Last week we suggested 5 questions to ask yourself in September. This week we cast the net a little wider, asking us what to consider when we consider teaching in international schools. What questions can guide us to make an informed choice about our career? International schools are seen as reputable institutions offering a high level of excellence in education, making it a desirable place to excel in your teaching career.
So, picking a school should be easy, right? Not necessarily. Not all international schools are of the same caliber or are going to be a good fit for you. Good news though, we are here to help you figure out what you want from your potential employers.
You can start by asking these 5 questions to help you on your way to teaching in a top notch school international school in no time!
- What are my values?
Ask yourself what you are looking for. What are your values? You can then adjust accordingly. For example, would you prefer to work in a non-profit or for-profit school? For-profit schools are run more like a business. While there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that, the school may be mainly accountable to parents and shareholders. Non-profit schools are more likely to care about the wellbeing of teachers and students. If this is something that is dear to you and your motivations, you might be happier here in the long run.
- What recognition should I seek out?
Finding accreditation means that others have done the research and vetted the places, giving you added confidence in your choices. Good schools are accredited (or in the process of being accredited) by external organizations such as Council of International Schools(CIS), North Eastern Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), Council of British International Schools (COBIS). IB “World Schools” are held to the same rigorous standards worldwide so you can be sure they offer a consistent quality of organization and education. We display a school’s accreditations on its profile page. This information is usually freely available on the school’s own website as well.
- What do teachers and headteachers have to say?
Stories from the source itself are always the best way to find out how things really are. Listen to feedback from teachers, did the school live up to their expectations? Where their expectations realistic or similar to yours? You can also find out about teachers’ perspectives on a school using sites such as International Schools Review. Do be aware of bias though, and try and weigh it up with your own logic.
You can also try and chat with headteachers. If you don’t manage to connect directly with the headteacher of a school that you are interested in, Teacher Horizons conduct in-depth Skype call with each headteacher to find out about their vision for the school and their requirements for candidates. We also check out the headteacher’s background – what is his or her educational background and experience? A good school will have a well-qualified headteacher with plenty of experience and a good track record.
- Where would I be comfortable teaching?
Thinking about safety in international school teaching is vital. While the romanticism of jetting off to a far-flung destination can be alluring the reality is that some countries are unsafe to travel to; others have just a few unsafe regions. We check current FCO advice for the locations of our schools, and would not place a candidate in an area that’s unsafe (for example, parts of Iraq, Afghanistan and all of Syria).
- What do I want in terms of professional development?
What do you want from your professional development? Align this when looking for work. Reputable schools help their teachers to develop professionally. At Teacher Horizons we look for schools which offer great support and training to their teachers. If a school isn’t prepared to invest in its staff, the quality of education will suffer, and teachers will feel undervalued.
On our blog posts, we occasionally share information on our school visits, but these are a fraction of the amount that we visit! Teacher Horizons visit as many schools as possible – our number of visits keeps on growing. You can also be assured that through Teacher Horizons we research and display as much information as possible on our school profile pages, relieving you of arduous research tasks. When you see the “Approved by Teacher Horizons” symbol on a school profile, it means we’re confident that the school offers world-class job opportunities.