Are you considering working at an international school, but have yet to make a final decision? If so, you’re not alone. Working in at international school can be an amazing experience and a great way to boost your resume. But before you make a final decision, there are a few factors you should consider. These include the country and city you would be moving to, the salary and benefits and your skillset. You also have to ensure that the school is a good fit for you.
In my experience, being a good fit is one of the most important but often overlooked considerations. I have often seen schools receive high and low ratings on the same points. For this reason, you should spend time making sure it is right for you.
When determining whether an international school is a good fit, you may wish to take into account the following:
1. The Country
If you are going to move abroad, there will be many things that will surprise you about the new culture. But if you have done your research, it will be easier for you to adjust — or decide against moving — when the time comes. Look into:
the laws in the country related to employment contracts, taxes, and benefits such as health insurance and retirement plans.
whether or not that is near enough for you to be able to visit home regularly. Or have reasonably priced flights. That is, if this is important to you.
cultural differences that may affect your experience as an expat (i.e., gender equality, dress codes, ban on certain foods/alcohol etc.)? It’s important to make sure that you’ll be able to adjust well to the local culture.
the kind of lifestyle you want. Do you want to live in a big city or somewhere more rural? Do you want beaches nearby or mountains in the distance? What kinds of things do you like doing in your free time? These are all important factors when choosing where to live as an international school teacher because they will impact your quality of life outside of work.
2. The International School
A good international school is one that will not just give you a job but also provide the best environment to help you grow and develop as a professional. Therefore, you need to research the school you are thinking of working at. Not just to get information for your interview but also to assess if you will be able to thrive in that environment. Start by:
- talking to teachers who currently work at the school. There are numerous Facebook groups for international teachers. Although someone may not teach at the school you are interested in, they can often help connect you with a colleague who does. You can also search LinkedIn for connections to people you already know. Talking to someone from your home country who might be working at the school is especially helpful. The insight of someone coming from a similar background will be particularly valuable to you.
googling the school will also help you find some useful information. You can check out the school’s website, Facebook page or Instagram account. A Google search of the school may turn up news stories that shed light on its reputation. If headlines often mention problems, you should investigate further.
looking at school review sites like International School Reviews or International Schools Community. ISR costs U$29/year and ISC cost U$20 for six months. On these sites, teachers anonymously share their experiences of various international schools. These sites are not perfect and will have some bias, but they provide a good starting point for your research. You can get a wealth of information about a school without ever having visited it in person. When reading reviews, be sure to pay attention to the different time periods. When new leadership takes over, the culture and working environment tend to change.
International schools are unique in their own ways. There are no right or wrong choices when it comes to selecting a school. There are many factors to weigh, and everyone has different priorities. As such, each of us has our own definition of what makes a school perfect. Therefore, it is important to do your research and find the school that best fits you and your family’s needs.
I hope this information has been helpful. Please feel free to leave a comment or questions below.
Further Reading: Question About Teaching Abroad, Teacher Recruitment: Worldwide, Western Hemisphere
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