The Journey to School

The Journey to School: Chatsworth International School (Singapore)

July 10, 2015


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 worked at the Chatsworth International School (Singapore), described her way to work there as follows:

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At 5 am the loud whoop-whoop-whoop call of the Asian Koel bird echoes through the condo grounds waking me for another day in Singapore. I enjoy drinking a cup of tea, looking out the floor to ceiling windows as the sun comes up over the park between a couple of tower-blocks. Eighty percent of people here live in apartments or ‘flats’ as they call them. I take the elevator eight floors down and as I step out of the air-conditioning, the heat and humidity immediately hit me. I always enjoy walking through the gardens, past the tennis courts where there is usually a gentleman doing tai-chi or a couple of ladies doing chi-gong. As I step out of the side-gate, the calming notes of a Chinese flute float on the air from the HDB (Housing Development Board) across the road and I always wonder who plays so beautifully?

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It’s a short walk along the sidewalk under the lush canopy of beautiful trees to the pedestrian bridge over the road, where I’m usually lazy and take the elevator up. As I cross the bridge I admire the beautiful pink flowers on the bridge. I always feel at home in Singapore as someone who grew up in the UK because there are many reminders of this city-state’s former status as a British colony – like the double-decker busses passing below me.

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Singapore is a very safe, orderly society and they queue up even better than the Brits. People line up one behind the other and wait for people to get off the bus or train. I swipe my pass at the gates of the Mass Rail Transit (MRT) station which is like the London underground, Paris Metro or New York Subway. I’m lucky I live on two lines – the yellow Circle line and the red North-South line. Down the escalators I go and line up on the red arrows indicating each door waiting for my train. The computer-controlled trains run like clockwork almost every minute, so there’s not long to wait till the glass safety doors open.  Then the train doors open and people exit between the green lines and then the red-coated attendants urge us politely to “move to the centre please.” The trains travel at an enormous speed and I always have to hold on, but the Singaporeans seem to balance effortlessly as they read their papers or check their phones. Singapore is an incredibly diverse society, and I enjoy the bright colours of the Indian ladies in kurtas and the Indonesian ladies with their headscarfs. As we pass through the stations if an elderly person or pregnant lady get on people immediately stand up for them to have a seat. There are also announcements in English, Mandarin, Malay and Indonesian “mind the platform gap”, “if you see any suspicious persons or packages please notify station personnel.”

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Twenty minutes later I get a kick out of getting out at ‘ Somerset ‘ MRT. Up the escalators into the shopping centre I join everyone else getting my morning coffee and breakfast to go: I enjoy Costa coffee from the UK where the guys know I like a “medium latte to go lah?” Everyone speaks English but It took me a while to get used to the ‘lah’ added on to many phrases here. That and the ‘can’ or ‘cannot’ for positive or negative answers. After picking up my favourite mushroom bun from the Swiss Marche bakery, I’m out onto busy Orchard Road, a world-famous shopping street with stand-alone luxury stores.

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Chatsworth International School’s Orchard campus is in a prime downtown location. The blue and white buildings are a historic property, originally a private home for the founder of Orchard Road and then the first Chinese Girls School. I don’t usually go in the front gates past the security guard. Instead I prefer walking up lovely Emerald Hill Road looking at the historic Peranakan shop–houses to the back-gate. I swipe my pass in the electronic lock and another day at CIS has begun.

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author and International School Community member: Sara Lynn Burrough. Check our her personal blog here.  It is called Travelling Teacher.

So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn six free months 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

Blogs of international school teachers: “Travelling Teacher” (A teacher working at Chatsworth International School)

May 22, 2015


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

Our 41st blog that we would like to highlight is called “Travelling Teacher: Working in an International School Overseas”  Check out the blog entries of this international school educator who currently works at Chatsworth International School in Singapore.

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A few entries that we would like to highlight:

New Staff Orientation

“The next morning bright and early at 8.30 am a fancy Dulwich College Suzhou.

The coach pulls up at my compound (you can see some of the fleet more than 30 school coaches in the background of the school grounds here). I was sooo tired after my journey the previous day encompassing three airports, two flights and over 24 hours travelling. At least I wasn’t the only one-there were 35 new hires on board equally bleary-eyed. Off we went to get our SIM cards for China.

Then it was off for lunch with the Headmaster and some of the rest of the staff, followed by a shopping trip to WalMart for housewares and food! I sure wasn’t expecting to go shopping in a store that is so familiar to me.

The following day the coach took us to an Ikea store (another big surprise for me that this store was in China) for anything else we wanted for our apartments. What a hoot seeing sleeping babies in the show-rooms with equally exhausted adults! I’m impressed with the care the school is taking to settle us new staff-members in.…”

New teacher orientation is super important!  All international school aim for a smooth transition for their new hires. 

Want to read more about some new teacher orientation must-haves at international schools?  Check out our popular blog category called “New Teacher Orientation Must-Haves.” 

International Substitute Teaching

“I got my current job as an English B teacher at Chatsworth International School in Singapore through an agency called True Teaching. This was a very different experience than the ‘meat market’ feeling of the large recruiting fair  I went to in London for my job in China. Instead I registered with True Teaching for their Flying Squad for International Substitute/Supply teaching. After a personal interview with Skype online I was offered several overseas placements and accepted my job in Singapore.

http://www.trueteaching.com

It is good to know how an international school does to hire new teachers. It gives you great insight on how YOU can get a job there! 

Want to learn more about how international school teachers get hired at international schools around the world?  Luckily, we have a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this theme called “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 a few examples of comments from this topic:

‘The school has a low turnover of teachers and does not participate in recruiting fairs. The Director responds to cv’s received from whatever source. Teacher qualification is required. Experience with Scottish curriculum ideal.’ – New International School of Japan (Tokyo, Japan)16 Comments

‘There are many internal hires (e.g. local hires) that happen at CIS. These are candidates that have been substitute teachers here for a year or so. Vacancies pop up here all the time, so the local candidates are very eager to secure full time positions (e.g. continuing contracts).’ – Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark)231 Comments

‘The previous school director attended the Search Associates recruiting fair in London. The new director has used the CIS website, Search Associates website, and the school’s website to post the new vacancies at the school.’ –American School of Bilbao (Bilbao, Spain)10 Comments

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Want to work for an international school in Singapore like this blogger?  Currently, we have 21 international schools listed in this country. Here are a few that have had comments submitted on them:

• ACS (International) Singapore (Singapore, Singapore)10 Comments
• 
Australian International School (Singapore) (Singapore, Singapore)4 Comments
• 
Canadian International School (Singapore) (Singapore, Singapore)9 Comments
• 
Chatsworth International School (Singapore, Singapore)6 Comments
• 
EtonHouse International School (Singapore) (Singapore, Singapore)30 Comments
• 
International School Singapore (Singapore, Singapore)17 Comments
• 
One World International School (Singapore, Singapore)16 Comments
• 
Overseas Family School Singapore (Singapore, Singapore)16 Comments
• 
Singapore American School (Singapore, Singapore)11 Comments
• 
St. Joseph’s Institution International (Singapore, Singapore)7 Comments

Additionally, there are 41 International School Community members who currently live in South Korea. Check out which ones and where they work here.  Feel free to go ahead and contact them with any questions that you might have as well; nice to get first hand information about what it is like to live and work there!

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

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An Insider's Story

International School Drama/The Arts Teachers: An Insider’s Story

January 24, 2018


In my earlier career in public schools in Alberta, Canada I was a Drama teacher. The arts always seemed to be under threat in the public education system, and in my experience Music, Art and Drama teachers always seemed to be fighting for their survival. We had thriving Drama classes and a popular extra-curricular programme at my school where students in Junior High and Senior High competed in Zone and Provincial Drama Festivals, but when I went to teach in Australia on a year-long exchange they cancelled the Drama programme to save money, and only the Art classes and the Band programme survived the arts cuts that year.

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Teaching in Queensland, Australia for a year was an eye-opener as far as the arts went. Programmes seemed to be very well supported with excellent facilities and had far more to offer students such as many workshops in specialities like mime, street theatre and dance for example than the much more basic curriculums I was used to in Canada. The arts curriculums seemed to be very extensive and arts taken for granted as a part of an Australian school. After a huge well supported musical “Annie Get Your Gun” I returned to my school in Canada where we had no theatre and I taught Drama in a regular classroom, pushing aside the desks as needed.

I had to return to Canada and teach as an English teacher even though I wanted to teach Drama. For many students in my experience, the arts are vital to balance out academics and sports. All students need an opportunity to excel and be successful in something, and for many that is not their regular exam classes or a sports team. So the art teacher and I collaborated and kept the school productions going, a total of 25 Junior and Senior High shows over the years where students could act, sing and dance or work backstage, or designing the set. Students loved the opportunity to be creative, and often it was the behaviourally challenged students or those who didn’t quite ‘fit in’ in other classes that loved Drama the most. We continued to participate in the Zone Festivals winning many times, and what a treat it was to be in a real theatre! The highlight was going to the Provincial Drama Festival and winning Best Ensemble and raft of other awards for our huge production of “The Canterbury Tales.’

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Before I left Canada I was chosen for a Commonwealth Teacher Exchange to the United Kingdom. I went to teach in beautiful Norwich, Norfolk and became familiar with the British National Curriculum at KS3 and KS4 in particular. In England I was exposed to the rigour of a Drama programme shaped around students completing exams for their GCSE’s. I liked in particular how Drama, Music and Art were all exam subjects with strict, demanding curriculums and the disciplines were treated the same as academic subjects. In Alberta, Canada the arts are not exam subjects and the curriculum is very much left up to the teacher. I left England after our huge whole-school production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” with much to think about.

The thinking led me to the Search Associates Recruiting Fair in London, England and a decision to work in International Schools. I accepted an offer to teach GCSE Drama and IBDP Theatre at one of the top British Curriculum schools in China. The school was expanding from the Junior School to a brand-new Senior School. Before I became a teacher I had done a degree in Technical Theatre and so I had a lot of input into the building of the brand new Black Box classroom I would be working in and the incredible state-of the-art Theatre. What a treat it was to work in such amazing facilities with such keen students and such small classes after public education! I was familiar with the GCSE Drama curriculum and put students through both the EdExcel and the Cambridge exam board. My top tip for teachers wanting to work in British curriculum schools is don’t apply unless you already know the British National Curriculum, and the requirements of at least one GCSE exam board. It’s a very steep (I would say almost impossible) learning curve if you don’t already come in with that knowledge. It was no problem that I had no IBDP Theatre experience. The school had an unlimited budget and was quick to send me for training for my Category 1 IBDP Theatre course and countless other IBDP workshops. It’s easy to do well and get good results working in this kind of environment. Don’t kid yourself though-the results and marks really matter to the students, the parents and the school and if you don’t deliver you’ll be out. My love of Theatre and the performing arts in particular was well supported here with productions of “Aladdin,” “Macbeth,” “Blood Brothers,” “Cinderella” and “Marriage Proposal” amongst many other class and exam productions.

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In my current school in Singapore I’m in a different role. I am Head of Arts for the Secondary school. I supervise the Music, Visual Arts, Drama and Theatre programmes. I have six teachers working in the Arts Department. We are an IB World School and run PYP, MYP and IBDP curriculum. It’s important as HOD Arts to make sure we offer a balanced programme, no one art discipline can take precedence over another. Our students in Years 7, 8 and 9 all take all three arts classes. In Years 10 and 11 they choose one of the Arts disciplines to specialize in for two years and complete their exam ePortfolio of four assignments in Year 11. At the school we also offer IBDP Visual Arts and Theatre for two years. I teach some Drama classes and Theatre, but I am also given a lot of HOD time to manage staff, take care of the budget, ensure curriculum is being taught well, arrange standardisation and moderation of marks and a myriad of other responsibilities. I have my IBDP Cat 2 now and am an Examiner for the IBDP Theatre curriculum.

We run Arts Nights for the performing arts in each semester, as well as a school Talent Show. The Visual Arts puts up displays of art at these times as well as participating in the huge IN Exhibition of Visual Art from fifteen International Schools in Singapore as well as the IBDP Visual Arts Exhibition in the Spring. We run extensive co-curricular and extra-curricular activities for the students in the arts like bands, singing groups, drumming lessons and arts workshops. We are an International School Theatre Association School and run a lot of workshops through them e.g bringing the theatre company ‘Frantic Assembly’ in from the UK or Marco Luly- a Commedia dell’ Arte expert in from Italy. We run two Musicals a year, the Secondary Musical for Years 9-13 and the Primary/Middle School Musical for Years 3-8. The last four years we have done “Urbs, Urbis,” “Arlecchino and the City of Love,” “Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, “ “A Christmas Carol” and currently with a team of ten teachers and over 75 students “Cinderella, Rockerfella.” All of our shows are performed in professional theatre facilities we rent in Singapore. All of this is such a pleasant change from fighting for the arts survival in a Canadian public school, and having to fight for every cent we wanted to spend. I wish I had gone to work in International Schools much earlier in my career, but better late than never!

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This article was submitted to us by International School Community member, Sara Lynn Burrough. Sara Lynn Burrough has worked as a Drama/Theatre teacher for the past 38 years in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, China and Singapore. She has a BEd, an MEd, was a professional stage manager at the Banff Centre for the Arts and studied Technical Theatre at McGill University in Montreal. In Canada as a teacher she worked for many years for Northern Gateway Schools in Alberta, and during that time was selected for two teacher exchange programmes. Her first exchange to Australia was with Alberta Education and the Queensland Department of Education where she taught at Costessey High School, in Coolum Beach on the Sunshine Coast. Her second exchange was with the prestigious ‘League for the Exchange of Commonwealth Teachers’ (LECT) where she was one of two Canadian teachers selected to go to the United Kingdom for the millennial year to the United Kingdom. The Queen Mother was the patron of LECT and as she was celebrating her 100th birthday that year Sara Lynn was privileged to attend the celebrations in London as an invitee. In 2013 Sara Lynn decided to teach in International Schools and attended the Search Associates recruiting fair in London, England. From there she went to Dulwich College in Suzhou, China to teach GCSE Drama and IBDP Theatre in the Senior School. After China Sara Lynn went to Singapore for almost five years as Head of Arts (Music, Visual Arts, Drama) at Chatsworth International School where she taught MYP Drama and IBDP Theatre.

Using our unique Comment Search feature on our website (premium membership access needed), we found 96 comments that have the keyword “Drama” in them, and 14 comments that had the word “The Arts” in them.

Here are some comments that shown a positive light on Learning Support programs at international schools:

“The school just celebrated its 50th anniversary and there are many banners around the school. The school in involved with the SITS programme which is a quality drama and arts programme for kids.” – Oslo International School (17 Total Comments)

“Stoke City FC just started this school year and there are several other “big” initiatives as well, mostly in music and drama departments.” – Western International School of Shanghai (312 Total Comments)

“It is limited. In primary there is futsal, while secondary usually has volleyball and basketball. Baseball is popular but it is not offered in any organised way. The school usually participates at the MUN conference in Kobe in February each year. Drama and arts offerings have increased in recent years.” – Hiroshima International School (64 Total Comments)

“The school offers no sports programs, and occasionally offers a drama Club to students, depending on teacher interest.” – Alexandria International Academy (78 Total Comments)

“Piloting the iPad initiative this year and also looking to expand the arts program with the addition of the multi-purpose hall that houses a mini-theater.” – Universal American School in Dubai (57 Total Comments)

“There are opportunities in the arts (dance, voice, musical instrumental, drama), a good number of sports offerings (climbing, competitive sports, etc.). Lots!” – American School of Dubai (98 Total Comments)

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Video Highlight

Video Highlight: Stamford American International School (An international school in Singapore)

April 28, 2014


There are a few international schools to work at in Singapore!  How do these schools stand out from each other?

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Stamford American International School

Super school?? I didn’t realize those existed.  Virtual golfing, a celebrity chef, a stock trading room floor, etc…  Wow!

Nice to have so much technology, but I guess the downside is that after a few years, you will need to have it in the budget to get upgrades on everything as technology super fast.

A 300,000,000 USD campus!  I wonder how this number relates to how much it cost to build other international schools throughout the world.

They seemed to be at the forefront of bilingual education as well, with having Chinese lessons in kindergarten….by non-native speakers as it looks like in the video.

A macbook pro for every student…did I hear that correctly?  How many international schools have 1:1 programmes I wonder?

I love the conference room where they can have/facilitate Skype calls from all over the world.

How awesome that they have such an elaborate security system. Gotta protect all that advanced technology!

25000 AUD to go there as a student, every year!  A high price tag that’s for sure!

Currently on www.internationalschoolcommunity.com we have 20 international schools listed in Singapore.  Here are a just a few of them (The number of comments and information that have been submitted for each school is listed to the right of the link):

• ACS (International) Singapore (10 Comments)
• Canadian International School (Singapore) (9 Comments)
• Chatsworth International School (6 Comments)
• EtonHouse International School (Singapore) (30 Comments)
• International School Singapore (17 Comments)
• One World International School (16 Comments)
• Overseas Family School Singapore (16 Comments)
• Singapore American School (11 Comments)

If you know about what it is like working at one of these international schools in Singapore, log-on today and submit your own comments and information.  Become a Mayor of one of these schools and you will receive unlimited premium access to International School Community for free!

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