Category Archives: Teach

Nobody’s Business But The Turks

The_Ecumenical_Council_by_Salvador_Dali.jpg ‎(400 × 490 pixels, file size: 87 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg)

The_Ecumenical_Council_by_Salvador_Dali.jpg ‎(400 × 490 pixels, file size: 87 KB, MIME type: image/jpeg)

Trying to grasp.

Although the packing continues, it’s slower and demands attention to detail. I’ve uncovered papers of all sorts that document my existence on planet Earth since 1982, the year of my college graduation. In the quiet stillness of late afternoons that turn to evening dusk, the pathways of memories seem endless. From that day in May, almost thirty-one years ago, I’ve found evidence of noted accomplishments and jottings from others who were instrumental to my having lived a life of joy and curiosity. In my discoveries of myself, a pattern emerges: I visualize a goal, I research and create challenges for myself and then I reach my goal. Then the cycle starts all over again.

One of my current curiosities is trying to get a basic understanding of the enormity of the history of Constantinople, or Istanbul, my soon-to-be home. This city, established by Greek colonists around 657 BC, became the capital city of the Byzantine, Roman and Ottoman Empires. Even if I start in the “modern” times of AD 330, when Constantine the Great made it the new capital of the Roman Empire, it is almost too much for my brain to absorb, but you gotta start somewhere, right?

The religious history of Istanbul is wide and long and high and deep. It will be fascinating to live there and share the streets with these western-influenced people inside the diptych of where Islam and Christian beliefs meet. In no way do I claim to be a historian or expert in church history but from my reading it seems that Roman Emperor, Constantine, along with colleague and co-Emperor, Licinius, issued the Edict of Milan in AD 313, which proclaimed tolerance of all religions throughout the Empire. Constantine likely witnessed forms of Christian persecution in Rome, but eventually he became the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. After restoring the unity of the Empire, through both governmental reforms and consolidation of the Christian church, he chose Constantinople to be the new capital.

In AD 325, Constantine summoned the Council of Nicaea, a council of Christian bishops brought together to attain consensus in the church on several hot topics. One of the main accomplishments was settling the Christological issue of the nature of The Son (Jesus) and his relationship to God the Father, which resulted in the Nicene Creed. The intent of this was to unify the beliefs for all of Christendom. Another result of this council was an agreement on when to celebrate Easter.

In her delightful blog about all-things-Paris, Theodora Brack, wrote a recent article, Paris Tête-à-Tête: Arts Update Teaser, that showcases new exhibitions in La Cille-Lumiére, the City of Light. Currently at the Centre Pompidou is an exhibition I wish I could attend which highlights one of my fav’s, Salvador Dali. After reading her article and doing this ecumenical council research, I found that Dali was inspired to produce an enormous painting called The Ecumenical Council, in 1960, after the 1958 election of Pope John XXIII. According to Wikipedia, this painting expresses Dali’s renewed hope in religious leadership following the devastation of World War II, as the Pope had extended communication to Geoffrey Fisher, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Communication between the Roman Catholic Pope and the principal leader of the Church of England had not happened in more than four centuries.

This history of the sieges and battles, emperors and sultans seem to go on and on and on. Istanbul’s history is a long one and I’ve just started. Eventually, in 1453, the city and the Empire fall to the Ottomans. Although that’s nobody’s business but the Turks, I hope to start uncovering that piece of history, as well, as I work my way to Istanbul. A few weeks ago, when I announced my employment with an international school in Istanbul, a sweet friend of mine posted this video as a gift of congratulations to me. We met on top of a mountain in Austria, and that’s the real gift. Enjoy.

*Note on above painting:

Description: The Ecumenical Council by Salvador Dali, 1960
Article: The Ecumenical Council (painting)
Portion used: It represents the complete work.
Low resolution: It is a low resolution image.
Purpose of use: It illustrates an educational article about the painting that this image represents.
Replaceable: It is not replaceable with an uncopyrighted or freely copyrighted image of comparable educational value.

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Beauty is Embarrassing

Anita Horton "Manicured"Thank goodness this week was Spring Break. After accepting a contract to teach in Istanbul, Turkey last week, and then selling my home that same evening, I’ve been involved in many activities. Understandably, the Ministry of Turkey requires a police clearance, so I began the week at the downtown Dallas jail to get fingerprinted. Once behind the locked doors, the police officers began the procedure and I reacted enthusiastically, asking many questions and complimenting their efficiency and expertise. The officers were surprised by my excitement. They explained that most people they fingerprint react quite differently to their procedures!

By mid-week I was sending scanned documents to Turkey, and mailing documents via DHL. Then my house was inspected as part of the selling process, and I had to squeeze in a physical examination to receive a medical clearance from my doctor. Thursday was the first day of the NAEA (National Art Educators Association) Conference  and, as I reported in my article It’s All Good, I was selected to present at a session on Thursday morning. My presentation Blogging in the Art Classroom was received well and the rest of the weekend I was free to enjoy other presentations, listen to lectures and play with new art products  in the huge Exhibit Hall.

I loved being with my two dear friends and colleagues and it was fun running into other art friends throughout the conference center. For the most part, we all had different interests and went our separate ways to the daily discussion groups and sessions, but many of us attended the last session Friday night to watch the film, Beauty is Embarrassing, which features the life and work of Wayne White. Known to many as the Emmy winning, co-creator of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse fame, he was also the illustrator/designer for award winning music videos for both Peter Gabriel and the Smashing Pumpkins. After viewing this autobiographical film, Mr. White made a surprise appearance and talked openly and intimately to the audience. He was immediately likeable and shared about his enormously “lucky” life, as he called it. He is represented by the Marty Walker Gallery in Dallas and on this website, you can watch several interviews, which I encourage you to do as his dry-wit and sarcasm, evidenced through his Word Paintings, will leave you laughing and pondering deeper interpretations to life.

Wayne grew up as a country boy in Chattanooga, Tennessee and many of his high school and college antics reminded me of growing up in Ozark, Missouri. He recounted one story in which his high school art teacher had collected a sampling of his Salvadore Dali’ish drawings and given them to his principal. Wayne was excited about this, thinking that he might receive some sort of honor. Instead, he was invited into the principal’s office and was told, “Those don’t look like the drawings of a red-blooded American boy. I’ve noticed you’re not involved in the football or basketball teams…I’m gonna keep an eye on you, boy.” Although he loves his family and the beautiful countryside of Tennessee, he was a rebel and couldn’t wait to get out and explore the world. To Wayne, humor is a sacred thing; a great communicator. He feels it is a way to tell the truth in a way everyone understands. He encourages everyone by saying, “Do what you love. It’s gonna lead where you want to go. Never give up. Invent yourself.” I couldn’t agree more.

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Calving (the 2nd Definition)

AndreasTilleGlacierBreaking off.

I follow Christopher Jobson’s Colossal blog on Twitter. Colossal showcases beautiful and ingenuous handmade artworks that always cause my imagination to go into overdrive. His suggestions for visual candy never lead me astray, although when I go to his links, I can often disappear into the web for more time than I care to admit. One of his tweets this week led me to the winner of the “Excellence in Cinematography Award: U.S. Documentary, 2012,” Chasing Ice. As I watched the film trailer, both the verbal and written words reminded me of my own situation of the past week: “The story of a visionary,” “The landscape just changed before our eyes,” “All that obsession means nothing if it doesn’t work,”  “This is the memory of a landscape, because that landscape is gone,” and “I do not want to go any lower than this.”

As I suspected might happen after the letting go of last week, this week my calving started and the earth started shaking under my feet.

Within hours of my blog post last week, three additional friends extended an invitation to move in with them if my house sold. (2 other colleagues had already invited me.) There are amazing people inhabiting the earth.

My daughter got invited to her first career interview and we talked about how we are both in the same boat of applying and interviewing for jobs.

Within the first 48 hours of my house being listed on MLS, I had 6 showings. As of this morning, I’ve had 15, which is a lot for a downtrodden economic market. Yesterday I wasn’t able to be at my house all day because of so many showings!

Last Monday morning, I sent an email to my colleagues explaining my resignation and spent that day talking to each class about my decision to resign and why. I told my students that I was interested in other cultures and was curious about how other people lived their lives. I wanted to teach art to other children and discover how they are different and how they are the similar with kids here in the USA. I then showed them this video. After watching it, they applauded and cheered.

On Tuesday, I was surprised by how much weight I’d been carrying around trying to be secretive about the possibility of my leaving. Although my administrators had known about this for some time, I had been holding this dream of mine hostage in my heart for fear if the word got out too soon my students would be hurt and would not put their trust in me. I wanted to wait to tell them I was leaving until the time came that they understood that I loved them and would never forget them.

On Thursday, two amazing things happened.

For some time I haven’t been sleeping well because of having to set my alarm to get up early to Skype interview or because of wanting to check email that I may have received from people around the world who are up working while I’m asleep. At 4:00 a.m. I woke, checked my email and found I had one from a Principal in Istanbul with whom I’d interviewed with last week. I could tell that it sounded promising. My heart was so bruised, however, that I didn’t consider it carefully and fell back to sleep. When I woke to get ready for work, I checked my email again and had a note from the Head of that school offering me a position! After my search of many months, I’m thrilled to report that it appears I’ll be going to Istanbul to teach PYP art at an International Baccalaureate school! Although contracts aren’t yet signed, they will be in the mail this week. Istanbul was on the very top of my list of places to go! I traveled there in 2011 and hopelessly fell in love with Turkey. I couldn’t be more pleased. But the day wasn’t over.

I met some friends after work that I hadn’t seen in many months. We shared stories and they were thrilled at my exciting news! I got back at my home at 9:00 p.m. and before I even took my jacket off, I had a text message from my realtor telling me I had an offer on my house!!! Within an hour, I had sold my house. I told him that I was tempted to stay up all night to see what else might happen! What an exciting day!

Since then, my life has been full of paperwork. But I’m not complaining! My dream is coming true! From my heart I want to thank you, my readers, for pulling for me, praying for me, sending positive vibes my way. In closing, I want to challenge you to let go and reach for your dreams. Anything is possible.

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The Net Will Appear

HouseForSaleCutting the cord.

This week I checked the box, “I will not be returning to school next year,” and handed it in. I cannot remember a time that I have felt this frightened, this excited and this numb at the same time. Last weekend I hibernated as the recruiting fairs of the past two weekends had taken their toil. That Saturday night I slept for 12 hours straight. I fell asleep in my clothes and woke up hoarse, thankful for no fever or sore throat. Since waking, I’ve been in an altered state; detached in a new way. I had a Skype interview last Sunday night, and within minutes I knew it wasn’t a right fit and cut the cord. Free falling again. Monday morning I handed in my decision with the box checked.

By mid-week I’d contacted my real estate neighbor and said I was ready to proceed with the selling of my house. We met to discuss the contract, set a selling price and take photos. I spent the next few days detailing my home, cleaning out a few remaining closets and having my carpets cleaned. Yesterday my house went on the market.

I’ve simply invested too much mentally, emotionally and economically to turn back now. I’m sure the difference between being wise and being foolish is very slim, similar to the way that pain and humor reside close together. A friend once said, “I’m a paycheck away from living beneath Highway 30.” I know how he feels. I’ve sold almost everything I own, I’m about to be homeless and I’ve just let go of my job, with no security that there will be one in the future.

But in those brief moments when fear seems distant, the possibilities seem great! If I don’t get offered a teaching contract that I want, I could volunteer on a woof farm! I could volunteer for Mercy Ships! I could apply for artist residencies! I could travel around the world seeing all the great people I’ve met. If I were to do that, my flight pattern might look like this: Dallas to London; to Scotland; to Germany; to Switzerland; to Morocco; to Turkey; to Taiwan; to Seoul; then to LAX; then to Craigslist to buy an RV, turn south to San Diego, park it on a beach and go swimming in the Pacific. That sounds pretty good. I’m free. I can do anything! How thankful and fortunate I am. As my brother says, “Sell the house and damn the torpedos!”

Last September I wrote an article called, “Transitions, Or Leaping From The Lion’s Head.” In it, I included a video, “ The Parable of the Trapeze,” with the voice of Daanan Parry. I’ve watched that video again this week and invite you to also. When referring to letting go of the net, Parry says, “We do it anyway because somehow, to hold on to the old net is no longer on the list of alternatives. The past is gone, the future is not quite here. It’s called transition.” I recognize that I had to let go completely before my net will appear. I’ve stepped off the cliff; let’s see what happens!

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A-double-L. All

womenBeing thankful.

I was fortunate, once in my life, to meet and be mentored by a great spiritual thinker. When you encounter someone “enlightened” you know it. They operate differently and it seems that they don’t really live here in the same space that the rest of us do. He is no longer living but I think of him from time to time and can remember his sweet voice saying to me, “Be thankful in ALL things. A-double-L, ALL things.”

I’ve done my best this week to be thankful even though I’ve been so disappointed for the outcome of the past two weeks at the UNI and SA recruiting fairs. In my head I know that many teachers are offered jobs after these USA fairs, but in my heart, I feel deflated. I have spent so many hours at this job search and I’m growing weary. I want it to end and I want to walk away with the prize. I yearn to move away to a foreign country more than any other thing.

This week I met with a dear friend to throw back a couple of beers and talk through some of the insecurities I was feeling. She is a patient listener and a wise soul. One of her greatest gifts is the gift of encouragement. She lovingly reminded me that in order for God to do His best work, I have to come to the end of myself. I may not be there yet, but I think I’m getting closer. My attitude and focused vision has been shifting this week. From the beginning of my search, salary has been an important component. I’ve always been self-sufficient. I’ve never been good at being dependent or having to ask for help. I’ve seen dependency as a weakness, so I’ve always wanted to control my life by ensuring I have “enough” of (A-double-L) ALL things. I’ve never been able to be fully “fancy free”. I’ve never been able to be a leisurely traveler; there was always a destination in mind, tickets bought in advance and by-golly a calendar of daily planned events! I’ve always been a planner to the max. I’ve never been able to wake up in the morning without a determination to get things done and check off items from a pre-determined list! At school, I plan my schedule weeks in advance, and this way of being has always served me well. I’m never out of my comfort zone and am usually prepared for the unexpected. Because of my research abilities and careful planning I am rarely caught off guard. I feel self-assured and competent. I believe in myself. But maybe that’s the problem. Years ago, in a women’s bible group, I remember visualizing a great God sitting on a great throne and me tugging at His robe saying, “God, get off that throne and let me up there. I think I could do a better job.”

So, although there are a few more Skype interviews scheduled this week, I’m not emotionally attached. My friend in Morocco was so right when she warned me that there would be schools that I felt sure would extended a contract, and then they’d evaporate right off the map. I’ve had that experience over and over again. I’m not too sure about anything right now. But maybe that’s where I need to be to allow God – the Universe – to work in (A-double-L) ALL things, and in (A-double-L) ALL ways. I’m going to try to get out of the way and see what happens.

Faith In Motion

The flow of things important

The thoughts of doing good

The seeing of a purpose

Of what and when you should

Much begins with giving

But again about the flow

The energy between us

And sharing what we know

Trust in your intentions

And share with all your heart

Faith will guide your journey

And show you where to start

It really is so simple

That many miss the chance

To put their faith in motion

And enjoy life’s precious dance

– Robert Longley

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Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

NemoIn, looking out.

Nor’easter storms get their name based on the direction the wind is coming from. These storms can cause heavy rains and brutal winds, but also blizzard conditions if the storm occurs during the winter. This type of storm has characteristics similar to a hurricane and thrives on converging air masses from the polar cold regions and warmer oceanic air over the Gulf Stream.

This is not unlike the conditions inside the Hyatt Regency Cambridge where the SA/Cambridge Fair took place this weekend. While the wintery storm, Nemo, raged outside, dropping between two and three feet of snow, the inside conditions were equally as concerning. Hopes and dreams converged with the realities of needing work and candidates were blown along down long, hotel corridors, in and out of hotel rooms, sitting areas and ballrooms. Expressions on candidate’s faces ranged from warm smiles to cold, dark stares and damp spirits.

Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” — Will Rogers

The snow started falling at about 10:00 am on Saturday. Search Associates interrupted the Round Robin sign-up session by a loud speaker announcement, asking candidates and recruiters to assign early interview times to those people who would have to leave the building by 3:00 pm, because of the storm. By noon, the Hyatt staff, once again over loud speakers, told that their shuttle service, to and from other area hotels where candidates were staying, would be not operating past 3:00 pm. In that announcement, the Hyatt guests were also told of emergency procedures in place. Many candidates who were staying at other hotels, or who were commuting back and forth, were forced to leave the Hyatt. And the storm’s winds began to swirl.

Inside, the conference areas of the Hyatt became noticeably less crowded. On the one hand, many members of the competition were now gone. On the other hand, recruiters were perhaps compelled to stay in a holding pattern on decision-making because many of their candidates were gone and not able to be interviewed. Nerves of both recruiters and candidates seemed to be anxiety ridden, more than usual. At more than one interview, the recruiter mentioned that he might not be able to leave Boston to get to the next (and last) United States recruitment fairs early this week. In many cases, I got the feeling that the recruiters were eager to move on to the California Fairs (ISS and SA), and only after meeting those candidates would they be able to make a decision on who to offer contracts.

This was not the case for my lovely roommate from Steamboat Springs. She is a science teacher with sought after degrees and experiences. She has decisions to make with at least three serious offers. For me, the search will likely continue for a few more months. Again, I am reminding myself that I tracked 52 art openings last year after the Fairs had ended. I’m not ready to give up yet. I’m not leaving Boston with a contract, but I’m leaving with many more friends. Stay calm and carry on . . .

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One Down, One To Go

KellysHouseIcy adventures.

Because the weather can be so wretchedly winter in northern Iowa during the UNI fair, get a hotel that is close to the convention center, preferably within walking distance. If not within walking distance, get a hotel in Waterloo, not Cedar Falls, even though these two cities are only about 8 miles from one another. Make sure that your Waterloo hotel provides FREE shuttle service to the convention center each day. Live and learn. I did not do this. I preferred to rent my own car and stay in Cedar Falls with a fellow couchsurfer which would have been a wonderful plan had the UNI fair been in the summer and not in the winter.

On Thursday, my plane was delayed out of Chicago because it had to be de-iced. And then it was delayed some more. And some more, which meant I missed my early interview appointment with a wonderful school the evening before the fair started. But it also meant that someone else cancelled their room at a convenient hotel and I got their room when I walked in, begging for mercy, to simply park my rental car in their snow-filled lot.

I was disappointed that the interview had to be rescheduled, but totally relieved to jump into a hot shower and rinse off the stress from driving in wintery conditions. Driving and walking in sub-zero conditions made me reconsider ever living in a place that would experience winters like this. I thought of this as I interviewed over the next couple of days.

Frenzy. Anxiety. Stress. Manic emotions of UP-UP and DOWN-DOWN – all happening within a really short period of time. Really up. Really down. Over and over and over again. These recruitment fairs are not for the faint-hearted.

One of my up-ups was arriving at my message folder in the conference center, at 6:30 am on Friday, and finding yellow slips from three school administrators who wanted to interview with me. Some people arrive and find none. It is a good sign when school recruiters take the first step at the fair and reach out to you. These were in addition to the one interview that I already had scheduled that day. There were an additional three schools that I wanted to interview with and would approach at the Round Robin, in the main conference ballroom, which would begin two hours later.

I had carefully handmade “Ichiro” packets which is a trade-name of a personal PR kit. I left these kits in the schools’ message mailboxes earlier that morning and when I approached their tables in the Round Robin, they all seemed to know me and told me they loved my packet. Another up-up. In fact, one of the recruiters told me they showed my Ichiro to the UNI staff and told them they should give me a prize for having the BEST “Ichiro”. Another up-up.

The Round Robin was the most hectic thing I’ve ever been through. Vague memories of being in college, before there were computers, waiting in long lines to schedule for classes, getting to the front, finally, and finding that the class you really needed just filled and you would have to start over and re-arrange your entire schedule. This was a very similar situation. It is very important (I can’t stress this enough) to REALLY prioritize the schools you would want to work for. Know this in advance of approaching this large, crowded room. If a map of the ballroom is provided, know where those schools are, have them circled in advance on the map. When the doors open, practically run for the schools’ tables who left you yellow slips. After that high-tail it to your prioritized schools. There is NO TIME to stand there and figure out what schools you might like to work at. All this needs to be done in advance. As you approach a table, notice the length of the line. If it is long, a quick decision has to be made: is it better to stand in this line or let that school go, and move on to the next priority school? Quick decisions have to be made constantly and mental exhaustion caused me to leave the room entirely to regroup for a few minutes. It all happens very, very fast. The decision I arrived at, in those few, precious moments of quiet, was to let the remaining, bottom priority schools go. Don’t even approach them. I couldn’t take it; my nerves were frazzled. What I had was a total of five interviews scheduled and that was enough.

All of my interviews went really well, but there were two in particular that were spectacular! One of those schools scheduled a second interview for the following day and I was encouraged. The five schools I interviewed with represented these countries: India, Taiwan, Turkey, Vietnam and Venezuela. Before I went to bed on Friday night I talked with my mother, my daughter and several friends about many thoughts running through my head. The decision I made, as I fell to sleep, however, was focused on one school in particular. If I was not offered a contract to that school, then I would likely turn down offers made from the other schools, because there are other schools that I am interested in talking to next week at the SA/Cambridge Fair in Boston. When I walked to the conference center on Saturday morning, and approached my message mailbox, I found two yellow slips from other schools requesting another interview.

In the end, the one school I was most interested in offered the contract to my one competitor, two schools told me that they wanted to continue their search in Cambridge and I chose to let the other schools go in anticipation for Cambridge. So, I didn’t get a job – -yet.  My heart is good and I’m encouraged. I checked out of the hotel, drove to my sweet couchsurfers’ home in Cedar Falls, went out for pizza and beer. She and her roommate and boyfriend are wonderful. She gave me her lovely bed. I slept so well. I awoke to the sun shining, birds singing and an email from a school who wants to interview next week at SEARCH Associates in Cambridge. The future’s so bright I gotta wear shades.

The search continues.

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The Road To Nowhere – or Somewhere?

RoadToNowhereRecruitment fairs.

One of the very best things about beginning this blog ten months ago are the friends I’ve made. I have become friends with one woman in particular who is from Texas, like me, and is completing her second year teaching overseas in Taiwan. She found me through this blog and we’ve become confidants and encouragers to one another. She was in my shoes two years ago when she travelled to her first international recruitment fair to simply “check it out”. She was considering the possibility of teaching overseas “someday”. Before the weekend was over, however, she’d been offered a position – and she took it! She remembers what it’s like to be timid and unsure when comparing yourself to others with more international experience, more degrees and certifications and more bells and whistles. Because of her, I have signed up to attend not one, but two international recruitment fairs. In my blog articles titled Should I Stay Or Should I Go, 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover and Same As It Ever Was, I explained the three most well known and respected fairs: UNI, ISS and SA. With much advise and prayer, I decided to attend UNI, which is being held at the end of this week and Search Associate’s Cambridge Fair, which is being held the following week. I’m excited and scared. Here’s why:

It’s a gamble.

To be realistic, employment-seeking teachers dish out money to buy airline tickets, stay at the large, conference, upscale hotel and rent a car, for an average for 4 days, and sometimes they end up walking away with nothing. Or, they get an offer and have a couple of hours to decide if they want it. It’s tricky because there may be another school that they are hoping invites them to interview, but what if they don’t? Or, they get several offers, but hey, like me, they are planning on attending another recruitment fair the following week that’s already been paid for. Who might extend an invitation to be interviewed there? And then there’s also the possibility that if you can wait it out and be patient, a school often has late spring openings that are not announced until after ALL the fairs have concluded by end of February. Last year I tracked Art positions from March 12 – October 19 and there were an additional 52 jobs posted! Really? And the icing on the cake is that two of those 52 positions were from what I’d consider to be my “dream schools”.

From what I’ve read on International Schools Forum, it is not unusual, at the end of the day, to be at the hotel bar drinking a beer to calm your nerves, with school administrators and employment-seeking teachers and be offered a job there! I’ve read a story about how an offer was made in the elevator! I’ve been keeping up with a few people on twitter who have been at the SA London Fair for the last few days and it’s a well known fact that major networking is done on the “lifts.” And it is not unusual, in fact it is common practice, to be invited up to the hotel rooms of administrators and be interviewed in their room! Doesn’t this sound crazy? But it is common practice. For any of you readers who will be attending one of the upcoming recruitment fairs, here is a super-informative list of the “Top 9 Lessons Learned Regarding International School Hiring Fairs”.

So, my dear readers, wish me luck and send positive vibes my way. People of faith, please include me in your prayers. As Dr. Seuss says, “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” I will do my very best to write a re-cap next week of the UNI fair. I may write it from the plane and, therefore, it may be posted late. Good luck to me and good luck to you too!

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The Known Universe

JunkYardOff and away.

Although I’ve targeted SE and central Asia as the areas I’m most interested in, I’m really open to just about anywhere. There are a few places on planet earth that I’m not drawn to, either because of safety concerns or because, for whatever reason, at this time, I’m not particularly drawn to that culture, but for the most part, I’m considering any and all offers. And hopefully there’ll be that – offers, i.e. contracts ready to be signed. As eager as I am, I don’t want to take just ANY offer. I want it to be the right one.  For instance, it was last summer, way after the frenzied, around-the-world recruitment fairs, that I saw two of my “dream jobs” online. I couldn’t apply for them because I still had to stay in the states for one more year to fulfill my current teaching assignment and to ensure my daughter’s safe and sure graduation from college in May 2013.

I’m about to walk into unknown territory. It’s scary and exciting. In a nervous moment this week, I remembered Dr. Seuss’  book, “Oh the Places You’ll Go” and began reading some of his memorable poems. These examples will boost anybody’s spirit. He knows all about being brave.

“Out there things can happen, and frequently do,

To people as brainy and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen, don’t worry, don’t stew.

Just go right along, you’ll start happening too!”

― Dr. SeussOh, the Places You’ll Go!

“You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.

Some windows are lighted, but mostly they’re darked.

A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!

Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?

How much can you lose? How much can you win?”

― Dr. SeussOh, the Places You’ll Go!

“And when you’re alone there’s a very good chance

you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.

There are some, down the road between hither and yon,

that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.”

― Dr. SeussOh, the Places You’ll Go!


Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!

You’re off and away!”

Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Sometimes I feel like India, China and SE Asia are far, far away. But when I watch the video below, it not only makes me tear up, but also inspires me to believe that a bigger-than-me God has my best interest in mind. He will let me know where I should go. This recruiting season I’ve already been reminded that a “no” is actually a “yes”. The “no’s” help guide us to our path. It is a really humbling feeling to be at the point that I’m ready to slip my moorings and give up my job, home and friends for completely unknown waters ahead, but deep within me, I know it’s the right thing to do. If you are in London this week at the SA Fair, “Good Luck!”

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Dominoes Falling in Bangkok

dominoesYellow slips.

One of the reasons I started this blog ten months ago was to chronicle the preparations and steps involved to move overseas and begin an international teaching career. Although I’ve read much about this for several years, it’s only been in the past ten months that I’ve seriously planned to enter this arena next year. This past week marked the first domino to fall, so to speak, with the kickoff of the widely recognized and respected Search Associates’ (SA) Bangkok International Recruiting Fair. This fair is thought of, by many, to lead the pack of fairs that will happen almost every weekend from now until mid-February. Starting in Bangkok, the fair tornado will spin north and westward traveling to Hong Kong, London, Toronto and Cambridge (USA), clearing everything in its path, before dying down in San Francisco in mid-February. There are clean up crews that follow the storm, including fairs in Dubai, London and Bethesda (US), but for many, the rush of the hiring season will be over. And this list only accounts for the Search Associates’ fairs. Not included in this list are the ISS fairs and the UNI fair, which are also tucked into this 5-week equation. The race is on!

I am going to paraphrase a unique report given on the ISR Forum, this week, by a writer who calls himself Shadowjack. He and his wife were teacher candidates in Bangkok this week and he gave a page turning, daily account of what it was like riding the recruiting wave these past few days. His reporting was transparent and seemingly accurate. I applaud his tireless efforts and celebrate his victory. If any of my readers are planning to attend an educational recruiting fair this spring, I hope this will be helpful to you. For those not attending a fair this year, this post may not be anything you are remotely interested in. Feel free to exit now.

The Scene: (quoted from the SA website)

Held at the Royal Orchid Sheraton on the Chao Phraya River, this fair is designed for experienced, top administrators and teachers from around the world (with or without IB experience) who are looking for positions in highly regarded international schools.

Paraphrased through the eyes of Shadowjack and others:


Arrive prepared: laptop, CV and related materials, quick fact sheets on schools, Thank You notes. Make a table in Microsoft Word that lists: School, Country, and Position/s and have these printed out, ready to fill in. Have three or four professional clothing ensembles ready for interviewing; casual clothes for evening wear.

Know where you want to be and pursue it. Hopefully you’ve already learned about the schools and the countries. Imagine how it would fit YOU. Bangkok is an early fair. Recruiters are willing to walk away from you and take a gamble that they will find a better candidate in an upcoming fair. Know this.

Register. Grab your package and start comparing school openings to the list you brought. Some school openings will be posted that aren’t even on SA’s daily list yet! Yellow slips =“I want to request an interview”. Fill in the yellow slips for schools that you are interested in. Paperclip CV and yellow slip together and put your “package” into schools’ folders. This takes time as there is a queue.

If schools want to interview you, they will also put a note in your box (each candidate has a box or folder of some kind). If you’ve had contact with a school before the fair, you may have notes already in your box or notes can show up at any time. Keep checking back.

After this is done, sort out which school presentations you want to go to. Go to many, as it allows you to network with school heads and principals. Start conversations.

Allow some time for schools to sort through their yellow slips, but go back and check your box for notes from schools from time to time, which, by the way, can also include rejection notes. You may/may not want to scratch off going to presentations of schools that have nixed you this time round.

QUOTE from Shadowjack:

“AT THIS POINT DO NOT PANIC. I have talked with several of my colleagues who are fantastic teachers – if I were recruiting I would hire them on the spot – but they have heard nothing. Zippo. Zilch. Understand that fairs are very hit and miss. This year there might not be that great combination position for you and your wife/husband. It might not be posted at this particular fair. Your school of choice might not be in attendance. Your dream job might have already been filled before the fair. My advice – keep an open mind and go listen to some of the schools in intriguing places that you know nothing about…talk to the recruiter – and see what happens.”

Go to school presentations. Presentations are spread over 3-4 conference rooms. More than one happen at the same time. Know that the schools will (naturally) present themselves in the best light. Most of the presented information you can glean from their websites, but you will get to observe the administrator and you can get insight into how they act and behave. Notice if they appreciate questions. Do they have stories or just show slides? Based on their presentation, how well versed are they with technology? Do they talk about staff and students (people and relationships) or do they talk about facilities and infrastructure (money)?

Introduce yourself to recruiters at the presentations, at sign-up, in passing and at the social. Make a pitch for yourself and possibly get an interview. You have 30 seconds – 1 minute to tell them your strengths and why you would be a great fit. Have about 25 CV’s on hand for this purpose. After meeting a recruiter at a presentation, they can change their mind about you and drop an interview request note in your box, when originally, they hadn’t done so.

Regarding CVs: Highlight your skills, experience and training. No fluff. Seriously, don’t go back to what you did in high school. No one cares about this!

After a day of this, you will be tired. Exhausted.

Go to bar/restaurant.

Go find your rejection letters (or not…) and plan the next day.

Swing by the candidates’ lounge where schools post their openings to see if there are any changes. Decide which schools you will approach during interview sign-ups first thing in the morning. Which presentations will you attend? Sweet dreams.


Go have breakfast. Try to remember recruiters’ names (from meeting any the day before!) You will run into them, here and there. You want them to remember you! Swing by candidates’ lounge to see if there’s any new listings. Go check your box to check for interview requests or rejection notes.

Sell yourself. This is the day that you will try to sell yourself (in 30 seconds – 1 minute) to recruiters who have either already contacted you for an interview, or who you talked to during presentation times who might be interested in you, or who you meet in the interview sign up time, or even those who have no idea who your are, but you like their school and you put a CV package in their file. Go meet these recruiters of schools where you’d like to be, even if there aren’t any current openings in your subject. If you don’t have an opportunity to interview with them, meeting them at their presentation is the next best thing to have them remember you for the future.

Interview sign up.  Located in ballroom and ballroom foyer. Admin candidates (about 100) went in at 12:30 pm; teaching candidates (about 450) started entering at 1:00 pm. GET IN LINE EARLY (maybe 45 minutes early). Smaller schools were set up in foyer so you can check out where they are located early. Inside the ballroom, schools were in alphabetical order by country, then school name. SA’s organization was excellent!

Approach recruiters confidently.  Know your skills. Know your strengths. Know your weaknesses. Go to your top schools first. “I want to be your next _______ teacher!” They will be bluntly honest with you. Don’t take offense. They have many people to see and jobs to be filled. If they are not interested in you, they will say so. It’s exhausting, selling yourself over and over. Don’t give up, just keep going. However, schools can smell desperation. Don’t be desperate. It will all work out. Be patient.

Go to presentations. Or – go to interviews if you have any scheduled! Interviews may be scheduled during presentation times. Interviews are held in recruiter’s rooms. Wait outside the room door. About three minutes before interview time, gently, but firmly, knock. Previous candidate will exit and they will take a minute or two to prepare for you and invite you in.

Do your homework on the school, the city and the country! Do not lie about your ability to teach the curriculum. Be honest in the interview. If they say they will get back to you, good! It is not a brush off. If they don’t want you they will tell you that. They will be very honest with you.

Check back for newly posted openings.

Check your box.

Do not panic. Do not self-doubt. Just keep to the business at hand. Check out SA website for updates in positions. All kinds of things can happen. A hired candidate can change their mind. A school may not extend a contract because of an upcoming fair in a different city, only to call you in two weeks and extend a contract. Don’t freak if you have not yet got a contract.

Go to the social, whenever they are scheduled. Excellent opportunity to network again.

Dinner. Bed. Night-night.


To quote Shadowjack:

“By the end of the day, some people will have a sense that the fair was a waste of time; others will have multiple job offers to choose from, and others will still be waiting for that elusive offer to appear and make it all worth while.”

Early rise. Breakfast.

Early interview appointments (hopefully). Do not panic if no contracts are offered. Be strong! Don’t doubt. Contracts may not be offered but the experience and networking is valuable. You will be tested at this point. You should understand that your attendance at a fair is NOT a guarantee of a job.

Check your box. Check mail. Go to candidate lounge. You will see a variety of scenarios to include happy people that have been offered a contract, candidates filling out interview requests, candidates Skyping and chatting.

Attend candidates/recruiters reception. You have paid for this. Keep the drink ticket from your fair package, wear your name tag and talk with everyone. Learn about offers that were made. Keep your chin up.

Check file folder again. Stay positive.

Prepare your suitcase to leave tomorrow. Go to bed. Sleep tight.


Leave luggage with concierge.

Early to breakfast. Arrive early (before 8:00 am) because everyone is eating breakfast this last day before they make their way through a couple of last interviews and then to airport.

Go to scheduled interviews. Recruiters want you to want their job as much as they want to offer it to you. If they sense any kind of reservation, they hate making you an offer. Also keep in mind that some candidates never get a single interview. If you’ve had any, thank your lucky stars. If you feel it is needed, go back to schools and tell them you are genuinely interested.

And if a contract is offered, and if you sign it, arrangements are briefly covered. More details are forthcoming in a month or so. Celebrate! The search is over for you!

If recruiters are waiting to hear from you, let them know if you accept an offer from another school.

If no contract is offered, chin up. There are more fairs and there are more jobs. Be thankful of this experience. Think about how much more you know now than when you arrived.

Last March, when I started this blog, I started tracking the art teacher jobs, going forward, from March 12 through September 4. There were 33 additional art teacher jobs posted in the SA daily post. Keep in mind this was after all the international fairs had happened. All kinds of things can happen to cause this. Maybe a candidate at Bangkok, who accepted an offer, had a change of heart and decided to abandon his post. Maybe an employed teacher had anticipated returning to her post, but a change in life caused her to have to leave her assignment. Life is like water, it’s fluid and ever changing. Remember: Your oath is your bond.

Think about a Plan B. I have a Plan B figured out although I don’t know all the details. Basically my Plan B is to leave my current position, as planned, spend some of the money I’ve been saving and travel during the summer, then probably move to California to be close to my daughter. Plan A would be awesome and Plan B would be awesome. I’m not going to take any ‘ol job. It has to be “right”. I’ll know it if it is offered. I’ve got two weeks until I will have personal experience at this. Breathe. . . and good luck everyone!

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