Teaching Abroad – The Gift Of Travel

9__1_This month we have a guest post on how to teach and travel at the same time. Elaine D. Smith is a former Mathematics teacher that packed it all in the travel the world and…. teach maths!

I’m not entirely sure why but a lot of professional teachers are also avid travellers. Many a school teacher has kept the class entertained with tales of their travels and that’s not only teachers in the foreign language departments.

Before I trained to be a teacher I was a free spirit. After school I travelled first to Australia and then spent an entire winter sking in France. It was a wonderful time and it lasted for 3 years but at the back of my mind there was always a nagging thought. I needed to do something with my life! I couldn’t just keep on travelling and having fun could I???

So I followed in my fathers footsteps and went to university, followed by teacher training. It wasn’t all bad. University was a blast and I actually liked putting my roots down. I made my parents proud and that was something that was important to me. When the time came I got my head down and studied hard. After trained I found myself a teaching placement and I was thrilled! I had did it! I was a teacher!!

Then the reality began to take hold. I loved my students, but was I really going to stay in the job for the rest of my days. Sure the holidays were better than most people are used too but for someone that had the memory of 3 years of freedom I begain to realise that 6 weeks in the summer just wasn’t going to cut it!

As well as teaching in the classroom I also had 2 students that I gave extra tuition to on the side. I didn’t really do this for the money it was more of a favor for a friend of my mothers but am I so glad that I did because this was the seed of the idea that set me free again!

It was after a tutition session with one of my students that I had the idea, what if I had enough maths students and I could do this remotely over skype.  I did some research and quickly found that this wasn’t such a crazy idea. Once this idea took hold there was no turning back for me.

I realised that I didn’t need to teach in a school to be a teacher. It seems so obvious to me now but I really hadn’t thought of it before. I was so focused on getting into the system that I didn’t realise that I could work around the system to combine my 3 loves, teaching, mathematics and travel!

Of course the naysayers were highly vocal…. you’ll never earn the same kind of money Elaine!

They were right. But they forget is that when you are living on a beach in Thailand you don’t need the same level of income as you do in the United Kingdom. My rent here is $200 per month for my beautiful apartment.

I also combine my Skype teaching with running an ecommerce business in partnership with my mother. I handle the online side of things and my mum back home packs things up and takes them to the post office.

About 50% of my income comes from teaching and the other 50% comes our gift hampers online business where we sell food, sweets and chocolate gifts. It’s a balance that I’m happy with. Too many people think that they need to choose 1 career. Why not have 2 or 3 jobs? Life is much more fun that way and you know what people say about having all your eggs in 1 basket!

It took me a year of planning and building up some skype students, I also saved all the money I could from my job before I took the plunge and handed in my notice.

I sold a lot of my belongings, packed everything left into to a carry on bag that would be suitable for most airlines and hit the road!

That was 3 years ago and I can honestly say I never looked back. I can always go back to static teaching if I want to…. but I can’t imagine ever wanting to!


My Jogging Stroller Club – How Best To Keep Teaching When You Have A Young Family

Often when we think of a career in teaching we immediately think of school teaching. We’ve all had experience with school teachers as we all went to school ourselves and of we often use the the word ‘teacher’ interchangably with ‘school teacher’.


Yet there are many different forms of teaching in all walks of life. If you are considering a career in teaching you should stop and think is it really school teaching that you want or do you just like helping people?

There are lots of roles in society that involve teaching that don’t take place in schools. We caught up with one young mum that has taught in 2 quite different environments to delve into things a little deeper.

Case Study – From Grade School To Fitness Club

Heidi Jacobs is a former grade primary school teacher that launched a 2nd career as a fitness instructor after the birth of her son Nathan.

We caught up with Emily to talk about teaching options outwith the schools system and how she thought the 2 compared.

PFTCE: Hi Emily, How long did you work as a school teacher and what was it that drew you into the teaching profession?

Emily: I was a school teacher for 5 years full time. I loved it I get great satisfaction working with young children. I taught the very little ones age 5 to 6. Each day was a joy!

PFTCE: What led you to stop teaching?

Emily: I knew I would stop to have Nathan and quite early on I decided that I would take some time out from school to be with Nathan as he grew up, I didn’t want to stop teaching though and that’s when I had the idea to become a fitness instructor.

PFTCE: Were you into fitness already or was it a new subject for you to learn?

Emily: I have always been a keen runner and I was ready when Nathan came. There was no way I was going to stop running, from age 6 months I was running with my jogging stroller and I started my jogging stroller club when Nathan was age 1. We’ve been running as a group for 2 years now already. We do cardio and mommy stroller yoga too.

PFTCE: How does that work, what does it involve and how does it differ from teaching school children?

It’s different because the moms that I teach in my class as obviously adults so there is a great social scene. And everyone brings along the kids too of course so I feel I’m still using the skills I developed working with young childrens.

Teaching is about helping people, that’s where I get my pleasure from it. For me it doesn’t matter if I’m teaching a young child how to count of young mums how to warm down correctly after a run, the same motivations are at work.

PFTCE:  Do you intend to go back to school teaching?

Emily: Yes I will go back to school when Nathan reaches school age if I can find a placement. Right now I just want to make sure I am around for Nathan as much as I can be, my jogging stroller business allows me to do that and keeps me fit at the same time.

PFTCE:  What advise would you give to people thinking about a career in teaching?

There is lot involved in becoming a school teacher. It’s a great job and I really recommend it but I think you can equally get some experience teaching somewhere else first. Do that straight away, there are lots of volunteer jobs that involve some teaching and it will look great on your resume too.

You read more of Emily’s thoughts on her blog here.

The Key Things To Consider Before Becoming A Teacher

If you want to be a teacher are are lots of things you should know. 

You Need To Decide Who And What You Want To Teach

Where Do You Want To Teach?

Who Do You Want To Teach?

What Do You Want To Teach?

Clearly to be able to teach you need to know your subject.  This could an an academic subject or an arts subject. When people first think about teaching often the first think they think about is teaching in schools. This means that the subjects are limited to the subjects that are taught in schools.

If you consider teaching outwith the school system the opportunites and subject matters are enormous. Whereever there are people learning there is an opportunity to teach.

General Teaching Advice

You are in front of the class and you need to be a good presenter, need to make it entertaining and engaging for the class.

You also need to be a people person across the board. You will need to work closely with the other staff members, the community, the parents, the administrators.

Communication skills are key. You need to be able to listen. And you need to know your subject area and come up with some engaging lessons.

It’s a great career, if you like working with kids and seeing them growing over time, if you like working with people then you will have a good time.

Finally long summer holidays is an additional bonus.