Monday, October 29, 2007

International Schools and Extra Curricular Activities

Do you have children who are heavily involved in extra curricular activities? Are you concerned that moving your teaching career overseas could result in them missing out?

Here's how you can assess what each prospective new job teaching abroad can offer you and your child in terms of sports, music, drama, etc.

Smaller international schools may be a pleasant change from working in a national public system, but the downside is that there may be only limited opportunities for your children to take part in extra-curricular activities.

Check schools’ websites to see what sports are offered. If there is no obvious link, you can always look at the pictures to see if there are any sports or music related ones.

If your children are dedicated sports players you can inquire about regional sporting competitions and what sports take part in them.

Other activities to find out about, depending on the interests of your children, are Model United Nations, Amnesty International, International Youth Awards (similar to the Duke of Edinburgh Award), orchestra, choir, drama productions, etc.

Most international schools will expect teachers to offer an extra curricular activity for the students. Some ideas for you are:

  • natural history club,
  • needlework club,
  • roller blading club,
  • scuba diving (if you have the appropriate certification)
  • and all kinds of drop in lab to support students with their homework and projects.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Teaching Overseas - Language Support

Teaching overseas when you have children can involve a lot more consideration than if you don't have a family to consider. One thing you need to inquire about when you are looking at an international school abroad is what languages they offer students.

Most schools will offer a number of foreign languages for your child to learn. If your child has already been learning a language, you may want to find out if they will be able to continue at your new school.

This is an important consideration if you are moving to an IB school because all students are required to learn a language other than their mother tongue. In grades 11 and 12 (years 12 and 13) this is particularly relevant because your child will be expected to sit the Diploma exam which presumes a prior knowledge of the language.

If you are moving to an IB school and your child has never studied a foreign language before, ask which languages are offered at the ‘ab initio’ level. This is the level that Diploma students can enter a language for the first time.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Teaching Overseas with Children

Teaching abroad is an opportunity to expand your horizons and enhance your resume with the view to advancing up the career ladder. But, if you have a family, making sure you’ve got all the information you can find will help you find the best position for your whole family.

There are many international teachers who love the lifestyle and are of the opinion that their children are the better for getting an international education. Essentially your children will not only benefit from expanded horizons themselves, but they’ll be getting a private education too! Teaching overseas is not for the faint-hearted, but the risks of making a poor decision can be managed.

One thing to consider is:

Learning difficulties and learning support
If your child has learning difficulties don’t try and hide it from the school because you’re worried that the situation will affect your employability. If it does, you probably don’t want to work there, and you surely don’t want your child going to school there! Learning support departments are becoming more common in the better schools, and as a consequence there’s a raised awareness of special education and supporting children with difficulties. To find out whether learning support is available at a school you’re thinking of applying to work at, check their website for a list of departments or a list of staff. If there is no mention of learning support provision, either ask the school directly or have a friend email the school, pretend to be a prospective parent and ask for you.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Teaching Applications and Email Attachments

When you are sending your teaching application to international school recruiters via email you will want to attach your resume, a photo, your teaching philosophy, etc. But here is where you run into a problem...

Many email clients restrict the size of the attachments allowed into people’s inboxes. And while you want to attach the elements of your application pack to support you email, you also want to ensure that your email is delivered.

If your email (including attachments) is too large, it will get bounced back to you. The solution to this problem is to make sure your documents are concise and without images, not to zip them.

When you zip your documents you are assuming that the recruiter has the software required to unzip them, and the desire to do so. It's important that you keep the number of steps the recruiter has to take to see your resume to an absolute minimum as this increases the chances of them actually reading it!

If you want to include a photo of yourself, don't put it in your resume, attach it to your email as a .jpg separately.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Email Teaching Applications Keep it Formal

We are so used to firing off emails to our friends and colleagues that poor grammar, spelling and layout has become habit.

Now, I'm not knocking informal email ettiquette at all, and I'm as guilty as the rest of being very casual and relaxed in my attitude to paragraphing and using capital letters in my emails.

But this is not acceptable in an email that you send to an international school recruiter applying for a teaching position abroad. Just because you're sending an email doesn't mean that you should write like they're your best buddy. They're not. Your emails should be formal and follow the accepted letter writing rules...

Avoid using abbreviations and emoticons:

While those little winks ;) and smiles :) are cute and useful in conveying non-verbal communication clues in personal emails, they have no place in a business email.

Write formally, without contractions or short cuts. LOL, OTOH, and BTW are not appropriate in this setting, remember that you are sending a formal letter asking the recruiter to consider you for a teaching job in an international school.

This may all seem obvious to you and it certainly does to me, but I was shocked to receive an email recently from an individual that had ‘u’ instead of ‘you’. I was less than impressed.