Hola – I am a teacher from the US moving abroad to work as an assistant in Spain. What guidance could you provide to help me lower my expectations before arriving? Thank you!
Thanks for the great question! Generally, I would suggest you recognize relativity, remember you’re an assistant, and remember you’re a person. Now, while those might seem fairly straight forward, there is a bit more to it. So, in an effort to keep things brief, below is a breakdown of why these three ideas are important to be the “best possible teacher” in your new role… in my opinion… in general…
A common faux pas when moving to a new country is to bring your cultural relativism with you expecting things to be a certain way. Recognize the differences and decide to accept or reject them, but remember that there is often more than one opinion or way that can be considered as correct. So when in Rome try not to alienate yourself.
Remember You’re an Assistant
You are being hired for a purpose, remember that. This can be especially difficult since not every senior teacher you meet is going to be great, in fact you might think they are terrible. But you are the assistant, so ask questions, take notes, and follow directions until you are comfortable enough to ask for additional responsibilities. You never know what there is to learn, so take this as an opportunity to follow someone who has managed to survive and is not called an “assistant”. Brownie points for investing in a reputable grammar book for EFL teachers and doing research on EFL/ESL teaching methodology.
Remember You’re a Person
You are moving to a new place and that can be quite stressful for a long list of reasons. So, find something fulfilling outside of school to help you manage the various types of culture shock that you might be confronted by. With that in mind, when more than half of my off-the-job conversations are school related or I begin to notice myself feeling increasingly negative about my surroundings, I make an effort to be selfish. Plan a trip for yourself, spend some time outdoors, treat yourself to a bank breaking meal or shopping experience. Point is, take some time to recover from your surroundings.
Enjoy your experience!