Humans of Baldwin: The Intercontinental Teacher

Ms. Young discusses her experience as a teacher abroad.

While we all know Ms. Young as the Math Department Chair and teacher of AT Calculus, Algebra 1 and 1B, what many do not know is that her teaching skills span across the Atlantic Ocean.

Prior to teaching at Baldwin, Ms. Young gained international teaching experience in Germany, Austria, and Morocco, in addition to her experience stateside in New Jersey and Colorado. In our conversation about the 11 years that she spent abroad, Ms. Young reveals how her experience in Germany affected her teaching style.


What made you decide to go to Germany?

I heard about the need [from] the school. It was a boarding school, [and] was top heavy, meaning that most of our students were in eleventh and twelfth grade. Their families would live in other countries in Europe, Africa, and Asia. They were preparing to go to school in the US, so they would come to us to get intense English instruction.


Were the students fluent in English?

Yes. There were a lot of American, Canadian, and Korean families. Their end goal was to go to the US, but they might have grown up in the Czech Republic or France and been schooled in national systems. They wanted some work with their academic English, so they would come to us to learn just like you would here. 


Were you fluent in German when you went?

No, but I learned. I learned in the summers because it was hard when you taught in English, but the community you lived in was German. I had far more success in the summers because I did not have school to distract me [with] speaking English. 


What courses did you teach in Germany?

Because it was an American school, we followed an American curriculum, so it was very similar to here: Algebra 1, Algebra 2, all the way up through AP. They had AP courses, whereas here we have AT, but it is similar content.


How similar would you say that the curriculum was to Baldwin?

We actually had similar offerings, but a lot of times classes would be split into semesters. If a student was raised in the Czech Republic, they study a lot of the similar math that we do, but their sequencing might be different. Because they would not need an entire year of Algebra 2, they could come in at the end. Part of my job as Department Chair over there was a lot about placement, to know which course they should correctly fit into that would best suit them.


How do you feel your experience in Germany contributed to the way that you teach at Baldwin?

I love teaching overseas because every person and every culture brings an element to the classroom that is exciting and different, and I had to change what type of teacher I was to best meet so many differences in the classroom. [In] some cultures [teaching is] conversation or lectures and then [in] others it’s you do this, you take this apart, you put it back together. How does that work? So, to try to get that to all mix together, it just helps me, even here, just with differences within our students and the backgrounds that they bring to the classroom. That is always a challenge in my mind: how can I reach each student? My experience overseas really helped to build my toolbox of being a teacher.