- Before coming to Finland, I was quite intimidated, and I was nervous that I would not be prepared to control a classroom everyday. With each week and each experience, I became more and more confident and fell in love with teaching even more. To all the future GSTs, make sure to take full advantage of this opportunity. You will not regret the decision to learn about a foreign educational system. This experience has allowed me to learn about several different teaching styles, I have made amazing connections with future international colleagues, and I have been lucky enough to branch out of my elementary education comfort zone as I worked with an art history elective, a 6th grade history class, and was responsible for teaching subjects such as PE and Art. Do the same, because this will be the one opportunity you have to teach something new and different! Not only should you take advantage of the experiences inside the classroom, but outside as well. Stay after school to help organize materials, plan lessons, and discuss any questions with your cooperating teacher. Show the international community that you are a valuable team member, and volunteer to help out with extra-curricular activities such as clubs or after-school events like dances. Also, make sure to go to staff meetings and grade-planning meetings so that you can learn everything about what it means to be a team member in a school. You will come out of this adventure more well-rounded, more experienced, and feeling more rewarded than if you had just come to school and left when the bell rang.
- When I found out I was placed in Finland instead of Rome, at first I was upset, but I soon realized this placement was more than just a dream for me. Teaching at Espoo International School has broadened my perspective as a student, an educator, and a person….. As a future GST, my biggest advice is being open to whatever is thrown at you. Finnish schools offer more variety of courses to students than American Schools, and it is important to always stay on your toes and be willing so accept any challenge. Whether you are familiar with the subject or not, if you put yourself out there and find ways to accomplish that goal it will reflect strongly on the reputation you leave behind. Take risks, dream big, and challenge yourself with every obstacle you come across. I am so happy I took the risk to leave home and teach in a foreign country because it has helped me in more ways than I expected. I enjoyed every second I had in the school
What are some things that you wish you had known before going abroad:
- Say YES to as many opportunities as you can!
- Try to finish school work and lesson planning during the week so that you can TRAVEL during the weekends. Even if you do not travel, use your weekends to explore the city that you’re in and meet people, etc.
- Use Airbnb for living in your city, but hostel world when you are traveling!
- Do not book anything just yet for traveling, because you may have days off that you don’t know about until you get there!
- Google Translate. It is an app that you download the language to and it can help you get by (however, does not work all of the time and can produce really funny translations.)
- Preload google maps for directions to where you’re going
- Be careful of tourist traps- like all English menus, etc. make sure you talk to your co-ops about places to go before! They can give you suggestions on authentic places!
- There were many times where we just laughed about the situations we were in. you are going to be confused and make mistakes and feel totally lost, and that is okay, look at it with a humor lens and it will make your life easier!
- There is a week in between global student teaching and your placement here. I recommend taking a break. You will need it before jumping right back in! So travel, like extend your trip a little bit and make the most out of the time you have there!
- Do the math part of your edTPA [this applies to SPED and EECE majors]. Just make it fit with the curriculum. It will be a lot more work than you think when you come back!
- Uber works almost anywhere!