Although I have not taught overseas extensively, one of my first experiences in the classroom was abroad in San Pedro Town, Belize. In my final year of university, the school I attended offered a 5-week experience to extend my local internship into an international one. My teaching experience in Belize opened up a whole new world and allowed me to more clearly consider the implications of different educational systems and learning experiences. It also allowed me to learn about other cultures and helped me appreciate and respect the unique differences that exist on a global scale.
I took this experience with me into my first three teaching jobs, as I continued to learn about what it meant to be a teacher and experimented with the best ways to draw the same love of learning I had out of my students. I was fortunate enough to work with varying populations of students and gain experience in the elementary and middle school grades. When I look back on those years, what stands out to me the most is the rich conversations that took place in my classrooms. I strived to create an environment where students were doing the majority of the talking, sharing their ideas, considering ideas of others and figuring out ways to work together. My philosophy as an educator has developed to consider myself as a facilitator of experiences that allow students to take ownership of their learning. If students left my classroom with the appropriate tools to think for themselves and were motivated to engage in their own learning, then I felt I had done my job.