Tag Archives: SA

Baby Steps

BabyStepsJaxson

Photo courtesy of Amanda Domingos

Choosing a recruiting agency.

Making the decision to leave your country, your family and friends is actually a giant step. When I left the USA in 2013, I didn’t personally know anyone who had ever done that. I spent over five years researching how to get a job teaching overseas.

Over the next few weeks, I am going to tell you the steps required to find an international teaching position. Each week I will post steps for you to do. If you follow along with me, you can be fully ready to interview this winter. I’m going to show you, step-by-step, what you need to do to make this happen. I’m also going to offer a detailed workbook, showcasing all of my personally designed documents that will help you with Skype interviews, prepare you for an international job fair, prepare you for an international classroom and show you how/what to pack when you move overseas.

In order to consider this possibility for next year, you must start now! The international hiring season starts today, September 1, 2016 for the following year! However, the hiring won’t swing into full throttle until January 2017. Most of the international recruiting fairs start in January and they will roll around planet Earth, scooping up teachers at each stop. There’s a lot to do…many steps, but you can do it, and I can help you.

Deciding on an International Recruiting Agency

The directions I am giving you target current teachers, or administrators, who have taught at least two years or soon-to-be education degree graduates. When selecting a recruiting agency, you may decide to use more than one. Some are free; some are not. Some are more widely used around the world than others. Some represent more kinds of international schools than others. Some are better for seasoned candidates, others are better for new educators. To begin, let’s review.

In April and May of 2012 I wrote three articles about recruiting agencies that you should read before we continue. Please take time to do this:

There are other recruiting firms, but these are the Big 3. Read these articles and then read this article posted by The Wall Street Journal and authored by Ginanne Brownell Mitic on September 30, 2015. How Was Your Child’s International Teacher Hired? 

There are some basic differences in these three recruiting companies, but after researching on your own, you should choose at least one of them. In 2012, I chose UNI and Search Associates. Both delivered everything they said they would and I was pleased with my choices. This year I am choosing Search Associates. While teaching in Istanbul, I discovered that many of my international colleagues were also represented by Search Associates. Because this is the agency I know the best, I am biased, but there are many candidates who have had equally good experiences with UNI and ISS.

After reading my above mentioned articles, I now want to mention that a few things need to be updated:

UNI: University of Northern Iowa Overseas Placement Service For Educators

Although it also serves seasoned teachers, UNI is widely known to cater to new international educators, even new university graduates. This is your best bet if you are a soon-to-be education degreed teacher who has never taught full-time in the classroom. After checking their website, I was surprised to learn their new registration fee is only $50.00. In 2012 it was $150.00! This fee allows you entry into their employment database and an open invitation to their annual recruiting fair, being held February 3-5, 2017, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. UNI works with over 120 American international schools. I didn’t realize that UNI only works with American international schools, so for those of you who prefer to teach using the British or International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, this fair may not suit you.

ISS: International Schools Services

ISS has a new, updated website that provides user-friendly maneuverability. Their registration fee is $195, opposed to $185 in 2012. This fee validates you for two years or until you obtain a teaching position in any international school, whichever comes first. ISS works with 300 schools in more than 150 countries worldwide but they do require their candidates to have a minimum of 2 years full-time classroom teaching experience. Their recruiting fairs are being held December 4-6, 2016 in Atlanta, GA; January 5-8, 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand; and February 9-12 in San Francisco, CA. Additionally, ISS has developed a new event called ISS iFair® The iFair® is a recruiting fair that happens online on a particular date. International school personnel and teacher candidates will be online at the same time and interviews will be provided through a virtual booth which candidates will enter when the event is live. The ISS iFair® dates are November 19, 2016; March 22, 2017 and May 17, 2017. The iFair® may be a good alternative if you don’t have funds to travel to a traditional recruitment fair.

SA: Search Associates 

Search Associates is the largest company of the three. It works with more than 600 international schools in over 180 countries around the world. The registration fee is $225.00, opposed to $200.00 in 2012, but validates you for three hiring seasons or until you obtain a teaching position in any international school, whichever comes first. Search Associates also has the most recruiting fairs around the world, but again they do require their candidates to have a minimum of 2 years full-time classroom teaching experience. Beginning on December 9-11, 2016, SA will be in Toronto, Canada. Beginning in 2017, SA will hold fairs in Melbourne, Australia – January 3-6; in Bangkok, Thailand – January 8-11; in London, England – January 13-16; in Hong Kong, China – January 20-22; in Cambridge (Boston), MA – January 26-29; in San Francisco, CA – February 10-13; in Dubai, UAE – February 23-25; back to Bangkok, Thailand – March 9-12, and finally back to London, England – April 21-23.

Other less expensive recruiting agencies are:

Dave’s ESL Café – Free
TIE Online – $39 USD/Annually
JoyJobs –  $40 USD/Annually
TIC Recruitment – Free
Schrole – 75 AUD/Annually

These companies are also widely used but have not been around as long and may not provide the personal attention that UNI, ISS and SA provide. As I understand it, they also do not offer a recruiting fair. For this reason they may not be a good choice for teachers new to international teaching. Although I personally do not have experience with these agencies, I do keep my eye open to positions listed on their website. Some schools that cannot afford to pay membership fees may opt to use these services. Additionally, you may find schools listed here that do not require a minimum of two years of full-time teaching experience.

So have a look around. This will take some time. Once you decide which agency is best for you, you can pay your fee and start filling out their paperwork. My next post will be about what documents you need to have on hand to complete their online paperwork and what to expect from their questions.

Get busy. You’ll be glad you did. Where would you like to go?

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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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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:

DAY 1

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.

DAY 2

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.

DAY 3

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.

DAY 4

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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Same as it ever was (Part 3 of 3)

Once in a lifetime.

Reminiscing about David Byrne and the Talking Heads brings back a torrential downpour of pleasant memories. These musical-memories connect significantly to a transition time in my life: graduating from college, getting married and moving out of state. In the mid-1980’s, my then-husband and I moved from Missouri to Texas to begin a new life. Recently graduated from college, we were psyched to land our first jobs and start down our career path, which for me meant beginning the climb up the corporate ladder. My imaginative dreams were centered on my new marriage, my new job, buying our first new car, buying our first home and eventually becoming parents. My mind couldn’t fully wrap around all these new, upcoming changes, but I was excited and hopeful about my future.

None of these dreams turned out exactly the way I thought they would. I could have never predicted the end results of my hopes and expectations. More than once I awoke, seemingly from a deep sleep, and thought, as Bryne’s lyrics read, “My God! What have I done?” There’s no way that we can fully predict what our lives will be, even with all the research we do and all the well wishes and prayers from friends and family. But life is wonderfully mysterious and I wouldn’t trade in any of my experiences, both the good ones and the bad ones, for they’ve brought me to where I am today. Life is full of transitions and I find that I am still excited and hopeful about my future as I seriously consider moving overseas.

And You May Find Yourself Living In A Shotgun Shack

And You May Find Yourself In Another Part Of The World

And You May Find Yourself Behind The Wheel Of A Large Automobile

And You May Find Yourself In A Beautiful House, With A Beautiful Wife

And You May Ask Yourself-Well…How Did I Get Here?

This rendition of The Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime”, is recorded by Robert Luis:

When I went to Europe for the first time in 2006 I remember thinking, “I belong here. This feels like home. Surely I was born here and my parents adopted me into the USA and just have never told me!” How did I get here (USA)? “This is not my beautiful house,” as the song goes. But my mother assures me that I wasn’t adopted and that I am truly American! I often feel like a foreigner in my own country. I long to live a slower, more observant, less cluttered lifestyle. Every minute of every day is a “once in a lifetime” possibility. The next time I ask myself, “My God! What have I done?” I want to honestly and peacefully answer the question in a way that shows love, bravery, courage and trust.

Part 3 of 3: SA (Search Associates)

This article concludes with my research about the international educational recruitment company, Search Associates (SA). In my previous two posts I explained what I have found out about UNI (University of Northern Iowa) and ISS (International Schools Services).  SA has been in existence for more than 21 years. Not only have they helped teachers find positions in international schools around the world, they also place administrators and interns. Their current website boasts that in 2011 they set a record by helping 2,198 candidates secure positions abroad.

SA works with more than 600 schools, compared to ISS who works with about 150 schools. SA feels confident they are the best educational recruitment company because of the personal attention they give to both candidates and schools. For instance, once I completed my online application and SA had received recommendations from my administrators, my file was considered “active” and I was assigned a Senior Associate who will personally assist me throughout the entire search process. I was given her email and phone number so that I can reach her at all times. Additionally, because my file is active, I receive a daily log of SA represented schools that are currently seeking teachers and administrators. Since my file became active in March 2012, I’ve been tracking how many art positions have been posted. I’m delighted to report that there have been 23 art teaching positions listed to date, and this is really late in the hiring season! Keep in mind that most positions for the 2012-13 school year have already been placed.

Although my file is considered active, my online profile will not be made known to seeking schools until I pay my membership dues. Once I pay $200, I will have access to SA for three years and interested schools can review my credentials. I will have access to job openings, salaries and benefits and I will be able to contact schools directly through the database upon notification of an opening in one of my listed preferences. Interested schools will be able to email me directly, set up interviews or ask for additional information. The first SA educational recruitment fair is free and each additional fair is $50, although all job fairs are by invitation only. Both candidates and schools that are fully registered may request invitations. In comparison, ISS charges $290 for all fairs in a season. Search Associates offers 13 annual job fairs worldwide between November and June. These fairs allow candidates and schools to have face-to-face interviews to determine if there is a mutual interest and a good “fit” between the school and candidate. In addition, Search Associates keeps their fairs small in order to provide maximum support for candidates and schools.

There are many more educational recruitment companies, but I’ve limited my search to these three: UNI, ISS and SA. In my last post I described the wonderful resource, International Schools Review (ISR) which allows open dialogue, through a forum, on a host of subjects centered around teaching internationally. On this website you will find many opinions about the differences of these companies. Some people prefer one company over another for a host of reasons. Many international educators never attend a fair at all. After paying their application fee, they contact the seeking schools directly and are accustomed to interviewing over Skype.

In the ISR article called, “How Do International Educators See Their Careers?” Bill says, “I left as soon as I got my BEd and never looked back. Best decision I could have ever made. I was looking to explore the world, learn about new cultures and languages, work in schools that value teachers and provide a stimulating work environment. Next year, will be my 4th international school and my 12th year overseas. Sometimes I think about going back for a couple of years but I really do enjoy this life too much to do so.”

Is teaching internationally a once in a lifetime opportunity? I think it may be. I’d be interested in what once in a lifetime opportunities you’ve been given.

Thanks for reading!

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50 ways to leave your lover (Part 2 of 3)

Get myself free.

From my point of view, the title of this 1975 Paul Simon song could also be 50 Ways to Leave Your Home, Your Family, Your Country, Your Job or Life As You Know It.

As my mentor to all-things-adventure, Chris Guillebeau said in his recent post titled, How To Go Everywhere, “We often feel paralyzed by choice and make no choice. But the thing is, no choice is a choice. If you’re not doing something about it, you’re doing something about it. So if you too want to travel and you’re trying to make a choice, just choose. If you want to go somewhere, what’s stopping you? That’s right, nothing.”

You just slip out the back, Jack

Make a new plan, Stan

You don’t need to be coy, Roy

Just get yourself free

Hop on the bus, Gus

You don’t need to discuss much

Just drop off the key, Lee

And get yourself free

This rendition is by Matteo Grondini.

I can remember the first time I heard Paul Simon’s voice. It was at my 3rd grade friend’s house in Merriam, Kansas. Kathy had 3 older siblings, one of whom was in college and his hair was just like Art Garfunkle’s. Not only was he handsome, but he drove a VW bug! From that day forward I paid attention to Simon and Garfunkle. Simon’s lyrics have come to mind many times over my lifetime as either my friends or I were wrestling with how to get out of a bad relationship. One can easily apply Simon’s lyrical advise to all kinds of other situations as well. Continuing from last week’s post, which refers to The Clash’s song, Should I Stay or Should I Go?, this week I will present an option on how to go and get yourself free.

Just go.

So how does one go about getting themselves free? I have been thinking about moving overseas for about five years. For starters, I’ll need to either sell or rent out my home that I still owe a mortgage on. From the expert advise of others who have moved overseas, I’m still left in a query; some say it’s great to have a place to move back to in the USA, others say, “Sell!” and be released of the burden of worry. Furthermore, I’ll need to sell my car and rid myself of accumulated material possessions. As an artist, I have artwork, books galore and art supplies that will have to be reckoned with. This is a daunting task as it has taken me my adult lifetime to accumulate these items. Do I get a storage unit (climate controlled I’m told…) or do I choose a POD? These answers will come to me over time I feel certain, but ultimately, I’ll just have to choose.

Part 2 of 3: ISS (International Schools Services)

Since 1955, International Schools Services (ISS) has been dedicated to providing international students access to a premier Western education. It is difficult for ISS to give me data regarding how many art positions are available each year because, unlike UNI, they have continual, year-round recruitment fairs at various locations around the world. Currently, ISS has five recruitment conferences scheduled in 2012-13 to include Philadelphia; Nice, France; Atlanta; Bangkok and San Francisco. There will be more posted as dates are confirmed.

In 2010, a variety of schools, in countries such as China, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Switzerland, UAE and Vietnam, needed art teachers but each year the represented schools and countries are varied. There is no way to predict how many schools from how many countries will need art teachers each year. When I recently inquired there were 11 positions most recently available.

ISS also manages and/or owns 16 schools. Not only does ISS staff their own schools but they assist other schools in staffing theirs as well. An ISS representative told me that their recruitment fairs are somewhat selfish, as they try to get the best candidates for their own schools. ISS is deeply rooted in the international education community and there are many educators that have been placed by ISS.

A fee of $185 is required to participate in two recruiting seasons (Sept-Aug). It is strongly recommended for interested educators not to establish membership until they are ready to pursue an international teaching position.

When I asked ISS why their recruiting fair is “the best”, I was given this response:

“The dynamics of a recruiting conference have always included the anticipation of discovering the opportunities present and meeting those who can best describe their schools, their communities, and the positions available. The IRC [International Recruiting Conference] presents a tremendous learning experience and orientation to the overseas recruitment process, where one can learn from those currently working overseas and speak with the heads of international schools from all over the world. School administrators offer video and slide presentations so that candidates may picture the communities they may choose to join. These sessions also offer the opportunity for Q&A during small group settings. [Additionally,] International school heads participate on regional panels to discuss the realities of life and work in each of the five major continental areas. Candidates are encouraged to attend these sessions. In the candidate lounge, computer assistance is provided – with a bank of computers allowing email access. A copier is also provided. Regional guides and other print resources are provided for review, as well as brochures supplied by the schools in attendance.”

After applying, being approved and paying the registration fee, the best way to determine which ISS fair is best for you to attend is to see which schools registered for the fairs and which ones have positions that suit you. Most candidates attend the fair that is closest to their hometown.

An invaluable piece of advise was recently offered to me by a new friend who currently teaches art overseas. She suggested I join the organization International Schools Review (ISR).

This $29/year website membership is maintained by teachers, of all subjects, from all countries, who currently teach around the world. This amazing website boasts having over 5,000 reviews of international schools written by international teachers available to its members. This means if you decide to work with ISS, for example, and you “see” a teacher listing, let’s say, in Berlin, Germany, you can look up this school on International Schools Review and read many different teachers’ opinions about the school, the administration and the community. Additionally a Forum exists, where teacher-members can read about a variety of subjects. Members can also start new conversations, asking specific questions to these seasoned teachers.

A featured question in April 2012 was this:

How Do International Educators See Their Careers?

Teachers teaching all over the world, with a plethora of experiences answered. Three of the responses were:

Anonymous said:

“I’ve basically done my career already in NZ, so at age 50 decided to ‘retire’ and enjoy my love of traveling combined with teaching. It was a good idea! Highly recommend it.”

Loving Life said:

“My son completed first grade at home and has lived in five different countries, learned parts of five languages with 8 years of Chinese. He won the EARCOS Global Citizenship award last year, along with a $500 grant for a project he is involved with in an orphanage in Cambodia. He will graduate in a month with the IB diploma. I could never have done this as a single parent in the States. Moving overseas was the best decision I made. I hear my sister talk about teaching in the States and I feel so fortunate, even when things get difficult overseas. It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure.”

One day at a time says:

“Teaching overseas and being part of the world has been very rewarding and eye opening. My own children have truly been brought up as world citizens and have learned much more than they would have from textbooks. Their lives aren’t about being proud Americans but about being proud world citizens.”

So there you have it. Already it’s a hard decision between UNI and ISS and next week I’ll be reviewing Search Associates. Do I pay all three application fees? Do I go to UNI and chance the weather? Do I go to a recruitment fair or just take my chance interviewing with Skype? Lots of decisions and when it’s time, I’ll just choose.

Do you have any experience working in a foreign country?

Thanks for reading.

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Should I stay or should I go? (Part 1 of 3)

Explore your options.

I loved The Clash. In the early 1980’s, their sound and energy penetrated the rebellious age of punk all over my college campus. Not only did the British punk movement influence me to chop off my hair and dye it pink, I also got my ear double pierced, grew a “tail” that reached to the middle of my back and attempted to get a pink flamingo tattoo on my tummy. (As it turned out, the tattoo store was closed and I never got the nerve up again to go back. Thank heavens!) The Clash’s screaming, jumping and body slaming dance moves resinated with the questions I was asking myself about my life’s decisions. Their lyrics summed up many of my college experiences: Should I stay in my relationship or should I go? Should I continue waitressing or should I go? Should I stay with my roommate or should I go? Should I do an “all-nighter” in the art department or should I go?

Should I stay or should I go now?

Should I stay or should I go now?

If I go there will be trouble

And if I stay it will be double

So come on and let me know

Should I stay or should I go?

This rendition is by Sergio Lourenco:

I also wore a button on my backpack that said, “I Want It All.” Although the button is long gone, the philosophy stays with me. My life has been filled with blessing upon blessing. I am rich with experiences and I am grateful, but I want more. Not more, in terms of money or possessions, more in terms of living true, loving more and experiencing adventure. I want to know more people, from all different backgrounds and cultures. I want to fall in love with the entire world. I want to feel spiritually and physically alive through once-in-a-lifetime adventures and service. I want to be more authentic, sharing my gifts with the world.

So now, years later, I’m asking the same question: Should I stay or should I go? This time, I’m talking about my job, the Dallas art scene, my home in Texas and my country. I’ve been exploring how to combine my love of teaching with my love of adventure and travel. Teaching art in an international school may be my way to do that.

Although there are many educational placement companies, I have narrowed my search down to three: UNI (University of Northern Iowa), ISS (International Schools Services) and SA (Search Associates). Although I’ve never taught internationally, I have read many others’  personal accounts through various forum blogs. I will explore each of these three recruitment companies over the next few posts. All of them, however, share a few common threads:

• Bachelors Degree or higher

• There is a registration fee which includes participation in recruitment fairs for a specific period of time. (Fees shown are for single individuals. Married teaching teams may have different pricing.)

  1. UNI = Individual/$150
  2. ISS = Individual/$185
  3. SA =  Individual/$200

• In order to register you must hold current certification as an elementary or secondary teacher

• Candidates who are single with no dependents, or married candidates who are part of a certified teaching team are most successful

• Most schools prefer to hire teachers with a minimum of two years relevant teaching experience

• Due to visa restrictions, many schools cannot hire teachers over 60 years of age

• Many schools offer contracts on-site during recruitment fairs that are held in various cities across the globe

Part 1 of 3: UNI (University of Northern Iowa)

This overseas placement service has worked with certified educators, year round, since 1976. Additionally they offer an annual recruiting fair and referral services for all levels of educators, in all subject fields. UNI does not charge placement fees to either candidates or recruiting schools. I’ve been told that there are typically around 20 art vacancies each year. I’ve also been told that, typically, there are more overall vacancies posted at the UNI Fair than there are educators to fill them. According to the forums I’ve read, most people really enjoy their experience at the UNI Fair. For many, the only complaint is the weather.

For the past several years I’ve tracked available art positions that were made known to UNI and these are some of the results:

  • The 2012 Fair had 23 openings in art in various countries such as China, Kuwait, Japan, Mexico, Egypt, Germany, UAE, Morocco, Costa Rica, Thailand, India and Venezuela.
  • The 2011 Fair had 22 art vacancies and included many countries such as China, Kuwait, Japan, Mexico and Egypt.
  • The 2010 Fair had 22 art vacancies in schools located in countries such as China, Egypt, Qatar, Guatemala, Korea, Israel, UAE, Greece and others.

The staff at UNI are friendly and helpful to work with. I’ve emailed them many times over the past few years with an assortment of questions. I recently asked why they thought their recruitment fair was unique and why they felt their recruitment company is “the best”? I wanted to know what the advantages would be of my choosing to be represented by their firm over the others? I was also curious to know if they offered incentives that other firms did not. The response I received was this:

“We are unique in the fact that we are the only university in the country that has an event like this – the other recruiting events are put on by companies. So we have a very unique advantage to be cost effective as a non-profit so a variety of different schools attend our event. We have the large schools that will be recruiting through multiple organizations but also very small schools that only come to us.”

Other teachers, who teach internationally, have told me that UNI is somewhat physically difficult get to in February, when they hold their annual recruitment fair. There’s always a chance of blizzard, making it nearly impossible to get to northern Iowa or back home again afterward. When I inquired about this, the staff at UNI agreed that chances of storms in the Midwest are possible in February. However, during the past UNI fairs, there has only been one storm that affected a large amount of people. The altered transportation schedules had more to do with conditions in Chicago and Minneapolis airports than with northern Iowa. Yet, it is cold, especially for warm blooded Texans. As I understand it, there are coat racks at every entrance for people to use as they stand in line for interviews. Brrrrrrrrr……..

So, should I stay or should I go? Teaching overseas is not for everyone but according to a forum entry I recently read, “Do your homework about schools and jump on for the ride. There is nothing more exciting.”

Would anyone be willing to share knowledge about living/teaching overseas?

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