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What it takes to be an international teacher

Always wanted to be a teacher but unsure if it’s the right fit?

 As part of our Guest Thursday series we had a chance to find out what it takes to be an international teacher from April Harnden, a teacher with more than 16 years of work experience in different countries around the world.

  April now lives in Moldova and is originally from Canada. Before she started her international journey, she had been teaching at the same school for 10 years. Deciding that she wanted something new and having the encouragement from her brother, who was already an international teacher, April went for her dream. Her first assignment was  in Venezuela, which was a big challenge as she didn’t speak Spanish. However it was a growing experience. She soon decided to go for something else, to go for Moldova!

  Currently, April is teaching at QSI international school of Moldova, even though she says it is challenging it is also a lot of fun. She enjoys organizing practical and interactive lessons. For example, when she teaches biology she replicates the gastro-intestinal system using a ziplock bag of crackers and water “mush” which depicts the stomach. To teach Geology, April melts chocolates to demonstrate how lava flows and solidifies, making edible igneous rocks!

Being a teacher is too hard, too consuming and doesn’t always pay a lot, but the reward you get is worth it. Watching the kids grow up and make major achievements is amazing!


When we asked April why she chose to work with little kids, she said that she always envisioned herself as the person who would build a foundation for learning, it’s exciting for her to know that other teachers will then build on what she started.

So, do you have what it takes to be a teacher?

April told us a few things about what it takes:

  1. Be flexible when working in international schools. You never know what to expect.

  2. Be caring. Figure out the personalities of the students you teach.

  3. Encourage your students to follow their passions.

  4. Be compassionate and forgiving.

  5. Always evolve and stay current in your field.

  6. Be joyful and inspiring. Always walk into class with a smile!

  7. Respect and love the students.

  8. Be diplomatic with your students, their parents and all the people you work with.


Challenges of being an international teacher:


  1. Moving to a different country.

  2. Learning a new language.

  3. Adjusting to different cultures.

So, are you ready to overcome challenges?
What do you have to do to become an international teacher?

  1. The first thing you have to do is get an accredited teaching degree.

  2. After your studies you must build up your experience and join professional networks for international teachers.

  3. You can upload your resume on international teaching websites and start applying for opportunities.

  4. Always prepare for interviews, know your strengths and express exactly what you’re looking for.

  5. Be determined and be passionate and always work hard on improving yourself as a teacher!


So if this sounds interesting and something you could see yourself doing and enjoying, go for it! Being a teacher requires a lot of responsibility,love, and dedication for your students. If you feel ready for that and compatible to the characteristics of a teacher, then you should definitely pursue a teaching degree.


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