Every year, in international schools, a certain number of teachers spend several months – usually between August and December, figuring out what to do with their lives. This is because they have signed a one-year contract and must decide whether or not to sign another one.
Recently, I chatted with a non-teacher at a party. He told me he was here, in Vietnam, until 2018. He said this with a real peace, like someone who knows where they are and is fine with that. All too often, international school teachers are caught between two places, or sometimes three… or even four. Home, where they were before, where they are now and where they might be next.
It is very difficult to be content with one’s current situation in these conditions. It is also an exhausting way to live… making the biggest decision you can make – where to live – every year.
I reckon schools should get rid of one year contracts and introduce two or three year contracts as the minimum. This would:
- get rid of the gossip – “is he staying or going?”
- remove some of the uncertainty
- help people feel more settled
- fill schools with people who want to be there, not people who aren’t sure where to go next
- encourage commitment rather than delaying decisions
- encourage people to live in the moment rather than worry about what’s around the corner
Food for thought. I am a perpetual signer of one-year contracts, but I know how debilitating those months of indecision are, how they affect my enjoyment of where I am, how they affect the friendships I have made but am not sure will continue and how they affect my enjoyment of my work.