International Schools and Teachers Interested in Teaching Overseas Flock to Boston this Week

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Hundreds of international schools all over the world are in Boston this week to hire teachers to staff their schools, reports The International Educator (TIE). Educators are needed who will teach their subject in English at world-class private international schools.

Cheryl Harmon of The International Educator (TIE) assists candidates with advice on working at international schools.

The International Educator (TIE) table at Search

There are nearly one thousand vacancies available on tieonline by several hundred schools around the world for subjects ranging from Art to Special Ed (and everything in between). Candidates who continue their search will find jobs.

The lobby of the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge, MA is busy with teachers from all over the country walking purposefully as they check their schedules for their next appointments. This is an Overseas Schools Teacher Recruiting Fair, and according to The International Educator (TIE), a leading newspaper covering the international school market, it’s an annual rite of passage for school heads looking to hire staff for their schools and educators interested in teaching overseas.

Rita McDermott, a Maryland native, made the journey to Cambridge from Colombia where she taught at Colegio Bolivar an international school in Cali, Colombia. “I loved teaching in Colombia, people said it would be very difficult but I wanted to see for myself,” said McDermott. "I absolutely loved it – the people in Columbia are the most incredible people I have ever met – I loved the food, the landscapes, the dancing, especially salsa!” The seasoned international school teacher of high school English is now looking for her next assignment a little further afield. “I want to cross an ocean this time and experience more cultures,” said McDermott as she rushed off to her next interview.

The recruiting fair was organized by Search Associates a recruiting organization for international schools that has been organizing these fairs for over twenty years. Nearly 500 candidates were in attendance this year making the rounds of interviews with recruiters representing over 140 schools. The process has been described as the speed dating version of job-hunting -- candidates book multiple appointments with visiting school representatives and interview back-to-back with as many as a half a dozen schools to see if there is a match. The process is equally grueling for school recruiters who have to balance the need to see as many candidates as possible while extending offers to teachers who they feel represent the best fit for their school before those candidates accept other offers.

This same scene is playing out across town at Boston’s Westin Copley Place Hotel where ISS (International School Services) is running their overseas schools recruitment fair which ends today. International K-12 education is a big business – with annual income of approximately $27 billion dollars (US) a year, employing over 270,000 teachers and administrators.

“An estimated 75% - 80% of candidates get offers here at the fair,” according to Search Associate’s founder and director, John Magagna, however, not all candidates accept the offers. Magagna estimates that between 15 -20% of candidates don’t accept offers on the spot because they are holding out for other opportunities, or they simply need more time to mull over their decision.

Not all teachers walk away from the event with an offer in-hand. Sheelah Shortell, a high school Spanish teacher from a rural district in upstate New York, is pursuing her first overseas teaching job. In the midst of her district’s budget cuts and imminent faculty layoffs, she felt this was the perfect time to act on her dream of teaching and living overseas. “I found the energy at the fair absolutely thrilling,” said Shortell. “For the past several years teachers in my school have been so demoralized with the specter of job cuts looming overhead, that to walk into this charged environment, where you can feel the energy and enthusiasm everywhere, all I could think is: I want to teach with these people!” remarked Shortell. "Teaching at an international school will give me the opportunity to remember why I started teaching in the first place,” said Shortell.

As a first time participant in the fair, Shortell feels she’s walking away with good contacts and a better idea of what international teaching is all about. “My eyes are wide open about the process and what to expect at an international school,” said Shortell. “I know it won’t happen overnight, but it’s a process and I’m now proactive in that process.”

To further enhance her chances of landing her dream job, Shortell stopped by the TIE (The International Educator) booth and bought a subscription to the newspaper and website where she can post her resume and search TIE’s database of international school positions. “I want to cover all my bases, so I’m joining TIE as well,” said Shortell before leaving the fair. “I have a good feeling about this.”

Ms. Shortell and others, who walked away from the fair without an offer in-hand, should remain optimistic as job offers often follow the fair in a matter of weeks or months. “Recruiters are still making offers to candidates they met at the February fair into the months of April, May, and June when they are completing their hiring for the upcoming school year,” according to Magagna. “People think it’s over after the fair, but it’s not – nearly one-third of offers continue to trickle-in during the spring,” informs Magagna.

Forrest Broman, Executive Director of The International Educator, agrees, “Headmasters will continue posting their vacancies on the TIE web site, tieonline.com, until all of their vacancies are filled and candidates who continue their search will find jobs.”

This encouraging message is not lost on Sheelah Shortell, “I’ve been waiting a lifetime for this teaching adventure,” said Shortell, “I can wait a few months more.”

The International Educator (TIE), located in Hyannis, MA, is a non-profit organization that for 25 years has been dedicated to developing links among teachers and the extensive American and international schools network worldwide.

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Cynthia Nagrath
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