a guide to getting a teaching job overseas

***Brazilian Wax Poetica is under construction. Until it’s up and running, I’ll blog on my home site about moving overseas.***

Since we’ve announced our move overseas so I can teach in Brazil, the question often arises: “how did you do it?”

And thus, this post. How DID we do it?

  1. Nurture the adventurer within. We have always been drawn to adventure. Before we married, Dave nearly up and moved out west by himself. When I graduated from college in December, we up and moved to Telluride with all of our belongings packed tightly in a Jeep (including the roof-top-vomit from our cat, whom we naively tried to sedate with Benadryl). We lived in a summer rental cabin, where we could see the snow falling outside through the cracks between the logs. We watched it fall as the electricity bill rose to $400–monthly. We worked at the ski resort, barely making enough to get by. But…we look back on those times like we were floating in a snow globe–magical, nostalgic, memorable.
  2. Reflect on career. Dave has been at his current job longer than he has ever been at any other job. While it has provided numerous treasures, he felt called to something new. Despite so much being unknown, he knew it was time for a change. I have spent the last decade tirelessly serving at-risk youth in three different urban schools. And now, I admit–with tears in my eyes and knots in my gut–that I cannot do it anymore. It was either: leave teaching altogether, or try a new kind of teaching. I am a teacher in my core, so onto something new.
  3. Pay attention to alignment. The stars aligned outside of us–and within us–before we felt confident to pursue teaching overseas. My parents are gone; our pets are gone; our best friends living near us gave us their blessings; Dave’s parents are healthy and successful but aren’t going to get any younger; the Evergreen market to sell our house is primed; we don’t have kids; my internal landscape is settled a bit; we are out of debt. It simply was, and is…the right time.
  4. Network. I am so thankful for several of my friends who have taught and/or who are now teaching overseas. Some I knew for years; some I just met. Through their experiences and advice, we were able to ask questions that opened up doors: most importantly the doors to our own courage.
  5. Be resourceful. It was through those connections that I found out about services that act as an intermediary in the international job search process. With several recommendations, I decided to go with Search Associates (SA)–and I have been very happy. I felt confident that 1, I was vetted and 2, so were the schools on the other end. I set up an account and was able to connect with many job prospects before a job fair.
  6. Go with integrity. In integrity. It is important to me to be good at my job, even when nobody is watching. This is one reason those people in my life who wrote recommendations are so valuable. Also important, not sneaking around my current boss. I am not the type to burn bridges. One, I want to make sure the students I am leaving behind have the best possible opportunity to get the best possible teacher in the best possible timeline to replace me. Two, most international search organizations need a recommendation from a current principal.
  7. Work the job fair. I signed up for SA in November and went to the Boston, MA job fair in January. I revamped my online portfolio. I created business cards for easy access to my picture and credentials. Dave and I (mostly Dave, it pays to have a “trailing spouse”) searched and researched and reresearched countries and cities and prospective schools. When we got to the job fair, we planned what schools we were interested in that also had positions available. We made a plan of attack. Dave went with me, which was a good thing, because we found he was “interviewed” as much–or more–than I was. There is no such thing as too much research or too much planning. 
  8. Only the best. I was not just looking for any job, I was looking for the right one. To uproot our lives here, it had to be perfect. We made a list of what we wanted personally, professionally, and financially. We held to that list fiercely. We wouldn’t settle. However, we also were open-minded, researching opportunities that came to us that we didn’t expect. One of the best resources for this is ISR–a website where employees post reviews of international schools. It is worth the yearly fee.
  9. Energy matters. I can guarantee you that both Dave and I knew Graded was going to be home from the very first interview. There is something to be said about the chemistry present (or not) during the interview. That interview felt more like professionals out for happy hour freely discussing pedagogy than it did a formal evaluation. And to top it all off, when the superintendent pointed out my work with mindfulness–of all things on my loaded two-page resume–I knew it was meant to be.
  10. Bless with gratitude. In the end, I would be an arrogant fool to say it was all us. I am grateful to all of those who sent us advocacy prayers and well wishes and good vibes. I am grateful to God for the ordering of the universe to be so much in favor of us.

 

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