This time last year, I’d just been offered my current job here in Malta. A lot of people ask how I found it, what the move was like, what it’s like to teach here and how/if they should try it themselves. Although I’d be very hesitant to offer advice on the latter, what I can do is share my personal experience. So, I thought I’d split it into a few significant parts. Here’s the first!
Firstly, teaching abroad isn’t something I’d thought about. I’m not sure why - it’s a great fit for us! I don’t think I ever realised how easy it could be. I was just flicking through Facebook (as you do) and I happened across a post from an ex-colleague. She’s half Maltese and had moved to Malta a few years earlier. She just posted that there was a potential position at her school if any of her teacher friends fancied teaching in the sunshine! I flippantly typed ‘don’t tempt me’ and, here was the twist of fate, read her post to my husband (then showed him a picture of a turtle wearing a funny hat!). I’d like to clarify that sitting at home reading Facebook posts to my husband is just not something I do! I don’t know why I read this one. He then uttered the two words that changed everything. Why not? Damn good point.
After messaging back and forth with my Maltese friend (okay, being honest, ‘friend’ was a stretch at this point - we’d never so much as been for coffee), I established that English was an official language of Malta and that knowledge of Maltese was not necessary for the job. She then put me in touch with the SLT, who gave me some more information.
It was great having someone I could ask questions of. Unlike the UAE or other places, there are not hundreds of English teachers in Malta and it’s a tiny country. Therefore, there are no Facebook groups etc where I could find information for expat teachers there.
Within a few days, I had a Skype interview lined up. At this stage, I made my husband do a trial Skype call, as I’d never done one before!!
The Skype interview was worryingly short! We chatted about the school and a bit about my experience and then I was told that they’d be in touch. I then didn’t hear for a few of weeks! I have since learnt that this was due to the illness of the staff member in charge of recruitment, but needless to say it was a very looooong few weeks! We didn’t know if we were staying in the country or not!
As soon as I was offered the interview, I told my head teacher. Every school and every head is different, but I loved my school and the staff there and I had been there since the day the school opened, so I wanted to be completely honest from the start. Plus, it’s far easier to have that conversation when you’re considering a move abroad than if you’re just moving schools in England: you’re leaving your whole life in England.
After a few weeks, I got the email with the offer! Yay!
Now, the pay here is very low. It’s almost half what I was on in the UK. I knew this before the offer came through, so while I was waiting to hear, we did some serious budgeting. This is absolutely essential. Moving to another country requires money. (I’ll talk a bit more about this in the next post).
I was in a great position to move abroad: I’m lucky to have a husband who owns his own business and works online and over the phone (recruitment). This means that he can work from anywhere. In theory. In reality, the tax laws and social security contributions in each country make a HUGE difference, especially to his salary. Definitely look into this for your own salary and your parnter’s if travelling with someone.
So, all that remained was to revisit my husband’s initial reaction: why not? He could move with his job, we have no children, we have no major financial commitments and our family are in reasonable health. We were just approaching 31 and have been together since we were 16, so we know how to handle pretty much anything together! Our friends and relatives are having children, which is not something we want so we decided to have our own adventure!
In my next post, I’ll write about preparing to move, clearing out the house, bits of financial info that might be useful if you’re considering a move of your own and basically everything that happened between being offered the job and making the move.
So often, we ask children to 'check their work'. We may even give them a little ticklist of what to tick: full stops at the end of sentences, capital letters for names , check spellings. These are great to help the children to focus and to check for 'silly mistakes', if they know how to correct them. But what if they don't?
There's a difference between checking and learning.
I have heard a lot about editing stations. I was keen to try them but wanted to ensure that they were not a lesson-long ticklist, but an actual way to learn how to improve writing.
I am still toying around with it. So far, I have tried it a few times and they have worked very successfully. I now want to refine them to really get the most out of them So, here's how I have been using them:
After writing the first draft, we have a lesson of Editing Stations. The children are already in 6 teams of 4. On each table, I put an activity and the resources needed. The children begin at their own table, where they usually feel most comfortable and get going the quickest. I set a timer for 7 or 8 minutes. When the timer goes off, they put the table back as they found it (an important step) then move to the next one with ONLY their book.
By far the best thing I thing I've learnt was a bit of an accident! After the lesson, I put the editing station papers on display on the wall. I found that the children asked me could they 'do an editing station' after they'd finished their next piece of writing! I now display them all and have hung some from the wall in plastic wallets, so they can take them to their tables.
As you can see, some of mine and hand-written. However, the 4 printed ones are below to download for free and get you started (file below the pics). In addition to these, I sometimes have a 'next step spot', where they check their next step from their previous piece of writing.
Here is what I think makes great editing stations:
So, there you have it. My experience so far of editing stations. I'd love to hear from you if you have a go, so please do leave a comment to let me know how it went, if you have any advice, if you've done them any other way... ideas always welcome! I'll do another post when I have a bit more experience of them and I'll try to get some pics of them 'in action', so you can see the impact it's had on writing. Enjoy!
Hi! I'm Mrs P: passionate primary school teacher!