My husband (a Physics teacher) and I recently returned from an international job fair. We were fortunate to come out of the experience with new jobs and many positive experiences, but the process is so intense that I’d be happy not to go through it again anytime soon.
The IB curriculum we teach encourages students to be reflective learners, so in that spirit I want to summarize our process, review our highs and lows, list the most popular interview questions that came up, and close with some general observations.
What our job search looked like behind the scenes
We did a lot of research about schools. We read websites, watched promotional videos, and read the International Schools Review site (with a healthy dose of cynicism).
We wrote to other teachers, friends, and family members who were living or had lived in countries we were considering.
We heard from a lot of people who didn’t know the country but had heard something from a friend or seen something on TV.
We improved our knowledge of geography, flight paths, and cost of living.
For people who couldn’t understand why we passed up the possibility of going to Europe or the UK for a more “exotic”–I also heard the word “extreme”–location, we explained repeatedly that it’s not all about the place, but about the school and our specific job descriptions.
We looked for churches, asked about services in English, and tried to calculate travel time from our prospective housing.
We were introduced to and communicated with other teachers currently working at our prospective schools to ask them about their experiences so far.
Highs and lows
Low: interviewing with #2 school for twenty-five minutes while the Director looked at his computer.
High: having several recruiters give us positive feedback on our profiles, saying things like, “You jump off the page,” “I’m impressed,” and “Can we keep in touch? I like to keep my favorites in my pocket.”
High: seeing the Head of our new school jump up and down, clap her hands, and give me a hug when we accepted the job.
High: having good options.
Low: having to make a decision.
Low: waiting over an hour to hear back from one of our top schools. (We played a few good round of cards, though.)
High: meeting kind administrators that gave us good advice and asked us to keep in touch.
Low: being reminded repeatedly that in the realm of recruiting, Physics teachers are like gold, and English teachers are like sand.
The most popular questions administrators asked us
Why do you want to work at our school?
What does learning look like in your classroom?
If I walked into your classroom, what would I see?
What are some of your goals as a teacher? What areas you’re trying to improve in?
Tell me about a unit or lesson you teach.
What’s your philosophy on assessment?
How do you incorporate technology into your classroom?
How do you support English language learners?
How do you support your struggling students?
How would students describe you or your class?
What are some units or books that you love to teach?
What will you contribute to our school?
What does feedback look like in your class?
Observations and lessons learned
A lot of our primary connections were made before the fair. This allowed us to form stronger relationships with some people and get to know their schools better. Arriving at the fair, we were more invested in these schools and less likely to be tempted by new options.
Lesson learned: If you want something, be up front about it from the beginning.
The book Brainrules says that vision trumps all other senses. We saw this work against us when dream school hired someone at an earlier fair and against a school that offered us a job but didn’t attend the fair.
Finally, we were explicitly told to bring twenty-five copies of our resumes, but we gave out fewer than ten each. Anyone want one?