1. Exposure to a Diverse Range of Cultures
The International School of Moscow, where I am proud to work, has a student body of 63 different nationalities. Every day I go to work and I learn something new about at least one of them. This diversity is regularly celebrated by students and colleagues alike through events such as our annual International Week, where we sample the cuisine, fashion and customs specific to some of the different cultures with the school. My taste buds particularly look forward to this week all year.
On top of this, the more you immerse yourself in the local culture, the more you will get out of your role. My colleagues and I have made friends for life and experienced the delights of the country, beyond the tourist traps, on a visa that would be a lot more difficult to obtain without the sponsorship of the school.
2. Smaller Class Sizes
International School Teachers benefit from smaller class sizes. My current school in Moscow has a maximum class size of 22, and the average is just 17. This makes it much easier to get to know your students on an individual basis and effectively personalise their learning to ensure everyone’s needs are met in the classroom.
Families have also paid for their students’ education and want them to succeed. This - coupled with the small class sizes - leaves you to focus more on what we came into the profession to provide: quality first teaching.
3.Develop Your Practice
Most International Schools have a wide range of professional development opportunities and are also keen to benefit from your knowledge of working in a different setting. The most obvious new skills you will develop are likely to revolve around supporting EAL students. My school’s EAL Department is outstanding and has a passionate and dedicated team, fully prepared for supporting subject teachers and helping students to make progress at a truly impressive rate in English.
Do not be afraid to ask questions if you need any support though. We’ve all been in those exciting first few weeks in the post and your colleagues will be keen to help you settle in.
It is also worth respectfully asking if you can offer some ideas that you feel work well from previous experience to help develop your new school. It’s a good way of showing you are a team player and helps to boost your confidence.
4. Learn a Language (or Two)
Although this is not vital - the language of instruction at school is likely to be English, and there are more than enough people in the school community who will gladly help you out with whatever you need in the local language - why not work your free language lessons at the supermarket checkout to your advantage? Not only will learning the language help you get what you want without the need for spontaneous charades, but it will help you to make friends from the local culture and integrate better into the local community.
On top of picking up some handy Russian phrases, I’ve surprisingly found my Russian adventure to be a fantastic opportunity to dust off my A Level Spanish skills and take them to a level that is well beyond where they have ever been before. Not being able to communicate as readily in your native language and being part of a city’s international community can really serve as the challenge you need to develop new skills and make friends in the process.
5. Don’t you Just Fancy an Adventure Sometimes? Your Colleagues Do Too.
Generally speaking, International School Teachers benefit from having different flight options from the local airport to those available back home. For example, Moscow is much better connected to Asia and Eastern Europe than anywhere I have previously lived. I was somewhat surprised in my first week of International School teaching, when I learned that three of my colleagues had been fortunate enough to have visited over half of the countries on the planet.
Sure enough, while I am nowhere near that well-travelled yet, I have definitely benefitted from having several more passport stamps to show off since taking the plunge to teach internationally.
There you have it, what are you waiting for? Time to order a passport with a few extra blank pages and find out where your first international post will take you.
To find out more about what it is like to work for Nord Anglia and explore what international teaching opportunities are currently available, click here.