Working in International Schools

When I was in Ecuador during the summer of 2010, I met a guy at a bar who told me he was here teaching American history. I was surprised, because that sounded way too good to be true. I wanted to teach American history, and I also wanted to live abroad, but I didn’t think it was possible to combine those. Here I am, two years later, living in Quito and teaching American history. I never got that guy's name, but if I got the chance to meet him I would smother him in gratitude for introducing me to a world of possibilities.
There is a network of American and International schools around the planet that offer so much more to teachers than public schools in the States. Most have the International Baccalaureate curriculum, which is actually what I had in high school, so it is easy for teachers to hop around the world on the international teaching circuit. Right now I teach middle school humanities (8th World History, 9th US History) and 11th grade Theory of Knowledge (a philosophy type class about what we know and how we know it). 

 My lovely classroom
Most students who attend these schools are very well off, either wealthy locals or diplomats’ kids. For some of my teacher friends in the States, I may seem like a traitor to the democratic institution of public education, but I have no regrets. The way I see it, I am here creating global citizens, students who will someday be compassionate members of their society and will hopefully work to make this world a little better. The kids I am teaching in Ecuador will be influential members of their communities someday and as a well known arachnid once said, ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’
On a field trip to the Planetarium with my students

The benefits to working at international schools are plentiful:
Way better salary than the States
Housing stipend- I don’t pay rent and I have a beautiful apartment
Free flights to and from the country
Small classes (between 11-15 students)
No teaching to standardized tests
Getting to live in a foreign city with the support of a school to help you settle in
Adventurous, like-minded co workers
Easy access to cultural events and great travel opportunities
Help getting a visa in the country
Liberal school environment (tattoos and nose piercings welcome)
Resources in my classroom (brand new Mac, projector, etc.)
More holidays than US schools
and the list goes on…

So, if I piqued your interest at all, and you are certified to teach in the U.S., and you have been itching to live abroad but weren’t sure how to go about getting there, listen up! I got hired as a brand new teacher out of grad school in Latin America, but most schools in Europe and Asia only want teachers with a couple years experience. TEFL or ESL experience is good but not necessary. Same with IB experience. In the end, if it shows in an interview that you are passionate about education and enthusiastic about living abroad, none of that stuff really matters. Going to a job fair is a great way to get started (I got hired at the AASSA fair in Atlanta), but once you have your foot in the door, most people I know use Skype interviews. 
Here are some helpful links:


  1. Hi McKenzie,
    I just stumbled onto your blog after reading about you as the featured blogger on Your stuff is great. Sounds like you're having an amazing experience. Congrats!
    My husband has accepted a position teaching at a private school and we will be moving to Quito in August as well. Neither of us has ever travelled in South America so this is a huge leap of faith for us. We are super excited for this adventure and cant wait to get started!
    If you dont mind, I was wondering if I could bother you to connect briefly in advance of our travels. One aspect of this adventure that is giving me great anxiety is that we are bringing our 6 yr old chocolate lab mix with us. It isnt ideal, but I cant possibly leave her behind. I'm just wondering if you know any other expats in the city that have dogs or if you've had any experiences or tips you could share. I want to make sure we live in the right neighborhood for her and would love to connect with anyone who has brought a big dog in. Anyway, if you have a moment and advice to share, please shoot me an email at It would be much appreciated. Thanks!

  2. Quito is great for dogs, lots of big parks!


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