The profession of teaching is wonderful, especially when you believe that you’ve been called to serve in the role of transforming minds and busting up social inequality. There’s a special place in heaven for you. And sometimes this task can exhaust you of the heart with which you started. It’s okay soldier.

So treat yourself to an adventure—a self-defining life journey. Sharpen your edges again by expanding your skill set. Don’t worry about being a “sell-out”. Le struggle will be there for you when and if you decide to return.

If interested, here are some suggested steps to getting an overseas teaching position:

 

Steps for Overseas Teaching

  1. Get your papers in order.

Many folks are out here telling y’all that it’s easy to go overseas and land a teaching gig. And if you want to teach English in anybody’s language school, than there’s plenty of truth in that. But if you want a quality academic school post offering one of those sweet (near) all expense-paid contract, then you need a piece of paper from an accredited American/western institution. I don’t know what you’re incentive is for going overseas, but my priorities were in this order: first, adventure; second, make money, and; third, improve the quality of my life. If you’re certified with a degree in education at the BA level at least, you can land a job at any academic or exclusively language. Get copies of your diploma, and all other documents pertaining to your trainings scanned and uploaded to Google Docs or DropBox. Be sure to include any documentation of attended workshops on bullying, autism, CPR, abuse awareness, and even your practicum review forms if you can find them. Professional development records, even better. Tidy up and modernize your resume for sure, and get a new passport if you have less than five blank pages.

 

2. Let go of the location fixation!

Open your mind to the world. When I first looked to teach overseas, there was only one place in the world I wanted to go. Brazil…oh, how you enchanted my heart. It is my god’s honest truth that I still believe I received a message from the divine telling me that my spirit was created in Brazil. And despite every effort I made, all Brazilian doors slammed hard in my face. My resume caught no ones attention, and the few interviews I landed yielded cold hard rejections. After a month of depression and self-pity, I divorced my location fixation, shelved my dreams of Brazil, and cast my net out into the world. I applied for positions in 18 different countries. And after 30 interviews, I got offers from two schools. My choice: South Africa. And I haven’t looked back since.

 

  1. Register with an international teaching recruitment agency.

Lots of the upper tier internationals schools rely on Search Associates, International School Search or Association of American Schools in South America to staff their schools. They trust these organizations to filter out illegitimate teacher picks. For you, these organizations do the favor of systematizing your school search. On their databases, you can search for schools by position availability, region, etc. and can get a preview of salary and benefits packages. They also host hiring fairs all over the world. Furthermore, if you’re new to international teaching, attendance of a fair is a rite of passage. After you’re in, you’re in. Yes, these recruitment organizations cost money and the service is certainly worth it. But what’s great is that they store your records so that you want have to go through that record entry stage again when looking for your next gig.

Also, below are links to recruitment services for language school job placement, in case you don’t want to go the academic school route.

Teach Away

Teach to Travel

Teach English Abroad

The International Educator

 

  1. Find cheerleaders.

Recruit colleagues, admin, and parents to fill out recommendations on your behalf. Before you can actually start navigating the job search sites, you’ll need to complete your profile with confidential references.

 

  1. Be aggressive.

Send an email to the HR department directly introducing yourself and your interest to fill in a posted or potential position at the school. Mention if you’ll be in attendance at a hiring fair and express interest in scheduling a conversation before or during the fair. Make phone calls if you get no response, especially if the school is not attending a fair or was your random find from a Google search.

 

  1. Have endurance.

This process can be tedious, especially if you have particular goals. Heck–even after you get the job, you’ll need to begin the visa requirement gathering process, which may or may not be a marathon. I broke down in deep open mouth sobs in the Qatar Consulate in NYC because they told me that I had three more steps to go before I could get my last stamp of approval this past June.  Just assume you’ll never be finished until you’ve crossed the finish line.

Here is a list of a few things I’ve asked black student families to get. When used with intention, parents can help close the performance gap just as much as teachers.

  1. An abundance of texts.

All your kid’s favorites to read. Favorite authors. Favorite genres. Favorite topic. etc. Do your research for texts written by black authors, or with black protagonists, or about black people. See my list of good picks for black kids (categorized by genre, age, and reading level) here. And just so you know what the research says, reading success outranks ALL other subject areas when looking for early indicators of overall LIFE success. If your kid struggles to read, treat it like his or her LIFE depends on getting better. HIRE a SPECIALIST if needed for reading instruction  based on SCIENTIFIC-EVIDENCE. (NOT to be confused with the teaching practices branded as “research-based”. Research-based practices in education basically are as flippant as Oprah’s favorite things, and usually are an up-cycling of the same ol’ same.) Inquire about treating your child for dyslexia as opposed to faulting laziness. Truly, there is soooo much that a proper reading specialist can do to activate your kids inner voracious reader.

 

  1. Unifix cubes/Snap cubes.

I’ve attended quite a few math workshops and educational conferences, and parents should be aware that most of our kids suffer from a poor grasp of one-to-one correspondence. This means our kids are rushed through the learning process, never really making the connection between numbers and the abstract value of the number itself. Using unifix cubes to “build” numbers and to “construct” equations, especially in those early years, helps kids make meaning out of numbers. (The number 4 is built by putting four cubes together, for example) In school, we jump too fast into the big numbers, so kids lose one-to-one correspondence, and like so, struggle to understand what’s really happening when solving equations. (If I build the number four and “subtract” the number two, I can see that I’ve taken away 2, and only have 2 left. You see?) Ever get upset at how your kid attempts to solve a simple math equation, and starts to guess terribly wrong answers, when you know they should know the answer? That’s a gap in one-to-one correspondence at work. Some experts in the field of mathematics support that these simple same size same shape cubes are really the only tool a kid should need until middle school. See the work of expert in mathematics education Erma Anderson. Her webpage is pretty basic, but get your school to bring her in and attend her workshop. My white expatriate, Asian, and rich parents are hip to this stuff. You should be too.

 

  1. Chart paper/Post-it Pad (with the adhesive top).

“But why?” you ask. Believe it or not, hand-made posters and charts go a long way with your kids; much further than those store bought ones. Kids pay attention to writing on the walls, especially if they can associate the writing with an event they’ve witnessed and that has relevance to their own lives. Use chart paper to help your kid plan for school projects or papers, to mind-map stories, or put up study notes for assessments. Do as good teachers are supposed to do and encourage your kid’s learning to be visible by giving them big pieces of paper to show you their thinking. For the little ones, you could also put up instructions for common household routines. (Find chart paper at Staples, Walmart or your local teacher supply store.)

 

  1. Incentive charts. (for the little people)

Little people love prizes. And anything can be a prize. I blew bubbles in a four year old’s hands and that was a prize for cleaning-up the fastest. Now, black folks, we have issues with teaching kids to respect their elders because for many of us, it was ingrained that we are to do as we are told–no talk-back. But, in case this isn’t your discipline style, create incentive charts to help your kiddo understand structure and the reward of self-control. Incentive charts make it very clear to little people that their actions yield a consequence, be it good or bad. Add a sticker to the chart to merit progress or an appropriate deed; take one away to show a back slide. (And be quick to return the sticker to the chart when your kiddo self corrects if you want to apply positive reinforcement well.)

 

  1. Work display area. (Put this in any high traffic place in your home.)

Show-case your kids WORK! Not just the report card on the fridge. Make a space where you can show off final writing drafts, stories, poems, art projects, printed emails, or love notes to mom or dad, etc. Let’s change the emphasis on grades and trophies, and glorify the product so your kid knows you value the actual WORK done in school. Stop and read it in front of them. When aunty comes over for brunch on Sunday, let her read Jordan’s short story and publicly dote on him for being soooo creative with his adventure telling abilities. Our kids have great talents, and if we showcase the academic substance as much as we flaunt high scores on report cards, Jordan will still try hard to improve on himself even if he hits an academic rough patch. Get my drift?

 

 

 

 

When parents come asking for easy to find materials to support learning at home, I hand them this list of online resources. Since schools are tossing out text books, here’s what a few teachers and parents turn to instead. Click the links below for direct access to the listed websites.

 

Online Teaching Resource List

Content Site Annotation
Learning Standards corestandards  

Free. Learn about what your child is expected to know by content area or grade. (all grades)

Multi Subject softschools  

Free worksheets, games, quizzes sorted by grade level, and subject area (all grades)

Multi Subject Khanacademy  

Free. Multisubject database of instructional videos. (all grades)

Multi Subject ixl  

Free. Online interactive multisubject activities. (all grades)

Reading/Math adaptedmind  

Register for full access. 1st month free. Lessons and worksheets for reading and math. (grades 1-6)

Reading/Math  Learnzillion  

Free. Sign up as a teacher and make your child your student. Design your own curriculum. Free videos and learning materials in math and reading. (all grades)

Phonics readinga-z  

Phonics instruction materials: decodable books & phonics lessons, read aloud books, sound/symbol books, phonogram flashcards

Reading  

readinga-z

 

Paid registration required. Effective reading tools, levelled texts, lesson plans, vocabulary exercises, activites etc. (grades K-8)

Literacy k12reader  

Free literacy instruction resources and printables. (all grades)

Literacy abcya  

Free literacy interactive games. (grades Pre-K to 5)

Writing writinga-z  

Paid registration required. Common Core/6 Traits development, organized by genre or skill.

Grammar  

chomp

 

Online interactive grammar quizzes (grades 4+)

Language Development language-worksheets  

Simple site with suggestions to improve language skills for parents and teachers. Tools include: songs, worksheets, activities (English and Spanish) All age groups

Math aaastudy  

Free lessons and practice sorted by subject and grade level (grades K-8)

Math: Fractions  

kidsolr

 

Free interactive games using fractions

Math  

mathx

 

 

Free math worksheets. Organized by concept. (grades 4+)

Math  

mathinenglish

 

 

Free remedial math resources: worksheets, word problems, puzzles, games, videos (grades K-8)

Social Skills  

youtube

 

 

Last one picked, First one picked on: Richard Lavoie talks about social stigma of the LD kid

Social Skills  

youtube

 

 

Playdates. Lavoie explains to parents how to structure playdates for kids who struggle socially

 

Also, sit with your kid while he or she works with these materials to facilitate effective use of time, focus on task, and understanding of concepts and tasks. At least spend the first few moments making sure your kiddo knows what to do. These worksheets and videos are not babysitters…sorry.

5 Things You Can Do to Get Your Child Reading

 

  1. Let your child read what they like.

Contrary to common beliefs about what good readers do, assigning the classics (Shakespeare, Orwell, Poe, etc.) doesn’t automatically result in your child becoming a “good” reader. Face it, these writers are literary dinosaurs. Just because you read them in school, doesn’t mean that this NEXT generation of reader should. What makes your child a good reader is consistent practice at the skill of reading. Plain and simple! Increase your child’s contact with text by providing literature your kiddo enjoys. Play attention to authors, genres, and content areas your kid likes, and build your home library from there.

 

  1. Woooh there Panther Moms and Panther Dads…Stick to easy reading.

I’m sorry to break it to you strick traditional parents, but statistics don’t lie. The “sink or swim” education philosophy fails more children than it does support learning, and doesn’t motivate them to succeed at reading. Reading at home should be for pleasure. Think about it: reading for pleasure is why good readers read when they aren’t required to. Your child needs to pass time laughing, creating, imagining based on what they are reading in order to ever find pleasure in it. And they can’t do that if they are struggling to read the words. If you catch them warring to “sound out” words, that particular skill is called “decoding”, and a hired SPECIALIST (or reading professional) has the specific skills required to tackle decoding issues/dyslexia. Don’t torture your kids with texts that are too hard for them, and expect it to make them stronger. Instead, let reading serve as a better alternative to being bored, at the very least.

 

3. Find black literature.

Nurture the text-to-self connection that all good readers need to develop by incorporating more black literature into your child’s library. It’s unfair to expect black children today to connect to texts that aren’t about them, for them, or culturally inclusive of them when there’s just so much out “there”. The more readers make connections while reading, the more they comprehend by building “schema”, or building on prior knowledge. Building schema is fundamental to the learning process. Look here for my list of good literature for black kids organized by genre, age and reading levels.

 

4. Structured reading time.

A literate home= a literate child. What I tell parents all the time when they come to me worried about their kid’s low reading scores is to expect your child to read as much as he or she sees you read at home. If you increase your reading time, so will Jordan. As adults, we read more for information, but many of us read to relax. Model this by structuring a relaxing time during the day when everybody at home reads. Some good friends of mine read with their child in bed as a calm-down exercise before lights out. Stick to the same time of day for leisurely reading because consistency is key when developing a new habit. Kids beg for consistency. Commit to reading every day at the same time for 10 minutes and watch your child blossom into an independent reading machine over the year.

 

5. Saturate your home in literature.

Kids are lazy. Just accept it and do the work for them by making avoidance of reading a challenge. If Jason wants a Power Ranger themed room, make some space on his walls for homemade posters about the characteristics of his favorite ranger, book reviews, favorite quotes, religious versus, love letters from mom or dad, etc. Heck—add books, magazines, articles, journals to every room, hallway, table and counter top. Put cool things to read in the bathroom too. And this doesn’t have to be expensive. Print things at home or utilize your local library to have a healthy rotating stock of current good reads. Email your kid something interesting and ask them about it via Whatsapp, FB Messenger, Snapchat or at meal times to make reading purposeful as a plus.

 

 

 

Ode

This is for all the ghetto girls who spent afternoons gazing out barred windows and who dreamed to be somewhere anywhere else. This is for all the kids who took sanctuary in their closet to escape the dysfunction of their habitat. This is for all the big foot, thick thigh mama’s who were made to feel ashamed of their bodies, to cover up, to wear oversized t-shirts, and who grieved their differences from the girls on t.v. This is for all the Cosby Kid Wanna-Be’s. (Aren’t we angry at the man but so grateful for his art, for it helped save our lives from the cycle of poverty.) For the latchkey kids who wanted their mom home instead of at work… until they discovered call waiting and three way. This is for every free spirited wild woman who wants to live without borders, except the ones she chooses. This is for every girl who refuses to say ‘yes’ because it’s cool for everybody else, and who says ‘no’ because someone has to ‘Goddamn it!’ This is for the “Too Much” women, the “Rainbow Is Enuf” women, and every woman who is part wolf as much as she is wind and water. This if for every black woman who has lost a brother to gun violence and continues to lose others to the prison industrial complex and other social injustices. This is for every woman who has ever loved another woman so much she learned to see the world contrary to her own self and with newer more compassionate eyes. This is for every woman who knows she deserves a furious love, and couldn’t find it, so she stopped looking and then ooops… found it. This is for every human who has reached the end of her limits and discovered a whole new self that was pretty fucking super hero-fantastic. 

Note 1

Don’t expect to find normal. Being different means realizing your true self. What makes your cells come alive and your toes curl specifically belongs to you. Let go of the expectation that other people SHOULD relate, and be grateful when someone does.

Note 2

Hold fast to old friends. Maintaining old relationships helps us honor our past, our commitments, our most sincerest selves. Old friends remember who you were, what trials you’ve lived through, and can help keep you grounded when we become too aloof. Our new friends aren’t equipped with the tools to rescue us from ourselves. 

Note 3

Let every step we take be to maximize opportunity. Since most of us can’t figure out what we want, we ought to make consistent choices that allow more room for opportunity.

Note 4

The older generations don’t get us! They are caught somewhere between envy and disgust with the whole lot of us. So stop telling them things. Just show them. 

Note 5

Rituals (Not to be confused with routine) bring inner stability. No need to be faux-Buddhist. My chant: “No toilet. 12. Toe!” (I’ll explain later.) Just make it something that empowers you to feel good, to help you find your happy place, to make you laugh. It’s okay. You can keep it a secret. Rituals = structure. And the brain loves structure.

Note 6

Practice makes perfect. When learning something new, everybody thinks they suck. And if you’re the unfortunate person who has to practice in front of others who are amazing at what you’re trying to do, just tell yourself that they are too absorbed with criticizing they’re own image; they can’t possibly notice how much you suck. Sucking is a rite of passage. (Keep it clean fokes.) Learn to love sucking. Smile at it. Laugh at it! And schedule a point in the not so near future to stop and reflect on how far you will have come.

Note 7

Challenging the self is its own reward. Try something new. Pick something. Anything. And challenge yourself to do it every day, just to nurture the spirit of success in the self. Success is an excellent addiction.

Note 8

Consume less! Make it a mantra. Make it sport you enjoy. Ask: Can I have one less…or, a little less…? For, if I’m not prepared to carry it on my back for a few hours or between travel destinations, I’m not buying it. Furthermore, a mentality committed to consuming less not only help save money, it can help you lose weight. I lost 15 pounds (slowly) just by fixating on consuming (with my mouth) less than what I would have before in my splurge by urge days.

Note 9

Consume positive media! Oh god! Music, pictures, videos, and tv. series alike have the power to influence your mood. If you choose the happier stuff, you’ll feel happier. Same goes for blood wrenching, corrupt, and violent stuff. Alls I’m saying is that Game of Thrones has certainly taken something away from my spirit that took dozens of TED Talks for me to get back.

Note 10

Free time should be free from self judgment. Doing whatever you want to do sometimes mean doing nothing at all, walking in circles, imagining, coloring, etc. Free time lets your own voice surface, unbridling your true desires and interests. It’s no surprise we in the US make no priority of vacation time. Heaven forbid we figure out that we don’t want to go shopping to make us feel better, and instead actually want to do something to BE better.

Note 11

No one else can define the experience of love in your body. That cliche romantic experience of a passionate love that renders you helpless, captivated by…–yeah that shit leads to self abuse for many of us. This is not reality, the norm, natural, nor necessary in order to have a fulfilling loving relationship. Your body and your mind determines the love experience for you. So don’t hold yourself or anyone else to the standards of French romantic propaganda.

Photo Credit : Vhdragoon Photography