Spain  |  McGill University  |  Australia  |  Whislter, BC  |  Japan | New Zealand | Northland,NZ | What I learnt


I came into teaching by volunteering to instill my English language knowledge to Spanish speaking villagers in the Caribbean. My nervousnous was cured, after entering a classroom full of people with the desire to walk out of the room speaking English fluently. Unfortunately, I taught English like I learnt Spanish...start with the verbs, give a few vocabulary words, and few sentences, repeat, and repeat. The magic did not happen as expected. I knew then that my technique was not going to work. I also knew that I was deemed to become a teacher. Consequently, after my second year of University I decided to see the world . Europe was the destination. England was my first stop to equip myself with the knowledge of how to teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). I received my TEFL/RSA Certificate from International House, (University of Cambridge recognises the certificate). My first ‘real’ (ie. paid) teaching experience took place in Spain. 

"Learning: a natural process of receiving knowledge"

With hardly any resources in that private school to further my teaching strategies, I felt frustrated and so decided pursue this career. In 1991 I graduated with a Diploma of Education from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, specialising in secondary Geography.
After graduating, I was offered a position in a children’s summer camp in Quebec to teach ESL It was the beginning of my association with teaching children. I quite enjoyed teaching in the outdoors through play and classroom structure. Remember, it was the children’s summer holiday. Children were not to associate this with school! I had to make it interesting. Working with children that summer made me realise the joy of teaching that age group. But, for the next few years, I was to teach a mixed age group: mostly, young adults and adults. 

Brochures came to my door one day about a country where men tackled crocodiles with their bare hands. After intense investigation, I concluded that Australia not only had wild life, but life that needed to be tamed. The possibility of teaching, and the opportunity of acquiring a Working Holiday Visa, made it possible to pursue the wild crocodile country.... yes, and kangaroos. Although I did not tame wild animals, I did try my hand with the School of the Air, teaching school-aged girls in the Outback while living on their sheep station. I was considered a Governess, but in actual fact, I was their own private teacher as I was responsible for their day-to-day learning. Their contact with other school children and their School of the Air teacher came through daily 30 minute talk on a CB radio (remember those?). My first experience with primary school teaching was very interesting, considering my surroundings. 

"Teaching: an acquired talent to develop the love of learning in others."



Time passed quickly and I soon found myself on the shores of Vancouver, Canada. Off I went to Whistle to work for the Howe Sound School Board District as a Special Needs teacher in a French Immersion multi-graded classroom. My position later developed into a music, ESL, and social studies teacher, although I still helped with individual student’s learning problems. This special classroom made me aware of the different teaching techniques and it also gave me a thirst to understand the different student learning styles.

After my contract ended, I worked as a relief, substitute teacher and persevered in finding a full-time teaching position. In Canada, the teaching situation was and still is very under-valued by the government, and consequently, low school funding has made many teaching positions redundant or very competitive. Hence, I felt that I needed more qualifications. I studied Special Education at the University of British Columbia in the evenings and taught immigrants ESL during the day.


After the year finished, I had to make a career choice: either continue my studies full-time to become a specialist with Special Needs or acquire more teaching experience. To be able to realise the latter choice, I needed to teach off shore as Canada could not provide me with a full-time job. But I must admit, that I'm a travel bug hence I didn't mind bording a plane!

The lure of a high paying salary (well, I thought so) and a full-time teaching position in a Japanese kindergarten brought me on the brink of a new adventure....the Land of the Rising Sun. I not only learnt about Japanese culture and language, but also a new teaching method... although a method that I was not entirely fond of, but it is a system that works for their societal needs. I felt that teaching in a kindergarten, as enjoyable as it was, was not the direction I wanted. Hence, I changed jobs for teachcing in a after-school school (juku) which specialised in teaching ESL to kindergarten students, primary, middle and senior school students. I gained valuable skills in teaching conversation, reading and writing to junior and senior students. The children were taught through playing games and singing songs. We had regular meetings to discuss the curriculum, teaching books, teaching strategies, school activities, and parents concerns. I finally found the ideal school, but unfortunately, I also felt alienated in my surroundings because of the small foreign rural town setting and also from a lack of personal interaction with the ‘greater English speaking world’. 


Perfect as the school was, and the opportunity to continue discovering my teaching potential, I felt a need to settle down in a place where I wanted to immerse myself in a community and pursue my teaching career. New Zealand, an English speaking country, a sister country to Canada, a land of teaching opportunities has become a country where I know that the grass is greener on this side! I now am a provisional registered teacher


New Zealand is providing me with new knowledge in the teaching field, especially with the implimentation of the new curriculum. I attended numerous day seminars at the College of Education, I learned about teaching the deaf at Van Asch through their introduction day relief teacher training, and I am reading much about the education field. My renewed interest in the Special Education and Special Needs field brought me in contact with the Seabrook MacKenzie School. I attended their accredited NZQA (New Zealand Qualification Authority) intensive teacher training course in October 1997.


Visa ran out before I could secure a firm offer of employment, so I dutifullly went trotting back to Canada. It could've been worse. I might have returned in 40 cm of snow with wind bringing the temperature to minus 50. Instead, I flew back in the spring, and spent my second summer in a row in Canada. Balmy summer evenings listening to outdoor concerts..... unemployed.


I took full advantage of the technological age and looked for employment. New Zealand's lack of teachers made for an easy hunt. Five months later, I was standing in front of a Year 3/ 4 (grade 2 and 3) classroom in the most northernest part of New Zealand.... an hour and a half away from the nearest supermarket. I was fortunate enough to have had the best support for my first year as a primary school teacher. Adventure it surely was! I usually land myself in the deep end and manage to come up for air, and stay afloat. I learned how to become a primary teacher on the job. All those years of teaching helped, but... as they say You Never Stop Learning.


Although the community is isolated and poor, the principal, Mr. Forsyth, made sure that the kids did not fall behind in the Technological World. The school has 3 Macs, 2 Acorns computers, and 3 portable Macs.... printers, a scanner and 2 digital cameras and the school is hooked up to the Internet. I learned to make full use of this by incorporating these technologies into my everyday instructions. We've done a few Internet Projects which the kids really enjoyed like this Monster-Gallery Maker.


This opened my eyes to understanding the brain’s computer system: the input, the storage and the retrieval. I am now more than aware of the importance of providing multi-sensory teaching, and the importance of finding the underlying cause of a student’s learning difficulty.


Because of my interaction with different cultures, learning different languages, teaching different age groups, I feel that I am more aware of the differences in each of us and I am able to understand this uniqueness as a gift and not as a threat. With this philosophy, I try to utilise the students’ strengths to overcome any perceived or real weaknesses in their learning. When the student understands that they are able to learn, or why they learn differently than other students, their self-esteem improves, and dreams are no longer unreachable rainbows.


I do not feel that I am the perfect teacher, but I am trying.

updated on October 14, 1998


I've done heaps and lived more since the last update. I just haven't had time to put it in words. If you haven't noticed, I am now living, and am a resident of NZ. I worked for the Telecom Information Technology Roadshow from January 1999 to January 2000.

In February 2000, I'm be a computer trainer for high school teachers, and a teacher in Computer Studies at Wellington High School. I'm looking to the new challenge.

I taught Senior Net. I was amazed of how much they knew! I also taught teachers how to use the Internet in their classroom.


This is the trailer where I worked. It took around 2 hours to open the outside, and 1.5 hours for the inside.

This is me! Click on it for a bigger me! I'm looking towards.......

A couple of my co-workers. Richard on the left is a student-teacher, and Dave is the assistant manager.. a lark really :)

Here I am, with students' undivided attention, explaining the mystery that they are about to solve.