Natalie – teaching practicum in Shanghai

Why did you sign up for the 150 hour TEFL course with teaching practicum?

I think I would like to do teaching in the future, or at least it’s one of the career options I’m strongly considering, and I stumbled across this opportunity which just contains all the best things really.

I was very interested in China as a place and I probably wouldn’t have had another opportunity to travel like that here. Also, I think you learn more about the country when you work there than when you are a tourist, so it gave me a better insight.

What have you enjoyed during the program?

I really enjoyed working with my students – when I first started and I told them we were going to do this weird bit of maths called graph theory they all looked at me with strange expressions! 

But when I taught them more maths and I showed them different, exciting parts of the subject that they don’t study at school here, I really enjoyed seeing how they came to realise that actually mathematics is so broad and such an interesting subject.

 Some of the kids who were not so sure that they liked maths thought “oh, actually this bit is kind of interesting”!

How will the experience help you in your future?

The teaching will largely help me both in my future years of studying at Oxford and my future job as well. 

I am teaching kids the stuff they need to apply to university for mathematics, which means that I have to know my curriculum and content extremely well. When you have a classroom of people who ask you “where does this come from?”, “how do you know this is true?” you really have to be absolutely on top of your understanding!

Also, as I’ve previously mentioned, I would like to do teaching in the future. Now that I have some experience working in a class, I will be less scared about it in the future!

What was the most memorable moment?

The most memorable moment was probably the most challenging moment, but also the most rewarding. When I started teaching my first camp, I discovered that some of my students did not have a good understanding of why I was teaching them what I was teaching them, because they weren’t familiar with that branch of mathematics before. 

So I stayed up late and pulled out lots of resources for exciting bits of maths that are related to graph theory. I pulled up a list of nine such activities and then the whole day we just spent revising what we had learnt previously but in a very interactive environment.

I was very happy to see my students realising why we were doing all of that material earlier, and interacting with the material to see how it could help them apply bits of mathematics in various ways that perhaps they were not quite as familiar with before.

Would you recommend to a friend and why?

Absolutely, yes! It’s definitely a great way to spend your summer – I’ve learnt so much and I think this kind of experience you wouldn’t really have got in other ways. 

It’s a very unique program – you’re teaching what you’re passionate about and you’re also exploring all of this environment around you. Absolutely, go for it!

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