Does Teaching Overseas Help or Hurt Your Career?

career42987091With the current academic year underway, many international schools will soon be asking teachers to declare if they intend to stay for the upcoming 2014-15 school year, or plan to move on.

Moving on can mean staying in the international circuit and advancing to a new school, or returning home to teach. From my perspective of having experienced both, I would say continuing to move within the international circuit is far less taxing than formulating plans to return home. The biggest hurdle I experienced moving home was securing employment in a public school after a decade overseas.

A colleague from the UK once told me that working overseas was a distinct plus for them when they returned home. They said employers there liked to see the overseas experience on an applicant’s CV. I did not found this to be the case in the U.S. As a matter of fact, I think to American employers, overseas experience makes you look a bit “flaky” or could this just be American provincialism? When I hear the words, “I’d love to hear about your experiences in Africa, Saudi Arabia, Romania, etc.”, I know I can say good bye to that job.

If you’ve experienced moving home after years of teaching overseas, ISR invites you to Share how the overseas teaching experience impacted your domestic career: Was it positive or negative, or of no consequence in the eyes of a potential employer back home?

If you’re contemplating leaving the international circuit and returning home for the first time, we encourage you to visit this Blog and pose your own questions as they may apply to your individual situation. Learning from colleagues who have already made the move will be most beneficial.

Teachers Keeping Teachers Informed is what ISR is All About

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93 Responses to Does Teaching Overseas Help or Hurt Your Career?

  1. Anonymous says:

    I think it would depend very much on whom you were submitting your application. Many public school administrators do not know much about the international school circuit. Having a knowledgeable principal or regional HR admin is a big difference. Teaching in a more recognized IBO curriculum school should help. It would also depend very much on where you taught. I know there is less credibility on Asian ESL schools for example. However if you are straight out of university and that is all you can find, great. Why not? It would also depend greatly on the demand in the area you are looking. Obviously if you do not have a local license or a local reference that will not help. But that does not matter if the school is international or the other side of the country.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Is it possible to find a job in Canada/US in any other field (like social services) after been teaching abroad for over a year?

  3. Scott Campbell says:

    I found after returning to Australia after 10 years leading schools in Asia that my job prosepcts and offers were very slim. Admitedly I am over 50 now but ended up back in the classroom in the NSW government sector. My days of travelling to international conferences and beautiful holidays are now substituted with house work and a very narrow minded parochial sytem. I had to return home for family reasons but for those who do not have to I would recommend staying away and enjoying. I still miss it after 4 years.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I think it depends on the country you come from or province. Coming from Canada that is in worst horrible teaching situation possible. International experience is very good depending on what province. Coastal provinces seem to like international experience. Interior provinces want local experience. Ironic because Canada is excepting immigrants like no tomorrow. Abroad it really depends-start at the age group you want to teach in nice safe country and travel from there. Once you have the ropes of teaching perhaps try international circuit that is highly demanding. I tried going back to Canada with over ten years of experience just sit on sub lists or apply to more than 450 jobs in Canada alone with 2 interviews. In the next five yeas it will change but I doubt I be here to see that. The economy is stable but there is a serious problem in teaching, nursing and PHD in here. I would rather base myself in another English speaking country where teachers are respected.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I was a Lecturer of Speech Communication at Texas A&M University before I went over to teach English in Japan (1989-1994). I really enjoyed the adventure and I still think about my Japanese journy all of these years later with great fondness. However, I had one heck of a time finding anything but adjunct work at universities here in the USA. I finally got discouraged after three years and went over to Saudi Arabia for one year to replenish my depleted savings (1998-1999). I was about to accept a position over in Kuwait when out of nowhere I was offered a position teaching social studies at a middle school in my home town in Wisconsin. I taught at the middle school for seven years before I finally attained a teaching position at a college as a Instrucor of Speech Communication in 2006. I’m now an Associate Professor and looking at retirement in 7 years or so. Teaching English is a
    crap shoot: good memories but a detour from your career. The English teaching circuit is really a 1-5 year playground for most people.
    crap shot in many ways. I have great memories and made many cool friends from other countries. However, on the other hand, I think my choices detoured my career and life by 17 years. I also regret the loss of pension funds and social security savings.

    overseas is a mixed grab bag, really. Great memories but in my case I feel it really detoured me from my ‘real ‘ife’ and career route for roughly 17 years. That’s 17 years of lost pension and social security benefits.

    • Jaded NYorker says:

      I am returning home after only one year abroad. I have read your about your experience for over a year and it was your words that resonated in my brain over and over again about the lost pension and ss benefits.

      I left at the mid point of my career. (I’m turning 40 in 4 days.) I too can attribute leaving overseas as a “midlife crisis”. I’m glad I did it. Will certainly revisit the experience after retiring, but goodness….! Repatriation is the most heart wrenching and difficult experience to undergo! It really is like starting all over again, and it makes me feel as if my 13 years in my home meant nothing. My plan is now to rent, and purchase again at the 15 year mark with a 15 year mortgage instead of a 30.

      Lol I can always live with my mother in law for a year!😉

  6. Swiss teacher says:

    I would like to divert the conversation away from just finding a job, to professional development. Depending on your school overseas you could have limited access to conferences. There could also be a disadvantage of being overseas in terms of advancing your career with further education. There is cheaper and more accessible avenues to getting an advanced degree at home rather than overseas. There are some un-certified summer programs for international school administration, but they are not recognized in the home countries. These programs are expensive and they are not as thorough as a full-time university program. Part of the reason I left international teaching was for more professional development opportunities in the US. If I wanted to get a PhD in my subject or in Education I couldn’t do that overseas.

    • staying abroad says:

      It’s true that if you want to work in the US, certainly US degrees are preferred. But cheaper? That would be hard to argue. It’s a main reason that even my BA was done outside the US- Ireland, in fact. And I would take the UK/Ireland over the US for a PhD too– unless, as above, you need the US contacts, which is mostly what the whole shebang is about.

      • Swiss teacher says:

        It isn’t possible to pay for or attend a UK school for Masters or PhD if you are working in another country. The advantage of getting a degree in an English speaking country is you can work while you do it. When I was in Rome, I had no opportunities for college work. Also, my school didn’t pay for course work and my salary was too low for me to pay for it myself. That is why teaching in my home country, the US, was a more feasible location to continue my education and work at the same time.

    • brian says:

      Plenty of people follow higher education routes such as PhD’s overseas. Look at the cost of French Higher Education compared to British for example. 330 Euro for a masters at Nantes University compared to 5000 Pounds at Edinburgh.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I think part of the problem in NA is so many first year Teachers who cannot find a job go and teach English in Korea or a similar job. Not “normal” classroom teaching. Since it is or used to be easy to find such jobs people think it is lame. This kind of teaching good or bad is automatically associated with overseas teaching. A lot of people do not actually know about international teaching such as the IBO or similar.

  8. nahcuur says:

    I think it depends so much on which country you are returning to. My colleagues from the UK have said that there are always seem to be teaching jobs back home (although it will take a little while to settle back in and get that job), and I have heard similar things about NZ. I am Canadian and as stated above, it is very difficult to get full time work as a teacher there. Most people that I trained with are only now on 3/4 or part time contracts (not continuing) five years after our program concluded, and your continuity within the same district as student teacher, teacher on call, and finally fully employed teacher carries a lot of weight. Job hunting in this situation after a number of years overseas would be quite difficult, I think. I can easily imagine the CV going to the bottom of the pile when they see the overseas experience. Although one never knows, it could be the thing that makes you stand out from the crowd? If I were to go home and try to find a job, I think that I would only be employable by either private schools, especially those that teach the IB, or First Nations schools in isolated locations. I am enjoying my time overseas to the fullest and am not eager to return home except for visits, but it’s interesting to consider what the possibilities would be. Very worthwhile conversation and thanks for everyone for their contributions!

  9. Anonymous says:

    I took the plunge to teach at a school in China several years ago after spending 6 years post children doing supply work and maternity covers, searching for a full time role. I returned back to the U.K. last year and got a full time post within 4 months. Theres a lot of EAL children in the school and they were really keen on my skills in this area. I now co-ordinate EAL sessions throughout the school. I only spent a couple of years overseas and I personally believe it can only enhance your career!

    • Kath says:

      That’s really encouraging to hear! I am returning to the UK in December after 2 years in UAE and 3 years in SA, I’ve had mixed responses from employers but am very hopeful as there are SO MANY opportunities in the UK. Are you enjoying teaching back home again?

    • Anonymous says:

      Did your time in China get counted toward your years of experience back home… (higher salary)

  10. sharon says:

    I have just returned home after 4 years overseas and I definitely think it hurt my career. I had no PD in those 4 years, no up to date technology and basically both schools were total messes. I think the principals worked overseas because they would never get a job in the US. Now I have sent out over 40 resumes and not one response. Part of the problem was getting documentation for NCLB from my last US school and getting everything perfect and uploaded on line. It’s just been difficult. If you come home get everything professionally scanned, get your TB test and fingerprints before you start applying. This is the first school year in 21 years I don’t have a teaching job, but after being overseas I am not sure I even want to teach anymore. I just found it so unethical and found that every single thing I was told was a lie. I am very happy I made the choice to come home. I loved the adventure and travel, but not the jobs. OH, and ps, no unemployment because I was overseas.:/

  11. I have been teaching abroad since 2000. I had to go back to the U.S. for a year in 2007 just, before the crisis hit. I wouldn’t go back again. I’m even making plans to retire abroad why go back when your own countrymen treat you like a foreigner.

  12. Anonymous says:

    International schools, by and large, are nothimg short of businesses. Of course they do notcare about teachimg licenses or certifications, because they want to slide people in and out of positions fluidly. Inmost cases, the international circuit is about making a profit first, and education is just a vehicle to make that happen.

    The public system school in the US cared (and I say cared, past tense) about licenses and certifications because teachers were viewed as experts in their field. Schools had to choose a candidate certified in their teaching area. This made schools more educationally solvent so a person could enjoy teaching their subject for the duration of a 30+ year career.

    Now with the accelerated movement toward privatization of schools nationwide, public schools have very limited funding. They are now forced to grab the cheapest teacher for that job. That is unfortunately not and overseas experienced teacher, nor a stateside experienced teacher, but a teacher very new to the profession.

    I think, from what I am reading here, is an edge of resentment and bitterness from both sides. Stateside teachers see the people coming back to the schools here in a very compromised economy as job takers… While the oversees teachers who are returning are resentful because they see that stateside teachers are preferred. Neither of these perspectives reflect what is the reality of education in the US at this time. We are facing an economic crises to mass proportions that we have not experienced since The Great Depression. Changes in the US education front are happening so quickly. 2 years is like a lifetime now. People returning overseas are experiencing a completely different landscape than they recall even a few short years ago.

    What I am reading here is that people are resentful about tenure, and job security for OTHER people, yet feel entitled to it for themselves. Yet, those rights, were fought for by people who remained here all along, (yet those right have now quickly dwindled.)

    Money is now driving the choice for the best candidate here in the US just like it always has, for the most part, in international schools. International schools in many-most cases is privatized education, and the overseas teachers are finding themselves squeezed out. Many of the teachers on the circuit viewed teaching at home just as a place to go when all else fails, but not a place to enjoy a career, and with a booming economy at the time, people who wanted to returm were able to com back. Now that everyone is being squeezed out of home, and the overseas teachers are finding themselves squeezed out here, resentment is kicking in.

    The sad reality is people entered teaching to teach children. And a good teacher will want to do that with whatever group os in front of them. Keep your focus on the children.

    • David says:

      Anonymous makes some good points here. I would say that 80% of international schools are for profit institutions. Those who have a link with the home countries embassy or are non profit make up the rest of the 20%. RUN from the 80%. I have worked in both, and I will NOT work in another for profit international school where I am treated like a piece of meat EVER AGAIN. Once was enough. Those who are working in for profit schools abroad, I feel for you. For those of you who are contemplating teaching abroad, look carefully at how prospective schools are funded. If it’s a for profit, private institution, more than likely you will be treated poorly compared to US/Western standards. And it WILL BE about making money.

      As for anonymous’ comments on what’s going on in US, he or she, is probably right about cost. Which is funny because when I re-entered the teaching profession no one wanted me because I didn’t have any experience post certificate and I was competing against recently laid off teachers with experience from NYCity, Vegas, Miami, LA, etc. Funny how times change.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you David!! I wrote that quickly and hadn’t the time to proofread. Lot’s of errors. Thanks for taking the time to wade thru.

        I agree w u. For teachers it should be about finding the BEST fit as much as possible. There are awesome schools in US and in the “circuit.” And there are horrible ones in both as well. Ppl generalize US schools are like this, etc. International schools are like this. When applying for any teaching position the candidate has to look at the school as its own entity and ask themselves is THIS a school I want to work at for the qualities, elements, of the school. Thanks.

  13. Dave says:

    Totally negative! I spent a dozen years overseas. I was a substitute teacher and paid t.a. in the Canadian public school system before going to Asia. I went in part because I was told it would strengthen my application for any of the one-year teachers college programs I wanted to get into so I could become qualified to teach full time. When I got back to Canada with 12 years of full time, practical experience I was LESS qualified! One-year teachers college programs no longer exist. Two years plus upgrading my dated course credits for a year makes the “universities” more dough. The very same subbing and t.a. jobs felt they needed a fully papered teacher rather than fully capable. Even teaching ESL was out because my TESL certificate did not meet with Canada TESL expectations. Those expectations are 2 grand. So NOW I have fallen back on the career that got me through university: security. 15 years of teaching know how walking around empty buildings and turning keys.

    • Curious says:

      Dave (and other Canadians),

      It seems like the job market for teachers in Canada has ALWAYS been bad. I have met so many Canadians over the years who could not find jobs in their country and who were forced to go overseas (or remain long term subs for years and years in Canada). After reading your response, it makes me, once again, question why: a) many Canadian teachers want to enter a field where few jobs seem to exist in their country (unless they want to go overseas) and b) how universities and schools can continue to encourage students to become teachers when it appears few jobs exist (common sense and the Canadian media would seem to alert people that the job market there is not good). None of us expected to get rich teaching and we are following a career path we love. However, it seems like it’s more likely that you will get struck by lightning in Canada than get a decent job in education. Just my thoughts. Good luck.

  14. Sojourner says:

    This is a revealing and important discussion for overseas teachers. I can relate to many of the responses. I had a lot of difficulty getting a job back in the US partially because I wasn’t in the US when the schools were interviewing. I was offered jobs at international schools and other private schools in the US. I am not sure if it is my age or international experience which has made my a less attractive public school candidate.
    I think if you want to come back to the states and work in public education,it would be advantages to switch to administration or curriculum. I think working in international schools is an excellent education for curriculum.
    I came back to buy property and to stop living like a college student. I wanted to make sure I had some investments in order for my retirement. I probably will teach overseas again.
    I like having choices and I don’t want to feel like I can’t go back to my home country as if I were in exile. I also like knowing that I am welcome back overseas again if a good opportunity arose. My overseas has made me a better teacher, but sometimes in ways that my public school administrators and colleagues don’t see or appreciate.

  15. long abroad says:

    You’re lucky you even got a rejection response! I think we have to face the fact that the longer abroad we are, the less ‘American’ we may seem, and that we are thus perceived as a threat somehow. I know I can’t do ‘politically correct’ anymore because working abroad has allowed me to see too many variables.

  16. T says:

    After teaching in Kuwait for 13 year I returned home to the US mid-west and found it difficult to land a teaching job. Despite 9 years of public school experience, a Masters in Spec. Ed., and licensed to teach Language Arts 5-12, Historical Perspectives 5-12, Psychology 7-12, and ED/LD K-12, as well as excellent letters of recommendation from schools in the states and Kuwait – there were no takers. Like others who have posted, I sent out many, many applications and went on interviews. Like others, I often felt that I was only invited to interview out of the curiosity of meeting with someone who had taught overseas and in the Middle East.
    Finally, with this school year already started, I was offered a job. Luckily, teaching overseas toughened me up to deal with the stress of starting off later than everyone else and my department members are super supportive and helpful. I empathize with those returning teachers who are still struggling to find a position and how demoralizing it can be to again hear, ” We have selected another candidate for the position.”

  17. Anonymous says:

    I moved back to Canada after teaching in Kuwait. I loved teaching abroad and would have kept going but I became worried about the long term… pension etc…I asked several teachers I met abroad about their plan to save up for retirement and NO ONE was willing to answer me??? Back in Canada all I can find are part time contracts. I am seriously considering going abroad again but I need to figure out how to save money.

    • CJC says:

      In the U.S. they are starting to tamper with promised pension plans. In Rhode Island this year everyone, including teachers already done teaching and retired, have thad their pension dropped from 80% of end pay to 70%. Imagine having made your retirement plan based on 80% and all of a sudden having 10% taken. I opted to close out my accumulated pension in that state when I found that out. I have since reinvested it on my own. I am keeping a close eye on the changes in the other states where I had previously worked. I was in other work prior to teaching and as of 1980, Reaganomics forced the idea of 401(k)s and you just have to save on your own for retirement. It has been a disaster. Recent polls are saying that 66% of babyboomers are underfunded. The future is not bright for Americans. I think being out here where many schools have a pension of 5% or more annually is just as safe a risk as anywhere.

      • Curious says:

        CJC, This would be my worst fear if I were teaching in the U.S. The only major negative I have ever seen with international teaching (vs. public school) is the lack of a pension. It’s all on me to save for my retirement. I need to be a displined investor. Social Security? it won’t help me much since I have spent much of my career overseas. The only reason to move back home would be for a pension. However, the advantages of living overseas seem to outweigh this reason. I have been able to save more that I could ever save before, and I would not trade my experiences or lifestyle for anything. I stress too much sometimes about having enough money, but I am living my life to the fullest and will have no regrets. I am not crazy about the direction that education has taken in the U.S. At the same time, there are good and bad schools everywhere.

  18. Anonymous says:

    This is all so depressing. Going home for us would not be about money or career but about having the opportunity to participate in mundane family events like graduations, weddings and birthdays. It would be about tailgating, life long friends and ease of life. We’ve loved our time overseas but having a house at home has made us less satisfied with this lifestyle’s nomadic nature. Perhaps it’s a nesting instinct, perhaps it’s about getting old or perhaps we’d go home and be unhappy. We did not leave the US because we were unhappy with our schools. We had rich and satisfying careers but wanted travel and could not afford it at home. Now the luster is off the at the thought of boarding a plane. Maybe the key is to go home with enough savings that you could be content with a job that simply offers health care and one wouldn’t have to worry about saving – just living. Everyone has to make the decisions for themselves so we should all leave the judgement language off of this forum.

    • Anonymous says:

      I understand where you are coming from. I wasn’t happy in the US. It just isn’t my cup of tea.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is probably the best response on the forum. So many teachers leave the U.S because of some bad experience. I had a great teaching career in the states but wanted something different for a while. Would I go back? Yes, I plan to in a few years. Life in the states is more than my job. It’s about family, friends, missing my culture, foods, just being and living a life that I always imagined with my family.

      • Maimuna says:

        I want to go abroad for my kid and the experience. I’m a Muslim so I won’t have problems with the culture. Also for me there are more family friendly and ladies only activities that I can enjoy in the Middle East. Although it is hard to leave behind friends and family! I think you have to write a list of the pros and cons and see if it’s worth it. For me it is as I’m from the uk and in London EAL experience is worth it’s weight in gold! Also as a woman with three children I can have 15 years without NI contributions and still get a pension and I have 6 years left! The travel opportunities that would be more affordable from there are another reason.

        Other than the professional development issues and leaving friends and family I don’t see issues but at the end of the day no matter what anyone says you have to do what is right for you.

  19. Aussie says:

    I returned to Australia last year after several years overseas in wonderful jobs. I have had great trouble finding an admin post at my level since I returned. I was Deputy Principal in a very large P to 12 school. I don’t know what I thought before I came home…… That my vast experience would be valued and considered an asset. Not the case. Apparently in my time away I had forgotten how to teach. Even when I applied for jobs below my level I did not always get an interview. i do have a nice job now, but I am so disappointed in this narrow minded attitude that I have accepted a job overseas as a Principal in a lovely school. I will go where my skills are valued and appreciated.

  20. Jon Cristofer Miller says:

    1. Q: “Why go home?” A: Chinese and other governments don’t want people over 60… or 58.. or 53.. or 45. Otherwise, I would still be abroad, but having the government force schools to rescind their contracts is a big downer.
    2. Q: “Are American schools ‘provincial?'” A: Actually, they are increasingly cosmopolitan… and underfunded, so cutbacks are common and options during the recession are limited. I was never told why I wasn’t hired, though I asked. A secretary volunteered, “You are overqualified.”
    3. Q: “Would you do it again?” In a heartbeat!

  21. Anonymous says:

    I taught overseas for 4 years. During that time I applied to over 400 positions throughout the US. Having overseas experience did me not good. Most U.S. schools I found out have little to no knowledge about overseas schools. They think that they are English ESL schools only. So my experience overseas was of no help. To bad because working overseas is a great experience. But I did not leave my overseas job until I had a job in the U.S. I was not leaving without a job. Not in this economy.

  22. Johnny says:

    I know two friends who returned to the USA after teaching overseas:

    1.) Male who taught in the Middle East for 5 years struggled to get a job in the “Bible Belt” and were concerned about his time teaching “Muslims”

    2.) Female who worked in Japan, returned to the USA and got a job, chose to return overseas and now has a nice teaching job in France.

  23. Anon. says:

    I found that overseas teaching experience actually helped land me interviews.

    Networking is essential no matter whether you are teaching overseas or stateside. I had several job offers when I returned stateside after a few years overseas — most of which came through recommendations of people I knew professionally. It is important to maintain a professional network, not burn bridges, and be flexible about location when your return to the states (no different than overseas job hunting).

    If you have a fixed location in mind, many family obligations, or limited certification this will all complicate your search. However, teaching in the US changed a lot while I was away and I experienced a heavy dose of reverse culture shock I didn’t anticipate.

  24. the new girl says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with David. I’ve just begun my first overseas teaching position after working in elementary schools for 17 years in a large, diverse, urban district in the U.S. What he wrote has mirrored my experience.

    In an effort to close the achievement gap, my former district has moved to “managed curriculum” (pacing guides for reading, writing and math which include lesson objectives, specific text resource to use and the date each needs to be covered). If you veer from this plan, especially as an experienced, senior teacher, you run the risk of being put on an Improvement Plan and loosing your job. Regardless of what you know students need to build their understanding based on where they are, and the curriculum you know has proven to motivate countless students before them, you need to bite your tongue and do as you are told.

    The other piece of teaching in the US that has gotten absolutely out of control is the amount of testing, retesting, multiple testing that gives essentially the same “results”, which is REQUIRED and comes out of your teaching time. Additional testing takes up countless hours that formerly would have been dedicated to instruction and flex grouping. Who can guess what the true loss of all of this interactive student/ teacher time will be?

    I am SO happy to be where I am. I wouldn’t advise anyone rush back to the states for the fun of it.

    An interesting conversation…

  25. brian says:

    I am back in Scotland after having taught in France. I initially found it hard getting work as a Secondary English teacher in Scotland because we are way oversupplied with teachers here at the moment and positions are scarce. A combination of the Scottish government creating an oversupply of teachers believing they could reduce class sizes and the financial crisis “demanding” austerity cuts to teaching positions has made it very difficult for recently trained teachers to find work. It is nearly impossible to find full time permanent work for anyone qualified after 2006 if they didn’t find it before 2009. We are calling it a lost generation of teachers. I have worked on three, six and nine month contracts here in the last few years since I arrived back from France. In my opinion going overseas and teaching during the crunch was invaluable experience and if employers can’t see how then then a) they are blind b) I have it in my power to convince them otherwise c) they can get stuffed. I just do everything I can to make them see how at the interview. Hasn’t secured me full time permanent work so far, but has been instrumental in my securing the temporary positions I have had. I don’t think I have not secured permanent full time positions because I have worked overseas. I think it is because I have been beaten at interview. I went for one job and thirteen others had been interviewed before me. I didn’t get the job but they had the power to put me on the supply list for their area. That’s the game and that is how it has to be played. You have to be in it to win it. I have saved up enough money to go back into academia which is why I went into teaching in the first place: to fund an academic career. Teaching in Scotland is horrible at the moment: poor contract terms; low wages; awful behaviour; parents blaming teachers for lack of opportunity for young people. So I don’t find Scotland an attractive place to be a teacher. After I have finished my next foray into academia I may return to France to teach/lecture for awhile. Retention of talent appears to be a major issue for the Western Governments as their assault on the labour force coupled with the emerging economies overseas naturally results in a brain drain and a shift in power relations. Greedy imperialists have seriously harmed Western education systems. Fact. It is natural that the rest of the world will catch up economically and offer competitive opportunities. 21st century teachers have to be adaptible, cunning, responsible for their own skill set and learn how to present it to others. Could be different in the US but I seriously doubt teaching overseas for a Scottish teacher is harmful. You just have to seize the day at the interview. Who would want to teach in the Anglosphere anyway? I suppose I am lucky I am a single male with no kids. It could be different otherwise. Which is why I am staying single. That’s the game.

  26. JM says:

    I just had to reply to the above comment by Anonymous. I have to ask if you have ever taught overseas? I have worked harder overseas than I ever have back home in Canada. My day starts at 7AM and ends at 6PM. Yes I am still at school!! International schools provide an education for expats who work for companies overseas. I wouldn’t necessarily say they are the “rich” kids that are educated. Where ever did you got your information? I work hard for every dollar I earn and work long hours even after I get home at 6PM. Don’t make your experience the base for making the above comments. I need my vacation because I am tired from working more than 80 hours a week…I think 8-5 sounds easy to me…I don’t have to take my work home!!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      I have been teaching in international schools for OVER 15 years. I taught in public and private schools in the U.S for a total of 8 years. That is my experience, and I am sticking to my story. You leave at 6 because you CHOOSE to. I work way less overseas than I ever did in the U.S. Just my experience. Don’t get offended.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Everyone keeps saying teaching in the U.S is bad. How can you generalize that much? What types of schools in the U.S do you mean?

    Teaching overseas is great because you are teaching in PRIVATE SCHOOLS WITH RICH KIDS. If you teach in private schools with rich kids in the states, you will have a similar experience vs. working in a public school. Same thought for overseas teaching: if you teach in a public school overseas, you will have a very different experience and probably want to return home.

    If you don’t like where you are teaching in the U.S, switch schools. The U.S is too big and too diverse to generalize its school districts.

    From my experience, most overseas teachers I’ve met wouldn’t make it stateside. The demands and expectations are too high, and overseas teachers are spoiled and used to just doing enough. Life is relatively easy. You actually have to work for your money in the states. I don’t feel bad for any teacher. We get loads of vacation time and good benefits no matter where we work. Just be thankful that you don’t have to work from 8-5 everyday and receive only 2 weeks of vacation a year.

    • Anonymous says:

      Private schools do not give you the benefits of teaching internationally. Private schools do not give you the cultures of the home country or countries of your students. No US school offers both like teaching internationally. If I received the same benefits as I do now in the US, I probably would’ve stayed in the US.

      • Anonymous says:

        It depends in which private school you are teaching. Not all private schools abroad are “ïnternational” in the sense of different cultures. If you want diversity, U.S public schools are definitely the way to go.

        As far as benefits., that depends on the school and country. It is well-known that certain parts of the world pay less than others. Latin America is known for less pay and fewer benefits than say Asia. But of course, there are so many factors to consider. I don’t consider airfare a benefit stateside; I don’t have to fly home. Housing being provided for teachers is a benefit abroad, but stateside we would all want to choose our own housing for various reasons. Every person’s experience will be different.

        At the end of the day, if you are really doing the job because of the kids (your students), it really doesn’t matter where you teach, right? We do this for the kids right, not for all we can get out of it.

        • Carol says:

          I am not sure how it would be finding work if I went back to the states… I get a daily list of available jobs sent to my inbox daily and there seems to be plenty of opportunity but…. When I worked in the U.S., I wasn’t able to save any money. I lived paycheck to paycheck after paying the rent/mortgage, the 6 utilities (water, internet, gas, electric, cable, trash pickup), the gas to and from work and at least 250$ out of pocket to decorate my room, buy incidentals for my science labs and to feed the frogs crickets and maintain my aquariums in my science class. I just could not make any extra … I also had to pay for my required Masters degree. Also, don’t even get me started on the politics and disrespect that many stateside teachers are subject to in the U.S. schools that I was aware of. Why on Earth would I want to go back there?

          Once I went overseas all these headaches went away. Teachers seem to get a lot more respect as an occupation in the areas I have worked (Caribbean, Africa, Middle East). I have been in 4 schools and I have always had the housing paid for, I have been able to save quite a bit of money, I get a pension stipend, I have my professional development paid for and I am experiencing all the things I thought I would have to wait to do until retirement.

          I also met a man while working in the Caribbean and got married for the first time at the age of 48. We have been traveling the world together now for 5 years and are happily married. We have a home that we built and now I have my retirement plan in place. I know working and living overseas is not for everyone but for this expat I will not be returning to the U.S. if I can help it. My trip for my allowed 34 days is plenty for me and this way I have no tax liability there. I am not angry with the way the taxes are being spent in the U.S, anymore. and I have a peace of mind that I did not have prior to my expatriation. I recommend it to anyone who has an adventurous spirit and tolerance needed to live in a foreign culture, far from family and friends. You can easily make new friends at your new location. There are plenty of great things going on in international schools. I tend to choose international schools where the student population is close to 100% Nationals but where they teach either the U.S. curriculum, the International Baccalaureate programme or the IGCSE from Cambridge.

          I love the excitement of being overseas and hope to continue this career path for a long time.

          • Curious says:

            I am with Carol. I could barely survive in the U.S. and was living check to check it seemed. The mountain of bills she mentions brings back memories of what it was like to live there.

      • Sojourner says:

        Also private schools in the US usually have low pay and bad benefits.

    • Anonymous says:

      How can you generalize that private schools all have rich kids? Not all international schools have that community. In Africa, many internationals schools cater to students’ whose parents work in development and humanitarian field. They are not rich but in fact middle class or even working class should they be back home.

      I chose to go overseas because as a new graduate I couldn’t find a teaching job. I had changed my career when I fell in love with teaching – what was suppose to be a short hiatus from corporate life, and I went back to get my teaching degree & licence. As an adult in her 30s at the time, I discovered that teaching was extremely fulfilling but I wasn’t about to sit around and hope to be considered for the supply list. The market was and still is daunting. I wanted to teach and not have to fight a battle that has more to do with education policies and administration.

      What does international teaching offer that public school doesn’t? Actual teaching in an environment, although not perfect , that uses best practices. Like many above, there is room for growth. From my perspective, teaching could use a huge dose of corporate policies. We need to shape up the system that is archaic. The HR practices in education simply just doesn’t work for our society that has greatly changed the past 50 years. That is for another post/blog.

      The teaching market is dismal and should you want to go back home, you need to think where is the more fruitful market, like any industry with a supply and demand. This is no different than for sort of relocation. It just so happens that the stake of education isn’t as optimistic and has inherit issues from years of policies and management that does not work for the 21st century.

      Great discussion thread. It is apparent that emotions are high and acceptance of freedom of speech is welcomed by all members.

      • Anonymous says:

        What is the minimum wage in the country you teach? Compared to that, most “middle -class” people are rich. Middle class in the states is considered rich in a lot of developing countries. As with everything, it’s all relative.

    • mizseadub says:

      I think it’s very fair to generalize that both public and private US schools have more paperwork, larger class sizes, more testing (high stakes and otherwise), more top-down decisions that take away from a teacher’s autonomy in the classroom and lackluster benefits that are getting worse every year.

      It’s definitely easier overseas, but I’m not using that as a pejorative like you are. I think the demands being placed on teachers stateside are unfair and unsustainable- there are better ideas out there but US ed “reform” currently makes anything outside of the political narrative inaccessible.

      Don’t hate on your colleagues for our loads of unpaid vacation time (some would call that a furlough) and dwindling benefits just because other people are being screwed even worse. A lot of us want better working conditions for EVERYONE.

  28. Pak Mojo says:

    I have been on the int’l circuit since 1998. I spent a few years back in the Florida teaching high school humanities in the mid 2000s. It was difficult to move back and I only secured a job because I had friends who were in admin. I lasted only 2 years before I escaped and got back to teaching internationally.

    The question of why one would go back is very relevant. Taxes, 10 month contracts, low pay, lower respect and the behavioral difficulties of the students. No thanks. I would not consider teaching in the U.S. if for some reason I had to return to my home country. Instead, I would retrain as a plumber, electrician, HVAC technician. Anything but teaching.

    Teaching internationally is far more rewarding both in terms of experiences and income compared to the U.S. I think that there are difficulties and hurdles to getting back into the U.S. system after a long international absence. Given the obvious disadvantages of working conditions in the U.S., the question remains…’Why would anyone want to?”

  29. Anon says:

    I returned home. I was a high performing NZ principal with the evidence to prove it with well above academic qualifications. before I left. On return after four years it was tough to get a job. However one school board understood the value of my experience, fortunately every one of them had lived and worked overseas themselves, this made the difference. I think that board was not the norm. I saw out a good few years in that job but am back overseas again and plan to go home only for retirement.

  30. Iguanab says:

    While I remain overseas, I do know that smaller towns are desperate for teachers. I believe younger to middle-age teachers stand a much greater chance finding jobs in these areas. When I left to return to the Middle East in August, there remained a large number of openings in the rural areas near my home town.

    As for older teachers who are at the higher end of the salary scale – finding a placement is difficult almost everywhere these days! I am 61 and feel lucky that I obtained another position in my fifth year in Kuwait. Here, where older teachers used to be in demand, schools have discovered that hiring fresh graduates is better for their pocketbook. However, again, if I were to return to the US at my age, I do think there might be openings for teachers in some specialized fields, including Special Ed and ESL….

    Older teachers and finding job – another topic?

    • Tessa says:

      Like you, Iquanab, my spouse and I discovered that switching jobs was not as simple as having one’s previous experience valued – other factors figured in, primarily age and the economy. We went back and forth between the US and various countries a fair amount due to varying family circumstances.
      Each time we returned to the US, we found positions fairly easily in public schools and felt our international experience helped us to both get interviews – people were curious – and ultimately get jobs due to our demonstrated ability to be flexible and accommodate students of varying abilities within the classroom.
      Likewise, each time we returned overseas our ability to be successful in large, public US schools was appreciated, as well as current PD (which we always had lots of, whether stateside or overseas). We have enjoyed both types of experiences. However, our latest go ’round with job searches was a bit rougher.
      We returned to the US to be there while a child transitioned into college at the height (depth?) of the recession. I was lucky to find a position via Skype prior to our move, and that offer was available due to the impending retirement of a teacher with advanced degrees and 30+ years experience at the hiring school – an expensive contract. My spouse was unable to find a fulltime position in two years due to where he would have to be placed on the salary scale. Even if they didn’t grant him any experience, schools still had to grant him his education, and they were looking for the cheapest hires they could, even knowing that it was to the detriment of the schools – they simply had no choice. My principal even acknowledged that had I applied a month later, I could not have been considered due to that same cost factor.
      When we then left the US after two years so that both of us could find overseas positions, we ran into the same issues with international schools. Prior to that (five recruitment fairs) we had gotten offers from the majority of schools with whom we interviewed. This time ’round, (and to be fair perhaps due to our lack of ever staying past four years anywhere), we felt like our age and the need for schools to save money hurt us just as much overseas as it had stateside. We did find a position with a school that we might not have looked at earlier in our career, but even those perceptions change.
      Our experiences both overseas and within the US – two different states – have been invaluable. We’ve appreciated the crazy energy of a large American high school and the rich diversity of international schools. Maybe that dichotomy of feelings contributed to our going back and forth between the two types of teaching as much as the reasons of caring for aging parents, growing children, etc. However, we discovered that age did catch up with us, and just when the economy also got slow, so it would have been better to stay at a solid position in our fifties rather than risk a switch again. Thankfully we found a school head who realized that he was in fact as sharp as ever at his age (at least a decade older than us) and lots wiser, and that just maybe that was the case with teachers as well.

  31. Becky says:

    I took a leave of absence from my government job in Ontario, but when applied for a third and final year, it was rejected. It took me many months to arrive at my decision. I chose to leave my good job in Ontario. Many there would think I was nuts, but honestly, I made the right choice. Now, part of the reason why I left my nice, cushy union job is that IF I really wanted (and there is a small chance to this), that if I wanted, I could return to Canada and fight tooth and nail to secure a job with another school board. After reading these comments, I am not so sure anymore!

  32. John Sharp says:

    After teaching in the UK for 27 years, my experience in the Middle East makes me say the question should be “Why would anyone want to return to the UK.” It is a no brainier!

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s an interesting comment…have read so many negative comments about working in the middle east..teachers can’t wait to leave and go back home.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I think a question to ask yourself is what factored into your choice for moving overseas, and what is contributing to considering coming back? Answer those questions for yourself and from the heart and you will find that the interviews will run smoother.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Off the subject a bit…but I’m a bit embarrassed at all the grammatical mistakes apparent in these posts..uh..”have went?” “The biggest huddle I’ve experienced?…do you mean “hurdle?” “I did not found this…?” Honestly, are we not teachers? We should hold ourselves to the higher standards of language, or at least of proofreading.

    • Anonymous says:

      This is a blog where teachers are free to discuss the ethics and practicalities of International Teaching. It isn’t a student’s report or a letter home to parents – I really think you should focus on the content rather than standing in judgement of people who are sharing ideas.

      • JedTeach says:

        I agree, you should see the mistakes I make typing when I don’t have my reading glasses on. My mind also works faster than my fingers. When I’m thinking of what I’m typing, I end up writing two thoughts in one sentence. Proofreading just isn’t on the top of my list when I only have 4 days off a month. Teachers are only human after all.

  35. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know where you taught in the US that you experienced those things, but poor you. I am sad for you that you had to experience those things. Gosh, the US must be the worst place ever!

    • David says:

      I taught at three different places in the US and lived in about 10 different states. I don’t think the US is the worst place ever, it’s just not for me. I don’t fit in there, I know that, and it’s fine. I find my niche outside the US and I am a lot happier outside the US. My quality of life is much, much higher than it ever was in the US, I am far less stressed out, and I don’t feel like I’m in a soul crunching rat race. Also, I am the sole earner for my family. Try doing that on a teacher’s salary in the US! Nah, no thanks, I don’t want to be bothered by federal taxes, state taxes, crazy amounts of testing, having to pay rent (or a mortgage) or having to pay for health insurance or car insurance…etc. Yeah, if you like it there fine. Don’t expect everyone to think the country of their birth is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

      Oh, and by the way, I just had a friend return to the US, a veteran teacher with years of experience, and even federal recognition, and all he got was a $30 an hour part time gig with no benefits. The only reason he went home was to be with family. He is looking to go abroad again.

  36. Anonymous says:

    In short, I had no problem getting back into a public teaching position in the Houston, TX area. I think it depends on where you are applying to in the US. I had 3 offers in a very specialized field in which there are rarely openings and 2 university offers. I didn’t bring the chip on my shoulder about having a superb experience, I just tried to demonstrate that I could work with different types of people. It helps to be certified in a high needs field such as SPED, math, science. If you want a job, come to the Houston area, it has the some of the largest populations of other cultures. For example, the second largest population of Vietnamese live in/around Houston. Schools here are actively seeking experienced teachers. Not long ago I spoke with one of our superintendents, we have several in our very large district, and I suggested to him that the district actively seek and recruit internationally experienced teachers. He thought it was a great idea. These teachers tend to bring an open mind which is needed considering the cultural growth that is now booming. Plus, the average beginning teacher salary around here isn’t bad, $50K+. Just do not expect to get service experience for working at an international school that is not WASC. I lost years of experience on the pay scale for this.

  37. Jeremy says:

    Each to their own David. International teaching is not for everyone and the view held by some on the international circuit of ‘pity those who are stuck there at home’ smacks of arrogance and elitism. Also, teaching in the US is very different to Aus (I have taught in both). Glad you enjoy it.

    • Cdnteacher22 says:

      Well Said. I have done both overseas and Canadian Public School teaching. I like both and both have pros/cons. I think there is a legitimate question in what are teacher options after leaving your home country. Not why, but how if you so choose.

      As for the return home, I have went the route of leaves which has held my position here. My husband has struggled to reintegrate back into Canada professionally but the contract he did obtain was because he taught the course overseas.

    • Mark Webber says:

      Wow! That is a wild assertion. David listed 4 or 5 good reasons why teaching abroad provides better opportunities for him. If anyone is being elitist and arrogant it is those people “stuck there at home” that assume that we have just been on a joy ride overseas. Also I have been at 5 international schools on 4 continents as well as teaching at 2 public schools back in the US before I went abroad. Teaching is teaching no matter where you go. Some places just equip you better to do the job and sometimes you just have to make due.

  38. David says:

    I think this post is a little misleading. A better blog post would pose the question: Why would I ever want to return home (be in US, Canada, UK, Australia, etc) after teaching abroad? I think about this question daily and my answer is always, “I can’t find a good reason to go back home (in this case the US).” I have so much freedom to teach the way I want to, I have a massive amount of prep time, I have a quality of life that would require probably triple if not quadruple the pay that I am receiving. I DON’T have to deal with a stifling and stupid bureaucracy. I DON’T have to deal with students who are throwing chairs, or cursing, or bringing guns to school. No, the better question to me, is WHY GO BACK HOME AT ALL? And don’t you dare say “For my own kids’ sake.” I’m not going to buy that at all.

    • Anonymous says:

      David, you ask a great question, “why go home at all?” In your experience of teaching overseas, I am sure you ran across people who did return home. I imagine returning is more out of a need though than a desire to fulfill a career. What are some of the reasons you encountered why people choose to return to teach in their home countries? Thanks for your thoughts.

      • Anonymous says:

        I know several mid 30’s females who returned home to teach because they wanted to get married and have kids. They had been unable to find Western husbands while living overseas. 2 had been in Southeast Asia where the western men seem to favor locals, and 3 had been in the Middle East.

        I also know many older female teachers (50’s, 60’s) who would love to find a husband but the dating pool is slim in the countries they live in. They seem to continue working overseas and not return home . Maybe the difference is they had already been married once, have grown kids, and went overseas later in life.

        Perhaps this is a topic for another blog? “Can you find a life partner while living overseas?”

        • Kath says:

          I met my life partner in UAE, we are now very happily married and I moved to South Africa (his country) where I have continued teaching and the adventure continues… why limit yourself to “western” husbands??

          • Anonymous says:

            I agree, it’s so important to have an open mind about potential life partners and everything else while living and working overseas. Keep enjoying life to the fullest, Kath! Also, to answer Anonymous above, I know many people now who have met their life partners while living overseas. Go to a place that interests you, do work that you are passionate about, and you will doubtless make connections with lots of fantastic people (colleagues, friends, potential partners etc. etc.)

    • MsGlobal says:


      • MsGlobal says:

        The bravo is for David. Females seeking US/UK partners in developing countries can forget it. Too many pretty girls looking for a foreign wallet, and usually way younger than us.

        • David says:

          Well, MsGlobal, I think you’re right. It is way harder for US/UK/Can/Aus females to find love abroad in developing countries.

  39. Sue says:

    Moving back to Australia can be difficult, particularly before the IB was well know. Countless times I was asked if i had been ‘teaching English’ overseas, assuming i had been working at language schools. As international schools became known it was a little easier the second time. Both times i made the move back home my employment always ended up being at schools who had a principal who had worked internationally. They understood the schools i was at and the reputation they had.
    I am back overseas now and don’t see myself ever working as a teacher back in Australia. For me, the community spirit and open mindedness at an international school far outweighs the experience of working in schools at home.

  40. Anonymous says:

    If your career choice is to teach overseas, then teaching overseas is living your career so it will not hurt your career, since that is your choice.

    If your career choice is to grow into the profession in your home country, then the best course for success is to hold your career in that country, if that is where you would like to see your career come to fruition.

    I can only speak for the US when I say teaching is a very competitive field and districts are fighting to get and retain the best and the brightest in the top of the talent pool. Teachers here have been loyal to the school system and have “stuck it out” and forged careers for themselves when the going got tough; whilst others plane hopped. Teachers who have remained stateside and worked hard amidst the challenges of school districts and changing curriculums proved to be the best and the brightest in knowing and fulfilling the needs of the 2013 American student.

    If you choose to have a teaching career overseas, that is your career choice. If you choose a teaching career at home, that is your career choice. The question really to ask is “how viable is moving your career from an international teaching to home?” In the US many school districts offer leaves of absences for up to two years to teach overseas. By availing themselves of this, teachers keep their career rooted at home, whilst teaching abroad.

    It is unfair to say that American districts are provincial in their hiring, or do not value cultural differences. The term loyal is better suited than provicial, in that districts recognize the growth and committment a teacher brought to the area for the whole of their career. As far as saying that foreign travel is not valued or cultural learning is not valued by US districts, this is unfair and many districts have sister schools overseas and can fly students and staffs to these schools. Also, with the immense diversity of cultures in this country, places like NY or Chicago or LA, just to name a few, are teeming with a plethora of nations residing in one city.

    I wish you well in your career. Interesting discussion.

    • freebird says:

      Well, I spent two years teaching in Qatar, which overall, was a great cultural experience. However, even though I had numerous years in the public schools, found it almost impossible to get back in, almost discriminating. They just think you can be a useful and used as a substitute teacher. I may probably go abroad again as your status as a teacher is way more respected.

    • Anonymous says:

      The vast majority of American school districts are indeed provincial. This is not true of major cities that have large immigrant populations and cultural diversity but it true of many rural area or small cities throughout the USA.

      Teaching overseas is decidedly a disadvantage when attempting to find a teaching job in my home community. The only exception to the rule is if you are married to a military person and that was the reason you taught overseas. Even in this case they are loathe to hire you because your spouse’s career means you will move again soon.

      Currently there are far more unemployed teachers in my home state than there are jobs. As a result employers have unprecedented power to select their “perfect” candidates which are newly graduated teachers who receive low salaries. Districts have suffered greatly from the economic collapse and the sudden disappearance of undocumented immigrants and their large families. In case you can’t guess I am from a border state. So with declining enrollments, economic collapse, and funding cuts districts hire the cheapest they can get and frankly that is not me with my years of experience. More experienced teachers are targeted for contract non-renewal since it is a “right to work state” meaning there are few unions active. This shocks my friends from Chicago who can’t believe there is teaching without an active union or a collective agreement between the union and school district.

    • MsGlobal says:

      I wish this blog had an up and down arrow for ‘like’ and ‘dislike’ comments. I like Trav45 and not yours– I can only imagine you work in M.Ed field and support the obsession with certs over experience. Plenty of recent research and observation supports the reality that US teachers are over-teched and under-educated compared to some other countries- it is a famous exposure.

      I have been teaching abroad for more than a decade. I did not need an M.Ed or a state certificate, and moreover I have been teaching writing in US universities. Indeed a good private US school may value international experience. A public school never, and more’s the pity- a big loss for kids in the US. I just follow the money– degree mills for teaching certs and MAT etc. We wouldn’t hire any of these where I work.

    • jen says:

      Having public and private school experience in the US in both urban and suburban schools, as well as international experience at top schools, I find the above comment in itself quite limiting. International/American is not an “either-or” professional choice, and moving abroad is not “hopping” when the going gets tough. The comment expresses undertone of judgmental resentment of a stay-at-home American educator towards anyone who has taught internationally.

      Unfortunately, teaching, as a profession in the US, often does not offer terrific professional development within the one’s profession—in terms of a career ladder. There are teaching and administrative posts, and also some curricular and student services work, but if one seeks to stay in the classroom, enrichment is generally done outside of one’s day-to-day work environment.

      For me, teaching and traveling abroad proved a tremendous way to reinvigorate myself as an educator. I found my overseas work extremely rich, professionally and personally. It expanded my horizons in ways that could not have occurred back in the US. Many overseas schools more readily allow experimentation—for example, moving from the classroom to an ESL support position, or to a teacher coach role, doing translation services and editorial work—without necessarily the need for further US certification, but rather the proven ability and motivation to do the job (this is, of course, also the case in some US private schools, wherein many teachers do not even have basic certifications).

      When overseas, I kept a foot in the US completing a graduate program, as well as attained National Board Certification as a teacher. My evaluations from colleagues and supervisors have all been “outstanding”–both in the US and abroad. My graduate program is through on of the top US schools of education. These things I state, to give objective evidence that I have— time and time again, proven my competence, compassion and commitment as an educator.

      Returning to the US last year, I found it impossible to even get nibbles of job interviews for positions I was completely qualified for. I heard lots of “that’s interesting,” in terms of my background. I, also, heard some comments such as. . . “Oh, so I guess to teach in Asia, anyone can get hired” (the actual case, at a top school, teachers who are evaluated/ranked by supervisors to be in the top tier of teaching only are interviewed for jobs ). There are a tremendous range of types of schools internationally (yes, a spectrum from dregs to stellar places), as well as in the US. “Provincial” means to me, that America educators, in the main, have minimal sense of what is happening educationally, elsewhere, and when given the opportunity to benefit from an expanded perspective of an international educator, too often, close ranks, and shut out that perspective.

      The US teaching job market, which has always been conservative in its hiring, is even more so currently. Additionally, age discrimination is rampant. Without doubt, teachers just coming out of US training programs with no experience (outside of student teaching or assistant teaching) are far favored to be hired than are experienced educators who are 40 years old or beyond (even outstanding ones). Whether this is a financial issue, or otherwise (such as younger supervisors not wanting to supervise someone older than themselves, a perception that “older” means lacking forward thinking or tech sense, etc.), isn’t clear, but there is no question, in my looking at various hiring practices throughout the US, age/experience discrimination the case.

      It is a great loss for US education that a narrow-mindedness closes in even more on Americans in difficult economic times, as globally, country demographics and power shifts continue to open and expand in other nations, particularly the Asian developing nations. It is also a great loss for US students, who are not benefiting from committed mature educators (international and otherwise) who US districts unthinkingly exclude in hiring.

  41. trav45 says:

    When I returned home in-between international posts (after 10 years overseas), public schools wouldn’t even look at me, despite 11 years in the system. They just assumed I was out of date. Indepenent (private) schools, however, valued that time. A friend who has just returned home after 15 years, was actually told by a public school principal that he didn’t think she’d be able to “relate” to the rural kids. Unbelievable.

    • trav45 says:

      btw–“home” in this case is the US. Actually, even though I loved my private school job when I returned, after three years, I really missed being overseas and went back on “the circuit!”

  42. Anonymous says:

    I have spent a decade working in international schools around Asia and returning home to the UK and have found that overseas experience is not respected by many prospective employers. “Oh you have been teaching abroad have you? it is very different here.” and comments like this seem to be the norm. Speaking to a Headmaster who is a friend of mine he said many heads in the UK have little idea of what international are like and don’t understand how a teachers international outlook can benefit their pupils. I think it is very sad that this view exists in any educator.

    However, saying this the private schools have a much higher regard for overseas experience and there are opportunities there.

  43. Chris Lahey says:

    A friend recently moved home and has struggled to find work. Ontario has tried to get rid of nepotism in hiring teachers (it hasnt worked but that is another story altogether!) But this means that if you come back from overseas you have to apply and interview to be on the SUPPLY list and after two years you can move to the LONG TERM OCCASIONAL (LTO) list. You will only get hired from the LTO list. Oh and if a job in your field opens up and there is say a geography teacher at the top of the list, they get the job, not you.

    So, will I ever go home? No chance!

    • Deborah says:

      I returned to Canada in January of this year. I’ve been teaching for over 20 years, with 5-6 years in Canada and the rest overseas. I’m in the province of BC and I have had similar responses as you have had. To date I’ve sent out over 150 applications for advertised teaching positions in BC, AB, SK, MB, YK and NWT. I’ve had a total of 3 telephone interviews and a job offer in an extremely remote northern community lacking the basic facilities (I chose not to accept the position). I have also had the similar experiences of “Tell me about your time in …”. A sure sign that you’re not even on the list of consideration. In regards to teaching in BC, you must first go on the SUPPLY list and after up to 5 years you may, but not always, be eligible for an advertised position.

      It has been a shocker to return home with multiple qualifications, skills and experience and to not even be considered for a teaching position.

      I’m now in the process of getting myself on with some international recruitment agencies and hoping that I’ll soon return to full-time employment, overseas. Where, I seem to be more welcome than my own home country.

  44. Anonymous says:

    If you read though a large number of the criticisms on this site you would not be surprised to think that international education is the devil’s best invention ruining many a teacher’s career.

    However if you do your research on schools and cultural fit properly, spend time thinking about what you want to achieve and why you want to go there then it can be brilliant.

    Exposure to a welath of different cultures in the work place and socially , different work practices and teaching methodologies, exposure to some innovative curricula or innovative teachers and teaching children from different kindsof background to what you have been used to should enhance what you already know.and make you a better teacher.

    Even when you end up in a school that is not what it says on the tin, rather than act in an outraged fashion claiming your human rights have been broken, it is possible to turn this around and show how resilient and resourceful in very challenging situations you can be often where others have failed.

    What will harm your career is if you have not thought things through and/ or once out there left at the first sign of trouble and broken contract regardless of whose fault it is. Yes there is some bad management and there are certainly some bad school owners out there, but that doesnt mean that you should also behave unprofessionally.

    Of course this doesnt mean that there are some situations that are untenable but these are ofrten exceptions to the rules rather than the norm. Honestly.

  45. Chris says:

    This is a great question that I’ve pondered myself. I’ve only been in the international market for 3 years and love it but I just found out there are tax consequences in the U.S. if you want to sell your house that you haven’t lived in for 2 out of the past 5 years. I’ve wondered if my international experience will help or hinder me if I go back. I look forward to reading the responses.

    • Nicole says:

      Can you say more about this tax question, re selling a US house?

      • John Stavinoh says:

        I believe there is a capital gains tax assessed if you have not been actively living in the house for a certain number of recent years. If you have been a steady resident, there is no tax. Check with a CPA or some knowledgeable person.

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