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First International School Experience

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by Unconventional33, Oct 3, 2019.

  1. Unconventional33

    Unconventional33 New commenter

    How was it? The good, the bad and the ugly...

    As someone planning on going into international teaching what was your first experience like and what would you have told your younger inexperienced self knowing what you know now.
  2. Jason_Bourne_

    Jason_Bourne_ Established commenter

    My first experience was not great, l was recruited by a head teacher who had no subject knowledge, no official pay scale in school, he decided what you would earn, people were given internal promotions without the job being advertised, he would sack teachers if he didn't like them and come up with a b******t excuse to protect his own integrity. He has since left the school and is now working as a education consultant...
  3. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    I am surprised that he was not snapped up by OFSTED, Jason_Bourne_.

    My first international teaching experience was in Kenya. In many ways, it was a traditional British prep school that just happened to be in Africa. In their first week, some of my colleagues had all of their cash and valuables stolen at gunpoint in a Chinese restaurant. Sweet and sour, I suppose, and that is why they call it "Nairobbery". I remember writing end-of-term reports by the light of a hurricane lamp because we had no electricity and in the distance was the yelping of the hyenas in the nearby Nairobi National Park. Mr and Mrs Hippopotamus had a pleasant bungalow along Kisembe Road, where a family of warthogs sometimes visited us. Their arrival was always loudly announced by our naughty Fox Terrier. Ho hum. Getting malaria was not much fun. But on the whole, happy days.

    What would I have told myself, as a younger and even more foolish version of me? Enjoy it, as a very special and extraordinary experience.
  4. dumbbells66

    dumbbells66 Lead commenter

    My first international experience was truly awful, i nearly quit teaching because of it.... i didnt at the time know and understand how terrible Spain was for international schools. Since then though i have moved on to much much much better countries and schools and love my international life.
  5. harpplayer

    harpplayer Occasional commenter

    My only job internationally was / is Dubai. I love every day here. Being in near constant sunshine helps but a great social life and lots of sport adds to a great work life balance. Teaching nice kids in a day job that is not all consuming, a great earner doing extra tutoring work and saving money that I never in a million years dreamed a teacher could save all helps.

    Dubai and Arabs generally I think are all about building relationships. I spent last Sunday out fishing on a boat (more like a mini cruise ship) with the father of one of my private pupils, complete with servants, a chef and captain! When I think back to the sh£* I put up with every day for two years in that excuse for a sink school, the pointless marking, ineffective pointless meetings, forever data input, constant tracking, individual plans, terrible behaviour, terrible management, one new initiative after another, the workload that left me unable to relax in the evenings and at weekends, the stress every single day, the scrutiny, I go cold. How the f*** did I last two years?
  6. taiyah

    taiyah Occasional commenter

    I would tell my younger self,

    1. "You did the right thing getting a B of Ed and getting your QTS."
    2. "You did the right thing taking the time (6 years) and getting a clear understanding of how things work."

    Heading overseas was and still is one of the best decision I've made. But the most valuable strategy is already having the background knowledge and experience about standards, content, behavior management and other tools et al.

    As for my first posting, it was the tale of "The Revolving Turnstile of Principals". Five in 24 months, what an intro! It was in a beautiful part of Asia...Within a month, the international circuit "taught"... Better word is exposed me to a lot of things. The business side of things is a significant factor and influence in this circuit.. That's something all international teachers need to accept and adapt to.

    That's why eights years later my family and I are still in the ME. Why not enjoy the game everyone else is playing.
    towncryer likes this.
  7. Helen-Back

    Helen-Back Occasional commenter

    Three years in Cairo teaching Egyptian kids. I shall say no more.
  8. yasf

    yasf Established commenter

    I think you should send this story on to the DfE for their next teacher recruitment video ;)
    claytie, alex_teccy and rhenium1963 like this.
  9. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    Well done Helen for managing three years. I did two....
  10. SecondPlace

    SecondPlace Occasional commenter

    Would I now move to a school like the one that was first post - not a chance. Poor pay, poor facilities, poor structures in place.

    But, would I do it all over again - in a heartbeat.

    It was my first time abroad, it opened my eyes to the world, and to the world of international teaching and all that it can be.

    I experienced some strange things at the school - getting paid cash in a brown paper envelope, the endless visa dramas, the student arriving at school in a helicopter....

    Also, I met my wife there. And we've stayed international ever since.
    gyselsolerswim, yasf and gulfgolf like this.
  11. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    Well said.
    My first school was pretty inadequate, but I was so young and inexperienced I really had no idea. I was probably pretty inadequate myself.
    Live and learn, and learn I did. I left a better teacher.
    Like the others above, I'd do it all over again. Also like others, I probably wouldn't sign up again for a post in such an inadequate institution, but that's not to say it wasn't a ton of fun at the time.
  12. oldgit

    oldgit New commenter

    First posting was at the celebrated (by the Hippo, at least) House of Thought in the Magic Kingdom. Spent a couple of years there learning how to ignore the pain from repeatedly banging my cranium against the brick wall of trying to get some 'Thought' into the inmates' heads. Colleagues, however, were a great bunch for the most part with a mixture of ages and cultures.

    Then, fortunately, made the escape to one of the two British schools in the same city. Spent seven years at this one until it fell off the deep end and transformed into Toad Hall. It had been a very enjoyable few years and, during that time, I had met and married a local university academic. Toad's arrival necessitated a move - this time swimming upstream to the 'Opposition' - a much larger and better funded school a few miles up the road. Stayed there for the rest of my 'career' and eventually retired three years ago.

    So, overall, from starting at a pretty 5hitty establishment, I've had over 20 years of well-paid employment, got a lot of skills and a wife into the bargain! Along the way, though, I've met some super kids - also the other extreme - and management who often self-describe as 'Leadership' ranging from pi55-poor (and criminal) to average. Only one Head Teacher who I would rate as good or better and some pretty remarkable colleagues. Was also very privileged to serve under one outstanding Director in his final year before retirement. Would I do it all again? You betcha!
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
    salamandes likes this.
  13. rouxx

    rouxx Lead commenter

    I waited 11 years before going international...on a crazy whim. Went for 2 years for a change. 18 years later I haven’t returned.

    No terrible experiences - mediocre to good schools.
    Had a ball
    Travelled and experienced stuff I could never have dreamed of.
    Lived in amazing places.
    Learnt two new languages.
    Worked with fabulous educators
    Experienced different approaches to teaching
    Happier now at present school than I ever have been
    Hoping to stay here until retirement
    Could retire now...but not ready to go home and I really enjoy it here.

    What would I tell my younger self?

    Go earlier, maybe after 5-6 years experience in UK
  14. rouxx

    rouxx Lead commenter

    Oh...and sell your belongings.
    Don’t ship tatt around the world, or pay for storage
  15. steluta

    steluta New commenter

    Funny school in Doha, this was 2002. Learnt a lot after the culture shock and made some great friends. Moved on after 2 years, and lived in several countries since then. Would do it all again in a heartbeat.
  16. Unconventional33

    Unconventional33 New commenter

    It's nice to read that inspite of some of the lousy first experiences all of you have really gotten so much from being abroad.
    bobbingtoncrescent likes this.
  17. HeroForTheDay

    HeroForTheDay Occasional commenter

    I did 4 years in government schools in Thailand before I landed my first International post. As others have posted, the first couple of schools were where I learned to actually teach. The very first one was in the middle of nowhere, where the agency who shipped me there dropped me at the gates and left me to fend for myself. No guidance, no help. It was certainly an eye opening experience. 6 years later and I'm still abroad. Wouldn't change a thing!
  18. frogusmaximus

    frogusmaximus Occasional commenter

    I'd been overseas for 4 years tutoring privately, and had both enjoyed the experience and knew it suited me more than being back in the UK. Having been out of the classroom for that period I was concerned that I'd not be too desirable relative to other applicants but got a bit of a break doing a six month maternity cover in a European based school on the outskirts of a major city. I really enjoyed it again, liked the lifestyle, the attitude of the parents and kids and also felt valued, a little exaggerated due to the position i'd found myself in.

    It put me back into play with a working reference and I've been overseas ever since. The next two experiences highlighted the inconsistency you often read about on here, with a position being suddenly unavailable on my arrival (was someone playing power games) meaning I returned immediately to the UK, and a head teacher being sacked for misconduct leading to an uncomfortable two month period whilst that played out.

    A a single guy, neither was a problem, but it can often not be an easy world for someone traveling with a family. Knew a high school science teacher, with a great CV but awful classroom skills and attitude, who basically never got his contract renewed yet repeatedly acquired new work due to the high demand for science teachers. A strain on his relationship - he was my neighbour and I could hear the screaming wife - and a poor learning experience for the kids.
  19. bobbingtoncrescent

    bobbingtoncrescent New commenter

    Our first place was a mafiosi style pseudo Britannia establishment in Spain. There were no half-terms and the school day ended at 5pm!

    We had an amazing (brief) time (outside of school) and met great people. We then travelled for 4 months and went back to the UK to re-evaluate.
    macao likes this.
  20. 4penguin14

    4penguin14 New commenter

    Would you mind telling me where your last school was? As it sounds great!!

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