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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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School’s out for the summer

The crescendo has been building for a couple of weeks.

I typically give my very best ideas away to my students, and usually this makes me happy. They gratefully consume my ideas all year long, digest them, rework them, and pour out the results (which are fabulous!) but now it’s summer and I’m ready to blow up my raft and go float in the pool. I’ve just completed my eleventh year as a full-time middle and high school art teacher at a college preparatory school in the Dallas metroplex. Over the last few weeks, I’ve immersed myself into throngs of contemporary art fairs for the reason of finding inspiring ideas, not only to try for myself, but to tweak into becoming classroom projects. This is primarily how I develop my art curriculum. I go out and experience art in the world around me.

One of the most wonderful, healing things about teaching is that, at the beginning of each year, you get to start a clean slate. It’s brand new. Each new school year is about creating and giving away your best ideas for a specific amount of time. At the end of a year, it’s over and you put the slate away. If there are projects that didn’t turn out so well, you never have to do them again. Years ago, I remember singing at the top of my lungs, Alice Cooper’sSchool’s Out, at the end of May:

No more pencils,

No more books,

No more teacher’s dirty looks.

Admittedly, I’ve probably given my share of dirty looks this year (I assure you I’ve also given truckloads of smiles and hugs too) but now, it’s time to rest. I get to start over with a clean slate full of new possibilities next August. It is a wonderfully refreshing concept. Each day we wake up we should be grateful because, like teaching, we get to start over. We get the opportunity to turn over a new leaf. To listen more. To love more. To forgive more. We can take a walk down a new path and try new approaches to life. Each day we wake up we are given the possibility to be more courageous and more mindful of the earth and others.

I’ve always hoped to make a difference in someone’s life; this adds purpose to my life. I want to have an impact on others to show them their potential and express how much they matter. Teaching allows me to do that. If I can see evidence that I’ve influenced even one child to dream and reach for the stars, I feel that the year has been successful. This year there are many students I feel that way about and I feel grateful and blessed. Still, I am ready to float on my raft.

This summer, when I get off the raft, I will be working on several ebooks for publication. One will be about art careers and one will be about integrating global history and culture into art curriculum. I want to inspire students, artists, art educators, parents, homeschool teachers, administrators and even school districts. Sadly, from my experience I’ve learned that much of the public, including students and parents, do not know about the importance of an art education in the 21st century. In general people don’t understand how lucrative and satisfying a career in the arts can be.

Two years ago, I was invited to become a member of the Nasher Sculpture Center’s Teacher Advisory Board. I gratefully accepted the position and have been honored to share this board membership with a few other teachers who strive to inspire. We have assisted the Nasher Education Department in many ways including the expansion of new activities and workshops for the public, as well as curriculum development and printed material. Through the continued dialogue at our monthly meetings I have expressed the need specifically for art career education. Together we have researched this and I have presented the collected material to administrators, faculty and parents. After learning more through my presentation, everyone is excited and hopeful about college and career prospects for students of all ages. I want to make this research available to more people who can use it and create possibilities for their own lives or the lives of others.

As this school year comes to a close, I want to share an excellent video produced by the Exxon Mobile Corporation. As you watch it, I hope teachers you learned from will come to mind. I want to encourage you to write them an email. Search for them on facebook. Actually go buy a stamp and send them a card. Tell them how important they have been to you. I promise; it will make their day.

(Thank you Mrs. Majors, Mrs. Cuniff, Gloria Ball, Mrs. Simpson, Judith d’Agostino, Dr. Dianne Strickland, Jackie Snyders, Cynthia Bylander, Jeff Johnston, Dr. David Quick, Tanya Synar and all my fellow colleagues. You all poured into me and I really appreciate it and love you for it.)

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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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