International Educators Going It Alone Overseasj

November 14, 2019


Pulling up stakes and moving halfway around the world for an International Teaching position is a bold move. If, however, you’re part of a teaching team you’ll have your partner to rely on when the going gets tough. But what about educators who go it alone? What’s it like to move overseas when you have only yourself to depend upon?

For starters, going it alone will certainly put you out of your usual comfort zone, motivating you to experience new things, meet new people and take chances you might have never before considered. When you’re on your own, striking up a conversation in a coffee shop and making a new friend is more likely. Getting out to community events, plays, movies, parties and the likes can be more enticing when the alternative is staying home, alone.

Asked if they would have moved overseas alone if they knew back then what they know now, most educators answered with a resounding, YES! Educators who have gone it alone say they developed a new confidence in themselves and an entirely new side to their personality that would never have emerged had they stayed home or relocated with a partner.

Of course, not everything is perfectly rosy when you fly solo, and there are downsides to consider. The possibility of meeting that special someone may suffer overseas, and you’re bound to face some lonely stretches. You may even feel so intimidated by the overseas experience that you’ll have to fight the urge to head back home. Life can be frustrating when you don’t speak the local language or understand how things get done. Culture shock and the feeling of alienation are very real, the effects of which are intensified if you’re on your own.

Fortunately, there are varying degrees of how on your own you’ll be if you decide to go it alone. Better International Schools strive to minimize the stress on incoming foreign hires by providing solid support. Such schools handle utility bills, maintain teachers’ apartments, secure Visas, organize weekly shopping trips, and even supply transport to and from school. Additionally, they sponsor social events, making it easy for incoming teachers to become part of the established school community. In this scenario, teachers going it alone can immerse into the surrounding community at their own place while enjoying a more familiar and secure school-provided base from which to venture out.

ISR recommends you decide the depth of experience you’re ready for. Get all the information you need at your interview to help make an informed decision. Read Reviews and research, research, research! The majority of educators who have gone it alone say it was the best thing they could have done for themselves.

ISR Asks: Are you currently on your own overseas? What’s your take on the experience? Would you recommend it to others?

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Why Don’t Schools Post Age Restrictions?

March 7, 2019

Bangkok Recruiting Fair, 2019 – Preliminary Interviews: Pulling up a seat across from the school Director, I went into my spiel. He looked to be in his mid-sixties, out of shape and a bit tired from a morning of screening teaching candidates. My one goal was to get myself invited to a more formal interview later in the day.

We exchanged a short volley about my qualifications and why I had chosen his school. I felt super encouraged when, finally, he asked to see my curriculum vitae. I held my breath. “I had no idea you’re so…old. The cut-off age for a work Visa at my school is 56. Sorry, but I can’t hire you.”

I’m 56 years young! Fit, trim, and full of energy. The Director, it turns out, is actually only 49. I’ve been told some countries fear that at my “advanced age” I may suddenly become terminally ill and a long- term burden on their healthcare system. If I were them, I’d be more worried about the Director’s physical condition than I would with someone’s actual age. I don’t get it!

Why do the majority of schools and recruiting agencies/Fairs fail to include age restrictions with their job postings? Wouldn’t this save schools and educators extensive time and money? Here at ISR we’ve heard theories on this topic, some of which don’t speak favorably of recruiters.

ISR Asks: What’s your take on this topic? Do you have direct experience with ageism at recruiting Fairs and/or with recruiting in general? Why are age requirements kept under wraps until the very last minute? Please Share!

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Also see: ISR’s Work Visa vs. Age by Country


Visiting an International School for a Tour?

February 21, 2019

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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Is The Recruiter Trying Too Hard? Are YOU?

January 10, 2019

Recruiting day: You’re ON! Expensive new suit…Check! Designer tie & pocket square…Check! Wing-tip shoes freshly buffed & a $100 haircut…Double check! You feel as though you’ve definitely put your best (Gucci) foot forward, yet notice a distinct hesitation from Recruiters as you approach their tables, hoping you’ll get a slot on their interview schedule.

The problem may be this:  Aren’t you trying a bit too hard? Teachers who go recruiting looking as though they belong in a well-appointed NYC Corporate boardroom may be making the wrong first impression on a Recruiter who’s looking for educators who can succeed in the classroom with a bunch of rowdy kids. Recruiters also need new hires to professionally represent the school despite extreme heat & humidity, funky roads, roaming packs of dogs, tiny accommodations & possibly an unspoken severe lack of basic amenities at their school.

Over-dressing, exaggerating, boasting, grandstanding & the like could easily send the message you’re trying too hard. The Recruiter may be wondering, Could you possibly be a self-indulged, high-maintenance type who won’t pitch in & get his/her hands dirty? Will this person handle it well when the going gets rough?

What about RECRUITERS who try too hard? Does he/she seem desperate to hire any warm body willing to consider their school? Is a Recruiter telling you a place (like the D.R. Congo) is a gourmet’s paradise when a documentary you recently saw showed local, hungry people eating palm grubs for food & locals with amputated limbs & machete scars begging at every, single market stall? Statements like, “It’s the best kept secret” should bYOUR clue to do some serious due diligence! Someone is trying too hard.

Google can, of course, be your best ally when researching a locale. Keep in mind, close-ups of smiling kids, tightly cropped images of school facilities, shots of tree frogs & egg-laying turtles, plates of tropical fruit & vegetation with a few people in traditional clothing can signal:  Someone trying hard to make a boring place or hardship post look good.

Recruiters may try so hard they purposely misrepresent their schools. Case in point:  A PE coach was shown an aerial shot of a school & its facilities at her interview. The photo included an Olympic-size swimming pool. As her specialty was swimming, she was excited at the job prospect. Upon arrival to the school, however, the pool turned out to be a blue rectangle painted on the ground. “Oh,” said the local-hire PE assistant, “didn’t he tell you that you were looking at the architect’s rendering of where the pool will be installed, someday?

A final word on trying too hard:  Recruiting is about educators trying to find schools & schools trying to find educators. Everyone has on their best smile & endeavors to make a success of the experience. There’s is, however, a marked difference between trying too hard and just plain trying. Don’t fall into the trap of trying too hard. And, most of all, proceed with caution when you suspect an interviewer is trying too hard. 

 

 

 

 


Back Home w/the Job Search Blues

July 5, 2018


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.

Sincerely,
B

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ISR Private Messaging for Questions You Shouldn’t Ask at an Interview

February 15, 2018

private messaging iconYou’ve read the school Reviews. You’ve done your homework. Things look good…except for one lingering, personal concern about the school on your radar.

You could ask the school director at the conclusion of your interview, but questions of a very personal nature might taint a director’s otherwise positive opinion of you. Likewise, it’s probably not wise to confide in the school-appointed teacher who’s been selected to field candidates’ questions by email. After all, he/she was chosen for a ‘reason.’

When you don’t want to reveal more about yourself than you should, ISR’s Private Messaging Feature is the perfect alternativeHere’s a chance to connect with teachers who may have the answers, while maintaining complete anonymity.

Here’s How it Works: Log in as usual to the Member Area. Proceed to the Member Forum. Create an anonymous user name “on the fly” and introduce your topic. As other teachers join in you’ll see the option to Private message each individual. Click the PM icon and send a private message. That’s all there is to starting a secure, behind-the-scene conversation that only the two of you can see, all while remaining anonymous.

The ISR Member Forum with PM hosts thousands of topics covering any and all aspects of International Teaching. LGBTQ concerns, personal medical/medication needs, dating, being of color, and, of course, candid discussions about specific schools are just some of the topicas already in progress. You may be able to jump straight into Private Messaging with individuals already sharing information on topics of interest to you. GO to the ISR Member Forum

———

Note: ISR hosts two distinctly different Forums:

1.) The Open Forum:  The Open Forum is located in the non-member area of ISR. It does not support Private Messaging, posting on certain topics or sharing school Review information.

2.) The Member Forum with PM:  The Member Forum with Private Messaging is located within the Member area of ISR. It was specifically created so teachers could ask and share information on any and all topics in a secure environment. GO to the ISR Member Forum

Don’t Leave Your Career to Chance. International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed is what International Schools Review is All About!

GO to the ISR Member Forum

 

 

 


Recruiting-Fair ‘Speed-Dating’ Disasters: How to Avoid Them!

February 8, 2018

With just a precious few minutes to sell yourself to a school Director seated across a table, you take a seat, assume your most welcoming body language and introduce yourself. You’ve stood in line forty-five minutes for this chance to arrange a formal interview and you intend to make the most of it!

“What the !!*#?,” you say with a grimace as you learn the position you’ve been invited to recruit for is gone, awarded to another teacher even before the Fair began! With $2500 in travel, hotel and registration expenses, the only solace the Director has to offer is, “Sorry.” Apparently, you now realize, previous correspondences between you, the school AND your invitation to interview are meaningless…

No wonder teachers often refer to recruiting Fairs as ‘cattle calls.’ At a bare minimum this school should have propped up a white-board displaying closed and open positions. To add insult to injury, you’ve just wasted the better part of an hour that could have been spent approaching the recruiting tables of other schools.

Recruiting-fair ‘speed-dating’ has its disadvantageous, but YOU can avoid this and other disasters by taking steps to look out for #1. Here’s a few ideas that will help keep you safe:

1. Leave absolutely NOthing to chance! Arrive a day early and put notes in the boxes of each school that has invited you to sign up for an interview. Ask them to verify the position you are seeking is still open. You may even get them to give you an interview time without waiting in line. A simple “yes” or “no” with a time written across your note and dropped in your mailbox will do. If they can’t bother to do that, you don’t want to work for them, anyway. Right?

2. With or without an invitation to interview, don’t waste time in lines without their job openings displayed. While you’re killing time in lines that may lead nowhere, other schools are filling up their ‘dance cards’ without you even getting a chance to introduce yourself.

ISR Member suggestion: You might consider a small sign of your own — an 8” x 12” (or smaller) cardboard sign will do. Once in line, wave it around and look for a confirmation that your position is still open. If nothing else, you’ll get points for ingenuity and not waste precious time in dead-end lines.

3. Share your recruiting experience with other teachers and learn from their experiences. How a school conducts its recruiting procedures is usually an indication of what it will be like on the job. This sort of information is openly included in ISR School Reviews. You don’t need to have worked at a school to share what it’s like to recruit with them. International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed is what International Schools Review is All About!

 Share a School-Specific Recruiting Experience

(ISR Note: Our School Review submission form contains a numerical Rubric for teachers who have worked at a particular school.
To submit a Review of your recruiting experience, please rate all Rubric questions as a ‘1’ and describe your recruiting experience in the “Comments” section. We’ll remove your numerical entries before your recruiting Review goes live.)

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Interviewing the Interviewer

January 18, 2018

.No school director will tell you their school is simply mediocre. This means it’s YOUR responsibility to come to a job interview with prepared questions that will take the conversation beyond a director’s memorized, stock statements.

Keep in mind that interviews are as much about YOU getting the information you need to make an informed career decision as it is about an administrator getting to know your qualifications.

You may fear appearing suspicious or rude, thinking that questions which reflect a hint of doubt/mistrust are sure to blow an interview for you. But, contrarily, Directors and Admin who communicate with ISR Members have stated that a candidate who asks no questions at all during an interview can appear to be either disinterested in the job, unprepared, or dull and/or unenthusiastic. What interviewer wants to hire that type of teacher for a school they represent?

Most interviews end with the interviewer saying, “Do you have any questions for me?” This signals your turn to interview the interviewer. Don’t be timid. It’s your life, your future, your career we’re talking about. We all know know there are schools simply in the market for a white face to complete their “international school facade.” You don’t want to be the next causality. Ask away!

Through the years ISR has compiled multiple lists of questions for teachers to ask at interviews. The questions were received from International Educators who later found out just what they should have asked at interviews. Even if you don’t use these exact questions, the topics they delve into will give you a good idea about the goings on at some would-be ‘international schools’ and what YOU want to be on the look for.

• Ask the Right Questions at Your Interview

• 10 Tough Questions You May or May Not Want to Ask

• 20 More Questions You May Want to Ask

The 3 Things YOU Absolutely Must Know Before Signing On

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Landmines that Can Blow an Interview

November 30, 2017


.The interviewer has been firing off one question after another. You’re doing great! Then comes the toughest question of all:  Do you have any questions for me?

..If you don’t have at least a few questions ready you’ll look unprepared, or even worse, not seriously interested in the position. Asking the wrong questions, however, can be more detrimental to your interview than asking no questions at all…

..What are wrong questions? Wrong questions are those proven to ‘blow’ an interview already going well. Avoid such landmine questions and you’ll put yourself that much closer to being offered a position.

ISR Recommends Avoiding These Landmine Questions:

..ME questions:  We all want to know about salary, vacations, health insurance, professional development, housing and all the benefits that come with the job. Keep in mind, though, your goal is to show the interviewer how you can benefit their school and not the other way around. If you’ve done your homework, most MEtype information can be found in recruiting materials, anyway. Don’t waste the interviewer’s time with questions purely focused on employee benefits until you’re closer to signing a Contract.

..Don’t get Personal:  You definitely want to establish a good connection between you and a school recruiter, but it’s not a good idea to ask personal questions that won’t fall into a public information category. For example, if you spot a college football ring on the interviewer’s finger and you’re a team fan, by all means start a conversation, but keep it light and superficial. Avoid personal questions about the interviewer’s family, ethnicity, etc. and save that conversation for the first faculty social get together.

..Yes/No Questions are a No/No:  Answers to questions that require a simple yes or no answer are usually found on a school’s web site. Stick to questions that require brief but sincere, informative dialogue. You want to establish a rapport with the director and stand out in their mind when making a final decision as to whom to hire.

..Don’t get stuck on one Topic:  Asking multiple, involved questions about one aspect of the school may cause the director to jump to the conclusion you are preoccupied or worried about something. Instead, ask questions about various facets related to teaching at the school and demonstrate an interest in several aspects of the job and/or the community.

..Avoid questions that arouse Suspicion:  Is there a medical/drug test? How do you handle poor performance? When, exactly, will you call my references? What is your in-school internet usage policy? Will you be monitoring my social media profile? Any chance to move into admin? How did I interview? These questions may arouse suspicions regarding your true motives and/or background, and can kick you out of the running as a candidate.

  Research a school before an interview to help you form insightful questions and show you’ve taken the time to learn about the organization. Demonstrate more than a superficial interest in the school and location to put you far ahead of the competition. Everyone loves someone who contributes. Asking the right questions will put you into that category of candidate!

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Teaching Candidate in Hijab Claims Discrimination by Kuwaiti School

October 19, 2017
Fouzia Khatun on Instagram

..When Fouzia Khatun applied to teach at the English Playgroup, Kuwait, she thought wearing a hijab and sharing common religious beliefs would help her to be a good fit for the job. To her complete dismay, she later received an email from Caroline Brooks of the HR department, saying her employment depended on a willingness to remove her hijab while teaching: “…parents do not want their children taught by covered teachers, this is an English school.” 

..On her Instagram page Fouzia displays the email from Caroline Brooks. The school denies the allegations, saying Caroline Brooks was not in their employ. Later, however, they changed their statement reporting, Caroline Brooks has been “disciplined.” The school asserts that Fouzia’s application for employment was not accepted due to her use of social media and that action has been taken against her for “slanderous comments.”

..…The English Playgroup issued the following statement:
“The English Playgroup and Primary Schools employ qualified teachers from all nationalities, religions and backgrounds who serve students as excellent and caring teachers. Allegations of discrimination against hijab-wearing staff are untrue. Our schools proudly employ many hijab wearing teachers and administrators across our schools. The allegations against the school have been disseminated by an unsuccessful overseas job applicant who was refused employment because of inappropriate behavior as illustrated on her social media platform. The opinions expressed by a new employee in the HR department are against company policy and necessary disciplinary action has been taken.”

..Fouzia is quoted as saying that her Instagram page was private before this incident, so a claim of “inappropriate behavior” on social media is unfounded. The English Playgroup later released photos on Instagram of teachers wearing a hijab while on the job. Fouzia is suing the English playgroup.

..ISR Asks: Is this an isolated incident? Was it simply a mistake on the part of an HR employee? To your knowledge, do Muslim women experience this type of discrimination in Kuwait and other Islamic countries when applying for jobs in Western-oriented schools and companies?

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Tempted to Remove a School from YOUR Resume?

October 5, 2017

Resumes are marketing tools, not legal documents and nothing says you’re obligated to list every job you’ve ever had. YOU get to decide what to include and what to leave out. But be prepared:  Gaps in your teaching history may require an explanation. Good reasons, for example, range from taking a volunteer position to spending time back home caring for an aging parent.

3 Good Reasons to Leave a School OFF Your Resume

..1)  You suspect the school Director may say something “unflattering” and/or untrue about you to a perspective employer. This is especially valid if you left on sour terms.

..2)  The school’s poor reputation may be detrimental to your career. Such schools may be characterized as “diploma mills” that guarantee top grades/university placement to parents who can meet stiff monetary requirements for their kids’ tuition. Spend too many years at such a school (where you’re considered not much more than a servant to overindulged, rich kids) and you may have trouble finding a position at an authentically “good” school.

..3)  The teaching position was for 1-year or less, or you broke contract and left early. Short stints at International Schools can draw negative attention from prospective employers. You may have had sincere, valid reasons to leave early but employers can be quick to pass judgment.

Leaving some of your teaching history OFF your resume is a personal choice and something you’ll need to consider carefully for reasons quite obvious. ISR asks:  Did you ever take a school off your resume? How did it work out for you? What’s your advice to teachers considering dropping a school from their resume?

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Duped & Ready to Walk

August 31, 2017

A couple of weeks  into every academic year I begin seeing a sprinkling of School Reviews that claim a slick school director duped the reviewer into accepting a job at their lousy school. My reaction to such comments has always been the same: stick it out, stop whining. YOU signed the contract. I couldn’t imagine that any school would be half as bad as what these teachers were describing…

Well, the tables have turned and I stand corrected. I now find that I am the victim of severe duping by a fast-talking director at a school not reviewed on ISR.

Everything here is contrary to what I saw (on the school’s website) and was told during my online interview. There’s no disciplinary support with known disruptive kids, and believe me, there’s plenty of real “prizes” at this school. There are no classroom supplies — not even pencils. The internet connection is so sketchy it might as well be shut down. There is no AC in the classrooms — it’s like a sauna in my room. Textbooks are all photo copied from one purchased edition. Software is boot-legged and glitches to a standstill constantly. To top it off, the director has proven himself to be an egocentric, buffoon who lacks any semblance to an educator.

I might be able to bite the bullet and put up with everything wrong with this place, but the crowning assault on my sanity is that the majority of students are local kids with poor, to non-existent, English skills. Try teaching high school Literature to a classroom of students who can barely muster enough English to ask to use the restroom, let alone read and discuss a story by Edgar Alan Poe. It’s like a bad joke.

The job was advertised online and not through a recruiting fair. So, if I walk out and don’t put this job on my resume, what might be the long term consequences, if any, of doing so? Also, what is the best way to bail? Should I give the school notice that I plan to leave ASAP or send them an email once I’m safely away and out of the country? I’m leaning towards the ‘wait until I’m safely away’ idea…

To those of you who have suffered the disastrous consequences of being mislead by a slick website and/or a fast-talking director, please accept my sincere apologies for having doubted you and thereafter posted such to the ISR Forum or Blog. Once I’m out of here, I’ll post a lengthy review of this place on ISR. Any advice would really comfort and reassure me at this time.

Sincerely,

Duped big time


What Should You Ask During Your Interview for an Overseas Teaching Position?

September 29, 2016

While attending an ISS conference, a “home made video” convinced me a school in the Congo was the school for me. The director showed this “amateur” video at the informational session. The photographer, a parent, had cleverly made the school and surrounding areas look like paradise in the jungle. Charged with enthusiasm, I neglected to ask some important questions at my interview. Unbeknownst to me the parent who shot the video was a professional filmmaker. I had been snookered by someone with an agenda to attract top notch teachers for their children. Welcome to the Congo. Uggh!

Personal Matters

So, what should you ask when interviewing for international teaching positions? Of course each of us has our own personal interests and priorities and ISR recommends you take time to prepare questions around these topics. Your questions might range from the availability of certain products to activities such as jogging, gyms, libraries, bookstores, movies, etc. Don’t be shy. If you ask and find your interests are not going to be fulfilled in a particular location you can at least come prepared, or decline the job offer.

Directors are looking for a “good fit”. They want teachers who will integrate well with their current staff and administration. They look for teachers who are flexible and demonstrate an ability to adapt. Let’s say you ask about the availability of bookstores and the director tells you there’s only one and with very few books in English. Instead of looking distraught, you could simply say, “That’s good to know in advance. I can set up an eBook account and read books on line”. Now you’ve killed two birds with one stone. You had your question answered and demonstrated you’re flexible and a good fit.

In 2002 my wife and I interviewed for a teaching position at a mining camp in coastal Peru. After viewing the director’s photos of the school and area we realized we would be 100 miles from nowhere and dependent on seating in the company plane to get out on weekends. During our interview, the doorbell rang and the director left the table for a few minutes. My wife, who had told the director she loves art museums and ethnic crafts, took this opportunity to whisper, “No way in hell am I going there”. When the director returned he proceeded to show us the pay package. Wow…. $50,000 each, plus benefits! He looked at my wife and said. What do you think? She replied, “I’d love to come”. We weren’t offered the positions because we were obviously not a good fit. Had fishing, hiking, mountain biking, tennis been our passion we would have been right for the location. In this case no amount of flexibility was going to make the difference.

The point is, be honest and find out what you personally need to know about a location. Finding a “good fit” is a two-way street. If both you and the director are honest the chances of success at your new location will be greatly enhanced.

Contractual and Professional Matters

Topics in these categories include: health insurance, teaching load, expectation for after school activities, housing, travel expenses, and questions such as “Do teachers generally stay for more than their first two- year contract?”

In earlier ISR articles we covered these topics and more, in detail. We suggest you pick and choose questions from the following articles that reflect your needs. If you find yourself having to ask a number of questions from the 10 Tough Questions category you may want to reconsider the idea of teaching at the school in question. Here’s the line up:

• Ask the Right Questions at Your Interview

• 20 Questions You May Want to Ask

• 10 Tough Questions You May or May Not Want to Ask

Best of success this recruiting season. As always, we recommend you do your homework and check various sources for information on schools and directors.

ISR


10 Sure-Fire Ways to Blow an Interview

December 16, 2014

Plan to attend a recruiting fair? Here’s 10 sure-fire ways to blow your interview! Have a look at this list and resolve to avoid doing ANYthing you see here.

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1) Arrive late
Recruiting fairs almost always take place in high-rise hotels where elevators are not designed to handle constant heavy traffic. More than one teaching candidate has arrived late for an interview due to slow-to-arrive, over-packed elevators that stop at every. single. floor….Get an early start!

2) Show up unprepared
Failure to do your homework could be a deal-breaker. Asking questions already answered on a school’s web site or at an earlier presentation makes you look like someone who doesn’t take the initiative to get the job done. A little research will help you make the right impression.

3) Over-share
Interviewers need to see that you understand professional boundaries and discretion. Resist talking about health problems, your problems back home, an ex-boss’s propensity to frequent bars, your previous colleagues, etc. Keep conversation professional and avoid TMI!

4) Sound bitter or desperate
After a few rejections, you may be wearing a bitter attitude guaranteed to put off any interviewer. Look on the bright side, stay optimistic and imagine yourself landing this job! Do what it takes to put yourself in a positive frame of mind.

5) Fail to give specific examples
If you say you incorporate ESL training into classroom instruction, be prepared to offer a seemingly impromptu example. If you can’t give an example of what you claim you’re capable of,  you’ll come across as ‘all show and no go.’

6) Bad-mouth your previous school and/or director
No matter how bad your last international experience turned out, never talk bad about your current/previous admin.  There is plenty of information about schools and teachers’ experiences on ISR. Bad-mouthing at an interview cautions the interviewer that you may may never be happy and potentially do the same with their school.

7) Cockiness
Confidence & cockiness are two different things. You may be certain you’re the best person for the position, but a humble, yet confident attitude is what will land you the position. 

8) Don’t ask questions
School directors want to know you are interested in the details of the job an/or the culture of the country. If you don’t ask questions, you may be sending the message you’re just not that interested. Come ready with intelligent questions that show your interest in the culture of the school, the board, or some aspect of what their school and its locale is all about.

9) Interrupt
Here’s a sure-fire way to annoy the interviewer and demonstrate you’re more interested in what you have to say, rather than being an active listener and participant in the interview.

10) Have wireless devices alert you during the interview
Your ability to listen is a vital part of the recruiting interview. If your phone rings, your iPad pings, or any such indication that you’re not 100% devoted to this interview, it is one way to be seen as less than professional. Disconnect before any interviews!

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The 3 Things YOU Absolutely Must Know Before Signing On

May 29, 2014

top-threeIf you were able to know just 3 things about an International school before signing a contract, what would those 3 things be, assuming, that is, you’ll be provided with absolutely truthful answers?

Michelle, an ISR staff member, said she would want to know: Does the school consistently honor its contractual obligations? Followed by, How international is the school? She elaborated, “A classroom of 30 Pakistani boys, some with dual citizenship, does not an International school make.” And third, How adept are the kids at speaking English? “Try teaching high school English Lit (think, George Orwell) to kids who can barely ask to use the bathroom in English!”

Ben’s response was completely different: His number one question, Can I see the benefits package? You know, air fares, moving, housing, insurance, that sort of stuff. Followed by, What sort of support can I expect from Admin? In other words, are teachers supported against powerful parents? And number three, Is there 100% academic integrity?

Both Ben and Michelle agree that having no more information than completely truthful answers to their 3 questions would be enough to base a decision to commit, or not commit, to an International school. Of course, both are seasoned International teachers who expect to experience some awkward situations with specifics of a new school, admin and location.

Without a doubt, singles in search of a vibrant social life will have different top priorities than couples. Seasoned International educators will have different priorities than “newbies”, while those traveling with children or non-teaching spouses will have different criteria still.

In our effort to make ISR an ever evolving tool to help our Members make informed decisions, ISR asks: If YOU could know only 3 things about a school before you signed/or refused a contract, what would those 3 things be? To help qualify your response, please precede your answer with a status update–(i.e.: I am single/married, have children, number of schools taught at, years overseas).

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Be Prepared for Tough Interview Questions

December 5, 2013

confused44040691Credentials, enthusiasm and a burning desire to teach overseas describes nearly 100% of recruiting-fair candidates. So, how do you set yourself above the bar with so many high caliber candidates competing for the same positions?

A Director’s gut feeling about how you’ll fit into and adapt to their school and geographical location certainly plays a big part in the decision-making process. For some hardship locations, a “good fit” may be more important than actual years of teaching experience and advanced degrees. But when it comes to competing for the most desirable schools, your answers to some unexpected interview questions can easily make or break the deal:

Tell me about yourself. What’s your greatest contribution to your last school? If I walked into your classroom, what would I see? How will your past or current Director describe you when I dial them up? How would your students describe you? Teach me something right now! What’s the last article or book you read on teaching? Which educational journals do you subscribe to? Tell me about a conflict you resolved.

Answering tough interview questions is something you definitely don’t want to do impromptu. Of course, if you’re thrown a curve ball you have to swing at it, but anticipating and honing your answers to possible interview questions is obviously the best way to prepare for a successful interview. You just might be Teacher of the Year material but if you can’t convince the interviewer of that, all is for naught.

The Job Search Minute is a collection of 69 one-minute videos exploring the answers to a wide variety of tough interview questions. We highly recommend this series for all teaching candidates. For questions specific to International Teaching, we invite you to Scroll Down to post and solicit responses to interview questions you could use some help with. We encourage you to also post and answer your own questions so we all can learn from each others’ knowledge.

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Are Internat’l Recruiting Fairs the Place to Get a Job?

February 21, 2013

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Note: This Article & Survey published on February 21, 2013


We  asked all of you who attended a Recruiting Fair this season to take our short Poll & respond about YOUR recruiting experiences.

We’re thrilled to say over 50% of International teachers report: . YES! I got a job!

This school finally decided to have a look at me after they considered my vast international experience & what I’d save them in airfares.

I had 8 interviews, 6 offers & accepted a great offer from an A-List school. Now that I have gone through one fair, I am much more confident about the process.

Equally exciting is the result from nearly one-fifth of those polled:

NO! I didn’t attend a Recruiting Fair. I got a job ON MY OWN! How exciting! Are we sensing a trend for recruiting teachers who wish to avoid the time, money, frustration, weather difficulties & overall complications of flying thousands of miles around the world to a Recruiting Fair where hundreds of colleagues are vying for the same small pool of jobs?

I did some research & applied directly at a small school where I am enjoying myself immensely–staying for another year!

The two International jobs I have had since 2010 I received via SKYPE interviews. My resolve was to NEVER again attend a Fair.

Others report they are disillusioned with traditional Recruiting Fairs:

I spent over $5000 of my own money & neither fair gave me a good job offer. Seriously, would you wager $5000 with no guarantee of return of investment? I am kicking myself, asking why I did!

These fairs are nothing more than a chance for Search, ISS & others to make a lot of money at our expense & for the chance for school administrators to network & enjoy the perks of traveling. Let’s reduce our carbon footprint & at the same time send Search & school administrators a message.

The Recruiting Fairs are ongoing for a few more months. Be sure to add YOUR Vote to the Poll & share observations /comments with your colleagues. What do YOU have to add about your Recruiting Fair experience?

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This survey is closed

Click here for our 2015 Recruiting Fair Survey



Skype Your Way to an International Teaching Position

January 12, 2012

Skype is quickly becoming a popular recruiting venue for international teaching candidates. And rightly so! Last recruiting season, schools and teachers reported successfully filling many positions relying on Skype internet interviews. Here’s what candidates and recruiters had to say last recruiting season:

“We have been using the telephone versions of Skype for some years now to interview our supply teachers. We are slowly moving to Video Skype as more teachers have access to faster internet connections and web cams.”

“I only did Skype interviews this year. Got a great job at an excellent school! Personal interviews are a crapshoot at best. What an administrator can learn about an applicant at a 25-minute job fair interview I can only guess. I will never again spend three thousand dollars to fly halfway ’round the world for a 40k a year job.”

“I got my current job via Skype and the new one for next year involved a phone interview. I just don’t see spending money to fly to a fair, pay a high premium and taking days off from my students.”

“I’ve had successful Skype interviews that I felt gave both parties a good sense of the other. I can see that many schools feel the job fairs provide a valuable source of quality teachers, but I DO question the motivation of some schools that seem to go on an endless world tour of job fairs to hire someone.”

We’re certain that this year many more schools and candidates are relying on Skype. Have you had experience with Skype interviews this recruiting season? Did you find a teaching position through Skype? What do you predict the future holds for international teachers recruiting using the Skype medium? Maybe you have questions and/or advice about using Skype for recruiting. Here’s the place to share information and ask questions.


My Strangest Interview

January 19, 2010

Interviewing for an international teaching position can have both strange and comical moments.  Although recruiting conferences can be serious business, there’s always room for the unexpected.  In My Strangest Interview, teachers relate “memorable” interview experiences.  Have something to add?

Interviewing with a school in Japan several years ago… I was single… after 45 minutes of intense questions the guy gets up to get a drink while I’m in the middle of an answer.  I finish and as he walks back he says, “Do you like Asian women?”  I have no idea what to say so I umm and ahh for a second and then say “I find them attractive.”  He practically yells out, “Then you’re gonna love Japan!”  He then tells me that although married he wished he had the opportunity to dabble.

I was interviewing for a job in the Philippines.  The interviewer came late, smelling of cigarettes. We sit down for a talk.  He asked a question and then leans in real dramatically for the answer.  He did this over and over.  Freaked me out.  I also was grabbed by some men from Saudi Arabia at a job fair.  They told me they had the perfect job for me: 5th grade Math and Science. But I teach History and English,  I said.  “You will be perfect”.  Will I like the job?  “No no, you will hate it, the kids are horrible”.  Will I be able to meet many Saudis and have a social life?  “No no, the Saudis hate foreigners.  But there are many nurses in Riyadh. They are from the Philippines. We can hook you up.”  Strangely enough, I didn’t take the job. Read the rest of this entry »


International Teaching Without Credentials

November 10, 2009

teaching-credentia-smalll2887514The good news is this: A teaching credential is not always a prerequisite to teach overseas. If you’ve enjoyed a career or worked in any field whose subject matter translates well to the classroom, you could find that you’re a sought-after candidate. GO to complete article.