How do I Find the Right Job for Me?
For those of you just starting out or considering teaching internationally, you may be feeling like confused.com with all the options, but at the same time struggling with the uncertainties of going into a foreign territory.
Schools often spend a long time finding the “best fit” for their school especially with the high turnaround that schools may have. The high turnaround should not always be seen as a negative point. While in some cases there may well be issues in a school, let’s be honest: you make a decision to teach overseas but one day you’re going to get bored, and one day you might want to explore another country or even miss being back home. Whatever the reason, the turn over exists.
The person interviewing you will review through the interview process if you are the “best fit” for his/her school. Therefore it is fundamental that you as the job seeker do your homework not just on the school but the country, location, culture and possibly even religion (depending on your belief and faith). This will save you a huge amount of time before you even go to the interview and will also show you have come well prepared.
There are simply no excuses for not being able to do the research, whether you’re using offline resources like libraries or books, or you’re sourcing your information from the internet where pretty much all the knowledge you’ll need will be. So, important rule: Do your research.
With an increasing number of international schools growing and developing all over the world most have websites, showing you images, types of curriculum, resources and much more. Always check to see if the website is up to date and whether it looks like someone has taken the time to do it or a mish-mash job just to promote the school. Once you do find the school you should consider asking yourself some important questions:
- Where is the school located? – Consider if is it in a rural or an urban location.
- How difficult is it to get in and out of the country during holidays? – Some countries don’t give multi-entry visas.
- What is there to do to socialise, explore and entertain yourself? – Your own well-being is important.
- Will the weather be too hot or cold for you during peak times? – You may be less suited for extreme climates.
- How much money will you save or have as spending money once you are paid?
- Will the religious beliefs of the country go against your own? – Many countries do not allow for other beliefs or are otherwise intolerant socially.
For example, with the recent influx of western teachers swarming to the middle east for Tax Free salaries and high quality lifestyles. Many perceive it to be this glorious place to work but soon have difficulties adapting to the environment: couples can’t hold hands in public, it’s illegal to drink alcohol publicly, documents can be difficult to have attested, sick days are unpaid, etc. The labour laws also prevent teachers just moving school to school and could face a 6 month ban, something which teachers find out only after they begin working. Rather than have a perceived idea and seeing the job as a long holiday pit-stop while you teach ensure the homework is done by you to save you heartache, money, time and effort.
Teachers who often don’t to the homework and get stung when they get stuck in to their jobs have known to become quite depressed off of the job not being all that it was meant to be, and demand or request to breach the contract. Find out your implications of breaching the contract before signing on the dotted line! Many teachers can face being banned from the country upon breaching their contract!
On a positive note, if you have done your homework and have made up your mind on where you would like to be and teach think carefully about where you have been trained, how you have been trained and take a moment to think about what you will be offering or bring to the school. Remember this is a marriage process so it while the school may be able to offer you a great salary, ensure you are confident you can give back in as well, as it is also common for teachers to be sacked if they don’t deliver.
We all know the education system is slow to adapt and change, and while the western world has stronger models of practice, take a moment to think that where you might be going your ideas, beliefs and teaching methods may simply be too advanced. The best would be to go with an open mind. If your mind is fixed, tread carefully as you could be in for a lot of disappointment and frustration.
When it comes to technology most international schools are well behind on this. With 5000 international schools and growing, approximately 10% are be well facilitated. What you will find from this is that those are the schools that generally also pay well. Schools are slowly beginning to join the online community and networks so it might be worth checking websites or information like:
- Youtube (if they have any videos)
- Podcasts sites
- Wikipedia articles
Some simple questions to ask & things to do before you begin your journey of teaching internationally:
- Make a list of your goals and targets.
- Make a list of pros and cons for each region you choose.
- What is your reason for going?
- What can you offer to the school?
- What homework/research have you done?
- How much money will you save over the contract period? Is the Salary Tax free?
- What other benefits do I get? (accommodation, medical, visa, return flights)
- How long are the holidays?
- What support is there at the school?
- What IT Facilities do they have?
- What is the teacher to student ratio per classroom?
- What is the expatriate breakdown of students?
- What is the expatriate breakdown of teachers?
- Would you have enhanced your own career development by attending this particular school?
From the more experienced teachers we would love to hear from you on further advice you can give teachers looking to work internationally or if you’re an international school what advice can you give for teachers coming into your region/school?
Preparing for in interview will be discussed in another blog to come. Take your time to digest the information and begin planning your journey abroad.