No matter how long you’ve been teaching, starting a new job can be nerve-wracking. I was very nervous for teaching. I didn’t know how much support I’d receive as a first-time teacher, if I’d fit in with the other teachers, if I’d get enough training to feel good enough to teach my students, or if this experience would make me not want to be a teacher. Even though I had some uncertainties, I wanted to make the leap and take the job. Teaching at Sias has confirmed that teaching is what I want to do as my career. There is an amazing atmosphere here that not only welcomes new teachers but embraces them. All my concerns about not being prepared vanished when I started my training. It was very thorough, prepping me for anything and everything that could happen in the classroom.
Sias has a couple different trainers and leaders to help new teachers grow in the classroom. Katie Lucio was in charge of the two-week training in August. She has been at Sias for six years. In addition to the August training, she is available throughout the rest of the school year to help with lesson planning and to answer any teaching-related questions. It was a major relief for me to know that I wasn’t being dropped in the classroom. Knowing Katie was there for me if I needed help put my mind at ease. During my first week of teaching, Katie even came to my classroom to help me with technical problems! Katie will also observe a class and give some advice and encouragement.
I was able to ask Katie some questions about her trainings and teaching. She said that Sias is a great place for a new teacher. Sias is one of the few places that has example lesson plans provided for the teachers and has an abundance of trainings. Katie pointed out that most universities don’t provide ongoing support for new teachers. Plus, the community living gives even more support for teaching, as people tend to share their ideas and resources.
Katie says in her trainings she, “gives out all the tools, gives more info than people can process, so that later on in the year, people can look back at the information.” She addresses all the possible problems that could arise, so that should something happen, the teacher is well-equipped to handle it. Katie’s best piece of advice for a new teacher is to start planning activities in the summer. As you’re getting exciting about moving to China, you can browse the internet for good activities to have your students do. The biggest problem Katie found was that teachers don’t know how to be creative! Using the same activities every week becomes boring for both the teacher and the student.
Michael Cho is another trainer. He gives trainings occasionally throughout the school year. He has been at Sias for six years. He agreed with Katie that Sias is a perfect place for new teachers. He said, “I can’t think of any schools in China that has two trainers on top of team leaders. Together, we provide help in every step of the way.”
Michael explained how his trainings and Katie’s trainings are different but compliment each other. “Katie’s training will cover the most foundational and necessary information to prepare the teachers to get started in teaching our EFL context. My ongoing trainings provide teachers with various tools to help teachers continually improve their instructions. Every class is different; every student is different. Thus, teachers need a wide range of tools and strategies to be effective. Each strategy is like a specific tool in your toolbox. My goal is to provide the teachers with the various tools to face any kind of situation.”
A common theme all the trainings have at Sias is making sure we as teachers are prepared to handle anything. Michael’s advice was to not be so anxious about teaching. “You don’t have to have all the answers to start teaching…We are all learning as we go…The moment we begin to think that we have all the answers is the moment we stop improving.” Michael encourages teachers to share tips and strategies with each other.
In addition to two trainers, teachers have team leaders to go to for support. There is one team leader for Freshman Oral English teachers, Sophomore Oral English teachers, and Academic teachers. Each team leader is in charge of a weekly meeting to go over any questions and new information about what to teach that week. The team leaders are on hand as well to help with lesson planning or anything else you need.
I’m very grateful that I chose Sias for my first teaching experience. No other school would have this many people available to help me be the best teacher I can for my students. Are you nervous about teaching for the first time or teaching overseas? Don’t be! There are plenty of people here who will help you with the process and do everything they can to make sure you succeed as a teacher. Leave a question below, and I will get back to you right away!