Deciding to Leave AGAIN

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

NOVEMBER:

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 would not apply
I would pause here too but I would check instagram and their website, this could be a new school without a lot of data
I am applying without a doubt but I am still checking instagram and their website

DECEMBER

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.

January

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.

FEBRUARY

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.

March

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.

Mid March

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.

Decision made:

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.

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