Welcome to our September edition of Teacher Spotlight!
Umar was nominated as this month's Teacher of the Month.
He's from West Yorkshire, Batley in the North of England and has been teaching at our Gonghexin branch for just under a year now.
Umar is a standup guy, who has made such a positive impact on not only his students, but his friends and colleagues here too! Kid Castle is lucky to have him and we'd love to know what he has to say about his time in China so far.
Over to Umar!
What made you decide to come to China?
I've been in Shanghai for 10 months now, so I had a pretty good look at China (or Shanghai at the least) pre-Covid. Initially I was looking for some sort of paid teaching experience. I saw a variety of opportunities especially around China, but Kid Castle was the most attractive. In my head it was also a very alluring proposition, to be in a far-flung country without anyone I know.
How long have you been teaching?
Kid Castle is my first professional teaching experience, but it's definitely not my last.
What do you love most about life in China?
There are a few favourites that come to mind. The history and culture is absolutely fascinating. Shanghai has an abundance of museums and attractions where you can learn about it. Another great thing, which coming from the West is kind of surprising, is how easy life is due to the implementation of technology. I haven't carried a wallet in months and I have a strong phone signal wherever I am, be it on the underground metro or the top of Avatar mountain.
It would also be remiss of me not to shout out the fellow foreigners in Shanghai. I'm not the most social butterfly but any random "laowai" could end up being a friend for life, just remember to add them on WeChat or you may never see them again.
What is your go-to game in class?
Any game which combines an athletic ability with answering questions is always a winner, which is why my basketball game is great. They simply have to answer my questions and they can throw the ball into the basket from specific places for points. I up the points for trick shots, you wouldn't believe the crazy throws I've seen go in. They've cost me a lot of Chevady points.
Favourite teaching experience/memory?
The younger classes are always fun because the kids fall in love with you almost instantly. But personally engaging my oldest students is the most rewarding. As my fellow teachers know, our advanced classes are notorious for refusing to speak most of the time. Something about growing up makes you disinterested in school. So to get them to a point where they're not only answering, but asking me questions too is amazing
Word of advice for new teachers coming to China:
Personally my advice on the teaching side is to chill out. If you ever have a concern or problem, talk to your Chinese teachers. Be calm and open, they will really appreciate it, as it shows you're proactive and want to solve problems. Also don't take a lack of initial interest from the Chinese teachers to heart, they have probably met a fair few foreign teachers and don't know what to expect from you.
But outside of school, try and do as much as you can. Travel is so convenient in China, especially Shanghai. Wake up early and always try and do something. There is so much to see, you'll regret it if you don't.
Keep an eye out for next month's Teacher Spotlight! If you'd like to nominate a friend or colleague email us at firstname.lastname@example.org