GoAbroad Interview

Kellie-Anne Burke - Trainer

Kellie-Anne Burke

Kellie-Anne is originally from Australia, but she now calls Thailand home. Chiang Mai became her second home when she was 19 years old and participated in a university exchange between Griffith University and Chiang Mai University. After a successful 13 years in banking and executive coaching, Kellie-Anne knew it was time to give back and return to her second home. Although she has been teaching for four years with SEE TEFL, she doesn’t feel like she has worked a single day.

How did you get connected with SEE TEFL?

I first became connected with SEE TEFL when I was looking for TEFL training courses in Chiang Mai, and after reading the reviews, it seemed the best place to study for my TEFL. As a graduate of their program and with their assistance, I was able to secure work at a local kindergarten. After two years of teaching, I started working as a part- time TEFL Instructor and commenced in my role full time in February 2017. 

SEE TEFL staff on graduation day
Graduation Day at the end of the SEE TEFL 4 week program

You got your undergraduate degree in international business, but went on to complete a master’s degree in education. What inspired your change of career? 

It was a series of events, but the major one was realising that, after teaching Kindergarten for 12 months, that teaching was less of an occupation and more of a vocation for me. I also started to read about the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals and all the work being done to achieve educational equality in developing nations, and I saw myself being able to play a role in that through further study. 

Girl being kissed on the cheeks by two children
The start of my teaching journey at a local kindergarten

Why do you enjoy working for SEE TEFL?

The real highlight for me is seeing a course participant’s hard work and diligence pay off when they get into a classroom. They go from being quiet and unsure of themselves to a confident and effective teacher who is enjoying themselves in their role as the teacher. 

What makes SEE TEFL different from other TEFL programs?

The six Observed Teaching Practices in weeks three and four of the course is what separates us from others. The course participants are placed in schools and are teaching real students. The Teaching Practices give students an opportunity to experience different classroom environments, ranging from a kindergarten class to a one-on-one lesson with an adult.

In addition, all my colleagues and I are committed and hard-working, but the course strikes a really great balance between fun and professional, so the relationship doesn’t finish at the end of the course. We encourage our alumni to stay in touch and seek our advice as required. 

How do you use your own experience teaching in Thailand in your current role?

I use my own teaching experience to bring relevant scenarios into the classroom and engage the participants to consider what they would do in a particular situation. I believe me sharing with the students also allows me to develop rapport with all the course participants, so they are then able to approach me during their course and teaching career as a trusted advisor.  

SEE TEFL course participants doing an exercise
Monitoring course participants completing an exercise in phonetics

Where are the best places to teach abroad in your opinion, and why?

To be honest, I think it depends on the individual and what they are seeking, whether it be  money, lifestyle, or pursuit of travel. Having a TEFL really does open the world up to people. For me, that place is Thailand, for others it could be Saudi Arabia, South Korea, or France.  

Do you have any tips for fellow Aussies trying to find a teaching job abroad? 

My advice would be stop wondering and thinking about it and go for it! Take the important first step of getting your TEFL and then go from there.   

Receiving an award on Teacher’s Day

You are passionate about curriculum development. How does SEE TEFL prepare teachers to develop standout curriculum for their future classroom?

We make enhancements to our course to meet the emerging needs of the TEFL industry, and take a look at how to use the methodology we teach to adapt to an online classroom. In addition, quite often a text or workbook is prescribed by a school or language centre, so it is important that we continue to cover how to turn ideas outlined in a workbook into an effective 3P lesson. I am a firm believer in being prepared for technology not to work, so we encourage students to walk in with a set of whiteboard markers and a lesson plan and use them as your teaching tools.  

What is your best piece of advice for aspiring TEFL teachers? 

The best advice I can offer all aspiring TEFL teachers is to be flexible, be prepared, and be genuine in all your interactions. The more you put into your lessons, the more rewarding your chosen career will be, and you will be delighted in the difference you are making in other people’s and your own life.