Student teaching abroad was probably the best decision I have made so far in my educational experience. I got to the opportunity to teach at a middle/high school in a small town called Krosno, Poland. This school was one of the best public schools in Poland. I was welcomed with open arms by the administration, teachers, and students. The students were excellent and very respectful. The town of Krosno had a very calm and relaxing atmosphere. I really enjoyed my time student teaching and living in Krosno.
The most valuable learning experience I encountered while teaching abroad would be that you have to be flexible and prepared for anything. There were a lot of days where instances would occur that I needed to switch classrooms, reteach a content area, redo lessons. A lot of the time these things were out of my control, but I still had a job to complete and students that counted on me to give them the best educational experience possible.
The most memorable experience I have from student teaching in Poland would be the relationships I was able to build with my students. It was very common for students to come up and ask you questions about America and my life story. Sometimes you would eat lunch with students, or go get desserts or coffee with a group of students. Those are some of my best memories because that was when I was able to really learn about the Polish culture.
What did you not expect?
One thing I did not expect was how far students would travel to attend this high school. Poland does not have the same set up as far as school districts and what school they have to attend based off of the area they live in. Some students lived in Krosno, and some students live as far as 75 miles away from the school. It took some students an hour to reach the school, and some even had to live in Krosno away from their families during the week to attend. Finding out this information really opened my eyes about what students must overcome in order to receive their education. A lot of students in America will also face their own challenges while attending school. I need to make sure that I am aware of students situations and being a support system for them.
What advice would you give?
Just do it! It may be a difficult decision to make, but just go for it. The experiences you will have will be so worth it. Teaching and living in a whole new culture will be an adventure of a life time. Get out of your comfort zone, experience new things, and immerse yourself in the culture as much as possible. You will have so many stories and experiences to share when you get back.
How has this experience impacted your life?
This experience has made a huge impact on my life in so many different ways. I was so nervous before coming to Poland, because I had never done anything like this before. I grew not only as a future educator, but also as a person. All of my students were english language learners. That made me adjust and change how I taught my lessons compared to if I was teaching in the states. This allowed for me to be more creative and adaptable to what students I had in my classroom. I grew as a person because I was always being put in a new situation. Being able to experience a whole new culture is something that I think every person should go through. It allows for you to see some of the best things about other cultures, and it also allows for you to appreciate some of the everyday things back home.
How did you learn about this experience?
I learned about the international student teaching experience from one of my education professors. They thought that I would enjoy this experience and encouraged me to apply. So I went through the process and was very fortunate to be selected to go teach in Poland.International Connections