Since the inevitable pause created by the pandemic, I found that I have had time for an outlet that had laid dormant for a few years following my Masters’ study: writing.
In mid-2020, I began writing about my life as an international teacher; detailing how I researched schools and countries to live, how I wrote my CV and cover letter to gain interviews, succeeded at interviews, and what life as an international teacher was like. I began to put across some of these ideas to my webpage, also created as a result of the extra time afforded due to partial lockdowns. As I received hits on the site and was contacted with questions, it occurred to me that this information could support a much wider audience.
That is why I set up a Facebook page and group, ‘New to international schools teachers’. My aim for the group was to specifically support those contemplating, or new to teaching overseas. I was a member of other international teacher boards, and I noticed that at times the replies given to questions asked by less experienced teachers, were somewhat harsh. So, when I set up my board, I made the ethos abundantly clear that no questions were too small, and all answers must be responded to kindly.
As my Facebook group grew, I was aware that many teachers, especially those based in the UK, were unhappy with their situation and were very curious about moving overseas. Their experiences had mimicked my own in the UK. After struggling to establish a work-life balance, I decided to teach abroad.
I travelled with my husband to Egypt with little more than a small backpack and no idea what would happen next. The move was a fortunate one, as I was instantly inspired by all I experienced: the international school offered wonderful facilities and provided abundant resources, there was freedom and flexibility within the curriculum taught, and moreover, I was lucky to teach well-behaved, curious children. However, upon reflection, I am aware that I made errors along the way as I had no guide nor experience in the international world of teaching.
So, in September last year, I wondered if I could produce a text to guide teachers on this journey. I wanted to support new teachers to find the countries that would be the ‘best fit’ for them, how to find a job abroad, and once there, how to thrive when living and teaching abroad. I began researching these ideas through international teacher forums, and the information I gathered was very insightful. I felt this research, and my own could offer great value to others. A freelance editor friend encouraged me to go ahead and produce a guide, and a fantastic collaboration was born.
As we worked through the copy together, I realised that it was necessary to include other experiences and voices to add authenticity to my account and greater breadth. Therefore, each chapter was shared with teachers, Headteachers, and expats in the international world. I began to add their voices to the text. The final two chapters were co-created with them, giving authority to the experiences of different types of international teachers, such as singles, couples, those with families.
The book, now complete, offers comprehensive support to teachers with information, personal experiences, tips, and helpful links, including:
- How and where to find the best international teaching jobs
- Which countries and environments will suit them, their partner, and their dependents
- Different types of international schools and what to expect
- How to find the ‘perfect fit’ in terms of location and school
- Advice on creating winning applications and excelling in interviews
- Information on salaries and benefits
- The practicalities of moving
- How to survive, thrive, and be highly successful in their new job
- Key considerations for single teachers, teaching couples, trailing spouses, and families
Writing the book has been an all-consuming and fascinating experience. I have learnt so much through the research and I hope that it will provide insight into the world of international teaching, to inspire others to have the confidence to change their lives.