We continue our popular Meet the Teacher series with a few Q&As with BASIS International School Shenzhen Early Years teacher Jennifer Meade! Originally from Florida, U.S.A., she has been teaching internationally since 2010. This is her fifth year teaching with BASIS International Schools and she was a member of the founding team at BASIS International School Shenzhen.
What made you decide to go into teaching?
I started out saying I didn’t want to be a teacher because of the low pay and long hours. While at university, I worked at Toys “R” Us and ended up running their weekend events for kids. My boss Ron never missed an opportunity to tell me I should change my major to education. I was stubborn and didn’t realize teaching was what I was meant to do until I took a tutoring job a year after I graduated and loved it. My only regret is I didn’t listen to Ron sooner!
When did you first realize you had a passion for early education?
When I was in middle school, I would volunteer in a kindergarten class every morning. I loved the energy, the magic, and the joy of that environment. There is no place on earth with as much enthusiasm and imagination as a kindergarten classroom. When I first started out as a teacher, I remembered how much I had enjoyed being in that environment so I purposefully looked for a position in Early Education. To try something different, for my second job, I taught adults, but I missed early education. I made sure my next job was in early years and I’ve never looked back.
What influenced your decision to teach abroad?
I spent a lot of time and money traveling. I met a lot of expats who were living and teaching in these fabulous countries I had saved for months just to visit. Actually getting paid to live in the places I was paying to travel to seemed like a much better option!
What do you enjoy most about teaching internationally?
I love having the opportunity to actually get to know a country. There’s no better way to experience a new place than to live there. As a tourist there is really only so much about a place you can access. Living there gives the country and those that live in it so much more depth. A really beautiful part of this is that kids are the same wonderful little humans no matter where you go.
When you came to China, what did you find pleasantly surprising that you didn’t expect?
Shenzhen is super high tech. I didn’t expect it to be low tech by any means but how well integrated technology is into everyday life is awesome and very convenient! For a mega city, it also has a surprising amount of flowers and trees.
What advice would you give teachers who are considering teaching abroad?
The hardest part is buying the plane ticket. Living abroad often ends up being a lot more ‘normal’ than people expect.
For more information about early education careers with BASIS International Schools, visit our careers website.