Overseas Teaching.

A lot of readers have asked me how I got this gig here in Brazil. I figured, rather than repeat myself in e-mail (which I don’t mind doing, actually) I would write about the process I used to get myself here. (By no means does this mean you can’t write e-mail anymore. Please write! I love e-mail!)

Okay. So. Here’s the breakdown of how I did, complete with some recommendations of how I’d do it over if I could. If you are already a teacher, this will be especially helpful to you since the organization I used to get here works with established teachers.

In March of 2006, I signed up with International Schools Services. This is a teacher recruiting organization that represents teachers from all over the world who want to teach in International and American schools all over the world. I got started REALLY late. (If you want to use this organization or a similar one–Search Associates–I recommend getting an early start. Like September or October.)

Part of the process of working with a company like this is sending in materials. I had to write a couple of essays, collect 3 recommendation letters, submit my resume, pay money (not cheap), and fill out an application. This was all to get accepted to ISS. Once I was accepted, I had access to a website on which all of the vacancies in all of the schools ISS works with were listed. This meant that at any given time, I could check that website and see updates for the positions I was looking for. I could access the school’s information and contact employers, see what their employment benefits were, and compare packages from different schools around the world.
The next thing I needed to do in order to secure a job was to attend a recruiting fair. On June 16th, 2006 I attended the final ISS recruiting fair in Philadephia. Because I had gotten started so late in the process, I had missed the first two. Those two were much larger and represented a wider variety of schools than the one I attended in June. There was still a great number of schools, but most of the schools represented in June were from the Middle East, South America, and China. (Initially I’d been eager to teach in Thailand or in France. But sadly their positions had been filled by the June job fair.)

The job fairs are high-intensity weekends, and on the expensive side because of registration fees and staying at a hotel for 2 nights. That weekend in Philadelphia, I had arranged interviews with schools from New York, Colombia, Brazil, and Nicaragua. Upon my arrival, a school in Africa had seen my materials and wanted to interview me, and since I had a mailbox of sorts at the job fair, other employers could leave me messages and arrange interviews with me if I agreed. I arrived on a Friday afternoon and was up early the next morning to schedule interviews for the rest of the day. I waited in lines to sign up for 1/2 hour interviews over the course of the day and planned out my day according to the interviews. All interviews take place on one day, with recruiters offering jobs at the end of the day.

At the end of the day, I’d had successful interviews and full-time job offers from schools in three different countries. It was then I had to make a decision knowing that if I said “no” to anyone, I wouldn’t have a second chance. I made several phone calls home to check with my mom and with my friends, and decided a few hours later that I would go to Brazil. My first day in Brazil was July 27th, 2006. Because I’d gotten started so late, I had to rush a lot to pack my things at home, move out of my apartment, get financial matters squared away. This is why I say it’s best to start early. It is a hassle moving out of the country, even if it’s only temporary.

Be forewarned that overseas school calendars are often very different from school calendars in the States. Our school in Brazil this year began August 1st, so if it’s your first year of teaching overseas, make sure you have enough time off to settle matters at home before beginning a new school year in a different country.

My experience with ISS was wonderful and I would absolutely use them again. The schools are well-known and offer excellent employment packages. Most of the contracts are for two years with options to renew. Most schools, if not all, offer transportation, a competitive salary, housing, health insurance, and assistance with visas and other legal documents. If you are with a good administrator, like mine here in Brazil, s/he will sit down with you and go over the contract in painstaking detail upon your acceptance of a position. I felt entirely safe and comfortable accepting a position here in Brazil knowing that this school was represented by ISS and that it wasn’t going to be a weird situation where I’d arrive in the country and have to fend for myself. I was taken care of 100% of the way by my administrator and welcomed into the school community immediately by the other teachers and students. I could not have asked for a smoother transition into an overseas living situation.

If you have more questions, please don’t hesitate to e-mail me: ayearhere@gmail.com


2 responses

21 03 2009

Would you live in Brazil permanently? I am an American teacher who fell in love with a Brazilian man. We live in MA, but he is missing his home, and I hate winters. The obvious answer is to move to his home. Exotic as it is, would you relocate for good? Brazil is a great vacation spot, but I hesitate to move. I hear there it isn’t as safe there. (His cousin said that.) My experiences have been limited in the country. It would be great if I could get an American opinion. I hope that I hear from you. Much love…

27 03 2009

Hi Alexis,
That’s a good question. I would go if it meant we could spend a good chunk of time in MY home, too. So, being a teacher, I’d ask to spend the Brazilian winter months up in the States or take long vacations back home. Brazil is an amazing country and I am missing it terribly these days. There really is no place like home, so I understand your man’s situation. As far as the danger, it’s all relative and it all depends where you are and what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. That said, go spend a summer down there and see what’s what. If you go to Rio, I guarantee you won’t want to come back to the States.

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