I’ve reviewed applications and interviewed prospective staff for over 20 years, and in that time I’ve seen some candidates excel, and others fall short for the simplest reasons. If you are applying for a teaching post in an international school, here are some dos and don’ts that will increase your chances of landing your dream role.
If you are lucky enough to get an interview, then:
Gavin Lazaro – Deputy Head, The Lisboan International School, Portugal
Gavin initially trained as an industrial chemist in the UK and worked in agrochemicals, perfumery and catalysis before moving into teaching. He has spent nearly 30 years working in and leading international schools in the Middle East and South-East Asia. Currently working at The Lisboan International School in Lisbon he is relishing the challenge of helping to create a school from scratch with a clear focus on a culture of kindness, holistic learning and high expectations.
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So many teachers that attend international school recruitment fairs say that they are stressful and a pain. Others say that they are like meat markets. With many directors walking around and potentially sleeping in the next room to you, it is indeed hard to get a good night’s sleep while staying at the hosting hotel of the recruitment fair. Nervous and sleep-deprived candidates…not fun.
On the other hand, there is a group of international school teachers that enjoy attending the fairs. Yes, that’s right. They look forward to and actually have a great time there.
So, what are the top 10 reasons why attending an international school recruitment fair is super fun? Maybe you can relate to some of these!
#1 – Getting to network with other international school teachers.
Sometimes it is all who you know at the fairs. It is fun chatting with and getting to know some of the other candidates at the fair. Networking with as many teachers as you can surely help you to get your foot in the door. Maybe you will meet somebody who has the right connection and can introduce you to some of your top schools.
#2 – Getting inspired by others to move to countries you never even thought you would go to.
A few years back, at the UNI fair, there was a panel of veteran international school teachers telling their stories of working abroad and answering questions from the audience. Almost all of them had worked in a country that they hadn’t really seriously considered during their job search. All of them said that they were so happy to have taken that chance because they all had such wonderful experiences. You might say that being in the international school community is all about taking chances and risks about living in foreign lands. It is exciting to hear from other international school teachers about their experiences in countries you don’t know about and haven’t visited.
#3 – It is like Christmas morning when you go and check your “mailbox” folder in the candidates’ room.
The candidates’ room. So many nerves and so many folders! It is easy to get butterflies in your stomach as you enter the room. As you get closer and closer to the tables with the ‘mailbox’ folders, you get more and more excited and nervous. You find the row of folders that start with the first letter of your last name. Opening your folder and seeing one note from a school is cool enough, but seeing notes from three, four or even more schools in your folder, now that is a good feeling. Checking your folder becomes an addiction during the fair, as you find yourself checking it multiple times throughout the day.
#4 – Pretending you are interested in a school by going to their informational session.
Even if you know a school does not have a position for you to interview for, it is fun to just go to their informational session anyway. Sure, the other people in the session might be actually interviewing with the school later on at the fair, but do not let that get you down. There might be a position for you down the road at this school, so keep a positive attitude and sit back and enjoy learning about a school that you might work at in the future! It is fun to fantasize and pretend about these potential future schools for you.
#5 – Getting surprised, in a good way, that a school you are interested in actually has a position for you!
Thinking you know all the available positions at the schools attending the fair is a first-timers mistake. Anything can happen at the fair and things change fast. It is guaranteed that there will be last-minute vacancies that come up for many schools. So, make sure you check the master list of vacancies (if that is what your recruitment fair has) or take a close look at the posters behind each school at the round-robin sessions because there might just be a vacancy for you that pops up last minute.
#6 – Having intense dreams each night while you sleep, dreaming about what could be.
Yes, it is hard to get a good night’s sleep during the recruitment fair. But, the dreams you have are intense and exciting. Having a dream about your top choice can be just what you need to help you make the best decision. You might even have a great dream about another school you are interested in, moving it closer to the top of your list. It is true though that you cannot choose the schools or countries you dream about when you go to sleep at the fair. So, if you do have a dream about a school/country, it might be your subconscious telling you which school to seriously consider signing a contract with.
#7 – Making some pros and cons lists about the schools you are interested in.
You need to know you are making the right choice at the fair; if you are lucky enough to get multiple offers in which you are interested. When you make a pros and cons list of each of the schools you are considering, you get to think about your future life there. Fantasizing about you living with the school’s salary and benefits is what all international school teachers like to think and talk about. Additionally, you will be writing down the pros and cons of life working at that school itself, your actual job. The pros in that list could truly be the changes you have been looking for in your next school.
#8 – Getting to wear your dressy interview clothes.
Most teachers only get to wear their interview clothes once every 3-6 years. During the years while working at your current international school, there is typically not an appropriate time to wear them. Well, it is true that at some British international schools, you need to wear a suit and tie during parent conferences, etc. Maybe you are lucky enough to live in a country where you can easily and cheaply get some new interview clothes made for you at the local fabric market. How nice to show up at the recruitment fair with a custom-designed suit made specifically just for you. Nice interview clothes that you feel good in are important. You will be at your best (at the fair) when you are wearing clothes that make you feel comfortable and help you be yourself.
#9 – Enjoying the host city of the recruitment fair (who doesn’t want to go for a long weekend to Boston, London, Bangkok, etc.?)
It is true, you do not have that much free time to enjoy the host city of the recruitment fair. Most of your time is spent in your hotel room researching cities, countries, and schools. It is good though to take some time to get away from the fair. Get out of the recruitment fair hotel and explore the city a bit! Each recruitment fair is hosted in a cool city that most people would actually plan vacations at, so get out and have a nice dinner or take a walk around some cool neighborhoods. Maybe you have some family or friends that live there that you can hang out with as well. It is nice to have a good friend or family member there so that you have somebody to talk to about all the happenings at the fair that day.
#10 – Signing a contract on the first day of the fair and just enjoying the rest of your time at the fair.
Yes, these candidates exist. They interviewed with a number of schools before the recruitment fair even started. Once at the fair, they have that final interview and sign the contract shortly after, sometimes on the first day of the fair. Signing a contract with a school that you are seriously interested on the first day of the recruitment fair is a dream come true for most candidates. It definitely gets a load off your chest. You can just sit back and enjoy the rest of the fair and your time at the hotel and in the host city. It is still good to hang out around the fair though so that you can continue networking. You might just meet some people that have worked at the school you just signed a contract with, and they can give you all the insider information about your new school (hopefully mostly good things!).
This top 10 list was submitted to us by a guest author and International School Community member. All guest authors to the ISC blog get one free year of premium membership to our website. Email us if you have a top 10 list idea and would like it to be highlighted on our blog!continue reading
What reasons do parents think about when selecting a school for their children when they move abroad? Are they similar reasons why teachers choose to work at a school abroad as well? Many international school teachers are in teaching couples that have children. There are also international school teachers that are married to a local and have children too. So, how do you choose the right international school for your children to attend? This blog series will discuss the Tips for Selecting an International School.
Tip #3 – Vision: What is the vision of the school? Is it consistent with the actual operation of the school?
What is the vision that is expressed by the school head or officials? Can anyone attest to whether it is consistent with the actual operation of the school?
Whether you are a potential parent or teacher at an international school, it is important for you to inquire about the Vision of the school. You might ask yourself “what is this notion called Vision” all about and why would it be a concern? As long as the school is safe and orderly, isn’t that enough?
Vision is the core of the functionality of the school. Many international schools are privately owned and operated as a business with a mission and vision, often that of the owners. Other schools might be government entities or faith-based, both of which will likely have specific purposes for existence. Nonetheless, the vision for a school should be clearly articulated and a driving force for all decisions within the school. Furthermore, the vision should be one that is shared with a wide array of stakeholders from teachers and students to parents and community members. It also should be revisited each year or two for refining.
Strong, effective vision statements are often succinct and able to be implanted throughout the decision-making process. A common current vision theme might include the concept of “preparing global learners for the 21st century” which can sound appealing to teachers and parents assessing international schools. Don’t we want our students/children to be prepared for the workforce and the competitive market?
Let’s take a look inside the school’s operation as we examine the concept of 21st-century global readiness. Some easy-to-identify indicators of the use of the Vision for the school might include:
1. Clearly stated on the school website
2. Visible at the school
3. Included in school marketing materials
4. Articulated by school leaders in interviews and meetings
However, the true power of the Vision is embedded in decision-making and is generally harder for a parent or new hire to identify. The following questions (and many more) can reveal if the Vision indeed drives the inner workings of the school:
1. Do enrollment and hiring practices support diversity?
2. How has the curriculum expanded to prepare students for a global future?
3. How is technology financed and integrated into the curriculum and daily operations of the school?
4. Do the instructional strategies reflect on teamwork, critical thinking, and problem-solving for students and faculty?
5. Are multiple languages spoken at the school?
6. Are teachers trained to use best practices in their instruction?
7. Are there global partnerships for teachers and students to engage in international discussions, projects, and exchanges?
8. Is there a sense of shared leadership that enables teachers and students to have leadership roles and develop leadership skills?
9. How does the school’s budget reflect a commitment to preparing 21st-century global learners?
10. What achievement expectations do the leaders have for learners?
From that limited list of thoughts, one can recognize that future parents and teachers need to be creative in their inquiry process. Otherwise, the Vision might be more of “the blind leading the blind.”
This article was submitted by guest author: Mary Anne Hipp (contact her here – email@example.com or visit her Blogspot – http://mahipp.blogspot.com/)
Using the unique ISC Comment Search feature on International School Community we found 469 comments that have the keyword Vision in them. Here are just a few of them:
If you are an international school teacher currently working abroad, log in to ISC today and submit your comment regarding your school’s realization of its vision!
Additionally, make sure to join www.internationalschoolcommunity.com as you are able to check out our over 950 members. Many of our current members have listed they work at over 200 international schools around the world. Feel free to send these members a message with your questions about an international school’s vision statement and whether it is consistent with the actual operation of the school.continue reading
Recruitment season for international schools and for international school teachers has definitely changed over recent years (mostly because of the pandemic).
Long ago, getting a teaching position at an international school almost exclusively happened at various recruitment fairs across the globe (London, Bangkok, Boston, San Francisco, Iowa, etc.). At least 20 years ago that was surely the case.
During the pandemic, recruitment fairs were canceled and almost all new hires were done so via the internet. Now it seems in-person recruitment fairs are back. Will they still play an important role during the international school recruitment process?
You can’t deny that 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, are back to providing in-person fairs to attend, but more importantly, they provide a large database of teaching vacancies. If you are a registered candidate with Search Associates, you will 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 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 is consistently 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 schools’ 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 chance in securing a position.
This article was submitted anonymously by an ISC member.continue reading
That was the title of the email I received three weeks before the start of my new job in 2022. Here are the next five lines from it:
Unfortunately, the school has been unable to recruit the number of students expected for the next academic year and the decision has been made to reduce the number of staff for the next academic year.
Unfortunately, I am having to write to you to confirm that your position has been one of those selected. I am therefore writing to withdraw our offer of employment for September 2022.
I read that as I was actually with my suitcases on the way there. Yes, actually in transit, on my journey! I replied within ten minutes explaining that this meant I was left without a fixed address. I hurriedly stated in my reply that there were so many other issues that it raised, but I was in no state to write much at that point.
I allowed about a week to pass and stayed in a hotel, believing that the principal would reply and offer some sort of assistance. It’s now been about ten days and he has not replied to my second email which stressed the point that a contract had been signed. This has all simply been ignored. I am still staying in a hotel scanning the internet for alternative jobs. However, this is mid-August, and so many schools have already started the academic year.
How did it come to this? I had a good leadership position in a school which was authorised to teach both IB PYP and MYP and it was a school with CIS accredition too. The only issue I had was that chances of promotion were slim. I knew there was a bit of a gamble I had to take. The choice was either stay within the safety of an established school with good international accreditations or choose to accept a higher position in a school which was only five years old and didn’t yet have any great accreditations.
Prior to the interview when I looked closely at the website of the new school I saw that it was only a member of British Schools in the Middle East and a candidate member of Council of British Schools International. It was not in a strong position in terms of being well established and recognised by accrediting agencies. This was a matter I discussed at the interview and I accepted that in its fifth year of existence there were still some improvements to be made. I knew that at the time, but the salary was very good and tax free too.
That awful email was received on August 5th, and so chances of finding a similar appointment are now incredibly small. The email did wish me well in finding another position, but wishes aren’t enough. He could have chosen to actually do something for me. On the flip side, I don’t have much interest in dealing with a school that would do something as cold as this.
What do I advise others now? Stick with top-tier schools. Look at the accreditations a school has, and understand what it means to have those seals of approval. Join online groups where it is possible to ask what others know about the school. Finally, at the interview stage, find a polite way to ask what the plans are when student numbers are very low.
This article was submitted anonymously by an ISC member.continue reading