Life as an international teacher requires you to be incredibly flexible as you move between countries, cultures, and schools. But nothing has required as much of a willingness to adapt and evolve my practice as being locked in my apartment and having to reinvent my approach to the classroom. Switching it up for my 10th grade Language Acquisition class was one hurdle, figuring out how to co-teach 7th grade Humanities required even more of a leap.
I am in my first year of working in Bangkok after several years in China. Like the rest of the world, I watched this pandemic unfold there with a heavy heart, fear for my former students and anxiety that it was coming soon to Thailand. But then it came, and step-by-step we readied for the change and in the end, it was a swift and easy transition to delivering my classes online and reaching students no matter where they are.
Our administrators warned us weeks in advance that this could happen and had a meeting to show us how to use Zoom. Our librarian made sure many digital resources are available on our library page. But at the end of the day, it was down to each individual teacher to remap their techniques and plans the day the call came to close.
First and foremost, we as educators have to change with the world around us and educate our students to operate in the world that is to come in the years ahead and not just the one we live in today. This challenge is forcing all of us to adapt our practices and approaches to teaching to reach across digital divides and keep learning alive. To be honest, I probably would have never drug all of my lessons into the modern age or ever opened Zoom or a Padlet if this hadn’t happened. No matter what, I am grateful for that. Silver linings!
Take a deep breath and remember that no matter what, you are still the amazing teacher you were before your school closed. You will continue to be that teacher and your stress and worry for how you will keep teaching today is proof that you are dedicated and committed to reaching your students.
Your students are not only adapting to your new class and ways of digital teaching. They are also adapting to every other teacher they have and their new systems. Treat the first week like the first week of any school year. Teach expectations, set boundaries, get to know your kids in this new way, find a new balance and a new norm.
The biggest surprise to me was how little work my students were able to accomplish in the same amount of time. Even if I kept them in Zoom with me to complete something, they fumbled and struggled to get the task done. We take it for granted that they are digital wizards because they live on their devices all day. They don’t have any more experience at this than we do, and they need time.
Stick with what matters
Look at your unit and decide what the most important things are for your students to master in this unit and keep your focus on those critical components. Add in the rest if you have time, but lock a laser focus on the heart of the topics and achieve those goals first.
Do not let yourself fall into the trap of confusing down time and work time. Just because you moved your work to your home, doesn’t mean it should dominate your life. You and your students need you at peak mental and emotional health right now. Take breaks, walk away, and don’t let this overtake every part of your life. You are living in this crisis too. You have mental, emotional, and physical needs too. See to them first so you have something left to give to your students when you hit week 3, 6, or 10 of school closures. Locked in your home? Have a Zoom game night or dinner with friends. Take walks. Have a life. You need it to sustain you.
Remember you are not alone. There are countless teachers in the same situation you are in and we are all just figuring it out. Join a group where you can find resources and advice from other teachers like Educator Temporary School Closure Community. Don’t just Zoom with your students, have meetings with your co-workers to see what they are doing. Don’t feel as if you are the only one struggling. We are all adapting and coming together like never before.
In the end we will all come out of this as better teachers with countless hours of self-study professional development from all the new systems we are adapting to. So find your fellow teachers and learn from them, teach them, and stand strong. Show your students what it really looks like to embrace a life-long love of learning and take them on the journey with you.continue reading
It’s true, ISC now has over 36000 comments!
Here is a bit of history about how many comments that we have had on our website since it started back in January 2011:
0 Comments – January 2011
71 Comments – May 2011
939 Comments – September 2011
2147 Comments – January 2012
4578 Comments – May 2012
5965 Comments – September 2012
6767 Comments – January 2013
8004 Comments – May 2013
9109 Comments – September 2013
10018 Comments – January 2014
10689 Comments – May 2014
11455 Comments – Sept 2014
12981 Comments – Feb 2015
15023 Comments – Nov 2015
16017 Comments – Feb 2016
18000 Comments – Sept 2016
19000 Comments – Dec 2016
20200 Comments – March 2017
22010 Comments – August 2017
23000 Comments – November 2017
24000 Comments – January 2018
27000 Comments – May 2018
30000 Comments – January 2019
33000 Comments – Sept 2019
36000 Comments – March 2020
We would like to formally thank our community of members (now at over 18400!) for submitting all of the comments on our website. The more comments there are, the more informed our members will be. Being well-informed is especially important when you are recruiting and really needing to know specific information about the international schools you are considering. International School Community’s goal is to be the ‘go-to’ website for international school teachers!
Want to view all these 36000+ comments? Check out our Browse All Comments page (viewable by basic and premium members).
Got a few minutes, login to our website today and submit some comments about the schools you know about! For every 10 comments you submit, one free month of premium membership will be added to your account!
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We definitely would like to thank all of our current 450+ Mayors for their role in helping us get to 36000+ total comments on our website.
One time in Bangkok, I was walking around the streets by myself in the heat of the summer. By accident, I tripped and fell down on the sidewalk. After I got myself up, something felt extremely wrong. I walked around for a bit, but I didn’t know what was wrong and I started to panic.
I found a taxi and decided to have him take me to my hotel. At first, the driver said a price for the taxi ride. I would have paid whatever, but I immediately started crying. The taxi driver immediately lowered the price (I originally got the tourist price I guess) and became very worried for me.
I got to the hotel, but then immediately realized that I needed to get to the hospital ASAP. I got into another taxi and arrived at a local hospital in Bangkok. When I first got in, they helped me immediately (remember I’m still on my own and don’t know how to speak Thai). The nurses put me on a gurney, and then started to proceed opening my backpack. I got stressed about that and was getting confused. I found out later that they were putting my valuable things into a safe place. How nice! But the nurses didn’t speak English, so there wasn’t a way of knowing what was going on when it was happening.
I was seen quite quickly by a doctor or maybe even two doctors. The problem was that I had a dislocated shoulder (first time it happened to me). They put it back in its place. And even though I was drugged a bit, I had to be on my way. I sincerely thanked them all I hope, but years later I had thought to send a thank you note to that hospital for such a kind and helpful experience there.
After searching the keyword ‘hospital‘ using our Comments Search function on our website (premium access required), we found 210 comments. Here are 9 of them that give some insight into the hospital experience in different countries around the world.
“They are just now implementing a level of international health insurance so will have more information about that later. The current uses the local system which is all in Lithuanian so can make it difficult to get seen as you have to go to an assigned doctor (who speaks little English) and to an assigned hospital. It is very difficult without knowing Lithuanian.”
“Health insurance is great and comprehensive. You’ll be provided with a list of fully covered hospitals and dentists and those that are co-pay. The hospitals are great. I’ve not had any bad experiences.
When I had a dental emergency I paid up front and was able to claim it all back.”
“The insurance is quite good in Maracaibo and in the USA. The doctors are trained, but hospitals are not equipped to serve patients right now. The price for medical care has increased by 10 fold in one year. It is a terrible situation for Venezuelans and foreigners who get sick.”
“Albert Einstein Israelite hospital is considered one of the best in South America and is located in the same neighborhood as the school.”
“Health insurance works ok. Most hospitals for foreigners have a direct billing accord with the insurance. More hospitals are getting built at the moment and there a few very decent expat hospitals but they are also money making machines. Local hospitals are ok but can be a very different experience.”
“Insurance is great. That said, most go to Bangkok or Singapore for yearly check ups and anything requiring a knife. Used a local hospital for PT and found it very ineffective. Okay for stitches or advice on passing a kidney stone. Super cheap MRI and X-rays. AISD has a on-site clinic that most use for colds, flu, dengue, vaccinations, etc.”
“Local hospitals [in Bangkok] vary – government hospitals usually have good doctors working off their government college loans; private hospitals are quite flash and many have decent reputations. International hospitals can be quite pricey, and while their reputation may sound great they can sometimes not provide the same value for service as the private and government hospitals.”
“School covers AETNA insurance. It is worldwide coverage EXCLUDING the USA. Local hospital is conveniently located near school. HR and Operations is very helpful to support new employees on any medical issues, even accompanying to the hospital if needed to support translation. You can generally find hospital staff who speak fluent English. Signage is bilingual. All health providers are located under the roof of the “hospital“”
“We currently have international insurance through Clements. I’ve been very happy with them. When my child was in the hospital, all that was required from me was a quick call and then they negotiated the payment with the hospital‘s accounting office. Doctor’s fees are quite reasonable in Japan, so for most charges, I pay cash and then have the reimbursements put through to my USA bank account. I am able to make my claims through an app on my phone and it is wonderful and quick. Reimbursements usually come within 2 weeks or so.”continue reading
Sharon (Pseudonym) and I arrived back in Shanghai yesterday morning, after a quick decision to return before it became difficult.
We travelled from Edinburgh and transited in Paris before on to Shanghai. In Edinburgh and Paris it was business as usual; no questions, no extra measures, nobody wearing masks. Until we got to the gate where we boarded the plane to Shanghai. Here the passengers were all masked up as were the crew. Masks were to be worn for the full 12-hour flight. Temperature checks were taken as we boarded, then again mid-flight and before landing. Blankets, pillows, headphones were not distributed due to containment measures. There was a seating area sectioned at the rear of the plane along with toilet facilities, for anyone who showed symptoms of COVID-19 during the flight. Before landing we completed paper and online health declarations.
On landing, we were held on the plane, and called off in batches. We stepped into a different world, where all airport staff were in body suits, masks, visors, gloves. The airport had been configured to create channels for passengers to move through with stops to revisit health forms, complete more information and do temperature checks. We then passed through immigration (which was super-quiet) before being guided to an area where we reported to a regional team. Again, more health declarations and information gathered before being escorted to pre-arranged pick-ups or to pre-arranged buses provided by the airport. During this process, we were awarded a sticker (green – yellow – red) which determined our next course of action. We were accompanied to a driver who was waiting for us, to continue our journey home.
When we arrived at our housing compound, we were greeted by a team of ten people, made up of a doctor, local health team and compound management. Again, health declarations and temperature checks, before being taken into our home and our quarantine commencing. As David (Pseudonym) lives in the house too, he has to undertake quarantine with us, or we would have been taken to a quarantine facility.
So, we are home now and will remain indoors for the next two weeks. We did an online shopping order which was delivered to the gates. Then the compound guards left it outside our door for us, texting us when it was clear for us to bring the goods inside.
There are two lenses to view this through: fear or safety.
Fear, due to the unpredictability of the situation, the rapidly changing climate and lack of control. I did have a couple of moments. One where I had one foot in the amusing rabbit hole of ‘This is what it probably felt like when trying to smuggle ET to his spaceship’, then the other of ‘What if Sharon and I get separated. How do I know where she may be? What would be happening/ what could be?’ The what-ifs were lurking, waiting to grab and sink their sharp little teeth in. Families were kept together through the process. There were staff available to speak different languages and although there was uncertainty, it was very efficient and organised.
This is a country where health is priority. Containment measures are put in place to ensure the health of all citizens. Social responsibility is empowered as we are required to put others first by undertaking quarantine, to avoid any possible contamination. Everyone is mobilised to do their part for the community. Do I feel scared? The unknown is always a little scary. Do I feel safe? Absolutely. I know that the virus is a priority and is being taken very seriously. The actions of the country reflect this.
If you are planning your return – some tips:
• Make sure you have your own headphones.
• Dress in layers – the plane was cold, the airport was hot.
• Have extra snacks and water with you so that you can keep the hanger away whist you wait to leave the plane/get home.
• Bring distractions for kids. Talk to them about how staff will be dressed in the airport and that there will be temp checks etc.
• Got to the toilet before you leave the plane. Facilities in the airport are on lock down.
• Carry wipes. It can get hot and a little uncomfortable in the heat as you wait.
• Do an online shop that can get delivered as you arrive home.
• If you do not have a thermometer at home, buy one before you return. You will need to report your temp if in quarantine.
• Be mentally prepared for quarantine, either at home or in a facility, and pack a few treats to help you through it all.
Safe travels…and stay positive! If you are alone, keep in touch with someone in Shanghai and don’t be afraid to reach out as you go through the process! A reassuring text is enough to keep you calm.
This article was submitted by an ISC member living in Shanghai, Chinacontinue reading
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