“I Feel Like I Have No Control”
This is a common feeling expressed by new teachers and it is no mystery! A lot of what a new teacher experiences once they make a decision to come to China, Indonesia, or Russia through EF to teach follows a very systematic mapping. Your schedule upon arrival is provided for you (trainings, meals, visa interviews, medical checks, establishing a bank account, finding your new apartment, etc.). These things are set up for new teachers so that the process of settling in and acclimating in the first two weeks is a lot easier. When you finally arrive at your school, you are provided an observation/team teaching schedule for the next two weeks. It is no surprise that most teachers get to their wit’s end and feel like their sense of control at this point is very limited. If in particular you’ve been the kind of person that has been super independent, came and went as you pleased, and is self-motivated – this new situation could be daunting, if not off-putting.
Let me assure that this process is necessary, but only temporary! When you arrive in a foreign country, there are many governmental regulations (therefore admin and paperwork) that needs to be accommodated on your behalf in order for you to stay in the country. This requires time and grave care and attention to make sure it’s all done correctly. Then, keep in mind that the trainings, as they can be quite intense and long, are necessary to give you an overview of EF’s company mission, teach you basic skills and theory on how to teach young learners. Without the trainings (and your focus and effort), you will flounder in the classrooms and most likely not pass probation.
Hang In There
So with that perspective in mind, I would encourage new teachers to hang in there, take it all in, ask questions, and go with the flow. Once you’re on the other side, you’re back in the driver’s seat. Five weeks in, you’ll have your basics in place and then it will feel a bit eerie that you no longer have all these scheduled tasks between the school and headquarters. You may even start to miss that regimented-ness.
Take On Responsibility
All that being said, my advice after this settling in period is if you are the kind of person that wants more control of your life, I challenge you to take on more responsibility. What does that look like? Just look around you at your centers. What needs to be done? What could help the school run more efficiently and effectively? What does your DoS (Director of Studies) think needs more support? Where you lend a hand is where you potentially write your ticket on having more and more control over what you do in your day to day life. If you are effective at taking on responsibility and delivering successful outcomes, you will be given control, more than you ever thought you’d ever have.
Are you ready to put these tips to the test?
Teach English, travel and work abroad with EF English First
Paul Chan takes a hand at teaching, coaching, sales, marketing, training staff, recruiting, and trailblazing back at his old school, Kids and Teens in Shenzhen 4.
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