Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Challenges and Rewards of Teaching Abroad

I thought I would start this blog off with an introduction post about who I am. I have been living in Rwanda for the past 2 and a half years. For the first year of my time here, I worked as a volunteer with an organization called WorldTeach. I taught English and Computer Science at an all girls boarding school in a small town called Musanze, (formerly Ruhengeri) Rwanda. After that, I moved to the capital city, Kigali, and started working at the International School of Kigali. Last year I taught second grade, and this year I'm teaching third grade. I plan to live and work her one more year, but plan to teach internationally for the indefinite future.

Advantages of teaching abroad
1. Every child in my class comes from a different country. There is a greater acceptance for children from different backgrounds. I believe my children are extremely accepting and tolerant of others.

2. No 'teaching for the test' mentality. I'm not restrained by state standards, Standard based exams, or an overabundance of bureaucratic paperwork. As a private school, we have the opportunity to create curriculum that fits the needs and interests of our children. I have had the opportunity to write curriculum, something that I would not have had the opportunity to do in most other places.

Challenges of teaching abroad
1. Teaching many children with ESL difficulties. My school is very small so at the moment, children learning English are in the regular classrooms. This calls for lots of extra work to ensure differentiation and progress. I also don't speak as much French or Kinyarwanda as I often need.

2. Less defined policy, curriculum, and procedure. My school is only 3 years old, therefore many of the policies and procedures that are often already in place at more established private schools or mandated from above in public schools -- have simply not been written. Our curriculum is also a work in progress that is largely falling on teachers to write. This means lots of extra work beyond school hours and lots of growing pains when things go wrong.