In the September issue of the Teach Away Telegram, we celebrate the upcoming World Teachers’ Day! We also examine the professional development options available to teachers overseas, and consider whether or not it’s wise to bring a pet with you when teaching abroad.
We hope you’re having a great month, and we hope to hear from you soon!
Happy reading! – The Teach Away Team
In this issue:
October 5, 2011 marks the 18th year of World Teachers’ Day. This day, organized by Education International (EI) and recognized by UNESCO, aims to support both teachers and students to ensure future generations benefit from the best education possible. Every year, EI promotes public awareness campaigns that stress valuable contributions made by teachers, while also encouraging international standards for the teaching profession. This year, their focus is on gender equality for teachers.
Inequality is an issue that needs to be acknowledged by both female and male teachers. Some teachers in Western countries may not be fully aware of equality in the workplace in non-Western countries. Countries, like the UAE, have gender-segregated schools, where teachers are also segregated into the appropriate school. As well, some countries in Asia hold male teachers in higher regard than female educators. Of course, much of this is culturally fuelled, and imposing change has to be done delicately and respectfully.
Teach Away prepares and informs its teachers as much as possible about such cultural differences prior to teachers’ departure to work overseas. Whether it is how gender roles are viewed within the workplace in a particular country, or how students are segregated, Teach Away recognizes that not all of its departing teachers are familiar with these differences. For more information on such differences in a particular country, it’s best to conduct some research using resources such as Teach Away’s staff, or the Teach Away Facebook page.
The World Teachers’ Day website is another valuable resource. Although connected with numerous international teacher organizations, the day is yet to be officially recognized and celebrated around the world. Currently, over 100 countries observe World Teachers’ Day, and we would like to wish you a happy World Teachers’ Day, no matter where you teach.
Professional development is an important part of a career in education. Having the opportunity to learn about the latest educational research findings, reflect on one’s practice, and broaden one’s repertoire of teaching techniques is imperative for successful educators.
When taking on an international teaching position, teachers still have plenty of options for keeping up their PD:
1. Resources and Events Offered by the Employer
Whether you are teaching in a public school setting, a private international school, or in a private language school, many employers are offering professional development options to their staff in order to encourage effective teaching practice. Some schools offer PD days, similar to PD programs delivered by many school boards and districts in Western countries. Other schools will offer the opportunity to enrol in ongoing teacher training sessions or periodic seminars, offered outside of classroom hours.
2. Online Resources
For licensed/certified teachers, there are options for taking more teacher training courses online in order to obtain more qualifications or upgrade existing certifications. Other great online resources include signing up for educational newsletters, joining online communities geared towards sharing resources and ideas, and subscribing to professional development mailing lists.
3. Reflective Practice
Reflecting on one’s teaching is a crucial part of improving and growing as an educator. Not only is it important to make time for reflection, but teachers working in a new location, unfamiliar school setting, or in a new role should document their time abroad for future reflection. Teaching abroad gives teachers first-hand experience with other cultures and traditions, allowing teachers professional and personal growth that will enrich their teaching abilities.
A common question for teachers going overseas is whether or not they are able to bring pets with them. Since pets are often considered a part of the family, many teachers are eager to bring Barkley or Mr. Whiskers along with them to the country where they will be living and teaching for the next 1-2 years. But is it wise to bring your animal companions with you?
Teach Away encourages teachers going overseas to carefully consider a few factors when thinking about bringing a pet overseas. The first factor is cost – transporting a pet overseas and meeting all of the customs regulations (which can include updating shots, multiple vet visits, and quarantining your pet) can be quite expensive, depending on each country’s specific requirements for bringing a pet with you.
The second factor is time, and your pet’s health – since many countries require that your pet be quarantined, and since long-distance travel can be anxiety-inducing for animals, putting a pet through the process of traveling and subsequently being separated from you can be very difficult.
Finally, an important factor to consider is the availability of pet services where you will be living. While vets and pet supply stores might be common in North America, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, finding dog food or cat litter can be a challenge all its own for teachers in China or Malaysia. Finding the proper supplies and care for your pet might be very difficult, and if you are transporting a dog to an extremely hot climate (i.e. the Middle East), you will want to be sure you have the resources necessary to keep your pet healthy.
Teach Away strongly advises that teachers find a trusted friend or family member to watch over their pets while they are teaching overseas, for the health of the animal, and for the well-being of everyone involved.