Travel has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to combine three of my passions in life: teaching, learning, and travel. I have lived and worked in Siem Reap, Cambodia (located in South East Asia) for the past year and a half as a teacher and Program Manager for EDventure Intl.
My responsibilities in this role are managing leadership programs and teaching English and critical thinking skills to individuals from the different corners of this beautiful planet we live on. Working with individuals from cultures vastly different from my own has been a learning experience like none other. One of the most integral pieces to this puzzle has been utilizing what I have learned from outside sources and through trial and error.
Bouncing down a dusty road on my motorcycle, on my way to Phum Ou Village outside of Siem Reap, it strikes me like a bag of bricks: This is my commute to work. My job is awesome, to say the least.
I glance in the distance and find what I’m looking for the outskirts of the village, a little Khmer girl yells out “Hello!!!!” (one of the students at the school). I wave to her and continue down through the ethereal dust and the trail left from an ox cart. I arrive to the village where I am greeted by my fellow teachers, a handful of students, and Mala – a village elder. I bow to her “Juem rieb sua.” (“Hello, how are you today?”) She smiles at me and says “Sucksabai!!!” (“Feeling great!!”). It’s almost class time and more squealing Khmer children come riding, walking, running, and hopping into the school yard, ready for class to begin.
Teaching and living in another culture holds a plethora of challenges and rewards. Operating as a teacher and program manager in Cambodia has truly opened my eyes to the importance of quality educators. We all have the opportunity to benefit from excellent educators, we just need the proper amount of support from the individuals we work with, direct mentorship, and training, which the TEFL course from CCELT provides.
The TEFL online certification from CCELT has provided an absolutely invaluable insight into multiple areas of my professional expertise including teaching in a different culture, preparing myself mentally for instructing a classroom of waiting students, preparation for the physical demands of classroom management, and providing me with invaluable teaching resources.
Lesson planning was such an important aspect of the TEFL training curriculum, the importance of coming prepared to anything is paramount, but with teaching, even more so. There are no words that can prepare you for your first class.
Imagine for a second: there are thirty bright young faces looking at you like you are a super hero. There you stand with your markers at the white board and it all hits you and a slightly panicked thought flashes in your mind, “Well, now what?”
Classroom management is a difficult area of education. Our students (young and old) come from different a variety of backgrounds, but with solid resources and an understanding of effective teaching, age and background of a student matters very little. What matters is how prepared you are when you walk through the dusty schoolyard and into the classroom.
One teacher put best to me: “If you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail.”
Little did I know this snippet of information would be incredibly valuable insight, which still permeates everything I do.
Preparing for instructing a class is absolutely integral to the success of the students and facility we teach in. The CCELT TEFL curriculum has a heavy focus on this and ensures that the most important (what’s, how’s, and why’s) questions are answered.
A lesson plan is the visual representation of an instructor’s ability to prepare for class. The lesson plan lays out the goals, structure, and flow of how the information will be conveyed. Everything is prepared, from the general structure of a class to the pitfalls the students (and teacher) will face during class. The lesson plan is a very important tool and CCELT indicates this by continually returning to how each aspect of teaching in another culture needs to be deeply cognate upon while planning class time.
Gaining understanding of how another culture learns
Teaching has given me a profound respect for the mentors, coaches, and instructors I have had in the past. Teaching in general is one of the most challenging tasks I have ever put myself to. An immense amount of responsibility is bestowed on mentors of all types to: understand, empower, and mentor our students (no matter what age group).
Doing this within your own culture is quite difficult – doing this in a completely foreign culture is another story entirely. The CCELT curriculum provides an interesting and informative perspective on being sensitive to the needs and wants of the students you are teaching through real world examples of on-the ground teaching methodology. The curriculum also gives you the tools to engage with a foreign environment and properly prepares a teacher to grow and hone their teaching methodology, which will develop more fully with each lesson taught.
Finding success in the class
While teaching is an extremely personalized endeavor – copy/paste paradigms can’t hold water in the dynamic classroom environment.
There is a tendency to believe we have to re-invent the wheel (so to speak) every time we get a new project. The CCELT curriculum challenges this fundamental error, by providing other resources (electronic and hard) to utilize while lesson planning and teaching in the classroom.
I have personally used many of the resources given through this curriculum (handouts, sample lesson plans, and brainstorming activities). This quiver of resources allows for success in the classroom by assisting in lesson preparation to implementation of lessons.
It all comes down to your preparation. The CCELT TEFL curriculum breaks down the “whats”, “hows”, and “whys” of lesson planning. It provides a great starting place for beginning teachers and great review for even the most experienced educators.
Everyone has something to teach and something to learn – we are all teachers and students. Teaching is more than a skill, it is truly an art form – the honing of these innate skills to transmit knowledge and to empower people see their own potential. – Stefan Jarmusz, EDventure Program Manager, Cambodia0