The ‘Accidental International Educator’

accidental-eduator-1We define an ‘Accidental International Educator’ as one who never actually intended to teach overseas, but today finds themselves living and teaching internationally, loving every minute of it. You’ve met ‘Accidental International Educators’ at recruiting fairs. Maybe YOU are an ‘Accidental International Educator’ yourself….

‘Accidental International Educators’ usually have tenured positions in their home countries, but out of curiosity attend a international recruiting venue to test the waters, so to speak, and see what it’s all about. Next thing they know, they’re offered a job in some far-flung location and they accept! Not quite ready to leave it all behind, ‘Accidental International Educators’ may take a two-year leave of absence from their home-country school. After all, they are just checking it out.

Once outside the comfort of their insular world, ‘Accidental International Educators’ are awed by peoples, foods, exotic cultures/traditions, landscapes, new job possibilities (i.e. teaching specials rather than their usual subject) and the sheer exhilaration of a world they never even imagined existed. Something long dormant in the ‘Accidental International Educator’ springs to life as they’re involved in the adventure of a lifetime. With the end of their contract in sight, the Accidental International Educator extends or seeks a new overseas position, leaving their old life back home behind. The course has been set and they are off and running in their new international teaching adventure!

Are YOU an ‘Accidental International Educator’? Here’s a chance to tell your story to other educators on the verge of becoming an ‘Accidental International Educator’ themselves. Sharing your experience will help pave the way for those that follow.

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9 Responses to The ‘Accidental International Educator’

  1. Suze says:

    I went to visit a friend from another country many, many years ago. We happened to pass by the “American” school and I said, “Hey, what’s that?” I called them up and asked where they got their teachers from, they said to write and apply in the spring, and I was hired over the phone for the next year. I only went for a year or two, found out they did not pay my return fare so decided to go to “one more” school via recruiting fair that *would* pay my way home. That was 5 schools and 20 years ago!


  2. Anonymous says:

    I am one. I could’t find a classroom job in the States at that time; I was fresh out of college when tenured teachers were being laid off, so I was subbing. My sister was finishing a degree in Europe and I decided to spend the last few months of the school year with her and sub at the local American school. Subbing turned into a job offer, and I’ve been a committed international teacher since. I did at one point in the last 30 years teach in the States, but knew the whole time I needed to leave again. I won’t be going back!


  3. Mummalea says:

    OMG! Why didn’t I do this 20 years ago? Teaching in Qatar is brilliant fun!


  4. Anonymous says:

    Lots of folks have spoken about being accidental educators abroad. It seems though that those posting were already teachers who accidentally found themselves overseas. Any folks out there who started out not being teachers at all? Maybe married to someone who got a post abroad? Discovered teaching as a nice career choice for a person who loves international living but started out in another field? Just curious!


  5. Tracy says:

    I was very happy in my late 20s, teaching in a great private school in the States, dating a great guy and pursuing hobbies with a passion. The job that took me to SE Asia was a private tutoring job — “one year, with an option to renew”. While I hadn’t been looking, there it was, on my doorstep! My parents and sisters in faraway states made bets, and Dad was the only one who, it turns out, bet correctly (“she’s gone!”). The tutoring job was wonderful but by its end I was already working part time at an international school there, as I had an abundance of free time. At this point, I’ve spent half my life teaching overseas (in 5 schools); originally, it took me by completely by surprise, but it turns out the be a perfect fit.


  6. Anonymous says:

    The first time I went to a recruiting fair, I deliberately set an almost impossible criteria for one school or I would not go overseas. The school I wanted to teacher at, offered me and interview then a job. I was taken off guard, accepted, had a stomach ache off and on until about a month into my contract and I was standing in front of a famous European monument with a friend from home laughing. In unison we said, “We’re in London Baby.” I’ve never looked back. I’m on my fourth overseas post and have live in two countries in Europe and Now am in Asia loving it. Overseas teaching isn’t for everyone, but if you love it and it is for you. It’s a great life style. I tell people to remember, traveling is work. I happen to like it; you may not. Flexibility is a must. If you can’t adapt quickly, you may want to re-think it.


  7. Wizzy says:

    Indeed, I am. What was supposed to be two years has turned into ten.


  8. No surprise here says:

    I too am an accidental international educator. I registered and went to a conference in 1990. I had no intention of taking a job. I was just looking to see what it was all about. Well, I was offered a job I couldn’t’ refuse. I did just like in your article and took a leave of absence. Then I took another one and then I had to make a choice. I chose to stay overseas. I returned to the US in 2010 and often times regret coming back. I would not trade the experience for anything. If you on the verge of potentially becoming an accidental overseas educator I say take the plunge!!! You don’t know what you’re missing.


  9. Claire says:

    Definitely an accidental international teacher. I went to the UK for a 3 month position, that was 9 years ago. I had no idea there was such a thriving international teaching circuit. No regrets. Best decision ever.


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