May 16, 2013
A new survey has arrived!
Topic: Which region in the world would you most NOT want to move to next?
There is always going to be a region of the world that you would most NOT want to move to. They always say at international school recruitment fairs to be open to positions in all areas of the world, but in reality that is just not likely for many candidates. Though on the other hand, we also know some international school teachers that one time did take the risk and had selected a position in a region that they were not really interested in at the time, and then they ended up actually really enjoying their time living and working there. Who knows then what the best advice is for teachers out on the look for a teaching job abroad at an international school?
Is there one region in the world that is more popular than the others? We are not for sure. The “popular” regions seem to keep on changing every few years or so. On the other hand, there seems to be a group of international school teachers for each region of the world. For those who will choose NOT to interview for a position in the Middle East, there are definitely a handful of other candidates that ARE interested in applying for that job in that region.
There are many reasons that you would NOT choose to live and work in a specific region: Love, Travel, Career, Money, School, Location, etc. Which ever reason or reasons that are the most important to you (at that specific time period in your life) will help you decide on which region is the best for you and NOT the best for you.
For the very flexible candidate, the one that has the goal to live in as many regions of the world as they can, they will be on the look out for a region that they haven’t been to yet! Is there an international school teacher out there that has lived and worked in all the regions in the world? If so, we would like to interview that person for our member spotlight feature.
So, which region in the world would you most NOT want to move to next? Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today! You can check out the latest voting results here.
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May 14, 2013
The survey results are in, and it seems as if most visitors and members of International School Community who voted have had very easy when trying to get reimbursed for things at their international school (though ‘kind of hard’ was in a close second place).
Thank goodness that most members are finding is very easy to get reimbursed. There is nothing worse than buying something for your school (even after getting approval to buy it) and then it being a big hassle to get your money back.
Some countries you need to really do everything by the book, otherwise there isn’t much hope for you to get your money back.
But what is it typically like for the international school teachers who are finding it very easy to get reimbursed? These schools will most likely be not-for-profit ones. They also will be in an excellent financial situation with great budgets for departments and for individual teachers. When you buy something for this kind of school, all you have to do is hand in your receipt to the business department; and yes they will accept all kinds of receipts (or better said, the country that they live in doesn’t have a history of corruption amongst local businesses and the receipts that they use will be more universal and accepted).
Once you had in your receipt at a school where it is ‘very easy’ to get reimbursed, you will either get paid back straight away in cash (if the amount is under a certain amount) or you the business office manager will set up a bank transfer that day so that you can get your money back quickly in that manner instead.
Getting your money back in a timely manner is good for everyone at the school. If you are waiting for money to be paid back to you then that most likely means that you are still thinking about getting that money back when you come to school each day. As each day passes (without you getting paid), it starts distracting you (at times) from your work and doing the best job you can do.
Let’s share more about the international schools where it is ‘very easy’ to get reimbursed! It would be very interesting to see which schools would show up on that list.
Luckily on International School Community, we have a School Information section in the comments and information part of each school’s profile page that discusses this very topic.
• What types of budgets to classroom teachers/departments get?
There have been many comments and information submitted in this topic on numerous school profiles on our website.
One International School Community member said about working at Vietnam American International School (27 Comments): “There were no budgets. No one ever knew how much they could spend. Most of the supplies requested and ordered did not come in. Even basic supplies like teacher’s editions to lab supplies to art supplies were not purchased during the 2011-2 school year. However, there were two very good copiers and plenty of paper available.”
Another member said about working at American School of Barcelona (98 Comments): “Getting supplies at ASB can be quite the challenge as all the supplies are “guarded” by 1 person. You must go through him to request these supplies and sometimes he is not so forthcoming with them to you. If you ask for pencils, you might get 10 from him!”
Another member submitted a comment about working at Harbin No. 9 High School International Division (Songbei Campus) (45 Comments): “I was not aware of any budget process. The man financing this for profit school was Mr. Cao Ying Hua. He seemed to wield the purse strings as he saw fit. I believe that his primary intention for the school was to make money. He showed very little concern for anything else. Certainly not for the well being of staff or even long range student well being. Oligarch maybe!”
If you are currently a premium member of International School Community, please take a moment to share your experience of what it is like to get reimbursed (or NOT reimbursed) at the international schools at which you have worked. You can start by logging on here.
Stay tuned for our next survey topic which is to come out in a few days time.
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Selecting an international school: Tip #10 – Does the school facilitate learning about the host country?
May 9, 2013
What reasons do parents think about when selecting a school for their children when they move abroad? Are they similar reasons for why teachers choose to work at an international school abroad as well? There are many different kinds of international schools and they are all in different situations. How important is finding out about how well the international school deals with disciplinary problems? It could be beneficial to ask these types of questions at your interview, before you make any big decisions to move or choose an international school at which to work. So, how do you choose the right international school for your children to attend or for you to work at? In this blog series, we will discuss the Tips for Selecting an International School.
One of the exciting reasons to work at international schools is to live, work and learn about a different culture and region. Many international schools strive to embed the local culture into the academic curriculum, extra-curricular activities and overall vision/mission of the school. The benefits of doing so are enormous. It helps to create open-mindedness, a sense of belonging to a community, create local partnerships, inspire community action and outreach projects, and promote understanding of language and local customs. However, this does not happen by accident and a school must make a conscious decision to design this all areas of the school; starting with the vision, mission and core values of the school.
Assessing how much value an international school puts into its local culture can start with looking at the school’s mission, vision and core values. For example, the International School of the Hague’s mission statement states part of its mission is “to make an active contribution to global, international and local communities” while “interacting with global, international and local communities through the exchange of resources and knowledge.” Another international school in Indonesia, Sinarmas World Academy, has their mission to “engage, act, thrive” by engaging in service to solve local, Asian and global issues. So why does this matter? All school-wide goals, projects and action items must be aligned with an overall school’s mission, vision and values. Therefore, if you have an interest in engaging in the local culture, this is a good place to start your research.
The second place to start is within the formal curriculum. Does the school offer authentic ways to engage and connect with the local community within a unit of study? Some international accreditation bodies have it as part of their framework. For example, the IBO (international baccalaureate organization) has a strong action and community service component of the PYP, MYP and DP programs. The DP program has a creativity action service (CAS) program where students use local issues to take up action projects. Both the MYP and PYP have strong action components as well that are integrates into units of inquiry and cross-curricular units. This often leads to relevant and meaningful action projects where students get to learn about and help solve local issues. Often schools have CAS coordinators that help to coordinate these projects across the school. These projects do not just happen outside of school walls, but can happen inside school. For instance, local schools are often invited into the school for a mutual learning experiences tied to a unit of study.
Another area to integrate with the local community is through extra-curricular activities, conferences, special events and sporting programs. An important question to ask your prospective school is what types of extra-curricular activities do they offer with the local community? Do they offer local conferences for teachers or parents? Do they offer sports tournaments with local teams? Do they offer cultural events celebrating local traditions or customs? These are often questions that are way down the list but contribute to the overall school culture and climate. They provide unique opportunities for students and staff to learn and develop friendships with local members of the community. For example, in some international schools in Asia, they celebrate Chinese New Year and often invite local performers, artisans and experts to offer musical, arts, culinary activities for students to engage with. This can really enrich the informal areas of the curriculum that can have long lasting effects.
The opportunity to learn another language is another popular reason for choosing to work at an international school. The ability to converse in another language opens doors for our future learners as well as professionals. Thus, a critical question to ask is what languages are offered at the school and what language levels? Do they offer language instruction in the local language, either in the formal curriculum or as an after-school activity? Do they offer language lessons for staff? Often being able to speak even a few words of the local language goes a long way and is often appreciated by locals.
Interacting and learning from local cultures provides a tremendous opportunity for rich learning experiences for students, teachers and parents. I believe this is one reason why we travel and live overseas. Often, this is an area that is forgotten in job interviews but remains an important consideration when choosing an international school in the future.
Have a specific international school in mind that you thinking of applying at? Check out our “Where our Members have worked” page and start contacting some of our members that know about the international school you are interested in knowing more about. Our 2400+ members currently work at (or have worked at in the past) 430 different international schools. Feel free to send them a private message about how much their international school facilitates learning about the host country.
28 Tips for Selecting an Int'l School
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The total comments and information that we have in the School Information section on all the school profile pages: 3641!
May 7, 2013
As all International School Community members know, each of the 1420+ school profile pages on our website has four comments and information sections: School Information, Benefits Information, City Information and Travel Information. Our members are encouraged to submit comments and information 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 new 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 3641 (out of a total of 8050+ comments).
There are 14 subtopics in the School Information section on each school profile page. Check out each one of these subtopics below and find out out the total number of comments in that specific subtopic and also 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. (500 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The school is under construction right now. When finished we should have some really nice facilities for the elementary school. Now the classrooms are super tiny. The high school has good sized room and great resources, LCDs in every room for example. Whatever you ask for in terms of supplies, books, etc., you get.” – Seoul International School (69 Comments)
• What types of accreditation does this school have? When is the accreditation up for renewal? Any religious affiliations? (353 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The school is run by CJD which is Christian, but it does not affect the International School (CJD has three other schools in Braunschweig but contact is only at the Christmas and Summer Party. The school has Cambridge Accreditation for the Primary and Middle School (up to Y10) and IB for the Y11 andY12.” – International School Braunschweig (Wolfsburg) (19 Comments)
• Recent things that the school has taken on (i.e. new curriculum, specific professional development, etc.). (70 Total Comments)
Example comment: “We use the TC Reading/Writing Workshop model in our elementary classrooms and most or all of our teachers are trained at TC in the summers. Lots of discussion at the Board level and among teachers about being a “premier 21st century school” in Africa. SUNY program offered on-site, including the COETAIL certiifcate for learning and teaching with ed-tech. Currently adopting Atlas Rubicon, using a UbD unit planning template. The school recently adopted MAP testing for assessing learning. The school has embarked on a five-year plan to become more inclusive of children with special learning needs.” – International Community School Addis Ababa (35 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? (630 Total Comments)
Example comment: “For expat hires, the school tends to hire single teachers. You also need to be a native speaker of English and have a university degree and teaching licensure.” – Metropolitan School Frankfurt (10 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? (507 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The school is in beautiful setting – about 30 minutes from city centre. Staff live in a 40 minute radius from tthe school.” – Craighouse School (30 Comments)
• Are the expectations high of teaching staff? Are there extra curricular responsibilities? Describe workload details. (115 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Expectations are that staff be available whenever students or parents wish. Some meetings are called without warning, staff is expected to be present at extra curricular events, even if not involved directly. There are no assigned classes, so teachers and students move from room to room, in some cases, in the middle of a class. There is no space conducive to work for staff, so most all end up working 10-30 hours per week at home in evenings and weekends.” – Oeiras International School (14 Comments)
• Average class size for primary and secondary. Describe any aide support. (109 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Primary: max of 15 MYP and DP: Max of 20 average is below that.” – Strothoff International School (27 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? (414 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Some students speak Korean in the halls and playground, but for the most part, English is encouraged and spoken.” – Australian International School (Indonesia) (39 Comments)
• Describe what kinds of teachers work here (local vs. expat, nationality, qualifications [or lack there of], etc.) and staff turnover rate. (465 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Many teachers are from the UK, around one third of the staff.” – Oporto British School (10 Comments)
• What types of budgets to classroom teachers/departments get? (55 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Some departments get a specific budget. All spending is authorised by the director.” – Western International School of Shanghai (38 Comments)
• PARENTS ONLY – General comments from parents of students that go to this school (12 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Some grades are crowded: 30 kids per class in grade 4. There is no direct contact between parents and teachers, communication goes via Grade Coordinators.” – Internationale Schule Frankfurt-Rhein-Main (11 Comments)
• What types of sports programs and activities does the school offer? (138 Total Comments)
Example comment: “ISD offers PE sessions during the week and after-school programs in a variety of subjects (tennis, science, drama, etc.). The selection of the after-school programs changes from term to term. For one term, all students participate in the same sport, such as swimming or tennis.” – International School of Dublin (8 Comments)
• Name some special things about this school that makes it unique. (201 Total Comments)
Example comment: “It is unique that all lessons and meetings are conducted in English and at all other times you can only hear Thai being spoken by the children” – Harrow International School (Bangkok) (16 Comments)
• In general, describe the demeanor of the students. (72 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Whereas it cannot be described as a school for the gifted, DAS does have an exceptionally large number of gifted students. Whereas students with negative attitudes are definitely there – as everywhere – expat teachers regularly remark about their enjoyment of the teaching-learning process at DAS because of the eagerness of most of the students to learning.” – Dhahran Ahliyya Schools (60 Comments)
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May 3, 2013
Children at The British Embassy School in Ankara, Turkey have been discovering first-hand about the brain and how people learn in, what teacher Tom Henley describes as a “profound learning experience.”
As the Entry Point to their learning with the International Primary Curriculum Brainwave unit, the 8 and 9 year old children from Year 4 took part in a hands-on experience to learn about the composition and layout of the brain.
“We used cow brains from a local Turkish butchers (they are on the menu here)” says Tom, the Year 4 class teacher. “We initially decided on sheep brains which are more common, but they were actually a little too small [for the learning experience].” The children wore science lab coats, glasses and gloves to conduct the investigation and used scalpels for dissection on wooden boards.
The school has a Science lab with a highly qualified specialist teacher and lab assistant who supported Tom with the learning. “They prepared the lab in advance and delivered a presentation on the parts of the brain and how, in very simple terms, the brain works in relation to learning,” explains Tom. “They modelled good lab practice such as how to use a scalpel safely, and wearing safety glasses, gloves and lab coats.”
The children dissected the brains to explore and see for themselves the major areas that had been identified and discussed during the presentation by the Science teacher. “We looked closely at how the brain is connected and in particular why greater surface area (wrinklyness) is a key indicator of greater brain power. Rabbits have quite smooth brains compared to dolphins or humans,” Tom explains.
“The children were very surprised at how soft the brains were, they expected them to be quite hard and firm,” says Tom. “After some initial squeamishness, they all got stuck in and really enjoyed themselves. It was a profound learning experience. They still talk about it now.”
The British Embassy School in Ankara is one of over 1,500 schools in 85 countries around the world learning with the International Primary Curriculum. The IPC leads children through an engaging learning process that has clear outcomes for academic, personal and international learning. It helps children look at everything they learn through a local and global perspective, developing adaptable, globally-minded learners prepared for the world of tomorrow that they will be living and working in. For more information about learning with the IPC go to www.greatlearning.com/ipc
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