The Hardest Place to be as an International Teacher: In Limbo

Is this the hardest place to be?

My decision to leave my current school was made last year, my ticket was bought two months ago and now I have 5 weeks teaching left to go.

My work is pretty quiet as I am teaching online. Reports done. Assessment done. Planning and slides done.

At home, all my worldly things are mostly sold. Some are hanging on in here waiting for a hot day (we have had very few of these this year), such as the sun lounger, paddling pool and deck chairs. Others have already gone.

I’ve planned my arrival to the UK, booking a hotel and car. I’ve also finished up with admin here and in the UK.

So now it’s a waiting game. It’s quiet.

I really struggle with this time. I have begun to imagine the move, new places, the ability to travel again. The most difficult aspect is definitely the wait!

If this is your first move, do check out my chapters on preparing to move and arrival, there is a lot to think about and some factors are easy to miss.

For all those international teachers currently waiting, I hope the time goes quickly for you. The excitement of a new adventure, at least for my family, has been a long wait.

Legacy #MonthlyWritingChallenge #DiverseEducators

A ripple effect

Forgive me. I haven’t written for a long while.

Taiwan has been hit by Covid with cases now in the tens of thousands, and our lives are changing here rapidly. While we are no longer fearful, the realities in terms of class closures and online learning are difficult for all.

Everything has become quiet. I could not write.

Yet…this morning my energy returned.

Several factors led to this: re-connecting with friends, zoom with colleagues and wise words of a close ally who always raises me up.

So I decided to see this time as a pause, as part of a busy life, a hitch within a long continuum. Reflecting upon and evaluating this challenging time has changed my mindset.

I have thought about legacy and what that means. My first thought was a recent one, I remembered watching my daughter typing a story on her Ipad. I asked her to read her introduction to me. Clearing her throat, she said “…inspired by my great grand-father and my mum, both writers”. I have never considered this to be my legacy, but to her it is.

In a few months I will leave Taiwan. This made me consider, moving on from a school, what legacy do I leave, or take from there? Working internationally I have been lucky to have encountered so many different ways of working and inspiring individuals in education.

But will I leave something behind? I hope I am remembered for always keeping my values central to who I am and ensuring how I work puts the child at the centre.

Then I looked at the image of the ripples in water.

I believe that your legacy is really about what or whom you continue affect in a positive way.

This year and last I felt the ripples from collaborations with others, especially #WomenEd. Through watching and experiencing such amazing support, I have become more aware of the person I want to be to others. Empowering others as my goal. I can not think of any better legacy to leave behind.

Musings from job~seeker

This year I started my job search, for 2022~2023 year.

The last time I was seeking work was 4 years prior and for Asia.

This time round I noticed several changes. In some ways the search is more challenging as European schools are sought after. I feel that either the job search has developed or there a very different requirements for job~seekers looking at continents such as Europe.

For example, for teaching roles, interviews were requested two or more times, sometimes with different or more staff, but sometimes with the same person. The second interview was considered more ‘formal’. At times, the first meeting is described as a pre~interview. I like the idea of a pre~interview, as this is chance to really work out should you want to proceed. You have a chance to meet the head which for me, can greatly sway my interest in a school.

Some other points:

1. I wonder if I have changed since my last job~search. I avoided many schools on offer in Europe, as I knew the ethos and values would not be a good fit for either me or my family.

2. There appears to be a great interest in digital presence and this certainly has helped my applications.

3. Salaries are often not transparent. Some schools were happy to send me the salary after the initial meet, one school waited until just before the third interview.

4. It is really important to find out your schedule. In my book I emphasized talking to a member of staff. However, this may not be enough. For example, I have seen differences in terms of timetables between early years and Primary, something I would never have expected.

5. There seems to be less jobs. This is hiring season for Europe, but when applying for Asia we would be hired in a group. Often in Europe I only see one job or two jobs advertised in one school. It has been more challenging to find both an Early Years and KS2 position. Therefore, it may be wise for teachers took for a city with many schools.

In summary, I feel the interview process requires more from applicants and takes longer. With a series of interviews, the job may not be offered until weeks after the initial pre~meeting. Jobs in Europe are in high demand. To be a strong applicant, you need to stand out, which is likely to include a digital presence.

Teach Early Years: All about transitions

Teach Early Years: the leading Early Years practitioner publication

I have just published in my first #EarlyYears magazine #teachearlyyears. I feel proud to be included in this and have since thought of other great ways to ensure calm #transitions with young children. This year my class are certainly helping me to perfect my skills!

8. As the children sit on the carpet, sing a little song to encourage others, ‘Everybody sit down, sit down, sit down, everybody sit down, just like (name here)’. The children love to hear their name so try to get in a spot. I tell the children to look at the beautiful sitting of (name).

9. Create a instruction sequence for routine tasks which can be shown on one google slide, with numbered steps. Have this available at transition time. When children get stuck, refer to the slide. They may not always hear what you are saying! This advice is directly from the amazing Elkhan Speech and Language accredited course I am currently attending. Apparently, children only hear 9% of what we say, our body language/cues and visual images support their understanding.

#EYFS #transitions #youngchildren #earlyyearsroutines #routines #internationalschools #internationalteaching #internationalteacher #published

#WomenEd Taiwan Face-to-Face Women’s Day Event in Taipei

Women’s Day Event: #BreakTheBias

If you are based in Taipei come join us for an informal get together!

Will will discuss gender biases in educational settings, network with other educators and share your own experiences.

Please register via eventbrite. Following the event we will continue in a coffee shop, for further networking.

#DiverseEducators World Book Day Event 2022

Diverse Educators World Book Day 2022

I thoroughly enjoyed joining the Diverse Educators Book Day Event very early this morning, which supports educators from varied backgrounds. Not many people know that I do not come from a family of educators, or even an upbringing that supported further education. However, my love of learning led me to want to complete an extra A-level in night class, a degree, the PGCE and later a Masters with distinction.

At this event I was fortunate to meet wonderful authors such as Amy Sayar, whose focus is Staff Mental Health; Kulvarn Atwal, who wrote ‘The Thinking School; Rae Snape who created a Head Teacher’s Manual, and Anoara Mughal who writes about Metacognition in Schools.

I was worried I’d feel a certain amount of ‘imposters syndome’, as I had never taken part in such an event. But the sheer down-to-earth warmth from each of these writers had me convinced that I did have a place amongst them. We do have to fight stereotypes and expectations every single day, yet each of these authors, through their determination, networking and finding great supportive publishers, such as John Catt, were published.

An author does not and should not fit a mould. But they should know their subject matter inside and out, they should have lived it, which each and every one of these authors do.

I am so grateful for this opportunity to present at my first authors event. Thank you Hannah Wilson of #Diverse Educators for supporting us.

The youtube link to the event:

Why UK schools should hire international teachers

I wrote this article for Nexus Education after hearing about the difficulties some of my international colleagues, in particular leaders, face when applying to return home to work. I find this a surprising issue as the experiences and training I have received as an #internationalteacher far outweigh those I could access when teaching in the UK.

One specific area where some international schools invest in is #technology. I hope this article raises awareness on just how much of an asset an international teacher or leader would be in a #UKschool. #edutech #teaching #leader

https://nexus-education.com/blog/why-uk-schools-should-hire-international-teachers/

#WomenEd Taiwan CV Clinic – a huge success!

Fantastic, collaboration at #WomenEd TW CV Clinic

We had a really enjoyable CV clinic event today as #WomenEdTw after a minor connection issue, we were online on time.

There were fantastic CV creation takeaways including:
Clear formatting
Making the CV relevant to the job spec
Personalise it to you, including a short profile
Celebrate your accomplishments with positive, action verbs

But more than anything, I learnt the power of collaboration.

When I organised the clinic, I tried to do it all. This afternoon I realised that sharing the slides on my screen and crossing over to CVs on Zoom would be tricky. Therefore I contacted Jaya Hiranandani a fellow leader of #WomenedTw who as always, took the role of hosting and made a good event…fantastic.

Furthermore, Philip Wharton FCCT added brilliant insight as did others at SLT level. Further collaboration took place with Lydia Anne Smith amazing discussion in addition to reviewing CVs.

Finally, we opened the floor to our participants who offered great insight into the struggles we can face searching for international teaching jobs.

It was a joy to run this #event and I look forward to our next face~to~face event in March, for #IWD2022 #WomenEd #strongertogether #heforshe

Here are the youtube links for the CV clinics (Part 1 and 2)

Courage, #WomenEd #MonthlyWritingChallenge

The Lioness – Courageous, a hunter 90% of the time to provide for her family

I have written this blog for two reasons: the first is to introduce the vision for WomenEd Taiwan, an amazing group I have been part of now since August 2021. The second is to hopefully give others the courage to take that first step in believing in themselves and activating their ‘voice’.

When I thought of the word courage, I immediately looked up the image of a lion, not a lioness. I have been following #WomenEd now for a year, but still, my head is embedded with certain images so that I still default to a male. However, it is the lioness that is truly brave and courageous. She is the hunter, seeking food to provide for her family, ninety percent of the time. The lion is the protector, ‘watching out’ for the females.

Yet, I believe courage signifies leaving what you know, into the wild so to speak, to do what is needed for you and your family. Lionesses rear their children in packs and hunt in packs. Their strength comes from supporting one another. Lions hunt solo.

The lioness is strong, courageous and a collaborator, exactly as we are, as females.

WomenEd Taiwan represents these values. Supporting one another to excel is my drive as founder. This is the vision. We support all in education: teaching assistants, specialists, teachers, leaders, and aspiring leaders, and everyone in between. When we have a chance to discuss, collaborate, and share our ideas with experts in the field, we grow and become more confident. Knowledge is key and being informed allows us to be courageous and help others to find their courage.

Many of us are quiet, lack confidence, unsure, and carry ‘imposter syndrome’ when we try anything new. THIS WAS ME. However, I have grown courageous. Through the constant affirmations from others, I have begun to shake off that imposter syndome. I have begun to feel that we do need more female leaders in education and we need to strive to get ourselves there and not just accept the situation to be ‘just what it is’.

Through attending webinars watching and learning from courageous, strong women, I felt strength. I attended Hannah Wilson’s #IamRemarkable workshop (I recommend all of you to attend this) and I saw women who were experiencing bias in the workplace. This workshop gave them the strength to understand that this was not right and they needed to fight for change. This is what I hope, and wish, WomenEd Taiwan will offer those who attend our events. If it helps just one of us, to have a little more courage to become #10%braver, then our goal is achieved.

So, if you feel nervous about attending an event, please don’t. Please be assured the majority of the participants will also feel this way. If you think that WomenEd Taiwan is only for teachers, it is not. It’s for every person in education who identifies as female, as well as #heforshe advocates who could benefit and support what we discuss. Find your courage to come and join us.

We have been finding our way in WomenEd Taiwan, and I’m sorry if perhaps our vision wasn’t clear from the start. We all are volunteers with no prior experience of setting up a grass-roots organisation to help make the world that little bit better. But as we grow, we know what we are. We are non-selective, inclusive, kind, individuals who come together to offer solutions. No problem is too small and we hope to help others in anyway we can.

Upcoming events:

#WomenEd Tw CV clinic, Saturday 19th February 5pm online

Jess Gosling (author), Lydia Ann Smith (Recruitment Consultant) and two Headteachers will join this workshop and clinic, on how to create and develop a strong CV.

#WomenEd Tw #BreaktheBias Face-to-Face meetup Women’s Day event, Saturday 19th March, 2.00pm-4pm, ShiLin

Jess, Jaya and Jessica present a section of videos which show a problem in terms of gender bias. We will discuss as small groups possible solutions for each video, to support one another. There will be an open forum discussion for all interested, to talk through any issues in the workplace. Option to continue discussions in a nearby coffee shop.

Action Research Project featured in Chartered College of Teaching Journal, Impact

It was quite a process, but I was delighted to find my article, co-authored with Gillian Smith, my Assistant Head, published in this issue of the Impact journal. It details our discoveries of our on-going action research project, addressing the needs of young, EAL learners. This article can help those international teachers working in an environment with speakers of other languages, however, as all children are language learners the strategies would support all. I hope you enjoy it!

https://my.chartered.college/impact_article/a-reflection-on-the-value-of-collaborating-with-colleagues-on-pedagogical-approaches-for-supporting-english-language-development-in-a-mandarin-language-context/

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