Departure: First our flight was delayed. Turkish Airlines highly recommend. Seats were comfortable for economy. We lucked up and had the entire row to ourselves so we got to stretch out and not worry about someone beside us plus I didn’t have to sit squished in the middle seat. We were served dinner and a morning breakfast. Now that sit and think about it we did not get a snack. They provided us with a blanket, headphones, and overnight bag with compression socks, eye mask, toothbrush, toothpaste, and slippers. All items were sealed in a bag so you know that you were the first person to use it. You could also take it with you. I should have taken the blanket and headphones but were needed to catch our connecting flight. Landed and had to get to my connecting flight. Good thing they hold flights until the previous flight lands and gets situated. This made nervous that my bags would not make it Cairo. However all 11 bags made it.
Arrival: Don’t ask me what time we landed. I can’t even begin to remember to tell you. Got SIM cards…two cards 27GB for $22…did you hear me TWO SIM CARDS for $22. Grabbed some cash for tips visited Duty Free but opted not to get anything. Apparently you are only allowed ONE bottle per passport. Arrived at our hotel got settled in took a shower and ordered room service.
Room service: $26
We landed on Elise’s birthday. I asked if I could have some cupcakes. They delivered cupcakes. Went above and beyond expectations. These cupcakes cost me 200 Egyptian pounds which equals to about $10.45
apartment hunting and bank setup. I saw like 6 apartments. I liked 3 but was leaning towards one of them. I just could not settle on it. So I did not pick.
Welcome basket from the school.
Apartments were all two bedrooms and at least one full bath and a half bath. Fully furnished. Utilities included. Don’t asked me about square feet. Rent is ranging from $620-780. This is the apartment I am leaning towards.
I cannot safely say that I shared 3 parts. However I can safely say this will be my fourth country and fifth school and I promise I’m done until my daughter graduates high school and even then I am hoping I can stay put until she graduates college. I am sick of moving and packing. I can safely say I have taught internationally for five years and I have worked at four schools internationally. I have lived in three countries. Maybe I will share what I loved and hated about them.
If you have been following me you know the debacle that transpired at my current school that prompted me to SEARCH FOR A JOB AGAIN!!!
It would not have been so bad if I was not forced to make that decision. I prefer making my own decisions of my own free will not other people’s stupidity.
Luckily I was able to get a jump start on looking. I began looking the beginning of December. In the international market this is norm. You will see job posting for the upcoming school year in November or December. 1. schools ask current employees to sign their letter of intent by Christmas break at the latest. 2. the visa process SUCKS!!! I cannot stress this one enough. The sooner you can get a jump on gathering your documents the better.
The problem with starting the job hunt so early….you stress earlier. You have to be mindful of the various breaks. Everyone will get a Christmas/Winter break…these can be two to three weeks long. Most schools SHUT DOWN. Everyone leaves the country, no one is checking emails…it is truly a break. So here you are applying and you are met with radio silence. You have to remind yourself, these folks are on break just like you are, relax. Then January comes and people are returning back to work. Guess what, re-enrollment is happening so that is adjusting the number of teachers they need. Then term/semester are ending. Report cards, parent teacher conferences, mid-year exams….it is a whole host of stuff happening in January. You really need another break. Asian countries are celebrating Chinese New Year that is another week to four weeks gone. Recruitment fairs are happening. Internal transfers are happening. It’s a mess. As the person applying you really don’t care but you know these are happening so when you don’t hear anything back from schools, this is why.
The end of January rolls around and BAM!! We’re off!! You will hear the dreaded sorry but you weren’t selected and hey we would like to set up an interview. You will have at least TWO interviews. You will interview with your division/section. I am primary so I interview with the primary principal and maybe the assistant principal. If I am being considered for lower and upper I will do both…if kindergarten falls under early child department that is three possible principals. Then add head of school. You might meet or interview with HR. In a good setup you meet the team you will work with. Personal I like when I meet the team because it let’s you know the kinda people you gotta collaborate with.
January I had 6 schools schedule an interview. Locations: Ghana, Jamaica, Qatar, Mexico, Honduras, China. As you can see I did not limit where I am willing to go. I will say I was extremely selective of schools I applied to. I mainly applied to schools that connected to the embassy and I could look on their website and see they are international (I need to see faces that do not look like the locals, if I see a black face GREAT!)
Let me pause and explain why: I have a teenager. I take education seriously. We do not come from money and cannot buy our degree. We have to earn our degree. I want her with students who are not locals. Now I am not saying local students are a bad thing, it is they have limited experiences and knowledge. Behaviors can be an issue. Favoritism is real. It is one thing to have an international staff, it is whole different thing to have an international student population. I need diversity on all fronts. Check out my previous blog about the differences in schools. Just because they throw international in the name does not make it an international school.
Also I need a country that is good for the soul. There are some countries that are great to visit but not great to live. I will forever place Egypt in that box. Kuwait was decent. China had its ups and downs. However Kuwait and China were expat friendly. Egypt is tourist friendly and treat the rest of the country as such. One day I will write about the things that bothered me. Today ain’t that day.
Now I know we all jumped on that Ghana train but I was not one hundred percent sold and I didn’t know if I wanted to live and work in Ghana for the next three years. I love they are leaving Lucy and shifting to SOR. For my elementary teachers here is your shouting moment. However, their economy is going through some things. The whole admin staff is white. I can only assume the teachers are mostly white. UGH!! You are in Africa teaching African students and you can’t hire NO black people. Yeah okay. I know they pay ain’t the best but I bet we are applying. So yeah it hurt when they told me no and I shed a tear but I was okay.
China…well I would go back to China but with COVID I am in no rush. There are things I enjoyed about China. We can start with the technology and I had access to everything. There were also food options. Travel to that side of the world was easy. I only applied to Shanghai and Beijing oh and Guangzhou/Shenzhen area (just on the other side of Hong Kong). I need cities that are used to seeing expats especially black expats. Plus I was in Shanghai so much I felt more comfortable. However, when Shanghai told me I was okay too. Like I said no rush to return.
Jamaica is that country in my head that says great to visit I don’t know about living and working…the main reason I even considered it is because the school is located in Kingston. The issue I take with it, you couldn’t find a whiter school in a blacker country. I mean the kids are white, the staff is is white, admin is white….I’m like yo this whole country and you found all the white people and put them on one campus. Daily 5 is their new thing…I didn’t hate daily 5 so I get why they are implementing it but really folks how behind the times are you that your teachers don’t know what center rotations are. I had two interviews with them.
Qatar….Lord this the third time I have interviewed with this ONE school. I’m like I’m gonna get it this time. The first round…COVID threw a monkey wrench in my plans. The second round their board didn’t approve the position and the first grade teacher decided to stay another year so yeah monkey wrench. This time…well Qatar won’t accept degrees that were completed online. Now here is my thing…all my schools have a traditional campus and at this point in the world…online learning is a real thing. So that is holding up a lot of things on this moving forward so I may have to take Qatar off the list permanently if they can’t resolve the issue.
Honduras. I sat and looked at that email before I even replied. I am like Honduras? When did I apply to this school. I still don’t know. I am sure this was on a whim. Yes I was still doing that on occasion. I check the school website out. Let me tell me my petty issue: the uniform on PE days I would have to call out. It is this ugly yellow. Thinking about makes my head hurt. Could you imagine a sea of yellow shirts on PE days. I am like really people. I know petty but yellow makes my skin crawl. The shades of blue I am all for. The other petty issue is uniforms in general: girls have skirts but the boys can wear whatever bottoms…how is that fair? I know my child she gonna make a fuss about it. She really does not want to wear uniforms anymore. And the way she is growing I don’t want to buy them anymore either. I did connect with a black couple…more like the wife and chatted with her. Bonus they provide housing. That is rare in Central America. I am willing to listen to what they are offering. Added bonus SOR and no more Lucy. Listen Lucy is a throne in my flesh. They legit offered me the position in the interview. The ladies are lovely. Not sure I want to teach kinder again. I love my babies but lord I am old and them jokers have too much energy. Bonus though they have short days and every Wednesday is early release for students for planning and PD. I like that. There is one black person per grade level in elementary. The head of school is against MAP and any form of standardized testing. Love it. They are shifting and implementing new things that are more inquiry based. So I am game but things like that take time and work. Again I am waiting to see how much they are offering me.
Mexico. Again I don’t even remember applying. I interview with them. Lovely people. The principal was legit eating during the interview. It was laid back as hell. We chatted like a bunch of girlfriends having lunch. They are also leaving Lucy and moving to SOR. Praise heavens above!!! I will share another blog on the failure of Lucy and her BS. However I will say listen to Sold a Story https://features.apmreports.org/sold-a-story/ It will be an eye opener. Now back to my interview. Legit telling them I would okay in 3rd since I am familiar with the standards and I am working with them this year. However I have never taught 2nd grade so that would be okay too.. My screen freezes. Wifi kicks out. I am panicking. This cannot be happening. Finally the wifi is working again. I log back in and she says I just sent you an email but we want to offer you the position how do you feel about Guadalajara? Well yes thank you. I would love to move to Guadalajara. Okay we will connect you to our 3rd grade team so you all can chat. I talk with the 3rd grade team. They check on high school for Elise. They are checking references. I am waiting to see the offer.
Their other campus reaches out for a kindergarten position. The other campus is in Mexico City. Brazil and Peru reach out. I guess I am moving closer to the US.
Elise kinda wants Saudi because she wants to be on a compound and have some freedom to move about and feel safe. Plus the school I showed her has a Subway and juice bar at the school. Yet her sights are low and has nothing to do with education. I kinda want her out of an Arabic country for the duration of her education just because they honestly do not take education seriously. Most of the grades are fake. She is not being challenged effectively. The behaviors and mindset is just too much. My child ain’t build for it. She is the driving force behind applying to schools connected to the embassy. I stand a chance of the school being worth something because the kids won’t be these rich kids who are only rich in their home countries and teachers will care about their jobs. Plus added benefits for me like higher salary, health insurance, in some cases they offer retirement options. Oh and maybe I can add them to my verification form for student loans to get them joints forgiven.
If you have been following me or gone back and read my blogs about recruitment, you know it can be a slow moving train at times but once that train picks up speed FULL STEAM AHEAD. Quick review and update Guadalajara: they offered me the job in the interview, checked my references so I keep interviewing while I wait to see what they are offering. It takes a week for the offer to come through. It is for 3rd grade. The offer is pretty decent, more than I am making in Egypt. Decent housing allowance. Issue: Elise is not fully covered I would have to shell $1000 a year for her….not a lot of money but really why when someone else will cover her 100% I won’t really save and travel would be interesting with the salary. Honduras: they offer and the letter of intent comes through within three days I have three business days to decide thank god it comes on a Friday. I am crunching numbers trying to make the math work….it ain’t working but I don’t make a decision. It is for Kindergarten. Elise is fully covered. Housing is provided. Jamaica: well it was a week and nothing…I would send a follow up email but I kinda do not want to live in Jamaica and I am okay with that. Brazil: slides in and I spend an hour talking with the principal. They are moving towards IB and next year all teachers will be trained and the second year they would implement it. Meaning I could have two years under my belt all expenses paid. I am waiting to see what happens next after I talk with the directer. It is for 2nd grade. The benefit package is sweet. Elise is covered. Housing is provided. However they went with another candidate. Beijing: they reach out and I will see what they are talking about but I do not want to go back China. Let me take that back I don’t want to go to China during COVID and have Elise’s final years in school disrupted with COVID and shut downs. I could easily go and bank all the money but how would my mental health fair? It is for an outside classroom position. At the very least I will listen. It is for a student support position. They are also leaving Lucy and working on SOR. I had to complete a performance task where I created a lesson plan and ILP for an imaginary kid. Personally I panicked and don’t think I did well. Which I am okay with because Beijing…am I ready to go back to China? Mexico City: first I thought I bombed the interview. If I don’t see smiles or nodding heads I don’t know what to make. I see the note taking but interact with me people. Don’t be stiff. So when they asked to follow up with the director I am stunned. It is for kindergarten and they are moving to full day kinder. I will listen but decline. I don’t want to live in Mexico City. The director was dope. Guangzhou: snuck in, they interviewed me for a preschool position, nah kid. Only bonus is they still take a nap. Again am I ready to return to China? They are close to Hong Kong. They have a diverse staff. But PRESCHOOL?!?!?! Yeah that’s a hard pass.
Kindergarten has worn on my nerves and I can’t anymore. I love my babies but to spend any more time in kinder will have me a functioning alcoholic no offense to those struggling and I am not trying to joke about a serious situation but kindergarten is not for the weak or premenopausal/menopausal. Plus the parents are anal nutbags. I love y’all but kinders are babies and usually their first time in school and parents hoover and NEED so much like their kids. The thought of teaching school to kinders pains me. Teaching how to use glue and scissors…UGH. How to walk in a line and line up UGH!! I have not issues with the academic part it is the social skills part that gets on my nerves. Tying shoes, jackets, lunches….NOPE I can’t anymore. So when 2nd or 3rd grade comes up in conversation I am all ears. I need to you have been in school before you enter my classroom. 1st grade is not bad I loved my 1st graders but something about 2nd and 3rd grade makes my heart sing again. I would take an outside classroom position as intervention with a focus on literacy again. I loved doing it this year but there are things I miss about being in the classroom so I know I am not fully ready to exit the classroom forever. This year rejuvenated my love for teaching again. I miss helping all my students in all things instead of just a focus on one subject.
I am done applying. I will need to make a decision immediately. Gather paperwork and documents and get the ball rolling.
Singapore: they roll in out the middle of nowhere. I applied to them ions ago, I am talking like December. They email asking for a video interview…listen who has time for this in 2023. It was like 6 questions. 1. introduce yourself and why should we hire you (basically) 2. collaboration and what do you bring to the table and what does it look like to you 3. Diversity, inclusion, and equity what it is, what does it look like to you, how will you embrace this 4. classroom management 5. how do you use data to inform instruction 6. how do you engage and setup your classroom to be warm and inviting If they liked that video the next step would be to submit a 15-20 minute lesson with lesson plan and reflection…um am I student teaching again and no one informed me. I might have been okay with the lesson plan but the whole teaching video…um yeah that does not give warm fuzzy feels nor does that make me inclined to complete it.
There are times you want the school to just make the decision for you and say yeah we like you but we went with someone else. Thank you saved me an email rejecting you.
I turn down a few options to interview for a school in Monterrey, Mexico, Abuja, Nigeria and Guangzhou, China, Not because I didn’t want to see what they were talking about but somewhere around interview number 10, I just don’t have it in me to plaster on a smile and sell myself. I also had made a decision I am at peace with.
So I moved to Cairo, Egypt fall 2022. It was gonna be an amazing school year. I was on the continent of Africa. I was living in an Arab country where I know what to expect. The school was amazing. I was out of the classroom. Elise was settling in nicely. She made some friends and she genuinely liked the school.
Then God said…This was not my plan for you.
In October a financial crisis hit Egypt which meant it hit my wallet. I am talking cost of living went up to the point I was struggling like I was in America. Um not what I signed up for. So I cut back unnecessary expenses. We were gonna be okay no worries.
God said….you weren’t listening were you….I said this is not my plan for you.
Work started playing with my money. In other words financial crisis came knocking at my source of income. They legit with a straight face looked at us and said the money runs out in May. We are gonna try to honor your contracts but if the Egyptian pound keeps going up we won’t be able to afford it. Then we get hit with your contracts are next school year and you are taking a 10% pay cut. But don’t worry.
DON’T WORRY!!!!! ARE YOU SERIOUS RIGHT NOW!!!!
I spent 7 days agonizing over what to do next. The plan was stay here for four years. Save some money. Get a house. Climb out of debt. Not worry about money. Yet here I am worry about money and what to do next.
Being a single parent making all these decision by yourself sucks. Like if anything goes wrong it all falls on you. You don’t get to bounce ideas off of anyone or have someone in your corner telling you WE got this. Just me. ALONE!
So I hit the ground running and start applying to new schools.
I wanted to stay but God started yelling at this point. Elise starts pointing all the things wrong with the country. We both agree the school is good but not the country. We go on a trip to Abu Dhabi of all places and she is beside herself comparing.
WORD FROM THE WISE: the moment you start comparing your current life to an old life or what could be in a new life, it’s time to move on. When you are in another country and people who obey road rules is exciting for you, it’s time to leave. Let’s not discuss the liter or clean air. She was excited about people driving in their lanes and not rushing. Me I was happy for fresh air.
When we got to the airport to leave and head back to Egypt I instantly got sad…for a number of seasons but I was sad to return to Egypt. I have struggled to adjust and feel comfortable and home. It feels like a long visit. This is that country that is good to visit but not live. Some people have found this a great place to live and work or even retire to. Personally I don’t like the country. I stay indoors a lot because going out is stressful. Between the dust, trash and impatience of others around me I can’t deal.
Now my school I love. The people are amazing and supportive and I wish I could stay but I rather bounce now while I can and give Elise three years at one school instead of two.
So I am back to the drawing board making my list of what I need from a school AND country. I didn’t factor the country in when making my choice. I was thinking solely about the school. I didn’t make bad choice with the school but I fumbled the ball on the country.
I don’t regret it but I did learn from it.
I decided not to return for several reasons 1. I currently am not able to save 2. I honestly do not like the county Egypt as a whole 3. Things will get worse before it gets better 4. I am not growing as a professional. There are other reasons but those are my top four. So now I am back on the hunt looking for a job. I don’t know what the future holds for me but I am trusting the process.
Someone said there is turmoil between Russia and Ukraine. This placed a strain on certain countries who are dependent on them. Currency fluctuates.
When I came to Egypt 1 USD was worth 19 EGP. Now it is up to 25 EGP (December 2022). What does this mean? Well, inflation hit Egypt. My grocery bill has gone up. My salary increased, but the school cannot afford the pound to go up.
Why can’t the school afford salary….well when you hire 87% foreign staff it gets costly. Tuition has been the same since 2016. This is a problem. I have never worked at a school that did not increase tuition every year. Something about the government not approving it. Something in the milk ain’t clean on that one. Not my monkey, not my show, and definitely above my pay grade.
We sat in a staff meeting where we were told the owners are covering our salaries out of their pockets and they hope to honor our contract until the end of the school year. My man took a breath and said as calmly as he possibly could “the money runs out in May”
Excuse me sir how can they honor our contracts if the money runs out in May and school ends in June and you pay through July. The math ain’t mathing sir.
But wait the conversation keeps going. Next year salaries are changing to a fixed rate. It does not matter what the pound does everyone will get the same rate 21 EGP. Salaries will go from 75 percent USD 25 percent EGP to 70/30. Now on paper, this may not look like much but in reality, it is a pay cut.
But wait there’s more. Homeboy then says I would not work for a company or school that gave their staff pink slips without warning. Twenty-five percent of the staff found out via email that their job was being cut next year, salary being cut, or they are moving from foreign contracts to local contracts. Um sir that is a pink slip without warning. They didn’t pull anyone into a meeting to warn them or prepare them for the changes. Moving from a foreign contract to local contract is more than salary being EGP only, they lost all their benefits. Now some were offered the opportunity to apply for a core classroom subject position. Everyone is allowed out of their contracts.
January update: Since I didn’t post this yet I figure I would give a January update and keep this going until the end of the school year because I got a feeling this will get worse before it gets better.
So the pound goes to 30…..
Now let me pause because there was a meeting in which folks was told they don’t have a job next year. I am talking they decided to stay on a local hire contract or go into the classroom as a core subject teacher…..BAM nope sorry not gonna happen. Positions were cut all together. Literally even after contracts were signed.
Okay so we know the pound is now sitting at 30. What will salary look like this month. Here comes the email. We are sorry to inform you but the board cannot afford 30 pounds so everyone, you are locked in at 24 from December.
Email 2: here are the positions for next year. But first let’s thank those that have done an amazing job but are leaving us.
EVERY SINGLE POSITION IS OPEN FOR LOCAL HIRE!!!!!
Now let me explain that to you: so here you have an “international” school with local hires. Local hires tend not to know about education. This is essential the equivalent of hiring a warm body. This is also a business move because local hires are cheaper. They don’t get the same benefits nor the same pay. Fine whatever. The problem also is not every position needs to be local hire. Example: my position as student support with a focus on literacy. Um English kinda needs to be your first language at the very least Literacy should be your degree. Literally a warm body. Intervention is more than memorizing or reading. Again whatever not my monkey not my show. If you want to hire locals go for it.
Okay so in the international market you get hooked into this idea of an international school. A true international school is a school that has BOTH international teachers AND students. So many have international teachers ONLY! Nothing wrong with this. The problem comes into play when you have children who stand out like a sore thumb in class and on campus swimming in a sea of local students who look nothing them and do not speak the same language. This really does not become a problem until about middle or high school when teenagers become jerks no matter where you live or language you speak. This is a bigger issue when the children are not well traveled and do not have similar experiences. Meaning if all you know is Arabic culture you cannot understand Black American culture and why calling someone a N***a is a problem or why you think women cannot think or speak up for themselves. We won’t even discuss homosexuality or just sex in general.
SIDEBAR: My people it is time to stop using the word N***a. It is toxic and when people of different cultures and nationalities hear it in our music and TV/Movies they think it is okay. Then we wanna get mad….well you say it. If you don’t want others to say it, stop saying it. It’s exhausting to explain why is should not be said. Same goes for women calling each other B****es and whatnot. You get all upset when a dude does but it flows off your tongue all the time. STOP! Please for the love of the English Language just stop!
Most well versed adults try to understand others. I raise my daughter to understand other and look at their point of view or culture. That courtesy is not extended. I also raise her to ask questions. This gets her in trouble more often than not because teachers think she is being rude or disrespectful…no she truly wants to know the why. So if you are in an Asian culture where kids just take your world for it and here is this little black girl asking questions for a deeper understanding, it’s a problem.
Schools love to say they are diverse but diverse to them is white diversity. Nope that is not what I mean. Will my child and I be the only black people on campus? So yes you hire teachers with foreign passports but none of them look like me. How will I be treated as a teacher? Will I have explain myself and show I belong at the table? Will I have more degrees than my boss? Will you micromanage me? Will I be the spokesperson for all things black? How will my child be treated not just by the staff but the other children? Will you address the racism that is bound to happen or will you sweep under the rug and allow me out of my contract to save face? You think your staff ain’t racist but you have never hired a black person to know. You think the kids aren’t but you have never had another black student to know. Being the token black person is exhausting. Being the only American is exhausting. So when a school says they are international I listen for how they explain it. If the teachers hold passports from other white countries but near a none of them are black….that is just white diversity. If their students were born in another country but raised in the current local country…that is not international. You will find a lot this where people who live in a country with a weak passport, having their child in the UK or US or even Canada for the passport privilege but raise their child in the weak passport country. I had plenty kids in Kuwait who had UK passports but were raised in Kuwait. Same in China….born in America with an American passport but raised in China. When they register for school they use their international passport to throw the numbers to make it seem like it is an international school. ALWAYS look at the school website and social media pages. It will tell you all you need to know. These schools are considered private schools: schools with international teachers but local students.
Local schools are just that…schools that are nothing but local students. They hold a local passport both parents are local. There are mostly public schools that will hire foreign staff. In most cases your children cannot attend these schools. They will either cover tuition at another school or you homeschool your child or you foot the bill for tuition.
English schools: I don’t want to throw shade but I am so sorry you cannot get a certificate on Groupon and call yourself a teacher. Just because English is your first language you should not teach English. You can and some people find success doing so. However I am a certified teacher who went to university so I will NEVER support Groupon certificates. These jobs are popular in Asian countries. I don’t know what the pay looks like. I don’t know what the benefits are. That is not my journey. I will say Groupon will limit you to Asian countries and teaching English only in those type of “schools”. You could NEVER teach in a traditional classroom setting because you do not have the correct credentials. My degree and license will ALWAYS produce top dollar and benefits.
I’m gonna throw IB schools in here because this is becoming a buzz word with teaching overseas. PLEASE do your due diligence. If you are IB trained and certified you know what to look for. Something that happens is these schools will get these fancy accreditations…I mean go through all the steps and money….and fall off and not keep up with any of it. It becomes accreditation in name only. If you have students in high school make sure that their high school diploma will have value outside of that country. Again a real, tried and true international school will keep up with all of it. These private schools however will fluff with the smoke screen and mirrors. Some schools want to go the IB route but refuse to invest the money to do so. Teachers must be trained. Admin must be trained. As a teacher do not be afraid to try British, Canadian, Australian schools…trust the standards are not that far off from each other. If nothing else brush up on the lingo for whatever system you are applying to. My early years teachers Reggio inspired classrooms are becoming a thing. Play based, inquiry based, PYP…..schools are leaving common core and rigor. Students are not learning and teachers are not teaching.
International schools: teachers, admin, and students are international/foreign/expat in both passport and location. They were not born and raised in the country they are teaching in. Private schools: international and local teachers and local students Local schools: mostly local teachers and admin with a few international teachers and local students English schools: not my monkey, not my show TEFL, CELTA certificates with so many clock hours
Listen first off I hate apartment hunting. I am picky. I have a vision. I need the apartment to literally speak to me or I won’t like it. I can overlook the neighborhood but my space is sacred and I treat it as such upon entry. We started apartment the day after we landed. I hated it. I saw I don’t know how many apartments. I didn’t like any of them. I didn’t like any of the neighborhoods. It was one of those situations where if I could pick pieces of all the apartments I saw I could have a great apartment. I kinda sort of liked 3 apartments. I liked one the most of the three but it still felt like settling. I gotta sleep in this place and I gotta like doing so. I might want people to visit and I want people to like to visit my space.
The apartment was 2 bedrooms 1 full bath and a half bath with a shared garden, a reception area, sitting area, dining room Amazing lighting. Great space. I saw it twice to make sure I liked it. I was already to sign the contract and hand over my money. Then here comes this owner being ridiculous. She wanted the payment in USD. Okay listen here is why this is problem. I can’t just walk into a bank and exchange Egyptian pounds for dollars. There are steps and paperwork. Then she wanted this done every month. Okay yeah no. So the broker was trying to get her to agree to Egyptian pounds. At first she said yes but then she said no. I go to plan B because this ain’t looking good. I use another reference and make an appointment. I tell the new broker about the apartment show him pictures and he contacts the lady. He informs me that she has 6 offers and is looking to see who will give her the most in USD. He says he doesn’t like working with people like her. Her apartment has been on the market since June. Say less. The new broker shows me an apartment that is being renovated. Literally as we walk in they are renovating the apartment. The only thing I did not like was the kitchen. I was smallish. No microwave. The stove was small but I was not expecting a large stove because it is not common. Also no TV. However it is 3 bedrooms. 2 balconies. 1 full bath and a half bath. Dinning room. Reception area. Large living room. The space was amazing. The area was quiet. Nothing but expats in the building. No elevator. I am walking around the space and I am visualizing how to decorate and make it mine. The owner speaks English and negotiates the price from 15k to 14k which includes everything (gas, maintenance, trash, security) but the wifi and electricity. I actually upgraded from the previous space. More space. Better view. New furniture. Renovated space. The broker knows of cleaning people to help me keep the place clean. I am around the corner from the shops. I see a bunch of teens and expats outside. Yes please and thank you.
Increase the Pay bottom line there is no way around this. I personally worked two-three jobs one school year. I worked summer school as well. This is a problem. I have THREE degrees. I am a single parent. I struggled to make my ends meet. I was not living a lavish lifestyle. I rented my apartment and was one of the few people who lived in the same city as my school. Most lived 30-90 minutes away. How can we effectively and realistically build relationships within our communities that we teach when we cannot afford to live there. I get the cost of living varies from state to state city to city but come on people when you can make more money at Target we have a problem. Education is very backbone of any society. We are only as smart as our education system. We FAIL our society when we do not take education serious. You have to pay teachers more. Base salary first year teacher with a Bachelors degree $75k yearly. Base salary first year teacher with a Masters degree $80k yearly. Doctorate degree $90k. At some point within five years teachers should see $100k. Bonuses should happen especially you are gonna tie our pay to student performance. Housing stipends. Tax breaks. Student loan forgiveness without all the red tape. Childcare breaks/stipends. Paid maternity leave I’m talking 8 to 12 weeks minimum. Moving stipend. Sign on bonus. Retention bonus. You have to show people you value them. Teachers make the world go round. If we all walked out right now this whole country would shut down. Remember the fuss created about the school buildings closing for COVID…teachers can SHUT THIS WHOLE COUNTRY DOWN!!!!! Respect us. Pay us.
Reduce class size and put a cap on it IMMEDIATELY!!!! elementary should not have more than 15 students in a class without a paraeducator/teacher assistant. Now listen just because you add another teacher to the classroom does not mean you need to add more kids. That is insanity and that is called a loophole. Stop doing it. Preschools and daycares cannot have a bunch of kids in a classroom without a certain teacher to child ratio. Schools should have one as well. Middle school should not have more than 20 kids per class and guess what there should be a paraeducator as well. Paraeducator should remain FOREVER in the classroom. Our students have so many various needs ONE person can only do so much and in order to be effective and provide student with individualized and differentiated instruction and an another teacher in the classroom permanently full-time would go a long way. That achievement gap will finally close.
Accountability Everyone needs to held accountable from the students to the parents. From admin to the BOE. Teachers are blamed for everything and we seriously have little control over 95% of the decisions being made. Students are not held accountable to the point they are violent and aggressive towards teachers and students. There is no structure at home so they fight structure at school. Parents are also hostile towards teachers. They are degrading their children are watching and listening, which spills into the classroom. The BOE is tying admins hands which means they cannot help us when need help. So we suffer, struggle, and drown. We should not have to shelter in place ten minutes after students arrive because a student is terrorizing anyone in their path. It should not take four adults to restrain a child from harming themselves and others. Parents are not reachable when there is an issue. Students cannot be suspended. Teachers cannot fail students. So all that happens is students get passed on with files so thick it’s like an encyclopedia volumes kindergarten through 12th grade. NOTHING is happening because there is no accountability. I am all for understanding and extending grace but at some point we gotta thing a thing and stop making excuses. Why are students not getting enough sleep? Why are they coming to school hungry? Why are they living in a hostile environment? Why does it take 6 months to get the ball rolling on referrals to get help for a child with clear issues? Why are the lights off at home? Why are teachers being held responsible for things out of their control? If a child is sleepy and hungry they cannot learn but here the powers that be go telling us here is the state mandated test that is tied to your performance. Student A fails because they were sleepy and hungry. Student B fails because English is not their first language. Student C fails because they are operating below grade level. Student D fails because they have test anxiety. Student E fails because they just clicked through the test not paying attention. Now the teacher is labeled ineffective based on ONE test. Yet we don’t provide grades based on ONE thing.
The system is flawed and it is failing. The system will continue to fail as long as we keep slapping band-aid solutions on problems that need surgery. The system needs to be gutted and revamped. The system is not keeping up the research or times. I promise if you sit with teachers we can tell you what is wrong and how to fix it. We are in the trenches we see it daily. We are problem solvers by nature. We know what we are doing. Trust us and I promise it will get fixed.
If you have paid attention to any news headline in any given state, district you have seen a teacher shortage and districts scrambling to figure out at the last minute how to fill HUNDREDS of positions. Just do a quick Google Search: teacher shortage and watch what comes up.
Now let me tell you, this did not happen overnight. This did not start with COVID or any controversial issue or curriculum mandate or even laws/regulations put into place. This started DECADES AGO!!!! You hear me DECADES!!!
I remember being high school wanting to become a teacher and being asked “are you sure? They do not get paid what they are worth. Things are changing. It is not just a job.” I heard those voices from teachers in the back of my mind as I struggled to make a decision. I remember sitting in a class at the local community college and teachers were present because they had to earn so many college credits to maintain their certification. SAY WHAT NOW!!! You mean to tell me I have a degree, I have to keep going to school after I graduate. PLOT TWIST: you pay for that course out of your pocket, if you are lucky enough the district pays or reimburses you. That reimbursement comes with so much red tape so many just don’t even bother. If the district pays it will be course work that will not benefit you or your students because the information will be so outdated and irrelevant the course will bore you to tears. Then came No Child Left Behind…listen they left so many children behind with that. That expired and we got Every Child Will Succeed…more lies and smoke screens. The achievement gap is not Grand Canyon wide and deep. Guess what population of students constantly get the short end of the stick? Guess who is still being left behind, who is affected the most by laws/regulations/decisions, guess who is stuck in overcrowded classrooms with mold, outdated textbooks, astronomical amounts of behavior challenges, lack of resources, high teacher turnover, high discipline issues and issued….let me spell it out for you
Our black and brown children. Our children whose parents cannot afford the after school tutor. Our children who are coming from working class and the working poor. It is not just the poor anymore. If you do not have the means for tutors your child will suffer. If you do not have books of all genres in your house, your child will suffer. If you are working and your child goes to before and/or after school care, your child will suffer. If you have older children who are in sports and now the whole family is going to and fro to support games and practices, your child will suffer. If you are not carving out time to sit and talk with and to your child, your child will suffer. This is no longer about who is not going on family vacations. This is about BASIC everyday skills that we forget/forgot about. TALKING at this point is a lost art. When a child enters kindergarten and did not attend pre-k or preschool, they are starting FIVE YEARS BEHIND!!!! Kindergarten: they are expected to read by the end generally a level D (at least 4 sentences on a page, familiar and unfamiliar words/vocabulary, fiction and non-fiction), write a paragraph (4 sentences)
Now think about that child who comes into school only knowing their name. Not recognizing it just knowing it when an adult calls it and I am talking about their government name. Our roster does not have nicknames on it. We get the name on the birth certificate. This child comes into our classroom and they are expected to end at the same place as the child who comes in knowing all their letter and some letter sounds, can write their first name, and can read a few words (like, see, the, cat, dog). Then there is that child that can write their first and last names, read a book and tell you what it was about, knows all the letter sounds, has traveled outside of their state and should probably skip a grade but socially they are not ready. Again all are expected to end at the same place but when they start they are at different places. Now let’s add that child who has delay but we don’t know it so we monitor their development. Add the behavior child. The child who’s native tongue is not English. We do not have only five children in our classrooms. So take each child and multiple it by five. That’s being nice to have it evenly split. Most cases it is not and our classrooms are always unbalanced. There is no full time assistant teacher in the classroom in kindergarten. Some states still have this but not all. Some states have a cap on the number of students allowed and some do not and some just don’t care. Those kindergarten students come to first grade rather they are on grade level or not. Then they keep going up and up no matter what. Most districts won’t even entertain retaining a child until 3rd grade. You know how much damage is done by 3rd grade. Every research shows that if a child is NOT on grade level by the end of 3rd grade they may not ever catch up. They look at 3rd grade reading levels and determine if the child will grow up to live a life a crime. Jails and prisons are full of adults who are illiterate and struggled academically. Education has become a business. Education and the school to prison pipeline are now full-time partners. “Politicians and journalists often claim prison planners use third grade reading scores to predict the number of future prison beds needed” from The Relationship Between Incarceration and Low Literacy https://literacymidsouth.wordpress.com/2016/03/16/incarceration-and-low-literacy/
PROBLEM 1: Over Crowded Classrooms
24 kids plus ONE adult in a space meant for 15 kids is a problem. We can all safely agree that the kids today are not the same as ten or twenty years ago. When you have 24 kids plus ONE teacher, that one teacher is over used. Kids do not all come to school the same way. Six kid is coming to school hungry and sleepy. One kid is being molested/neglected/abused. Two kid has BOTH parents involved and part of the PTA, checks homework every night, stays in contact, and wants to know how to help and support. One kid is one grade level behind. Five kids are two grade levels behind. Ten are three grade levels behind. Four kid you wonder what have they being the entire time they have been in school because every day is ground zero where nothing sticks, so now you gotta fill out paperwork and document everything to get some help (this process takes 30-90 days to just get the ball rolling, the actual plan/diagnosis will not happen for another 30-90 days before you know it, it is spring and school is coming to a close). One kid will be on grade level and is excited to come to school and learn. One kid will have a behavior problem and terrorize the class and school everyday they show up. 15 will not speak English as their native language. 4 will have an IEP. 5 will have a 504 plan. Now the curriculum that we are to teach does not make any room for these kids. The curriculum is only for the kids that are on grade level and/or have parental/family support at home. There is no way to give all these children the individualized attention they need, require, and demand. That kid who demands the attention rather through positive means or negative gets the attention. We cannot be every where at ONE time in the overcrowded classroom.
Problem 2: lack of resources
Any successful classroom has resources from materials to people. Kids cannot learn in a prison type environment but guess how many classroom look like that before teacher spruce it up to look warm and inviting. These resources cost money. So every year teachers are shelling out THOUSANDS of dollars out of their own pocket to create that warm and inviting classroom. Check out #clearthelist #clearthelist2022 #clearthelists #clearthelists2022 on twitter and you will see THOUSANDS of teachers asking for help and support to fund their classrooms.
Resources also means school supplies, listen parents that list is because we know not every child is going to come to school with school supplies and yes we use expo markers in small groups, we use post-it notes while reading along with highlighters. Just get the supplies please. We as teachers need supplies too. If lessons are not engaging your child is not learning.
Resources also means other teachers. ESOL, SPED, Guidance Counselors, Paraeducators, Building Service, Cafeteria Workers, Bus Drivers, Parent Liaison, Therapists (speech, OT, PT, psychologist) Special Teachers (PE, Art, Music) Media Specialist, Intervention Teachers we need every single adult in that building and then some more extras like our substitute teachers. Budget cuts reduce our support staff every single year. Most of our support staff are not just at one school sometimes they are at two or three schools sometimes the whole cluster of schools which can be up to 6 or 7.
Problem 3: Lack of admin support
Now I am clearly aware of times when administration has their hands tied by the district and the policies the district has in place. However I have worked with admin that does what needs to be to retain their teachers and will go to bat for their staff.
When that behavior child is raining terror and we call for help, just know we have tried everything in our power and now we need reinforcements. What we get however is the child right back in our classroom within five minutes of sending them to you.
Let me give you an example: Student A is upset because they are being asked to complete work. Student A begins yelling and screaming “I hate school, you can’t make me do this” Okay teacher calmly talks to student “Please stop yelling, you are right, I can’t make you do this. Do you need help? Let’s do two problems together and then you can take a break for 5 minutes. We will set a timer” Student” F*&% you, you stupid b*&^%” Then proceeds to throw things. Now the teacher has some choices to make because now student A has become a danger to others and the situation is escalating. Teacher evacuates the classroom to keep the other students safe however Student A is still in the class throwing things and screaming. Admin is called they remove the student. The classroom is a mess. Teacher calls students for a class meeting to do a check-in to answer questions, calm students down, ensure them they are okay and safe now. Everyone begins to clean up a mess they did not make and enters Student A with a smile and candy. What the entire f*&^. Admin tells the student “now remember what we talked about, you promised you make better choices” Admin walks away. Teacher is dumbfounded and students are now upset “how come they get candy?” Teacher has no answers. Student A does not make better choices repeat what just happened. Now a teacher can only take so much of this before is wears on the nerves, physical and mental health. Kids no longer feel safe. Teacher no longer feels safe. Student A gets to do whatever they want and receive candy for their behavior. What message have we just sent? This is first grade not middle or high school. FIRST GRADE and that was the tame version of that story.
Problem 4: District Policies
I won’t stay here long because this one is exhausting and irritating. Just know that people in charge do not always have education degrees, have not always taught in the classroom and are so far removed from current present day issues they should not be in charge.
Problem 5: Salary
To tell a teacher that they knew what they were signing up for is an insult. To say teachers are in it for the outcome and not the income is an insult. Teachers should NOT have to work two jobs just to make ends meet. I am not talking about living the lifestyle of the rich and famous or even living outside of our means. BASIC EVERYDAY LIVING IS EXPENSIVE!!! Our salaries are not keeping up with the cost of living. When we have to beg for an increase and then slapped with a 1% increase that is an insult. Remember we are required to get college credits to maintain our certification. We are asking for a livable wage. Our salary should not be voted on every year by people who are not in our shoes and have no clue. First year teachers with one degree should be making at bare minimum 70k a year and a 5k yearly increase. First year with a masters should be making at bare minimum 80k a year and a 7k yearly increase. Student loans cost money to repay. Student loan forgiveness is not granted to everyone. Not every teacher is married.
PLOT TWIST: you can check your local school district’s salary schedule to see how much they are paying teachers, administrator, etc. All of this information is public. Do not focus on the average that is inaccurate information. We are required to get a bachelors degree plus take state exams. Most of us go on to get a graduate degree to increase our salary. We take college courses to maintain our certificate, so we end up with college credits but without that degree it is just additional credits. Our salary does not match cost of living nor out student loan debt. Add in children and we get two and three jobs JUST TO SURVIVE! We should not have to ask for supplies and resources for our classrooms.
Problem 6: outdated curriculums
This is minor major problem. At this point just stop purchasing curriculums and trust teachers to do our jobs without following a boxed curriculum created by a non-educator. There is no room for individualized and differentiated instruction to the point we are constantly supplementing. Listen Teacherspayteachers should not exist but it does because of the ridiculousness of these curriculums. In addition they end of purchasing a new curriculum and we are back at ground zero learning a new curriculum and trying to make it work for our students.
Problem 7: no work-life balance
Somewhere people expect teachers to work past their contracted hours and say nothing. Teaching is a 12 month job but we only get paid for 10. PLOT TWIST: not every teacher gets paid through the summer. So now we are working over the summer on top attending PDs. There are countless amount of teachers who try to create a work-life balance and not take work home and not stay past their contracted hours but struggle because we want to do what is best for our students. We often neglect ourselves. The amount of teachers who have high blood pressure and UTIs are astronomical. Yes we get a lunch break but often times we are working through our lunch breaks unpaid to return phone calls, answer emails, make copies, lesson plan, deal with students, grade papers, update grade books, update documentations, attend meetings…our breaks are never truly free unless we hid buy turning off our lights and locking our doors or sit in our cars. Elementary teachers are with their students all day. Secondary teachers are with students all day. Some have lunch and recess duties. Some have arrival and dismissal duties. Please stop telling us to use our time wisely when we don’t have time.
Problem 8: the abuse
I am not going to tip-toe around it and call it anything but abuse. From the verbal abuse to the physical abuse. At some point you say enough is enough. Our students abuse us and most are protected by IEPs and 504s so we are told to suck it up and deal with it or document it so that their plans can be adjusted (THIS TAKES 6 to 8 WEEKS!!!) Our students are cursing at us and saying things that should not be coming out of a child’s mouth. The utter disrespect has increased to the point it feels like we are in a war zone. Parents are physically and verbally abusing us. Politicians are verbally and physically abusing us. Administrators, district office, school board…everyone! Everything is blamed on teachers and I promise we are the most powerless. We are told what to teach and when to teach it. Now we are being told how to teach. Our salary is voted is on, we have little to no opportunity to negotiate our salaries. We are told what we need to keep our certificate. We are told how many students are in our class. We are told what to do from the time we sign that contract to the time we resign/retire. Teachers are NOT the ones you need to be mad at. We have been conditioned to take the abuse because we love our kids. We have been conditioned not strike and stand up for ourselves because we are in it for the kids. We are in for the outcome not the income. Teachers have a heart of gold. Teaching is a calling. NOW because the shortage has gotten out of control ANYONE with a high school diploma can go into a classroom and be a ‘teacher’. Okay good luck with that. There are going to be more issues on hand with this move.
Problem 9: lack of accountability
Okay listen teachers are not robots nor are the students. When students and parents are allowed to abuse teachers there is no respect. NO respect no control. NO respect no control = chaos. School and classrooms have become chaos. Education has become a circus. Everyone is pointing fingers. Everyone is arguing and fighting over something from CRT to COVID. The children are running a muck and no one is helping teachers get them under control. They are seeing violence outside of school at home in the community on social media and they bring it to school in the classrooms. Teachers are called to educate. Teachers are now called to defend and put their lives on the line for their students. So one more thing added to overflowing plates.
If America truly wants to fix/solve the problem, they have to get to the heart of the matter. Talk with teachers. We will tell you what the issues are. We will tell you what we need and want. It is not complicated. These issues did not happen overnight and they will not be resolved overnight. However if you want quality education, you must treat education like it matters. You must treat it with quality. It starts with the teachers, those are educating students.
It has been four year since my world was turned upside down. I am finding the month of March being super hard for me. Well it starts at my birthday. I would have never known my 37th birthday would have been the last time I heard my mama say happy birthday. March 24th I relive those seven days one agonizing day at a time. I knew life was fragile and short. I lost my dad when I was 16. I knew to cherish every moment you have and love those you love while you can. BUT NOTHING can fully prepare you. When you hear hospice you think…let me rephrase that when I heard hospice I heard “you have time to prepare and transition” In reality I was in denial. I remember sitting on the couch minding my business and my mama hands me a brochure for caskets…..WHOA LADY!!!!! She said she wanted to plan her funeral when Chris came home…. WHOA LADY!!!!! You are fine everything is fine. We are fine.
The lies I told myself. I just needed my mama to be fine. I was not ready. She had made peace with it all and that is purpose of Hospice to help the family to make peace. Kinda hard to make peace when my mama was sitting up talking, laughing, being her normal self life nothing was wrong.
I don’t think you can really prepare and accept death when it happens. When she lost consciousness I knew what happening in that moment but it didn’t click until I had to look at my child the next morning and tell her. I knew there were things we had to do and people we had to call but it just didn’t make a whole lot of sense.
I am gonna try to finish the story. We helped her out the bed and I remember saying “Chris I have dead weight” and all three of us kinda sitting on the floor. She was in and out of consciousness and then she just didn’t wake up. I kept saying breathe. I don’t know it I was talking to her or myself. Mama you are fine, we are fine. I call 911 and the hospice nurse. The hospice nurse is 45 minutes to an hour away. EMT are on their way. 911 is telling us how to perform CPR. Mama had a DNR in place so we just listened to the steps. Chris is a registered EMT so he knew what to do. The ambulance comes and we are like DO NOT WAKE THEM KIDS!!! They did not see nor hear any of this. They call it at 1:55 am. That is a night I will never forget. Those are images I will never forget. I was not ready.
Now here I am four years later angry and hurt. Sad and confused. Blessed to have memories and knowing I had an amazing mother who loved me, provided for me and laid and excellent foundation. Grief is not linear. You never really fully stop grieving you just learn to move forward with it. I carry her and my daddy with me daily. I wish they where here to see me and keep guiding me. I wish Elise knew my daddy. I wish I had more time with both of them.
Listen this school year reminded me why I left in the first place.
Politics and Education DO NOT MIX!!!!
Overcrowded classrooms. Lack of parental support. No planning time. No work-life balance. High stress levels. I legit lost ten pounds from September to November. Behaviors have skyrocketed. It is no longer worth it. I do not like any of my kids. I can tell you my favorite kid from the time I started worked in preschool up until this year. I am happy when even one of my kids are absent. They aren’t horrible kids I just do not have the energy anymore. I have twenty-one kids and only three are on grade level. There is not enough time in my day to catch them up. There is not enough flexibility with the curriculum to provide them with what they need. They cannot work independently so small groups becomes a challenge. I barely eat lunch because I have to prepare for the afternoon. I work in shifts, I make sure my morning is ready and then I work on the afternoon during lunch. I leave work at work. I do not work at home. On top of that things happened with admin at my school, so we are missing that piece. No admin support because we have not had consistent admin in the building to support us. No plan in place to deal with these ridiculous behaviors.
There are more than enough news reports on education and the pandemic. Lack of substitute teachers, bus drivers going on strike, inflation affecting lunch menu options, parents mad about virtual learning, parents made about masks mandates, parents mad about the air at this point, teachers more overwhelmed than usual….the list goes on and on. Just sit and talk with an educator, Titanic finally hit the iceberg and it is sinking. Trust we have only hit the tip and things are only going to get worse.
Elise is ready to go as well. She wants to travel again. She wants friends that make sense. She doesn’t want to worry about school shootings and fights. TikTok challenges are not a thing. Yes the kids have it but the do not take it seriously. Kids abroad take their education slightly more seriously. Parents are slightly more involved. Admin is more supportive and you are trusted to do your job. You are treated as a professional.
I did not have to pick up a side job just to make my ends meet. I am ready to go back to where life was simpler and easier. It was utopia but it was not political.
I am just hoping and praying that the boarders do not close on me and I can get out safely. My main focus has been in the Middle East and Africa.
I have had one interview before holiday break and hoping that once holiday break is over I get more interviews and offers start coming. I will land where I am meant to be.
My brother is supportive of my going. Elise is onboard with us going. That is all that matters and my brother’s vote is extra. As long as Elise is good, I am good.
Here is my timeline for the 2022-2023 recruitment season
Joined http://www.iss.edu and http://www.schrole.com It was $75 each. I applied to schools that I are considered top tier. Some schools you can apply directly and others you have to use a platform. I have mentioned before there is a difference between an international school and a private school. I joined http://www.teacherhorizon.com which is free. I use this to cross reference and check schools to see their local and international population. I then go to the school website and instagram to check if they are really international. There are times international is focused more on the passport but the child is still being raised in the country. This is more common in Asian countries. I already know there will not be a bunch of black faces but what I will not do is bunch of local students. Nothing wrong with it but I have a child to consider. Generally speaking when the local population is higher than the expat/international population, you face more challenges. Example: grades are given, they are more concerned about the locals than your child, parents are annoying or disconnected, students are rude and entitled (they know mama and daddy got money so they do not care) When there is a balance or expat/international population is higher people tend to take education more seriously and set the expectations accordingly.
I am still applying because by this point current teachers have started turning in their commitments for the upcoming school year. Recruitment fairs are happening. Schools need to get started on paperwork and visas. They want people in place before the first day of school. I had one interview before break. It went well but now I have to wait until after break and they are on break until January 9. The waiting game begins. I join https://www.internationalschoolsreview.com its $29 a year. I look on here to see the school reviews. I take it with a grain of salt because most people write a review when they are upset. I also look at what is being said in the review, what are they really complaining about. If it is admin, I check to see if that admin is still there. Is it about upper school, secondary…I do not work in those departments. Is it about the country…what are we really complaining about, you are a guest in their country. White people (both sexes) will have a different experience from black people. Being a black female I will have a different experience from a black male. Being single and a single parent is different from being married or single with no children. All of these need to be considered. I am making connections and joining Facebook groups to see what life will be like in other countries. I’m thinking about the documents I will need to gather. Thinking about what to do with my stuff, sell it, trash it, give it away, put it in storage…I do not know yet. I do not plan on coming back but I didn’t think I would be back this time. What would I bring with me or ship over.
The waiting game…Listen January DRAGS on and on forever. Waiting is not fun. I am making a list of things I need to get authenticated and completed. 1. degrees ( might as well order these along with official transcripts) 2. birth certificates (I need Elise’s for sure and I grab mine just in case) 3. FBI clearance (this I have to wait until they tell me to get it, I am hoping they do not need one from China cause I have no idea how I would even begin to get a police clearance from China. I still have the police clearance from Kuwait.) 4. physical (agin I will have to wait until they tell me to get it)
I forgot how long it takes between interviews and the actually offer. I had my first interview with a school in December before the winter break. Their winter break ended Jan 9 but they were thrown into virtual learning last minute and news came about an event coming into the country. Okay so I had an interview with a school in Qatar. No need to keep that part a secret. So with the World Cup coming the ministry made changes to the 2022-2023 school calendar. Enrollment for admissions are happening. January is a busy month internationally. During my wait, I had an interview with a school in Egypt. Listen I do not want to live in Egypt. I did not even live my weekend trip to the pyramids. Glad I got to see the pyramids but I just cannot see myself living in Egypt. I sent a thank you email to the Qatar and then I got my second interview. Let me express my excitement about the 2nd interview: science of reading and the focus on reading and literacy. We spent a large amount of time discussing what this looks like and why it is so important. They are shifting things to help teachers understand the importance of literacy and what it should look like. I shared how I want to shift out the classroom to do intervention and support literacy. Also if I am offered this position and accept, I have the option send Elise to another school in Qatar and they reimburse me for the cost. They said I will hear back sometime this week. Egypt said it would be a couple of weeks. I have applied to all the schools I wanted to apply to and few I did not think about until I did some research. My heart is in the Middle East though. Living and working in Qatar would be great for both myself and Elise. I continue to wait. Last week in January: I didn’t hear anything but on Sunday January 30 I got an email to meet at my earliest convenience. I brush my teeth and washed my face and said I could meet today or anytime this week. It was around 5:30 am. Hopped on to a video chat and was asked if I would like to be considered for a reading specialist position. Hell Yeah!!! I didn’t say that but I smiled and very excitedly shared my Yes I would like to be considered for a reading specialist position. They are seeing the effects of COVID on their students and want to jump on it and help fill gaps. My background and experience helps. This is right up my alley. They said it would be for two years and I would shift back into the classroom….um yeah I know how to work this were I can stay in the position permanently. However I am jumping on any opportunity to get out the classroom sooner rather than later. I should hear back around Tuesday or Wednesday. This is a new position and it is tentative. Prayers going up and fingers-crossed and all that jazz so that if this position is mine I am blessed with the opportunity to do so. I am excited thinking about it. Time to gather up my materials and resources for this position.
Interview with a school in Rome, Italy….ITALY who can pass up this opportunity. Me… I will pass up on this opportunity. Why TAXES!!!!! The salary is good but I would have to budget and potentially supplement my income. Okay Let me explain it like I have some sense. 1. as a US citizen I have no taxes for the first two years after than here comes a 40% tax rate. Now they have a new tax thing where if I know I am staying for longer than 2 years say 4 since Elise will attend high school in Italy….I could start paying taxes my first year and won’t see this huge sticker shock year 3. That makes it a little better but I am waiting to see actually numbers. 2. I have to pay for rent and utilities. That just sounds horrible at this point to pay bills and taxes. Like what is the point. It was mentioned if I live near the school I could find an apartment for 900 Euros. The further away from the school the higher the rent, then I would have to think about commute and expenses for that. 3. I have to pay for Elise to attend school with me.
Listen all I heard was money leaving my pocket instead of staying. They do put into social security. The salary is decent but once I start paying bills will I be able to save and travel? Eh it does not look like it. I am gonna look for apartments and see about average cost of utilities and food to see if I can survive on my salary but again it does not look like it. I am single with a dependent. I need all my coins.
SIDEBAR: waiting is discouraging. It is mid-February and I still have not received an offer. The school in Egypt said they will follow up about an intervention position. The school in Qatar said they are waiting on approval and these things take time. I have stopped applying because I am being selective and do not want to apply for the sake of applying. I have started looking at private and charter schools here in the states. I have not taken Target off the table. I know I need to be patient and it is still early but I am getting anxious.
Still waiting. I had my follow up interview with the school in Egypt. I keep telling myself it is still early. Be patient it will happen when it is time to happen. I told my principal I won’t be returning next school year and to be on the lookout for reference checks.
Pack your patience folks. Recruiting moves at its own pace.
New school enters in stage left. A school in Indonesia contacted me for interview. A few schools I have always wanted to apply to had openings so I applied with a smile on my face. I started applying to independent schools in the DMV area. I just don’t think I can take that pay cut. A job opportunity kinda feel into lap via Facebook. I am keeping all options open. I just cannot risk staying at my current school with the current climate of anything goes with these kids and lack of support from admin.
This month has me still waiting so far. I ended February with interview number 3 with the school in Egpyt. It truly seems like the ideal job and position. A job where I am trusted to do my job. I pull a small group of kids to help support their development and fill the gaps. I am trusted to do that in ways that I see fit. No set curriculum. No one breathing down my next. No unnecessary pressure. A team of four including myself. I would support 3rd grade, since they are below grade level it is still what I am used to. It is me looking at data and looking at foundational learning and where they are to help them move to next steps. Um yes please and thank you. I do not get to pull small groups like I need to this year but when I do I see the improvements and benefits. Whole group instruction is trash when more than 50% of your class is below grade level. Whole group instruction only works when kids are ready for the content and the learning gap is astronomical. The school Indonesia did not pan out. I wasn’t even impressed in the interview. I have not heard back from the school in Qatar. I spoke with a friend who works at the school I interviewed with and she confirmed my thoughts that I will be free professionally to do what needs to be done and Elise will be fine at the school. I did not even know she worked there. Small world. She and her husband have been there 3 years going on another year. That speaks volumes in the international world. She said I can live off of 1,000 EP that is roughly 63 USD. Um listen that is a tank of gas at this point. I can’t even get groceries for 63 dollars. Still not 100% sold on living in Cairo but at least the school will be what I need. The school will be what Elise needs. I can pick my own accommodations. I know what to expect with Arabs. I do not have high expectations living in Cairo. I have visited. I am okay with living there. I just need to offer on paper to see what I am working with. The idea is growing on me. I roughly scanned Google for accommodations in Cairo just to get an idea. Again the idea is growing on me. I will more than likely accept it. I will stop applying. I have a good feeling about the school. I know from my experience at my last school in China that the school can make or break your experience in a country. I hated my last school which in turn made me hate the city and country. Cairo may end up being my diamond in the rough.
is finding me with schools coming out the woodwork contacting me to schedule interviews. March is considered the height of recruitment season. 1. current teachers have made it official they are or are not returning 2. student enrollment is happening so these two things give schools a better idea of what to plan for. They also know the paperwork takes forever and you need time to process the paperwork and just in case there is a mistake or challenges arise then you have space and opportunity to fix it. So March you will see the ball rolling and quickly. Guess who still hasn’t ordered any documents. UGH. I am going to order my documents right now as I type this. I was contacted by a school in Hong Kong and South Korea both are highly coveted schools. Qatar did not get approval for the position they were wanting for me. Waiting on my references for the school in Egypt and now I will entertain Hong Kong and South Korea and see what they are talking about. The school in both would have Elise and me on two different campuses. Hong Kong is a Christian school near the water. Again I will see what they are talking about both are classroom positions. May the best man win at this point. Wherever we are supposed to be that is where we will go. I applied to a school in Kenya AGAIN!. Listen every time I catch a position open that I qualify for, I apply. I usually get the rejection email in a couple of days. It gets depressing but I try until one day they say yes. I really want to teach in Africa and I LOVED Kenya when I was there. We shall see what happens. Tick Tock goes the clock.
Damn the interview with Hong Kong was amazing. Why did it have to go well? Why couldn’t they have been stiff and stupid? Why did they have to actually be diverse and mostly expats? I will double check this information because you know I need facts not passports. They did say they have a cap of no more than 30% local population and let’s face it Hong Kong is not Mainland. UGH!!!! Let me go look on these people website to see if I really want to work and live in Hong Kong.
Just finished my interview with the school in South Korea, if Elise was elementary I would have jumped on it but she would be high school and the high school is mostly locals and I cannot take that risk with her. Elementary campus is more diverse. So now I have to narrow life down to HK or Egypt. My information is with HR in Egypt so that offer should be coming next week. I will schedule a meeting with the head of school in HK. I will pray and meditate on both. It is matter of where can I live for the next four years. Where would be best fit for the next four years. Where is going to propel me towards my goals. This is gonna take some chart paper with pros and cons for the schools and the country. I need to see both offers to see that comparison. Career wise Egypt would be best I would already be out the classroom. HK I would have the option and opportunity for career growth, development, and change. HK school would be better for Elise to start because there are expats. Listen I don’t like making these kinda decisions.
My wall right now. I have little things to big things. Things that do matter and don’t really matter. I wanted to be honest and take a hard look at the bigger picture. I will be in either Egypt or Hong Kong for at least 4 years. Both schools are dope and there are no issues there for neither myself or Elise. It literally will come down which country can live in and which contract looks better.
I received my offer letter from Egypt and I had some questions and I am waiting on them to get back with me. However, those answers will determine if I keep Egypt on the table or not.
I spoke with two team members from Hong Kong and they were dope as well. Neither will be on the team one will return home and the other is moving down a grade level. Both have been at the school for 5 years. Again this is good thing to see people stay for a long period of time. So many schools have high turnover rates due to various reasons usually teachers discover the school is trash and decide not to stay longer than their two year contract.
HK is still doing the whole COVID thing with restrictions and whatnot. Egypt not so much. I just need to see the offer from HK. I have until Tuesday March 22 to make a decision on Egypt. I will ask for an extension by one day. I know they are headed to spring break next week and Ramadan soon follows. I just need to know their answer to my questions before deeply looking at their offer. I am hoping HK comes with an offer today or tomorrow so I can have final decision by the end of the week.
Egypt came through with the answers and it is all good. They are covering Elise 100%. They of course are covering me 100%. They give 48 hours to make a decision and I do not even know if it 48 hours their time or my time. The salary is good. I get a housing allowance that is doable. I get to pick my apartment or villa. I would have to pay for uniforms like with any school but I do not need to pay for tuition.
Looking at an offer is exciting and nerve wrecking at the same time.
I told y’all March is when things move and swiftly.
Here comes HK: their offer is sweet. Man this is a dope offer. I hate to pass it up. However money is not everything. I do not want to be in the classroom. I do not want to live in Asia again. The black expat population is low in HK in general. Lord the COVID restrictions and the schools are virtual. I just cannot do that again. I have 24 hours to make a decision.
I want to be out the classroom. I want to be in Africa. I want to be back in the Middle East. I want to have a high black expat population. I want to work at a school that is laid back. I want to work at a school that has black staff. I want to thrive in my career. I want Elise to thrive. I want to thrive.