Jeannette’s story – Teaching in Singapore

With a wealth of teaching experience under her belt, Jeannette had become tired of the monotony and pressures associated with the profession in the UK.

She often thought that teaching abroad was for quitters and wimps. However, she began to grow envious of former colleagues whose escapades around the globe clung on to her social media wall whilst she dealt with the encumbrance of Ofsted and the evergreen demands of form filling.

Burdened by the stresses, Jeannette made the brave decision to take the career break of a lifetime and contacted The International Teaching Partnership.

This is her story

Jeannette, why did you want to teach abroad?

Teaching is a vocation and I love it but it’s difficult and in the UK not much has been done to alleviate the pressures on teachers. In fact, I think during my time as a teacher, which is approaching nearly a decade now, it’s only become harder.

I’m quite a risk-averse person by nature. Whilst I was aware that my qualifications and experience were sought globally, I felt a loyalty to my school, pupils and the education sector in the UK as a whole. Plus, working internationally is a big step out of the comfort zone.

The stress associated with teaching combined with the fact that I’d had a few colleagues leave to teach internationally made me want to look into a bit more.

When I started doing research, I felt a nervous excitement which allowed me to dream about the sights, sounds and endless possibilities that awaited if I was to teach abroad. I let myself believe that this was the beginning of a new chapter.

But, being as risk-averse as I am, it wasn’t until another year had passed that I decided to make an application! When I did, I knew exactly where I wanted to teach and what I wanted to teach – I’d had 12 months to think about it after all.

Teaching in Singapore

Where do you work now and what’s it’s like?

I chose to work in Singapore! I figured if I was going to take myself out of my comfort zone, I was going to do it properly, far away from the UK. I’d also found out that there was a large expat community in the country from the UK, Europe and the USA.

I’d heard friends talk well about Singapore. People would come home and describe it as a utopia. One friend said that there is little crime or litter and the people are kind. Having now lived here, I can confirm that it is, in fact, a little piece of utopia.

However, it is of course, not without its faults. Singapore fines are legendary, for example, if you eat or drink on the underground you could be fined £200. Smoking in an undesignated area will cost you £1,000 and chewing gum is banned unless on prescription from a dentist. I didn’t have to find out the hard way, thankfully.

And yet, it’s an amazing place. People follow the small laws, so the big ones don’t get broken as often. It results in a lovely environment in which to live. The trains are clean, safe, on time and cheap. There is an abundance of restaurants and food markets. It’s cosmopolitan and suburban at the same time.

As for the school, most of my students are from expat and wealthy Singaporean families. It’s different compared to teaching in a UK school. The children, despite their different backgrounds and ethnicities, are cohesive and willing to learn. Classroom management is much easier and it means lessons run much smoother than in the UK.

Singapore is one of the most sought-after locations in the world for teachers, so I know how fortunate I am to have landed a job here.

What do you do when you’re not teaching?

Singapore is relatively small, but there is a lot to do. I like to think I’ve completed all the tourist elements of the country such as eating at Lau Pa Sat and visiting Clarke Quay.

I like to cycle to work most days, sometimes I opt for the train but the infrastructure in the city makes it easy to grab my bike and go. The school has staff showers so I’m able to get ready at work because cycling in a humid city, as you can imagine can be quite sweaty! (Sorry).

During weekends there’s a popular island called Sentosa which has numerous beaches and entertainment centres. I like to perch myself under the shade on the beach and go for a dip in the water. Singapore is warm throughout the year so going the beach is always on the cards.

How did The ITP help you fulfil your dream of working abroad?

Like I’ve mentioned, it took me a year to actually make a decision about teaching abroad. I started my research a long time in advance and it took a while to contact an agency about it.

When I did, I’m glad I spoke to the team at The International Teaching Partnership. They understood that I only really wanted to work in Singapore and advised that it’s a difficult region to find a job due to demand. On the one hand that hardened my resolve to want to work there and on the other they managed my expectations.

They must have some pretty good connections because they approached me with a job within a couple of weeks.

What would you say to people looking to do the same?

For me, I always felt loyalty towards the British education system, the school and the pupils. Moreover, I looked at international teaching as a bit of a cop-out. It was for people who wanted to hide away from the real world.

Having experienced it, I can tell you in reality that it’s enhanced my career and removed a lot of the stresses and anxieties that I had previously. If you’re feeling the same as I was, do your research, get excited about the possibilities and contact the ITP today.

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