How Do International Educators See Their Careers?

ISR is wondering… Do teachers see international education as a career to pursue until retirement, or is it just a change of pace, an adventure to enjoy for a couple of years? How long do most international teachers stay overseas? How many international schools will most educators teach at during their overseas careers? What’s the biggest reason international educators choose to go overseas? What keeps us there? What sends us packing? Take our short survey & see the results for yourself!

Please click “VOTE”  after answering each question

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4) What was the biggest reason you chose to go overseas? What keeps you there or what made you decide to return home?

Please answer  below.

104 Responses to How Do International Educators See Their Careers?

  1. tck68 says:

    I grew up in different countries and attended lots of different schools. I wanted to keep exploring the world and also contribute somehow. I saw two choices – foreign office or education. I chose education because I had more choice and more freedom. It’s been a great experience all round. I’ve got nowhere to go back to really!

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    • eslkevin says:

      I have applied to do foreign service but if your not pro-drones or pro-defense/security over environment and human development, they haven’t been interested in hiring for decades.

      So, I teach.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Beautifully diverse experiences in different cultures, incredible learning oportunities, travel and away from U.S. Education system.

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    • eslkevin says:

      There are good things in many America schools still. Special education programs and many sports and athletic options come to mind. Variety in subject choice was historically great but I dunno now that I have lived outside USA and testing-has-become-hyper-focused.

      As well, private education expenses for kids abroad and in the USA are negatives of any society that promotes private elementary and secondary education.

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  3. JMS says:

    I started as a Peace Corps Volunteer and got hooked on international life. I’ve grown so much more as an educator (and as a person) through living overseas than I ever would have if I’d stayed in the same place for the last 20 years. It hasn’t always been easy, but I have no regrets. I stay overseas because there is always the opportunity for change. And of course after this long, I just don’t seem to fit in back home anymore.

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  4. eslkevin says:

    These results do not surprise me as I have been forced to work abroad for most of the past 27 years–such is the educational world created in my homeland.–KAS

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  5. dougabshire says:

    I taught 9 yrs in S America and Africa with my wife/family in the ’80s and early ’90s.. During that time, my younger son was diagnosed with severe autism which necessitated the family moving back to the US for spec ed services. I then taught 22 yrs at a ‘ghetto’ high school which had its merits…. Last year I took ‘early retirement’ and have re-invented myself as a teacher in an International school in Europe. I am grateful to be back on the international circuit even at the age of 60. I am in the enviable position of having a guaranteed public teacher retirement salary as well as having the chance to teach students from a multicultural background. I hope to be on the ‘circuit’ for the next 5-10 years in order to accumulate some wealth but more importantly to be ‘re-born’ with new experiences in the international teaching arena before I finally close the last textbook and shut the last classroom door…

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  6. jay hinkley says:

    Decided to go overseas because I love adventure and things that are different than what I already know, and it didn’t hurt that I am married to a Slovak. I can also say that I have always yearned for an experience that would challenge me in all facets of life. Hopefully making me a better and stronger person that has a complete understanding of the world around him (as you can tell I am a social studies teacher, LOL).
    What keeps me here is that the world is a big place with many different cultures and great people yet to meet and learn from, once I meet them all and learn from all their cultures, then I may decide to head back to the States, but I think this arduous task may take more time than just my teaching career, we’ll see though. Make the decision to broaden your horizons and grab life by the horns and experience everything that this amazing world has to offer. And a note to my American brethren, we most of all need to get out of the States and experience because many of us are very tunnel visioned when it comes to understanding the workings of the world because of our isolation geographically, and teaching overseas allows you ot see that the way we do things is not the only way and you will develop an understanding that just because people do things and think in different ways than we do doesn’t make them wrong it make them different, we could definitely learn a thing or two from the ways other governments take care of their population and from the richness of their cultures. Go on the ride of your life with no hesitation, come join us abroad fellow teachers!!!

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    • Working to make a difference says:

      Very well said! Teaching abroad has shown me that there is so much more than the “bubble” I was brought up in. There is so much we don’t know about the rest of the world. We read what others think or have researched. Even people that have not actually been in a country they are lecturing about or writing on. I’m in Saudi Arabia and have fellow colleagues that are clueless to a real Saudi’s life due to living on compounds and sticking to their own. It is all about how you spend your time abroad. Are you constantly complaining things are different, hard, not the same as the states? Then it will not be a pleasant journey for you. Things are far from perfect or what you might be accustomed to but that is the challenge. I pushed for Earth day, recycling awareness, MAPP testing, plays, oral presentations, a proper writing and grammar program and teacher training. What might seem like small things or things we take for granted that these students wouldn’t have had without someone speaking up and guiding them. There is so much you can do to make small changes that develop into constant awareness. It just takes someone to get the ball rolling. It has been a long stressful year with accreditation, a new curriculum, the ministry setting new rules, international schools opening to Saudi’s and more. I can actually sit back, reflect, and smile thinking of what was accomplished this year. Teaching abroad is not for slackers or those that can’t use their imagination and will to make it the best academic year possible for the students. It sounds like a Marine recruitment slogan: The Few. The Proud. The International Teacher.

      Like

  7. Been there, still doing that... says:

    My husband and I have raised our three sons to be global citizens while living and teaching in seven countries outside of Canada. Our careers have been challenging and rewarding, and as parents we have done a truly great thing. All in their later twenties now, our sons would tell you they likely won’t ever live back ‘home’ because the world is their oyster and they love being overseas. The international schools we were fortunate to work at provided a caring community for our family as well as a great place to be at our best as ever-developing professionals. We are contributors — all of us.

    Two sons did the full IB Diploma, one has completed a master’s degree in Spain and the other completed his first degree at Princeton on a full scholarship, and is now doing a master’s at U of Cape Town. Our third son chose the hospitality industry and after his diploma program began his career in a management position in a top-tier hotel abroad. These results are testimonials to the outstanding education they received in international schools.

    We all have many friends the world over that we keep in touch with or see in person quite regularly. We are all still abroad, after 23 years. I cannot imagine the limited life and narrow perspective our children and we would have had if we had not chosen the international school path. We are grateful to those who hired us, to the schools and communities we prospered in, and to the fascinating countries we were privileged to live in as long-term guests. These include Korea, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Kenya, South Africa, Mali, and the United Arab Emirates.

    I cannot do other than to whole-heartedly encourage anyone with a spirit of adventure and the will to succeed as an educator in a vibrant, international community. There are going to be challenges, yes, but where in life are there none? There will be more positives, more new friendships, more varied experiences, more opportunities for creativity, more inspiration, more freedom, and more treasured moments to share and relish forever — than you would ever have dreamed of in your lifetime back home. May you enjoy and find the good in each day and in each life you touch while abroad. Don’t even hesitate.

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    • SER says:

      I totally agree with you. Well said.
      As I read all these interesting responses, a couple of things come to mind:
      1) Not all states in the USA have teacher unions, so it is not a “given” that teachers give this up when they go overseas. Many never had it in the first place.
      2) In short, if you love to travel and have traveled independently (not on packages tours) then chances are, you will be able to cope with the whole experience of living overseas. Things happen and people need to be flexible about finding solutions.

      That said, it is imperative that we all do research before we take or even interview for jobs. I find there are certain “red flags” that present themselves from the start. Head off potential trouble at the pass….trust your intuition.

      I think teachers thinking about going international sometimes get fixated on the whole “tier system” concept. Maybe we need to remind ourselves that there are good schools that are not all 1st tier, just like there are plenty of good universities that are not Offord, Cambridge or the Ivy league insititutions. We all want the money that is offered in “1st tier”, but by no means does it mean all teachers suffer financially if they end up a “tier 2” school.
      There are positives and negatives in both situations.
      Working internationally is a wonderful opportunity, if you are flexible, creative and truly enjoy travel and teaching. I love it!

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  8. Paul says:

    We had a nice house and secure careers at solid private schools in the US but had also taught for three years abroad after university; one day I asked my wife what she thought she would most likely do if she lost me and she replied that she’d sell the house and move abroad again. I replied I’d do the same exact thing, so we did! We enjoy the freedom, the collegiality, the students, the parents, the community standing, the travel, and the adventure of it all.

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  9. Dee says:

    I taught in the States for 3 years and just was feeling burnt out without creative control. I was teaching MS and desired the connection and creativity that HS provided. I found a job where I would teach MS but have a HS class and also allow me extra-curricular time with HS kids doing what I love, Directing Musicals. I have been at my current school for 4 years and plan to stay one more before venturing off to somewhere new in the world. My family is fully supportive and have encouraged me to continue this nomadic lifestyle, which makes the decision to stay international easier!

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  10. Mina Joy says:

    Actually, I have no plans to teach overseas, but opportunity knocks and it seems that I’m liking it. I love the idea of traveling and meeting people and having friends worldwide. I like exploring a new country and its culture and learning a lot from my experience. Just the idea of teaching students who would become policy makers of the world excites me. This and all the adventures and fun of teaching overseas keeps me here.

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  11. Globalguy says:

    Originally it was the money that made me look overseas. Soon after I started it became about the great kids I could teach, yes teach and not have to spend my whole time managing their behavior. I also loved getting to know a new country / city and had a great time. What keeps me overseas are the same two things that originally drew me overseas, the money and the kids. However, I’ve been doing this for quite awhile now and I’d like to have more lifestyle component in my life, a cleaner environment, a smaller city, green grass, trees and beaches but I won’t trade teaching overseas for the nightmare of public education just to walk on a beach. If it really gets to me I’ll go looking for a school in a different location.

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    • OverseasCanuck says:

      Globalguy, you may not get all what you want on your wish list in one location, but rather may have to parcel it over a number of years. But I believe it can be done overseas. For as you’ve pointed out, and I agree: the kids and the savings made overseas outweigh the other benefits from going home. I figure it’ll take me a lifetime to explore and live in all my wish list cities, and I’m quite happy with that prospect!

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  12. Expat from MN says:

    There are great schools and poor schools everywhere. Getting into the good ones is very difficult everywhere. Overseas there are no laws to protect you for the most part. Yet people I work with overseas seem to fall into categories…colonialist, peace corp type, missionary type and adventure seekers. All of them can be interesting in their own ways. Perhaps one starts as one type and then the circumstances change one to the other. I am struck with the pattern of men finding a “wife” within months of arrival and women having big challenges to find anyone to be with. Once overseas it is hard to find work back home because the educational system is set up best for those who work their entire career in one school district… Not set up for innovation but for great retirement. I can save more funds overseas. I now have friends in many countries. I am actually getting tired of short term traveling and have begun enjoying staying put in country over the holidays. Age limits on visas will be what stops me from going to another new country. I do love facebook, skype and blogs..now I can keep up with friends made at each school and sort of create my own “home”.

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    • OverseasCanuck says:

      You’ve taken the words right out of my mouth. After 12 years abroad, and only 3 years teaching “at home”, I definitely feel more at home overseas. As you say, technology helps keeping up with friends back home, and the ones we’ve made on the road. I feel life couldn’t be easier! So which kind of category do you fall under Expat from MN?

      Like

  13. anon says:

    We taught in the U.S. for over ten years and then went overseas for over ten years. We went for the adventure and to enrich our professional lives and to travel! We didn’t always feel the schools we taught at shared our philosophy, but we always enjoyed the students and our own teaching positions as well as the country and its people. We traveled extensively and saved money. Now we are back in the U.S. (Yes, we were tired of all the issues ISR reviewers bring up, plus we wanted to add years to our vested retirement plan). We are at good schools full of young, enthusiastic teachers, and we are credited with our full years of teaching experience and other benefits. We would like to teach overseas again after we retire, however, age will be a challenge. A growing concern is finding a school that will hire older teachers that an experienced teacher would WANT to teach at.

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    • I'm done says:

      I’m happy to hear stories from people who went home and found it wasn’t so bad. Thanks for sharing.

      Like

      • anon says:

        You are welcome. I really love my job.
        Our schools are great with the latest paid PD (including PD offerings in different parts of the country).The teaching teams and collaboration groups are congenial. My students are well behaved and like to learn. You can drink water from the tap.🙂
        We are closer to family and friends and can still travel.
        However, we taught at schools that were off the beaten track and miss the exotic and unexpected more deeply than we ever missed home.

        Like

  14. Anonymous says:

    I never wanted to leave international teaching but was forced into retirement by age laws. Now when I apply, I am facing age limits on the visa.. No, I would not be in Canada if not for this barrier.

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  15. lightstays says:

    I’m in the same boat, Where in the World? Unless you are lucky enough to come into international teaching at the first-tier level it is just too much of a racket. I’ve decided to return home after two years out, rack up a few years in the US and then reconsider i-schools when I have a lot more leverage/experience behind me.

    For the those of you who trumpet the perks of i-schools (ie, the first 50 posters in this thread) I both envy and am confused by you.

    I envy you for being “in.” This is an industry so based on who knows who and who vouches for you, that once you’re “in” you never have to look for work again. Especially if you’re in IB. You’ve achieved the wet dream of armchair adventurers everywhere: travel the world, get paid well, meet interesting people, and generally enjoy life.

    I’m confused by the way many of you bash your school systems back home, home usually being North America and the UK. One thing that I have noticed among international educators is that they seem to have disproportionately horrid experiences in state schools.

    While I think much of US public education is in dire straits, there are good schools out there, both public and private. I for one had fabulous experiences in the US public system for one year before I left. To say it’s going to hell in handbag…well, you are seasoned teachers who have in effect abandoned your countries, so you/we have contributed somewhat to that hell.

    I’m also confused by this idea of perpetual travel. At a certain point, there are immense personal and financial advantages in putting down roots in a place, whether at home or overseas, but so many overseas educators fear permanence like it’s some kind of plague. Escapism looks a lot like immaturity by the time you are in your late 30s.

    Like

    • I'm done says:

      Yes, well said. Traveling the IS circuit becomes a cycle in itself. Some of those caught up in it think travelling is ‘all she wrote’ but of course there’s more to life than moving from country to country.

      Like

    • Monique says:

      If this was facebook I would like this post! Thanks for putting in a good word for those of us who are proud educators in the US once again.

      Like

  16. Where in the World? says:

    I had dreamed of going abroad for quite some time, but it took a move within my own country which was such a culture shock, to make me realize that one could learn so much from such experience and that it wasn’t as frightening as it seemed. Now, after just three years in the IS scene, I will be returning home. I have found that while there is so much wonderful experience to be had in international education, there is also a lot of dysfunction in many international schools, in countries where one has no rights or recourse. I do believe that if one is careful, usually the experience can be (mostly) good. But, there are some non-profit schools, with all of the right accreditation and affiliation, that function more like those without these attributes. Unfortunately, I work at one of those schools and discovered how bad things could be, quite late in the year, when job-hunting season is over. So, I’m heading back “home” for now but, I do hope to find a good IS to work for in the future.

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  17. Tom says:

    I initially decided to teach abroad to fill a void in my life. I had no house, no wife, nothing to tie me down and felt I needed to do something with my life. My plan was to just do this for 1 year but I enjoyed it so much that I did it for another, and another…..

    At this point I would like to return to the US but the job market is horrible plus my skill set makes me much less desirable in the US. Hardly anyone in New Jersey would know what I mean if I said I teach IBDP Biology. They’re interested in teachers that know the NJ curriculum and have a record of staying at a school for a long time.

    Like

    • SER says:

      Are there really no Ib schools in NJ? What about private schools? I would suggest doing a bit of research before you give up. To a good administrator, your overseas experience is invaluable!

      Like

      • C. Garvey says:

        IB schools are hard to find in the USA, period. It’s just not a big trend yet, and not necessary.

        Like

        • lakelover says:

          Two out of every three IB schools in the world are in the United States. My home town high school in Minnesota had the program over 15 years ago, although it has stopped offering it due to its escalating costs. Most administrators will likely at least be familiar with it and know it to be a rigorous program. A science teacher with experience teaching courses of rigor – you haven’t hurt your possibilities by teaching overseas. As someone who has gone back and forth a bit, I also found that often I got an interview just because the people were interested in where I’d lived; once I was in, it was up to me to sell myself. Good luck, Tom, hope it works for you.

          Like

  18. Anita Horton says:

    Thank you, all of you, for your insights. I’m hoping to teach somewhere internationally in one year. I’m just about to complete my 11th year of teaching art at a private school in Texas and am so ready for the “next good thing”. Your comments mean so much. Thank you.

    Like

  19. I'm DOne. says:

    I entered the International School scene after years of teachng ESL. I planned to make it a career move until I saw how much of a sucker’s life it was. No relevant labor laws, contracts not worth the paper they were printed on, no unions, agents (ISS and S.A.) working solely in the schools’ favor and not giving a damn about the teachers, for-profit schools that put the dollar before students and teachers, megolomaniac Principals and sychophant devotees, secretly and overtly religious schools with a missionary agenda…on and on the list goes.

    Sure, there are supposedly a handful of good schools out there, but jobs at those schools are hard to come by and the competition is too fierce.

    I’ve recently decided to head home and give this game up. I’m done. It’s over. One less person to compete for the 6 good jobs. I am sure I am not the first to realise this and get out. Like I said, International teaching is a sucker’s life.

    Like

    • I'm DOne. says:

      Can I also add, once the travlel bug wears off, you’ll probably agree with me. 😉

      Like

      • Where in the World? says:

        I think you make a lot of good points here. I, like you, am heading home for similar reasons. I wish I could be quite so settled with it. I feel that education in my home country has it’s own set of problems, so I’m not looking forward to that either (assuming I can find work).

        Like

        • I'm done says:

          Yeah, we’ll I never said I was settled with it, but it feels right and is in the best interest of my family too. No school or job is ever ‘the last station on the track’. The best thing about home is that it is always there. Thank god we don’t have to stay in these developing countries but have the freedom to go home.

          Like

    • Monique says:

      When I posted I was going to say something about working non-union and contracts that aren’t honored overseas and the for profit schools, etc. What you say is absolutely true and I did feel some of this as well. I wish there were more “good” schools that were truly serious about education. I think as an American I also had a different perspective on this than the other expat teachers from other countries.

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  20. Anonymous says:

    I was raised in a military family, and then became a military wife. so travel is in my blood…..after our 4 kids were grown, we decided to take the plunge into international schools (admin and couns) and are enjoying the experience. We are sent home in the summers and live out of suticases at our kids’ homes. We promised them when we started this venture, that we’d come home for Christmas, so we have to budget for that! We see retirement looming in a few years, as we are vested in our home state, plus we are able to pay off more bills while overseas. Love the staff and students, plus the travel. Each school/country is unique with its pros and cons, but guess the travel bug is still there for us!

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  21. mitch says:

    I left to go International because i was in a log-jam at home, and saw it as a way to by-pass others also jammed on the career ladder (not much movement above us), and to return after a few years wth experience that would move me further up the career ladder faster. What happened was that we really enjoyed teaching overseas, and all that the job and the experience offered. We were lucky in that we managed to land jobs at some of the better international schools in Europe and Asia which helped, and decided to stay a while and never mind the scurry and flurry of a career back home. And the longer we stayed away the less we wanted to go home. Yes, there are some disadvantages, there are some negatives, but for us it has been a very positive experience and we do not regret it at all.

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  22. Me says:

    Public education in the US is a mess. Teaching overseas allows me to teach for critical thinking and challenge students to do their best without fear of reprisals. I am a global citizen and I prefer being around other global citizens.

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  23. Anonymous says:

    My wife is from the country I teach in. Working as an international school teacher was the natural career option.

    Like

  24. Ck says:

    While getting my ESL certification I became fascinated with people packing their belongings and moving to another country with the hope and dream of a better future. I couldn’t imagine how FAMILIES immigrated from one side of the world to the other WITHOUT housing, not knowing the local language, AND without a job. I thought to myself, self, if other people can immigrate to America and survive, surely I can survive in a foreign land with housing, benefits and a decent salary. Best decision I’ve ever made!

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  25. msrd says:

    When I first went to an International school it was the only job offer I had! That was in 1983. Since then, it just became more and more interesting to see other places. When I did try to establish myself in the USA, I found it difficult to find schools of high quality. The “No Child Left Behind” ruined any desire to work in public schools, and the educational standards in US schools were (and still are) on a devastating downward spiral.
    I am hoping to find a good position for the upcoming (2012-2013) school year.

    Like

  26. Anonymous says:

    I loved teaching for 10 years in the UK state sector, but behaviour management became more and more difficult I found. After my daughter was born I found I was spending little quality time with her so we decided I should take a career break. Needing somewhere affordable to do this we looked around and ended up in Kerala, south India. Had a great time, but financially it was a dead end. When I found an international school I went back to work and haven’t looked back. Now in 3rd placement, with 3 kids. I love the quality of life we have,no desire to go back to the UK.

    Like

  27. Fiona Jagose says:

    I see teaching internationally as a great solution to a limited job market back and poor salary back at home as well as a unique chance to have a more profound understanding of life in other cultures.
    Overseas there are genuine international schools and places which falsely claim that they are international schools so one must take time to establish which is which.
    Some people do not mind but if one wants to renew one’s original teaching certfification, then it is wise to work at schools which your country acknowledges as legitimate.

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  28. Anonymous says:

    My wife and I are both teachers, and our kids both started College, the house was too quiet, we spent our time in public school systems, had great experiences, but wanted change. So, we decided to try teaching abroad. We love it, and want to dedicate a few years here and maybe try some other places to see the world. But if our kids start having their own kids, that might take us back to the US.

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      I began teaching internationally as a way to experience something new and different. I am beginning my third assignment this August and am really looking forward to it. I plan to continue until retirement.

      Like

  29. Its-a-wonderful-world-we-share says:

    I began and am ending my school teaching career in overseas schools.

    My third year of teaching was in Istanbul, Turkey. The school was not that great (e.g., an under resourced bare concrete ‘foreign medium’ ediface), but what a privilege it was to live authentically in a different, very interesting culture, to be respected as a colleague and participate in the community! My husband (who is not a teacher) and I had both taken leave without pay from our normal employment, and after a year, career stability and our young family lured us back home. Our strong interest in world education remained.

    After a successful 20 year career in government education in my home country, including in leadership roles, I have returned with a very different perspective. My new school is in a developing country and I help my colleagues develop the constructivist, inquiry practices that are a given in less isolated education systems. This is proving a rich learning experience for all of us. Being in situ, teaching my own ‘open-door’ classes is a powerful model for genuinely implementing change. There are many, many challenges, but the refrain of my complaints is ‘and I can improve this situation, by …’ I have always been highly motivated by work, so my life here is centered around the school and Skyping family at home. The cultural landscape is being brought to me vicariously through colleagues. I cannot say yet where this adventure will lead, but certainly this rich experience in leadership and teaching would not have been available to me at home.

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  30. Alissandra Butzbach says:

    I grew up attending a international school and loved the experience. All the stories I heard my teachers tell about their adventures really grabbed my attention. I wanted my son to have the same experience I did as well.

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  31. Anonymous says:

    It’s just too dull to stay in one spot for more than five years!

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  32. One day at a time says:

    Loving Life’s experience with his/her son (posted above) is just what I mean. Teaching abroad is really what you make it!

    I always wanted to make a difference in someones life. Looking back at my own life for inspiration, a couple of wonderful teachers stood out more than anyone I could remember. I wanted to have an impact on someones life, show them their potential, help someone have a better life. Teaching seemed to be just that. 22 years later and I believe I am doing just that. For me it only takes one student that can see many paths in front of them instead of the one path commonly taken to make my whole academic year worth it.

    Teaching overseas and being part of the world has been very rewarding and eye opening. My own children have truly been brought up as world citizens and have learned much more than they would have from textbooks. Their lives aren’t about being proud Americans but about being proud world citizens. People that have patience, understanding, tolerance, and a determination to make changes in the world for the better.

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  33. Anne thomas says:

    I went overseas after doing 3 years of teaching in UK and I felt confident in my methodologies. I have an insatiable desire to travel but not just for holidays. I wish to have some cultural interaction with the local people when I am travelling. That’s why I chose to work overseas in the first place. As time went on however that changed to a genuine desire to actually be and operate in a foreign culture. I have experienced voluntary teacher training as well in my career and that was exclusively with the local people.There is much more scope for you putting forward your own ideas in international teaching and actually having some of them implemented. i now value the interplay and open exploration of methods as much as the travel.

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  34. Although I was always interested in going overseas to teach, the main (and honest) reason I did leave is that there were no jobs at home. In 1992 teaching jobs in Ontario were very hard to come by and often people have to join a supply list in order to get full time work…and those supply lists were closed in many of the cities I wanted to teach in. So I got a job in the Canadian Arctic (to get my two years experience) and then went to a job fair.

    Once I got a job in Mexico it was like a breath of fresh air: respect, resources, and a positive learning environment. Don’t get me wrong, we worked very hard and it wasn’t perfect (no place is), but the rewards of personal and professional growth were worth it. I have worked at 3 international schools and all came with long hours but great opportunities. Now I could not fathom working back home (and I did try it for two years), as teachers in Canada tend to work hard but with fewer benefits; it just felt like more of a grind.

    Teaching overseas is definitely a career and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity and privilege of working with such great people (admin, teachers AND students), in some fantastic places, and in wonderfully different cultures.

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  35. I grew up international. My dad was in the oil bussiness and my mom was a teacher. I attended and graduated from international school so for me this is “home.”

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  36. Maggie says:

    International teaching is challenging, exciting, rewarding, addictive. I wish I’d started 10 years sooner!

    Like

  37. Anonymous says:

    I had always wanted to teach internationally and when the chance came, I took it. It was a wonderful experience and I am so glad that I was able to do it. I would not have left but my husband developed health problems and we had to return to the US.

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  38. Anonymous says:

    I came overseas for an adventure, because I love to travel and because I wasn’t getting a job in the UK easily. I stayed because I met my husband and got married🙂

    Like

  39. Anonymous says:

    I wanted to learn more about the world having spent most of my childhood and worked in a rural area. I wanted adventure and I wanted to broaden my son’s outlook. Materialistic ad it sounds, I also wanted my son to have the privilege of a private school education. I worked in an independent school in the UK but couldn’t really afford to give my son the same advantages the children I taught got.

    Like

  40. Initally, I chose to go overseas because I wanted an adventure and a change from public school teaching in the US. I have now been overseas for 19 years, and it has proven to be the most enriching and rewarding experience, both personally and professionally. My only regret is I wish I had started earlier.
    Mary- Global Traveler and Educator

    Like

  41. Anonymous says:

    I had just reached a point where I could not take another year at the school I taught at in the U.S. I did manage to stick it out 11 years so I am vested for 50% retirement with them. Also, the lure of exotic lands was just too strong to resist.

    Like

  42. Anonymous says:

    I’ve basically done my career already in NZ, so at age 50 decided to ‘retire’ and enjoy my love of travelling combined with teaching. It was a good idea! Highly recommend it.

    Like

  43. anon says:

    Charity work drew me overseas, then it seemed sensible to live & work in Asia. However, I have faced new challenges, both at work (teaching a different subject) and personally (coping with cultural differences/language etc).
    The first year was hard but now I see the potential and freedom for self-development here, as well as the opportunities to influence and support young lives in a rapidly developing part of the world.

    Like

  44. Amirah says:

    Several reasons have me staying abroad.
    One is I am more valued as a teacher and the students are generally more eager to learn and better behaved.
    As a rather individual eccentric musician I flourish better in a foriegn country rather than at home where I do not seem to be seen or appreciated.
    I have been travelling since the age of 2 due family circumstances and I suppose it is just in my blood to be somewhat of a nomad.
    Very interested in languages and other peoples’ customs and traditions.
    It is a very horizon widening experience and certainly makes life so much more interesting.
    And most importantly the heat and bright sunny days!

    Like

  45. Anonymous says:

    As it turns out, I was burned out and ready to quit teaching altogether. Education in the US is becoming so substandard in terms of funding, assessment, lack of administrative and parental support that teaching has become somewhat of a joke. Teaching is about 10% of what you actually do and that is wrong. My wife suggested going overseas. We packed our bags, took our dog, and headed to Venezuela. I must admit, I hated it for the first year. I had never really traveled and bit off more than I could chew. However, I slowly learned to adapt, realized that we have a great quality of life, and we could save huge sums of money compared to what we did back home. Needless to say, we are about to wrap up our fourth year here. I’ve decided I really enjoy teaching and teaching internationally, but if I do move home, I will be changing careers. I’m hoping to make a career by staying over seas. My boss once said,”Once you drink from the Nile, you will eventually come back.” I find that to be very true of the international lifestyle.

    Like

  46. Anonymous says:

    PS. I totally agree with Takethetrain, above. Especially re the toxic nature of US schools. Maybe I’m burned out.

    Like

  47. Anonymous says:

    I went to be with my Asian partner, now ex. I wanted a change from fussy prep schools in the US and definitely got that! The kids I taught here were sweet and respectful, very fresh, many lazy rich kids but also LOTS of motivated workers. However both schools I worked for had serious problems, w/legal issues, bad admins, hiring/firing practices, standards, and general insanity. I’m heading home because it’s just too hard to live alone here without speaking the language, but the experience changed my life, broadened my horizons!

    Like

  48. Several reasons:

    1. Quality of life / cost of living balance. While the Bay Area has the highest quality of living, all things considered (climate, culture, people, natural beauty, organic food, world class universities, etc.), that I’ve experienced after living in all parts of the continental U.S. and Germany, the cost of living there has become somewhat prohibitive on a teacher’s salary. With low to zero taxes in many countries overseas, and significantly lower cost of living, especially food and housing, while the gross salaries generally cannot match those in the States, the net salaries are superior. I’ve still not found a place that matches the quality of life of the Bay Area, but the overall QOL/COL balance / value is better in some places overseas.

    Drawbacks: Many of the things that have been gained after long effort at least in parts of the U.S., such as an incredible variety of fresh organic food, recycling, beautiful local, regional and national parks, air pollution regulation, etc. have not yet been achieved, or there is little to no awareness of, in many countries. I miss these things.

    2. Interesting people. Both the wonderful people of other cultures / lands, and the generally hip teachers who choose the IS path, make relationships overseas very interesting. Being away from family and old friends also increases the sweetness of those relationships when we have the precious short time together either during their visits with me or mine with them.

    Drawbacks: The language barrier can be formidable in many countries overseas. While English is often spoken by at least a few, I miss being able to get into a meaningful, even deep, conversation with the taxi driver, store clerk, neighbor, new friend. Not that such conversations happened all that often in the States, but they could. Overseas often they simply cannot, because of my lack of linguistic intelligence in the area of quick mastery of multiple foreign languages.

    3. The students and the system. As an educator by vocation this is the most important factor in my enjoyment of working in the IS world. In the States the current educational environment is almost universally toxic and accordingly ill. The entire paradigm that has been adopted by the educational community in the US since the “A Nation At Risk” report of the early 80s is anathema to true education, i.e., “to draw forth.” An absurd business model has been placed on the art and science and craft of education in the name of “accountability” (as if any other professionals are held responsibility for the success of their clients, and education being the most complex professional activity going), and this has placed a straightjacket on creative freedom and passion that are at the heart of the educational process, stifling true critical thinking, etc. etc. One could discuss this tragedy at length. What is a miracle is that the hundreds of thousands of dedicated, wonderful teachers in the States continue to do such an excellent job with their students in spite of the conditions of oppression and teaching to the test that currently prevail there.

    In the IS community it is still possible to find schools that have not gotten caught up in the quagmire of feeling guilty for exercising freedom in education, knowing that children are not factory goods that can be stamped with information and spit out of schools as good workers and citizens, but that each child is a riddle of the universe waiting for her/his teachers to tease that riddle out, unravel the mystery that each enfolds, for the benefit of humanity and the world. As an educator this possibility is worth more than gold!

    Of course there is good to be found even in the current environment prevailing in the U.S. and elsewhere. We need to be more accountable as professionals to our intentions, to our professional values, to our students and their families and each other as colleagues. We need to be ever smarter and economical in our work, as knowledge explodes all around us, increasing exponentially, and as the world is a different place year by year. If we glean this gift from the current situation, while staying focused on the actual goal of education, then we will have the best of the best!

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      IS in Taiwan are all over the map and can be very funky. I would ONLY teach abroad again in a good quality reputable school. Otherwise the trials and tribes can be insane. I totally agree with everything you have said here, well put!

      Like

  49. Never going back says:

    Before my wife and I were married so many years ago, we talked about going overseas. It seemed like an exciting way to merge our teaching careers with our growing passion for travel. It was almost a covenant that we made, a promise to ourselves that someday we would do this. It took many years for that to happen. What finally spurred us to action was the encouragement of friends who had taught overseas and the declining teaching conditions in the schools of Washington state during the post 9-11 years.

    It took me less than a year at my first assignment in Japan to decide that I was never going back. I enjoy the cultural immersion experience and I love the international mix of students most of whom are inherently motivated and a joy to teach. I get to work with talented and dedicated teachers who share the same spirit of adventure. The friendships we have formed seem deeper. I never thought I could feel such a strong sense of belonging so far away from my home base.

    Paradoxically, even though my wife and I took a cut in pay to move overseas, I believe that we are better off financially than we would have been if we had finished our careers in the states.

    Like

  50. Ben D. Morris says:

    I decided to start teaching overseas because of a one-year stint I did as a missionary in Ukraine. this mission work was a bit out of the ordinary in that we were introducing a Christian ethics curriculum to schools and mentoring local teachers in its use. After a few years back in the States, Irealized that life and work overseas was for me. I remembered that I seemed to thrive better, both professionally and socially, overseas than at home. I plan to continue teaching overseas for as long as anyone wishes to hire me!

    Like

  51. Conny Chiwa says:

    As a third culture kid I feel and felt more at ease with like minded people or at least people who were more wordly or broadminded, than the people of my home culture. After graduating from university and teaching in my home culture, I was desperate to get back home overseas. I have lived overseas for more than three quarters of my life and can’t see myself settling anywhere for too long, although I have lived in my current country of abode for the past nineteen years but in different cities. To each his own I suppose. I am very happy living this type of life and my own children look set to follow in my footsteps by not settling in their country of passport either but rather being global nomads in their respective careers.

    Like

  52. Monique says:

    I initially left because I wanted a change from teaching public school in the US and wanted to travel. I worked in Korea and had a wonderful experience though there were tough times too. After my 2 years there I was steps away from being offered a job in Istanbul. I still regret not pursuing it though I returned home for job security and a relationship. After having been back in the U.S. for the last 6 years I am proud once again to be a public school teacher where I teach kids from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. It was never my dream to teach rich kids in private schools though I would travel overseas again if I had the chance and the school was right. Having reflected at the benefits of both public schools at home and the schools overseas my impression is that teachers here (at least the ones I work with) take education much more seriously than overseas. Maybe it’s because that experience is much more transient? I found that many teachers I worked with overseas just liked to party a lot on their time off and didn’t seem to take teaching that seriously. If I could find a really good school somewhere that is well run and teachers are treated well and are really committed to cutting edge trends in education like we are here I would consider going overseas again.

    Like

    • S says:

      I’m just getting ready to leave on my first international teaching job. However I want to chime in on your comment because most people are so negative about the US public schools. I’ve been at my US public school for 15 years and absolutely LOVE it! It’s a great school in a great district in Washington state. It’s not perfect but I believe the students in my school are getting a really good education from committed educators. We’ll see what I think after I compare it to a few international schools.

      Like

      • Monique says:

        S–Thank you! Yes, it’s much harder here but also very satisfying when you reach those kids that struggle. I live in Wisconsin and we have a HORRIBLE situation here with our Governor taking away all our collective bargaining rights as well as cutting already low (by cost of living standards) salaries. I won’t turn this into a political discussion right now but those that know what is going on in public education in Wisconsin and in this country are very disheartened, burnt out, angry and feel under appreciated. This makes many of us want to get out right now and very recently I’ve seriously considered packing up and going back overseas again. I really love my job but it is getting harder and harder each day. As you mentioned we have a great school district with very committed teachers but with what is happening in this country to destroy even the best schools many of us are considering other options. Now I have a house and more responsibilities with my dog or the decision may be easier. I think you will really enjoy international teaching if you end up in a good school. Good luck and have fun! I traveled to over 12 countries in 2 years and it’s still the highlight of my life!🙂

        Like

  53. Anna says:

    Initially I wanted to make money to pay off my student loan and then I went home somewhat disenchanted with overseas life, I was in the Middle East. I got home and got 2 schools that were as bad as anything I’d seen in the Middle East and decided that where once my own countries school system worked for me it no longer did so I came back to international teaching and have never regretted it. Even in countries that were hard to live in eg developing nations, it has always been a privilege to be able to live in another country, experience it and teach its young people.

    Like

  54. susan rinker says:

    I went overseas 40 years ago, and after having been evacuated
    from Beirut, my first year, with an incredible overseas teaching
    experience, never looked back . My career has been such a rich one, mainly in Asian American/international schools, not only with outstanding colleagues, and students but also with an introduction to 5 countries and cultures. I had professional growth opportunities and networks that I could never have had in the United States. I would not trade one day of those experiences, with working in US public schools.

    Like

  55. PushnPull says:

    It was a combination of push and pull factors. I wanted a big change from what I was experiencing teaching in Canada, and at the same time I wanted an adventure in some different countries to learn a new culture, language, and have opportunites to travel. Ultimately I believe teaching is still teaching where ever you go, but at least when it is abroad, you can experience a culture fully by working side by side with the people, and getting to know, by and large, interesting colleagues who have the same goals as you to experience something different and have an open mind, although I can’t make a blanket statement and say that is true of all expats. At any rate, I could not have said I would have had the adventures and expereinces I had if I had just stayed put in Canada.

    Like

  56. Jane says:

    I left the UK because of the mess education was getting into and to further my love of travel. Now, 30+ years later, I cannot see myself going back. I still love travelling and I am a fan of the IB PYP. I’ve made many friends all over the world, and travelled to or lived in, a wide variety of countries. Teaching and travelling are my life and what better way to do them both?

    Like

  57. Derek says:

    In my case I get far less money than working at home, but the money I earn here goes much further, so motivation for working here is not financial. It’s lifestyle, climate, fantastic kids, easy community, cheap beer. What more can a bloke ask for?

    Like

  58. Wanderer says:

    It was always my intention to teach abroad for at least 10yrs. Now in my 8th year and want to go home but the state of the economy keeps me away. Now thinking of doing a few years in the Middle East where salaries are high and few costs in order to save and go back to UK with a nice chunk of money.

    Like

  59. nickduggan says:

    It just appealed more than PGCE, job in the UK, mortgage, for ever…..then I found overall better students, interesting and different cultures and things to do on the weekend – I have just moved to New Zealand which to me is ‘international’ and struggling a little with the suburbia I never wanted in the UK but the travel is great! time will tell….

    Like

  60. Overseas Career says:

    I left Canada because the education system was becoming ever more stressful and less rewarding, more work for less pay, no resources to do a good job. Working in Saudi and Bolivia were both very interesting and rewarding experiences, a great way to finish off a long career in education. So glad to have done it – now my daughter wants to teach overseas!

    Like

  61. Sharon says:

    I grew up overseas (adult TCK) and always dreamed of returning to the expat lifestyle. It didn’t become a reality until my husband wanted to retire. I saw international teaching as a way of continuing to travel overseas, and also to raise our then 9-year daughter in the same lifestyle that I’d grown up with. In many ways I feel as if I’ve come home and now realize that I’ve actually been homesick for many years!

    Like

    • ceegee says:

      sounds like me! 12 schools, 17 moves and 13 years overseas as a TCK. i took my first teaching job overseas for this coming fall and am struggling to divest myself of all we have, and taking the scary leap of faith that the net will appear for my husband who’s leaving his job to accompany me. we’re taking our 13 year old son overseas and expect our college aged daughters to visit. i want to return “home” as well.

      Like

  62. Anonymous says:

    I decided to teach internationally again for many reasons. Not the least of which boredom and disgust with public schools.

    Like

  63. Overseas forever! says:

    I initially began teaching overseas for the adventure but it has now become my life. I knew I wanted to teach the IB and that would be the key to a rewarding and successful career overseas. That has proven to be quite true! I have lived in Europe, the Middle East and now Asia (Singapore after several years in Hong Kong) and wouldn’t return to teach in my home states of California and Oregon on a bet! The depressing decline of American secondary education will unfortunately continue for the foreseeable future. I would rather teach overseas!

    Like

  64. Anonymous says:

    Had always planned to go overseas with our family but, the misery of teaching I the public school system certainly helped to firm up our resolve. We have never looked back and love the teaching environment overseas. Now, instead of counting the days to retirement, I know that only age and health will end this adventure.

    Like

  65. Elayne says:

    Originally I was looking for a change both professionally and in my personal situation. I love travel and meeting and mixing with other cultures. In my 14 years overseas I have had met wonderful people and students from all walks of life, and enjoyed the challenges of daily life and teaching overseas. I think being an ‘expat’ is almost addictive and have more in common with other expats than with people ‘at home’. Although it’s wonderful and almost a honeymoon time to return home for visits I’m really not sure if I can go back and settle in one country in the future.

    Like

  66. Anonymous says:

    I followed my husband as a trailing spouse but managed to develop a fantastic career overseas. Now I am the one who is keeping us overseas. I can’t face going back to the UK so hopefully we’ll be overseas at least until our children have finished school and possibly until retirement.

    Like

  67. Scott says:

    I was fed up with teaching in the UK – too much bureaucracy, lack of support, large classes etc. I needed a break personally too. I thought I’d be gone for two years. That was 17 years ago…still haven’t gone back, and won’t now. Home is where I am.

    Like

  68. loving life says:

    My son completed first grade at home and has lived in five different countries, learned parts of five languages with 8 years of Chinese. He won the EARCOS Global Citizenship award last year, along with a $500 grant for a project he is involved with in an orpahanage in Cambodia. He will graduate in a month with the IB diploma. I could never have done this as a single parent in the States. Moving overseas was the best decision I made. I hear my sister talk about teaching in the States and I feel so fortunate, even when things get difficult overseas. It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure.

    Like

  69. Anonymous says:

    I drifted into international schools via TEFL whilst taking a break; I could not stand the attitudes of British students and parents any more, and also wanted to travel. Now I feel so far out of touch I do not think I could successfully go back to a mainstream school in the UK.

    Like

  70. Bill says:

    I left as soon as I got my BEd and never looked back. Best decision I could have ever made. I was looking to explore the world, learn about new cultures and languages, work in schools that value teachers and provide a stimulating work environment. Next year, will be my 4th international school and my 12th year overseas. Sometimes I think about going back for a couple of years but I really do enjoy this life too much to do so.

    Like

  71. Anonymous says:

    I started as a Peace Corps volunteer, so wanted to return to living history, rather than just reading about history. Daily life overseas is more of a challenge, as is teaching life overseas
    . Students overseas are highly motivated and understand the importance of education to their future aspirations.

    Like

  72. Mike says:

    I love traveling and being overseas allows me to travel. I plan to stay overseas because I love the people and lifestyle of Central and South America.

    Like

  73. Tammy says:

    I wanted to learn more about teaching as a profession in other parts of the world. This, in turn, would allow me to travel, meet people and renew my commitment to teaching. I am most looking forward to this as a new part of my teaching career.

    Like

  74. At it for awhile says:

    I always planned to teach overseas eventually, but the budget in my school district in the US sort of accelerated my plans a bit. And a good thing, too! I’ve learned something new at every school and become a better educator than I think I ever would have back home. It hasn’t always been easy, but well worth it.

    Like

  75. Overseas is me says:

    I wanted to raise my kids abroad and thought I’d only be overseas for only two years. Now I can’t see myself returning to my home country. I enjoy the academic freedom, autonomy, motivated students, and the ability to travel the world. Learning about other cultures is a great bonus as well. I know consider myself an international educator until I retire.

    Like

    • Trav45 says:

      Yeah, same here. I initially thought I’d do my two years, then go back home. Thirteen years later…

      Like

    • Anonymous says:

      Same with us. We wanted an alternative to sending our son to middle school and high school in LA with diminishing educational opportunities. This is our second year abroad and we are not looking to return either!

      Like

  76. mmassey67 says:

    I was looking for a change, both personally and professionally. You seem to end up meeting more like minded people overseas as opposed to in the UK where everyone seems to be just ‘doing a job’.

    Like

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