Our Stories

Teaching in China

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Kalsey Root recently graduated from our Mount Royal University Bachelor of Education program in the spring of 2015. While at MRU she was an active supporter of our MRU International Education Program as a Student Ambassador and Student Leader with the on-campus summer program for International Students. Kalsey's dream has always been to teach abroad and at the Calgary Area Teacher's Convention in February 2015 she picked up a brochure from the Canadian International School of Guangzhou in China. She emailed the school recruiter her resume and cover letter and about a month later she was contacted for a Skype interview. The interview went very well and the recruiter was very excited about having a MRU education grad interested in going to China and offered her a position teaching Grade 2. Kalsey indicates that the first year transition to teaching in China has definitely been an adventure but "thankfully a large group of teachers from Edmonton were hired at the same time as I was and we arrived together. We all immediately got along and started sharing experience and ideas. I sought out advice and support from a skilled teacher from Edmonton Catholic, a British teacher who has been teaching for 24 years, 10 abroad, as well as my Principal from Fort Saskatchewan who was part of the big group I came with". Initially, she "struggled in the first two weeks to keep it together because Chinese classes and schooling are very different from Canada. I hold true to my values and teaching philosophies, but I've had to make some compromises".

She emphasizes that teamwork, mentorship, and collaboration have been the key to her transition. "The staff and my new friends have been incredibly supportive and caring which has saved me from packing up and going home. My principal has taken my concerns seriously and made changes immediately. She now checks in with me every day. She has helped me make behaviour plans and she has given me space and autonomy when I needed it. The teacher from the Edmonton Catholic has been my voice of reason and she has shared activities she knew were effective for engaging English Language Learners (ELL) coming back from summer holidays. My British coworker and new friend has come into my classroom because he knows the children and he has helped me create a classroom rhythm to engage and empower the children. His mentorship has been invaluable! Finally my grade teaching buddy, who is also a new teacher from Edmonton (U of A), and I have helped each other get through each day from the same place of struggle. We share lessons, activities, strategies, and we make long range plans together with hugs in between!"

Kalsey is a strong advocate for the MRU B.Ed. program and she stresses how her final practicum prepared her teaching in China. "Although the experiences are very different, the year 4 practicum was extremely hard and I learned coping strategies including asking for help and being realistic with myself. I also worked in a high needs classroom which, gave me some tools for the high needs class I have now. I have also realized that even though I am not able to totally live my teaching philosophies here in China, the very base level principles of education still hold true and help guide me through the difficult times".

In terms of advice for students just entering the MRU B.Ed. program, Kalsey recommends "thinking long term and developing professional relationships. If you are finding it a challenge to get along with a peer, a professor, or mentor teacher think about how to navigate the relationship professionally because you will see these people again throughout your career and they can make or break a job for you. This applies to General Education courses as well. I've made some strong relationships with faculty in different departments who have given me great references, tools, and avenues for jobs. Think hard about your major and be realistic about what is sought after in the field of education. Finally, don't be so hard on yourself, although these four years are important, in the grand scheme of things it's a small part of your life journey!"