International School Community Blog

International School Community Member Spotlight #6: Taylor Smith

Each month International School Community will highlight one of our members.  This month we interviewed Taylor Smith:

Tell us about your background.  Where are you from?
I am from Edinburgh, Scotland and am extremely proud of my roots.  A formal international swimmer, I travelled to many countries throughout the world as part of various swim teams.  However when I retired from swimming in 2006, I realised that I had been to lots of countries but in fact had never seen much more than the airport, hotel and swimming pool.  So I embarked on a career in Physical Education teaching with the dream of teaching abroad.

How did you get started in the international teaching community?
I was recommended a job by an old swimming friend who was already working in an international school.  The job was in Shanghai, China so without hesitation I packed my bags and made the biggest decision of my life (or so I thought at that point).  I was only in China a couple of months and I had thrown myself into work and made lots of new friends within the international teaching community.  People were all extremely helpful and made me feel as comfortable as possible in a very different environment.  In these weeks, I was also lucky enough to meet the love of my life, who two years on is now my beautiful wife.  Wow that was almost poetic!

Which international schools have you worked at?  Please share some aspects of the schools that made them unique and fun places in which to work.

I worked at Shanghai Rego International School and have recently started at Garden International School in Kuala Lumpur.  Both schools are very different, mainly due to the size.  Rego was a small school and had an intimate feel, whereas Garden has a huge number of students, which creates an incredible atmosphere.  The bulk of my teaching thus far however, has been in China, and Rego school really did feel like (excuse the awful cliché) “a  family”.  Teachers had an enormous amount of freedom to explore new and creative ideas and they were well supported by parents and students.  There was definitely never a feeling of having to navigate the red tape like non-international schools.  In many ways it was a development curve that I honestly believe, I would not have experienced anywhere else.

Describe your latest cultural encounter in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.
Moving to Kuala Lumpur from China brings many advantages.  Things are just a little bit more like home here I guess.  So the biggest smile on my face came when I was told I could take a loan to buy a car and it could be all done by the bank.  I was not forced to pay thousands of pounds in cash.  That is always a nice feeling.

What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?
I look for standard of living on the home front.  I think this is the most important thing to consider when living abroad. Also travel opportunity is very important, as being away from friends and family can be a strain.  Therefore it is always nice to know that it is easy to go home when you need to, and family are easily able to visit.

I also look for stability and reputation of the school.  There are many, many schools and it is important to know that you will be happy to work there for at least 2 years.

In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?

Eye opening, cultural, well paid, opportunity, life changing.  (5 statements so not exactly 5 words sorry! I am a PE teacher after all).

Thanks Taylor!  If you are a member of International School Community and would like to be our next member spotlight, contact us here.  If we choose to highlight you, you will get a coupon code to receive 6 months free of premium access to our website!