Tips for Teaching Abroad

TravelThis week, I ran a workshop for college students thinking about teaching English abroad after they graduate. It’s been a wile since I was on the teaching abroad circuit, but for those interested in this life-changing opportunity, I hope this information will be helpful.

For those more up to date than I, is there anything I missed? (Keep in mind this workshop was directed toward newly minted college graduates with little to no work experience.)

Take Your Teaching Career Abroad! 

Congratulations on your decision to consider teaching abroad. My name is Chris Bacon. After college, I did the Peace Corps in Morocco, taught ESL in South Korea, and tutored my way through South America and the Middle East. 

The information below is based solely on my own experiences – so definitely do more research for yourself. But since the possibilities can seem endless, hopefully this information will help you narrow down the field. 

FAQ’s

How long should I go? 

Programs vary, but worthwhile programs often want a commitment of at least a year. (This is a good sign – you may not want a “revolving door” program that’s ok with people coming in/out as they see fit.)

Be warned though, many people tend to love this lifestyle and extend for multiple years in multiple countries!

Will this look like a “gap” in my resume?

Absolutely not. No matter what field you enter, employers will be interested in talking to you about this experience. It’s a powerful way to differentiate your resume from everyone else that also has a college degree, a high GPA, and countless extracurriculars. I did the Peace Corps almost a decade ago and it’s still comes up at almost every job interview.  Continue reading

Working and Writing from a Piece of Yourself

fishing

This may be the most lovely – and simultaneously terrifying – descriptions of the writing process I’ve ever come across: In The Writing Life, Annie Dillard compares writing to tracking down a honey tree. First, you catch a bee (presumably not with your bare hands), and then…

“Carry the bee to a nearby open spot—best an elevated one—release it, and watch where it goes. Keep your eyes on it as long as you can see it, and hie you to that last known place. Wait there until you see another bee; catch it, release it, and watch. Bee after bee will lead toward the honey tree, until you see the final bee enter the tree…. So a book leads its writer.”

Which is an exceptional life-metaphor on many levels – you don’t always know where you’re going when you begin, take one step at a time, etc. BUT THEN…

You may wonder how to start, how you catch the first one. What do you use for bait?

You have no choice. One bad winter in the Arctic, and not too long ago, an Continue reading

Success Brings Happiness? Correction: Happiness Brings Success

Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 11.28.48 AMOne of the reasons I chose my particular PhD program was because, unlike other schools I visited, the advanced doctoral students did not constantly look like they were about to get hit by a bus. There seemed to be a degree of work-life-balance engrained into the program.

And lo and behold, they might be on to something. Looks like there’s “a more fun” way to be successful:

Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, studies happiness, and its relationship to productivity. And it looks like happiness brings success more reliably than success brings happiness. 

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Shape Up – There’s an Ed-Talent Scout on Campus!

army

Well, it’s clear that someone at the New York Times read my last post on bringing more men to the teaching profession. While I focused on gender, the conclusion asked how we could make teaching more appealing across the board, and the Times kindly dedicated an entire “Room for Debate” segment to answering me.

So here you have it: Six educationists chimed to ask “What can be done to make a career in education more attractive to men and people of color?”

You may, of course, read the columns in their entirety, but here’s a quick tally of the most prominent suggestions:

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The Ad(PhD)venture Begins…

phd_spelled_in_childrens_building_block_450The fall semester starts tomorrow and my “Ad(PhD)venture” officially begins. It took years of second (and third) guessing myself before signing onto the ultimate academic safari, and of course, the wisdom of that decision remains to be seen. Along the way, however, I collected a wide range of advice about starting a PhD program. It generally distilled down to:

A) Don’t do it

B) Your advisor will make or break your experience

C) Be prepared to spend the next few years weeping

D) Write, write, write

At this point, some of these nuggets are more helpful than others: I obviously ignored “A,” I’m ignorance-is-blissfully dubious of “C,” but the other two are at the forefront of my mind as I sharpen my pencils (no, really, I’m actually bringing pencils – who knows what to expect at this point?).

Any and all other advice is welcome!

And with that, as the ever-wise Billy Madison once said, “Back to school…”

~C.B.

Teaching: Grad School vs. High School

photo-4A common question I’ve been asked this summer is, “What’s teaching graduate courses like compared to teaching high school?” As a summer adjunct giving this a whirl for the first time, I don’t have much to go off, but some definite differences have stood out so far. Here’s my Top Ten thus far:

Top Ten Differences between Teaching Grad School and High School:

1. Less classroom management: Pencils have not been thrown, fights have not broken out, and I’ve not yet been interrupted by an across-the-room burst of “You did NOT just instagram that, you (expletive deleted).” This is by far the biggest overall relief difference.

2. More individual management: At any hour, I’m answering emails about assignments, giving one-on-one advice, or fielding requests for deadline extensions – high schoolers were generally done associating with me after the bell.

3. Tech still present, but I mind less: C’mon guys. High schoolers at least tried to hide their in-class texting & Facebooking. Admittedly, I may have done this myself as a grad student, and as an instructor, I’m not offended by the occasional text/Facebook check – if kept in check. Besides, as much as we, as teachers, berate students for under-the-desk texting, let’s not pretend we won’t do the same thing later at a faculty meeting.
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