Education students get to teach around the world

International placements give teachers the opportunity to learn and grow

Applying for an international teaching placement while studying at the University of New Brunswick was an easy decision for Emily Ripley. The only hard choice was what country to choose.

The faculty of education at UNB offers students the opportunity to complete their teaching placements internationally. Currently students can apply to teach at schools in China and Colombia.

Ripley, who graduated from the program in October 2015, earned the chance to teach for eight weeks at the Canadian International School of Beijing in China.

“I taught in a kindergarten classroom from the end of March to the end of May,” Ripley said. “Since my BA was a double major in English and history, China stuck out to me historically and culturally.”

Students can travel while they gain experience

Ripley always wanted to be a teacher and wanted to travel. The combination of those two elements was the reason she chose UNB’s education program.

“The international program at UNB allowed for me to travel while teaching and to be challenged as an educator,” she said. “I taught two curriculums and had to overcome the language differences, as well as handling the changes between public and private education.”

The program requires students to teach both the International Baccalaureate and New Brunswick curriculums, so their Canadian credentials aren’t compromised through teaching abroad.

Dr. Kathy Winslow, associate dean of undergraduate programs for the faculty of education, said international placements have been a successful element of the program.

“Students are afforded the opportunity to learn, travel, and often find permanent jobs because of this placement,” Winslow said.

Not all students can go on an international placement. They apply and are interviewed, with upwards of 14 or more students teaching abroad. The numbers vary from year to year, depending on applicants, placements available, and the total student body.

Practicums lead to full-time jobs

Dr. David Wagner, associate dean of the faculty of education’s graduate programs, said he believes teaching internationally provides students with variety. It’s important to have both a depth and a breadth of teaching experience, he said.

“The strongest market for jobs for new teacher graduates is in international schools,” Wagner said. “These placements provide them with a chance to experience that setting before potentially accepting jobs internationally.”

Winslow added the practicums give schools a chance to evaluate the students before hiring them full-time. If the students choose to return and teach in Canada, the future teachers can draw on the experiences gained in the classroom.

International practicums for teaching students are still somewhat uncommon, Winslow said.

“If I were applying to programs, I wouldn’t just assume that wherever I went I would be able to have that opportunity. It’s a special element to the education program at UNB.”

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