Is Now the Right Time to Change Teaching Jobs?

Decisions about how you spend 8+ hours a day and at least two-thirds of your mental and physical energy are important to get right.

I don’t claim to have the answer to anyone’s personal dilemmas.

But I do know is that changing schools can be immensely liberating, although the process does require a lot of thought and energy.

And there’s always the risk that your new beginning is a false start.

In the following, I want to share what I have learned from the three times I changed teaching jobs.

1. It’s Okay to Be Thinking About Changing

In international schools, there are always people coming and going – and that’s the nature of these schools.

Don’t beat yourself up for toying with the idea of changing schools, or for deciding one thing, and then changing your mind.

The fact that you’re thinking about it means – if nothing else – that staying on becomes an informed and conscious choice rather than the default option.

2. If You Can, Leave on a High

When is a good time to change? Should I leave this summer, or stay another year?

Across the international sector, the standard contract is quite long, usually 2-year renewable. This is to justify the time and money spent on recruitment and visas.

Many see the golden rule as complete the contract, because it looks good on the CV, but, speaking as somebody who has once broken a contract, I would probably say it really depends on the circumstances.

Maybe the blip on the CV is a small price to pay for a ticket out of there.

If you’ve done your two years, and you are now thinking of renewing and doing a third or fourth year, then think about what you stand to gain professionally by staying on.

If you are starting to plateau as is sometimes the case when you’ve been somewhere for a while, then maybe you’re better off leaving soon – and leaving on a high.

3. Don’t Burn Bridges

A friend of mine – a non-teacher – said to me recently: “I’ve regretted playing mind games or saying things I shouldn’t have said, but I’ve never ever regretted doing the right thing.”

I think there’s a lot of truth in this.

Your Headteacher and Head of Department will presumably play a role in landing you your next job – what they say about you may place you on a shortlist or relegate your CV to the bin.

Of all the relationships you can choose to invest in, it makes sense not to leave these two out. Of all the people you can be rude to, well – just maybe think twice about it.

Something I know that all managers appreciate is being given proper notice. Last-minute notice is the equivalent of a kick in the shins.

4. Always Take the Interview

About a month ago, I couldn’t quite decide whether to take an interview organised by a recruitment agency. The school seemed okay, but the pay wasn’t great.

When I googled Should I take the Interview? the response by all the users who’d responded was an emphatic YES. And I took heed.

I did the Skype interview, and was made an offer a few days after. I decided not to take it.

But not for the reasons I had thought.

The school was willing to pay more than what they had initially advertised.

What was less attractive about the offer was all the added responsibilities. It really didn’t seem that interesting, nor did I feel I would be particularly good at it. It also came out that the school wasn’t just new, but brand-new. And that can be tough.

In the end, making the decision was easy.

But I’m glad I took the interview.

I found out new things about the school. Crucially, I got a better sense of what I wanted and what I didn’t want in relation to my next school. 

5. Don’t Panic If You Haven’t Bagged a Job by Easter

You’re job hunting and you feel the pressure. That’s normal. But I think there’s a perception sometimes that it’s somehow really urgent; that everyone is making a mad scramble for the few good jobs around.

I’ve often been told that the best international schools advertise in January, the good schools around Easter, and terrible schools wait until the summer.

This obviously can’t be true. Life also gets in the way at a good school: illness, pregnancies, etc.

And any school – good or bad – might advertise very late because they initially advertised too early. They found the perfect candidate, but by June, the perfect candidate – for whatever reason – had a change of heart. Life got in the way.

Finding a school that’s a good match for your current professional aspirations is a realistic aim, but the timing is down to luck.

I reckon you’re better off holding out for the right opportunity.

6. Trust Your Intuition

How often have you been in the situation of having chosen something, and then retrospectively realised that it was a terrible choice, and you’d ignored all the warning signs?

In my experience, the gut feeling is important. It’s about making key observations that are still in a type of flux. You have yet to lump them together to turn them into words and ideas that make sense. But the gut’s often right.

I wouldn’t ignore any alarm bells going off.

Pulling the plug today on a job offer that for whatever reason doesn’t feel right creates an awkward situation – but could let you dodge a whole lot of grief further down the line.

7. Take Stock of What You Have

Don’t chuck away something that’s valuable just because it doesn’t feel shiny and new.

It’s very easy to lose sight of the privileges we have been granted, simply because they have become tired and a bit routine. If you do decide you want to leave, make sure you’re mindful of exactly what you’ll be giving up.

One question you could ask is: how supported do you feel in your current department? Does your school allow you to be your best self?

Lots of little things could make this the case. Here are some fairly basic examples:

● A collegiate culture in the department
● Access to PD programmes
● Agreement on a personal level with the school’s values and vision
● Some form of decision-making power, e.g. choice over year groups
● Reasonable expectations regarding documentation of planning
● Unpaid leave days to pursue other interests/commitments
● Option to take on extra responsibilities
● Sympathetic line manager

8. Set Yourself Goals

The nature of teaching is that you’re always multitasking, sometimes to the point of not having enough time to sit and think about what you really want to achieve.

But you do have career goals, even if you struggle to reel them off the top of your head at this very moment.

Putting them into words is a powerful process.

If you are able to do that, they can guide your decision-making. That way, the question about staying or going gets rephrased to something like this: is your current school supportive in terms of you reaching your professional goals?

If not, then it’s probably time for a change.

David J. edits Misfit International

See also

9 Bad Things About International Teaching

 How to Succeed as an International Teacher in 8 Steps

How to Succeed as an International Teacher in 8 Steps

Not sure if going international is right for you? Or maybe you’ve decided you want to teach abroad, but worried about what to expect?

Teaching abroad is a lot of fun. And yes, there’ll be some challenges too.

Here are some handy tips for teachers who are about to go international.

1. Learn EAL techniques

Your class will probably contain English as an Additional Language (EAL) learners. It could be a handful, or it might be the whole group.

This provides a unique set of challenges for the teacher, regardless of subject specialism.

While some EAL support may be provided by the school, it’s still quite likely that the school isn’t doing enough to support its EAL learners.

You would need to adapt your methodology.

● Simplify wording
● Slow and clear diction when giving instructions
● Use of gestures
● Use of visuals in your materials
● Allow more processing time
● Unpack/translate language items
● Recycle language items
● Expect some degree of frustration

EAL learners have to double their effort compared to native speakers. This is incredibly tiring for them. They’ll need extra attention and encouragement.

TIP: You might think about doing an EAL course, like the CELTA, or maybe an online course.

2. Be Flexible

Things can change quite fast in an international school.

There is a higher turnover of both teachers and leaders, so processes and protocols change.

Which can lead to confusion and miscommunication.

For example, you might have been told you’d be teaching sixth-form. When you get hold of your timetable, it turns out it’s just KS3 and KS4. With the added surprise that you’ve gotYear 6 twice a week as well.

How flexible would/should you be in this situation?

International teachers that have a successful stay tend to be the ones that can cope with a bit of chaos. Especially in the first year.

3. Be Respectful to Parents

Sometimes it’s just a case of giving a parent an extra half hour of your time in order to avoid a confrontation or clear up a misunderstanding.

Just do it.

Even if it’s just you listening and not doing much else, you are able to show them that you care. Which, in a fee-paying school, counts for a lot. As do the complaints against you.

4. Escape the Bubble

International schools are often small communities. Where your closest friends are typically also your coworkers and bosses.

You might end up talking shop 24/7. Worse still, everyone knows everyone else’s business.

My advice: get an outside hobby. Something that takes you out of the bubble. Away from the inbreeding/infighting/etc.

5. Make Time for Self-Care

Whether it’s a fancy gym/spa membership, steak night Fridays, or even flying home during half-term, make sure you consciously make time for activities that promote your well-being.

Teaching abroad is amazingly rewarding, but being away does creates challenges.

When you think about your budget, set money aside for self-care. Halfway through the second term, you’ll be grateful that you did.

6. Support Your Colleagues

Colleagues are in the same situation as you. When life happens, they are likely to feel just as alone and isolated as you would. There’s a lot to be said for building a  support network.

Note also that being a manager can be a thankless task: never credited when things go well but vilified when they don’t. As much as it’s your line manager’s job to support you, I reckon it’s also good to ask: what sort of support does my line manager need from me?

7. Accept that Some Things Won’t Change

You feel strongly that XYZ is unfair. You might have raised it with your manager, and little has happened.

Is pursuing it further likely to change anything? Or are there better things to focus on?

If you can, redirect your thoughts and think about what you do have the power to change:

1) Focus on having a positive impact on the students in front of you.
2) Focus on what you stand to gain professionally from the role you’re in.

When you feel unable to do either of these, maybe you should consider moving on.

Moaning about a problem and solving a problem are often two separate things. We all love a good rant, but it’s often counterproductive.

A rant’s a bit like a cigarette. You get a few moments’ pleasure, but in the long term you’re poisoning yourself and those around you.

8. See the Bigger Picture

You’ll have so much fun being abroad.

More specifically, you’ll learn about new food, a new culture, and a new language. You’ll get to teach some great students.  And most importantly, you’ll establish friendships that will last a lifetime.

What I’m trying to say is that moving to another country is a brave, random and awesome thing to do. Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture.

David J. is an Editor on Misfit International

9 Bad Things About International Teaching

1. Culture Shock

The shock is real.

Yet somehow really hard to describe.

It doesn’t feel great, and it doesn’t feel awful either. Sometimes it’s a feeling of being on edge; everything being wrong. Sometimes it’s more a sense that everything is surreal.

Sometimes it makes you want to weep.

Then you wake up one morning and the shock’s over. Everything feels normal again, boring even. Even though you happen to be in Burkina Faso.

Read an article about culture shock here.

2. Reverse Culture Shock

The worst kind of culture shock, because it takes you by surprise.

You’ve been counting down the days until Christmas. You’ve long been wallowing in delicious, bittersweet nostalgia.

Then you get off the plane only to find that everything seems, feels, and looks unusual.

On that same day, you realise that your beloved relatives display types of behaviour that are totally bizarre. They’re completely different from how you remember them.

On the upside, reverse culture shock tends not to last as long.

3. Missing Old Friends

I miss my old friends. I doubt that feeling will ever go away.

When you start your new job, you’ll be starting with a bunch of other newbies. There’s likely to be intense bonding happening in the first month.

I would encourage anyone to take part in the social stuff at first, because once the groups have formed, it’s harder to break into one.

Even though these people are nothing like your old friends, you’ll need friends where you are – so keep giving the new folks a chance.

And keep reminding your old friends that they have a unique opportunity to visit you.

4. The Train Station Feeling

For want of a better term: the train station feeling is about people coming and going.

Even the best international schools will tend to have a higher staff turnover than your average school back home. And that’s due to the teacher profile: those that are mobile and want to experience more of the world.

They tend to move on after a few years.

There’s a lot to be said for that freedom and flexibility. It’s invigorating having new people join your school every year.

It’s not until your best mate decides to go that you realise there’s a flipside to the train station setup. Easter becomes a time of great anxiety: who’ll be the next person to announce their departure?

5. Constant Decision-Making

If everyone else is leaving this year, should I also be thinking of leaving? Or stay and do another year?

In a school where everyone seems to go after exactly three years, you’ll probably end up doing the same. We humans often lack the imagination or courage to be pioneers.

I almost bought a flat in Spain two years ago. I would have been the only one in my group of friends quite literally cementing my life in Galicia. In the end, I got cold feet.

Being international means making decisions about whether to stay. And whatever you decided last year, you end up having to make the decision again this year. And it continues year after year.

If you know how to do this without losing sleep, please do share your secret!

6. Exchange Rates

Exchange rates are a pain. The main reason being that currency trades at two different rates depending on whether you’re buying or selling. You lose regardless.

Planning ahead involves taking into account the added risk that rates shift over time, and sometimes dramatically.

And is it just me, or are the rates always crap when you need them to be really good? Over the years, I have unwittingly shaved sizeable margins off my international transfers, due to bad exchange rates.

7. Pension

International teachers don’t get any. And that’s obviously worrying.

One fairly cheap and straightforward solution – for want of a better word – for teachers from the UK is to pay voluntary national insurance contributions, in order to secure your right to a state pension later on.

What that state pension will be worth further down the line is a different matter altogether. Nobody knows.

Might not be very much, but it’s probably a lot more than nothing.

8. The Language Barrier

In the first year, many teachers will be keen to learn the new language. They might take classes and supplement with apps like Duolingo.

In the second year, motivation dips. It’s easy enough to find an excuse not to bother.

What happens is that you plateau, because you become comfortable where you are. You’ve mastered the greetings, the food and drink orders, giving directions. Basic situations.

But you’ll still need help from local friends or colleagues for the harder stuff. Like the GP, the dentist or the bank. Or the police(!).

The frustration of not being able to manage on your own never quite goes away. It makes you feel vulnerable and childlike.

9. Missing the Milestones

Everything else I’ve written about is for the most part manageable. But this one’s a biggie!

In reality, life continues to happen: people have birthdays, get married and start families. More worryingly, older relatives grow older.

In a perfect world, you’d just hit pause and nothing would change for three years while you explore the world.

My sister had scores of friends and family turn up for my nephew’s first birthday – but I couldn’t get affordable flights. So I was unable to make it. I was gutted.

This is the one big disadvantage of teaching internationally. Missing important stuff.

When you finally end up pulling the plug on your big adventure, there’s little doubt that being absent for important milestones is going to be one of the deciding factors.

David J. is an Editor on Misfit International

My Personal Experience of Teaching in Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is a place that has attracted teachers from around the anglophone world for over a decade now.

I was one of those teachers.

Are you perhaps considering taking the leap? Read this article and learn how you avoid making the same mistakes as me!

The Disclaimers

Disclaimer 1: It was a while ago.
Disclaimer 2: I didn’t have a great time. I apologise for any biases!

Stunning Skyline and Pristine Beaches

Abu Dhabi City is beautiful. No other word describes it better.

The recruitment agencies know this. They play three cards: (1) weather and holiday feel, (2) generous salary package, and (3) amazing school.

All true – to an extent.

Beware of the Dodgy Recruiters

I recommend taking a polite, but inherently suspicious approach in your dealings with recruitment agencies.

Recruiters take a very short-term approach. They want to match employee and employer, take their cut, and then exit. Once you’ve signed, they move on.

I definitely wouldn’t rely on a recruiter to provide any information of value about the post or about the school.

You Need to Take Charge

This means you have to be the person who investigates: what kind of role is this?

And researching might not come easy. Teachers do blog and go on discussion forums, but the laws regarding Freedom of Expression are different in the UAE – a worker currently in the country is unlikely to run the risk of making negative comments publicly for fear of being prosecuted.

In other words, you have to look deeper. Nowhere is deeper and darker than Reddit; here people tend to speak freely.

Private Schools in Abu Dhabi

The British schools across the Emirate are private schools.

They are regularly inspected by the UAE authorities. What you can do then, is look at the inspection reports, which are very detailed and helpful.

Some of the British schools in Abu Dhabi City and Al Ain have an excellent reputation. They have a large proportion of students from Britain, Europe and the US. There’s a big demand for those jobs.

Other British/English Schools cater for nationals from other Arab countries, e.g. Egypt or Lebanon, and may also have more Arab staff as well. Here, you’ll need to be more open-minded, because many things will be done in ways you’re not used to.

Some private schools use recruiters, while others recruit directly, e.g. on TES.

State Schools – Ministry of Education Schools

The private schools and the state schools provide completely different experiences for both pupils and staff.

For over a decade, thousands of English-speaking teachers have been recruited to work in the state schools, then managed by ADEC/ADEK, now the Ministry of Education or MOE. Still many jobs going, though the number is lower now.

Teachers recruited range from EY and Primary to Science, English and Maths in Secondary.

The background was the 2009 School Reform, where English became a main language of instruction alongside Arabic.

What should I expect from MOE schools?

●  Recruitment through an agency, here’s one. Look for MOE jobs
●  Fewer jobs than 5 years ago, but still many available posts.
●  Be prepared to teach EAL for 50% of the time, regardless of specialism.
●  Set expectations regarding attainment low.
●  Educate yourself on Gulf etiquette and be respectful and patient.

What are the challenges?

●  Poor communication throughout the recruitment process
●  Confusing and incomplete induction process
●  Not knowing where you’ll be posted
●  Poor communication within schools
●  Challenging curriculum that many pupils cannot access
●  Lots of charades, initiatives that add no value, but look good
●  Difficult behavior, not helped by the language barrier

Crazy Challenging School

My school was particularly poor: no visible leadership, the office staff were not competent, student behavior was very challenging, and we had no support systems in place.

I was expected to throw so many of my principles out the window, e.g. letting students cheat rather than fail.

Fundamentally, what was also hard for me was knowing that the students weren’t safe. The school was understaffed and therefore unable to deal effectively with bullying/fighting.

Note: This is one experience of many, I also know of ADEK teachers who stayed between 5-10 years. Those teaching EY generally tend to enjoy it more.

State vs. Private

This isn’t a difficult choice. Go private.

Historically ADEK teachers have been able to earn more, and have accommodation paid for in full. The pay package has been scaled back since, so that today the difference is less stark.

My advice: if you’re dead keen on an MOE school, I would aim to do two years at a decent private school first, then do another two years in a state school.

Is Teaching in Abu Dhabi Worth It Then?

On balance, is Abu Dhabi worth considering? I definitely think so.

●  Saving potential good – be strict with yourself and save rather than spend.
●  Amazing cities – both AD City and Al Ain are beautiful places.
●  Mix of ethnicities. You’ll get friends from all over the world.
●  Absolutely amazing schools, if they’ll let you in.
●  Good or bad, the experience will teach you a lot.

As always, preparation is key. So keep educating yourself.

You are welcome to contact me directly if you want any more information about Abu Dhabi. Final tip: here is the link to a great blog about expat teachers in the Middle East.

David J. is an Editor on Misfit International

See also

Other Country Guides

37 Questions To Ask Your Future Employer

You’re having an interview on Skype with a Head Teacher who is a potential employer. And you towards the end of the interview, they thank you for your time and ask: Do you have anything you would like to ask us?

And at that very tense moment, all that comes to mind is a question about the school lunches.

You want to know is if the lunch is free, if there’s a veggie option, and if so, how do the other vegetarians at the school rate it?

If you choose to verbalise this, will you mess up your interview? Maybe, maybe not.

But you will certainly have missed out on a chance to enter into a more meaningful discussion.

Choosing the right question is an art form. What we’ve done is sort them into two types: ones that are relevant to the interview process and ones that are best left for a later stage.

During Your Interview

This is your time to share big-picture thinking. Save the small stuff for after – here it should be all about ideas, values, purpose, identity, vision.

Who are you? What motivates you? What makes you unique? Those are the things they’ll want from you.

But remember: that’s exactly what you’ll want to find out from them as well.

You could try these kinds of questions:

1. What would your staff describe as the best thing about working for the school?

2. What would they say the challenges were?

3. How has the school changed and developed in recent years?

4. Which of the school’s achievements is your proudest?

5. If I were a parent, why would I choose this school over rival schools?

6. If I could meet a school alumna/alumnus, how would they describe their experience?

7. What values would you expect an alumna/alumnus to have?

8. If you think of an excellent member of the teaching staff, what is it that makes that person particularly valued at the school?

9. Looking two or three years into the future, in what ways do you expect the school will have grown?

Admittedly, these questions might seem brash. And of course, they might not be appropriate in all cultural contexts.

But let’s assume the Head is British. Then asking them to communicate clearly their ideas about the school’s vision and mission shouldn’t be too controversial. Or so you’d hope!

There are other approaches. The following questions take a more toned-down approach:

10. Is there an induction process for new staff?

11. Would you be able to tell me a bit about the management structure at the school?

12. What’s the discipline policy?

13. Would I be able to get a copy of the staff handbook?

14. Would you be able to send me the school calendar?

15. Would you be able to share the schemes of work?

16. What type of budget is there for professional development?

These questions may seem innocent enough, but how your future boss responds will reveal a lot about what kind of school it is.

The reality of international teaching is that schools can be positioned somewhere on a scale incredibly well-structured to chaos. And I mean utter chaos.

It might not matter to you directly whether they have a staff handbook. But if they do (and if it’s fit for purpose), it’s likely to be the kind of school where you’d follow certain procedures and protocols. There are systems. Which is likely to make your life easier.

However, this shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all, either. In fact, the best school I taught at didn’t have schemes of work in place when I started. Just textbooks. And I loved the fact that I was given free hands.

The main point is this: you need to find out what the school is like in advance, because you need to be very clear about what kind of experience you are saying yes to.

And you need to be honest with yourself about whether you would be able to thrive in the absence of formal structures and clear instructions.

After Receiving an Offer

Some schools invite you over to teach a mock lesson as part of the interview process. This is a great time to gather info. Break time and lunch time will be pivotal moments.

Unfortunately, when applying internationally, more often than not, you won’t be able to visit in advance.

Instead, you are likely to enter into some kind of dialogue via email with a member of the senior management team once they have made you an offer.

Here are some ideas about what you might ask.

Teaching and Resources

17. How many contact hours will I have? (Important: hours or periods!)

18. How many non-contact hours will I have?

19. How long is the school day?

20. How long are the breaks?

21. Will I have my own classroom?

22. How new is the building?

23. Is lunch provided free of charge?

24. Are there electronic whiteboards?

25. What’s the policy regarding homework?

26. What kind of support in place for students that struggle to follow the course?

27. To what extent do you have to document your planning?


28. How long is the probation period?

29. What are the success criteria for passing the probation period?

30. Is health insurance included in the package, and does that include dental and optical?

31. What are the policies regarding staff absence, illness and personal days?

32. How long is the contract, and what’s the process for renewing it?

Pay Package

33. What’s the salary? Is this before or after deductions?

34. Is there a salary scale, and if so, is progression automatic year on year?

35. Is there a bonus for completing the contract?

36. Will I get paid in July and August at the end of the contract?

37. How much would I be able to save?

Make sensible financial decisions

As an international teacher, you give up the protection of the teaching unions in the UK. You will have to fight your own battles regarding pay and conditions.

Don’t enter into a contract that you feel underrates your skill set. You’ll be giving up a lot to go abroad, including support networks and lost pension contributions. You deserve proper compensation – in whatever shape or form this may takes; more money, more free time, something else.

Surprisingly, some employers insist on talking gross salary. Be firm and insist the conversation revolves around take-home pay only – the part that gets taxed isn’t relevant.

Use numbeo to find out what things cost in the new place.

Get other people’s insights

There is only so much you can pester a Head Teacher with, so it’s a good idea to ask for the contact details of the head of your department, or the HR person.

Or even ask if you could email a current member of the current teaching staff.

It never hurts to ask

You’re considering uprooting yourself and moving to another country. If you can get a sense of what it’s really going to be like, you are far less likely to end up disappointed.

Ask. Get on that fact-finding mission. It won’t hurt to ask, but not asking could end up hurting. You need to be able to make an informed decision about whether this job is right for you.

David J. is an Editor on Misfit International


Insider Guide: Teaching in Spain

There’s every reason in the world why you should seriously consider taking up a teaching post in Spain.

Spain has it all: beaches, mountains, art, culture, and history. And let’s not forget the parties! As anyone who has stayed in a €10 hostel in Barcelona can testify to, Spaniards enjoys a good fiesta.

There are some brilliant schools – but many aspects of teaching in Spain mean the overall, day-to-day experience will be different from what you are used to in the UK.

If you want to learn more about these, please carry on reading.

Demand for Education in English

There is a huge demand for English-medium education in Spain. Tourism is massive in the cities, all along the coast, and on the islands – and here English is essential.

And anyway, many parents see English more generally as the key to future-proofing. Spain’s typically had a high level of youth unemployment, and many Spaniards want to have the option to find work abroad when times are tough back home.

Schools in Spain

Some schools offer what is known as bilingual education. This means following a Spanish curriculum but with the provision of up to half the subjects taught in English.

Other schools label themselves English or British. These normally follow Cambridge and/or Edexcel that can be seen as variations of the National Curriculum in England and Wales.

Long Summer Holidays

Across all schools in Spain, the students tend to enjoy shorter holidays during the year, but up to about 10 weeks of summer holidays. Some schools move to a summer timetable in June and September with the day finishing at around 2 pm.

The Role of a Tutor

In my old school in Spain, form tutors were expected to do more than just register absences. We had to play a pastoral role. I was the first point of call for the parents, even if I didn’t know much about their child’s problem.

This was a positive experience, but also time-consuming, and I would recommend you find out what a tutor is expected to do at your future school.

Why You Should Take a Teaching Job in Spain

There are countless reasons, but we have tried to lump some of the main ones together.

Spain is a fun place to live

It is as simple as that. Did we mention the fiestas?

If feels like something is always on. Whether it’s Oktoberfest or the Reconquista, Spaniards love a street festival, and everyone from toddlers to abuelas – Spanish grandmothers – come out to take part in the events.

Your Spanish pupils are ace

I know it is wrong to generalise, and I know I’m being horribly subjective. But in my view, Spaniards are sociable, fun-loving, sensitive to other people’s feelings, and surprisingly comfortable in big groups. It sounds too general to be true, but it really is!

Importantly, this also applies to your pupils. Some of my best teaching experiences have been with Spanish children. They are fun and engaging to teach, and they put real energy into the tasks you have given them. It can get noisy – but that isn’t necessarily a sign that your pupils have gone off task.

Supportive parents

The parents are very appreciative if they can see you care about their children.

If your student has done something wrong, the parent is likely to castigarlo, which essentially means disciplining them by grounding them or stripping them of a privilege, e.g. their screen-time. You may or may not agree with this approach, but Spanish parents want their children to learn right from wrong.

Cost of living

When travelling between the tourist spots – Barcelona, Madrid, Tenerife, Mallorca or Malaga – and UK city, chances are that there are cheap flights and frequent departures. You’ll be able to pop back and see loved ones in one of the puentes, which means the four-day weekends.

Life in Spain is cheap(er) – and restaurants are great value. In the supermarket, a lot of the fresh produce like grapes, oranges, tomatoes and avocados is dirt cheap.

Note: Your car is an important exception. If you need to buy a car in the Spain, then be mindful that an old banger there will probably set you back somewhere in the region of €1500-1800.

Renting is affordable

 You are likely to end up spending a smaller fraction of your earnings on rent comparing to similar-sized towns or cities in the UK.

If – in the long-term – you decide you are interested in buying, you are likely to find you can afford something nicer than you would on a similar budget in the UK.

Access to Welfare Services

Teachers on a permanent contract are granted rights under Spanish employment law. If you lose your job, you will be entitled to claim benefits for up to two years. Similarly, should you become ill, you should be able to get paid a fairly high fraction of your old salary for the first few months.

Tip: Go through the section about the probation period in the contract. Until that period is up, you are likely to have much fewer rights.

Be that Beached Whale

The sun does you a world of good. A great mood booster. If you are lucky enough to live on the coast, every Friday afternoon between March and October meant a post-work trip to the beach. A cold dip is an amazing way to shake off the stress of a rough week in the classroom.

See also 10 reasons why you should take a teaching job in Spain.

And the downsides…

So those were the highlights, but what are the lowlights? As always, our aim is to educate and this means examining both sides of the coin.

Fewer Holidays

The term often feels too long, and while the puentes – long weekends – are welcomed, it isn’t really enough time to allow you to feel fully rested. Furthermore, three-day weeks are tricky, because you get confused about what day it is.

If you’re unlucky, there might be an expectation that you stick around and work as a Summer Camp Counsellor in July.

…and Longer Days

In a Spanish state school, you might finish at 2 or 3, but in a private school, it isn’t uncommon for the day to run all the way to 5 pm. Add the commute or the staff meeting, and you might not be changing out of your shirt and tie before past 6.30. That’s a long day!

…and Potentially Fewer PPAs

It’s a sad fact. The contact to non-contact time ratio is often staggeringly high.

Nepotism Also Found in Schools

As the old piece of advice tells you, don’t mix friendship with business, and not all school leaders and/or owners heed these words. It’s cringey when an important post is given not to a qualified candidate but instead to an old mate.

Lower Costs, Low Salaries

While cost of living is generally low, so are the salaries. Even though your disposable income may go a long way when spending locally, be mindful that a trip to, say,  New York is much, much harder on a Spanish salary. Rethink your holiday and consider visiting Portugal, Morocco, or Albania instead.

… and Lower Savings Potential

Saving money is not always doable.

Although I managed to save roughly €400 a month, this did entail having to be careful with my spending. In the end I was only able to save what amounted to … not so much, by international standards, at least.

Spain Gets the Rains Too

You won’t get a comfortable 23 degrees and a light breeze all year round. Depending on your location, you might get a fair share of rain and wind.

And while winters back home truly are glum, summers here can be scorching, which is just as bad. If you’re in a school that operates a smart dress-code and potentially has no or limited A/C, you might be even more miserable than you would be in Birmingham in November.

The Drink Can Turn Destructive

It’s a universal phenomenon, but we probably see it even more in Spain: teachers that come into school reeking of booze. That is, if they bother coming in at all.

Nightlife is buzzing and cocktails are cheap – but as a result, too many teachers who come to Spain end up prioritising fun over school. And too often, the story has a terrible ending. They end up falling out with colleagues, signing off, or even getting the sack.

Over to You

We hope you feel a bit more clued up the pros and cons – with the help of your mate on the inside. And importantly, what to expect and not to expect if you choose to teach in Spain.

Here at Misfit International, we wish you a very exciting onwards journey: these next few years could well be among the best ever.

See also

Other Country Guides
10 reasons why you should take a teaching job in Spain
Is now the right time to go abroad?