So for whatever reason you may decide it as time to move on from your current school. This may be due to personal or professional reasons. In this section I ask what should you consider when changing schools/countries and how can you help to ensure that your next move is a successful one?
What to consider moving country
Before a move I weigh up the pros of my current country and school and cons. At times you may not even need to consider this, as when I left Egypt a Revolution was in full force and it was a place I did not feel comfortable anymore. However, my move from Vietnam was far more difficult. I was the happiest I had been in many years. What I did consider though (as I was returning to work also) was:
- The air: in HCMC the level of pollution had increased substantially over the course of 7 years.
- The environment: this was proving less suitable for a young family, there were no playgrounds or outside recreation. The temperature (30 degrees+ for the whole year) meant that outside was somewhere we didn’t want to go much.
- The schools: I did not want to return to my first school for professional reasons after my break and there was a lack of other schools within my preferred area.
- A change: I had itchy feet, I was ready to experience a new culture and country. I found myself becoming more annoyed at experiences within my host country. I did not want to be that expat that complains about their posting!
However, there were many positives from my experience in Vietnam, I had established my own community, creating a close friends group and parents group. I was able to be self-employed and I loved this work. In the end, points 1 and 2 were the most important to encourage my move.
What to consider moving schools
A colleague talked to me recently about this and it helped me reflect. Sometimes we complete our research and create ideals about the ‘new’ school, but the reality may fall flat. For example, international teachers have complained that parents are not what they expected, compared to the UK. They feel they are ‘glorified babysitters’ or ‘staff’. It is true, in different international schools may emphasise pleasing parents, therefore you may be dis-empowered. However, this is certainly not always the case and my more recent workplaces have reflected the latter. However, my colleague described how his international school differed so much from their previous school, this was difficult for them to adjust. In my personal experience, this has happened to me once, when I moved ‘blind’ to a new international school. I did little to research the school, country or staff.
So what advice can I give?
- Research…research…research. Join facebook forums about the country and expat pages. Ask on expat pages specific questions you would like answered. An excellent Facebook group for this is ‘Two fat expats’. You could also post your questions on TES forum about international schools.
- Research the school, type the name in Google and see what comes up.
- Find teachers from the school using a LinkedIn search or website search. Sometimes, posting the school name on Facebook groups such as ‘International School Teachers’ will offer leads, you may be able to PM a teacher.
- Ask the questions to HR and management (if appropriate) should you be offered a role. If you have some really important questions, such as those which relate to your teaching philosophy/beliefs, you could even raise them at interview stage.
- Ask around your current school, does anyone have any contact with teachers at your chosen school, or know any information about that school. Remember many international teachers will have taught in multiple places!
- Finally, try a forum such as International School Review although, do not use this as your only point of reference. Often teachers that have had a bad experience post here, which could be just one singular opinion. Back up these reviews with other methods outlined about.
- Go visit the school!
As a point of reference, for my current move which has been an excellent move, I sent an interested email first to HR. I applied for the job through a TES job advert. I visited the school and met the then Head and Deputy. I asked on an international forum about the school and received a response from the teacher there. I feel all these different methods helped me secure a job I wanted in a school I wanted to work for.