As the new school year begins tens of thousands of international teachers the world over have a decision to make: do I stay or move on? Our profession is dominated by contracts of two or even one year’s duration leading to an annual cycle of conversations, reflections and the agony of decision-making. It is not unusual for international schools, particularly in developing world locations, to have annual teacher turnover of 20% or more. Needless to say, the impact of such levels of attrition on school and teacher finances, school culture, institutional memory and – most importantly – student learning is far from positive. Constantly changing schools and countries is draining on teachers, their families and on the communities they leave behind. The irony is that it is almost counter-intuitive for international educators to stick around. After all, the travel bug and sense of adventure that made them head overseas in the first place often become the thing that makes them itch to move on. So what can teachers do to feel more comfortable about staying longer?
Here are five things international teachers can do to give themselves the best chance of finding a longer-term fit that works for them and for the schools where they teach.
1. Talk to the boss
How do you know if you want to be part of a school’s future if you don’t know where it’s headed? Any self-respecting school director will relish the opportunity to share their vision of what they hope lies ahead. Book a time and ask the question: where is the school going? As importantly, ask a second question: how can I be a part of the journey? One of the most powerful motivators is having a sense of purpose. You owe it to yourself to know what that purpose is for the school and how you can play a role.
2. Be intentional
I meet so many educators who seem to let life blow them hither and thither. Be better than that. Commit to taking control of your career and being intentional in your work as a professional educator. There is so much that is in your control yet all too often teachers seem to feel that control over their own destiny is one thing they lack. If you haven’t done it already, sit down with your director or principal and start the process of identifying what you want from your career. It is hard to be intentional about anything if there is no focus to the intent. You may be surprised how much professional growth is possible if your director knows what it is you are looking for.
3. Plant a tree
Not literally, though I guess it wouldn’t hurt. Invest in a horizon goal in the school that takes you beyond your current contract. It may be a particular level of achievement for a student, or a project outcome, or something else down the track. The key is to see yourself as being instrumental in achieving that outcome on a longer time frame. You’ll be amazed how your sense of the now shifts as a consequence.
4. Be relevant
To be honest, this one is true regardless of whether you stay or go. To be relevant as an educator is to be meaningful in the lives of others. Find ways to enrich the lives of the students and families whom you serve. Be that teacher who you always wanted to have as a child. I don’t know about you but I don’t remember a single work sheet or test from school, but I do remember the teachers who were relevant to my life, who knew me as a person. Also, be relevant in the professional lives of your colleagues. When we become relevant to each other we build community – and that is hard to walk away from.
5. Only connect
At the heart if all happiness lies connection. The first year in any international posting is hard. New locations, new climate, new cultures, new challenges, new colleagues and a new community all demand time and energy. But the connections we make are like money in the bank. They are investments in our future selves. We draw strength from our connections and find meaning in being part of something larger than ourselves. The success of the second year is directly related to the investments made in the first, and a successful second year opens the door to that deeper sense of fulfillment that lies in the magical third year. Don’t skimp on those connections.
There will always be some international teachers who prefer the here-today-gone-tomorrow lifestyle that comes with moving on every two years. But most educators want more than that. They want to make an enduring difference, to really matter in the lives of young people and to be a genuine member of the communities who welcome them into their homes and cultures. Instead of asking the question ‘should I stay or should I go?’ perhaps the question you ought to be asking is this: should I stay and make a difference?
This article was submitted to us by guest author and international school community member, Nigel Winnard.
Going to one to two interviews at an international school recruitment fair can probably mean one of four things:
• You probably don’t have very much experience teaching in general and teaching at international schools and are finding it hard to get schools’ attention.
• You have a lot of experience, but you are now very specific on where exactly that you would like to move to next in the world.
• You have a lot of experience, and you are very specific about which top international school that you would like to work at next in your career.
• Or there is a lot of competition this year which means there might be many other candidates vying for the same position vacancy.
Additionally, you just might not be up for going to five, six, seven interviews. More interview can equal to more stress for you at the fair. On the other hand, if you are very desirable to international schools at the fair and are open to where you would like to go, the more interviews you secure the better the odds that you will get some job offers!
There are many factors to consider when deciding on which international school at which to work. Figuring out how and where an international school recruits can prove to be helpful information to know; just so that you are prepared and can make the necessary and appropriate plans. Luckily on International School Community, we have a School Information section in the comments and information part of each school’s profile page that discusses this very topic.
• Describe their hiring policies. Which recruiting fairs do they go to? How do they typically hire (e.g. face-to-face interview, Skype, etc.)? Are there any hiring restrictions mandated by the country?
Taken from the Dhahran Ahliyya Schools (60 Total Comments) school profile page.
There have been many comments and information submitted in this topic on numerous school profiles on our website.
One International School Community member said about working at Misr American College (37 Comments): “M.A.C. attends the Cambridge job fair in Boston which is hosted by Search Associates and they have also attended the Dubai fair. I have seen their ads on TIEonline as well. They will also do skype interviewing. They employ a variety of ways to get their teachers. I was able to bring my spouse when I signed on with them and they helped get his residency. Not sure if they are still doing this though.”
Another member said about working at Seoul International School (69 Comments): “They use Search & ISS and do a lot of recruiting in Canada (all of the heads of the school are Canadian). Last year the HS principal did a lot of interviewing via Skype.”
Another member submitted a comment about working at Colegio Granadino Manizales (43 Comments): “I was hired at the recruiting fair in Kingston, Ontario, As far as I know, they also attend the Iowa fair and some teachers are hired via Skype.”
If you are currently a premium member of International School Community, please take a moment to share what you know by submitting some comments and information about how your international school recruits and what recruitment fairs that they go to each year. You can start by logging on here.
Stay tuned for our next survey topic which is to come out in a few days time.continue reading
A new survey has arrived!
Topic: On average, how many interviews do you go to at a recruitment fair?
Around seven to ten years ago it really seemed like a different story; there were many positions available and not enough candidates to fill the positions. With the power more on the candidate’s side, you might feel like you are very much in demand at the fair.
As of late, it seems like the international schools at the fair are very much in control. They have a number of candidates to choose from, and most likely quality candidates at that. More quality candidates competing with you to secure interviews might mean less interviews for you to attend.
Putting the topic of who’s has the power aside, if you are a top candidate with a lot of domestic and international school teaching experience, you might still be looking at going to seven-plus interviews at certain fairs. On the other hand if you are just starting out in teaching and in the international school community, you possibly might be looking at only securing a few.
As experienced international school teacher veterans know, it is not so cut and dry like that. There are too many factors at which to look. It all depends too on “luck and timing.” Anyone who is a quality teacher and a good fit for the school will most likely get short-listed disregarding your lack of experience.
Some teachers, however, go to the fair with a plan. That plan is to seek out only a small handful of schools. If they are unsuccessful at securing an interview at those schools, then that is it for them. It is a bit stressful to attend a fair and have your hopes dashed as you find the two schools that you were most interested in is not interested in you “at this time”, the vacancy has gone away or it has already been filled. Unfortunately, in this circumstance, you potentially will end up not going to any interviews.
Other teachers are very open to where they would like to go. For those teachers, they might indeed end up securing more interviews. Typically, they do say that you should be open-minded to attend an interview even if the school is not the one you are necessarily looking at or even if it is not in a location you were originally considering. It is a fine line though between being ‘open-minded’ and potentially just wasting your time and the school’s time. Because of the electric feeling in the air, sometimes you get caught up in all of the excitement at the fair that it is just fun to go to all interviews that are presented to you. You never know what will happen and smart networking is always a good thing!
So, on average, how many interviews do you go to at a recruitment fair? Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today! You can check out the latest voting results here.
From the staff at International School Community.continue reading
I currently live in Lake Charles, Louisiana. I am a retired Catholic School administrator with 44 years of teaching and administration in public, private, and charter schools. I have taught from coast to coast in the US and am now leading accreditation teams for a major International Accreditation Organization. I try to reserve special family time in my schedule to enjoy our two little princesses, Abigail and Zoe.
How did you get started in the international teaching community?
Several years ago, I was invited to be on an accreditation team for a private school in the Dominican Republic. The school and the people there captured my heart and soul. I actually cried during my flight back to the states because I had been so touched by that visit. Although I had no idea how this would happen, I knew in my heart that I was going back. About six months later, I received a call from the owners asking me to serve as the Vice President of their Board of Directors. That experience has totally changed my life.
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 have been affiliated only with The Ashton School of Santo Domingo by serving on their Board and providing some professional development and parent activities. Ashton is privately owned and is transitioning into a Christian School. The factor that has impacted me the most is the remarkable difference it makes when owners can make critical decisions that add to the school’s success and outreach to students, family, and the greater community. There seem to be few limitations to creative endeavors. The spirit of the Latin people is evident in the manner in which they live and think. Naturally, it is a culturally-rich experience that provides international acceptance for all entities.
Describe your latest cultural encounter (or reverse cultural encounter) in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.
I must share two such encounters. First is the fact that the school’s owner was able to get an extremely successful Soccer Camp instituted for the children of Santo Domingo with a contract with the Milan Junior Camp officials. Major corporate sponsors supported the camp and it will be continued. The long range plan is for the Ashton Foundation to open a sports facility to enhance the sporting options for the children in the area as well as those at the school.
The second big smile came in the opening of two classes called the H.O.P.E. classrooms in the city. These classes are filled with 44 needy four-year-old children who will be sponsored by other individual families for all fourteen years of their education. This sponsorship includes participation in the children’s school life, attending events, filling gaps in life. Families that can give the monetary support and not the human support are paired with families that want to give the human support but cannot afford the financial commitment. The owner sought the sponsorships and built the classrooms. (Check out a video about H.O.P.E. here)
These two smiles would still be in the dream stage in the US. We miss many opportunities to turn dreams and possibilities into realities.
What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?
As I am asked to help other international schools, I look for the Vision of the owners and the leadership of the school. Those are key factors for me to be able to work effectively.
In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?
Transforming Exciting Challenging Embracing Engaging
Thanks Mary Anne!
If you are a member of International School Community and would like to be our next member spotlight, contact us here. If we choose to highlight you, you will get a coupon code to receive 6 months free of premium access to our website!
Want to work for an international school in the Dominican Republic like Mary Anne? Currently, we have 6 international schools listed in the Dominican Republic on International School Community:
• The Ashton School of Santo Domingo (12 Comments)
• Saint George School (Dom. Rep.) (4 Comments)
• American school of Santo Domingo
• Carol Morgan School Santo Domingo
• International School of Sosua
• Putacana International School
Comments and information about hiring policies on International School Community:
Every week members are leaving information and comments about the hiring policies at international schools around the world. Which ones go to the Search Associates Recruitment Fairs? Which ones hold interviews over Skype? Which ones have hiring restrictions imposed on them by the host country? All important questions to think about when job searching, but where to find the answers to those questions?
Sometimes it is hard to keep track of which international schools go to which recruitment fairs and which interview style and tactic each international schools employs. At International School Community, we want to make the search for information about hiring policies easier for international school teachers. In the school section of each international school profile page on our website, there is a section specific to the school’s hiring policies. The topic is: “Describe their hiring policies. Which recruiting fairs do they go to? How do they typically hire (e.g. face-to-face interview, Skype, etc.)? Are there any hiring restrictions mandated by the country?”
Here are 3 out of the numerous comments and information related to the hiring policies of international schools that have been posted on our website:
American School of Barcelona (63 Total Comments)
“They have gone to CIS and Search London and also hire on Tie-online. It is possible to be hired without a face to face interview.”
Hampton International School (13 Total Comments)
“Face-to-face interviews, no or limited use of recruiting agencies.”
International School Monagas (8 Total Comments)
“The school goes through Search Associates. Teachers must have appropriate degree for teaching the subject of major concentration and by under 65 years of age. They are willing to hire interns for certain positions.”
Check out the more than 90 comments and information about the hiring policies of numerous international schools at www.internationalschoolcommunity.com.continue reading