Winning an Award for Having Fun?

For most expats teaching English in Asia or any other part of the world that has a demand for it, has been a way to travel the world,  explore new cultures and have fun while getting a consistent secure income to fund ones desired lifestyle. I am no different. However, unlike some I chose to do it later on in life after building a fairly successful career in broadcasting back in my home country (South Africa). Many people ask me, why would you leave the radio and TV industry to teach English in Asia? And I always say, that’s a good question but I just felt the need to do it and so before I settled down and had any really big commitments. Here I am, teaching English in Hong Kong. Here a glimpse of Avashnee’s old work

Avashnee Vandiar

I Won an Award!

As you can imagine, for me, teaching English in a foreign language has been  more of a life experience I wanted to tick off for a specific period of time before I eventually went back to the career I have years of experience in and settle down. Setting this background is important to understand why when I was given an award at our annual company awards and year end function, I was surprises; pleasantly surprised. Although I consider my passion to be a storyteller as a former Journalist, Producer and Presenter, teaching is something I do enjoy and when I am in my classes with my students I do strive to give off my best as an Educator because I understand the responsibility that comes with it. I did not know that this effort and enjoyment was noticed and translated to the point that I will be recognized as one of the employees of high performance value.

Like every other Teacher, I always make sure my classes are planned and executed well, my students learning objectives are met, my reporting and assessments are done on time and make the effort to find solutions or alternatives if situations warrant them. So I wondered why I was getting the award if I truly believed I did nothing different to my friends and colleagues. I also knew that I was not looking for a vertical progression within the company because this was a temporary career move for me.

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Going Extra Miles

I asked my Manager why I was nominated and then selected by upper Management to be a recipient for the award for our key learning program and his reply was interesting and taught me a lesson too. He gave me a few motivations and reasons but this was the one that stood out to me. He said that aside from performing highly in terms of meeting the key performance indicators, I always looked for different approaches to students who struggled academically, or some who may have needed special attention due to behavior issues and implemented suggestions.

By going the extra mile with classes and students, they saw the improvement in students and it was noted in their assessments over the 1 year period. The reason this impacted me was because I remembered how frustrating it used to be in the beginning with certain troubled students. I tried to be compassionate and empathetic but sometimes it can be difficult. In spite of it though, I remember giving myself a pep talk and telling myself that I need to challenge myself to do whatever I could within my ability to help these kids or at least manage them in class so that it doesn’t negatively impact others. By not just allowing the situation to get to me but rather being consistent in showing up as a good Teacher, it not only helped the student but garnered me, as an Educator, an unwanted but humbly appreciated recognition and accolade!

We Have the Power and Influence to Impact Lives

It also made me realize that just because my current job is not the one I plan on doing forever or my “dream” job, it doesn’t mean it needs to be performed with any less enthusiasm and passion because while teaching English as a foreign language does allow us the fun exciting life of travel and adventure; we do have the power and influence to impact some lives. After all, we are connecting the world; one English word at a time!

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My First Few Months As A Cover Teacher in Hong Kong

Dream Came True as an English Teacher in Hong Kong

I finally arrived in Hong Kong from Thailand and was eagerly ready to start a new adventure as an English teacher in Hong Kong. I had a few days to settle in before starting and I booked into the hotel in Sai Ying Pun for the first few days as I did not know much about the areas around Hong Kong. I then went into head office for all the necessary admin. Everyone was extremely helpful.

Firstly, they tried to help me look for an apartment or studio, everything was way too expensive, really tiny or not available for the next few months. I went exploring for a bit around the area and went to purchase a Octopus card that would help me get around Hong Kong transport.  The next day I then met the general manager, and was told the centre I was going to be based in was in the Kowloon area so we took a ferry across from the island side, which was only 6 minutes across.

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Being a Cover Teacher in Hong Kong

I was going to be a cover teacher for the first few months before being assigned my own classes. I would go through training and co- teach or assist other teachers so as to learn the different methods and the way everything operated.

Even though I had taught before, this was a big eye opener, I came to know how different countries education worked, things were different here in Hong Kong compared to Thailand and back in my home country. The different systems and the level of English was higher and it was easier to communicate with everyone. More seemed to want to learn and were interested in English. We had an admin team that helped in dealing with parents and assisting you where needed.

Being a cover teacher meant that I would cover teachers that were on sick leave or annual leave and co- teach or assist the main teacher when needed. In turn I ended up being able to see other parts of Hong Kong whilst going to the other schools to teach.

Whilst covering I got to meet the other teachers, from all over the world. Learn from the more experienced teachers in how they run their classes. Whilst doing this I attended training over a few days which covered everything from phonics, classroom management, and general teaching tips. These were a great help as the extra knowledge definitely helped me run a class. I gained experience within a range of different ages from 1.5 years old to about 12, 13 years old and a few classes in high school as well.

Buses in Hong Kong

Being a cover teacher also meant you had to be ready if they needed you in another school in the morning or during the school day if another teacher called in sick, you would sometimes only get the lesson plan as you walked into the class as you had to take into account travel time. I learnt to be able to navigate the different transport systems as well, the subway, the red buses and the green mini-buses.

This taught me to be able to teach on the spot which at first I was very nervous to do but now with some practice I am able to walk into a classroom and pick up the books, and carry on where the class teacher left off and engage with the students.  I now have my own classroom, ready to be decorated and filled with eager students waiting to be taught!

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