Comparing the Schools and Comments

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Germany

December 31, 2015


Around the world, there are cities that have more than one international school. Many times there is an American school, a British School, and an international school that uses an international curriculum.

Some cities, though, have MANY international schools!  When that is the case, how do the comments about each school compare to each other?

This blog series looks at comparing some of these comments, all coming from international schools in the same city (in this case, the same country).

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Germany

Currently, we have 43 schools listed in Germany on International School Community.

Schools with the most submitted comments:
Berlin British School (Berlin, Germany)31 Comments
Strothoff International School (Frankfurt, Germany)49 Comments
Metropolitan School Frankfurt (Frankfurt, Germany)36 Comments
Bavarian International School (Haimhausen, Germany)30 Comments
International School of Stuttgart (Stuttgart, Germany)30 Comments
International School of Dusseldorf (Dusseldorf, Germany)22 Comments
Berlin Brandenburg International School (Berlin, Germany)22 Comments

School Building and Campus

“The school building is actually a historic sight. There are a lot of different buildings included in the whole campus. They are connect with stone arches overlooking a lush forest and lakeland. There are running tracks and football pitches that are well taken care of. The campus is also very secure, there is a gate with a guard.” – Berlin Brandenburg International School

“The campus is located in a beautiful little hamlet north of Munich. The school includes a new sport center and a 18th century German Castle (Schloss). There are purpose built trailers located on either side of the middle building. But these are high-end, double story buildings that would rival the any classroom. The primary school is located in a different part of the campus than secondary, but they are connected. There are Promethean boards in every classroom and dedicated wifi.” – Bavarian International School

“2 km from the nearest U-bahn station. It’s in a road with offices and factories. It’s a strange place to put a school. The road is busy and I’m surprised there hasn’t been an accident. Why isn’t there a crossing for the children? The playground is far too small for the student population. It’s very dangerous. When you’re on duty you can guarantee there will be bloodshed every time.” – Metropolitan School Frankfurt

“It is not a perfect technical environment. Equipment is outdated; Strothoff IT are idiots and do not help; however, in general, grounds and building are OK.” – Strothoff International School

Expectations of Staff

“Teachers in secondary, have 2 duties per week, and attend at least one meeting per week after school. We are expected to be in school form 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday.” – Berlin British School

“Workload is much heavier than other international schools I have taught at. ALL teachers (yes, all!) have 5 preps. Yes-5 preps. You will work more hours here than at any other international school in the Frankfurt region. Extra hours and additional time are not compensated in any way.” – Strothoff International School

“Teachers at ISS are required to cover for other teachers who are sick or absent. Teachers are expected to do extra curricular activities and this duty is classified as a B role on the salary scale. Meetings are held weekly and after school – they are badly organised and usually a waste of time.” – International School of Stuttgart

Flight and Moving-in Allowances

“Moving allowance is approximately 500 (quoted in USD). They pay for your ticket there, but there isn’t a flight allowance after that.” – Berlin Brandenburg International School

“Moving allowance is 2000 for single teachers and 4000 for teaching couples. There is a flight allowance every 2 years. Amount depends on location of point of origin.” – International School of Dusseldorf

“Travel expenses is an area that school needs to improve on. New staff members receive 1000.00 Euros moving allowance but that is taxed, so it is about 700.00 Euros It is not possible to move into such an expensive city on that allowance.” – International School of Stuttgart

“You also can apply for some personal days, but you don’t get paid for them typically.” – Bavarian International School

PD Allowances

“In theory you get to do an IB workshop every second year. In reality it depends on how much people in power like you. If you schmooze with them you get good PD opportunities and if you don’t they relish hurting you.” – Metropolitan School Frankfurt

“The school is pretty good at offering PD for all staff.” – Berlin British School

“Professional Development is not a good as it use to be. They have capped it and it is hard to receive PD based on what you need. They provide some in house PD.” – International School of Stuttgart

(These are just 4 of the 65 different comments topics that on each school profile page on our website.)

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Member Spotlights

International School Community Member Spotlight #30: Kathleen Ralf (A teacher at Frankfurt International School & Wiesbaden)

March 2, 2014


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

Tell us about your background.  Where are you from?

IMG_0401My name is Kathleen Ralf and I work at Frankfurt International School & Wiesbaden as a Humanities and English Teacher.

I was born and raised in the Seattle area.  After I received my degree I moved east to the wild desert side of Washington State.  I taught English and History in a public school in Wenatchee, Washington for 12 years before deciding to make my move overseas.

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

One day on my way to work I thought to myself… “Is this all there is?  Am I just going to keep driving the same road, teaching the same old stuff to the same community, for the rest of my life?!!!”  This realization really troubled me.  So I started applying directly to schools that were linked to the website of the Association of German International Schools.  My husband’s family is in Germany, his mother tongue is German, so it made sense that this would be the place to go.

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 started my international career at the International School of Stuttgart.   The school was in its first years of major transition.  They had a head of school that was dynamic and excited about the changes ahead.  I started that year in a cohort of about 12 new to Stuttgart teachers.  The community of teachers in Stuttgart is wonderful and supportive.   Class trips were definitely a highlight to the school year.   These were the moments when I really saw the best in my students and in my colleagues.  Dragging 60 students through the crowded streets of Salzburg is a life skill.

I am in my first year at Frankfurt International School & Wiesbaden.  This school is one of the oldest International Schools in Europe and has a great academic and athletic reputation.  The school is much bigger than Stuttgart, but I find this exciting.  The kids are from a greater mix of countries and teachers come here stay.   There are so many projects and activities for kids and teachers to involve themselves in here.  My favorite so far has been in caring for our adopted Roman watchtowers.

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

DSCN0102Recently I had some time to kill with my 6th graders.  We had finished up a unit, and I really didn’t want to start the next thing on a Friday before a holiday.  One of my students jumped up and said, “Let’s play hangman!”  Ok, I thought.  I went up to the white board and drew the gallows and began placing the short lines below for my word.    The Europeans in the crowd started yelling at me.  “Mrs. Ralf!  That is not how you play Hangman!”

I stepped back and let them take over.  You see in Western Europe you don’t make a gallows.  You just draw the lines for the letters of your word.  With each guess, you then draw the gallows and eventually hang your man.  I asked the question why, but the 6th graders had no answers.  I figured that German and Dutch words could be quite long; therefore they need more chances for guessing.  Or are these cultures just much more peaceful?  No one wants his or her hangman to die.

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

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI made my most recent move to Frankfurt from Stuttgart because of workload.   I had 6 preps in Stuttgart and at one point traveled to 3 different rooms.  My office was nowhere near any of the rooms in which I taught.   It was a harried race for 4 years.  I loved my colleagues and students, but I loved my health, family, and sanity more.

When looking for a new school, I ask a lot of questions.  How many preps will I have?  How many classes a day?  What is the meeting/collaboration schedule like?  Do you meet with teams/departments after school or within the school day?  What are the expectations on teachers for duties beyond the classroom? (i.e. covering classes, hallway duty, clubs, etc.) When do most teachers go home after work? Not when are contracted hours, find out about the work culture of the school.  Do teachers bust out the minute the bell rings?  Or do they hang around to plan, collaborate, and work with students?  What is the change-over rate of the teachers?  Does the school value hiring families?

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

Rejuvenating, Creative, Innovative, Culturally Rich

Thanks Kathleen!  You can check our more about Kathleen 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 Germany like Kathleen?  Currently, we have 39 international schools listed in Germany on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

• Berlin Brandenburg International School (11 Comments)

• Berlin British School (13 Comments)

Galileo Gymnasium (Germany) (11 Comments)

John F. Kennedy School Berlin (11 Comments)

Bonn International School (17 Comments)

International School Braunschweig (Wolfsburg) (19 Comments)

Dresden International School (15 Comments)

International School of Dusseldorf (22 Comments)

• Franconian International School (Erlangen) (13 Comments)

• Strothoff International School (27 Comments)

• Bavarian International School (30 Comments)

• International School Hamburg (14 Comments)

• International School of Stuttgart (24 Comments)

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