ALT Office Life – Forgotten

There is a tendency for schools to forget to inform their ALTs about various things. It could be something simple like forgetting to let them know that there is a teacher’s meeting after school or something bigger like needing to wear a suit tomorrow for an important event, like graduation.

Forgetfulness can get to anyone, but a whole office?

It was the second day of the new school year. Nothing really special about it. It just simply was an average school day or at least that was what I thought as I walked into the office that morning. Turns out I was mistaken.

I had been a little distracted during the morning teacher’s meeting. I will openly admit I was not listening to anything that was being said. I was lost in silly little thoughts about silly little things. Nothing related to assessment tests and other teacher business.

Then my friend Mr. white board, the white board by the first year teacher’s desk, was empty of information I would find useful. Instead it had been filled to the brim with information and kanji that was related to the assessment tests the student had to take that morning and orientation information the teachers needed to know.

Monday right before I left from work I asked one of my JTEs, and I quote, “Is there anything special going on tomorrow?” The response was simply a no, that there were just tests.

But I must have missed something.

At 9:00 am I found myself alone in the teacher’s office, unaware that there was the student assembly being held. Everyone had left the office while I was working on figuring out what I would do for my portion of the lesson I will teach. I was unaware of the fact I had been forgotten in the office.

Thankfully one of the teachers came in and noticed me sitting alone. They themselves had been running late to the assembly and had to drop off some paperwork at their desk. If it wasn’t for them saying “Amanda are you not going?” I would have never been the wiser.

The assembly itself wasn’t a huge one. It is just where the 2nd and 3rd year students greet the new 1st years and welcome them into the school. The classes literally “meet” by having the students lined up together, 2nd and 3rd years facing the 1st years, and bow in greeting. The student council president also has a speech.

And we had missed it all by the time the teacher and I made it to the gym.

Hopefully this is a one-time deal. But I have finally gotten a taste of what other ALTs have often spoke up about: Communication to ALTs about special events or where they should be, when, and how it often gets forgotten or overlooked. I can’t say if it is intentional or just something that slips the minds of the many teachers around us, but it happens. More often to some than others. As sad as that is, most of us ALTs now consider this failed communication as part of our job as an ALT when that shouldn’t be the case.

I have been fortunate enough to not have had this issue in my first year and a half here. I try to pay attention to the white boards to see if there are special times written down, ask my JTEs if there are events, or just flat out remember what happened around the same time the year before.

I used to also have the wonderful Sumitomo-sensei. She would be like a nervous humming bird hovering about to remind me in her high pitched voice about these types of things. Even if I already knew that something was happening that day, she would be sure to check in with me.

But it is a new year and there are no Sumitomo-sensei reminders anymore. I have to remember that I am on my own. I will just have to work harder at learning important kanji and asking more questions more often.

If this forgetting of the ALT continues to happen I will for sure speak up about it. Also known as politely asking a JTE if they can check in with me about special events or assemblies the day before they happen. I might have to ask a few teachers to do it, because then maybe one of them will actually remember to do it.

As for now it has only been a one-time thing, and I hope that it stays that way.

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