Siobhan Paul is a Secondary Science Teacher and Coordinator that has extensive education experience in England, China and Australia. It was her time in China that truly gave her the opportunity to flourish as an educator whilst also benefiting from a truly supportive and dynamic educational setting.
I spent 4 years teaching at a fantastic international school in Shanghai, where I was able to progress as a teacher into positions of leadership. The school had a wonderful co-leadership model, which brought both Chinese and Western cultural influences into the program. I found learning about Chinese culture, specifically through the educational programs, such an enriching environment to work in every day. It also presented so many more opportunities to develop my skills in extra-curricular life, such as becoming an International Duke of Edinburgh Award Leader. This involved getting the chance to hike around some amazing scenery in rural China. An example of this was supporting students on community service projects such as planting trees in inner Mongolia, to prevent desertification in the local community. This was an experience I will treasure forever!
The school also offered an amazing work-life balance. Meetings were typically factored into work time, I had a good amount of ‘free periods’ to get my planning done, so much so that I found I did not have to stay at work as late as I had gotten used to in the UK. The school were also very respectful of time-loading during exam periods, and would allocate specific marking periods for this to be done, something that I have not experienced elsewhere. I found that I had so much more free time than back at home that I could enjoy socializing after work (on a week day!).
For other teachers who are looking to relocate to Asia for work – I would say be open to new experiences. Living in a new culture is a wonderful experience like no other and I’ve enjoyed meeting and developing friendships with locals as well as other expats. I enjoyed being surrounded by colleagues from many different educational and cultural backgrounds, each of them bringing a different perspective to support student learning. Working at a highly reputable international school that takes care of their staff meant I was really able to make the most of the experience by sharing ‘pot-luck dinners’ with colleagues, trying Shanghai’s many restaurants or simply treating myself to a trip to the salon – I really got to make the most of weekday evenings, weekends, holidays and I never felt overloaded.
I also wouldn’t say I got homesick as I was always keeping busy, there is so much to do in Shanghai! I would also consider myself very fortunate in not having to budget whilst there, as my school paid for my accommodation so I didn’t have many outgoings. Public transport is really cheap in Shanghai and you can also choose to eat quite cheaply – although my guilty pleasure was splurging on some of the most amazing Sunday brunches Shanghai has to offer!
My time at this school also gave me the chance to pursue a part-funded Masters degree, in MA Educational Leadership and Management which enabled me to return home and continue working in positions of leadership until I later took another leap and relocated to Melbourne. Chinese culture had always fascinated me in comparison to European/ western culture and living in it has been so much more rewarding than just passing through in travels. I was an instant lover of Shanghai as it has so many places to explore, has all the benefits of living in a big international city and was a perfect gateway location to exploring the rest of Asia.
Did you know?
Smart Teachers works with highly reputable independent schools across Asia that offer excellent working conditions and career opportunities for teachers who are passionate about 21st century education!
If you’re looking to expand your teaching career in Asia, and you’re excited about being an educator in a global community, contact us today to learn about our latest international job opportunities at Smart Teachers Presents: Dulwich College International Recruitment Fair.