ALT Mid-Year Seminar
From Mie Guidebook
The ALT Mid-Year Seminar is two-day event held in January that is mandatory for all JET ALTs in Mie Prefecture. It is a major work-related event, and is the only such event of the year that is mandatory for all. It will likely send you home with at least some (if not many) good ideas to try and incorporate into your lessons.
It is held in Tsu and transportation costs are paid for by the various contracting organizations.
The seminar is designed to help both ALTs and JTEs improve their team-teaching English classes. Every JET ALT in Mie is mandated to attend, as well as a single JTE from that ALTs BOE or primary school (though JTEs from other schools need not attend).
ALT-JTE pairs are split into four groups, two for municipal teachers (elementary and junior high), and two for prefectural teachers (high school). These group assignments are pre-determined and will be identical to those at the ALT Planning Meeting in November.
There will be at least one keynote speaker, typically two. For these lectures, all four groups will gather in a large lecture hall. Keynote speakers are typically people with a history in English teaching, often university professors, and their speeches are usually very informative though every few years or so you'll get a useless one.
For the workshops, the four group will move into separate meeting rooms which are specified on seminar-related handouts received ahead of the event. Each of the four presentations is to be based on a certain theme which are decided in advance; these themes tend to change little from year to year. The time slot for each workshops is significantly longer than the time presentations usually take because 30 min+ group discussions on the current theme are encouraged at the end of each presentation. Workshops do not end early, ever.
The presentations are generally very helpful, especially for first years who may still be getting used to teaching. It is not uncommon for some of the same content to be heard year after year, however this isn't really a problem because of the JET turn-around there will be a number of people who are new. Also, even for elder JETs, it can be easy to forget some of the good ideas gleaned at past seminars and so to hear them repeated is a good reminder of new things to try in the class. Group discussions are generally either extremely helpful and stimulating, or kind of useless -- it typically depends on the topic and who your fellow ALTs and JTEs are.
Each presentation has two presenters and two moderators:
- Presenters do basically all of the work, an ALT-JTE pair must prepare a presentation in advance. Ideally, presentations are 30-40 minutes total. Sometimes the ALT will take half and the JTE will take half covering two different aspects of the assigned presentation theme. Other times the ALT and JTE will work together for a single more focused presentation on the theme. Both methods are acceptable. Also, it's good to think of some good discussion topics in advance, as there will probably be at least a half hour of discussion which can be a great time for others to share their wisdom as well or just discuss a classroom issue.
- Sometimes presenters will run a sample class, putting the other attendees into the role of the students. Other times it will just be a lecture. Handouts are almost always used, and PowerPoints are frequently used. If you want to use a PowerPoint, prepare the computer arrangement in advance.
- Bottom line: Presentations are a great opportunity for more experienced JETs to pass along some teaching wisdom that has helped them. It will show if you put a lot of effort into crafting a well-structured and engaging presentation.
- Moderators have it easy -- if you've been assigned to be a moderator, take a moment to relax and rejoice in your lack of responsibility. All moderators really do is introduce the presenters at the beginning and moderate (on the fly) the group discussion session at the end. Both of these jobs generally fall to the ALT moderator, it's very common for the JTE to do absolutely nothing. If you're not comfortable moderating on the fly, then it's best to think of some discussion topics.
- Bottom line: Unless moderators have grand hopes for how the group discussion will progress, little to no preparations is required.
The seminar is split up over two days, often a Thursday and Friday in mid-January (typically the second or third week).
The itinerary typically follows this format:
- Day 1
- Introductory speaker
- First keynote speaker
- Lunch (about 90 minutes)
- Workshop I
- Workshop II
- Day 2
- Workshop III
- Workshop IV
- Lunch (about 60 minutes)
- Second keynote speaker
- Closing and announcements
- Additional Events
- Mie AJET holds a party every year the night after the first day of the seminar, as everyone is generally staying in the Tsu area or close by.
- Another event may be held on the second night, or alternatively if the AJET Ski Trip is the immediately following weekend, attending JETs will generally depart directly from the seminar venue.
- Mie Center for the Arts in Tsu
- See its article for details about this location including directions.
Note: The venue is not the same as the November planning meeting. Every year there are a few people that make this mistake, including JTEs.
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