How do you assess if it is the right time to teach in outback Australia? How do I know if remote teaching is for me? There are some things to consider before applying to teach in outback Australia.
The decision to move to a remote outback location to teach is HUGE. You are leaving behind your family, friends, comfort of your bigger town, the safety net of all the things you know, even your culture. You will be running head on into new places, new people, new teaching contexts, new cultures, new languages, new adventures.
So deciding whether to apply for a remote teaching position or to accept a remote teaching placement should be considered carefully. It is in your best interest and the best interest of your future students that you have though deeply about your move.
So how do you know if now is the right time to go? Is this the right time in your life to pack up and go remote?
A PMI chart is an effective way to assess remote teaching for you. PMI stands for Plus, Minus and Interesting. You write down all the positives of the move in your P column, the negatives in the M column and the interesting elements in your I column. You then look at the columns and weight up the different elements to decide your best course of action- stay or go remote!
Look at your calendar for next year (if you don’t have one yet you can look at what happened last year or this year in your diary, calendar, even the events on your social media) and reflect where they fall and the impact that may have on you. This might include: university graduation, important birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, appointments, anniversaries, milestones such as nieces/nephews first steps, professional development dates you have committed to.
For example- I missed the 18th, 21st and wedding of important family members in my first year remote- perhaps bad timing? The next year I missed the birth of my first nephew. I could have applied for leave to go- and indeed you can- but for me it meant a 14 hour day with multiple flights to get there a few days there and a giant trip back as well as leaving teaching notes and relying on my colleagues to fill the gap while I was gone. And it would have been a balance deciding which events to go back for using the leave available. One you will have to decide too.
Once you have a good idea of what events are scheduled into your life next year, you will be able to assess if this is the right year for you to dive into remote teaching.
Future Goal Analysis
Future goal analysis allows you to reflect if remote teaching is the right step for you based on your future goals. To complete this analysis you will need to draw 3 columns- 3 years, 5 years and 10 years+. Think about your short term goals (3 years), mid term goals (5 years) and long term goals (10years +)- what do you hope to have achieved in those time frames.
Short term goals may be: buy a new car, saving a house deposit/ buy a house, travel overseas, find a partner, learn how to play guitar,
Mid term goals may be: gain my Level 3 Teacher status, do a Graduate Certificate/Diploma/Masters, start a family, build an investment portfolio, buy an investment property,
Long term goals may be: work in a leadership role, retire at the age of 50, travel internationally
Now you have reflected on the goals you have, you are best able to reflect if remote teaching will help you move towards those goals faster, enhance opportunities or hinder them. Will the extra incentives allow you to save for a savings goal faster? Will the geographical distance hinder your ability to achieve one of your goals? Consider if you need to achieve something before you move remote or if you can power towards your goals anyway.
PMOT is an A4/3 piece of paper split into 4 quadrants- Positives, minuses, opportunities, threats. The benefit of this chart over the PMI chart is it allows you to reflect on the opportunities that remote teaching can create for you and the threats/risks that it might have as well.
This chart is particularly good at allowing you to think outside the box and plan for how to take opportunities as well as what you can build into your life now to avoid the threats.
What things do I need to consider?
Positives might be things like:
- great pay and incentives (wage, free rent, subsidised bills, flights home)
- career progression opportunities
- professional development
- learn about Aboriginal/Torres Strait Island culture
- learn a new language
- make new friends
- learn new ways of teaching
- school holidays between states not matching up- so cheaper for flights/accommodation
- push yourself beyond your comfort zone
- personal growth
Negative in your column may include things like:
- health of your parents/old people
- missing watching your niece/nephews grow up first hand
- missing friends,- and big friend events like first pregnancy, birth of children, marriage, engagement etc
- missing family
- the distance and travel time between locations
- the cost to travel between locations
- being stuck in 10 week blocks with 2 week holidays only
- the expense of things while travelling during school holidays
Interesting considerations might include:
- new town
- new people
- new ways of teaching
- new adventures
- get away from ex/family/annoying friends
- get out of your rut
- take a leap of faith
- see amazing art and culture
Opportunities might include:
- career opportunities
- professional development
- opportunities to act in higher roles
- opportunities to learn a new language
- opportunities to learn about a new culture
- opportunity to make new friends
- see places that many outsiders may never see
- learn new skills as a teacher
Threats/risks of moving remote may include:
- illness of family/friends
- death of family/friends
- missing significant events
- not liking remote teaching and needing to move back home
- being exposed to students in significant poverty
- the death of students (road accident/suicide etc)
- vicarious trauma
- lack of access to medical services
- conflicts with other staff in a small school
- insufficient housing
- getting stuck in town during wet season
- minimal luggage on charter flights into very remote towns
- the need for a new 4WD car (cost)
- the risk of being a single person travelling remote roads/living remote
- threats of petty crime (house broken into, stolen car etc)
- bad internet connections
What if I decide it is NOT the right time?
If you have completed your reflections and it is not time for you to go remote- that is okay!
There are lots of local opportunities you can take up to prepare you for remote teaching one day… or many local opportunities that may help you experience First Nations culture without having to work remote too.
Consider volunteering or working with First Nations people in your current school/region: Need a Tutor, connect with the Aboriginal Educator at your school, your local refugee or First Nations groups,
What if I decide it IS the right time?
You have done your reflections and have decided it IS time to apply to teach remote! We are excited for you!
Read other posts on this blog including ‘is remote teaching for me‘ and ‘what to pack remote‘. Look into our courses and memberships. Join our online community of remote educators Teachers in Remote Communities (past, present, future) and share your interest in working remote. Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
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