I graduated from the UBC Ed program in 2010 where I was enrolled in the 12-month Secondary option.
My major is Physical Education and my minor is Home Economics, so clearly I went into the Home Ec cohort where I learned how to sew and cook for my rigorous practicum at Sir Winston Churchill. During the short and long practicum, I learned that teaching was definitely something I enjoyed doing and would love to get paid doing. However, ever since getting the travel bug when I went to China for the 2008 Olympics, I knew I had to go back. During the job fair I applied to Maple Leaf Schools, a BC offshore school, and within a few months I was signing a contract to go live in Tianjin, China. I got hired to teach Physical Education and Planning 10, but little did I know I would also be creating one of the first ever Foods program in China.
Canucks fan and BEd graduate, Lindsay Scruton at the Great Wall, China
Tianjin is 1-hour away from Beijing by bullet train (a 300 km/h train), and our school is located in an economic zone suburb. It is a new area, so there is not as much Chinese culture here as there is in the larger cities. We have a lot of foreigners who live in our area, so making friends outside the school is really easy. The social life here in Tianjin is actually really nice; we BC teachers stick together and welcome other foreigners into our tight knit circle. There are 25 BC teachers who teach here this year, and next year we will have more. Our school is growing day by day, and there will always be opportunities to teach in Tianjin.
Our students come from mostly Northern China cities, and they are some of the most respectful and kind people I've ever met. However, the adjustment from having a local teacher and having a Canadian teacher is hard for most, so a lot of our teaching for the first few months is all about classroom management and setting up routine. They are very curious about how we live our lives and they always want to know why we love hockey so much! It is really cool to teach foreign students about our Canadian ways, especially if they are going to be studying abroad. They will take everything you say and will remember it forever.
Our school is BC-certified, which means we teach to the BC curriculum and we try to make our program as "BC as possible." We are a small program within a large Chinese education program, which has its ups and downs when it comes to cultural and educational thinking. However, teaching is the same just like in Canada—going through ups and downs, jumping through hoops, having 14 hour days, etc. We learn through these tough experiences, and China has been one crazy experience. Teaching in China for almost two years now has given me the skills to handle any situation: from students not knowing any English, to arriving in my gym and realizing we have no equipment.
It is only my second year teaching and I am the department head for Physical Education. This year we have managed to run a successful intramural sport program (China's public schools do not have this option at all) where our PE 12's plan and run it on their own. It is a daily struggle to get our students excited about exercise and sport because they are not used to learning sports and being active on such a high scale. Through team work and knowledge we have been breaking barriers and stereotypes about PE in this country, and because of that we are slowly creating a culture here in the PE program and it has been successful so far. Most classes have 20-28 students, and this is because our school is growing due to the popularity of our BC program in the community.
Teaching in China has provided me with the opportunity to travel to South East Asia and New Zealand. We get 1-week in October, 5-weeks in January/February and 1-week in May. So far I have been able travel Thailand, Philippines, China, and New Zealand. My next travels include Vietnam in May, Tibet in October, and Indonesia for the 5-weeks. Along the way you meet the most fascinating people who are also international teachers, workers, and travellers. When I'm travelling people ask me, "How did you get that job?" I say, I have a degree in Education, and most of them have this look on their face that say, "I don't want to go back to school." It feels good to know that the little piece of paper that cost a lot of money is actually worth huge amounts abroad. I'm in China now, but my next teaching destination will be Abu Dhabi, but who knows when that will be....