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  • Writer's pictureJ. Mallais

6 Ways to Tell if a School's Culture is the Right Fit for You

You learn of a job opening that suits your career path, so you apply and score an interview. Congratulations! Now you want to determine if this school's culture is right for you. But how?

Here are six steps to figure out if the school is a right fit for you:

  1. Know Yourself: Determine in what type of school environment you would thrive and develop. Think back to when you did your best work as a teacher to find the key factors for you. How did you feel supported and valued? What made you happy to go to work every morning? Make a list of what you're looking for in a school environment.

  2. Do Your Research: Do a deep dive on the school's website to see what are their stated values. What do they emphasize in their culture? Check to see if they have any PDFs available, such as their graduate profile, their strategic plan, or their staff handbook. Be sure to watch for any red flags on their website. Sift through comments on sites such as International Schools Review (Tip #4), International School Community (Tip #33), and Glassdoor - keep in mind that you're looking for patterns, rather than focusing on any one single comment.

  3. Check their Social Media: Many schools have their own accounts on LinkedIn, FaceBook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram, where you can look through their feeds. You can see what they deem important by what they share with the world. The added bonus is it can give you ideas of what to ask about in your interview.

  4. Use Your Network: Ask your trusted friends and colleagues if they know any pertinent information on this school. Maybe they themselves worked there in the past, or know someone who presently works there with whom you could get in touch. Search in international teaching Facebook groups (Tip #6) for recent comments; if you find none, you could create a post (even anonymous) asking for new information. Reddit (Tip #31) is also a good source to look and ask for recent information. Or you could reach out to current staff members on LinkedIn and ask if they'd mind sharing their ideas on what it's like to work there. Don't forget to word all your messages carefully, as your interactions may get back to the hiring committee.

  5. Determine their Team Dynamics: Looking at the size of the school, you may discover that they have an extensive hierarchy. This could mean opportunities for distributed leadership, ideally all working towards common school goals. But it could also mean that each team has their own micro-culture. On the other hand, in a small school, leadership can create a culture that is felt throughout the entire school community, for better or worse. What this all means is take the time to consider a school's demographics and the important role that they'll play in creating a school's culture.

  6. Ask Questions during Your Interview: Finally, you should feel free to ask school culture related questions of the people interviewing you to better know their school. Some samples could be: How would you describe your school culture? How would your staff describe working there? What would former students and parents say about your school? How do you promote inclusivity at your school? How do you ensure staff well-being? Can you give me an example of how success is celebrated at your school? You don't want to put the interviewer in the hot seat, but you also want to establish if this is a school suited for you.

There really is no such thing as having too much information. If you put some time into preparing for an interview, you'll be better able to decide if this school is a right fit for you and if it's somewhere you can see yourself happily spending a number of years.

Wish you could get a head start on all this research? You could have an expert with 20+ years in international schools and a vast network working directly with you: simply contact Jacqueline at JPMint Consulting. She is ready to help you with your overseas job search, whether it's for this recruitment season or the next!

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