An Interview with Melinda Hoang Ho: Aspiring International School Teacher

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“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”

― E.B. White


Georgetown University graduate student, Melinda Hoang Ho hopes to become an international school teacher. She found me on the Interweb and asked if she could ask me a questions via Google Hangout.   Here are some follow-up questions and responses about teaching overseas.

1. As an elementary educator both in America and abroad could you tell me if there are any differences that you noticed (such as policy, subject focus, etc?)

First of all, kids are kids. Not too many differences in the grand scheme of things. Teaching at Bethesda Elementary in Bethesda, Maryland prepared me for a life overseas. While there, I taught so many kids from all over the world. Their parents worked in embassies or at the National Institute of Health.  Since then, I have worked at schools that specialize in “American style education.”

Each overseas school looks to stay aligned with educational trends. Right now, I imagine, each is wrapping their collective heads around Common Core while staying true to their mission statements. I am having a blast teaching kids how to read and write with style. Balanced literacy teaching is king here in Hong Kongand I’m lovin’ it.

2. In terms of curriculum, how much control do you have in what topics you teach or are you confine to an official school curriculum? How does school curriculum, standards, and/or textbooks shape you decisions on your lesson plans?

Not as much as I would like but I really cannot complain. Many schools overseas look to Grant Wiggins, whom I love. If you get a chance, read up onUnderstanding by Design. UBD is brilliant in its simplicity.  The trend now is towards data-driven curriculum choices. We now strive for as much differentiated learning as humanly possible. This trend excites me no end.

3. How would you describe your teaching style?  Do you try to accommodate multiple intelligence, and learning styles in your classroom? 

Bethesda Elementary school prepped me to work with students on all ends of the learning spectrum. Some books that have helped me become the teacher I am include: Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, The Writing Life by Annie Dillard, andTeaching with Love and Logic: Taking Control of the Classroom by Jim Fay and David Funk. Read these books and you will get an idea of what I am all about.

4. You spoke about what you enjoyed about teaching, what do you enjoy least? In addition whats the most difficult situation that arose inside or outside of class?

Tough one!  I really love what I do. Alas, my classroom sometimes resembles a fishbowl. This greatly limits my self-confidence, creativity and ability to experiment. Culture shock is always a concern and something I struggle with still. Homesickness is a killer. I wrote about watching my parents age from a distance.

This life is NOT for everyone. I remember being extremely lonely when I was single.

I hope this helps. If you are looking to teach overseas, contact me: [email protected]