What we can do, what we can’t do, when to call up our company contacts and verify.  Apparently (particularly as an ALT) your actual teaching ability has very little to do with your perceived awesomeness as a teacher.  It relies much more upon your enthusiasm, your appearance, and your ability to be social with the students and teachers.  For example, they told us about two different teachers who had defining moments in their employment.   

The first was given a map to the school that was wrong – it came from the school.  He set off with half an hour to spare, but got predictably lost, and was five minutes late.  The special assembly to introduce him was just breaking up – and for the rest of the year, every evaluation started out “He was late to the first day.” 

The second came into school sick – very high fever, possibly the flu – and was sick all over his desk just as soon as he sat down.  The perception of that was: “How dedicated! What a good attitude!  Excellent teacher!”  

Apparently, if you’re so sick you can’t come to work?  You’re sick enough you need a doctor.  And even then, it can be better to come to school, and have your school principal say “No, no, you’re clearly ill, please go home” – in which case, you’re considered to have fulfilled your requirements for the day, and it’s not an unpaid sick day.  If you are sick, but well enough to go to school, you wear one of those face masks to keep from infecting other people. 

All the other teachers seem really nice, though.  And I met the other girl who’s going to be teaching in Imizu – and there are some more teachers who are already there – and she seems really nice.  Maybe we’ll hang out.  I haven’t met the “main” teachers yet – but I won’t meet them until I actually get to Imizu.   

Still excited, still not dead!