Why Teach Overseas?
Teaching overseas can be a rewarding personal and professional experience. It is a great opportunity to enhance your professional skills and gain a new perspective of yourself, your home country, and to discover new parts of the world. An experienced teacher with a good sense of humor, strong classroom management skills, clear command of his/her subject material and who genuinely enjoys teaching will find success teaching overseas.
But it is definitely not for everyone. There is more to teaching overseas than "teaching and travelling." The challenges to living and working overseas are many, including living within and learning a new culture and language, and adapting to a different curriculum. Day-to-day routines and cultural barriers usually quickly erode romantic notions of far-away places.
If you have already registered for TORF and have received a Registrant ID and password from us, you can log in below:
Learn about International Schools
International schools are usually private, tuition-based schools, and can be non-profit with a parent-run board of directors, sponsored by a corporation, or sponsored by embassies. Some are proprietary in nature. They can vary in size from as small as 40 students to as large as 2000 students. They are found in over 100 countries around the world. The language of instruction is English, but some offer a bilingual program. Fluency in another language is not a requirement to teach in an international school. For most schools, the academic year begins in August or September and runs until June. Holidays vary according to the local culture.
School curricula can be based on one or more of: the International Baccalaureate (IB), American curriculum, the IGCSE from the UK, host country requirements, or others, including Canadian (usually Ontario). The majority of the students are university bound and can be entirely host country nationals or drawn primarily from the international community. Usually, the student body is a mixture of the two groups. The teaching staff is often a mix of host country nationals and 'import' teachers.
The variety of positions available depends on the needs of the schools; they vary from year to year in both location and positions. Most opportunities at TORF are with schools in Latin America, the Middle East and Asia with fewer available in Europe and Africa.
Contracts at international schools almost invariably are for 2 years. Very few schools offer 1 year contracts. Contracts are not negotiable.
It can be a challenge to fully understand and compare the salary and benefit packages offered in international schools. When considered on their own, salary figures can be misleading and can provide an incomplete picture of the full value of the packages available. To fully assess the value of a package, one must consider more than the exchange rates of national currencies. The cost of living, what is covered by the package, and what expenses you will not incur overseas must also be taken into account.
To compare the value of one package to another, or to one's living expenses at home, it is important to focus on the savings potential rather than the salary alone.
"How much can I save?" is the only question that takes into account all the variables including salaries, benefits including housing, taxes, exchange rates, cost of living, and others. It also takes into account that many of your current expenses here in Canada will be non-existent overseas or may be covered by the school. For example, a basic salary of $25,000 in one location could produce annual savings of $15,000 while a salary of $50,000 in another location could result in no savings at all. "How much can I save?" is the only reliable way to compare the overall value of the salary and benefit packages.
Benefits offered by international schools vary widely. Airfare at the start and at the end of the contract for the hired teacher is always provided. A few schools will also offer airfare for the summer break in between school years. Housing is almost always included – the school either will provide furnished housing or will provide a housing stipend above and beyond the salary. Shipping allowances, signing bonuses, professional development, and health insurance are typical benefits offered by international schools around the world. Some schools will offer enrolment in a Master’s program as a benefit; some schools offer sports club memberships. Some offer daily lunches! All of these variables affect the savings potential at the individual schools.
Eligibility for TORF
International schools are looking to hire certified single teachers and teaching couples, and school administrators.
The basic requirements to register for TORF are:
- Current teacher certification with at least 2 years full-time teaching experience, not including day to day supply teaching, summer school, or student teaching
As some schools are able to hire teachers with less than 2 years teaching experience, we also welcome applications from:
- Current Teacher Candidates enrolled in Queen's Faculty of Education
- Current MEd or PhD candidates enrolled full-time in Queen's Faculty of Education
- Teachers with less than 2-years' experience and current BEd Candidates from other universities please see 'Limitations to Your Success at TORF' below.
To increase your chances of success at the recruiting fair:
- You must be willing to sign a two year contract (one year contracts are rare)
- You must be flexible in your geographic preferences
To understand how your personal circumstances may affect your success at TORF, we urge you to read our information on limitations below.
Teachers with Non-teaching Spouses or Partners Accompanying Overseas
Hiring teachers with non-teaching spouses or partners can be problematic for international schools. The problems encountered include obtaining entry visas for the spouse or partner, complicated housing issues, an insufficient salary to support dependents, and other issues. Based on our experience, approximately 25% of candidates in this situation have experienced success at TORF. Please note that the difficulties with hiring teachers with non-teaching spouses have nothing to do with the teachers’ ability to make a contribution in an international school.
Teachers with Spouses or Partners Not Accompanying Overseas
International schools are reluctant to hire teachers whose spouses or partners will not be accompanying the teacher overseas. In the schools’ experience, there are many precedents where a long distance, separated relationship has not worked well in the past. Based on our experience, approximately 25% of candidates in this situation have experienced success at TORF. Please note that the difficulties with hiring teachers whose spouse or partner will not be accompanying overseas have nothing to do with the teachers’ ability to make a contribution in an international school. If you wish to register with TORF, you will have to reassure international recruiters that a separated, long distance relationship for the better part of two years will work for you and your spouse/partner.
Teachers at or Near Retirement
In some countries, there are age restrictions on visas imposed by the host country government.
Unmarried Teaching Couples
Local standards or national laws in certain locations, such as North Africa and the Middle East, require that couples living together be married.
Teachers with Children
Please be aware that not every school will be able to accommodate teachers with dependent children. However, in our experience roughly 80% of schools ARE able to hire teachers with dependent children. Please feel free to contact the TORF staff if this is a concern for you.
Teaching Couples with More than Two Dependent Children
Couples with more than two children will find reduced chances at TORF. This can be due to the limits of provided housing, the cost to a school for transportation, benefits, tuition for staff dependents, or a school enrollment already at capacity.
Teachers Without Recent Full-time Teaching Experience
International schools prefer to hire teachers with recent experience and current references.
Teachers with Less Than Two Years Full-Time Classroom Teaching and Candidates at Faculties of Education other than Queen's
Most schools prefer to hire teachers with at least two years' experience. This is not an arbitrary requirement imposed by Queen's but is a generally accepted preference among the overseas schools. Given the demands of adjustment to a new culture, professional environment and climate, most schools prefer that teaching skills be 'in place' prior to arrival.
Several schools will consider first year teachers. We therefore set aside about 25% of the places for teachers with less than two years' experience, with priority given to current Queen's BEd students. We may be able to accept a small number of applications from teachers with less than two years' experience from outside Queen's. Teachers in this category are welcome to apply. You will be placed on a Wait List.
In January, we will know how many schools, experienced teachers, and Queen's BEd students are registered. If there is room, we will contact those we are able to accept on the basis of the information provided within the on-line registration. Depending upon the level of interest and the places available, we might do this on the basis of candidates' marketability. At that point it would be necessary to quickly submit the required documents and fee as outlined in the registration instructions.
Registration fees for teachers are extremely low, thanks to support from the Queen’s Faculty of Education and the registration fees paid by International Schools.
- All Registrants: $125.00; except
- Current Queen's University BEd and full-time MEd/PhD Candidates: $100.00
Deadlines for the completion of the online form, payment and document submission will be available in early September, 2014.
Please read Registration Instructions carefully before you begin.
Please complete the On-line Data Form, a series of 5 screens. Please note that this process will take up to 30 minutes, and requires detailed professional and academic information. Once submitted, the TORF Registrar will respond to your application. The online form for TORF 2015 will be available in September, 2014.
As per instructions from the TORF Registrar, you will be required to submit all documentation and the registration fee. Please refer to the registration instructions for details on documentation.
The TORF Registrar will confirm your acceptance into TORF.