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Learning Support Teacher

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by jennifermd25, Jul 15, 2016.

  1. jennifermd25

    jennifermd25 New commenter

    Hi all,

    I am a special education teacher with my MA and have taught in the US public school system (high poverty, inner city districts) for 15 years. I am taking my first leap into the international school sector! I am excited although a bit daunted as I took a position in Scandinavia and the taxes/rent/costs are high. I am realistic about the fact I won't save much money but am also curious about a few things, hoping some forum members with more experience can help.

    1. What can I expect for the first few weeks of school? I am new to the PYP program and I know that special education in the international sector will be much different than what I have done in the states. Any advice on fun activities or first weeks of school activities for the students that might align to this curriculum?

    2. I've been a little disturbed to read on these forums that when you return to US or UK the schools there do not view this experience abroad as a positive? I would think this would look great on a resume but I guess I might be mistaken. Thoughts?

    3. I am very nervous about the high taxes in Denmark and want to make sure I am not being double taxed, any US residents have any advice on this? Obv I will be hiring a professional to do my taxes this year so I don't make any mistakes.

    4. I have been a strong union member here in the US as a teacher and I consider teaching to be a very important social justice issue. I know things will be a lot different in the international sector ($$$$$) and wondering if anyone has advice on dealing with potentially difficult parents, and wondering if the parents, due to money have a lot of control on how the school is run. How often are teachers let go since there are fewer protections in the IS community? I had tenure through my union and we had a lot of protections so just curious how this works in different places and what can I expect as far as worker support and protection.

    I'm excited and would love any advice about general things like settling in or to the specific concerns above! I found my job through Search and they were very helpful through this whole process. Thanks!
  2. wrldtrvlr123

    wrldtrvlr123 Occasional commenter

    Hello. I am also a US trained SPED teacher and have taught overseas since 2005 (I am now teaching with DoDDS overseas). I will throw my two cents in, FWIW.

    1. I have not taught within PYP but I am familiar with it. In my limited experience the expectations of SPED/LS teachers as regards to the PYP framework are somewhat different then with classroom teachers. Much of this will depend on how your individual school implements the PYP and their SPED/Learning Support program. You will probably receive training in "Making the PYP Happen!" and others here might have better/more specific advice for the start of the year.

    2. In my experience, your time overseas will be a wash for your CV. For every principal that finds it interesting and/or thinks it would bring something unique to the school there will be one that doesn't get it or worries that you have missed out on the latest Edufad that has been rolled out. I do think that the negative perception seems more prevalent in the UK then in the US.

    3. You should qualify for the foreign income exclusion and should not have to pay any taxes on your money earned in Denmark. We have used TurboTax and their software is up to date with all of the forms that need to be filed (but use whatever makes you the most comfortable).

    4. There are generally no unions that protect you overseas but in Europe (and likely in Denmark) you should have more protection with local labor laws then you would in many places (like China). There are always semi-psychotic admin types that love to fire teachers just because they can, but in most cases if you do a good job and are not a majorly negative factor in the school then you should be fine. It costs money to recruit teachers and most schools will not be trigger happy when it comes to dumping teachers. Parents do often have more power and influence then in US Public schools which can be good or bad. Again, in general, if you are competent and professional and communicate with the parents you will be fine. Of course some parents will only be happy with straight A+'s and their child being student of the month every month. In those cases you have to hope that your admin types are also competent professionals.

    5. Have you ever thought about DoDDS? They are difficult to get into but offer great pay and benefits comparable to some of the best int'l schools and have schools in many desirable locations (and SPED is a very desirable field to be in).

    Hopefully some kind people will be along to add some insights regarding PYP or living in Denmark. Feel free to ask any other questions or start a conversation if you would prefer.
  3. jennifermd25

    jennifermd25 New commenter

    Oh, thanks so much! You really answered a lot of the questions I had and made me feel a lot better! I have not looked too much into the DoDDS schools but will check it out again. Is there a site you recommend? USAjobs didn't really show any vacancies. Something to think about for the future! I appreciate all of your advice. Have you been at the same placement for a while or do you still move around every couple of years? I tend to find a place and like it so wondering how I will cope with moving around from one home base to another so much. I was really surprised to hear that this does not improve your CV, but I guess since I do have 15 years of experience in the US hopefully that will count for something if I choose to return to CA. Thanks for all of the advice!
  4. wrldtrvlr123

    wrldtrvlr123 Occasional commenter

    No problem. We have ended up moving around quite a bit due to many different factors while on the int'l circuit (e.g. school instability, education issues for our special needs son, etc).

    Since getting into DoDDS we were in Germany for 3 years and now plan on being in Japan for the foreseeable future. You might also want to start a thread on the *** Forum to ask about Scandinavia.
    jennifermd25 likes this.

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