

    Quote Originally Posted by jwkelley View Post
    *start shoving in info about kids favorite bands, or local dialects in explanations, or any info they can relate to. Sure its corny as fck but oddly works sometimes.
    Word.

    Also, if you participate in any local/cultural activities, let the students know (subtly). If the kids see that you're invested in the local community, they become invested in you. A couple of my worst problem students warmed up to me immediately once they learned I was a part of the local taiko group.

  7. #7
    Crustacean Sensation Ebi's Avatar
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    Default Re: need advice

    Quote Originally Posted by jwkelley View Post
    Good advice.
    Word.

    There's not much you can do if your JTE has no control. You are not the main teacher so you aren't in charge of discipline. I also don't think you'll win the kids over through fun and games. I agree with making the main task straightforward and simple with opportunities to do more if they finish, so you're not punishing the few kids who are actually on task. Hopefully getting to know them and speaking a bit one-on-one outside of class will help too.

    I've only had a handful of "bad" classes so far, thankfully. But I don't think they were bad kids. My worst class was chaotic and awful since they didn't have an ounce of respect for the main teacher and barely acknowledged me either (I also was a newbie then). But once the JTE changed the next year and they switched up the classes, things improved a lot. One of the girls who refused to participate in English class at first went on to be the student chosen for our English speech contest. At my current school, some of the kids who really struggle with English are good at sports so I can engage them in English when I use that as the topic.

    Some of them might turn around next year once test-taking season kicks off. Just do your best not to give up completely and remind yourself it's not your fault.

  8. #8
    Senior Member JestersJ's Avatar
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    Default Re: need advice

    Thanks guys! (sorry for the slow reply, I forgot.. I posted this to be honest)

    Yeah the other teachers nearby have noticed the noisy level of the classroom, they seem to be that way for all of their teachers. That's a shame, really I have been only paying attention to the kids who participate and we just kinda talk over the noise. One of the kids tried to mess with me I think and I kinda gave a look (which I don't remember) and he actually apologized for it. So I think some of the kids are learning. My JTE and I were joking about drinking before class so we wouldn't care, so at least there's a lot of fun jokes!

    And I'd try to spend more time with them, if I was JHS ALT. but I only teach 3 junior high classes a week to just show appearances. I'm a high school ALT originally. The other kids seem to like me (even the JHS kids that I don't teach) I kinda want these kids to realize we have fun in the other class but I can't with theirs because they won't participate.

  9. #9

    Default Re: need advice

    I'm sorry to hear of these problems you and your JTE are having.

    Have you or your JTE been reading any behaviour management books? One I recommend is by Bill Rogers called “Classroom Behaviour” http://www.amazon.com/Classroom-Beha...gers+behaviour

    I am going to train to become a licensed teacher in the UK so worried about the potential behaviour issues and in preparation have started reading this book by Rogers. I have to say it’s very good and worth checking out. I’ve only gotten about 80 pages in, but on page 139 there’s a chapter entitled “When things get difficult: hard class, hard times” which could be useful to read.

    By the way,

    What is the punishment/consequence system in place?
    What if someone is misbehaving, warned about it, then does it again? What happens?

    Is there something like this:


    Student misbehaves once: a warning is issued such as “If you do that again…”
    Second time: punishment is delivered
    Third time: Maybe student is sent to principal and/or parents are called

    During the punishment the teacher could sit down with the student(s) asking them to write about their behaviour and why it is unacceptable in the classroom and/or what is acceptable in the classroom and why. Things like this are what I’m reading in Rogers’ book and they seem very good. Sure, I’m not naïve I know it’s so easy to say do this and do that, but when you have a terrible class it’s never easy and you can get so stressed out.

    How is the relationship with the unruly ones? Was it always bad? Does the JTE try to engage them, talk to them individually or just ignore them?

    One important thing Rogers has stated is that if some of the class are quite unruly OUTSIDE the classroom DO NOT wait until they enter the classroom to nip it in the bud. They need to be entering in a (relatively) quiet and respectful manner (again, I realise how easy it is for me to say this!). If they’re coming into the classroom like that you’ve already lost some of the control. The author talks about talking to them outside the classroom, trying to develop a relationship with them and so on making sure they aren’t entering like a herd of elephants. Of course this is probably hard to do, but your principal or someone high up in the school needs to support you both and take this seriously. If it’s getting as bad as it seems why not call the parents of the worst ones and talk to them describing the behaviour and how they need your support?

    I hope none of my comments seem like I'm talking nonsense. I’m just reading this behaviour book and I really think a lot of the stuff is quite useful and thought I’d pass some info on.

    Good luck!!

  10. #10

    Default Re: need advice

    This guy's videos are very good: Effective use of consequences as a behaviour management strategy - YouTube

    Why not look at this with the JTE and try to work as a team?

  11. #11
    Member Dr. Doom's Avatar
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    Default Re: need advice

    Going to say you probably didn't make your case known the first week, or even day that you mean business. Sometimes you have to put your foot down with these kids early. Are you or your JTE a male or female? I've noticed women tend to get disrespected more by kids. This just means you'll have to put your foot down even harder. Once you've lost kids, it's hard to get them back. Even if they like or respect you, they won't change. I've seen it countless times, and I remember it in school myself. That first week means everything. You have to show that you are playful, energetic, and yet at same time not going to tolerate the BS. If you don't, and you do the whole "robot teacher" a lot of English teachers come here and do, then they are going to roll you out like a welcome mat at Walmart and use you for prints.

  12. #12

    Default Re: need advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Doom View Post
    Going to say you probably didn't make your case known the first week, or even day that you mean business.
    I think this should be altered to

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Doom View Post
    Going to say the JTE probably didn't make their case known the first week, or even day that he* means business.
    * OP stated the JTE is male

    It's not exactly the JET's job (being most probably, less experienced) to come in and sort the kids out on the first day. The JTE was unable to do so, so colleague support is definitely needed; not just for the principal to sit in on a few classes, as you say this has the effect of them behaving when the principal is there, but when they are gone it's another story. To me, it seems like the sanction policy is amiss. One idea Rogers suggests is having an experienced teacher (or even the principal in your case) taking the ringleaders (i.e. worst behaved and instigators of bad behaviour) out of class giving the teacher some relief. If this works then the key is working with those unruly students. Also, in another book I'm reading another recommendation is

    Praise one, encourage all
    You were probably told at college that praise is a very effectiveteaching tool. However, generalized praise (although useful) has its limits. Next time you want a class to behave in a certain way, try
    singling out one individual who is already doing what you want. 'That's
    great, Sundip, it looks like you're ready to get on with the lesson, because
    you're sitting really quietly and waiting for me to take the register. Well done.'
    This is far more effective than moaning at the class to be quiet. It is also
    a useful back-up tip for getting silence - do give it a try, you may be
    pleasantly surprised at how quickly and easily it works.
    From Sue Cowley "How to survive your first year teaching"

    As Dr.Doom says once you've lost them it's very hard to get them back, which is why colleague support is vital here. How about seating plans? Maybe some of the worst behaved sit together which could be easily changed.

  13. #13
    Member Dr. Doom's Avatar
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    Default Re: need advice

    Quote Originally Posted by elmaldito View Post
    I think this should be altered to



    * OP stated the JTE is male

    It's not exactly the JET's job (being most probably, less experienced) to come in and sort the kids out on the first day. The JTE was unable to do so, so colleague support is definitely needed; not just for the principal to sit in on a few classes, as you say this has the effect of them behaving when the principal is there, but when they are gone it's another story. To me, it seems like the sanction policy is amiss. One idea Rogers suggests is having an experienced teacher (or even the principal in your case) taking the ringleaders (i.e. worst behaved and instigators of bad behaviour) out of class giving the teacher some relief. If this works then the key is working with those unruly students. Also, in another book I'm reading another recommendation is



    From Sue Cowley "How to survive your first year teaching"

    As Dr.Doom says once you've lost them it's very hard to get them back, which is why colleague support is vital here. How about seating plans? Maybe some of the worst behaved sit together which could be easily changed.


    My bad. Thanks for the correction.


    I agree with your advice.

  14. #14

    Default Re: need advice

    Quote Originally Posted by elmaldito View Post
    I think this should be altered to
    One idea Rogers suggests is having an experienced teacher (or even the principal in your case) taking the ringleaders (i.e. worst behaved and instigators of bad behaviour) out of class giving the teacher some relief.
    You are not allowed to do this in Japanese school.

    Quote Originally Posted by elmaldito View Post
    Praise one, encourage all


    While this is all perfectly good advice for Western schools, I really can't think of anything my students hate more then to be singled out in class (even for something good).

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    Gizmoduck - blatherskite Gizmotech's Avatar
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    Default Re: need advice

    Ya, I'm gonna totally agree with Isola. Teaching techniques from the west don't usually apply in the confines of the Japanese classroom unless you're the one creating all the classroom culture.

    Also that's shite advice for backhome too. It's a great way to piss off the good student for no reason, when there are alternatives in classroom management which don't require isolation or abuse.
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  16. #16

    Default Re: need advice

    Okay, regarding the west vs east, point taken Isola, thanks!

    Why can't the principal take the bad students out of the class temporarily? Is this an actual rule? If not, then he certainly can and should. Listen, this JTE from what it seems has absolutely no respect from the students and if he can't control the unruly students something needs to be done apart from just "shout louder". This is advice from an experienced author in behaviour management, one who travels to different country doing workshops.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gizmotech View Post
    Ya, I'm gonna totally agree with Isola. Teaching techniques from the west don't usually apply in the confines of the Japanese classroom unless you're the one creating all the classroom culture.

    This second author (Cowley) is a best selling author in books for teaching in high schools. I admit I have no experience in Asia, thus the singling out a student in Japan I see might not work but

    Also that's shite advice for backhome too. It's a great way to piss off the good student for no reason, when there are alternatives in classroom management which don't require isolation or abuse.

    1 Ever tried it back home?
    This author has indeed tried it and has verified that it works, at least in the UK. Also if I recall correctly Bill Rogers has also mentioned using this method.

    2 What's your alternative?

  17. #17
    Gizmoduck - blatherskite Gizmotech's Avatar
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    Default Re: need advice

    Quote Originally Posted by elmaldito View Post
    Okay, regarding the west vs east, point taken Isola, thanks!

    Why can't the principal take the bad students out of the class temporarily? Is this an actual rule? If not, then he certainly can and should. Listen, this JTE from what it seems has absolutely no respect from the students and if he can't control the unruly students something needs to be done apart from just "shout louder". This is advice from an experienced author in behaviour management, one who travels to different country doing workshops.




    This second author (Cowley) is a best selling author in books for teaching in high schools. I admit I have no experience in Asia, thus the singling out a student in Japan I see might not work but




    1 Ever tried it back home?
    This author has indeed tried it and has verified that it works, at least in the UK. Also if I recall correctly Bill Rogers has also mentioned using this method.

    2 What's your alternative?

    Yes I have and it has EXACTLY the results I expect it to. Temporary on target focus (usually lost rather quickly), anger from all units in the room including the one who was praised. But consider this: masturbating in public is a brilliant way to attract attention. Just because something works does not mean it's the best way to accomplish a task.

    In my case, I let the JTE do their job, which is classroom management, or if I have to get involved I complete the goal of the student in question and reintegrate the event back into the class room. With the second years, if the JTE isn't willing to engage, then go with the flow. It's not our job, and

    Lastly, The suggestion in question, which you mentioned, relies on a relevant power dynamic which the ALT cannot use in the classroom. We are not teachers, especially at that level.

    You are in Japan right?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antonath View Post
    We Jeeperneez are express all emotion through money. Wedding is happy money. Funeral is sad money. Izakaya is friendship money. Girl-bar is almost-sex money. But babby-borning is bery happy money, as no babby in Japan. All babby is special so we is givings much money as presento for babby.

  18. #18

    Default Re: need advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Gizmotech View Post
    Yes I have and it has EXACTLY the results I expect it to.

    Are you a licensed high school teacher in your home country?

    Temporary on target focus (usually lost rather quickly), anger from all units in the room including the one who was praised. But consider this: masturbating in public is a brilliant way to attract attention. Just because something works does not mean it's the best way to accomplish a task.
    Come on now, your masturbation analogy is silly! This isn't my advice about the "praise one, encourage all" statement; it's the author's advice, one whose book has gotten 4.3/5 (based on 29 reviews) and who "is the best selling author of eighteen teaching and parenting books", so I would imagine she has useful advice to give regarding teaching in the classroom. Of course I'm not saying it's something to be used all the time, but at least, according to the author has been useful in her experience. But, clearly teaching is subjective.

    In my case, I let the JTE do their job, which is classroom management, or if I have to get involved I complete the goal of the student in question and reintegrate the event back into the class room. With the second years, if the JTE isn't willing to engage, then go with the flow. It's not our job...
    Of course, I totally agree, it's not our job. It was just that the JTE seems unable to deal with the class, even with the principal coming into class and asked for our advice/help. Essentially, it should be the JTE getting the advice given that when the ALT is gone he will still be there.

    Lastly, The suggestion in question, which you mentioned, relies on a relevant power dynamic which the ALT cannot use in the classroom. We are not teachers, especially at that level.
    Yes, which is why I was thinking the ALT could have talked to the JTE. He appears to be at a loss as to what to do and his methods haven't worked so far. It shows that the ALT is coming here making that post.

    You are in Japan right?
    No, I'm not in Japan, but will be applying to JET in December. I'm training to be a licensed state school teacher in UK which is why I have been preparing by reading classroom behaviour management books by people who have gotten good results in the classroom and have written several books on this issue. Of course they could be Western orientated and not successful in Japan and I don't necessarily intend on transferring all of them to Japan.

    Here are the ten tips from this teacher which you might think are "shite" :

    Ten tried and tested teaching tips
    New teachers are constantly bombarded with information and advice,
    and it can all seem a bit overwhelming at times. This is particularly true
    with behaviour management, because it is a complex and subtle skill for
    you to acquire, and there are many different approaches that might
    work in any given situation. I would like to offer you ten practical and
    straightforward tips to refer to early on in the year or at moments of
    crisis or despair when it all seems to be going wrong. These tips are a
    useful summary of the things that I learned during my NQT year.

    1. Wait for them.
    2. Perfect the deadly stare.
    3. Strike a balance.
    4. Put yourself in their shoes.
    5. Avoid confrontation (also known as 'you get what you deserve').
    6. Praise one, encourage all.
    7. Quiet teachers get quiet classes.
    8. Explain, repeat, explain.
    9. Always set a time limit.
    10. Give one instruction at a time.


    (How to Survive Your First Year in Teaching, Sue Cowley)

  19. #19
    Fit via vi Virgil's Avatar
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    Default Re: need advice

    Can vouch for the east vs west thing. I can also vouch that ALL classes are very different, and classroom management is not one size fits all. There are certain things that are generally good, but I think authenticity and consistency are key. Students can smell a false a mile away.

    I have to agree with Gizmo on this that as an ALT you have to subject yourself to the way discipline is handled here. Classroom management is insanely different, with many procedures built into the cultural fabric (introduced at an early age) I haven't been in Japan that long, but this is the way I see it so far. I teach at a very troubled school (I've been told it is yakuza recruiting grounds) and I just cant be shitted to try to impose my western style in these classes. I have to be patient and do my best.

    For reference I am a licensed teacher in my home country with several years of experience at a low income school. Prepare your anus.
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  20. #20
    Billy Big Bollocks Ini's Avatar
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    Default Re: need advice

    Theory is great and all but I wouldn't place too much stock in it over experience. There is a fine line ALTs with teacher training have to tread when approaching JTEs as someone with no cultural reference points and limited practical experience trying to tell a battle hardened vet what to do is normally the best way to get your teachers to hate you. Younger JTEs are normally more willing to listen to advice but with the older ones its best to bite your tongue rather than spouting off theory at them from the get go.
    Great men of action never mind on occasion being ridiculous; in a sense it is part of their job.

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