Kerala Volunteer was fortunate enough to have Kate, an experienced 6 year teacher join our program, and here she sheds a little light on why it might be a good idea for teachers to leave their comfort zone and volunteer teach abroad.
I’m at the other end of the spectrum of teachers who get comfortable in a school and end up staying forever. I’ve moved around a bit, but have always taught at least one full year, usually two, in a setting. With these frequent new adaptations I feel I’ve got a good insight into the numerous rewards one gets from leaving the old and embarking on the new, be this a change in role, change in school, change in subject, or just a total makeover resulting in ending up in India!
Branching out of teaching into other areas of education is one path many follow when they need to escape the classroom; I myself am probably heading down this path as a result of feeling a bit fed up with the current teaching profession. However, another way to keep your passion for kids and learning at the forefront is to go teach in a different country, a country like India. Here the curriculum doesn’t dictate you, assessments and guidelines don’t keep you working until late into the night and you aren’t bogged down by marking and planning. Of course it’s not a long term undertaking and trust me, there are more flaws in the system than you can even begin to imagine, but as a volunteer you don’t need to throw all your energy into these uphill battles. The beauty of volunteer work is that you get to fulfill your passion – teaching kids to learn. Actual hands on teaching, chalk in hand, jumping here and there, crouching down to help individuals – teaching – I had forgotten what this felt like. For me, the one month of teaching at R.R.U.P. truly ended my career of six years on a high; I was alive again in the classroom, not bound by endless procedures, admin and meetings. My energy was entirely for the students and their learning, and I didn’t have to compete with them for their attention. I was the star, the foreigner coming to teach in the rural setting, and that was all I needed to feel respected and welcome.
“For me, the one month of teaching at R.R.U.P. truly ended my career of six years on a high; I was alive again in the classroom, not bound by endless procedures, admin and meetings. My energy was entirely for the students and their learning, and I didn’t have to compete with them for their attention.”
If you’ve ever taught before, or, still are in the profession but have lost some of that initial passion, then I urge you to try something as different as this. No sleep will be lost, no life will be put on hold, only tears of joy will be shed at the end. Teaching at R.R.U.P. reminded me exactly why I decided to become a teacher those years ago: because I enjoy teaching young people to learn.