Let The Swine Go Forth!

To take a break from our regular blogs, this week we hear from one of our candidates who has recently had an incredible achievement and published a fiction book set in an international school! It can be found on Amazon right here, and already has fantastic reviews such as “a sprightly, inventive novel, rich in amusing characters and situations. I enjoyed every word of it.” Read on to hear from Auriel Roe about what to expect from the book, and what inspired her success.

let the swine go forthAfter 15 years on the international circuit, I felt compelled to write a novel set in an international school.  I don’t think any other author has done this which is curious as they are quite fascinating places… little outposts of Britishness, uniforms with kilt-like skirts, the Cambridge system and that golden selling point, teachers with English accents… and often set up in the most inhospitable places so those teachers straight from Aldershot, Huddersfield and Stockport often find it quite a chore to keep smiling.

When I was first planning my novel, I whittled the characters down to seven “types” and the more I thought about them, the more I saw them as the Seven Deadly Sins.  There’s Lust, the teacher who goes abroad to – quite literally – “sample” the local speciality and there’s Gluttony, who also goes abroad to sample the local speciality but in more of an oral sense.  Then there’s Sloth, the guy who retired but his wife, bothered by him sitting about the house, sends him off on a little adventure to a far-flung place.  blindfellowsSorry maths teachers, but that’s what the embodiment of Wrath teaches at this school.  I once asked a maths teacher why so many children were nervous about maths.  His answer to me was because many maths teachers had no patience with children no good at maths.  (Actually, most maths teachers I’ve met throughout my teaching career have been charming, but I have been that child who a certain maths teacher had no patience with so that was the most appropriate choice for me.)  Pride is represented by Randolph, the newly appointed headmaster, chosen for the job because of his accent and well-groomed appearance.  He’s in it for the easy ride he believes it will offer him, and the peacock-like parading he presumes embody the job.  Envy and Covetousness are the two local hires who are jealous of the perks of the foreign hires to the point of distraction.

The school, out in the desert of a totalitarian state, soon flounders and, when the country becomes torn by revolution and the headmaster implicated, the end is nigh for the British experiment.

My debut novel, Blindefellows, came out last year and peaked at the #1 spot for humour on Amazon UK, US and Canada.  I like to think I was, albeit briefly, the funniest person in the English-speaking world.  Here’s hoping this novel will have a similar effect.  Now I’m touting for ratings on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. for, if I surpass 50 reviews, I get a leg up from Amazon.  Here’s where you can find it. Happy reading!
International teaching? What can possibly go wrong? …

What a fantastic achievement. As fellow international teachers, don’t forget to download or buy Auriel’s book, have a read and let us know what you think by commenting below (and on Amazon). You can also visit Auriel’s blog page and read more of her work here. Keep it up Auriel – we can’t wait to read another one!

Written by Auriel Roe, author of two books; 'Blindefellows' and 'Let The Swine Go Forth'. In the early part of her career she was a teacher of art, drama and English. Somehow, this alchemic mix of subjects lead to a writing career!

How does Teacherhorizons screen the schools it works with?

As Teacherhorizons grows, more and more schools are signing up to use our services, so it’s more important than ever that we ensure they are good quality. I interviewed our CEO Alex Reynolds recently to find out more about how the team actually does this. What processes do Teacherhorizons and the team go through, and why is this important? 

 

Teacher HorizonsWhat does ‘screening schools’ mean?
It means that we check that the schools we work with are good and suitable places for our teachers to work. As we grow, more and more schools are looking to work with us, so we need to make sure they are high quality.
 
Why is it important to screen schools?
The international sector is growing quickly and more and more schools are being set up. Some of them are brilliant and others still have a way to go. We need to be selective so that we can recommend them to our teachers without reservation, and because we are a small team with a limit to the number of schools we can work with. Not all of our schools need to be the best of the best but we need to understand every school individually to know which teachers will fit in there. Screening effectively is about ‘fit’ as well as quality. Finally, as a young recruitment company, our reputation is vital so it is important for us to work with well respected schools where teachers are happy.   

We are a young company and its been a journey so far – read our story through the words of one of our founders here.

 

Teacher HorizonsWhat steps do you take to screen schools?
We have many levels that schools must pass through in order to use our service. We first do an admin screen to check they are a genuine international school. Then an online screening where we research them in detail online. We look for reviews of the school, we google the school and read all about it, and we check their website for areas such as the curriculum, facilities, photos of the school, the Heads welcome and the accreditations.  The third level is a Skype screening, where we arrange a call with the school and speak to the Head or HR team directly. Here we can get an idea of their recruitment challenges, their turnover rate, and the types of teachers they are looking for. Finally, we then try to visit as many schools as possible and do a face to face screening.
 
Tell me more about this ‘face to face screening’. How do visits work? 
Maggie visitThese are really useful. We always do a tour of the school to see the facilities and get an idea of what sort of a place it is to work. Through this we quickly pick up a sense of the school from the way we are greeted at reception, to the mood of teachers and students, even to the work on the walls! During the visit we will chat to teachers we have placed there ourselves or otherwise teachers we meet in the staffroom etc. We always try to meet the Head to put a face to a name, learn about their requirements, learn about their turnover, their challenges of recruitment and the reality (honesty points) about the school. We then share everything we learned with the TH team so that we can pass this honest, first hand information on to teachers when we speak to them. This ensures we are super-honest with teachers which helps them make informed decisions – and results in a happier outcome all round.  

Have a look at our blog about the schools we visited in November 2018 – click here!

 

What are the challenges of screening schools?

The international school sector is tough to screen and the clue is in the name! Schools are all around the world, and it is expensive and time consuming to go around and visit them all face to face. We are looking at ways of doing this and our team is expanding all the time so we can visit more schools in different locations. Sometimes honesty is a challenge – schools aren’t always up-front about their situation and we have to try to combat this. Our teachers play a vital part – we often ask for feedback on schools to give us a better idea from a employee’s perspective.
 
What are the warning signs that a school is not good? 
There are lots. A high turnover rate, leadership changing a lot, an over-controlling owner who is not an educationalist, incorrect or out-of-date information on a school’s website. However, some of these can occur with good schools too. Sometimes you just get the impression that the recruitment contact you speak to is not being 100% upfront about something. Reviews can be interesting as well….. 

We also screen our candidates of course – read about our safeguarding measures here!

 

Julian visitHow do teachers’ comments about schools affect your screening process? 
Reviews can be useful but it’s so important to note that they must be taken with a pinch of salt. There are various sites out there, and we know there are disgruntled teachers in all schools for various reasons, so negative reviews do not always reflect reality. At the same time though, it’s important to look for trends, such as lots of people making similar comments via different websites and forums. We definitely take this into account but with caution. Also, we often hear from teachers we have placed there ourselves and this information is vital to us. We do take comments on board and will often follow up with other teachers in the same school, or the school itself. Again, I must stress the challenge of taking one person’s perspective on board, as there can always be personality and approach clashes, even in the best schools. I’m sure our readers can think of examples in schools they’ve taught in.
 
What happens if a school does not pass the screening process?

It’s a very difficult situation! We are huge believers in transparency – its one of our core values. If we have decided not to work with a school we will explain that they are unable to use our Global service (we have limited resources for this service so can cater only for our top schools). We would still allow the school have a profile on our page as we don’t screen schools for this. To have a profile they just need to be an international school in some way, and in having a profile they can add jobs still, but we wont support or recommend them. We explain this clearly.

Our relationship with our schools is strong – have a read of this feedback from schools in 2018


IMG_5366Do you screen schools that you have been working with for years?
Definitely. We keep in touch with our schools regularly and we might go and visit them if we haven’t before. We realise that leadership changes and schools are dynamic; good schools can start to struggle just as struggling schools can become good schools. We ask schools to complete an ‘application form’ each year to find out the changes that have happened. We also keep in touch with teachers we have paced there, for any important developments. If one of our current schools does fail a screening, we would always give them a chance to improve by providing them with feedback, just as we expect from them with our candidates. We are always open to working with schools again in future but as I mentioned before we have to be selective with which schools we work with closely.
 
Are there any future developments to look forward to in terms of screening schools?
There are lots of exciting developments on the way. First and foremost we are likely to do more visits in the coming years. We have a global team of International Advisers who live in different regions and are visiting schools on our behalf. We also want to get more feedback on schools through our user generated content – more about this to come.
The main things we have planned are secret at the moment – you will have to wait and see!

Ready to give Teacherhorizons a try? Click here to join our community of over 100,000 inspirational teachers looking to enrich their teaching in an international context. Not sure yet? Here are ten reasons to join Teacherhorizons.

Written by Tiffany Kibblewhite, Teacherhorizons Blog Manager and Recruitment Adviser.

Teacherhorizons’ recent school visits!

Here at Teacherhorizons most of us have been teachers, many of us international teachers and even senior leaders. This means we have a thorough understanding of what makes a school desirable from a teacher’s perspective. Our aim is to travel around as many international schools as possible and visit them in person. This means we can discover the information that teachers will need before making a decision about whether they would like to work there. Here are some of the schools we have visited recently, and what we found out.

 

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School name: Dubai English Speaking College, DESC
Country and city: UAE, Dubai
Curriculum/s: UK
Who visited?: Laura

 

 

IMG_4767How did you get to the school? Where is it located? 
I drove and it was very easy and central to get to. Staff also live fairly close in the city.
How big was the school? 
Large but there was a very friendly feeling to it. It is a not for profit school so all profits are reinvested. It has an excellent reputation among students and parents in Dubai.
What were the buildings and facilities like? 
The Head, Chris Vizzard, took me around on a golf buggy around the extensive campus which was amazing. It is a very well resourced school! It has amazing facilities and even a Formula 1 Simulator in the Science block!
Did you speak to any staff members? If so, how were they finding it? 
All the staff looked very happy! The Head also introduced me to the Head of the Staff Wellbeing committee and this is one of the school’s major benefits for staff (see below).
What was the best thing about the school in your opinion? 

They have a great Staff Wellbeing Committee. They organise ‘Coffee/Cake Wednesdays’, ‘Thank You Thursdays’, and lots of social events. There is also a staff gym, and they offer health and Yoga days!IMG_4769

Any other important info? 

New staff get put up in serviced apartments (with cleaners!) for their first year. Also they are very active on social media with a big Youtube channel and Twitter account – they are very good at the marketing side of things too.

 Dubai English Speaking College has vacancies now! Have a look here. You must be signed in to apply, so set up a profile here.

 

 

 

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School name: International School of The Hague
Country and city: NetherlandsThe Hague
Curriculum/s: IPC, MYP, IBDP
Who visited?: Alex and Caroline

 

 


IMG_9581How did you get there?

We cycled! As do hundreds of school children every day. It was fantastic and the school is very family friendly.

What were the buildings and facilities like? 
Very modern and open plan,  lots of light! The school has grown significantly in the last few years and so there are newer parts and older parts. It’s very beautiful.
Did you speak to any staff members? If so, how were they finding it? 
We met lots of the staff members – all who seemed very happy there. There’s a new Head this year so there has been quite a bit of change – especially with the growth – but they were very positive about this, it sounds like things are moving in a very positive direction.
What was the best thing about the school in your opinion? 
It had a vibe about it similar to the whole of the Netherlands – open minded, friendly, hardworking but relaxed.
Any other important info? (did the school have something special about it? Or anything I haven’t asked that you think worth mentioning?)
IMG_9587 (1)It’s important to note about this school, that their jobs come up late in the year. This is due to Dutch law. Keep your eyes peeled! We have placed over 20 members of staff to this school and continue to work closely with them.

Have a read of our Happy Teacher Archives, for more happy teachers in Europe and other locations.

 

 

 

 

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School name: Al Sahwa Schools
Country and city: Oman, Muscat
Curriculum/s: PYP at Primary from KG 1-6, the Cambridge Curriculum from Grades 7-10 (IGCSEs) and the Omani General Education Diploma in Grades 11 and 12  – a great place to gain IB experience at primary level!
Who visited?: Laura

 

 

IMG_4857How did you get to the school?
I flew to Muscat the night before the visit and completed the visit as part of a short day trip. Al Sahwa is situated in an affluent district of the city and is close to many major Embassies, shops and restaurants. The beach is only a few minutes away too.
How big was the school?
Large. Al Sahwa has a very positive reputation in the Muscat community.  The school is bilingual and comprises a Boys’ School, a Girls’ School and a Kindergarten (which is mixed) on the same site.
What were the buildings and facilities like?
It does feel like the school has outgrown their space a little but they are upgrading and upscaling their facilities and renovating their buildings to modernise it a little bit.
Did you speak to any staff members? If so, how were they finding it?
All the staff looked very happy indeed.
IMG_4853What was the best thing about the school in your opinion?
The students appeared very respectful and polite and eager to learn and do well. Staff are all invited to have breakfast (for free) in the canteen with the students and other staff members every morning. Teachers are all put up in 2 bed apartments to encourage them to invite and have family and friends to stay and enjoy the beauty of Oman.
Any other important info?

Oman itself is a beautiful country; an adventurer’s paradise.  There is a beach just minutes away in one direction and mountains a short drive away in the other direction!

Al Sahwa has vacancies now! Have a look here. You must be signed in to apply, so set up a profile here.

 

 

 

 

haag

 

 

School name:  Haagsche Schoolvereeniging
Country and city: NetherlandsThe Hague
Curriculum/s: British Primary and IPC
Who visited?: Caroline

 

 

fullsizeoutput_9cecHow did you get to the school?

It is in Central Hague. I drove, but it is 10 minutes walk from the train station.

How big was the school?
Very small, cosy and friendly. It has various campuses, all of which are old houses/buildings converted into schools.
What were the buildings and facilities like?

OK – they had a little wear and tear but lots of character!

Did you speak to any staff members? If so, how were they finding it?
The Head of one of the campuses who has been with the school for several years. I also said hello to some staff – all seemed very relaxed and happy.
What was the best thing about the school in your opinion?
The close knit warm feeling. Fantastic children, and very multicultural.fullsizeoutput_9ced

Haagsche Schoolvereeniging has vacancies now! Have a look here. You must be signed in to apply, so set up a profile here.

 

 

We have 2,287 schools in 167 countries, so it might take us a while to get around them all, but we endeavour to! We visit new schools every month, so keep an eye out for more blogs like this one coming soon.

Written by Tiffany Kibblewhite, Teacherhorizons Blog Manager and Recruitment Adviser.

Asking the right questions before, during and after your interview

With thousands of international schools around the world with varying styles, quality and employment packages, you want to make the right choice. With only an interview or two (usually on Skype) between you and a 2-year contract, you want to have as big a picture as possible to help you pick the best job for you. Asking the right questions is key. The current market is still abound with teaching jobs, and so if you have a few years under your belt and something to show off on your CV, there will always be another job around the corner and never a need to choose something that isn’t right. A job interview is just as much about you, as a teacher, interviewing the school, as it is about the school interviewing you. So with that in mind, one of our fantastic teachers, Sarah Morris, has compiled a list of must-ask questions to ensure that when you land your next job, your preferences are met and there are no surprises.

 

Important things to do before applying:

  • Google search the school directors.
    Some people are surprisingly well known, good or bad, in the international teaching world. You don’t want to be working with someone who is known for poor management.
  • Consider signing up to the website, International Schools Review, or search up the school on Glassdoor.com.
    Take reviews with a pinch of salt, but avoid applying for schools that are poorly reviewed by a number of other teachers.

 

Questions to ask before interview:

  • Please could you give me an idea of the package you are offering?
    Not a rude question to ping across in an email. With teaching salaries varying from below an average Western European salary to close to six figures, you won’t have any idea if this will be a complete waste of time both for you and the school unless you know the salary. If you have a recruitment agent, then ask them.

 

Questions to ask at the interview:

  • What would you say are the best things about working at the school?
  • What are the goals of the school over the next year?
  • What needs to be improved about the school?
  • How many hours a week will I be teaching?
  • I have a really keen interest in X, what kind of extra-curricular opportunities are there?
  • How much time is spent on staff meetings/Saturdays/boarding duties?
  • What kind of professional development opportunities do you offer to staff? Do you invite trainers from outside the country or offer an allowance for travel? Could you give some examples?
  • Do you have any requirements for lesson plans to be submitted?
    It is not uncommon for a head of department or senior management to ask for weekly lesson plans. If this isn’t your preference, you want to know about it now.
  • Have any teachers left after only a year or less? If so, why?
    Asking ‘how long do most staff stay at the school’ gives the opportunity of the school to mislead you by missing out significant anomalies.
  • I’m used to working in a happy and professional environment. How would you describe the school environment for staff and students?
  • Will I have my own classroom or will I be based in an office and be moving around?
  • Do you provide laptops for staff?
    I’ve never understood why some schools think it is appropriate for teachers to use their own. Imagine turning up to any other job and being asked to produce your own computer to work on.
  • Who exactly will be my line manager?
  • What does your student behaviour policy look like?
  • How would you rate how well-equipped the school is in my department? What is the annual budget for buying equipment for my department?
  • Do you offer multiple exit visas? (If Saudi Arabia or Qatar)

 

Questions to ask after you have an offer but before you have accepted the offer:

  • What will happen when I arrive to the airport and in my first few days?
    It is standard for a member of senior management to greet you at the airport, take you to provided accommodation and invite you for at least one dinner/drinks event in the first few days. The school should help with settling by organising visas, medical insurance, getting a sim card, showing you around town and looking for longer-term accommodation (if applicable). If a school doesn’t do these things, it is not a good sign.
  • Can you send me some pictures of the accommodation that I will be in? Are utilities, internet etc. included? What will be the address? Search your accommodation on Google maps. Check for potential problems like heavy traffic noise or pollution.
  • Can I talk to another member of the teaching staff that I will be working with? This is very important for getting a more realistic feel. Once, I was glad to have been informed by my would-be head of department, that a school was having problems and many staff were leaving. By being realistic, she avoided disappointment for me and for the school.

 

So that’s it. Thanks Sarah! Remember, interviews are a two-way street. Ask the right questions and you’ll find the job that’s right for you and avoid making any wrong decisions. Click here to read Sarah’s other useful blog 3 mistakes to avoid during your job search.

Written by Sarah Morris, who enjoys throwing herself into life in new cultures and has taught in Nicaragua, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Cuba and the Cayman Islands. When she is not searching for new adventures, she is often found rescuing street dogs, and runs www.brainhappy.co.uk - a consultancy and coaching provider aimed at helping workplaces all over the world, including schools, improve staff well-being.

Three mistakes to avoid during your job search!

This week, another of our wonderful teachers has written a blog giving advice about your job search. Sarah Morris recently began a Science teaching role in the Cayman Islands, and alongside teaching she runs Brainhappy – a consultancy and coaching service which aims to improve staff wellbeing all over the world. So her advice is certainly worth taking on board… have a read!

 

I was at an international schools’ job fair in London a few years ago and noticed a disproportionately large queue of people vying for the opportunity to greet the director of a school in Bogotá, Colombia. If you are not familiar with job fair protocol, it is kind of like a summer fair, except it’s usually indoors and conducted on a rainy January day. Schools and teachers fly in from all over the world for a weekend. They set up tables, often with some kind of display or scheduled talk to introduce themselves. You then line up and leave your CV, in the hope that you will later find an invitation for interview placed in your newly set-up pigeon hole. Interviews then take place over the rest of the weekend, sometimes in hotel rooms. It’s a rather odd affair, but can be a highly efficient way for schools to recruit staff and teachers to find jobs.

bogota
1. Putting destination first

There was a palpable air of excitement around the Colombian school’s small table, with people pushing to get to the front. I thought I’d better see what all the fuss was about, and so I signed up for a talk about the school later on that day. I must say that I was put off by the extremely large size of the school, poor student behaviour, relatively low student attainment and extremely long meetings, all mentioned by the director. However, when I talked to one or two of the other candidates over some cake and wine later on, they were mightily excited to have been offered an interview. Why, despite the school sounding no different from the local UK school down the road, were so many people still interested? “It’s Bogotá,” was the reply. Bogotá, having partially shed its reputation for FARC rebels and cocaine, had become the new place to be for the latest set of teachers. China and Dubai were out, it seemed. Bogotá, the rainy capital of South America’s second most populous country was in, and people were willing to trade in their work satisfaction in order to be there.
I was puzzled. Maybe the opportunity to live in your Number One Top Destination would be enough to stave off the blues at work for a while, but surely not for a whole two-year contract. A teacher that is only motivated by the chance to live in their favourite country, surely isn’t doing their employer or themselves any favours.

Read some more stories from our happy teachers placed in locations all around the world, click here. 

2. Not asking the right questions

But it wasn’t the Bogotá frenzy that was the most memorable event of that job fair, for me. It was an interview with a private international school from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. When it came to my chance to ask questions, I asked them to confirm that the school would provide multiple exit visas so that I would be able to travel out of Saudi Arabia freely during holidays and maybe the odd weekend (in Saudi Arabia, your employer must give you permission to leave the country, through issuance of an exit visa). The reply was that exit visas were offered only once a year as the school didn’t think it was appropriate for staff to leave the country any more frequently. That was my first contact with a school that clearly didn’t value the wellbeing of staff, the benefit to students of well-rounded teachers or simply a person’s right to freedom. I’d love to know if anyone at the job fair took them up on an offer. Only someone not clued up on exit visas, I thought. And what regret that would cause, when the poor candidate arrived to find they would be missing Christmas at home, half term adventures abroad and indeed, any chance of escaping for ten whole months.

Want to join Sarah in the Cayman Islands? Have a look at her school’s profile page here.

cayman3. Being unprepared

Job fairs have the advantage of so many jobs in one place, however, they also have the disadvantage of having so many competing candidates also in the same place. So if you want to bag an interview at the best school, do your preparation in advance. Find out what you can and send a short email to introduce yourself to the school director before the fair, stating that you are looking forward to meeting them. That way, you have demonstrated your enthusiasm and given yourself a slight step ahead of others. Aside from the context of job fairs, make yourself stand out by making a video of yourself, attaching some evidence of outstanding teaching to your application, or adding some ‘reviews’ from students.

Read more advice from our teachers: 10 pieces of advice before making your next move

 

Thanks so much Sarah. Hear more from Sarah next week when we put out her blog on asking the right questions. Want to join Sarah in the Cayman Islands? Well  sign up, and look at our jobs. Or if you have your own advice to give, please email us on editor@teacherhorizons.com . We would love to hear from you!

Written by Sarah Morris, who enjoys throwing herself into life in new cultures and has taught in Nicaragua, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Cuba and the Cayman Islands. When she is not searching for new adventures, she is often found rescuing street dogs, and runs www.brainhappy.co.uk - a consultancy and coaching provider aimed at helping workplaces all over the world, including schools, improve staff well-being.

10 pieces of advice before making your next international move

Can you believe it’s October half term? How has this time come around again so fast? Schools are beginning to advertise their positions for August 2019 already, and for some of you it’s time to start looking out for new opportunities. We are of course here to provide help and advice whilst you seek out your perfect school, but this year we have asked some of our teachers and our senior leaders for their personal tips on job hunting.  First off, we hear from Jane Greenwood, Principal at Jogjakarta Community School, Indonesia who advises on what to do before making your first (or your next) international move.

 

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Moving and working abroad for the first time can seem a daunting challenge and it took me several years to pluck up the courage to do so. After 20 years of teaching in the UK I finally decided to give working abroad a try. “Just for one year” I thought… that was 14 years ago. Five countries later I still have a sense for adventure, challenge and cultural development. Currently I am working in Indonesia; a country made up of 17,000 islands and some of the most active volcanoes in the world. As I near retirement I have heard people say “she should know better” and others who think it is a terrific thing to do.

Today I am in a position where I hire teachers from around the world; some leaving their home country for the first time and others who are seasoned international teachers. What I have discovered is that no matter how experienced people feel they are at living in different countries, research is imperative. Research the school and its student cohort, study the contract and the package, and find out as much as you can about the city and the country in which you will be working. In the past have employed people who were surprised they were taxed on their salary, others who were stunned that they had arrived in a ‘dry’ state and even those who did not know the country was landlocked!

A lack of thorough research can lead to discontentment, loneliness and frustration for some and for others, an extension of their adventure. Although not as common as some people think, teachers do vanish overnight when reality does not meet their expectations. This is one of the worst things a teacher can do. Breaking contract leaves awkward gaps on a Curriculum Vitae and it leaves the school (more importantly the children) without a teacher.

Read another blog where we asked our teachers to give advice to someone thinking of working abroad.

 

So, when making the decision to move from your home country, here are 10 things you need to consider. In no particular order.

 

jane1) Ensure your CV and education statement are up to date and relevant.

Try not to leave gaps and do not make it too long. I have received CVs over 14 pages long – I put the kettle on after 4.

2) Get your references in order

Make sure your referees are happy to still be contacted on your behalf. These should be as recent as you can make them. Many schools will ask for your last employer.

3) Update your photo

Include a current (within 1 year) passport sized photograph and keep it professional – I have received photographs of people sitting on the beach, holding beer bottles and some of the worst selfies you can imagine.

Read our blog on getting your CV and profile photo right.

jane 34) Have a police check handy

Ensure you have an up to date police reference check from the country you are leaving. Also collect letters confirming employment dates that cover up to 5 years. Ensure you have all your certificates. Schools will require these documents to obtain work and residency permits.

5) Consider packages carefully

Weigh up each package. Are you paid in local currency and is it taxable? Do you receive health insurance, housing, free child places, a utilities allowance, start and end of contract flights and/or mid contract flights? Look at the contract length and remember on many contracts you may not receive a salary increase after the first year if you sign up for two. Decide what is important to you and what you are willing to sacrifice against other benefits. Look at the bigger picture – some countries offer lower salaries but the saving potential can still be high in relation to the cost of living.

                                                                                 Read more about salaries and benefits

jane 26) Research the school

Before an interview, research the school. Review the website; its governance, school ethos, the academics, the commitment to extracurricular activities. A lot can be gained from what is and what is not contained in a website.

7) Know what you are looking for

Consider what it is you want from moving abroad; to further your career, to find a better work/life balance, to find a retirement country, to have a social life and meet people, or to travel.

8) Research the city and the country thoroughly

This includes looking at the cost and availability of flights, the social scene, ways of travelling to and from school, or where your accommodation is in relation to the school, amenities and the city.

Read our blog on how to make your applications stand out.

jane 49) Have questions ready

Before an interview list all the questions you want to ask about life and work. Many may be answered during interview. Do not be afraid to ask what may seem to be banal questions – as an interviewer I am completely honest and will highlight the positives and make people aware of the potential negatives. If you do not get the opportunity to ask at interview, ask before accepting an offer.

10) Make sure you have money before you move

Furnished accommodation may not mean the same to everyone and having the ability to purchase items to make life more comfortable is important. Also, the first few weeks will see increased socialising as you get to know the place and your colleagues. Remember, it is like any position you would accept in your home country, you will work a month in hand before you receive your first salary payment.

 

To round off, just remember that research, planning and preparation are key components to making a move less stressful. I have once made a move I regretted, but I learnt a lot from that experience and was then far better prepared for my next move. Remember, you are never too old to make the change – I made it at the age of 44. It is a fantastic experience. Try it …. just make sure you are fully prepared.

 

Thanks so much for your input Jane (and for the awesome photos of Indonesia). Who better to give advice on moving schools and countries than someone who has experienced it from all angles! If this has inspired you and you are keen to make the move this year, now is the time to sign up, and look at our jobs. There’s so much out there waiting for you!

 

Written by Jane Greenwood, Principal at Jogjakarta Community School, Java, Indonesia.

Happy Teachers 2018

Our teachers are rounding off their first term at school. Hooray! Before we delve into how their experiences have been, we wanted to first share some of their feedback on the Teacherhorizons process…

 

Gemma WayteGemma was placed in Cambodia.

Selecting schools suitable schools was very easy and the profiles for each school were extremely helpful. TH put me in contact with a recruiter who had experience teaching internationally, so gave great advice. I had a Skype interview with Anisha, so that she could see what schools would be right for me and where I’d like to go. After deciding that I would like to move to Cambodia for the cheap living costs, Anisha sent me a link to a great school in Cambodia straight away. In preparation for the interview she sent some likely interview questions for me to practice. I got the offer email from the school a few days later and couldn’t have been more excited!

We love Cambodia! Read our many many blogs about Cambodia here.

 

AliAli was placed in Vietnam

The TH website was really useful and user friendly. The email updates were always welcomed and of all the recruitment sites I have used this has been the most useful and personal. Laura in particular has been an absolute super star. She has taken the time to get to know my requirements and helped me through the process. Thank you.

Want to join Ali? Have a look at schools in Vietnam.

 

jenniferJennifer was placed in China

I first heard about Teacher Horizons a couple of years ago when I was looking around at my options for the future. Last year I decided to get serious about searching and found that some of the best options showed up on this site. Using TH is so easy and the staff are so helpful. They are also upfront and honest – if you aren’t right for a position they tell you instead of wasting your time. They provide help and guidance every step of the way and are quick to follow up and provide any advice needed. Knowing that a lot of the schools have been checked out adds confidence in the decision on where to go. I’m so happy about my new school and the opportunities to come. I highly recommend using their services!

Check out the schools we work with in China.

 

monicaMonica was placed in Russia

I came across TH while searching for a position and saw a posting that appealed to me. I contacted Laura at TH and she initiated contact with the school. From there, it was a Skype interview and then I was hired! I really liked having TH “vet” me for the school – it’s good to have a recommendation from the recruiter. I felt the service was more personal than with other recruiting agencies.

Read more about our schools in Russia. 

 

If you’re inspired, then why not browse our latest jobs in South AmericaAsia or Europe? Visit more of our happy teachers blogs to read more testimonials and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any queries.

Written by Tiffany Kibblewhite, Teacherhorizons Blog Manager and Recruitment Adviser.

Simon Armstrong shares top 5 tips for traveling with students.

This week we hear from Simon Armstrong, an inspiring teacher and entrepreneur who has set up a service for international school trips, called CAS Trips. He explains where the idea for CAS Trips came from, and with his wealth of knowledge, he gives some great advice on how to enhance your experience of travelling with students.

 

As a former international school teacher, I know exactly what it is like to travel with students. At the tender age of 23, I set sail for my own teacher horizons journey, as I embarked on a teaching career that would take me to international schools in Indonesia, Switzerland, Brazil and Canada before settling in Prague, Czech Republic. During these years, I helped organize and chaperone various school trips – and we all know that job doesn’t come lightly. It is more than just responsibility. You need to find that delicate balance between fun, meaningfulness, budget and safety to ensure that students accomplish learning outcomes whilst enjoying a fantastic travel experience yet following the rules and guidelines set forth.

My own experiences in the classroom and my never-ending passion for travel inspired the concept of CAS Trips, a tour company focusing on educational travel with students aged 12 – 18 years. Through the years I have learned many valuable lessons from both sides of the trip planning fence and I thought I’d share some of my wisdom – both from a teacher and tour operator perspective – to make traveling with students a little easier.

Here are my top 5 tips that will enhance both your and your students’ experiences when travelling abroad:

 

Screen Shot 2018-10-03 at 07.57.111. Have fun!

Yes, you are working and trying to teach your students about the history of World War II or how the Ottoman Empire came about – but you’re on a school trip to explore beyond the textbook. Have fun, use local tour guides to bring in a new perspective on topics, and don’t forget that your students will absorb the most information when all their senses are fully engaged.

2. Prepare for a new culture

Make sure you research and understand the culture with your students before embarking on your journey abroad. This can be a truly engaging and curriculum-relevant classroom activity. Have previous political regimes left a lasting impact on your destination? What is the historical context of the food you will eat? Are you visiting a country that requires students to cover up more so than they usually do back home? Explore the context of the who’s whats when and whys with your students in advance to educate and prepare them in terms of culture and customs at your destination.

Screen Shot 2018-10-03 at 08.02.18

3. Accept accountability

This is always a challenge, but as a teacher you need to accept accountability for the entire trip from the moment students leave their homes until they are picked up by their parents again upon return. You’ve organized every part of the trip to run smoothly. Practically speaking, that might always not be the case. Whilst the responsibility lies with you, make sure that your students and their parents are aware that they are also going to be held fully accountable for their individual actions and any mischief when travelling abroad.

4. Ask your students what they want

Do things a little differently from the rest. Ask your students what they want, rather than giving them a fully planned itinerary. There might be specific sites or activities they would like to visit and take part in at your destination. Providing options is also a great way to get your student involved before the trip even starts. Would they prefer exploring a castle or participating in a street art workshop? Students that feel like they are actively involved in the decision-making process will result in a more dynamic group eager to learn and explore.

Screen Shot 2018-10-03 at 07.59.455. Use a student tour operator

I may be biased here, but using a student tour operator can really enhance your educational trip. Working with a student tour operator secures you the best deals and ensures an expert opinion with lots of experience. Tour guides (like our CAS Trips guides) are trained in specific areas, such as history for example, providing your students with knowledge that might not be found in textbooks. Another very clear benefit of using a student tour operator to plan your trip, is that you can sit back and relax a little while the experts handle all those pesky logistics of travel. We at CAS Trips have even created a 7-step checklist on how to book a student trip.

 

So why did I create CAS Trips?

Well, like many of you, I had been on one too many underwhelming school trips myself – both as a student and as a teacher. From my own travels and extensive knowledge of the International Baccalaureate program, I knew there had to be a better way.

At the IB’s core, CAS (Creativity, Activity, Service) is an obligatory extracurricular modular designed to push students out of their comfort zones and bring about character development. In reality though, many schools I worked with struggled to inspire students to make the most of CAS on top of their heavy academic IB timetables.

Then, it hit me. Why not use the power of travel to tackle Global Issues in foreign countries using a framework of Creativity, Activity and Service experiences?

Screen Shot 2018-10-03 at 07.56.53A frantic brainstorm and several hundred emails later, CAS Trips was born in 2013. Five years later, we at CAS Trips now offer dynamic student travel experiences in 10 different cities, across four continents – with more to come in the future! CAS Trips offers an all-inclusive travel experience for students and teachers, from providing transport, accommodation, food, Service Challenges and on-site tours – we handle it all. Our trips are 100% customizable, creating unique itineraries based on your school curriculum and travel preferences.

This year, we have embarked on the mission of incorporating an average of eight UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) per destination. Students learn about the UN SDGs through frameworks and tools taught by our trained tour guides, before collaborating with charities and NGOs to tackled the goals head on with our innovative and dynamic Service Challenges. Reflection workshops and the Changemakers Challenge – a long-term sustainable project that is organized by the students, aiming to make a positive change in the world – are also vital components in the CAS Trips formula.

Through our experience as teachers, students, tour guides and parents, we hope that we truly understand what it means means to travel with students. If you are interested in learning more about CAS Trips, please do not hesitate to reach out to me here. I look forward to being in touch and helping you redefine educational travel for your school.

 

Thanks Simon! Do get in touch with Simon, and definitely follow CAS Trips on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube to discover the exciting things they are getting up to, and get inspired.

 

Written by Simon Armstrong, Simon Armstrong was born in York, UK and grew up in the Northern English Counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire before studying at the University of Liverpool and University of Central Lancashire. Following his graduation, Simon worked as a Sports Journalist at the Press Association but at the age of 23, determined that his future lay in a foreign classroom and succumbed to his desire to teach and travel. Working as an ESL, English Language and Literature teacher and Coordinator, he worked at international schools in Indonesia, Switzerland, Brazil and Canada before settling in Prague, Czech Republic. In the Ancient Czech capital, Simon also discovered tour guiding as a means to satisfy his thirst for history and showmanship on the weekends. This foray into the travel and tourism industry, combined with his extensive knowledge of the International Baccalaureate program led him to establish CAS Trips in 2013. Simon just recently moved to Lisbon, Portugal.

The benefits of professional development in an international setting

Hannah Fernweh posted an inspiring blog for us back in March, where she described her route into international teaching and how it has changed her life. We have kept in touch with Hannah through her first year in China and have shared in her success as she progressed quickly to take on more responsibility in year two. Amazed by the quality and abundance of professional development opportunities available to her, Hannah has now written a new blog about how beneficial PD is as an international educator. We are delighted to share it with you…

 

CPDTo be honest, I never would have thought I’d be the person to write a blog post lauding my access to professional development. Before beginning this adventure into international teaching, professional development was something I had to do to maintain my teaching credentials and was required by my district. Did I want to continue growing as a teacher? Sure, but this mostly happened through informal conversations and observations with colleagues. PDs were some of the least applicable, most torturous experiences of my early teaching career. My, how the tables have turned…

Coming into my second year of teaching in China, I’ve realized there are two main benefits of professional learning that are unique to international education: access to exciting experts and authors who give you actual strategies and ideas to apply in your pedagogy and the time provided by a true work/life balance to focus on personal study and growth.

When first filling in my profile on Teacherhorizons, I, somewhat naively, rated the ability to save and housing provided as “essential” and ranked professional development support as “not important.” Coming from teaching in a low-income, public school, I was feeling burnt out with regard to constantly trying to improve myself while barely staying ahead of my students’ crises. The idea of an international school sending me to professional development opportunities wasn’t in my frame of reference. All of my previous experience at PD sessions was me, sitting in a room with other exhausted teachers while an “expert,” who hadn’t been in a classroom for 20 years, told us how important data                                                                                          was.

Read Hannah’s blog ‘Life Hack – International Teaching’ here.

Hannah teachingSkip to my current profile on Teacherhorizons, where I list professional development support as “essential.” This shift in perspective was like a light switch. Last year and this year, I have participated in five professional learning opportunities with at least three more scheduled for this year. I have also had the time and drive to take a deep dive into pedagogical texts and subsequent online conversations through social media with the very authors I’m reading from. International teaching, particularly in locations where the packages need to include PD support to facilitate recruitment (Asia and the Middle East), emphasizes PD much more than my original experiences. We talk about the latest trends, the research behind them, and how it actually fits into our different school models. Techniques, strategies, and structures that I thought I knew I now have a deeper understanding of because I’ve had the chance to discuss, observe, and practice them through the conferences and session I’ve attended. Through these interactions, I also find out about the latest teacher texts that people are excited about, I use my department budget to purchase them, and then interact with other teachers and the authors themselves in person and through Twitter and Facebook to dissect them. Because this self-driven learning is part of the culture of international education, it is valued and I can spend my time wisely instead of countless hours of my own time on district and governmental mandates and unpacking curricula that didn’t apply to my students.

Read more about CPD in our blog on ‘How to get IB experience’

baby

 

Let’s cut down to brass tax, though. Not only is there more money for your school to spend on you to grow as an educator, you’re also surrounded by others striving the same way you are. Instead of everyone in crisis mode trying to stay afloat, grading papers and checking their email while the presenter drones on, I’m surrounded by colleagues from all over the world who are just as excited about lifelong learning as I am. Almost everyone I meet is filled with their own varied ideas and strategies that they’re actually excited to share. In fact, this is one of the most delightful secrets to rediscover participating in PD in an international setting: the world is very small. The longer I’m on this adventure, the more I run into someone who knows the same passionate educator I had met at a previous conference. Professional learning is full of the abundant connections we all have with one another around the world and the amazing knowledge, ideas, and opportunities we share as a global educational community.

 

Are you truly inspired by this blog? We certainly are! It is amazing to hear that best practise is being shared internationally, and that there are so many opportunities out there to develop as an international educator. Be sure to get in touch with your professional development co-ordinator at your own school, to ask what is available to you. I think you will be surprised!

Written by Hannah Fernweh, an international educator who values humor, curiosity, cheese, and new cultures. She currently resides in Shenzhen, China as a PYP Literacy Coordinator with her husband and is fulfilling her New Year's resolution of eating her weight in dumplings.

Typhoon Mangkhut and Hurricane Florence: How can we help?

We have all read reports of devastatingly heavy rain and winds in North and South Carolina from Hurricane Florence, and seen photos of the horrific damage to China, the Philippines, Guam, and the Marshall Islands by Typhoon Mangkhut. Are you wondering what you can do to help? We were!

MangkhutFlorence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A massive 550 miles wide, Typhoon Mangkhut is the strongest storm the world has seen this year and it has killed 74 people; a number which is still rising on a daily basis. More than four million people were in the path of the storm and over 130,000 people are now sheltering in evacuation centres. In the USA, around 10,000 residents in North Carolina are in shelters and first responders have reported having evacuated 2,200 people. We have many schools in these affected areas and our hearts go out to them as they get through this difficult time. We are keen to help.

So we have been doing our research, and have discovered some amazing non-profit organisations that have been helping with the recovery of anywhere affected by the recent storms. Teacherhorizons has donated to Save The Children, as it’s a charity that is close to our hearts (see below). But so that you can choose one yourself, we have compiled a list of other charities below, with a little information about each organisation and how you can donate.

 

 

red crossThe Red Cross

This amazing organisation provides everything that an area needs after a disaster. It opens shelters to make sure people have a safe place to stay, a hot meal and access to other support from trained volunteers. They hand out emergency supply comfort kits which contain basic personal supplies needed in the aftermath of a disaster, such as a toothbrush, deodorant and shampoo. Other emergency supplies could include tarps, rakes, shovels, and trash bags to help people clean up their homes and return to normalcy. Red Cross health and mental health volunteers will travel to disaster sites to help people cope. Health workers can provide first aid treatment for injuries, monitor the well-being of people staying in Red Cross shelters, and replace prescription medications or eyeglasses. Other workers specialize in providing emotional support and helping people to cope after a disaster

Read further by clicking heredonate here and volunteer here.

 

PRCThe Philippine Red Cross

This team sent a “humanitarian caravan” of rescue and relief vehicles in anticipation of the storm. The caravan included a water tanker, 10-wheeler trucks, generators, a mobile kitchen, a Humvee with a rescue boat and a water treatment unit. They bring hope to the provinces affected by Typhoon Mangzhut. Not only this but The Philippine Red Cross National Blood Services is one of the major suppliers of blood in the country. The PRC is tasked to provide safe and quality blood through its active role in advocacy, education and promotion of voluntary blood donation, donor recruitment, retention and care, blood collection, testing, processing and blood issuance through its network of 82 blood service facilities nationwide.

Read further by clicking heredonate here and volunteer here.

 

AHaHAll Hands and Hearts

All Hands and Hearts are a ‘Smart Response’ charity, who efficiently and effectively addresses the immediate and long-term needs of communities impacted by natural disasters. By listening to local people, and deploying their unique model of engaging volunteers to enable direct impact, they rebuild safe, resilient schools, homes and other community infrastructure. This volunteer team is currently on the ground in North Carolina. They will be meeting with the Mayor of New Bern, North Carolina tomorrow at her request for help to set up a Volunteer Reception Center to coordinate spontaneous and unaffiliated volunteers. Assessment, chainsaw, debris removal, and mold sanitation teams are also on standby.

Read further by clicking here, donate here and volunteer here.

 

STCSave the Children

This is our chosen charity, and we have donated some of our profits to Save The Children this week. The STC expert teams are already on the ground, assessing the impact on children and their families to provide the support needed to help them piece their lives back together. They are distributing emergency supplies, including blankets; jerry cans; tarpaulin and rope to keep families who have lost their homes safe. They are also providing families with clean water and essential hygiene items to help prevent the spread of deadly diseases. Finally, they are setting up temporary learning centres and donating books, pencils and other learning equipment so that children’s education isn’t interrupted.

Read further by clicking heredonate here and volunteer here.

 

careCARE

CARE is a Non Government Orgnisation founded in 1945 and fighting global poverty. They have been helping people prepare for disasters, providing lifesaving assistance when a crisis hits, and helping communities recover after the emergency has passed. They place a special focus on women and children who are often disproportionately affected by disasters. Last year, CARE worked in 94 countries to reach 80 million people, including more than 11 million through emergency response and humanitarian aid. To support those affected by the typhoon they are working with local partners, Cagayan Valley Disaster Response Center & Cordillera Disaster Response and Development Services, to manage relief and recovery efforts.

Read further by clicking heredonate here and volunteer here.

 

Here are the schools we have in The Philippines who could be badly affected by the typhoon. Your support for these charities will not only enable those affected to keep warm, dry, safe and hydrated but will also enable a better response to the urgent needs of children and adults when disasters strike in future.

If you have been affected by the storms, get in touch to let us know how you are coping, and if we can help. Email info@teacherhorizons.com or your Recruitment Adviser.

Written by Tiffany Kibblewhite, Teacherhorizons Blog Manager and Recruitment Adviser.