It’s that time of the year again when placement notifications slowly start to trickle around the world. Receiving your placement comes with both a sense of relief and anxiousness – as I am sure you are now thinking about the exciting adventures and challenges you may face in your new home.
This post will cover placements and predecessors, providing a bit of insight into both.
When you receive your placement, there will first be the prefecture or city (ending in -ken, like Hiroshima-ken, or -to, like Tokyo-to), and the second column will say the city or town (ends in -ken, -to, or -shi, like Kure-shi).
If your placement says, for example, Hiroshima-ken, Kure-shi, then that means (in the most likely situation) that you are a city/municipal ALT and will be working mainly at elementary and junior-high schools.
If your placement does not provide a city name (no -shi), and instead repeats the prefecture’s name, for example: Hiroshima-ken (prefecture), Hiroshima-ken (city), then you are most likely a prefectural ALT and will work at senior-high schools.
Here is a screenshot of the placement notification list I received when I was an incoming JET. I have covered up the names of course, but you will be able to see the differences in the two placement types
The placement at the top of the list is prefectural because both of the names end in -ken. The next placement is city/municipal because the second name gives the actual location within the prefecture, and ends in -shi.
City/municipal ALTs find out where in the prefecture they will live as soon as placements are released as their city or town is listed. Their contracting organisation is their city/town’s Board of Education (BOE). It doesn’t take too long for supervisors and predecessors to make contact.
Prefectural ALTs, on the other hand, have a bit more waiting to do as their contracting organisation – the prefecture’s Board of Education – has to decide where to place all the prefectural ALTs. So you may only hear from your supervisor closer to the end of June/beginning of July to find out which city/town you’ll be living in.
I was prefectural ALT in Hiroshima, teaching senior-high school only.
I only heard from my supervisor for the first time at the beginning of July, three weeks before departure from South Africa. Finding out your city/town so close to departure does happen, but according to other ALTs, the Hiroshima Board of Education is notorious for being one of the last to send out placement information (so it may not necessarily happen to you if you are a prefectural ALT).
Now that you know where you are headed to…
I suggest joining the Facebook groups of your country’s JET group, the prefecture JET group, and the block in which your prefecture lies (there are 9 blocks). Here you can introduce yourself and you might even be able to find your predecessor if you haven’t made contact yet.
However, be aware that BOEs generally have rules that prevent predecessors from contacting their successors until a certain date, so don’t freak out when you haven’t heard anything but your friends have.
So, when it comes to predecessors…
I am going to cover all grounds and say that there is a chance you will not have a predecessor. It happens, but those chances of it happening are slim. ESID and all that.
But now we’ll focus on having a predecessor (now referred to as a ‘pred’).
A pred is your link between you and your schools, students, teachers, other ALTs, your apartment, the city, etc. Through them you should hopefully be able to get an array of valuable information regarding all of the above. However, do remember ESID, or in this case EPID (Every Predecessor is Different).
The way your pred approaches things might be quite different to another person’s pred. So you need to be open-minded, positive, and try to avoid comparing your pred with your friend’s pred.
For example, there may be preds who provide you with the most minimal of details (preferring you to find out for yourself certain things once you get to Japan), while others could provide you with practically everything and anything you might need to know before you even think about packing your bags.
Some preds might want to sell stuff from their apartment to you, others might just give it all to you for free (like I ended up doing for my successor).
You’ll only know this once you have made contact. And when you do, here is a link to a post I wrote regarding questions to ask your predecessor.
On a personal note…
In preparation for my successor I wrote up a detailed document (bordering on a thesis…) about anything and everything I that I felt necessary for them to know – from the apartment, schools, lessons, teachers, shopping, commuting, and general ‘getting around’ stuff.
As you can see there is only so much one can say about preds. Though if anyone has any questions regarding placements and preds, then don’t hesitate to leave a comment or contact me. I will be happy to answer any concerns of yours and share with you what knowledge I have of when I was preparing to depart for Japan.
And one last thing – you can be pretty sure that the current preds are quite excited to get in contact with their successors! 😀