Visiting an International School for a Tour?

Touring an International School that’s on your A-List sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it? Firsthand knowledge and the chance to “pick up on the vibe” can be priceless.

Of course, it’s not always practical to fly off to a distant land for the express purpose of checking out a school. But what if you’ll be in the area anyway, say on spring break? You can simply send an email to the school director, introduce yourself and show interest in the school for a possible future position. The worst that can happen is s/he’ll say no and, well, that speaks volumes…

ISR Asks:  Has anyone had experience doing this? If so, how did you pose the question? How was your visit? Did you later apply to work at the school? Even if you didn’t land a position, was your visit worthwhile? None of us at ISR have ever done this! We look forward to reading your Comments. Please Share.

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16 thoughts on “Visiting an International School for a Tour?

  1. My husband and I were lucky enough to visit a school in Saudi Arabia that we were interviewing with. We currently teach in Saudi so it was an easy day trip across the country. This allowed us to get a feel for the people, the housing community, the school campus, and the town. This was absolutely priceless to me, as I believe we would not have accepted our current position had this been possible. We were offered and accepted the jobs and I cannot wait to start our journey there!


  2. It’s always worth inquiring. We once were in Florida and wanted to go on a trip to the Bahamas. We took the trip but also contacted a school out there to see if we could visit and have a chat. The response was positive and we spent half the day with the director who also took us out for lunch.
    Our current school held an open day close to when there was a job fair. We thought we’d go along as we also had interviews with the school anyway. I think showing this extra interest helped a lot secure us jobs.


  3. I visited a school a couple of years with a colleague, she had done an INSET there. The whole school had a great atmosphere and I thought, I would like to work here. I applied when I saw the advertisement in the TES and have secured a position for next year. I am delighted
    So if you get the chance go and visit , trust your gut instinct, it is usually right! Good luck


  4. I visited 3 schools in person that I really wanted to work at. My visits were in October. No visit yielded a job offer. Schools hire what they want. I am mid- career with in demand areas. Subsequently, I found out 2 of those schools hire mostly young teachers. 1 of the schools told me they do not hire teachers with my passport and prefer passports that match their adopted national curriculum. So I would say, if you are there on holiday and want to have a look fine but don’t spend money to go thinking you will have an edge.


  5. I did this a few times but it was always after I was offered a job (either formally or informally) that was based on a Skype or phone interview. The first time was when when I was teaching in Chengdu, China. I had reached the 2nd year of my contract and knew I wasn’t going to renew since I had learned more about the job market in China. I had offers from two other schools in different cities in China, and needed more information to decide. The first school had a nice, new campus but the only thing nearby was some very nice housing that was too expensive for a teacher and realized the whole area was only suitable for people with cars (no taxis around and very little public transportation). At the end of the school day, I took the school bus for teachers and got to know some of them and saw where the housing was that was provided for teachers. It was far away which meant having to catch a bus at 7 am in the morning, and the area wasn’t nice at all (even though it somehow looked better in the pictures the school had emailed to me). The other school had decent housing available within walking distance (as well as restaurants, shopping, etc.) and I could leave my house at 9:15 am in time for my 9:30 am class (they agreed to let me start later since I would have one class after normal school hours). That was enough to choose between two job offers that otherwise seemed similar. A couple years later, I was offered a job in Baguio City, Philippines, which is a great city to live in with nice weather, and I almost accepted it immediately. But since I had winter vacation coming (which was later than their winter vacation), I asked if I could visit the school before making a decision. At first, everything seemed great: the students and teachers were polite and friendly, and they were offering me a nice 3 bedroom apartment right on campus. But then I mentioned to a current teacher that I had a girlfriend who would come visit sometimes, and was told that “visitors of the opposite sex were not allowed to spend the night unless you are married.” This was not acceptable to me as a single teacher in my 30’s, but I understand why they had the rule. I said I would take the job if I could live off campus (and that I was even willing to pay out of pocket for it). The director asked me why and I told him the truth.
    Then he told me that “people in the Philippines love to gossip” and that I needed to live on campus so that they could “make sure” I was setting a good example for students (this is the short version). When I stood my ground, I was quickly told that I was not a fit for the school. So it was good for both the director and me that this conversation did not occur after I was already living and working there!

    There were a couple other times I visited other schools which made me offers, and it was only after visiting that I realized the school wasn’t a fit for me for one reason or another. Now, I am happy with my current school (which I also visited before making a final decision), and very glad that I made these school visits.


  6. I have done this many times. Moving to another school in a different country is always going to carry risk. We holiday in potential new countries. Whilst we are there I make sure I at least drive by the potential school.
    Unfortunately when I’m on holiday they are too in a lot of cases. This means admissions would be your only option and I the best I’ve hoped for is a quick walk around the school. As a parent as well then I can quite legitimately say I’m interested in how my own kid would fare in the school.


  7. I did this last year in Korea! I was a first year teacher trying to get a feel for the schools in Korea since I am teaching in America. They gave me a tour of their school and the HR director gave me tips on my job search for the next year. I kept in contact with him and he gave me insight into positions that are open. I ended up not getting a job offer from them, but he passed my name to a different school, which I received an offer.

    In my email, I said that I was interested in future employment and that I would like to have a campus visit the school when I am in the area during my spring break. I emailed 3 schools and only one responded back.


  8. As an international school principal, I get multiple requests annually from “visiting teachers” who would like to tour my school to see what we are doing and get a “feel” for education in my current country. I do think that we learn best from each other, but is the request based upon a desire to learn more, or from wanting me to put a face with a future application? How much time do I allot each year to give someone a tour because they might apply with us in the future? We do have formal exchanges with other schools where groups have scheduled a visit to see how we run particular programs, but what about those random requests? And I have had teachers volunteer to teach a lesson or two. Child Protection? Until an individual has a police check completed within the last six months, I can’t let them in a classroom with my students. I think requests should be upfront – if you are thinking of relocating to my country and want to see my school to determine if you wish to apply in the future, please say so.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hadn’t thought of the volunteering without police clearances aspects. I think you make some great points. I’m not sure how valuable it is to either party. I do believe this, if you are looking to visit a school to gain an insight into practice or to look to apply for a job, I think that visiting via the enrollment staff is a bit shady. It wastes their time… that’s my own opinion of course. I just think, drop the principal a line, if they want to welcome you in, they will… if not, we’ll, it’s ok too… but at least be open with motivation.


    2. I think it is ok (to ask the enrollment staff for a visit) as long as you really have kids since you would be a parent as well as a teacher, but yes, it would be shady if you don’t have kids!


    3. Agree with the above. In some locations it is not possible due to security reasons. Without a connection to someone at the school who could vouch for you, I’d have to say no or limit the visit to after school times when students are off campus. You couldn’t visit an embassy or consulate for the same reason — the internal layout of the school or consulate could be used improperly.


  9. I’ve done this a few times. I generally find admissions more helpful than the principal. The generally give parents tours round the school all the time. Say you want to experience the school from a parent’s perspective.

    Sometimes I’ve been told no. Other times yes. It doesn’t say much about the school either way. They are busy and being pushy can hurt your application more then being beneficial.

    The biggest thing for me is seeing what is around the place.


  10. I was thinking about trying this in a few weeks in Prague and Budapest. Suggestions for visits or avoidances for a HS English teacher?


  11. I was in Singapore, I thought I would take a look at St. Joseph’s International while there. It’s a school I had heard good things about. I wrote to both the Head Principal and the Elementary Principal, but nobody replied. I wrote again and also didn’t hear back. I reckon that cleared up my thinking on the place. On the other hand, I was teaching at CIS in Singapore and a teacher turned up at the school, volunteered to teach a few lessons and was hired for the next year!! It can really work, in the right place and right time.


  12. Yes I did this twice in and around Switzerland and it was helpful for both of us and cordial but when it came round to receiving answers to our applications about 6 months later, no one was home…


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