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.


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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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Steps to be an English Teacher Abroad- Easy and Simple

Step 1:

Research programs that get you TEFL certification. Many of the programs will also provide assistance or help to get a job abroad. Premier TEFL is on such program that gives you certification as well as training.

 

Step 2:

Think about your top choices in countries. Do your research. Look up everything about the new country. Peter and I generally skip this step which is why we worked in Caracas, Venezuela during one of the worst times in their economic history and a brink of violence. List them in order from wanting to move the most to least. What experiences do you want? If you want local friends, look up on how people treat foreigners. Although this is a stereotype, it will at least open your eyes to how a good percent of people think.

 

Step 3:

Say yes to a job.

 

Step 4:

Contact the embassy to the country you are moving to. Prepare all your paperwork. The Visa process is the most stressful. You think the American government works slow. Kuwait and Venezuela both are extremely slow compared to America. China is generally quicker in all government offices. Many countries require health checks and some require STD checks.

 

Step 5:

While preparing paperwork, keep in contact with the school. Request to speak to team members. Request to speak to any teacher. Get a general idea of what you are walking into.

 

Step 6:

Find out what you need to pack. Many countries do not have or offer what America or western cultures have available. What are you most items? Is shipping accessible in the country you are moving to? How long do shipments take? Peter love his Yorkshire tea. Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Tea Bags, 240-Count I make sure we have a half year supply when we go over. This gives enough time before shipments can arrive, which has more Yorkshire tea. Believe me, after a long workday having a comfort makes it feel normal.

 

Step 7:

Decide if you are a two suitcase kinda person or do you need everything. I met both kinds of teachers. Peter and I are two suitcases type of people. Get vacuum air bags and begin packing. Start with things you need but you don’t use daily or weekly.You may want to consider getting TSA locks. 4 Pack TSA Approved Travel Combination Cable Luggage Locks for Suitcases & Backpacks – Black Also, here are some great ideas for suitcases. U.S Traveler Rio Carry-On Lightweight Expandable Rolling Luggage Suitcase Set – Royal Blue (15-Inch And 21-Inch)

 

Step 8:

Tie up loose ends in America or the west. Or tie them up as best as possible. The less you need to worry about the better.

 

Step 9:

Skype accounts need to be ready. Speak to family and friends how you want to keep in contact.

 

Step 10:

Finish packing. Throw a going away party or meet up for dinner. Saying goodbye is always the hardest but this is what you need to get used to as an international teacher.

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Venezuela- Weeks of Protests

Weeks

Weeks of protests. Weeks of lives being put on the line. Weeks of crazy virtual school and half day schedule change. Weeks where I was expected to help my students continue learning. TWeeks of feeling like the students are silently suffering. Weeks of hearing they are worried about their parents. Weeks were the more privileged children do not understand how many people are truly starving in Venezuela. Weeks of feeling like I am locked in my apartment for safety. Weeks where tire burning roadblocks only directly affected my hill twice.Weeks were no change was actually made by the government.

These Weeks have been extremely hard to continue teaching. I do not think parents realize how much their kids understand and see. I had to use a lot of printable resources so work will be done in virtual school. I felt like I was just giving work for the sake of work. However, TIMESAVERS for TEACHERS.com specializes in printable, spelling activities, worksheets and downloadable teaching materials designed to save teachers valuable time. This also was helpful for parents working with their students. I used so much work with these documents which saved me a headache of having to explain projects to parents. Virtual School is hard enough without having issues of parents not understanding the work due to many of them only speaking Spanish. Also to save from headaches, I used these Find affordable early childhood curriculum resources to meet each child’s individual needs and prepare for kindergarten.Educators only…Guided Reading Short Reads Bundles Save an additional 10%. I can’t express enough having materials ready and set made these difficult days easier to send to parents.

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No More Homework- Play Is Important

Play vs. Homework

I get the question all the time about homework. There is plenty of research out there that highlights that homework shows no significant impact on a child’s abilities. Personally, I view homework as a method of teaching student responsibility. However, Homework can be a stressor on the family, especially on the international circuit where most parents do not speak English. Homework also sometimes becomes more about busy work. I am all for parents who want their child to give an hour a week with additionally studying but playing is extremely important.

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International Schools- Virtual School

Does Virtual School Work?

Whenever you work in a new country, you start to realize how the United States in many ways has figured out to be a stable country. Many friends, who have only traveled to Europe, are the only people who would disagree. They might mention are terrible public transit in the United States or how education is not up to par. But working and living overseas in obscure places has taught me that the United States has a lot figured out.

Working overseas many teachers will teach the elite of the country. Venezuela was no different. I only taught truly local kids in China when I made $800 dollars a month. International teachers make enough to save but sadly do not teach the true middle class without taking a pay cut to the salary.

Scholastic Teacher Store Online

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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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Blue Whale Challenge- Prevent, Preserve and Protect

If you’re a Momma and you haven’t heard about this challenge quickly look up your son or daughters phones if they are in Elementary school. That is Kindergarten or above. A new challenge that youngsters talk about is called the blue whale challenge. It is an extremely scary and dangerous.

It started in Russia. The man who started has been imprisoned, however, it has not stopped overs from copying his antics. This challenge plays off of grooming like sex trafficking does. Differently, your child is not taken by another person they are encouraged in a span of 50 days to commit suicide. This is through grooming efforts online having them complete weird but innocent tasks the first few days and they progressively get more violent, includes self-harm, watching extremely violent content while waking up at wee hours in the morning. And the final day with the selected members, the last day in order to win the challenge the youngster is encouraged to commit suicide to live a happy life and not face the evil things in the world they have witnessed through online content. They are also encouraged to clear all their history and contact with the group a day or two before it happens. So catching it early is crucial.

Like sex trafficking, it is hard to completely prevent this from happening. It requires a lot of people on board, not just the mom and dad. Children do go through phases of not liking their parents’ decisions and finding them difficult. However, blaming the parents and teachers on this is a bit rough. What we can be doing and should be doing is constantly talking about internet safety with our children and having discussions about what is age appropriate and not. We should discuss what kinds of behaviors crazy dangerous people who want to sex traffic children or who will invite for the blue whale challenge look for. Knowledge is power. Students will remember these conversations when faced head on with the problem. The 3 seconds extra a child thinks about what they are doing can be the difference of falling for a trap and saving their lives.

Speak to your child about online safety and what that means. Get acquainted with how and who predators are attracting. I believe the biggest skill you can teach your child is confidence in themselves and love for themselves. With these two qualities, predators have a more difficult time. Also, have your child come up with 3 to 5 people as their inner circle to speak to whenever they feel uncomfortable about something in real life or over the internet. If they have a group of adults who put the child’s best interest at heart, guidance from the adult can help a child overcome challenges they may face. Make sure these adults understand to take everything your child says seriously and to tell you after he/she confides in them.

Tell your child they can confide in you about other children. I know most of the time, a child will tell their best friend something before a teacher. This way, you can update the teacher what you heard and he/she can continue with a report.

It is best to be proactive than reactive to problems.

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Programs to Learn- Mom’s Choices


1. Curious World

This is a super-cool APP on iPads or smartphones. It is owned by a well-known textbook company. This is extremely cool for the kiddos between ages 2-7 because it is reflecting what they learn in school and providing building blocks before they get to school. There are tons of videos that they categorize by age. This means little time to watch content to double check if it is appropriate. YouTube channels are great, but you would need to spend time watching each video to make sure it is appropriate for your child. Videos are great but this app also provides games. We all know children love playing. If they love what they are doing than learning is easy and naturally takes place. You can choose yearly or monthly subscriptions. This is between 10 and 80 dollars.

2. Online Newspapers for kids

Online newspapers give children current events articles which are easier for them to answer. They are interactive and fun. This is also a great way to get them interested in current events, scientific reasoning, and critical thinking skills. Who doesn’t love that? A few suggestions below that I find useful as a teacher.

TIMEforKids
Scholastic, even using Scholastic Teacher Store Online
National Geographic
Zoobooks: This I found to be interesting is Zoobooks offers a program for 1-3 years old. Start their curious minds earlier!


Zoobooks.com

3. KHAN Academy
This is a great resource. Teachers that sign up can sign up for free. I am unclear if a parent signs up if it is also free. KHAN academy aligns itself with MAP testing. It has great instructional videos about topics in Math and gives standardized test questions. This is geared to 2nd-grade students or older. Students highly enjoy using KHAN academy in class.

4. Readtheory.org

This is a free website for teachers. It is definitely geared to higher grades because the focus is on reading comprehension. However, the stories are shorter and many students can do two or three stories in 20 minutes at their correct reading level. I use this as an alternative to the more childish versions such as RAZ-Kids.

5. Study Island
Many schools use this program and it is a lot of fun and very effective. It connects to the curriculum and is aimed at school-aged children. If you want you can always give Study Island a try. I suggest you try Study Island today!

6. Reading Eggs
This program is geared to 4 to 11 years odd. It concentrates on the building blocks of language. It reviews Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension through interactive games online. It is the Online Phonics Program That Kids Love. Parents are highly satisfied with this game. This product is ideal for children between 3 to 11 years old. They offer tons of options: monthly for $9.95, 6 months for $49.95 and 1 year for $75. Also, you can get workbooks. Great program and a great cost.

learn to read online

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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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Checklist for Moving to A Foreign Country- Easy to Follow

Moving abroad can be hard. Especially saying all of those goodbyes can break hearts. But this checklist makes packing for you new and exciting adventure easy. Remember, ask what products are in the country and what you can find. The less materialistic you are the easier it is to live anywhere.

      1. Passport with at least 6 months validity. (You can always get a new passport once you move to a new country at the USA Embassy. Make sure you fill the new job’s requirements. Sometimes they would like at least a year.)
      2. Clothes for the seasons you will be living in. I always found I could buy clothes abroad. China is harder the heavier you are or for bigger sizes. I could only find form fitting clothes there and during my time in China, I preferred baggy clothes.
      3. Keep all important documents in two places. I bring a folder with me with ALL my health checks and documentation. Copies of my passport, birth certificate, Social Security, Credit Cards, and anything else important. I also keep a copy at home. Therefore, if something happens I have two copies made and can fix any paperwork dilemmas quickly. I never needed to thus far. But you never know. I know many countries want you to get an STD check. Clicking the link, you get $10 off your purchase. http://www.stdcheck.com/?coupon=10OffOrder
      4. Figure out the top 5 things you can’t live without. Ask if you can find these products or brand names in the country your moving to. If you can’t bring at least a 6 month supply. If shipping is not good, bring a 10 month supply so you have those items and feel comfortable and at home.
      5. Money to exchange or local currency. I would say about 300 to 500 dollars for the first month of working can have you be fairly comfortable and depending on where you move can help set up a few things such as new furniture (if you are a nester) or pieces of artwork. This will come with time but it is not to not feel like your waiting for a paycheck.
      6. Ideas and plans for travel. As an international teacher, you get more breaks than I feel my United States friends do. You also have enough money to get in a few international destinations check off the bucket list. Having a few ideas of what you want to see is great. Air tickets are cheapest about 8-6 weeks before travel. Also, check what kind of visas are needed for tourists and most of the time this paperwork can be done in a host country. If not get VISAs over the summer for your bucket list destinations.

    ed2go

    1. Charity thinking: Ask the school if there is something the local teachers need. They love getting goodies from their international teacher friends.
    2. Ask the school if school supplies are needed to purchase. What can you find in the country? What would you need to bring?

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