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What reasons do parents think about when selecting a school for their children when they move abroad? Are there similar reasons why teachers choose to work at a 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 school is linked to other international schools? It could be beneficial to ask these types of questions at your interview before you make any big decisions to move or choose a school to work at. So, how do you choose the right international school for your children to attend or for you to work at? This blog series will discuss the Tips for Selecting an International School.
Tip #6 – How well is the school linked to other international schools?
Not all international schools are well-linked to other international schools. Some international schools tend to just do things on their own. The teachers at those schools typically don’t have much contact with teachers at other international schools. Sometimes even in a huge city like Shanghai, where there are quite a few international schools, there are smaller schools that just seem to be doing things by themselves and on their own with minimal contact with other schools in the area. The teachers there can become quite content to be on their own and find themselves forgetting that they could be doing more collaboration with other international schools in their city.
These ‘less-connected’ schools could very well be for-profit schools. Some for-profit international schools have strict or no allowances for teachers to network or attend conferences and workshops for international schools in their area. Because the school doesn’t encourage this type of connection to the wider international school community, then the teachers there ‘lose touch’ a bit with how other schools are doing things or tackling similar problems. It is easy to just get used to being isolated and to doing things on your own; forgetting how much collaborating with nearby international schools could be beneficial and important for your career.
Not all international school teachers would choose to work in less-connected schools. Many of us would not like to teach in isolation at an international school that is not well-linked to the wider international school community. We all know that networking and meeting more people in our international school community helps us learn more about what is going on at other schools; the current trends and best practices for working with third-culture kids.
Many international schools are quite well-connected and linked indeed. These international schools usually do many things to make sure their school is well known in the local and wider international school community. They might be providing generous PD funds to their teachers so that they can do and go to many events that can in turn help their staff and the school as a whole become more linked to other international schools. Some schools will send their teachers to check out a specific programme in person at another international school. Some of the best learning about teaching and running new programmes (or changing old ones) at your school can be had when you can get the opportunity to see how it looks in person at another international school that is already doing those things and having great success at them. Does your international school promote this type of PD for their staff?
International schools in the same city can either ignore each other as separate entities, or they can create ongoing PD moments between themselves and facilitate collaboration and sharing of skills and knowledge. It takes the effort of the administration, most likely, to get the ball rolling (and keep it rolling) so that international school teachers at each school get opportunities to meet, network, and work together on common goals. Do you have a good working relationship with the other international schools in your city?
Another way international schools can become well-linked is through the various sports leagues/organizations. When schools participate and compete with other international schools in their region of the world, their teachers and students become better connected with each other.
International schools can also become linked and connected via the various accreditation organizations that schools opt to become members of. For example, an international school that is a member of the ECIS organization provides certain privileges and opportunities for its teachers. Working at an international school that is not accredited can limit their opportunities to become linked to each other.
If you are an International School Community member currently working abroad, please log on today and submit your comments and information about your school and how it is linked (or perhaps not so well linked) to other international schools.
If you are not a member yet, make sure to join www.internationalschoolcommunity.com and become a part of our over 26000 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.