Teaching Abroad

Many of you know my background from reading my initial post here.  If not, I have taught in a hodgepodge of amazing places both in the US and abroad.  Here are some leads and tips for landing a job abroad.

(Drawn on fabric by Jen; Hand painted by little O)
International Teaching Fairs
  • Attend an international teaching fair.  Two of the biggest are the UNI Overseas Recruiting Fair and the ISS Fairs.  Both organizations offer fairs in February, thus, I'm planting a seed for next year, 2012!  I attended the UNI fair a decade ago just to see what the fair would be like and literally landed six jobs all in South America, my targeted destination.  Both fairs require you are a certified teacher.  The fairs also require an application fee.  What I appreciated about the fairs is they mean business!  The international schools in attendance are ready to hire - impressive schools from all parts of the globe - Switzerland to China to Ecuador and beyond.
  • Before the fair, prepare!  Research schools, countries, curriculum, special programs, etc.  Many schools abroad have IB programs, so familiarize yourself with those if you are not already savvy. 
  • In your research and at the fair, target an area of the world you'd like to teach or be open to many areas of the world.  For me, I only wanted to live in South America (a life-long dream of mine at the time) and thus, I focused on job positions there.  I didn't even apply to positions in other countries while attending the fair nor entertain requests to interview with other countries.  And yes, many schools will seek you out to interview as they all have access to your resume and credentials.  I must say, it felt really great to be wooed by schools.
  • At the fair, be ready for long days!  You will need to dress professionally, have extra resumes on hand, possibly bring your teaching portfolio (more on this in a moment) and arrive to the fair ready to shine!  You need to be your most engaging self while at the fair.  Get a great night's rest.
  • Most job fairs are multiple days.  I did land all six jobs in one day and thus, the second day of the fair was spent determining which job offer to accept - which is awfully exciting.  However, many of my comrades were interviewing and scouting out schools on the second day, so be open to a busy fair schedule.
  • I only advise bringing a current teaching portfolio if you plan to use it.  I like to use my portfolio (which could stand a major revision and update) when a prospective employer asks me a question that I know my portfolio (and I) can address.  I then will flip to the part of my portfolio that demonstrates my response to their question and the employer can visually see my response while I describe it.  For example, if an employer were to ask me about assessment, I could flip to my assessment section and show some of my original assessment tools and assignments.  Seeing is believing sometimes and that's when portfolios are most helpful.  If you have an electronic portfolio, use it if you can easily access the artifacts.  You certainly don't want employers to wait for you to locate and open your documents or photos.
  • After your interviews at the fair, bring thank you cards to hand write to the schools who interviewed you and leave them immediately for your prospective employers.  I made my own cards that said, "The world is my classroom," on the front.  Thank you cards help put your name in front of the prospective schools one more time.
  • If you are married or in a relationship with another educator, you can also apply and interview as a team.  Most of the fairs have a system for doing so which makes interviewing and landing positions together doable.  If you are married to a non-educator and/or have children, most international schools have systems to hire you and have your family accompany you with ease.  US kids growing up in international schools have a unique opportunity to see the world, learn new languages, and travel.  Win-win-win.
(I always thought it would be enjoyable to teach in Costa Rica, too...)

DOD Schools - Department of Defense
  • This is not my expertise at all, DOD schools, but I do know of educators who have enjoyed working at DOD schools. 
  • According to the DOD website, you can target an area of the world that interests you and explore current job postings.
  • Most DOD schools are located on military bases and attended by US students only.  International schools, alternatively, are mainly attended by locals from that country - which is my preferred clientele while teaching overseas.
Teaching in the US, but immersing yourself in another culture
  • If you are not quite ready to make the jump to another country, consider staying in the US, but teaching in another culture.
  • If you are from a rural area, consider teaching in an urban setting.  If you are from a Hispanic community, consider teaching in a predominately Asian one.  In the US, there are many opportunities to immerse yourself in new cultures and environments.
  • My personal favorite spot to teach in the US is in Kayenta, Arizona on the Navajo Nation.  Gosh, I adore my Navajo high school students and their families.  Thankfully, many of my students from a decade ago still keep in contact with me.  This school district, Kayenta Unified School District, was superb and each year, they look for dynamic teachers.  You can see their current job postings here
If you have any questions on landing a job overseas or even teaching on the Navajo Nation, please email me at jenglara at gmail.com or leave a comment below.

Happy teaching, exploring and traveling,