One of the most vital factors for teachers is consistently growing and evolving as better educators and leaders. Education and teaching as a fluid learning process can make for the classroom's absolute best learning experience. Teaching abroad builds vital skills and foundations to transform and ignite your teaching profession. The challenges you meet while teaching abroad make for even more dynamic and confident teaching.
LEARNING FROM INTERNATIONAL COLLEAGUES
Teaching abroad means you'll always be around teachers from various countries. You are exposed to educators with varied backgrounds and teaching methods, perhaps very different from your own. I've grown as a teacher, thanks to my peers and always collaborating with them. It's also fascinating working with international teachers and our Chinese counterparts. It's an actual educational and cultural exchange.
TEACHING AWAY FROM HOME = OUT OF COMFORT ZONE
Teaching in China means you will be far away from home and far away from the comfort of family and friends. Of course, you will make lots of new friends, but it will feel different. Teaching away from comfort zones brings a multitude of challenges - not knowing the language, different cultural customs and behaviors, and changes in lifestyle, among others. These challenges will strengthen you as an educator and individual. Being far away from home means you can transform old, unwanted identity attributes and be whoever you aspire to be. If you ever decide to go back home after teaching abroad, you'll have changed as an even more outstanding educator.
LANGUAGE BARRIER DEVELOPS COMMUNICATION SKILLS
Teaching in China means you will, of course, be teaching Chinese students. Some students are expert English speakers, while some have a long way to go. Overcoming language barriers in the classroom means you need to learn to use alternative communication skills. Incorporating non-verbal communication and learning to understand students when all the right words aren't present will reinforce the development of communication skills. Of course, the language barrier will also come into play outside of the classroom, whether among fellow Chinese staff or locals. Finding alternative ways to communicate and understand one another will expand teaching fluidity, empathy, and patience.
BUILD STRONG WORK ETHIC
People in China work hard, emphasize teamwork, and overall team performance. Teaching in China will reveal your real strong work ethic. Working hard can sometimes be contagious. Being around colleagues with like-minded ambition will only increase your motivation to be your very best. Learning how to work as a team will also make space for real growth as an educator. Thinking about the whole over the individual allows for more productivity.
COMPETITIVE WORK EXPERIENCE FOR RESUME
Imagine being considered for an excellent teaching position. One candidate has never taught abroad; one has. Who do you think has the upper hand here? Prospective employers find incredible value in teachers who have experienced the world and have taught abroad. Teaching abroad is a beautiful asset and shows a teacher has the skills and motivation to work hard and be challenged. It's a fantastic resume builder and will surely put you ahead.
This is something everyone needs to do while living abroad. The environment is new, and things happen, sometimes very unexpected. Learning practical problem solving will be handy and flow into the classroom. Quick on-the-spot thinking makes for the best classroom environment. Things don't always go as planned — problem-solving means working with what we have now — accepting our environment instead of fighting against it. Sharpened problem-solving skills will make for growth in and out of the classroom.
Adjusting to circumstances will become a constant feat while living abroad. At times, you'll need to adapt to different ways of life while living in China. These acquired adaptability skills can be essential skills for the classroom. Every student learns in their ways. Adapting to students' needs will surely increase efficiency and learning in the classroom. The adaptability skills you'll possess by teaching in China will become skills you can always utilize, even when deciding to move back to your home country. Adaptability to new environments effortlessly makes stronger teaching foundations.
Chinese civilization dates back over 3,000 years. Moving to China, you'll realize you're not just living in a new country, but a highly civilized country that's exceptionally preserved its traditions. Being aware of Chinese customs will make way for a smoother transition of life in China. Being aware of a different culture creates a broader awareness of one's self in general. As an individual, you will become more receptive to people in general. This creates more compassion, and less apathy. Cross-cultural sensitivity makes the classroom a safe place if applied at school.
CHINA HUMBLES YOU
Living in a place where you're not originally from should create a humbling feeling, to begin with. As a foreigner, we are, after all, visitors. I am personally humbled to be welcomed to teach in China and be surrounded by this incredible culture. Again, there is a greater emphasis on the group coercion over the individual. This way of life makes for true partnership and the value of teamwork (makes a dreamwork). The humbling sensations lean their way straight in the classroom, whether among the students or co-workers. That humbling feeling is contagious.
Travel! You'll get to do a lot of it while living abroad! One of the great bits about traveling is experiencing cultures that are so drastically different from your own. You share the world and how things are done differently to achieve the same thing. Experiencing the world beyond what is close and regular broadens our knowledge and awareness of everything around us.
One of life's greatest gifts is the ability to grow and reach your highest potential. Living and teaching abroad in China will help shape this continual growth. So, how about that?