“Don’t Think Twice, Do it!” Advice on Moving to Japan.

Ever wondered what it would be like to live and teach in the world of manga, sushi and cherry blossom? When we asked our teacher Tamara what advice she would give to those considering a move, she responded: “don’t think twice, do it!” Read on to find out what makes it a place worthy of relocation… 

Having both lived in Japan, I was delighted to hear about Tamara’s positive experience of teaching there. My love for Japan made it hard to resist adding my own two cents about life in such a remarkable part of the world.

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Tamara at the summit of majestic Mount Fuji which locals refer to as Fuji-san.

1. Where are you teaching and what’s your school like? What made you choose that specific location?

Tamara: I’m teaching at an international school in Yokohama. It’s a rather small school, which means the relationships between colleagues, administration, parents and students are very friendly. Everyone is very helpful and I had no problems becoming a part of the community.

Read about the New Blog Manager’s, experience in Japan here. 

2. How did you get your job? What was the process like?

Tamara: I got the job through Teacherhorizons. My advisor, Caroline, was very helpful and supportive the entire time.

Read our blog about other teacher experiences in other places around the world.

3. What is the city like? Is there an active expat scene? What do you do in your free time?

Tamara: Yokohama is a very pleasant place to live. It’s much quieter than Tokyo, however, Tokyo is only half an hour away. Many expats live in Yokohama including French, Americans, Australians to name just a few. In my free time, I explore the city and its surroundings. I go hiking, I visit places of interest, I go to the theatre, sometimes just for a walk to a nearby park.

Alexandra:  With Tokyo being so nearby, I can attest it is worth the thirty-minute journey. Tokyo can feel daunting at first but once you get used to moving with the crowds you notice a sense of harmony. The train stations, especially Shibuya and Shinjuku,  can feel quite overwhelming in their size so give your self plenty of time to find your way to the train! I also had some of the best food, notably Ramen noodles, in train stations as the quality remains as good as on the high street. The Shinkansen, bullet train, is such a convenient to travel the country. Travel is unbelievably efficient, regular and on time.

JP24. Which tourist sites or must-visit places are nearby?

Tamara: So many! Kamakura, Hakone, Tokyo of course, to name the most famous ones.

Alexandra: While I loved the Christmas markets in Yokohama and the Ramen Museum, I also really loved venturing out to other parts of the country as it is so easy to do so. Highlights of mine were the seaside towns on Izu Peninsular and a quaint place called Nikko, both within easy reach Tokyo.

5. What is the climate like? Is there any extreme weather? If so, how do you deal with it? 

Tamara: Summer was hot and humid, autumn was gorgeous, winter is cold-but nothing extreme.

Alexandra: In Japan, you get to experience four distinct seasons. Winters do feel pretty freezing, as the buildings don’t retain heat, but the Japanese have a lot of pro-tips on how to keep warm without central heating systems. Perhaps the most celebrated is the heated blanket table, Kotatsu, which entire families sit around. It looks a bit like a coffee table with a duvet over the top. Another tip would be to don thermal everything- Japanese Heat Technology is used widely here. Springtime makes way for the infamous cherry blossom and results in boozy parties in the park to celebrate their short-lived beauty. Autumn is where the changing of leaves, called Koyo, can be marvelled upon. Summers are a good time to escape to the coast as the humidity in the city is quite intense.

6. What is the food like? Is international food available? Have you tried any unusual local dishes?

Tamara: Japanese cuisine is legendary. I’ve tried so many different things, also unusual. I never thought I’d eat sashimi, but tuna sashimi with avocado and tomatoes in the izakaya at Motomachi is simply wonderful. International food is also available, of course.

Alexandra: Izakayas are simple small bars which people pile into after work to have beers and small-bites. Usually, they sell starter like dishes such as Yakitori- chicken skewers. There are many around, they get packed out and have a vibrant atmosphere. People tend to move from one to another in mini-pub crawl fashion.

7. How is the culture different from your home culture? Have you experienced any culture shock?JP3

Tamara: It’s different, but that’s what I wanted. All my experiences so far have been positive.

Alexandra: Culture shock is inevitable but if you have the right attitude, like Tamara, it becomes more exciting than overwhelming.  Take with you a sense of curiosity and you will experience more wonder and awe than ever.  It is a fascinating and unique place to be, embrace it.

8. What’s the cost of living like? Are you able to save money?

Tamara: I didn’t come to save money, I have come to enjoy and make the best of it.

Alexandra: While Japan can be on the pricey side, the salary usually reflects this. International schools. especially allow for a comfortable lifestyle. In Japan, they really enjoy getting out in nature, which is free! Onsen, Japanese outside baths, are really cheap and a great way to relax and unwind.  A bowl of ramen will cost $7, fill you up and be absolutely delicious.

9. What’s the best thing about living and teaching in your chosen city? What have been your highlights so far?

Tamara: It’s different, it’s new, it’s a challenge. The best thing was to become a part of the community, to be accepted by students and to be able to overcome the initial shock.

10. Are there any drawbacks? What kind of person would not be suited to this location?

Tamara: I don’t see any drawbacks. Anyone who is willing to try something new would be able to get used to it.

Alexandra:  I totally agree. Bring along a sense of curiosity and openness. They really value politeness and order in Japan so respect the harmony and you will get along just fine.

Do you have comments about teaching in Japan? Do you want to know more? Please get in touch on editor@teacherhorizons.com to tell your story. If you are wondering about how teaching in a different country would be, you can read more here.

Written by Alexandra Plummer

New Beginnings

The New Year brings about time for new beginnings, and it is no different here at Teacherhorizons.  The start of a year is the perfect time for a bit of a revamp and as Tiffany steps down to focus more on her other roles at Teacherhorizons, we welcome a new blog manager, Alexandra. We have asked her some questions to find out a little more…

Where are you from? 
I’m originally from the U.K but have lived quite a global existence. It usually makes for an awkwardly long answer when asked the “where are you from?” question, so for sake of keeping you with me for this article, I will give the short version.  I grew up in South Africa and England and then moved to South Korea to teach English after I graduated which sparked my love affair with Asia and held me tight within the continent for the last 10+ years. You can read about a teacher’s past experience in South Korea here.
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Where are you based now and what is it like there?

I  am attempting a foray back into European life and have settled upon Lisbon, Portugal as I have family in the country, the sun shines most of the time and the vino is cheap. So far, it feels like the right choice. I am loving the romanticism of the cobbled streets, the sunlit historical buildings and the array of miradouros (viewpoints) that enable one to cast their eyes upon the majestic, awe-inspiring city by the sea.

 What blogging have you done in the past? 

While my career has been mainly in international development, writing has always been a component of my life one way or another. This has taken on many forms, from advocacy reports on human rights atrocities, to travel articles on where one can find a white sand beach and cheap beer.  I have tried my hand at everything from plant-based recipe blogs to academic writing.  Basically, I have always found a way to keep pen to paper–or perhaps words to screen is a more apt description.

Where else have you lived and travelled? Tell us a bit about them. 

I was most recently residing in Tokyo, Japan. I was awarded a wonderful fellowship there to spend two years studying peace and conflict resolution. It was an incredible experience, the beauty and character of Japan is like13886968_10207956230676372_6739819854000648120_n no other place I have visited.  What struck me the most was that while so many people live in Tokyo, there is an undeniable harmony to it—a kind of refined charm that resonates flow, even when attempting to cross a multiway crossing in Shibuya with a million others. While Japan is a peaceful country their history of nuclear destruction in Hiroshima and Nagasaki has meant that the horrors are imprinted in the consciousness of its people. Rebuilding peace became central, sparking international peace movements and influence worldwide. This made it an especially interesting place to study peace and conflict resolution.

 

What are your plans for the Teacherhorizons blog? 
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I am excited about the teacher horizons blog and plan to showcase some more of the familiar, such as guest blogs, school recommendations and tips for teachers from experts.  I would also like to bring some new insights and fresh topics with some articles on subjects that might be on our minds right now like Brexit, global vs local, teacher expectations etc.  I will also share some of my own experiences of living abroad and working in the education and development sector.  If there is anything you are eager to see represented on the blog please reach out to me. You can also take a look at some of our past blogs for inspiration 
 
How do you feel about joining the Teacherhorizons team? 
I have known Teacherhorizons from meeting the CEO, Alex Reynolds, you can read a recent interview with him here, when I lived and worked for a small NGO in Cambodia a few years back. It was a magical place to be based and we both shared the same admiration for the country and the people. I am really happy to become part of such an established and thriving team. I already feel very welcomed into the Teacherhorizons team, and am looking forward to representing subjects that reflect Teacherhorizons well. I am also excited to be part of a group of like-minded people, passionate about global education and living a meaningful life.

Thank you for the opportunity and please get in touch with me if you have any questions or suggestions. You can reach me at editor@teacherhorizons.com

Written by Alexandra Plummer

12 jobs of Christmas 2018

Merry Christmas one and all! We hope you are having a lovely break, and as our gift to you, we bring you 12 of our favourite jobs for 2019/20. Have a look at what this brand new year has to offer you.

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1) Secondary English Teacher – Anglican International School, Israel  **JANUARY START!**

This wonderful role in Jerusalem requires an IB trained English language and literature teacher who is a committed Christian. An interesting opportunity to work in a faith-based environment and experience the melting pot of cultures that is this historic ancient city.

 

2)  Drama Teacher – International School of Milan, Italy   **FEBRUARY START!** **SHORT TERM CONTRACT!**

The school is looking for a Drama teacher to take over grade 10 – 13 classes from February 2019 to the summer. This well-established school is based in the heart of one of Europe’s most beautiful and vibrant cities. ISM offers the IB curriculum to their pre-school to high school students and has an excellent reputation in Italy.  It offers a dynamic and progressive educational environment and has full IB accreditation, the school offer IB training to all their teaching staff.

 

Dubai3) IB DP History TeacherDubai American Academy, UAE

Dubai American Academy (DAA) is an American and IB Curriculum school, founded in 1998. After educating students for 20 years, DAA has become the only outstanding American Curriculum school in the United Arab Emirates since 2011 and offers K-12 education including the IB DP at senior level. The school are seeking experienced IB DP History candidates and offer one free school place alongside other great benefits!

 

4)  IBDP Physics and MYP Science TeacherInternational School of Monza, Italy

A small, modern and colourful school where teachers are highly respected as professionals and afforded a good degree of autonomy to teach in a creative and exciting way; A beautiful part of the world. In the heart of the city of Monza, the doors of the International School of Monza open every day to approximately 300 students of around 30 nationalities. A perfect structure for collaborative inquiry-driven study, an environment that will help them to grow to become active citizens of “a world without frontiers”. You do not need IB experience to apply for this role, but you must have an EU passport.

 

5) Various rolesDubai English Speaking College, UAE   **BOTH JANUARY AND AUGUST STARTS!**

DESC is a not for profit, inclusive secondary school with a great reputation in the UAE. There are 1,600 students on roll and the school really looks after it’s staff with a very active Staff Well being Committee. The UAE is a great place to live – all round good weather and a tax free salary. As Dubai prepares to host the World Expo in 2020, it is an exciting place to be for the next few years! The roles here include a Science and a Maths role for January, and ICT, English, Business and Economics, Drama an Dance, Media Studies and Science for August!

 

Yantai6) Drama TeacherYew Wah International Education School of Yantai, China

This school is looking for enthusiastic and globally-minded candidates. The group established a new model of global education offering the unique richness and diversity of both Eastern and Western cultures that equip children to be bilingual, global-minded, appreciative and caring. The school nurture globally competitive students and shape their good character as responsible global citizens with the competencies and skills required in the 21st century.  Yew Wah International Education School in Yantai has just over 400 students and teaches a British curriculum.

 

7) Elementary PE TeacherPine Street School, New York

This school has many vacancies for August alongside this Elementary vacancy, so it’s a great place to look as a teaching couple. Pine Street School is a Spanish and Mandarin immersion preschool and elementary school. They are Lower Manhattan’s only International Baccalaureate (IB) school offering the Primary Years Programme. The curriculum is inherently STEAM-based, promoting hands-on experiences that fuel innovative thinking and cultivate a culture of teamwork and collaboration in support of global citizenship. The school are seeking a teacher with 3 years’ experience teaching PE or a related movement specialty (dance, sports, yoga, pilates, etc.) to pre-school and/or elementary aged children. A Masters degree in education, physical education, or a related field is highly desirable and the school and ideally teachers will already have the right to live and work in the US.

 

8) Various Roles – United World College Changshu, China  **BOTH JANUARY AND AUGUST STARTS!**

United World College Changshu is part of one of the most prestigious groups of schools in the world. UWC is an education movement comprised of 16 schools, colleges and national committees worldwide that offer scholarships and bursary schemes as well as accepting fee-paying students. This is a fantastic opportunity to be part of a growing school that has a genuine focus on the social and emotional learning of each student.

 

DAIS9) Head of STEMDhirubhai Ambani International School, India

This is a fantastic middle leadership position at a school with excellent facilities and resources. At DAIS you will find an environment where you can succeed professionally and personally. Given their unique location in one of the world’s most vibrant and historically rich cities, Mumbai provides something for everyone including the opportunity for Indian cultural immersion. At DAIS you will experience the highest levels of support within a professional learning community. The school’s guiding principles of trust, empathy, professionalism, respect and team work allow everyone to thrive in their own way as part of a highly enriching team at DAIS. This school also has vacancies in Art, Spanish&French, Economics, Geography, Chemistry and Technology. Some of these are also Middle Leadership – take a look!

 

10) Chemistry TeacherThe International School of Barbados, Barbados **JANUARY START**

Also known as The Codrington School, The International School of Barbados is the only school in Barbados to offer all three IB  programmes. Students at The Codrington School are from more than 30 different nations which makes for a diverse and multi-cultural community. The school has great facilities, small class sizes and a supportive network of teachers which make for a great learning environment for the children. The mission of The Codrington School is to empower all children and adults within the community to become internationally-minded learners who embrace and respect academic excellence and a love of life-long learning and who exemplify the traits of the IB learner profile.

 

11) French Teacher – The Koc School, Turkey

This role will involve teaching, inspiring and challenging bright Turkish students studying the prestigious International Baccalaureate. The school is on the outskirts of Istanbul, in the beautiful countryside and has a stunning campus. You must be a qualified teacher with a degree in French to apply. The school is one of the top 2 schools  in Turkey and is seeking teachers who can make a significant contribution to maintaining and furthering the school’s goal of being at the forefront of education both nationally and across the world.

 

bahamas12) French TeacherLyford Cay International School, The Bahamas **JANUARY START**

This school also has a Primary SEN and a Secondary SEN post for an August start! Founded in 1962, Lyford Cay International School (LCIS) is currently the only school to offer the full IB curriculum from Early Years to Grade 12 in the Bahamas. LCIS is a non-profit school, with the majority of tuition fees spent on teaching and learning to develop facilities and resources to provide the best education possible for the students that attend. The school has created a close-knit and diverse community with teachers and students coming from 41 different nations, speaking 14 languages. The school has received accreditations from the International Baccalaureate Organisation, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and the Council of International Schools to ensure curriculum, results, staffing and administration operate at the highest international standards. Set in a beautiful location, with an excellent community of teachers and happy students and the opportunity to gain IB curriculum experience, LCIS would be an excellent place to work.

 

If you are keen for any of these positions, just click APPLY next to the job vacancy! Want a job but haven’t signed up to Teacherhorizons yet? Create a free profile here.

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

What is it like to teach in Sri Lanka?

This week we are luck enough to hear from Rose Drea, an adventurous humanities teacher, who gives a colourful and powerful description of the ups and downs of life in Sri Lanka. Thanks so much for this, Rose!

 

Sri lankaTeaching in Sri Lanka was an unexpected opportunity that presented itself at the right time in my life. I set up an account with Teacherhorizons and kept an open mind. Within a few days I had chatted with Alexis and within a few weeks a new opportunity had presented itself. I left Ireland on a cold damp day in January and arrived to a tropical sunset and that night fell asleep to the whirl of a fan.

Within days I was working with inspiring, kind, generous and thoughtful colleagues who became firm friends. They helped settle me in to a new life and over time we spent many days laughing over lunchtimes meals together. Over the following 18 months we shared food, traditions, song and photos from our other lives – from India, Canada and Scotland. More than once I was pinned into a sari. The students were motivated to learn and embrace all aspects of school life. Many were growing up and navigating lives under the guidance of their extended family but were ambitious and determined to embrace the opportunities of continuing their studies outside of Sri Lanka. From them, I gained an insight into the diversity of Sri Lankan culture, its variety of expression and its sometimes contested nature.

Read the experiences of another one of our teachers in Sri Lanka here

lanka 3Beyond the school gate, life was interesting, challenging and full of opportunities. Colombo is an unusual Asian city, small enough to get around easily in a tuk tuk but has an up and coming feel about it. There seemed to be a new space opening every month- some where new to check out. I made amazing friends from diverse backgrounds who were motivated to move their personal and professional lives to new levels. It took a leap in the dark to move to Sri Lanka but to stay took guts, determination and perseverance. This network of support would reach out and turn up to help each other through the minor daily logistical dramas to the tougher mosquito related health wobbles.

Read our blog about the work we do with a Sri Lankan charity ‘Tea Leaf Vision’

Every few weekends we would escape the city and head off to the hills or down the coast for a tropical island retreat and reboot. Sri Lanka is a geographic gem. The circumference of the island is mostly sandy beaches, with warm sea water and swaying palm trees while the interior is a mix between jungle and savannah home to wildlife ranging from elephants and leopards to birds of paradise. At its centre is perhaps my favourite; the temperate tea hills with curvy roads, jacaranda trees and trains to hang out of. It’s a place I never completely felt I saw enough of, as there is always somewhere else, some other beautiful beach, temple, lookout or hike.

But like all things light there is shade. Sri Lanka is a post conflict society with stressed political, economic and social structures. There wasn’t a single day when I walked down the street without being cat called. However, equally I never felt threatened, unsafe or intimidated in Sri Lanka. But maybe thats my white privilege talking again. Overall, the experience was one I’ll have for a lifetime and I’d encourage anyone looking to broaden their personal and professional horizons to consider island life. It has an endless amount of adventures waiting for you to experience.

 

Do you have comments about your time in Sri Lanka? Please get in touch on editor@teacherhorizons.com and tell your story. If you haven’t been there yet,  why not browse our schools in Sri Lanka and make your next move?

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Written by Rose Drea, an educator originally from Ireland. Having worked across Asia for a number of years, Rose currently lives in the Coast Mountains of western Canada working in community education.

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!

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

 

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