My teaching career began when I decided to try teaching guitar to private students. I had played guitar as a hobby for many years and for a long time had wondered whether I might be able to teach it to others. I needn't have worried; the lessons went well and I seemed to have a natural ability to teach. It was not long before the word spread and I had many satisfied students.
Following this positive experience, it seemed logical to consider what other subjects I might be able to teach. I was working during the day as a computer programmer at the time and, having done that for 10 years or so, was not really enjoying it like I once used to anymore, so I was looking for a change of career; it seemed to me that teaching might just be what I had been looking for.
With this is mind, I approached Hull College UK, who initially gave me a few hours, teaching Maths to some city kids. This met with good feedback and I was subsequently given a full-timetable and became a member of the Functional Skills department there, teaching all of Maths, ICT and English. The department were really supportive in developing my skills and I picked up my PGCE, among other Maths, ICT and English qualifications while I was there; even retaking my GCSE Maths along the way!
That summer, I decided to do something else that I had always wondered about doing - travelling Europe! So, just for the fun of it, I spent the next 6 weeks driving through 6 European countries. This opened my eyes to the wide world of travel and I returned with the idea that what I really wanted to do was to combine my new-found love of travel with my teaching career.
A few more trips later (one to New Zealand and a tour of the UK) confirmed this in my mind, so I enrolled on a TEFL course. The course was mostly distance-learning but was concluded with an intensive weekend course spent in sunny Leeds(!)
It was to be another year before I actually used the TEFL option. The job market back home seemed to be worsening and I began to look abroad to further my career. A short round of Skype interviews later, I was offered several positions, mostly in China. I did not know exactly where I was going, or exactly what to expect, only that it would be very different; which was something I looked forward to.
In the event, considering my lack of research, I was fortunate enough to be chosen by JESIE, who have looked after my interests superbly all the time I have been here. I am glad to say that I have found the experience to be a truly worthwhile and rewarding one.
My first year was spent teaching English in a smaller Chinese city called Xinghua. Once arrived and into the job, I found teaching Chinese kids to be a fascinating new challenge. JESIE and the school I was placed at looked after my interests really well throughout the time I was there.
During my first year I had time for travel, visiting most cities in Jiangsu (the highlights being Shanghai and Nanjing), Thailand and Hong Kong. I also found the potential options for career development to be much greater than had I stayed at home. The TEFL course was essential preparation, but since being here, I took the opportunity to gain my CELTA qualification, which was good preparation for my current role as Academic Supervisor for JESIE in Nanjing.