Teaching Overseas: Michelle Woodley ’09

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October 1, 2010

In January, Michelle Woodley ’09 MSED boarded a plane, and flew to the United Kingdom, were she was offered a position as a supply teacher (substitute teacher), in the city of London. As a supply teacher, Woodley moved from school to school throughout London teaching all primary levels from reception (kindergarten) up to year six (grade six).

This school year, she has her own classroom teaching a year four (grade four) class. As a primary school classroom teacher, she is required to teach all subjects including literacy, math, physical education, religion, design and technology, history, and even French. "I’ve always been the type of person who has been up for a challenge," she says.

When Woodley accepted the position, she was warned of the struggles ahead. "The head teacher warned me that the school had failed their inspection and therefore it would be an extremely tough year where we would constantly be monitored and have high expectations put on us,” explains Woodley.

One of the biggest differences and challenges for Woodley was learning the curriculum in London. "In math, for example, they don’t just teach you subject matter once, move on and that’s it. Every term, they re-teach the same subject matter, maybe just in a different way and at a different level. This is great so kids don’t forget and can build on their strength in the subject matter,” she explains.

Although this was her first time teaching a full-time classroom, she took the offer with a smile. "It has been extremely stressful and quite overwhelming, but what a learning experience!"

Highlights of her experience are through simple things such as teaching a lesson to students. "As I’m walking around the classroom, having a student look up at me with a great big grin and say, ‘Miss Woodley, I get it!’” is a great feeling.

I'm grateful for the education I've received.

The instructors were knowledgeable and welcomed class discussions, with
respect for each student's contribution. I've learned how to be a more
effective leader. My capstone class gave insight on how to combine all
the education learned to operate a business. That's when I realized how
much I had sharpened my knowledge.

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