Now not forgetting there are downsides to international teaching, for most people this involves the distance from family, friends which leave, a culture which may prove challenging at times and lack of ‘home’ comforts, these are somewhat outweighed but what I feel, the massive benefits of international teaching. So if you are one the fence, read on 🙂
- Different schools, different styles of teaching and learning plus diversity in the students and school ethos. This sentence encapsulates quite a lot, but my experience within different schools, curriculum and expectations has expanded my own knowledge of teaching styles through expectations within the school but predominately with my observations of others. Working with children from cultures other than my own has helped develop my own global mindset. Further, through experiencing work within several international schools I am realising what my own ethos is both when teaching and within a school itself. I feel with each international move I become more savvy in finding a school which I fit.
- Friendships. Yes you do leave friends and family at home. Yes that is hard. But, I have found becoming an expat incredibly freeing as when you meet other expats there is an instant bond. Sure, you do not connect with everyone but sincerely, everyone looks out for one another. Friendships are often formed quickly and become close even quicker, much quicker than in home countries. This is because you become one another’s family away from home. And these folk understand you! The downside can be when you return ‘home’ and you feel so different to other’s at home.
- Opportunities. For some whom wish to climb the ladder, there seems to be in many international schools roles available in which would not be available in the home country. For example, early in my career (after 3 years of teaching) I was asked whether I could co-ordinate the whole of Early Years (16 classes). After 4 years of teaching, I headed up a year group. There are also roles within school you can become involved with, such as training others, due to the lack of availability of trainers within the given country. Further, outside of school, there are opportunities you may not experience within your own country. In my first placement I volunteered at a local orphanage for example. In a paid capacity, I set up my own business in Vietnam, again something in which would not have been as easy to do or popular within my home country. I saw an opportunity and grabbed it!
- Pay and benefits. Most good international schools offer – full health insurance, return flights to home country every year (and if you have a family, for them also), bonus payment of one month, fully paid housing or a contribution towards this plus a salary which can match or exceed home country, which can be tax free. With all of this taken into account, saving potential is excellent. This affords holidays and also trips home, where you can live like a tourist!
- Work/life balance. I feel since working internationally I have managed a work/life balance. Thankfully, the schools I have worked in have valued teaching over paperwork, which has immensely improved my job satisfaction. The majority of my work is teaching and interacting with children, which I love to do.
- Behaviour. In my experience, I have found the ethos of the children I have worked with so far (Japan, Egypt, Vietnam and Taiwan) have been more respectful to teachers than the UK, therefore I have been able to teach after a very short ‘settling period’. This again is immensely rewarding.