How it all started…
I was in middle school in the 1980s. At this time ‘shop’ or ‘industrial arts’ was still being taught with wood, bandsaws, glue and sandpaper. During my high school years things began to change in the ‘vocational’ teaching world. Computers were growing in popularity and had become more affordable. I distinctly remember sitting in front of the green tinted screens typing in measurements and coordinates to create 2 dimensional drawings on an early version of AutoCAD. Wow! How far we have come in 30 years! In high school I did the minimum to get by. I didn’t push or challenge myself very much. It just wasn’t that interesting to me. The only exception to this rule was during my “Tech Ed” classes. My teacher, Coach Vander Velde, challenged me to inquire and question traditional ways of thinking.
After graduation, I pursued a B.F.A. degree in TV and Radio Production. After college I was hired to work at a local TV studio. I started working the ‘graveyard’ shift which involved taping satellite feeds, organizing broadcast files and so on. I was making a bit more than the minimum wage. I asked myself, “Did I really go to college to just make a bit more than minimum wage?” An opportunity presented itself to me in the form of a Masters degree in Technological Studies. This degree gave me the skills I needed to teach ‘vocational’ classes in middle and high school. I completed my student teaching and started a job in an urban high school near Atlanta, Georgia.
I enjoyed teaching during my first year of teaching, but one afternoon, during my drive home, I heard an advertisement on the public radio station for teaching English in China. Being that this was over 20 years ago, China was in the process of opening up to the rest of the world. I contacted the company and the following August I was headed to China for the first of many times since! I taught at a university in Beijing for one year. That year I traveled all over China and caught the ‘travel bug’. After a two year stint back in the USA, I returned to China where I eventually landed in an international school and was introduced to the International Baccalaureate curriculum. I taught ESL and ‘MYP Technology’. I realized then that teaching IB was a natural complement to the ‘inquiry-based’ teaching approach of vocational education.
I have taught in several IB schools since then. In all of these schools I have been involved in ‘Design’ teaching and planning. One thing that I have noticed about young people is that whether I am teaching woodworking or 3D printing, students love to be hands-on! Additionally, careers have changed so much over the past 20 years that teaching student ‘technology-related’ content is outdated. As teachers we all need to be teaching inquiry-based critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The subject of “Design” is the perfect crossroads for all of these things to be taught, practiced and mastered. In the school where I currently work, the students are able to experience robotics, podcasting, filmmaking, 3D printing, digital photography, graphics design, digital illustration, architectural design, fashion design, laser cutting/engraving, website design, coding and programming, drone operation, electronic music production and so on! All of this is within the Design curriculum.
An average day…
On any given day I will teach between 20-50 students depending on the schedule. Students will be in various stages of development working towards a completed design project. All of our projects start with an investigation or inquiry into some sort of issue, situation or problem. This should include an account of some sort of interaction with the client or target audience for the project. The students will continue to follow the Design Cycle and provide evidence of their work throughout. Most of my day involves checking on equipment, supplies, and so on. I have informal conversations with the other members of the department to see if everyone has the materials and access to the spaces that they need. Currently, the members of the Design department are content experts in programming, podcasting, filmmaking, photography, materials processing, Computer Aided Design (CAD), and textiles, just to name a few.
How to get involved…
If a teacher has some experience with similar disciplines and wants to get involved in an international school teaching ‘Design’, then I would highly suggest doing it! Make a list of your priorities, regions you would like to live and work in, salary range, among other things. It is ok to target schools that you are interested in as Design teachers are often difficult to find. Whether the school uses IB, AP, Cambridge, or something else, there is always a ‘design’ equivalent course that can be taught!
Giving back to the professional community…
Since 2008, I have been part of the IB Educator Network or IBEN. This means that I have conducted school visits, served as a consultant to candidate schools, lead subject-specific workshops, and other various IB related events. This involvement outside of school has been a key part in my professional development. I have met hundreds of like-minded educators that I am in regular contact with and we share best practices/project ideas with each other. This keeps my own teaching exciting and relevant to my students.
Jason Reagin is currently the IB Career-related Programme Coordinator and Department Chair of Design & Visual Arts at Chadwick International School in Incheon, South Korea. He taught in the US, Bermuda and China prior to coming to South Korea. Jason’s passions include being a live-long learner, coffee drinker and a cinephile. He has experience in curriculum leadership and development in several different school ecosystems. Connect with him on Twitter @diskon4nocontinue reading
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 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?
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:
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
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.
(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.
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’.
In my earlier career in public schools in Alberta, Canada I was a Drama teacher. The arts always seemed to be under threat in the public education system, and in my experience Music, Art and Drama teachers always seemed to be fighting for their survival. We had thriving Drama classes and a popular extra-curricular programme at my school where students in Junior High and Senior High competed in Zone and Provincial Drama Festivals, but when I went to teach in Australia on a year-long exchange they cancelled the Drama programme to save money, and only the Art classes and the Band programme survived the arts cuts that year.
Teaching in Queensland, Australia for a year was an eye-opener as far as the arts went. Programmes seemed to be very well supported with excellent facilities and had far more to offer students such as many workshops in specialities like mime, street theatre and dance for example than the much more basic curriculums I was used to in Canada. The arts curriculums seemed to be very extensive and arts taken for granted as a part of an Australian school. After a huge well supported musical “Annie Get Your Gun” I returned to my school in Canada where we had no theatre and I taught Drama in a regular classroom, pushing aside the desks as needed.
I had to return to Canada and teach as an English teacher even though I wanted to teach Drama. For many students in my experience, the arts are vital to balance out academics and sports. All students need an opportunity to excel and be successful in something, and for many that is not their regular exam classes or a sports team. So the art teacher and I collaborated and kept the school productions going, a total of 25 Junior and Senior High shows over the years where students could act, sing and dance or work backstage, or designing the set. Students loved the opportunity to be creative, and often it was the behaviourally challenged students or those who didn’t quite ‘fit in’ in other classes that loved Drama the most. We continued to participate in the Zone Festivals winning many times, and what a treat it was to be in a real theatre! The highlight was going to the Provincial Drama Festival and winning Best Ensemble and raft of other awards for our huge production of “The Canterbury Tales.’
Before I left Canada I was chosen for a Commonwealth Teacher Exchange to the United Kingdom. I went to teach in beautiful Norwich, Norfolk and became familiar with the British National Curriculum at KS3 and KS4 in particular. In England I was exposed to the rigour of a Drama programme shaped around students completing exams for their GCSE’s. I liked in particular how Drama, Music and Art were all exam subjects with strict, demanding curriculums and the disciplines were treated the same as academic subjects. In Alberta, Canada the arts are not exam subjects and the curriculum is very much left up to the teacher. I left England after our huge whole-school production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” with much to think about.
The thinking led me to the Search Associates Recruiting Fair in London, England and a decision to work in International Schools. I accepted an offer to teach GCSE Drama and IBDP Theatre at one of the top British Curriculum schools in China. The school was expanding from the Junior School to a brand-new Senior School. Before I became a teacher I had done a degree in Technical Theatre and so I had a lot of input into the building of the brand new Black Box classroom I would be working in and the incredible state-of the-art Theatre. What a treat it was to work in such amazing facilities with such keen students and such small classes after public education! I was familiar with the GCSE Drama curriculum and put students through both the EdExcel and the Cambridge exam board. My top tip for teachers wanting to work in British curriculum schools is don’t apply unless you already know the British National Curriculum, and the requirements of at least one GCSE exam board. It’s a very steep (I would say almost impossible) learning curve if you don’t already come in with that knowledge. It was no problem that I had no IBDP Theatre experience. The school had an unlimited budget and was quick to send me for training for my Category 1 IBDP Theatre course and countless other IBDP workshops. It’s easy to do well and get good results working in this kind of environment. Don’t kid yourself though-the results and marks really matter to the students, the parents and the school and if you don’t deliver you’ll be out. My love of Theatre and the performing arts in particular was well supported here with productions of “Aladdin,” “Macbeth,” “Blood Brothers,” “Cinderella” and “Marriage Proposal” amongst many other class and exam productions.
In my current school in Singapore I’m in a different role. I am Head of Arts for the Secondary school. I supervise the Music, Visual Arts, Drama and Theatre programmes. I have six teachers working in the Arts Department. We are an IB World School and run PYP, MYP and IBDP curriculum. It’s important as HOD Arts to make sure we offer a balanced programme, no one art discipline can take precedence over another. Our students in Years 7, 8 and 9 all take all three arts classes. In Years 10 and 11 they choose one of the Arts disciplines to specialize in for two years and complete their exam ePortfolio of four assignments in Year 11. At the school we also offer IBDP Visual Arts and Theatre for two years. I teach some Drama classes and Theatre, but I am also given a lot of HOD time to manage staff, take care of the budget, ensure curriculum is being taught well, arrange standardisation and moderation of marks and a myriad of other responsibilities. I have my IBDP Cat 2 now and am an Examiner for the IBDP Theatre curriculum.
We run Arts Nights for the performing arts in each semester, as well as a school Talent Show. The Visual Arts puts up displays of art at these times as well as participating in the huge IN Exhibition of Visual Art from fifteen International Schools in Singapore as well as the IBDP Visual Arts Exhibition in the Spring. We run extensive co-curricular and extra-curricular activities for the students in the arts like bands, singing groups, drumming lessons and arts workshops. We are an International School Theatre Association School and run a lot of workshops through them e.g bringing the theatre company ‘Frantic Assembly’ in from the UK or Marco Luly- a Commedia dell’ Arte expert in from Italy. We run two Musicals a year, the Secondary Musical for Years 9-13 and the Primary/Middle School Musical for Years 3-8. The last four years we have done “Urbs, Urbis,” “Arlecchino and the City of Love,” “Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, “ “A Christmas Carol” and currently with a team of ten teachers and over 75 students “Cinderella, Rockerfella.” All of our shows are performed in professional theatre facilities we rent in Singapore. All of this is such a pleasant change from fighting for the arts survival in a Canadian public school, and having to fight for every cent we wanted to spend. I wish I had gone to work in International Schools much earlier in my career, but better late than never!
This article was submitted to us by International School Community member, Sara Lynn Burrough. Sara Lynn Burrough has worked as a Drama/Theatre teacher for the past 38 years in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, China and Singapore. She has a BEd, an MEd, was a professional stage manager at the Banff Centre for the Arts and studied Technical Theatre at McGill University in Montreal. In Canada as a teacher she worked for many years for Northern Gateway Schools in Alberta, and during that time was selected for two teacher exchange programmes. Her first exchange to Australia was with Alberta Education and the Queensland Department of Education where she taught at Costessey High School, in Coolum Beach on the Sunshine Coast. Her second exchange was with the prestigious ‘League for the Exchange of Commonwealth Teachers’ (LECT) where she was one of two Canadian teachers selected to go to the United Kingdom for the millennial year to the United Kingdom. The Queen Mother was the patron of LECT and as she was celebrating her 100th birthday that year Sara Lynn was privileged to attend the celebrations in London as an invitee. In 2013 Sara Lynn decided to teach in International Schools and attended the Search Associates recruiting fair in London, England. From there she went to Dulwich College in Suzhou, China to teach GCSE Drama and IBDP Theatre in the Senior School. After China Sara Lynn went to Singapore for almost five years as Head of Arts (Music, Visual Arts, Drama) at Chatsworth International School where she taught MYP Drama and IBDP Theatre.
Using our unique Comment Search feature on our website (premium membership access needed), we found 96 comments that have the keyword “Drama” in them, and 14 comments that had the word “The Arts” in them.
Here are some comments that shown a positive light on Learning Support programs at international schools:
“The school just celebrated its 50th anniversary and there are many banners around the school. The school in involved with the SITS programme which is a quality drama and arts programme for kids.” – Oslo International School (17 Total Comments)
“Stoke City FC just started this school year and there are several other “big” initiatives as well, mostly in music and drama departments.” – Western International School of Shanghai (312 Total Comments)
“It is limited. In primary there is futsal, while secondary usually has volleyball and basketball. Baseball is popular but it is not offered in any organised way. The school usually participates at the MUN conference in Kobe in February each year. Drama and arts offerings have increased in recent years.” – Hiroshima International School (64 Total Comments)
“The school offers no sports programs, and occasionally offers a drama Club to students, depending on teacher interest.” – Alexandria International Academy (78 Total Comments)
“Piloting the iPad initiative this year and also looking to expand the arts program with the addition of the multi-purpose hall that houses a mini-theater.” – Universal American School in Dubai (57 Total Comments)
“There are opportunities in the arts (dance, voice, musical instrumental, drama), a good number of sports offerings (climbing, competitive sports, etc.). Lots!” – American School of Dubai (98 Total Comments)continue reading
2017 is coming to a close, which means it’s that time of year to start considering your next possible career moves. Are you ready to explore the opportunities? If so what do you do next? One of the best ways to get an idea of what’s out there is by attending an international educator’s recruitment fair.
Explore CRS are running our annual Fairs again in Shanghai and Abu Dhabi early next year. These are conducted over the course of 3 days each where we invite hundreds of candidates to meet with elite schools from across wider Asia and The Middle East. These events provide both schools and educators a chance to connect with each other and seek new opportunities on both sides to build faculty staff and careers. We also invite attending schools to run professional development workshops. These will be on a variety of topics and provide a unique opportunity for the schools to showcase their establishment and core mission/values to interested candidates.
We like to ensure that our events maintain a collegial and social atmosphere without too stressful or competitive an environment. It’s our aim to make the Fairs a pleasant and friendly experience for everyone involved without the highly pressured tone that can sometimes be felt at other recruitment events. With this in mind, we will usually select around 25 schools to attend per Fair, so we can still offer a variety of options to candidates.
We also hold a candidate and recruiter mixer after the first day of the Fair. This is a relaxed and informal drinks and canapés evening, courtesy of Explore CRS so attendees can relax and network after a busy and exciting day.
So how does an educator stand out amongst the crowd at the Fair when they’re trying to find the next job of their dreams?
6 ways to impress at an international education recruitment fair
• Research the schools who are attending – check out who’s coming in advance and do your homework. As well as qualifications and experience, schools are looking for candidates that want to embrace their school culture and values. If you have read up beforehand and feel you would be a great fit – let that show.
• Don’t be afraid to approach the schools and sell yourself – it may seem intimidating, but this is a jobs fair. If you want to get noticed – you need to push yourself and put your best foot forward. There’s an allotted time within which to make a great impression and ensure you get yourself an interview.
• Have plenty of copies of your CV ready to hand – you will need to hand a lot of these out so make sure they are organized and easily accessible whilst moving from stand to stand.
• Make time to speak to fellow candidates as well as the recruiting schools – there will be hundreds of other educators there all in the same boat as you. They may be able to share useful information with you. Which school is worth talking to? Which ones didn’t seem to be as worthwhile?
• Get your pitch prepared – the open session when you are trying to talk to potential schools is busy and there are a lot of other people also trying to get an interview lined up. Make sure you don’t waste any time when its your turn in front of the recruiters. Its your moment to win them over!
• Dress the part – it may seem obvious, but this is your chance to make a great first impression. Make sure you are professionally turned out to present yourself in the best possible light.
At Explore CRS we recruit international teachers and provide consultancy services to the international school sector, with a particular focus on the wider Asia region. Based in Shanghai, we know what operating in this sector means for daily life and work.
Our primary concern is ensuring we provide an honest and efficient service to bring the right people together. It is important to us to understand a schools’ vision and a teaching candidates’ career goals. It’s our job to bring these two elements together and find the right fit.
If you are interested in progressing your international teaching career, then we would be delighted to help you take the next steps towards your new role. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.explorecrs.com for more information.continue reading