Monday, 4 August 2014

International Recruitment Event (before, during and after)...

I have received a TON of messages and emails from my readers about getting in the international school loop. My first blog post on the process is by far my most read post. I wanted to give even more details about the behind the scenes of this crazy, life changing process!

Rewind to fall of 2010 when our wedding planning was in full swing. That's when we first started thinking about looking at working internationally (crazy, right?!). We immediately registered with CIS which was free. We signed up for a recruitment fair happening in Chicago, February 2011. We booked our flights, updated our resumes and cover letters and went with the attitude, if it's meant to be it will be...

If I had to sum up the recruitment fair itself in one word I would use the word 'intense'. We went with an open mind and with the idea of seeing what was out there. My advice to someone going to their first recruitment fair is to at least have areas you would consider moving to narrowed down. So, bring with you a list of countries you would live in. I think having this specific list in your head makes the entire process less overwhelming (we didn't do this ahead of time).

One thing to note is that at this recruitment fair every candidate had a folder, they were grouped alphabetically. This is your mailbox for the entire event and was how schools communicated with you. Each school at the recruitment fair also had a folder for communication. If you were interested in them you could drop a hard copy of your resume and a cover letter in their folder and if they were interested in you they could drop an invitation to interview in your folder. Since this was in 2011 I wouldn't be surprised if this process has changed and they now use email. If there are any readers out there that have been to a more recent event, leave us a detailed message below please!!

Before everything started we had an idea of the positions available and which schools were recruiting for them. We were able to do a bit of research on our end to see if we thought the school was a good fit for us. The evening before our event started they had a general meeting to review the process with us and they went over how things would work. Hundreds of international educators attended. We quickly learned that there was much competition and with only 2 (for my husband) and 3 (for me) years of experience under our belts we weren't sure how well things would go for us. Before leaving for the night everyone got a paper schedule with empty time slots. The idea was first thing the following morning we would enter a room with representatives from each of the schools looking to fill positions and we would run from one table to the next setting up appointments with the schools we were interested in interviewing with. That night we also found out that many of the positions that we thought were available had been filled and many new positions were available. We needed a good nights sleep and a serious plan (of attack) for the next morning. I would say that having at least two years of experience in your position is the minimum requirement.

All of the candidates crowded outside waiting for sign up start. Behind the doors were heads of schools, divisional principals and other representatives from international schools from all over the world. The tables were set up in alphabetical order by country name. Behind most of the school tables were big signs saying the positions they were hiring for. As a teaching couple we were strategically able to work together to get our top appointment slots filled in right away (I told you this was intense). The earlier the interview appointment you get with your top schools the better chance you have at getting the position. We found that many schools would make an offer early on in the process and then cancel the rest of their appointments. That's right, they weren't even interviewing with all of the interested candidates. And yes, that also means that teachers were interviewing and signing a contract on the spot!!!!

So, we had our schedules set and got ready for our first interview together. We had several offers but either not in the area of the world we were hoping for, offers for only 1 position (we felt we both needed to be offered a position before making a commitment) and so after a crazy weekend we left with no positions but lots of inspiration to keep trying! We met so many teaching couples that shared stories about their adventurous, unique lifestyle. If you read my first post you know we ended up getting our current positions on our own by contacting schools but many of my teaching friends got their positions at recruitment fairs through different agencies like:
Carney Sandoe & Associates
Search Associates
So, if you are thinking about starting your journey on a rewarding experience, both professionally and personally have a look and see what's out there. Jump on some international school websites and see what they are like for yourself. There are so many incredible opportunities out there for you to immerse yourself in a different culture and environment that will change your life. I still can't believe we are getting ready to start our fourth school year in London!

Box of Sunshine

As a school counsellor we are often coming up with creative ways to spread happiness and make others feel good. I feel like it is part of my job to ensure everyone has a smile on their face (who said our job was easy?!?). We spend our days working as part of a team of parents and school staff all with a common goal, we have each child's best interest at heart. When a student is struggling we all work together to support them.

A student of mine was very sick and had to spend much of the school year at the hospital. I was able to visit him a few times and always brought with me messages from classmates, work (he requested it) and little things to make him smile. I was searching on pinterest for a unique gift idea when I came across a box of sunshine. All you need to put one together is a box, and anything they might like that is the color yellow or orange (think sunshine). Cut out a few paper sunbeams, print out a little note and you have yourself a box of sunshine! You can give this thoughtful gift to a friend, colleague, student... anyone who could use a smile! 

My student and his family still remember this thoughtful gift. I wish I had taken a picture of it but wasn't thinking to at the time. I will share with you some pinterest images as inspiration....


I filled my box of sunshine up with lots of small goodies from one of my favorite stores in the UK, Tiger. We had so much fun opening the bright colorful packages with lots of little fun games and toys (play dough, bouncy balls, jacks, a key chain, toy cars, etc). Not only did it make my student smile, this box of sunshine brightened his day and made him feel loved and he still remembers it! 

Does anyone in your life need some cheering up? What will you put in your box of sunshine?