Evaluating Job Offers for Teaching Abroad

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

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

Some may say that the most important consideration would be
salary and benefits but these should be a secondary
consideration to what you want to do and who you will be working
with. Regardless of the salary paid, most people will not stay
at a position where they feel unsatisfied or have no growth. In
addition, the people you work with or for have an enormous
impact on your job satisfaction. However, when considering
salary and benefits, do not focus as much on the starting salary
but rather on the potential for growth and increases. Does the
school have growth potential for you as a professional? Do they
spell out cost-of-living increases and meritorious raises?
Benefits are other areas that can supplement a position where
the starting salary is not as good as you would have wished. Get
a list of benefits from the company and formulate any questions
you may have regarding them so that you can better discuss the
position with management and other teachers at the school.

Another factor that may come into play with many teachers when
evaluating a position is the resources provided by the school.
Teachers spend a large majority of their time preparing for
upcoming lessons. This requires readily available resources such
as teacher books, computer, printer, internet access, and
preferably a reference library. In addition, there should be a
work area set aside for teachers to plan and prepare. You should
also look at whether the school already has a set
curriculum/syllabus and student books because you may be asked
to help to create these resources for your school year if they
are not provided. I have known many teachers that have felt the
need to move on because of the demands of planning for a school
year without adequate resources.

To help you find that perfect (or near perfect) job, you should
ask 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’s
license, 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 attend
outside 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? What
are 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 it

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 about
help 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 hours
on a search, making a careful decision regarding a job offer is
important. Getting an offer does not necessarily mean you should
take the job. Most employers will not expect you to make a
decision on the spot. You will probably be given a few days to a
week to make up your mind. If they are unable to provide you
with the time to make a decision then you should not consider
this as a viable position. On the other hand, if you decide to
go with a school without finding out the proper information,
don’t blame the school when the position turns out not to be
what you expected or wanted. Weighing the advantages and
disadvantages of the job will help you make a more informed
decision, rather than deciding on impulse.

Michael Hines is the founder of TotalESL.com,
a free resource helping the ESL/EFL community in Asia and the
Middle East for jobs, resumes, schools, resources, yellow pages,
classifieds, information and lessons. TotalESL.com-First Stop for Your Second Language

Image taken on 2009-09-30 00:00:33. Image Source. (Used with permission)

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