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 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!


What Makes ISR Different?

October 9, 2014

fish54907403An ISR member posted the following topic to the ISR Forum & has received some engaging replies. With recruiting season about to switch into high gear, we wanted to share with you what members are saying about the ISR network of International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed. We hope you’ll join us!

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Click here to go to this topic on the ISR Forum


Successful Recruiting with ISR

November 6, 2013

dice25867895As International Educators we leave our home countries to immerse ourselves in new, exotic lands & to enjoy the unique opportunity of teaching students from many cultures. Of the 6 schools in which I taught, 4 were outstanding examples of what the International teaching experience should be. Unfortunately, 2 of the 6 were such utter disasters they nearly destroyed my desire to pursue a career in International education. We all want to avoid such schools!

It’s truly upsetting to hear about educators being taken advantage of by supposed ‘entrepreneurs’ who have disguised their get-rich plans to look like an International school. At International Schools Review we strive to make your recruiting efforts successful by helping you steer clear of these schools. We do this by hosting in-depth & candid reviews of International schools around the globe. As recounted in many of the 6500+ Reviews we host, most International schools are wonderfully enriching, but care needs to be taken to avoid those that are not.

Yes, ISR has been accused of hosting Reviews written by merely “disgruntled” teachers. But, when dozens+ of such Reviews exist for a particular school, we can no longer question the validity of the claims. As we’ve seen time and again, taking a Pollyanna-ish approach to researching schools can be detrimental to your career & personal safety.

ISR encourages you to do your homework & thoroughly research any school you may be considering. We invite you to visit our Members’ Area to read what teachers have to say about their experiences in an uncensored, up-front & candid way. We also invite you to Share with colleagues your personal approach to safe International school recruiting. How do YOU insure your experience will be a positive one?

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Does Teaching Overseas Help or Hurt Your Career?

September 5, 2013

career42987091With the current academic year underway, many international schools will soon be asking teachers to declare if they intend to stay for the upcoming 2014-15 school year, or plan to move on.

Moving on can mean staying in the international circuit and advancing to a new school, or returning home to teach. From my perspective of having experienced both, I would say continuing to move within the international circuit is far less taxing than formulating plans to return home. The biggest hurdle I experienced moving home was securing employment in a public school after a decade overseas.

A colleague from the UK once told me that working overseas was a distinct plus for them when they returned home. They said employers there liked to see the overseas experience on an applicant’s CV. I did not found this to be the case in the U.S. As a matter of fact, I think to American employers, overseas experience makes you look a bit “flaky” or could this just be American provincialism? When I hear the words, “I’d love to hear about your experiences in Africa, Saudi Arabia, Romania, etc.”, I know I can say good bye to that job.

If you’ve experienced moving home after years of teaching overseas, ISR invites you to Share how the overseas teaching experience impacted your domestic career: Was it positive or negative, or of no consequence in the eyes of a potential employer back home?

If you’re contemplating leaving the international circuit and returning home for the first time, we encourage you to visit this Blog and pose your own questions as they may apply to your individual situation. Learning from colleagues who have already made the move will be most beneficial.

Teachers Keeping Teachers Informed is what ISR is All About

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The Fatal Faux Pas

August 22, 2013

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  by Michelle / ISR Columnist

Universal consensus has it that our world is rapidly becoming smaller and smaller with communication and news now available to everyone, everywhere at every single moment of our lives. But for international teachers, new locales and near continuous worldwide travel sets us up for some truly susceptible and embarrassing moments where it might take days for the blushing to stop. Here’s one such story:

The school year was about to begin at this, my second international school. A few days earlier the board arranged a PR event (with newspaper photographers and reporters) to introduce new students and their families to the community, while also spotlighting the new faculty. All of us new teachers joined the families on stage to present our brightest and most eager smiles for the photographers before the social activities to follow.

As everyone was getting situated on stage I noticed a child who looked to be about a second grade student hidden behind the adults. Gently but firmly I ushered this child toward the front of the group, thinking that surely the parents and this shy child would want to be included in the photo. I looked up, smiled and said to the parents standing nearby, “Your little girl is so lovely. I’m sure you’d want her to be in front, yes?” My comment was met with deadpan stares and silence as the photographer continued his clicking racket without pause. The child moved forward and looked up at me with gorgeous eyes and a slow, easy smile.

Once the photographers were finished we left the stage, back to the front rows of the gathering to listen to the congratulatory speeches as another teacher leaned forward to hiss in my ear, “That is a boy. His family is Sikh. The covering over his hair is part of their religion.” Oh. My. God. At that point I wanted to melt into my seat, hoping desperately for a nearby hole to crawl into.

His long hair, gathered into a topknot and enclosed with a small elasticized bonnet, along with those long, wickedly beautiful eyelashes had completely fooled me. For days I remained embarrassed, thinking my colleagues must be positive I’d just fallen off the cultural turnip-truck. It was a rocky start to a new country, a new school, and new set of colleagues.

Whether it’s awkward social situations, miscommunications in the local language, or a world of other hurts large and small, we’ve all experienced the occasional embarrassing situation. Stay in touch with your colleagues around the world to compare notes on how to keep yourself out of fatal faux pas disasters, here on ISR!

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