Blogs of international school teachers: You are the author of your own life story – Create your life!
December 21, 2011
Are you inspired to start up a blog about your adventures living abroad?
Our 13th blog that we would like to highlight is called “You are the author of your own life story – Create your life!“ Check out the blog entries of this international school teacher who is currently working at an international school in United Arab Eremites.
Entries we would like to highlight:
“International Teaching Fairs are the traditional way to connect prospective schools with teachers. I believe technology will be changing this practice more each year as it is less costly to interview via Skype than to send a hiring team around the globe. Skype misses that element of personal connection which can be critical in creating a good fit between staff and school, although some principals with extensive international teacher hiring experience may not see that as a priority. Online portfolios allow the applicant to upload files, photos, even videos and the administrator can choose what they would like to review. If different documents are needed, a quick email to request and a few moments to transfer, is all that is required. In my case, my use of rubrics was of interest and I was able to share specific lessons, rubrics I created and student work samples in several content areas. The ability to upload immediately demonstrated my ability to respond to requests quickly as well as my organization and technology skills. The job offer that I accepted was the one where the process was all online, except for the one concluding phone call. At the time of the fair, though, I had only sent this school my CV and resume.
Making the decision to go to California for the international teaching fair was, like most events in my life, attempted one step at a time. I had the invitation. I had the airline miles. What I didn’t have was money for the hotel, food and other things needed while there. Also, my professional clothes were in storage in Oregon. I bought a couple blazers online and luck was with me as they coordinated with my slacks and blouses and fit well, too. Investing in makeup and an awesome hair cut/color (thanks Michelle at All Things Beautiful Salon) was the most expensive part but incredibly important. The last part was the hotel and associated costs, but thankfully, my tax return came through and I had the funds to make the trip.
I stayed at the less expensive hotel next to where the fair was being held. What I had researched strongly suggested staying in the hotel where all the action was, but I was very glad to not be. There were times that I needed to get away. Staying in the same hotel is in the best interest of the folks hiring, but not as much for the applicant. I was able to sit at the bar, reading and enjoying a dinner without having to wonder who else was around. I could take off my teacher hat for awhile and just relax.
I woke up later than I anticipated, but really was taking my time, I think, to feel in control. I didn’t want to be one of the first to arrive and the days schedule was long. By the time I walked across the parking lot to the conference rooms I was nervous again. There was so many people! Going into the candidates “lounge” where the rooms walls were covered in sheets of paper listing the school, country and positions available, I noticed that most people had an intensity that I wanted to resist. The tables were covered in laptops and I started to regret not bringing Brett’s, but I travel light. I did end up using the hotels business center at a cost of $5 for fifteen minutes and calling Kelina to go online for me quite a bit.
Many people had printed special coordinating note cards, cv’s and other stationary needs. That is not my style. Many of the candidates also requested interviews with many, many schools. I only had a few countries that I would go. Once again, I find myself in the position of being different than the majority. Immediately, I started networking, introducing myself and asking, “What’s your story?” I think that was my favorite part. Talking with many teachers from many states and many with international experience, too. We all got to be very friendly, supporting each others efforts and contributing to a positive atmosphere.
Interviews were all super short, most commonly about 15 minutes. Some schools, especially the new ones, were prepared to interview dozens of teachers. Other schools were obviously looking for only certain qualities and were limited their number of interviews. All day Friday I participated in the process to secure interviews for the next two days. Saturday was spent interviewing and chatting. Saturday night was the “dinner” which was enjoyable, but not really helpful for me. By this time, there had been some job offers and also many rejections.
A great part of the fair was the presentations from schools. All day, there were several small rooms where schools brought out their power points and marketing pitches. Some were a hard sell, others not, but I loved them! It was like the travel channel. I learned about many countries and really confirmed by decision to focus on the UAE.
By Sunday, I knew that I was going to be one of the ones who left without a job offer. I was okay with that and had faith that things would work out well. Many of the candidates were very stressed by this time. Sunday afternoon, I was ready to go but my flight wasn’t until the next morning. Checking my email in the hotel business center I opened an email from the school in Abu Dhabi asking if I was still available.”
“Telling folks that I have accepted a kindergarten teaching position in Abu Dhabi and will be living in Dubai has been fun. Their reactions, both in facial expressions as well as in words, has ranged from, “Wow”, “No!””, “That’s great” and “Why?” to my personal favorite, “Are you out of your fricken mind?”
Usually, the first question has been why, a completely reasonable question to which I have several answers. The quick answer is, because I can. Another answer has been a short explanation on the three category system that Brett and I used while making the decision. The categories were 1. quality of life 2. school for Brett 3. ability to save money with a possible one, two or three stars in each. Staying in my position in Hawaii resulted in a score of 5, other options were discussed, but then the offer for the Abu Dhabi scored a 8.
The reason that I even started thinking about it was because one evening, before the holidays, I was aimlessly googling phrases like “how to make money as a teacher” and “extra work for teachers”. (In Hawaii, when the teacher furloughs started and my pay was decreased 9%, I started tutoring after school three days a week to make up the difference in my budget, but every month is still a struggle.) International Teaching came up in my internet search and I thought it was a great idea. A few days later, at a holiday potluck for staff at my school, I met a couple who were previous teachers. They were visiting since they had returned from several years overseas. Getting some direction as to how to proceed in my research, what recruiters to trust, what to watch out for, and sharing their satisfaction with their choice to teach overseas gave me good background information to proceed.
I applied to many, many schools online. From Thailand to Taiwan, Singapore to Malaysia, Indonesia to Hong Kong – but the country that was my first choice was, from the very first, UAE. I applied at a great school in Abu Dhabi, but didn’t hear back before I went to an international teaching fair in San Francisco. At the fair, I had several interviews but not an offer. (More about the fair in another post) When I returned, I received an email from the CEO of the Abu Dhabi school asking for more information. I sent my online portfolio as well as links to my two websites for class use, and was very happy to accept the offer that soon came.
When I told Brett about the offer, the fact that we had only 6 hours to decide since this person was at different international teaching fair in Dubai didn’t faze him at all. He called, emailed and texted his friends, both in Hawaii and in Oregon, and arrived at his decision in less than two hours.”