Recruitment season for international schools and for international schools teachers has definitely changed over recent years.
Getting a teaching position at an international school almost exclusively happened at the various recruitment fairs across the globe (London, Bangkok, Boston, San Francisco, Iowa, etc.). At least 10 years ago that was surely the case.
Now recruitment fairs still play an important role during the international school recruitment process, but increasingly teachers are getting hired via telephone and/or Skype. In fact, if you were hired at an international school in the past 2-8 years, a high percentage of you were probably hired via Skype which resulted in you and your new school not having a face-to-face meeting in person.
Recruitment fairs, like Search Associates, still provide great fairs to attend, but more importantly they provide a large database of teaching vacancies. If you are a registered candidate with Search Associates, you have unlimited access to those vacancies. Even though you may be signed up to attend one of their fairs come January/February, they often encourage you to contact schools directly and try to arrange an (online) interview or at least a pre-interview before the fair. If you are lucky, you will get offered a position via this Skype interview which will in turn cancel your trip to the recruitment fair (saving you time and money).
Having access to a constantly updated list of job vacancies is definitely a valuable tool in your search for a teaching position. You can also look at the school’s own website (via their employment page), but it is possible those lists aren’t as updated as much or at worse don’t even exist. One bit of advice for international schools is to create a useful, updated, and informative employment page on their website.
To repeat, we (the teachers) strongly request that international schools make sure their list of vacancies are constantly updated with the latest information (on their website, on a recruitment fair website, etc). There is nothing worse than preparing a unique cover letter, carefully adjusting your CV content, and a writing personal email message all for not. We understand that vacancies can take a long time to fill as some school’s interview processes can take a long time. But if the school indeed has secured somebody for a position, it is their responsibility to update their list of vacancies accordingly.
There are many reasons why Skype is becoming more and more used during the international school recruitment process. One reason is that it is cheaper for both parties involved. No paying for the recruitment fair fees, no paying for hotel reservations, and no paying for all flights involved. Another reason that Skype is being more used is that it saves time, a lot of time in some cases. When interviewing candidates from all over the world, it is a hassle to take off a long weekend or miss a whole week of work just to attend a fair. A third reason Skype is being used more is that it indeed still gives the school and the candidate a good idea of each other’s personality and demeanor. The ultimate goal for both parties involved is to find the “best fit”.
In the end, there really isn’t a clear answer though to which is better: going to a recruitment fair or just using Skype. At this point, it is still recommended to use a combination of the two. Utilizing both covers all your bases; giving the candidate the best chances in securing a position.continue reading
For all international school teachers, it is hard to adapt to your new host country. For gay international school teachers, it can be even more of a challenge. In recent months, it made world news that the USA’s government legalized gay marriage. Not all countries have gone down a similar path though. As a result, there are varying gay rights (or lack there of) across the globe.
Regardless of the kinds of gay rights the country has, there are definitely gay international school teachers and couples that work at international schools all over the world. But like we all know, not all countries (and schools for that matter) are all that welcoming to gay teachers. On the other hand, some schools (and the countries they are in) are very welcoming.
Maybe a good strategy for gay teachers is to just ask the administration during their interview, to ask them how things are at their school and in their country. Better to know more information before you decide to sign a contract with a school. Some schools might respond by telling you that they currently have gay teachers working there and that they don’t experience any discrimination both at work and in the community. Other international schools will stare back at you blankly, not knowing how to respond to your direct question about being gay at their school. If a school shows hesitation, it might be a good indicator that they are indeed not the best fit for you at that time.
You might say though, that regardless of what the administration says, it is important to do your research about each city and country. Even if the gay rights are not so progressive in a certain country, it does not mean that you should give up an opportunity to work there. There are always other gay people to connect with once you arrive, both in the community and hopefully also at your school.
A great website to stay up-to-date with the current events (all things gay related) of each country is globalgayz.com.
Another great resource is the International School Community website. Using our Comments Search feature, we found 33 comments (a premium membership feature) that talked about what life is like for gay people in that city. Here are just a few that we would like to highlight:
“The city is huge and very diverse. City center is inhabited by lower-income citizens, as it’s very loud and dirty. The city is muslim and definitely not gay-friendly, though you could see a gay bar here and there and there was a transsexual pride going on this year. The city itself is very lively, with nice bars and cafes in a walking street Yeni Carsi near Taksim square.” – MEF International School Istanbul (Istanbul, Turkey) – 50 Comments
“Berlin has a long history as being gay friendly. Schöneberg is considered the gaypart of the city, and if you walk anywhere southern form Lietzenburger Straße you will see a lot of rainbow flags on balconies as well as in bars and shops. If you want to avoid nightlife, don’t live in Kreuzberg: this is the party/hipster area. Friedrichshein and Prenzauler Berg are emerging as a very popular places to live, and the prices in these neighbourhoods are rising. Charlottenburg is a very nice and quiet neighbourhood especially for the ones for kids and it’s not far from anything (check out Goethestraße area).” – Berlin International School (Berlin, Germany) – 12 Comments
“I’ve heard from my gay friend here that dating can be a bit difficult. If you’ve seen the new show last year called Looking, then that pretty much is accurate in our dating is here for gay men. There are definitely endless bars to go to at night. Just be careful of the location of the bar and how safe is it there at night. Good to use Uber to get yourself home after you dance the night away!” –International High School of San Francisco (San Francisco, United States) – 37 Comments
“Do not go to a night club unless you know they are foreigner friendly. Fights occur at the other ones. There is a gay club in town, but homosexuality “does not exist” in their way of thinking/culture. Ulaanbaatar (UB) is the ugliest city in the world in the world’s most beautiful country. UB is quiet, as their aren’t that many people. A great place for a single male, but couples may find it boring. Many foreign women marry Mongolian men, too, so it’s okay on that front.” – Orchlon School (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia) – 68 Comments
“I had friends who were gay that had no troubles while living here, they just maintain a low profile…not all over one another in public. I made sure to avoid public displays of affection while out with my husband too though. I mean, it is an ultra-conservative society and one should behave accordingly. We also wore clothing that covered our shoulders and our knees because of respect for the locals which are uncomfortable with all the skin that Westerners like to show off. My husband and I are a mixed race couple and we had no issue with that at all. We did not know what to expect when we came to Cairo but for two years we were treated very well and never experienced any racism that we noticed.” – Misr American College (Cairo, Egypt) – 37 Commentscontinue reading
There are a few international schools to work at in Montevideo! How do these schools stand out from each other?
How many international schools can boast about being over 100 years old? According to the international schools listed on our website, there are 33 international schools with a founding year of before 1900.
So how great this school in Uruguay put together a tribute video to the history of their school.
Looking at all the old pictures really gives a good glimpse into their past students, the past school grounds, and the past staff that has worked there over the years.
It is hard to imagine what life as an international school teacher was like back then. How did that school find the teachers to work there? Were they hired locally or from abroad? Did they move their stuff and themselves by ship from the USA or England (or ???)?
In parts of the video, it seems like there was maybe a separation being the boys and girls at one point. It could be that they had different sections of the school for different genders. Also, it appears as if sports and competitions are/were an important part of this school’s programme.
Looking at all the people in the video, it reminds us that working at an international school is truly working as part of a family. And not just the current family, but the past family too. If you are lucky to get a job at an international school, you are a part of that school’s history forever. It is great how an international school starts something one year, and then it continues year after year becoming a tradition; which makes each international school a unique and interesting place to work.
Currently on www.internationalschoolcommunity.com we have 93 international schools listed in South America. Here are a just a few of them (the number of comments and information that have been submitted for each school is listed to the right of the link):
• Colegio Panamericano (Bucaramanga, Colombia) – 34 Comments
• Colegio Granadino Manizales (Manizales, Colombia) – 43 Comments
• Colegio Menor San Francisco de Quito (Quito, Ecuador) – 31 Comments
• American School of Asuncion (Asuncion, Paraguay) – 58 Comments
• Uruguayan American School (Montevideo, Uruguay) – 32 Comments
• Colegio International de Carabobo (Carabobo, Venezuela) – 21 Comments
• Escuela Las Morochas (Ciudad Ojeda, Venezuela) – 28 Comments
If you know about what it is like working at one of these international schools in South America, log-on today and submit your own comments and information. Become a Mayor of one of these schools and you will receive unlimited premium access to International School Community for free!continue reading
Comments and information about hiring policies on International School Community:
Every week members are leaving information and comments about the hiring policies at international schools around the world. Which ones go to the Search Associates Recruitment Fairs? Which ones hold interviews over Skype? Which ones have hiring restrictions imposed on them by the host country? All important questions to think about when job searching, but where to find the answers to all of those questions?
Sometimes it is hard to keep track of which international schools go to which recruitment fairs and which interview style and tactic each international school employs. At International School Community, we want to make the search for information about hiring policies easier for international school teachers. In the school section of each international school profile page on our website, there is a section topic specific to the school’s hiring policies. The topic is: “Describe their hiring policies. Which recruiting fairs do they go to? How do they typically hire (e.g. face-to-face interview, Skype, etc.)? Are there any hiring restrictions mandated by the country?”
Here are three out of the numerous submitted comments, related to the school’s hiring policies, that have been posted on our website:
International High School of San Francisco (San Francisco, United States) – 15 Total Comments
Comment about their hiring policies: “Since it is French/American, basically they hire via Search Associates and CIS for international staff. For French staff you need to be a certified teacher from France. You can apply via the school\’s website. To be hired here, you don\’t need to be able to speak French FYI.”
The American School of Kinshasa (Kinshasa, Congo (DRC)) – 11 Total Comments
Comment about their hiring policies: “They will go to some fairs in the US or Johannesburg. They will hire through both, face-to-face and Skype. There are no age restrictions and they will usually prefer couples but will accept single parents very easily.”
British Early Years Centre (Bangkok, Thailand) – 10 Total Comments
Comment about their hiring policies: “The British Early Years Centre generally employs teachers from the UK, however we do interview anyone with relevant experience who has a strong passion for what we do. Interviews are preferably done face to face and we like to see sample lessons, however given that we are in an international community and we employ from the UK, this isn’t always possible, so Skype interviews are the minimal requirement.”
Check out the more than 822 comments and information that have been submitted about the hiring policies on numerous international school profiles at www.internationalschoolcommunity.com.continue reading
Tell us about your background. Where are you from?
I am an Australian who calls Brisbane her hometown but I currently resides in Quito, Ecuador where I am the Director of The British School Quito.
I am an educational leader, motivational speaker, international educator and businesswoman who has nearly twenty-five years experience in education in the United Kingdom, Australia, Europe, Asia and South America. In 2006 I founded my own business, Teepee Consulting, through which I have had the opportunity to facilitate positive and effective change within learning communities around the world, through the delivery or leadership and professional development and coaching programs.
I obtained my undergraduate degree in education from the University of South Australia and I hold a graduate Diploma in Management. I have been an invited speaker at a range of international and national conferences speaking on such topics as, positive, effective and ethical leadership; positive staff development, appraisal and retention programs; higher order thinking skills; creating cultures of excellence; curriculum development for 21st century learners; and capability building in education teams.
How did you get started in the international teaching community?
I got started in international education in 2001 shortly after the birth of our third daughter. The then European Council of International Schools had a position advertised for ‘model teachers’ in an international school in Romania. Having had some experience in consulting at that point, and having a partner who was also an educator and consultant, I decided to take the leap and move our family overseas.
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.
Before moving to Ecuador I have lived in Peru, Russia, Romania, Australia and the UK but I have worked with many other schools in Asia, South America and Europe as a consultant. In Russia I was the Deputy Head of the British International School Moscow where we loved the culture, history and art of the city and the country. If you love architecture and history this is a great country to visit and live in.
In Peru I was the Director of Primary and Early Years at 1200+ student school called San Silvestre. This is an amazing all girls’ school in Miraflores, a lovely superb close to the Pacific coastline. If you are looking for a professional and personally nurturing school in which to work, then look no further than San Silvestre. My time there was some of my happiest both personally and professionally. The school has an inquiry based approach to teaching and learning and offers the IB Diploma. The staff are a wonderful team and the school ethos and ‘feel’ is more like a smaller, community school.
Whilst in Peru I led the “Re-Building Childrens’ Lives” concert project designed to contribute to aiding communities, in the south of Peru, after the devastating earthquake that occurred in 2007. I helped to organise, and participated in, a range of concerts and musical events to raise funds for this, and other, important community service projects.
Now I am here in Quito, Ecuador enjoying all that Ecuador and Quito have to offer. The British School Quito is a small but growing school with an excellent reputation and a high standard of academic excellence. We offer the British National Curriculum and the IB Diploma and we are proud to be accredited by both the Council of International Schools and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. We are currently the only school in Ecuador that offers all three sciences in English at Higher Level in the IB Diploma. The school has a truly warm and collegial atmosphere with very supportive parents and an engaged learning community. I am truly enjoying my experience at BSQ.
Describe your latest cultural encounter (or reverse cultural encounter) in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.
Whilst South America has its challenges it also have wonderful rewards including its wonderful array of food, superb climate, majestic landscapes and scenery, and bounteous travel and sporting opportunities. However, when we live and work outside of our own countries and cultures there are always things that make us think, huh? or put a smile on our faces. Just recently here in Quito we had to close the school for three days so that the government could move the airport from its old location to its new location! Well that put a smile on a few people’s faces….it certainly wouldn’t happen at home!
What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?
When I am looking for a new school I look at the culture (the feel of a school). How long do staff stay? What do staff say about the school? What retention programs are in place? What do the children say? Are the learners happy, engaged, active learners? If I think the culture is right for me then I ask myself…Why am I right for this community of learners? What can I contribute? If I have an answer that delivers positive outcomes for the learning community then I go for it!
In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?
The international school teaching experience is – truly rewarding challenging and capability enhancing
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!
Want to work for an international school in Ecuador like Kerry? Currently, we have 8 international schools listed in the Ecuador on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:
• InterAmerican Academy Guayaquil (13 Comments)
• Academia Cotopaxi (American International School) (6 Comments)
• Colegio Menor San Francisco de Quito (21 Comments)
• The British School Quito (24 Comments)
Are you inspired to start up a blog about your adventures living abroad?
Our 21st blog that we would like to highlight is called “Art Teach Travel” Check out the blog entries of this school teacher who has lived and worked in the United States for many years teaching art. She has aspirations to join the international school community in the very near future. She has written some great insight related to the different kinds of international school recruitment fairs currently on offer to people looking for a job at an international school.
A few entries that we would like to highlight:
“Since 1955, International Schools Services (ISS) has been dedicated to providing international students access to a premier Western education. It is difficult for ISS to give me data regarding how many art positions are available each year because, unlike UNI, they have continual, year-round recruitment fairs at various locations around the world. Currently, ISS has five recruitment conferences scheduled in 2012-13 to include Philadelphia; Nice, France; Atlanta; Bangkok and San Francisco. There will be more posted as dates are confirmed.
In 2010, a variety of schools, in countries such as China, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Switzerland, UAE and Vietnam, needed art teachers but each year the represented schools and countries are varied. There is no way to predict how many schools from how many countries will need art teachers each year. When I recently inquired there were 11 positions most recently available…”
I think about this too. For most teachers looking for a job at an international school, in any given year, always must take a gamble. The gamble is just how this blogger described: you never know what vacancies are going to be available the year you decide to look for a job abroad (and in the city or country you most want to work in). Some more experienced teachers in the international school community do tend to wait until the right job comes up (usually found out through their extensive network of international educator colleagues) and then they decide to leave their current school. However, there are a number of teachers that don’t have that luxury and they take a big chance that the perfect job will present itself the year they decide to look. Going to the recruitment fair is fun though really. If you are luckily, you have many interviews to consider at the fair. I think I went to about seven interviews at the last recruitment fair that I attended. They say to even go to the ones that you are pretty sure you are not interested in…because “you never know.” Also, it is quite interesting to learn more about the many different international schools around the world and what they are doing and have to offer.
It is good to check how many positions are available on the recruitment fair’s website before you get to the fair, but it is also good to know that things can change very quickly. The vacancies listed on their website can change….a lot, so be prepared as you are walking around during the first round robin session and checking out their vacancies posters. Though on the other hand, if you have contacted a school beforehand and they have shown interest in you about a vacancy, still go up to the table and get the latest update (if you don’t see the vacancy listed on the poster), as you never know what has happened and the position might indeed be available again in a day, a week, etc…
“So now, years later, I’m asking the same question: Should I stay or should I go? This time, I’m talking about my job, the Dallas art scene, my home in Texas and my country. I’ve been exploring how to combine my love of teaching with my love of adventure and travel. Teaching art in an international school may be my way to do that.
Although there are many educational placement companies, I have narrowed my search down to three: UNI (University of Northern Iowa), ISS (International Schools Services) and SA (Search Associates). Although I’ve never taught internationally, I have read many others’ personal accounts through various forum blogs…”
Waiting for the right time to enter the international school community can take awhile for some people. Taking the risk of leaving your current job in your home country, leaving your friends and family, and then ultimately leaving your home country itself is quite the challenge. I remember my teacher friends being ready years before me. I had many things that I had to deal with first, and it took me six years (after I first started teaching with my teaching license) until my life was ready to finally go to a recruitment fair. I don’t remember thinking that staying (in my current job and home country) really was option anymore…once I had finally made my decision to teach abroad. Luckily, things worked out well and I got the job of my dreams at the first recruitment fair that I had ever been to, with no prior international school teaching experience. I think the “power” was definitely in the candidate’s favor back then!
Now I am currently at my third international school, and I still ask the questions to myself “Should I stay or should I go?” Even though most contracts are for two years, it is always good to stay a little bit after that initial contract and sometimes there is a nice financial incentive to stay longer too! Your school in your home country probably wouldn’t be offering you any bonuses to stay with them! One of the many perks teaching at international schools versus teaching in your home country.
If you are also interested in starting your career in the international school community, feel free to check out the 1245+ international schools that are listed on International School Community here. Also, don’t forget to check out our latest submitted comments and information about these schools.continue reading
There are literally hundreds of overseas schools offering employment opportunities for those wishing to move abroad or those who find themselves in a foreign location in search of work. The first thing one must realize is that there are generally two classifications of employees at most schools: local hire expatriates (as opposed to host country national) and overseas hires. This is an important distinction to remember.
Local hire status usually brings with it (but not always) the same salary as overseas hire (O/H) but without the benefits such as housing, airfare, etc. It is intended to take advantage of the fact that many qualified teachers arrive at post accompanying their spouse and thus receive housing and airfare as part of their family status, saving the school money. Anyone contemplating moving abroad to teach is advised to secure a job before moving: it makes a big difference in living standard. On the other hand, if someone needs experience and would not be competitive as an O/H, it may be easier to find a job on a local hire basis and later parlay the experience gained to O/H status at another school.(Most schools will not change someone’s status once hired.)
Schools determine the ratio of local to overseas hires based on how many qualified candidates areavailable locally, but the better schools keep quality the first priority. They like to maintain a surplus of local applicants to fill in as substitute teachers and when unexpected vacancies occur during the year. School directors eagerly welcome new local talent. While teaching qualifications and experience for local hires are mandatory at most schools, expediency rules at others and it is possible to work one’s way into a full time teaching job through experience substituting or working as a teacher’s aide. In fact, volunteering is a great way to become known and first in line when a job opens.
Applying from overseas, however, the applicant needs to have at least a BA/BS degree, a teaching credential and at least two years experience to be considered. There are many more applicants than jobs available and it is not uncommon for a school to have twenty to one hundred applications for each vacancy. A single parent with dependents does not stand much of a chance, nor does a retired teacher looking for an overseas experience. Schools prefer to hire teaching couples with no dependents, though most schools will hire couples with children and a few will hire singles with dependents. Almost all will hire single teachers if they cannot find couples.
Anyone applying will need to carry excellent recommendations, be healthy and energetic and willing to work in the after- school program. Flexibility and adaptability are key attributes for successful candidates. Prior experience living abroad or at least foreign travel and knowledge of another language are helpful. The bottom line is expertise as a teacher and love of kids and if an interviewer discerns that in a candidate, a contract offer is likely.
So, how does one apply to teach overseas?
The better schools insist on an interview if at all possible, although they will hire through one of the major recruiting agencies if they have vacancies at odd times of the year. Schools which have a high percentage of host country national students or that tend to have lower salaries may hire on the basis of correspondence and could be targeted by inexperienced teachers. Beware, however, that salaries in such schools might be at the subsistence level and working conditions less than ideal. Most international schools are exceedingly reputable: a handful are not, so investigate carefully.
Applying directly to the better schools is a good way to establish contact, but most successful candidates use recruitment agencies which arrange Recruitment Fairs that attract anything from 20 to 140 or more schools for 3 to 4 days of marathon interviewing. A cycle has emerged as follows:
September: the candidate selects and contacts a recruitment agency to register
October/November: references are submitted and a dossier created.
December: the candidate is advised if they are accepted.
February: interviews take place at recruitment fairs. Some contracts are offered on the spot.
March/April: more contracts are consumated.
May/June: a few more recruiting fairs open for schools to fill last minute vacancies.
July/August: recruitment agencies are requested to fill final vacancies
There are several major sources to choose from:
Search Associates: PO Box 2007 Minden, NV 89423 Telephone (775) 267-3122 Fax (775) 267-4122
Street address: 2618 Fuller Avenue Minden, NV 89423 http://www.search-associates.com
A private agency comprised mainly of former directors of international schools, Search places around 500 candidates annually. Fairs are operated in Kuala Lumpur, Sidney, Dubai, Oxford, Houston, Cambridge, Toronto and Carmel, CA and Bethesda.
International Schools Services, PO Box 5910, Princeton, NJ 08543 A non-profit organization witha wide range of services for international schools, ISS annually operates two large fairs each February: one on the east coast (Washington, DC in 1998), one on the west coast (San Francisco, 1998) plus a late one in Philadelphia each June. They place over 500 candidates.
European Council of International Schools, 21 Lavant Street Petersfield GU32 3EL UK ECIS hosts a major recruitment fair in London early each February and a later one in April. A mix of American and British based schools attend.
University of Northern Iowa This is the grandaddy of all recruitment fairs and the one that started them all back in the 70s. It attracts up to 700 teachers and 140 schools.
Several other colleges or universities also sponsor recruitment centers:check with your university to see if they might be one of them. Which one is best for you? It may depend on location, time of the fair, whether you want a large one or one which is smaller with more personalized attention. ECIS London tends to attract a lot of schools from Europe; Search KL is heavy with international schools in Asia while Search-Houston focuses on Latin America and Search-Dubai is British oriented. UNI has schools from all over, as does ISS. All of the recruiting sources above have websites. Use a search engine to access them and learn more.
The Office of Overseas Schools (U. S. State Department) maintains an excellent website with links to the above. Fees for the above are all moderate and should not be a determiner of which one is chosen. Sources for learning more include the ISS Directory of Overseas Schools; The International Educator (TIE), a newspaper of great interest (PO Box 513, Cummaquid, MA 02637 for subscription); or, visit the Teacher’s Internet Pages (TIPS) on the world-wide web.
Taken from the article summitted on overseasdigest.com
About the author
Mr. Ambrose was named “Superintendent of the Year” by the Association for the Advancement of International Education in 1997. He has served as the President of the Society Limited to Overseas School Heads; represented international schools on the Elementary Commission of the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges; was a long standing officer of the Board of Directors of the Near East, South Asian (NESA) Council of Overseas Schools; a member of the Board of Directors of TIE, for which he regularly writes articles, and; wrote, produced or directed a series of videotapes designed to train overseas school board members. During his 24 years overseas, he administered a number of schools and was most recently Director of the United Nations International School in Hanoi, Vietnam.
v2012.01 – 7 January, 2012:
The Wonderful World of International School Recruitment Fairs: Lesson #5 – “Check your ego at the door.”
“Every normal person, in fact, is only normal on the average. His ego approximates to that of the psychotic in some part or other and to a greater or lesser extent.” Sigmund Freud.
The greatest sports legends, the inventors of things we rely on today, great actors and actresses, all of these people must seem to have a big ego. Maybe it comes with their achievements or our projections of them? Then there are the great dictators, the generals of war or just some average Joe that just won the biggest-ever on his lottery ticket. Ego comes in many shapes and forms, and albeit some are seemingly more attractive than others. It’s a hard task to know when to enhance or down play your own ego.
We’re constantly told to either just stand in line or be like others, that we don’t really deviate from the mass, that we’re just one in a million, that perhaps we’re not as special as we think. Then we’re told we need to stand out, make a difference, show our true colors, let the ego steer and victory will come our way. So, how are you to act at the international school recruitment fairs?
Ego is an ambivalent thing, you could say that it’s both our chance and our fall. It’s the chance to express ourselves, to enhance our personality to make it clearer how we stand out from the masses, what makes us special, what we’re capable of; how we’re the best of all of them. But there is a line, and if that line is crossed, our personality becomes too big and a bit desperate, we express ourselves in a way so superior to others that we make them feel small, we become way too special, maybe even too good for our own good; we are the best of all of them, no question there, there’s “me” and no one else.
It’s often in job interviews we’re left with the difficult task of being the best and out-shining the competition, but in such a manner that we don’t let our own ego get the better of us, and suddenly instead of standing out positively in the round-robin session or in the administrator’s hotel room during the interview, we stand out negatively instead. It’s practically a game of ego vs. humble. It’s pointing out the things you are good at and how you are the best for the position, but it’s just as much being humble, being likable, charming, sitting straight, smiling, having eye contact, being interested, letting your ego shine from time to time, but not letting it consume the space.
“There’s nothing like rejection to make you do an inventory of yourself.” James Lee Burke.
And every so often your ego takes a blow during your experience at a recruitment fair. When you venture in life, there’s always the risk of rejection. Sometimes it feels like there isn’t any international school out there that wants to hire you. It’s basically the same whether you open your heart for someone you love or you are at a job interview, getting that “no” is a sour sting to your ego. And that’s when the inventory begins: should I have? or could I have? Would it have? And so on and so on…
Every mountain we climb in this life should probably have two gates: “for exit hurry” or “in risk of rejection”. We can’t go through life (and through international school recruitment fairs) without getting a little hurt sometimes, without bruising our ego. It’s all part of living as they say; the smart and clever ones. So maybe you didn’t have enough experience, maybe the connection just wasn’t there, or maybe, just maybe someone was just better than you. You know, you shouldn’t take it personal. It just means you get a few more rounds through the “in risk of rejection” gate. And who knows, just one week after the fair, where you weren’t offered any contracts to sign, you might receive in your email inbox the offer from the international school you have been dreaming of working at! Believe us, it is happened many times in our International School Community.
Go ahead and send a private message regarding hiring and fairs to one of our members. International School Community’s current members work at or have worked at 92 international schools! Check out which schools here and start networking today!
· 06 Jan Canadian International School Beijing (5 new comments)
“There is an annual flight allowance, return trip to Canada or equivalent…”
· 06 Jan Berkeley International School (Bangkok) (8 new comments)
“As for the location, it’s very convenient opposite Bitec, close to BTS, Central City Bangna, and to other International Schools such as St Andrews, Patana, CIS and the Mega Bangna super mall…”
· Using the School Profile Search feature on International School Community: Search Result #2
“Only on International School Community will you be able to search for the perfect international school for you. The possibility to search (using our unique search engine) for international schools based on the type of school that best fits your criteria…”
· Survey results are in – How many countries have you traveled to so far this year? (in 2011)
“The survey results are in, and it seems as if most visitors and members of International School Community have been to 1-3 countries in 2011. We were thinking that people would have traveled to more countries as a typical international school teacher travels many times throughout the year…”
· Video highlight: St. Stephen’s International School (Bangkok, Thailand)
“How great to start off each day with the flag ceremony and the Thai National Anthem! Being that the majority of their students are Thai, they have a strong focus on honoring and respecting Thai and Asian cultural values…”
· Highlighted article: India’s most admired international schools
“Within the hearts and minds of the uninformed, there is considerable prejudice against India’s small but growing number of new genre international schools. Left intellectuals and fellow travelers who dominate Indian academia and have considerable influence in the media, naively dismiss them as elitist and expensive…”
· Comments and information about hiring policies on International School Community #2 (Beijing, Seoul and Beirut)
“This school went to the Search Fair in Boston in 2011. The interview was 1 on 1 with the principal. It was quite informal, but he also asked some important interview questions. After the first interview, I receive an offer on contract in my mailbox, so they for sure want to hire at the fair. They were able to allow for a few a day to decide as well which I think is important…”
Teaching and living in “The World’s Happiest (And Saddest) Countries” – According to ForbesAccording to this Forbes article, the top 10 happiest countries are: “Joining Norway and Australia in the top 10 are their neighbors Denmark, Finland, Sweden and New Zealand. Equally small and civilized Switzerland and the Netherlands are also up there. Rounding out the top 10 is the United States at 10th and Canada (sixth).”There are many international schools in most of these countries, offering many opportunities for international school teachers to live very “happy” lives, or so it would appear…
Highlighted blog of an international teacher:
International Teaching Fair 2/2010“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…”“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…”
*If you are an international school teacher and would like your blog highlighted on International School Community contact us here.
Utilizing the database of the 1018 international schools currently listed on International School Community, we found 10 international schools that were founded in 1988 (excepts about their founding are taken from the schools’ websites):
Koc International School (Istanbul, Turkey)
“Founded in 1988 by the Vehbi Koç Foundation, the Koç School has quickly become one of Turkey’s most selective and competitive university preparatory schools. It attracts an outstanding academic staff of Turkish and foreign teachers, and students who score at the highest levels of entrance examinations. Koç School seeks to be a leader and a pioneer in Turkish education and to set standards for other schools to follow.”
Bordeaux International School (Bordeaux, France)
“Bordeaux International School, also known as BIS, is a private (fee-paying) international school for ages 3–18 located in Bordeaux, France, established in 1988 by the non-profit making Association Linguistique et Culturelle Internationale. Students are from both France and other countries. The medium of instruction is English and French in the primary streams and mainly English in the secondary school. The school moved to new premises in rue Judaïque in August 2005.”
British School Bern (Berne, Switzerland)
“The British School of Bern is an English-speaking, International day school established in 1988. It is for pupils of all nationalities from the ages of three to twelve years. It is an independent, nonprofit day school located in Gumlingen, a suburb of Bern. The school provides a modern British curriculum. The teaching allows each child to develop to his/her particular need through both same-age and cross-age groupings.”
International School of Budapest (Budapest, Hungary)
International School of Johor (Johor, Malaysia)
United Nations International School (Vietnam) (Hanoi, Vietnam)
“The United Nations International School of Hanoi is an international school in Hanoi, Vietnam. It is a private, non-profit organization founded in 1988 with the support of the United Nations Development Programme in Vietnam (UNDP) with the aim of providing an education to the children of UN staff and others. It now caters to the children of diplomats, aid workers, businessman, and other expatriates living and working in Hanoi. Classes range from pre-school to high school, and the IB Diploma is available to students in grade 11 and 12.”
Rome International School (Rome, Italy)
“RIS opened its doors to its first elementary school students in September 1988. We offer an international education to children aged 2 to 18. The Middle School opened in September 2001 and the High School in 2007. The school is located in a fully equipped campus comprised of classrooms, ample sports facilities, science labs, music rooms, libraries and computer labs, next to several acres of a public park, Villa Ada.The location is well connected by public transport.”
Khalifa School (Safat, Kuwait)
“Khalifa School, founded in 1988, is recognized as the first private educational institution for special needs students in Kuwait. Motivated by her grandson, Khalifa, Mrs. Lulwa Khalifa Alghanim established Khalifa School with the vision of providing equal opportunities for special needs students. The school combines the latest teaching methods and state of the art technology to provide appropriate educational opportunities for the students. The school is located in the capital area of Kuwait and is accessible from all locations of the country.”
German-American International School (Menlo Park, California, United States)
“The concept of a German-American School in the Bay Area in order to promote the German language and culture started in May 1980, with an ad-hoc committee under the leadership of Dr. Liedkte, Professor of German at the San Francisco State University. He was assisted by a group of dedicated parents and Mr. Rothmann, the German consul at that time and the Swiss consul, Mr. Frey. The result of many years of dedicated work, the German American School (GAS) was created by a small group of parents wanting to provide a good bilingual education for their children.”
Adana Gundogdu College (Adana, Turkey)
“Adana Gündogdu College was founded in 1988 by Mr. Yunus Gündogdu. It started with 88 students and now there are approximate 2000 students. Our school is located in Adana, which is located in southern Turkey. Adana is the city in the south of Turkey and has a university and several colleges. We have many attractions, a lake and not far from the center is the ocean. Our school includes a kindergarten, an elementary school and one comprehensive school.”
Check out the rest of the more than 1018 international schools listed on International School Community here.continue reading
“Many people have asked my process of applying to teach overseas and so I will share my experiences, typical or not. The first step, of course, was research. Finding out what the schools that interested me considered a priority revealed that they are different in their own region. Carefully reading the different mission statements not only showed priorities, but also gave me direction in my cover letters which needed to be outstanding. Some schools stressed academic achievement, others developing the whole child but almost all emphasized a global perspective. Mediocrity was not a part of any, it was super high expectations the whole way.
Each cover letter that I sent was specifically targeted with carefully chosen words that reflected my interpretation of the schools’ intent. I connected my skills to what they required, my educational philosophy to theirs and used as many “teacher words” as I could. The format was strictly old school business formal with the date written as day, month and year rather than the western style of month, day, year. My first attempt to cut and paste resulted in an incomplete sentence and the wrong date being sent to a prospective employer so I decided to recreate each one. Yes, that took a lot of time. Yes, it was worth it.
International resumes are referred to as CV’s; Curriculum Vitae. Many things are different from American resumes, including a recent photo, just a simple head shot, and both your age and marital status, believe it or not. Think full disclosure.
I signed with a recruiter, Search Associates, to access their data banks of detailed information of teacher packages and recommendations, as well as the semi-security of a having an informed professional to ask questions and anticipate any possible problems. The fee was $200 and the school has to pay the recruiter a larger fee, I believe it is $1200. It was worth it. This also gave me an invitation to the Search Associates International Teaching Fair in California this past February. More about the teaching fair in another post – it was an experience, that’s for sure.
Reading the school’s websites was crucial to understanding exactly how to apply. Some wanted a cover letter and cv, some had an online application form, others would only review applicants through one of the recruiters. No matter what the route, I put effort into making each sentence, each question answered, the best possible. High level schools are looking for teachers with high level skills and an incorrect subject-verb agreement or misspelled word will definitely stand out – negatively.
Part of my process was my notebook. I kept track of each letter, each response and tons of printed information of the schools I had applied, in addition to a chart comparing things like salary, contract length, etc. Without it, I would have been lost and confused.
Remember timing. International school are actively hiring January through March. Are you ready?”
Check out the over 100 comments and information about international schools and their hiring policies and other recruitment fair information about a variety of international schools on International School Community’s website.continue reading
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.”continue reading
A new blog topic on International School Community: Comments and information about hiring policies
Every week members are leaving information and comments about the hiring policies at international schools around the world. Which ones go to the Search Associates Recruitment Fairs? Which ones hold interviews over Skype? Which ones have hiring restrictions imposed on them by the host country? All important questions to think about when job searching, but where to find the answers to those questions?
Sometimes it is hard to keep track of which international schools go to which recruitment fairs and which international schools employ which interview style and tactic. At International School Community, we want to make the search for information about hiring policies easier for international school teachers. In the school section of each international school profile page on our website, there is a section specific to the school’s hiring policies. The topic is: “Describe their hiring policies. Which recruiting fairs do they go to? How do they typically hire (e.g. face-to-face interview, Skype, etc.)? Are there any hiring restrictions mandated by the country?”
Here are 3 out of the many comments and information related to the hiring policies of international schools that have been posted on our website:
“Go to SEARCH fairs in Bangkok, London and Boston. Also other fairs in New York, San Francisco and Toronto Some people hired after SKYPE interviews – often people who have been recommended.”
American Bilingual School
“If the candidate is not present in Kuwait, the interview will take place via phone. Standard questions related your experience and suitability for the position will be covered. In addition, you will be asked about your age, your marital status, your state of health, and height/weight. Such questions are customary for overseas positions. All successful applicants will be required to email or send a 3 minute DVD of himself/herself delivering a sample lesson within their subject area.”
International School Singapore
“I interviewed with this school last March. It was over Skype with the elementary principal. She was very nice. The interview was professional, but also a bit informal which is what I prefer, a more casual conversation about my teaching experience and the school. I actually was emailed again to have a 2nd interview. After the 2nd interview I was told that they were going to go with a local hire. She told me that they have hired expat in the past that have been surprised (not prepared) to handle the high cost of living in Singapore vs. the salary and benefits of the school.”
Finding comments and reviews on the schools we want to know about is a top priority for most ISC members. We have a number of features on our website that help our members do just that!
Using the School Search feature on the ISC website, members can specifically search only for the international schools that have had comments submitted on them. All members need to do is use the filter feature + tick the “schools with comments” box. Here are current results we got (from 24 July 2020) along with five random schools from that region:
Asia: 68 Schools
American International School Dhaka (110 total comments)
American Embassy School New Delhi (39 total comments)
Good Shepherd International School (409 total comments)
Kodaikanal International School (53 total comments)
Indus International School (Pune) (43 total comments)
Caribbean: 24 Schools
The Codrington School (Int’l School of Barbados) (70 total comments)
Somersfield Academy (44 total comments)
The Bermuda High School for Girls (41 total comments)
International School St. Lucia (West Indies) (21 total comments)
International School of Havana (20 total comments)
Central American: 32 Schools
International School Panama (49 total comments)
Lincoln School (San Jose) (61 total comments)
Marian Baker School (33 total comments)
The British School of Costa Rica (31 total comments)
The American International School of Guatemala (Colegio Maya) (75 total comments)
Central/Eastern Europe: 67 Schools
International School of Belgrade (59 total comments)
Anglo-American School of Moscow (69 total comments)
Wroclaw International School (46 total comments)
American School of Warsaw (155 total comments)
International School of Latvia (33 total comments)
East Asia: 222 Schools
Canadian International School (Hong Kong) (155 total comments)
Concordia International School (Shanghai) (180 total comments)
Hong Kong International School (148 total comments)
Kang Chiao International School (Kunshan) (81 total comments)
Keystone Academy (119 total comments)
Middle East: 152 Schools
American International School of Kuwait (74 total comments)
International College Beirut (121 total comments)
Awsaj Academy (43 total comments)
Qatar Academy (Doha) (71 total comments)
Dhahran Ahliyya Schools (83 total comments)
North Africa: 41 Schools
Alexandria International Academy (79 total comments)
American International School in Egypt (Main Campus) (62 total comments)
Cairo American College (174 total comments)
Misr American College (53 total comments)
George Washington Academy (91 total comments)
North America: 50 Schools
American School Foundation of Guadalajara (117 total comments)
American School Foundation of Mexico City (72 total comments)
American School Foundation of Monterrey (129 total comments)
International High School of San Francisco (37 total comments)
Atlanta International School (31 total comments)
Oceania: 8 Schools
Woodford International School (12 total comments)
Port Moresby International School (8 total comments)
Majuro Cooperative School (16 total comments)
Kwajalein Senior High School (24 total comments)
International School Nadi (9 total comments)
SE Asia: 182 Schools
Ican British International School (74 total comments)
Northbridge International School (59 total comments)
Green School Bali (148 total comments)
Sekolah Victory Plus (143 total comments)
International School of Kuala Lumpur (135 total comments)
South America: 64 Schools
The American Int’l School of Buenos Aires (Lincoln) (48 total comments)
Colegio Nueva Granada (60 total comments)
American School of Asuncion (145 total comments)
Colegio Internacional de Carabobo (95 total comments)
Uruguayan American School (32 total comments)
Sub-Saharan Africa: 71 Schools
The American School of Kinshasa (59 total comments)
International Community School Addis Ababa (80 total comments)
International School of Kenya (52 total comments)
Saint Andrews International High School (41 total comments)
American International School Abuja (58 total comments)
Western Europe: 167 Schools
American International School Vienna (81 total comments)
International School of Paphos (123 total comments)
Copenhagen International School (375 total comments)
International School of Stuttgart (78 total comments)
Berlin Brandenburg International School (87 total comments)
Well those are all the regions of the world on our website. In total, we now have over 1140 international schools that have had comments and reviews submitted on them! Our goal is to keep that number going up and up. Thanks to our hundreds of Mayors as well for keeping their schools consistently updated with new comments and information every one or two months.
* To access these school links you do need to have premium membership access. Become a paid member today! Or if you would like to become a Mayor and get free unlimited premium membership, send a request here.continue reading
I’m 18,000 kilometers from where I started, traveled through 24 different countries, visited 35 different schools, taken 167 hot showers, 32 cold, and gone 7 nights without any. I’ve stayed in 103 hotels, been hosted by 90 different people and camped for 25 nights. I’ve drank 213 coffees, been rained on 16 days, but had 154 days of sunshine and faced 56 days of grueling head wind, and changed 6 flat tires. With all of those statistics accumulated, I still have another 14,000 kilometers to go before I reach my hometown of Eugene, Oregon next October.
For those of you who don’t cycle, just reading those statistics must seem like a painfully long journey, but for me, the time has flown by and my legs are almost just as fresh as the first day I started, if not a tad stronger. I write a blog post almost every three days, but in reality with everything that I experience, I could do a daily post. Regardless of the country, I find that traveling by bike I’m constantly exposed to the world. I don’t have much intimacy on the road meaning I’m susceptible to my surroundings and traveling as a solo female, I believe I draw more attention to myself. People feel compelled to go out of their way to interact with me and take care of me, and I welcome their kindness with open arms.
I was an open-minded person before I started pedaling home, but now I become even more so, erasing all my prejudices. I’ve encountered incredible hospitality on the road wherever I am and never doubt once the sincerity global of human kindness. I start pedaling in the morning and the only thing I have planned is to pedal 100 kilometers, and sometimes that doesn’t even happen. I can never predict what my day will be like, who I will meet, and where I will end up staying. Of course I try to plan my accommodations in advance, but even then I can encounter surprises.
I’m on my journey alone, yet never once have I felt lonely. In SE Asia, I would stop for my mid-morning snack at a café with a few locals, and before I had my coffee in front of me there was a swarm of people around, mystified by my presence. Communication can be one of my greatest challenges, but through hand gestures, pictures, and Google Translator, I almost always find a way to express myself. I thoroughly enjoyed the novelty of traveling through SE Asia from November through January. It is a very easy to explore on bike. Although the road conditions weren’t always optimal, I had food stops almost every 5 kilometers, basic and cheap accommodation was plentiful, and the weather, although hot and humid, made for packing little gear, so I was able to lighten my load on my bike. As in Europe, distances from town to town were short and I never felt too isolated. That all changed when I arrived in New Zealand in February. All of a sudden I found myself in vast and remote wilderness with limited services. I had to prepare my daily routes, even 2 or 3 days out, carefully in order to ensure I had enough food. Although I had seen plenty of beautiful places along my route, New Zealand was by far the most breathtaking country for scenery because 95% of my day was spent alongside the most gorgeous and pristine nature. From crystal clear lakes and ocean, snow-capped mountains peaks, lush rain forests, and arid mountain passes, I never stopped ohhing and awwwing at the landscape. The terrain was by far the most difficult with constant elevation change, but it was also in New Zealand where I encountered the most tour cyclist to talk with along the way. On any given day I ran into 5 to 10 cyclists on the road!
I’ve been in Australia during the month of March, and have another 4 weeks of travel in this vast country, including a tour around Tasmania. I’ve been well accompanied for this portion of my trip, including a visit from my parents, meeting up with former colleagues and clients I had from working as a ride leader for a bike touring company in Europe. Their hospitality during the past month and the familiar faces have been a refreshing change.
When I visit schools, a lot of kids ask me which has been my favorite place so far on my travels, a question that is virtually impossible to answer. There are three main highlights to tour cycling for me: the scenery, the people, and the food. Each of these categories corresponds to a different country preference, but overall I think SE Asia, as a continent, is my first choice, again because of the contrast in their every day life routines, compared to what I’m used to. Naturally I’ve come up with a list of places that I could see myself living after this trip, from all the different places I’ve discovered on my route. After visiting all the schools along my route, I can’t help but welcome the idea to try living and working in a different location. Barcelona has been home to me for 10 years now and although it is a very special place for me, I am too curious about the other places I have seen to return, at least any time soon.
I’ve had a handful of school visits that have made hopping on my bike afterwards difficult. I’ve felt so inspired and motivated after some of my visits, fascinated by the school’s curriculum and pedagogy that I was ready to stay and start teaching again. The school visits have given me the opportunity to continue interacting with children during my year away from the classroom and exposed me to different teaching methods, both an added benefit to my trip. At the start of my trip I talked to larger audiences of students, however, now I prefer to work with a few grade levels and tie my experience and travels into a unit of study. For me, it is more challenging and interesting to link my real world experience to the conceptual framework of a unit and for students it makes my visit more meaningful. However, I never fail to have a question and answer session because they always have so many wonderings. In SE Asia, I came across a lot of school holidays, which made for fewer visits, but I did manage to contact a few local schools as well in China and Laos. Now that I’m in English-speaking countries, I visit a lot of public schools and a few private schools. Once I reach the United States, I look forward to hopefully visiting some bilingual schools to take advantage of my Spanish and talk with the Latino population.
If all goes as planned, I arrive to San Francisco at the end of April and although Oregon is north, I will pedal south down the coast and then into the interior. Starting with the Grand Canyon, I intend to make my way north through the various national parks, cross the Canadian border and reach Banff. From there I will head west to Vancouver, and finally travel south to Oregon, a loop that includes roughly 12,000 kilometers. I’m a bit apprehensive about traveling in such remote wilderness areas in North America, but as I have learned on this trip so far, it is better to trust others and give them the benefit of the doubt. So far I haven’t ever felt like I was in danger or encountered any threats.
After the last article was published in the International School Community Member Spotlight, I had several teachers contact me about visiting their schools and even a few hosted me. Please do look at my website and if I’m going to be pedaling through your area, or the area of a colleague, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Thank you for your continued support and encouragement.continue reading
Summer vacation is the time of year all teachers are waiting for (and I suppose all students as well!). The 1.5 to 2 months of summer break is especially important though for teachers who work at international schools because it is typically when they take their annual trip back home to their native country. When you live in a foreign country, half way across the world, it does indeed feel good to go home. Even though you do create a new ‘family’ when you live abroad with the other international school teachers that you are working with, your home is where your real family lives. Going home too can simply mean just going back to your home country, not necessarily going back to where you grew up.
There are some positives to going back and some not-so-positives to traveling back to your home country during the summer:
• Some international school teachers make their annual trip home during their winter break. Those that do typically say that they already went home during the winter holiday and don’t plan on going back 6 months later during the summer months; that would be too soon to go back!
• You get to see your old friends from when you went to University maybe or people that you went to high school with. It is important to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances; Facebook still can’t compete with real face to face meetings with these people from your life. Also, you can tell them all about the adventures you have been on while they have been staying-put most likely in the same city that they went to high school in.
• Speaking of talking about your adventures. Many family and friends from your home country actually don’t care very much about your adventures and traveling. Very few of my friends and family even bring up the topic, and when I do, they don’t seem to be showing much interest in hearing the details. Maybe it is not so interesting to them because traveling around the world and seeing more than 6-8 countries a year is just something they can’t relate to. They also want to share what they have been up to, just like you, so I suppose there should be a bit of give and take to try and understand each other’s very different lives.
• If you go to your home country during the summer, you get to stock-up on all the favorite products from your old life. Many international school teachers love to go to their favorite grocery stores to stock-up on all the products not available in their host country super markets. Be careful though, food products weigh a lot and can easily make your suitcase go over the allowed weight on your flight back.
• You get to see your nieces and nephews in person, noticing how they are getting so much older now and all grown-up. You can do things with them like taking them to the movies or for a few games of bowling.
• The price of flights and plane tickets to your home country are just unbelievably high now. Many of us without a flight benefit just literally can’t afford to buy the plane tickets home. Sure, at some schools, the school pays for your flight home each summer. But, not all international school teachers are as lucky. In many international schools in Western Europe, teachers are left to pay for their annual flight home themselves. And if you have two children in your family, your total cost has just gone from $2500 for two people to $5000 for four people. That amount is just not a feasible amount to pay for a trip for some international school teaching couples. Even with the annual flight allowance, you might have already used that allowance for your winter break trip home.
• Some international school teachers just want to stay put in their host country during the summer. Some feel you don’t have the time to really explore the city, the nearby cities, the other cities in the country during the school year. And in the northern hemisphere, summer is the best time typically to explore these countries. Some teachers also just simply stay put to save money.
• A month-long trip to Africa or a month-long trip to the Chicago area? A question you might be asking yourself in April. Some are faced with this international school educator’s dilemma each summer. For many international school teachers, the price of the flight to go home is actually the same price it would take to go to more exotic places like Kenya or the Costa Rica or even Bali. Who would want to go home (a place you have seen many times already) in place of going on an exciting adventure? Many choose the adventure option each summer!
When some of International School Community’s members were asked the question: “To go home or not to go home?” Here are a few responses we got:
“Choosing to go ‘home’ over the summer is always a tough decision. I usually head back to see friends and family. It feels really good to reconnect with the people you don’t see everyday and your own culture. After about 10 days though, I ready to head back to my other ‘home’ or my next adventure.”
“Absolutely go home! First of all, many schools will pay your ticket home during the holidays, but more importantly is the idea that one needs a “home base” when doing these international teaching assignments. There is a real feeling of refreshment when one goes home, it regenerates you sense of self, everything is familiar to you, and you regain the energy needed to face another year of the ‘unknown’. On a side note, this year, I will not be able to ‘go home’ as I am too pregnant to travel back and forth before my second baby is born…and I”m already feeling the stress of it. Although, I know it is well worth it to stay in Brazil this time around….I feel a slight sense of panic every time I think of it.
So, are you planning on going home this summer? Are you the international school teacher that makes their annual trip home each summer, the one that stays in the host country, or the one that is traveling to another country on some adventure? Share your stories and reasons for your summer plans!continue reading