How Summer Teaching will help your Teaching Career
By Patrick Riordan
Reminiscing on summer school evokes memories of golden beaches, dreamy blue skies, sport, friendship, and ceaseless laughter. A lot of the time it appears too good to be true. Cathartic moments occur on a daily basis. If you want to travel, meet people from all over the world, earn and save money, while doing something meaningful then consider working in a summer school! The benefits, both personal and professional, will make it worth while.
What is the structure of summer school?
Summer school and summer camps typically last between 1 and 8 weeks, and they can be found all over the world – there are some real hidden gems out there too. They are often residential, meaning that you live with your colleagues and students. Students flock from the surrounding area in order to improve their English in a non-academic, creative, and fun environment.
Teachers are usually paid quite well for their efforts too! Expect to get a bed in a shared room, with meals and snacks provided, and a decent wage. It is very easy to save money, since expenses are so low.
Be prepared to work! Teachers will probably have to commit to working 6 or 7 days a week with long hours. When you’re not teaching or running activities, you’ll probably find yourself exploring, enjoying the local cuisine, and spending time with your new friends.
But does a job so temporary and transitory help you in your teaching career?
Yes. Absolutely. Summer school is a goldmine of opportunity for teachers with or without experience. Here’s why:
A chance for everyone!
Lots of summer schools hire differently to standard language schools. Degrees and teaching certifications are appreciated but not essential – whereas in other teaching environments they are a must. This means that summer schools are a sea of opportunity for young people without experience or qualifications. If you’re still in university, this is a chance to build up teaching experience without actually being a qualified teacher. This can only help if you do ultimately go for a more formal teaching job in the future.
That there are few occupational requirements means that summer school staff are extremely bubbly and eclectic. Teachers come from all over, with different backgrounds and varying teaching styles. Ideas will be exchanged between rookies and experts, and this is a phenomenal way to grow as a teacher, whatever your circumstances.
The Classroom Experience
Never taught before? If you are not sure about going into a career in teaching, summer school will provide you with the chance to test yourself in front of a group of students. If you enjoy it, then great! If not, the fact that camps are short means that you can always seek new challenges afterwards – having gained skills that are translatable into most other fields.
Sometimes summer schools will require that teachers attend a few days of training prior to the start of the camp. This is a great way for those starting out to get to know the job. What to do when enthusiasm levels drop? What if a student falls ill? How do you improvise? Questions like these are tackled in training.
Having said that, delivering lessons and activities is really where the new teacher learns the tricks of the trade. Improvisation, building rapport, student interaction, cooperation and how to handle the responsibility of being a teacher cannot be learned in anywhere other than a classroom. Throw yourself into it!
If you think that maybe teaching isn’t for you, you can still reap the benefits of your experience. The skills mentioned above can easily be applied to any other field! To list but a few:
- a team player yet independent
- responsible and dependable
- communication skills
Oh, and a final note on that – summer school tends to be quite relaxed – it is not as academically demanding as a language school. Remember, your students are on their summer holidays too, so enjoy it!
Apart from the sheer enjoyment of such a thrilling job, this is a way in which you can build up your funds while travelling. Given that your room and board will typically be free, all you need is a few euro for drinks and trips into town!
The money that can be saved means that you can go into autumn with cash in your pocket. Some teachers use their money to get ahead on their rent – meaning that during the academic year they are under way less economic pressure
The References & Contacts
Now let’s take a look at the more bureaucratic side of things. For new teachers, employers will absolutely take your camp experience into consideration in the interview process. After all, some experience is always better than none!
For teachers with a bit more experience, camps are an opportunity to add something different to your CV. On mine, I’m lucky enough to be able to include a Spanish summer school for which I worked in 2017, 2018, and 2019. On a resumé, this proves that you are a dependable and trustworthy teacher. Consistency like that looks wonderful to a potential employer. And who knows, maybe it could prove to be the decisive factor in getting your next job!
You’ll also work with a variety of people, all full of stories and information. Teachers usually have varying experience levels, which means that there is so much to be learned from your colleagues if you’re just starting out. We always chat about our respective schools, the teaching methodology, the location etc. So much can be learned about the world of TEFL through the other staff!
Why not do it every year?!
Summer camps do not necessarily ‘help’ your career, but rather they can be a massive part of your career. Think about it. Summer school typically runs from early June until August, sometimes even into September! That’s a quarter of the year, and given that most language schools don’t operate during the summer, they are a way for teachers to keep earning money through the summer months. Year after year.
Lots of teachers use the summer holidays as downtime, an opportunity to unwind after the academic year. That’s fair enough, but think of employers – surely they will appreciate that you take the holidays as an opportunity to grow as a teacher rather than staying idle.
And like any other field of employment, the more experience you gain the more desirable you become as an employee – which in turn means you’ll have more of a say in deciding where it is that you want to work. Then you will have much more of a chance of getting those cool jobs that pop up on www.TEFL.com.
Say you do the same camp for 2 or 3 years. You will really get to know the ins and outs of the place, and the possibilities for promotions will soon make themselves clear. All camps need a coordinator and/or a director of studies. If you prove yourself to be good at what you do, don’t rule out the possibility of getting that promotion! Companies like hiring internally, so being present at that camp won’t hurt your chances!
Working as a DoS or camp coordinator can be an alternative way into a management position, if that is your cup of tea. Don’t rule it out!
The new environment and the high-responsibility yet thrilling job can initially prove too much for some. But seriously, don’t worry. Your students will admire and look up to you, and if any problems do arise you will be surrounded by fantastic people who will be willing to help you out with lesson plans, back-up activities, and anything else that may come up.
Why not have a look at the abundance of job listings on TEFL.com? You’ll find schools in breathtakingly beautiful parts of the world, with requirements that suit you.
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