I had the fortune of interviewing a true world traveler and someone who is making HUGE impacts on our world by being an international teacher.
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Jess Gosling's Website , Linkd In, and book on How to Become a Successful International Teacher...
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Welcome to in the rising podcast. My name is, but Tina brown, and this is the platform I've chosen to talk aboutSpeaker 2:
Living a life that's really in alignment with your hopes, your dreams and your goals. And that includes me having my soliloquy or having interviews with other people who've gone after what is really important to them, despite fear, despite obstacles. And so I really encourage you to listen to this interview series that I have right now. And I'm so grateful to have had Jess Gosling on today for several reasons. One, she is my first person that is living in Taiwan that I have gotten to interview, but also because I just love hearing a British accent. It is just, it reminds me of living in Germany and having sky TV and watching all of the British shows. But besides that, she really goes after what's important to her and is doing something that is something that a lot of us have some fear of doing, which is leaving our home. And I'm not talking about our hometown, I'm talking about our home country. And so I'm excited for you to hear her story and the passion she is showing about being a teacher,Speaker 3:
The podcast for like UK based podcast . But this is the first us one. So I'm quite excited now I feel even more special.Speaker 2:
Yes. So , um, I'd like you to just tell my listeners a little bit about yourself.Speaker 3:
Okay. So I am an international teacher and I've been teaching now for over 10 years. Um, I originally obviously , um, trained in the UK and then I decided to move out and I started with Egypt and they moved on to Vietnam and now I'm in Taiwan. Um, I absolutely love teaching throughout my career. I've developed towards more of the younger children. Um, cause I just think that joy and curiosity and , um, the ability to co-create and co-work with them is so fun. So every day to me is , is really, really enjoyable. I absolutely love my work. Um, I love travel. Of course we've been a little bit limited due to COVID. Um, I love exploring and adventuring and thankfully in Taiwan, there's lots of opportunities for hiking and going off and finding new things and doing interesting stuff. Um, I love spending time with my family. I've got a daughter and I've got a husband here as well. So we're in the summer holidays right now. So it's great. We've got this opportunity to reconnect again because unfortunately for us like the rest of the world , um , Taiwan faced domestic cases for the first time , um, at the end of last term. So we shut down for six weeks. So it was pure online learning , um, which obviously is difficult because we're both teachers. Um, and we also had to homeschool our daughter. So it was a bit of a juggling act for a while and it was kind of just trying to schedule each other so we could do work. We could help our daughter, we could have lunch. Um, so it was a little bit precious towards the end. So now we're just very thankful to have this time now to, to reset and relax and , um , build some experiences again together in the holidays. That's wonderful.Speaker 2:
That is wonderful. And when, you know, we talked about you being on , on the podcast, you did say that you're from a working class British background who, with parents that didn't really support education and you're a teacher. So tell me a little bit, like how that made you feel and what , where did this determination to still follow educationSpeaker 3:
Come from? Yeah, I think I've I've I was raised to be quite fiercely independent. I was one of four children and I was the youngest. So I think at that point, my parents were a bit yeah . And I say fair, do what you want. Um, so I think I was given a lot more opportunities and perhaps , um , not quite as much guidance as I possibly could have had, but I was very lucky to fall in with the right people and not really get myself into any great , um , issues or trouble growing up. Even I had an awful lot of freedom. So yeah, my parents, I did go on from school because at that time in the UK, you finished at 16 and you could go on to work, which , um, two of my sisters did do. Um, but I went onto college , um , higher education college. And I remember that was kind of the time when I was experimenting with going out and enjoying myself. Um, and I do remember it was quite clearly said, like, if you're not going to be studying, then you just need to go out and get a job. We're not supporting this. Um, and I think I just kind of ignored that and maybe , um , went out maybe one day less a week or something, but still continued to study. Um, but I remember when I got my results from there, I felt very disappointed with myself because I didn't really get the grades I should've got. So it was immediately an example to me, you know, you take the easy road, this is what's going to happen. Um, so I decided to go to university by sister, that was just a bit older me. It was the only one in the family that did. So I kind of had that example set for me, but it was never said within my family, it's something you should do or it's something you should consider. And I think I just, I didn't know what I wanted to do. Um, which I think a lot of students feel that I did start at my first university. And I say that , um, it was after a year out traveling around Asia. So I did start my first university and this was a , what we call a red brick university in the UK. So like a top tier university and I immediately felt very different. Um, I absolutely freaked out. So the girls in my dorm all had horses. They were, they , they sounded different. They different, I felt different and I didn't fit in. And I remember like that first week just trying to comprehend what was happening. And I just felt I had no control. And I remember every evening going home and crying and just thinking, I can't do this. I'm not good enough for this. I just remembered this. And I think the final point came to when they said we would have like a seminar and it was in the doctor's office. Um, and it would be five of us and we should have read a list of books. And I remember just being absolutely terrified. And then I just dropped out. Um, I went to talk to the counselor and the counselor said, I'm usually we try to persuade , um , uh , students not to do this, but you have given me something , a good arguments . I feel you're right. I feel you should take another year. Um , which I did. Um, and I didn't go back home, but I had a boyfriend at the time. We lived together with his parents. Um, and I tried to get a job and I could not get a job. I remember , um, filling in multiple applications. It was really soul destroying and it was a time in the UK because we do have benefits in the UK if you don't work, but you had to go to a benefit center the entire day and be filling in paper copies of applications. So it was really soul destroying. I think I got a little bit of temporary work. So by the time I got to university the second time , um, I was raring to go and I didn't look back and I absolutely loved it. Um, I studied history with race and ethnic studies, so like on a soul sociology side there. So I still had quite a strong interest in working with people from other cultures and finding out about that kind of stuff. And again, I finished uni and I still, I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I thought maybe a race and equality council, but then being white, British doesn't , didn't quite fit into that. Um, but that's okay . The things I thought, you know, better to delete jobs open for people who it's really, really going to help. And they're , you know, they're really gonna be able to work with communities. And so I started thinking about what to do and again, I went into temporary office work. Um, again, I didn't enjoy it. Um, I felt I was just living for the lunch hour at the end of the day and the weekends. And I just couldn't think like how people could live like this when they felt like this going to work every day. So I started exploring some options and I found out about teaching in Japan and it was teaching that really drew me. I thought, you know, maybe I could try this. Like I love working with people. Um, I'm very social. Um , I like kids. Um , I'd never taught them before. Um, I'd done a little bit of work experience in the library where I used to do reading times with the children. And it's only really now in my later years that I pinpoint. Yeah, I really, really loved that, but I didn't make those connections about point. Um, and my partner at the time was very interested in doing as well. So that was really, really lucky. He was more interested Japan. So in combination, we were great together to go and try it. Um, a big consideration for me there was of course , um , I didn't really want to be paying out for a teacher training course if I wasn't sure because the way, the whole way through my life, like for , um, college and university and also the , the teaching qualification I've funded myself completely. So I never took any handouts from my parents because it was kind of how I felt I was raised. Um , my other siblings have a behavior differently, but , um, my father really instilled in me that you, you make your own money. You don't ask for money. Um, and if you can't, if you can't afford it, you just don't do it. So I thought it was, I go abroad and I'd , um, I try out teaching first, not take that risk because otherwise it costs around 10,000 pounds, really, if I didn't like it. And I did in the UK and we were paid and we were actually paid really quite well , um, for the time and our level of qualifications. And for the first time we had our own apartment, we had two cars. Um, so it was like, wow, this is what you could have. And we really did enjoy the job too . Um, it was quite different to what I do now. It was more like edutainment. It was more like going in and being a bit of a clown and having kids laugh and play with you, but it was also really joyful and really interesting. And I think we were just smitten at that point. Um, I mean, it could say two ways. There was the good aspect of the fact that I wasn't really supported to go into education or to continue education was the same that I wasn't told not to as well, because I feel perhaps there's some international teachers, if they have very, very close families and they have the pressure that the family don't want them to leave. And I can imagine that that would be incredibly difficult. Like my family never made me feel that way. Um, my sister, one sister that I'm very close to, I think she felt that it would be a short-term thing and I'll be back eventually. Um, and we did come back obviously to train for a few years, but I think , um, after we went to us to , to Vietnam, particularly where we stay for seven years, I think it's quite obvious then . Uh, no, we weren't, we weren't returned to the UK and work.Speaker 2:
And that's, I think was when you were talking through your story, that is , um , something that I could relate to because I was a military kid. So we moved and moved and moved and there are definitely families and it's nice to have a close-knit family, but having not maybe support and going education that you also did not have someone telling you not to leave, you know, so that it was almost a support in another way around to go spread your wings. Yeah . And there is something that I don't know if I have the strength for, but to, to leave your home and especially your home country to , to travel through that takes some courage. Right. Even if you have a partner that takes some courage, have you always been kind of a person who really enjoys adventure and willing to go that way? Or is that something that you kind of developed ? Like I'm scared, but I'm going anyway.Speaker 3:
Um, I think it's just something that's been really innate, to be honest. Um , at 16, for example, I went backpacking with my best friend , um, around island because she had a lot of Irish relatives and although we weren't staying in the hotels or anything like that, we were staying with relatives. I remember feeling quite frustrated that we couldn't just go off on our own. Cause I think I always felt quite grown up. Um, I've always been great at organizing and yeah, I've, I've always been excited to do and seeing new things. And then when I turned 19, so when I took a year out before I went to the first university, I saved up and I traveled in Southeast Asia, like I said, so that was for four and a half months when I was 19. And again, that was with a partner at the time, but I did plan the whole trip. Um , and I think, I don't know if it's naive city or what it was, but I just think I have no fear with going abroad. Um, I , I think , um, I don't know . I , I know particularly now as I'm older, I feel the support networks abroad are absolutely amazing. Um, I've been very fortunate and I think it is something that particularly within international schools and TEFL teachers feel a lot that because you're not surrounded by family, the people that you work with become your family and the connections you make. And because you're meeting people who are like you, I think the connections are even stronger. Um, you know, sometimes the people can be quite quirky and a bit different , um , because maybe they haven't fit into the nine to five and the mortgage at home and you know, the everyday lifestyle , um, that we have at home. So yeah, I've really enjoyed it. And I do think it's just something that's always been in me. Like my husband , um, he was the one who came with me to Japan is now my husband. He feels he wouldn't have done it if he hadn't met me. Um, so I helped him go that way, I guess. Um, but now he, he's so happy that we're living this life and he's he, to be honest, when I have some doubts now due to COVID, I feel he's, he's more resigned that he's just couldn't imagine life any different, any other way. Um, but I'd say the only time is now that I start thinking about things as I have a daughter and that , that obviously changed a lot for us and her , um, ability to not be close to her. Grandma does, does both me quite a lot now , um, thankfully we have Skype and FaceTime and that we didn't have that actually until we really came to Vietnam. So that's been really in the past 10 years, we've been able to have that. So she has a close bond with her over that, but it's very unfortunate. I feel for like, for her that she can't go see a grandma, you know? Yeah . And itSpeaker 2:
Is different. It isn't , but you know, when you , um, I've read a quote somewhere when you are just, you're just a different person. When you see the moon from the other side of the world, like it's just a different perspective. How do you feel that we , you know, with your, your upbringing with your parents, maybe not fully supporting, but not, not supporting, how did that impact you as an adult now raising yourSpeaker 3:
Daughter? Um, I feel like I'm , I'm a very different parent. Um, I feel that I never ever want to put any pressure on her because I feel that can also be a really dangerous thing. Um, she does well , I find it interesting. She does pick up on me so much though, because I have the perfectionist personality, which I think a lot of teachers have and thankfully I've grown with it. And I I'd definitely say my forties, I've managed to suppress it a lot. Um, and I tried to not let her see these things, but she can see that I, in my forties, particularly, I'm achieving a lot of things and I'm working very, very hard and I feel then she may be concerned that she has to work to that level. So I'm trying to learn, especially now that I finished writing my book, that I put the laptop away more. I don't look at the phone constantly around her because I feel we're at a real danger of , um , which my parents didn't have, but we have the, we show them that technology is more important than them. Um, and I think I , I'm definitely guilty of that sometimes. So I'm really, really conscious of that. Um, in terms of her work , um, I'm really caught , I like to give her praise and I like to make her feel that she can do well, but I'm really, really keen to just give a very specific fact , um, praise. So she's aware of it. Like I do remember my mum's mum and dad making comments like, oh, you're just so clever. And they just now and then off the cuff , you know, but I don't think you can really believe praise like that. It needs to be, you know, we heard this or we saw this piece of work and we love this bit about it. It was really interesting how you made it. And I think , um, now I know a lot more about kids , um , an early childhood development and being a teacher, I think I can work better with her , um, compared to what I received. Um, like I do feel every generation they take on their own issues from the previous generation. Um, and that they're always just trying to do their best. And I think as parents, we do , um, really criticize ourselves anyway.Speaker 2:
Yeah . I read about that. And, you know, you had mentioned earlier when you were going through university the first time that you were wondering if you're not good enough, you definitely seem driven to figure it out, but what are you, what are you doing or how do you see that , um, with your daughter or with anyone else or your , the children that you're teaching that I'm not good enough does not stay at the forefront of their thoughts.Speaker 3:
Yeah. Well, I'm glad you asked that. Actually, it's a really good question because , uh , the more I've reflected upon things, I feel my upbringing has definitely impacted on how I teach, because I feel I really, really, really try to empower children because I was from that generation where you're seen and you do not speak. And if you speak your back chatting, basically, you know, there , there was very little conversation that I really remember in my household. Um, even though we had Dennis together , um, children were very different to adults and I feel I'm the opposite. So I really make sure they're heard and seen. Um, I give them a lot of agency in the classroom. I really do talk to them like they're friends and I call them that. And sometimes they're a bit surprised. They're like , oh , but you're a teacher, but I'm like, but I can also be your friend. Um, I'm no different to you, you know, we're both learning together. And often they do bring up stuff that I learn when I'm in the classroom. Like I do think four and five-year-olds can have much more specific knowledge typically about animals and dinosaurs than a teacher ever can. Um , so I really work to make them feel safe and comfortable and heard and just to have a really wonderful experience learning. That's really important to me. And as I said, when I worked with them, I give them very specific praise. You know, I don't just blanket rollout . Well, you know, you can have five stars cause you're so clever or, you know, I try not to just use those phrases. Um, so yeah, and also I think I've built a lot of empathy as well. And I think that comes through having a daughter too. So seeing my daughter go through education, some of the trials and tribulations she's had, which she has had , um, and I've really, really cautious about how I teach and how I work with children. And I make sure that the forefront always is considering how they feel and their views and trying to relate to them and trying to build really strong connections and relationships with them. It's really, really important to me. I ,Speaker 2:
I w I, I like how you're taking your past and moving it into your future. And then therefore the future of all the children you get to impact, I mean, this is a multi-generational impact that you're doing. And you did share, you touched upon it just real quick that you have just, you know, you're we're book. Tell us a little bitSpeaker 3:
More about that. So, yeah, I decided , um, there's a COVID , um, silver lining as I couldn't , and I don't, I don't want to make people jealous, but I'm quite a planner of holidays and trips and adventures, like I was saying, so that all had to stop last year, because it was just, it was obvious we won't be going abroad for quite a while just to keep us safe, to keep family safe, but also to keep Taiwan safe. So we decided that, so I had all this extra time and I'd finished a master's about two years previous, and I hadn't really written since then. I think I just had had a blog . I was tired of it, but I just started writing again. So I started a blog about teaching abroad. It was quite a personal one. Um , and then I set up a webpage , something I'd be managed to do for probably 15 years, but I found time started adding to that webpage . And then I a very good friend, who's an editor. And she said, you know, perhaps you think about developing this more. And I thought about it and thought about it. Then I kind of thought, well, you know, I never had a guide coming abroad. Um, I never had any idea. I did make lots of mistakes at the beginning. Um, I didn't get the best package I should have had really , um, as a qualified teacher. So I thought perhaps I write something that really guides teachers on that journey. Um, so I did , um, worked on it for just a bit less than a year, and it's just come out this month. Um , and it's an incredibly practical guide. So it takes you from, you know, what, if you're just considering going abroad, what you need to think about it takes you through , um , how to , to decide upon your country and your school. Because again, they're very, very important that you get the right fit for you , um, how to tackle interviews and how to gain interviews through your CV and your philosophy of education. Um, and I also sort of wrote a bit about how to prepare to move abroad, because I don't think there's a lot really written about that , um, what you need to consider. Um, and then when you arrive , what you should do when you arrive, you know, like , um, initially when I first arrived, arrive in my first placement, I tried to do everything. I just burnt myself out, you know, every single social event . So there's a lot written about that, how to pick and choose, you know, fi find your tribe basically. Um, and then how to succeed when you're in the school teaching. There's not a lot on pedagogy to be honest because there's books specifically written about that. And I don't think that's the , the angle for this book. Um, and then also, you know, how to stay in contact with home, how to , um, what, what to do when you want to change schools. Because again, once you've been in one international school that then , um, changes things when you move to the next and quite positive way. Um, and then I also, which I was really, really proud of. I included , um, expert voices. So the final chapter was all about all the different types of people who come to teach internationally. So there was teachers, single teachers, couples, couples with children. It also includes a trailing spouses as well. So I actually co-create the last chapter with them through questionnaires. So their voices are throughout that chapter. Um, and it, it really sort of changed how I perceived , um, how , how I should be writing that chapter. It , it really sort of clarify many things to me and in a very, very penultimate to have to , as I'm actually recording their voices. So there , I actually put the questionnaire questions out and their answers to it. So you can actually hear maybe eight or nine different people's views on different key questions about the move abroad, which again, I really wanted to do, because if, if I just write the book and I don't share that information with people, then it's just my, my opinion. Um, I also learned that through, through writing the book , um , from the very first chapter I shared each chapter in draft around a circle of readers. So they were like international teachers, as well as , um, recruitment, as well as head teachers. So I got different viewpoints from different people , um, people who are in the , um , private sector, as well as people are in profit and nonprofit sector. I also looked at those as well. Um, so I hope like the book now is, is quite well-rounded and it's not just a personal blog. Um, it does have my voice in it, just very small sections, but that's kind of in like a little , um , sub section by itself. So you can see what my experience was as well running through it. Well, absolutely.Speaker 2:
You know, your experience has value also, and you had mentioned that you are really hoping to expire exhausted and disillusionedSpeaker 3:
Teachers, which,Speaker 2:
I mean, I don't, I know some teachers, they're not even traveling abroad they're right here and they're exhausted. And to salute my neighbor is a danger, you know, and it is exhausting. And , and what would you say to someone who's new in teaching or what, how do you revitalize or hope to revitalize someone?Speaker 3:
Well, see , I'm part of quite a lot of Facebook groups. I have one myself for this and I will see seeing so many teachers are particularly in the UK, very, very unhappy. They're burning out quickly with the workloads. And especially when they moved into like blended learning situations, which they weren't trained for and expected to do straight away. Um , they're struggling. And I think now the , the average time a teacher stays in the profession is something like three years in the UK before leaving. Um, I've heard it again and again, when I was there, it was a similar situation. I think it was something like five years, so people are desperately unhappy. So my advice to them is just look for other pathways. I mean, there's actually quite a lot of groups actually give you guidance on other pathways, even within your own country, you know, like consultancy or another kind of caring role. Um, that for me, it was really like, I did love teaching. I knew it was really what I enjoyed. I , I had done it by that, at that point, by like four years. Um, but I knew the UK wasn't the right place for me. I didn't feel supported. Um, I had a very difficult time within not just one school, several schools , um, of the pressures were unreal. I was working , um, you know, 70 hours plus a week. Um, my new paycheck says 35 and that's just so frustrating. And I just felt it was really thankless. There was never any praise. Um, there , there was no, to be honest, there's just no joy in it. Um, and I thought there's got to be a different way. So , so that's why I decided to move abroad. And I said, now it's very difficult to consider going back because we've , we've tasted this freedom and flexibility , um, great life balance and work life balance, sorry, we all sort of ability to, to mold your class, how you want them to work with the curriculum, how you want to work with it. Um, and it's just to me a much happier environment. So yeah, I would say to those teachers just don't put up with it. Don't don't think this is my life now, or even those close to retirement. Like when I was in Egypt, I was really good friends with people in their fifties and sixties, even , um, that decided, you know, Brian , I'm going to spend my last years living abroad and enjoying it out here. I mean, you're , you're never too old to just go and experience something different. And the brilliant thing with international teaching is your contract is usually two years maximum. So if it's something you really think, I don't like, you know, this isn't for me, I miss my family. You can go back and then you've tried something different and often it looks quite good on your CV because you've obviously you've, you've been adventurous. Um , you've had to be quite resilient, mover board and adaptable, and you can just bring all that experience back home. Yeah.Speaker 2:
And you know what, this entire podcast, it's all about creating and living a life that you envision, you know, that you can move forward and live your goals, not just think about them. And that's exactly what your story in the realm of teaching and teaching abroad is. And so I'm just so grateful that you gave me your time today for this podcast. Um , I really, really enjoy it. And you know what you are inspiration, not just to teachers, but to any woman, particularly that you can figure it out and you can stay the course, whether you feel like you're good enough or not, or if you've have soul destroying moments that you absolutely can move forward.Speaker 3:
Hmm . Well, thank you. That's really, really kind to say that. Thank you. But it is a journey. I definitely think , um, like I say, like, I hope my daughter can feel closer to how I feel now when she's in her twenties. That's the frustrating thing, isn't it? I mean, you realize in your forties, yes, you are a great teacher. Yes. You are a great person. People want to be friends with you. Um, but when you were in your twenties and even thirties, to a certain extent, there's so many doubts and what I say to people, and it's how I feel trying to not listen to that one critique because you're always going to have it. You're always going to have that person, especially as a teacher that comes in, doesn't like something you do in the classroom. And then you might have a different person come and watch and give you outstanding. And this is the hardest thing I think, because particularly teachers were very, very critical of ourselves. And I don't think parents don't realize that either. So one, one comment can really, really upset teachers and they'll take it to heart because really it's such a vocation it's for it's , it's such a giving , um , profession. Um, so they want to do the best for kids. Basically.Speaker 2:
They really do well, thank you so much for your time today. And you have a blast. It was such a pleasure talking to Jess and just hearing her views on things and how she was so passionate about what she loved, that she was also willing to walk away and , and venture from what was a comfort zone. So I hope this was a good learning opportunity for you, cause it was for me. And if these are podcasts are of interest to you and you feel this would be beneficial to others, I ask you to please leave a five-star review. It does so much to put this in the earsSpeaker 1:
And hands of those that it may benefit. And until next time let's keep building one another [inaudible] .