01 Sep, 2017
10 : 00
With the beginning of the 2017-18 academic year, Yew Chung International School of Beijing has the pleasure of welcoming an enthusiastic team of new teachers from around the world to join our dedicated teaching staff.
In this week’s Teacher Profile, we’re excited to introduce our new Y3 Learning Community Co-Teacher Seamus Thomson, from Australia, who joins the YCIS Beijing community with his wife and two children. His first time in China, Seamus shares his experiences as he eases into the new culture, his first impressions of YCIS Beijing, and his enthusiasm for the Y3 Learning Community in which he’s now an integral member.
Could you please introduce yourself?
I’m Seamus Thomson, the new Year 3 Learning Community teacher at YCIS Beijing. I’m from Mornington Peninsula, just outside of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia. For the last ten years I’ve been a classroom and specialist science teacher in years 1-6.
How is your experience so far in Beijing?
I’ve travelled extensively in Asia but had never been to mainland China. I lived in Taipei for 5 years when I was younger, so I had a fair idea of what to expect in Beijing – but at the same time it’s all been very new and exciting.
I’ve also come with my wife and two young children, which has meant it’s a very different experience as I’ve been able to see the city and culture through their eyes as well. Obviously, Beijing is a huge, sprawling metropolis which we’ve seen very little of since we’ve only been here for a couple of weeks. But we look forward to exploring the city and delving into its rich customs and history.
To be honest, the air quality and traffic congestion were something I considered before coming, but I have been pleasantly surprised. We’ve had plenty of blue sky days with good air quality, and the temperature at the moment is extremely pleasant – especially having just come from winter in Melbourne. Transport has initially been a bit of an issue but my co-workers have been extremely helpful, even letting me hitch a ride with them to and from school every day.
What inspired you to become a teacher?
After completing my undergraduate degree in Archaeology and Anthropology, I set off to Taipei, Taiwan where I was an English teacher for almost 5 years. Having lived there for so long, I developed a strong interest in Chinese language and culture. When I returned home to Australia, I studied for my Graduate Diploma of Education and then began teaching in a Primary School. I taught for more than ten years in Australia and have found teaching to be both a challenging and rewarding career. However, I felt I had become quite comfortable and was seeking a new adventure that would take me out of my comfort zone. Moving to Beijing definitely checked that box, but it’s been a great experience so far.
Tell us about your role at YCIS Beijing.
I’m teaching in the Year 3 Learning Community. It’s a very exciting place to be. I had heard much about it in theory but never seen or really even heard of it being effectively implemented. The space is amazing and the facilities are first rate. I love the freedom that has been afforded to rebuilding the learning environment and the trust that has been given to those executing the ideas.
The Learning Community team I am part of (Jim, Jane, Jenny, Lunar, Alicia Cherie and Lynne) is fantastic. Their passion for and belief in what they are doing is inspirational, and I’m excited by the prospect of trying to emulate the teaching I have already seen.
What is the best part about your job?
It’s never mundane. With a lot of jobs you go in knowing essentially what is going to happen each day but with teaching, there is always the unexpected. When something crops up or doesn’t go as planned you need to be flexible and adaptable enough to make adjustments on the go. Getting to know children and watching them grow and develop is very rewarding.
Why do you think that international education is especially important for students in the 21st-century?
It feels like the world is constantly shrinking and that it’s important for students to understand their place in it. By being genuinely global citizens, students are able to develop a better understanding of the problems facing the world today and realise that they belong to everyone. Issues such as global warming, overfishing, deforestation and pollution are not confined by national borders; they’re everyone’s to solve.
What are three words that you’d use to describe yourself?
Inquisitive, open-minded and tall.