The Third Year Syndrome - the Challenges of Teaching Overseas

Listen to my Podcast here with Daniel Mendes from ‘I Teach Overseas where I talk about my experiences and how I see Coaching and particularly, Strengths Coaching, playing a critical in the educational environment overseas.

Years ago when I returned from teaching in Italy I was asked if I had found what I was looking for. This was a perplexing and challenging question, since apart from ‘seeing how it goes’ I didn’t have any specific goals or timescale for my stint abroad. What if I had actually considered my success criteria and how I might integrate professional and personal goals in real time? In retrospect a few tweaks before, during and after my Italian assignment, could have given me the clarity I needed to commit longer term, make a greater contribution to my school and you never know, I could still be enjoying La Bella Vita today. This so called third year syndrome is common to many types of employment and especially with international educators.

Gallup research suggests that job satisfaction is mainly down to three key areas: a sense that we are making an impact, a degree of autonomy and the chance to use our unique talents on a daily basis. They suggest that up to 70% of the workforce in the USA is not engaged at work and this has a huge financial and emotional cost due to staff burnout and low retention. We have all experienced the negative impact of a disgruntled air stewardess, shop worker or teacher because they were just going through the motions, counting the hours and we were just imposing on their day.

The TES a few weeks ago highlighted the challenge international schools faced in becoming more attractive to teachers in a market expected to double in the next ten years, fuelled largely by demand in China and the Middle East. Although recruitment of the best staff is largely based on an overall expat package, there are significant other factors to consider. Living and working in a different country without the usual supports of friends and family requires even greater clarity of goals, purpose and resilience to flourish beyond the so called ‘honeymoon period.

Listen to my Podcast here with Daniel Mendes from ‘I Teach Overseas where I talk about my experiences and how I see Coaching and particularly, Strengths Coaching, playing a critical in the educational environment overseas.

The bi-annual merry go round of teachers adversely impacts school development plans as students see expat staff come and go regularly. Senior staff are often too busy to acknowledge or address the high turnover rates or may consider it collateral damage in a fast changing market.

Other schools are offering financial bonuses or CPD to encourage their best teachers to stay on longer. The answer, many believe, is a personalised, professional development tailored to their strengths. This goes way beyond the narrow, line manager style interviews which are often deficiency based and do not consider longer term professional and personal goals of the educator.

The Way Forward

The Clifton Strengths’ Finder assessment is a great way to start this personalised coaching. It identifies the clients' strengths, their contributions and the best conditions to bring these strengths into the workplace. People normally operate daily using 8 of these 34 strengths and these can be targeted for exponential growth especially when coaching is confidential and integrated with longer term professional and personal goals.

Listen to my Podcast here with Daniel Mendes from ‘I Teach Overseas where I talk about my experiences and how I see Coaching and particularly, Strengths Coaching, playing a critical in the educational environment overseas.

Rob Fenlon

understands the joys and the challenges of inspiring children and adults to reach their potential, having over 25 years global teaching and education management experience in UK, Thailand, Burma, United Arab Emirates and Australia. Throughout his career he has looked for opportunities to integrate classroom learning with a holistic outlook to include family life, sports, hobbies and work experience. His team created and delivered the National Award-Winning Education-Industry Liaison Course between Batchelor Institute, NT and the Mining Industry by developing life skills and well-being components. He has the ability to see the wider picture, enthusing diverse groups to work interdependently on common goals.

Rob gained coaching credentials through Strengths Strategy® Inc. USA and Coaching Academy UK. BTEC, BTh, PGCE, (London), Cert IV (Training & Assessment, Australia), Strengths Strategy® Certified Coach (USA), Certified Professional Life Coach (UK)

His top Strengths from the Clifton Strengthsfinder® are Connectedness, Strategic, Empathy,

Achiever, Includer and Futuristic.

His Coaching provides the essential tools to help clients confidently tap into their potential and integrate their professional and personal goals successfully through the appropriate application of their Strengths.

He works across the globe and lives in the UK with his wife and four children.

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