“What a privilege it is to live now, at just this moment, and to be able to go anywhere….”

Anna Godbersen

We all know how important it is to plan for the future, especially when we face so many uncertainties: climate change, political instability, the possibility of another pandemic. As a teacher anywhere, it feels good to know which direction you want to head in so you can work out how to get there.

On the international teaching circuit this is even more important because there are so many more variables to consider than if you stay and teach in your home country.

Of course, it is possible to go where the tide takes you: I know many happy teachers who are content to drift on the world’s currents, excited to discover where they might wash up. This is a wonderful attitude to have if it’s right for you.

But for those of us who have clear goals, whether these relate to career, family, or income, it’s a good idea to start thinking ahead so that you can navigate the swell in a way that works for you.

“The future depends on what you do today.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Seven steps to success

  • Start by asking yourself questions. Where do you want to be in 10 years? What type of role do you want? Which country do you want to live in? In which type of living situation? What would the ideal family set up be? See more questions below.
  • The answers to these questions are your goals. Note them down.
  • Then you need to think about how to reach them. Channel Donald Rumsfeld and consider what you know and what you don’t. What further questions would you like answers to? Write a list.
  • Now research. Find out the skills and qualifications you will need to perform your dream role well. Research areas of the world that might suit you. Consider your finances. Ask your Teacher Horizons Adviser for advice – they have a wealth of knowledge to draw on.
  • Think about smaller milestones. Record some ideas for your pathway. Perhaps make a 2-year or a 5-year plan so that the bigger picture isn’t too overwhelming.
  • Then focus on the first step. What are you going to do now to start the journey in the right direction?
  • Finally, climb a mountain, go on a hike, have a swim, ride your bike, skip gleefully into the sunset. Going on a journey is always a good way to focus your mind on plans for the future.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”

Helen Keller

Then it’s just a case of making it all happen! Remember to reflect on your goals and your plans regularly. Are you on track? Do you want to adjust your ideas? Being flexible is a great idea. Keep asking yourself questions. Skip frequently.

As international educators we have a unique opportunity to squeeze every last drop out of life. We are freer than many other people. We can afford to have truly open minds.

Enjoy your good career decisions! And good luck…

“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.”

Erma Bombeck


Here are some key questions to help you in your planning:

  • Do you want to work in a small school or a bigger school? 
  • How important is it to you that you have access to amenities/your favourite products/travel/a quick flight home?
  • What’s the dating scene like?
  • How will a school support your career progression?
  • Do you know anyone who could act as a mentor or coach? If not, can you access coaching as part of your PD? (We recommend 4Cs Coaching led by a friend and supporter of Teacher Horizons, Andrew Macdonald Brown.)
photo of author
Written by Camilla Cook
Camilla has been working in education for the past sixteen years, teaching English in the UK, El Salvador, Thailand, and Tanzania. She participated in the Teach First Programme in 2005, and went on to support another Teach First teacher in her efforts to set up The Literacy Pirates, an education charity working to develop the literacy, confidence, and perseverance of young people referred for extra support by their teachers. As their first Director of Learning, she was responsible for planning, leading, and evaluating the learning programmes. She has worked as the Head of Language and Literature in international schools for the past five years, and is now living in Brighton with her husband and two children, attempting to reacclimatise to the weather by cycling around as much as possible and eating lots of ice cream.
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