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American School but UK trained... any tips?

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by Woollyhoolly, Jan 22, 2011.

  1. And so I'm continuing to search for jobs and have come across a South American school with 'American' in its name. Does anyone know what I should mention in my covering letter so that I am on a par with an American applicant...if at all possible!
    Anyone with tips or up for sharing their experiences in American International Schools?
  2. It's an 'Elementary' school... and I am quite apt at American spellings and words, which surely works in my favor [​IMG]

  3. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    The only thing that will put you on a par is being American!. Once again, I will be extremely happy to be told I'm wrong, but I get the impression that American schools abroad have a ghetto mentality when it comes to recruiting teachers.

    This is certainly the case in Berlin, where a certain school advertises that applicants must be American citizens -which I'm certain is highly illegal under European law.
  4. Hmmm... I do like a challenge so would love to prove you wrong! Nearly ready with my 'outstanding' resume'... they won't know what's hit them! [​IMG]
  5. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Perhaps, but also perhaps not. As far as I know EU law states that a European citizen must be considered for a position initially, but if no suitable person exists then a non-EU person may be considered.
    An American system school will need you to be au fait with AP and SAT I and II. The students will also be looking at US universities so you will also need to know about their application system.
    Of course, all this becomes meaningless if the school does not cater for that age group, in which case I have no idea!
  6. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    I agree with what you say Karvol. And I have no objection to a school insisting on someone being au fait with AP and SATs etc. What I object to is explicitly stating "American Citizen".
  7. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    You are right of course. I wonder what makes them think they can get away with it? I know here in Switzerland they are very much straight down the line when it comes to EU or non-EU, very much in the favour of the former.
  8. msnessy

    msnessy New commenter

    I work at an American School but not in South America and I'm not an American. My experience has been that their first preference is for Americans and their 2nd preference is for Canadians. A point worth considering is that America has laid off thousands of teachers in the global downtown & I know at my school there is a belief that many of those teachers have turned to international teaching. I'm not so sure myself since its a ridiculously low number of Americans that actually have passports, but the Americans seem to all believe it & are now spooked about looking for new jobs for the next school year.

    I would imagine every school is different but I personally find it tedious to be a ghetto of Americans & Canadians. Oh and wait for their oh so amusing jokes (sarcasm intended) about your accent and how your spelling is wrong. Even after 18 months its still funny to them. One final point, if you're looking at elementary be prepared to talk about their textbooks and 6+1 traits of writing - they all seem to think that 6 + 1 traits is the most exciting thing since well sliced bread. Plus the US teachers I've come across can't teach unless there is a textbook and a million worksheets to support the textbook, there's not always a lot of room for creativity or hands on learning.

    One final point that doesn't affect me but has caused consternation amongst my christian colleagues is that the US has separation of church & state. Things like Christmas become fraught with political correctness, you may find you have to wish everyone a "happy holiday" and not Merry Christmas.

    Just my 5 cents worth. Good luck with the job application.
  9. You've just described my idea of hell!
    A roadtrip in America springs to mind- they just don't get sarcasm... except in New York (thank, God!) And the textbook idea I find concerning- not my ethos at all! Oh well, they'll see my CV and work that one out and not call me and I'll get another post at a more suitable school- Problem solved!

  10. I am moved to reply as I also work at an American school but am not American. Indeed, I think I can speak with a little authority on this topic as I am in charge of the place. I believe you can no more generalize about Americans than you can about any other nationality. Though stereotypes can be convenient as a shorthand way of understanding those from other cultures, such preconceptions are frequently challenged when you get to know people well in the multi-national melting pot which is the international school. I guess it is true to say that when I go recruiting for new staff I tend to look for Americans. This, however, is to maintain the cultural "flavor" of the institution which, in turn, is important for attracting new families. So I have the long-term health of the school in mind and I would expect other heads of American schools (be they American or not) to do the same. Who could blame them?

    At the same time, what impresses me most of all are the simple characteristics of a good teacher. That is to say, I want to know: is this person likely to inspire and interest children? Will he/she really care about their progress? Does he/she have the sense of humor to be able to manage the ups and downs of life in an international school in a foreign country etc? All the head teachers of international schools I have met, whether they are British, Canadian, Australian or American think exactly the same way and, though they might be as careful to preserve their "school culture" as I am, what everyone wants is just very good teachers.

    It is certainly true that you can observe some characteristics of American teachers which derive from the way education is run in their country. The absence of a national curriculum means that there tends to be more individuality of approach and more sovereignty within the classroom. That, perhaps, might something useful to bear in mind when the original poster is applying to an American school. It would be good to stress what is unique and special about your own approach to your teaching rather than how well you adhere to a prescribed set of guidelines.

    It would also, perhaps, be wise to be sensitive to differences in terminology between our two systems. For example, in the US, a "grade" is what Brits would call a "year", what Brits call "marking" is (confusingly) called "grading" etc. etc. Good luck to the original poster in all job applications.
  11. I work in an American International school and have just got a job in another American school and I am not American. The teachers I work with at the moment are some of the best. I think it is wrong to generalise and say that Americans can't teach without a textbook etc.
    I know of British International Schools who only employ British passport holders. My American friend just applied to a British school in my city and was told they were only looking for British passport holders. This happened a few weeks ago.

  12. Thanks for your responses! I actually have a Swedish passport- will ANYONE employ me? 'Neutralistaion' is a rather dear affair and I have never needed to become a British citizen... and Sweden didn't allow dual citizenship when I moved to the UK. Surely they will be happy to take on a Swede... ? [​IMG]
  13. msnessy

    msnessy New commenter


    I clearly stated when referring to text books that these were the teachers I work with currently. I didn't say it was all American teachers!
  14. You might not have meant that but that's how it came across.
  15. This school has special status because of the links created between the city and the Berliner Donut bloke from the US. Special status on lots of levels so it is very popular with Germans and Yankees and no-one else.
  16. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    Yes Fckoein, I know all this, but I'd be very surprised if this meant that it can flout European law. I'm totally OK with them saying things like "experience of SATs and AP calculus is essential", but as far as I'm aware the ONLY jobs that are allowed to specify nationality are those involving national security.

    Out of curiosity, do you or have you taught there?
  17. miketribe

    miketribe Established commenter

    I also work in an American school and am not American -- I even teach the kids American history! There aren't many non-US teachers at the school and I'm sure there is a preference for US teachers. After all, as someone said, they have to convince American parents that it is a school at which the kids will get a genuinely American education. However, good non-American candidates do get appointed. And it's also true that most of the "British" schools here won't hire non-UK teachers, allegedly for teh same reason.

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