In the beginning…
Over Winter Break, frustrated and my heart feeling heavy about education I started looking at my options. What should I do from this point on? What can I do? After about three days of Google searches, I felt that my options were very limited if I wanted to stay where I was. I finally decided to look at what it would be like to teach internationally. I have tried for years to get into the US DOD, but the DOD schools are impossible to get into. So I checked out some random sites looking for some inspiration.
Years ago I had looked at international teaching job postings. One, a posting for a job in China, described the beautiful scenery, the loving students and the supportive parents. There was a housing allowance and a decent salary. It seemed pretty fantastic and while I know my notions about travel and teaching are a bit romanticized, I was impressed. I could just see myself there hiking in the mountains and eating the delicious food. But alas, it was not the right time for me then. But… maybe now it is. Five years later, an almost masters degree, some classroom and district-level experience, maybe it really is my time.
After some hard-hitting research, I found some postings about reputable teacher recruiters for international schools. Teach Away was always at the top of their lists. I typed in the web address and lo and behold there were jobs. Lots and lots of them! A few clicks around and a night up until around four in the morning reading, I closed my browser laughing into my pillow. Teach abroad? Hahah! Yeah, right. What was I thinking? I have a good job within the district-level. I have a condo I love and I have my dog who is really like my child. Did I really want to leave everything I know, give up everything I have? I was crazy… right?
The next day, driving to the movie theater to see Wild, I could not stop thinking about the idea of teaching internationally. This movie showed a woman going through a personal crisis and finding herself again in her own journey. Let’s just say that Wild was not the best choice of a movie if I wanted to stay where I was and never challenge myself with the unthinkable. Wild, was marvelous and made me realize that I have my own journey to take.
I drove straight home and grabbed my laptop. I pulled up my top three jobs and began my research of the countries. UAE, China, South Korea. Each has its pros and cons and I made a fantastic list for each one. Knock Knock makes a pro con notepad and it is the absolute best! Click HERE for it. I use them for making any major decisions in my life. At the conclusion of two days I had all three lists completed and it showed me my decision: the UAE
On January 1, 2015 I applied to Teach Away for three different jobs within the UAE! I made my profile, updated and uploaded my resume and waited patiently for a response. In the mean time I Googled every blog I could that was written by teachers who were in Abu Dhabi, Dubai or any other UAE city. I read articles about the country and researched safety and crime rates. Everything looked great, wonderful, now I guess I will just wait here…
Ten LONG days later, I opened my Teach Away profile and saw one of the three jobs that I had applied to was closed. CLOSED! CLOSED? Yep, closed. I tried to find some info, but nothing really concrete. It could be that they already filled all the positions, they hated me, who knows. I only had two other jobs that I applied for. I made a mental note that if these last two jobs didn’t pan out then this was Fate telling me to stop. I felt like I wouldn’t get either, but 3 days later I received 2 pings to my Yahoo account that made me smile!
I had the public school system of Abu Dhabi (ADEC) and a private International school in Abu Dhabi interested in scheduling a preliminary phone interview. Both required the screening interview to insure that I wasn’t crazy and would be a good fit. Both were also within a few days for later in the week, the private school on the 14th and ADEC for the 16th. This of course brought on more research about possible questions and double checking my resume.
Wednesday rolled around. I sat in my car after work to take the call hoping that no one obnoxious parked next to me with loud music or that an ambulance drove past me. The phone rang, I answered, and so it began.
The rep was friendly, the questions were basic. I felt good about answering the classroom management and assessment questions. Overall the call only lasted about a half-hour. At the conclusion I must have fooled the rep (just kidding) because she said that she would be recommending me for the position and the second round of interviews! I ecstatically danced in my car, but kept my composure with my voice for the sake of the Teach Away recruiter.
Two days later I repeated the process answering questions about working with ELL students and my lesson planning techniques. I was only slightly surprised by one question: What are three words that people in your personal life would use to describe you. I had to pause because I didn’t know what people thought of me personally. I feel like I am super professional and my job is my life, so this was difficult. I finally got: positive, creative and intelligent. One of my friends said she would add reliable… so that is good to know. I guess I expected them to ask about three words that colleagues would use to describe me. Those I was prepared for.
Anyways, that one went well too and I was told they were recommending me for the second interview as well! This one was the one that I REALLY wanted too!
After researching I found the good and the bad with both ADEC and private schools in Abu Dhabi. Really it is not possibly for me to say what would be right for others, but I know ADEC was the organization I felt the most comfortable with.
I received ADEC’s email confirming that my in-person-interview was for early February. I had to fly up to Charlotte, NC for the panel interview. Since it was during the week I had to ask time off and other than one work friend, no one knew from my work circles. I wanted to keep it on the DL until anything was for-sure.
I went suit shopping and decided on straight hair instead of curly. This was a breach of habit for me in that I have gotten every job I interviewed for and each of those times I had worn my hair curly. Maybe it’s like a sport-superstitious thing, but I seriously always got the job. Curly hair always won out.Well, whatever my previous stats showed, I decided to go against it. I was feeling rebellious.
The straight hair did not let me down. Maybe it’s not my hair, but actually me. (Haha)I found out through email and a voice-mail almost a week after my interview. That week was torturous! But I got it!
I cancelled the private school in-person-interview since I knew ADEC was my first choice anyways. SO unbelievable, but I will be teaching in Abu Dhabi next year!