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Teaching a subject that is not your own...

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by daybreak07, Jul 9, 2011.

  1. daybreak07

    daybreak07 New commenter

    Hi all.

    My wife and I are teaching at a new Intl school starting in September. She is teaching her own subject but I have been asked to teach a subject which is not my own - which I agreed to do at the interview. I am happy to do this at KS3 (which is the bulk of my timetable), and ToK (which I am really looking fwd to!) but they have put a GCSE class on my timetable for this year too. I am uncomfortable with this as I don't feel qualified to teach this subject to GCSE (probably because I am NOT qualified to teach it!). Also, at the interview I only agreed to KS3 and ToK.

    I have sent the school a very polite email requesting an adjustment is made, and that I will undergo training to bring my professional knowledge up to speed for next year. I am awaiting a reply.

    I am wondering if there are many other teachers out there who are teaching a non-specialism, and I would love to know how accommodating the school is to you!

  2. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    If you're going to make a life as an international teacher, you have to be flexible. A good school won't ask you to teach a subject that you are not able to teach, but if you've already said you will teach KS3, you shouldn't be surprised in being asked to teach IGCSE. There's no such thing as being 'qualified' for a particular subject, you either have the subject knowledge or you don't - capable or incapable.
    It sounds to me that you have only been asked to teach at the school because they wanted your wife; make too much of a fuss and you could find they don't confirm your contract (check the small print!). Whilst some schools will take on the handicap of a teacher they don't want in order to get a teacher they do want, they won't want the haicap to be moaning and whinging too much.
  3. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    So there you have it, daybreak. When you hesitated to teach a public examination course which you judged to be beyond your competence, you thought you were being reasonable and sensible when you were really being a moaning, whingeing handicap.
    It can be useful both to you and the school to be accommodating within reasonable limits but only you can judge of what those limits are in your case. My qualifications are in English. Being very 'flexible' I've taught three other subjects to KS4 level and a couple of them to A level but there are others (Maths, for example) I have refused to touch with a ten foot quant even when the timetabler has jumped up and down mouthing persuasions, inducements, blackmail, bribes and threats. My touchstone has always been 'How would Mrs Mainwaring as a parent react to the idea of my fumbling attempts to teach our children their sums?' (And, believe me, that thought makes me shudder).
    There is a saying in Chile to the effect that 'I give you my hand and you want to take my arm', which is what your future school is currently trying to do with you. Having told them that GCSE in a subject you are not competent to teach is a no go, I suspect you will hear no more about it. If I were in your position (which I'm not, so this advice is cheap) and they continued to try to twist my arm I would call a halt to my reasonable attempts to help them out with their timetabling difficulties and tell them to get knotted. That would be an end to the job offer (do you really want to work for a bunch of twisters?) but it wouldn't sound one bit like moaning or whingeing
  4. ???
    Strange, I consider myself to be qualified for my particular subject because of the nature of my degree. Also when I was training to teach, my certificate was PGCE Secondary Science (Physics) which is a qualification to teach a particular subject.

    BTW - lovely answer M
  5. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Lead commenter

    Gracias, Robbie. One of my favourite subjects, Physics, though I've never dared to try teaching Science beyond Year 8.
    My Deputy in my first headship was a Physicist. She loathed setting up show 'experiments' for open days, muttering 'if it craps it's Biology; if it goes 'bang!' it's Chemistry and if it doesn't bloody work it's Physics'.
  6. actually it's both
  7. On the fence, Roberto? One slip and your grapes will be mush....
  8. I'm never on the fence.

    If you look at my previous post I have correctly capitilised the word 'Physics' since in that case it is the name of a course about physics.
    If I were to use the word in a sentence such, "... the physics of magnetism is ...", then I would not use a capital letter.
    If I were to describe a persons occupation as such then I would write, "He is a physicist"
    It could be correct to capitilise this if it were their official title such as "He is the Hospital Physicist"

    Also it has become acceptable to write the names of school subjects with an initial capital letter such as Chemistry, Physics, Physical Education even though strictly only subjects whose name derives from a language should be written like that (i.e. English, French etc).
    Since the rules of our language are really about what is currently accepted as correct (compare todays English with that of a couple of hundred years ago) then I will argue that currently both are correct.
    Over to you [​IMG]
  9. Just read my post again - I need to get a life.
    This is about the only entertainment I'm getting right now - sitting here in the most boring city in the World (even drearier than Newport Pagnell) in excessive heat.
    Have a nice summer everyone [​IMG]
  10. That's the way I like it, Robby. Some of the changes in the language, although acceptable, are horrible.
    I had a discussion with a colleague who used the word 'gotten' a lot. I argued the word didn't exist. Like a dog after a bone, I phoned (from the pub) the then Head of English and he sadly confirmed that it was acceptable in common usage. I was crestfallen and proceeded to get twice as drunk as I was.
    Mind you, he used to say 'aways' a fair bit too....Urgghh.

  11. I know how you feel.
    My pet hates at the moment are;
    and the one that really makes me want to vomit is 'dude'.

  12. But apart from 'lol', they are proper words!
    I don't know how I would get by without 'pathetic', 'useless', 'ridiculous' and 'tripe'.
    As you can see, I'm hard to please...
    And if anyone thinks this is off topic, it's English, not my subject.
    Newport Pagnell is quite nice....

  13. I always maintain that as a professional one is a Teacher first and foremost and subject specialist second, especialy at Key Stage 3. In the current climate I find it difficult to understand when teachers choose to reject and consider to refuse teaching other subjects. Being thankful for a job seems to be lost on many abroad, who have enjoyed the luxuries of foreign living. Get your sleeves rolled up, prepare,plan and get on with it. In time once your established you may see the sitation change. There are many morw who await in the wings to do the job.
  14. I am a professional Science/Physics teacher and as such will teach only that to which I am more than competant to teach. It doesn't matter what the current climate is; if we were to follow that logic should we not apply it to other professions for instance in medicine and expect say a paedatrician to roll up his sleeves and stuck into some brain surgery (I admit a rather extreme example but it does make my point). I didn't become a professional to be treated like an amateur.
    To whom to we give our thanks? Why should I feel thankful? I feel satisfied that my hard work and efforts got me here, I don't owe any thanks for that to anybody. I remember when I arrived at my first job here, the other Physics teacher told me that I'd 'landed on my feet' getting a job at that school. I replied with, "No, I've climbed to my feet". As professionals we don't owe thanks for our jobs; we earned them.
    Also, those of us teaching abroad have other things to consider. We understand that we are answerable to the parents who are paying considerable sums of money. The parents want subject specialists; why should they fork out buckets of cash just for their child to be taught Science by an Art teacher? We do not have the same protection from legislation and/or unions that we would receive back in the UK so we have to be careful about where we choose to work and what we are prepared to teach; we could find ourselves out of the door very quickly if the customers (parents) aren't staisfied.

    [note: the bold letters are just to annoy FP] [​IMG]

  15. And it worked, you Bastard....
    Art with a capital A - what tosh. And 'Science' too...
    Bring up the lyrics of Wonderful World ([​IMG]) and see how odd it looks with all the subjects capitalised (apart from French of course..). It's just plain wrong Roberto - plain wrong.
    And the other poster there went with a capital T for teacher. Oh, my good heavens.
  16. Robby - I think I love you! Annoying FP and using capitals for subject specialisms - an excellent twofer.

    Emperor - I disagree. I may be a teacher and prepared to teach other cubjects within reason but it is not easy, requires a great deal of hard work and impacts severely on both the teacher and the students' results. Along with Robby, I don't see why I should be grateful that my hard work and dedication earned me a job that I deserve and the commensurate salary.
  17. I just LOVE to stoke up the Fire. Works all the time [​IMG]
  18. Ha - I'm with you on that [​IMG]
  19. stopwatch

    stopwatch Lead commenter

    In UK at various times I taught English, History, RE and General Science. I haven't been trained for any of them.
  20. and I've pretty much taught the whole curriculum too in my time. They don't make em like they used to. Too many whingers wanting ann easy ride it seems.

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