Charles Tripolone is explaining the rains: "In my first few months in India, back in 2008, we had 5 1/2 metres in 4 months!" he says. "That's quite a contrast to the millimetres of rainfall that we normally measure in Australia." He goes on: "In 2009 the monsoons were very light. It was fascinating for science teaching; soil erosion, sedimentation; it could easily by taught through real life experiences there."
Since moving on from India, 39 year old Charles, now works with Taaleem Edison Learning in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Education Council, as a Science Consultant for local schools. This has been an excellent move which has allowed him to consolidate his teaching experience – experience that has spanned several countries. Prior to his current post, Charles was teaching at the International School Aamby in India and, since leaving Australia as a qualified teacher in 2001, has also taught at an international school in Turkey. "This whole international teaching experience has definitely been a positive move for me," he says. "You just learn so much by moving out of your comfort zone. I've learnt five languages at various levels, travelled to about 100 countries, taught a whole mix of national and international curricula, and have done things I'd never thought I'd do before I left Australia," explains Charles. "I've got so much more confidence because I've not been placed in one education system for an extended period of time, and, as for teaching in India, that experience definitely helped me to calm down. Life happens at a much calmer pace there; things always get done but everything is so much more chilled."
Charles taught Science and IT at the International School Aamby which involved working with a wide range of curricula including the IPC, CPC, IGCSE and IB. "I really enjoyed the blending of different curricula as it helped me to crystallize in my mind how children learn best. This definitely benefitted my career," he says.
As with most international schools, the intake of students at Aamby was a mix of local children and expatriate children and, as with all international schools, every child was learning through the medium of English. As for teaching colleagues, Charles worked alongside UK, American, Indian and other Australian teachers. "It's a great atmosphere," he says. "International school teachers are all very supportive of each other. And the children are fantastic. Their behaviour is excellent. You never need to raise your voice. I spend most of my time teaching rather than managing behaviour and that makes such a difference academically and on a personal level too."
Charles is one of over 260,000 English-speaking teachers now teaching internationally and many more are heading that way thanks to the significant growth in international schools. In the last year alone, over 500 new English-speaking international schools were opened across the globe, taking the total number of international schools worldwide to 5,700. This is anticipated to grow to 8,000 international schools within five years according to data provided by ISC Research, the organisation that analyses developments in the international schools market.
"Recruiters from international schools are looking for qualified teachers from countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, South Africa and Canada," says Andrew Wigford, Director of Teachers International Consultancy (TIC), an organisation that specialises in international school recruitment. The reason why: "English is the language of choice for international schools wherever they may be in the world. So if you're an English-speaking teacher and have a few years teaching experience, you can literally work anywhere in the world," says Andrew.
Charles was helped by Teachers International Consultancy to find his job and offers this advice to other teachers considering working in an international school: "Do your homework. Make sure it's somewhere you'd like to live for a while. Research the school and the contract they offer. Ask as many questions as you can before you make the decision; it's important to know exactly what you're getting in to. Use all resources available to you including friends, recommendations, the internet and specialist organisations. You also need to very flexible and accommodating to changes along the way. TIC provided me with a lot of insight and guidance that I couldn't get anywhere else. They helped to match me with the right job and, before my interview, spoke to the school about me and that was all so important. It was much better than applying independently."
As for home in Sydney, Charles says he does miss it and he does miss his family and friends. "The internet can sometimes be patchy and communication can be a bit of an issue, but I wouldn't have missed these opportunities for anything," he says. "There's a whole world out there and the options now for me are tremendous. This experience has opened up many new doors and when I'm ready, I'll head back home. But not for a while!"
For more advice about international teaching opportunities, visit the Teachers International Consultancy website at www.findteachingjobsoverseas.co.uk