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Looking for a job…nay, a career where you can travel the world, make good money and get to mold the future generations that will
play xbox all day and act like self entitled little shits change the world? Why not get a job at an international school as a teacher. Enter Nancy, from Family on Bikes who has done just that for the past decade as she trotted the globe.
So, Nancy, who the hell are you and why do I like you so much?
I am Nancy Sathre-Vogel, widely known as Mom to Family on Bikes, a family of four who rode bicycles from Alaska to Argentina. I also happen to be a long-term schoolteacher with a total of 21 years in the classroom. Of those 21 years, seven were spent in the USA, and the rest were in Ethiopia, Honduras, Egypt, and Taiwan, and Malaysia.
What is teaching in an international school like vs other teaching abroad opportunities?
My husband and spent twelve years teaching in international schools. International schools are regular schools, using the same curriculum and standards as schools from their home country. We taught in American schools, but there are also British, Italian, Japanese, German, and many others. When kids graduated from our school, they had a diploma identical to the one I received from my high school in Boise, Idaho. The kids at our schools were children of diplomats or aid workers or anybody else who happened to be living overseas who needed an American style of education.
That said, there are other schools abroad that are “American” or “British” that aren’t at that caliber. These are schools that roughly use the American curriculum, yet they aren’t accredited and vary widely in terms of quality in both education and teaching conditions. I can’t comment much on these schools as I’ve never worked in them.
Why should someone consider teaching abroad at an international school?
There are several reasons:
a) The adventure. We got to live in some wonderful places and experience the cultures in ways tourists can’t.
b) The pay. Although we got paid about the same as we would have in the US, our contracts included housing so we saved a lot of money on that. In addition, the cost of living was cheaper in most of the places we lived so we saved there. [Editor sidenote: you get paid sweet wages relative to where you are living (usually) and don’t have to eat top ramen every night like an English teacher. Cat, out, of, bag]
c) Teaching conditions. Our students were awesome! In general, our kids came from very supportive families who valued education greatly. They were great to work with.
What are the benefits of teaching at an international school?
Every school is different, so you need to check the benefits package carefully. Here’s what we received:
a) Pay on par with what we would have gotten if teaching in the USA
c) Flight back to home of record every summer
d) Our children could attend the school for free
e) Health insurance, including medical evacuation insurance
f) Extra baggage allowance (we could take 2 extra bags each on the flight with us)
[Editor Sidenote: There are teaching English jobs in Asia (China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and maybe a few others, that also offer the above type of benefits]
What do people need in order to teach at an international school?
You need to have a teaching certificate from any state. It helps to have some experience.
How to get a job teaching at an international school?
More and more, hiring is happening remotely, with interviews on Skype. That said, there are still some job fairs and they are probably worth going to.
Note: international schools have a very different timeline than schools in the US do. Whereas you will most likely be hired for a new job in July for the coming school year in the US, overseas schools do the bulk of their hiring in February. Any positions that were not filled at the February job fairs will be filled as soon as possible, but there is a June job fair for last minute hiring.
Here are some organizations that will maybe helpful when trying to get job teaching at an international school abroad.
Teacher Kick (for Latin America)
Teacher Hit (for Europe)
What is the lifestyle of an international school teacher like?
In all reality, it is not all that different from teaching in the US. We got up early every morning, spent all day with our students, then headed back home for the evening.
In some ways, however, it was different. We were able to afford household help, so we didn’t have to take our time to cook, clean, do laundry and all those other tasks we spend so much time doing.
The lifestyle will vary tremendously depending on the person. Some people stick to the expat circles and hang out with other foreigners; others have more local friends. It all depends on what each person chooses to do.
[Editor sidenote: Notice, the key phrase “afford household help”, aka maids, servants….sounds pretty sweet and better than having desks thrown at your head in an inner city school stateside, probably]
So on that note, if Nancy has piqued your interest in getting a job as an international school teacher abroad, you can check out the websites mentioned above for more information as I have never taught, hate children that are not my own (not that I have children that are my own…that I know of) and generally avoid any type of job where I can’t wear my casual business attire (see: bathrobe, sweaty yeti suits). Nonetheless, if you want an adult like lifestyle but still live the adventure travel abroad dream (with family or not), getting a job teaching at an international school abroad maybe your ticket.