Member Spotlights

International School Community Member Spotlight #16: Patty Sanchez (An international teacher currently working at American School of Barcelona)

September 4, 2012


Every 1-2 months International School Community will highlight one of our members in our Member Spotlight feature.  This month we interviewed Patty Sanchez:

Tell us about your background.  Where are you from?

I come from California and moved to Barcelona 10 years ago with the sole intention of exposing myself to a new culture.  I landed my first job as a teacher two weeks after arriving in August 2001. I got really lucky to have found a job so soon after coming here without any contacts. It was an intense two years working at a private Catholic school while adapting to a culture I had read about in my college history classes.

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

After my second year I returned to California and taught ninth grade English. It was one my happiest years of teaching. I married my Catalan husband and returned to Spain and decided I would work in an international setting.

Which international schools have you worked at?  Please share some aspects of the schools that made them unique and fun places in which to work.

I currently work at The American School of Barcelona. It’s a great place to work because the school environment is friendly and many of the teachers become an extension of your family. The school is progressive in its plan to prepare students with a well rounded academic experience with social issues and with an academic future. It’s a school where students feel safe and capable to accomplish their future success as students. We have really great teachers leading students with the tools they need to reason and investigate information surrounding everyday issues.

Describe your latest cultural encounter in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.

At El Prat Airport in Barcelona immigration agents talked away while looking briefly at my passport and stamped it without saying anything to me. The agent just waved her hand gesturing I could pass to baggage claims. This would never happen in America. Agents in the U.S. quiz you about your city of birth, your middle name, your whereabouts, etc., until you start squirming and wonder if you indeed are American.

What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?

If I had to look for a job in a new country, I would take into account salary and the location of the school. Is it in a safe area? Can I have a normal life outside of school? How much is the cost of living? Can I afford to live on my own on the salary I would be earning? Can I afford to travel after rent and utility bills? These would be the questions to take into account if you are looking to live abroad.

In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?

Make the best of it.

Thanks Patty! Also, check out her blog about her travels and life living abroad as an expat here.

If you are a member of International School Community and would like to be our next member spotlight, contact us here.  If we choose to highlight you, you will get a coupon code to receive 6 months free of premium access to our website!

Want to teach at an international school in Spain like Patty?  Currently, we have 25 international schools listed in Spain on International School Community.  Many of the international schools there have had comments and information submitted about them on our website:

American School of Barcelona (79 Comments)
Benjamin Franklin Int’l School (13 Comments)
American School Valencia (7 Comments)
Sotogrande International School (6 Comments)
British School of Alicante (3 Comments)
El Plantio International School Valencia (4 Comments)
King’s College – The British School of Madrid (3 Comments)

continue reading

Information for Members

Top 40 International Schools with the Most ISC Members (UPDATE)

February 27, 2022


How many times have you applied to a school wishing that you knew somebody that worked there?

Knowing somebody and getting the ‘inside scoop’ on an international school could definitely help you in your quest to set up an interview there.

At International School Community, we made that search for ‘informed people’ even easier with our Top 40 Schools with the Most Members page.

Currently, our top 40 international schools with the most members are (6 December 2020):

30 members – American International School in Egypt

28 members International School of Kuala Lumpur
27 members – Copenhagen International School
25 members – International School Manila
24 members – MEF International School Istanbul
23 members – Western International School of Shanghai
21 members – Fairview International School
21 members – Brent International School Manila

21 members – Seoul Foreign School
21 membersAmerican International School (Vietnam)
21 members – American School Foundation of Mexico City
20 membersInternational School Dhaka
20 members – International School of Tanganyika
19 members – Jakarta Intercultural School
19 members – Seoul International School
19 members – Graded School Sao Paulo
18 members – Shanghai United International School (Hongqiao)

18 members – Shanghai Community International School
18 members – American School of Barcelona
18 membersAga Khan Academy Mombasa
17 members – Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Astana
17 members – Qatar Academy (Doha)
17 members – International School Panama
17 membersPathways World School
17 membersInternational School of Phnom Penh (ISPP)
17 members – American International School of Johannesburg
17 members – International School Bangkok
17 membersGood Shepherd International School
17 members – Singapore American School

17 membersAmerican International School Dhaka
16 members – United Nations International School (Vietnam)
16 members – Cairo American College
16 membersSuzhou Singapore International School
16 membersWestern Academy of Beijing
16 members NIST International School
16 membersAnglo-American School of Moscow

15 membersCanadian International School (Singapore)
15 membersAmerican School of Kuwait
15 membersChadwick International School – Songdo
15 members – American School of Bombay

With 100-200 new members joining each month, this list will continue to grow and grow; with even more members showing up as potential people to network with.

It is simple to network on our website: just click on a member and then click on the ‘Contact this member’ button (premium member feature).  Then write him/her a message.  When your message is sent, the other member will get an email alert letting them know that they have a new message waiting for them on our website (so, hopefully he/she/they will get back to you in a timely manner!). Numerous International School Community members have already taken advantage of this unique feature on our website!

international schools

As far as we know, International School Community is one of the only websites where you can quickly and easily network with real people at a specific international school.  Meaning, if you want to get in touch with somebody from Suzhou Singapore International School in China and you are currently a premium member of International School Community, you now have 16 members that you can contact on our website that either work there now or have worked there in the past.  Get the answers to your questions; now that is easy networking!

continue reading

Information for Members

Top 27 International Schools With the Most Comments on ISC

May 9, 2021


Now there are 1171+ international schools that have had comments/reviews submitted on them on our website (up almost 60 schools from one year ago)!

Once schools have over 70 submitted comments, then it is very likely that you will be able to see how a specific comment topic has changed (or not changed) over time; with all the comments being date stamped.

Western International School of Shanghai  (481 total comments)

If there is more than one comment in a specific comment topic, the more recent comments either add on, compliment or amend the previous comments.

Some of our schools that have many submitted comments will sometimes have over 15 comments in one comment topic!

Copenhagen International School (391 total comments)

Just click on the “Show all” link to see the complete history of comments in this comment topic.

So let’s get to it, which schools are in the top 27? This list comes from May 2021 with a sample comment for each school.

Here we go:

27. American School of Warsaw
(Warsaw, Poland) – 161 Comments
“Since housing isn’t provided by the school, you get a lot of leeway in terms of what kind of accommodations you choose and whether you keep within your housing allowance or “top up” for a bigger/nicer/better place. As such, how well-appointed your apartment or hou…

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

26. Vietnam Australia International School
(Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) – 161 Comments
“Housing allowance up to 500 $ per month. Internet up to 40$ per month. The monthly allowance varies in relation to the qualifications of each teacher between 350-500 $ per month…”

25. Pechersk School International
(Kyiv, Ukraine) – 162 Comments
“Apartments are furnished by landlords so it can vary – but generally pretty basic. School gave me a metro card and a SIM card and phone til I sorted out my own…”

24. MEF International School Istanbul
(Istanbul, Turkey) – 162 Comments
“Teacher turnover is high. Everything from 1st-year teachers, teachers new to being overseas, to very experienced international educators. Living in Istanbul is a big draw…”

23. Canadian International School (Hong Kong)
(Hong Kong, China) – 165 Comments
“CDNIS is an IB World School, implementing PYP, MYP, and DP. In a recent report by the IB governing body, CDNIS must make major administrative and governing reforms in the next year…”

22. American School of Dubai
(Dubai, UAE) – 167 Comments
“Lately a number of teachers are heading to places like Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. They report great experiences! Oman remains the number one travel option, however, as it is right next door (door to door to Muscat is around the five hour mark) and has lots of great outdoor…”

21. Green School Bali
(Sibang, Indonesia) – 168 Comments
“As time has gone by the new airport has gotten better and better. Lots of eating options, good duty free, loads of places to sit. Departing is fairly straightforward. Check in, customs (who don’t care about your liquids as long as their not large), immigration, th…”

20. International School of Tanganyika
(Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) – 171 Comments
“The IT infrastructure has improved significantly but is still not without its challenges. Internet speed is reasonably fast, much much better than it used to be. All teachers are provided with a Macbook. At secondary, there are 4 computer labs. The science department has 25 m…”

Barcelona, Spain

19. American School of Barcelona
(Barcelona, Spain) – 175 Comments
“The turnover rate is getting a bit higher because the cost of living in Spain is getting higher and higher and salaries are staying the same. Economically it is difficult in Spain right now. That being said Barcelona is a fantastic city to live in and no one wants to leave…”

18. Concordia International School (Shanghai)
(Shanghai, China) – 180 Comments
“The ‘common language spoken in the hallways’ depends on the grade level. Students who are only 3 or 4 might not have a lot of English. As the students get older, they are quite skilled in English…”

17. The International School of Dakar
(Dakar, Senegal) – 181 Comments
“Very low turnover this year but we had a large turnover the previous year. Teachers tend to stay 3-4 years but some have stayed much longer…”

16. Tsinghua International School (Beijing)
(Beijing, China) – 182 Comments
“There is a new airport going in south of Beijing to relieve the traffic at the main airport…”

15. Khartoum International Community School
(Khartoum, Sudan) – 186 Comments
“Teachers stay because they feel appreciated, their voices are heard, and they get to make a difference. Teachers leave because it’s not…”

Lisbon, Portugal

14. Oeiras International School
(Lisbon, Portugal) – 189 Comments
“Back in the re-accreditation mode again with the self study this year. The visit will be a joint visit next year with IB, ECIS and NEASC…”

13. Lahore American School
(Lahore, Pakistan) – 193 Comments
“1/2 of the teachers are from North America and 1/2 from Pakistan, a few from UK…”

12. Seoul Foreign School
(Seoul, South Korea) – 193 Comments
“Tutoring through the school is available if it is not your student. The school takes a portion leaving you with about $20 for 30 minutes of tutoring. Coaching stipends from $350-900 and lifeguarding at the school pool can bring in 25-45 dollars an hour.”

11. Cairo American College
(Cairo, Egypt) – 196 Comments
“The subway costs 2 Egyptian pounds per ride. Taxis vary, since you might have to haggle. Many people at the school use a regular driver. The one I use charges less than 200 Egyptian pounds for a trip to the airport, which is about an hour away…”

10. Ghandi Memorial International School
(Jakarta, Indonesia) – 203 Comments
“Bahasa Indonesia is the official language, with English spoken in major cities and tourist areas…”

9. American International School (Vietnam)
(Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) – 207 Comments
“Now, it is extensive as it has not been done at all. Atlas Rubicon full steam ahead…”

8. Tarsus American College
(Mersin, Turkey) – 272 Comments
“Down to two weeks of holiday in January. No other breaks and we’ve been told that in addition to losing our fall and spring breaks for intensive staff development other PD will be held on weekends…”

Bangkok, Thailand

7. NIST International School
(Bangkok, Thailand) – 304 Comments
“With the start of construction on the street the school is located on, the entire schedule has shifted to a later start. Elementary students begin at 8:00 and secondary students at 8:30. So far the response has been overwhelmingly positive…”

6. Stamford American International School 
(Singapore, Singapore) – 307 Comments
“The school is the northeast corner of Singapore with very easy access to the city center. Staff can choose their own accommodation location based on their financial and lifestyle preferences. Most teachers live 2-3 MRT (underground) stations away. Public transport is excellent…”

5. Singapore American School
(Singapore) – 311 Comments
“Transport options are good. The taxi queue right outside of arrivals can be long at times, but the system works well to get people moving as fast as possible…”

4. KIS International School
(Bangkok, Thailand) – 358 Comments
“Using a mobile is now so cheap that many teachers do not have a landline. The Satellite TV provider is dreadful, neither their offerings nor their boxes have changed in 20 years. If you want to watch sport most teachers just go to the pub…”

3. Copenhagen International School
(Copenhagen, Denmark) – 391 Comments
“You can get travelers and accident insurance from your bank here, like at Nordea. It is really cheap and it gives you health insurance coverage anywhere in the world! It is important to know about this option because now the Danish CPR health social health care card doesn’t…”

2. Good Shephard International School
(Ooty, India) – 409 Comments
“Presently they are having their Trinity College London Music Examinations. This is an option but they try to maintain high grades although most students only take Initial to Grade 1 due to restrictions of the admin to practice music…”

1. Western International School of Shanghai
(Shanghai, China) – 481 Comments
“Airport is okay. It’s clean and easy to navigate. Immigration can take a long time to get through at peak times during the year but it’s okay. They have water fountains, which as a frequent traveler I really appreciate…”

You can see the rest of the Top 40 school profile pages with the most comments here on our website.

Keep the schools that you work at now (or have worked at in the past) updated with new comments. Want to share what you know and get unlimited free premium access to our website? Become a Mayor today!

continue reading

Information for Members

12 Submitted Comments About the “Awesome” Parts of Working at International Schools

March 17, 2019


International School Community is full of tens of thousands of useful, informative comments…31058 comments (17 March 2019) to be exact.

Members are recommended to keep their comments objective on our website and share what they know about what it is like working at a specific international school.

We scoured our database of comments, and we found 12 that stood out to us as being some of the most interesting and useful ones related to the “awesome” parts of working at international schools from across the globe.

12. PARENTS ONLY – General comments from parents of students that go to this school. How was your child’s education and socialisation at the school?

“The preschool is fantastic. Teachers and assistants were excellent and our child learned a huge amount! One memorable field trip was to the local international airport where students visited the traffic control tower and got to role play…pretty awesome.” – MC School (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) – 49 Comments

11. Describe the different aspects of the school building and the school grounds. Also, describe the surrounding area around the campus.

“The new Middle School is up and running! It’s pretty awesome. Lots of open spaces, a rooftop terrace, an auditorium, big classrooms with whiteboard walls that you can write all over. Amphitheater is also very nice, great during the spring and fall for reading outside.” – American School of Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain) – 165 Comments

10. What does the school do to create a harmonious state of well-being and high morale amongst its staff?

“We just had three weeks of mindfulness, with lots of different classes offered, including free massage at school. It was awesome! School year begins with a Karaoke night, where everyone joins in, local expat, support staff, everyone, it is fun. There are staff spirit days, we just had an amazing Christmas party and THEN a Christmas lunch. There is a system for nominating who did a great job and the names are put into the hats for prizes. At the end of this term we all received a blue tooth travel speaker and a portable drink cup, everyone not just teachers, I like that. Plus everyone is just nice to each other at work, its is happy place” – KIS International School (Bangkok) (Bangkok, Thailand) – 296 Comments

9. Name your favorite restaurants, favorite places to go to and favorite things to do in the city.

“If you want to have some tasty dumplings, I suggest to go to Chao Chao Sanjo Kiyamachi. It is a small restaurant and full of tourists, but still the food is fast and good. There are so many temples/shrines to see here. Many of them are going up the nearby mountain side. There is such beautiful nature there with amazing trees everywhere. In the spring, it is awesome and in the fall it can be very gorgeous.” – Kyoto International School (Kyoto, Japan) – 55 Comments

8.Describe the city’s weather at different times of the year.

“It is the beginning of June at the moment and the weather can’t be any better. It is sunny and warm basically every day. It is awesome. You can go out and enjoy the outdoor areas of the city. The high is in the upper 20s during the day with minimal breeze in the air. You can definitely walk around in sandals and shorts/t-shirt. Though once the sun finally goes down (like around 10pm), then it is good to have a light jacket to wear or a long sleeved shirt if you are walking around the city.” – International School of the Gothenburg Region (Gothenburg, Sweden) – 6 Comments

7. In general, why are people staying at or leaving this school?

“Staying because some people find an awesome niche in Berlin’s counterculture, or because they’ve had kids here and they’ve set up a nice suburban life near school. Leaving because some departments have disorganized, antiquated approaches, or because the school can ask for too much at times (learning to set limits is important as an employee here.)” – Berlin Brandenburg International School (Berlin, Germany) – 80 Comments

6. Describe the technologies available at the school and how people are/are not using them.

“Each classroom in grades 4-5 has their own classroom set of ipads and own classroom set of Chromebooks. It is awesome!” – Anglo American School of Sofia (Sofia, Bulgaria) – 49 Comments

5. Describe the different aspects of the school building and the school grounds. Also, describe the surrounding area around the campus.

“We have moved into our new building/campus. It is truly unbelievable. It is so huge! It can take like 20 minutes or more to walk from one tower to the other tower at the other end of the building. Being on the water is so beautiful. The sunrises and sunsets are just so awesome. With the big windows in every room, there is always a good view to look at. The kids are getting distracted by the huge ships docking and going past, so we’ll see how that continues or stops in the near future.” – Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 345 Comments

4. 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?

“The school has an awesome location in Seoul — 20 minutes from downtown, but there is tons to do in our own neighborhood too. Most teachers live in on-campus housing which is maintained by the school and quite nice. Walking to school from on campus housing takes about 5 minutes or less depending on which building you live in. One of the largest faculty housing units had to be demolished for the construction of the new high school (scheduled to be completed in 2018). Those faculty members have been displaced to the nearby Grand Hilton. The apartment units over there are quite nice and the school runs two shuttles from the hotel to school in the morning and in the afternoon (at different times). The hotel is about a 20-30 minute walk from school and a 5 -10 minute taxi ride. Many teachers also ride bikes or scooters from Hilton to school.” – Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea) – 147 Comments

3. Name your favorite restaurants, favorite places to go to and favorite things to do in the city.

“I haven’t been to many restaurants, but I like Rolly’s stake house. The atmosphere is awesome, food is great (they also have salads if you are vegetarian, but meet is main meal there 🙂 Also there is a really nice restaurant on Uetliberg, with the great city view, that is one of my favorite spots in Zurich. Also ride on the lake is really beautiful.” – Inter-community School Zurich (Zurich, Switzerland) – 69 Comments

2. Describe the different aspects of the school building and the school grounds. Also, describe the surrounding area around the campus.

“The school building location is awesome. The surrounding area is amidst a row of other like buildings, some residential and some other businesses. The whole area is quite nicely manicured in terms of gardens and the upkeep on the other buildings. It doesn’t necessarily look like an entrance to a school (the door to ICS), and there is just a small sign on the door letting people know.” – International Community School London (London, England) – 49 Comments

1. How is this school different or the same when compared to schools in your home country?

“The teachers at the American School of Asuncion are great and work really hard. In general, it appears that the foreign staff work harder and put in longer hours than local teachers, but this is one perception. There are lots of extracurricular activities offered after school for students: chess, sports, photography, newspaper, student council, etc. In the elementary, the workload is awesome! Primary teachers only have about 4 hours of contact teaching time with the students each day. The rest of the time for students is spent in Specials and Spanish class. Middle and high school also have apple time to plan lessons and take a break between classes.” – American School of Asuncion (Asuncion, Paraguay) – 145 Comments

If you have an interesting and useful comment to add related to the awesome parts at your school that you would like to share, log in to International School Community and submit your comments. For every 10 submitted comments, you will get one month of free premium membership added to your account!

continue reading

Traveling Around

Traveling Around: Madrid (The life of an international school teacher is good!)

April 21, 2017


Traveling Around: Madrid

Madrid
Can you relate?

• Visiting a city that you once visited 20+ years ago, and not really exploring it again like you did back then. Awesome!
• Finally going somewhere to practice the language you actually can speak (well kind of fluently speak)
• Walking to go to the same store every day hoping that it would actually be open because you really want to buy something there.
• Traveling to a city during a time when the local culture is celebrating a big holiday; meaning that many of the stores and restaurants are not working during their normal working hours.

madrid 

• Walking through the streets of the city to get to a certain location and then running into a huge American food grocery store. It was closed when we walked by, but still don’t think that we would have actually gone in. They always seems to stock stores like these with weird and unhealthy products that I wouldn’t normally buy if I was still living in the USA.
• Thinking about checking out the nightlife in the city, but realizing how tired you are after dinner; tired from walking around all day. Even taking the bus and public transport for most of the day makes you tired. Being a tourist somehow does make people tired, even if they are not doing so much strenuous work.
• Going to the Retiro park to watch many locals enjoy the nice weather and the green areas, but then also watching the tourists just act loud basically destroying the peacefulness of being in the nature of the park!
• Realizing that in this city, it is important and almost standard to make reservations at a restaurant for lunch AND dinner times. Many of the restaurants are quite small, so this may be the contributing factor for making sure to book a table ahead of time.
• Not turning on the tv in our airbnb once to watch some local tv programs and commercials.
• Having a love/hate relationship with how the local buildings were constructed. I think they were built to keep people cool during the really hot months of summer. But in the colder weather, the lack of insulation really makes being in an apartment a really cold experience (even when it is also cold outside, so you can’t escape it!).
• Enjoying listening to Spaniards just discuss mundane topics at length. I’m sure people who are native speakers of English do this as well, but it does seem like Spanish people really like to talk about things in detail that I think really don’t need to be talked about that much.

 

• Going on a day tour to some nearby cities, like Segovia. Taking in all the beauty of the countryside and views of the hills and olive tree groves.
• Being very pleased with the local transportation options and their efficiency. Always nice to see people using it and it being dependable.
• Getting to the airport was so easy from where we were staying in the center of the city. If we lived in Madrid, it would be nice to have an option to get to the airport using public transportation that is cheap and quick.
• Watching and kind of participating in some local cultural traditions. We got to see some Easter processions in the street.
• Just enjoying walking the streets of the city and looking at the wonderful designs of the building facades of the apartment buildings there. I wish more cities would consider spending the extra money to make their city buildings beautiful to look at!

Currently we have 32 international schools listed in Spain on International School Community. 11 of them have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of those schools:

American School Madrid Spain, Madrid 65 (Total Comments) 3 (Members)
American School of Barcelona Spain, Barcelona 157 (Total Comments) 17 (Members)
American School of Bilbao Spain, Bilbao 44 (Total Comments) 1 (Members)
American School Valencia Spain, Valencia 21 (Total Comments) 0 (Members)
Benjamin Franklin Int’l School Spain, Barcelona 66 (Total Comments) 3 (Members)

If you are on a trip right now, away from your host country, write to us at admin@internationalschoolcommunity.com with your “Can you relate?” traveling experiences.  Tell us where you are traveling in the world, what you are seeing and how you are coping with any culture shock.  Once your Traveling Around experience is posted on our blog, International School Community will give you 6 free months of premium membership!

continue reading

Top 10 Lists

13 Insightful International School Interview Experiences Submitted by Our Members

October 21, 2016


International School Community is full of thousands of useful, informative comments…18371 comments (21 Oct. 2016) to be exact.

Members are recommended to keep their comments objective on our website. In one of the 65 comment topics, they are encouraged to share their international school interview experiences. How did it go? Was it easy to get? Recruitment fair or Skype? Was the experience positive or less than ideal?

interview

We scoured our database of comments, and we found 13 that stood out to us as being some of the most interesting and insightful interview experiences.

13. “The school has improved its hiring practices during the last few years. Now department heads sometimes get involved in hiring decisions. Don’t let the director’s lack of enthusiasm during an interview throw you off – that’s just his personality – and don’t believe anything that he promises you, unless it is writing.” – Internationale Schule Frankfurt-Rhein-Main (Frankfurt, Germany)33 Comments

12. “Speaking from the Director’s office, you need to have a focus on collaborative action toward mission. Knowing our mission and core values is key to interview for our team. While we are happy to train, we are also looking for good experience and foundation that will add to our body of expertise and keep us refreshed in best practice.” – Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia)66 Comments

11. “The school has not met any of my expectations in professionalism. Many of the things I was told in my interview turned out to be untrue. The fall of the peso has not been addressed by administration.” – Colegio Anglo Colombiano (Bogota, Colombia)32 Comments

interview

10. “Singapore age restrictions keep hiring (and renewals) under age 60. First round interview is typically done via Skype, but they want to do second round interviews in person, in Singapore or London.” – United World College South East Asia (Singapore, Singapore)6 Comments

9. “They rely a lot on hiring people who are recommended by current employees. You still go through the interview process, etc. My initial contact to the school was through a connection I had to somebody already working here.” – Yew Chung International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China)27 Comments

8. “Please be careful when considering to work at this school! I wasn’t and am in quite a fit now…. On May 5, 2014 I had a telephone interview with the director and the head of secondary. On May 30, 2014 I got a firm job offer for September 2014. We discussed several contract details via mail (school fees, moving allowance etc.) but I did not receive a formal contract. On June 11 I wrote an email asking for a contract copy. On June 13 the job offer was revoked, giving as a reason that “the position no longer exists on the curriculum plan, so we cannot proceed with the appointment”. Draw your own conclusions about the school’s level of commitment and organisation.” – British School of Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain)3 Comments

7.
“Face-to-face. As in most international school in Bangkok, it is much easier to get a job if you know someone on the inside of the school. The pay-scale is shrouded in secrecy (as in many schools here). The interview process is not that difficult, being from a native English-speaking country is a huge plus.” – Pan Asia International School (Bangkok, Thailand)38 Comments

6. 
“I was hired via Skype, as well. The interview was very informal but informative about the school and life Venezuela.” – Escuela Las Morochas (Ciudad Ojeda, Venezuela)28 Comments

5. “The school does not attend any fairs. Hiring is done via announcements on the school’s website. The hiring process is not quick. Expect to be interviewed, via Skype most likely, four times. Each interview is with a person a bit further up the food chain. At the moment Indonesia has an age cutoff of 60.” – Green School Bali (Denpasar, Indonesia)54 Comments

interview

4. “They do tend to hire internally a lot. The interview process is a bit intense with multiple interviews being set up for one person. They ask questions from a list. They are usually open to sponsoring visas for non EU candidates.” – International Community School London (London, United Kingdom)49 Comments

3. “I met with Julie Alder at the school campus because I was already in the city. I contacted them before I came and they were more than willing to give me a time and a place to meet and interview with me. The interview lasted 45 to 60 minutes. I also got to walk around and visit some classrooms.” – International School Singapore (Singapore, Singapore)17 Comments

2. “The school is quite small, so it doesn’t attend job fairs. I was interviewed by phone and got the job from there. I know they have also brought in teachers whom live nearby (within Western Europe) to interview them in person. Hiring restrictions: YES- they will now only hire people who have valid working papers to work in France. The school also now typically only employs expat teachers from the UK or within the EU. Many of the teachers who work at the school have a French spouse.” –International School of Lyon (Lyon, France)12 Comments

1. “I interviewed with the elementary principal this feb at the search associates fair in boston. She was very kind and sweet to me. The interview went very well, she was willing to allow me to lead the interview by showing her my portfolio. She was a very experienced teacher in the international school world. She was kind enough to send a note to me in my folder to let me know that I didn’t get the job, and she also highlighted somethings that I said in the interview. Very professional!” – American International School Bucharest (Bucharest, Romania)20 Comments

If you have an interesting and insightful international school interview experience that you would like to share, log in to International School Community and submit your comments. For every 10 submitted comments, you will get one month of free premium membership added to your account!

continue reading

Top 10 Lists

Nine Reasons How International Schools Create a High Morale Amongst its Staff

April 24, 2016


“Morale and attitude are fundamentals to success.”
Bud Wilkinson

A school can be a complicated place. There aren’t many jobs where you surround yourself with hundreds of children every day!

But like any other place of “business”, a school needs to have a think about how they will keep their staff feeling good about where they work and how they are doing their job.  We all know that teaching can, at times, be quite stressful on the teachers.

When you are feeling good about your workplace and job performance, everyone benefits; namely the students, but also your colleagues and bosses. But when teachers are stressed out and with a low morale about working at their school, typically nobody benefits.

4882106876_d8a2262314_z

You can, of course, be with high spirits on your own doing. But it is important to feel valued by the whole school community as that plays a factor as well. Feeling like you are part of a team can help you stay positive and optimistic at your school.

What, then, do international schools do to make sure their staff is feeling valued?

International School Community is full of thousands of useful and informative comments…16780 (24 Apr. 2016) to be exact. We scoured our database of comments, and we found nine that stood out to us as being some of the coolest ways to show appreciation and boost staff morale.

9. Khartoum International Community School (Khartoum, Sudan)65 Total Comments

“The school administration does a lot to make life easy for expats. They have put systems in place that make it very easy to live here and feel looked after. Along with the board they also put on big social events for teachers and staff at least once a semester (start of year / xmas party / end of year etc). There is a social committee as well which has organised coffee afternoons, Nile boat trips, picnics and so on. Truth to say the morale in the Senior Section has dipped in recent years but many of those who were not happy have now left so we are all hoping that things will now improve. Morale across the rest of the school is great.”

8. Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 202 Total Comments
“Welcome back brunch and lots of staff socials. Set up a Social Committee to feedback ideas to Director on all aspects of school. Director regularly thanks and acknowledges staff through e-mail and meetings. There have been 3 cases of surprise bonus’ paid to all staff as a thanks.”

6408795337_8ec50c3b87_z
7. Copenhagen International School
(Copenhagen, Denmark)282 Total Comments 
“One way to create some “social capital” at our school year this was to have a whole-staff scavenger hunt the first day back. It was VERY well received, and everyone had a great time. There were like 30 teams of 5-6 people and we all went around the city to collect items and/or take pictures of certain things, all for various amounts of points. Super fun! It was all organized by teachers actually.”

6. Yew Chung International School (Shanghai)
(Shanghai, China)27 Total Comments

“There is a social committee at this school and they arrange different activities for the teachers. Like one night could be bowling or everyone meet at a bar. The group tries to do something every month. A lot of people participate. There was also a karaoke night and laser tag.”

5. Kampala International School (Kampala, Uganda)50 Total Comments

“At the beginning of each school year, we go to a resort for an overnight training and social. There is a PD during the day, evening there is dinner and a band. The next more there is breakfast and maybe go for a swim in the pool. There has been training in from people abroad. Last year, it was somebody with pivotal education, Darryll.”

4. American School of Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain)157 Total Comments

“There was a social committee in place for a couple of years, but it was a volunteer position and the demands of it weren’t worth the time anymore. There is an HR person in place now who has set up a wine tasting and other events for staff. The staff tends to socialize quite a bit outside of school, even with kids! The school puts on holiday parties and festive lunches around holidays, though not extravagant, most of the food-drinks are free.”

3. Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia)66 Total Comments

“The school has a health and wellness program where a lot of teachers connect and exercise together. Also, the PTO regularly hosts cocktail events after school. Plus there are scheduled tours and cultural events.”

2. Hiroshima International School (Hiroshima, Japan)64 Total Comments

“Christmas and end of year staff parties. It is also traditional to bring “omiyage” gifts (cookies and other small snacks) from teachers who have attended a conference or tournament elsewhere in Japan.”

1. KIS International School (Bangkok) (Bangkok, Thailand)70 Total Comments

“There are a lot of teacher and admin getaways as well as plenty of room for professional development. The management goes out of its way to answer questions before issues come up, and western holidays are recognized with food and decorations from home.”

If you would like to share what your school does to create a high staff morale, log in to International School Community and submit your comments. For every 10 submitted comments, you will get one month of free premium membership added to your account!

continue reading

Information for Members

The New All-in-One Search Bar: Comments, Members and Schools

September 20, 2014


Why not make things easy?

The all-in-one search bar has arrived on our homepage!

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 10.41.10 AM

Just enter in your keyword, select either Schools (to search our School List page), Members (to search our Members List page) or Comments (to search ALL 11500+ comments on our website), and then press the Search button.

It is all super slick and fun to use. Who knows what results you will find on the different results page?  So, search away!

We are still super excited about our newest search feature, the Comments Search. To our knowledge, it is something no other review website offers right now.

With the Comments Search, you can get straight to the comments that you are interested in reading the most (example keywords for the Comments Search: salary, teaching couple, daycare, masters, etc.) UPDATE – now you can just search a school name (e.g American School of Barcelona) in the Comments Search bar.  If that school has had comments submitted on it, ALL the comments will show up in the Comments Search results. So cool!

We’ve also updated the rest of our homepage’s design.  We have rearranged a few things to have a fresh new look and make it easier to navigate.

Screen Shot 2014-09-20 at 10.41.36 AM

Thanks to all our members for their feedback and advice on our the new all-in-one search bar. Your request has now become a reality! This new search bar will definitely come in handy as recruitment season starts this coming October. Exciting times for International School Community!

continue reading

Information for Members

Check out the new and improved school profile page + 26 more comment topics!

August 2, 2014


We are excited to unveil the new and improved school profile page!  The school profile pages are arguably the most important pages on our website; for they are where you can read and submit useful and informative comments.

Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 1.16.21 PM

Based on member feedback, we have designed a better interface for submitting the comments and also an easier, more intuitive way to submit the comments.

1. The “Show all # comments” link.  Simply click here to view the rest of the comments in this comment topic; which will show up almost instantly right below the three most recent comments. No more pop-ups!  This part of our website really sets us apart from other comment/review websites because it puts all the information about a specific comment topic all in ONE place!

2. The “Edit/Delete” links.  Made a mistake on a submitted comment?  Want to delete a previously submitted comment? Only the comments that you have personally submitted will have these Edit/Delete links.

Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 12.40.27 PM
(Taken from the American School of Barcelona school profile page – 119 Total Comments.)

We’ve also add another major update to our school profile pages.  Now there are 26 more comment topics!  Members can now submit comments on over 65 comments topics in total.  The new topics are the following:

School Information:
– Has the school met your expectations once you started working there?
– What does the school do to create a harmonious state of well-being and high morale amongst its staff?
– Describe the technologies available at the school and how people are/are not using them.
– Details about the current teacher appraisal process?
– Is the student population declining, staying the same or increasing? Give details why.
– How have certain things improved since you started working there?
– How is this school different or the same when compared to schools in your home country?
– What controversies have been happening lately? Please be objective.
– What insider information would you give to a teacher considering working at this school?

– How much curriculum development work are you expected to do? (Atlas Rubicon, etc.)

Benefits Information:
– Details about the maternity benefits of the host country and school.
– What is the process of getting reimbursed for things?
– Details about new teacher orientation.
– In general, why are people staying at or leaving this school?
– Details about the teaching contract. What important things should prospective teachers know about?

City Information:
– Describe a funny culture shock moment that you’ve had recently in this city.
– Where did the school take you in the city when you first arrived? What were some staff outings/party locations?
– What is the best part of living in this city for you?
– What advice can you give on how to set things up like internet, phone, experience dealing with landlord, etc.?
– Tell your experience moving your items to this city. What company, insurance policy, etc. did you use?
– Tell about your experience with the local banks and dealing with multiple currencies.
– What are some locals customs (regarding eating, drinking and going out, family, socializing, etc.) that you find interesting for expats to know about?
– Tell about your experiences in the local grocery stores. What can you get or cannot get? Which ones are your favorites.
– What is the most challenging/difficult part of living in the city?

Travel Information:
– Are there many teachers that travel during the holidays? Where are they going?
– What are the airports like in this city? (arriving, departing, shopping, customs, etc.)

One more update to mention though, on the new and improved school profile pages, is the “jump links” we’ve added.  Now you can get to the topics that interest you faster by clicking on these “jump links”.

Screen Shot 2014-08-02 at 12.56.01 PM
Example “Jump Links” on the Benefits Information tab on the school profile page

Log-on today and check out all these school profile page updates.  Also, please take a moment to test them out by submitting your comments in one or all of these new comment topics on the school you work at now or on the schools that you have worked at in the past.

continue reading

Member Spotlights

International School Community Member Spotlight #31: Lauren Kohlhoff (A teacher at the American School of Madrid)

April 2, 2014


Every 1-2 months International School Community will highlight one of our members in our Member Spotlight feature.  This month we interviewed Lauren Kohlhoff:

Tell us about your background.  Where are you from?

989362_10151961808925686_1496660034_oHi there! My name is Lauren Kohlhoff and I currently teach Drama and Grade 7 World Geography at the American School of Madrid. I’m originally from the Atlanta area – a southern girl born and raised! After earning my degree in Early Childhood Education, I relocated to Northern Virginia where I taught third grade in the Prince William County district for three years. During that time I got married to my then boyfriend of eight years. It wasn’t long before we were itching for a new adventure.

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

If I’m being honest, becoming a teacher in the international community was a complete fluke. My husband had received a job offer in Barcelona in the spring of 2008. I knew nothing about international schools or how to get my proverbial “foot in the door”.  So, I committed an afternoon to surfing the net and literally googled “american schools in Barcelona” just to see what my options were. The first hit was the American School of Barcelona. Bingo! I clicked the link, browsed the site, drafted a cover letter, and submitted a resume despite the fact there were no posted positions. Within days the director at the time contacted me, one thing led to another, and I had a grade 6 Humanities job faster than we could say, “Well, it looks like we’re moving to Spain!” I had contacted the right school at the right time; it was all about timing. It’s been six years and we haven’t looked back.

10152146_10151961815280686_736214447_oWhich international schools have you worked at?  Please share some aspects of the schools that made them unique and fun places in which to work.

The American School of Barcelona is alive with energy. The school is small by comparison to other international schools, which allows the faculty, students, and families to foster a community that in many ways feels more like a family. I have truly never worked in a school where there is such passion for kids and their well-being beyond just academics and the walls of a classroom.

Having just recently moved to Madrid, I am still discovering what makes ASM a special place to work. There is certainly a greater sense of calm, which is something that stands out in a country like Spain! The campus is beautiful and features two new facilities dedicated to sports, sciences, and the performing arts. I am impressed with the number of programs that are on offer for our students, especially when it comes to performance and music. We have a very talented team of teachers who work tirelessly to guide our students to do amazing things!

Describe your latest cultural encounter (or reverse cultural encounter) in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.

If there’s one thing I have come to love about the Spanish culture, it’s the laid-back “mañana” attitude towards, well, everything. Really, it’s a wonder anything ever gets done around here! But this love and appreciation did not come easily or swiftly that first year. I mean, it took nearly a month before we had internet! Businesses close early and open late, and you can forget running errands on Sundays. It took us the entire first year to adjust our expectations and learn to simply stop swimming against the current. We weren’t in Kansas anymore, Toto. We slowed our pace and eventually came to embrace the “mañana” outlook on life ourselves. Mealtimes are perhaps the embodiment of Spanish culture. Sharing a meal with others is an event that can last hours; there’s no such thing as “fast food”. Even long after the table has been cleared, conversations will continue to flow and the wine will too. This is known as the “sobremesa” and what I think is most special about dining the Spanish way – enjoying your company is just as important as enjoying your meal.

What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?

10152851_10151961811710686_564378207_nThis is a tough question to answer because I’ve been in such a unique situation. My destination was chosen and I was fortunate enough to land a job there. If there’s anything I’ve learned about job hunting over the last six years, however, it’s that geography weighs heavily on my happiness and well-being. The destination must speak to me and resonate in a way that fulfills me beyond the school’s campus. Yes, job satisfaction is very important, but it’s only part of the experience. International teaching is also about exploring who you are, learning your limits, and discovering what you never knew about yourself. So much of this happens off campus, and it would be tough to be in a place that stymies that personal growth. For me, Spain is perfect and I’m not sure that I’ll ever need to look anywhere else. I have spoken to a number of colleagues over the years who were not happy in their former placements because the location wasn’t right for them. If I had a dime for every conversation about this topic that included the phrase, “The school was great, but…”, I would no longer need tutoring hours!

In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?

Lifelong learning at its finest!

Thanks Lauren!  You can check our more about Lauren at her blog.

If you are a member of International School Community and would like to be our next member spotlight, contact us here.  If we choose to highlight you, you will get a coupon code to receive 6 months free of premium access to our website!

Want to work for an international school in the Spain like Lauren?  Currently, we have 26 international schools listed in Spain on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

• American School of Barcelona (119 Comments)

• Benjamin Franklin Int’l School (49 Comments)

Sotogrande International School (6 Comments)

American School Madrid (27 Comments)

American School Valencia (21 Comments)

continue reading

Blogs of International Teachers

Blogs of international school teachers: “Living in Laymans’ Terms” (An international school teacher at American International School of Kuwait)

February 9, 2014


Are you inspired to start up a blog about your adventures living abroad?

Our 35th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Living in Laymans’ Terms”  Check out the blog entries of this international school educator who currently works at American International School of Kuwait (29 Total Comments on our website) in Hawalli.

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 11.36.07 PM

A few entries that we would like to highlight:

It’s Cold Weather Again

“Last time I wrote about how nice the weather was. That was after it rained. I don’t think I did a good job of sharing how crazy the rain was. Now it’s cold (it’s been in the high 30s and low 40s a couple mornings when I’ve gone running!)…”

It is all about perspective when living in a different country. What one person thinks is cold, another person might think it is not THAT cold!

It is good to know that in the Middle East, the weather can get a bit chilly in the winter. Many people might just think it is hot all year round.

Luckily, we have a comment topic in the City Information section of all school profile pages that is about weather.  It is called – “Describe the city’s weather at different times of the year.”  We currently have 140 separate comments (about a number of international schools) in that comment topic on our website.

Siblings in Kuwait – Spring Break 2013

“One of the deals we are giving our 5 siblings is a trip (once) to visit us. Abby is here for the semester subbing and Andrew came to visit for his Spring Break! Shannon was studying abroad in Barcelona so they met up in Kuwait. It was a memorable week for all! (see Shannon’s post for proof)

There was a little miscommunication ..Shannon arrived on Friday, March 22nd and Andrew arrived 24 hours later. Luckily we like Shannon so it worked out just fine…”

What a great idea!

I always say…if you got a friend or family member living abroad somewhere, it would be a SHAME not to go visit them and that country!

Not all family members are able though to have the free time to go on a trip to visit you.  Many also are not able to afford it either.  So, how nice to pay for their trip for them! (that is if they can get the time off of work to come visit you.)

Want to work for an international school in Hawalli like this blogger?  Currently, we have 5 international schools listed in this city on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

• American Creativity Academy (Hawalli, Kuwait) – 31 Comments
• American International School of Kuwait (Hawalli, Kuwait) – 29 Comments
• Kuwait National English School (Hawalli, Kuwait) – 12 Comments
• Universal American School (Hawalli, Kuwait) – 22 Comments

If you are an international school teacher and would like your blog highlighted on International School Community contact us here.

continue reading

Information for Members

International School Community Promotion: 5 Comments = 1 Month! (For 5 Days only)

November 16, 2013


Dear International School Community members,

5 Comments = 1 Free Month!


Now it is even easier to get free premium membership.

Our regular, on-going promotion for submitting comments is that you get one free month for every 10 comments you submit.  Now for the next FIVE days, it only will take FIVE submitted comments to get one free month of premium membership.

There’s more!  Want two free months? Submit 10 comments. Want 6 free months? Submit 30 comments.  There is no limit!

It simple to submit comments:
1. Log-on to our website
2. Find a school you know about on our Schools List page.
3. Click on the Comments and Information tab
4. Submit your comments!

Our website is unique in that we have made the search for answers quicker and easier.  We have organized all the comments into 4 sections (School, Benefits, City and Travel).  That means that if you want to see all the comments on salaries on a school profile page, you just simply click on the Benefits Information tab and check out the first comment topic.

There are a total of 40 comment topics:

  • School Information (14)
  • Benefits Information (14)
  • City Information (8)
  • Travel Information (4)

1000s of our members have worked at over 536 international schools, so get rewarded and take some time to share what you know!
This promotion will expire on 21 November, 2013 (11:59pm PST)

Best regards,
Admin staff at International School Community

continue reading

Discussion Topics

The new seasoned international school teachers have arrived at your school…and they won’t stop complaining!

November 6, 2013


https://4.bp.blogspot.com/_khdFP9RCQSw/TS92L09rhjI/AAAAAAAAAMs/C4D4KbCKVN4/s1600/Bla+Bla+Bla.jpgEvery year, they come streaming in, fresh, bright faces, full of potential and wonder! They bring with them the hope of change, growth and new ideas.

Then they open their mouths and the dreaded phrase comes out, maybe at lunch or during a casual conversation, the phrase that immediately fills you with dread because you know what´s coming next, ¨well, at my last international school…¨

New Teachers.

I was one of them. Twice. And I know myself being 100% at fault for being that person, that teacher who constantly compared and contrasted this international school to that international school, this city to that city, these benefits to those, etc…

I´m surprised I was able to make friends at my new school with how much I droned on about my last school in Singapore! How anybody could stomach sitting with me at lunch, I don´t know!

When I was asked to guest write this article this was the first idea that popped into my head. Maybe it´s because school has only been in session a little over 6 weeks and I’m still hearing the harping voices of new teachers about their last international schools and cities. I understand that these people were hired for a reason, they´re bringing experiences, wealth of knowledge and resources from their previous schools to help our school. But there has got to be a better way with which they decide to share this information!

DC WASHINGTON SWITCH

Here are top 10 annoying things New Teachers say (though it is partial to my current international school, I´m sure some people can relate!)

At my last school…

1. We got paid more and had better benefits

Well that´s too bad, maybe you should have inquired more into the package here!

2. The students were more respectful and not as loud.

Maybe it´s time to brush up on your behavior management skills and routines!

3. All the parents and children spoke English

You´re a teacher, it´s your job to teach the children English, as for the parents, figure it out, I´m sure there is a treasure trove of translators at your school!

4.  We were a Mac school and all the teachers got Ipads. Plus, the facilities were great

I wonder if people actually research into where they get their new jobs or where they are moving to?

5. Lunch is so gross and oily

Can´t really complain about a free lunch with unlimited salad, fruit and yogurt.

6. Everyone was friends and did everything together.

That´s because you probably worked together for two or more years and built that friendship, friendships aren´t built in a week during orientation. If you want to be more social, take initiative and plan something!

In my last city/country…

7.  It wasn´t such a long commute to get to the school

Buy a car or moto then, or maybe even try biking to school!

8. We had Health Care Benefits and the doctors all spoke English.

Hey, so do we….and it´s FREE! As for the language, maybe try learning it!

9. This city is so dirty and smelly.

Where else can you live that has a beach, city and mountain within a 10 mile radius?

10.  Everyone spoke English.

Then why would you ever move to a non-English speaking country?

While we all hold our last international schools and previous placements (most of the time!) in a higher light and we try to hold on to those fond memories and experiences, New Teachers need to remember that things mustn’t have been all peaches and cream at their last school or placement, there had to have been reasons why they decided to leave, there had to be reasons why they chose to move to their new school/country…and those are the things that we ALL need to focus on.

This article was submitted by guest author and International School Community member: Tessa McGovern.

(Originally hailing from Connecticut, but a true New England-er through and through, I was born to two fun loving Irish folks who instilled the love of culture, tradition and travel at ripe young age. I spent the majority of my childhood traveling back and forth between the US and  Ireland/England, visiting family and thus began my life abroad.  After graduating from Springfield College (Massachusetts) and with a bit of luck, a colleague recommended a job in Singapore, which in turn started my International Teaching Career. After a few years in Singapore, it was time to head somewhat closer to home and I landed a job at the American School of Barcelona, teaching 4th and 5th Grade, where I´m currently at.  Food, traveling, reading, family/friends and football (Gaelic) are the few things I can´t live without!)

Have a discussion topic you’d like to share on the IS_Community blog? Want to earn free premium membership to our website? Contact us here if you’d like to become one of our next guest authors.

continue reading

Member Spotlights

International School Community Member Spotlight #29: Melissa Pritchard (A teacher who has most recently taught at Benjamin Franklin International School)

November 1, 2013


Every 1-2 months International School Community will highlight one of our members in our Member Spotlight feature.  This month we interviewed Melissa Pritchard:

Tell us about your background.  Where are you from?

1368634_10152010004753623_331690204_nI was born and raised in Eugene, Oregon in the Pacific Northwest.  I am one of five siblings and therefore always had an active childhood being outside, playing sports, and being social.  It has definitely influenced the adult I am today.  My parents decided to send us to a public school with a Spanish immersion program when we were young, and so from 1st to 12th grade, I did half my day in Spanish and also went to an IB diploma high school.

Learning a different language influenced my idea to travel abroad in college, and studied in both England and Spain during my Junior year.  I loved my experience so much I wanted to go back overseas, but also grow professionally.  I had studied art and design at Alfred University in New York, and wanted to continue with this.  I was awarded a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship and was able to continue studying art and design in Barcelona.  My one year scholarship, turned into living abroad in Barcelona for 10 years.  I like to say that the novelty of living abroad never wore off.  There is so much to do and see living in Barcelona.  I started road cycling, running more competitively, and doing all sorts of outdoor activities in this beautiful and sunny region of Spain.  I also learned Catalan, and enjoyed being immersed in the culture.

I miss my family, but visit often and I still love Oregon.  It is an outdoor mecca, despite the rainy weather and we have a lot of great hiking, biking, and skiing.  I wanted to get out of Oregon as soon as I could and went to Western, New York for college, and never really returned to Oregon, except to do my Master’s in bilingual education at Oregon State University in 2007.

For the last seven years, I was teaching at The Benjamin Franklin International School (BFIS) in Barcelona.  I taught elementary art, second and fifth grade.1381001_10152010004763623_1816178198_n

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

I was studying contemporary jewelry design in Barcelona and doing private English classes in Barcelona.  I was interested in more stable work and noticed a lot of American English speaking kids on my bus ride to university in the morning.  I went and explored where they all were going one morning and stumbled across the school.  I started subbing there in all classrooms until a part time art position opened.  After working there for two years teaching art, I decided teaching was really for me and I went back to get my Master’s in bilingual education, but returned after completing my studies to be a homeroom elementary teacher.

I’ve really only worked at one international school and that was BFIS.  I have grown a lot professionally there and enjoyed collaborating with different grade level teams.  You have a lot of freedom to try out different teaching approaches at BFIS and colleagues are supportive and excited to collaborate.  The school is relatively small so the community is close and supportive.  In fact for a lot of the sport competitions I did, students and teachers came to support and cheer me on.  There is a great mix of ex-pat’s and locals and a diverse population.

Recently on my bike trip, I’ve seen a dozen different schools and I love seeing the way they work, their curriculum, and approach to learning.  It has been a unique experience to be a guest speaker and visitor at different international schools around the world.

Where are you currently teaching?

1387928_10152010004758623_1594569286_nGreat question.  I had reached a point in Barcelona where I was itching for a bit of change, and there were still some things I wanted to do out there in the world.

On August 23, I embarked on a bike journey to follow my dreams of cycling around the world.  I’m pedaling from Barcelona, Spain (my current home), to Oregon (my native home), on bike—the loong way.  I will pass through 4 continents, about 20 countries, and cycle approximately 30,000 kilometers during the next year.

My project, The Loong Way Home combines my passion to cycle, travel, and teach.  I believe there are a lot of other ways to contribute positively to a community without attaching a monetary value. Rather than raise money for a charity, I have decided to work and talk with students as I go cycling around the world as the “Teacher on 2 Wheels”.  This will be the first year that I don’t have my own classroom since I started teaching and the thought is daunting.  As much as I want to carry out my adventure, teaching fulfills me and it’s part of my identity.  Therefore, my adventure wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t include some element of teaching.

During my trip, I will be posting my biking statistics, sharing data from my trip, and travel experiences.  Part of my website, www.theloongwayhome.com will be dedicated to documenting these school visits and interacting with the children using data I collect along my route and the bike as a topic of conversation.  My hope is that this section of my website can be used by teachers in their classroom in different subject areas to make more meaningful connections with learning in our everyday life.

Describe your latest cultural encounter (or reverse cultural encounter) in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.

On my bike, traveling alone as a female tour cyclist, I feel like I have cultural encounters every day. For instance, most people wouldn’t dare cycle on a toll road, right?  In developed countries, cyclists aren’t even allowed on these roads.  I tried to avoid them when I entered Albania, thinking they worked the same way as in other European countries.  I tried to avoid them at first and looked for an alternate route. However, their road system is so poorly developed that it isn’t worth taking a less main highway because they aren’t cared for in the least.  As I found myself merging onto the highway in Albania, there was a caution sign there for drivers to watch out for walkers, horse-drawn carriages, and of course cyclists, and although it had the toll road symbol, there weren’t any booths, nor were there painted road markers, and I saw everything from chickens and sheep, to donkeys, fishermen, and horse-drawn buggies.  Yet you look at the map of Albania, and it looks like an autobahn in Germany, it intimidates cyclists!1278343_10152010004768623_664840940_n

What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?

I feel like I’m at a point in my career where I am really excited to try a new teaching approach.  I’ve been doing a lot of research and incorporating inquiry-based learning into my teaching, and it will be important for me to seek out a school with this similar approach, whether or not it be an IB school with a PYP program.  Location is also key for me as I am such an active outdoorsy person.  I love being able to leave my front doorstep and access all sorts of running trails, paths, and city parks and quiet streets in Barcelona.  I need to be close to the mountains for hiking and winter sports, but also enjoy having sunny weather, regardless if it’s cold. I prefer smaller schools, but I’m open-minded about this as well.  I could go back to Barcelona, it feels like home, but, now more than ever, I realize there are so many different schools out there and places to explore, that I am open to the idea of changing location.

In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?

The novelty never wears off!

Thanks Melissa!

If you are a member of International School Community and would like to be our next member spotlight, contact us here.  If we choose to highlight you, you will get a coupon code to receive 6 months free of premium access to our website!

Want to work for an international school in Spain like Melissa?  Currently, we have 26 international schools listed in Spain on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

• American School of Barcelona (110 Comments)

• Benjamin Franklin Int’l School (49 Comments)

American School Madrid (20 Comments)

Sotogrande International School (6 Comments)

American School Valencia (21 Comments)

El Plantio International School Valencia (4 Comments)

continue reading

Surveys

Survey results are in: How easy is it for you get reimbursed for things at your school?

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).

Screen Shot 2013-05-12 at 10.59.36 PM

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?

Screen Shot 2013-05-08 at 9.24.34 PM
Taken from the Misr American College (37 Comments) school profile page.

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.

continue reading

Surveys

Survey results are in: Which international school teacher conference do you prefer to go to?

January 19, 2013


The survey results are in, and it seems as if most visitors and members of International School Community who voted have had the most success at IB conferences.

Screen Shot 2013-01-19 at 9.29.35 AM

IB conferences/workshops can prove to be a very motivating and enlightening experience.  Isn’t that what going to conferences is all about?  Most people might say that teaching is viewed as a career, and with careers comes professionalism.  Many international school teachers aspire to be the best professionals in the field.  The IB (PYP and MYP too) teachers definitely have similar aspirations as well; to learn more and more about the new ways of thinking and teaching using inquiry.  They are also looking to learn more about how to make their students’ thinking visible.

But like many workshops that you may attend at international school teaching conferences, the benefit of the workshop you attend greatly depends on the instructor that you get.  It can also be said that the success of your workshop depends on the people that attend it as well.  So many different factors come into play, but when all of them line up correctly, you are most likely in for an enlightening experience.  Those types of workshops can really inspire you throughout the rest of the conference and stay with you when you return back to work.

In terms of staff development benefits, the IBO requires that the teachers working in approved/accredited schools get on going PD in the IB philosophy and latest strategies on how best to instruct students in their inquiry programme. Instead of using your own PD monies to attend IB workshops, very often the school will take the costs involved out of their own monies.

There are many factors to consider when deciding on which international school at which to work.  Knowing about the professional development allowance (or lack there of) can prove to be helpful information to know; just to see what you can expect in terms of you getting the opportunity to attend workshops and conferences while you work there.  Luckily on International School Community, we have a Benefits Information section in the comments and information part of each school’s profile page that discusses this very topic.

• Professional development allowance details.

Screen Shot 2013-01-19 at 9.36.04 AM
Taken from International Community School Addis Ababa (35 Total Comments) school profile page.

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 Mef Int’l School Istanbul: “IBO certified IBDP and PYP training provided. Outside speakers such as Virginia Rojas brought in to provide in house PD.”

Another member said about working at Western International School of Shanghai: “Most teachers don’t get any out of school PD their first year of contract. Depends on the needs of the school.”

Another member submitted a comment about working at American School of Barcelona: “The PD amount is 390 Euros a year. You can roll over this amount for 3 years. But the reality some people get more, it is not so clear cut on who gets what amount and who gets to go to what PD opportunity.”

If you are currently a member of International School Community, please take a moment to share what you know by submitting some comments and information about the PD allowances at your international school. You can start by logging on here.

Stay tuned for our next survey topic which is to come out in a few days time.

continue reading

12 Tips for Selecting an Int'l School

Selecting an international school: Tip #3 – Vision: What is the vision that is expressed by the school head or officials? Is it consistent with the actual operation of the school?

August 20, 2012


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 a school abroad as well?  There are many kinds of international schools and they are all in different situations.  How important is finding out about the mission statement and how successfully the international school is working to achieve their mission statement? 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?  Our new blog series will discuss the Tips for Selecting an International School.

Tip #3 -Vision:

What is the vision that is expressed by the school head or officials? Can anyone attest to whether it is consistent with the actual operation of the school?

Whether you are a potential parent or teacher at an international school, it is important for you to inquire about the Vision of the school.  You might ask yourself “what is this notion called Vision” all about and why would it be a concern.  As long as the school is safe and orderly, isn’t that enough?

Vision is the core of the functionality of the school.  Many international schools are privately owned and operated as a business with a mission and vision, often that of the owners.  Other schools might be government entities or faith-based, both of which will likely have specific purposes for existence.  Nonetheless, the vision for a school should be clearly articulated and a driving force for all decisions within the school.  Furthermore, the vision should be one that is shared with a wide array of stakeholders from teachers and students to parents and community members.  It also should be re-visited each year or two for refining.

Strong, effective vision statements are often succinct and able to be implanted throughout the decision-making process.  A common current vision theme might include the concept of “preparing global learners for the 21st century” which can sound appealing to teachers and parents assessing international schools.   Don’t we want our children to be prepared for the workforce and the competitive market?

Let’s take a look inside the school’s operation as we examine the concept of 21st century global readiness.  Some easy to identify indicators of the use of the Vision for the school might include:

1.     Clearly stated on the school website
2.     Visible at the school
3.     Included in school marketing materials
4.     Articulated by school leaders in interviews and meetings

However, the true power of the Vision is embedded in decision-making and is generally harder for a parent or new hire to identify.  The following questions (and many more) can reveal if the Vision indeed drives the inner workings of the school:

1.     Do enrollment and hiring practices support diversity?
2.     How has the curriculum expanded to prepare students for a global future?
3.     How is technology financed and integrated in the curriculum and daily operations of the school?
4.     Do the instructional strategies reflect on teamwork, critical thinking, and problem-solving for students and faculty?
5.     Are multiple languages spoken at the school?
6.     Are teachers trained to use best practices in their instruction?
7.     Are there global partnerships for teachers and students to engage in international discussions, projects, exchanges?
8.     Is there a sense of shared leadership that enables teachers and students to have leadership roles and develop leadership skills?
9.     How does the school’s budget reflect a commitment to preparing 21st century global learners?
10.  What achievement expectations do the leaders have for learners?

From that limited list of thoughts, one can recognize that future parents and teachers need to be creative in their inquiry process.  Otherwise, the Vision might be more of “the blind leading the blind.”

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

On International School Community have a topic in the voting section (on the School Information part of each school’s profile page) that specifically addresses whether the school is successfully working towards its vision.  The topic is called “School’s realization of its vision.” For example on the American School of Barcelona’s profile page there have been 8 votes submitted so far on this topic:

screenshot-2016-11-19-07-31-39

If you are an international school teacher currently working abroad, please submit your votes about your school’s realization of its vision.

Additionally, make sure to join www.internationalschoolcommunity.com as you are able to check out our over 950 members.  Many of our current members have listed they work at over 200 international schools around the world. Feel free to send these members a message with your questions about an international school’s vision statement and whether it is consistent with the actual operation of the school.

continue reading

New Teacher Orientation Must-Haves

New teacher orientation must-have: Lunches provided by the school during the orientation week at the school campus.

August 10, 2012


In this blog series we will talk about the ins and outs of an excellent new teacher orientation programme at an international school.  A new teacher orientation programme can really play a very important part of your start at your new school, in your new host country.

Must-have #3: Lunches provided by the school during the orientation week at the school campus.

Having a catered, home (cafeteria)-cooked lunch is NOT a given when you start working at an international school.  Some international schools include free lunches in their benefits package all year round (for all teachers mind you!), but some international schools don’t offer this benefit…not even during PD events or during new teacher orientation.

It is definitely a nice gesture on the school’s part to offer lunches to the new staff during the orientation week.  It is setting the right tone amongst the new staff and their budding relationship with their new school.  Additionally, it is a great opportunity for new staff and administration to get to know each other better being that they are kind of forced to dine together because they are eating the same food.

It is important to note that new teachers most likely don’t have everything set up in their new apartments to be ready to cook themselves a packed-lunch to bring to work.  The new teachers might not know exactly where to go (e.g. where there is a proper grocery store) to buy food they like to eat either.  Well they might know a place to go (one that was recommended to them by a new friend at work), but it might propose a challenge for them to walk there or to navigate a taxi or the public transportation to get there.  All of these things are stressers for new teachers during their first few weeks in their new host city/country, and one of the main goals of a new teacher orientation week is to make sure the new teachers are as least stressed as possible.

Now I’m not saying that schools are offering free lunches like in this picture (the beautiful hummus wrap), but some international schools have very nice cafeterias and cooks that can make some quite tasty lunches.  At a colleague’s international school in Mediterranean [American School of Barcelona (79 Comments)], they did offer free lunches during new teacher orientation week (during the whole year as well).  The food wasn’t the highest quality, but it was nice and made in-house.  Lots of fish and local cuisine were prepared on a number of the days.  At another colleague’s school Seoul, South Korea [Seoul International School (68 Comments)], there is a buffet available to staff every day…a pretty nice buffet too.  There are many choices to choose from. The quality can be quite good at times as well.  The colleague noted that sometimes they had to control themselves from not over-eating being that the buffet choices where very good some days! There is a small cost though involved for the teachers to pay if they wanted to eat at the school’s buffet, but it is reasonably priced at $3. However at new teacher orientation, the new staff get it for free (breakfast and lunch).  Additionally, the new teachers and the whole staff also get free lunches provided by the school during the first week back before students arrive.

At a for-profit international school in Shanghai though, it was a different story.  For the most part, the school did not provide lunches for the new staff during orientation week. If they did provide lunch one day, it wasn’t a lunch prepared for by the kitchen staff.  It was from a take-away place nearby to the school.  Most days though the new teachers had to figure out their own food to eat during orientation week.  The new teachers that didn’t want to make their own lunch (and most new teachers didn’t want to or weren’t really able to), they could also order for themselves (and also pay for themselves) from the take-away place.  After trying to navigate a menu all in Chinese characters with a Chinese staff member translating, when the food arrived it definitely wasn’t the highest of qualities or not even close to what you thought it would be.  It would have been better really if the school had started up a better relationship with another take-away place.  The problem was though that the school was basically in a very rural part of Shanghai, far away from the nicer places. On a positive note, the lunches at the take-away place nearby were priced very, very cheaply!

It is important that the basic needs be met for a new teacher working at an international school.  They should have a place to sleep (shelter), they should have some money (via a relocation allowance possibly) to spend on necessities, and they should have food and water (among other things).  A wise international school chooses to play a major part and takes an active role is helping to make sure their new teachers have their basic needs met.  One way to support this decision, for sure, is to provide lunches to teachers during new teacher orientation.  Now how that provided-lunch will look like can vary a lot though!  It is definitely not a “deal-breaker” though and you should mostly likely not be asking about the possibility of catered lunches (and their quality) at your interview!

How funny though if schools did come prepared to show pictures of the types of free lunches they provide to their new staff.  Actually, seeing those pictures at the interview might be nice; anything really to help you make your decision before you sign the contract.

So, does your school provide lunch during new teacher orientation week?  Please share your experiences!

continue reading

Hiring Policies at Int’l Schools

Comments and information about hiring policies on International School Community #3

March 3, 2012


Comments and information about hiring policies on International School Community:

Every week members are leaving information and comments about the hiring policies at international schools around the world.  Which ones go to the Search Associates Recruitment Fairs?  Which ones hold interviews over Skype?  Which ones have hiring restrictions imposed on them by the host country?  All important questions to think about when job searching, but where to find the answers to those questions?

Sometimes it is hard to keep track of which international schools go to which recruitment fairs and which interview style and tactic each international schools employs.  At International School Community, we want to make the search for information about hiring policies easier for international school teachers. In the school section of each international school profile page on our website, there is a section specific to the school’s hiring policies.  The topic is: “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?”

Here are 3 out of the numerous comments and information related to the hiring policies of international schools that have been posted on our website:

American School of Barcelona (63 Total Comments)

“They have gone to CIS and Search London and also hire on Tie-online. It is possible to be hired without a face to face interview.”

Hampton International School (13 Total Comments)

“Face-to-face interviews, no or limited use of recruiting agencies.”

International School Monagas (8 Total Comments)

“The school goes through Search Associates. Teachers must have appropriate degree for teaching the subject of major concentration and by under 65 years of age. They are willing to hire interns for certain positions.”

Check out the more than 90 comments and information about the hiring policies of numerous international schools at www.internationalschoolcommunity.com.

continue reading

ISCommunity Newsletters

International School Community Newsletter v2012.02 – 04 February, 2012

February 4, 2012



Recently updated schools:

· 04 Feb  Casablanca American School  (11 new comments)
(Casablanca, Morocco)
“Over 70% of the teachers are from North American countries. With the next highest being from Morocco and then a few from the UK…”

· 04 Feb  Yew Chung International School (Hong Kong) (8 new comments)
(Hong Kong, China)
“New teachers are placed in furnished quarters (in China). There is a housing allowance of 1200 USD for teachers in Hong Kong. Management fee for the housing is paid for by school. Teachers in HK will be housed in hotel for 2 months…”

· 04 Feb  St. Andrew’s – International School of the Bahamas (7 new comments)
(Freeport, Bahamas)
“There is a retirement plan offered. The school’s contribution is 7%…”

· 03 Feb  Karachi American School  (5 new comments)
(Karachi, Pakistan)
“Due to visa restrictions, the school prefer hiring teaching couples with US certification. Due to new visa and tax laws US citizenship is a priority when the school is recruiting. Age limit for hiring is 55 years old…”

· 03 Feb  Üsküdar American Academy & Sev Elementary (7 new comments)
(Istanbul, Turkey)
“There is a masters/PHD stipend and a contract extension bonus…”

(Click here for the last 40 schools to be updated with new comments)


Recent blog entries:

· Great resource: Maps of world website and information about international schools
“This website not surprisingly is an excellent resource for finding the map that best fits your needs, but it also oddly enough has some information about international schools.There are at least two sections that we found that highlight the international schools in specific locations around world.  We would like to highlight…”

· Highlighted article: Mumbai’s new genre international schools
“Another issue with a resurgence of international schools is finding highly qualified teachers to work at them.  Hiring international teachers can be a big business as well with sometimes many international schools fighting over to get first pick at finding suitable candidates…”

· Video highlight: A discussion about language learning and the second language learning of children at international schools
“How great to start off each day with the flag ceremony and the Thai National Anthem! Being that the majority of their students are Thai, they have a strong focus on honoring and respecting Thai and Asian cultural values…”

· Highlighted article: India’s most admired international schools
“It is challenging to come up though with the perfect second language acquisition environment in international schools.  There are many factors that come into play…”

· Comments and information about salaries on International School Community #3 (Harbin No. 9 School, Int’l School of Helsinki & Cph Int’l School)
“18000RMB per month 2000RMB taken out in taxes each month. No receipt of this transaction is given as would be the regular accounting practice for a well run school. YOu may need a record of this when you leave the country…”


Recently added schools:


Requested schools to have members leave comments on:


This last month we have had visits from 89 countries around the world!

Site Stats:
Current members:
258 ( 34)
School profiles
: 1088 ( 32)
Blog entries
: 205 ( 26)
Posted comments & info
:
2689 ( 542)
Twitter followers: 266 ( 29)


BIG improvements:

Recently, we have made some changes on our school profile pages. One of the most important sections on this page is where members can read and submit comments and information.  In turn, our comments and information section has been revamped.  Now the four comment categories (School Information, Benefits Information, City Information and Travel Information) are on tabs. This change was made so that members could go from one section to the other much easier and faster.
The City and Travel Information sections have also changed.  Now they been linked up with other school profile pages that share they same city.  For example, if a members has left comments and information in the City Information section on an international school in Shanghai, those submitted comments will now show up on all the other international schools in Shanghai listed on our website!  Now it will be much easier to access information about the city and travel information on international school profile pages that share the same city!

Another improvement made has been with how our members view, write, submit, and then edit or delete their submitted comments on each school profile page.  For each topic in the four comment sections members will now be able to only view the last 3-4 comments submitted and the dates they were submitted. Then to read all the comments that have actually been submitted, members can now click on the “Show more” link.  In a pop-up screen members will be able to read every submitted comment and information (in full) for that section’s topic.  Members can also submit a new comment on this pop-up screen at the bottom. From this pop-up screen members are now able to edit or delete one of their previously submitted comments.  Only the member that has submitted the comment will see the “Edit” and “Delete” buttons; other members are not able to edit or delete other member’s comments.

Check out pictures of the improvements and other details here!


New members:

· Kim Leus
(American School of Barcelona)
· Julie Bowen
(Santiago College)
· Ceri Thorns
(Systems Little House)
· Jeff Shaw
(International School of the Hague)
· Diamond Ndiamond
(Abraham Lincoln School)
· Paul Grundy
(Taipei European School)


Current Survey Topic:

Vote here!


Member spotlight:


Annette Harvey

Shanghai Rego International School: great colleagues who have become friends. Again some wonderful, supportive parents and amazing children. Champagne brunches. My tailor who…”

Check out the rest of her interview on our blog here.  If you’d like to be one of our next member spotlights send us a message here.  Highlighted members will receive a coupon code for 6 free months of premium access!


Highlighted Link

Teachers International Consultancy (TIC)“Have you ever wanted to teach internationally but struggled to know what school and what country would be best? Do you have questions about getting an international job? Well Teachers International Consultancy (TIC) is holding two one-hour webinars on Thursday 9th February to help teachers during their decision-making process. Both webinars will be run by Andrew Wigford, Director of TIC, who has over 20 years of international teaching experience. The first webinar focuses on finding the right international school and the right job. This will include information on the different types of international schools, their locations and the different curriculum options. Plus, there will be a question and answer session where you can ask Andrew any questions you may have. This webinar will take place at 5pm GMT on Thursday 9th February…”
Highlighted blog of an international teacher:

A few photos:
“Here’s a collection of photos we took the other day, on the roof of our apartment block. If you consider the size of our apartment and that there are two like that on each floor, it’ll give a real idea of the size of the space up there. There’s a few ISD families in this block, with young children; we’re figuring it’d be great to meet up for brunch on the roof during weekends…” Where shall we go?:
“I know we’ve only just arrived, but it’s time to start thinking about where to go on holiday.  We’ve a week in October, a month at Christmas, and two weeks at Easter.  So many places are relatively close, so we’re spoilt for choice.  Only problem is it costs about $200 in exit taxes per person….”
*If you are an international school teacher and would like your blog highlighted on International School Community contact us here.
continue reading

Video Highlight

Video highlight: A discussion about language learning and the second language learning of children at international schools

January 29, 2012


Language and Learning

The video addresses the following questions:

• How many languages can a child learn at once?
• Is there a ‘window’ of opportunity, or can they learn multiple languages at any time?
• And what are the cognitive benefits of learning more than one language?
• We speak with research psychologists and a language teacher about how kids acquire second, third or fourth languages and how it helps.

International schools should be at the forefront of providing the most opportune environment for 2nd and 3rd language learning in children.

Many international schools have very diverse student populations.  Using the school profile search on International School Community, there are 607 international schools out of the 1088 listed on our website that have mostly international student populations.  That usually means that students are coming to school already knowing 2+ languages, with English being a 3rd or a 4th language for them.

It is challenging to come up though with the perfect second language acquisition environment in international schools.  There are many factors that come into play.  One of them being scheduling, which can be quite restrictive at some schools.  Another factor is what is required of the host country in terms of what the international school has to teach related to the host country language.  For example at Copenhagen International School, the primary school offers Danish to the whole school, starting in first grade.  The program is very limited though, with all students having only 3 periods of Danish a week.  In this model (a kind of FLEX – Foreign Language Experience model) Non-Danish speakers in the school are not exposed enough to the host country language to really become proficient in the target language of that class (especially with the academic language of Danish).

Now look at American School of Barcelona.  They are teaching three languages in the primary school: English as the main language, Spanish as the 2nd and Catalan as the 3rd.  How would you begin to design a trilingual model of instruction in that school with a diverse student population?

Many international schools now are integrating mother tongue support programs as well during the school day and also during after-school hours.  Which mother tongue support program model is the most effective?

It all gets confusing for many international schools.  Many of them have been teaching in their model of instruction (for language learning) for a while now; finding it hard to change it.  Many international school parents sometimes don’t even want their children learning the language of the host country, especially in countries where the locals speak a language that is basically non-existent in other parts of the world.  Parents must realize though that it is not just the language their children will be learning, it is the understanding of the culture too; which is very important when the student and the family are being immersed in a culture, living sometimes more than three years in one country.

As teachers though we are the experts.  We should think about what languages do we want to have our students learn at school and how best to go about teaching them.  Do we want students to become bilingual or trilingual in the language we instruct or just merely proficient in the language?  When we know the answers to those questions, then we need to figure out the best model and environment for the students to achieve those goals.

The video discusses many of the myths surrounding language learning.  I learned awhile back that there is nothing stopping an adult from becoming highly proficient in a second language (like most people think), it is just that their accent will mostly likely not be native-like.  Whereas kids can learn a second language at a young age giving them a better opportunity to acquire a more native-like accent.  There are many more myths about language learning, and I suppose we are debunking them all the time with more and more people becoming aware of how best students (and adults) learn second languages.

Visit www.internationalschoolcommunity.com and contact a member today and get firsthand information from them about the language learning model at his/her current school.  Interesting question to ponder: Does a school’s language learning model effect your decision-making when job hunting?

continue reading

Member Spotlights

International School Community Member Spotlight #8: Gloria Hewitt

December 26, 2011


Each month International School Community will highlight one of our members.  This month we interviewed Gloria Hewitt:

Tell us about your background.  Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Spain, attending international schools in Barcelona and Madrid.  My father’s American  and my mom is Spanish, so I was always considered ½ and ½ .  I went to college in the U.S. and got a B.F.A. (Fine Arts) from Otis College in Los Angeles.  I started teaching at a public school in L.A. in 1998 and never looked back.

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

In 2006 I made the decision to move back to my “home town” and applied for a job at my old school, The American School of Barcelona.  I worked there for 4 years where I shared students and classrooms with some of the elementary school teachers from my childhood.  My experience at ASB was a wonderful experience.  Once I had those years under my belt…I was hooked on the International School life-style.  Our initial idea was to move to Argentina, where my husband is from, but when the opportunity came up to move to Brazil and teach at Graded, my family and I were thrilled to take on the challenge.

Which international schools have you worked at?  Please share some aspects of the schools that made them unique and fun places in which to work.

The American School of Barcelona and Graded – The American School of São Paulo.  The best part of ASB was it’s location,  Barcelona.  Graded is challenging in a professional way, but São Paulo is a tough city.

Describe your latest cultural encounter in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.

Graded is very strong on offering Community Service opportunities in the area.  I am the staff leader for one of those groups, in which a group of high school students fund-raise for and visit a Cancer Shelter close by.  Every time we visit this location I am further impressed by how mature and resilient our students can be.  It’s quite inspiring.

What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?

Location is key.  I look for a place that I can picture myself living for at least 3-4 years.  In my case, I need to consider my non-teaching spouse.  He can legally work in South America & Europe, so I’m going to be drawn to those areas.  Another really important factor is the true savings potential.  Each school has it, some more than others, and I’m more interested in saving money than traveling.

In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?

Stimulating,  unpredictable,  addictive,  inspiring, challenging.

Thanks Gloria!  If you are a member of International School Community and would like to be our next member spotlight, contact us here.  If we choose to highlight you, you will get a coupon code to receive 6 months free of premium access to our website!

continue reading

ISCommunity Newsletters

International School Community News v2011.05 – 10 September, 2011

September 10, 2011



v2011.05 – 10 September, 2011:

School is back now in session. Many teachers have been at work and teaching students for a few weeks already.  A teacher just wrote to us talk to share what life was like starting year #2 at their “relatively new” international school.  Things on the teacher’s mind during the first few weeks so far were related to the following topics:
Getting to know the new director starting this year, knowing the school’s curriculum better now, knowing where things are located in their city and not being new to everything like in year #1, feeling more at home now that their apartment is already decorated, getting used to all of the school’s new equipment and materials, working with new teams of teachers at school and also getting to know the new teachers, making a bit more money now that they are moving up the pay schedule a bit, planning new holidays and vacations to explore more of their region of the world, going to the new shops and stores that have opened up in their city which is making shopping for certain things a lot easier and lastly, getting to inherit the old things of departing teachers from the previous school year!


Recently updated schools:

· 10 Sept  American Bilingual School (14 new comments)
(Kuwait City, Kuwait)
“ABS accommodations are single-occupancy only. Staff members are not allowed to invite a roommate, boyfriend, girlfriend, fiance, driver, maid, etc. to live with them in ABS housing. You must pay…”
· 09 Sept  Dalian Maple Leaf International School (9 new comments)
(Dalian, China)
“There are several modern department stores and shopping malls in Dalian. In addition to Chinese chain stores there are Walmarts from the USA, Carrifours from France, and MyKals from Japan. There is a…”
· 05 Sept  Naseem International School (Bahrain) (20 new comments)
(Riffa, Bahrain)
“Be sure to bring enough cash to get you through to your first pay check at the end of September. There will be a settling in allowance of …”
· 05 Sept  Dhirubhai Ambani International School (5 new comments)
(Mumbai, India)
“The campus is situated at Bandra-Kurla Complex, Mumbai, which is a fast emerging business district. Just off Bandra-Kurla Complex Road, it is accessible to students and teachers living in different…”
· 04 Sept  American School of Barcelona (3 new comments)
(Barcelona, Spain)
“I miss the students at ASB. They were so full of energy and character. I have worked at two other international schools now and the students at ASB are definitely the…” 

(Click here for the last 40 schools to be updated with new comments)


Recent blog entries:

· Featured article: Moving Overseas with Children by Teachers International Consultancy (part 1)
“Moving abroad with children requires a lot of planning in advance to make the transition as easy as possible for everyone. There’s no doubt that you’ll be faced with hitches along the way, but everything…”

· The Wonderful World of Int’l School Hiring Fairs: Lesson #1 – Bad interviews are good things
“No matter the reputation of the school, the people sitting across from you in the hotel room asking you questions in that school’s name are a stronger indicator of how it would feel to work at that school …”

· Member Search Feature: What positions do International School Community members have?
“After using the member profile search feature on the main homepage of International School Community, we found the following results…”

· Great link: Want to work at an international school in Thailand?
“We are often asked for ‘foreign schools’ in Bangkok and Thailand. None of the international schools in Bangkok and Thailand is really a ‘foreign school’ since they are all accredited by the Ministry of Education in Thailand…”

· How to Break into International School Teaching
“Some of the applications for recruitment fairs like Search and ISS can take months to complete.  Especially the confidential references that you need to get your references to submit….”


Recently added schools:


Requested schools to be reviewed:


This last month we have had visits from 61 countries around the world!

Site Stats:
Current members: 135
School profiles: 877
Surveys: 5
Blog entries: 92
Posted comments and information: 939


Posting comments and information:

We encourage you to take some time to fill out some comments and information about this schools you know about.  Remember, posting in done anonymously. The more information we share, the more other members will know and be able to make more informed decisions if they are considering employment at an international school.  Also, the more members we have, the more people there are to leave information and to network with.  Please refer your international school teacher friends to join our community and to share what they know!

Officially, we also have 85 likes on Facebook and on Twitter we have 135 followers!


New members:

·Taylor Smith (Garden International School)
·Todd Bowler (Canadian International School – Singapore)
·Krista Wolfe (International School of Elite Education)
·Annette Harvey (Almaty Haileybury)
·YooKyung Shim (Seoul International School)
·ana De Anda (Monterrey Colegio Ingles Monterrey)


Current Survey Topic:
Vote here!


Member spotlight:

If you’d like to be one of our next member spotlights send us a message here.  Highlighted members will receive a coupon code for 6 free months of premium access!


Highlighted Link
TIC website. Highlights from this page: TIC provides a personalised, reliable and responsive recruitment and training service tailored specifically to international schools and teachers worldwide. TIC are experts in international schools having over 25 years experience in international education. They have a huge network of contacts in great international schools all over the world; this enables them to help you find your perfect overseas teaching job. They offer a tailored recruitment service whether you are a teacher looking for a job overseas or a school looking to recruit.
Facebook page:
A great facebook group page for international school teachers.  Check it out here.  It is a community of educators working in international schools across the globe.  TIST is a site dedicated to a number of interests:
– Sharing instructional strategies
– Integrating instructional technology
– Insights on international teaching
– Questions and concerns about IB
– Cross-curricular and cross-continental collaborative projects
– Job fairs and the recruitment process
– Advice about future teaching destinations and cultural adjustment
– Keeping up with old colleagues and making new contacts
continue reading

ISCommunity Newsletters

International School Community News v2011.01 – 10 May, 2011

May 26, 2011



v2011.01 – 10 May, 2011
The first International School Community newsletter has arrived!  First of all, we would like to thank all our current members for their support so far.  Many thanks go out to all those members that had a part in the development of this website.  International School Community strongly encourages for members to leave comments and submit their votes on the schools they currently work at or have worked at in the past.  We also encourage you to take a minute to update your member profile so that others will be able to network with you more easily.  Enjoy being an active member on this website and help yourself and others to continue on in the “International School Community.”

 


Current Promotion: All new members that sign up will automatically receive a free 1-month subscription of premium membership.  If you are already a member, you can still benefit from this promotion.  Just sign-on and click on the My Account tab and then the renew your subscription link.  Use the coupon code “1FREEMONTH” on the payment page, and you will automatically receive the free 1-month subscription of premium membership.  Make sure to forward this newsletter to your friends and colleagues so that they can also benefit from this promotion.


Recently updated schools (more):

  • Shekou International School (Shekou, China)
    “The campus is very beautiful, lots of nature. Many of the teachers live within walking distance from the school and have views of the ocean…”
  • Graded School Sao Paulo (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
    “Many other teachers choose to live in the trendier areas and take the school bus to work or combine public transportation with taxi rides (shared with other teachers)…”
  • Benjamin Franklin Int’l School (Barcelona, Spain)
  • Shanghai Community Int’l School
    (Shanghai, China)
    “There is one campus that is in Pudong and one in Puxi. From both campuses it takes about 30-40 minutes to get to the center of the city (to the Bund area)…”
  • Seoul International School (Seoul, South Korea)
    “The school uses current practices such as readers and writers workshop, and provides training if necessary in these areas. Teachers are required to stay until 5 on Mondays so a lot of this work can be done then.work can be done then…”
  • Hong Kong International School
    (Hong Kong, China)
  • Columbus School Medellin (Medellin, Colombia)
    “The school is basically on top of a mountain…”
  • American School of Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain)
    “Once you have your residency card, you are totally covered (within Spain) by the public healthcare system and everything is free…”
  • Shanghai Rego International School
    (Shanghai, China)
    “I have a housekeeper come and clean my apartment and do my washing/ironing 2 times a week for 5 hours total. I pay her 15 RMB an hour…”

Recently added schools:

Requested schools to be reviewed:

Recent blog entries:

Site Stats
Current members: 49
School profiles: 719
Surveys: 2
Blog entries: 27
Pictures: 10
Posted comments: 71


Member spotlights:
Clare Rothwell
“I enjoy the way students of different cultural backgrounds play together and include each other in games in spite of communication challenges.”

Christy Niemeyer
“It all started on New Year’s Eve 2003. I was talking with someone at a party whose sister was teaching in Malaysia. This person was telling me the exciting and lucrative life her sister was leading by working internationally…”


Website updates:
•The whole sign-up process has been revamped.
•The recently updated school profiles feature has been improved. Comment tidbits and map feature added.
•The map feature can now be enlarged on the school profiles pages.
•The survey section is now available to non-members.


Uploaded photos:
  Shanghai Rego International School (city section)
 American School of Barcelona (benefits section)


New Survey Topic:
Which area of the world would you prefer to work in?

Vote here!


continue reading

Information for Members

It’s easy to network on ISC!

August 6, 2019


How many times have you applied to a school wishing that you knew somebody that worked there?

Knowing somebody and getting the ‘inside scoop’ on an international school will definitely help you in your quest to set up an interview there.

At International School Community we made that search for ‘informed people’ even easier with our new Top 40 Schools with the Most Members page.

Currently, our top 40 international schools with the most members are:
24 members – American International School in Egypt
23 members – Copenhagen International School
21 members – International School of Kuala Lumpur
21 members – International School Manila
17 members – Seoul International School
17 members – International School of Tanganyika
17 membersJakarta International School
17 membersMEF International School Istanbul
17 membersWestern International School of Shanghai
16 membersFairview International School
16 members – American School Foundation of Mexico City
16 members – American School of Barcelona
15 members
Singapore American School
15 membersInternational School Bangkok
14 membersUnited Nations International School (Vietnam)
14 membersShanghai Community International School
14 membersShanghai United International School (Hongqiao)
14 members – Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Astana
14 members – Istanbul International Community School
14 membersNIST International School
14 membersBrent International School Manila
14 members – Seoul Foreign School
14 membersQatar Academy (Doha)
13 members – KIS International School (Bangkok)
13 membersGraded – The American School of Sao Paulo
13 membersAmerican School of Dubai
13 membersAmerican International School of Johannesburg
13 membersAmerican International School (Vietnam)
13 membersCairo American College
13 membersGood Shepherd International School
12 members –Suzhou Singapore International School
12 membersChadwick International School – Songdo
12 membersInternational School of Beijing
12 membersWestern Academy of Beijing
12 membersAmerican International School of Kuwait
12 membersAnglo-American School of Moscow
12 membersAmerican School of Kuwait
12 membersCanadian International School (Singapore)
11 membersAmerican Embassy School New Delhi
11 membersBilkent Laboratory & International School

The members of these schools include members that currently work there now or have worked there in the past.

With 100-300 new members joining each month, this list will continue to grow and grow; with even more members showing up as potential people to network with.

It is simple to network on our website: just click on a member and then click on the ‘Contact this member’ button (Premium membership access required).  Then write him/her a message.  When your message is sent, the other member will get an email alert letting them know that they have a new message waiting for them on our website (you don’t need premium membership access to reply to a private message on our website). Numerous International School Community members have already taken advantage of this unique feature on our website!

As far as we know, International School Community is the only website where you can quickly and easily network with real people at a specific international school.  Meaning, if you want to get in touch with somebody from the United Nations International School in New York and you are currently a premium member of International School Community, you now have 6 members that you can contact on our website that either work there now or have worked there in the past.  

Get the answers to your questions; now that is easy networking!

continue reading

Photo Contests

Top three photos for Welcoming New Students: And the winners of this photo contest are…

September 7, 2014


I’m happy to announce the winners of our Second Photo Contest (How your school welcomes new students and celebrates the cultural diversity of its student population.).

This photo contest was special because the top three winners also received a free book from the author herself (Valerie Besanceney).  The children’s book is called B at Home: Emma Moves Again (available on Amazon). It is a fictional “memoir” about the experiences of a ten-year-old girl and her teddy bear who have to move yet again. During the different stages of another relocation, Emma’s search for home takes root. As the chapters alternate between Emma’s and her bear’s point of view, Emma is emotionally torn whereas B serves as the wiser and more experienced voice of reason. For more information on her book and the topic of Third Culture Kids, please visit her website: www.valeriebesanceney.com.

After a lengthy debate with our panel of international school educators, we have decided on the top three photos.

First Place: Taken at DIWAI International Primary School in Tabubil, Papua New Guinea. “The picture is of PNG Independence Day. I was the only teacher who dressed up. I was overwhelmed by the locals generosity and felt honoured when given a special necklace for the dance.”

038

Congratulations, Robyn Clark!

Prize awarded: Premium membership for TWO YEARS on our website + a free book!

Second Place: Taken in American School in Taichung, in Taichung, Taiwan.  “In the culture of International Schools, a changing student population is one of the few constants. New students are greeted with smiles and students moving back to their home country, or to the next one, are bid farewell with hugs, tears, and even celebrations. This photo depicts such an event, when a well-liked student left before the school year ended.”

IMG_20140429_125625_840

Congratulations, Christine Bierman!

Prize awarded: Premium membership for ONE YEAR on our website + a free book!

Third Place: Taken at the American School of Barcelona. “It was a hallway display that changed every month or so. It highlighted 4 students, from 4 different parts of the world. Each student was interviewed and their answers were displayed next to their picture.”

IMG_1066

Congratulations!

Prize awarded: Premium membership for SIX MONTHS on our website + a free book!

Thanks to everyone who participated!  We have awarded everyone else ONE WEEK of premium membership for participating in this photo contest.

Stay tuned for our next photo contest which will happen sometime during the next 1-2 months.

continue reading

Video Highlight

Video Highlight: The Language of Should (a documentary short by Ron Rosenow)

March 5, 2014


The life of an expat is indeed an exciting one: the trips you take, the cool food you eat, and the awesome and inspiring people you meet.

There is also the language though, the language of your host country, which most likely becomes a huge factor that you are confronted with when living abroad.

ECIS ESL and Mother Tongue committee member Ron Rosenow created a movie that highlights the experiences of six expats in Barcelona.  It is called – The Language of Should

We just watched this documentary short at the ECIS ESL and Mother Tongue Conference in Amsterdam and thought to share it with the International School Community as it is something international school teachers think about on a daily basis. The movie takes place in Barcelona, Spain.

7

Excerpt: Expats live in their second language every day. ´The language of should´ tells their stories—or lets them speak for themselves—in a humorous, authentic and original way.

Personal and universal, the stories of these six North Americans in Barcelona will resonate with anyone who has struggled to learn a second language, and to fit in.

Director Ron Rosenow, himself an expat in Barcelona, brings his unique perspective, humble and humorous tone, and a lot of empathy for his subjects, to this 30-minute documentary short.

8

Currently on www.internationalschoolcommunity.com we have 26 international schools listed in Spain with 3 of them being in the city of Barcelona.  The number of comments and information that have been submitted for each school is listed to the right the link to each school.  Here are a just a few of them:

• American School of Barcelona (119 Comments)
• Benjamin Franklin Int’l School (49 Comments)
• Sotogrande International School (6 Comments)
• American School Madrid (27 Comments)
• American School Valencia (21 Comments)

If you know about what it is like working at one of these international schools in Spain, log-on today and submit your own comments and information.  For every 10 comments you submit, then you can get 1 month of premium membership for free!

continue reading

Surveys

Survey results are in: Where are you spending your ‘extra’ money while teaching abroad?

September 15, 2012


The survey results are in, and it seems as if most visitors and members of International School Community who voted are spending their ‘Extra’ money on traveling, clothes and food.

I guess it comes as no surprise that international school teachers are traveling a lot.  If we have the time and means to do it, then we often take advantage of this time in our lives (because it might not last for ever!).  We love the fact that we are getting more time for holidays throughout the school year (than maybe you would be getting in your home country).  Some international schools are also celebrating up to three countries’ national holidays!  Being that many of us don’t have family living where we are currently living in the world, there is sometimes no good reason to stick around our host city during our vacation time.  When holiday time comes around, we are all asking each other “Where are you traveling to?”

At one point in my international school teaching career, I was traveling so much that I was averaging 12 new countries a year!  New countries!  And I was at a placement with the lowest salary of my teaching career.  I guess then it all depends on your location in the world and how well that city’s airport is connected to other cities in the world.  Sometimes the cost of living in the city can play a factor as well to how much money you have left over for traveling.  If you pay rent in your current placement, having a roommate too can help you put more of your earnings towards traveling instead of a higher monthly rent that you would be paying if you were living by yourself.

There are many factors to consider.  Knowing about all this information about traveling before you sign a contract can quite important then…that is if traveling is one of your top priorities while living abroad.  Luckily on International School Community, we have a Travel Section in the comments and information part of each school’s profile that discusses this very topic.  There are four topics in this section:

• Sample travel airfares from host city airport to destinations nearby.

• Describe proximity of major airport hubs to the city center and give sample taxi, train, subway and/or bus fares to get there.

• Popular travel websites to buy plane tickets or tours that are popular for expats living in the city and/or country.

• Places to travel to outside the city by bus or train.

There have been many comments and information submitted in the Travel Section on numerous school profiles on our website.

One International School Community member said about working at American School of Barcelona: “It is easy to get to almost every European city from Barcelona for a decent price. You do have to shop around and it is better to book ahead. A flight from Barcelona to the east coast of the USA at Christmas costs around 500-900 Euros.”

Another member said about working at American School of Asuncion: “It is very difficult to travel on a regular weekend, since Asuncion is basically in the middle of nowhere, and flights to the closest cool cities (Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro) are expensive. It is also becoming more and more pricey with the Visas required for Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. They range from $60-140.”

Another member submitted a comment about the traveling opportunities while working at Kodaikanal International School: “KIS is fortunate in having a fully staffed Travel Office to coordinate student, staff and community travel. Our travel partner ‘Around the World Travel’ is an India-wide agency with decades of experience in providing national and international travel options to and from KIS.”

We also have other comments and information topics in the City Section of the school profile pages that are related to clothing and food.  One of these topics covers the best places in your host city to find good deals on clothing and other shopping.  We all can benefit from hearing about places that are good to go to versus spending time and energy going to ones that aren’t so good in our host city.

For those international school teachers that put going out to eat a lot as a top priority while living abroad, there are also topics that discuss the best places in the city to go out to eat.  We even have a topic that is about restaurants that appeal to the expat community living in that host city (we all want a little ‘familiar’ food every now and then!).

Some of us spend our ‘extra’ money buying imported goods.  Typically the food sold in the local expat grocery store is at a very high price, prices you would never pay if you were living in your home country.  But because of the ‘extra’ money that many international school teachers have while living abroad, we can afford buying these products. Well we can often buy these high-priced products, but maybe not live on these products!

So what are ou spending your ‘extra’ money on while living abroad?  With the appeal of being able to travel to most places in the world and being able to go out to eat more often, it is indeed difficult to save your ‘extra’ money at times.  According to the survey results though, there are some international school teachers that are saving their money.  Some schools actually force you to save in a way, when they transfer part of your salary into your home country bank account while they transfer another part into your local bank account.  Typically you can live on the money transferred into your local account, letting you save the money in your home country bank account very easily and make is ‘less accessible’ to spend too!

To save or not to save…that is the question!

continue reading

Surveys

New Survey: Where are you spending your “extra” money while teaching abroad?

July 17, 2012


A new survey has arrived!

Topic:  Where are you spending your “extra” money while teaching abroad?

You tell your old teacher-friends from your home country about it.  It is the one thing you can boast about as it is not so common probably in your home country: A teacher having “extra” money.  International school teachers really do have an opportunity (in most placements) to be making “extra” money, some placements more than others.

Because you typically don’t need to have a car and sometimes don’t need to pay for your rent (among many other things that take a big cut out of your paycheck each month), international school teachers have some discretionary income for sure.  In some international schools, the percentage of your income that is discretionary can be over 50%!

Most teachers I know specifically go into the International School Community to make money.  Many of us have a good opportunity to make this extra money and then are able to do what we really would like to do with our lives.  Now this could mean many things to different people, thus our survey question.

Do you like to spend your extra money on traveling, new clothes (or getting them make for you) and going out to eat all the time?

Or maybe you are teaching abroad to increase the money in you savings account in your home country?

Are there any international school teachers out there donating their extra earnings?

On www.internationalschoolcommunity.com, each school profile page has a topic under the City section that is specifically about the places you can go and spend your extra money.  It is called:

Places, markets and stores where you can find really good deals.


Copenhagen International School

We have another topic on each school profile page under the Travel section that is specifically about how much traveling costs in that city in the world.  It is called:

Sample travel airfares from host city airport to destinations nearby.


American School of Barcelona

Finally, if you are into saving money while teaching abroad at international schools, we have a topic in our Benefits section on each school profile page about saving potential. It is called:

Average amount of money that is left to be saved

American School of Asuncion

There have been 100s of comments and information already submitted in these topics on numerous school profile pages on our website.  Log-on today to check out the latest comments related to how teachers are spending their “extra” money while teaching abroad.  If you currently work at or have worked at an international school, please also log-on and share what you know about how you and your colleagues spend their extra money.

So, Where are you spending your “extra” money while teaching abroad?  Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today!  You can check out the latest voting results here.

continue reading

Surveys

New Survey: How important is it to be able to communicate in the local language in your current placement?

May 19, 2012


A new survey has arrived!

Topic:  How important is it to be able to communicate in the local language in your current placement?

We all dream of becoming fluent in the local language of the place at which we are living, but it is not as easy task…well for most people.  I know international school teachers that have only lived in their city for two years and they are pretty fluent in the local language in my opinion.  We all secretly hate these people.  Then there are teachers who have lived in their city for more than 8 years, and they still don’t really speak the local language fluently enough to have friends that only can speak that language to them.

When that is the case (you are not able to do many things in the local language), it is important to know what the English language abilities of the local people are.  In some cities (for example in Scandinavia) most people speak English at a fairly high level.  In other cities (for example in China) most of the locals aren’t able to speak English at a high level (with many of them not knowing any English).

Each city is different, even within the same country.  In turn, let’s (international school teachers) share with each other what the language abilities of the locals are with each other; what is it really like when living in that city.

On www.internationalschoolcommunity.com we have a topic under the City section that is specifically about sharing information about the language abilities of the locals.  It is called: Languages of the host city and the level of English spoken there.


American School of Barcelona

There have been 100s of comments and information already submitted in this topic on numerous school profile pages on our website.  Log-on today to check out the latest comments related to the language of the host country people in the cities that have international schools that interest you most.  If you currently work at or have worked at an international school, please also log-on and share what you know about the English language abilities of the locals in your host country.

So, how important is it to be able to communicate in the local language in your current placement?  Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today!  You can check out the latest voting results here.

continue reading

Great Link

Do you want to teach in one of the most expensive cities in the world?

June 24, 2011


I was just talking with an international school teacher friend of mine who is part of a teaching couple with 3 children.  They are looking for another job right now; their next international school.  I asked her where in the world that they would most like to move to.  She  told me that it would have to be in a city where the “living is cheap!”

I have actually lived in 2 of the cities currently on the list for 2010 of the most expensive cities in the world.  One of them is in the top half of the list and the other is in the lower half.  I’m not for sure that looking at this list is really helpful when deciding where to live internationally (if you get offered a job at an international school there, mind you).  It seems like the salary and/or benefits are typically raised in accordance to the high cost of living in the city, but not always I suppose.

Housing allowance: the main factor at play?

Some schools on the list (Canadian International School Singapore, Shanghai Community International School, Hong Kong International School, Seoul International School, etc…) offer generous housing allowances; when the school pays for all of your rent (and sometimes even the utilities).  However, I know other schools on the list (American School of Barcelona, Acs International Schools – Egham Campus, etc…) that don’t offer a housing allowance.  Not having to pay for rent (which is sometimes 1/3 of your take home pay) plays an important factor in how expensive the city is for you.  I was told by another friend who has worked at international schools for 4 years now that she plans to never pay for housing again!  I guess once you get that benefit, it is hard to go back to paying for your own rent!  There is always the money-saving option of having a roommate to help with high rent costs, but many teachers, as they get older, don’t want to consider that as an ideal option.

High-priced goods: paying 2-3 times what you would normally pay.

I know some teachers in the “most expensive cities in the world” sometimes think twice about paying 7 USD for a loaf of bread at a bakery geared towards the expat community.  Surely, that is expensive.  They would never do that if they lived in their home country.  I can’t even think of a place that would sell a loaf of bread for that price in the United States.  BUT, they actually have the money now in their budget to buy those types of things.  For sure the stores know the secret; which is that many of the expats living there don’t have to pay for their housing and have extra money to pay high prices for things that remind them of home/western-type stuff.  Especially when a new teacher first moves to a new city (when they don’t know exactly where to buy things yet and where the best prices are at different stores), there are always expats willing and able to pay high prices for western things.

There are always cheaper alternatives.

When you first move to a city, you don’t know where to get the good prices.  Once you find those places and ask your colleagues where to go, then for sure you might think the city is much less expensive than you had originally thought.  Especially if you are in a city that has a culture similar to the type of foods you like to eat.  For example, if you want to buy Cranberry juice in the United States, it is going to be relatively cheap.  However, cranberry juice is not a popular juice to drink in most other countries in the world, thus it is going to be much more expensive (if you are luckily to even find it).  Buying the local version of the products you like will for sure be a cheaper alternative.

Taxis and transportation.

If you live in one of the most expensive cities in the world, you will most likely also be paying a lot of money for taxis and other transportation.  It is especially true for cities on the list like London, Tokyo and Barcelona.  However, it is not necessary true for other cities on the list like Shanghai and Beijing.  Not being able to utilize taxis because of financial constraints can definitely play a factor in your decision to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

Final thoughts.

There are so many factors that come into play when you decide whether a city is going to be too expensive for you.  It is difficult to get a good idea of how that will effect your decision to move there before you are actually living there.  I interviewed with a school in Singapore and they were really adamant about getting me to realize beforehand how expensive it was to live there.  It was difficult for me to fully understand their concerns (after looking at their salary and benefits) without actually having experienced the high cost firsthand.  Luckily, International School Community is now here to help international educators.  We have specifically designed our school profile pages to include questions about everything related to money, benefits and the many facets of the cost of living.  With new comments being submitted every week, International School Community is certainly the website to find out important information about many international schools around the world!

continue reading

Member Spotlights

Member spotlight #2: Christy Niemeyer

April 6, 2011


Every month or so International School Community will highlight one of our members.  This month we interviewed Christy Niemeyer:

Tell us about your background.  Where are you from?
I am from Southern California. I was living and working as a fourth grade teacher for San Diego City schools before teaching abroad.

How did you get started in the international teaching community?
It all started on New Year’s Eve 2003. I was talking with someone at a party whose sister was teaching in Malaysia. This person was telling me the exciting and lucrative life her sister was leading by working internationally. I had never heard of international schools, and as I was looking for a change, I knew this was the exact kind of change I was looking for. Three months later, I accepted a job at the American School of Barcelona. Not exactly a lucrative job, but it was an amazing opportunity.

Which international schools have you worked at?  Please share some aspects of the schools that made them unique and fun places in which to work.
I have worked at two international schools so far. The first was, as I mentioned, The American School of Barcelona. It is a small school, which makes it easy to get to know both students and teachers alike. It also honors both local and multicultural traditions. Students participate in making cakes called Monas, which are cakes decorated with different themes, a local tradition. This happens around Easter. To honor other cultures, students participate in Santa Lucia celebrations (a Swedish tradition), American Halloween, and Chinese Shadow puppets, just to name a few.

I now work at Seoul International School, in South Korea. The school facility itself has a lot of character since it resembles a Korean palace, and there are Korean sculptures throughout the campus. I find this school unique because of its amazing choir and junior orchestra program. This is the first time I have worked at a school which nourishes the musical talents of students so well. During the holidays, the junior choir performed beautiful songs with the junior choir from Korean International School, our neighboring international school. It was great seeing students from the two schools perform together and they sounded amazing.

Describe your latest cultural encounter in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.
Taking a cab ride back from the airport last week, our driver seemed to want to accommodate us by playing a mixed tape of songs (loudly) in English: Bridge Over Troubled Water, and You Are Not Alone were just a few tunes played. I really felt it was for our benefit which cracked me up. I find the local people here so kind, and they often go out of their way to be helpful.

What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?
The job itself is the most important since I will be spending most of my time at work, thus I look at the integrity of the school and that it utilizes the best resources, technology, and school programs. I also like to talk to teachers who are currently working there and get their impressions of the school. Salary and benefits is also a huge consideration. Finally, the school location is also important to me, especially in terms of climate and safety.

In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?
Rewarding, eye-opening, fun, flexible, and ADDICTIVE

continue reading

Top 10 Lists

Top 12 Most Controversial Comments Submitted by Our Members (2nd edition)

May 30, 2022


International School Community is full of thousands of useful, informative comments…44256 comments (30 May 2022) to be exact.

Members are recommended to keep their comments objective on our website, and sometimes they need to share how it really is working at their international school.

We scoured our database of comments, and we found 12 that stood out to us as being some of the most controversial.

12. Has the school met your expectations once you started working there?

“Disorganised. Micromanagement from leaders who haven’t been teaching a range of schools before. Limited experience from Tier 1 schools which reflects the disorganization and reactive rather than proactive approach to problems. Leadership runs to stomp down teachers, bully them and drain their enthusiasm for teaching. AOBA has a huge staff turnover, which was a question that I asked when interviewed. I was told a very low turnover rate until I turned up and was met with a large new teaching cohort. Leadership sees good teachers, and lies to get them because they know that what they offer is not good enough for the truth-telling of how this school is actually run…” – Aoba Japan International School (Tokyo, Japan) – 49 Comments

11. Details about the teaching contract. What important things should prospective teachers know about?

“The ONLY contract that matters is the teacher’s contract with the government of Azerbaijan, and that is for one year and one year only. The “2-year” that is issued by the school? It’s not worth the paper it is written on. The business office regularly ignores sections of that contract that it finds inconvenient! Coming from a country where contracts are considered sacrosanct, that was a shocking realization…”European Azerbaijan School (Baku, Azerbaijan) – 7 Comments

10. What controversies have been happening lately? Please be objective.

“Leaders have been fired without any forewarning shocking leaders and staff. Replacements were hired who are not trusted or have a reputation for being unpleasant. Student leaders behaved in a manner this year that caused a great number of problems for staff, parents, and admin. This is not a new behavior but rather part of the school persona and spirit…” – Tarsus American College (Mersin, Turkey) – 278 Comments

9. What insider information would you give to a teacher considering working at this school?

“This is a top-down working environment and your professional opinion is not expected or valued. Smile, agree and do your best to follow through with all directives. Lay low and never make ripples, much less waves. This is a great place for 1st ever international teachers, but an unacceptable post for professional international educators…” – American International School (Abu Dhabi) (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) – 97 Comments

8. Has the school met your expectations once you started working there?

“No, Not at all. There is no PAY SCALE as promised. Teachers even don’t get paid what they should get paid when inflation rises. Salaries stay the same every year. no way you can discuss this further with your HOD or director. Different building with more facilities was said to change, during my interview. During Covid, online teaching they cut salaries. Can you believe that? We spent more time in organising online learning and then they cut salaries! Flexibility only comes from one side in this school. I would not recommend this school to any teacher nor student!!!!” – International School Ruhr (Essen, Germany) – 65 Comments

7. Has the school met your expectations once you started working there?

“No, the interview process was great yet when I joined there were clashes of values and I was constantly asked to stop and ‘listen’ (listen in the sense of ‘do what I say’ rather than ‘listen’ from the heart to hear and incorporate perspectives). As a creative person with ambition and well-read and connected, I had to keep lowering expectations until I felt there was no way I could continue working here. I had a completely different ethic, based on quality international school standards. I was highly disappointed by the lack of innovative thinking and the authoritarian and competitive feel of the majority of the leaders. I think the school is too American and not enough “international”. the culture was not healthy…” – Anglo American School of Sofia (Sofia, Bulgaria) – 74 Comments

6. Pension plan details.

“It is not a pension. Due to Brazilian law, each teacher pays 8% of their salary each month into a guarantee fund. This is more or less an unemployment insurance. At the end of your contract, the school agrees to “fire” you, so you can access that fund. Based on the exchange rate at that time, it can vary in USD. At the beginning of my contract is was estimated around $12,000. But, now it will be much closer to $7,000. There is no way to know how much it will actually be in the end…” – American School of Belo Horizonte (Belo Horizonte, Brazil) – 78 Comments

5. Has the school met your expectations once you started working there?

“The school has changed severely since the new head of school started this school year. 6 people had been fired so far, the morale is really low, there is a fear of “who will be the next”. The environment is not healthy at all…” – Benjamin Franklin International School (Barcelona, Spain) – 116 Comments

4. Has the school met your expectations once you started working there?

“My first impression of the school was that it was warm, welcoming, and compassionate. I thought I would truly matter as an employee – I was eager to find a school with a family-like atmosphere that I could make home. The family-like atmosphere is a total illusion. Employees are expendable. HR put out a health survey to prepare for Covid-19. Anyone (local staff and teaching assistants) seen as expendable that marked that they were at a higher risk of Covid on that survey was fired at the end of the school year. The motto for the year was “We Are One.” The irony was not lost on the foreign staff with this. Generally, the moment you have a differing opinion, an issue, or a criticism, you are treated like garbage. This school is the epitome of the term “toxic positivity…” – School of the Nations (Brasilia) (Brasilia, Brazil) – 41 Comments

3. Are the expectations high of teaching staff? Are there extracurricular responsibilities? Describe workload details.

“Workload has increased, as teachers have been fired/let go… those remaining are regularly requested to cover (during their planning periods) for those who are out sick…” – Lahore American School (Lahore, Pakistan) – 193 Comments

2. Average monthly salary after taxes and in what currency (explain taxation situation). How often do you get paid throughout the year?

“This is a great school with a fantastic community of teachers and staff. Such a shame that the owners will ignore the contract and refuse to pay health insurance above a yearly total of $180 per year, but then use the poor wording in the contract to cheat other people out of their final month’s salary. Beware if you want to work here…” – Sekolah Victory Plus (Jakarta, Indonesia) – 143 Comments

1. Average monthly salary after taxes and in what currency (explain taxation situation). How often do you get paid throughout the year?

“No raise last year and I believe no raise this year as well…. Makes you wonder if the school is having some issues…” – Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea) – 226 Comments

If you have an interesting story in your school that you would like to share, log in to International School Community and submit your comments. For every 10 submitted comments, you will get one month of free premium membership added to your account!

continue reading

Comment Topic Highlight

Favorite Restaurants, Places to Go to and Things to Do in Your Host Country

May 17, 2018


When you live abroad in a foreign country, one of the best parts is enjoying all that your host country has to offer. When you first arrive, you don’t know just yet which things are your favorite to do, which restaurants that you’ll frequent a lot, and which places you’ll want to go all the time to. But as you explore around every weekend or month, you get yourself more familiarized with our your new country and start to create all of your new favorites’ lists.
favorite

Eating out and finding a really tasty restaurant in your host city is the best. Such delicious local food (or ‘expat food’ cuisine) to be had! While not all local restaurants will be the best, there are sure to be some excellent ones. Typically you find these out from the veteran teachers at your school. They’ve been there awhile, so they are the best ones to let you know where to eat out at. And if the cost of living is low where you are, you might just find yourself eating out all the time (see How NOT to save money when working as an international school teacher #2: Go out to eat all the time!)

There are also just your favorite things to do in the city. Maybe it is taking a jog around the corniche if you live in a city in the Middle East. Maybe it is going to a posh bar downtown where a lot of expats frequent, like the Bund in Shanghai, China. Maybe it is just a quiet park that you like in Western Europe where people go to just relax and enjoy the clean air and surrounding nature (and people watch). The best part is you don’t know your favorite things to do in your host city until you arrive. You could say this aspect is one of the more exciting part of living abroad and teaching internationally.

favorite

Another cool thing to do in your host country and traveling around and exploring the different places it offers. If you like the mountains, hopefully you will live not too far away from one that you go to do on the weekend (let’s say if you live in Zurich). If you like the sea, maybe there will be a nice coast that you can take a local bus to (let’s say north of Barcelona). Enjoying your day at the beach can be a great getaway from your sometimes busy life at your international school. In China, they have these really beautiful water towns. Many international school teachers in Shanghai are bound to have a favorite water town that they frequent every so often.

favorite

So many favorite things, so little time. Especially if your plan is to only stay 2-3 years in your current host country, it is good to frequent your favorite places and often!  Soon enough, you’ll be moving away to live in your next location and you’ll certainly miss all of your current favorite things! (see Going back to a place you once lived – I almost cried!)

155595-linebreak

Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of your favorite host country restaurants, places and things to do. There are a total of 394 comments (May 2018) that have been submitted by our veteran international school teachers in one of 65 comment topics called – “Name your favorite restaurants, favorite places to go to and favorite things to do in the city.”

Here are a few of those submitted comments:

“Cheongna it is pretty easy to get to the famous Hongdae area of Seoul. The area has tons of restaurants, cafes, bars, street food vendors, and live performances. In Cheongna itself, there are new places opening all the time. Current favorites are Roy’s (a Mexican place), Wembley’s Bar, Chicken & Beer, Big Grill (a Korean BBQ place), Texas BBQ, and Hans Craft (craft beer pub). For activities, many teachers like to use the boats in Lake Park or go for a picnic. Many teachers enjoy mountain biking and hiking on the nearby trails. Screen golf and screen baseball are fun activities and of course noraebang (singing rooms).” – Cheongna Dalton School (Incheon, South Korea)42 Total Comments

“Oslo has an amazing fjord. Its cheap and plenty of little islands can be got to for the normal cost of your monthly T-Bane card. There are fantastic restaurants – but you will need a mortgage before going out for a good dinner here. Skiing and hiking are cheap or free and we spend our summers picking berries in the forests and winters skiing or skating. Its a paradise in truth.” – Northern Lights International School (Oslo, Norway)28 Comments

“Zurich is definitely a city worth walking through. Ambling through the narrow lanes of the old town is a treat. Pop into either the Fraumunster church to see the stunning Chagall windows or walk to up the tower of the Grossmunster church, or walk into the cript of the Water Church. On a nice day a short boat ride (Kleine rundfahrt) which starts at the main boat docks near Burkliplatz is worth the time.” – Zurich International School (Zurich, Switzerland)33 Total Comments

“Tianjin is a very beautiful city with lots of canals and urban parks and greenways. It is incredibly flat. There are two lakes next to school and expat teachers live in apartments around the lakes. It is a wonderful location for running and exercise in all seasons of the year.” – HIKSVS International School (Tianjin, China)30 Comments

“One of my personal favorites is a nice place in Paragon called Midtown. They have a large menu with a lot of traditional Thai dishes and a few international options. Some of their spicy dishes are fantastic (if you can handle Thai chili peppers).” – NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand)242 Comments

“We just went to Bait Al Luban near to the Corniche Mutrah. The food there is delicious! It really seems like they use fresh ingredients and things made there are done to a really nice perfection. Another favorite restaurant that we’ve been to is in the Wave area. It is a Lebanese restaurant that’s called Zahr El Laymoun. We got some hot and cold mezza dishes and every single one was so tasty. Will definitely be going back to these places soon.” – American International School of Muscat (Muscat, Oman)34 Comments

continue reading

Information for Members

A Member Spotlights Summary: We have had 35 highlighted members so far!

March 26, 2017


Since we started our website back in February 2011, we have had a total of 35 member spotlight articles highlighted on our blog. Thanks to all 35 members who have participated so far!

Learning more about our fellow international school teachers can be very enlightening, inspiring and also quite interesting!

Who were the 35 members that have been our members spotlights so far you ask?  Well they haven’t all been teachers, some have held other positions either in a school setting or in a field of eduction with also a connection to international schools. Others had prior experience working in international schools. Here is the breakdown of what job titles they have:

International School Teachers: 25
Staff Development Coordinator: 1
International school directors: 4
Curriculum coordinator: 1
Principal: 1
Veteran international school teacher: 1
International School Consultant: 1
Members of an international school board of directors: 1

There are 6 parts to the questionnaire that all member spotlights fill out:

• Tell us about your background.  Where are you from?
• How did you get started in the international teaching community?
• Which international schools have you worked at?  Please share some aspects of the schools that made them unique and fun places in which to work.
• Describe your latest cultural encounter (or reverse cultural encounter) in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.
• What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?
• In exactly five words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?

It is pretty amazing the amount of experience and useful information that our member spotlights have provided in their answers to these six parts.

So, how did all of our members answer this part of the questionnaire: In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?

• Living life full of energy
• Culturally enriching, questioning true internationalism.
• Beautiful, soul satisfying, enriching, enlightening and delightful.
• Eye-opening, educational, humbling, challenging, fulfilling.
• Successfully making a positive difference!
• truly rewarding challenging and capability enhancing.
• Discovery. Rewarding. Engaging. Relationships. Awesome.
• Opportunity for growth, an eye opener.
• Exciting, inspiring, educating, challenging and fulfilling.
• Adventure, culture, education, difference, satisfaction.
• Open-minded, Professional, Dedicated, Discovery, Fun
• Transforming, Exciting, Challenging, Embracing, Engaging
• Make the best of it.
• Challenging, enriching, frustrating, reflective, confirming
• Exciting adventure of a lifetime!
• Fantastic Educational Humbling Expanding Gratifying
• The job of a lifetime.
• Challenging,  invigorating, demanding, breathtaking , fun!
• Hard work, but immensely rewarding.
• Stimulating,  unpredictable,  addictive,  inspiring, challenging.
• Fascinating, exciting, lucrative, wide-ranging and addictive!
• Eye opening, cultural, well paid, opportunity, life changing.
• Exciting, interesting, enlightening, educational and unique.
• 1. Rewarding 2. Different 3. Adventurous 4. Dynamic 5. Unpredictable
• Full of variety, rewarding, challenging.
• Rewarding, eye-opening, fun, flexible, and ADDICTIVE
• The opportunity of a lifetime.
• Lifelong learning at its finest!
• Rejuvenating, Creative, Innovative, Culturally Rich
• The novelty never wears off!
• Exhilarating, Challenging, Adventurous, Broadening, Inspiring
• Enriching, adventurous, challenging, rewarding, limitless.
• Exciting, fun, new friends, challenges!

These 35 members have a wealth of knowledge about working at a number of international schools. Maybe you have worked at an international school that they have worked at as well?!  Here are just a few of the schools that they either currently work at now or have worked at in the past:

• Cebu International School  – 7 Comments
• Xiamen International School (Xiamen, China) – 25 Comments
• Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 222 Comments
• Benjamin Franklin Int’l School (Barcelona, Spain) – 66 Comments
• Universal American School in Dubai (Dubai, United Arab Emirates) – 17 Comments
• Thai-Chinese Int’l School Bangkok – 21 Comments
• American International School in Egypt – 62 Comments
• International School of Tanganyika – 145 Comments
• Mahatma Gandhi International School – 3 Comments
• British Early Years Centre (Bangkok, Thailand) – 10 Comments
• American School Madrid (Madrid, Spain) – 54 Comments
• Frankfurt International School & Wiesbaden (Frankfurt, Germany) – 13 Comments
• Albanian International School (Tirana, Albania)19 Comments
• British International School Moscow (Moscow, Russia)11 Comments
• Stamford American International School (Singapore, Singapore)47 Comments

Thanks again to everyone who has participated in the Member Spotlight feature on our blog so far.

If you are a member of International School Community and would like to be our next member spotlight, contact us here at editor @ internationalschoolcommunity.com.  All highlighted members receive 1 free year of premium access to our website!

continue reading

Highlighted Articles

Is the Expat Bubble Inescapable?

December 11, 2015


Expats in general often talk about getting outside of the bubble.  Sometimes we even complain about the factors of a society that prevent us from doing so.  I have mixed feelings on the concept of escaping the expat bubble. Authentic, non-expatriate experiences are out there.  We just have to go on the other side of the wall to get there.  Living in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, I could go eat local foods, such as ugali, beans and rice, stewed bananas, or greens cooked in coconut milk, any time I choose.  The thing is, I don’t choose to do so.  Far more often than not, I eat pizza, hamburgers, pasta with tomato sauce, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and barbecued pork.  The foods, and all of the cultural experiences connected to food, are there.  I just don’t go to them.

IMG_20150920_111234The local language, Swahili, is a learnable language, and there are several language schools out there competing for the business of expats.  Over the course of history Swahili has been scribed into both Arabic and English written forms.  Lessons are available in your home, if you want them, and they are not expensive.  The language is all around me on billboards, menus, bumper stickers, and political advertisements.  The language, and all of the cultural experiences connected to understanding it, is there.  I haven’t tried in earnest to learn it.  That’s why, two and a half years into my stay in Tanzania, I can still only say thank you, and hello and goodbye in a variety of ways.  I just haven’t done it.

But here’s the catch.

For one weekend, I exposed myself to a way of living that I did not even know existed. Some friends from work and I visited Maasai homes in the inner Tanzanian countryside.  The homes are literally made of branches and mud. The surrounding villages all draw from one isolated well for their drinking water. The well is hand-dug, open to the elements, has sloped mud sides and requires climbing into and out of with buckets of muddy water on one’s head. There is no electricity out there. Paved roads are few and far between. Petrol is sold in used water bottles. The local market is just an open dusty field full of cattle trucks, people selling their goods off of blankets on the ground, and open fires cooking freshly slaughtered beef and serving it on banana leaves.

I was out of the bubble!  Wasn’t I?  Well, I was still trapped inside my English-speaking bubble, which limited my interactions greatly, so maybe I wasn’t outside of the bubble in any way beyond my geographic location.  Did I really do anything more than drive far away from my neighborhood?

IMG_4851The biggest issue with the bubble is this.  After just two nights in a place that was almost as far from my previous life experiences as I could get, my friends and I got into our 4×4 Toyotas imported from Japan, we left behind several large bottles of water, because we could just buy more at the shop around the corner once we got home, and we drove back to our concrete homes with 8 foot high security walls, internet, running hot water, gas stoves, ovens, beds, mattresses, mosquito nets, electricity, furniture, electrical appliances, air conditioning, a deeply stocked pantry and refrigerator, and a hundred other small comforts I don’t really think about until I look back at homes made of sticks and mud, a lifestyle centered around keeping cattle alive in a dry and dusty landscape, and having to climb down a steep, muddy wall to get thick, muddy water.

I can always just drive home.  That is my bubble, a bubble of privilege based almost solely on being born where I was as who I am.  I won’t ever be able to get away from that.

In response to the question of escaping the expat bubble

Shortly after posing the question, “Is the expat bubble inescapable?” on my own blog, Two Years and Counting . . ., my good friend, Lindsay Rowland, sent me a reply. While working in Barcelona, Lindsay met and became dear friends with a woman from Barcelona named Aurora. Some time after Lindsay moved away, Aurora had to be hospitalized due to sudden and severe medical issues. Lindsay took time off of work and went back to Barcelona to be there for her. It says a lot about the depth of their friendship. I think it says even more about the expat bubble. Here are her thoughts.

lind P7250258I think I would say that curiosity and empathy allow you to poke your head out of the bubble, but love will pop it. Human interaction is the key in both cases, but once you have made a true, real friend in the other culture, that is when the bubble begins to disintegrate. In Spain, I could speak the language reasonably well, ate the food, lived in a similar standard…but I did not really embrace the culture or begin to understand it or separate myself from my own until my friendship with Aurora, and mostly AFTER I left! Through her eyes and her experiences and perspectives and because I love her so much and strive to understand her, my eyes and heart began to be able to take in what it meant to be Spanish. And then through what has happened to her, me visiting the hospital and being embraced by the family (they have even invited me to spend Christmas with them) and all the hospital staff and being daily present in the midst of it—and all this happened because THEN I had a motivation outside of myself, outside of the “shoulds”—(I SHOULD be curious about other cultures, I SHOULD open myself to new experiences, I SHOULD learn the language) to finding the motivation from need because of love—I want to communicate with this person I love so dearly, to understand, to help, to contribute…learning becomes natural and a priority and acceptance is instantaneous because people know your efforts are genuine and you’re committed and invested.

This is not to say I change my identity but my comfort level is definitely compromised—I give up control over, not so much material things like I would in Africa, but rather my control of time if we’re talking about Spanish culture. I’m still the American in the room…but I’m the American who has shed the protective bubble of being with other Americans and eating American food and operating on American time and schedules and efficiency and methodology…and not always liking it, but doing it anyway and not complaining about it or demand that those around me conform to ME…I think that is what it means. But again, I think it’s an easier transition in this example. I don’t see how anyone would logically give up privilege comforts to drink dirty water and live in a mud hut…unless I had become true friends with someone and that person embraced me and there were some reasonable context that I would be visiting and needed…then I think I would be willing to do all: learn the language, live in the hut, etc, for as long as it took…other than drinking the water…amoebic dysentery sounds pretty horrible. But you don’t know what you’ll do until you’re in a situation, right?

Well, there you have it. As I told Lindsay, well said, and well felt. What do you think?

155595-linebreak
This article was submitted by a veteran international school teacher and International School Community member, Jonathan Park.

continue reading

Lessons From Your Country

Six Lessons from Living in Venezuela: Apply Liberally

November 17, 2015


Having lived and taught high school students in Venezuela since July of last year, I have had time to reflect on all that Venezuela and its people have taught me. On a recent beach side run, I compiled my lessons into categories that might capture what this experience in South America has helped me learn.

image4

Lesson 1: PATIENCE

Venezuelans spend a large amount of time waiting for things and they do so quite patiently. I have joined them in long lines for hours where I observe their tiny children waiting almost as patiently as the adults do. I have not yet witnessed a single toddler meltdown or an angry customer.Venezuelans regularly wait in lines outside stores to buy whatever products are in short supply (flour, sugar, milk, toilet paper). Not one person lost it last October, waiting 40 minutes inside a sold-out sealed-up airplane on the tarmac with no air-conditioning (where a woman two seats behind me fainted). We simply sat there and sweat buckets and waited patiently knowing that eventually “this too shall pass.” I have become significantly more patient while waiting.

Lesson 2: GREETINGS

One bit of cultural advice I received during the first week here, was that upon entering a social gathering, it is customary to make the rounds and greet each person—even if I don’t know them. This took some getting used to.  I was forced to reflect on how often I arrive at a party in the United States, and typically talk to the folks I know first. Eventually I meet some of the new people but only when the opportunity presents itself or if I’m actually introduced to them. In Venezuela, we greet everyone as if they are new friends to be met and the inclusive atmosphere sets the tone for each social gathering.

The same custom applies upon leaving a party;there is no slipping out the door when no one is looking. We make the rounds and say “goodbye” to each person there. And we accompany both the hello and goodbye greetings with a light cheek-to-cheek press while making a soft kiss sound with our lips.  It is downright decent and human. It’s not just the adults who greet others this way; my students do it, too.  Before heading to the airport for our Model United Nations trip to Boston, a school van met all the students whose parents had driven them to a central location and I watched as student after student arrived in their parent’s cars. It was 5 am and each sleepy student greeted every other student AND every parent who brought their son or daughter to the location AND greeted the two of us teachers—all with the same warmth and kindness. It was lovely.

Venezuelans do a lot of greeting each other warmly: when they see each other at the office, out for a run, at the market,etc. At work, my colleagues actually take the time to exchange a few pleasantries before launching into a request. This extends to e-mail and phone conversations as well; it’s not considered polite to simply say, “Hello, Joe. I was wondering if you could attend a meeting today.” No. Much better to start out with, “Hello, Joe. How are you doing today? That’s a terrific looking shirt, is it new?” And THEN you can get to the business portion of your request. It’s been a good reminder to actually SEE the person you’re talking to; to ACKNOWLEDGE the receiver of your email or phone call. At times it’s been a challenge since we Americans tend to be fairly rushed and all business and “who has time for all this chit-chat, just let get me to saying what I need!!” Taking the time to start with a greeting is a habit I hope to hang onto when I return to the rushed pace of the U.S.

image2

Lesson 3:  SLOWLY, SLOWLY.

There’s not a lot of rushing here–especially on the roads. Driving in Venezuela is chaotic and borders on the lawless.Unprotected intersections are often clogged with gridlock but with the proper combination of tenacity and generosity, everyone appears to get to their destinations. I have seen surprisingly few accidents and the key ingredient seems to be going slowly. It’s sort of a “You’ll go first; then I’ll go next—trust me!” game of roulette, but the game can be successful if we all inch along carefully without too much rushing.

I haven’t observed a lot of Venezuelans rushing through anything; it’s as if they have all the time they need to be present to each other more authentically. When it comes to language acquisition, a valuable phrase our Spanish teacher taught us was, “Puedes hablar despacio, por favor?” Could you speak slowly, please? And, really, what is the all-fire hurry? What exactly are we racing towards anyway?

Lesson 4: LIVE WITHIN THE LIMITATIONS

If we get through a weekend in which there is a consistent supply of water, electricity AND Internet, it is an unexpected bonus. However we have learned to live within the limits of having the water turned off during times of rationing. When the power suddenly goes out, we have spontaneous candlelight dinners. If there happens to be a pint of ice cream in the freezer, we traditionally get it out and eat every last bite because who likes ice cream that’s been melted and re-frozen? We put down our phones and Ipads, break out the paperback books, do a little writing on paper, take a walk or take a nap.

The scarcity of products is a condition we have learned to accept. This has been true at the market as well as at school. When I got my classroom stapler from the school secretary in August, I was given TWO ROWS of staples (not two boxes—two ROWS). I’ve been forced to get creative by using whatever book titles and supplies can be found. One “splurge” food for the first few months here was bacon and we found it in the stores every week. Oatmeal,on the other hand, was nowhere to be found. Upon returning from Christmas break, we loaded our suitcases with oatmeal (which sadly burst open and scattered into every nook and cranny of our bag). And then the month we returned, we couldn’t find bacon anywhere, but lo and behold, there was some oatmeal on the shelves.We have learned to get by with whatever we find and get along without what we cannot find and we do just fine.

Lesson 5: SHARING REALLY IS CARING

When your colleague has two children under 2 years of age and she can’t find milk but you have an extra carton, it’s a no-brainer. You share. The beauty of it is, that same colleague has the sugar you haven’t been able to locate and the exchange benefits everyone. Mention that you’re down to your last tablespoon of coffee and no store seems to have any, and the next day a friend arrives to your classroom with a pound she didn’t need. Can’t find flour? Someone else has two bags, and only needs one–so there you go. When my swim goggles broke the first month here, my friend who forgot to bring bug spray made an exchange with me. We share everything from meals to rides to tips for survival. As most of us are far from home, we are each others’ families; one young family with children the same age as our two grand kids, helps fill the ache of missing our little ones during mid-week dinners and weekend boating excursions.

We come back from all of our trips laden with gifts for the people who care for us. Secretaries, guards, maids, custodians,assistants and friends are thoughtfully considered and when they receive the gifts we bring them, we are liberally showered with gratitude and appreciation.

image3

Lesson 6: SEE THE BEAUTY

Before we came here, our superintendent told us that living in Venezuela would be a “bi-polar” experience. He was right. We stand on the balcony of our luxurious apartment overlooking an infinity pool and the Caribbean and boom–the power goes out. Or we come back from a morning run or an afternoon of snorkeling and all we want is a shower but —DANG–there’s no water. Or as in the example our administrator used when he hired us, “You might come home from work and all you want is a cheese sandwich, but your maid ate your last piece of cheese. The good news is you have a maid; the bad news is she ate your last piece of cheese.” We choose to see
the beauty.

There is so much to celebrate in Venezuela—the views are magnificent, the weather is spectacular and, oh my god, we LIVE at the beach. But the beaches are littered with trash, the city’s buildings are dilapidated, street dogs and stray cats are everywhere. Sure we could focus on the things that break, the food borne stomach-bugs that can lay us flat, or the crime rate. But instead we choose image1-1to see a culture that nourishes our souls—and in so doing we have been treated to a school year that has given us an opportunity to travel throughout South America and has re-energized our passion for work and for life.

These have easily been the most memorable months of our lives. Without a doubt, we better understand our own lives by immersing ourselves in another culture to provide us with lessons we never imagined we needed to learn.

155595-linebreak
This article was submitted by guest author Connie Finnegan.

Bio: After 25 years of teaching in Wisconsin, Connie Finnegan taught high school English at Colegio Internacional Puerto la Cruz in Barcelona, Venezuela between 2013-2015.

continue reading

Information for Members

On break? Check out this ISCommunity Promotion: 5 Comments = 1 Month! (For 7 Days only)

December 27, 2013


Dear ISCommunity members,

5 Comments = 1 Free Month!


On winter break right now?  Take advantage of your free time to share what you know and get free premium membership.

Our regular, on-going promotion for submitting comments is that you get one free month for every 10 comments you submit.  Now for the next SEVEN days, it only will take FIVE submitted comments to get one free month of premium membership.

There’s more!  Want two free months? Submit 10 comments. Want 6 free months? Submit 30 comments.  There is no limit!

It simple to submit comments:
1. Log-on to our website
2. Find a school you know about on our Schools List page.
3. Click on the Comments and Information tab
4. Submit your comments!

Our website is unique in that we have made the search for answers quicker and easier.  We have organized all the school comments into FOUR sections (School, Benefits, City and Travel).  That means that if you want to see all the comments about salaries on a school profile page, you just simply click on the Benefits Information tab and check out the first comment topic.

There are a total of 40 comment topics:

  • School Information (14)
  • Benefits Information (14)
  • City Information (8)
  • Travel Information (4)

1000s of our members have worked at over 556 international schools, so get rewarded and take some time to share what you know!
This promotion will expire on 3 January, 2013 (11:59pm PST)

Best regards,
Admin staff at International School Community

continue reading

Highlighted Articles

Teach Internationally – Opportunities the World Over for Qualified Teachers

April 4, 2012


Tamara Thorpe, a primary teacher from New Plymouth, New Zealand, is one of over 250,000 English-speaking teachers currently working in international schools around the world.

Tamara had always been interested in the idea of working internationally. “And the tax free option was extremely appealing!” she adds. So when a teaching job became available at the Sharm British School in Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt, Tamara grabbed the opportunity. She has since moved to the El Gouna International School which is near to Egypt’s Red Sea. “The first year here was very exciting and different,” says Tamara who is now into her third year of teaching in Egypt. “We teach a version of the UK curriculum. The children are well behaved and there is a great mix of nationalities here. Due to the revolution and changes occurring here, I have seen more Egyptian children enter our international section of the school. The staff are also from all over; the majority from the UK. I am the only Southern Hemisphere teacher on staff.”

Socialising and Exploring…I love it!

Tamara says that most of the friends she has made are work colleagues or are friends of work colleagues. “Socially there are lots of people from different countries which is always interesting,” she says. “I met my fiancé here; he is from Barcelona and lives and owns a company here, so that is a great aspect!” Another great part of living in Egypt for Tamara is the exploring. She describes a recent trip to the desert: “We spent three days on a White Desert Safari. Wow, I absolutely loved it! We had a Toyota Land Cruiser 4×4 and all that desert to explore! We camped in tents, had fires every night, no luxuries as in bathroom facilities but that’s part of the experience! Being a New Zealander, I’ve grown up camping so it was all good for me! I would recommend it to anyone visiting Egypt.

As for recommending teaching in Egypt, Tamara says “Look into the region and the school. Read as much as you can about the country; Lonely Planet is great. Make sure you know exactly what you are getting in to. I found TIC very helpful (Teachers International Consultancy) and will continue to use them for future job searching.”

International teaching jobs – many opportunities

TIC is an organisation that provides free support to teachers who are considering working in an international school. This includes recommending international schools that best suit a teacher’s experience, personality and location preferences. The options for skilled and experienced English-speaking teachers are wide.

With over 6,000 international schools throughout the world, it’s a market much bigger than most people – even those within the education sector – realise. International schools are those that use English as the language for teaching and learning, and they offer an international curriculum. Most typical curricula used are the English National Curriculum, an American curriculum or an international curriculum such as the International Primary Curriculum or the International Baccalaureate. Most international schools are independent, highly respected, well-equipped and skilfully managed employing fully qualified English-speaking teachers from around the world, mainly from the UK, New Zealand and Australia, South Africa, Canada or America. These schools not only attract English-speaking children from expatriate families but also children from the local population; typically the wealthiest of the local families who recognize that an international, English-speaking education opens a lot of career doors for their children. “In fact, international schools are now catering for the richest 5% of the non-English-speaking world,” says Nicholas Brummit, Managing Director of ISC Research, an organisation which supplies data on the world’s international schools and analyses developments in the international schools market.

It’s a market that is developing significantly as ISC figures attest. “There were 2,584 English-medium international schools in 2000,” says Nicholas Brummitt. “By April 2008 that number had grown to 4,827. Currently there are 6,000 international schools and by 2021 we predict that number to be 10, 000,” he says. That means a lot of jobs for  English-speaking teachers and Headteachers and the reason why they’re looking, says Andrew Wigford of Teachers International Consultancy, isn’t just about salary. “In research that TIC carried out recently, the number one reason for teaching overseas was the adventure and the opportunity to travel,” he says. “Every single one of the respondents said that the experience of living and working internationally had enriched them as a person and the vast majority said that the experience had been good for their career too, with 89% saying that it had improved their skills and job opportunities.” Andrew adds: “For Tamara, she’s learnt to work with a new curriculum and she’s gained excellent experience of teaching children from many different countries which will help her significantly with any new job application, both internationally and back home.”

If and when she chooses to move on from El Gouna, Tamara will have plenty of options. There are another 130 international schools currently in Egypt; 69 alone in Cairo. And, according to ISC Research, there are many more further afield. Qatar has 362 international schools and Pakistan has 355, with 307 in India, 218 in Japan and 155 in Thailand.

Advice

So what is the best advice for other teachers considering a move to an international school? “Apply to accredited international schools or schools that are part of respectable organisations such as COBIS, BSME, FOBISSEA and others,” recommends Andrew Wigford. “You can find details of these organisations on the TIC website. If a recruitment organisation is helping you with your search, make sure that they only recommend you to accredited international schools, or that they personally vet non-accredited schools in advance of your interview. Also make sure your cv is up-to-date and well written.  International schools will be looking for strong personal skills as well as teaching experience.  More and more international school interviews are being conducted through Skype so be prepared for this. Make sure you have the correct equipment set up and have practiced communicating through Skype in advance of any interviews. Work through a reputable organization when searching for foreign teaching positions. There are a few unscrupulous owners in some international schools who do not take the appropriate procedures to ensure that foreign teachers have the correct health and safety coverage, visa back-up, or suitable accommodation. Teachers have been known to find themselves in difficult circumstances, sometimes a long way from home. So working with an established organisation to oversee your placement will give you the security you need. If you work with an organisation that is specifically experienced at recruiting for the international school market, they will be able to give you all the advice and expert support that you need and will know – and may well have visited – many of the schools that you are considering. This will help you significantly during your job search. Once you’ve been offered a job, make sure you cross-check all your terms and conditions and know exactly what you will be receiving and when, including any relocation support.  If a recruitment agency is representing you, they will review your contract with you. If you are still considering a job move for this summer, it’s not too late to do something about it. There are still vacancies left. But take action now or you’ll miss the opportunity.”

For more information about teaching opportunities in international schools go to www.findteachingjobsoverseas.com

To read over 3800+ comments and information about working at over 1160+ international schools go to www.internationalschoolcommunity.com

continue reading

Highlighted Year for Int’l Schools

Hightlighted article: The 10 Fastest-Growing (and Declining) Cities in the World

March 12, 2012



Shanghai, China

Are you considering whether the city you might work in is a city decline?  Are you specifically looking for international schools in cities that are considered to be the fastest growing in the world?

It might be something to consider as it might directly effect your experience at a school in one of those cites.  If in a declining city, the international schools there might have declines in student numbers as a result, cash-flow might be a problem in the business department, your benefits might not increase each year or even worse might disappear altogether, etc…  If you are placed at an international school that is considered to be in one of the fastest growing cities, the international schools there might have increasing students as a result, the city you are living in might be improving themselves left and right, the expat life there might been a booming one, etc…

So, which cities are the ones in decline and which cities are the ones that are the fastest-growing?

A new survey from the Brookings Institution ranks the world’s 200 largest metropolitan economies — which account for half of global GDP — from 1-200. And the winners are …

From the report: Shanghai won gold in the Brookings report by winning a double silver in income and employment growth. “Only Shenyang achieved faster income growth, and only Riyadh achieved faster employment growth, than Shanghai last year.”

It is sometimes said that geography is destiny. But a tour of the cities dotting the Mediterranean Sea suggests that nearby metros can have wildly divergent fortunes. Turkey is home to three of the most dynamic metros in the world, according to Brookings, including the surprising Izmir. Meanwhile across the Aegean Sea, Athens had by far the worst 2011 of any major city, with the world’s largest drops in income and employment. A little further west, three Spanish cities along the Mediterranean coast — Valencia, Barcelona, and Seville — were also among the 10 least dynamic cities in the world last year.

“The metro areas at the bottom of the rankings are overwhelmingly affected by the euro zone crisis,” said Emilia Istrate, a senior research analyst with Brookings. “This cities are facing national and international crises.” Richmond and Sacramento are the only American cities in the bottom ten. “These state capitals are still in decline, not because of international crises, but because of local circumstances,” Istrate said. “Government cuts and real estate over-investment from the better years are dragging down growth.”

The most important lesson from this survey is a lesson you already know. The fastest-growing cities and countries are almost always in the developing world. As poorer countries join the vibrant global economy and gain access to consumers and investors with considerable means, there is more low-hanging fruit for them to build on a smaller base of wealth. A city like Hangzhou, China, can triple its GDP in eight years. In fact, it did. If a city like San Jose (CA) tripled its GDP in eight years, the median wage would be nearly $200,000.

Izmir, Turkey, and Santiago, Chile, two of the fastest growing cities in the world, are also among the 20 poorest cities in Brookings’ survey. In the full list of the richest and poorest metropolitan economies, only Houston finished in the top 20 among both the richest and the fastest-growing metros. That’s a remarkable accomplishment for the Texas energy hub, but it’s also an indication that “fastest-growing” and “richest” are barely overlapping Venn diagrams.

Check out all the international schools in these cities on our Schools List page on International School Community.

continue reading