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Thinking about teaching internationally

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by 8Merlin8, Aug 25, 2019.

  1. 8Merlin8

    8Merlin8 New commenter


    First time poster but I have been lurking here for a while. I have been thinking about teaching internationally for a while now (Primary teacher) and have decided that this year I am going to take making applications seriously for a role starting September 2020.

    I have been thinking about where I would like to teach and have a fairly wide search area, but what kind of things should I be looking for in a job advert? I feel apprehensive about looking because I'm not really sure what I should be looking for.

    Any tips with applications would also be welcome. This is probably quite a vague post but I am just not sure what I should look for or where to begin.

  2. blue451

    blue451 Lead commenter

    There are as many different answers to this as there are posters on this forum

    Are you looking for

    Professional experience - if so, in teaching or with a view to promoting to management? Big school or small school?
    Personal experience - culture? language? Travel?
    Lifestyle change? If so, what in particular?
    Money? How much would you hope to earn, what extras would you expect etc.

    There is so much to take into account which is why we don't all end up applying for the same posts. It's difficult to know what's best for you but if you can decide which of the above is most important to you and which is least, that would be a good start.
  3. 8Merlin8

    8Merlin8 New commenter

    Probably a mixture of them all?
    I have just stepped into a leadership role in a new school here so would like to continue working my way towards further leadership opportunities, however, I would be happy to take a step back first in order to establish myself in a new school/environment/country. The size of the school is less important but I am used to working in a fairly large school.

    Personal experience is a big thing for me. I want to explore new places and get out and see as much of the world as I can while I have little to tie me to one place. I'd also like to meet new people and gain new experiences.

    I would like to be earning enough to save and to enjoy myself while I am there. I guess my main anxieties are based around whether all schools offer accommodation or whether some places you need to do this yourself, what are the expectations for flights, health insurance etc...

    Like I said, I know my post was vague but I just want to know what the key things in an advert is I should be looking at and how can I maximise my chances of getting a job!
  4. Ne11y

    Ne11y Occasional commenter

    A lot of the practical information you are more likely to learn about at interview (such as accommodation). Adverts tend to be short and snappy, although some schools provide information packs.

    Any decent place will actively help you find accommodation or even supply it. By actively help, I mean that someone from the school will do a lot of the phoning around, checking contracts etc, or send you to reputable agents. Finding a place to live is a big deal and half decent places will understand this.

    Likewise, outside Western Europe, health insurance and flight allowances are the norm and will likely be mentioned in an advert. The quality of the health insurance can vary, but you probably won't find out how good or bad it is until it is until you sign it. Reading reviews on the International Schools Review might tell you a little more.

    Most schools promote internally, especially at primary levels, although leadership roles are sometimes advertised. Your experience will be valued and you can move up quickly.

    Your best bet is to choose some preferred locations and take it from there. People on the forum will be able to tell you what is standard in schools for those areas and you'll learn what signs to look out for.

    Good luck!
    Alisong8 likes this.
  5. 8Merlin8

    8Merlin8 New commenter

    Thank you very much for this!
  6. frogusmaximus

    frogusmaximus Occasional commenter

    Hi OP

    I'm not sure there is so much to be apprehensive about really. If you have been in steady employment your references will no doubt stand up and land you in a decent starter school. I'd recommend something of the larger size - two classes per year group - and I myself started at one of the BIS schools (British International Schools) in Europe. It's a great little introduction to finding your feet overseas.

    I think of Olivander's Wand Shop in Harry Potter . . . the wand chooses the wizard . . . when it comes to country choices as the bottom line is the schools dictate that. Cast your net and get some applications in to see what comes of it. Your excitement on being shortlisted will tell you all you need to know about your desire to travel . . . I was over the moon when that Japanese school contacted me, rather perturbed when that East African one did likewise.

    My second school was a small one in SE Asia. I realised then that for many reasons I liked and was suited to smaller schools. I also worked at primary level and found I had more freedom to teach, which helped me relax and develop my own style, wasn't overburdened with non-classroom demands and additional training, and found the children were a different breed completely. All have great attitudes to learning and are easily engaged, many need a friend and a little attention, being a little overlooked by parents, and poor behaviour can be handled with ease for anyone experienced with UK inner city schools. As long as you can handle the classroom on your own - it's why i'd not recommend NQT's take the trail - and aren't needy, it's a pretty great option.
    enev93 and Alisong8 like this.
  7. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    Some basic tips to start with....
    1. Keep your search as wide as possible geographically. Most teachers start by saying "oh, I fancy a couple of years in Dubai or Thailand" but in reality the world of international teaching is so much bigger than that! Almost everyone would consider jobs in Hong Kong (maybe not just now, but normally) or Singapore, because they are relatively easy places to start, but what about Vietnam? Armenia? Kazakhstan? The more open you are, the more likely you are to find somewhere which suits you.
    2. You probably won't find out the financial package until you are offered a job, but you need to consider the accommodation allowance (does it actually cover the cost of a decent apartment?) the healthcare package (can I use international hospitals, or is it just local ones?) and flight allowances (will it actually cover the cost of a return economy flight? Do I have to fly to the UK, or can I use it to go anywhere?)
    3. Think about signing up to one of the big agencies. Search is good because of its database, but others prefer ISS. Smaller agencies should be considered as (in my experience, anyway) they do give you as the candidate more attention. Register with the Council of International Schools as a candidate too. But don't forget good old TES!
    4. Difficult to say whether you'll get a leadership role immediately. It will definitely be of interest but most schools like to see some international experience first - basically, they want to be sure that if they put you in a management position you're not going to run off at the first sign of problems.
    I agree with frogusmaximus - international teaching really isn't for NQTs simply because there's enough to deal with in getting your head round the basics of teaching without trying to do that in a foreign country. But a few years in, with some experience, you should have a good chance, I would expect. Good luck!
    Alisong8, Mr_Frosty and mermy like this.
  8. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Some wise words have already been given, so I do not have much to add. Yes, amysdad, I would agree that lots of international schools are not exactly "user friendly" if you are an NQT. On the other hand, how many NQTs in the UK will still be in teaching a year or two years from now? "Get a job in the UK first" seems like good advice, but I have known NQTs who had to work overseas because they could not get a job in the UK.
  9. frogusmaximus

    frogusmaximus Occasional commenter

    I was in that boat really and never had a proper NQT year; just had to get on with it and take what short term contracts were available and build my reputation. Decided to go overseas as i'd almost visited ever school, for a pre-application viewing, in a well known northern city, and decided the cycle had to change.

    Best thing i ever did.
  10. 8Merlin8

    8Merlin8 New commenter

    Thank you all for your replies. I guess I just need to stop being such a wimp and go for it!
    Mr_Frosty likes this.
  11. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    I have sent you one of those TES Conversation things and you can see it by clicking on your avatar. (My avatar is a rather embarrassing photo of yours truly having a chat with my dear wife.)
    Alisong8 likes this.
  12. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    I get your point - I think though that there's a couple of realities which NQTs would need to face. First, the NQT year isn't going to be any easier than in the UK - OK, so the kids might be better behaved (though that depends if you're in the ME or not) but there are other difficulties which are going to be thrown at you, as well as recognizing that you're not necessarily going to get the time you need to make and learn from mistakes or the support to figure out how to get round them.

    Secondly, the schools which might accept you as an NQT are going to be a small subset of the total population. It might be because you're cheap, it might be because nobody else is applying, but it's going to mean that the support you are likely to get is not going to be there and you won't be given time to learn (rolling back to my first point again.) It's also not going to be the greatest experience as a young teacher, and I can see how some would return at the end of 2 years to the UK thinking they couldn't do it when they actually just needed the support to get through their time.

    Some NQTs will be fine, yes, but knowing my own experience and speaking to colleagues you are definitely better off taking at least a year in the UK to start getting things right before heading abroad, even if that means doing supply.
    blueskydreaming and Mr_Frosty like this.
  13. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Yes, some good points. In an ideal world, doing your NQT year in the UK first would be the best option.
  14. 8Merlin8

    8Merlin8 New commenter

    I have been looking at my CV this weekend and feel that it is a bit generic and dry (My LA are application form based so haven't needed to use one for the last 5 years!) Would anyone mind me taking a look at their CV so I can get some inspiration?

    Thanks :)
  15. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Dear alisong8, yes, of course I will help you, if I possibly can. I did send you one of those TES Conversation things, but I did not receive a reply from you. Maybe you don't like hippos just because they are fat, smelly and covered in mud...
    leenacharme4 likes this.
  16. 8Merlin8

    8Merlin8 New commenter

    Haha not at all Hippo! I will drop you an email shortly. Thank you for your help
  17. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    I have now sent you two replies to your e-mail. I hope they are helpful.

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