International Schools Review
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Where was your first IS job?

Where was your first IS job?

Postby FV2020 » Sun Oct 28, 2018 11:22 am

Hi everyone,

I am interested to know where people were hired for their first international school job. It seems like a bit of a catch-22 because all the schools want teachers who already have international experience, so where do you get your foot in the door?

My partner and I (no kids) are applying to international schools, but we have only worked in the U.S. We have significant travel experience (25+ foreign countries) including a fellowship where we studied in Asia. We are experienced teachers (9 years in the classroom), certified, and have Master's degrees. We teach/have taught English, History, Special Education, and Film. We have spent a lot of time researching, and are very interested in posted positions in South Korea, Romania, and Singapore. Has anyone here been hired in one of those places without international school experience?

Thanks so much!
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Re: Where was your first IS job?

Postby shadylane » Sun Oct 28, 2018 3:11 pm

To use the expression often used on the TES forums by a certain aquatic muddy creature currently residing in SE Europe, I chewed the fat.
While chewing the fat itself isn't to be recommended, I have quite a few ex-colleagues from that time now at IASAS or similar schools around the world. So it worked for them as an initial stepping stone.
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Re: Where was your first IS job?

Postby FV2020 » Sun Oct 28, 2018 3:23 pm

shadylane wrote:
> To use the expression often used on the TES forums by a certain aquatic
> muddy creature currently residing in SE Europe, I chewed the fat.
> While chewing the fat itself isn't to be recommended, I have quite a few
> ex-colleagues from that time now at IASAS or similar schools around the
> world. So it worked for them as an initial stepping stone.

Thank you for the response, shadylane. I'm not really sure what you mean; I'm familiar with the phrase "chewing the fat" meaning to have a conversation. Could you clarify how that is a stepping stone? You mention you have colleagues "from that time;" where was your first job? Thanks!
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Re: Where was your first IS job?

Postby mignash » Sun Oct 28, 2018 4:19 pm

Making that first international move can be challenging. What fairs are you attending or companies are you registered with? 9 years of experience can be beneficial, but many teachers making the move to IT start out at a school that is not their dream school. Started in Thailand for my first school and gained a foothold in the international market, have since moved onto an absolutely wonderful school. Be open to locations that you maybe didn't consider before. Singapore has some wonderful schools, but the cost of living is rather high for Asia. Your hiring also depends on the school needs that year, some are better than others.
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Re: Where was your first IS job?

Postby FV2020 » Sun Oct 28, 2018 4:28 pm

mignash wrote:
> Making that first international move can be challenging. What fairs are
> you attending or companies are you registered with? 9 years of experience
> can be beneficial, but many teachers making the move to IT start out at a
> school that is not their dream school. Started in Thailand for my first
> school and gained a foothold in the international market, have since moved
> onto an absolutely wonderful school. Be open to locations that you maybe
> didn't consider before. Singapore has some wonderful schools, but the cost
> of living is rather high for Asia. Your hiring also depends on the school
> needs that year, some are better than others.

Hi Migansh! We are using Search Associates, and are hoping to attend their job fairs. I think Thailand or Vietnam would be very cool! I think most of all, we just want a supportive school environment where we are trusted as professionals.
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Re: Where was your first IS job?

Postby elizamina » Mon Oct 29, 2018 8:39 am

We started off at a school know for its quality internationally (though that is debatable), in a Chinese city we weren't suited for. We got our two years of experience though and took advantage of some amazing travel opportunities, as well as expanding our family, so it wasn't all bad. Just wasn't a place we wanted to stay for more than two years.
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Re: Where was your first IS job?

Postby shadylane » Mon Oct 29, 2018 12:18 pm

> Thank you for the response, shadylane. I'm not really sure what you mean; I'm
> familiar with the phrase "chewing the fat" meaning to have a conversation.
> Could you clarify how that is a stepping stone? You mention you have colleagues
> "from that time;" where was your first job? Thanks!

You're not allowed to mention schools on the public forum - so you have to hint. A practise well established on the TES forums. Elizamena has just mentioned one chain of schools too! Think of it a bit like a cryptic crossword puzzle, and you should work it out. :-)
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Re: Where was your first IS job?

Postby FV2020 » Mon Oct 29, 2018 6:56 pm

shadylane wrote:
> You're not allowed to mention schools on the public forum - so you have to hint. A
> practise well established on the TES forums. Elizamena has just mentioned one chain
> of schools too! Think of it a bit like a cryptic crossword puzzle, and you should
> work it out. :-)

This is really stumping me. I caught Elizamena's reference, but I'm still lost on "chewing the fat." Maybe if I knew some crawfish or oysters who could tell me the answer I would be better off. I'm not from Texas, but, you know, Shadylane, "Texas Never Whispers" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WOIgI__968
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Re: Where was your first IS job?

Postby expatscot » Tue Oct 30, 2018 3:49 am

I think shadylane is referring to a group of schools in the Middle East with branches in Lebanon, UAE and Egypt (can't say any more....)

Essentially, you're unlikely to be able to jump from a domestic school to the very top flight international schools (though it does happen.) You are also looking at very specific locations, and certainly in the case of Singapore very competitive locations, and I think that this might be part of your problem.

If you like Singapore and South Korea, could you branch out a bit and consider, say, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia or China? All these have schools on a lower tier which will be more likely to take on teachers without international experience. Depending on your personal position, the Middle East could be an option, certainly Egypt for at least your first couple of years. The main thing, frankly, is getting the experience - once you've done your first two years, then it's much easier to move on with that under your belt. I knew pretty quickly that I wasn't going to stay at my first school, but got stuck in as best I could and was able to move on with the experience that gave me.
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Re: Where was your first IS job?

Postby wrldtrvlr123 » Wed Oct 31, 2018 3:43 pm

We went to a job fair in Toronto (had no idea at the time that it wasn't considered one of the better ones). The only real interest we had was from schools in Kuwait, which had zero appeal for us. We eventually talked our way into interviews with some decent to good schools in Germany, Thailand etc. but the only offer came from a small school in Egypt.

The school or the country hadn't really been on our radar at all but we quickly adjusted to the idea and took the job. It turned out fine and set us on the road. After several more schools and countries (and a two year stint in between back in the US when no appealing jobs were on offer) we ended up with our dream gigs/location.

If you widen your horizons enough and decide what you can and can't live with, it will happen for you.
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Re: Where was your first IS job?

Postby MartElla » Mon Nov 12, 2018 11:37 am

It's all about getting your foot in the door and getting those years of IB or AP experience or whatever. I got my first job through an ad on TIEOnline as I hadn't heard of ISS/Search then. It was not only in a country that I hadn't considered initially, but even in a continent I hadn't considered!

Keep your horizons broad and wait until offers come your way before deciding whether or not they work for you.
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Re: Where was your first IS job?

Postby Thames Pirate » Tue Nov 20, 2018 3:26 am

We started off at a Tier 2 in WE. Loved the city, loved parts of the job, hated other parts of it. Got the initial interview during the London fair, follow ups and a quick hire after the fair. Ended up only staying one year for a range of reasons, but it was IB experience, an international stepping stone, and ultimately helped us land our current jobs. After our year there, we were back home for a few years (some of it teaching, some of it not) before going to our next fair and landing at a Tier 1 in WE.
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Re: Where was your first IS job?

Postby monkeycat » Wed Nov 21, 2018 12:33 am

I got hired for my first job super last minute - the AP teacher at the school had quit over the summer in a fit of rage, and the college counselor was a former co-worker of mine who got in touch. So it definitely helps to have contacts.

My current job is at an IS in China that's only been open four years. We were here from the very start. Working at a brand new school is certainly an experience, with everyone flying by the seat of their pants. It's definitely a bit of a gamble, applying to teach at a school with no reviews. We learned a lot but definitely ready to move on at this point.
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Re: Where was your first IS job?

Postby shadowjack » Wed Nov 21, 2018 12:43 pm

Kuwait. Go there. There's shedloads of jobs. Bargepole loads. Only a few Land Rover loads though...
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Re: Where was your first IS job?

Postby Frenchie » Sun Jan 20, 2019 3:25 pm

I actually got my first IT job on my own in France. It wasn't the greatest, but we were a family of 4 and it came with housing. It got me to France. Subsequently, I substituted and was able to get a job at an IS in Paris as a first-grade teacher that is not on the lists here. Hey, that's ok, it was a great experience, loved the students and for the most part the school. I had it a bit easier as I have an EU passport. This time, I am using Search and will attend the fair next week so will see how it goes. I do think using a company is easier for keeping all your documents in one place as you do not have to request references each time. However, sometimes you go out of the realm and do some searching on your own as well.

Good luck.
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