I’ve done it! Advice from teachers already teaching overseas

TIC Recruitment places many teachers and leaders in international schools every year and we are constantly asking them for their feedback on how things are going, as well as advice for others considering teaching and working overseas. Here we talk to Tom, July and Sarah, three people who recently made the move, about their top advice for other teachers and leaders:

Expect more freedom, but to work just as hard

Tom Scott is from Leeds in the UK. TIC recently helped Tom achieve his appointment as Head of History at The British School Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi:

“My advice would be to do it! It's not always easy, and don't think it'll constantly be beaches and sunshine. But grinding through the same old routine back in the UK isn't always easy either! Teaching internationally opens up your horizons and is an experience which you won't regret.

I am Head of the History department, whereas back at home I was a classroom history teacher. I expected an increase in workload, but I have more freedom and spare time as there's less paperwork and a greater trust in my ability to get on and do the job. I feel more relaxed as there isn’t the constant pressure of Ofsted, which allows me to focus on the teaching. However, I do work just as hard in this role as I did in the UK.

I do miss a few aspects of life in the UK. Having a quiet weekend to recharge and catch up with friends and family on Skype, or planning to have visitors, can help you feel less homesick.”

Take time to decide which school is best for you

July Bernal is a teacher from Colombia, South America. This year she moved to South Korea to teach at The International School of Koje (ISK), in the city of Geoje:

“My advice is to do your own research, take your time to decide where you go to teach. Some teachers might be worried about living and working in South Korea, but there’s no reason to fear working here; I can tell this is an extremely safe country. I personally find South Korea a beautiful and very peaceful place to live.

The biggest challenge so far has been communicating with the locals; the Korean language is hard! But it’s also been fun. I love walking in the mountains here, and using the public transport. The Korean food is also amazing. I really am enjoying every single moment here!”

Throw yourself into activities

Sarah Morris is from the UK and has been teaching internationally for many years. Last year TIC helped Sarah to get her first ever job in Cuba, at the International School of Havana, where she currently teaches Science:

“Teaching overseas is a dream lifestyle and Havana is a beautiful and interesting city. My advice for teachers considering working overseas is to check, as much as possible, the background of any school you are considering. Always talk to current members of staff, other than your superiors, before taking a role. All schools have weaknesses, don't be afraid to ask about them. Once the 'honeymoon' phase of working in a new country wears off, you want to make sure that you have a job that you enjoy.

I think the main challenge of overseas teaching is having to adapt to new contexts in both your personal and professional life. It can all be a bit disorientating at first, especially if you have been very comfortable in your previous place. However, I find throwing myself into as many activities and social events as I can, helps me to acclimatise.”

You can read many more teacher experiences and advice here

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