BECOME A MEMBER! Sign up for TIE services now and start your international school career


Who Are We Hiring and Why?

By Proserpina Dhlamini-Fisher
Who Are We Hiring and Why?

As I sit at my desk on a Saturday morning, I am wondering what other international educator colleagues are thinking and feeling worldwide, as some of us are reflecting and deciding whether we will be staying at our international schools beyond June/July 2016.
I have just read a great quote from WomenWorking on LinkedIn, which says: “Live life. Don’t study it.” I smiled to myself, knowing full well that I have probably spent the past 20 years doing the latter, but as I reflect on entering the second half of my centurion years, I am more focused on living my life. It is never too late! Yes, we must reflect on what the next steps are, where we want to work and live, what we want to do and why. But we also have to go with the flow and just live life!
But back to my question: who indeed are we hiring to populate the classrooms in our international schools, and to be educational leaders for our communities? What is driving our decision making, and are these decisions based on teaching and learning or on something else?
If we are honest with ourselves, we might all acknowledge that these days we all seem to be on an educational hamster wheel, endlessly introducing and chasing new innovations and wanting to implement change in our schools, as we aspire to create and be part of modern and innovative educational institutions. But when we make these decisions, how much of our motivation is personal and egoistic? How much of it is really for the benefit of the students? How much time are we spending on resources to put our schools on some popularity map, when we should be measuring how our students are learning and how we may help our educators be the best teachers they can be?
As school administrators, how often do we engage our students in honest reflections on the type of teachers that enable them to learn in meaningful and exciting ways before we go recruiting? Are we not at times guilty of not liking the teachers that the students love the most? Why is this the case? I am smiling to myself, because the teachers I have come across in my life who do not conform to the school rules and expectations are usually the same teachers that get the best out of their students, which eventually leads to excellent learning experiences. Every school needs them because they inspire our students to learn!
Are we recruiting with our students in mind, to enable them to have role models from their own cultures? Are we also consciously thinking about diversity within our teaching staff in our international schools? Do we remember our mission statements during interviews? What is it that makes us sure that we have hired the right people to join our staff, and are we totally honest in our discussions about our schools? If the answers are yes to these questions, why do “Induction Weeks” in many international schools end up in negative conversations among newly hired teachers, who seem shocked and stunned by the reality on the ground, rather than excited and eager?
How can we ensure that we are being transparent and respectful with all recruits, at this very difficult time in their lives? What can we do better? Can we honestly say that we are courteous and sensitive to those colleagues that will not make it to our schools, and that we do not waste their time? Can we honestly say that we are honest with candidates and give them all the information they need to make informed decisions about joining our schools?
I believe it is important that, as recruiters, we keep our integrity during this stressful time, and continue to be respectful, empathetic, and understanding, especially toward those to whom we do not offer jobs.
So who are we hiring and why? I hope we are hiring qualified educators, who love children and who are open-minded enough to want to be in an international environment, who want to learn about other cultures and peoples. But most importantly, I hope we are recruiting educators that self-reflect and want to offer students amazing learning experiences. I also hope that we are doing the right background checks on our new recruits, to ensure that we are bringing safe and sound-minded people into our communities.
As an international educator, I strongly believe we are still not doing enough to educate our educators, and if we look at many mission statements, we see a lot written about students, and hardly, if ever, enough about the educators and administrators at our schools. But then again, it might be because we already know that we must model the international-mindedness in our interactions with students. Are our expectations of students similar to those of our educators and leaders? I ask my question again, who are we recruiting and why? Good luck to you all, both recruiters and candidates!

Please fill out the form below if you would like to post a comment on this article:


02/11/2016 - Paula
Wow! Thank you so very much, Proserpina for such an inciteful article about recruiting international educators. I enjoyed reading this very informative article and agree so much with most of your points.
The most important points that resonated with me are the hope that recruiters are recruiting qualified educators who love children, are open-minded and want to learn about other cultures and people with self-reflection to offer students amazing learning experience.
I hope all recruiters will consider most of the questions you posed in the process of recruiting, especially to be respectful and empathetic towards those who were not offered the job.



Elevate Student Voice & Choice in Diverse Learning Settings
By Lindsay Kuhl, Jane Russell Valezy, & Esther Bettney
May 2021

Increasing Student Autonomy Through Time and Place
By Tim Johnson & Tony Winch
May 2021