Top 10 qualities international schools look for when hiring teachers

Do you have what it takes to get an exciting international school job?

All international schools want to hire qualified teachers who are fluent English speakers. But what other qualities do they look for? Here are the top 10 most popular qualities schools look for in new recruits. Do you fit the bill?

1. Enthusiastic teachers who love working with young people.

Nothing compares with your passion for learning and teaching. So if you’re enthusiastic and committed to meeting the learning needs of each and every student, you’re half way there.

2. Responsible teachers who do their research.

Finding the right school is important, for both you and the school. Show that you’ve done your research; that you know something about the school and can explain why you want to work there.  Demonstrate that you’ve thought seriously about the location, how you’ll respond to the move, and how you’ll cope with leaving home. Be prepared to explain why you want to move abroad.

3. Teachers who are internationally minded.

You may be choosing to live and work in a location and culture very different to that of your home country. You will be working with students and families from many different countries and backgrounds, and with teachers, leaders and support staff who have very different training and experience to what you may be used to. You must show that you’re willing to accept and value differences, to respect the country you are living and working in, and to be truly internationally minded, in and out of work.

4. Flexible teachers who are able to adapt.

International schools are very different to state schools; in curriculum, philosophy, approaches to teaching and learning, commitment to extra-curricular activities, and more. They want teachers who are willing to be flexible, to adapt, and to accept new and different ways.

5. Teachers who have much to offer.

If you can teach a range of subjects or age groups, and have specialist skills (such as experience of teaching an IB programme), you’ll stand out from the crowd and be a real asset.

6. Teachers who want to be fully involved in the life of the school.

International schools are more than just places of education. Many students, parents and staff are expatriates and turn to the school as their ‘family’. It is the social hub and the source for many community activities for students, staff and their families. So schools will be looking for teachers who are sociable and community-spirited.

7. Teachers who can lead extra-curricular activities.

Most after-school activities for international school children happen within the school environment. This means that extra-curricular activities are an important aspect of international school life. Being able and willing to lead or support an extra-curricular activity is expected of international school teachers. It shows you have true commitment to the school and, more importantly, to the children beyond the classroom.

8. Teachers who are committed.

International schools are renowned for their short-term contracts, meaning that teachers can often move on to another school in another country after two years. However, international schools also value loyalty and often look for teachers who have commitment and staying power; who value being an established part of the teaching staff.

9. Teachers who can work with second or other language learners.

Many students at international schools speak English as a second or other language. This will mean that you’ll need to be able to adapt your teaching methods to help these students fully engage in the learning. Teachers who have ESOL (English as a second or other language) or Mother Tongue training, or good experience of this are valued.

10. Teachers who are independent.

You will be a long way from home and your extended family and friends. If this is your first time working overseas, show that you have considered the implications of this.

You don’t need all of the above qualities to become a teacher at an international school, but having some of them will help. To find out more about the qualities that count, read Janet Berg’s story in this issue of the TIC Newsletter. Janet is a teacher from the UK currently working in Qatar.

You can read more great advice from teachers working overseas in our Teacher Interviews and Blogs.

Want to share this content?