It’s no secret that more and more qualified teachers are leaving the UK to teach internationally. In January 2017 there were a total of 8,646 international schools – 3326 of those teaching a British Curriculum. There is a predicted growth forecast of 16,900 international schools to be built by 2027 so qualified British teachers will become even more in demand!
In August 2016 I became one of the estimated 100,000 qualified British teachers who for some reason or other ditch the drizzle in the UK to teach abroad. After a holiday to Dubai during the February half term, I made the decision to start applying for jobs in the United Arab Emirates, this was a very big change for me a village girl who had only taught in one school for six years so very daunting but also very exciting! I was very fortunate to secure a teaching job quickly but then I had so many questions and the process can be very overwhelming. I had support from friends who had moved abroad, the HR team and members of staff at my new school were also very helpful communicating via email and LinkedIn. In addition to this, I connected with lots of international educators on Twitter, I remember finding Steve Bambury on Twitter – an educator with many years experience teaching at JESS Dubai and he was great answering all of my questions and providing advice. Since my arrival to the UAE, I have met Steve and his wife and we are now good friends. Through my Twitter account and website, I get a lot of teachers contacting me to ask questions or seeking advice about teaching internationally. I am always happy to respond and help others, showing the same kindness and support that I received. Sometimes I can’t always answer questions I get asked because schools vary with wages, packages, allowances etc and countries can differ greatly too with benefits and culture amongst other things.
Twitter is (or can be) a wonderful source of networking, sharing, discussion, debate and learning. There are so many communities on Twitter. I was quite oblivious to most of these communities as I have been in my own Twitter bubble with the wonderful “EduTwitter” community. There are even smaller communities within the EduTwitter community – such as WomenEd, BameEd, Edtech, leadership and subject-specific groups such as the History teacher community. These online communities are not exclusive and everyone is free to read what others share ( private accounts can restrict who can view their profile). Recently I became a finalist in the UK Blog Awards 2018 within the Education category, winners to be announced in April. There is now a community of #UKBA18 finalists communicating on Twitter (sharing their excitement) and this has opened my eyes to all the other bloggers and writers online in their chosen fields including arts & culture, events & wedding, fashion & beauty, food & drink, green & eco, health & social care plus much more! The finalists in these categories also use social media such as Twitter to connect with their audience and promote their material online.
In August 2016 I relocated to teach in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Before my move I had already made some online connections with teachers based in the UAE via Twitter and I have since been fortunate to meet many of them. I’ve also been able to stay in touch with the online educational community in the UK, keeping up to date with the latest developments and news via Twitter. If you are using Twitter you will know it is a fantastic resource for professional development with networking, sharing, collaborating and much more! I have blogged in more depth about how social media can be used for teachers’ professional development here.
What does it mean to be a connected educator?
It’s that term you’ve probably heard but what are people actually talking about? The term ‘connected educator’ is the term used to describe teachers who use modern methods to stay connected with each other. Connected educators tend to be passionate and committed educators who use their global network of educators called a ‘professional learning network’ to share, learn and develop their work as an educator. This could vary from having a friend who teaches in another part of the world to having thousands of followers online from across the globe. In my opinion a connected educator is someone who is passionate about education and learning from others. Due to the global nature that comes with being a connected educator, essentially all connected educators are international because their networks transcend geographical boundaries (although time zones can be a pain sometimes!). Connected educators are able to keep up to date with educational issues and debates, beyond the walls of their staffroom and the whole school. Connected educators are dedicated to their own professional development and recognise that as well as learning and gaining so much from others they can also share, collaborate and inspire other educators in some shape or form.
Professionally 2016 has been a very exciting and interesting year. This year includes attending and organising various CPD events, setting up my own educational blog to share/reflect and most importantly moving abroad to live and teach.
Everyone who knows me, personally or professionally, know that I love to teach (hence the profile and blog name) but I also love to travel. When the opportunity came up for me to take part in the British Council Connecting Classrooms programme, I did not hesitate!