The Traveling Teacher is a column that highlights teachers who educate children overseas. If you want to submit a piece for consideration, please send us an email at email@example.com.
By: O’Shandah Lightbourne
How I became to teach in Bermuda is quite simple actually; I am a citizen of Bermuda! Yes, I am a born and bred Bermudian, in other words.
My journey into teaching started back as a youngster. I was always the one who could get my friends to do whatever I wanted. My teachers would often remark that I am a natural born leader and would one day end up ‘dictating’ and ‘leading’. Fast forward to the present and I am leading. I am leading a class of twenty-five students.
I started my teaching career back in September 2004 after graduating from university in May 2004. I had no expectation of jumping into the profession so soon. I thought I would be home competing with many others for a position. However, when I sent my résumé into the Human Resources Department, I received a call back within the very same week. Sounded easy?
Well, it wasn’t quite that easy. I went to the department and met with the Human Resource Manager at the time, only to be told that in order for me to be considered for a position that September; I would need to present my university degrees and my licensure from the state of New Jersey. Major problem! I played tag with the department because my licensure from New Jersey hadn’t arrived to the island and the department was ‘between minds’ if they were going to accept my degrees as I only had one in my possession. Finally after three weeks of back and forth with the Bermuda Department of Education, the New Jersey State Education board, and Kean University, I had all my required documents.
Once I submitted the documents to Human Resources and a few visits in person, I received a return call informing me that five positions were available at the primary level (elementary level) of education. I was set to interview at all five schools. However, I never made it to all five interviews. The first school I interviewed for offered me the job before I had a chance to interview at another school. Once I accepted their offer, I was given the option of working as a P2 (First Grade) or P5 (Fourth Grade) classroom teacher. I opted for the P2 position as I had previous experience working in Kindergarten, First, and Second Grades a student teacher doing my practicum in New Jersey.
The interview process was tough, but the exit interview at Kean University prepared me well. The interview at the school consisted of a panel of interviewees; the Principal, the Deputy Principal, and the current and past Head of the Infant Department within the school. During the interview, I had to submit my teaching portfolio, answer the standard questions posed in any interview as well as role play in given scenarios that occur with students and parents.
Now it is 2014 and I have just completed my tenth year of teaching. I’ve taught classes as small as ten students and as large as twenty-five students and sometimes without a para-professional (teacher’s aide/teaching assistant). The school system has used three different curriculums since I first started. We have used the Bermudian Curriculum, a US Curriculum, and we are currently using the Cambridge Curriculum, based out of the UK. Our Social Studies program is however, still from the Bermuda Curriculum, as it should be. Using the Cambridge Curriculum is great because it is recognizable and many of our students travel to the UNK to further their education at the tertiary level. Since I’ve started teaching, we as a system have moved from promoting our students, our students from the primary level right into the high school level.
Our system has incorporated the middle schools; therefore our students leave the primary level and enter middle school before moving into the high school level. Also, similar to the US model, our students are zoned. However, most parents enter their child/ren into the family school. This means that students attend the same schools that their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins have previously attended. It is truly a family affair. Because Bermuda is so small, any student can give you the name of at least five relatives that have attended their schools.