My daughter taught in China for three years, then in Singapore for three years, and now she is finally at a school in Thailand, so she’s been away from the states for a very long time. People don’t ask about her much anymore. 😔 Most of her friends are people she has met in Asia or on her travels.
She has been teaching middle school math (grades 6-9) at international schools in each of these places. The schools in China gave her good experience though they were not top-tier. She thought she got lucky when an international school in Singapore hired her, but her first year there was absolutely awful. She was hired to be a tutor-like support person for kids who needed special help in Math—it turned out to be a hire made mainly to placate disgruntled parents she found out later. There was no support for HER - no teaching space (she had to meet students in the back of a common room), no office space (she had to sneak a chair and table into a janitor’s closet and then share that with another girl in the same predicament), no comraderie (none of the teachers considered her a professional teacher), no policies, nothing. It was insane. She was isolated and shunned. It was absolutely awful to watch her go from the head of the Math department in the Shanghai school to this non-person in Singapore. She was miserable and seriously depressed. I hated everyone at that school for what they did.
Late in the year, something happened to one of the math teachers and he decided not to return for the following year. All the career fairs were past, so the admins decided to move my daughter into that spot the next year instead of trying to find a new hire. Finally! She had a real classroom, real curriculum, and real peers again. She did better that next year and earned the respect of her students and the other teachers in her department, but it was still a challenge. She was in a “great” school, but it is a for-profit school, so the admins are relentless in their expectations, and the emphasis is always on placating parents above everything else.
During her second year as a Math teacher there, her Dad died quite suddenly. It was quite a shock. She requested time off to come home and attend the funeral. Her department head was very generous and understanding and told her “absolutely, take care of yourself and be with your family.” There happened to be a school holiday coming up and he told her to take bereavement days up until the school break and then she would also have the school holiday time to be with family, too. She was very appreciative of his compassion and flew home for the funeral and all the other related challenges.
However, the administration (Head of School) decided this was not to be. He threatened to fire her if she did not return to Singapore for the last day of school before the break! She was stunned, and her department head had to renege on his recommendation and insist she return. It was awful. She went back to Singapore for that one day, and then had to pay for another round-trip flight to come home again during the school holiday. The other teachers at the school were gobsmacked. She was embittered. She decided right there and then that she would not stay at that school after her contract was up.
She had to do the whole career fair thing again to find a new job. Those career fairs are insane. Two days (on a weekend so teachers don’t miss school) of intense interviews with people from all over the world. She called me with offers from schools in Finland, Ghana, Dubai, another Singapore school, and finally Thailand.
She did her research on each school—she wanted to go to a school that would care about HER, not just about parents or students. The school in Thailand turned out to have top reviews *from teachers* for being very supportive. It is also a non-profit school, so there aren’t the same capitalist pressures. She could feel the difference in the second interview, too. After that second interview, she was delighted to get an offer from the school for 2019-2021 and signed on the dotted line. Then back to Singapore to finish out her 2018-2019 contract there. She had to inform her supervisors that she would be leaving Singapore at the end of the year knowing that would mean she would get all the “shit assignments” as retaliation. Ugh. She kept her cool and put up with the crap while counting down the days.
She is teaching in Thailand now. The school is everything she hoped. Her years of experience with the curriculum is respected and appreciated in her new school. She is doing well—just spent the last few days’ holiday in Phuket. :) I don’t know how I’ll ever convince her to return to the states. 😩
I’m not sure why I’ve told you all this. Heh. Maybe so when you are tapped for an administration position, you’ll remember to be kind to your staff. Ha! :)
As I said before, concentrate on just one or two things that you deem important. Laser-focus on that and let the other stuff slide. It takes a few years to really master a curriculum; the first year is completely overwhelming. As teachers, we were also told to pick out one (or two at the most) students to focus on through the year because realistically, that was as many as we could actually have a significant impact on. (I always thought that was a very weird concept, but for some teachers, really focusing on 30+ students is just not do-able, I guess. And as a high school teacher, you even have a lot more students than that!)
Transitioning from part-time to full-time is probably more challenging than you’re giving yourself credit for. When you were part-time, you probably used a lot of your “off-time” to prepare and develop. Now you are full-time, you have self-imposed expectations to stay at that same level of teaching, but you have twice the load and half the time you used to have! Of course you are exhausted! Something has to give.
Figure out where you can compromise. And also figure out what you need to do to feel OK about leaving work at work. I used to give myself 20-30 mins. at the end of each day to sit in my classroom by myself with the doors closed and a little jazz playing to just wind down and breathe. (Other teachers would accuse me of hiding out-hahaha.) Make a list if you have to. Pull out your calendar if you have to. Do whatever you have to do to wrap up the day and calm your mind so you can turn off the lights, lock the door, and go home.
I hope this helps.