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Teaching Exchange Teacher Exchange

A teacher exchange is when two teachers from another area of their own country or from somewhere in the world agree to exchange teaching jobs, classrooms and usually homes for up to a year.  Exchange programs are available for a teacher to  exchange his or her teaching position with an educator in another country or within his/her own country, state/province for a period of one year. Exchange educators continue to be employed and paid by their home school boards. All benefits and seniority are retained.

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

Teaching Exchange Teacher Exchange

A teacher exchange is when two teachers from another area of their own country or from somewhere in the world agree to exchange teaching jobs, classrooms and usually homes for up to a year.  Exchange programs are available for a teacher to  exchange his or her teaching position with an educator in another country or within his/her own country, state/province for a period of one year. Exchange educators continue to be employed and paid by their home school boards. All benefits and seniority are retained.

It is strongly recommended that exchange teachers arrange  to trade residences or provide appropriate living accommodation for the incoming exchange partner. Both exchange partners are asked to arrange for local community and school sponsors to greet the incoming educator and to act as an advisor throughout the year.

You can get information and an application for a teaching exchange from your school district or department of education.

 

 

Why Go On An Teaching Exchange?

This answer varies as much as each individual. As one exchange teacher wrote, "to go on an exchange was to live a dream, to travel to and live in another country . As a teacher I get very little chance to write off expenses like other professionals. As an exchange teacher, not only did I get paid by my home school district for living and teaching  in another country, with all my benefits, but I also wrote off all my travel expenses as tax deductions. So whether your dream is to live on a tropical south seas island, experience the charm of Europe and the UK, visit Disneyland, shop in New York, scuba-dive around the Great Barrier Reef or enjoy the awesomeness of Canada, then consider fulfilling your dreams by going on a teaching exchange."

 

Most teachers go on exchange because they are looking for something different. The weather will be different, so will the housing, shopping, friends you make, the school, and even your lifestyle. That is why you need to be flexible. You are going to experience an exciting year of change, you will travel, overcome challenges and be a better person for it and you will spend more money then you might normally spend. Enjoy your experience with a positive attitude and a sense of humor.

 

Who Shouldn't Consider a Teaching Exchange?

Teacher exchanges can cause stress; re: moving, changes in climate, perhaps language, friendships etc. When you add this to any of the following stressful circumstances, the results can be a real challenge, so think twice about going on an exchange if you have a major illness or someone close (perhaps an older family member) has a major illness, you are currently having or just went through a relationship break-up such as a divorce, are having major financial difficulties, are house proud, you don't want to give up your possessions or don't adapt easily to change, or if you are trying to get away from a difficult situation. (Perhaps it is an annoying parent or student difficulties or difficulties with staff members or your principal.) Chances are that their doubles or worse will be in the school you are going to.

 

WHERE DO I START?

One of the first questions to ask is when would you like to go? Some teachers like to plan years ahead, while others are open to an exchange either this or next year. There are four main paths you can take. Through a government exchange authority in your country, state or province (usually the cost is free), or through a private exchange that you set-up yourself or through paying an agency to find a suitable exchange partner. Private school teachers can also arrange exchanges through their associations. Other types of exchanges that are offered by a few school jurisdictions include short term administrator exchanges, specific exchanges between your home school district and one city or area in another country. A few school jurisdictions offer vacation teacher exchanges for a few weeks.

HOW DOES A TEACHER ARRANGE A TEACHING EXCHANGE?

There should not be a cost to apply for or in accepting an exchange. Usually plan about a year to 16 months from the time you decide to go on an exchange to when you actually leave. We applied in October 1993 and received our first offer of an exchange in March 1994 to Washington State. This proposal was not accepted on the American side. We received another proposal to Colorado in May 1994. Our exchange partner from Fort Collins had already made other plans so did not accept. We than received a proposal to Perth Australia in early June 1994, this was accepted in early July and we finally were on the plane to Australia January 3 1995. It probably is unrealistic to think that you can apply for an exchange in June and be in another part of the country or world by September of the same year.

IDEAS ON HOW TO GET A TEACHER EXCHANGE

The first step to a teaching exchange is your application, references and resume. You want to sell yourself to a potential exchange school and you want to sell your community, home and school to your potential exchange partner. You obtain these through your school district or department of education.

The same application you fill out at home gets seen by education authorities, superintendents,  principals, vice-principals, department heads and finally by the your potential exchange partner. An impressive application is to your benefit.

Some teachers try arranging exchanges independently.  Although some of these independently arranged exchanges have been successful, most fall through because of visa difficulties.   The challenge with any teaching exchange is that it needs approval from your school administrator, your school superintendent and school board, then must  meet the approval of your education department so that a temporary teacher license can be issued. Then you will need to be approved by your exchange partners school, school district and board.  Once you clear these steps you need a visa to work as a teacher in another country.  All countries require a sponsorship to issue a visa.   The process of trying to find an independent exchange is long and frustrating.  If you work through your department of education, they will do all the arranging for you.  

Once your application is sent in you wait, and you wait until a match can be found, some teachers hear in a few weeks while others wait for months. Every year there are teachers that simply don't get matches. Don't get discouraged if you're one of those that doesn't get a match in your first try (some have applied 4 years in a row without a successful match.) Keep trying, you might have to be more flexible for a location and for your subject area. A number of exchange teachers have a plan B in the event that a match doesn't occur. Many teachers choose a vacation home exchange option as it provides a great deal more affordability and flexibility. Please see Global Home Exchange for details.

Our first teacher exchange was planned to be in the USA, no successful matches were found for us, so we took a risk and redirected our application to Australia. Little did we know that an Australian teacher that same year applied for the UK, and as no successful matches were found for him took a risk and redirected his request to Canada. Neither of us even considered applying for an exchange to the country that we received a match. The exchanges for both families were very positive.

If you should get a proposal, you know that it has gone through all the authorities and that it has been approved at your end. Now you may need to wait until your application is approved at the other end. You only have a proposal until all parties accept.

The offer of a proposal can take months from the time you first apply. Rarely do both exchange partners hear about the exchange proposal at the same time, even if they are both from the same country . The person receiving the exchange proposal first may wait from 2 to 9 weeks for their exchange partner to hear.

 

SO WHAT DO I DO ONCE I RECEIVE A TEACHING EXCHANGE PROPOSAL?

After the excitement of receiving an exchange proposal comes the reality of actually having to commit yourself to a year away from home. The first step is gathering information about the area of the proposed exchange, the school and the country. Exchanges are not perfect. You may be getting a better school situation then you have at home but have to give up a lot on accommodation. Count on the experience being different than home.

The proposal usually states that it isn't appropriate to contact your exchange partner until after they accept the exchange.

Over a set period of time, about a week, you make a decision to accept or reject the offer. This can be a difficult process as the proposed exchange area may not be what you had hoped for.

Please keep in mind that your proposed exchange partner is going through a similar decision making process.

Once both parties accept, you have an exchange.  

WHAT TO DO ONCE YOU HAVE A CONFIRMED TEACHER EXCHANGE

Here are several ideas.

Photos and videos are an important part of any teaching exchange. Put film and photo albums on your Christmas wish list.

Have a friend or family member be a "power of attorney", to look after any financial affairs you may have while away and that can check your accommodation in the event of an emergency

Find a sponsor that will be in close contact with your exchange partner, answering questions, picking them up at the airport, providing an orientation to your home community. Your exchange partner will do the same for you.

Communicate, openly, honestly and often with your exchange partner. Be honest, have integrity and character.

Talk to others from your country that have been on exchange to your exchange partners location. Previous exchanges teachers will have some excellent insights into what to bring with you, what to wear, the cost of living, what to expect for weather etc, that your exchange partner may not be able to relate.

Have fun planning your trip. Check around for travel bargains, put film on your Christmas wish list and know your budget. 

 

WHAT ABOUT TAKING KIDS ON AN EXCHANGE?

 

Most exchange teachers that took their kids found that the experience for both parents and their children was very positive.

 

DO EXCHANGES BREAK DOWN?

More than one exchange has fallen through because one of the partners didn't pass a medical that most countries insist on. To be fair to your exchange partner please do the following immediately after getting an acceptance

If you have any doubts about your health, get a medical clearance.

Have your passports and visas in order and you will need to get a police record search done before you are allowed to work in another country

 

Know your own teaching abilities and when you make initial contact with your new school principal, share any concerns you may have about areas you may be required to teach . I know of a grade 7 teacher that went on an exchange to a grade 3 classroom and even though she didn't have experience at this level, she loved it, and on the flip side two teachers, one grade 3 and the other grade 2 got exchanges to grade 7 and 8 classrooms. They where not prepared for the challenges of this level and had an awful year teaching. If you don't think you would be comfortable teaching the grade or subject area you are given on your exchange, be honest and say so, because the trade-off for not sharing this information can result in a terrible exchange for you and your family. Most school principals will be accommodating to your needs.

IDEAS TO HELP MAKE A TEACHING EXCHANGE A BETTER EXPERIENCE

Arrange for a number of friends and staff members to contact your exchange partners for their first month or so in your community. This may be the loneliest time for your both yourself (away from home) and your partners and will make both transitions easier.. Loneliness and homesickness can be a challenge. Teachers have reported that their first months long distance telephone bills have been over $500, because of loneliness. This is why it is so important for both partners to arrange several friends and family to keep in touch with not only themselves, but also their exchange partners. As an exchange teacher in a new community, get involved with the community, other teachers and especially the exchange club.

Arrange to leave your partner enough provisions to get them through the first few days. Things like toilet paper, facial tissue, a few food items, some tea or coffee bread and juice are practical

If you have any doubts about your health, get a medical clearance.

Have your passports and visas in order and you will need to get a police record search done before you are allowed to work in another country

Know your own teaching abilities and when you make initial contact with your new school principal, share any concerns you may have about areas you may be required to teach . I know of a grade 7 teacher that went on an exchange to a grade 3 classroom and even though she didn't have experience at this level, she loved it, and on the flip side two teachers, one grade 3 and the other grade 2 got exchanges to grade 7 and 8 classrooms. They where not prepared for the challenges of this level and had an awful year teaching. If you don't think you would be comfortable teaching the grade or subject area you are given on your exchange, be honest and say so, because the trade-off for not sharing this information can result in a terrible exchange for you and your family. Most school principals will be accommodating to your needs.

Most teachers go on exchange because they are looking for something different. The weather will be different, so will the housing, shopping, friends you make, the school, and even your lifestyle. That is why you need to be flexible. You are going to experience an exciting year of change, you will travel, overcome challenges and be a better person for it and you will spend more money then you might normally spend. Enjoy your experience with a positive attitude and a sense of humor.

WHERE DO I GET AN APPLICATION FOR A TEACHING EXCHANGE?

Teaching exchange information can be found with your own school authority or state, province or country.  In Australia, each state runs an exchange program, in Canada it is organized through your Education department via a private organization, in the USA try Fulbright Teaching Exchange and some state education departments also organize exchanges.  For other countries try searching teaching exchangers or teacher exchange and your country.  (UK teacher exchange )  Some private schools also have a teacher exchange program.  Start early as work visas can take up to a year to get. 

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