May 27, 2019

Pueblo Ingles: A Volunteer Program for English Speaking Teens in Spain

Marbella, Spain

Pueblo Ingles for Teens is a program for native English speakers to spend a week or two in Spain, in one of seven locations speaking to Spanish speaking teens to improve their English language skills. [Read more...]

Family Fun Offers a Student Incentive

DODDs School Celebration

As an International Teacher  I created quarterly incentives that involved an interesting extra curricular activity to involve students and their families .  Students who kept their grades at a B average could participate in each Family Fun quarterly activity. Some of the regular quarterly activities included family picnics, hikes on Guam, beach picnics and BBQ;s at my home.

Because some students didn’t manage to keep the necessary grades to participate I also planned an activity once or twice  per school year related to a holiday and invited each student along with their parents. One particularly fun activity was a cookie baking party at my home. The kids and parents alike enjoyed that one and everyone went home with fresh baked cookies.

Requirements and activity parameters are different around the world so it’s important to plan activities through your administrator. I’ve been fortunate with schools and parents signing release forms and allowing participation in some unusual activities. My requirement has always been that at least one parent attend the event. Also on Guam when we went on jungle hikes we went with first aid supplies and a cell phone. We did some pretty amazing things, including a hike to Guam’s Pagat Cave. The cave contained a underground swimming hole and as I had been previously several times we hiked the mile or so into the jungle and swam in the cave by candle light. It was fun for everyone and the parents loved it. Today, I’m not sure I would plan such an extreme event, but it was well supervised with parents, myself, a DARE officer and release forms signed by every family.

The reality is that every student is not going to be able to earn incentives, so it’s important to plan at least one or two activities with your students outside the classroom where students, teacher and families can bond and enjoy wonderful day together. My years as an International Teacher created friendships with my students and their families that continue today. The activities and events I planned brought my students closer together and helped us bond each year as a class.

Pagat Cave You Tube video

Flickr Creative Commons Photo By: USACE Europe District

Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag Project

This is a fun project to do with students or with the children in your family on a vacation day.  I used this as a Science activity with my seventh grade students in Hawaii. The instructions and ingredients are simple enough that this ice cream project can also be used with younger age children. My students did this particular  ice cream activity outside to minimize the mess.  As an added bonus students can bring their favorite ice cream topping in a ziploc bag to add into the ice cream mixture as it is firming up.

Homemade Ice Cream

Here are links to three options for Homemade Ice Cream in a Bag. (This one uses half and half.) (This one uses milk rather than half and half.) (This one offers the option of making the ice cream in a coffee can.)

Ingredients  and Materials to Make Ice Cream in a Bag

1 C half and half

2 Tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 C rock salt

ice cubes

ziploc bags (One gallon size bag and one quart size  bag will be needed for each recipe made)


permanent marker to put names on the ice cream bags

Divide your ice cream mixture into individual ziploc bags and then place the sealed bag of  ice cream mixture into a larger gallon sized bag filled partially with ice. Add rock salt to the outer bag and seal it carefully. Have the students toss the ziploc bag back and forth within their hands, using the towels as needed, when the bags become too cold. I remember this project taking about 10-15  minutes. We then took the ice cream out of the exterior bag and placed it in the freezer for a firmer freeze. When you are taking the ice cream bag out of the larger bag to put it in the freezer wipe it off and then add in your individual ice cream toppings. When the ice cream is firm the kids can eat it directly from their individual bags which have been labeled with their name.

Homemade Ice Cream Photo by: Enersauce

Substitute Teaching Made Comfortable

When I began substitute teaching I was concerned about making my wardrobe work without wasting a lot of extra money on clothes I would rarely wear. Subbing wardrobes will differ in every climate so think comfort with a balance of professionalism. Here in Florida with tropical weather comes tropical, light attire. So how does living where every day clothes are casual translate to the classroom?

A Teacher and Pupil in the Classroom

My first suggestion is to note what other teachers in your school and district wear daily. You’ll get a feel for what is appropriate within a couple visits.  The clothing I wear here in Florida may not be acceptable in more formal districts in other parts of the country or world. Though I can say I’ve taught overseas in areas where shorts were acceptable, so it all depends on your region. My second suggestion is ask questions about the appropriate attire if you aren’t certain.

I quickly noted that here in Florida  teachers dress casually. I also noted that schools have  casual Friday where most teachers and students wear school shirts and jeans, so on those days I dress more casually. These are all things that substitute teachers can take note of in their first few assignments.  Another issue in Florida is the heat and the fact that many of my clothing items are sleeveless and sleeveless items are not allowed. I found creative ways to work around this issue because I wanted to be both comfortable and budget conscious. A solution that worked for me was  to purchase two light, cropped, crocheted short sleeved sweaters that can be worn over sleeveless attire. Thinking outside the box allows you to wear clothing that you already own, rather than purchasing additional clothing just to substitute teach.

Comfort is key when subbing so I generally choose to wear pants. I have several that feel as comfortable as jeans and one pair that are actually beige denim.  For speed and simplicity  when preparing to sub I choose either beige or black pants as they reduce my worry about stains and they can be worn with pretty much everything. I try to pair them with colorful tops, shirts and sweaters that are cheery looking. I personally believe it helps our interaction with the students to arrive wearing something cheery and comfortable, if we are relaxed and comfortable the situation will be more comfortable.

Photo Credit: Ctd 2005 Flickr Creative Commons

Subbing Made Simple

After teaching in the classroom for twelve years and taking a several year break for career and  family reasons, I decided to try my hand at substitute teaching in Florida. When I made the decision to substitute I was nervous about handling groups of students I’d never met, but I quickly found strategies to keep me sane and keep the students on track. [Read more...]

Short-Term International Teaching Adventures

If you are a teacher looking to add some adventure and globe trotting experience to your resume then International Teacher Supply might be an option for you. International Teacher Supply is a member of ECIS and hires teachers to fill short and long term substitute positions in established international schools around the world. Positions can last from six weeks to several months. Host schools provide flights, health insurance and a teacher salary.

The International Teacher Supply website states, ” You will not lose money on an IST posting! You will be able to live well, travel and or save money! The international school will pay for transportation to and from the posting and may subsidise accommodation costs. Some schools also pay a cost of living allowance.” To apply for positions through International Teacher Supply applicants fill out an online application and pay a one time fee of 35 GBP, which is $54.19 according to the latest conversions. Applicants  are expected to have two years of full time teaching experience and go through a screening and interview process before being hired by IST.

As a former international teacher, I particularly like this short term teaching option  because it allows me the flexibility to work and travel overseas without committing to a typical one or two year teaching contract. It also allows me to explore countries and locations I’d like to visit but might not otherwise consider for a long term contract. This type of short term work would be ideal for teachers  who have a very flexible lifestyle,  those who work from home or who are global nomads looking to make some additional money while continuing their global adventures.

Related Readings: Teach to Travel, International Teaching Jobs, and Extreme Teaching: What’s in Your Bomb Bag?

Photo Credit: Isaf Media