Why We Moved Into International Teaching
There are many reasons why you might be considering moving overseas. For us, it really came down to two points: adventure and finances. Before coming overseas we were both teaching full-time in Alaska. While Alaska has unlimited opportunities for adventure, our financial situation was in the pits. At the time, we had over $110,000 in student debt, were paying over $1,200 a month for daycare, $1,400 a month for our mortgage, and we had a $230 monthly car payment. Never mind all the other day-to-day expenses that were piling up (groceries, gas, heating bills, etc.). While we were making a decent salary in Alaska, we just weren’t able to get ahead.
We knew we needed a change. For a while, we considered moving back to the lower 48 to teach, but it seemed like no matter where we looked school districts were facing budget cuts, pension shortfalls, and teacher layoffs. That is when international teaching really percolated to the top of our list of options. With our travel experiences back in college and Kelly’s Peace Corps Service, we knew how immersing yourself in another culture broadens your worldview and helps define your own cultural identity. We wanted to provide similar opportunities for our children, and three years later we signed our first international school contracts with the American International School Chennai, India. By the end of our first year we had completely paid off our college debt, our kids have embraced the Tamil culture, and the adventure continues to be amazing!
From our exhaustive internet searches, we’ve pulled together a list of resources that should help you start your journey into international teaching.
5 Resources to Help You Become an International Teacher
- US Department of State Office of Overseas Schools (USDS): The USDS, not to be mistaken for The Department of Defense, provides direct and indirect support to almost 200 accredited international schools in order for them to promote an American-style education. We’ve found that the USDS schools tend to associate with the largest international schools in each country, and offer the strongest employment packages. The USDS page provides each school’s website, organizational information, school curriculum details, faculty and campus facility details, enrollment numbers, and tuition rates. The USDS site is one of our first stops when we want to learn more about a specific American international school, or find a list of the American schools (supported by the USDS) in a particular country. Schools are grouped by regions: Africa, East Asia & Pacific, Europe, Near East and South Asia, and the Western Hemisphere.
- International School Review (ISR): ISR is a site you need to spend time on if you are interested in teaching overseas. ISR is a huge database of information related to international teaching. The ISR site includes school and administrator reviews, an open forum (free), members forum ($29 annually), blogs and articles, and scam alerts. The ISR blog and article posts are a great place to get started. Some of the article and blog topics include: recruiting information, teaching related articles, families overseas, moving & living overseas, and cultural issues.
- TIE Online (TIE): TIE is a non-profit organization. Their website has many features including a subscription based ($39 – $59, annually) new job vacancies page, a place for you to post your resume, The International Educator newspaper (5 issues per year), a blog, and more. I know many teachers who continue paying the annual fee just keep an eye on openings. The International Educator newspaper is filled with the latest happenings from schools all over the world. The blog is continuously updated by a large number of contributors from within the overseas teaching community. A good place to get started is their International Job Guide (free).
- Search Associates (Search): Search is a well established recruiting agency based in the US that works toward helping teachers and administrators connect with, and find jobs at, international schools. Search hosts numerous job fairs across many countries and has a large database of available jobs. Search chargers $225 for 3 years of access to their jobs database or until you sign a contract with an international school, whichever comes first, and free entrance into one of their job fairs.
- International School Services (ISS): ISS is another popular US based recruiting agency, which provides a job database, professional learning opportunities, job fairs, and more. ISS memberships costs $195 and are valid for two years or until you find a job overseas, whichever comes first.
10 International School Websites
If you are considering moving into international education, you will want to spend time on a variety of school websites. In addition to employment information, we always look for a school’s mission, core values, accreditation, academics, and community/student life information.
Here are links to 10 international schools from different regions around the world. Notice if the website has a good flow. Is information easy to find? Based on what you see, is this a school where you would want to work?
- American Embassy School (New Delhi, India)
- American International School Chennai (Chennai, India)
- American School of Dubai (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
- American School of Paris (Paris, France)
- International School of Bangkok (Bangkok, Thailand)
- Jakarta Intercultural School (Jakarta, Indonesia)
- Shanghai American School (Shanghai, China)
- Singapore American School (Republic of Singapore)
- Taipei American School (Taipei, Taiwan)
- The American School in Japan (Tokyo, Japan)