Is This Really a Career Anymore?

April 6, 2017

..Looking around on Search Associates and TIE Online, I’ve noticed something: salaries and benefits in this industry are going WAY down, everywhere…and fast! Is this because the pool of applicants is rising? Or, is it because the number of schools is increasing?

I read recently that the number of international schools worldwide will double in the next 12 years. I’m not an Economist, but I had thought that supply-and-demand would benefit a teacher’s financial perspective since the pool of teachers would shrink relative to the overall demand of schools.

But now I’m wondering:  Because there are more schools, could this mean just the opposite — the larger supply of schools means an increase in competition among them, and as a result, they have to lower tuition fees and provide a more comprehensive service. This inevitably affects teachers who have to work harder for less money, as a lower profit-margin will certainly come out of salaries.

Schools can pay lower salaries as long as they have ‘X’ amount of well-qualified, ‘marketable’ staff who will ‘carry’ the lower-paid, less-qualified staff. For example, you see many more schools employing P. E. teachers from the Philippines, and Math teachers from India. These teachers may work for half of what Western teachers would earn. Many of these lower-paid teachers are great teachers, of course, yet they do not appear on the website of the American or British schools they work in. Who IS shown as staff on the web sites? The Western-certified teachers their PR marketers can flaunt, especially to Asian/new money markets.

In addition, salaries have gone down in the last 15 years. On Search, for example, there’s a school in Bahrain advertising for a ‘certified Native English speaker to teach math.’ The pay? $12,000 USD a year, not even minimum wage in some US states.

Is International Teaching turning the way of other mass-produced services and goods?  Are we becoming just a cog in the wheel? Are we a service that’s in demand, or simply like another disposable component in an ever cheaper cell phone? What will International Teaching be in twenty years when the market is squeezed further and technology takes a bigger market share? You may wonder: Is International Teaching still a wise career choice?

Any thoughts? Anybody else notice this trend?
(ISR Note: This post was adopted from the ISR Open Forum)


Recruiting Survey Results – Your Help Requested

March 24, 2016

round-up-resultsOur 2016 Recruiting Survey revealed that just 13% teachers who took our Survey were successful in securing a teaching position through a Recruiting Fair. Of the total respondents, 9% attended a Fair but were unsuccessful in landing a position. We’ll leave it to you to draw your own conclusion.

On a positive note, 44% of Survey respondents reported finding an International Teaching position without attending a Recruiting Fair. Of the remaining respondents, 20% did not recruit this season and the rest were unable to find a position on their own. These results are similar to those found in our 2015 Survey in which 46% of respondents reported finding a job without attending a Fair.

Comparing the 2015/2016 results to our 2013 Survey, we see a significant difference. In 2013, just 30% of participants reported finding a job outside of a Recruiting Fair. Based on the current increase of 50% in this category for both 2015/2016, is it safe to say there has been a trend away from Recruiting Fairs and a growing reliance on tech-type venues by both schools and educators?

The following Comments were posted to our 2016 Recruiting Survey:

We have been recruiting for 5 primary posts and 2 secondary posts at a central Asian international school. We do our advertising via free ESL boards and by word of mouth.

Since the advent of Skype we’ve found Job Fairs to be a complete waste of our time and money.

This year we received a very large number of on line teacher qualified applications from the UK, far more applications than experienced in previous years. We were able to complete our recruiting in a campaign of some 5 weeks this year…as opposed to an 8-week campaign last year.

Of course tech venues will never take the place of the huge social extravaganza that underlies Recruiting Fairs. For school directors, Recruiting Fairs are an opportunity to travel to far off lands, stay in first-class hotels and hob-knob with other school directors at their school’s expense. It’s not exactly an all-expense-paid vacation, but very close, in our estimation. However, for teachers who must bear the brunt of their own recruiting expenses and possibly take unpaid time away from their current employment, Recruiting Fairs are….well, not quite the same as they are for school Directors.

As veterans of the Fairs, your colleagues at International Schools Review are encouraged to see an increasing reliance on technology in regards to the recruiting process. After all, with so many schools professing to offer their students the latest in technology, it should follow that they would opt to take advantage of it themselves. Will Recruiting Fairs go the way of snail mail? That still remains to be seen.

If you are one of the many educators who avoided the Fairs and used technology to find an International Teaching position, please scroll down and share with your colleagues what you learned from the experience. What venue did you use? How did you initially find and contact schools? What preparations and tips do you have for an online interview?

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Recruiting Annoyances Can Make Ya CRaZY!

January 27, 2016

annoyance2266059NO prospective nibbles so far …. One week after the interview and no news …. What if the school admin changes their mind? …. Schools in Sudan are not even contacting us …. My husband accidentally hit the Skype-camera button while only in his underwear!

Recruiting for International teaching positions is full of annoyances, replete with uncertainty and self-doubt that can throw even the most seasoned of us into an emotional tailspin. Are the emotional highs and lows worth it? Experienced international educators answer with a resounding YES, but going through it in isolation can be tough.

The ISR Recruiting Annoyances Blog was created specifically for sharing recruiting-related thoughts and experiences. Here’s an opportunity to “blow off a little steam” and offer fellow candidates feedback and support….and get some for yourself. Staying in tune with the progress, experiences and reactions of colleagues will help us ALL understand our individual situation and might even add some stress relief, as well!

…………..Recruiting Annoyances:

“So far, our job search has gotten us diddly squat. One ‘see ya at the fair,’ a couple of ‘your resume has been forwarded to so and so,’ and one outright rejection. In a way, I actually prefer the rejection; at least that means they’re communicating with us and our resumes haven’t just been thrown into a void. Any one else in this boat?”

“My nerves are frayed after signing a contract at the AASSA fair. I have not heard a word from anyone. People are coming to my house to buy my furniture; the realtor is listing my house, and no word. What if they change their mind? I am in a very difficult position if they do. Nothing seems to be easy, whether you get offered a job or not. Either way, we teachers seem to have to just wait, and wait, and wait. Any advice?”

“He accidentally clicked ‘camera’ and there he was in his underwear! We had our third Skype interview early this morning. Unfortunately, due to extreme time differences we needed to be up very early. My husband woke late and barely made it to the computer BUT during the interview he accidentally clicked the camera ON and there he was, sitting in his underwear!! The head of school and department head quickly excused themselves and said they would be contacting us again at a later date. Now what?”

We originally published this Article in 2013.

It will be interesting to compare teachers’ comments
from 2013 with those added in 2016.  

In what ways has the recruiting process evolved in the past 3 years?


De-Stressing @ Your New School

August 27, 2015

Lazy time. Man in hat in a hammock on a summer day

For most of us, coming in as a new teacher at an international school means we have a lot of adapting to do. Culture, language, food, climate, students, the parents of students, a new house/apartment, city and currency of monetary exchange are just a handful of what makes up the “foreign” environment that awaits us.

With so much energy focused on the actual move, how can you truly comprehend what you’re committing to? Here’s a short list of some changes to expect and suggestions from teachers who have been there/done that, and have some unique strategies for adapting to their new environment. (1st published 8/’11)

What’s New When We Change Schools?
Culture, language, food, climate, students, parents of students, your house/ apartment, the city, currency of exchange, your classroom, internet availability, administration, colleagues and committee work, school procedures, transportation, shopping, entertainment, medical care, bill paying, banking, and well… just about everything. Even your name may seem to change and sound new in terms of the local accent.

So, what de-stressing strategies work when all your familiar reference points are gone? Over the years I’ve stuck with 3 strategies that help me get a good start at a new school.

My Top 3 de-Stressing Strategies:
1. I get to know the school secretaries, the head of tech and the head of maintenance. I want them as allies. I even make some effort to get to “know them” before coming and try to bring some small gifts to sweeten the deal upon our first meeting. At one school, the tech guy desperately wanted US backpacks for his children. By bringing them along as a gift, I insured his gracious help with my many requests in the first weeks of school. I was nearly always put at the top of the list. Beyond just a colleague, he became a friend.

2. Make your apartment/house your home and refuge. I bring familiar things that make me feel at home. My music, a few pictures, books, a board game, special soap, and any other easily portable knickknack that makes me warm and fuzzy. I also bring a good supply of my favorite comfort foods. There’s nothing like a few favorite things from a known environment to help make the transition into the unknown a lot smoother. At the end of the school day you’ll want a welcoming home refuge from the crush of newness.

3. I’m careful not to be overzealous in volunteering for more committees and duties than I am comfortable with. At a new school, with my attentions being bounced around like a ping pong ball between school and personal needs, the last thing I want is more to focus my attention on. The temptation is to jump right in and make huge contributions to staff and school, but in the end if I take care of “number one” first I’m a lot more effective when it comes to contributing to the team.

Now it’s your turn. Many of us are starting off the new academic year at international schools that are new to us. What techniques work for you? Sharing our personal strategies is a great way to support each other and help make the upcoming academic year a success, in and out of school!


Tell Recruiters + Colleagues About YOUR Recruiting Experience

February 20, 2014

whathaveyourlearned43140067  ….Here’s an opportunity to share your recruiting experiences with colleagues and recruiters alike.  Yes, administration, represented by ALL the major recruiting agencies are also ISR members. We are certain they will see your comments. So, in the spirit of helping recruiters meet the needs of educators and schools AND keeping colleagues informed, we invite you to share YOUR recruiting experiences along with your thoughts and comments.

Here are some examples of what you might want to share: Was the recruiting fair you attended what you anticipated? Please elaborate: What worked? What did not work? Were you impressed with the organization of the event? Would you attend a fair sponsored by the same group again? Is there anything you would suggest be done differently to improve the experience for candidates? If you’re school administration, how would you improve the recruiting fair experience for schools seeking teachers? Would you recommend this venue to colleagues? Why? Why not?

To get started, use your mouse to select and copy the green text, below.  Then scroll down and paste the text into the ‘Leave a Reply’ box.  Supply answers to points 1-4 and add comments. Include as much information as you like. Please keep comments constructive in nature! Avoid rants which may mysteriously disappear!

Select + Copy green text:

1) Recruiting Agency:
2) Event Location:
3) Event Date:
4) Number of previous fairs attended:
COMMENTS:

Now scroll down.
Paste copied text into ‘Leave a Reply’ box + begin. Thank you!


Home for the Holidays

December 19, 2013

airlinepassenger32913056When I first moved overseas to teach in an International School, I returned home to my family and friends every winter vacation. Homecomings were a much needed reunion. But as the years passed and 3 turned into 6, then 11, I made the homeward holiday-trek less and less, opting instead to travel or just stay put. I love and miss family and friends, but holiday visits began to leave me feeling like an outsider.

While overseas I have missed the birth of my sister’s son, my dad’s battle with cancer, my aunt’s 90th birthday bash. I was in the rain forests of Ecuador when my beloved uncle passed and didn’t get the news until weeks after the funeral. I even missed my closest friend’s wedding. Through years and miles of separation I have slowly slipped into the status of distant friend and relative.

I’ve come to realize my friends and family live in different worlds than do I, both literally and figuratively. I never considered this would be an outcome of my overseas lifestyle. My sister is a corporate climber and my good friends are now mostly focused on the material pleasures their incomes’ can buy. Stories of civil wars or meditating in an ancient Buddhist temple or climbing the pyramids in Mexico don’t register with them. Sadly, the unspoken nuances of our conversation that once united us are no longer there.

By the end of a holiday visit I am anxious to return to my overseas life and it’s a bittersweet departure. Yet this year I’m making the trip “home” again because even though my loved ones and I live in different worlds, just being together at the holidays says it all.

Happy Holidays and safe travels, Michelle @ ISR

Does this story resonate with you?
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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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