Searching for Greatness: Teaching at EIS in Ho Chi Minh City

Education - Saigon/HCMC: April 21, 2017

The American author John Steinbeck once said, “A great teacher is a great artist, and I’ve come to believe there are as few as there are any other great artists.”

Finding great teachers is the biggest challenge facing Iain Fish, Head of School at European International School Ho Chi Minh City (EIS). EIS has exceptionally high standards for teachers, requiring at least three years of prior teaching experience, ideally in another international school. As an International Baccalaureate (IB) continuum school, EIS also seeks candidates with IB training and experience.

Teaching at EIS

A Diverse Teaching Staff

But qualifications are just the beginning. In addition to education and experience, EIS seeks teachers who will enhance the learning environment for students and contribute positively to the school’s unique culture. “We want teachers who are flexible and open-minded, reflective and wanting to learn,” said Mr Fish.

“We want evidence that a teacher has initiative and can take a collaborative approach. These are fundamental for candidates to be successful in a dynamic and growing international school such as EIS.”

Teaching at EIS

Diversity is also essential. “We are keen for our faculty to represent the international diversity of our student body. Teachers from different backgrounds bring different experiences into the classroom, from which all of us can learn,” Mr Fish said.

To help find candidates that meet all these criteria, Mr Fish recently attended two teacher recruitment fairs in London.

Passionate for Learning

“These events offer an opportunity to meet over 1,000 pre-screened applicants from all over the world,” said Mr Fish. “The quality of the candidates is good, and because more than 250 schools are represented, you can often conduct face-to-face reference checks with the Heads from a candidate’s prior schools.” The events also enable Mr Fish to meet with fellow recruiters to learn about recruitment practices and share issues, such as ensuring child safety.

Teaching at EIS

Having a presence at international recruitment fairs also helps to raise the profile of EIS and increase awareness of the schools’ programmes. Candidates often register an interest in the school as one to watch in the future, even if there is no suitable position available immediately.

At the fairs in London, Mr Fish met with dozens of candidates, asking each a series of challenging questions, such as “How do you take responsibility for your professional growth?” and “How do you approach work with other teachers?”

“For me, it is key that the candidate has a passion for learning themselves and can relate to the issues facing young people in today’s world,” Mr Fish said. “I need to be able to have a strong and engaging conversation with a candidate. Communication is vital.”

Teaching at EIS

In the end, Mr Fish said his trips were very successful. “We hired several excellent and experienced teachers.” Great teachers are rare, and they know when they’ve found a school that truly appreciates their artistry.