Teachers on the Move

Teachers on the Move – Virtual Interviews

February 26, 2019


In an ever increasing virtual world you are nearly as likely to be hired after an interview on Skype, Facetime, What’s app or other virtual platform.  Even if you attend a fair, there can often be a follow up interview with a member of the team on the ground at the school. Leadership positions in particular, the first and second rounds of recruitment are often done virtually, then finalists are flown in to view the school and be grilled in person. Additionally several recruiters are now running virtual fairs, hopefully this will be posted in time for the ISS/Schrole March Fair for which you can register here.

My first two international positions I took over the phone, indeed one, standing in a very wet and windy Edinburgh phone box outside the school I was working in.  But these days, with the proliferation of hand held devices, you can be literally anywhere when you are asked to interview. I had a Skype interview for my position in the Sudan while volunteering in rural Uganda, a series of interviews for KL which ran over three countries I was travelling through, and more recently Skyped with several schools from a beach hut in Thailand!  

I have been very surprised recently, when working with some of my coachees, of how unaware they are about how they are presenting themselves when interviewing virtually. So I decided to write a post with some tips and considerations for a virtual interview.

With these tips you should be able to conquer the world of virtual interviewing and achieve the international teaching position of your dreams.

Firstly, make sure you have the correct time, have someone double check the time differences with you.  Also ensure that you have added the contacts well in advance and checked them with a quick message.

Secondly, choose your location. You need to ensure:

  • A clean, non-distracting background behind you
  • Good lighting but not lights that gleam on the screen, blinding your interviewer
  • Your devices is physically secure
  • No residual environmental sound or other passing distractions

A headset with inbuilt microphone can be a great and cheap investment, avoiding you having to lean into the computer, and also cutting out any environmental sound.

Next, organise your resources. Do you have everything you might need during the interview?

  • A note pad
  • The questions you want to ask
  • Any information you have from the school, job description, contractual terms and so forth
  • A glass of water (talking can be thirsty work)

One of the benefits of a Skype interview is that you can be well prepared and have resources at your finger tips, it is quite ok to look down occasionally when thinking.

Finally, consider your personal presentation. You need to ensure that:

  • You look neat and tidy (women with long hair should clip it back so that it doesn’t fall forward, your eyes need to be clearly seen)
  • You are comfortable and relaxed (you really do not need a jacket and tie unless for a very formal institution)
  • Your face and shoulders are visible but not more.  Women in particular should be careful about where the screen edge falls.

It seriously does not hurt to practice, fire up your camera and see how you look and sound prior to any virtual interview.

At least 15 minutes before starting, check

  • You have the right time
  • Your device is well charged or attached to mains power
  • Your internet is steady and you have enough data
  • Your sound input and output settings are correct

I always do a Skype test call before any Skyping session.

General interview tips will be covered in another post, but these four are very virtual interview specific.

  1. You may face a panel, it is fine to write down the persons name and position, or even to ask them to reiterate it when they ask you a specific question. Once I faced a panel of 9 people. It was extremely confusing. I asked afterwards to be connected with the Head of Primary, because I wasn’t clear who she was!
  2. You may have difficulties with connection. Always, always state when you are having difficulties, and be proactive in suggesting to retry, put the camera off or to move to a different platform. It demonstrates that you are calm and able to adjust to situations
  3. Speak clearly and confidently, enunciating each word, without overemphasising.
  4. When you move, be sure to move in a controlled and relaxed way

(avoid sudden jerky movements and over expressive gestures).

As ever though, be yourself, and don’t try to sell yourself into a position that you don’t really want. Best of luck with your virtual recruitment!

Kirsten Durward is the PYP Coordinator at KIS International School in Bangkok.  With leadership experience in 5 schools, she has been interviewing candidates and coaching teachers through the application process for many years.  She enjoys supporting educators to make successful transitions in a myriad of ways. You can find her on Linkedin or through the facebook group ‘Teachers on the Move’. Kirsten’s coaching practice supports educational projects in Uganda, a country she holds dear to her heart.

continue reading

Teachers on the Move

Teachers on the Move – Writing Applications

January 25, 2019


There are no guarantees in this world, you could be the best teacher, highly qualified and experienced, write an amazing application, and still not achieve an interview.  Here is the deal – there is no simple answer to the question: ‘What do recruiters want to see on your resume?’ But there are some simple truths.

In this day and age, administrators are busy people, school life is demanding on a day to day basis, then there are development plans and wait – recruitment??  The popular schools receive thousands of on spec applications, all year round. Some schools use HR to filter them, others use agents, often even a combination of factors. So, for example, I know for a fact that I didn’t make a short list because I didn’t have a particular qualification, even though I can do that job better than most people with the qualification.  Why? Because a locally employed HR person had a checklist. I would never have been hired by a particular school in Turkey if I hadn’t met the recruiter in person. I had the wrong qualification for Turkey specifically, but they made it work, because they met me and believed in me. So applications can only do so much. I will write another post on networking soon.

Here’s another truth (sadly) – Nationality counts, as does first language.  This is not always up to the school, it is often an immigration restriction by the country and these change all the time, so do your homework, don’t waste their time applying where they can’t hire you anyway.  This also applies to age, many countries do not allow teachers to work over 60. Don’t blame the schools, there is nothing they can do about it.

Third truth: when wading through a pile of applications at the end of a very full day, administrators are hoping for simplicity, clarity, and personality.  That’s where you can gain an edge. I have read thousands of applications, honestly most of them are awful. It is sad to report, based on my coaching experience, that often the best people are presenting themselves badly while others are just really good at presentation.  If you do nothing else; find a friend who gets lots of interviews and compare your paperwork. But the following advice applies across the board:

Avoid repetition – recruiters don’t want to read the same information in your cv, your letter and your philosophy statement.

Resume/CV length Some people say one page, I say that’s really difficult unless you are 25, so two pages are fine, but not more, and no cheating with extending footers and margins, we can tell!

Keep cv statements short and focussed – my pet hate is seeing long straggly sentences in the Experience section. Bullet points people, bullet points!  Not ‘have been instrumental in developing IEP for students’, rather ‘developed IEPs’. Besides anything else. this shows you can synthesise and also have some consideration for a tired administrator!  

Do include Extracurriculars – there are many schools looking for a volleyball coach or a drama enthusiast to help organise shows. It also shows that you’re looking to contribute beyond the classroom.  

Do include recent professional development – we like to know you are a life-long learner and your PD also indicates your professional interest.  But nobody cares about that workshop you took in 2007. Recent!

Letter length – one page, ONE!

Letter content – depends – if the school has asked for a philosophy statement then you don’t need to include your educational beliefs in your letter, if you are applying via a site where you have a detailed profile, you don’t need to include too many background details.  Use common sense.

Always mention where you saw the job. I don’t advocate for on-spec applications, unless you know someone at the school or have met an administrator.

Always mention what interests you about the school, be specific!  Always mention how you can meet the job specification. If you can’t, please don’t apply.

Always synchronise any description of your pedagogy, beliefs, experience with something you know about the school, use their key words. This shows that you have done your research and thought about how you would support the forward movement of the school.

Share a personal passion, the best schools are seeking passionate educators!  Reflect on what you have learned on your journey, or if you are just starting out, what you are hoping for or looking forward to.  The best schools hire teachers who understand the learning journey. More than that, they love people who are real.

Finally,  write a well constructed letter.  If I read another letter where all the sentences start with I or my, I am going to have a blue fit!  I would not accept this from a Grade 4 student and a decent administrator will throw such a letter in the bin,  Sentence diversity shows that you can support language development which, believe me, is highly sought after. So unless you are one of the 103 highly sought after Physics teachers in the world, learn to write a decent letter, or have someone help you. I’ve turned around more applications than I can count with that simple strategy.

One of my coachees told me recently ‘this is hard work’. Yes it is, and it is good that it is, it is a test of your capacity and commitment. Our job is not an easy one, heads want to know that you can measure up to their requirements.  Remember, the best schools are looking for the best people, it is competitive out there, you need to show your best side. But remember you can do all this and there are a myriad reasons why you aren’t selected, team balance, school diversity, someone who is a known quantity. If you want assurance, marry a Physics teacher. Otherwise breathe. Go back, read carefully, edit profusely, and all the best luck with your search. There are more schools than educators, keep calm and positive. Be yourself and you’ll find a match.

Kirsten Durward is the PYP Coordinator at KIS International School in Bangkok.  With leadership experience in 5 schools, she has been reading applications and coaching teachers for many years.  She enjoys supporting educators to make successful transitions in a myriad of ways. You can find her on Linkedin or through the facebook group ‘Teachers on the Move’.

continue reading

Surveys

New Survey: Does your school have an official English-only policy on their campus?

July 13, 2014


A new survey has arrived!

Topic:  Does your school have an official English-only policy on their campus?

Screen Shot 2014-07-12 at 9.46.09 AM

Many veteran international school teachers have already figured out that there are a nice “handful” of these types of international schools throughout the world.  Some teachers and administrators think this kind of English-only policy is a necessity for the success of their students; others teachers and administrators are quite against it…strongly against it. After teaching at an English-only policy international school, some teachers will choose never to teach in a school like that again because of their negative and painful experience trying to enforce it on their students.

There are many cons to having an English-only policy at an international school.  It’s likely that it is giving the wrong impression of what being an “internationally-minded” person is all about.

downloadInternational schools need to think very smartly about the makeup (language background) of their student body because of course that can affect what the “language of the playground” is. When the makeup is not balanced in a way that hinders the target language level/goal of the majority of the students (that the school wants them to achieve to), then of course many schools resort to a English-only policy to try to counteract that (for example at international schools with a majority of host country nationals)…and it would appear that not-well-thought-out solution fails almost every time. At least that is what was happening at a number of international schools nowadays.

Just because English is the target language of most international school classrooms, doesn’t mean that English is the superior or dominate language of the school; and teachers and administration should let their students and their parents know this in a clear, organized, and meaningful way. One suggestion on how to do this is to encourage an interlingual classroom.  In an interlingual classroom, students are encouraged to use their home languages in the classroom.  This suggestion will most likely not only be a new experience for you as the teacher, but also for your students…as they may not be used to being able to do this. In turn, some modeling and explicit examples on how to do this in a lesson would be necessary.

Another suggestion is to support multiliteracies in your classroom.

Share what your opinion is on this issue, as there are many perspectives and experiences at a variety of international schools that need to be shared with the rest of the community.

Also, go ahead and vote on Does your school have an official English-only policy on their campus? Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today!  You can check out the latest voting results here.

*************************************

We actually have a comment topic related this to this issue. It is called: Describe language abilities of students at this school and what is the “common language spoken in the hallways”? Is there one dominate culture group?

Right now there are over 560 individual comments (about 100s of different international schools) in this comment topic on our website.  Here are a few of them:

“There is a 30% cap on Thai students in order to maintain an international population. The other largest groups as of 2014 are U.S. (14%), Indian (8%), Japanese (6%), Australian (6%) and British (5%). Approximately 50 nationalities are represented in total. Most of the students are fully fluent in English, and unless with a small group of friends who share similar backgrounds, they tend to use English.” – NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 29 Comments

“The school requires students entering after kinder have been previously educated in English. I would say about 75% of the students are fluent in English, and the rest are in the ELL program. Students almost all speak English, even if they have friends who speak their native languages. I am not sure of the exact number, but I would guess about half of the students are native English speakers.” – Mont’Kiara International School (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – 27 Comments

“ASM is truly an international school. The school strives to maintain what is called the “magical mix”, meaning 1/3 is American, 1/3 is Spanish, and 1/3 is from all over the world. For this reason, the English level is extremely high. A mix of predominantly English and Spanish is spoken in non-structured environments around campus.” – American School Madrid (Madrid, Spain) – 27 Comments

continue reading

Surveys

New Survey: Where are you traveling during the summer break?

May 14, 2014


A new survey has arrived!

Topic:  Where are you traveling during the summer break?

Screen Shot 2014-05-14 at 10.14.49 PM

It’s what every teacher is (un) patiently waiting for right now…the summer break!  So many weeks, so many places to visit!

If you are lucky and are working somewhere that allows you a lot of money for traveling, then the sky’s the limit on where you could go.

Sometimes I find myself saying, “I could literally go wherever I’d like!”  Which is a good feeling, knowing how life was back in my home country (when traveling around the world was basically non-existent).

BUT, there are many factors that come into play when you plan for your summer break.

Maybe you have to go visit your family at some point.

Maybe you need to go visit your friend that just moved to a new country (gotta visit your other international school teacher friends where they live!)

If you are married with children, that might dictate where you end of traveling to.  Additionally, you might find that you just don’t have the extra funds to buy two more plane tickets (for your two kids) for that trip to Thailand.  The travel money for that family with children is then saved for another time.

IMAG0918Maybe you are single and don’t have to pay for housing.  Then a four-week trip to Africa might be in order.  Throw in a couple of safaris as well, why not?!

Maybe you have planned to work the whole summer at your school’s summer school programme. Extra money is good though, but no traveling means not much to look forward to in terms of exploring the world more.

I mean the truth is…you gotta come back to your international school in August with a great story to share (making others jealous and inspire them to plan their next trip).  It’s true.  The first thing people ask you on your first day back to school: How was your summer break? Where did you go?

So, you gotta have a good story to tell!

Please take a moment and share your comments and experiences about how you decide on where you travel to during the summer.

Also, go ahead and vote on Where are you traveling during the summer break?  Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today!  You can check out the latest voting results here.

continue reading

Surveys

New Survey: What is the main way that you get to work at your current international school?

March 25, 2014


A new survey has arrived!

Topic:  What is the main way that you get to work at your current international school?

DSC_8726

It is so important; your journey to work.  It shouldn’t be one that is dreadful, and it shouldn’t be one that is long and difficult.  You don’t want to be spending the majority of your day on a bus or waiting for a bus, for example.

Many times an international school teacher will have to forego the ‘luxury’ of having their own car to get to work (e.g. like many Americans).  You need a car in the USA because many cities don’t have the best public transport to use, or it is just not so normalized to use public transport to get to work.

So if you don’t have a car while living abroad, how do you get to work?  I would say that it can very from city to city and from country to country, and of course, it depends on where you are living in those cities.

In China, you might be living in the same building as a bunch of other teachers at your school.  Many times the schools will hire a school coach to come and pick you up each morning at that building and then take you home after school (good reason to not stay so late at school!  When the bus leaves, you leave!).  It is nice to have your transport all arranged for you.  If you are late (because of the bus), it is not your fault!   On the other hand, you might have some things to complete that morning, so a late bus definitely not the best way to start the day.  Another possible downside of using a school coach bus is that you will most likely have to travel with your coworkers every day; you might say that there are both pros and cons about that situation.

Maybe you live in Western Europe or Scandinavia and find yourself in a community of bikers.  If you don’t live too far away from the school, a ride to work on your bike could be just the thing to get your brain/body going in the morning!  Not so good though to ride your bike to work if you live in a place with cold/rainy weather or if you often carry a big bag to work.

DSC_9353

If you are in some less-developed countries, you just might have a car as your mode of transport to work.  Driving a car in those countries just might be the only way that you can get to work (as public transport is unreliable or non-existent).  If you are lucky (or not, depending on your perspective), you might even be able to hire a driver!  We all know that driving in other countries can be tricky and even dangerous in some places, so better have a local do the driving for you!

Sure there are pluses and minuses to the environment and to the community you are living in based on the way people (you) get to work.  You will have to make the best choice for yourself when considering teaching jobs at a variety of international schools that are in different locations in the world.  The question then boils down to what do you want as your preferred way to get to work every day.

Please take a moment and share your comments and experiences about the topic of getting work while working at an international school.

Also, go ahead and vote What is the main way that you get to work at your current international school?  Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today!  You can check out the latest voting results here.

continue reading