Tips for Working with Local Teachers in Hong Kong
Are you considering teaching in Hong Kong as a native English teacher (NET)? If yes, do you know who you are going to work with? Here are some ways you can effectively prepare yourself and collaborate with the local teachers in school.
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Most of the teachers are local in Hong Kong kindergarten. Therefore, you are very likely to partner and work with a local class teacher. As a new teacher in school, it's absolutely important to listen to your local partners because each school has its own culture and working style. Therefore, take some time to observe other teachers when you are at work. It helps to observe a lot on classroom management strategies and the students' characteristics in your class. Other than the teaching time, it is also good to observe how teachers speak and how they behave in the teachers' meetings or during meeting time with the principal. You'll learn valuable information from it, for example, the school culture, how the teacher reacts, and the relationship between teachers and principal, which is very effective for you to fit in the school organization faster.
Although not many of the teachers can speak fluent English, it is important to build relationships with other teachers because it creates a way for you to feel comfortable in a workplace to share your teaching ideas, concerns and ask for advice. It also prevents isolation and makes you more eager to come to work because of the friendships you have built with your co-workers. Try to use some simple questions or words to express your thoughts. You may begin building relationships on things in the classroom, for instance, the talk about how to decorate the room and how to prepare materials, etc. This will make it easier to discuss the teaching and the lessons.
Communication is especially important when working with a co-teacher setting. Depending on the situation, some schools may ask you to be an English class teacher where you are responsible for taking a class with a local teacher together. In this case, you will need a lot of communication to discuss and share lesson plans, manage some disciplinary problems of the students or discuss which one will do the classwork task like grading the report card, calling the parents, or collecting homework. They look so simple, but they actually need a lot of collaboration to finish it. To communicate, you can try to ask questions that you are not sure about. If you don't understand something or you need help, don't be afraid to ask. This communication will help you not only in professional growth but also in personal growth.
You can also try to communicate with them by asking your colleagues questions about their interests and hobbies other than working. It is a better way to understand each other better. I love listening to my colleagues share their eating habits, her marriage, and how she grew up so I can understand the culture more easily.
Even though you are a new teacher and you speak a totally different language from each other, supporting your colleagues and showing them care. Take more time to observe what they need and think about how you could provide help with. Almost every teacher has their own problem to encounter in the classroom every day. Therefore, don't hesitate to offer your help to them when they are in need. If you have some special skills that you know, please let your colleagues know and offer your help. For instance, I learned balloon twisting and face painting when I was in school. Therefore, when there are some performances that need help, I will always be the first one to lead the team and help the other teachers.
I have seen a lot of NET teachers isolate themselves and never talk to their local teachers because of the language barrier. However, as you actively participate and build up teacher relationships with colleagues, you'll find that your job becomes more enjoyable and meaningful.
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