The Journey to School

The Journey to School: Anglo American School of Sofia

May 28, 2017


The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries to which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

One of our members, who works at the Anglo American School of Sofia (Bulgaria), described her way to work there as follows:

The road to Anglo American School of Sofia…

Some teachers drive to work. It is not that far from the center of the city. The school is location in a more residential, countryside area. These pictures of from a spring day with lots of sun!

Sofia, Bulgaria
The best part of the school’s location is of course the amazing view of the nearby mountains. The school grounds are also pretty to look at and walk around in as they are well-landscaped. In the spring a number of the plants are flowering.

Sofia, Bulgaria

Walking towards the school’s main entrance.

Sofia, Bulgaria

There are huge sports fields for students to play in.

Sofia, Bulgaria

There is a sense of community as you walk around the campus. There is even an outdoor amphitheater. This day the school was using it during their Bulgarian cultural week.

Sofia, Bulgaria

Here is the road leading out of the school campus.

Sofia, Bulgaria

Here is that same road looking back towards the school.


You do need to pass through some security. Even taxis are not allowed through when you get visitors. This day I was actually leaving via an arranged taxi going to the airport. It was very cheap and quick. I think I was there in 15-20 minutes that day.

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author and International School Community member.

What to know more what it is like to visit and live in Eastern Europe?  Out of a total of 105 international schools we have listed in Eastern Europe, 55 that have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

Pechersk School International Ukraine, Kyiv 122 Comments
International School of Belgrade Serbia, Belgrade 34 Comments
Anglo-American School of Moscow Russia, Moscow 66 Comments
American International School Bucharest Romania, Bucharest 20 Comments
Wroclaw International School Poland, Wroclaw 46 Comments
American School of Warsaw Poland, Warsaw 89 Comments
International School of Latvia Latvia, Riga 33 Comments
Anglo American School of Sofia Bulgaria, Sofia 49 Comments
International School of Azerbaijan Azerbaijan, Baku 39 Comments

So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn one year free of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

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Blogs of International Teachers

International School Teacher Blogs: “Josefino Rivera” (A teacher that works at Anglo American School of Sofia)

April 15, 2017


Are you inspired to start-up a blog about your adventures living abroad and working at an international school?

Our 47th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Josefino Rivera”  Check out the blog entries of this international school educator who works in Bulgaria:


A few entries that we would like to highlight:

Moving to the Balkans

“This time, the butterflies in my stomach flapped gingerly. Perhaps it was the recondite Cyrillic which I struggle to understand. Perhaps it was the confused responses upon sharing the news of this job in stark contrast to other locations. Perhaps it was the skills I’ve developed in finding home within myself and not necessarily a location.

On the individual screen from my aisle seat, I watched The Time Traveler’s Wife, empathizing not with the intended wife, but with the time traveler himself: the false sense of control, the naked vulnerability in each travel, and the excitement that comes with such profound experiences…”

How interesting that this international school educator experienced a different reaction from his friends based on the location of the place he was moving to. There are a lot of misconceptions about certain locations and cultures in the world. These people typically haven’t even visited the location that you are moving to and they strangely still have such strong opinions about it!

Related to arriving in your new city/country, we have 60 comments that have been submitted on this comment topic on our website: “Where did the school take you in the city when you first arrived? What were some staff outings/party locations?”

Here is one of them from Qatar Academy (Sidra): “We did trips to the malls and Ikea to buy things. There was one staff lunch at the Rec Center before the whole staff joined but that was it. There are no xmas parties or anything like that. There was an iftar (meal at sunset during Ramadan) but it was in Education City and in the evening, which isn’t convenient for the staff who live outside Education City. There is a social club that tries to organize events for the staff-some drinking and non drinking events and events for families too.”

“Today, the new hires of 2016–2017 stepped foot on the campus of the Anglo-American School of Sofia, home of the wolves. The campus is located on the southeast outskirts of the capital of Bulgaria. It is nestled at the foot of the Vitosha mountains.

Before any new group of educators can work towards a common mission, we have to know each other because eventually we will rely on each other. In the field of education, we are not islands. I can teach a phenomenal course within my work day, but if, vertically, my colleague doesn’t continue developing on the same skills in the next course, we haven’t done our job well. Or if horizontally, I don’t communicate with a student’s other teachers to understand his low performance in my class or what makes her excited in another class, we haven’t done our job well.

Thus to break the ice, our head of school, Jim Urquhart, modeled a community building activity to help remember each other’s names called “Appellation Alliteration”. We stood in a circle, each making an alliteration of our own first name with an alliterative adjective or phrase. In addition, we had to identify a movement that represented that phrase…

New teacher orientation is super important and definitely has a lasting effect on the new teacher. We have a number of  articles (14) that have been submitted in our blog category called “New Teacher Orientation Must-Haves“.  Here is a blurb from our latest one titled “A sit-down with an admin to go over each part of your contract”:

Contract details can be easily overlooked. They are not overlooked because you are not interested in them (because of course you want to know ALL the details when you are in the initial stages after being offered a contract), but because there are too many fine details to fully understand everything you see.

Contracts can also be easily misunderstood. Maybe you already “read” the contract, but it would be safe to say that you would not completely understand everything you “read”.  International school teaching contracts definitely contain parts that are using language you may not be familiar with. If it contains parts that are specific to the rules/laws of the host country, then it is very possible that you might not be so familiar with that jargon in terms of what a certain part is really trying to say…”

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Want to work for an international school in Bulgaria like this blogger?  Currently, we have 7 international school teachers that have listed that they currently live in this country. Check them out here. We also have one member that is from this country.

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

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Recently Updated School Profiles

Recently Updated School Profiles #20: International School Florence, Anglo American School of Sofia & Saint Andrews International High School

October 23, 2013


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Members of International School Community have written some new and informative comments on the following schools:

17 Oct    International School Florence (10 new comments)  Florence, Italy:

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One of the new comments in the City Information section: “You can definitely find store workers that don’t know very much English. I just went to a nearby pasticerria and the guy didn’t know how to even say tomato. But most people are very kind and will definitely know some English to communicate with you at a basic level…”

 

10 Oct    Anglo American School of Sofia (14 new comments)   Sofia, Bulgaria:

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One of the new comments in the School Information section: “The class size ranges from 12-20. There are generally 2 classes at each grade level. Each class has its own teaching assistant who also acts as a bus monitor…”

 

06 Oct    Saint Andrews International High School (18 new comments)  Blantyre, Malawi:

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One of the new comments in the Benefits Information section: “13 salaries plus gratuity paid in local currency, no official link to dollar or pound. 30% tax. Salary depend on pay scale, one nudge up every year…”

Check out the rest of the last 40 international school profile pages that have been recently updated on International School Community here.

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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!

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Traveling Around

Traveling Around: Tirana, Albania (The life of an international school teacher is good!)

October 20, 2017


Traveling Around: Tirana, Albania

Can you relate?

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  • Driving through Albania gorges and valleys with beautiful nature to get to Tirana.
  • Visiting a local olive oil factory “Shkalla” and buying some extra virgin olive oil directly from them.
  • Passing by Albanian International School at the Southern entrance to the city.
  • Practising one’s patience navigating through Tirana’s traffic and the narrow streets.
  • Walking down the marble-paved boulevard towards BLLOKU, the place to be in Tirana.
  • Staying at a private, secluded hotel isolated from the traffic noise – Hotel Panorama.

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  • Experiencing the variety of cuisines available locally, mostly Italian, but also Spanish, French and the local Albanian.
  • Taking taxis to get around the city and only paying 2-3 EUR for each ride. Though it is important to note that the city is a very walkable city.
  • Being treated with great service at one of the best rated restaurants in the city of Tirana – Era. They have a strict no-wifi policy. They say that the best unlimited internet connection is friendship!
  • Checking out the main market and realizing immediately that the locals don’t shop there. Though the market has had a makeover recently, it appears as if there aren’t enough buyers that want to go there. Maybe the prices are too high?
  • Having a decadent ice-cream cup in an upscale Italian chocolaterie and finding that the menu, though very beautiful with pictures, was all in Albanian. It is really difficult to try and understand most Albanian words, even if you know a number of languages. Luckily, the servers were more than willing to help us out.

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  • Meeting up with the sister of one of our friends from our host country. Not knowing her beforehand or her boyfriend, it was a risk. But a good evening was had as we actually had a lot to talk about from politics to languages to history to food, etc.
  • We had rented a car here, but quickly decided that we were not going to drive to different places around the city because of the “crazy-like” driving from the locals. It really seems like if you don’t know the local “rules” of the road, it will be very tricky and potentially dangerous for you!
  • Enjoying the perfect weather every day. I mean it was a sunny and the just right temperature every day here. How lucky the people are that live here! Living on the Mediterranean definitely has it’s perks!

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  • Looking at the buildings here are so interesting. Though it is true some of the buildings look a bit run down and falling apart, the local artists have made these buildings into works of art. They draw really clever patterns or drawings on the facades of the buildings that make them look very beautiful and interesting to look at.
  • Being amazed by the streetlights here. The whole pole holding up the traffic light was actually a light itself! So when the light turned red, the whole pole turned red and the same for the other colors.
  • Walking around the recently rebuilt park with the artificial lake and seeing many people, young and old enjoying the beautiful weather in October.

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Currently, we have 107 international schools listed in Eastern Europe on International School Community. 57 of them have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of those schools:

Albanian International School (Tirana, Albania)19 Comments
International School of Azerbaijan (Baku, Azerbaijan)39 Comments
QSI International School of Sarajevo (Sarajevo, Bosnia)18 Comments
Anglo American School of Sofia (Sofia, Bulgaria)49 Comments
American International School of Zagreb (Zagreb, Croatia)29 Comments
International School of Brno (Brno, Czech Republic)25 Comments
International School of Estonia (Tallinn, Estonia)22 Comments
Britannica International School Budapest (Budapest, Hungary)19 Comments
International School of Latvia (Riga, Latvia)33 Comments
American School of Warsaw (Warsaw, Poland)89 Comments
Wroclaw International School (Wroclaw, Poland)46 Comments
Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia)68 Comments
International School of Belgrade (Belgrade, Serbia)59 Comments
Pechersk School International (Kyiv, Ukraine)122 Comments

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!

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Traveling Around

Traveling Around: Sofia, Bulgaria (The life of an international school teacher is good!)

July 20, 2017


Traveling Around: Sofia, Bulgaria

Can you relate?

• Passing by a house that had a whole car in its front yard as a lawn decorative item!
• Going through a city market, not a big touristy one, and enjoying all the little shops there; had a great “conversation” (many language barriers) with one store owner/worker about her honey, jams and nuts.
• Checking out the biggest city park in Sofia and realizing how amazingly big it was. There were also some martenitsas tied to a number of the park’s trees. Didn’t know what those were, but now I know; interesting tradition.
• Having a nice walk through the downtown area of Sofia and running into some of the most beautiful buildings on a nice sunny day!


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• Walking through the city neighborhoods and spotting a really cool local bird that was grey but with fluorescent blue markings on its wings.
• Seeing a bunch a stray dogs and cats lounging around all the streets and sidewalks.
• Watching a local group of little school kids and their teachers walk in line together as they go along their field trip for the day.
• Smelling the amazing smells of a local bakery. Geez, how could you not stop and check out their goods?!

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• Choosing one of the many day trips that I could have taken and doing it with 4 strangers and having a great time.
• Checking out the nearby mountains, thinking that there would be some green nature and then finding out that it was all snow still there.
• Being immersed in a completely silent place surrounded by beautiful trees and nature.
• Challenging myself to walk up a steep mountain incline, getting to the top and enjoying the view!

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• Finding a really little Mexican restaurant on one of the streets in Sofia (didn’t eat at it), a kind of restaurant that looks like a food truck but was actually part of the nearby buildings. You could only order through a window.
• Checking out the main market in Sofia and deciding what I wanted to buy. I ended up going to a local lavender farmer and buying two jars of their lavender honey.
• Shopping in Sofia is great because the price of certain produce and products is so cheap!
• Enjoying the fact that I can read most Cyrillic letters and some basic Russian, so I wasn’t so in the dark when confronted with an important street sign or store sign for example.

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• Seeing certain produce items (omg, the tomatoes) that I can get in my host country, but not as tasty as these ones looked! Feeling very jealous of the expats living here.
• Noticing that some of market stands had a really long line of people wanting to buy their specific produce. The locals know who to buy from I guess!

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• Going to an out-of-the-way restaurant, walking in and realizing nobody else was there. Started talking to the owner and worker and learning about their lives and the life of the restaurant. Great, unexpected cultural exchange.
• Deciding to take a short cut to get to a certain place while using Google Maps, but only to realize I was getting myself into a bit of a dangerous area for walking pedestrians (really close to a fast highway).  Making it out safe, and happy because I found a really cool spot to take a picture of some graffiti.

Currently we have 106 international schools listed in Eastern Europe on International School Community. 55 of them have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of those schools:

Albanian International School (Tirana, Albania)19 Comments
International School of Azerbaijan (Baku, Azerbaijan)39 Comments
QSI International School of Sarajevo (Sarajevo, Bosnia)18 Comments
Anglo American School of Sofia (Sofia, Bulgaria)49 Comments
American International School of Zagreb (Zagreb, Croatia)29 Comments
International School of Brno (Brno, Czech Republic)25 Comments
International School of Estonia (Tallinn, Estonia)22 Comments
Britannica International School Budapest (Budapest, Hungary)19 Comments
International School of Latvia (Riga, Latvia)33 Comments
American School of Warsaw (Warsaw, Poland)89 Comments
Wroclaw International School (Wroclaw, Poland)46 Comments
Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia)66 Comments
International School of Belgrade (Belgrade, Serbia)59 Comments
Pechersk School International (Kyiv, Ukraine)122 Comments

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!

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Traveling Around

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

January 26, 2017


Traveling Around: Ukraine

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Can you relate?

• Listening to the local radio stations in our rental car and laughing at the unbelievably rapid speed of the disclaimers at the end of each advertisement.
• Getting a Thai massage in the best rated massage place in Kiev, good price too!
• Eating at a Georgian restaurant (delicious food!) and enjoying watching the Ukrainian tables next to us and how they (very often) toast to each other so that they can drink for alcohol.
• Staying at probably one of the nicer hotels in the city. The pool/spa was in the basement of the hotel and was decorated like a tropical tiki-style holiday.

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• Visiting one of the main markets in Kiev and getting crazy high prices from the stall workers, tourist prices, though in the end scoring a huge jar of local honey for only like five Euros.
• Spending the night eating at a really posh restaurant in Kiev and trying out some very unusual teas and very unique appetizers and entrees; very good quality food in Ukraine!
• Driving around the city center in our rental car and actually doing it without any issues, so many people (even locals) warned us that the driving in Kiev was dreadful and dangerous. Not the case for us.
• Trying to talk in English with the locals and encountering many confusing conversations and misunderstandings. Though both parties kept a positive and friendly, fun-loving attitude in the process.
• Going from eastern orthodox church to eastern orthodox church to eastern orthodox church to eastern orthodox church to eastern orthodox church, well those are the most ornate and beautiful buildings here. Though to be honest the other buildings have pretty amazing architecture and design as well.
• Scoring some really cool local beauty products for really cheap prices at a very nice organic grocery store in the city.
• Making an outing to find the statue of the motherland. Man, this HUGE statue is so cool. I think all cities should have something like this. I was in awe of it.
• Watching the local Ukrainians take groups pictures of their family and friends and finding it hard to find one where even one person was smiling in the picture.

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• Loving our tour of the city and then on the last day finding a really cool part of the city where there was a new development of houses, but the houses were style to look like how they looked long ago. Very cool, want to go back and see more of that part of the city.
• Making it a point to visit the local, famous chocolate shop in the center of the city. The locals loved this place! Roshen. But I actually also loved another chocolate shop called Lviv Handmade Chocolate. Now that stuff was delicious!

Currently we have 105 international schools listed in Eastern Europe on International School Community. 54 of them have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of those schools:

Albanian International School (Tirana, Albania)19 Comments
International School of Azerbaijan (Baku, Azerbaijan)39 Comments
QSI International School of Sarajevo (Sarajevo, Bosnia)18 Comments
Anglo American School of Sofia (Sofia, Bulgaria)28 Comments
American International School of Zagreb (Zagreb, Croatia)29 Comments
International School of Brno (Brno, Czech Republic)25 Comments
International School of Estonia (Tallinn, Estonia)22 Comments
Britannica International School Budapest (Budapest, Hungary)19 Comments
International School of Latvia (Riga, Latvia)33 Comments
American School of Warsaw (Warsaw, Poland)82 Comments
Wroclaw International School (Wroclaw, Poland)46 Comments
Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia)66 Comments
International School of Belgrade (Belgrade, Serbia)34 Comments
Pechersk School International (Kyiv, Ukraine)122 Comments

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!

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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight #34: Ms. Barbara Meinel Jacobs (A teacher at the Albanian International School)

December 15, 2015


Every so often International School Community is looking to highlight one of our members in our Member Spotlight blog category.  This month we interviewed Ms. Barbara Meinel Jacobs:

RRona and meTell us about your background.  Where are you from?

I’m from the USA, but I  have been involved in humanitarian work and teaching around the world since 1973. A close friend of mine was a Montessori teacher from Ireland and she had invited me to come to the UK to work with her. After 3 months I moved to Essen, Germany to set up a Montessori center for very small children. I had 3 little students: my 5 month old daughter and 2 boys, both 4 yrs old. One was German and the other was Finnish. Neither of them spoke English or each other’s languages, so I taught them in English 5 hours a day. They learned fluent English by the time my daughter was 11 months old.

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

In March I moved on to Italy and from there got married, lived on a farm, and we traveled around Europe working with youth groups and setting up little Montessori/Preschools in Italy, France, and Portugal. This was just the beginning of our travels with our little growing family of six.

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.

Currently, I am teaching Preschool (EYFS) Albanian International School in Tirana, Albania. I’ve been teaching at this school since it’s conception in 2011. I started as Librarian sorting through 12,000 books and documenting their titles and authors. Then I taught English to the students that first year. The next year I started with the Preschool kids and have been involved in these ages ever since. I really enjoy teaching the littlest students of our school! It’s so much fun and exciting when they learn a concept, begin to speak English, make friends and discover something new about the world we live in.

My day begins at 4am. I wake up early so that I can think through the day, change any plans that may need to be changed and listen to calm music before I have to really get up at 6am. Then I leave the house at 7:30 and take a short walk to school.  

One of our favorite things to do during rainy season is to dance for our exercise/play time. Albania has a long rainy season of December through middle of June! It rains every day and it is cold. We keep the little ones inside so discovering “Just Dance Kids” on YouTube has been a life saver! The kids love dancing along with the figures on the screen and are now proficient dancers.

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

A really funny thing happened to me last week. We had been preparing for the Albanian independence days celebrations at school. My kids were dancing and singing in Albanian for weeks in preparation for their show. On Saturday after the show I was walking down the street to the supermarket playing music in my head. Halfway home I realized that I was singing Albanian folk music instead of the usual music I play in my head. I’ve finally become Albanian! I’ve been here since 2010.

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

One of the important things I look for when searching for an international school is whether there is much pollution (I have asthma), a safe environment, and they won’t mind my age or nationality.

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

Exciting, fun, new friends, challenges!

Thanks Barbara!

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 Eastern Europe like Barbara?  Currently, we have 105 international schools listed in Eastern Europe on International School Community. 54 of them have had comments submitted on their profiles. Here are just a few of them:

Pechersk School International (Kyiv, Ukraine)122 Comments
International School of Belgrade (Belgrade, Serbia)34 Comments
Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia)66 Comments
Wroclaw International School (Wroclaw, Poland)46 Comments
American School of Warsaw (Warsaw, Poland)82 Comments
International School of Latvia (Riga, Latvia)33 Comments
American International School of Zagreb (Zagreb, Croatia)29 Comments
Anglo American School of Sofia (Sofia, Bulgaria)28 Comments
International School of Azerbaijan (Baku, Azerbaijan)39 Comments

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Surveys

New Survey: How much Professional Development money do you have to use this school year?

September 14, 2014


A new survey has arrived!

Topic:  How much Professional Development money do you have to use this school year?

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Working at international schools has its perks, that’s for sure.  One of those perks is getting an annual Professional Development allowance (well at most international schools). Public-school teaching back in your home country does have it moments of getting PD for its teachers, but typically that money is being decided on by somebody other than you!  At international schools, you are (mostly) in charge of your own personal PD monies and how you want to use that money. It is important to note that international schools do dictate some of the PD for their own teachers (e.g. for in-house PD), but the other PD money (the money that hopefully you are getting as part of your contract) is for you to use on your own PD theme and topic.

It is so important for our careers to keep learning new things in the field of education. Luckily there are numerous PD options for international school teachers. There is the annual ECIS conference (who’s going to Nice this year?).  Maybe you live in Asia and are planning on going to the annual EARCOS conference in Kota Kinabalu.  Some international schools are leading the way and hosting their own conferences like NIST International School. They recently have started their annual ELLSA Conference in Bangkok.

905866_320405608135805_7598251834492740465_oIf conferences aren’t looking the best this year, then there are still many other options for international schools teachers on which to use their personal PD allowance. The Creativity Workshop has been very popular this past year as well as the staple Teachers College Summer Institutes (Reading and Writing) in New York.

Wherever you end up going this year, you are bound to learn a few new things and get inspired for your return back to work.  You are also bound to run into some people who you know in the international school community; good times catching up with former colleagues.  Going to these conferences and workshops are also a great place to network and meet others teachers in your field.  It can be quite helpful having some new peers to contact when you want to get some feedback on something or learn more about a new technology that person is using for example.

The main problem though in getting to these workshops and conferences is money. Not only do you have to pay for the conference registration fee, you must also pay for your flight to get there and the hotel. Many times one year of PD money is not enough to get you to a conference every year.  Some teachers can save their PD money from one year and add it one to the next one (up to three years typically).  If you don’t have enough money to attend a certain workshop, then it doesn’t hurt to ask your boss if there might be any PD money around that you can use to help you pay for the rest of costs involved. Your administration might say no to you, but they also might say yes!  It’s worth a try.

All international schools handle their PD allowance differently, so let’s share about the international schools we know about.  Go ahead and vote on How much Professional Development money do you have to use this school year? Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today!  You can check out the latest voting results here.

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We actually have a comment topic related this to this issue. It is called: Professional development allowance details.

Right now there are over 180 individual comments (about 100s of different international schools) in this comment topic on our website.  Here are a few of them:

“In general, the school has a four-tiered approach: in-house PD, required external PD, goal related PD and personal professional support.
Upon school approval staff have access to a personal professional development sum that can be used annually or accrue for up to three years.” – 
Anglo American School of Sofia (Sofia, Bulgaria)28 Comments

“Professional development is a strong focus. Quality of in-house varies wildly as it does in every school. Lots of training for IB available and all IB teachers go on prep courses as soon as possible.” – Nexus International School (Putrajaya, Malaysia)44 Comments

“PDs are usually done in-house therefore there is no structured amount for PD per teacher. Principals are up to date regarding international and local PDs so when there is an appropriate PD some teachers are selected to attend. Teachers, on the other hand, can always search for possible and appropriate local/international PDs.” – Royal Tots Academy (Jakarta, Indonesia)35 Comments

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12 Tips for Selecting an Int'l School

Selecting an international school: Tip #12 – Is the school parent-friendly?

October 13, 2013


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 an international school abroad as well?  There are many different kinds of international schools and they are all in different situations.  How important is finding out about how parent-friendly the international school is?  It could be beneficial to ask these types of questions at your interview, before you make any big decisions to move or choose an international school at which to work.  So, how do you choose the right international school for your children to attend or for you to work at?  In this blog series, we will discuss the Tips for Selecting an International School.

Tip #12 – Is the school parent-friendly?

parent-teacher-conferenceIt is very important that the international school (that you are considering working at/sending your child to attend) communicates well with parents in order to keep them abreast of school policies, events and other developments. With the parents kept the most informed as possible, they are happier and more at ease about surprise changes that happen at the school.

Some people might say that international school parents are a little bit more (or A LOT more) invested in what is going on at their children’s school.  Normally international schools have two parent teacher conferences during the school year, but those meetings can be as short as 20 minutes (not really much time to share everything that you’d really like to share).

But at an international school, you might find that you are meeting with parents more often than just two parents teacher conferences!  Many international school parents like to set up more conferences with their teacher, meeting before or after school.  They just want to “catch up” with what is going on at school and how their child is doing.  They also want to give the teacher an update on how things are going at their home.  These extra meetings can be really beneficial to have for all parties involved, but it is smart-thinking to make sure that these meetings also stay to a minimum (you don’t want the parents to constantly wanting to set up extra meetings with you…that’s for sure!).  Some international school parents will have one person that stays at home all day (a n0n-working spouse).  Those parents will have all the time in the day to meet with you!  I worked with one international school teacher that wouldn’t even give out his email address to the parents of his students. Even knowing that communicating with parents via email is a great way to “get the job done”, there are definitely international school parents that will take advantage of having your email address.

In terms of communication with parents, you school might use a common online (password protected) resource for the parents to keep informed and stay up to day with all school happenings.  It is great to have a “get-all-information” place for parents to go to whenever they want to know what is going on at school.  Teachers can upload pictures and videos to this online portal, as well as putting up newsletters each month or so to let parents know more about curriculum-related things.

Even when an international school has the best communication possible all set up and running smoothly, there are always going to be some international school parents that just don’t make the effort to participate in this excellent communication.  It is true that even if a school has a really clear plan for communication with parents, communication is a two-way street.  Some international school parents have better things to do or bigger worries/concerns on their plate to make time for effectively utilizing (or even fully knowing about) the school’s current way of communicated with parents.  We had a parent come in recently stating that they didn’t know anything what their child was learning at school (and other things), but when asked if they will looking at the online parent portal, they of coursed answered…no.

So how is parent-friendly is your international school?

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Have a specific international school in mind that you thinking of applying at? Check out our “Where our Members have worked” page and start contacting some of our members that know about the international school you are interested in knowing more about. Our 3000+ members currently work at (or have worked at in the past) 516 different international schools.  Feel free to send them a private message related to finding out more about how parent-friendly at their international school.

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 8.55.12 PMFurthermore, we have a comment topic section that is for parents to fill out or for teachers to share more information about how parent-friendly their international school is.  It is called: PARENTS ONLY – General comments from parents of students that go to this school.  Here are a few comments that have been submitted in that sections:

“At the old school in Tay Ho, VAIS, many parents withdrew their kids due to complaints that the Korean CEO who decided he was qualified to teach TOEFL prep classes so he could save on a qualified teacher, would openly cuss the students out in Korean during class and many students complained the class was more a Korean discussion class than an English one. He does not manage those classes any longer and thankfully so.” – Vietnam American International School (47 Total Comments)

“As a teacher/parent, I felt my kids had a solid group of other teachers’ kids to hang out with. There is a solid community feel in general and it is a welcoming atmosphere.” – Anglo American School of Sofia (21 Total Comments)

“Decisions made at the school are mostly knee-jerk reactions, and seem not to have a lot of fore-thought. This results in confusion and frustration, with parents, students and staff unclear where the boundaries are.” – Oeiras International School (28 Total Comments)

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School Profile Searches

Using the School Profile Search feature on International School Community: Search Result #7

September 13, 2012


Only on International School Community will you be able to search for the perfect international school for you.  The possibility to search (using our unique search engine) for international schools based on the type of school that best fits your criteria.  There are many different kinds of schools: ones that are small in student numbers to ones that have more than 1200 students, ones that are for-profit to ones that are non-profit, ones that are in very large cities to ones that are in towns of only 1000 people, etc.  Each international school teacher has their own type of a school that best fits their needs as a teacher and a professional.  You personal life is also very important when you are trying to find the right match.  Most of us know what it is like to be working at a school that doesn’t fit your needs, so it’s best to find one that does!

Utilizing the School Profile Search feature on International School Community, you can search our 1280 schools (updated 13 September 2012) for the perfect school using up to 8 different criteria.  The 8 criteria are: Region of the world, Curriculum, School Nature, Number of Students, Country, Year Founded, Kinds of Students and Size of City.  You can do a school profile search in three different locations on our website: the homepage, the Schools List page and on the side of every school profile page.  Past search results: Search Result #1 posted in December 2011, Search Result #2 posted in January 2012, Search Result #3 posted in March 2012, Search Result #4 posted on April 2012, Search Result #5 posted in May 2012 and Search Result #6 posted in July 2012.

Search Result #7

Criteria chosen:

  1. Region of the world (Eastern Europe)
  2. Curriculum (All)
  3. School Nature (All)
  4. No. of students (Medium 300-700)
  5. Country (All)
  6. Year founded (16-50 years ago)
  7. Kinds of students (All)
  8. Size of city (All)

Schools Found:11

Armenia – Quantum College

Azerbaijan – International School of Azerbaijan (12 Comments)
Sample comment – Being that the campus is on the outskirts of Baku (which lies on the Caspian Sea), the city centre is a 15 minute drive away.

Bulgaria – Anglo American School of Sofia (7 Comments) and Zlatarski International School
Sample comment – Salaries are paid in Euros. Monthly salary is around 2300 Euros (no taxes are paid by teachers).

Czech Republic – English International School Prague and Riverside School

Hungary – British International School Budapest

Romanian – International School of Bucharest and Mark Twain International School

Russia – British International School Moscow

Ukraine – Qsi – Kiev International School
Sample comment – “Teachers get a furnished apartment with back-up power, telephone/internet, with underground parking. There is an allowance for utilities.”

Why not start your own searches now and then start finding information about the schools that best fit your needs?  Additionally, all premium members are able to access the 6001 comments and information (updated 13 September 2012) that have been submitted on the hundreds of international school profiles on our website.

Join International School Community today and you will automatically get the ability to make unlimited searches to find the international schools that fit your criteria.

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ISCommunity Newsletters

International School Community Newsletter v2011.08 – 10 December, 2011

December 10, 2011


Site Stats:
Current members: 195 ( 23)
School profiles
: 985 ( 30)
Blog entries
: 152 ( 25)
Posted comments & info
:
1677 ( 250)
Facebook likes: 118 ( 13)
Twitter followers: 206 ( 11)


School Profile Search Result #1:

Only on International School Community will you be able to search for the perfect international school for you. Utilizing the School Profile Search feature on International School Community, you can search for the perfect school using up to 8 different criteria.
Search Result #1

Criteria chosen:
1. Region of the world (All)
2. Curriculum (USA)
3. School Nature (Non-Profit)
4. No. of students (Medium: 300-700)
5. Country (All)
6. Year founded (16-50 Years Old)
7. Kinds of students (Mostly International)
8. Size of city (Medium: 750K-3 Million)

Check out the results of this example search on our blog!


New members:

·Gary Conomos
(North Pine Christian College)
·jltassie Anderson
(Anglo American School of Sofia)
·Jennifer Kim
(Korea International School)
·Becky Galvan
(A’takamul International School)
·Cory Greenberg
(Copenhagen International School)
·Damir Tejic
(International School of Beijing)


Current Survey Topic:

Vote here!


Member spotlight:


Jo Hughson

I worked at SRIS for three years. I taught Grade One and Grade Two in the time that I spent there. SRIS had a fantastic and diverse range of teachers that I felt privileged to work with. I learned a lot from them…”

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!


v2011.08 – 10 December, 2011:

The holiday break is nearly upon us!  Is it cold where you live right now? It is for most people in the northern hemisphere.  There are though however some of us that are working in locations closer to the equator, and their weather must be quite nice right now.  Some of us farther away from the equator have already taken out our winter jacket and even have progressed to the “heavier” winter jacket this past week.

 

So, the big question is: Why did we choose to work here?  And that question is mostly directed towards the weather of your current location.  The local people where you are living probably say to you, “Out of all the places you could have chosen from (In their mind…Barbados, Thailand, Rome, etc.), how is it possible that you have chosen this cold, miserable place?  What they don’t realize is that some of us actually prefer to be in a place that has four distinct seasons.  Some of us like like the snow!

 

There are many reasons to move to another country: Money, Travel, Love, Career, etc.  We must be honest (not usually in an interview though) and admit that moving to another country based on its climate is very important for most international school teachers.  That is why International School Community has included a category under the City Section on the school profile pages about climate: Describe the city’s weather at different times of the year.  Here is an example:

 

Right now there are 38 comments and information that have been submitted in this category on a number of international school profile pages on our website.

Feel free to make your own searches (both close to the equator and farther away from the equator, depending on your preference!) for international schools based on your criteria on International School Community.  Members with premium membership are able to do unlimited searches on our website.  If you are already a member, you can easily renew your subscription on your profile page.  If you are not a member, become a member today and get 1 month free of premium membership.

With regards to our current members, International School Community’s members work at or have worked at 84 international schools! Check out which schools here.


Recently updated schools:

· 09 Dec  International School of Ouagadougou  (7 new comments)
(Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso)
“Settling-in allowance is 600 USD, you get around 2000 USD for a flight home every year. Other benefits are French lessons, a car loan and recruitment leave…”
· 09 Dec  Bahrain Bayan School (6 new comments)
(Isa Town, Bahrain)
“It is important to note that female teachers applying are unable to sponsor their dependent husband and children. The age limit for hiring is 58 years old. The school retirement age is 60, so they usually don’t hire people close to that age…”

· 08 Dec  The American School of Kinshasa  (4 new comments)
(Kinshasa, Congo, The Democratic Republic of the)
“TASOK is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. The School was re-accredited in 2008…”

· 08 Dec  Dasman Model School (7 new comments)
(Kuwait City, Kuwait)
“The school offers a bilingual program for students in grades K to 12. DMS has a fully self-contained Special Needs Division within the main school…”

· 08 Dec  Thai-Chinese Int’l School Bangkok (7 new comments)

(Bangkok, Thailand)
“Tuition for 2 children studying at TCIS is free although there are annual student supply fees of Baht 15,000+ / child to be paid by teacher for education materials, PreK-Gr2 lunch/snacks, insurance upgrades, year books, ID card, and graduation…”

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


Recent blog entries:

· Out of the thousands of international schools, people ask me why did I choose to work here?
“One year you are thinking that Asia is the place for you to move to the following school year, but then suddenly you open your eyes and you are actually in South America…”

· Educators Overseas: Helping teachers secure a job teaching abroad.
“There are many ways to secure a teaching job at an international school.  The website Educators Overseas also offers such a service.  Here is what they have to say about their philosophy of helping candidates find the “right fit” in their search to teach abroad…”

· The Wonderful World of Int’l School Hiring Fairs: Lesson #4 – “Being yourself is better, come what may, than trying to be someone else.”
“Even worse is when you realize mid-interview that you are indeed not the “best fit” as you had hoped you would be for that international school you have been wanting to work at that in the city you really had been wanting to live in…”

· Great resource: Association of International Schools in Africa
“Curious about what international schools there are in Africa?  The Association of International Schools in Africa website has 100s of international schools listed that are found in many of the African countries…”

· Comments and information about salaries on International School Community #2 (Hangzhou Int’l School, American School of Bcn & Int’l School of KL)
“Our reps are in the process of renegotiation our salaries. It is a difficult time in Spain right now, so it is not likely we will get much of a raise. The board is focusing on…”


Recently added schools:


Requested schools to be reviewed:


This last month we have had visits from 73 countries around the world!

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Top 10 Lists

Five Reasons to Stay in AND Leave Your Host Country for Summer Vacation

July 8, 2017


Summer is upon us teachers and we are all in the midst of our summer plans.

summer

Now most of us are probably making our way back to our home countries for a visit with family and friends, but our summer plans are actually quite varied and don’t necessarily involve leaving our host country.

As many teachers do, we struggle to find the perfect summer plans. We want to connect with our new friends and old ones, but we also want to use our long vacation time to travel the world (which could also involve our friends).

Now if you have a partner that is from your host country, that can also affect how you schedule your summer events; meaning you might just be spending more time staying put and visiting your partner’s family.

There are actually a number of reasons to stay in your host country as well as to leave it.

Weather

STAY: If you are living in Scandinavia, summer time is the best time stay in your host country. Now is your chance to enjoy the most perfect weather of the year during the summer months. There are beaches to go to, forests to explore and great outdoor events happening all over the place. There is also ample daylight during this time of the year, so you can see a lot even in just one day!

summer

LEAVE: It can be very hot in some of our host countries during the summer. We mean really hot! Who wants to stay inside all day during our summer vacations?! If you live where it is unbearable hot (like the Middle East or North Africa), that is likely your only choice! Teachers don’t stay in the UAE during a summer holiday, they go to their home countries or travel as tourists to Europe or Asia, mostly. Actually, nobody stays if they don’t need to, because it is so hot, between 40-50 C.” – RAK Academy (47 total comments)

Saving Money

STAY: Not traveling typically means saving some money. It is true that you are also spending money if you stay at home during the summer months, but often you spend more money per day when on holiday. There are always extra things to pay for when traveling (like going to a concert, a ticket for a museum or a boat ride, paying for an organized tour, etc.). You also probably go out to eat at a restaurant at least two times a day when traveling, which can definitely add up. If you stay at home during the summer, you can also opt for a tutoring job or teaching summer school to make some extra money. “Saving money here is doable if you are conservative. Many staff tutor which almost doubles their income. I know of many staff that tutor enough for their travel and cost of living so they bank near all of their salary. As a single provider with a family, tutoring would be a must to save.” – American Creativity Academy (31 total comments)

LEAVE: An increasing number of international school teachers are leaving for their summer vacations around the world and renting out their apartment to Airbnb. In most major cities in the world, this can mean making a lot of money in a short period of time. There are also a number of house sharing websites for international school teachers that people are now using. Staying at one of these home during your summer vacations can also save you quite a bit of money.

Friends vs. Family

STAY: Summertime is the perfect chance to see your former international school colleagues because your vacation time definitely matches up then. If your former colleague is still living where they worked with you, then it is always awesome to go back to a place you’ve once lived. If your he/she has moved on to a different international school and country, then you are crazy to not plan a trip to go visit them in their new surroundings. Hopefully you’ll get to explore a new country and save money on hotels at the same time because you know somebody there now.

summer

LEAVE: Many international school teachers only see their parents and relatives once a year. If it is not during the Christmas break, then probably your only other chance to see them is during your summer vacation. Especially if your home country is freezing during the winter time, visiting it during the summer is really your only sane option. Let’s face it, your family wants to see you and love spending some quality time with you. Seeing your family in person is a great way to make sure you keep those connections strong. Even if it is for just a short time, bonding with your relatives is important.

If the stars align well for you, the best solution is to stay in your host country and your parents and relatives come to you!  “Most teachers wait for the summer holidays to go on holiday. This is a mistake. Invite the family to visit you! It’s the best time of the year. You have a place to stay they can stay at and you can save the air fares that you would have used for traveling.” – International School of Paphos (105 total comments)

Travel

STAY: It is truly a regret when you decide to leave your host country and you haven’t seen all the places that you wanted to check out while living there. Summer vacation is a super time to get to those hard to reach places in your host country. Seeing all the cool places that your host country has to offer gives you a better insight into your host country’s culture as a whole. You can taste the cuisine there to see if it is different to where you live, you can see a different landscape to what you typically see around your home, and you can get a chance to practice speaking the host country language if most of the people where you live can speak English to you (because they live in a bigger, more metropolitan area).

LEAVE: Many teachers include some cool, far away adventure for their summer holidays. With 8+ weeks to play with and factoring in your budget for travel, you can get to just about anywhere. Why not explore a completely different part of this world? You might just live in one of those places in the near future! “Most teachers travel for the holidays during the school year. 99% of teachers travel for the summer holiday. Easy and cheap to get to other parts of the Middle East and South Asia. Europe isn’t too bad, but going to North or South America is usually reserved for summer holidays.” – Rowad Alkhaleej International School (Dammam) (114 total comments)

Relaxation

STAY: Just stay home and relax, that is what summer vacation is all about. It is good to finally just do nothing and enjoy your home and surroundings. The summer months are for recharging your body and your mind, so that you can be fresh for the next school year. It is hard for people to just do nothing, but it can very useful and welcoming. Go for a walk around your neighborhood and just take in the sights, smells and sounds. Ride your bike around a nearby river, lake or shore and take in all the beautiful nature that surrounds you in your host country. “There is a bit of nature within the city center. There are pretty big parks to walk around in. The most popular one yesterday was the City Garden. Lots of people there with all benches full. Great place to hang out and enjoy the nice spring weather right now.” – Anglo American School of Sofia (49 total comments)

summer

LEAVE: If your home is not as cozy as you’d like it to be and your host country city is a bit dirty and hectic, you might find it hard to relax during the summer months. Going somewhere else to find relaxation is your best choice. Some international school teachers find a good yoga retreat to take part in on a tropic island (like Bali, Indonesia or Koh Samui, Thailand), others go camping in large national parks that many countries have to offer. Traveling somewhere where you can get away from all the loud noise and life’s annoying distractions can sometimes only be found in another country. If you stay where you live, then you are bound to get daily reminders of all the things that you still need to do, fix or clean up. When your abroad, you can find some really cozy and relaxing places where you can forget all your worries.

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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight #35: Anita Sutton (A teacher at the British International of Moscow)

January 21, 2017


Every so often International School Community is looking to highlight one of our members in our Member Spotlight blog category.  This month we interviewed Anita Sutton:

Tell us about your background.  Where are you from?

I’m originally from a very small country town called Warwick, about 2 hrs south-east of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.  My family is from all over, NZ, Australia and Croatia. 

I graduated from the Queensland University of Technology with a Bachelors of Education specialising in Early Childhood Education. I am a passionate Early Years advocate and am inspired by the Reggio Emilio approach. 

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

When I graduated from university I wanted to explore working in the UK. I lived in Bristol, UK for 2 years working in primary schools all over the district, which helped me gather lots of ideas, experiences and helped me build a bank of knowledge from more experienced teachers. 

After 2 years, a colleague recommended I look to the Middle East for more adventure, which lead me into taking a position as an EYFS teacher in a British International School in Dubai. I worked there for 3 years before taking up my current post in Moscow, Russia.

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 worked at Jumeriah Baccalaureate School in Dubai and currently working at the British International of Moscow. 

Dubai was a great opportunity to learn about the melting pot of cultures, I had over 15 different cultures and heritages in my class of 20.

Because Dubai has such a range of expats your class list reads like a meeting of the United Nations. I got to work with a range of teachers from all over which was a great opportunity to learn new things and approaches.

Dubai has so much to do but I didn’t save very much money, but the experience was invaluable and had definitely given me the skills to be flexible and keen for a new adventure which led me to Russia.

In Moscow, the language is the biggest barrier but I am determined to speak a basic level of Russian. I am enjoying the change in climate, from 50+ for 8 months of the year to -3 to -18 for 8 months of the year. I also loved experiencing my first ever Autumn. We don’t really have Autumn in the area I’m from in Australia, it’s just scorching hot or warm. Moscow was so colourful, the red, the yellow, orange and the green, I had forgotten how beautiful nature was after the desert! Snow has been interesting but the architecture in Moscow is stunning!

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

Coming from the Middle East, when you greet someone it’s always 3 kisses to the cheek, back and forth. I arrived in Russia and kept going for the third kiss when greeting people, which, in Europe is one on each side, so it seemed like I was trying to be a little more than friendly when I first arrived in Russia. 

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

I found it has been really helpful to make sure that any school I am considering working at is supportive of their staff, and has a clear vision of where SLT see the school going. 

I also like to get a clear idea of how much importance Heads of school place the Early Years. Good Heads of School/Primary keep up to date with current research and know that when children have access to a strong foundational beginning in school, it is beneficial to building an exceptional student as they progress through school, which leads to a strong school and a happy student base.

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

Enriching, adventurous, challenging, rewarding, limitless.

teacher

Thanks Anita!

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Want to work for an international school in the Eastern Europe like Anita?  Currently, we have 105 international schools listed in Eastern Europe on International School Community. 54 of them have had comments submitted on their profiles. Here are just a few of them:

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