Dear ITEPS students,
I feel very lucky to get this chance to write to you about my experiences applying for jobs at international schools and everything that comes with it.
My name is Anneloes and I graduated from ITEPS in the summer of 2017. My first job after graduating was in the Caribbean and since 2018 I work in Dubai at a premium international school: Dwight School Dubai.
Dwight is a new school that is going through the IB accreditation process. When you are looking for a new job, keep in mind your philosophy and link this to the type of curriculum you want to teach. Dwight is an IB school which fits with my philosophy where children are leading the learning; where we ignite the spark of genius in every child. I figured out I could never teach at a British Curriculum or American Curriculum school. These are too teacher-led for me and I believe in the IB mission statement where we encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.
After you have figured out your philosophy and matched this to a curriculum, it is time to look for a school that fits. Job offers can be found online; LinkedIn, Facebook groups, school websites, or via job fairs. For me personally, two things helped me to get into a premium school. The first thing is connections! These are so incredibly important. In my second year of ITEPS (2014) I went to Kazakhstan for two months. The head of school was so helpful and really believed in us and since then, he has been a wonderful connection. He helped me to get into this world as my current school called and e-mailed him personally for information. The second thing is: teaching practice. During my time at ITEPS I carefully chose my teaching practice places. In my fourth year, I was lucky to spend my TP at Dwight School London, I knew I wanted to go to an IB school and via ITEPS alumni I heard amazing stories about Dwight. When Dwight opened a new school in Dubai I knew that this could be an opportunity for me, also because of the previous experience at a sister school.
How does the application process work?
This can be a different experience for everyone. For my first job, the school was in desperate need of a teacher. The Skype interview with them was more of a formality to meet the Head of School and talk about what the expectations were from both sides. This was a bilingual school on a very small island in the Caribbean.
After this year of teaching, I wanted to work for a real international school where I would have the possibility to grow and develop myself as a teacher. International schools start looking for new teachers around December/January already. It is important that you start looking early, that's when most jobs are available. I searched online mainly using Facebook and TES. I sent my resume and letter of motivation (if they asked for that) and got invited to 3 Skype interviews. What I always do before an interview is that I go through the website; understand their curriculum and their mission statement. I always write down at least 3 questions I have about the school. In every interview, the employer always asks about situations in the classroom. E.g. How do you differentiate? If I walk into your classroom, what will I see? What are your strengths? What do you want to improve? I try to write some examples beforehand but during the interview it can go many unexpected directions.
I asked the coordinator at my school what employers seek for in interviews. Here are some examples: 'We are looking for passion, for a connection to the curriculum, we want you to know what you are walking into (if research is done), and we want you to always be honest! If you don't know, you don't know but if you are willing to learn you will show this through passion.'
If the employer is enthusiastic, they will invite you for a second interview or send you an offer letter after the first interview. This is the time to ask them or check in the letter important things for YOU that you want to know (e.g. salary, benefits, housing).
If you accepted your offer letter and signed your contract it is time to roll into a new adventure! My advice for a beginning teacher would be: keep it simple and do not take too much on your plate. As a beginning teacher, actual teaching and meeting with parents gives a lot of pressure already. Extra roles besides that, e.g. master teacher, language or math coordinator can affect your teaching and planning time and can give stress. A suggestion would be asking your head or coordinator to give you a leading role in workshops or meetings so you can still develop yourself but with less stress! However, the most important thing is that you have fun and enjoy!!! We have one of the greatest jobs in the world! We can go anywhere we want, we meet many families with different cultural backgrounds and we make a difference in children's lives.
"You're off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!" - Dr. Seuss