There's going to be an English speech contest in a few weeks, and one student from each year will be representing our school. The third year is a shoo-in, as she won silver last year and therefore has no rival, but for the lower classes there were two nominees each. The English teachers and us ALTs had a little "audition" where they read a page from the book and then spoke about what theme they'd write a full speech about for the real contest. Then us teachers alone talked about who we thought had better command of the language, presence, and theme ideas, etc. Though it was an interesting experience, it wasn't exactly pleasant.
You see, A-san and I-san are 2nd years. A-san is actually the daughter of the head of the English program, who thankfully wasn't at this audition. She has also had the opportunity to go abroad - which most of the kids haven't - and has fairly good English pronunciation. I-san is not so fortunate, and I only knew what she was saying because I was reading along the script. But I know from class that she has a grasp on the grammar and spelling, and lends a hand to the other students. Her topic also is the important issue of ijime, or bullying in Japanese schools. So I wanted her to have a chance at least.
The first years, W-san and J-san, are more evenly matched. J-san is actually I-san's sister - strong resemblance right down to their thick glasses and braces - and I wonder what the atmosphere would be like if the younger sibling is chosen but the older is not. Would it be worse than if neither sister is chosen at all - as seems likely since W-san's manner is more confident, her gaze more direct.
Luckily the decision belongs to the higher-ups rather than me. I don't like the feeling of judging my own students, since if one is not up to par it is somehow my responsibility since I'm supposed to be instructing them.
It was, however, nice to be involved with the decision making and and to be present at a meeting. Usually we are given only as much information as we need to do the very basics of the job. Even that much we frequently have to ask directly for before they realize we need the confirmation. Changes in the schedule are announced every morning and written up, so it's taken for granted that we know what's happening like everyone else. I make it a habit to confirm, "Today's schedule goes like ~? Our first class is ~?" Probably annoying but better than missing a class.