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Teaching in an international school

Updated on June 25, 2011
Students making a 40 to celebrate 40 years of existence
Students making a 40 to celebrate 40 years of existence
Welcome sign
Welcome sign
View from the school
View from the school

Adventure junkies read here

 People become teachers for many different reasons.  Some because their parents were teachers, others because they've always had the deep desire to educate others, some for the stability of the profession.  International school teachers might have originally enetered the teaching profession for one of the reasons above, but they enter international school teaching because they are adventure junkies who want to head out into the unknown, experience different cultures and see the world.

International schools often pay better than the state schools, classes are smaller, students are more open to learning and better-mannered, most international schools are far better resourced than state schools, the perks are much better...If it's all so hunky-dory and rosy, you might be wondering why more people don't ever venture out from the state school systems?  Well, not everybody is an adventurer.  Some are scared of leaving their comfort zones.  And, there are many dodgy international schools out there and teachers brave enough to teach at them invariably get badly burnt.  In some developing schools, so-called international schools are springing up a dime a dozen.  All are for profit, conditions for teachers suck and you might end up having a very unhappy experience.  If you want to enter international school teaching, you have to do your homework.  You have to research countries and schools you are interested in.  Most international schools have very informative websites.

The must reliable and established schools are accredited by the Council of International Schools.  They send out a team to check out your school, make sure it meets certain criteria and then the school is permitted to advertise that they are accredited by COIS.  COIS also holds job fairs at main centres where most of the top international schools do their recruiting.  It is a bit like a cattle auction, and might be off-putting for some.  COIS also advertise job vacancies at some of their member schools.  There is no membership fee for teachers.  Another organization which holds job fairs are Search Associates.  You do have to pay a bit to become a member of them and get quite a few references which takes time.  Their job fairs are usually held close to the time of the COIS job fairs in the same cities, so teachers are able to attend both if they choose.  The person to contact at Search is Gez Hayden.  If you contact him and develop a good relationship with him, he'll steer you clear from some of the dodgier international school which are advertising vacancies.  Joy Jobs is another website where you can join as a member and have access to international teaching jobs which are posted daily.  The Times Education Supplement online also has many international school teaching jobs.  If you are wanting to work in a language school and teach ESL, then try Dave's ESL CafeInternational School's Review is a site you can join where you can read up what other teachers have said about particular international schools.  Some of the comments are vents and are a little bitter and twisted and written by dissatisfied teachers and can be a little like personal attacks on their management.  But, that aside, it does give you a good sense of what it might be like to live and teach in that particular country.  Sometimes, a country looks beautiful and exotic in the Lonely Planet and tourist brochures, but it is actually the pits to live in.

When you start looking at jobs, you might see schools claiming that they are IB World Schools.  IB stands for International Baccalaureate.  The IBO also authorizes schools to use their program and send out visiting specialists to see if the school meet certain criteria.  Usually, schools authorized to offer the IB Programs are above board.  The three IB programs are the PYP (Primary Years Program), MYP (Middle Years Program) and the DP (Diploma Program).  They are inquiry-based and great for developing a child's thinking.  If you want to teach one of the IB Programs, it might be worth checking out to see if there are workshops in your area to do before you start applying.  Once you are at an IB school, they will most likely send you on workshops in your subject area anyway.  Besides increasing your subject knowledge, you get an all-expenses paid weekend away in a different country where the workshop is being held. 

As a parent, I'd never want my child in the state school system again, not after having been exposed to the IB programs.  If you have children and are a teacher, you might want to check out my hub on finding a family friendly international school.  The recruiting season is just about to start.  Brush up your cv's and resumes, write that personal statement and start applying!


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    • cindyvine profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Vine 

      10 years ago from Cape Town

      BP, I promise when I make enough money from my books or win the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, I'll fly you over for a visit!

    • blondepoet profile image


      10 years ago from australia

      I wish I was a teacher get to travel and all that. I know I was the teacher of the men's driving evening classes but it didn't get me any plane tickets Cin. It's like where's the fairness in that.

    • cindyvine profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Vine 

      10 years ago from Cape Town

      Thanks Xunlei

    • xunlei profile image


      10 years ago


      I'll keep your post

    • cindyvine profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Vine 

      10 years ago from Cape Town

      Paradise, there are a lot of sharks out there and schools who portray themselves as international and are not. It's always good to be properly informed before heading out into the blue yonder.

      Lady E, I have done some hubs on life in Tanzania and also when I was teaching in China. The '40' pic took some organising and involved the Grade 1 teacher standing up on the high tennis umpire seat and balancing precariously on the armrests. It was my Grade 5 class with their Grade 1 reading buddies.

    • Lady_E profile image


      10 years ago from London, UK

      I enjoyed reading this Hub, Cindy. It's very informative. I notice you live in Tanzania - I wonder what it's like. I will come back to visit your Hubs to see if you did one on Tanzania or Teaching there. (It's 2am where I am. lol) I hope you are enjoying it and will visit your website too.

      Ps: Like the "40" picture. You actually got them to all stay sitting. lol

      Best Wishes.

    • Paradise7 profile image


      10 years ago from Upstate New York

      Very interesting. I wondered how you got to Africa, Cindy, and what took you there. It was an international teaching position? Sounds like a wonderful challenge and you've given people good tips on how to weed out the not-so-creditable institutions before the prospective teacher gets a contract, gets on the plane, and finds themselves in Pittsville for a year or three.

    • cindyvine profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Vine 

      10 years ago from Cape Town

      Glad you're glad Lizzy!

    • LizzyBoo profile image


      10 years ago from Czech Republic

      Cindy, woow I wish to become a teacher in my life for international students. I am very glad for your hubs, I love to read them. Thank you

    • cindyvine profile imageAUTHOR

      Cindy Vine 

      10 years ago from Cape Town

      Travelespresso, it's good to leave your comfort zone and see what's out there. Problem is, once you've had a taste it's hard to go back. The comfort zone is just too boring.

      Aquasea, if you're talking about educational reading, look at anything by Kath Murdoch or Kathy Short.

      Hello Hello, pass this on to any teachers you know.

      Pam, some international schools take interns if your granddaughter wants to have a taste first.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      10 years ago from Sunny Florida

      A very interesting hub. My granddaughter is a senior and plans to become a teacher. That is all she has ever wanted to do and she is in a special AP program where she is already earning college credit. You hear so much about the problems teachers have these days that it makes the international schools you described sound quite attractive.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      10 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for your helpful and informative hub.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Fantastic hub and the resources you've advertised are definitely worth a look. I'm always adding to my bookshelf!

    • travelespresso profile image


      10 years ago from Somewhere in this exciting world.

      This is a very interesting hub about your experience and what's out there for teachers looking to leave their comfort zones. Thanks for sharing.


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