Brian Johnston ('11) | Teacher Education
Social studies education major
from Abilene, Texas
Brian Johnston found himself even more immersed in the Chinese culture than some of his companions on the trip. "One of the distinctive features of for me, being the only male, was living independently in Beijing," he says. "The experience of living in an apartment complex with a majority of Chinese nationals in itself was a great experience."
Q&A with Brian
What was the experience like for you?
One distinctive element of this trip was the tremendous amount of professional responsibility that was placed upon us. International Academy of Beijing treated us like employees. The experience of meeting expectations and teaching in a professional as opposed to a volunteer setting was an invaluable experience.
What was your favorite part of the trip?
Hands down my favorite part of the experience was the people - the people of China, the students I taught who were Korean, my fellow teachers, Christians I worshipped with, and the professors who selflessly supported us both professionally, spiritually and emotionally.
What did you learn about yourself on the trip?
One of the most valuable things that I learned about myself on this trip was that I am capable of teaching students, but also that teaching effectively is a constant process that should never end. While learning that I am self-sufficient in the classroom to a certain extent, I also learned the tremendous value of community and collaboration in the classroom as well.
What was the biggest surprise about the experience?
One of the biggest surprises about the trip to me was how similar the students I taught were to students of the same age in the United States. Kids are kids anywhere.
Did you feel prepared by ACU's Teacher Education Department to teach at the Beijing school?
Out of the 11 students who went on this trip, I was one of three who only had two years of education at ACU. Even so, I felt completely prepared for this experience. I was surprised how much I knew about teaching effectively, and I was excited to try out the different strategies and techniques that I had learned in the classroom.
What did you learn in China that will help you when you become a teacher?
I learned the practical skills of lesson planning, classroom management, and teaching English language learners. It was also invaluable to work in a completely new environment that was foreign to anything I had experienced previously. By working in this new situation, I was forced to learn how to adapt and learn on the run. I learned a lot about the English language and about Korean culture (the culture of my students) due to necessity.
What would you say to someone considering participating next year?
I would tell them to go. This experience is unlike any experience that they will ever have while at ACU and much more valuable. The experience of teaching in the classroom and being in control of your own teaching cannot be found anywhere before entering the classroom as a full-time teacher. Also, China is an incredible place with a very unique and rich culture that is an absolute joy to explore and become acquainted with.
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The Master of Education in Teaching and Learning is a one-year master's program designed for ACU students who will complete a bachelor's degree in Education
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