Home > Discussion Topics > A video that made me think about when I used to teach in the United States

A video that made me think about when I used to teach in the United States

I don’t know about you, but I used to work in the United States, teaching at public schools in high-poverty neighborhoods. The past 5 years I have been teaching at international schools around the world, working with quite well-to-do students.

One question that I sometimes ponder since my move to teach in international schools: are international school students just as needy as those in the high-poverty schools that I used to teach at in the United States?

The obvious answer is no, right? Most international school students come from quite privileged families. Most likely, they have enough food on the table and are not refugees of war. International school students are well-rounded with all their needs being met, right? The answer might be once again….no, certainly not for all of them. It seems though that they are needy in different ways. Many students at international schools might be from wealthy families, but I know a lot of them that have many issues to deal with. One big issue is that there are many times when one of the parents is gone on business trips around the world for days, sometimes weeks at a time. Another issue is that there are many instances when international school students are actually being raised mostly by a house caretaker/nanny (I know a number of families when that person is from the host country, not speaking very much English). And the list of issues that affect international school students continues…

When I was teaching in the United States, I remember talking about my teaching job as being an advocate for the civil rights and well-being of the students, as well as teaching them how to read and write. I think I must always fight for the rights of students no matter where I am teaching or who I am teaching, helping those who don’t have the voice or power yet. For example, I have found it to be very vital to know about why ‘Johnny’ might look to be really depressed and disengaged in class all the time. It might be that his dad is constantly on business trips and the mother doesn’t believe it is having an effect on ‘Johnny.’ This exact situation happened to me earlier this year at my current school. Making sure that teachers are aware of students’ home life situations and the issues that can plague international school students can become quite valuable when working with them at school.

Does anyone else have a similar teaching experience from the students they were working with in their home country to the ones they are working with now at international schools? What do you think about the ‘needs’ of international school students and how can international school teachers help to address them?

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