Evaluating Job Offers for Teaching Abroad

By: Michael Hines

You have decided on teaching abroad so you are off on the jobhunt. Aside from the obvious considerations such as what countryto work in and what training/qualifications to obtain; there areother things a teachers should consider when looking atpotential job offers.

There are many factors a teacher considers which will affectwhether they accept a position. The most obvious factor would bethe content of the position. What is the school asking of you asa teacher? You must ask yourself if the job is interesting andfits into your career plans as a teacher. The person you will beworking for is also an important consideration so you must takethe time to talk to them either via email or phone. It wouldalso be beneficial to ask to speak to other teachers from theschool to find out their impressions. Knowing what the job isand whom you will be working with are the first step in decidingwhether to pursue it further.

Some may say that the most important consideration would besalary and benefits but these should be a secondaryconsideration to what you want to do and who you will be workingwith. Regardless of the salary paid, most people will not stayat a position where they feel unsatisfied or have no growth. Inaddition, the people you work with or for have an enormousimpact on your job satisfaction. However, when consideringsalary and benefits, do not focus as much on the starting salarybut rather on the potential for growth and increases. Does theschool have growth potential for you as a professional? Do theyspell out cost-of-living increases and meritorious raises?Benefits are other areas that can supplement a position wherethe starting salary is not as good as you would have wished. Geta list of benefits from the company and formulate any questionsyou may have regarding them so that you can better discuss theposition with management and other teachers at the school.

Another factor that may come into play with many teachers whenevaluating a position is the resources provided by the school.Teachers spend a large majority of their time preparing forupcoming lessons. This requires readily available resources suchas teacher books, computer, printer, internet access, andpreferably a reference library. In addition, there should be awork area set aside for teachers to plan and prepare. You shouldalso look at whether the school already has a setcurriculum/syllabus and student books because you may be askedto help to create these resources for your school year if theyare not provided. I have known many teachers that have felt theneed to move on because of the demands of planning for a schoolyear without adequate resources.

To help you find that perfect (or near perfect) job, you shouldask these questions to all prospective employers:

1.What is the salary?

2.How many months is the contract?

3.Do/Can you sponsor me for all paperwork, including teacher'slicense, work permit, and visa extension?

4.How soon can you get this paperwork processed?

5.How many hours will I be teaching?

6.What kind of insurance is on offer?

7. When are the starting and ending times for work?

8.About how many events a month are teachers required to attendoutside normal working hours (teachers' meetings, parents'meetings, school festivals, seminars, etc.)?

9.Does the school have/provide books?

10. Does the school have whiteboards or chalkboards?

11. Does the school provide all teaching materials needed? Whatare the items provided?

12.Does the school require that I attend/teach a summer camp?

13.Is there a discipline policy? What is it and how is itenforced?

14.What are the details of contract "extras" such as:

a.Resigning bonuses

b.Biannual or annual plane tickets to visit home

c.Housing allowances (if no housing allowance then ask abouthelp finding accomodations along with cost in the school area)

d.Internet access both in and outside the school

e.Raise schedules

Searching for a position is difficult. After spending many hourson a search, making a careful decision regarding a job offer isimportant. Getting an offer does not necessarily mean you shouldtake the job. Most employers will not expect you to make adecision on the spot. You will probably be given a few days to aweek to make up your mind. If they are unable to provide youwith the time to make a decision then you should not considerthis as a viable position. On the other hand, if you decide togo with a school without finding out the proper information,don't blame the school when the position turns out not to bewhat you expected or wanted. Weighing the advantages anddisadvantages of the job will help you make a more informeddecision, rather than deciding on impulse.

Careers and Job Hunting
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