Staff Focus: Zaid Saleh, Year 6 EAL Teacher

Written by Roseline Yang (Community Relations Officer)

What is your exact position? What is your role?
I am the Y6 Teacher/EAL teacher based at Century Park Campus. My role is to work closely with the Year 6 Teachers to support them and the children who need their English scaffolding. My primary role is teaching English to Second Language Learners, but also to support these students to access the mainstream curriculum.

How do you manage to motivate your students? Especially when you speak to them in a language that they have not yet mastered and may not feel comfortable with?
Haha! No secret. Treat them like they’re my own children. I use a great deal of humour too! I’m always looking to design activities that are accessible and use reward a lot! Relationship building is incredibly important. I try to build mutual trust and respect and promote a safe environment where they are free to ask questions and make mistakes. A language rich environment also helps whilst ensuring the students have access to a range of tools to help them. Even an app such as iTranslate goes a long way!

Tell me a bit about your previous experience
Originally, I was a Primary Teacher in the UK where I taught across the curriculum. I taught for 2 years in the UK and then 2 years in Abu Dhabi working with Emirati children for the Education Council. Over there, English is taught as a second language, so there is a great deal of expertise within that field.  The programme is extremely well-developed and this is how I was able to further develop my skill set of teaching non-native speakers. I had the opportunity to take a 2 year on-going professional development programme alongside my teaching.  My training was focused around teaching English to second language learners in a way that also developed their communication, collaboration and critical thinking skills. I was able to implement my learning within my role and therefore began to develop professionally in this area.

So you just moved from Abu Dhabi to Shanghai?
Well, no. Last year, I was back in my hometown in the UK where the school I had worked previously welcomed me back. I taught a mixed age group of Year 3 and 4 children and stepped back into my role as ICT Subject Coordinator alongside this.

So how long have you taught in total and what did you do before?
This is my 6th year teaching. Before that, I used to be a Business Manager.

Interesting! We have a similar professional life path. I also have a business educational background. How did you change from the business world to the education world?
I have always been interested in helping others and working within the community. So, when I was working my day job, I did some volunteering within the community, and I also got to do some volunteering in a school – at my daughter Lila’s school actually. That is when I realised that I really enjoyed it. I decided then to start my Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) and trained in East London in a real multicultural environment and that is how I became a certified teacher! Since then, my passion for helping others hasn’t changed. Before, I used to help people to make money, now I help people to grow!

How long did you work in the business world and if you don’t mind me asking you – why had you chosen this field in the first place?
Well, when you are young, you tend to choose the field that gives you a quick gain. When I was at school, I became involved with a friend of mine in producing and selling T-shirts to make a living.  So, in order to understand the mechanics of being self-employed I chose Business Management as a degree subject. Upon leaving University I needed to pay back some of the fees, so the T-Shirts got pushed to one side and I ended up in a sales role. I then worked for 12 years in different business industries: retail, hospitality, etc and developed a career in Business Management. But, you know – the business world is very demanding and it can become challenging when your priority in life is to spend time with your family. The career change was not easy, especially financially but I had the full support of my wife and children, which made this transition smoother.

Wow! Yes indeed, that’s a bit of a challenge. So, what brought you to Shanghai and to YCIS more specifically?
It was always a dream for me to take my family abroad. After spending two years in Abu Dhabi, we felt that it was the path for our family. My wife and children loved the experience of living abroad. They were the ones asking for it again when we went back to the UK last year. We enjoyed being in a new country, a new environment, living in an international setting, and the cultural diversity is a priceless experience.

Shanghai? It was luck! We were interested in discovering Asia and when I started to apply, I received offers from different schools and YCIS got me intrigued enough to apply. It looked very well organised and the philosophy genuine.

My gut instinct was quickly confirmed with all the recruitment processes – professionalism and immediate warmth with Damien and Rob during the interview. Role, location, people, everything just seemed to fit. Communication was efficient, fast emails and we received support all the way until we arrived in Shanghai.

How was the settling in Shanghai? How is your family adapting in this new environment?
The settling in Shanghai was great – We felt no pressure because of the processes in place. Moreover, YCIS colleagues are amazing people. No matter if it is YCIS staff or YCIS teachers, everyone is very supportive and responsive to your requests. There is definitely an ethos of collaboration and communication. The professional development opportunities are evident and there is certainly a strong support network.

The adaptation of the family? Yes, everyone is adapting well and there are no days where we have had any regret. We have already got our first picture at the Pearl Tower! But of course, the one taking the picture is always missing on it!

My last questions before you go back to class. The same question we asked on the Orientation Day, what are your wishes for this new school year?
I wish to do an incredible job for the children by helping them progress quickly in their learning. I wish they will walk away with a strong sense of achievement having had a memorable year.

Thank you for your time Zaid. It has been a great learning experience talking to you!