What’s it like to teach at an international school?

Published on 23rd January, 2017 by Anne Keeling. Published in For Candidates / TIC News

First impressions from teachers after one term

TIC Recruitment helps many, many teachers find jobs in international schools and we keep in touch with as many as we can, especially during their first year. Here’s some of the feedback we received in December from teachers who are new to international teaching jobs – sharing their first impressions after completing their first term:

I’d urge anyone to try it!

Tom Scott is teaching at the British School Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi: “I've settled in properly now, taken a little while to get my head around the new culture and country but it is excellent. The school is brilliant; the kids are so eager to learn and switched on it's been great keeping up with them and challenging their thirst for knowledge. I'm teaching Y7 through to Y13 History, so there's never a dull moment.

Abu Dhabi is great too. It's a crazy mix of so many different cultures and nationalities with these amazing beaches and weather that you sometimes forget about. And then you'll be driving to work, early in the morning and catch a glimpse of the desert sunrise and think, yep, things are pretty good! I'd urge anyone who is even a little interested in teaching in the Middle East to try it, don't be put off by any stories you may have heard. And also teaching abroad is a fantastic experience in general, it's already helped me grow so much as a teacher in such a short space of time that staying in your normal context back in the UK just doesn't.”

Having a great time in Beijing!

Adam Wunker is teaching at Harrow International School in Beijing: “I’m having a great time in Beijing. Harrow is a busy, busy place with a lot of things going on all the time; the work is intense. It's great being at a school that is constantly evolving and improving. It's in a great city with an excellent transit system, and tons to do; from visiting historical sites such as the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the Summer Palace, to shopping, art and great food.

It has been a shock learning to function while being functionally illiterate, but it is a good reminder that education is not a right enjoyed equally by all people around the world.”

The best experience of my life!

Jason McAllister is also teaching at Harrow International School in Beijing: “Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to work at Harrow international school Beijing! So far, it has by far been the best experience of my life!! I adore the culture, the school and have made many friends here! Work is challenging to say the least but really, I can't say enough good things and I can't tell you how happy I am I made the decision to come! I love the fact I have been given a great opportunity and I am working really hard at making a success of it!

I took it upon myself to move out to a new apartment and I am really enjoying my new surroundings! It took me about two months to get over jet lag.

The TIC team were amazing and the efficiency of your business was the most proactive and considerate of any agency I have used! You will be pleased to know I have recommended you to lots of my friends on the international circuit back home and here! All the TIC staff helped me so much and I really do appreciate it.”

Living in Budapest is a dream

Les Hammel is teaching at the British International School of Budapest: “I teach Year 6 and enjoy a lovely class of nineteen international students and I am lucky to have a full-time learning assistant to support me in the classroom.

Living in Budapest is a dream. The city is easy to navigate by foot, bike and a fabulous public transport system. Budapest has everything from great museums, music, food and a variety of exhibitions. All levels of accommodation are available to suit your budget. I live next to Margit Hid and the Parliament Building, which is close to the Danube River. My commute to work is 15 minutes by bike or 20 minutes by tram. Hungary is an easy place to live and offers many travel opportunities within the area and the surrounding countries.”

It is very easy to fit in here, people are very kind

Ellanna Hackett is now teaching at LIWA International School in Al Ain: “Things have been so busy since arriving!  I have settled in very well to Al Ain and the school. I am currently teaching mainly History with some social studies. It is interesting teaching in a school where there are very few western teachers, however the staff are very helpful and supportive.

There is a wide community of Irish and British teachers and engineers in Al Ain. Al Ain GAA (Gaelic football and other games club) is where most of my socialising is done. We meet twice a week for practice and then each month there is different tournaments that all the GAA clubs in the Middle East gather together. It is brilliant fun! Al Ain also has many hotels for western people. All of these have bars and do brunches every Friday which is another good social network.

It is very easy to fit in here, people are very kind. It is not too hard to get used to the different culture as long as you are aware and respectful of their own culture. Other than that people should not be worried about moving overseas.”

My students are bright and eager to learn

Nelson Urrego is teaching at The European School Azerbaijan: “I'm having a great time in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.  The city is gorgeous, combining an interesting balance between eastern and western architecture. You can enjoy delicious local food and impressive views of the city.

My students are bright, welcoming and eager to learn and getting involved into the benefits of international education.”

I couldn’t have wished for better

Nichola Williams is now teaching at the British School Warsaw: “Things have been pretty manic with work and general settling into my new life in Warsaw. The city on the whole is great. Lots to see and do.  I am now a lot more active than I was back home.  There are lots of parks and cycle paths, so after 15 years I am back on two wheels!

For my first international school, I could not have wished for better.  The school is very supportive and I feel very lucky to be teaching here.”

If you would like to be like Nelson, Nichola, Tom or any of these and many other teachers, then now is the time to take action. International schools are interviewing throughout January, February and March (and a few later into the year). For the very best selection of international school job opportunities for this coming September, now is the time to register. TIC Recruitment provides a completely free service for qualified teachers. We are here to give you all the support you need to find the right international school teaching job for you. Register today and we will be in touch to help you.

You might also be interested in these informative articles:
Tips for writing an international CV – the top ten checklist
Why do teachers want to teach overseas?
What teachers liked about TIC’s International Teaching Careers Day

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Anne Keeling

Anne handles the media relations for TIC. She researches and writes the articles that appear in the press and on websites about how TIC is supporting teachers and the international schools, and how teachers who have been placed by TIC are getting on with their international teaching experience. She has spent over 25 years in media relations.