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.
Or experience this view all the time during the winter?
If you really want to live and work in a specific city in the world and there are only 2-4 jobs available at the two international schools there, the chances are so very slim that you will ever get one of those jobs some day. Looking and looking each year to see if one of those positions pops up on the vacancy websites.
So, it is all about luck and timing. If, by chance, your job appears as a vacancy, your heart starts racing, but now what? Did you already decide on moving this year and are on the hunt for a job or would you have to “break contract” to accept this new job?
Take a chance! Send in your CV and supporting materials and hope for the best. The heavens might align and the school grants you an opportunity to interview. I have had my share of interviews, and many don’t go your way. Some years it feels like no schools want you…the good schools (e.g. your dream schools) and the not-so-good schools…even if you might have 15 years of experience on your back.
Yes, of course, schools looks at your CV and check out your experience. “Do you have prior UK curriculum or PYP experience? No? Sorry, we are looking for teachers that have had prior experience in our curriculum.” How disheartening for some teachers that have their heart in a place (where their dream job is) that is seemingly so difficult to get into, when they aren’t the “right fit.”
A friend of mine (a seasoned international school teacher) told me recently it is all about whether the schools like you or don’t like you. Check out the movie “She’s just not into you” by the way! If you are indeed the one for the job, you are the one no matter what your CV says. It has happened!
“I don’t have any connections? Surely the more people I know in the international school community the better.” Will your contacts and networking connections help you land a job at your dream school? 100% yes, it happened to me personally. HOWEVER, it is important to remember that even without those connections, it is possible to get that job, your dream job! Remember, if you are the right one, it will be very clear that you are right one for the position.
So, keep your eyes and ears open and take chances in your life (even if it means that you might have to make a few sacrifices) and in your job search because you never know when your next opportunity will present itself and where your next placement will be. So many teachers say “there is 99.9% chance that this is my last year in this country/city.” Many times you can’t force a move or change in position. Waiting for the right moment to pounce is important. So, once again, it is all about luck and timing. Wait for the right chance and then work hard to get the job, stay focused on your goal (and dream school), and it just might happen one day!continue reading
My friend told me about this relatively new website back in November 2010. It is called The International School Teacher.
It is a forum/social networking/information gathering website designed for the international school teaching community.
Parts of the website I like:
How can one increase their chances of getting a job?
Get married… and to someone who’s not only good looking, but also teaches! No really, if you happen to be what is referred to as a teaching couple, then you are indeed much more marketable. If a professional club were to sign a striker and get a defender in the mix… Schools do indeed kill two birds with one stone when hiring couples. Also, for many schools in cities where housing is an issue, they simply can’t afford to provide single teachers with their own housing.
As much as I don’t like to constantly hear people and schools say this, it just might actually be true. A school does “save” money by hiring a teaching couple, and they do kill two birds with one stone. I don’t really believe though that married couples are more “stable” I’ve seen many couples leave after 2 years (even 1 year one time) at schools I’ve worked at. One reason they leave early is because they find out their salary is sometimes not covering all their expenses (I’m referring to a school on the Mediterranean for example). Sometimes, one member of the couple is not completely satisfied working at the school because the school really wanted to only hire their partner and have placed the other member in a position they don’t 100% enjoy or find fulfilling.
What you really love about your host country
I really appreciate this section because it highlights the positive aspects of our lives as international school teachers, something International School Community strives to do as well. No matter where you are living in the world, there are always things that you enjoy and reminding yourself of those things is a very good idea sometimes (especially when you go through all the different stages of culture shock). Here is an excerpt of one of the member’s reasons for why they like living in Cyprus:
– I can drive forty minutes from my house in one direction and be in the beach. I can drive forty minutes in another and be in snow.
– Large, luscious lemon trees in my yard
– Ottoman, Greco-Roman, and Venetian architecture
Check out the rest of the website here.
Each month International School Community will highlight one of our members. This month we interviewed Clare Rothwell:
Tell us about your background. Where are you from?
I am from South Africa. I started my teaching career in Taiwan as a way to pay off my student loan.
How did you get started in the international teaching community?
I applied for work in Germany, but I wasn’t offered any jobs there. My mom was working in Moscow, so I decided to try there instead. I was offered a job at the British International School, Moscow.
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 BIS, Moscow for 3.5 years. I guess my students made BIS fun. They were very nice kids. I had a lot of lovely Hungarian students! One them, Gërgö, started at the school when he was 15. In spite of not being able to say a full sentence in English, he smiled all the time.
Now at I work at Shanghai Rego International School. At Rego, I teach in the primary school. I enjoy the way students of different cultural backgrounds play together and include each other in games in spite of communication challenges.
I also enjoy the fun things that we do here to make learning more interesting for children. For example, whole year levels dress-up and do other activities related to different topics throughout the year.
Describe your latest cultural encounter in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.
Traveling with colleagues in Sichuan, we met up with a local student who offered to be our tour guide. When the locals realised that they had a way to find out about us, they peppered him with questions about us everywhere we went. At one point, a small crowd gathered around him as he related how he’d met us and where we were all from.
What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?
I look for an interesting location and a job where I can learn new skills.
In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?
Full of variety, rewarding, challenging.
We found this link at transitionsabroad.com from a post by Jarett Emert. We found it quite informative. Please take a look at the full article below and let’s us know your opinion on what you think it takes to plan for a successful interview.
By Jarett Emert
Besides the romance and simple pleasures of foreign living, overseas teaching is also a helpful addition to a future resume. The network of international schools is well connected, and once a fledgling teacher is hired it is easier to obtain a future position. Upon completing a stay at a foreign school, you may choose to simply remain at your current school or continue teaching at another international school around the world.
Though the recruiting fair is the most effective gateway to a contract, nothing in the world of education can prepare an individual for these conferences. Having to convince an administrator within 15 minutes that you are the best candidate for his school is a rather difficult challenge. Being given fewer than 24 hours to decide where you will spend the next two to three years of your life, especially if it’s an unfamiliar destination, makes the situation even more complex.
Choosing the right interviews at the right times, knowing which schools offer the best packages and best contracts is a tricky business. Knowing which schools are situated in the best locations is also a challenge. Getting hired may mean four days of this process, sometimes with double digit interviews. Administrators always have several candidates in mind at the job fair and need a decision from you before they leave for the next stop. The carnival continues.
When first considering an international position it is important to do some preliminary research and self-exploration. Consider the locations, salary, and size of schools. The better prepared you are on entering a conference, the more confidence you will bring to your interviews.
Though recruitment fairs are the most common vehicles for obtaining a position, contacting a school directly is a possibility as well. For a small fee, some web-based services provide a directory and newsletters that advertise openings throughout the world. Still, most administrators seem to prefer the face to face approach; if they are interested in your candidacy, they will most often request that you arrange an interview at the recruitment fair.
The requirements for attending the recruitment fairs are usually a minimum of two years full-time teaching experience, as well as licensure. Sometimes international work experience and private school teaching may be substituted for this. If accepted, the recruitment organization will often forward information and a list of school openings. This is a good time for you to network prior to the conference. Often some positions are filled even before the conference begins.
Your first and most important task is to obtain an interview. Administrators only have a certain amount of interview slots available. Read over the list of positions carefully, see what positions you are qualified for, create a game plan of attack, and follow it to the best of your ability. Making contacts via email before the conference is important. If the administrator is interested in interviewing you, then you don’t have to worry as much about waiting in the long lines. Also, do not waste time trying to obtain a position for which you are unqualified. Some positions require specialized training such as the MYP (Middle Years Program) and IB (International Baccalaureate). This most often is not a negotiable issue and trying for a position for which you are unqualified can be a waste of your valuable time.
Once you have set up your interviews, the next few days are crucial. Be prepared to have 15 minutes to sell yourself. The best advice is to be self-assertive and confident. Administrators interview many people each day. You need to stand out, as you would hope to in any interview.
If the school for which you are interviewing is one of your top choices, leave at least one interview slot open so that you do not show up late to any interview. If a top choice school is interested in you, the interviewer may continue to speak to you after your allotted time slot. You want to leave yourself some room for this. However, if they hold you longer than you can remain, be confident and state that you have another interview. They will understand this and will usually schedule you for a second interview. Remember that the goal of an interview is to return for another.
If you do obtain a position, you are often given no more than 24 hours to make a decision. Most schools offer a 2-year contract. Administrators need to fill these positions efficiently. If you do not accept, they often have another candidate in mind. This can be a stressful time, especially if you have several appealing choices. Do not get overwhelmed, but consider yourself lucky. Spend the next few hours researching the location, asking intelligent questions, and trusting your instincts. Remember that any international teaching experience will be both an adventure and a struggle. There are no easy roads and each experience will be rewarding in its own way.
• International School Services (www.iss.edu). 15 Roszel Road, P.O. Box 5910, Princeton, NJ 08543; 609-452-0990, fax 609-452-2690. A private, nonprofit organization serving American international schools overseas. This is a good resource for obtaining a position overseas. The next recruiting conference is being held in June 2005. One must be accepted and have a professional file with ISS to attend a conference. $150 application fee, $150 reactivation fee, no placement fee.
• Search Associates (www.search-associates.com). A good resource for potential teachers, administrators, and interns hoping to work in international schools throughout the world. They also conduct workshops and seminars. One must have been accepted and have a professional file with Search Associates to attend a conference. Fees for registration, good for three years, $50 administrative fee to attend conference, $300 additional upon placement for teachers).
• Council of International Schools (www.cois.org). U.K. Office, 21A Lavant St., Petersfield, Hampshire, GU32 3EL, U.K. Tel. 011-44-0-1730-263131, fax 011-44-0-1730 268913. CIS is a not-for-profit association and a good resource for international education. They also provide teacher and administrative recruitment services. There is no fee charged to candidates, either for registering with CIS or for securing a new appointment through their services.
• The International Educator (www.tieonline.com). TIE—The International Educator. Subscription service with job postings and a resume bank for American and British overseas and international schools. They offer both a newspaper and an interactive web site with job postings. A good resource for networking before a recruitment fair or attempting to bypass it.
• UNI Overseas Placement Service for Educators (www.uni.edu/placement/overseas). Univ. of Northern Iowa Career Center, East Gym #113A, Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0390, 319-273-2083, fax 319-273-6998. The UNI Overseas Placement Service for Educators connects international K-12 schools with certified educators year round. Services offered include the UNI Overseas Recruiting Fair, credential and referral services, and related publications. UNI is the original international fair for educators. No placement fees.
JARETT EMERT is a freelance writer, outdoor educator, and currently a teacher of literature at the American School of Milan. He is originally from Vermont.continue reading