Things we wish we’d known when we first taught in England. Part 2.
In our last blog, we shared five tips (https://www.pointtopointeducation.com/blog/things-we-wish-wed-known-when-we-first-taught-in-england-part-1/) to make the most of your time teaching overseas. As an international teacher, you’ll find it stimulating to launch yourself in a new school and start exploring a new country.
It’s fun, but it can also be challenging, so you’ll want to avoid the pitfalls. Here are five more things we wish we’d known when we first started applying for teaching jobs in the UK:
- Take mini-breaks for maximum relaxation.
You’ll enjoy your teaching job more if you have something to look forward to when half-term or long weekends (otherwise known as ‘bank holidays’) appear on the calendar. Even Eastern Europe is just three or four hours away so you can get pretty much anywhere for the price of a budget airline ticket. A couple of days exploring the cobbled streets of a medieval town in Hungary, Italy or Scandinavia could be a fantastic way to dip your toes in another culture.
Do what works for you. If travel isn’t your thing, then just do what you enjoy. Maybe visit friends in London or schedule some countryside rambles and pub lunches a short train ride away. This is a time for you to relax, not get on top of work.
It’s important to find a balance between travel and downtime. Make sure you take enough time to put work out of mind and get the most from your days off.
- Stay in touch with the folks back home – but don’t go overboard.
It’s good to have a regular time for checking in with family and friends back home, but beware of making video calls the central point of your existence. You might make yourself homesick by constantly talking to people back home, and that’s no way to live.
You should certainly keep them posted with what you’re doing, and use social media to show what an amazing time you’re having (and perhaps provoke a tiny bit of envy!) But pay attention to the life around you, not what’s happening on the other side of the world.
Parents are a special case. More often than not, they just want to be sure you’re doing what’s right for you. A positive outlook will be best for everyone. If you have a less positive outlook then parents will look to solve the issue. The easiest way to do that is to bring you back home.
Don’t go down that road if you can avoid it. Our advice is that this is a time to stand on your own two feet and carve out your own niche, because you have an opportunity to do something extraordinary.
Remember, there’s a reason you chose to move to the UK. You will learn new things about yourself living away from home, and you will become more independent and focused on what really matters to you. So stay connected with old friends and do check in with your family every so often – but keep on visiting new places and trying new ventures so you have plenty of interesting stories to share with them.
- What’s your purpose?
It’s important to keep your eye on the big picture. If you haven’t done so already, write down some goals for your time teaching in the UK.
They might be professional or personal development goals – or even something like “See the sunrise at Pompei” – but it’s important to focus on something beyond your daily routine, and then work towards it.
What drives you? Is it a desire to move forward in your career? Then put your best foot forward at school and look into the development opportunities. Or if you’re more focused on travel, you should work efficiently to get the most out of the school experience and remember you are only ever six or seven weeks from at least a week off.
Cast your mind back to that first conversation you had with Point to Point Education, when you talked about your career aspirations and the goals you were hoping to achieve. Keep those objectives in mind and reach out to your new network so that you can achieve them.
- Have an attitude of gratitude.
Positivity tends to breed positive outcomes, and vice versa. So try and find something positive, even during the negative times.
Remember, the ability to live and work overseas isn’t accessible to everyone, and you really are lucky to be in this position. Things won’t always go your way, but they don’t at home either. A positive mindset will help you keep moving forward and looking for solutions instead of problems.
Positive affirmations and a sense of gratitude can help keep any nerves and tension under wraps. They’re also a great way of reminding your unconscious mind about the wonderful opportunities right there in front of you.
If something bad does occur you can often use it as a learning experience. You’re not alone, either. There’s always someone else out there going through the same thing, so don’t be scared to reach out.
Years from now, you will have amazing memories of your time teaching abroad – and the less than amazing bits will have faded into the background. In the meantime, a positive mindset will help you get through any short-term difficulties.
- Resilience is the secret to success.
Plenty of people have talent. The ones who make the most of their careers are those who learn how how to put disappointment behind them and keep moving forward.
As humans, we are always learning, and errors are part of that. Even the most senior teachers and headteachers will make mistakes or experience times when things didn’t go their way. The most important lesson is to move past the issue as quickly as possible and look for the positives.
So stick to your healthy routines, stay in touch with your new networks and try and be as forward-thinking as possible. Don’t get lost in recriminations or dwell on anything you can’t change. What’s happened is in the past.
You can build resilience by being the sort of person who gives everything a go, and then figuring out what worked for you. In the meantime, keep your personal and professional circle involved in your life as they may have a suggestion to avoid it next time.
Good luck! Teaching abroad is going to be an amazing adventure