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On the circuit vs permanence

Discussion in 'Teaching overseas' started by splink, Sep 1, 2011.

  1. Dear all,

    I've been looking at these forums for a while now because I want to settle somewhere abroad (preferably SE Asia).

    Interestingly, a large percentage of people writing here appear to be "on the circuit" jumping from one school after another. I'm interested in something altogether different: finding a reputable school abroad with a decent package and staying there. Is there anyone on this forum who this applies to?? Please say hello!! Through reading here regularly, I have slowly gained the impression that all international postings are temporary but would love to be disproved!!
  2. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Here goes, then.
    We just saw into comfortable retirement a chap who came in 1973 for two years and stayed... well, work it out.
    Another couple's daughter, aged 11, cried for Grimsby and her friends there every night for months, and they gave the head due warning that they would stoically see out their contract and then return. (Grimsby folk are not 'runners').
    That was in the early 90s and they are all still around including the daughter who shows every sign of having mastered her homesickness.
    An aussie chick looked in to do some supply teaching and finance the rest of her grand tour. That was in the late 70s or early 80s. She retired, locally, last year, well enough off to flit across to Brisbane whenever she fancies a tinnie of Castlemaine 4x
    I came with a watertight personal development plan projecting five, maybe six years and then back to the UK. Still here starting year 12.
    * offstage whisper* 'cos nobody in the UK wanted the silly old fert, did they?'
    Others, of course have done three years with us and returned to Britain, their wanderlust satisfied and TheoGriff''s excellent relocation advice on their laptops.
    And yet others have seen their globetrotting urges further inflamed, leaving us to embark on ocean-hopping careers in more exotic, challenging and/or lucrative places (The UK fits all three categories, incidentally).
    Dozens of factors play their part, and each individual and family case is different - but no, not all international postings are temporary by any means.
    We are only 1,000 miles from Nempnett Thrubwell. It is just possible that, the further you are away from wherever you call 'home', the less likely you are to put in a long stay. Mind you, some of the Cairo hands seem to have dug in for the duration, come what may - and I know several compatriots who have made South America their permanent abode.
    It will be interesting to hear from colleagues in your preferred region of SE Asia, when they wake up tomorrow, call the houseboy for their morning coffee and manicure, and read your post.
  3. Cairo has quite a few long stayers.
    For that to happen though, you have to like the school and the country/city.
    I have a negative (not aggressively) attitude towards the 'two years and move sorts' because they want to see the world or for whatever reason.
    Don't know why, it's just a feeling in m'water.

  4. Maybe the shorts stays in SE Asia are due to 1) it is very sweaty (humid) and
    2) they have funny payment schemes - once you have lived there for a certain amount of time, they stop paying you...or something ike that..
  5. stopwatch

    stopwatch Occasional commenter

    I think the secret is finding some where that floats your boat:
    • Culturally (Thailand)
    • Financially (Dubai, Saudi)
    • Socially (Saudi, Dubai, Cairo)
    • Vocationally (any decent overseas school)
    We all have our own parameters for each of these areas. I think that, if you can pretty much find a good fit for them, then it is time to stay. I have been in 3 different schools in 3 different countries. I still haven't found a near enough good fit to warrant staying too long (though I do think a 2 year stay is a bit too brief as it doesn't give time to develop or get the most out of each place).
    I would stay where I am now until retirement if the job were not so demanding timewise, physically and mentally.
    The bottom line is that one of the main motivators for teaching overseas is to 'see the world' so by the very nature of this, there will obviously be lots of movement each year.
  6. I planned on staying only two years here in Cairo and am just about to begin my sixth year here.
    I don't really like the city (although it beats the pants off being in the UK) but I love the job. The school's ok to work for so I suppose part of my reluctance to move on is the fear that I might end up in a school that sucks.
  7. I left for the weather!
    Even now, a gloomy day in the UK palpably changes my mood.
    I genuinely didn't do it to see the world.
    Very honest, Robby!
  8. My intention is to settle overseas as well, but whether you can depends on the country and school. In Spain, there is no way I can settle as you simply cant use the teaching contracts you have here to buy a house (or do anything really) so you live by the pay you get.
    The only country Ive worked in where permanent contracts are available is Germany and alas the school I was at had financial issues and that scuppered a long stay.
    So while doing a couple of years and moving on wasnt my intention, it has worked out that way so far. There may be other places other than Germany that offer permanent deals but they are few and far between. That means to stay for years you have live with the uncertainty of renewal of a contract and that means you and the school must be as one and really fit, which you dont know until you get there!
  9. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    There are long-term/for-life staff in pretty much every decent international school, and in a surprising number of the cruddy ones too. Some schools or countries have rules that make it less financially rewarding if you stay past a certain date, but even in those places some people will love it so much they stay 'forever', whatever that means. I've scratched my head more than once watching people take a finanical hit I would never personally agree to. Maybe I just haven't found my personal perfect place yet. Or maybe I have, but where I am now is not one of those places where I have to make a choice between finances and happiness.
    Permanent contracts are pretty much non-existent except as noted above. A mythical beast. Still, do you need one? I'm not sure I'd even want one. Under typical international contracts, I can stay as long as the school and I are mutually happy. Works for me.
  10. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Is that so?
    I had thought that in many countries, especially in the EU, workers gain permanent rights very quickly.
    And that a positive spin-off from the current crisis will be the introduction, by wicked capitalist neoliberal IMF-driven legislators, of 'more flexible labour laws'.
    Meaning in plain English that I will suddenly be empowered by the law to charge into the classroom of Incompetent Colleague and usher her into the steet, there to find a vocation more suited to her talents.
    Takes all sorts. Money is not the whole story for a lot of us teacherfolk, otherwise we woudn't be doing this in the first place. Or why did I, last year, turn down that £199,000 pa tax-free plus house n car job in China as ToK co-ordinator with eight periods teaching a week?
    The encouraging thing for the OP to bear in mind is that International Schools, necessarily high-turnover in student and staff terms, do value a backbone of continuity offered by those who stay on, as long as they don't go brain-dead on the job, or form into an impenetrable crust of we've-always-done-it-this-way middle management, to the frustration of newcomers and innovators.
    The chap I mentioned at the start of my first post above, was lively, creative, dynamic and radical from the start to the finish of his 38 years of service - an example to us all.
    The question remains - are there long-termers in SE Asia? It must be getting on for cocktail hour down there by now, so refill your glasses and sit down to the keyboard.
  11. gulfgolf

    gulfgolf Established commenter

    Indeed. I've never been given the choice, myself. Just watched others face it.
  12. There are indeed long term prospects in SE Asia. I know (and know of) several teachers who are long term, if not pretty permanent, residents of specific cities and teachers in specific schools. It is just as likely abroad as it is in a placement in the UK. When the confluence of family, social life, finances and so on all come together in one place, many people choose to remain indefinitely.
    It all depends on your personal goals and aims. I know where I want to be in 15 years, and where I want to have been, so I am likely to be one of those that FP is not overly fond of although I am more likely to do a double contract than just the initial two years.
    In many places it is also feasible to move from one school to another within the same or neighbouring cities, so if the area suits you then you can 'shop around' a little.
    Wondering why SE Asia though?
  13. The weather, the food, our maid and the cheap prices Maja. After some years tootling around other locales we came to a pleasant place in S-E Asia. We bought a house (because it was not that much diferent from paying rent. Besides we were sick of packing and unpacking boxes) and suddenly I wake up this week to find myself near the top of the tree in terms of years service to the school. We are now at the stage of either we go or we stay another 10 years till kids finish school. A prospect they are all for BTW. I am probably earning 1/2 of what I earned elsewhere but the lifestyle does compensate. As others have expressed - what if we end up at some awful school and by default are cast into roaming the globe again by default?
  14. I agree with the weather and the maid. You forgot to mention the driver. Not sure why you feel the need to remain for another 10 years until the kids finish school but that is more your business than mine.
    My question was actually for the OP - am curious as to how splink decided SE Asia was IT instead of another area of the world.
    PS: Godawful schools have the plus sides on occasion.
  15. Nothing personal, maja. It's like northerners, Welsh, anyone non-English, most English people, relatives, homosexuals, Kiwis, women...anyone that isn't me really.
    Tried and tired of trying to see the good in everyone and just not getting there.....
    But I try to mix.
    Do think I would like that Weinho person though - good on yer.
  16. Dear Maja,

    1) I'm a language teacher and want to end up somewhere where mandarin is the lingua franca - good for career prospects, innit. 2) Financially, it doesn't seem to be too bad (especially in the higher tier schools) 3) Opportunities for children when they grow up - being trilingual Spanish/Mandarin/English speakers will be handy (my wife's Spanish)

    Everybody, thank you for responding. This is all very informative!

    SMT Dude - I was astonished to see you being offered the same wage as the Eton headmaster for the role of ToK adviser. I wonder how much the HM earns in the same school???


  17. When I decided to move abroad, my initial plan was 'love 'em and leave 'em (or rather 'work in 'em and leave 'em'). At first I just wanted to do my two years and then move out, adding countries on my CV like notches on my bedpost... But like most carefully laid plans, they often don't stand to scrutiny. Two things have changed my mind. First, I've come to understand that as nice as my CV is, it's nothing special. Although finding a job is not that hard, finding a good one is much harder. I really don't feel like going through the trauma and the stress of finding a job every two years anymore.
    Since then I have also experienced what it is like to work in a terrible school. I am in no hurry to do that again. Every time you change school, you take a gamble, no matter how well prepared you are. I am happy where I am. It's not perfect, but it's absolutely fine. I don't want to ruin that just right away.
    I do feel like have 'one last job' in me. But when I leave I will only apply to schools I know are good. And if I am successful in finding such a place, I will finally put down roots, and start raising that army of ukulele players I have been threatening the world for so long.

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