Want to Teach Art at an International School?

Teaching Art

So, you want to teach art abroad, eh? These five tips can help you take the first steps toward making the big leap.

HKIS

Mosaic mural at my school’s Lower Primary Campus.

1. Pay Your Dues

Large, well established international schools will not consider any candidate without at least 2 years of full-time teaching experience within the grade, department or subject matter that you are applying for…period. I learned this the hard way. After driving 16 hours to Philadelphia in the middle of February to an International Recruitment Fair, I was told by every school from across the globe that I should, and I quote, ‘save myself the paper and the ink’ because they wouldn’t even look at a resume without at least 2 years of teaching experience. Because international schools are private, parents pay tuition, therefore, schools are not willing to spend the time nor money to help new teachers cut their teeth.

Art Shed

I taught art in a shed at one point in my career as well as art from a cart.

2. Do your Homework

An international school is a school that promotes international curriculum, in an international environment, either by adopting a curriculum such as that of the International Baccalaureate, Edexcel or Cambridge Assessment International Education, or by following a national curriculum different from that of the school’s country of residence. A good place to start when researching international schools is looking for schools that are connected to your home country i.e. American International Schools. Experience gained within your home country will be seen as valuable and sought after when applying to such schools. If you are interested in teaching within a particular country, then research what international schools are there and begin viewing their websites and application requirements.

IMS was the first international school I ever worked at. I am glad they took a chance on me as I had the bare minimum experience when I started.

3. Make What You Do Visible

The international teaching realm is competitive. Bigger packages mean greater expectations of teacher’s experience, education, and influence. It is very important to have an online presence when applying for international schools to be able to show who you are, what you do and what you’re all about. Be a brand and promote your self as such. This does not mean having a public Facebook account with your weekend exploits, it means having social platforms such as Instagram, Weebly, WordPress and/or Facebook devoted to documenting your teaching. This is on top of your school’s required blog page for your class or subject, this is an account that can go with you if and when you move on.

When I was at IMS I began building my brand and generating new content. I then created my Instagram account devoted to documenting my art teaching and posted art education videos on Youtube.

4. Make a Plan

Make a plan and work your plan. International school begins recruiting as early as September for the start of the next school year. Therefore, planning ahead is crucial to help your chances in being offered a contract. There are recruitment fairs in many large East coast cities in the United States every January and February as well as International Teacher Recruitment fairs in London and Bangkok around the same time. The goal for most schools is to secure all teacher contracts before the end of April for the start of school in the fall. Search Associates and CRS are two large international teaching recruitment companies and are a good place to start your search regarding job opportunities and recruitment fair listings.

Student Teacing

After my student teaching in Perth, Australia, I knew I wanted to teach abroad. It took me years to land a job at my dream school in Hong Kong but every journey starts with a single step.

5. Once you go abroad, it’s hard to go back

Once you have taught in at international school with ample resources, your own art room, small class sizes, and parent communities that support what and how you teach, many of the institutions that you have come from are going to seem less appealing. So, be prepared, this decision to go abroad might be the beginning of your life abroad for a decade or more. Venturing into the unknown with clear eyes and an open heart will help you take full advantage of the opportunities that lay ahead.

Hong Kong Inter

Me in my brand new art room at HKIS! Hong Kong International School is one of the biggest and most reputable international schools in Asia. Planning, preparation, resilience, and determination got me to where I am today.

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