Last year I TORF-ed. It was a wonderful, and slightly over-whelming, time, but it landed me the awesome job I had while teaching in Mexico. Unfortunately, due to financial need, I had to TORF again in January (2016) so find a new school. I wrote an article for 14beds in February about my TORF experience the second time around. Below is the article 🙂
Last January (2014) I participated in my first ever TORF experience. It was one of the most stressful things I had done all year. On top of the multitude of projects and assessments due, I had to additionally submit multiple documents and research schools I was interested in. By mid-Saturday I had multiple offers to choose from and I had no idea what the “right” one would be. This year I knew I had to approach it differently. There are many ways to approach a job fair, but the following tips worked well for me.
Tip #1: Pre-TORF
As soon as I knew I wanted to TORF again I began looking through the list of schools I was interested in. I did this in early December. Many schools post the positions they need for the following year on their school website. Generally you can find this under the “About Us” section of most school websites. I looked at many schools and researched the countries. I then set about sending cover letters and resumes to schools I was interested in letting them know I would be at TORF in my cover letter. Some schools fill their positions even before coming to TORF so it is important to get your name out there early. This also saves you the stress of lining up and being told 30 minutes later that all the interview times are filled.
Tip #2: Be Ahead
As soon as the school profiles went live, I sent out additional emails with cover letters to schools that I hadn’t found positions on their websites and whom I hadn’t maybe considered in my first round of emails. Many schools want to Skype before TORF to see if possible candidates fit positions that may open up and to save time for everyone involved. I had a few Skype and phone interviews at the end of December and early January. I also received emails about coming to the table and that the recruiter would be told I was coming and was looking forward to meeting with me.
Tip #3: Prioritize
The lining up processes can be daunting. Be sure to make a bee line to the school you most want to interview with and that you know has positions and would accept you based on your experience and expertise. This way you can be sure to secure an interview with your most desired school first and then stand in line for the other ones you may be interested in. For some schools you could wait up to 45 minutes in line and be told they have no more room.
Tip #4: Budget
With student loans I hadn’t considered additional costs and the cost of traveling on my first TORF. If you are going oversees to teach you likely also want to travel. Consider making a budget and use the minimum a school puts in their profile to see if all your financial needs can be met. Don’t forget things like haircuts, groceries, utilities, and any other personal needs you may need. Also remember taxes and factor this in when you budget. We each have obligations that are different from one another, so your budget may be vastly different to someone else. This process helped me narrow down my search.
Tip #5: Values
Every time you teach somewhere different you will have different questions and needs you want met as a teacher. This time I was also looking for a school’s professional development outlook and health benefits. Be sure to ask these types of questions as well as…
- “What deductions come off my paycheck and what do they go towards?”
- “How do you support teachers when they move to the country and in the classroom?”
- “What do health benefits cover?”
- “What is the professional community like at the school?”
There are many other questions you can ask, but this depends on what you value as a teacher. Be sure to email Pamela Goodspeed if you want the input of teachers currently at the schools you are interested in so you can ask them other questions and get a better feel of the school.
This year I narrowed it down to a small handful of schools. I was too overwhelmed with choices the previous year and knew that I didn’t want to feel the same way.
Tip #6: Connections
Everyone you meet at TORF or other job fairs are future international teachers. Speak to as many people as you can and make connections. These connections can help you in your own location and also for future changes. I am still in contact with many of my friends who have traveled abroad through TORF or other fairs and we share ideas often! Connections you make can last a life time even though you may be on different ends of the world!
The entire processes is made to feel easy because the lady in charge of making you feel welcome and at ease is Pamela Goodspeed. She is an amazing lady who quickly answers questions! THANKS PAM.
Having done the fair the year before and flying in from Mexico I arrived at the fair around 6pm. I picked up my envelope and found a spot to see if I had any blue cards. These are put in by schools who have looked at your information and who want to interview with you. These are exciting to see! You answer yes, no thank you, or you need to change the time. If you need to change the time you need to go to the table during the line up time. If you select yes you must include a copy of your documents with the card.
After the welcome message (which is always funny and informative), I headed to the two tables I wanted to speak with first. I set up interview times and then knew I was done. This may seem daunting to someone who has never TORFed before, but I had done the pre-TORF and knew what I wanted. As I was trying to leave the gym everyone was trying to get through. I got strange looks from many because they were surprised I was already leaving (I was in the gym for maybe a total of 15min).
On Saturday I had two morning interviews and then I had to decide. I made a decision by 10am and felt confident in my choice. After signing a contract and having further questions answered I left the fair with a new teaching location for the 2015-2016 school year and was VERY excited.