Being an international educator yields tremendous professional opportunities that can enrich your teaching. Living and working in the U.S., professional development opportunities were limited to whatever the school sponsored at the school. Many teachers received additional professional development by working on advanced degrees or paying out of pocket to go to a training or conference at a nearby university. In the 7 years I taught in Georgia, I received only a handful of professional development opportunities outside working on my master’s and doctorate degrees. One of these was AP Government training, which was a wonderful experience.
Since Jamie and I have taught internationally, we have had the pleasure of working at schools who have provided us with meaningful professional development opportunities. Our school systems have both hosted conferences and brought in educational specialist like Virginia Rojas, Martin Skelton, and John Almarode. We have also had the opportunities to attend regional professional development opportunities in Bahrain, Kathmandu, Nepal, Dubai, UAE, Muscat, Oman, and Bangkok, Thailand for various conferences. Large names like Tom Guskey, Ken O’Connor, Jay McTighe, Leanne Jung, and Lucy Calkins have all been speakers and presenters at these conferences. Just recently, I served on a Middle States Association accreditation team, which was the best professional development I have ever had. I play on attending an accreditation team chair training on Philadelphia this summer. Jamie has traveled to Denver and Tampa for AP training in Psychology and Economics, respectively. She will also attend a conference training in Houston this summer for training in the Schaffer writing method.
Most of this is paid for by the school. We receive professional development funds each year that we can apply to conferences or post graduate work. On several occasions, we have received these trips for no cost because we are leaders on committees.
In addition to professional development opportunities, we also have travel opportunities with the students. Jamie has attended the TIMUN conference in Istanbul, Turkey two times in three years with her high school students as well as sponsored student study trips to Kenya and Bali. I have taken my middle school students on study trips to South Korea and Prague and Budapest.
Additionally, we travel in Kingdom to places like Riyadh and Jeddah for various school events like honor band/choir, MUN, and sports teams. These opportunities just don’t happen back home where many school systems won’t allow student field trip to leave the county.
We are already planning next year where we will sponsor study trips as well as travel for various staff development trainings. Of course, these trainings and conferences are in addition to our normal vacation times. This year for vacation, we have traveled to France, USA, and Thailand. Next year, we plan on visiting Spain, Germany, Jordan, and some other destination to be determined.
Granted, this is all due because of money. These are private schools that offer their students and teachers amazing opportunities, but one would be remiss if they didn’t take advantage of these opportunities.