Am I a Good ALT? – Getting Feedback From JET Programme Schools

Originally published in Gunmania:

“What does my school think of me?” is something that many ALTs often wonder. With little feedback from teachers due to time constraints or cultural differences, some ALTs are left without a clue as to how they are viewed in their job. Combine that with the Japanese tendency to “gamansuru,” or put up with it (lit: have patience), some ALTs may not know that their work or personality is considered sub-par until they are declined a contract for a 4th year (in the case of JET Programme ALTs).

But though many ALTs may not be aware of it most schools do evaluate the ALTs performance. At a rare few, the ALT may even find out the results of the evaluation, though often evaluations are done by the principal or board of education and due to communication problems or time constraints, the results of the evaluation may never be revealed.

You may wonder what kind of things your school likely evaluates their ALTs on, so I am going to give a brief rundown of the kind of things which are usually considered in workplace evaluations.

Workplace evaluations are usually from A (the best) to E (the worst). Things that are included are your JET information, your nationality, how many sick days you’ve had (byoukuu), and how many absences you’ve had (nenkyuu).

The categories likely include:

  1. Leadership: Experience and ability to do the job, adopting a proper manner in the classroom, and ability to understand the student’s situation and understanding.

  2. Responsibility: Diligence, consistency, and amount of reliance on others.

  3. Outlook: Voluntary participation in activities and work assignments, initiative, positive outlook, cooperation, and involvement in student activities.

  4. Cooperation: Works well with others, cooperates with other teachers, is considerate of opposite opinions.

  5. Fairness: Judges or grades fairly in class related matters, and is fair to the students and people in the workplace.

  6. Interest in Japan: Understanding and interest in Japanese culture/customs, language, and active involvement in the workplace (getting to know your co-workers).

  7. Personality: Do you have a good personality? (i.e. Friendly but not pushy, patient but not lazy, active but not aggressive, confident but not conceited.) Good qualities include being cheerful, rational, patient, careful, modest, honest, and cooperative. Bad qualities include being silent, gloomy, too emotional, careless, selfish, and proud.

JET Programme evaluations are unfortunately optional and are likely done by the JET’s supervisor, who they may or may not work with directly. The new JET Programme evaluation form has just been introduced to schools.

Some parts of the form include similar factors as above, but the main points are as follows:

  1. Attendance: Frequency of tardiness, absence, and medical leave.

  2. Performance of Duties: Instruction/Planning/Development of materials, enthusiasm for teaching, and relationships with Japanese teachers.

  3. Other: Sense of responsibility (diligence, reliability), activity (participation in international events), fairness (relationship with coworkers), and interest in Japan (culture, language, exchange).

Comments may be included.

If you have not received the results of an evaluation, and you wish to know their opinions of those you work with, it can be rewarding request the evaluation results, or to design your own survey, either relating to your work performance in general, or to specific classes.

Questions such as: which activities from the textbook do you think are the most useful, which games do you think are the most useful, which areas do you think the students need to work on the most (reading, writing, speaking, listening), which areas do you think I am the most useful for the students (reading, writing, speaking, listening), or do you think my English is easy to understand for the students?

All these can be used to improve your work performance, relationships, and specific classes. Using an anonymous format can encourage JTEs to be more open and honest.


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