Did you know that Ashleigh and I met back in 2011 teaching abroad in Dubai of all places? We were two young educators with a few years of teaching under our belts and a desire to explore the world. Neither of us knew anyone in the country or what was in store. But with the beauty of hindsight, it was the best decision ever!
You may be fresh out of university or been teaching for years, the good thing is, it is never too late to take the plunge and work overseas. Some teachers jump on the expat circuit for a year or two while others stay abroad for decades!
One thing is for sure. There are many amazing experiences to be had teaching abroad. And just as many challenges to be encountered along the way. However, please don't make that last statement stop you from reading why teaching overseas was one of the best decisions of both our careers and here is why.
You will get exposed to many different curriculums. If you get a job at a school that teaches a curriculum you're not familiar with, yes it will stretch you, but it will only assist in boosting your skillset. I found this first hand going from Australian curriculum to British to the International Baccalaureate. By teaching a variety of curriculums, I gleaned of the good, and upon returning to Australia, it was a significant contributor to getting jobs in the schools I wanted. My husband would vouch for this too! (He's also a teacher)
In a large international school, which is where most abroad teachers work, you will meet many amazing teachers from around the world. I found I was always inspired by the different teaching styles and strategies initiated by my colleagues. I worked at a couple of schools while overseas with six classes in each grade (that is rare in Australia). My grade team alone was a rich source of professional development every week.
The best thing for me was meeting like-minded people from different parts of the globe. Teaching outside my home country allowed me to immerse myself in other cultures fully. As we would say to our students, the best way to learn is by doing and experiencing, and that's just what you have to do overseas. By connecting with people you may not usually meet at home, it allowed for meaningful conversations which at times were on those 'not so easy to talk about' topics like religion, race and politics. However, by talking and listening, you open your heart to learn.
Working in another country extends you to become the ultimate problem-solver. If you've had trouble setting up your internet in your home country, try doing it in another country where English is a second language. You will be stretched beyond measure in the classroom, catering to students academic and cultural needs, as well as navigating setting up life in a foreign place. Good news is, all the experiences inside and outside of school will make you a better, more empathetic educator.
This reason is a no-brainer! You get to travel to places you may never have dreamed of visiting. Trust me, you will use up all your holidays, and if you've signed a two-year teaching contract, you'll likely spend each possible holiday at an exotic location, at the lowest price you can find. Relish the opportunity! You have permission to always say 'yes' to travel plans, especially when a friend suggests travelling to Syria for the long weekend.
There are a lot more leadership opportunities for teachers. You will find many more chances to apply for positions of responsibility, such as a grade leader or head of a department. Many of the international schools have a considerable number of students and teaching staff. Due to this, it isn't possible for a few individuals to manage everyone, so teachers are offered additional roles. If you want to pad out your resume and try different positions of responsibility, it can be found teaching abroad.
I guarantee you will make life-long friendships, or maybe meet someone who will become the most fantastic business partner ever (mentioning no names). My time in Dubai led me to meet many people who I am still in touch with years later. You'll find when you are away from family and friends; you make a new 'overseas' family. Many love stories have begun on the expat circuit, and my husband and I can attest to that. So all you single peeps looking for that special someone, you may need to jump on a plane and completely uproot your life.
Living away in a foreign country is an opportunity for personal growth. Spending time experiencing and learning about new cultures and traditions allows you to understand your needs and desires on a deeper level. Four years after beginning my stint abroad, I'd like to think I returned with better life skills, as a more content individual and as a person who knew myself and my capabilities a lot better.
So, if you have been contemplating teaching abroad, we at RSC highly recommend the experience, of course, once the global pandemic clears up! The experiences and challenges you will face will only enhance your life and make you into a better version of yourself personally and professionally.
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