Have you considered teaching abroad? While we’ve previously spoken about teaching English in China, we’ll explore taking your teaching career abroad in this episode. Meet Assistant Principal Adrienne M. Waller, currently based in the Cayman Islands. Adrienne has been in education for over 15 years doing DEI advocacy, parent involvement work, teaching, and leadership, serving in public, private, and charter schools in the US, Qatar, China, and Kuwait. Explore the possibilities of teaching abroad and the various job opportunities outside of teaching, including marketing and admissions. We also discuss the differences between international and private schools, debunk common myths about teaching overseas, and highlight the financial benefits of such a move. Walk away with the confidence to take your teaching career global.
Adrienne shares her personal story of how she found her path to teaching and how the experience of working internationally has rejuvenated her love for education. She also unpacks how she improved her financial situation by venturing abroad.
Listen to this podcast episode to invigorate your travels and career goals!
In this episode, we cover:
[4:55] Types of teaching opportunities abroad
[8:14] Teaching overseas and the US education system differences
[15:28] International school vs. private school
[19:01] Teaching abroad misconceptions
[22:08] International teaching and traveling advantages
[25:30] Benefits of working in international schools
[28:54] Advantages of working abroad for career growth
[35:17] Navigating opportunities in international schools
Teaching in the US vs. Teaching Overseas
Table of Contents
- Teaching in the US vs. Teaching Overseas
- Common Teaching Abroad Myths
- Reasons To Consider Teaching Abroad
What are the differences between teaching in the US versus teaching abroad?
Adrienne points out four key differences:
- More access to resources
- Improved work-life balance
- Testing isn’t used as an evaluation tool
- Constant learning
Generally, international schools have access to more resources.
Adrienne explains that she was expected to spend money out of pocket to cover classroom expenses in the US, and that was never an expectation abroad.
Secondly, she felt like she never had enough time.
“Now, mind you, as a teacher, you’re probably going to always feel that way, but I felt that way getting to work early, leaving work late, taking work home, and doing things on the weekend. For the most part, working outside of work hours is rare internationally. I’m not saying it never happens, but that weekly grind is a very big difference.”
Lastly, the US is big on testing, which often questions your teaching practice. These are not formative assessments designed to help you figure out what’s working and not working or how to make adjustments.
Adrienne says: “Those things are to say, yes, you’re a good teacher, no, you’re not. Your certificate may be on the line in some states. Your ability to get a raise or a decent review is also tied to testing results. And that’s a super unhealthy practice. At international schools, principals won’t even come and observe your lessons.”
What types of teaching occupations are available to relocate abroad?
There are many types of teaching opportunities abroad.
Adrienne explains there are only a few positions unavailable to international applicants. Typically receptionists, teaching assistants, and Human Resources are local hires.
However, roles like Director of Facilities, IT Director, and Finance Director can all be brought in from abroad.
Counselors, college and career counselors, principals, deans, admissions, curriculum coordinators, and team leads are all available overseas.
“Take a school, pick it up, and put it in another country. What jobs would you have there?” says Adrienne.
All the roles that make a school function are available anywhere in the world, and the same is true for higher education. So anything you can think of, if it exists where you are, it likely exists where you want to go.
Common Teaching Abroad Myths
There are a lot of myths about teaching and traveling. Do your research and get in touch with international teachers who have experience working abroad to get a realistic view of the challenges and rewards of teaching in a new country and education system.
1. Safety concerns
Is teaching abroad safe?
Living in several countries like Qatar and China, Adrienne noted your native city or country is likely more dangerous than where you’re heading. Violence is very different in the United States compared to other parts of the world. Still, exercise good judgment like you would anywhere else.
2. Limited destinations
Most people associate teaching overseas with destinations like China or Dubai. While those are the largest markets for international schools, there are a lot more options worth considering.
Adrienne says: “I’m in the Cayman Islands. I have a friend in Myanmar, and I have another friend living in Costa Rica. Like, you name it, you can go there.”
There are so many places, and depending on where you’re going, you may get a better compensation and benefits packages depending on the country.
Countries you can teach internationally include:
- The Netherland
Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico are alternatives where you don’t have to use your passport but can still have a cultural experience without leaving the United States.
3. Language barriers
Do you have to speak multiple languages to teach overseas? You do not need to speak the local language to teach overseas.
Whatever country you decide to move to, you’ll likely learn the language, but there’s no requirement to speak fluently before or during your tenure.
Adrienne shared that she was learning Chinese while teaching in China, and she understands Patwa now from living in the Cayman Islands.
However, she only speaks one language fluently, English.
4. Needing large savings
Part of why Adrienne decided to move abroad is because she was tired of living paycheck-to-paycheck in the United States. So not only did she not have large savings, she barely had any.
Living abroad allowed Adrienne to build a healthy savings account, improve her lifestyle, travel often, and get out of debt.
Learn how Adrienne paid down $20,000 in debt and used international teaching jobs to see the world on Travel N Sh!t.
Reasons To Consider Teaching Abroad
Teaching abroad can provide financial benefits such as housing allowances and a lower cost of living, saving you money and allowing you to build wealth. Living and working abroad can also provide unique opportunities for adventure, travel, and personal growth.
1. Gain an international perspective
Living and working abroad offers an immersive experience and exposure to different cultures, languages, and ways of life. This can broaden your perspective and enhance your personal and professional growth.
2. Housing coverage
Depending on the country, having your housing paid for is expected when teaching abroad.
Whether the school provides housing or you’re given a competitive salary where you can cover your housing expenses, money is set aside to cover living expenses.
Typically utilities will be included as well. Some places will include everything from electricity and water to the Internet.
3. Lucrative bonuses
Did you know you may be eligible for bonuses by teaching abroad?
A lot of companies will pay an end-of-service bonus. After completing your tenure, for example, three years, you get a bonus. That’s not happening in the United States. Also, most places will increase your salary annually.
4. Explore diverse job opportunities
Teaching overseas isn’t limited to teaching English. Working as a teacher abroad can offer career advancements, such as leadership roles, curriculum development, and teacher training.
From administration to counseling, there are diverse job opportunities for teachers abroad. And every year, you likely will have a chance to advance, whether you want to get out of the classroom or move into a slightly different position that pays more.
“I was used to working in the US, where I came to work early. I left work late. I took work home. I worked the weekend. So doing a little bit of extra work to help support the school really was simple for me because I’m still working less than if I were back home. Taking on a committee, and leading a working group allowed me to beef up my resume and become more marketable.”
Helpful Tip: Remember, internationally, there is high turnover. Contracts are typically two years, and that means every year, they’re hiring. If they know your work ethic, you’re more likely to get that position.
5. Fewer taxes
Taxes are a lot less when working abroad.
And if you’re still paying taxes in the United States, it’s at a lower rate.
6. Professional development
Lastly, there’s a lot of investment in your education.
Your school may cover conference attendance or assist you with pursuing special education certifications.
Working as a teacher abroad can offer opportunities for professional development, such as learning new teaching methods, gaining experience in different education systems, and working with diverse student populations and staff.
Moving abroad, there are a lot of opportunities for advancing within your school or being marketable to apply to other schools elsewhere.
Listen to this episode on Spotify.
[5:39] Anything you can think of, if it exists where you are, it likely exists where you want to go.
[6:29] I always wanted to be a teacher, but it took not being a teacher to be a teacher.
[10:20] In the US, it was expected that I’m going to spend all this money out of pocket on things. That was never an expectation being abroad.
- Tech tools for teaching abroad
- Recruiters for international schools
- International School Recruitment Roadmap
About Adrienne M. Waller
Adrienne M. Waller is an educational leader committed to diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. Adrienne has been in education for over 15 years serving in public, private, and charter schools in the US, Qatar, China, Kuwait, and the Cayman Islands. Additionally, Adrienne founded Worldwide Educator, an education consulting company focused on living authentically, empowering educators to own their instructional genius and stand out by elevating their current position or location to a better, more rewarding career.
Adrienne also offers personalized coaching and consulting services for those needing extra assistance.
LinkedIn: Adrienne M. Waller
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What were your biggest takeaways from this episode? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Danielle Desir Corbett paid off $63,000 of student loan debt in 4 years, bought a house at 27, and has traveled to 27 countries, including her favorites, Iceland, China, and Bermuda. Go here to learn Danielle’s incredible story, from struggling financially and in debt to finding creative ways to earn more and live on her terms. Listen to The Thought Card Podcast, where Danielle shares how you can creatively travel more and build wealth regardless of your current financial situation. Reach out to Danielle by contacting: thethoughtcard (at) gmail (dot) com.