Reflections on my new school
I’ve not made any blog posts about teaching here in Saigon so I thought it about time to do so. My school here employs expat teachers mainly from the UK but with a smattering of other nationalities including Chinese, Spanish, French, Kiwi and Aussie. The teachers are all uni trained and professional. The head is an exceptionally experienced international educator. Local staff are all friendly and, at least in senior positions, well educated with good English language skills.
Students are predominantly expat Korean kids with quite a few wealthy and/or well connected Vietnamese. The other students range in nationalities with about 28 or so nationalities represented. The students are a respectful bunch but English language problems make for a teaching environment that often feels over simplified. The students are generally not lazy and work hard but their language skills make it difficult to deal with higher order type questioning and therefore their responses can often be ill formed and presented. Many a lesson is spent on glossary type excercises. Facts are generally easy for them and the senior kids make far more of an effort to learn basic facts than your average Aussie kid.
The school itself feels quite regimented to me and I’m not sure if this is because Australian schools are more laid back than your average overseas school. Students are given very little individual freedoms. This regimentation seems to me to breed an obedient but not a self regulating and mature student. I’m unsure why this school has this style – whether it is pressure from parents or the international style of schooling. Nonetheless it is a pleasant enough environment to work in and I’m sure the school will loosen up a bit as it gets older (it has grown at quite a strong pace and this has no doubt created some growing pains).
The physical environment is superb with well appointed classrooms, interactive whiteboards in each classroom, air-conditioning and a management team that is very supportive of the teaching staff. The school has real potential and for a school this young it has made massive strides in it’s quest to be a leading school in Saigon. This can be shown by the number of teachers and students who have moved to the school from other international schools in town. It’s an exciting place to be and makes for an environment that’s both challenging and a pleasure to teach in. I’m certainly happy with my choice and enjoy working here.