…After 4 years teaching overseas I thought I’d be a ‘hot ticket’ in the pool of candidates vying for jobs in America’s public schools. I spent 2 years in Thailand, a year in South America and a year in Saudi. I’ve had experiences with students and parents from all over the world. Any school principal or district-office bureaucrat could see I’m adaptive, open-minded, well-traveled, and uniquely qualified to teach a widely diverse student body. Or, so I thought….
It never occurred to me that people in a position to hire me would view my overseas teaching as an extended volunteer experience and/or a laid back beach vacation! Part of the problem is they just don’t understand the reality of how professional and world-class international schools can be (certainly the ones I worked in) and how hard us international teachers actually work! I’m sure they, instead, picture a thatched-roof complex of dirt-floored huts with bare-footed students sitting on straw mats.
To extinguish any preconceived ideas, I talk about IB accreditation and that I taught in English, while also, contractually, having to tutor, lead student community service clubs, and teach after-school activities. I tell them about the extensive computer labs, sports programs and availability of resources, about how I dealt with inattentive and/or high-achieving students, discipline problems, and parental ‘concerns’ and support.
It may be interviewers fear I’ve been living on a different planet and won’t fit in back here in the “trenches.” Yet, I had 10 years public school experience and was tenured before leaving for international teaching. I know the score here in US schools and I’m ready to jump back in. But how?
Anyone else have a similar experience? I’d feel much better if I could hear about how other freshly returned-home international educators are overcoming this unanticipated obstacle.
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