With the school year coming to a conclusion, some of us are anticipating moving home for more than just the summer recess. This transition can be both exciting and most certainly, daunting. There’s so much to consider and so many tasks to accomplish. It’s just like staring over! Fortunately, advice and comradery is not far away.
Claudia: “For me, coming home was a brand new adventure, and it’s amazing how even though family tell you how much they want you back, they have all moved on with their own busy routines that don’t include you. Even my parents! My husband and I found out about gatherings and outings we used to be included in well after the fact and we felt like outcasts. It was a weird time.”
Russ: “None of my friends really wanted to hear about my trip, or see pictures and they REALLY got tired when I kept bringing up stories and situations about how another culture solves the problem so easily. This is especially true of other teachers who don’t want to hear how great my students were, or how much easier things were.”
Edmond: “We’ve been out long enough. We have money in the bank, seen a good chunk of the world and are thinking of trying life Stateside again. It just feels like time to go home. We find we miss the football games, seasonal celebrations and the myriad of family gatherings. If we do go home and find it’s not as wonderful as we are imagining we can always go back out again. This might be easier said than done.”
ISR invites you to participate in our GOING HOME Blog to share experiences and concerns, ask questions and offer advice on this very important topic.
“Dear ISR, I’m getting ready to move overseas for the first time. I’ve got an apartment full of furniture, bicycles, kids’ toys, clothes, kitchen stuff and well, the usual things people tend to collect. I’m trying to figure out what I should do with all this stuff! Our school offers a moderate shipping allowance but not enough to ship the big pieces.
I’m definitely in a quandary at this point: If I sell everything I’ll for sure have a wad of cash. If I keep it all, I’ll have to pay storage for at least 2 years and that’s about $1800. I’d really like to know what international teachers already overseas have done with their belongs and if they later wished they had done something different. Thanks for your help with this question, any advice is appreciated.”
Are you considering going international & not quite sure the overseas life style is for you? You are not alone. A States-side teacher recently wrote to say: “I live in the U.S. & have a pretty great life. I have a stable teaching job that pays well with good benefits. I like the area where I currently live & am blessed with great friends. HOWEVER, I keep getting this pull in my gut towards travel & adventure. I want to see places & meet new people, explore exotic cultures, eat weird foods, be thoroughly challenged…”
f these comments resonate harmoniously in your psyche, you’re no doubt looking for some answers to help you get off that fence. Good news! Our States-side teacher posed 5 insightful questions, the answers to which are certain to help you decide which side of the fence is the right side for you. ISR invites experienced international teachers to lend a helping hand & shed some light on the following questions:
|1. If you could go back in time, would you teach internationally or stay at home?
|2. Are you financially better off teaching internationally?
|3. Has it been easy to make friends or has it been lonely away from home?
|4. What have been your favorite countries and/or schools?
|5. What are the best things about teaching internationally? What are the worst?
Blogging is now the preferred medium of International Educators for sharing overseas travel and teaching adventures with friends and family. With plenty of space for commentary, Blogs also provide ample room for photos, and even home-made video clips. Best of all, Blogs are designed for interaction between reader and Blog owner. Taking just minutes to set up a personal Blog, it’s small wonder Blogging has become so popular among international educators.
Blogs are actually more than a great way to share experiences with folks back home and can be of tremendous value to other International Teachers, especially those new to the international teaching adventure and looking for information. Reading about the experiences of overseas educators, particularly those in a region we may be considering for our next career move, helps immensely with the decision-making process.
International Teachers’ Blogs usually provide a first-hand look at what life is really like in various locations. A family Blog displaying a rewarding time for both parents and children can signal a family-friendly location. Photos strictly of fern and fauna may point to little available cultural activity. But, the real beauty of a Blog is that we can ask questions of the Blog owner, who can then personalize the information just for us.
We invite you to join us on My Favorite International Teacher Blog to share information about, and links to, Blogs of interest to International Educators.
In 2013 an alarming education policy will take effect in Indonesia. The new legislation, Peraturan Pemerintah Republik Indonesia Nomor 17 tahun 2010, has far-reaching implications for international educators wishing to teach in Indonesia. Here are the basics of the legislation as explained to ISR:
1. “National Plus Schools” [nat’l curriculum + internat’l curriculum, eg: Cambridge] will now be called “International Schools.” This means that for every foreign teacher there must be 3 local Indonesian teachers. Foreign teachers will only be allowed to teach English and NOthing more, as all other subjects will be taught by locals.
2. Schools currently called “International Schools” will become “Foreign Schools.” NO Indonesian citizens will be allowed to attend these schools.
It appears international teachers in Indonesia will be relegated to teaching ESL. If this bill affects your plans, please join us here on the Indonesia Education Legislation Blog to share information and ideas on this topic with other international educators.
“I suppose I’ve now been initiated into the world of international teaching. I have been completely blindsided and deceived by my admin who informed me I will not be getting another contract. This, despite two glowing performance appraisals over the past two years at this school.
In the end, although I was praised for having a high level of competence and skill in the job, they pointed out a fuzzily-defined personality trait of mine as being the reason for non-renewal.
My question is this: What do I say to prospective employers when asked my reasons for “resigning” (as I was given the option to do) after the initial two-year contract
Also, should I make a case to my recruiting agency over this? Any help would be much appreciated!”
“I recently accepted a post at a school and start in August. I’m beginning to sell house, car, everything. But now, two weeks later, I am really worried…I just discovered ISR! Ouch! There’s one bad review after another about “my” new school! I wish I knew whether these reviews were teachers just letting off steam after a bad day, or if I should be seriously concerned. I am giving up my whole life here at home for this post abroad. Now I’m just not sure what to do. I was happy until I found your web site! Now? Any suggestions on what to do next?”
When you find yourself in an intolerable school situation do you stick it out or run for your life? Opinions vary, with each side of the dilemma adamant about its position:
I’D RUN FOR IT: “There is no honor in suffering. The idea that working at a rotten school in a lousy country, educating a do-nothing population with no interest in academics will somehow make you a better teacher or a better person is pure malarkey! Suffering is suffering no matter how you cut it & the less time of your professional life you can spend doing it, the better. Some schools are so god-awful, shifty, & immoral, the most honorable thing to do is to call it a day & RUN!”
I’D STICK IT OUT: “I could have run away from the job, but I felt the experience would actually serve me well in the future & that as a professional I could learn from what was happening in the school. My colleagues thought that if I left without notice & the school could not find a replacement, the children’s education would ultimately suffer. As an educator first & foremost, I could not leave the students.”
HOW ABOUT YOU?
“Dear ISR, I’ve received some positive responses to my applications for international teaching positions. But, in 3 instances after the recruiter contacted my confidential referees, interest cooled down, making me wonder what the problem might be.
I am absolutely sure referees 2 and 3 are very positive and complimentary. But I’m less certain about my current employer for whom I have worked for almost 5 years, and under whom I really feel I have been poorly and disrespectfully treated.
The fact is, I’ve only listed my present Director (with permission) on the basis that it is usually expected the current employer be included. I am, however, beginning to think he is damaging my prospects. This is pure speculation but a distinct pattern is emerging that leads me clearly to this conclusion.
I do know he almost certainly scuppered another potential appointment 3 years ago when the head of the school I was applying to informed me that my Director said I was under contract and therefore not eligible to apply. This was not true because the new contract being offered for the next term had not yet been presented to me.
This is really a bad situation. How about some advice…..anybody?”
Here’s the scenario: You’ve attended, at great expense, an international teaching job fair. On the last day of the recruiting fair you sign on with your 3rd-choice school. You’re not enthused about this job, but realistically know it’s definitely a world better than no job at all. As you head home you feel an odd mix of relief and reluctance–you are glad you’ve found your next international teaching position, but still would have greatly preferred schools #1 or #2. You try to think positively and make plans for the upcoming move.
Then, a few weeks pass and you’re emailed an offer from your 1st-choice school–your dream position and salary in a super desirable school and location! Yeah! But….uh, oh. Hold on a moment…..You’re confused. What should you do?
Comments from International Educators indicate there are two, distinct camps of thought on this dilemma:
Camp #1 is exemplified by this comment: “It’s a question of character. I have principles, and I respect those who do. I make choices in life based on those. You have to decide if your word is your bond.”
Camp #2 is exemplified by this comment: “Character is just an excuse people use for sticking with a bad decision. SMART people change their mind when confronted with better options. What people do in business isn’t always the same thing they would do personally.”
Which camp do YOU stand in? And, why?
After the Holiday, I Don’t Want to Go Back (our previous Blog topic) attracted insightful responses packed with sound advice. One provocative response really hit home with us at ISR. We would like to solicit your comments:
“I’m relatively new to the teaching profession (certified in ’07) and have a question for the author of last week’s Blog Topic: What great thing do you have waiting for you in the United States that would keep you here? I’d say, if you really want to meet the most miserable, dejected people on Earth, visit the teachers’ lounge in any U.S. public school! Corporatists have the man-on-the-street believing teachers are at fault for all of America’s social problems, and that they’re overpaid to boot!”
Another ISR Blogger wholeheartedly concurred:
“Brilliantly stated! Once you get out of the USA, you find a whole world of teaching and learning that is thriving and — while imperfect to varying degrees — honoring the very educational values that American culture is rejecting.”
ISR agrees — we as teachers are infinitely more free to teach and develop our craft overseas. Teaching abroad offers small class sizes, supportive parents, a violence-free environment, a high percentage of motivated students, and no political mandates such as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). What’s your opinion? Would you rather be a bit homesick OR sick of home?
Dear ISR, I’m teaching abroad for the first time. I love my job, good admin, good peers, great classes. I like the city and the country. But….I was feeling homesick the last few weeks overseas and had this overwhelming sense of how much I wanted to be back ‘home’ as I was getting on the U.S.-bound plane.
Now I’m back in the old hometown for vacation and I realize just how incredibly homesick I’ve been. I’ll be in the States for two more weeks and am not looking forward to going back overseas.
This would be a different discussion if I were subject to some of the abuse it seems is out there, but I live in a nice place. I’ve got a good job with good people. My wife and I took this job because we wanted to live in a different environment and explore. But I think we’ve just learned that where we left from to go overseas is where we wanted to be all along.
We’re one semester into a two-year contract. How much of this is part of the normal “first time living/working abroad” learning curve? How have you all dealt with homesickness?
Recruiting Fairs are pressure cookers. Educators currently teaching in schools around the world will have invested thousands of dollars to fly to, and attend recruiting fairs. These teachers have resigned their current positions, making them highly motivated with a proven track record. Does this make them the most desirable candidates?
For those new to recruiting fairs, you quickly learn that competition is intense. If you arrive unprepared, chances are you’ll be leaving empty-handed! Our Tips to Make Recruiting Season a Success is specifically designed to help you navigate your recruiting fair experience and potentially walk out with a contract in hand! Seasoned overseas educators will find plenty here to refresh the memory and some new ideas as well.
Ever wonder what Directors are looking for in a candidate? Wouldn’t it be nice to know in advance of finding yourself engaged in an interview? To keep you informed, ISR asked School Directors to tell us what they look for in an international teaching candidate and then posted the top 3 responses. The bar is much higher than you might suspect! What Directors Look for in International Teaching Candidates.
Do you have a personal favorite approach to the recruiting process we would all benefit from knowing about? Or, do you have a question about the recruiting process? This is the place!
More than one international educator has found themselves working for a greedy business owner whose only focus is to extract maximum profits from his or her school. Some school owners know literally nothing about education, yet see it as a lucrative business scheme while at the same time elevating their supposed philanthropic and social profile in the community.
Directors, like teachers, have good reason to stay on the right side of their bosses. But, at what point is a school director simply the minion of a greedy owner or board of directors, or in the worst-case scenario, complicit in the money-oriented venture called a “school”?
I’ve worked at both for-profit and non-profit schools. Neither designation guaranteed the type of experience I would have. At one school, the director supported his teachers against powerful parents and a board focused on what could kindly be termed a ‘minimalist’ agenda. He had the fortitude to stand up for what he believed in and refused to be reduced to puppet status. In the end, this director’s allegiance to students, staff and high educational standards cost him his job.
Another school was a different story. This director was the proverbial mouthpiece and bearer of bad news concerning pay reductions, health insurance cuts, non-existent supplies, and non-reimbursed shipping allowances. He went so far as to insist teachers bend to powerful parents (aka: paying customers) who were demanding their lazy kids get the grades they were “paying” for. The staff lost respect for him, and many of us jumped ship. Here was a PhD in Education who had sold out for a buck and was reduced to being a referee merely wielding the ax of the owner’s expectations, demands and threats.
The international teaching arena is rife with business people selling a high-priced, third-class education cleverly disguised behind the aura of credentialed Anglo faces from the US and UK. It appears there are some school directors ready and willing to do their unconscious bidding. I’m sure others are not so willing, yet succumb to the need to make a living.
Have you worked for a greedy school owner? What did you learn from the experience? Any advice for your colleagues on how to deal with a director who is loyal only to a ruthless board or owner?
It’s no secret the world is in an economic downturn. But did you know as result the US, UK and Canada have been laying off public school teachers at an alarming rate? These cuts even include science and math teachers. A Chicago-based educator reports his school opened up a position (due to increased enrollment) and had 170 applicants in two hours.
An option for unemployed public school teachers may be to turn to international education in search of employment. If this happens, will the job market become saturated? Will recruiting fairs become flooded with available educators? More importantly, will schools feeling the effects of countless poor reviews suddenly have their pick of previously “out of reach” educators now in dire need of a paycheck?
Not many years ago organizations such as the American Academy of School Heads expressed concern over the dwindling pool of international teaching candidates. At a New York recruiting fair it was noted that there were 3 to 4 available jobs per each applicant. In response, a task force was formed to solve the problem. It appears the problem may have solved itself but, through no one’s fault, to the detriment of current international educators.
What is your take on the situation? Will fired public school teachers go international or will they stay home to gut it out? If they go international, will schools scoop them up at a reduced rate? Or will schools continue to give priority to seasoned overseas educators? We invite you to weigh in on this topic.
“Looking back on my interview, there were definite warning signs I should have heeded, not the least of which was the director dozing off intermittently. Okay…he was tired from the flight. Beyond that, the fact that the contract was not ready should have been a clear-cut indication to decline the job. Why hadn’t he taken 10 minutes to jot down everything he just offered me verbally? Was he making it up as he went along? Was there any validity to what he was promising?
I recall that during the interview the director said, ‘Our kids are great, just a bit chatty.’ Translation? The kids turned out to be completely in control and they knew it. But, I really should have been suspicious when the interview became a sales pitch, focusing on the beauty of the country and the wonderfully supportive school community. In reality, the school was a hot bed of gossip with powerful parents, an inept principal and a director shaking in his boots.
I broke contract at the end of the first year and was soon thereafter blackballed everywhere by the vindictive director and principal. Hindsight is 20/20 — I should have heeded the warning signs flashing in my head, but I needed the job and took it against my better judgment.”
Have YOU had a similar experience? Or were you astute enough to turn down the job? ISR invites you to contribute to our Interview Warning Signs Blog and share insights and experiences. Teachers Keeping Each Other Informed is what ISR is All About!
“I’m new to international teaching and just recently became an ISR member. I’m frankly shocked at the number of negative school reviews on the web site. The truth is, I just completed an awful year overseas and had I seen the ISR reviews for my school I would never have come here. My question for veteran members of ISR is: How do teachers use the ISR web site to make informed decisions about a school? For example, my current school has a few very good reviews smattered in among the reviews that more accurately reflect my experience here. I could use some help with clearly reading beyond the words.”
The author of this post received a complimentary one-year ISR membership. Do YOU have a Blog topic you’d like to share with colleagues around the world? – Click here
For me, the absolute greatest part of teaching and living overseas is the travel opportunities. From my current school it’s a quick, inexpensive, flight to just about anyplace in Europe.
Amid protests and guilt trips laid on me by family back home, I decided to travel this summer. My brother and his wife took over my house in the States years ago so returning “home” leaves me crashing on the couch or in the spare bedroom. An entire summer is just too long for everyone.
My first stop is Prague, I’ve rented a car and aside from the cost of gasoline I’m having the time of my life. I have a tent and a camp stove and plan to spend just one or two nights a week in hotels. I’m meeting people on summer holiday in camp grounds and really getting a feel for the people and places I’ve visited so far. I have no definite plans, just a map and lots of time.
I’m curious what other international teachers are doing this summer. I’m hoping ISR will post this letter so I can hear from other teachers traveling on summer break.
Thanks very much and have a great summer, Phil. / Tell us what YOU’re doing this summer
Submitted and written by ISR member:
Going International with a special needs child can make it tough to find a good school match, but it is well worth the search on the front-end because the consequences of having a poor match of schools can be devastating for your child.
Some schools flat-out state that teachers with kids who have any kind of learning differences or special needs, Need NOT Apply! This can be the danger of having an existing IEP and assuming it will be addressed in a competent manner.
Many “need not apply” schools insist they are keeping a ‘high standard of education’ when in reality the teachers simply do not have a strong background in differentiated learning. The longer some educators have been teachers overseas, I have seen them hide behind the old fashioned instructional/traditional insistence that kids who learn differently are not capable of achieving great things when they have multiple strategies/assessments in their corners. Don’t be fooled. The best practice schools can manage a highly competitive IB or AP HS program and still maintain high expectations for kids with learning disabilities.
The state department uses some wonderful consultants through Families in Global Transitions. They are familiar with strong international academic support programs. You want to scour websites and read philosophies carefully. You need to ask extensive questions of existing staff because often those schools have experienced a turnover in academic support services.
Listen for that attitude of “all kids can learn and our job is to have have high expectations for them.” With the right environment, the small class sizes can be miraculous. In the wrong setting, when you add the transition stress and often the language differences, as well as your own adjustment and starting new jobs, settling in, and the dynamic of living in a fish bowl with your colleagues, it is hard to be the parent advocate the kids deserve.
With that said, however, the researches also say that the kind of lifestyle that opens up a kid’s mind and stretches their understanding of the world can also open up brain neurons they never knew they had.
We invite you to participate in this discussion, share information, ask questions and provide support.
Do feel free to list resources and the names of schools with comprehensive special needs programs. But school bashing is strictly prohibited and any such posts will be removed and the poster blocked.
Transplanted from the ISR forum
Forum poster – Is a salary offer a take-it or leave-it proposition? I want to come back to the school with a number at least 5k higher. Will schools shut the door if you just ask for it? Other benefits seem fine.
Reply – if you’re looking to wheel and deal with a for-profit school for a higher salary or extra benefits, don’t be surprised if, after you’ve signed on the dotted line, they nickle and dime you to death and perhaps aren’t so willing to approve your request for a PD trip or new materials for your classroom. So maybe your negotiation skills would be better served to meet the educational needs of your students rather than your pocketbook. Just a thought.
Forum poster – If you think that I am going sacrifice my own fiscal well-being so that the school can save money, you are naive. I am not a missionary and I am not interested in working to enrich the owners of a school. I am a professional, who can help students learn with experience and expertise. I will participate in a fair exchange: my knowledge and work for money. I’m going to get paid every single dime I am in a position to earn…
What’s your opinion and feelings on this topic?