If you have ever thought about finding an international teaching job you have to read this article. This is a guest blog post written by Genevieve a middle school teacher who currently teaches in a Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) school.
Growing up, my family moved around a lot. My dad was in the military, so we lived overseas, usually staying in one place for no more than 4 years at a time. I went to 11 schools growing up, and about half of those were in different countries on military bases.
After 5 years of teaching in New York City, which I absolutely loved, I decided it was time to experience teaching overseas. After all, I knew what it was like to be a child and teenager overseas in a different country, away from family, not knowing when the next deployment for my dad was coming up or how long it would be.
I felt like I could empathize with military-connected students. I also love to travel, courtesy of my parents’ love for travel growing up, and I knew I could do more of it if I was already living outside of the country.
So, I applied for a job with the Department of Defense Education Activity, DoDEA for short. DoDEA is the educational organization that oversees 160 schools in both the United States and different countries around the world where there is a large U.S. military presence.
Part of DoDEA’s mission is to provide continuous and uninterrupted education to students of overseas civilians and military members. All DoDEA schools follow the same curriculum, graduation requirements, policies, procedures, and virtual curriculum so that students’ education is as uninterrupted as possible.
Of course, there is variety in courses, one example being which languages are offered at different bases – Japanese is usually offered at DoDEA schools in Japan, German is usually offered at schools in Germany, while Italian is offered at DoDEA schools in Italy, and so on.
But on the whole, if a student has to move from Japan to Spain mid-year (one of the most common moves), most of their classes are the same, and if not, equivalent classes are offered, either in person or through virtual school.
Because tours of duty are around 1 – 4 years depending on the branch of service and other factors, there is high student turnover in overseas schools. Therefore, educators must be sensitive to this and other challenges that military-connected students face.
Because I grew up as a military-connected child, I knew the challenges my students would face.
- Families are constantly in stages of transition as they are either transitioning into or out of, the deployment of at least one family member.
- Reintegration, when the military member comes back to the family, is often just as hard as when they are about to leave or when they are gone.
- Students’ lives are often interrupted by a PCS, or permanent change of station, which is when the family moves to the next military base, sometimes in the middle of the school year. Students are often uprooted through no fault or choice of their own and introduced to a whole new culture. They must learn the laws and customs of the host nation as if it were their own.
- Some students must learn to deal with the constant fear of a family member being wounded or worse while being deployed.
- Students constantly say good-bye to friends, and meet new friends and classmates. Even if they are not the ones leaving, they usually have friends who are moving to the next duty station. Sometimes it’s hard to form close bonds with peers, but when it happens, those bonds are often unbreakable.
Of course, not every student faces exactly, any, or all of these challenges, and there are other difficulties that the teens I teach must overcome.
On the whole, however, military-connected kids are just like any other kids and teens. They face similar questions and issues all teens grapple with growing up, yet they show a resiliency above that of the average child/teen.
I wouldn’t have traded my childhood for anything, and many of my students say the same to me. Most of them love learning about new cultures, meeting new people, seeing the world in a different and unique way, becoming more open-minded to others’ perspectives. Their resiliency teaches me something new every day.
DoDEA Application Process
Applying for the DoDEA was similar to applying to any Department of Education organization.
If you are interested in applying, go to their website to find the Employment Application System.
Requirements for a position in DoDEA include state or territory licensure or certification, at least 40 hours of a general education Bachelors Degree, 18 semester hours of professional education coursework, and student teaching hours. See the DoDEA website for more information on specific teaching categories and requirements.
Other International Teacher Jobs
If you are interested in finding an international teaching job that is not on a military base check out these websites that Kristy found by asking other teachers and/or searching online.
- School Spring
- ACSI (Association of Christian School International)
- Christian Schools International
- List of international job websites
- Teaching in Australia
- Teach Away
- Search Associates