SEAN DONOVAN, FORMER TEACHER
My first concern with moving to Thailand was that I would end up working for a greedy agency that didn’t take care of its teachers. I was afraid I would come through an agency that would give me a number, a brief training, and a bus ticket to a mountain village and leave me to figure out the rest. While I suppose that could have been an adventure, it wasn’t what I was looking for and it certainly wasn’t what STIS gave me. STIS’s owners, Peter and Jeab, are fantastic hosts and really do care for their teachers. When I arrived in Surat Thani, I was connected to a network of local teachers to show me the ropes, given free accommodation until I settled in, and perhaps most importantly had my paper work taken care of in a hassle free and completely legitimate way. I was impressed by the professionalism of the school and more importantly the warmth with which they treat their teachers.
My second concern was that I would be bored or at least not find my work challenging. At home, my job was a big part of who I was and I didn’t want to be working somewhere I wouldn’t be pushing myself to learn new skills and improving myself. Again, STIS was an excellent fit. STIS wants the best teachers. That doesn’t mean it’s the most stressful place to work, the one with the strictest dress code, or the one with the most paperwork (it’s none of those), it means that STIS has challenged me to meet high standards with my students and then given me wide berth to achieve those standards. If you’re lucky enough to work at STIS, you’ll find yourself with big challenges that you’re allowed to solve independently (with the support of other staff and Peter and Jeab if you choose to ask for it). It’s not really a place for teachers looking for an extended vacation (although there is a ton of vacation time) but it is a place for those looking to work hard, take initiative, and develop and execute their own teaching style. It’s your syllabus, your lesson plans, and your classroom at STIS.
My last concern relates to the second. While I was worried that I may find the work too easy or not enough of a challenge, I was also worried I wouldn’t be able to meet the challenge of becoming a good teacher because there wouldn’t be a support structure in place to help me reach my potential. I knew I had the capability to teach well but I wasn’t sure I would have the resources available to really be my best. I didn’t want to just Google “How to teach” each morning, I wanted real first hand guidance. STIS is great for your development as a teacher. Peter and Jeab have been in education for years and are a wealth of knowledge. They care deeply about the school (their own son is a student) and are committed to making sure each teacher is at their best. In addition to that, my fellow teachers at STIS have been great mentors and wonderful to share ideas, strategies, and tips with. The school also provides a huge inventory of learning games, puzzles, books, and every other educational tool under the sun. STIS is an excellent place to develop as a teacher and really hone your craft.
I’m happy to say that all the concerns I had about coming to Thailand to teach were unfounded. It’s been an experience that’s really been nothing but positive. My time at STIS has obviously been a major part of that. And it will continue as I am staying on for another year with the school. If you’re looking to experience Thailand and have a blast while learning to teach or improve upon what you already know, I couldn’t recommend a better school than STIS.