TEACHING AROUND THE WORLD
“Culturally sustaining pedagogy exists wherever education sustains the lifeways of communities who have been and continue to be damaged and erased through schooling” (Alim and Paris, 1) is an important part from Rodriguez’s “Chapter 4: School and Education of Young Adult Characters” connects culturally diverse literature to culturally relevant pedagogy. Multicultural literature can be used to create culturally sensitive pedagogy by creating “windows” or “mirrors” to cultures that have or are being “damaged and erased through schooling.” America is not a singular entity, so neither should the literature we teach be singular in perspective or voice.
Kumashiro’s Troubling Education covers four approaches to anti-oppressive pedagogy: Education for the Other, Education about the Other, Education that is Critical of Privileging and Othering, and Education that Changes Students and Society. The beauty of multicultural literature is that it allows an avenue to approach all of the kinds of anti-oppressive pedagogical approaches. Literature allows for the creation of windows and mirrors to and between cultural which helps cover Education for the Other (mirrors) and Education about the Other (windows). Further appropriately chosen novels can criticize Privilege and Othering and show students how to resist and recognize systemic oppression.
The Hate U Give has gained popularity in High School classrooms due to its current relevance and its ability to serve as a window and mirror. Further, The Hate U Give dives into the topics of oppression and privilege. It serves as an excellent avenue to trouble education through all four of the approaches that Kumashiro outlines. Knowing what area to focus on will depend on each individual educational setting but the flexibility of the novel demonstrates the importance of multicultural literature in an anti-oppressive classroom.
An interesting take away from Troubling Education is putting oppression into the perspective of repetition of harmful citational practices. Putting oppression into the lens of repetition puts the onus on teachers and educational professionals to draw attention to the reproduction of oppression. Critical Literacy therefore is tied back into the classroom in order to teach students how to “read” many types of multimedia and not stick to reading and analyzing traditional books and texts. Therefore, curriculum should not only include multicultural books but other forms of media that can be used to address Kumashiro’s four approaches to anti-oppressive pedagogy. To create an effective inclusive and anti-oppressive classroom educators need to include a wide breath of texts and perspectives in their curriculum that tie together. This is not a simple thing to create but a necessary one nonetheless.
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Resource: https://teachoverseas.uni.edu/ A yearly job fair at Northern Iowa University for international schools.
Rodriguez’s Chapter 3 in Teaching Culturally Sustaining and Inclusive Young Adult Literature focuses on the inclusion aspect of the book. Adolescent concerns often center around identity and belonging. Adolescents that identify as members of out-groups, those that are not part of the dominate cultures norms, often have trouble finding belonging or being happy with their identity. The importance of incorporating diverse young adult literature should be readily apparent from the needs of adolescents. While students that identify with minority populations may feel excluded from main stream norms if they can see parts of themselves in literature it can help them feel like the belong at least in our classrooms and hopefully instill a learning space with a sense of inclusion that all are welcome.
Miller’ Queer Literacy Framework offer one literary lens approach to analysis literature beyond just selecting a wide variety of novels. Actively engaging with the novels is necessary to bring students to understand diverse and foreign perspectives. Critically thinking through even diverse texts as Sensoy and Marshall’s piece “Save the Muslim Girl!” illustrates. Young adult fiction, and all literature, can either intentionally or unintentionally reinforce stereotypes and norms. The example used in the piece covers how the typical girl in Western authored literature about Muslim girls puts them in a passive position, condemns the veil and burka wholly, and that they need to be saved by the West. This then puts forth the message that the “East” needs to be saved, that they do not work to save themselves (therefore serving as propaganda pieces that encourage foreign military intervention), and that individuals religious choices can be offhandedly condemned.
Even diverse literature with good intentions can be problematic which just increases the need to apply critical literacy consistently and continuously in a classroom. Approaching topics on marginalized groups in a way that further stereotypes them will only push them away and continue the cycle of suppressing differences while at the same time making a classroom setting hostile. As Ari says in the novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, “I hated being volunteered. The problem with my life was that it was someone else's idea.” Adolescents do not want to be someone else’s idea. They want to be themselves just as everyone does.
Providing mirrors to our oppressed student groups is important to give those students a voice and sense of belonging while telling them it’s okay to be them. However, a great amount of care is needed to select literature that avoids stereotyping. Along with that engaging with the texts is necessary to both critically think on literature so we can further prevent harm and also so that students that do not find themselves looking into a mirror can instead use diverse young adult literature as a window to better understand their peers as individuals.
Resource: The Queer Literacy Framework has been attached so other educators and readers can look it over and potentially use it as a literary lens in their classroom to further student critical reading.
Coffey’s Critical Literacy article sets out to describe what exactly “Critical Literacy” is and how it can be done in a classroom. With how much the term gets bandied about it is surprising that care is not taken to ensure everyone knows what critical literacy is. In summary, Critical Literacy is reading and critiquing the messages that appear, both intentional and unintentional, in texts in order to identify and name relationships. As Freire phrased learning to read consists of learning to name and rename the word and the world. Readers must understand the text and the world in order to recognize patterns and point them out so they can critique the relationships they find.
In Coffey’s piece I found the focus on action an interesting and important part of the puzzle of teaching critical literacy. When acknowledging inherent biases and problems in text and therefore society (word and the world) students can be discouraged that everything is terrible and nothing they do will solve the many problems in the world. As teachers we do not want to encourage nihilism, disillusionment, and apathy. The purpose of critical literacy is to identify the world in order to confront and resist challenges and problems we recognize. Showing students that not only can they be critical readers and leaners but also agents of change will lead critical literacy to be a liberating activity instead of a merely depressing one.
It has been covered many times in education that when students feel the curriculum is related to them and their problems and interests, they become more engaged and better learners. Critical literacy is an ideal spot to help every class become more involved. When students identify problems in texts and curriculum the teacher can extend the lesson into acknowledging, addressing, and working on solutions to those problems. Turning a classroom of students that can use critical literacy to identify problems and then extend that into project-based learning seems ideal.
Instead of acknowledging defeat teachers need to extend critical literacy into action. Projects based on writing letters to activist and politicians, forming research projects, investigating more sources and possible solutions, designing advertisements advocating for social change and more will involve students into problems they care about and provide them with a greater sense of agency.
Critical literacy needs to part of advocacy and change and not merely a pacifist acknowledging of problems. Involving problems solving and projects into curriculum that involves critical literacy is necessary to create a beneficial curriculum for students.
Resource idea: https://www.gutenberg.org/ is a library of open source books. Don't have a book on a certain idea you want to cover in class? Take a look through Project Gutenberg and see if they can have something you can use.
Kumashiro talks on the difficulties of reading literature of any kind in an liberating rather than oppressive way requires using a variety of lenses and asking meta questions like “Why do we say some interpretations are more correct than others.” Reading and learning is an inherently political and biased act since each reader bring their own world and ideas into the discussion. Using literary lenses and asking probing questions as Kumashiro suggests can help students learn to interpret not only texts but also the politics behind texts and interpretations.
Appleman asserts that literary lenses will enable students to read critically. Both Kumashiro and Appleman seem to agree that literature can lead students to thinking critically and fighting oppression. Appleman though calls explicitly for the use of Literary Theory in classrooms to teach students to think about issues that concern them. Kumashiro indirectly leads the reader to the idea that students should be taught to read under lenses in order to prevent oppression. An important part of Kumashiro’s writings is:
The ‘classics’ are not inherently oppressive: They can be useful in an anti-oppressive lesson if teachers ask questions about the ways they reinforce the privilege of only certain experiences and perspectives. Conversely, “multicultural” literature is not inherently anti-oppressive: They can reinforce stereotypes if teachers fail to ask questions about how students are reading them. (Kumashiro, 2015)
With this perspective it allows an educator to potentially teach any text, even one they find oppressive or even just dislike. Having a collection of curriculum, activities, and teaching strategies that allows for questioning and inquiry into any kind of text. A teacher will not always have total control over what they need to teach for any of numerous reasons. Therefore, teachers need to be able to utilize all sorts of materialize in ways that will positively engage their learners.
Appleman covering Literary Theory Lenses offers more direct suggestions for possible ways to cover texts in a variety of ways. By utilizing different lenses, we can show students how to approach text from outside their own from Feminist lenses to Critical Race Theory and more. Freire says the teaching is an inherently political act and most would agree. Learning theories, texts, and hierarchies are all inherently political due to their nature. Everyone has inherent biases and outlooks based on their world experiences. Teachers should not be dissuaded from using different critical lenses because it is “too political” anyone that makes that claim has not seriously considered the work that educators do. Appleman even shows how she engages learners in her book by using Ray Ban sunglasses and short poetry to demonstrate how literary lenses can be applies and help use learn through them. With this sort of open approach learners of a multitude of levels and engagement can learn through hem and become critical readers.
Appleman and Kumashiro offer a way to show students how to become a critical reader which a goal for teachers everywhere. The potential in literary theories covered by Appleman and Kumashiro should not be ignored of forgotten even if traditionally literary theories are though of as to “academic” for K-12 education, they have real and direct meaning for our students.
Today's resource: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/
While having a number of lesson plans you can adapt to the material you have is the goal sometimes that's not possible. TPT has resources other teachers have made that can get you a head start on your lesson planning if you have a time crunch.
Going with the Flow and But That’s Just Good Teaching seem to connect through the idea that creating an effective learning for students must focus on engaging students. Utilizing the ideas of culturally relevant pedagogy and inquiry-based learning would likely create the best environment for students.
Neither alone would likely be able to wholly engage students. If the inquiry question does not interest the students or, even worse, they are not allowed to pursue the question in the way that interests or motivates them then they will not participate in the work. However, even if the teacher tries to make the classroom culturally relevant to their students interests but fails to provide an active learning process then once again the students will not participate due to a lack of involvement in their own learning process.
Also, an important link to both these articles is the idea that both culturally relevant pedagogy and inquiry-based learning is basing the students on a foundation of critical thinking. Going with the Flow wants students to ask pointed questions that are based around guiding the students into critically thinking about what they do, how they can use it, and what they can take away from the material. Importantly culturally relevant pedagogy according to Ladson-Billings “students must develop a broader sociopolitical consciousness that allows them to critique the cultural norms, values, mores, and institutions that produce and maintain social inequities” (Ladson-Billings, 162). The classroom must accept and include diverse cultures and critically evaluate the dominate culture. Going with the Flow compliments this through “meaningful making” the students must make complains or take a stance on the position through their inquiry. By using culturally relevant “essential questions” or include culturally relevant questions during the inquiry process a teacher can combine the cultural relevancy and inquiry model into one whole to promote critical thinking.
Many schools and most educators promote the idea of critical thinking as the goal of education or at least one desired outcome, however; a curriculum that focuses on what Freire calls “banking education” is focused on breadth of content and not on using what the students have supposedly learned. It would seem obvious that trying to teach someone without being able to tell them why would lead to poor outcomes however that is what happens to many K-12 students. Saying to students that they should do the work just so they can achieve a grade or go to college is not good enough. If a student only knows “banking education” it would be wonder if they wanted to go to college and no one should blame them for that. Adults will not accept an answer of “because I say so” and students should be treated as the thinking individuals that they are too.
Ladson-Billings also says that a common thread amongst the high performing teachers were that they were “equitable” and “they encourage the students to ask as teachers.” Having students be inquirers puts onus on them to take charge in their learning and become partners in the educational process. This puts more responsibility and agency on the student. When students are given choice, agency, it has been shown that they become more motivated and involved in their own learning. Letting students use knowledge and create with knowledge creates better outcomes for everyone in the classroom. Students are thinking, reasoning, and feeling individuals and not mere receptacles to be filled from the teachers well of knowledge.
Ladson-Billings and Going with the Flow show that learning should be an active process and that knowledge is a form of creation. Passivity will never be the best way to position the student in relation to both the teacher and learning.
At the end are the two articles I am comparing available for you to pursue. Also, is a lecture summary and guide for inquiry-based learning for your quick reference convenience
Since I haven't been able to post a advice blog for awhile instead I
l'll plug the TEFL Reddit that has an excellent Wiki with lots of country specific information.
So you’re interested in TEFL but don’t have Bachelor’s degree. Where do you look for opportunities? Unfortunately you’ve decided to approach TEFL on hard mode. There are some countries that allow work visas for potential teachers that don’t have a Bachelor’s degree: Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Argentina, Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Spain along with South Korea having specific exception in its rules.
Myanmar, Costa Rica, and Mexico do not require a Bachelor’s Degree. However, finding an employer that is willing to hire you without one is whole other ball game. If you look at job postings from Myanmar for example on Dave’s ESL you’ll find that the employers ubiquitously want teachers with BAs. Mexico and Costa Rica don’t have as many job postings as Myanmar but if you spend some time Google searching for jobs you’ll find a similar pattern. While it is possible to find a job without a BA it will be difficult and it certainly won’t be a premium job.
Spain and South Korea’s exception to the Bachelor’s requirements are for students with either an Associate’s or in their final years of a Bachelor’s program. For job seekers without any post-secondary education or individuals that just started their college education it is best to look elsewhere. Korea’s program for those with an associate’s or in their last years of their Bachelor’s program is called TaLK (Teach and Learn in Korea). Spain has a similar program to TaLK, auxiliar de conversación, and has ample volunteer opportunities that you could look into. While you won’t save much if any money volunteering it could prove to be a valuable experience.
This just leaves us with Laos, Cambodia, Argentina and Nicaragua left to discuss. These countries do not require a degree for their work visa. However, I do not know what employers are looking for in an applicant. I have no idea because I have never seen a job posting for these countries. Perhaps if you went in person you could find something. However, that seems like a risky leap of faith to take. I’d recommend asking someone who has found work in these countries directly.
This whole post must seem rather discouraging to anyone without a degree and dreams of TEFL. And, well, it’s supposed to be. Your best bet to finding TEFL work is to simply get a BA. There is just no way around this blunt truth. Volunteer positions are the most likely to take non-degree holders. However, that will probably end up costing you money.
“But wait!” you cry, “I’ve heard of people getting jobs in China and other countries without a degree?!” That’s because they are working illegally which I will never recommend. If you choose to work illegally you will get screwed. What will you do when your ‘employer’ decides to not pay you? What will you do when you get sick and don’t have health insurance? How will you manage your finances without a bank account? There is simply no way to live securely while working illegally. You can’t do something as simple as have a phone number if you are illegally working in Korea or China for example.
While this piece may be discouraging for some of you I do hope it is informative nonetheless. As always, please send feedback, questions, and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’ve taken a look at Dave’s ESL Café or another TEFL job board you know there are a lot of postings. Many of these job posting don’t exactly look professional either. Most of them look more like a message board titles than anything else. Many of the postings are made by recruiters and not directly by schools. The recruiters are trying to get as much attention as possible, which includes strangely stylizing their jobs postings. They get paid more by placing more people so they aim for quantity rather than quality like a direct hire would prefer. This is why they post many positions in one ad and make it as flashy as possible. However, as I mentioned in a previous post it is worth looking into these postings. Recruiters have access to more jobs and know more people than you or I. networking is important even in TEFL.
However, not all posted positions are worthy of your time. You need to know what to look for in a job so you don’t get screwed. I’ll try to give guidance to help you on your way. I’ll start with more general advice. I have direct experience with Korea and China so I’ll give more direct advice for those respective countries.
When looking at posting the information you should look for first is: who is hiring, the hours, the pay, and benefits. You need to know what kind of organization is hiring. Are they a kindergarten, academy, public school, or University? Each organization will have different students, goals, and work culture. It will also make cutting through all the postings easier. Don’t look at offers from academies if you hate working evenings. Not qualified for teaching university? Don’t look at university jobs then.
Hours, pay, and benefits re all roll together as part of the total compensation package. Hours are the most important part of any teaching position, in my opinion anyway. The average teaching job will have 20-25 hours of contact hours. A job that advertises 30+ hours of teaching should obviously pay more. The opposite is true too. Most jobs will pay for your flight either before or after contract. Finally, most jobs will pay for or give you housing. Some countries don’t however. The less perks you get the higher your base pay should be.
Lastly you should look for anything that would increase your work hours outside your teaching hours. This can include office hours, meetings, running clubs, testing and entrance exams, promotional events and more. Schools are very good at finding extra things for teachers to do outside the classroom. Figure out your effective hourly pay before deciding if a job is good or not. Hourly compensation paints a much more honest picture of the job than just the monthly salary schools generally tell you.
I’ll use my current job, at the time of writing, as an example. I make 12,000 RMB/month (about $1700). I teach 10.5 hours a week. I help English clubs for about 1-2 hours a week on average. I have no office hours but I lesson plan and generally help students for 2-3 hours a week. In total I work about 47 hours. In a whole month. 255 RMB/hour or about $37/hour, turns out I’m paid well despite on paper not making a whole lot. I’m also not including flight payments or housing assistance. I made about $300 gross more in Korea but only worked out to $12/hour. It was not a fun time.
However, having a baseline pay to work off of is helpful to perusing jobs so I’ll give specifics for Korea and China. In Korea you should get paid a minimum of 2.1 million won/month and have your apartment and flight paid for. Anything less than this means you’re getting screwed. China has a lot more variance. Fair university pay will range from about 9,000 to 12,000 RMB a month with 1 flight paid for and your housing covered. Private academies will cover your flights and housing. The pay will very a lot. If you are brand new I recommend aiming for 15,000 to 18,000 RMB for academy work. With experience and a TEFL certificate (especially a CELTA) you should be able to snag 20,000 RMB+. However, you will work a lot to make that money just like any private academy.
Hopefully this post helps guide you on your jobs search. Please send any questions or suggestions to email@example.com.
In my previous post about jobs and visas I’ve briefly mentioned how TEFL certificates are required by some governments. Here I’ll go over what they are, the different kinds, and how to decide which one is best for you.
In general TEFL, TESOL, and CELTA are all basic Teaching English as a Second Language certificates or credentials. They are considered to be an introductory course to teaching and teaching methodology. Generally the certificates are geared towards teaching adults. They give a basic tutorial on how to teach and lesson plan. While not nearly as comprehensive as an actual teaching license they are still quite helpful for those getting started.
TEFL Certificate refers to any certificate that identifies itself as a TEFL course. There is no overall governing body for TEFL which makes finding a good course difficult. However, some courses claim to be ‘accredited.’ That’s good right, sounds similar to an accredited University? The fly in the ointment is these accrediting bodies are themselves private institutions. While a course accredited by TESL Canada may be of higher quality there is no reason to take their word over another group like Accreditat, a different accrediting body.
Frankly, most schools are not going to care or ask about your TEFL besides asking if you want one. Because of this many prospective teachers find the cheapest course they can on Groupon or another website and use it to fulfill the Visa requirement. There are exceptions to the overall Wild Westness of certificates.
The CELTA and TESOL are the two most widely recognized TEFL certificates and some schools will want, pay more, or be more likely to interview you if you have one. The CELTA, Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, is run by the University of Cambridge. Due to being run by a well-known and respected University and having consistent coursework and rigorous quality control CELTA is well regarded and well known amongst the TEFL community. To lend further credence the British Council recognizes the CELTA as legitimate initial teaching qualification. TESOL or Trinity CertTESOL is much the same as the CELTA. It is run by Trinity College London. For all the reasons CELTA is respected the TESOL is also respected as a legitimate qualification.
These certificates cost money to take. The CELTA and TESOL can cost from $2000 tp $4000 total depending on where you take it, while a ‘Groupon cert’ can cost less than a $100. Which one should you take? If your plan is to teach for only a year or two for fun take a Groupon certificate to fulfill any Visa requirements. If you wish to make a career out of TEFL or really want to work at a higher end school take the CELTA or TESOL. You can always take the cheap cert first and then do the CELTA or TESOL later. I recommend the CELTA or TESOL over a different expensive course due to the name recognition. It will help with future job applications since it is more widely recognized.
When looking for a cheap TEFL certificate make sure that the course marks itself as having 120 hours of work. Many countries require that the certificate be 120 hours or more. Very rarely do the cheap online courses actually require that much effort however. Lastly, if you decide to take an expensive course through your University or other reputable organization make sure it has a practicum included. Another part of what makes the CELTA and TESOL well regarded is the actual in class teaching component. Being able to say your course had a practicum well help your resume and interviews.
Personally, I didn’t take any certificate before teaching in Korea because it wasn’t required for my job or visa. After my contract in Korea I took the CELTA in Thailand so I could pursue a University job in China. The cost was about $2000 for the course and accommodations. Location changes the cost a lot for the CELTA. I recommend looking into many locations if you decide to take the course. I used my return flight at the end of my contract in Korea to get to Thailand for free, take the course, and then travel in Thailand for a month. The course and vacation together were much cheaper than if I took the CELTA in America.
The CELTA has two options part-time or full-time. The part-time option takes three months to complete, while the full-time takes one month. I choose full-time so I could quickly start looking for another job before the next school year started. If you already are working it would be worth looking into the part-time course. The full-time course will take most of your time while taking it. You will go to class Monday to Friday for eight hours a day. Each week will have one homework assignment and you will teach two times each week. That means after class you will need to lesson plan. While busy the work load is manageable, just don’t fall behind.
I found lesson planning to take the most time ( CELTA lesson planning forms attached below). The CELTA has very prescriptive requirements with what they want in a lesson and to pass you have to follow your tutor’s directions exactly. The lesson planning worksheet is lengthy, especially if you include material preparation the day of your teaching. The assignments are the same. However, as long as you listen to your tutor’s instructions you will pass. 95% of all students pass the CELTA. Just try not to stress out to much about it. My very first lesson was garbage. I had to teach grammar and made blatantly obvious errors. However, I owned up to it and kept the lesson going. Afterwards, I fixed my mistakes and didn’t make them again. I listened to my tutor, improved, and I did pass after a long month.
Hopefully this post has helped inform about TEFL certificates and whether you should get one, until next time.