It was more than ten years into my international teaching career when a colleague said to me, ’You never get all three – the school, the location and the package’.
That was nearly two years ago, but I have returned to that idea many times since. In fact, I wonder if doesn’t explain many an international school career, my own included: are some of us looking for something which, in the end, we can’t really have?
My first international school provided a first class professional experience. Coming from an unremarkable UK comprehensive school, suddenly I had not one, but two, well-appointed classrooms for my own individual use as we taught different Secondary sections on different floors. Suddenly, no class had more than twenty students. At first, I used to sometimes catch myself wondering where ‘the others’ were. Suddenly, every student had their own personal textbook (…this was the ‘90s!). No more sharing and photocopying. The students were polite, pleasant, keen to learn – everything, in fact, that I had sometimes wished for during that last period on a Friday back in the UK.
As if this wasn’t enough, my take-home pay doubled. Was this too good to be true? A fantasy? Would I wake up with a jolt and find it was all a dream? Well, if I did wake up with a jolt in my first few weeks it was because of the unfamiliar sound of the call to prayer echoing across a walled compound. Yes, I was in Saudi Arabia.
Like anywhere, the Kingdom has its fans and its detractors. While my classroom experience was excellent, and rekindled my enthusiasm for teaching, working in Saudi Arabia, for me, was not the problem. Rather, not working was, in that I found life outside work, while initially interesting, not for me. To go back to the idea of the ‘the school, the package and the location’, I had two out of three and, after completing my two-year contract, moved on.
Looking for something completely different, I resolved to forget about earning and saving for a few years and just to go somewhere ‘for the experience’, adjusting my priorities. Therefore I was staggered when, in Latin America, I found myself saving nearly as much money as in Saudi and experiencing an, at times, overwhelmingly different culture, one I’m not sure I made the most of in part perhaps because of the two years that had come before. After the Kingdom, all that reckless hedonism may well have been wasted on me. Three years on, I made another move. Yes, you guessed it: once again I felt I had two out of three and made another move, adjusting my priorities once again.
It would be neat and predictable if I got two out of three again but, unfortunately for me, the next time it was only one. One more move followed, and it was two out of three again. Perhaps subconsciously influenced by the idea of ‘The Impossible Trinity’, I am into my fifth year at my current school, the one where I have been happiest. Whether the school is that much different from those that came before or whether I am, I reckon I have a creditable 2.5 right now. Is that as good as it gets? Maybe. Is there anyone who has found their perfect fit, with their school, country and remuneration all ticking the box? You tell me, I’d love to know!
This article was submit by an ISC member. If you are interested in submitting an article as a guest author on our blog, contact us here. Once your article is submitted, you will receive one free year of premium membership to our website.continue reading
The journey to work is indeed an important one. The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries to which they have never been. So let’s share what we know!
One of our members, who works at the American Embassy School New Delhi (India), described her way to work there as follows:
I have been working at the American Embassy School (AES) in New Delhi for the past year. My journey to school starts every morning at 7:45am (March 2018) when I leave my apartment. I consider myself pretty lucky because the whole commute takes less than ten minutes and I can walk.
I am currently living at the Embassy of Bulgaria. apparently, Bulgaria had a huge delegation in India in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, but due to some financial issues, the delegation has shrunk considerably in recent years. Thus, many of the apartments at the Embassy that used to be occupied by Bulgarians are now occupied by teachers from my school. Out of twenty-one apartments in the complex, eleven are occupied by AES teachers and ten are occupied by Bulgarian diplomats.
The grounds of the apartment complex are quite beautiful. When I leave my apartment, I can hear birds chirping and see the sun shining (at least, I can in the spring and summertime – in the fall and winter there is quite a bit of pollution). But, this time of year, March, the sky is blue and there is bougainvillea blooming everywhere. The bright pink flowers bring a profusion of color to the landscape.
The gardener waves to me as I walk past. He’s busy feeding some of the many cats that live on the compound. There is a mama cat with four kittens who always say hi. They like to hang out in the backyard of the building. Every apartment comes with a terrace and garden, which is quite nice. There is also a pool that we can use, some barbecue grills, and a playground with a trampoline for kids.
The apartment complex is a walled compound and there is a guard at the entrance 24/7. On my way out of the complex, I say to the guard “Namaste, Aap kaysayhey?” and he replies “Mayen tikh hoon.” I step out of the quiet of the Bulgarian and on to the street. There is color everywhere and the bees are humming around. It’s warm and breezy, maybe 70 degrees fahrenheit, and the high for the day will be close to 90F.
I turn right and start walking. Along the way, I pass yellow and green auto-rickshaws (the traditional mode of transport in Delhi, very similar to the tuk-tuks of Bangkok), city taxis, motorbikes, and the ever ubiquitous white Suzukis that are used by Uber drives. Uber has recently become the preferred method of transport in Delhi and the white cars are everywhere. That’s one of the reasons why the traffic in the city is so bad. The proliferation of Uber. Thankfully, I don’t have to drive to get to school.
The walk is lovely. I pass the grounds of the Russian Trade Federation and the Ravi Shankar Foundation. There are bushes and yellow flowers and everything has been newly trimmed and smells like cut grass. I think most people who come to Delhi would be surprised by how green the city is. Although it’s home to twenty-five million people, there are quite a lot of trees.
A sweet yellow dog comes up to me and says hello. Delhi has lots of street dogs and they are, for the most part, super cute and very friendly. I give yellow dog a pat on the head and continue on my walk. I pass a giant banyan tree, it’s roots all twisted and gnarly. I like the way the sunlight looks when its coming through the leaves. Everything is golden and shimmering.
The traffic on the street in the morning is heavy because the British School is on this street. It’s across the street from my own school and parents and drivers are dropping their kids off for the day. I side step the traffic and continue along the street. Like I said, the whole walk only takes about 10 minutes. But sometimes I dawdle and daydream.
Across the street from the British School is Vivekanand Camp. The people living in this community have been there for generations. It’s a miracle that the camp hasn’t been torn down yet – it’s the only one still left in the Embassy area, Chanakyapuri. It’s estimated that as many as 2,000 people live in the camp. They don’t have running water. Sometimes, on my way home from school, I see the municipal water truck parked outside the camp entrance. The women come outside with buckets to fill up from the spigot on the side of the truck.
There are always kids from the camp hanging out on the street. In the morning, they are headed to school. They wear the white pants and red sweaters that signal the government school uniform. In the afternoon, the boys play cricket. They harbor dreams of being the next Virat Kohli. He’s the current captain of the Indian national team. The camp is a stark reminder of the wealth inequity that persists in India and other countries in the developing world to this day.
I cross the street after passing Vivekanand Camp and I am at the entrance to my school. The school is surrounded by high walls and security guards. Men stand patrol at the gates and there are armed soldiers present. The campus is secure and safe. It’s right next to the American Embassy. I go in gate number 4.
Once inside, it’s a short walk for me to the middle school building. The AES grounds are approximately eleven acres, and it feels a lot like a college campus. There are separate buildings for the elementary, middle, and high schools, athletic fields, a theatre, a cafe, a gymnasium, a pool, and even a climbing wall.
The campus is known for being home to many different species of butterflies and birds. The biodiversity is incredible. Especially if you are used to living in a grey urban landscape. The number of gardeners who work on campus must number close to fifty. There are so many flowers to water and plants to take care of – they do an amazing job.
I consider stopping to sit on a bench and enjoy the sunshine, but it’s close to 8am already. Teachers have to be at work at 8:00, although classes don’t start until 8:30. I’ll go to my classroom to do some prep and get ready for my classes.
I’ve made it to the entrance to my building. I give thanks for the nature that surrounded me on my walk, blink once more in the sunshine, and go inside to greet my day.
This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author, Megan Vosk. Megan Vosk is a middle school MUN and Humanities teacher at the American Embassy School in New Delhi. She loves helping young people become more compassionate and engaged citizens. When she is not teaching, she likes to spend her time reading, watching movies, practicing yoga, and dining out with her husband.
What to know more what it is like to visit and live in Asia? Out of a total of 201 international schools we have listed in Asia, 59 that have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:
American International School Dhaka (53 comments)
American Embassy School New Delhi (39 Comments)
Good Shepherd International School (411 Comments)
Indus International School (Pune) (43 Comments)
Kodaikanal International School (53 Comments)
Oberoi International School (36 Comments)
SelaQui International School (36 Comments)
Woodstock School (58 Comments)
Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Astana (53 Comments)
Abraham Lincoln School (Nepal) (36 Comments)
Colombo International School (64 Comments)
The British School in Colombo (41 Comments)
So what is your journey to the international school you work at? Earn one year free of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’. Email us here if you are interested.continue reading
You can definitely say that our 12800+ members are a diverse group. We have members from all over the world that work in all areas of the globe.
You can find out where these members are from and where they work by using our Member Profile Search feature located on our homepage or the Members List page, but we also have a page that puts all those statistics on one page in an easy-to-read manner.
The Members’ Home and Host Countries page
On the Where our members currently work page, we currently have members that work at 158 countries. It appears as if the top countries are United States (677 members), China (411 members), United Kingdom (221 members), India (187) and Thailand (159 members).
Want to know which members live in each country? Just simply click on the number, which is a link to see all of those members. For members that live in Thailand (for example), just click here.
In the column to the right, you’ll also find Our members’ home countries page.
This column shows where our members are from, well the ones that have filled out their member profile page (same goes for the other column). We currently have members that come from 103 countries. It appears as if the top countries are United States (782 members), United Kingdom (329 members), Canada (204), India (173) and Australia (140).
Want to know which members are from each country? Just simply click on the country link. For members that are from India, just click here.
Don’t forget to fill out your member profile so our statistics will be the most up-to-date!continue reading
As all International School Community members know, each of the 2015+ school profile pages on our website has four comments sections: School Information, Benefits Information, City Information and Travel Information. Our members are encouraged to submit comments on one or all of these sections if they currently work at an international school or have worked at one in the past.
It is important that we all share what we know so that we can in turn help other teachers make a more informed decision before they sign any contract! *Additionally, for every 10 comments you submit (which are anonymous by the way), you will automatically get one free month of premium membership added on to your account! The more comments you leave, the more free membership you get!
So, what are the recent statistics about the School Information sections on all the school profile pages? The current total number of submitted comments in the School Information section is 12251 (out of a total of 25221+ comments).
There are 24 subtopics in the School Information section on each school profile page. Check out each one of these subtopics below and find out the total number of comments in that specific sub topic and an example comment that has been submitted there.
• Describe the different aspects of the school building and the school grounds. Also, describe the surrounding area around the campus. (1185 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The school is set in 3 separate building, one being a 5 minute walk and the other across the road. Crossing the road is quite a safety hazard with the kindergarten class due to taxis over taking them whilst they are on the crossing and the local police not doing anything to monitor this. There is no proper play area and students are taken to local parks for lunch breaks, which is difficult when having to share with babies. No proper gym areas make p.e quite difficult.” – Canadian International School (Tokyo) (Tokyo, Japan) – 93 Comments
• What types of accreditation does this school have? When is the accreditation up for renewal? Any religious affiliations? (877 Total Comments)
Example comment: “It is a non-religiously affiliated school owned by a Christian affiliated college and operated on that campus. It is WASC accredited, but is not accredited by the Korean authorities and seems to be a limbo in regards to its local status.” –Global Prodigy Academy (Jeonju, South Korea) – 48 Comments
• Recent things that the school has taken on (i.e. new curriculum, specific professional development, etc.). (496 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The school is discussing becoming IB and has implemented Teacher’s College Readers and Writer’s Workshop as well as whole language learning in the primary schools. Secondary schools do MAPS-based action plans to show and monitor student improvement and compare them to US students.” – American School of Torreon (Torreon, Mexico) – 37 Comments
• Describe their hiring policies. Which recruiting fairs do they go to? How do they typically hire (e.g. face-to-face interview, Skype, etc.)? Are there any hiring restrictions mandated by the country? (1267 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Last year they were NOT hiring people with non-EU passports. Some positions that they had last year were local hires, even if the candidates weren’t the strongest of the CVs that they received. Most of this though is out of the school’s control and more the new/changing laws regarding hiring foreigners into the country.” – Southbank International School (London, United Kingdom) – 15 Comments
• Describe school’s location in relation to the city center and to the teacher’s housing. How do staff get to school before and after school? (1143 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The school is located near one of the hub stations in Tokyo, with easy access by several trains and subways. The school also has two school bus routes. The school will help the teachers find housing if necessary, but it does not itself provide housing. A transportation allowance is provided to cover the transportation cost from home to school and back.” – New International School of Japan (Tokyo, Japan) – 29 Comments
• Are the expectations high of teaching staff? Are there extra curricular responsibilities? Describe workload details. (585 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Expectations are high but the atmosphere is supportive. Staff are expected to undertake duties on a rota bais before and after school, at break times and lunch times. Staff are expected to run one extra curricular activity for one term per year. There is a decent amount of non-contact time at around 20% of timetable.” – Rasami (Thai-British) International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 75 Comments
• Average class size for primary and secondary. Describe any aide support. (593 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Class sizes are very small. In primary, they are normally a combination of two grade levels (i.e. Grades 1 and 2 together) and about 16 kids with a teaching assistant. In secondary class size is smaller and can range from four to twelve per grade level.” – Hiroshima International School (Hiroshima, Japan) – 64 Comments
• Describe language abilities of students at this school and what is the “common language spoken in the hallways”? Is there one dominate culture group? (980 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The Thao Dien (Primary) campus in the expat area has students from about 20 countries. The TT Campus, Primary, Middle School and Secondary is mainly Vietnamese. Korean is the next largest student group. Very few students from Western Countries. Has a large EAL population.” – Australian International School HCMC (Vietnam) (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) – 19 Comments
• Describe what kinds of teachers work here (local vs. expat, nationality, qualifications [or lack there of], etc.) and staff turnover rate. (1020 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Primarily expat teachers, without any one nationality dominating things. When I left in 2011 there were teachers from Australia, Canada, US, UK, South Africa, Belgium, and Tanzania just within my department. Some teachers stay 7 to 10 years or more, while others just 2 to 4 years, as in most international schools.” – International School of Tanganyika (Dar es salaam, Tanzania) – 171 Comments
• What types of budgets to classroom teachers/departments get? (356 Total Comments)
Example comment: “budgets have been steadily dropping. Ownership slyly changed the school from a not for profit school to a for profit school, without notifying parents of the change.” – Makuhari International School (Tokyo, Japan) – 22 Comments
• PARENTS ONLY – General comments from parents of students that go to this school (121 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The mastery system is open to the interpretation of each teacher, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.” – QSI International School of Dongguan (Dongguan, China) – 64 Comments
• What types of sports programs and activities does the school offer? (507 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The school offers a wide variety of after school activities which are run by teachers. There is no extra pay for this. Teachers can choose which activity they would like to lead.” – International School of Koje (Geoje, South Korea) – 47 Comments
• Name some special things about this school that makes it unique. (521 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The school has an excellent music program that frequently presents music and drama to the local community and other schools. Students in the diploma program seek out ways to serve the community needs.” – Oeiras International School (Lisbon, Portugal) – 142 Comments
• In general, describe the demeanor of the students. (441 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The students are generally great, however there are no entrance exams or behavior requirements. The owners Tehmine and Stephan want to make as much money as possible. There definitely are no requirements to enter this school.” – Surabaya European School (Surabaya, Indonesia) – 20 Comments
• Has the school met your expectations once you started working there? (209 Total Comments)
Example comment: “I’ve really enjoyed working at the school. I have always been able to approach admin if I needed to.” – The Codrington School (Int’l School of Barbados) (St. John, Barbados) – 70 Comments
• What does the school do to create a harmonious state of well-being and high morale amongst its staff? (248 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The school has a health and wellness program where a lot of teachers connect and exercise together. Also, the PTO regularly hosts cocktail events after school. Plus there are scheduled tours and cultural events.” – Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia) – 69 Comments
• Describe the technologies available at the school and how people are/are not using them. (293 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Each teacher has a PC (windows only. The printer server won’t talk to macs) and a smart board. However, the smart boards are not all hooked up or working so it’s a very expensive video screen. Slow internet. Nothing Google, youtube, or Facebook works in China.” – Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (Beijing, China) – 126 Comments
• Details about the current teacher appraisal process. (188 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Get on your principal’s good side and you are fine. If they do not like you you will immediately get put on a corrective plan and ushered out. Just flatter the admin and you will be fine.” – Abu Dhabi International Private School (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) – 43 Comments
• Is the student population declining, staying the same or increasing? Give details why. (288 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The number of students has increased. There is a waitlist for Year 6 now.” – UCSI International School Subang Jaya (Subang Jaya, Malaysia) – 11 Comments
• How have certain things improved since you started working there? (150 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The one more important thing that changed for the positive, in around 2011-12, was the school initiated an 8000 RMB per year, per teacher, PD allowance. Before that there wasn’t an allowance. There was though PD for the DP teachers before that.” – Yew Chung International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China) – 30 Comments
• How is this school different or the same when compared to schools in your home country? (117 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Well one thing that my school had in the United States was a coordinator for reading in the Primary school. I feel that CIS would benefit from having one of those. We need somebody to coordinate how the primary school teaches reading and someone to coordinate resources. Also, someone to help us have a clearer stop and sequence across the grade levels.” – Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 321 Comments
• What controversies have been happening lately? Please be objective. (204 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The school hires foreign teachers but sometimes it is difficult for the teachers to integrate into the school. It is really a combination of moving to Chile and assimilating as a foreigner as well as the schools lack of support to receive foreign teachers. The administration has recognized this problem and is working to help future hires.” – Santiago College (Santiago, Chile) – 21 Comments
• What insider information would you give to a teacher considering working at this school? (293 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Remember state school teachers are paid twice as much for half the work. All the locals are on waiting lists for Govt. schools but they are years (centuries) long.” – International School of Paphos (Paphos, Cyprus) – 123 Comments
• How much curriculum development work are you expected to do? (Atlas Rubicon, etc.) (169 Total Comments)
Example comment: “A curriculum coordinator offers huge levels of support for this. During the current year, this load is heavy because of where we are in the accreditation cycle. High School has used Rubicon for a while. Lower School is just starting to use Rubicon.” – American School of Marrakesh (Marrakesh, Morocco) – 29 Commentscontinue reading
While many overseas filers don’t realize it, you probably have to file a state return (unless you are from one of the seven states with no state income tax, or perhaps from one of the two that tax only investment income. When you move overseas you still have a domicile in the US, normally the last state where you lived before moving overseas. That requirement applies to forty-one of the fifty states.
Potentially you have further complications depending on what state you are from. Six states don’t allow the foreign earned income exclusion. If you are from California, Maine, Massachusetts or New Jersey you have to limit your days in those states each year or they will want state tax on your foreign earned income. If you are from Pennsylvania and don’t own a residence there you can escape their state tax; otherwise pay up. If you are from Alabama they don’t have any exceptions, but a tax professional may be able to help you escape tax even there.
We had clients from California who didn’t believe us when we told them to limit their days in California. When they reported more than 45 days in the state and we prepared the return showing California state tax due on the return, they elected for us to NOT file the return. They prepared and sent in their own return. The California Franchise Tax Board is notorious for its persistence in attempting to collect tax. As all states receive copies of federal returns that use an address in that state, when California received the federal return showing days in the US as about two and one-half months in the summer and another two weeks over the year-end holidays, they sent a tax deficiency notice taxing the foreign earned income. When the taxpayers were not able to PROVE that they were NOT in California for less than 45 days, they ended up paying state tax on all of their foreign earned income. They subsequently returned to us as clients, and now keep proof of where they are each day they are in the US.
New Jersey is another difficult state. If you maintain a residence there generally you have to pay tax on your foreign earned income, regardless of days in New Jersey during the year. If you are domiciled there, don’t maintain a permanent residence there, do maintain a permanent residence elsewhere, and spend 30 days or less there, you can file as a nonresident. We had clients for whom we prepared tax returns, including a New Jersey return showing all of their foreign earned income subject to New Jersey state tax. They maintained a home there and were stuck. They became very irate with us, and went to a CPA firm in New Jersey hoping for better results. The results were the same. They returned to us as clients and did what we recommended – put the house up for rent. They were stuck paying New Jersey tax for one year only. They remain overseas, still are domiciled in New Jersey, but no longer pay state tax there.
You may run afoul of a state’s tax law due to changes in those laws. Formerly if you were domiciled in Michigan or Oregon and you lived outside the state for an entire year, you were exempt from filing a state tax return. Both states changed their laws, and now if Michigan or Oregon is your domicile, even if you don’t spend any time in the state during a year, you are still required to file a state tax return. Because both recognize the federal foreign earned income exclusion for many of our clients that is not a problem, but for some higher earners, they now have to file, and pay, state tax in those states.
There may also be issues with whether or not your state tax return is filed in a timely manner. While some states recognize the federal automatic extension of time to file for overseas filers, not all do. And while some states recognize the federal extension to October 15th, others require that a separate state tax return extension be filed. The safest thing to do is to get a start on preparing your tax returns to see if you owe money, file both a federal and state extension, and pay any amounts due. Then you have until October 15th to file the returns. That doesn’t mean you should delay your filing until October – it is easy to forget you haven’t filed after the subject of taxes is off of your mind for several months. Pay timely, and then file as soon as you are sure the returns are complete.
This article was submitted by Global Tax.continue reading