4 questions to help decide whether teaching abroad is for you
Every year, thousands of people bid adieu to Britain to start a new life abroad. Teaching in a foreign country is a great chance to broaden your horizons, sample a new culture, potentially enjoy better pay and a more manageable workload, and be part of an education system completely different to what you’re used to back at home.
Whether you’ve recently graduated uni or feel stuck in a job rut, joining an international school may very well be the refreshing career change you need. That said, it’s not for everyone so make sure you look at expert advice to find exactly the right fit for you.
Have you considered quitting teaching, but love the work?
Unfortunately, mounting work pressures have forced many UK-based teachers out of the profession. If this is a dilemma you can relate to, but you want to do nothing else than to work with kids, moving abroad could hold the key to staying in a career you love.
What’s important is to pinpoint the factors forcing you to consider quitting your job. If it’s a lack of work-life balance, for instance, then make sure your country of choice is somewhere that prioritises helping teachers strike that golden balance.
Do you feel challenged in your current role?
By ‘challenged,’ we don’t mean being swamped with marking and being forced to work evenings and weekends. We mean being offered continuous training and development opportunities by your school, and constantly being pushed (in a positive way) to help you improve as an educator.
Professional development is a priority for many teachers. You might be in your comfort zone at school, but nothing ever grows in comfort zones. On the contrary, an international school – where everything from teaching style to the curriculum and working hours will be different – can offer an environment that’s challenging and rewarding in equal measures.
Do you have enough qualifications and experience?
This sounds like an obvious one, but qualification requirements vary between international schools and between countries. Just because you have the necessary skills and qualifications here in the UK, doesn’t mean you’ll always meet the criteria in other countries. The best thing to do is search the eTeach International jobs board and look at requirements for schools in countries you could see yourself living.
Similarly, many international schools – particularly the more reputable ones – require teachers to have several years of classroom experience. So if you’ve just started teaching, it might be worth building your experience before packing your suitcases.
What commitments do you have?
If you don’t have many commitments – i.e. you don’t have a family or mortgage – you’re in a great position to move abroad, as the process should be a lot easier (or at least, involve less steps). On the other hand, families with children can really benefit as British International schools typically include a independent place for your children in the contract.
Having lots of commitments just requires a little more thought and planning – for instance, you may wish to rent out your home, sell your car and arrange shipping of your belongings. Then there’s the small matter of making sure everyone joining you for your new adventure, actually wants to. It sounds scary, because it is! You need to be 110% it’s the right choice for you and your family – but if it is and you make the move, it could turn out to be the best decision you’ve ever made.