News: Expert International Teacher: Garrett Walsh - Jun 10, 2016
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Friday, June 10, 2016Candidate Stories

Expert International Teacher: Garrett Walsh

Because Garrett Walsh has taught internationally for 25 years, he has witnessed its growing popularity and the explosion of teaching opportunities throughout the world. Garrett began teaching in his native Ireland in 1988, but three years later, he was ready for a change; his last classroom sat 44 students! Garrett took a position in a small international school in Antwerp, Belgium, and stayed for 13 years. He speaks of the search process for his first overseas job:

"Back in the 1990s I used the TES newspaper to apply for jobs. I didn't find it very helpful and was often offered dubious jobs that I did not accept. In 2000 I accepted a position at the International School of Brussels. This opened up new avenues regarding professional development as well as international school contacts and employment agencies. At the time I was using Council of International Schools (CIS) job fairs, and in 2004, I accepted a position at United Nations International School (UNIS) Hanoi, Vietnam."

Earlier in Garrett's career, information about schools was not easily accessible to candidates until after one had signed a contract, which made accepting any new position a somewhat risky proposition. He knew, however, that speaking to the school's leadership team would give him a strong sense of a school and its pedagogy. Over time, Garrett learned more about international teaching opportunities through word of mouth and networking at fairs and workshops. Signing up with Search Associates also made his job searches much easier, of which he says:

"It wasn't until 2006 that I started using Search Associates. As I was moving on from UNIS in 2007, I had the opportunity to meet with Margaret and Harry Deelman on a visit to our school. I registered with them immediately and have always sought their advice since then. Harry, Margaret, and Glynn have always been present, available, and honest in their assessment of schools, offering advice when I have needed to make difficult decisions."

Since Garrett registered with Search Associates, he has attended Search Bangkok and Search London, both more than once. For him, job fairs are the first resource because of the social element—meeting up with former colleagues as well as prospective employers. Garrett added, however, that the fairs are not the only option for candidates, and that he has also found schools through the Search database. For Garrett, finding schools that are a good fit and applying to as many job openings as possible before the fair is the key. Keeping up with the change in status of these vacancies is also vital, which is why Garrett relies heavily on throughout the process. He describes more of the site's benefits and uses:

"The website is invaluable when accessing real information that concern teachers most, such as contract details, housing, and potential saving predictions for singles and families. Receiving daily emails for schools that match my profile is extremely helpful as it cuts down research time. Schools can be also be contacted directly through the Search website without sending a resume and referees repeatedly."

Garrett has traveled the world with his overseas teaching appointments: UNIS Hanoi, Bangkok Patana, ISTEK Istanbul, New Cairo British International School, Western International School of Shanghai, Mercedes Benz International School in India, and the Canadian Academy in Japan. This coming school year, he will begin teaching Grade 5 at the International School of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. This veteran teacher and former PYP Coordinator is certainly in a position to offer advice to those ready to pursue teaching opportunities abroad:

"Although most schools say they require at least two years experience overseas, I don't see that being exclusively applied. Check carefully what the schools' policies are and what their approach to education is. Curriculum is vital. I have worked largely with International Baccalaureate (IB) schools, but there are other progressive curricula ventures out there. Start your research at the beginning of the year; cut out places in the world you will NOT go to, and target as many schools as possible. There are many gems out there that you may not have considered or heard of."

Did You Know…?

Senior Associate John Ritter consults on matters of governance, planning, head and board transition, and staff development with schools all over the world.