From Brazil to Indonesia; the night-time teacher overcoming obstacles of the pandemic.

Published on 9th October, 2020 by Wendy Hartrey. Published in For Candidates / TIC News

Having started her international teaching journey during the pandemic, Bianca Starck has been unable to travel out to her PYP job at Sekolah Ciputra, Indonesia. This hasn’t stopped her from getting started however, as she has been remarkably teaching from her home in Brazil during the night to her students in Indonesia with a 10-hour time difference. In this blog Bianca shares her story to show that a pandemic doesn’t have to stop you teaching overseas this year.

I have dreamed about working overseas for a long time, but because of life circumstances (studies, getting married, having my son), I kept postponing it. When we decided as a family that that’s what we wanted to do, back in March 2019, that dream began to take shape! I was offered the job at Sekolah Ciputra in early Sept 2019, to start the new academic year in 2020. Preparations for the big adventure began back then. We even had a leaving date: July 9th, 2020. Little did we know…

I have been teaching online now for 12 weeks, with no perspective of flying any time soon. However, that does not put me off at all! It actually encourages me to try the best I can to engage and challenge my students, and to keep myself motivated and positive, until my family and I can finally enter Indonesia.

My first week, Induction Week, was exciting and daunting at the same time. On the one hand, there I was, working “overseas” (even if that was through a screen…). On the other hand, I had to cope with the time zone difference. Being 10 hours behind Surabaya, Indonesia, meant that I would have to do night shifts, as my friends put it! Nevertheless, my team and co-workers were so welcoming and supportive that I felt confident I could do it. Having come from an IB background also helped me throughout my induction and the big challenge, really, was to keep awake and alert.

Having been in quarantine and teaching online since March also contributed to a smooth start with my new students. I was familiar with the technology and used to screen interactions. Although I had the butterflies, my children were so sweet, welcoming and hard-working that I thought I could not let them down. I can only say positive things about them: polite, smart, curious, caring…
They ask me questions about Brazil, how I am doing, teach me words in Bahasa and tell me about the things I must do when I get there. In the beginning of their school day, it is a custom to say a prayer. It is also customary to include “may Ms Bianca be able to come soon” ... how can I not be inspired by that?

I have to admit, though, night-time teaching is exhausting. There are nights when my mind starts playing tricks on me and I cannot rely on my memory. My reactions and reasoning slow down and I have to listen and think very carefully before I say anything. To help, I always have an overview of my lessons, which I share with the children. I try to include different visual resources as well as discussions between them. I now sleep till mid-morning and then take a nap at the end of the afternoon, but that, although I do not like to admit, is not enough.

The school is very supportive as well and I am very thankful for that. I have quite a few colleagues from other schools whose contracts were rescinded, or salaries reduced. Sekolah Ciputra, however, has honoured our contract fully and I have been enrolled in a PYP PD course starting in November. It is funny how I manage to keep myself together while I am teaching, but how exhausted and messy I look during staff meetings. My leaders and colleagues are just so polite and friendly! All they say is, “Ms Bianca, go rest”!

Yesterday was Teachers Day in Indonesia, and I was surprised to receive this lovely message.

Yesterday was Teachers Day in Indonesia, and I was surprised to receive this lovely message.

And I keep on dreaming… I cannot wait for when my family and I can move to Surabaya. I dream of the day when I will meet my colleagues face-to-face, when I will be able to decorate my classroom and when I will finally stand by the door, welcoming my lovely children back to school with a smile… Hopefully, soon!

If you were inspired by Bianca’s story, register with TIC Recruitment here for free. It’s quick and easy and gives you access to many international school jobs in reputable, accredited international schools, some that are not advertised anywhere else.
Despite these uncertain times, TIC Recruitment are still recruiting and supporting many international teachers.

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Wendy Hartrey