Teaching Internationally, Round 2

So my second year of teaching at ISB is off to a running start. I’ve been back since August 17th and the students returned on August 26th (in case you were wondering… which I know many of you are… because many of you probably think I don’t actually have a job and I’m just jetsetting around Europe). This is my 6th year of teaching altogether (between the 2 years of adult ESL at the community college and 2 years at the public high school) and I feel like each time it gets a little smoother and more refined. Of course, it always helps when you aren’t at a new school in a new country/state/city each time…

Last year definitely had its ups and downs. I very quickly adjusted to living and working in Europe. I made commuting by public transportation look good: headphones with spotify playlists, fully loaded Kindle, practicing my French on DuoLingo, accompanied by an adorable teacher bag to boot. I planned a trip out of Brussels once a month and tried to make the most of our new continent. I added 10 countries to my list in the first year we’ve lived here. I relished relationships with new friends and I felt rejuvinated by the supportive, intellectual faculty I was engaging and collaborating with on a daily basis. But nothing prepared me for private school students. As to be expected, they are very nice and polite but they certainly gave me a run for my money. They know how to work the system and they know how to get what they want. There were times I was pining for my rural, behind-the-Walmart public high school because I could deal with fighting and flipped desks easier than entitled, mischevious emails and snide side remarks in French.

Needless to say, as the excellent educator I am (jokes, people. I’m here all week), I reflected (and analyzed and obsessed and thought some more) on what I had learned in my first year and readjusted my approach. I tightened up the screws for this year in terms of my behavior approach as well as my curriculum and so far things are going swimmingly. My students are motivated to learn and work hard when I give them a task. I reconceptualized interactive notebooks as blogs this year and it has been so fun reading their reflections from their Daily Starters and Learning Logs. I only have a few whiners and one tough guy but I am feeling more confident after handling a veritable circus the year before. Alex thinks I merely have adjusted my expectations, which is also true, but having a different roster makes a HUGE difference. I am still teaching the AVID critical reading strategies I learned in NC as well, and the students, who are basically ALL university bound here, respond pretty well to annotating text and using frames for summaries & analyses, especially if I appeal to their future studies.

I still have a bit of the travel bug and a few more trips in mind but we are looking to put some extra dough into savings this year as well, seeing as it is the last year we can claim the Belgian-American tax treaty. Hope the taxes aren’t too painful next year… keep your fingers crossed for a contract renewal and a big raise for me! 😉