Teaching Tips Tuesday: Connecting Your Classroom to the World

Chase's parents waving to greet his students.

Photo above: An image of my parents greeting my students that I’ve included in introductory presentations.

Teaching English in another country is exciting, and it’s fun to share about your experience every click, snap, and recording along the way. While numerous social media outlets provide the perfect chance to document your life abroad, it’s important to come up with ways to not only share, but to also connect your overseas teaching experience with your loved ones at home, wherever that ‘home’ may be.

By doing so, you facilitate cross-cultural exchange, a greater understanding of the world at large, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to help others feel like they have a seat in your classroom or spot on your family’s couch.

Below are some tips to help you connect your students with the bigger picture of your life, and the global community in which we all live:

Skype with Friends/Family During a Class

If you happen to have a computer, projector, and strong enough Internet connection in your classroom, have your friends or family connect with your students via software such as Skype. Not only is this an interactive way to change up the pace of your usual lesson content, it’s also one of the best ways to invite your friends and family to be more a part of your overseas teaching adventure.

Suggestion: If you don’t have access to a computer or a projector, a smartphone works just as well (depending on the size of your class).

A teacher abroad's sister and niece greetings his students.

My sister and niece holding a sign to connect with my students.

Create a Presentation for Your First Lesson

Have you received your teaching placement? Are you getting ready to go? You’ll most likely have an introductory lesson with all of your students on your first day of teaching, one in which you’ll get to immediately connect your class(es) to the frame of your life—where you come from, who you are and so on. This is something you could start putting together even before heading to another country!

Go beyond just a photo slideshow. Make it engaging. Record some of your family members saying “hello” to your new students.

A few things to consider including:

  • Quick clips of your friends
  • Shots of what your home looks like
  • Videos of your animals being cute
  • Even a fun quiz at the end

Then you can take these fun bits of information and put it all together in a PowerPoint or Prezi presentation.

Suggestion: Bring maps and print photos in case you aren’t able to show a presentation, and play prerecorded clips from your phone or other small devices instead.

A greetings from Chicago postcard.

A postcard from Chicago, USA.

Facilitate a Pen Pal or Postcard Exchange

Chances are you have a friend or a family member who works as a teacher somewhere. See if they’d like to participate in a pen pal or postcard exchange program with your students. If you don’t know of any teachers, reach out to us! We’d love to help find you a classroom of eager students to connect with your class abroad. This is especially fun for younger learners.

Suggestion: You could design your own postcards during a lesson!

Make a Class Video

No matter the age of your students, video projects are a hit. Make a video with your students to showcase the culture in which you’re living and working. Be creative! Share it everywhere so others can learn more about what you’re up to. But, in order to form a more personal connection, team up with a classroom of students elsewhere, or even with your family and friends. The hope would be for your students to also have a video to watch about other people, places, and cultures!

Check out Stephanie Warren’s video, Greenheart Travel teacher in Thailand and Myanmar, for a fantastic example:

Bring Your Visitor to Work Day

The more you post to your social media feeds, the greater the chance you might have visitors it seems. Living in an exotic locale is appealing! If someone comes to see you, pull them into a lesson if your school allows. Have them be a special guest for your students. They could help instruct, they could come bearing little cultural gifts or trinkets, and/or they could answer any questions your students might have.

Suggestion: Tell your visitor to be prepared to possibly be asked very personal questions, though.

Friends teaching together in a classroom in Myanmar.

Teaching in Myanmar with my friend!

There are many ways to make your lessons feel global for your students. Technology brings all of us to new cultures and to far away places and faces. Being intentional about forming more personal connections through activities such as the examples above really helps connect your students to at least your small part of the bigger picture of life. Looking for more ideas? We’ve got loads of other teaching tips just for you! 

We love to get to be part of your journey! Please feel free to send Greenheart Travel a postcard, a Snap (@greenhearttravl), a video, or tag us on Instagram (@greenheart_travel) to let us in on your experience teaching abroad. We’ll be sure keep in touch with you and connect with your students, too!


Do you have other ideas for connecting students to the world outside of a classroom setting? Share them below!

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