Friday, April 08, 2011

Teaching overseas - before you leave

OK, I thought it was about time I started sharing some of the things I have been going through, so that hopefully it'll help others out there, who are looking at making the move to teaching overseas.
  1. Passport! You might say, hang on, duh. Of course I know I need this, but make sure you have lots of time left on your passport. Different countries have different requirements about how much time needs to be on these, so do your research.
  2. Check on things like your driver's license, your teaching registration. If either are due to expire soon, renew early to make your life easier.
  3. Sort out a forwarding address (I had the help of my gorgeous mum and lil sister, who offered to email if anything exciting turned up via snail-mail).
  4. Make sure you have original copies of all important paperwork. If any are lost, request copies of birth certificate, change of name, marriage certificate - these are all hugely important and you will need these in any country that you move to.
  5. Make an appointment with a JP and get lots of copies of your important documents certified (only if you're going somewhere like Australia, that has very close ties with New Zealand. If you are heading further out, see the next step).
  6. I had never heard of document notarisation or the apostille certificate, until I received my first job offer. Some countries will require this for your teaching qualification, as in their country they cannot determine by sight whether or not your qualification is authentic. It is essential for work visa purposes, so very important. Before you leave NZ, make sure you get a notarised copy (through an notary public like Wynyard Wood - about $60 for one notarised document plus hourly fee) and then see the following page: - apparently, the time frame after Internal Affairs receives your application can be around 14 working days, so get on to this early. Their fee is $32.50 at the moment (although that may well change).
  7. Organise at least three written professional references and make copies. Also, depending on where you are heading, organise a written reference from your landlord.
  8. If you are definite about what country you are going to, do your research online. If not, have a back-up plan. For example, if you have a back-up plan of living and casual teaching in NSW while job-hunting - find out about their accreditation process. Even though New Zealand and Australia have a close relationship, never make assumptions! You may be required to get declarations signed by friends or colleagues who can attest to your character. This is much easier to do before you leave the country. There may even be more than 1 accreditation process. You have no idea how long these could take, so - in today's information age, make sure you've done what you can online and prior to your departure.
  9. Minimise, minimise, minimise. Start at least 6-8 months before you're even thinking of leaving (especially if you're anything like me). If you are anything like me, I would recommend having at least a year up your sleeves, to minimise on stress levels.
    • Pass on resources to other teachers who can use
    • Run trademe auctions
    • Give other larger things to clothing bin, the mission, Salvation Army collection points, friends. Don't just rely on Trademe. I thought I had started quite early, but then the things I thought would sell, didn't and the re-listing grew tiresome. All the little things add up and for over 2 months it just felt like I had a mountain of things to still get rid of. I was still frantically going through the last of the bags / boxes up to three hours before the flight out.
  10. For anyone who has been day-to-day in a classroom for longer than a year - make sure you allow at least 3-5 days for your final classroom sort out.There will be things that you really want to PDF and have a digital copy of, sorting out your email (what needs to be backed up) and your folder on the server. There will be a list of things that you had meant to pass on to colleagues and had never had enough time to do so... The list goes on.... and on.
  11. If you are able to move out of your property at least a week before the flight and stay with family or friends, I really recommend it. This allows you time to sort the final property inspection, to take stock of exactly how much you have left that you no longer want.... and it means that you can spend your last week or so visiting family / friends and saying your goodbyes.
There is a lot to think about and here I have tried to cover the majors - In my next post, I'll look at CV requirements and my experiences with agencies. Please let me know if you think I've forgotten one of the majors.