Monthly Archives: May 2014

TeacherReady

As an expat spouse, it is easier to attend online training programs than brick-and-mortar ones. I’m a bit of a brick-and-mortar snob, mostly because of my past experience working in one. Some kinds of learning are just not well done in the online classroom. However, that’s not the case with the TeacherReady online teacher certification program.

Like all teacher certification programs, TeacherReady (www.teacherready.org) requires the prospective teacher to spend time in a classroom observing and then eventually teaching under the guidance of a mentor. The great part about TeacherReady is that you can do this mentorship/Student Teaching at your local international school. You don’t have to do it in person at a U.S. school. I was able to arrange a mentorship here in Seoul at one of the local international schools (which was challenging because of the high demand for student teaching slots here and the low availability, but would have been significantly easier to arrange in most cities). Here in Korea, it was even possible to perform your mentorship in alternative educational environments, like the local Hagwons (English afterschool programs).

The program is 9 months long, and I participated in their October cohort, roughly tied with the academic year. They also start cohorts in February and June each year. You can submit applications for the program up until about a month before the beginning of the cohort, depending on where you live and the mail situation. You’ll want to ensure the books can arrive in time, as some are better in paper copies than electronic ones.

The program itself was also significantly more practical and less goofy than I imagined it might be. In comparison to the State Dept’s online trainings, it’s amazingly well designed. Rather than a lot of power-point like slides and quizzes, the program asks you to do some reading about a teaching or classroom management technique, reflect on it, and then attempt it in the classroom. You observed the mentor teacher to see how they dealt with different aspects of daily classroom life and considered the effectiveness of different approaches with different subject material and different student types.

As a guided apprenticeship, then, it was excellent. I got much more out of it than I expected. I do feel, however, that one would benefit from having spent some time attempting to train others, or being a classroom teacher, prior to enrolling. If you’ve never faced a classroom full of students, you may not have the awareness of just how many things can go against your plan, and therefore what to really pay attention to in the first month of the program. Everyone eventually gets that experience by the end of the program, however, so it’s not essential.

I highly recommend TeacherReady for Foreign Service EFMs who are considering teaching in international schools but don’t yet have a credential (Increasingly a requirement, even if you’ve got teaching experience and a PhD, apparently.) The program provides everything you’ll need for a Florida credential other than the state certification exams. In my case, I was lucky enough to have access to a military testing facility and took my exams there. If you don’t, you’ll have to take them at a Pearson testing facility somewhere in the US (tests are available not only in Florida, but all around the country).

If you decide to apply to TeacherReady, I’d appreciate if you used my name as a reference on the application, Lauren Steed.

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Staying Happy at Post

By marrying into the Foreign Service, I had to take a 90 degree turn on my career goals and sense of who I was as an individual. I couldn’t really be a travelling philosophy professor. While it worked for Plato and Socrates to stand out in the agora and teach the hoi polloi, my lack of language skills at our Asian posts would leave my audience laughing at best. College teaching is just not something you can pick up and start anew in a foreign country every few years.

Like many diplo spouses, taking that turn left me feeling somewhat bereft. Who was I? What was the point? Seasoned spouses have found their happiness and identity (or they’ve left the service), I’m not there yet. Instead, I seek happiness in moments and dreams, and wrestle with my sense of self on the side.

One of my favorite dreams is planning things. I love to plan things. Give me a goal and I will work on all the possible scenarios to make it happen. I’ll rearrange your furniture, consider how best to coordinate a vacation, evaluate the features of various products…

So I spend a lot of my time planning.

Sometimes you have to make use of your plans, of course, so we occasionally take trips or organize things.

I also keep myself happy by working. My job is relatively piecemeal and low-engagement (because I mostly fill in for people when they’re out, so I don’t have any projects to call my own) but it gets me out of the house, and moving. I also get to spend time with adults, some days.

I read a lot, which has always been a source of enjoyment.

I eat, because exploring new foods is always fun. Unless it’s squid.

I take online courses.

I imagine an alterative career as a trendy crafter. Then I remember that the kids are into everything, and I don’t have a craft space that I can keep them out of while still spending time with them.

Nothing terribly innovative, but I am finding myself growing slightly more content with these little things. Contentment will be a good place to find.

One of the things I did in Dhaka to stay happy at post was blog. It gave me a project to work on, a little legacy to leave behind as a resource to future visitors to the city. Here in Seoul, there are so many expat blogs and resources in English that my blog didn’t really have that niche any more. However, I’ve joined a Foreign Service bloggers challenge this month, and plan to blog along with them as much as I can.