Recognising culture shock for what it is and acknowledging which stage you’re in is the first step to lessening the grip it has on you.
For example, if you suddenly feel like you hate your new teaching job because of how hard it is to make the purchasing department understand what it is you’re trying to order, recognising that this as an effect of culture shock can help you adjust your behaviour and let it go before it cripples you.
When you first get to your new home you’ll feel happy to be there and everything you see or experience will be wonderful and new. This is the ‘honeymoon’ stage of culture shock and it feels great! It can last from several days to several months. This is the time where you’ll be sending loads of emails to your friend using words and phrases like ‘awesome’, ‘best decision I’ve ever made’, ‘don’t know why I didn’t do this years ago’.
Recognise this stage of culture shock and enjoy it.
Next comes the period of frustration, full of situations like the first example above. When you sink into this part of the cycle you’ll begin to dislike everything about your new home. It’ll be too hard, too smelly, too hot, too loud, and everything else ‘too’!
This is also when homesickness could strike you with a vengeance. You may find yourself developing a hostile attitude towards every one not of your own nationality and culture. Your old home will suddenly seem like the best place in the world and you may regret ever leaving it.
Strategies to cope with the stress of culture shock
1. Learn some of the local language before you leave home. You’ve signed a contract that means you’re going to be living in your host country for 1-2 years, learning the language will help you get around and make friends. Some great ways to learn the local language while you’re still at home…
2. Take time to get used to the new time zone, the different weather and smells, sounds etc.
3. Begin building friendships as soon as you arrive and meet the other new teachers. You’ll form a bond with these teachers in the first year especially because they’ll be coping with culture shock as well. This will be your support group.
4. Stay in touch with people you’ve left at home. In my most recent move I found the best medicine for the frustration phase was an email from my old colleagues telling me how unsatisfied they were at my previous school.
5. Cut yourself some slack. When you recognise the symptoms of culture shock, give yourself a break, watch a favourite movie, look at pictures from home, have a meal at your favourite restaurant. Revel in the great things you’re experiencing in your new home so that you can put your frustration in perspective.
Recognising culture shock when you're teaching overseas
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Recognising culture shock for what it is and acknowledging which stage you’re in is the first step to lessening the grip it has on you.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Culture shock is the term used to describe how people feel when they are exposed to an unfamiliar culture or way of life, and the feeling of disorientation and separateness they experience. It’s a condition that every teacher working overseas feels in varying degrees, whether they’re new to teaching abroad or old hands at it.
Luckily culture shock follows a fairly predictable cycle and there are a number of ways you can prepare for it and lessen the impact of it once you’ve made the move overseas.
Unfortunately, when describing culture shock, it comes across as a negative thing to be avoided at all costs, and I’ve just told you it’s inevitable for anyone wanting to teach abroad. It’s important for you to remember that teaching overseas is an opportunity to explore other cultures and enjoy a better teaching environment. Yes, you will experience culture shock, but you can manage this and it’s not all bad!
Factors that can contribute to culture shock are :
* People speaking a different language, dialect or with an unfamiliar accent.
* Dealing with a different currnecy, money that is a different colour, feel and value. Keeping track of exchange rates can become a tiresome chore when living abroad, so once you’ve received your first paycheck, don’t bother. Earn local, spend local!
* People behaving in unfamiliar ways, even local customs can vary from one end of a country to another.
* Spicy and/or unfamiliar food. You may need to substitute ‘like’ ingredients in your favourite recipes too.
* People staring at you, if you are in a country where your skin colour or facial features stand out as being different, this will happen.
On top of this you’ll be the new teacher in school, so the procedures and policies will be different to what you’re used to at home.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
When you're applying for a teaching job abroad, you have to have a killer application pack to sell yourself to the international school recruiter as being the best possible choice to fill the post they've got.
A big part of your teaching application pack is your referees and recommendation letters.
Some experts on resumes recommend that you do not include referees in your resume. I disagree and have never followed this advice. I always line up my referees prior to sending out my resume and get their permission to include their contact details at the bottom.
Why do I flout the advice of the experts? I don't think a recruiter who has over 100 resumes to read is at all interested in contacting me again in order to get the contact details of my referees.
My intention is that my resume will interest them to the point of wanting to know more about me... and that they should be able to do so easily and with the least amount of effort on their part. And so I provide the contact details of my referees at the bottom of my resume.
You should identify and include three referees. Not all recruiters will require three referees, but I have run across a number of recruitment services and international schools that do, so be prepared with three.
One of your referees must be your current or most recent head teacher/principal. The recruitment services that run the international teaching job fairs require one of your referees to be your current head teacher/principal. The other two could be any person that has a professional relationship with you.
Once you've identified who you wish to be your referees, you will need to approach them and ask their permission.
At this point you can also request that they write a recommendation letter for you too. Recommendation letters are like a window into your life for the recruiters. Through what your colleagues write about you the recruiter can get to know you a little.
The recommendations you get from your colleagues are pivotal. They must be of excellent quality and really show off your good points.
I've got some awesome recommendation letters by giving my referees a writing frame to help them. They appreciated the structure and I got great letters, a win-win situation.
Check out these recommendation letter writing frames...
Posted by Kelly Blackwell at 1:13 AM
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Information for NZ, Australia, the UK and the USA
In NZ you can get a copy of your Criminal Record from the Ministry of Justice by contacting the Privacy Unit of the Ministry of Justice in Wellington.
In the USA you can get a ‘Criminal Record Check’ from the local police. This will only cover the state in which you live, so if you’ve lived in a number of different states in recent time, then you should apply to the local police in those states as well.
In the UK you can apply for a ‘Subject Access – Conviction History,” which is a record of any convictions you have, from your local police station. This is the document that you can obtain yourself under the privacy laws. Your other option, if you are currently employed, is to ask your employer to request a Criminal Records Bureau check, which involves a more rigorous search of your record.
In Australia the Australian Federal Police in Canberra can issue a ‘National Police Clearance Certificate’ which covers all states and territories except Queensland. If you live in Queensland you’ll need to contact the Queensland Police Service directly.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Make sure that your teaching career isn’t brought to an abrupt end because you’re unable to prove you haven’t got any convictions that would make you a danger to children. Here’s why you MUST get a police clearance certificate when you teach abroad…
Police clearance certificates are as important to international teachers as their passports. Why? Without a police clearance certificate many countries will not allow teachers to work with children.
The clearance certificate goes by many different names; what you’re looking for is an official document that records any convictions on your criminal record. Regardless of whether you have any convictions or not, you will be required to produce official evidence that your record is clear.
If you record is not clear you may still be able to teach abroad, but you will need to find out which countries will grant you a work permit with the convictions you have.
More rigorous background checks for foreign teachers applying to work in Thailand have been put in place because of a recent high profile arrest of an American teacher by American immigration officers in August 2006. The teacher was taken back to the States for questioning in a murder investigation.
Once you’ve obtained your police clearance certificate, take it with you when you move overseas. It’s one of those important documents you should always be able to lay your hands on. A clearance certificate is one of my top 10 things to take when moving abroad. You’ll need to have the original with you; it’s not one of the documents you can carry in digital format.
When you are nearing the end of you first overseas teaching contract start making enquiries about what you need to do to obtain a clearance certificate from the police in the country you’ve been teaching in. This is important! When you’re teaching abroad it’s important you maintain an unbroken chain of police clearance certificates or the equivalent.
Should you eventually desire to return home and pick up your teaching career there, you’ll need to supply the clearance certificates you’ve collected whilst working abroad. A consequence of not being able to produce a record of your conviction history could be that you’re unable to continue working in the education industry as a teacher when you return home.
Teaching Overseas and Police Clearance Certificates
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Your application pack is the first opportunity you'll get to 'wow' an international school recruiter. And your teaching resume is a pivotal part of your application pack.
If your resume is not flawless, it's going to get thrown into the trash can along with an estimated 95% of resumes received by recruiters. You cannot afford to have any grammar or spelling mistakes in your resume because the recruiter is unlikely to bother reading past the first one s/he notices.
The job market for overseas teaching positions is a competitive one, but there are strategies you can use to ensure that you get your dream job abroad. One strategy is to put together a killer application pack and send it along with a personalised cover letter to each recruiter you wish to build a relationship with.
A teaching resume aimed at international school recruiters should emphasise your experience in working with multi-cultural and multi-lingual groups, your recent professional development and how you've enhanced your current school whilst you've been working there.
Because all international teachers suffer culture shock, recruiters aren't just looking at a teacher, they're interested in the whole person. Include a brief list of your personal interests in your resume. In every interview I've had with an international school recruiter, I've been asked about my interests and how I'll pursue them abroad.
You can either prepare your resume yourself or have it written for you by a professional service. Either way, you need to get it proof-read before you send it out to recruiters, even if it's been written by a professional.
Do as I do, get your teaching resume professionally proof-read for FREE! ProfessionalResumes.com call it a free resume critique, but it works just like getting someone to proof-read it for you.
Don't send your resume out with mistakes that will guarantee it gets thrown away! It takes no effort at all to get it checked, and the payoff for sending out a well-crafted resume in a targeted application pack is... a lucrative, stress-free teaching job overseas!!!
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Teaching at an international school is an opportunity to put your qualifications to great use.
You’ll be able to support yourself, often having more left over at the end of the month than you would at home, and travel extensively to exotic destinations you’ve only ever dreamed about.
And guess what?
Internationals school principals have been discussing an expected shortage of international teachers!
That’s right, with the sudden explosion in the number of schools opening for business in the last couple of years there’s been an equal explosion in the number of positions recruiters need to fill…
...but as yet there hasn’t been the required increase in teachers applying.
Teacher Shortage = Opportunities for YOU
Teaching Vacancies Overseas
Monday, May 14, 2007
Yes you can!
You may have some trouble finding a job if you’re a single parent with more than a couple of children, or something similar, simply because the recruiters know you probably won’t be able to manage financially on a single teacher’s salary and allowances.
Contracts for overseas hired teachers often include such perks as free tuition for your children (often limited to two, but not always), so you’ll get a private education for your children too.
The best thing to do is hear about the experiences of other international school teachers...
This all depends on what kind of credentials and experience you already have.
If you don’t already have some kind of teaching qualification, then you probably don’t have any other option, if you want to teach in an international school. With a TEFL certificate you can teach the English as a Second Language classes that are offered at most schools catering to expatriate children.
Based on my experience doing both, teaching EFL or ESL at an international school is preferable to teaching at a private language school. So plan your job-hunt accordingly.
You may also want to consider getting a TEFL certificate if your teaching experience is all in mono-lingual and mono-cultural situations. In this case getting a TEFL qualification to add to your current credentials will only improve your chances. It will show recruiters that you are prepared for the issues you’ll encounter in your multi-cultural classes abroad.
You can complete a TEFL certificate in 40 hours of study and without ever having to leave the comfort of your own home! Or you can go to a far off location and combine getting the qualification with a holiday abroad.
Do I need a TEFL certificate to teach overseas?
Saturday, May 12, 2007
3. Can I get a special ed teaching job overseas?
There is currently a huge demand for qualified special education teachers in international schools. So yes! Just this January a (special ed) colleague of mine went to an international teaching job fair and the schools were lining up to employ her... But she could only fill one of the many positions she was offered.
To find which schools are looking for special education teachers, you need to either register with one of the recruitment fair organisers, or individually search for international schools and then find their vacancy pages.
I've done that job for you, as a FREE Gift with The Complete Guide to Securing a Job at an International School you'll receive access to the links I've collected to over 100 schools vacancy pages. And the collection is growing...
Teaching Special Education Overseas
Thursday, May 10, 2007
2. Will I make enough money teaching overseas to live on? What if the cost of living is high?
These are all legitimate questions about moving your teaching career abroad, and you should seek to answer them before you make any life-changing decisions. I get asked these questions all the time, here's my answer...
Exactly how much money is enough? This is a hard one to answer because we all have different opinions on how much is enough, don’t we?
You should do your homework because just as individual teachers needs are vary, so do international school packages and the cost of living in different countries. It is possible to make loads and loads and put your investment portfolio on the map (or cover the map with your travels! Or both?), but it really depends where you go.
Western Europe doesn’t have the same potential for earning that the Middle East or South East Asia has, but you’ll still make enough to live reasonably. Even in Western Europe, some schools pay better than others, and Eastern Europe is a whole other set of conditions again because of the low cost of living.
Go into teaching in an international school with your eyes-wide-open and you will end up having a fabulous and lucrative experience.
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Ever since I wrote my book The Complete Guide to Securing a Job at an International School I’ve been inundated with questions about teaching overseas. I’ve selected the most frequently asked ones to answer for you here…
1. Where can I teach overseas? How can I find vacancies?
There are over 4000 international schools of varying sizes worldwide and all of them need teachers. So the answer to the first question is… just about anywhere!
One way you can find out whether there’s an international school where you’d like to work is to ‘Google it’. I simply typed in ‘international school Bangkok” and up popped a whole page of listings.
Of course this isn’t the way to go about landing your new teaching job abroad, but you can certainly check out how many schools are available in the destinations you’re interested in.
Teaching overseas is an awesome opportunity to restore your enthusiasm for education. You can find overseas teaching vacancies online for free. Knowing how to make the best use of those vacancy postings in order to maximise your chance of securing a coveted overseast teaching job? Well, that's where my expertise lie... I've refined my strategy into the one-stop, all-you'll-ever-need, international teaching guide.
Where can I teach overseas?
Monday, May 7, 2007
Wherever you go you build relationships. Just because you're leaving your old home for your new home teaching overseas, doesn't mean you have to sever ties with the people you're leaving behind.
10. Email addresses, mailing addresses and phone numbers of the friends and colleagues you’re leaving behind
I also took the leaving cards I received from friends and colleagues. You may be tempted to pack these in your shipping or you may even think about throwing them out. However, if you have enjoyed a great relationship with your colleagues then you will miss them. I found that having a reminder of them around me when I was dealing with the initial stages of culture shock reminded me of the good things I’d left behind, but also all the stuff I didn’t like! It helped me to refocus on the reasons I had moved my career overseas!
Having been a global nomad for more than 10 years now, I’ve found that staying in touch with friends and colleagues at home is really up to me. I haven’t stayed in touch with any of the fabulous people I met and got to know in the first 6-7 years of teaching abroad, and it’s mostly my fault because I didn’t make any effort.
I’ve been much more conscientious in recent years and I believe it’s worth it. I love catching up with old friends when I go back to places I’ve lived before; I always have a plethora of places to stay and have even hosted some of my friends when they’ve visited my new home.
Moving Your Teaching Career Abroad - contact details of people you leave behind
For 8 of the last 10 years I've been doing supplementary work to boost my salary so that I could afford to have a good lifestyle. I even took on extra work whilst I was teaching overseas, but that was all before I started teaching at an international school...
Learn ways to supplement your teaching income at 5 Ways for Teachers to Make Extra Money, or secure a job at an international school and never have to take on extra work again!
My Guide will show you the quickest and easiest way to find your own international school teaching job (and it's possible to work in a place where you don't have to pay TAX, too!)
Don't work your butt off to make enough money to live on, you can work in a low-stress teaching position and make more than enough money to live on when you teach overseas.
Friday, May 4, 2007
You've got a contract, you've packed up all your stuff and you're boarding the plane. Congratulations! You're on your way to an exciting new life. So, what do you know about your new home??
9. A guide book, culture shock book
Get a guide book! And perhaps even more importantly, get the Culture Shock book for your destination. Find out why people are bowing to you, or why no one blows their nose in public or why people have to cover their bodies from elbow to knee. It's really, really important that you know these things... so you don't screw up!
Don’t leave home without a guide book! Take some time looking at different brands of travel guide. Different brands have different styles. I prefer a different brand for traveling than staying long term because of the depth of information provided.
The Culture Shock series is superb. Get the one for the country or region you’re moving to and read it from cover to cover. You’ll get an insight into the cultural norms for the society you are moving into, and can prevent you from making any disastrous faux pas that could ruin your first few months abroad. First impressions count, make sure your first impression is a good one by doing some research.
Moving Your Teaching Career Abroad - guide book
Thursday, May 3, 2007
Whether your children are excited about your new teaching job overseas or not, you have to plan for their move as well as your own. Most importantly you need to take a copy of...
8. Your children’s school records
Your children will probably be attending the same school where you’ll be working. Take all their reports and transcripts with you so that you can ensure they get placed in the correct levels. Knowing as much as possible about your child will help the school’s administrators and counselors plan a suitable orientation programme for them.
Moving your teaching career overseas - your children's school records
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
It would be a nightmare to get to a foreign country and realize you don’t actually have the phone number or address of the school that’s supposed to be employing you, don’t you think? So #7 on my list of things you really, really need to take with you when you move overseas to take up your new teaching job is...
7. Contact details of the school, a copy of your teaching contract and a copy of all the communication you’ve had with the school (this can be in digital format)
Most likely, the school will have some kind of orientation programme in place to help you get settled in, and this may even mean someone meeting you at the airport. But, in case they don’t turn up, have the school’s contact details handy.
You should have a copy of your teaching contract to take with you. It’s good to have a copy so that you can check your conditions and stand up for yourself if you feel you are not getting what was promised. Please don't think I'm implying the school is going to rip you off... but as with any job, you sometimes need to clarify issues.
When I moved out to Thailand, I also made sure I had copies of all the emails that I had received. I gradually deleted them as I settled into Bangkok and acted on all the advice I’d received prior to making the move.
Moving your teaching career overseas - contract with the international school