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Teach Away Telegram – November 2014

Join us for a Twitter chat with one of our Placement Coordinators

We’re very excited to announce that on Thursday, November 13 from 8 – 9 pm GMT, we’ll be holding a live Q&A on Twitter with our Placement Coordinator, Alexandra Capistrano. She’ll be taking over the @teachaway Twitter account for 1 hour.

Alexandra has been working as a Placement Coordinator with Teach Away for just over a year. Before that, she was teaching abroad herself at a conversation school in Okayama, Japan, and was an Assistant Language Teacher at a private high school in Matsuyama, Japan. She loves to travel and has been to the UK, Ireland, Spain, Greece, Italy, France, Morocco, South Korea, and the Philippines. As one of our Placement Coordinators, she is currently working with private schools in Abu Dhabi, Macau, Saudi Arabia, and Kazakhstan. When she’s not finding the best candidates for teaching positions overseas, she’s either assuming her duties as the resident Teach Away DJ or sharing cute dog photos with the office.

Our Twitter Q&A will be your chance to ask Alexandra anything to do with teaching overseas in one of the countries she focuses on, or about her own personal teaching experience.

To participate, all you have to do is tweet us your question by including the hashtag #askteachaway. Alexandra will retweet the question before she tweets her answer, that way everyone can follow the Q&A.

If you’re not on Twitter, click here to sign up. Once you’ve signed up, or if you already are, just follow @teachaway

Make your next Skype interview a success

The Teach Away job board currently has more than 100 jobs posted for both ESL and certified teachers that reach every corner of the world—and for a number of these jobs, the schools have requested at minimum a remote interview with candidates. If you’ve never had a remote interview before, you may make the rookie mistake of thinking that because you’re not meeting in person, you don’t have to put the same amount of thought and preparation into it. Make no mistake: Skype interviews require the same effort. Here’s how you can make a great impression, even from a distance.

Clean up your surroundings and minimize distractions

Before your interview begins, make sure you’re going to be in a quiet room that’s free of distractions—for both you and the interviewer. Pick a room with a door so that you can minimize interferences from other family members and can shut out other household noises. It’s also important to let everyone else who lives with you know that you’ll be participating in an interview and need to conduct a distraction-free meeting.

Set up your computer so that the wall behind you is clutter-free—a neutral background is best. A clean, organized space will show your interviewers that you too are an organized and thoughtful person.

Keep a professional profile

Though you might think that with a Skype interview, your first impression will involve you, you’re wrong. Before you connect for your video interview, your interviewer will be seeing your Skype username and your profile picture. Before you provide your Skype details, make sure that you’ve chosen a profile username and picture. If not, create a new one. Skype is free afterall!

Dress the part

As we mentioned, many people interviewing for a teaching position abroad might be inclined to dress casually. Don’t! Psychologically speaking, getting dressed up professionally from head to toe for an interview makes you feel more professional. There’s lots of evidence that shows the way we dress affects how we feel not only about ourselves but about our work, so stepping out of pajamas for an hour will help get your mind in a more professional mode. Go the whole nine yards: wear more professional slacks as well, even if you think your interviewer will have only a waist-up view of you.

Practice makes perfect

If you’ve used Skype to visit with long-distance friends or family, you’re likely familiar with the awkward question of where to look. This will be no different during your interview. The best thing for you to do is just practice your interview—better yet, record it if you can. Observe where you’re looking as you play the recording back for yourself, and try to train yourself to look at the camera instead of your own reflection on the screen.

Show your interviewers that you’re present

With long distance interviews, giving signs of life are sometimes necessary. Technology isn’t always perfect, and sometimes with slower internet connections Skype has video lags, so showing your interviewers that you’re still actively listening and participating through more verbal cues is helpful. Try to use simple words like “yes”, “right”, or even an “mhmm” to let everyone know that you’re still tuned in.

Make yourself a cheat sheet

If you think you’ll feel more comfortable or prepared with notes in front of you, go ahead and make yourself a short cheat sheet with some point form notes. You can keep these in front of you but out of the way of your camera to refer to if necessary. But don’t fall into the trap of reading aloud verbatim: familiarize yourself with what you’d like to say in general, and make sure your notes are easily scannable so you don’t have to spend time studying them during your interview.

Prepare to problem solve

Technology can be tricky, so be prepared to address any technological glitches like a weak connection, or interference or feedback. The chances are, if the problem is annoying you, it’s likely that it’s annoying your interviewers as well, and you don’t want to risk answering the question inappropriately because you didn’t hear the question in the first place. Although you might be nervous to draw attention to the problem, being quick to acknowledge the problem and find a solution shows that you’re a problem solver—always a desirable quality in a teacher!

Manage classroom behavior with ClassDojo

The creators of ClassDojo aptly named their tool after a formal training place. Well-suited for any K-12 classroom, ClassDojo helps teachers improve classroom behavior through a comprehensive award system that awards merits or demerits in real-time to students for various behaviors.

Since statistics show that teachers spend on average more than 50% of class time managing behaviors, ClassDojo aims to inject more instruction time back in to lessons by engaging students in behavior management.

Students can earn points for demonstrated good behaviors like working hard on a specific task, asking thoughtful questions, and being cooperative or helpful with other students. When they’re awarded points, a pleasant noise lets them know so. Bad behaviors such as time wasting and class disruption lose students their earned points and a different, less harmonious noise lets them know. Whatever device teachers have available to them can be plugged into speakers for the rest of the class to participate in the process. Reports can even be generated and shared with parents to engage them in the process.

ClassDojo works with any classroom, any device including regular web browsers, and is free for teachers. Try it today!

City spotlight: Astana, Kazakhstan

Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan, is known as “the city of the future,” though only 15 years ago, it barely existed. With little surrounding development for 1,200 km, Astana was quickly developed to look like something from a science fiction novel, with a skyline that boasts many futuristic structures.

With so many remarkable buildings in one city, you’ll have no shortage of sights to visit. Architect Norman Foster designed many of these structures, including the Baiterek Tower, nicknamed “chupa chups” by locals because of its resemblance to a giant lollipop. Standing at 100 meters tall, it’s a great site for city views, and also houses an aquarium, a restaurant, and an art gallery. Another must-visit location is the Khan Shatyr, the world’s largest tent at more than 10 football stadiums in size, which features a giant shopping mall, an amusement park, an indoor beach, and even its own monorail.

With a climate of extremes, having an indoor city like the Khan Shatyr proves helpful. In the summer, typical days can reach up to 30 degrees Celsius, while the winter months, the temperature can reach as low as -40 degrees Celsius, making it the coldest capital city in the world.

Astana wasn’t always the capital of Kazakhstan though. Seven years ago, President Nursultan Nazarbayev decided to move the capital from Almaty, a city in the southeast, to Astana, which was previously home to not much more than a gulag prison camp for Soviet traitors. This allowed for a lot of modern development to be erected quickly, and the population has more than doubled to reach 750,000 since 1997.

As a nomadic nation, Kazakh people appreciate wide open spaces and congestion isn’t such a concern in the city. For hundreds of years, Kazakhs herded sheep, horses, and camels. This nomadic way of life has influenced their cuisine as well since herders relied on these animals for transportation, clothing, and food. Meat in various forms has always been the primary ingredient of Kazakh cuisine, and traditional cooking methods rely heavily on boiling. Local tastes do allow for variety though, and everyone will find something to enjoy when going out to eat.  

If you are looking for a new international adventure that will take you off the beaten path, but still like the comforts of city life, Astana might be the place for you. Explore the largely unexplored and have a look at our open positions in Kazakhstan.

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