Teach­ing In­ter­na­tion­ally

Teach­ing over­seas is proving at­trac­tive for be­gin­ning or re­tired teach­ers, so it pays to know how to in­crease your chances of get­ting hired.

The Australian Education Reporter - - CONTENTS - LIONEL CRANENBURGH

EX­PERTS in over­seas teach­ing sug­gest that while there can be great vari­a­tion in schools, prin­ci­pals and teach­ers need to re­search in­ter­na­tional meth­ods of re­cruit­ment, in­ter­view pro­ce­dures, ben­e­fits, cross-cul­tural at­tributes and other is­sues that may dif­fer markedly from what they are used to at home.

Peter Thatcher, a for­mer WA sec­ondary prin­ci­pal, has in­ter­viewed for prin­ci­pal po­si­tions in Abu Dhabi, Shar­jah, Beirut, Mum­bai and La­hore with over 20 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence in the in­ter­na­tional field that cul­mi­nated in a position as di­rec­tor of schools in the Arab Emi­rates.

“Prospec­tive Aus­tralian teach­ers or prin­ci­pals need to be very clear about the con­text of the school for which they are ap­ply­ing and project how their lead­er­ship can match the school’s re­quire­ments,” he said.

“The fi­nan­cial pack­age is very at­trac­tive, of­ten with a ve­hi­cle al­lowance, ed­u­ca­tion ben­e­fits and tax free con­ces­sions if you work for two years plus.

“If both cou­ples are teach­ers, in some coun­tries you can save one salary be­cause the cost of liv­ing is less.

“You are in schools where ed­u­ca­tion is highly re­garded, par­ents very sup­port­ive and be­hav­iour prob­lems rare,” Mr Thatcher said.

Mr Thatcher said schools are keen on hir­ing sin­gle teach­ers or mar­ried teach­ing cou­ples, as the “trail­ing spouse” or large fam­i­lies could present prob­lems re­lat­ing to costs of hir­ing, trans­porta­tion, tu­ition and hous­ing.

Schools hire staff over 50 years of age if they are cer­ti­fied to teach, bring com­mit­ment, ex­pe­ri­ence and talent to the school and a will­ing­ness to be flex­i­ble.

In many schools there was a pref­er­ence for the Amer­i­can Cur­ricu­lum, Baccalaureate train­ing or English Cur­ricu­lum, how­ever, Aus­tralian teach­ers with good teach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in the Aus­tralian Cur­ricu­lum were highly re­garded, he said.

Bob Bar­las, author of the Teach­ing Over­seas Hand­book has taught in Singapore, China, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and the UK.

He said that com­pe­ti­tion was fierce as in­ter­na­tional schools wanted teach­ers with the most ex­pe­ri­ence and qual­i­fi­ca­tions, so it helped ap­ply­ing for a school that did not pay as much to get over­seas ex­pe­ri­ence.

“The big­gest skills sets that are ad­van­ta­geous are cross-cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ence that shows you are com­fort­able work­ing in a cross-cul­tural mi­lieu,” Mr Bar­las said.

“The more flex­i­ble you are as a teacher, re­gard­less of your age, the more op­por­tu­ni­ties you will get and the more at­trac­tive you will be­come to a school that is look­ing to hire some­one.”

Re­cruiters sug­gest that the prospec­tive can­di­dates need to ob­serve the fol­low­ing strate­gies.

Regis­ter early the pre­vi­ous year with a large re­cruit­ment com­pany, pro­vide a re­sume and cov­er­ing let­ter of your achieve­ments, be pre­pared for more than one in­ter­view by Skype, re­search web­sites on practical strate­gies, and com­mit to a min­i­mum two-year con­tract.

Re­cruit­ment agencies agree that there is a high de­mand for teach­ers with sci­ence or com­put­ing back­grounds over English and So­cial Stud­ies.

Mr Thatcher said the per­sonal in­ter­view is ex­tremely im­por­tant and could take up to 45 min­utes, of­ten with more than one ses­sion ar­ranged.

Usu­ally the ap­pli­cant will be in­ter­viewed by the head of school or di­rec­tor. It pays to en­gage in lively di­a­logue, ask thought­ful ques­tions, ex­plore pos­si­ble chal­lenges and show your cu­rios­ity about the school where you may be work­ing, he said.

In­ter­na­tional schools are look­ing for proven per­form­ers who can hit the ground run­ning and are ca­pa­ble of manag­ing their own class­room be­hav­iour in­de­pen­dently.

My first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence in an in­ter­na­tional in­de­pen­dent school as a res­i­dent teacher in Bishop Cot­ton School, Ban­ga­lore, In­dia, rated in the top 10 schools by Ed­u­ca­tion World Mag­a­zine, demon­strated that the cur­ricu­lum is not taught 9am to 3pm by lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional teacher re­cruits.

The staff had to coach stu­dents daily in an af­ter-school ac­tiv­ity, as­sist board­ing stu­dents, un­der­take ad­di­tional du­ties on Satur­day, and be part of school com­mu­nity func­tions with par­ents.

Tra­di­tion and daily at­ten­dance at chapel were im­por­tant, English was the lan­guage of in­struc­tion and we taught the Bri­tish Gen­eral Cer­tifi­cate of Ed­u­ca­tion, which later changed.

The in­ter­na­tional school with stu­dents and teach­ers from the UK, Ger­many, USA, Malaysia and Africa is so highly re­garded that a for­mer prin­ci­pal, Dr Abra­ham Ebenezer, called it “Eton of the East”.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fice of Bishop Cot­ton School, a lead­ing in­ter­na­tional school with board­ing fa­cil­i­ties for staff and stu­dents.

Two teach­ers in the com­put­ing lab­o­ra­tory of Bishop Cot­ton.

Peter Thatcher, in­ter­na­tional schools ex­pert.

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