Frances Takemoto: Chasing her Dream from Japan to Thailand
Say hi to Frances Takemoto! While this elementary school teacher currently teaches at a Japanese public school, in the coming school year, she’ll fly to Thailand to begin at NIVA International School in Bangkok. In her interview, Frances shares the inspiration behind her international journey, tips for recruiting, and what she’s excited for most about her upcoming move to Thailand. Enjoy meeting this wonderful educator!
Hello Frances! Please introduce yourself and describe why you wanted to teach overseas. What was the compelling call or interesting story behind it?
Hi, or konnichiwa everyone! I am currently teaching 1st through 6th grade English at a public elementary school in Japan through the JET (Japan Teaching and Exchange) Program. I received a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from my undergraduate studies, but instead of becoming a teacher in the US right after graduation, I decided to fly halfway across the globe to get in touch with my roots. Now, I am gearing up to teach my own classroom of 3rd graders in Bangkok, Thailand!
What inspired you to sign up with a service like ISS, and how has your experience been?
My favorite university teacher from my studies in elementary education had a genuine interest in getting to know all of our personalities, strengths, weaknesses, interests, and cultures. On the first day of class, during our “show and tell” activity, she brought in a clay textile print from her experience teaching art in South Korea. I just knew that one day I wanted to be able to share my international teaching experiences with my future students, just like her. I believe that her experience teaching internationally gave her the skills to excellently model how to foster respectful classroom climate that supported every learner, despite the challenge of all of our differences.
I later contacted her to ask her how she found her international teaching job, and she highly recommended ISS. After looking it up online, comparing it to other services, and watching YouTube videos about finding jobs in international school teaching jobs, it was clear that ISS had an excellent reputation for helping schools and teachers find the right match. The next day, I began reaching out to potential references, gathering my teaching certification documents/transcript, updating my resume and teaching portfolio, and writing my personal statement. Even though it was a little overwhelming at first, starting early and doing a little bit everyday made the process much smoother. In end, I was grateful that ISS requires candidates to create an in-depth, well-rounded portfolio, because it really helped me reflect upon my experiences as an educator thus far, which helped prepare me for the interviews.
What excites you most about your new role and/or school? How did you know when you found the right fit?
I have come to the realization that one of the most fulfilling aspects of teaching is building relationships with my students and helping them grow. At my current school, I teach 361 students, which is almost the entire school. I can only meet with each class once or twice a week, which makes building relationships a little more challenging, especially with their limited English ability. I can’t wait to get to know each and every one of my 3rd graders at NIVA and teach all subjects with the Common Core curriculum. It will be so interesting to learn from other teachers and students from their experiences in various education systems, as well as share my own from the US and Japan. I am looking forward to fully immersing myself in the culture and challenging myself to learn as much Thai as possible. I knew I found the right fit after having multiple interviews and conversations with various staff members at NIVA, including the principal, current 4th grade teacher/ elementary curriculum coordinator, and business manager. They were so caring and took the time to make sure that every question was addressed thoroughly, even though I had many, which left a great impression.
What research did you do before accepting your job?
First, I looked up absolutely everything I could about the school on the internet. I gathered information about the school’s educational philosophy from the school website, curriculum, size of the school, current staff, and looked up the school on social media to see what kind of events are held at the school. I reached out to former teachers and close friends/family to assist me with any other insight they had about the school. I also looked up information about living in Bangkok, such as the cost of living and the ex-pat community.
What advice would you give to educators looking to recruit overseas for the first time?
Do your research, interview as much as possible (it’s good practice), don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions, and enjoy the process. Being open-minded to opportunities that might even scare you a little will help you grow stronger- it really made me realize that there is SO much of the world yet to see, but I only have this one life to experience it, so go for it! I wish you the best of luck!
Thank you so much for sharing your journey, Frances.
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