School Tour: English Room as an Elementary School ALT
One of the most disheartening things to me when I first started teaching was the fact that I didn't have my own classroom. Of everything I read to prepare myself, that was one of my biggest expectations.
I would read blogs about former ALTs who decorated their classroom and/or English Board, and I was so disappointed that I didn’t get the chance to do any of that my first year.
I know it’s a lot to expect, especially since I wasn’t even a full-time teacher, but I saw other ALTs had them! That meant that I should have one too, right?
However, from what I’ve learned, it’s common for most elementary schools to have a multipurpose classroom that function as an English room (among other things). It’s actually rare to have a dedicated English room and even rarer that you, as an ALT, be fully responsible for its upkeep.
However, this school was a bit of a unique case because of my predecessor. She had dedicated a lot of her own time and money (outside of working hours) to this school. So they really trusted her and gave her a lot more leeway than a normal school may.
Some junior high schools have them as well, but it depends on the size and budget of your school. It also seems that schools that are considered more rural tend to have more facilities (because there’s more land at a cheaper price). But remember… every situation is different.
When I moved schools and my main school was an elementary school, I got an English room. Technically, it's called the "foreign language activities room" but English is the only foreign language offered so it's under my control creatively. Though, that's not to say that I'm the only one who gets use of the room exclusively…
Nope. Every Monday afternoon, it's used for a teacher's meeting. Every Tuesday and Wednesday, it's used for an after school study hall. So, I really only use it for teaching (and rarely am able to use it to just get some alone time). This actually contributed to some problems and my permanent switch from elementary to junior high.
The former ALT at my school was extremely dedicated and spent the last 8 years turning the English room into what it is today... So I definitely can't take credit for it! I only changed the chalkboard a bit.
I would definitely like to say that I'm not responsible for the "Let's start English lesson" paper at the front.
The front of the classroom. "Good Moorning [sic]" This is where I would stand and deliver a majority of the lesson.
However, having an English room is a lot of responsibility. I wasn't aware of that at the beginning, nor was I aware of how much time and effort goes into giving a classroom life. Luckily for me, the former ALT had years to work on the room, and she left a lot of things the way they were when she used it.
This meant that, apart from the back walls, everything was already colorful and fun looking. I've seen some of my friends who don't have this luxury, and are faced with the challenge of filling everything up, or who just leaving the walls blank.
Front of the classroom--day, date, weather
The left of the room: alphabets and random posters. The posters were purchased but the alphabet cards were printed and laminated.
Back of the classroom. This is where the students would keep their bags if it were a normal classroom. I used it for materials storage organized by category. All flashcards and appropriate materials would be kept there.
Hand washing station, just in case! Surprisingly, this has been used during class more often than you’d think.
Some lesser-used material storage (including song books, dictionaries, etc.)
Again, this English room looks like a classroom in the US. A lot of the materials were actually purchased and imported by the former ALT to make it as you see it. Don’t assume that your English room (if you even get one) will look like this.