Needless to say this year has been like no other before it for schools and all people around the world. The importance of education in not only the lives of the students directly participating in classes, but the broader role of schools and teachers in their communities and even the broader economy, has come more to the forefront than ever in recent history. Through numerous twists, turns, and unusual global changes, our recruiting team continued to seek out and engage great teachers throughout the world. This is our look back on the most interesting path a recruiting season has ever taken us.

Beginning in August as we prepared staffing plans for each of our schools and developed recruiting plans for the teachers we would need for the 2020-21 school year, political sabre rattling continued on international trade and demonstrations in Hong Kong gained momentum. We knew there would be changes in the way that we would need to share what actual life and work was like in our international schools in Asia. Particularly in China, much of the chatter in media didn’t depict much of the positive parts of life our teachers experienced firsthand.

Over the course of the fall and early winter hiring season, we had the opportunity to speak with over 1,000 teachers from around the world. We spoke with teachers on the phone across the U.S., through Skype, Zoom, WeChat, and WhatsApp video calls, online through virtual information sessions and in person at some of the larger teachers career fairs in Atlanta, Bangkok, and Cambridge. We also participated in virtual fairs through many channels. It was impressive to meet and see so many great teachers and inspiring to hear of the experiences they had in elevating the learning of students in their home countries as well as around the world.

BASIS International Schools Heads of School

Heads of School at the International Schools Services Bangkok career fair

It was interesting to see that, despite the current issues in the world, many of the same motivators still continued for why teachers seek international teaching opportunities: adventure, something new, work where teachers are valued, greater compensation.

Similarly, we saw the same reasons teachers typically look to join BASIS International Schools: the freedom and flexibility we offer teachers in teaching their classes, the high quality of the education and high expectations we hold, large network tied to high performing schools in the U.S., great growth opportunities, good compensation package.

BASIS Bilingual School Shenzhen Head of School Tom Davison with recruiter Tai Lemire.

As early 2020 began, the initial reports of a new virus growing in China significantly changed thoughts and plans of many teachers interested in going abroad. Questions about health safety, ability to travel, and broader uncertainty arose, and many teachers reconsidered their international search or put it on hold. After mid-January, whereas we previously had dozens of attendees at in-person info sessions, attendance was less than ten in some cases. Candidates that had accepted positions wondered if they should still continue to move to Asia given the situation.

China moved quickly to suspend schools and institute quarantine measures to aggressively stop the spread of COVID-19. This was a challenge for everyone. But, one of the things that stood out most to us as we stayed in touch with our schools was the degree to which each of our schools provided care, supplies, and support for our teachers–both temporally and emotionally. Priority access to health care was established, necessary logistics arranged and supported, groceries, medicine and supplies were delivered to the teachers’ homes, and virtual exercise classes set up to keep people moving while they maintained quarantine. The frequent check-in calls from the school, colleagues, and friends stood out to our teachers as making a big difference to combat the sense of isolation that could otherwise creep in so easily during this period. These and many other steps were taken to ensure the best possible care for our teachers. At BASIS International Schools, our teachers are the greatest source of the exceptional learning for which our schools are so well known, and they are the most valued part of running our schools. We have done all we can to go above and beyond to take great care of our teachers and let them know they are valued.

BASIS International School Guangzhou Operations Team

Operations staff from BASIS International School Guangzhou deliver groceries to a teacher during quarantine

Students display the thank you notes they have written to the operations team after returning to school.

As COVID-19 expanded globally, concern in every corner of the globe grew as the virus increased but the spread cleared up rather quickly in China. Our schools in China reopened to classroom instruction in late spring, and students were back on campus and enjoying the interaction again with their peers and teachers. Although new precautions were in place and gatherings weren’t exactly the same as before, the learning and joy of students again in the building was back in full splendor. And teachers globally started to change their view again about going to China as it was now safer there than in many places in Europe and North America. Applications spiked. Never had we had a surge of new applicants to remaining positions in April and May like we did this year.

BASIS International School Nanjing teachers

BASIS International Schools teachers worked together to reopen their school after the quarantine. (pictured: BASIS International School Nanjing teachers and staff)

By the end of the season, we had hired new teachers in forty-three disciplines from twenty-nine different countries. For thirty-five percent of this year’s new hires, this coming school year with BASIS International Schools will be their first experience teaching outside of their home country. Of those that had previously taught internationally, forty percent had prior experience teaching in the country of their new BASIS International School.

One of the greatest challenges many international schools, like ourselves, have run into this year is the closure to travel and teachers being able to return from quarantine to the country of their school; and especially for new hires to be able to get into the country where they are scheduled to teach this year. This has been particularly the case in China.

One of the things that I am most proud about in representing BASIS International Schools is the commitment we make to supporting our teachers in their needs.

This year, the schools in China have taken very exceptional measures in sustaining our newly hired teachers to provide them with the confidence and stability they are looking for in an employer, especially at this time. For those new teachers that are currently outside of China that may not be able to get into the country and on campus at the start of school, our schools are continuing to guarantee their employment and hold their post. More impressively, the schools are providing global health insurance for them beginning at the start of the school year–even while they are outside China–and also providing funding to them to cover bills while they await visa and arrival authorization.

These measures have been extremely reassuring to our newly hired teachers and have helped demonstrate both the commitment we have to our teachers as well as the quality of the organization as an employer. We constantly hear from many of our teachers about the myriad things the schools have done to support their needs and further the teachers’ positive experience with our schools. We’ll be sharing more insights in the future on the steps we are taking for our new teachers and what it has meant to them during this time of uncertainty.

There are so many amazing and wonderful teachers throughout the world. We have enjoyed getting to know so many of them this year and look forward to continuing to get to meet many more through our future engagements for 2021-22 school year hiring season.

To stay aware of future positions with and hiring events for BASIS International Schools, join our Interest List and follow us on social media to stay apprised of events as well as ongoing happenings and developments at our schools.

We look forward to seeing you in China and around the world!

Tim Smith
VP Global Talent Strategy
BASIS International Schools
BASIS Overseas Educational Services

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