Tag Archives: international school jobs

Enriching Opportunities in International Education

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.

Now That The Job Fairs Are Over: What Next?

With all of this winter’s major recruitment fairs now over, what should those candidates still seeking a position be doing?

First, understand that the busy fair season coming to an end does NOT mean an end to recruiting! New vacancies are still cropping up every day, in every corner of the world. Just a quick glance at the vacancy list at www.Tieonline.com reveals this fact. Moreover, many schools, particularly those in Europe, do not require staff members to announce their intentions until April or even May. Your search should therefore continue. And in fact, several of the leading recruitment fair agencies sponsor fairs in June to assist schools in filling late vacancies.

So if you are just starting the process or if you have been actively seeking an international school position, and haven’t been successful, there are plenty of options still available and coming up. Here are some options:

1. Make sure your online resume is complete, including at least two (2) confidential recommendations from current or former supervisors. The IJN (Instant Job Notification) option may also be helpful in promoting a timely application.

2.  Review your resume and make sure your experience over the past 2 years is clear and complete.

3. Create a cover note that features your own assessment of your major strengths as a teacher, counselor, etc.

4. If you got interviewed at a job fair and was not offered a position, ask that service agency if there was anything in your file that might have deterred interest in your candidacy. No one likes the “confidential” evaluation process; but the fact is that recruiters rely heavily on this resource.

5. Finally, decide that you will consider a position in most countries of the world, if the school is appropriate and interesting. Sometimes one must fore go the desire to teach in Paris or London, in order to get one’s first position in an international school. Once you have two years of good performance in any international school, you become a highly valued candidate in this network.

And please remember that “perseverance” is the most critical quality one needs for professional success in any field!

8 Top Tips: Preparing for and Conducting a Successful Job Interview

Over the next three months, you will most likely be interviewed through Skype, or in person at a recruitment fair or private meeting. This is the period during which the leading international schools will recruit at least 80% of their new staff.

Exhaustive lists of criteria and strategies for creating successful applications and interviews abound, but here are some tips that can determine whether your first choice school makes you an offer. These are distilled from over 25 years of experience recruiting candidates for schools, working closely with international school recruiters, and interviewing over 5,000 candidates.

Most schools will want to interview you in person or via Skype, before they make you an offer, although this is not always the case. Your success then depends very much on how you prepare for the interview and how you conduct yourself. Here are a few vital tips for this process.

1) Recommendations from Supervisors

Very few recruiters will ever get to see you in the classroom before they make the hiring decision. They may need to rely on your recommendations from past and current supervisors, and the best schools will conduct extensive phone check-outs to get a better handle on the person they are considering. They also are aware of the chronic reluctance of US administrators to be forthcoming, so be sure to include any international school references in your experience.

Hence, you should inform your references about the different kind of schools you are applying to and let them know the factors you would like them to highlight. Their written and oral comments should include placing you in the top 3%, 10% or 20% of the faculty they have worked with, both in terms of teaching abilities and personal characteristics. It’s much better if they are prepared for these questions.

2) Your Personal Presentation

Many international schools exist in relatively conservative societies and serve a largely upper middle class constituency. This often means that, like it or not, your personal style in dress, accessories, hair style, etc. could be important factors in a hiring decision. It’s best to dress in a conservative fashion and refrain from showcasing things such as nose rings, inappropriate clothing, or even extravagant jewelry.

3) Listen Carefully to the Questions Asked

Many school heads are experienced interviewers and have distilled their approach to a number of vital questions. If you are not sure at any time what they are asking, be straightforward and ask for clarification. They will appreciate your desire to answer them with clarity.

Your own good questions are another major indicator of intelligence and understanding. See my last point on on key topics to consider when developing your own list of questions.

4) Learning Results

The best schools will focus sharply on learning results, rather than just teacher “inputs.” So your best strategy is to provide evidence of student work and accomplishments under your guidance. This may be written work, art projects, exam questions that challenge and promote thinking skills, videos of performances, and student presentations.

Don’t be afraid to bring these to the interview, or find a way to discuss and present them even if not requested. Most recruiters will be very interested and impressed and for highly desirable schools, this is the very best way to set yourself apart from the competition.

5)  Use of Video

Since recruiters won’t be able to see you teach in person, they will appreciate any capacity you have to create a filmed lesson that can be shared. This can make a major difference in selecting one candidate over another; But of course, only if it demonstrates effective teaching strategies. If you develop these clips, have a knowledgeable educational supervisor review them before sending them out. Don’t worry whether filming your lessons is appropriate. It is completely ethical and allows you to put your best foot forward and to show them your classroom skills.

6) After School Coaching and Teaching Skills

Most international schools attempt to mount substantial after school programs in sports, theater, games, IT, cooking and almost every other skill appropriate to K-12 students. Thus your ability to add something significant to these will make you a more attractive candidate. Good coaches are a primary quest of every school, but if you don’t have athletic expertise, you should be prepared to offer at least two types of activities that you would be willing to teach after school.

7) The Personal Factor

Your personal characteristics are even more important to international school recruiters than to your local school districts at home. In these schools you are expected to fit into and enhance a community of expatriates, and to be able to reassure anxious parents from many nations that you are not only be an effective teacher, but a positive role model for their children. Invariably you will be drawn into the broader school community; and your potential impact on the well-being, optimism and morale of other staff members is a matter of serious concern.

This means that very positive, engaging people, with excellent social skills and personal resilience will get the nod every time.

8) Ask Your Own Questions

Know that the best candidates, at a crucial point in the interview, turn the process around and ask thoughtful questions about the school. Inquiring about the school’s goals, concerns, the most difficult challenges the school and staff face, and other important topics show you’re seriously interested in the school.

The idea here is to remind the recruiter that in the same way they are evaluating you, you are carefully considering whether this is a school where you want to work. Probing, thoughtful questions, focused mainly on learning issues, (not benefits and remuneration), are clearly the most effective way to impress your prospective employer.

What Kind of International School Do You Want To Be Part Of?

As in every network of schools, there is a considerable range of excellence in international schools. But how does one begin to appreciate the differences and perceive the real educational leaders? Your first decision is whether you want to be in an environment that promotes and reinforces learning as its first priority. There are very comfortable assignments, with good salaries and comfortable environments, that do not push hard for educational excellence. The point is you need to know what kind of environment you want, and how to find out where that exists.

If you are very insistent that your potential school be a leading innovator with a strong commitment to continual improvement of student learning, you will be in line to work at one of the very best international schools. And here is how you find out what drives that institution:

1) What are their provisions for professional development, and what percentage of their budget is devoted to this? (Should be at least 2%).

2) How do they express their central mission verbally, as many of the written mission statements may be very much alike? You need to ask what is their main criteria for selecting staff, which will give you insight into this question.

3) Be sure to speak to a few of the teachers at any prospective employer, and ask them about the quality of their colleagues and the school’s commitment to learning. And remember, strong educational leadership is not always welcomed by every staff member.

4) Be prepared to share your examples of student work under your direction; tests and assessments you have used; and samples of your best lesson plans. If they are not very interested in these, you will have learned a lot about the school’s priorities.

5) Check whether the writing and public speaking standards are expressed in “essential agreements” within departments. This will indicate a strong sense of purpose, or the lack thereof!

6) Ask the principal or head what are the most important characteristics of the staff they are seeking to hire. Do you fit into this scenario?

These approaches will enhance your understanding of the kind of school and staff you may be joining. And please remember, this is by far the most serious and significant factor in your decision—far more important than the school’s location or physical plant.

What Should Candidates Be Doing Right Now?

If you are hoping to land a good international teaching or admin position for next summer, here are a few things you must attend to right now!

1) Update you resume with major emphasis on your most recent teaching experience, including subjects and levels.

2) Line up 2 or 3 current or past supervisors to be ready to complete confidential recommendations for you, both in writing and in response to checkout calls. Make sure they are comfortable giving you a strong letter of endorsement.

3) Try to be in early contact with schools that interest you, even if they haven’t yet announced an appropriate vacancy. In many schools teachers are not required to announce their intentions for the next year until a month or two from now.

4) Once a school indicates interest in your candidacy, keep in contact with them and seek to speak with teachers and your prospective principal about their standards, requirements and special conditions for living and working there. Be ready to consider locations you might not have considered in advance. (Nor everyone can get their first international position in Western Europe!)

5) Be prepared to discuss candidly your special strengths as a teacher; the ways you assess your impact on your students; and the areas in which you are still trying to improve. Good to practice this with a school administrator if you can.

6) Keep in mind that location, while important, is not nearly as important as being in a school where you are comfortable and compatible with their goals. Your experience in an international school will be affected much more by the school, your colleagues and the students, then by the city or country you are in.

7) Be as positive and constructive as possible about your past experiences. Morale issues are very important in international schools, and no one wants to hire a “moaner.”

8) Above all: Get your resume and confidential recommendations into the Tieonline.com Resume Bank; and subscribe to the IJN service to keep abreast of all relevant, new vacancy announcements!