Tag Archives: international school jobs

Teacher Recruitment

A common and defining characteristic associated with international schools is that of transience. The ephemeral nature of many our community members’ tenures in international schools necessitates the ongoing management of change processes. The positive features of this constant change are the rich opportunities for personal growth, renewal, enrichment, and development of new relationships. However, this very same impermanence inevitably leads to our esteemed colleagues and beloved friends taking leave of our community as they seek to embrace new adventures and experiences. The reasons that some teachers take leave of our schools each year varies, from the need to return to their home country or the desire to work and live in a different part of the world, for example. While the inevitable departure of some colleagues will again be a reality at international schools around the world, we can take solace in the fact that personal and professional relationships will assuredly endure far beyond the end of this school year. Although there will be occasions to formally recognize those who will be leaving our schools, the focus of this note is on the present and the importance of appreciating and making the most of the time we have today and in the near future with our very special colleagues and friends. Teacher Recruitment Process:  The hiring of teachers is arguable the most important element of the work of a Head of School. To that end, one of the main focus areas during the month of October to February is the recruitment of teachers, which will include attendance at international recruitment fairs. In addition, it is not unusual for schools to receive over a thousand applications, in some cases, several thousand. I am often asked what we look for when hiring teachers at the American School of Brasilia. First and foremost, we are seeking to hire the best available teachers, regardless of nationality, who possess outstanding qualifications in their academic area, deep levels of relevant experience, leadership capacity, resilience, flexibility, and, of course, a passion for working with students and the learning process. An additional characteristic that is among the highest on our priority list is that of a positive disposition. The nature of effective teaching necessitates the ideal of teachers as eternal optimists, especially in terms of their belief that all students can reach their respective potentials. Furthermore, we owe it to our students to ensure a school setting that is comprised of people who are positive and optimistic, who see problems as opportunities, and who see the proverbial glass as always being half full. At the same, we cannot be Pollyannaish with respect to teaching and learning as teachers are challenged with directly addressing the inherent challenges associated with student growth and program development, in a professional, effective, and empathetic manner. Each year, our school continues to further articulate and refine EAB’s Teacher Profile, which is a document that outlines a set of guiding principles that are used to guide all hiring processes. In addition, EAB’s Leadership Team also examines the hiring, development, and retainment practices of highly successful organizations to determine what can be translated to a school setting. By way of example, we have closely studied Netflix’s human resource policy, called Freedom and Responsibility, which provides for engaging and reflective reading. Wishing everyone all the best with your respective search and hiring processes. _________________________________________________

Profile: I am currently working as the Head of School at the American School of Brasilia and publish a weekly blog at www.barrydequanne.com.

Featured image: cc licensed (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 ) flickr photo by Dieter Drescher: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cosmosfan/14628522324

A Human Curriculum

I’ve never been at the beginning of something before. I have never started a trend or discovered a band. Don’t get me wrong, I’m into what’s in, but I’ve always lived overseas and often when I hear about it or see it, it usually isn’t cutting edge or new, but tried, true and still viable.

Today however, I’m a first, an early-adopter and a pioneer. One of the few at the forefront and beginning of something new which is also, potentially, the next “big-thing”.

Interested? Well, I think you should be. If you are an educator interested in teaching relevant, transformative and real things to your students so they are truly prepared for the invisible “what’s next” in our ever-changing world, then I have some news for you.

The Common Ground Collaborative (CGC) might just be that absent piece you and your school have been wanting, needing, and missing. This weekend I was fortunate to have a guided tour of this new curriculum from two of the international-teaching world’s great designers: Kevin Bartlett and Simon Gillespie in Miami at a 2-day Principal’s Training Center workshop. It was the first-ever training offered around the CGC. Forty-seven of us gathered to learn, question, and consider next steps.

To begin at the end of my personal story, I’m in. Not only does this curriculum framework make sense from a what’s-good-for-kids standpoint, it also presents those of us who will be using it with an elegant and simply designed format that provides a comprehensive but flexible frame from which we can build and grow learning and learners in our schools.

Quite simply, the Common Ground Collaborative gets at everything that matters, and is brave enough to leave out what doesn’t. (Which surprisingly makes it manageable, adaptable, and relevant.) Recognizing how people learn- adults too- and what people need to learn, the CGC will enable users the opportunity to provide their schools with expertly written modules and units from leading authorities in the field, allowing everyone to focus on the teaching and learning and not the curriculum writing itself. While for many this will be a sigh of relief and a recognition that teacher-written curriculum is often not the best use of teacher time and talent; others will want the professional opportunity to design for their particular context. Which is perfectly fine and doable within the flexible CGC framework.

As a parent and an educator, I’m often struggling with defining what it is my child and the children I teach need to learn in this, the 21st Century. Independently, I’ve been thinking about the need for schools to transform into places where we focus less on the facts, figures and content and more on learning to learn or even on learning to learn with others in collaborative, people-supportive ways. If I can outsource most of the learning now to Khan Academy or the like then maybe my time at school should be more focused on building the social-emotional and cooperative skills in my students.

Well guess what? The CGC provides for that too. The most important difference and ultimately one of the greatest strengths of this curriculum is the emphasis placed on viewing teaching and learning through the lens of eight ‘Human Commonalities’. These are the bedrocks of this practice model and what makes it relevant and futuristic all at the same time. These commonalities are built-out through the conceptual standards in the curriculum, providing a place where students learn while questioning and developing their understanding. It is, to me, a map for teaching how to be human. It is also quite possibly the only thing that matters when you think about our common human problems and needs.

But don’t fret. They aren’t throwing the basics out with the bathwater. The Common Ground Collaborative weaves into the design frame a strand where students develop the competency skills necessary to be a literate person. These skills are taught, measured and highlighted through the competency standards in the CGC “DNA”. The difference though is they are presented as one piece of this complex yet simplistic frame and not as the only piece. Students will be taught explicitly how to become automatic at those things that require automaticity. They will do so through study models and exemplars, which they in turn will practice at emulating.

As a final strand, and one which I am happy to see represented, is a focus on character learning (values and dispositions) within the CGC that ensures there is a roadmap both for teaching and for learning those true and consistently important transfer skills of behavior and civility. This emphasis is part of what will ensure students have the capacity to truly learn and grow while living inside this curriculum. By teaching and then providing time and authentic reasons for students to reflect, consider, and develop a growth mindset, which we all know is necessary in our new age of education, the CGC will imbed opportunities for this type of learning through the character standards within each module.

The Common Ground Collaborative is a small-bite, highly flavorful dish of newness and yet it just seems so familiar and so right.

The process has just started, but the possibilities are huge. Over the next year the CGC team will be discussing this new curriculum and offering other workshops at regional international-school conferences around the world. This weekend, the Common Ground Collaborative tossed a stone in the water. If you get the chance, jump in and try this on.

Come ride one of the waves with us.

Summer Break for International Educators

For most teachers, summer break is a time for relaxation, catching up on good books, traveling, and unwinding from a long school year.  For an international school teacher, this time is spent doing these things, but it could also be so much more.

Most international schools will provide you with a flight allowance back to your home country.  Our school in China bought our tickets directly for us and our school in Saudi gives us money.  This gives us the flexibility to take whatever flight we choose.

Summers for most international teaching families are spent away from their schools.  Simply, they go back visit family, friends, purchase Western products, see Western doctors, and regroup for the upcoming school year.  Some families are moving away from one international school to another, so their experience over the summer is even more tedious with packing, moving, visas, and unpacking.

For Jamie and I, our time has been spent traveling around in northwest Georgia, southeast Tennessee, the panhandle of Florida, and southwest Georgia.  Our family and vacations have been scattered there; and as we come home, we travel to see family.

Many international teachers with children feel the need for their kids to have a “home” to come back to in their home country, so their third culture kid will have a sense of what and where “home” actually is.  For us, the need for our children to see their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins is important especially considering the fact they may only see them once per year.  We also want our children to know that they are Americans and a have sense of southern heritage even if they’ll never have that special accent.

The options for international teachers are practically unlimited.  While most families go back to their home country, others spend the summer traveling and seeing the world.  We know of families that have rented houses in Italy for the summer, completed a road trip around the Middle East, volunteered at an African school for a few weeks, completed round the world flights with various stopovers, or just stayed in the country where they were working to save money.

With Jamie and I bouncing around from house to house and living out of a suitcase for the last 5 summers, it has become tiresome.  We are now looking into a house where family members can simply come to us.  Last year, we rented a lake house for a month, which helped with all of the traveling.  This summer, we’ll do our bouncing around so everyone can see our new addition to the family.

Other aspects of summers including additional trainings.  Jamie had a conference in Dallas last summer focusing on the Shafer writing method.  In previous summers, she had AP training conferences in Denver and Tampa. Depending on the school’s professional development funding and vision, teachers might find themselves traveling to other locations for conference and trainings.  Most, if not all, of these funds will be paid for by the school.

Our summer breaks when were teachers in the U.S. were always great and relaxing.  We were close to family, tried to vacation somewhere nice, and generally unwound from a stressful school year. We still can have those things as international school teachers, but they can potentially be so much more!

Having Children Overseas

Jamie and I began our international school teaching careers just a year after we married.  Children was certainly in our future, but the unknowns of having children abroad was unsettling at first.  What would the healthcare be like? How will they get a passport? How will we deal with grandparents and family back home being separate from our children? All of these questions and many others ran through our minds before embarking on our first international teaching job in China.

Our fears were immediately relieved once we arrived in China and discovered that they too, in fact, have children born there! Kidding aside, we met many couples who had children in China or in Hong Kong, and they all had positive experiences.  We learned more information about parents visiting, Skype calling, how to obtain passports and birth certificates, and how to deal with the family separation. We quickly realized that having a child abroad would not be as bad as we originally imagined.

We learned what a TCK (Third Culture Kid) actually was and taught several of them. The thought of having a TCK scared us a little but learning more about how various families dealt with this unique situation helped us. What we learned is that it isn’t really that unique after all and TCK children live exciting lives. The pros and cons of living abroad become exponential once you have a child, but what we learned is that having a child abroad certainly isn’t a difficult situation at all.

Like any other family, once you have children, your lives change forever.  Teaching internationally brings different changes. Some of these make your lives more difficult, but some of them make your lives easier. For example, our school here in Saudi Arabia provides a free nursery. Where in the U.S except at large companies will you get that? We save thousands of dollars of year just in day care.  We are able to bring our boys to work with us and pick them up in the afternoon literally about 100 yards from our classrooms. Jamie was able to nurse them during the day. The nursery itself is outstanding and perhaps the best benefit that is offered at the school.

Another benefit is the lifestyle you will be able to provide for your children. Their vacations will be spent in places like Rome, Paris, Bangkok, Istanbul, Maldives, and Tanzania.  They will have study trips with other children to exotic locations or Habitat for Humanity trips where they learn about service. They will probably learn a foreign language easier and be more culturally sensitive because they will have children in their classes from 10 different countries.

Some negatives include traveling. Because you will travel more, you will spend more on hotels, flights, food, and attractions.  This might limit your travel more than it would when it is just the two of you backpacking through the Philippines. Some families with three or more children only take one or two large vacations a year. Jamie and I without children took five or six. We will still take that many per year because we value the traveling. We’ve become quite adept at traveling with small children.  Our 2 year old has already been to 8 countries and has had over 30 flights.  The United States this summer will be our youngest child’s fifth country.

The most obvious negative of having children abroad is the distance they will be from family. They might only see their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins one time a year. Facebook, Skype, Whatsapp, and other social media programs have really helped us stay connected to family, but it obviously isn’t the same. Once we are back home for the summer or perhaps a winter break, we complete the circuit of seeing family and friends which makes for a ton of traveling and living out of a suitcase.  Children are flexible, but parents have to have some patience and flexibility too.

The birth abroad process was very smooth for Jamie here in Saudi for the most part.  Doctors’ bedside manner will not be what you expect, but the care is fine and you and your baby will be in good hands.  Our health insurance covers Jamie for a private room and our out of pocket cost was less than $100 for both children. You simply won’t find that anywhere in the U.S.  She had two very different experiences with our boys but overall the healthcare and the facilities were very good.

Every country will have its different procedures for obtaining the birth certificate and ultimately the U.S. passport. In Saudi, here was the procedure we had to go through before our boys were given a U.S. passport, which meant they could leave the country.

  1. Certificate of Live Birth – this is a Saudi document that we received at the hospital basically stating that a baby was born in their hospital.  Documents required: mother and father’s Iqama and passports
  2. Saudi Birth Certificate – This was done by our government relations (GR) and was all in Arabic, which is actually a pretty cool looking document. Documents required: Certificate of Live Birth, mother and father’s Iqama and passports
  3. Saudi Birth Certificate Translation: Again, our government relations department did this.  It was needed for us to attain the U.S. Passport.  Documents required: Saudi Birth Certificate, Certificate of Live Birth, mother and father’s Iqama and passports
  4. U.S. Birth Certificate: We had to go next door to the U.S. Consulate here in Dhahran for this. It is actually a Certificate of Birth Abroad issued by the United States State Department.  If a child is born in the U.S., their birth certificate will always be on file at the state level.  For children born overseas to U.S. citizens, they issue this document instead. Anyone born abroad who loses their original birth certificate will have to go through the U.S. State department at receive another one. Documents required: application, money, Saudi Birth Certificate and its translation, mother and father’s passports
  5. Saudi Iqama: This is completed by the GR once the U.S. Birth Certificate comes back in.  The iqama is basically the residency permit for non Saudis working in the country. Documents required: child’s U.S. passport, mother and father’s Iqama and passports
  6. Exit/Re-entry Visa: This is completed by GR and allows for anyone to go in and out of the country freely.  The child is not permitted to leave the country until this document is finished.  Documents required: child’s Saudi Iqama and passport

That’s it!  The entire process takes about 6 weeks.  This is only frustrating because you can’t leave the country until everything has been processed.  Once it is though, your little darlings can begin their journey to becoming world travelers.

 

5 Tricks of the Trade for Substitute Teachers

save-the-ocean-tips_13821_600x450-600x320

By Kailie Nagrath

As an intern my primary role is to be the ‘go-to’ substitute teacher for classes in grade levels from Preschool to grade 4.

They didn’t Teach this in College

So far, I have subbed for all grade levels, and have found that one thing is for sure, with all the training we get in college – from classes in education and psychology, to student observations and field practicums – nothing teaches you how to handle this!

Learn as you Go

At first it felt like being thrown into the deep-end of the ocean, but I am starting to see the light and have actually figured out a few tricks of the trade which I will summarize here.  Subsequent blogs will delve a bit deeper into each strategy, but none of these are etched in stone.  As teachers we learn as we go, and one important learning method is to talk to other teachers.  So teachers, please feel free to add your tips and tricks to the list!

Five tips to help anyone who has to get up in front of a classroom and say, “Good morning class, I’m your substitute teacher today!”

1.) Know thy Subjects – I am not referring to content material although that’s important, I’m talking about the kids in the class.  Get to know them and connect with them, the best and first step in doing that is to learn all their names.

2.) Know the Classroom Culture – Just as every school has its own unique culture, so too, does every classroom. The teacher will have set the tone from day one and it’s your job to know the classroom expectations and what the students are working on.  Being consistent not only supports the teacher you’re filling-in for, but it makes your day, and the student’s day run more smoothly and productively.

3.) Embrace the Co-teaching Model – If you have teaching assistants in the classroom take advantage of their skills and ability to provide consistency and support.  If not, seek out other teachers in your grade level and have them co-teach lessons, or team-up on outings or activities.

4.) Do Your Thing –Have your own unique go to prop, activity, or story that shares with students a little bit about who you are as a person and what your interests or personal style is all about.  This relates to the first strategy of getting to know your students. Building a relationship is a two-way street and it’s greatly enriched if your students feel they get to know a little more about you. This of course does not mean revealing things from your personal life, but it means sharing your passions.  This could be anything from a love of poetry, to an obsession with birding, or an interest in music, the arts or sports.  Is there a poem or a song or a sports fact you can teach the students by the end of the day?  If so, it will make your time with students more memorable and will prove helpful if you’re coming back tomorrow or later in the year!

5.) Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – If you’re having a difficult time getting through the lesson plan, take a deep breath and relax.  A more experienced teacher gave me advice that I can’t repeat here, but the gist of it is to go with the flow and try to have fun with the students. If they see fear or nervousness, or impatience than you will not be in control of the class.  If you must, let go of the lesson plan and find fun ways to connect and allow students to learn.

Any other ideas are welcome!

Winter Break: International Teaching Style

One of the most amazing things about international teaching is the ability to travel. Most families budget specifically just for travel. When Jamie and I moved overseas, we saved about $5000 a year by not having to pay for gasoline. Additionally, house payments, health insurance, and utility costs were suddenly zero.

With more disposable income and now living overseas, it became our goal to travel as much as possible.  Our first winter break overseas, we spent 3 weeks touring Thailand (Bangkok, Chang Mai, and Koh Chang). Our Christmas dinner was some delicious Thai food on a beach restaurant that just about caught our mouth on fire.  We woke up at 3:30 am to Skype our parents as we tried to find the best wifi signal.  I’m sure many international school families have similar stories.

We go home about every other winter break, especially when our calendar allows for 3 weeks.  One particular trip, we spent 3 weeks traveling to southeast China, Laos, and Thailand. The highlight of the China portion of the trip was a 10 hours of hiking to Tiger Leaping Gorge. I spent Christmas that year in a small hostel in Dali sick as a dog from food poisoning from a “pizza” at a local restaurant.  That cheese sure did taste funny at the time, but the carolers staying at the hostel sound nice out of my bedroom window. Our 2nd week was spent in Laos after a 36 hour bus ride from China into Laos.  It was a sleeper bus, so it wasn’t too bad.  Interesting, it was freezing in China, hot in Laos, and our third week of the vacation was spent in business clothes interviewing for jobs in Bangkok, Thailand.  Certainly a trip of a lifetime.

I keep saying that phrase, but the longer I’m overseas, I realize these trips aren’t trips of a lifetime, they are your life!

This winter break, we had scheduled a trip for Germany to check out the Christmas markets and all Germany has to offer over the holidays.  Due to Jamie expecting on December 6, that trip has now been cancelled for bigger and better things with the birth our our 2nd son.

My coworkers have trips planned to just about all corners of the globe and the diversity of my students means that their holidays will be well traveled as well.  Many teachers go home to visit family over the holidays, but a good many do take time to travel somewhere interesting.  Many in the Middle East either head to beaches of southeast Asia or the snowy wonderlands of Europe for winter break.

Like any teacher, winter break is a time for family, friends, and resting from a hectic fall semester of school. Unlike most teachers, international school teachers have the opportunity to make their winter breaks into something of which even Santa Clause would be jealous.

 

The Philippines – From Tropical Paradise to Tropical Depression

The Philippines before
Before: The Philippines – a tropical paradise
After: Typhoon Yolanda – a tropical disaster

When Disaster Strikes Near, But Not at You 

By Kailie Nagrath

I have been getting a lot of inquires from friends and family members who have been hearing about the devastating super typhoon Yolanda.  “I am perfectly fine and safe,” I assure the people back home.  But I can’t help but feel sad, and even a bit guilty, about all the thousands of people who are not so lucky.

Manila and the surrounding metro area seemed to escape the wrath of this violent typhoon, but the ‘eye’ of the storm struck hard on the southern part of the Philippines.  So hard, that Filipinos are calling this the worst typhoon in the island nation’s history.  Filipinos are not ones to sensationalize their weather as they have grown accustomed to these powerful tropical storms, living in a land where almost half of the year is considered typhoon season.

Yet many of the southern islands could not have known or prepared for the stormy uproar that struck their land late Friday night into early Saturday morning.

Eastern Islands Hit Hard

The area of the Philippines most affected is the Visayas provinces. Tacloban City in Leyte caught the full force of the typhoon with winds of up to 310kmph (195mph) completely decimating the city.  Exact figures are still unavailable but the death toll in that city alone is expected to reach the 10,000 mark.  Countless others are suffering from injuries, loss of shelter, food, electricity and clean drinking water. The actual destruction of this storm is so massive it is still being mapped out and the damage and human toll has yet to be fully calculated, but one thing is for sure, this is a disaster on a massive scale.

President Benigno Aquino III declared a “state of national calamity” in a plea to the international community to offer relief efforts.

Manila not Hit but Hurt

Seeing my host country going through this disaster is so heartbreaking.  Although Manila was largely unaffected by the storm, the emotional and psychological effects are plainly visible.  In a small island nation almost anyone living in the capital has friends, family or relatives in the outlying islands, so everyone is affected.  In a culture that is as family-oriented and giving to friends and loved ones as the Filipino culture is, everyone feels personally connected to this tragedy.

The current mood of the city is contrasted sharply to the city I landed in just a few short months ago.  A city where I could always find a welcoming smile, a helpful hand to assist me, a friendly face eager to say hello, or a warm smile sent my way.  The typhoon has left such sadness in the air that it seems to have washed all the smiles away.  I wish I could give back more to the people who have welcomed me to this country, because I have seen first-hand that these are a people who do not think twice to help out someone else in need.

Images Don’t Capture the Devastation

They say a picture speaks more than a thousand words… but none of the images you see can fully capture the magnitude and level of devastation that has hit this country.  Nor are there enough words, or even the right words, to explain the wreckage this storm has caused.  Lives were lost, families torn apart, and countless people have been left homeless with nowhere to go.  Survivors are desperately looking for loved-ones and searching for food and clean water to drink.  One can only imagine the desperation these people are feeling.

This morning when I went into the convenience store across the street from me, the man at the counter asked me to donate all of my old clothing.  It’s the least I can do, but of course I want to do more.  I know there are many people who feel the same way, but need to know how or where they can best help. 

How to Help

I would like to pass along this message from the International School of Manila on how best to help at this time.  ISM would normally send teams from the school to help assist first-hand but due to the level of devastation and the health risks that is not currently possible.

The best form of aid is financial assistance.  If you would like to help out with a donation you can either give directly to ISM’s Disaster Relief Fund or to UNICEF Philippines.  Please click on the link to ISM’s fundraising page to see details on how to make your donation:

Donate Through ISM

The people of this country have welcomed me with smiles on their faces everyday and I have learned to love and care for this country and its people.  As a guest in this very special land, I know they really need our help right now.  It is my hope that anyone who can make a contribution of any kind would do so now in this hour of dire need.

 

Teaching Overseas — The Adventure Begins!

This afternoon I walked off one of the most anticipated flights of my entire life. From
the time I first entered college I dreamed of what this exact moment would feel like
and there is no doubt it exceeded all expectations.
The days leading up to my journey to the Philippines to begin my first job after
college, were filled with excitement and massive preparation. There were travel
documents that had to be updated, banking and tax documents that had to be
completed, along with medical records and a host of other formalities that had to be
submitted to the school before departing for my new job. Not to mention packing
which is always a challenge especially when you’re packing for a year!
Despite all these preparations and the excitement leading up to my departure,
nothing could have prepared me for the anxiousness I felt as the plane touched
ground in Manila, and a new chapter of my life was about to begin. Knowing my
flight had been delayed by more than 24 hours, I worried about figuring out my
transportation from the airport to the school. Walking off the plane, and heading
into baggage claim, my heart pounded faster, as I wondered what I should do if no
one from the school was there to greet me.
My fears were completely unfounded, as soon as I turned the corner to the baggage
claim area, the first face I saw in this unfamiliar airport, was a familiar one. It was
none other than David Toze, the superintendent of the International School of
Manila. Mr. Toze, the Head of School who interviewed me on a snowy February day
in Boston — the one who offered me the job, was the very same person who was
there to greet me at the airport, on a steamy hot day in July, in this tropical island
nation on the other side of the world.
What a relief! Right then and there I knew I had landed at the right place. As an
intern, I know I am the low man on the totem pole, so to speak, but to be personally
greeted by the head of the school, sent a very strong message to me on my arrival. It
told me, without words, that I am an important part of the team and I am a valued
member of the ISM community.

TEDxHongKong Thoughts

imgres-1

The following post is cross posted from Expat Teacher Man


“There is no great genius without a mixture of madness.”

Aristotle

I  attended TEDxHongKongED  event to “exchange ideas, discuss thoughts and ask questions.” I listened to some influential people speak about learning and the power of discovery. Below is a series of questions that I wrote in my notebook during the course of the day.

Parents

Why do you send your kids to school each day? We haven’t always taught children in a classroom setting…why do we now? Are you satisfied with your child’s academic growth? Is the classroom setting the best avenue for learning? Can we do better? Does sending your kid to school each day makes economic and intellectual sense? Do your kids complain of boredom? Is educational technology used often and appropriately in your child’s classroom? Is your school doing what is right for your child? Is your school doing what is right for the future of the planet? Does your school preach classroom management over individuality? Are you aware that nearly 20% of American students suffer from some sort of mental disorder? (Merikangas KR, etal. 2010)

Teachers

How do you feel about your career path? Does the digital age frighten you? Is this possibly the golden age of teaching or will only the best, brightest and luckiest be well compensated? Are schools truly future focused?  Do teachers develop a curriculum that above all else, keeps them employed? Why do you still teach inside a classroom setting? Can you effectively reach more children online? Could you be better compensated online? Do we let kids truly discover? Or rather, do we set them up to discover what we consider is important? Do we censor too much? Is the school day too long? Do we pay enough attention to physical fitness and the arts? Do your students look bored? Do your kids complain of bullying? Do your kids receive individualized and proper services? What percentage of your students need counseling support?

Administrators

Do you treat all with fairness, dignity and respect? Do you offer multiple ways for student learning? Do you trust your staff? Are you effective in conflict resolution? Are families involved in improving curriculum? Do you support continuous improvement? Are you using your time wisely? Do you have effective communication skills? Are you willing to hear bad news? Do you inspire your staff to do great work? Are you socially innovative? Is creativity a part of your school’s mission? Do your students create music? Do you allow students to discover mathematics? Do you offer an environment where students can learn from failure?

TEDxHongKongED was most definitely time well spent. I look forward to the speeches being uploaded so that I can share them with my professional learning network.

 Reference:

Merikangas KR, He J, Burstein M, Swanson SA, Avenevoli S, Cui L, Benjet C, Georgiades K, Swendsen J. Lifetime prevalence of mental disorders in U.S. adolescents: Results from the National Comorbidity Study-Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A). Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2010 Oct. 49(10):980-989.

 

Why I Teach

4th-grade-fun-1272“Most of us end up with no more than five or six people who remember us. Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives.”
-Andy Rooney

“I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.”
-John Steinbeck

I have been teaching for 23 years in Maryland, Singapore and Japan and now teach 4th grade students in Hong Kong. It has been a wonderful ride.

In 1985, I enrolled as an elementary education major at Bridgewater State College in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Initially I merely wanted to help struggling kids find success in the classroom. As a high school senior, I was an intern in a classroom of learning-disabled elementary-aged children. Within the first week of my internship, I knew I had found my calling, and I have lived a life of learning and teaching ever since.

Many inspired educators inside and outside the classroom have affected the way I practice my craft. As a public school student, I was taught to value all teachers, regardless of their capability. As a teacher, I teach my students to value themselves and acquire the habits of lifelong learners.

Effective teachers must model kindness, compassion, organization, intelligence, flexibility, and collaboration. They need some understanding of educational technology, a belief in their own ability, trust in their teammates, and perseverance. I am happy if school leaders provide a brain-researched, structured, and engaging differentiated curriculum.

My first day as a teacher was nothing short of a disaster; my Mid-Atlantic based students had little idea what their New England teacher, with his thick Boston accent, was saying, I talked way too much, and my students giggled nervously when I tried to communicate.. Although my lesson plans were highly organized, I was painfully unsuccessful as a manager of time. I had no clue just how mentally exhausting the job would be.

Today, I am much more relaxed and confident. I investigate neurology–specifically how the human brain actually acquires knowledge–instead of accepting what administrators might tell me. For professional development, I greatly rely on Twitter and my professional learning network. I make the time to read professional trade books more than ever.

My advice for new teachers is to live conservatively so that you can be liberal in your craft. Demand more from yourself than any evaluator could ever demand. Work hard. Inspire others to believe in themselves through learning.

Teachers, all over the world, why do you STILL teach? How has your teaching practice evolved? What factors stand in the way of your being able to do your best work?

This was first posted on http://expatteacherman.com/2013/04/14/why-i-teach/