12 Tips for Selecting an Int'l School

Selecting an international school: Tip #4 – Is the school accredited? If so, by who?

January 29, 2023


What reasons do parents think about when selecting a school for their children when they move abroad? Are they similar reasons why teachers choose to work at a school abroad as well?  Many international school teachers are in teaching couples that have children.  There are also international school teachers that are married to a local and have children too.  So, how do you choose the right international school for your children to attend?  This blog series will discuss the Tips for Selecting an International School.

Tip #4 – Is the school accredited? If so, by who?

International schools intentionally seek various forms of approval and accreditation as assurances to their students, parents, employees, and community that quality and excellence drive educational decisions.  Countries have governmental standards that schools must meet in order to have local approval.  Schools generally follow specific steps to apply and meet approval status through the country’s Department or Ministry of Education and are monitored for annual renewal of the approval status.  This standardization is important for students and parents to have proof that the school provided an education that had to meet specific standards and provide some basic assurances of quality.

Accreditation takes the quality assurance factor to the next level by focusing on the processes used within a school to provide a high level of excellence not only in the “end product” of a quality education, but it examines the manner in which that excellence is achieved.  As in the previous blog post in this series, which focused on the value of international schools having a Vision, accreditation looks at what the school does and how it provides for an internal and external examination of its programs and processes: how decisions are reached within the school itself, what programs are offered that have international value, how student achievement is documented and used to increase learning, and to what extent the greater community is informed and included in the life of the school.  Accreditation not only looks at meeting quality standards; it requires that schools be engaged in a continuous improvement process so as to give its constituents long-term quality assurances.

Why is it important for a school to seek and obtain international accreditation?  Often international schools obtain multiple levels of approval and accreditation to demonstrate commitment to excellence for parents who are making educational decisions and educators who are seeking meaningful career experiences.  Let us take a look at what you should know about the processes involved in international accreditation.

The Internal Process…

can take one to three years of collaborative examination by the Head of School, the Faculty and Staff, the Governance Board, Students, Parents, and members of the local community.  The Standards or Required Elements for accreditation become the work of focus groups that look at the present reality, then, using the Vision, set forth a map of how the school can improve and how that improvement will be assessed and sustained over the years. After much collaboration, data gathering, and communication, a formal report is usually prepared and submitted to the accreditation agency.

The External Process…

will likely include an on-site visit by a team of highly experienced educators with specific areas of expertise who have the responsibility of examining evidence to validate the school’s formal report.  This visit includes several days of interviews as well as classroom visits to observe the quality of instruction and the depth of student engagement, critical thinking, and application of knowledge.

The Accreditation Report…

that the visiting team provides will likely include a level of accreditation recommendation for the school and most importantly, that report will give direction and focus for the school to provide ongoing quality educational programs for its students.

What has been described in this article is indicative of extensive work by a cross-section of a school and its community stakeholders.  So who benefits from this work?

School Owners and Directors…

are members of a highly competitive market.  International accreditation gives added distinction to a school that sets it apart from many others when parents are looking for excellence.  It also attracts quality teacher applicants for employment.

Teachers and Prospective Teachers…

who seek employment in international schools want to be in schools of excellence where there is a strong vision and internal human support and programs that enable them to perfect their teaching skills.  They also want their years of experience to be recognized by other educational agencies should they seek graduate school acceptance or transfer to other parts of the world. It is important to note that when an international school is going through an accreditation process the teachers (and everyone else basically) have to spend much time and energy gathering and filling out all the paperwork involved! It can be quite an intensive few years for teachers (and all other stakeholders too!).

Governance Boards…

appreciate direction for their decisions which accreditation defines.  It is added assurance that as a Board, decisions are intentional and supportive of the standards set forth in accreditation.

Parents…

want the best possible educational experiences for their children.  Often they feel inadequate in evaluating schools and programs, so the quality assurance component of international accreditation can aid them in this important decision.  Additionally, international accreditation gives parents assurances that the education their children received will be viewed favorably by other schools and universities in admission to future institutions, transfer of credits, and possible scholarship acquisition.

Students…

are the direct beneficiaries of international accreditation.  Behind the scenes, educators are required to have ongoing analysis and refinement of programs and activities so as to consistently provide an education of excellence.  As mentioned previously, student records indicate international accreditation for the purposes of transfers, admissions, and scholarships.

The community…

benefits from schools of excellence that are providing quality education; it becomes an added value and attraction to the area.  Corporations want to be established where high-performing schools prepare citizens for the 21st-century workforce and generate sustained excellence for community growth.

International accreditation is a continuous process of internal and external conversations and reviews of what is happening inside and outside a school to prepare creative and productive problem-solving people for international stability in an ever-changing society.

This article was submitted by guest author and International School Community member: Mary Anne Hipp (contact her here – mahipp@suddenlink.net or visit her Blogspot – http://mahipp.blogspot.com/)

On International School Community all school profile pages have a topic in the School Information section that specifically addresses the accreditation status of each school.  The topic is called “What types of accreditation does this school have? When is the accreditation up for renewal? Any religious affiliations?”

For example on the Seoul Foreign School’s profile page there have been 6 comments and information submitted so far on this topic:

If you are an international school community member currently working abroad, please log on today and submit your comments and information about your school’s accreditation status.

If you are not a member yet, make sure to join www.internationalschoolcommunity.com and become a part of our over 25000 members.  Many of our current members have listed that they work at over 1200 international schools around the world. Feel free to send these members a message with your questions about an international school’s accreditation status and get firsthand information about how the accreditation process is going for them.

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Highlighted Articles

Making Life Easier for International Schools During Recruiting Season

January 23, 2023


Recruiting the best possible international school staff is always a challenge.  Once you have top international educators, you really want to make sure you keep them!

In such a competitive market during international school recruitment season, it is important to stand out in a crowd. You also want to be seen and known to be the international school or group of international schools that look after its people. 

Employee benefits have been slow to come to the international school sector, but it is becoming a well-established tool that has already been used successfully by a number of international schools to attract and retain their staff.

It is important to look at how an occupational international retirement and savings plan can be a simple and effective method to provide a meaningful benefit to your staff; be they local, expatriate, short-term or career-focused.

Over the years there have been bad experiences in this growing sector with international teachers being sold inappropriate individual products that are too rigid in requirements, have expensive investment options and are opaque in their fees.  However, the desire to save is an important objective. It is vital that international educators make the most of working overseas from a career perspective, but also for financial benefit.

By providing an occupational plan, you can offer a simple and easy way to save as well as tailor it to your requirements.  So what does that mean?  The rules can be customised for international school management. The options allow you to: 

·   Decide who can join the plan

·   Provide an employer contribution but have different percentages for different categories of staff, to reward loyalty and seniority.

·   Provide a “signing on/contract completion” bonus.

·   Ensure employees finish their first contract or serve an amount of time before they receive the rights to any employer contribution/bonus value. 

·   Limit access to any employer contributions until they leave employment or retire, so they have a meaningful benefit when they leave.

·   Allow employees to make additional savings safely and easily via payroll at no extra cost.   This can be used for short to medium-term goals such as house purchase, marriage, education or hardship.

·   Allow local employees an easy and cheap way to save in international currency.

The good news is that the costs are simple and transparent and they can be paid by the international school, the employee or shared.

Easy to Administer

We know how busy international school boards and admin are.  Therefore Sovereign will use its expertise to learn what you want to achieve and build the plan to suit your requirements.  We’ll do all the heavy lifting, so you don’t have to.

·   We’ll deliver a co-branded employee booklet tailored to your membership

·   Deliver launch presentations to engage the population

·   Provide institutional class funds by Vanguard, Fidelity, iShares/Blackrock that are ESG focused where possible.

·   Provide a secure portal, so the members can self-serve thereby reducing traffic to HR

·   The good news is that HR only has to upload basic new joiner information.  Our system will automatically engage the employee.  HR will also need to upload a contribution file and send one lump sum payment at the frequency agreed.

·   Members and HR can view and export their information.

So as you can see: simple, effective and secure.  Check out the International Schools case study: International Solutions – The Sovereign Group

Why not act now and get the process started by contacting (Mrs) Jo Smeed on jsmeed@sovereigngroup.com

Jo Smeed has spent 25 years providing international retirement & savings schemes to employers of all sizes, locations and sectors and brings her expertise and experience to deliver the optimum solution.

The Sovereign Group is a global company with over 20 offices around the world. 

This is a sponsored article submitted to ISC via Sovereign Group.

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Top 10 reasons why attending an international school recruitment fair is super fun!

January 15, 2023


So many teachers that attend international school recruitment fairs say that they are stressful and a pain. Others say that they are like meat markets. With many directors walking around and potentially sleeping in the next room to you, it is indeed hard to get a good night’s sleep while staying at the hosting hotel of the recruitment fair.  Nervous and sleep-deprived candidates…not fun.

On the other hand, there is a group of international school teachers that enjoy attending the fairs. Yes, that’s right. They look forward to and actually have a great time there.

So, what are the top 10 reasons why attending an international school recruitment fair is super fun? Maybe you can relate to some of these!

#1 – Getting to network with other international school teachers.

Sometimes it is all who you know at the fairs. It is fun chatting with and getting to know some of the other candidates at the fair. Networking with as many teachers as you can surely help you to get your foot in the door. Maybe you will meet somebody who has the right connection and can introduce you to some of your top schools.

#2 – Getting inspired by others to move to countries you never even thought you would go to.

A few years back, at the UNI fair, there was a panel of veteran international school teachers telling their stories of working abroad and answering questions from the audience. Almost all of them had worked in a country that they hadn’t really seriously considered during their job search. All of them said that they were so happy to have taken that chance because they all had such wonderful experiences. You might say that being in the international school community is all about taking chances and risks about living in foreign lands. It is exciting to hear from other international school teachers about their experiences in countries you don’t know about and haven’t visited.

#3 – It is like Christmas morning when you go and check your “mailbox” folder in the candidates’ room.

The candidates’ room. So many nerves and so many folders!  It is easy to get butterflies in your stomach as you enter the room. As you get closer and closer to the tables with the ‘mailbox’ folders, you get more and more excited and nervous. You find the row of folders that start with the first letter of your last name. Opening your folder and seeing one note from a school is cool enough, but seeing notes from three, four or even more schools in your folder, now that is a good feeling. Checking your folder becomes an addiction during the fair, as you find yourself checking it multiple times throughout the day.

#4 – Pretending you are interested in a school by going to their informational session.

Even if you know a school does not have a position for you to interview for, it is fun to just go to their informational session anyway. Sure, the other people in the session might be actually interviewing with the school later on at the fair, but do not let that get you down. There might be a position for you down the road at this school, so keep a positive attitude and sit back and enjoy learning about a school that you might work at in the future!  It is fun to fantasize and pretend about these potential future schools for you.

#5 – Getting surprised, in a good way, that a school you are interested in actually has a position for you!

Thinking you know all the available positions at the schools attending the fair is a first-timers mistake. Anything can happen at the fair and things change fast. It is guaranteed that there will be last-minute vacancies that come up for many schools. So, make sure you check the master list of vacancies (if that is what your recruitment fair has) or take a close look at the posters behind each school at the round-robin sessions because there might just be a vacancy for you that pops up last minute.

#6 – Having intense dreams each night while you sleep, dreaming about what could be.

Yes, it is hard to get a good night’s sleep during the recruitment fair. But, the dreams you have are intense and exciting. Having a dream about your top choice can be just what you need to help you make the best decision. You might even have a great dream about another school you are interested in, moving it closer to the top of your list. It is true though that you cannot choose the schools or countries you dream about when you go to sleep at the fair. So, if you do have a dream about a school/country, it might be your subconscious telling you which school to seriously consider signing a contract with.

#7 – Making some pros and cons lists about the schools you are interested in.

You need to know you are making the right choice at the fair; if you are lucky enough to get multiple offers in which you are interested. When you make a pros and cons list of each of the schools you are considering, you get to think about your future life there. Fantasizing about you living with the school’s salary and benefits is what all international school teachers like to think and talk about. Additionally, you will be writing down the pros and cons of life working at that school itself, your actual job. The pros in that list could truly be the changes you have been looking for in your next school.

#8 – Getting to wear your dressy interview clothes.

Most teachers only get to wear their interview clothes once every 3-6 years. During the years while working at your current international school, there is typically not an appropriate time to wear them. Well, it is true that at some British international schools, you need to wear a suit and tie during parent conferences, etc. Maybe you are lucky enough to live in a country where you can easily and cheaply get some new interview clothes made for you at the local fabric market. How nice to show up at the recruitment fair with a custom-designed suit made specifically just for you. Nice interview clothes that you feel good in are important. You will be at your best (at the fair) when you are wearing clothes that make you feel comfortable and help you be yourself.

#9 – Enjoying the host city of the recruitment fair (who doesn’t want to go for a long weekend to Boston, London, Bangkok, etc.?)

It is true, you do not have that much free time to enjoy the host city of the recruitment fair. Most of your time is spent in your hotel room researching cities, countries, and schools. It is good though to take some time to get away from the fair. Get out of the recruitment fair hotel and explore the city a bit! Each recruitment fair is hosted in a cool city that most people would actually plan vacations at, so get out and have a nice dinner or take a walk around some cool neighborhoods. Maybe you have some family or friends that live there that you can hang out with as well. It is nice to have a good friend or family member there so that you have somebody to talk to about all the happenings at the fair that day.

#10 – Signing a contract on the first day of the fair and just enjoying the rest of your time at the fair.

Yes, these candidates exist. They interviewed with a number of schools before the recruitment fair even started. Once at the fair, they have that final interview and sign the contract shortly after, sometimes on the first day of the fair. Signing a contract with a school that you are seriously interested on the first day of the recruitment fair is a dream come true for most candidates. It definitely gets a load off your chest. You can just sit back and enjoy the rest of the fair and your time at the hotel and in the host city. It is still good to hang out around the fair though so that you can continue networking. You might just meet some people that have worked at the school you just signed a contract with, and they can give you all the insider information about your new school (hopefully mostly good things!).

This top 10 list was submitted to us by a guest author and International School Community member. All guest authors to the ISC blog get one free year of premium membership to our website. Email us if you have a top 10 list idea and would like it to be highlighted on our blog!

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ICT for Learner Autonomy at International Schools

January 8, 2023


Are you looking to increase learner autonomy in your English language classroom? Integrating technology, specifically ICT (Information and Communication Technology), may be the way to go.

Studies have shown that when students have access to ICT in the learning environment, they have more control over their own learning process. They are able to monitor their progress, identify their learning needs, and construct their own knowledge based on the information available. This can lead to a more positive approach toward learning and increased efficiency in the learning environment.

Here are a few more examples of using ICT to enhance learner autonomy:

  1. Online language learning platforms: There are many websites and apps, such as Duolingo, Babbel, and Rosetta Stone, that offer interactive language-learning activities, such as vocabulary drills, grammar exercises, and listening comprehension practice. These resources allow students to work at their own pace and track their progress.
  2. Virtual language exchange programs: Tandem, HelloTalk, and ConversationExchange are platforms that match students with native speakers of the language they are learning, allowing them to practice speaking and listening skills through live conversations. This can be a great way for students to take control of their own language learning and engage in authentic communication.
  3. Collaborative document editing: Tools like Google Docs allow students to work on writing projects together in real time, regardless of their physical location. This allows for peer editing and feedback, as well as the opportunity for students to take on different roles and responsibilities within the group.
  4. Podcasts and video lectures: Students can use their own devices to access recorded lectures or podcasts on a variety of language learning topics. YouTube and iTunes are both great sources for language learning podcasts and video lectures, such as The English We Speak and BBC Learning English. This gives students the freedom to review the material at their own pace and revisit specific sections as needed.

However, it’s important to note that many students may not be familiar with using ICT resources for language learning. That’s why it’s important for teachers to provide orienting activities, such as introductions to the ICT tools and instructional objectives, to guide students through the learning process and reduce anxiety.

It’s also crucial that the use of ICT is relevant to the students’ needs and interests. Both teachers and students must be willing to adopt new roles and use technology appropriately in order to truly benefit from technology-based learning activities.

In conclusion, incorporating ICT into your language learning curriculum can be a great way to increase learner autonomy. Just make sure to provide the necessary support and structure to ensure a smooth and effective learning experience.

This article was submitted by Ayoub Chaouch, a teacher with 6 years of experience in teaching English, history, and geography at primary and secondary education levels.

He is currently working at Shenzhen Chenghan Experimental School in Shenzhen, China as a Secondary Education High School Geography and History Teacher and Middle School English and Language Arts Teacher. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Management at Keele University.

His skills include lesson planning, facilitating engaging classroom discussions, helping students improve their language skills, and evaluating student progress through assessments. He is skilled at guiding and counseling students with academic problems or special academic interests. You can reach him at ayoub.chaouch@live.com

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Ten Commandments of Relocating Overseas

Ten Commandments of Relocating Overseas #5: Strengthen and Maintain your Enthusiasm

January 1, 2023


Look for ways to strengthen and maintain your enthusiasm.

We all have been there before; alone in your new apartment, not wanting to go out onto the street to the nearby market, not wanting to be confronted with a bunch of people that are speaking a language you don’t understand, feeling tired all the time and wanting to sleep through your whole weekend, etc.

It takes some mental toughness to get your spirits up again, to grasp at a tiny bit of enthusiasm when you are knee-deep in culture shock emotions. If this is your third international school, you might have said to yourself, “this time it is going to be different. I am going to accept people’s offers of invitation to go out around the town. I am going to be more positive and active during the first 3-6 months after I arrive.”

Sometimes it feels like every other new teacher at your school is full of enthusiasm and you are the only one not feeling that way. However, it is true that all new teachers go through this tough stage of culture shock, which is trying to stay positive about your situation and keeping an upbeat attitude about the host country and culture.

Ways to increase and maintain your enthusiasm:

• Invite some of the new teachers out for a drink at a bar in town, for a walk around the nearby park, for some dinner over at your new apartment, etc..

• Join a meetup.com group in your host city. There are many groups on that website from all over the world. Sometimes it is good to just get away from your work colleagues and meet some other expats in other industries.

• Start up a blog about all your new experiences living abroad. Keeping your friends and family up to date with all your new experiences can be quite motivating, and your friends and family look forward to your new entries and enjoy hearing about all your adventures.

• Make sure you have some of your favorite TV programs to watch on your computer. We have all experienced in at least one of the host cities we’ve lived in the long wait time that there can be when getting internet installed in your new apartment. Having some TV programs or favorite movies to watch in the meantime can definitely keep your enthusiasm from dipping too low.

• Make sure you don’t pass up your first travel opportunity on the school calendar. Looking online for flights to new destinations can really boost your enthusiasm for the expat life that you have chosen for yourself. If you are not feeling like traveling, just start asking the other teachers at your school where they might be going. Once you hear where they are going, you will for sure want to get on the bandwagon and get your trip planned as well.

• Before you move, make sure to pack some of your favorite home country food products. When you have a day that you are feeling down, you can get one of these products out for dinner. Having some familiar foods can really make you feel back on track. It might just be too much of a shock to your system to only be eating the host country’s cuisine.

Does anybody have any more good ideas for keeping up your enthusiasm? There are many more for sure. Just try and keep in mind the reason that you decided to take on this new challenge and change in your life. The life of an expat is indeed quite nice, but it is not full of wonderful moments all the time. International school teachers need to be prepared to handle these tough situations we experience every once in a while when our enthusiasm for this lifestyle temporarily dims.

This article was submitted anonymously by an ISC member.

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