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!!!
(See Okay…Inflation Comes Knocking https://elizabeth8199.com)
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.
to be continued