How to Make Co-Teaching Work? – TAs, ESL Teachers, Co-Teachers

Teaching abroad can always be difficult. You work with people from different cultures and teaching styles. All these differences can lead to conflict or more difficult circumstances. Some people take their role too seriously, others not serious enough, and still, others blame you for a weird working environment. I learned to take each new assignment and teaching partner and try to learn how to work with them. Most have worked out. One has not worked out at all. And a select few have developed into a beautiful friendship.

Advice to Get It Working

1. Be clear with what you are expecting.

I am generally a very laid back teacher. Maybe even too laid back for some adults I have worked with. This laid back attitude is my saving grace when it comes to teaching. I do not overthink bulletin board colors. I like giving a general idea and being happy with whatever gets created. I want the people I work with to help save me time and energy and being too much in control does not give me the free time. I know teachers who are picky and they end up staying at school until 6 or 7 pm in an international school. You can stay for 1 hour after students leave and should be able to finish all your work. This is leaving at 4 pm or 5 pm. Being flexible and accepting how they want to complete a task I find to be helpful if the people you work with are competent. If they are not, more guidance is needed. I should have given my second TA in Venezuela more guidance or instruction. However, I felt that she has worked at this school for at least 5 years. She is an older woman. I shouldn’t have to tell her all the dos and don’ts of being a TA and what her job entails or doesn’t. But I hope she finds a way to work with future teachers and students because I can tell she is a very nice and beautiful person. I guess being laid back and giving people the freedom to do their job as they want works well with those who understand why they are in the classroom. If you find you are working with someone who makes a mistake by giving the opposite directions as you or just in generally overstepping their role, you need to tell them.

2. Set up a time to meet weekly.

I find this to be the most helpful. Sometimes people do not like listening or do not find them helpful. But honesty is the best policy and if they have an issue you can create a meeting where everything is addressed. I had meetings with my ESL teacher weekly and they slowly stopped but we found a rhyme and what I wanted her to prep before class became less relevant when her ESL students become more advanced. I should have had these meetings with my TA who didn’t work out. She completely disagreed with my style of teaching and was kinda trying to run a second classroom in mine. It was weird and I just tried to ignore it. In all honesty, when she was switched with another TA, the attitude and vibe in the classroom became significantly more positive. Weird. But a weekly meeting will help all parties express their thoughts and feelings. When my new TA came in for the second half, I didn’t have a scheduled meeting but every Friday, I asked how her week went. Who knows if she told me the truth but I tried!

3. Let them take small groups

The more kid interaction the better. I find when my new assistant at the end of the year was better because every morning she worked with a small group at 9 am. Every morning, I had photocopying ready on Monday at 7 am. She had rocket math after the first break. And got science or social studies ready afterward. I felt there was a rhythm. When she had free time or finished, she worked with a few students. Mainly making her presence known which is half the battle. But since she worked with all the kids, slowly they began to trust her. All the students need to trust any adult who comes in your classroom. The previous TA spent more time highlighting negative behavior. I do believe that over time since she didn’t follow through or really had a nice chat with these students they began to resent her. Therefore, a negative vibe in the classroom.

A beautiful friendship

My ESL teacher, Miss Oriana was such as pleasure to work with. Here she wrote me a letter and afterward, I would love to respond.

Dear Krissy,

I had never met Americans before coming to CIC. This year has been a great experience for me and among everyone, you’re the one with who I spent most of my time. No regrets girl, you’re my type of American! You’re F… crazy hahaha. However, you are also kind, friendly, sincere and passionate! I think you are an interesting woman that lives her life in an interesting way, definitely a risk-taker. (Don’t get me wrong, I still think you are out your mind by going to Mongolia) But then again, you came to Venezuela, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to me…

Krissy, I firmly believe that you are a great teacher, I admired your creativity and positive attitude with the children towards these hard times in the country. I cannot tell you how much I’ve learned from you. I’m really thankful for letting me be part of your classroom environment. People told me it wouldn’t be easy to be part of someone else’s class, but you made me part of yours in such a fun and nice way that the kids felt it too.

I wish I had spent more time with you, just hanging out or something. Unfortunately, life didn´t let me. Anyway, it doesn´t matter! Thank you for all the laughter at CIC. Somehow you made it easier. I truly wish you the best in your life as an international teacher and your coming adventure: marriage! You and Peter are just too cute together:3

I hope to keep in touch, at least once in a while. I don’t want to say goodbye but see you later, my friend. It will be awesome if we meet again someday!

A lot of kisses and good wishes,
Oriana

My response

Dear Oriana,

I am happy I am the first American you worked with and luckily it has been a great experience. I do not appreciate you language missy, but I will gladly expect that I am crazy but like in a good way. But enough about me! Oriana, you are truly a lovely person and a great teacher. All the students loved you and missed you when you didn’t come. I think they missed you because you are warm-hearted, funny and extremely helpful and caring. You made me feel happy to have you in the classroom. You added a fun and happy spirit to the room when my spirit was being drained and killed slowly through consistent, “Miss, what do I do?” At least there was another miss to answer all these questions.

I hope you get to work outside of Venezuela and I hope the continued years at CIC are joyful and fun! You will be a great addition to any school because of your warm happiness. Maybe you and Silvana are related? But anyway, you always made my last year more enjoyable. You were always there for me emotionally. I will miss you!

We will keep in touch. Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram are always there. See you soon my friend.

Love, hugs and a little bit of tears,

Krissy

Teach Addition and Subtraction- Reading Stories!


Reading can promote learning in all content areas. Teaching in predominately ESOL classroom, I love to include stories while I teach math. Parents can also purchase books connected with math. Math can be tricky to teach as well as for students to connect to math. If students are naturally good in math, they love it! If students feel nervous or do not do as well in math, they generally do not like math class. I try to incorporate as many other skills in math class so students can engage through their strengths.

In a general math lesson, I like to read a story every week to demonstrate what topic we are learning. There is a book for everything! Sometimes, I show videos of someone else reading it. I find videos like this on YouTube all the time. Crazy, huh! Next, I show examples for 5-10 minutes. The following 10-15 minutes, I have students give directions to other students or they work in partners and read the steps we created together as a class. Lastly, I give a 5-10 minute activity of independent work. Students love to engage others. Many students in my class express they begin to like math class. I teach 3rd grade. This scares me that students already associate math with fear and anxiety.

My top 5 reasons to include reading in math

1. Students love getting read to. I know even in high school, I enjoyed getting read to in classes. It’s strange and its weird but I think it reminds children or students when their parents read to them at night. Students associate read aloud to love and caring.
2. The students can understand the “why,” in math. Common Core wants students to understand the “why” and be able to express “the why” through oral and written formats. While I teach math, I constantly have students tell me “why” they added or “why” the borrowed in subtraction. Consistently giving them ways to hear and express the “why” is important.
3. Using different ways of teaching is beneficial. Some students have math anxiety. Reading a story might calm nerves and these students who do better with language skills. Teaching through their strengths might allow students to relate to math.
4. Add these books to a small library dedicated to math concepts that students can read during reading time. This promotes math concepts during reading lessons and reading skills during math lessons. Cross-curricular and making connections between subject promote and prove to show more learning. Students begin to have more long term memory about the different topics.
5. Connect writing or oral stories in the classroom. Books can encourage and be a support to help with word problems. Many books about mathematical concepts use similar language to questions in word problems. Also, word problems become less scary because they have already included reading comprehension in their math lessons.

Books for addition and subtraction

The first two books are the puppy series. Here are reviews about these series. Reading through this blog, I found so many positive reviews! They are great for younger students. Suggestions would be KG-2 grade.

The Number Tales series recieved mostly 5 stars on Amazon. From reviews, many parents who read to younger kids (3-5) found them less engaging. I reccommend these books for 1-3 grade.

If you are looking to get a set. Amazon has a set of 5 books, including the two I have here.

Only two reviews on Amazon, but both gave the next book 5 stars! I know I enjoy reading this book. This can be read to younger children still. I recommended KG-2.

The next two books are great for older students. Recommendation is 2-5 grade. Frankie Pickle is a collection of comic strip stories relating to math concepts! Engaging! No reviews were less than 3 stars on Amazon! Multiplying Meanace really engages older students in multiplication facts but students can relate through repeated addition. I love reading this story to my students.

Amazon might provide better deals, so check their prices at first!



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3 Funniest Moments Abroad- Students Are Funny!

Students always make me laugh. The curious mind is such a great thing. Here are some funny moments that I laugh whenever I think about. I hope I continue to get these funny moments over my career. Although, seeing the lightbulb moment is great as a teacher. Your struggling reader can read. Your student who couldn’t add, can now! I think I enjoy teaching more with the funny every interactions where I become “friends” with my students. They are absolutely hilarious. Probable should have a youtube channel! I think one of these kids does. Hopefully, it is private.

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Books Kids Will Love!- A Story About Them!

You know what kind of books kids will adore.  Story Of My Name How cool is that? I would love if I got a book for Christmas, a birthday, my first holy communion, or any special religious event and received a book about me! Or I would find it so funny to read a story about my parents, grandparents or other members of the family.

The website is set up and is very easy to understand and place an order! The books can come in 6 languages: English (American or UK), Spanish, French, Dutch, German, and Italian. Maybe your child is bilingual or trilingual! They can get the same book in 2 or 3 languages. The site always lets you preview the story before you purchase.


For example, the My Name is Great Book can introduce children to the Acrostic poems. They can create an acrostic poem about other family members using the letters of their names. This can help with vocabulary development and also explore the dictionary for cool words to add to those poems.

Parents rate this books with 4 to 5 stars! They are highly pleased with their purchase and the children love them. It can inspire writing acrostic poems or write their own stories. It also can help build vocabulary. I would recommend this book to anyone with a child 6 years old or younger! But to be honest, I want to buy myself a Story Of My Name . Maybe read it the first day of school, so they realize how special my name is!


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Venezuela vs. Kuwait- Where Should I Move To?

 

Many times when I go back home after a placement, I seem to get the same question. Where did you like teaching better? Where did you like living better? Would you stay if x, y, or z didn’t happen?  So today I would like to dive into whether I liked Venezuela or Kuwait better.

Schools

International Schools abroad target the rich population or foreign population in the country. You are required to have a passport from another country. Bilingual Schools do not have that problem. They teach two or three languages equally throughout the day. The school I worked in Kuwait was a bilingual school, so therefore I did not serve the richest students in Kuwait. However, most Kuwaitis are given sums of money from their government and are considered wealthy throughout the world. Also, I served students whose parents did not want to spend the most on their child’s education but at the same time wanted a decent education. Blend these together, you get parents who believe they know how to make a great educational system without conferencing with teachers or other educator professionals.

 

 

Also, the school becomes “for profit,” so budget cuts are done through not purchasing programs or more learning materials. Therefore, the classroom I worked in was given nothing but whatever the parents were willing to bring. Luckily, you ask nice enough in Kuwait at least 5 parents bring in more than you ever wanted the next day. I also worked with a team of 8 other teachers in grade three. Each class could have 20 students each. That is 160 students per grade level. The high school had 6 classes each of about 25 students. There was a lot of students to hold clubs. There was a lot of students to participate in sports. Therefore, there was also people to teach and inspire as well as teachers to bounce ideas off of and get new information or ideas.


Read for free, now on Serial Reads: Law and Disorder by Heather Graham!

 

The school I worked in Venezuela was smaller. The school only had one class per grade level. I taught the biggest classes at 16 students. Some classes were 3 students. Just 3. Imagine how work ethic diminishes when you only have 2 other people to bounce your ideas off of. Imagine if you don’t like one of your classmates. The small class sizes proved to be unhealthy in social skills. This school also said it was an International school. Therefore, all students have another passport. It, however, was mainly Venezuelans that were born in America or have a Spain or Italian passport. This school was the cheapest international school in Caracas.  One mom put the tuition cost and the parents’ opinions in a perfect metaphor. “Parents here want to pay for the mashed potatoes but they expect the lobster with it.”

 

It was run by a board who also were parents. They believed they knew more than educational professionals. My opinions were never expressed to the board and my administration never used our opinions to improve the learning environment effectively. This soon becomes demotivating for teachers to not put full effort into their work. I soon only made sure I put all my efforts into my classroom and all the other things I needed to do became less serious.

 

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TEFL Certification Reviews – Get It and Go!

1. Premier TEFL

This site gives a search for overseas positions and also has an online TEFL certification.

1. Go Overseas

This site provides a search engine for teaching English abroad as well as programs abroad you can use to get your TEFL. Ths is great for young adults looking for a change while they travel. Although many Americans do not take a GAP year, this is a great way to have a gap year and still continue learning about yourself and teaching. Double check the TEFL programs that they require 10 hours in the classroom and 120 hours of studying. This is so you have enough practice and theory to be successful in the classroom. I loved that this site is not an online program but helps you find a program in the country you want to live in.

2. Go Abroad
Like, Go Overseas, this is a search engine to find where classes are offered and where jobs are. They do not necessary give guidance and you do not need to pay. Well, you pay for your TEFL certification.

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Steps To Be An International Teacher- Easy and Simple

Working and finding a job abroad can be daunting. Although in reality, it is much easier to move to another country than to another state. My family all the time tells me of jobs or teacher shortages in other states. However, I think the cost of living is usually higher than abroad. I also know teacher internationally gives me an allowance for housing or free accommodations. The school does all the hard thinking and work for an international hire. As long as the school is honest and transparent, teaching abroad is less paperwork and way less stressful inside and outside the classroom.

 Step 1:

Make sure you graduated as an Education Major and you have your degrees. Also, you should have your transcripts. The schools want 2 or 3 years of experience. They take years of experience from your home country as well as less desirable international teaching jobs. Schools that do not want the 2-3 years of experience may need a lot of new teachers. This means the school is new or the school is run more like a business. This either suits a teacher or you find the way administration handles situations awful. Some schools require 2-3 years of experience because of the country’s visa policy.

Use TIEonline for job postings. You can also join other agencies that help get international jobs like Teachanywhere or Search Associates.

Check the school’s reputation onInternational Schools Review. It gives a review of all international schools.

Another way is to join International School Fairs. I have never gotten a job this way. However, this is a popular way amoungst international teachers.

Step 2:

Think about your top choices in countries. Europe generally does not supply housing. The Middle East and Asia generally pay the better salary versus living expenses. South America and Africa generally pay a salary where you come out even. Also, I like living in obscure places. So sometimes it is knowing what countries have to offer and what you want. Kuwait, for example, is one of the easier countries as the first international experiences. The main reason is they have everything you may think you need. Tim Hortons, Starbucks, Olive Garden, Texas Roadhouse and much more. If certain comforts are needed they most likely have the same brand or similar quality.

 

Step 3:

Say yes to a job. Sometimes this is the hardest part. International schools like to give you a short timeline. Breathe and reflect if the country a good fit and if the school is a good fit. Ask for more time if you need it. Be honest with the reasons why you need time. I find when I tell them I have other interviews and want to see other offers first, the school does wait.

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Best Free Website Creators- Teacher Website Platforms

You Need a Classroom Website for the Parents


How many teachers out there have heard this sentence from the administration? I bet everybody. Well on the international school circuit, the administration will say this statement a lot but also provide no real support or system. I have worked at three schools that wanted a classroom website. None of them purchased a platform the whole school uses. All of them, wanted me to update parents on this website.
TIMESAVERS for TEACHERS.com specializes in printable, often-used classroom forms, report card comments, spelling activities, practical teacher tools, worksheets and downloadable teaching materials designed to save teachers valuable time.

What Do I Use?

I have used many three websites to create a classroom website. I will compare and contrast all three. The main question you may need to ask is what is the purpose of the web page. Is it to inform parents? Is it for students to use themselves and achieve learning? Is it so you can have virtual school when the country you are working for goes into a revolution? Either way here is the three I have used.

1. Wealthy Affiliate

This website uses SiteRubix to give free domains and a domain platform. With a free subscription, you have two free websites. As a teacher, free always sounds great. All the free websites are clean and crisp and you can do so much added to pages and posts in your WordPress website.

You can create posts and pages that fall into Categories. For example, if I were making my classroom website, I would want homework, newsletters, calendar or reminders, helpful tips, program recommendations(if you want to earn money on commissions), classroom websites, student writing center, class pictures, classroom curriculum, and conferences. These categories will extend to pages and posts that you can link to a category. This makes it easy for parents and students to navigate.

During times of virtual school, the teacher can take screen shots of math problems or upload documents to share with the class.

Essentially, on Wealthy Affiliate, your free domain website can possibly earn you a bit of cash if you affiliate yourself to teacher and parent resources for education. This is easily done and I would be glad to show and help you.

2. Wix

Wix also offers a free platform. You can add just as much however you do not get the option of categories. Wix can be daunting because it gives too many options and also because if you are not OCD with your creation of a Wix website it can look sloppy.

For virtual school, I had a few parents contact me because they were confused how to retrieve documents. Quite frankly, it was a headache. However, I really like this site if the main purpose is for the students. You can make it look extremely kid friendly. Just apparently, not adult friendly.

 

3. Google Websites

Many schools use a google platform and you can create google websites. I found this platform the most confusing, the most challenging and quite frankly a boring website. I do not think it is user-friendly and it requires a lot of work to look decent.

I used this website for about 3 months and gave up. I switched to Wix and now I am happy as can be using wealthy affiliate.

 

 

Conclusion

Even if your end goal is to make a beautiful website to inform parents and upload homework, Wealthy Affiliate has a place for you. You can sign up for free and Course One gets you set up to make a beautiful website. There are so many people on the platform to help answer questions. And maybe in the future, you would want to try to monetize a website. Whether you want to earn extra income or create a free clean website, choose Wealthy Affiliate is great. Wix is a close second. Google Websites give me a headache and make me want to cry.

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