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Oh, if we were to have all the insider information before signing a contract with an international school that has just offered you a job. In theory, knowing the insider information about working at a specific school could be a game-changer and definitely help you make a more informed decision.
There are so many international schools in the world. Each international school is in a different situation. Even if you try and keep the most up-to-date by reading every review about the school that you can get your eyes on, it is difficult to know exactly what it is really like to work there.
But, the more you know, the better. Or is it that the less you know, the better? Our guess though is that most teachers recruiting to work at international schools want to know as much information (good or bad) as possible; with a preference for firsthand information.
How then can you get this insider information? One of the best ways is to have some communication with a veteran international school teacher. If you are already a veteran international school teacher yourself, it shouldn’t be so hard to find somebody who knows somebody who has worked at a certain international school. The longer you stay in the international school community, the number of connections that you dramatically increases.
Once you find a good connection, he/she is more than willing to share with you what they know and answer your burning questions. The connection shares about what life is like living in the city, all the ins and outs of what it is like working at the school, how the money situation is along with all the other benefits (or lack of benefits), etc.
It would appear that there is actually an endless list of insider information topics. This connection will most likely also tell you answers to questions that you never even had thought to ask. The more information the connection shares with you, the more at ease (or nervous) you become. It definitely feels good to finally get some answers from real people who have recently worked there.
But for the newbies, who don’t know many (if any) international school teachers yet, it would appear they have a much more difficult task of getting this insider information. Maybe they can try to get some insider information at the recruitment fair that they might have attended. There are always other candidates that are walking around the hotel common areas. These newbies might even try to start chatting with some of the administration from the other schools. You would be surprised how much the administration enjoys talking about these insider information topics as well.
If there is one thing that is certain, people in the international school community love talking about the schools they currently work at or have worked at in the past. Insider information is what we want to know and what we are all craving to know.
Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to figuring out some of this insider information about working at certain international schools, so you can stay the most informed as possible. It is called: “What insider information would you give to a teacher considering working at this school?“
Our veteran international school teachers have submitted a total of 611 comments on this comment topic (April 2023). Here are a few that have been submitted:
“The secondary is laid back and you will enjoy it if you have good classroom management. There won’t be much actual support from the admin regarding discipline. The elementary is micro-managed, meeting-heavy and overloaded.” – American International School (Abu Dhabi) (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) – 97 Total Comments
“One important thing to note right now is that the primary and middle school principals are leaving at the end of this year, and the director and the high school principal are leaving at the end of the next school year. So, there will be a complete changeover of admin staff in the next year or so. There is no specific reason why these admins are leaving, just a coincidence that they are all leaving at the same time. Most of them have been at the school between 4-6 years.” – Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 419 Total Comments
“You are given a lot of autonomy to make it or break it in the classroom. The salary won’t make you rich, but you can live off it on a Mediterranean island for a couple of years. There’s always something to complain about, and the facilities are sometimes more functional than glamorous, but all these reflect the island itself. You’re given everything you need to do a great job and the kids appreciate it.” – Verdala International School (Pembroke, Malta) – 22 Total Comments
“The locals are mostly friendly but yes, experience living in developing countries is important before coming here. Teachers who came without that ended up breaking contract more often than the school likes to admit.” – Khartoum International Community School (Khartoum, Sudan) – 229 Total Comments
“Staff who come from British state schools love it! Staff who come from other international schools are… surprised. Learning Portuguese will massively improve your quality of life because your health care app and banking app (for example) is not in English.” – St. Paul’s School (Sao Paulo, Brazil) – 45 Total Comments
“The community is great and supportive. For teachers, collaboration and teamwork are essential here. Most teachers are willing to help and support other new teachers when needed. Staffs are very helpful and resourceful too.” – Raffles American School (Johor, Malaysia) – 33 Total Comments
“The salary is comparatively lower than anywhere else, while the incompetence of the administrative departments (including the Head of School) will frustrate you when needing support both inside and outside of the school. If you are passionate and sincere about your teaching vocation, rather consider alternative schools in Guangzhou.” – Utahloy International School (Zengcheng) (Zengcheng, China) – 134 Total Comments
“For the 2023-2024 school year, the Board of Directors has approved the following salary and benefits increases for all teachers.
• A 1% increase to the current base salary.
• An additional 30 OMR monthly WIFI stipend (per household)
• A 5 OMR per month, increase for utilities (per household)
• An additional 5 OMR per month, for travel allowance (per person)
• An additional 6% (avg) per month, increase for housing allowance (per household)” – American British Academy (Muscat, Oman) – 65 Total Comments
“If you need an international school experience, that could be the start, but definitely does not provide much room for professional development.” – GEMS International School (Al Khail) (Dubai, United Arab Emirates) – 89 Total Comments
“Ensure that your own personal philosophy aligns with that of the school. Educators here are nurturing a generation of activists that will be ready to make a change. Before you join, perhaps ensure you are ready to go full steam ahead! I would suggest reviewing the school website at www.unishanoi.org as well as the International Baccalaureate at www.ibo.org.” – United Nations International School (Hanoi) (Hanoi, Vietnam) – 132 Total Comments
“You will live with your coworkers in a fishbowl-type environment. If you value privacy, I would consider looking somewhere else. Most teachers aren’t very competitive, so it’s easy to stand out and gain more responsibilities if you work hard. It’s a very, very small school, so class sizes are usually manageable. Teams are only made up of only a few people, usually something like two teachers per team. Internet and technology are unreliable, as is electricity. As with all postings in West Africa, malaria is a real threat. It is not easy to travel within or outside of Nigeria. Safety is a big issue for domestic travel, and traveling outside of the country, even to neighboring countries, is very expensive.” – American International School of Lagos (Lagos, Nigeria) – 43 Total Comments