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

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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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