How long have you been teaching?
I began my teaching career in 2004 after acceptance into the Teach for America program. The interview progress was rigorous and probably one of the most difficult interviews I’d ever experienced at that time. I began my career as a Special Education Resource Reading/English teacher for students in grades 9-12. Most of my students were functioning well below grade level and considered “at-risk.”
What are you teaching?
After several years in special education, I decided that I wanted a break—a drastic change even. Since I’m in my thirties, unmarried, and child free, I thought I should see more of the world. That said, I applied for a position with Disney English and flew all the way to Beijing, China for a year’s contract as a Foreign Trainer (read: English teacher for primary students). Working for Disney English has its drawbacks, but overall the kids are well-behaved. We incorporate songs and games into every lesson, and I am still able to easily track student progress. Since I don’t consider myself a morning person, the hours are also great. I work Thursday through Monday and my hours vary. Only once a week am I ever at work before 9am.
What certifications do you have? EFL, ESL, and/or other?
I have TEFL-C, Special Education (Early Childhood -12), and Generalist (Early Childhood-4) certifications. I held a probationary ESL certification, but never completed the test.
How did you get into teaching English?
I’ve always been passionate about reading and writing. When I entered the teaching profession, my goal was to inspire students who claimed to hate just that—reading and writing, especially those students that most other teachers or schools had already given up on.
Where are you working? country, school, companies, etc. What kind of contract are you working under?
I’m currently teaching for Disney English in Beijing, China. I’m on a 15-month contract. I wear a uniform and name tag to work each day and am provided with specific content that I must follow. I am still given the flexibility to add games/activities and I determine how long each activity must take. We follow a certain set of routines and attend center meetings twice a week. I teach classes at a variety of levels and class sizes also vary.
How long have you been working there?
I just completed my 6-month evaluation. They are pleased with the work I’ve done thus far. I get better everyday.
Where else have you worked?
Teaching wise, I’ve worked for Houston ISD and 2 charter school districts. I’ve also worked with special needs students at the university level.
In a classroom.
What do you love about teaching English?
I love exposing students to stories that capture their interest, especially struggling learners/readers.
What are the advantages to teaching for you?
I love the summers off. After I work hard for an entire school year, it’s nice to have a summer to enjoy travel, reading, and doing whatever things interest me most. I know I’m supposed to say something inspiring here, but as teachers we constantly use our brains and teacher burn-out is always a concern. Breaks are a nice way to re-charge and re-invent yourself for the upcoming school year.
What are the disadvantages to teaching for you?
Unsupportive parents, student misconduct, and you never really stop working are major disadvantages. Your day might end at 4pm, but you go home and continue to plan, grade papers, and contact parents. You’re also more than a teacher—you’re a counselor, parent, social worker—and oftentimes teachers don’t receive the respect they deserve for all these hats, especially pay wise.
Do you like teaching English? Why?
I do enjoy teaching English. It gives me a chance to use my degrees in English, but most importantly, with each lesson, I learn just as much as my students.
Do you do another job?
Not now, but in the States I was also a résumé coach and fiction writer.
Trenee SEWARD is also a successful blogger on WordPress at http://naysue.wordpress.com where she writes book reviews primarily about and by black people. Visit ‘black girl lost…in a book’ for interesting bookish information and all on upcoming notable releases that you may have not heard about.
I thank gratefully Trenee for accepting to take part in this collaborative effort to present interesting teachers doing different things in different places. I hope this helps people understand better the life of a teacher, as well as encourage those that are contemplating joining the profession. Look out for the next Teacher Feature at the end of February.