When I first uprooted my small family and dragged them to the other side of the world, I had been in my previous teaching job in Dorset, in the UK, for 12 years.
I was in a comfortable rut and it seemed suddenly very important that I do something about it. That’s how, a few months later, I found myself getting off a plane at Bangkok airport, ready to start work at Regents International School Pattaya in Thailand.
I never thought it would be a long-term move, but four years later I am still here and have just extended my contract for another two years.
A positive experience
It’s hard to put into words why working here has been such a positive experience for me. The students are fantastic and international schools also offer more scope for progression, owing to the naturally faster turnover of staff. So, since arriving here, my role has changed from classroom teacher to head of year and then head of science.
My morning routine would be familiar to teachers everywhere. I get up at 6.30am, get my daughter out of bed and make sure that my husband is awake to take her to school. Then, I hop on my scooter and arrive at school five minutes later.
We follow the UK curriculum, so lessons and their content are not hugely different from back at home. I teach International Baccalaureate and IGCSE here. But that doesn’t mean that my planning is without its challenges.
As Regents is a large, non-selective school with students from over 50 countries, I also have to make sure that my lessons always take EAL learners into account. This is something that I didn’t often have to worry about in the UK, so it has been a steep learning curve for me.
The school is an exceptionally busy one. It’s hard to keep track of all the events, trips and conferences that take place throughout the year.
Today, there is a launch event to celebrate a new collaboration between Nord Anglia Education, who run the school, and the Juilliard School in New York, known for its performing arts. I play oboe in the school orchestra, so I’m invited to lunch to meet their staff. As I’m making my way there, the heavens open and there is a furious tropical thunderstorm, so I’m soaked when I arrive.
I finish teaching at 6pm and head over to the theatre, where the launch event is being held. It is definitely a night to be hugely proud of the students. They sing and play superbly. After the concert, the adults go to a local Thai street bar to celebrate. The drinks are cheap and the surroundings are basic, but we finally have a chance to relax.
I don’t regret making the move to teach internationally. It’s been emotional, demanding and busy, but the positive impact it has had on my career – and the fact that it has pushed me to teach in new ways make it all worth it.
This piece first appeared in Tes magazine on 10 March 2017.
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