Teach English in HAtengtaohai Nongchang - Bayannao'er Shi — Bayan Nur

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I first started looking into Teaching English as a Foreign Language 30 years ago when I met a young woman who had taught English in Japan for 3 years. Her descriptions of her job duties, her ample pay, and her opportunities to travel and learn about other cultures made TEFL teaching an attractive profession to me. I have also worked with two English teachers at my high school who have been TEFL teachers, one in Taiwan and the other in Chile, and the information and stories that they related to me about those jobs only served to reinforce my interest in teaching English as a foreign language. Nevertheless, I never pursued a TEFL position since I was already working in a rewarding teaching job. However, now I am planning on retiring from my current teaching position at the end of this school year and I am seeking a position as a TEFL teacher. The big question I have is how will my personal teaching experiences over the past 31 years will affect me as a TEFL teacher? A look back over my teaching career should help to answer that question. I obtained my first full-time teaching job in August of 1989 teaching social studies at an alternative school for students who had been expelled from the local high school. This was a very challenging position since many of the students had serious disciplinary issues and weren’t very motivated to learn. On my very first day I got knocked flat on my back while trying to break up a fight. At any rate, after two years teaching at the alternative school, a position opened up at the local high school so I transferred there. I have been teaching social studies at the local high school since the fall of 1991. The high school where I teach is a traditional U.S. high school with four grades and about 1800 students. For most of the time that I have taught at this high school I have taught in traditional academic programs. However, since 2012 I have been teaching in an International Baccalaureate program for students in grades 9 and 10. The IB program differs from the traditional academic programs in that it emphasizes “international mindedness” and inquiry-based learning, as well as certain character traits emphasized in its “Learner Profile.” This switch late in my career has been both challenging and rewarding for me. I have taught a number of different social studies courses over the span of my career. I have taught geography, U.S. history, U.S. government, AP U.S. government, civics, world history, economics, and sociology. I would have to say that I enjoy teaching geography and U.S. government the most since those are the courses I like the best and am most knowledgeable in. I have found teaching world history to be the most difficult since it’s hard to get students interested in it. But when called upon, I have always done my best to teach the courses that I have been assigned. In addition to my teaching duties, I have also been involved in a number of extra-curricular activities at my high school over the years. I have served on the Honor Society Advisory Board, served as the sponsor of Boy’s Legion and the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Board, and served on numerous committees over the years. I was also an assistant track and field coach for 25 years where I coached various events such as the shot put, discus, hurdles and sprints. Working with students in non-academic setting like these is rewarding, a good learning experience and helps you build a good rapport with students. My years as a teacher have seen revolutionary changes in society and in the teaching profession, particularly changes brought about by the personal computer/internet revolution. When I first started teaching in the late 1980’s, neither the students nor the teachers had personal computers. We pretty much relied on the textbook, encyclopedias and other printed materials for content. We also used filmstrips and documentary style films that we had to show using old reel-to-reel film projectors. Classes were much more teacher-centered then since our access to information was limited. Nowadays, my high school is a “one-to-one” school which means that every student (and teacher) has been issued a laptop computer. Since students have unlimited access to information via their laptop and the internet, we are much less dependent on textbooks today. Classroom are much more student-centered since teachers give students a general topic to learn and then it is up to the student to research that topic and determine how they want to present what they have learned. Students now have access to an unlimited number of websites, programs and apps to help them research, learn about, and present information. Most classes are much more project oriented now than when I first started teaching. And in addition to computers, all of the classrooms in my high school are equipped with either an interactive whiteboard or a projector that is linked to the internet. This allows us to project anything we find on the internet to our classes. I have not found all aspects of technology to be positive, however. Students today are very distracted by their smartphones and the social media sites that they can access on them. This is having a negative effect on the academic achievement of far too many students since they are accessing social media or playing video games when they should be working on a project or assignment. So if I were to honestly answer the question I presented in my introductory paragraph, I would have to say I’m not sure. However, I do think I have learned a lot after 31 years of teaching that could serve me in a TEFL classroom. For one, I have learned how to relate to students and deal with discipline problems. Secondly, over the years I have learned to adapt to new teaching strategies and technologies. Third, I have learned to be flexible and resilient in my 31 years of teaching. I have had some really good classes and some very difficult classes over the years but I have learned to adjust to the demands of each class I have taught. And last, even though I make no claims to know much about TEFL, (which is why I am taking this course) or have any experience at it, I am hoping I will find similarities between TEFL and my past teaching experiences to help guide me in certain circumstances. I realize that I have a lot learn to become a successful TEFL teacher, but I think my past teaching experiences will help me to approach these challenges with confidence.