12 Tips for Selecting an Int'l School

Selecting an international school: Tip #4 – Is the school accredited? If so, by who?

January 29, 2023


What reasons do parents think about when selecting a school for their children when they move abroad? Are they similar reasons why teachers choose to work at a school abroad as well?  Many international school teachers are in teaching couples that have children.  There are also international school teachers that are married to a local and have children too.  So, how do you choose the right international school for your children to attend?  This blog series will discuss the Tips for Selecting an International School.

Tip #4 – Is the school accredited? If so, by who?

International schools intentionally seek various forms of approval and accreditation as assurances to their students, parents, employees, and community that quality and excellence drive educational decisions.  Countries have governmental standards that schools must meet in order to have local approval.  Schools generally follow specific steps to apply and meet approval status through the country’s Department or Ministry of Education and are monitored for annual renewal of the approval status.  This standardization is important for students and parents to have proof that the school provided an education that had to meet specific standards and provide some basic assurances of quality.

Accreditation takes the quality assurance factor to the next level by focusing on the processes used within a school to provide a high level of excellence not only in the “end product” of a quality education, but it examines the manner in which that excellence is achieved.  As in the previous blog post in this series, which focused on the value of international schools having a Vision, accreditation looks at what the school does and how it provides for an internal and external examination of its programs and processes: how decisions are reached within the school itself, what programs are offered that have international value, how student achievement is documented and used to increase learning, and to what extent the greater community is informed and included in the life of the school.  Accreditation not only looks at meeting quality standards; it requires that schools be engaged in a continuous improvement process so as to give its constituents long-term quality assurances.

Why is it important for a school to seek and obtain international accreditation?  Often international schools obtain multiple levels of approval and accreditation to demonstrate commitment to excellence for parents who are making educational decisions and educators who are seeking meaningful career experiences.  Let us take a look at what you should know about the processes involved in international accreditation.

The Internal Process…

can take one to three years of collaborative examination by the Head of School, the Faculty and Staff, the Governance Board, Students, Parents, and members of the local community.  The Standards or Required Elements for accreditation become the work of focus groups that look at the present reality, then, using the Vision, set forth a map of how the school can improve and how that improvement will be assessed and sustained over the years. After much collaboration, data gathering, and communication, a formal report is usually prepared and submitted to the accreditation agency.

The External Process…

will likely include an on-site visit by a team of highly experienced educators with specific areas of expertise who have the responsibility of examining evidence to validate the school’s formal report.  This visit includes several days of interviews as well as classroom visits to observe the quality of instruction and the depth of student engagement, critical thinking, and application of knowledge.

The Accreditation Report…

that the visiting team provides will likely include a level of accreditation recommendation for the school and most importantly, that report will give direction and focus for the school to provide ongoing quality educational programs for its students.

What has been described in this article is indicative of extensive work by a cross-section of a school and its community stakeholders.  So who benefits from this work?

School Owners and Directors…

are members of a highly competitive market.  International accreditation gives added distinction to a school that sets it apart from many others when parents are looking for excellence.  It also attracts quality teacher applicants for employment.

Teachers and Prospective Teachers…

who seek employment in international schools want to be in schools of excellence where there is a strong vision and internal human support and programs that enable them to perfect their teaching skills.  They also want their years of experience to be recognized by other educational agencies should they seek graduate school acceptance or transfer to other parts of the world. It is important to note that when an international school is going through an accreditation process the teachers (and everyone else basically) have to spend much time and energy gathering and filling out all the paperwork involved! It can be quite an intensive few years for teachers (and all other stakeholders too!).

Governance Boards…

appreciate direction for their decisions which accreditation defines.  It is added assurance that as a Board, decisions are intentional and supportive of the standards set forth in accreditation.

Parents…

want the best possible educational experiences for their children.  Often they feel inadequate in evaluating schools and programs, so the quality assurance component of international accreditation can aid them in this important decision.  Additionally, international accreditation gives parents assurances that the education their children received will be viewed favorably by other schools and universities in admission to future institutions, transfer of credits, and possible scholarship acquisition.

Students…

are the direct beneficiaries of international accreditation.  Behind the scenes, educators are required to have ongoing analysis and refinement of programs and activities so as to consistently provide an education of excellence.  As mentioned previously, student records indicate international accreditation for the purposes of transfers, admissions, and scholarships.

The community…

benefits from schools of excellence that are providing quality education; it becomes an added value and attraction to the area.  Corporations want to be established where high-performing schools prepare citizens for the 21st-century workforce and generate sustained excellence for community growth.

International accreditation is a continuous process of internal and external conversations and reviews of what is happening inside and outside a school to prepare creative and productive problem-solving people for international stability in an ever-changing society.

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

On International School Community all school profile pages have a topic in the School Information section that specifically addresses the accreditation status of each school.  The topic is called “What types of accreditation does this school have? When is the accreditation up for renewal? Any religious affiliations?”

For example on the Seoul Foreign School’s profile page there have been 6 comments and information submitted so far on this topic:

If you are an international school community member currently working abroad, please log on today and submit your comments and information about your school’s accreditation status.

If you are not a member yet, make sure to join www.internationalschoolcommunity.com and become a part of our over 25000 members.  Many of our current members have listed that they work at over 1200 international schools around the world. Feel free to send these members a message with your questions about an international school’s accreditation status and get firsthand information about how the accreditation process is going for them.

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Highlighted Articles

Top 10 reasons why attending an international school recruitment fair is super fun!

January 15, 2023


So many teachers that attend international school recruitment fairs say that they are stressful and a pain. Others say that they are like meat markets. With many directors walking around and potentially sleeping in the next room to you, it is indeed hard to get a good night’s sleep while staying at the hosting hotel of the recruitment fair.  Nervous and sleep-deprived candidates…not fun.

On the other hand, there is a group of international school teachers that enjoy attending the fairs. Yes, that’s right. They look forward to and actually have a great time there.

So, what are the top 10 reasons why attending an international school recruitment fair is super fun? Maybe you can relate to some of these!

#1 – Getting to network with other international school teachers.

Sometimes it is all who you know at the fairs. It is fun chatting with and getting to know some of the other candidates at the fair. Networking with as many teachers as you can surely help you to get your foot in the door. Maybe you will meet somebody who has the right connection and can introduce you to some of your top schools.

#2 – Getting inspired by others to move to countries you never even thought you would go to.

A few years back, at the UNI fair, there was a panel of veteran international school teachers telling their stories of working abroad and answering questions from the audience. Almost all of them had worked in a country that they hadn’t really seriously considered during their job search. All of them said that they were so happy to have taken that chance because they all had such wonderful experiences. You might say that being in the international school community is all about taking chances and risks about living in foreign lands. It is exciting to hear from other international school teachers about their experiences in countries you don’t know about and haven’t visited.

#3 – It is like Christmas morning when you go and check your “mailbox” folder in the candidates’ room.

The candidates’ room. So many nerves and so many folders!  It is easy to get butterflies in your stomach as you enter the room. As you get closer and closer to the tables with the ‘mailbox’ folders, you get more and more excited and nervous. You find the row of folders that start with the first letter of your last name. Opening your folder and seeing one note from a school is cool enough, but seeing notes from three, four or even more schools in your folder, now that is a good feeling. Checking your folder becomes an addiction during the fair, as you find yourself checking it multiple times throughout the day.

#4 – Pretending you are interested in a school by going to their informational session.

Even if you know a school does not have a position for you to interview for, it is fun to just go to their informational session anyway. Sure, the other people in the session might be actually interviewing with the school later on at the fair, but do not let that get you down. There might be a position for you down the road at this school, so keep a positive attitude and sit back and enjoy learning about a school that you might work at in the future!  It is fun to fantasize and pretend about these potential future schools for you.

#5 – Getting surprised, in a good way, that a school you are interested in actually has a position for you!

Thinking you know all the available positions at the schools attending the fair is a first-timers mistake. Anything can happen at the fair and things change fast. It is guaranteed that there will be last-minute vacancies that come up for many schools. So, make sure you check the master list of vacancies (if that is what your recruitment fair has) or take a close look at the posters behind each school at the round-robin sessions because there might just be a vacancy for you that pops up last minute.

#6 – Having intense dreams each night while you sleep, dreaming about what could be.

Yes, it is hard to get a good night’s sleep during the recruitment fair. But, the dreams you have are intense and exciting. Having a dream about your top choice can be just what you need to help you make the best decision. You might even have a great dream about another school you are interested in, moving it closer to the top of your list. It is true though that you cannot choose the schools or countries you dream about when you go to sleep at the fair. So, if you do have a dream about a school/country, it might be your subconscious telling you which school to seriously consider signing a contract with.

#7 – Making some pros and cons lists about the schools you are interested in.

You need to know you are making the right choice at the fair; if you are lucky enough to get multiple offers in which you are interested. When you make a pros and cons list of each of the schools you are considering, you get to think about your future life there. Fantasizing about you living with the school’s salary and benefits is what all international school teachers like to think and talk about. Additionally, you will be writing down the pros and cons of life working at that school itself, your actual job. The pros in that list could truly be the changes you have been looking for in your next school.

#8 – Getting to wear your dressy interview clothes.

Most teachers only get to wear their interview clothes once every 3-6 years. During the years while working at your current international school, there is typically not an appropriate time to wear them. Well, it is true that at some British international schools, you need to wear a suit and tie during parent conferences, etc. Maybe you are lucky enough to live in a country where you can easily and cheaply get some new interview clothes made for you at the local fabric market. How nice to show up at the recruitment fair with a custom-designed suit made specifically just for you. Nice interview clothes that you feel good in are important. You will be at your best (at the fair) when you are wearing clothes that make you feel comfortable and help you be yourself.

#9 – Enjoying the host city of the recruitment fair (who doesn’t want to go for a long weekend to Boston, London, Bangkok, etc.?)

It is true, you do not have that much free time to enjoy the host city of the recruitment fair. Most of your time is spent in your hotel room researching cities, countries, and schools. It is good though to take some time to get away from the fair. Get out of the recruitment fair hotel and explore the city a bit! Each recruitment fair is hosted in a cool city that most people would actually plan vacations at, so get out and have a nice dinner or take a walk around some cool neighborhoods. Maybe you have some family or friends that live there that you can hang out with as well. It is nice to have a good friend or family member there so that you have somebody to talk to about all the happenings at the fair that day.

#10 – Signing a contract on the first day of the fair and just enjoying the rest of your time at the fair.

Yes, these candidates exist. They interviewed with a number of schools before the recruitment fair even started. Once at the fair, they have that final interview and sign the contract shortly after, sometimes on the first day of the fair. Signing a contract with a school that you are seriously interested on the first day of the recruitment fair is a dream come true for most candidates. It definitely gets a load off your chest. You can just sit back and enjoy the rest of the fair and your time at the hotel and in the host city. It is still good to hang out around the fair though so that you can continue networking. You might just meet some people that have worked at the school you just signed a contract with, and they can give you all the insider information about your new school (hopefully mostly good things!).

This top 10 list was submitted to us by a guest author and International School Community member. All guest authors to the ISC blog get one free year of premium membership to our website. Email us if you have a top 10 list idea and would like it to be highlighted on our blog!

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Information for Members

“Schools with Comments” search feature update (45869+ comments on over 1209 schools)

December 18, 2022


Our school profile search feature is one reason that makes International School Community unique. The search feature allows our members to search for the international schools that best fit their specific criteria.

This fast and easy-to-use search feature also helps international school teachers find the school profile pages on our website that have some useful comments and information on them.  You can easily see how many comments have been submitted on each school profile page by looking to the right of each school listed on the Schools List page.

The “Schools with Comments” tick box feature is at the bottom of our school profile search box (see the above picture).  If you only want to see school profiles that have comments on them in your search results, tick this box!  Then on the search results page, you will only see the schools that have comments. Genius!

Example: First we selected East Asia in the Region drop-down menu.  Then we selected China in the Country drop-down menu.  Finally, we selected Shanghai in the City drop-down menu.  But instead of getting ALL the school profile pages for schools in Shanghai, we put a tick next to the ‘schools with comments’ part before we pressed the Search button.

Here are the results of this search:

As of 18 December 2022, 27 schools in Shanghai have had comments and information submitted on their school profile pages.

Log-on right now to our website and start your searches using our ‘schools with comments’ feature (which is available to all members).

Currently, we have 1209 schools that have had comments and information submitted on them. That’s over half of the 2258 schools that we have listed on our website!

It is also important to note that there are over 45869 individual comments and information that have been submitted on our website.  All of these comments mean more informed teachers in our international school community!  We encourage all international school community members to share what they know by submitting comments on the international schools they currently work at or have worked at in the past. Why not become a Mayor of a school for unlimited free premium membership? Become a Mayor today!

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Information for Members

Top 27 International Schools With the Most Comments on ISC

December 4, 2022


Now there are 1209+ international schools that have had comments/reviews submitted on them on our website (up almost 100 schools from one year ago)!

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

Western International School of Shanghai  (566 total comments)

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

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

Copenhagen International School (414 total comments)

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

So let’s get to it, which schools are in the top 27? This list comes from December 2022 with a sample comment for each school.

Here we go:

27. Green School Bali

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

26. Changchun American International School

(Changchun, China) – 168 Comments
“Apartments are furnished by landlords so it can vary – but generally pretty basic. School gave me a metro card and a SIM card and phone til I sorted out my own…”

25. International School Saigon Pearl

(Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) – 169 Comments
“The airport can be very busy. The staff don’t always speak English and facilities are a bit limited for a major international airport to be honest. Best to get there early if you are departing…”

24. International School of Tanganyika

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

23. Concordia International School (Shanghai)

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

22. American School of Barcelona

(Barcelona, Spain) – 180 Comments
“The turnover rate is getting a bit higher because the cost of living in Spain is getting higher and higher and salaries are staying the same. Economically it is difficult in Spain right now. That being said Barcelona is a fantastic city to live in and no one wants to leave…”

21. The International School of Dakar

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

20. Canadian International School (Hong Kong)

(Hong Kong, China) – 185 Comments
“CDNIS is an IB World School, implementing PYP, MYP, and DP. In a recent report by the IB governing body, CDNIS must make major administrative and governing reforms in the next year…”

19. Lahore American School

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

18. American School of Dubai

(Dubai, UAE) – 197 Comments
“Lately a number of teachers are heading to places like Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. They report great experiences! Oman remains the number one travel option, however, as it is right next door (door to door to Muscat is around the five hour mark) and has lots of great outdoor…”

17. Shanghai American School (Pudong)

(Shanghai, China) – 198 Comments
“There’s a new teacher coordinator who has been a great point of contact for new hires. Induction otherwise is done by partner teachers and departments. China has a lot of stuff to figure out once you get here, and there’s not enough time to help everyone with everything…”

16. Cairo American College

(Cairo, Egypt) – 199 Comments
“The subway costs 2 Egyptian pounds per ride. Taxis vary since you might have to haggle. Many people at the school use a regular driver. The one I use charges less than 200 Egyptian pounds for a trip to the airport, which is about an hour away…”

15. Ghandi Memorial International School

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

14. Tsinghua International School (Beijing)

(Beijing, China) – 209 Comments
“There is a new airport going in south of Beijing to relieve the traffic at the main airport…”

13. Khartoum International Community School

(Khartoum, Sudan) – 213 Comments
“Teachers stay because they feel appreciated, their voices are heard, and they get to make a difference. Teachers leave because it’s not…”

12. Oeiras International School

(Lisbon, Portugal) – 220 Comments
“Back in the re-accreditation mode again with the self-study this year. The visit will be a joint visit next year with IB, ECIS, and NEASC…”

11. Keystone Academy

(Beijing, China) – 227 Comments
“Very near school is Pinnacle plaza with Jenny Wang grocery. This is also good for eating out. Newer and busier is Shine hills. Everything is here including a good cinema. Just open behind the school is a new plaza with a cinema and Sam’s Club and a food street, Starbucks, etc…”

10. Seoul Foreign School

(Seoul, South Korea) – 231 Comments
“Tutoring through the school is available if it is not your student. The school takes a portion leaving you with about $20 for 30 minutes of tutoring. Coaching stipends from $350-900 and lifeguarding at the school pool can bring in 25-45 dollars an hour.”

9. Tarsus American College

(Mersin, Turkey) – 283 Comments
“Down to two weeks of holiday in January. No other breaks and we’ve been told that in addition to losing our fall and spring breaks for intensive staff development other PD will be held on weekends…”

8. American International School (Vietnam)

(Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) – 303 Comments
“Now, it is extensive as it has not been done at all. Atlas Rubicon full steam ahead…”

7. Stamford American International School

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

Bangkok, Thailand

6. NIST International School 

(Bangkok, Thailand) – 311 Comments
“With the start of construction on the street the school is located on, the entire schedule has shifted to a later start. Elementary students begin at 8:00 and secondary students at 8:30. So far the response has been overwhelmingly positive…”

5. Singapore American School

(Singapore) – 327 Comments
“Transport options are good. The taxi queue right outside of arrivals can be long at times, but the system works well to get people moving as fast as possible…”

4. Good Shephard International School

(Ooty, India) – 410 Comments
“Presently they are having their Trinity College London Music Examinations. This is an option but they try to maintain high grades although most students only take Initial to Grade 1 due to restrictions of the admin to practice music…”

3. Copenhagen International School 

(Copenhagen, Denmark) – 414 Comments
“You can get travelers and accident insurance from your bank here, like at Nordea. It is really cheap and it gives you health insurance coverage anywhere in the world! It is important to know about this option because now the Danish CPR health social health care card doesn’t…”

2. KIS International School

(Bangkok, Thailand) – 440 Comments
“Using a mobile is now so cheap that many teachers do not have a landline. The Satellite TV provider is dreadful, neither their offerings nor their boxes have changed in 20 years. If you want to watch sport most teachers just go to the pub…”

1. Western International School of Shanghai 

(Shanghai, China) – 566 Comments
“Airport is okay. It’s clean and easy to navigate. Immigration can take a long time to get through at peak times during the year but it’s okay. They have water fountains, which as a frequent traveler I really appreciate…”

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

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

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: United Nations International School (Hanoi)

November 13, 2022


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 United Nations International School (Hanoi), described the way she gets to work as follows:

The road to United Nations International School (Hanoi) in Vietnam

Hanoi is a growing city, with over five million people in its metropolitan area, where most of its habitants move around using motorbikes. Currently, the government is developing its metro system, but only one of its lines is operating. This, plus the fact that finding parking spaces for cars (in addition to their higher prices), makes it difficult for most people to buy one. Therefore, bikes are the preferred method of transportation in the country.

Vo Chi Con Street, near UNIS Hanoi.

When I first moved to Hanoi I was TERRIFIED of motorcycles: driving them, riding on the back of them, having them around me. I came here thinking I would be able to move around in taxis. Boy was I in for a surprise! Yes, you can take taxis to go to most places, as long as you are not in a crunch of time.

Then, going to work (or anywhere where you need to be at a specific time) would be preferable if it is done using a motorbike, which will allow you to move around on your own time, without having to wait for a low number of taxis available in most, if not all, areas of the city. When it rains, it is even worse! I have had to postpone my activities for an hour or two just because I couldn’t get a taxi to pick me up.

Very quickly, I realized that what others had said about the need of getting a bike here, was completely true. I had to leave my fear of bikes behind and learn how to drive one! Now, I go to work daily on my 50CC bike and use taxis for everything else. 

I live a little bit less than 3 km away from school, in an expat area called Tay Ho. My school is also in the same neighborhood so it only takes me around 8 minutes to get to work in the mornings and back home in the afternoons. Traffic at those times is fine (7:30 am and 4 pm). When I have to stay in meetings until 5 pm, then I run into rush hour and that is VERY hectic! Fortunately, my drive is so short and I use a major/wide street, so traffic doesn’t really add to my commute on those days. It just feels busier as the number of vehicles on the road significantly increases.

Here you can see a video of the outside of my building. Hanoi has areas that are more developed than what most people think.

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by an ISC member.

What to know more about what it is like to visit and live in Vietnam?  Out of a total of 36 international schools that we have listed in Vietnam, 26 have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of them:

American International School Vietnam (AISVN) (298 total comments)
ABC International School (Vietnam) (28 total Comments)
Concordia International School Hanoi (38 total Comments)
International School Ho Chi Minh City (93 total Comments)
Hoi An International School (43 total comments)
International School Saigon Pearl (154 total Comments)
Singapore International School (Saigon South) (55 total Comments)
United Nations International School (Hanoi) (121 total 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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Comment Topic Highlight

Back to School Initiatives and New Demands: Welcoming or Stressful?

September 18, 2022


Every school year, a school always goes through some new changes or simply experiences new things that the staff is now required to do or complete. The changes could be related to the school’s curriculum, some new professional development based on new initiatives, new building procedures (like fire drills), new mandatory training (like child protection), etc.

For many things (like ones actually dictated by the host country), they are mandatory and the admin simply just needs to fit those required things into their yearly meeting schedule.  Combine those required things with the other things and initiatives that a school wants to do, it can make for a sometimes stressful school year for the staff (and admin!). Furthermore, balancing these new things with your normal planning work and actually teaching students can prove to be very challenging.

So what are some of these new initiatives that international schools are focusing on in recent years?

A number of international schools are having their staff work with the Managebac program. There are 97+ comments related to Managebac on our website.

It’s also fairly certain that your school is now or will very soon be going through an accreditation. ISC has 525+ total comments related to school accreditation on 351 international schools at the moment.

With regards to curriculum, it appears that a number of schools are doing training with the Common Core curriculum. There are 45 comments that are about the different schools taking on this in recent years.

There are also 49 comments on IB training.  200 comments on different workshops going on in 149+ international schools.

And the list goes on…

What is a possible plan then for balancing all of these newly added things so that staff and admin don’t get too overwhelmed?  As one ISC member wrote about working at United Nations International School (Vietnam), “the [needs to be a] conscious adoption of a “less is more” ethos.”

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of new things added at a school. Our members can share what current international schools are doing in this topic. There are a total of 1007 comments (Sept. 2022) that have been submitted by our veteran international school teachers in one of the 68 comment topics called – “Recent things that the school has taken on (i.e. new curriculum, specific professional development, etc.).”

Here are a few of those submitted comments:

“The use of Kagan cooperative structures is the focus for this year. The entire faculty had 2 days of training before the commencement of the school year with another session upcoming later in the year. The goal being student engagement. Most of the faculty have been receptive and are already using the structures in their classrooms…” – Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea) – 231 Total Comments

“The school just finished a multi-year curriculum initiative designed to put the entire Pre-K through 12th-grade curriculum documents onto Rubicon Atlas. The school seems to focus most on literacy in the Lower School, innovation and design in the Middle School, and IB/AP in the Upper School. School-wide, there is a focus on Differentiated Instruction, but this takes different forms in different divisions. There is a new Head of School coming in for the 2018-2019 school year…” – American School of Paris (Paris, France) – 68 Comments

“The administration said they care more about kids learning English and Maths rather than any other subjects. What makes the school unique, seems independent of what they are pursuing; bring more local students no matter what their academic level is…” – Changchun American International School (Changchun, China) – 168 Total Comments

“Professional development this year has included IBDP two-day Category 3 in-school workshops on the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge. All staff also completed a Stewards of Children online course and a one-day first aid and CPR course…” – Tsukuba International School (Tsukuba, Japan) – 58 Comments

“The school has offered, over the past two years, very little in terms of professional development. There has been talk of a curriculum change to the Cambridge Primary Curriculum for September 2018…” – Cambridge School Doha (Doha, Qatar) – 85 Comments

“The school is just setting up a Professional Learning Centre to improve instruction and practice at the school first. The school has designated professional learning time on Friday afternoons and encourages professional development…” –  YK Pao School (Shanghai, China) – 61 Comments

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Discussion Topics

Summer Shopping: What products do you stock up on in your home country?

July 11, 2022


“How many suitcases should I bring home???” thinks an international school teacher who is traveling home for summer vacation.  Inside though this teacher knows what they will end up doing during their trip back home. Even though it might cost them in the end when they pay for the extra weight of one or more of their suitcases or when they pay the extra fee for an additional suitcase on the airline they are flying on.  It’s a pity that many airlines are now only allowing one free suitcase for an economy ticket, even on international flights!

The allure of home products is too strong though.  When living abroad as an expat, it is almost vitally important to have some things around you that are familiar in your home abroad.  Sometimes I open up one of my kitchen cabinets and because of the many home products that I see, it could be me opening a cupboard in my old home in my home country.  Surely the first and second year abroad you might do this, stocking your cupboards full of home products, but doing this in your third or fourth (or tenth or more) year…. is it time to “let go?”

I heard one international teacher say that after eight years of living abroad she now refuses to buy products at home when she can find the exact same thing or something comparable in her host country.  That would most likely save her in the long run on baggage fees, even if the product is a little bit more expensive than in her home country.  However, sometimes we just want to have our favorite brand that we were using all the time when we lived in our home country, even if we can find something exactly the same (minus the brand name that we have “grown to trust”) in our current country.  This is the dilemma then, to buy or not to buy??!

This year I personally decided to only take one suitcase back home for the summer.  Well if I am being completely honest, I still did bring a carry-on travel backpack…in the hopes that I could squeeze in a few more of my favorite things to take with me on my flight back home. It was very difficult to limit myself.  The mantra that I kept repeating in my head “Can I get this where I live now?” If the answer was yes, I reluctantly didn’t buy it.

It is fun to shop in other countries.  Exploring grocery stores in other countries is one of my most favorite things to do actually (though I find it equally enjoyable to shop in my old grocery stores at home, too)!  You never know what you will find.  Well actually you do end up seeing some products from your home country in foreign grocery stores, but countries obviously have many of their own products as well.  As you try new products, you are bound to find new favorites.

Sometimes if you see products that look familiar, they have a different language on the packages.  Some even try and display messages in English that seem a bit funny to you.  I’m not for sure the Lays company would put the same phrase “best with cold drinks” on their United States packages…maybe though.  Also, foreign countries have people with different tastes, so you might find potato chip flavors like Chili Chinese with Schezwan Sauce and Seaweed Pringles….probably wouldn’t be popular flavors in United States.  One thing that is hard to find living abroad is proper potato or tortilla chips; that aisle in a United States grocery store is a long one with many different brands and options!

Another factor to consider when buying foreign products is when you are trying to read the ingredients; this is where many international school teachers draw the line.  Many, many people nowadays need to know exactly each ingredient that is in a product. And when you have to do this in a second language (in which you likely only know a few words in total), you might find yourself being drawn to bring back more of your home country’s products.  Knowing the ingredients is very important.  Sometimes even on imported products in your host country, the country itself covers up the English ingredients list by putting a sticker over it listing the ingredients in the host language. It is can be frustrating for sure!

Interesting story….I just witnessed an international school teacher lug up three boxes of home country goods to her apartment.  When I asked her where did she get these boxes, she said that she got them from somebody who works at the embassy of her home country.  After living abroad for a while and meeting embassy workers, we maybe don’t all know one of the perks they get.  They can order home country products in bulk and the embassy will ship them over to you.  I guess this embassy worker had extra and enough to share with an international teacher friend!  I didn’t see all the different kinds of products that were in the boxes, but I do know that I saw some boxes of Duncan Hines cake boxes from the USA!  You might be able to find easy-to-bake cake mixes in your host country, but this just might be one of those products that are only available at grocery stores in the United States.

Go ahead…continue to go home and stock up on all your favorite things.  However, don’t forget to keep your eye out in the local grocery stores where you are living.  Try a few new things every 1-2 weeks.  There are most likely some amazing products that you didn’t know about.  Some things though you just might want to pass on, like whatever kind of meat this is in the display case and what ever kind of product that is on a certain shelf.  Sometime the risk is too great on your wallet to try out new (and strange) products and foods!

If you are an international school teacher, please share what you stock up on when you return to your home country!  How many suitcases do you bring home?

If you’d like to share your story and earn free premium membership to ISC, please send us a message here.

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Comment Topic Highlight

Allowed or no way: Bringing pets to another country

June 13, 2022


We cannot just leave them behind. Well, sometimes we do, when we find a happy home for them (usually a friend or a relative).  However, if there is a possibility of bringing our pet with us to our next destination, then people will probably do it.

Moving is a hard task, that is for sure.  It can be even harder, though, transplanting yourself with a pet.  There are so many hoops that you may need to go through before you have your pet with you, safe and sound in your new home/country.

Sign this form here. Sign this form there. Quarantine your pet for XX amount of days, weeks, or months??

Not so much fun for you or your pet.

For the love of this inseparable part of your family, you do it.  Because at the end of it all, you will both be able to enjoy and explore the new country together and comfort each other when things get tough and lonely.

Bringing a pet to another country varies across the globe as there are different laws in different countries.  Additionally, we must not forget about the international school itself. It is very possible your new international school highly discourages you to bring your pet (due to staff housing policies, etc…).  Good to know these things ahead of time then!!

Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to international school teachers with pets, so you can stay the most informed as possible. It is called: “Describe your experience bringing pets.

There are a total of 357 comments in this comment topic (June 2022).  Here are a few that have been submitted:

“The biggest obstacle will be the landlords not allowing pets. This despite that there are tons of dogs and cats around. The landlords that do allow pets will require a $1000 USD deposit. Lots of vets, people love dogs here, but also lots of strays and roving packs of dogs. Vets are inexpensive compared to elsewhere…”
International School of Belgrade (Belgrade, Serbia) – 95 Total Comments

“No support from school. Do all your own research. Viet Nam is fairly easy for bringing pets into the country but, depending on where you are going next or what type of pet you have, it may be much more problematic leaving…”
TH School (Hanoi, Vietnam) – 9 Total Comments

“Many staff this year successfully brought cats. Most chose to do the paperwork on their own – others paid $$$$ for pet shippers. Personal choice. The school didn’t help with this…”
International School of Panama (Panama City, Panama) – 89 Total Comments

“Very easy to come into the country with pets and a good area to have them. Not too many areas have grassy bits but there are parks etc to bring them to. Recently GRAB, (Uber here) started a pet carrying service. Veterinary care is very good too from my experience…”
KIS International School (Bangkok) (Bangkok, Thailand) – 401 Total Comments

“Updated on this pet situation. With the new housing benefits coming into effect now, many newly constructed apartments do not allow pets, and therefore housing that allows pets is at a premium. You need to discuss your pet situation with HR if you are considering coming here…”
Chadwick International School – Songdo (Incheon, South Korea) 158 Total Comments

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Traveling Around

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

June 6, 2022


Traveling Around: Sicily

Can you relate?

  • entering a local deli shop by chance and being in awe of all the delicious food!
  • getting an Airbnb right in a small harbor where the locals are doing their daily fishing.
  • planning this trip with some international school teacher friends that you met at a conference many years ago.
  • learning about the history of the island when you run into some ancient ruins.
  • resisting the urge to buy things from the local market when you see that your partner is purchasing a number of things.
  • Imagining what life would be like living in Sicily as you walk down cute and quaint narrow streets.
  • running into huge packs of high school aged children all over the city and not understanding why they aren’t in school!
  • succumbing to the urge and getting at least one delicious gelato a day.
  • taking a detour two times during the trip and stopping at some remote, local beaches to just lay down and relax (some of us taking a dip as well).
  • walking around the beautiful nature and being curious about all of the local wildflowers.
  • going all the way up to Mount Etna and being amazed at the fact you are standing so close to an erupting volcano!
  • ringing a doorbell of a closed store that sells honey only for the bell to be answered by the owner who then lets you in (the honey was delicious!)!
  • loving the city life as you people-watch in downtown Catania.
  • stopping the car to get out and buy four peaches from a local produce seller selling produce out of their truck.
  • driving around and being scared because of the way the locals drive. It was like the driving rules there were merely suggestions.
  • visiting a touristy town but realizing how amazing it was, especially the views of the sea.
  • eating at a different restaurant every night and totally enjoying every meal and experience.
  • running into a local wedding that was just ending and watching firsthand all of the traditions of their culture.

Currently, we have 39 international schools listed in Italy on International School Community. 21 of them have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of those schools:

The Bilingual School of Monza29 Comments
International School Florence34 Comments
American Overseas School of Rome40 Comments
Bilingual European School of Milan79 Comments
St. Stephens School Rome29 Comments
Westminster International School29 Comments

If you are on a trip right now, away from your host country, write to us here 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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Comparing the Schools and Comments

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Kuwait

May 9, 2022


Around the world, there are countries (like Kuwait) 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.

The big question always is…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 country.

Kuwait

Currently, we have 26 schools listed in Kuwait on International School Community.

17 of these schools have had comments submitted on them. Here are some that have the most submitted comments:

American International School Kuwait (74 Total Comments)
Cambridge English School Mangaf (41 Total Comments)
Ajial Bilingual School (27 Total Comments)
Al Bayan Bilingual School (30 Total Comments)
American Creativity Academy (31 Total Comments)
American School of Kuwait (51 Total Comments)
Dasman Bilingual School (24 Total Comments)
The Universal American School (22 Total Comments)

Amount of Money Left to be Saved

“Teachers can save 15% of their salary on average and you could definitely support a non-teaching spouse on this salary…” – The Universal American School

“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

“I can save around 1000 to 1500 USD each month. Kuwait can be an expensive country, but because the dinar is strong (it’s the strongest currency in the world), it doesn’t fluctuate much at all when compared with the dollar…” – Al Bayan Bilingual School

School Campus

“The school is in a new state-of-the art purpose-built building; with a multi-level cinema with a capacity of 80 seats, 2 floors theater of 400 seats, 2 swimming pools, 4 science labs, 4 computer labs, 2 basketball courts, 4 libraries & a 3 cafeterias…” – Ajial Bilingual School

“The school is now in a new building with new equipment and furniture, rooftop playground for seniors and two play areas for Early Years providing climbing equipment, bicycles and imaginative play area…” – Cambridge English School Mangaf

“The school relocated from Surra to its present location in Salmiya, Kuwait City in 1995. The campus, sheltered by a brick wall from the wind and weather, has middle and high school buildings that open onto an interior court in the Arabic style and three elementary buildings that surround an open play area. A 1200 seat auditorium, an indoor gymnasium and a sheltered outdoor gymnasium form another part of the complex. The roof of these structures holds a third story soccer field and running track…” – American International School Kuwait

Housing Information

“Staff housing has very basic furnishing. Nice places though. Need to pay the caretaker 5KWD a month for services. No utilities to pay…” – American International School Kuwait

“Shared accommodation for teachers or a housing allowance. Management have single accommodation. Utilities paid for except gas which is very cheap. There is internet but poor connection so most teachers provide their own…” – Cambridge English School Mangaf

“Foreign hires get single furnished apartments that are well-equipped and very nice…” – Ajial Bilingual School

Benefits for Teachers with Children

“Shameful that an expatriate would have to pay 50% for their child to attend a school where they would be the only non Arab and only English speaker. That 50% means you would still pay about 6000 US…” – American Creativity Academy

“One dependent’s tuition is paid for each contracted teacher…” – American School of Kuwait

“Your first child gets free tuition and the 2nd gets 50% off…” – Dasman Bilingual School

Are the Expectations High of Teaching Staff?

“Teachers without IB experience may find their workload higher than usual until they adjust. Teachers are usually expected to participate in and/or lead extra curricular activities, one day per week…” – American International School Kuwait

“Most staff are there for the money and don’t have high expectations. They arrive as late as possible and leave on the dot…” – Cambridge English School Mangaf

“When I worked there, core subject secondary teachers taught an average of four 45-minute periods per day, with occasional subbing duties. All teachers were required to supervise one after-school extra curricular club or activity for six weeks per year…” –Ajial Bilingual School

(These are just 5 of the 66 different comments topics that are on each school profile page on our website.)

If you work at an international school in Kuwait, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited free premium membership!

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Discussion Topics

LEARNING THE HOST COUNTRY LANGUAGE and LOCALS’ LEVEL OF ENGLISH

April 25, 2022


In this article, ISC would like to highlight some of your recent thoughts and experiences on the topic of learning the host-country language and the level of English of the locals living there.

Many seasoned international school teachers want to learn the host-country language and put their best effort into taking classes, etc.

However, that is easier said than done. It can be difficult, expensive and often time-consuming to achieve this goal.

Some international schools offer free host country language classes to their newly hired teachers, but this can be optional and sometimes of a low quality.

And because homelife and the workday for international school teachers are often only in English, teachers really need to make learning the host country’s language a priority.

We asked five seasoned international school teachers their thoughts on some or all of the following questions:

• How often do you speak (or need to speak) the local language while going around your city/country?
• Has the level of English of the locals increased over the past 10, 20 years in your city/country?
• Have you taken language classes, for how long and how did they go for you? Did your school provide free host country language classes?
• Have you ever had to pass a host country language test in order to get permanent residence/citizenship, for example? and how was that experience?
• What is the level of your school’s expat staff with regards to speaking/knowing the local language?

Thoughts from an international school teacher who lived in Lebanon.

When I lived in Beirut, Lebanon, I was very keen to study Arabic there, specifically the local dialect (the spoken Arabic of Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Jordan). I had studied the language some prior to arriving and wanted to become more conversational. I worked in a school that had a lot of Lebanese teachers, so I would hear the language every day in school as well as out around the city which helped me to learn. Our school provided some lessons with an Arabic teacher from our school, but this wasn’t ideal because they put all of us together in one class, whether we were beginners or advanced. I ended up taking some classes at a local language school, which was really great. The challenging part was that I had to travel across the city in traffic to get to the language school and then the class was three hours long, 2x per week. Also, all of the people that I was studying with were full-time students of Arabic, so with a full-time job, it was hard for me to keep up with them! In Beirut, most people are trilingual to some extent (English, French, Arabic), so it is possible to get by without studying the language, but of course, it makes the experience of living there much richer if you do. I had a colleague that studied French while she was in Beirut and that also helped her to connect with locals.

Thoughts from an international school teacher on their entire career abroad so far.

I’ve committed to three languages in the past 20 years while living abroad. Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese. [I will be] adding Arabic to the mix when I move to the UAE in August and use my High School/Uni French in my kindergarten teaching (along with English).

Thoughts from an international school teacher currently working in Portugal.

In the school, there is minimal need to speak the language (Portuguese). Since we are an English medium school, almost all staff are fluent or at least functional in English. At times, it is easier to communicate with some of the staff in Portuguese, but that is rare. Since Portugal´ s economy is very heavily based on tourism, English is a required course in public schools. Although many people complain that it is not well done or the standards are not high, my experience has been that a large percentage of younger people in major cities speak English well. I have not seen a huge shift in this over the past 10 years that I have been here.

I took private lessons once per week from a former colleague. Having spoken Spanish for more than ½ my life, there were times when that was helpful. For others, it created much more confusion than help. Some false cognates could be rather embarrassing. Did my school provide free host country language classes? No. there was ongoing discussion of it, but it never panned out.

For citizenship, I was required to prove that I was at an A2 (high beginner-low intermediate) level. Although the design of the test was different from any I´ ve experienced before, it was relatively easy. For the oral portion, it was very much dependent on the level of the other student you were randomly paired with. I was paired with a person who used Portuguese in business every day, and we had a lively and interesting discussion, so it went very well. My partner was paired with someone who lived entirely in a predominantly English-speaking area of the country and had very little experience or skill. As a result, my partner’s score was negatively affected.

Approximately 50% of our staff speak several different languages, and many have picked up a conversational level of Portuguese fairly quickly. Those who don´ t have admittedly not made an effort to do so. One final point I would make is that as immigrants to a country, we have a responsibility to show respect for that country, by at least attempting the language. In Portugal, people are appreciative of the efforts of foreigners to try to learn the language and are very patient with mistakes. An attempt to learn the host country’s language is a sign of respect toward that country, and its people.

Thoughts from an international school teacher on living in a number of countries.

This is an area of high concern for me, and I am rather disappointed in the level of support I have found in the schools I’ve been with. I was on active duty from the mid-70s for 15 years, and in that time, one of the first things I tried to do was learn the language where I was stationed. I was rather successful, as I still speak three of those languages well enough to get by. However, in each international school, I have taught, I have asked if there were host-nation language classes provided for the teachers. Only one, in Manila, had anything. While my current school is in a country where English is one of the national languages, in other countries that wasn’t the case. In one country where the local language was Arabic, the number of people downtown who spoke English was quite limited, making it difficult to do simple things like buying a phone load, groceries, paying for electricity, and even buying gas. While I tried learning the language by myself there, and in Korea, the differences in writing and the lack of cognates to link to my Romance languages left me floundering. This is one area where the schools can easily provide lessons at minimal expense, yet make the expat teachers’ lives much more simple AND help them understand and appreciate the host-nation culture.

Thoughts from an international school teacher currently working in Budapest.

When I was offered a job in Budapest, Hungary, I was excited at the prospect of learning a new language “from the beginning” and even took a few introductory lessons before moving. Once I got to Budapest, many people discouraged me from learning the language saying it was “too hard” and “not useful outside of Hungary – don’t waste your time.” After a bit of time in the country, I decided that I didn’t really love the language, and I thought my time might be better spent pursuing other languages that I had already invested in studying (that I was actually interested in). I didn’t realize at the time that I would stay in Hungary so long and looking back, I now know that it would have been useful to study the local language. English is spoken more and more around Budapest, but it is mostly the younger generation that is learning it in school now (as opposed to in the past when Russian or German was more widely studied). There can be some challenges in not speaking the local language when going to shops or non-touristy places in the city – and definitely outside of Budapest. Luckily the school helps us with everything related to housing, cars, contracts, etc., so that part is not a problem at all!

These statements were submitted anonymously by ISC members. Thanks! If you are also interested in sharing your thoughts and perspective, please contact us here.

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Discussion Topics

The State of the Job Market for International Schools in 2022

April 10, 2022


In this article, ISC would like to highlight some of your recent thoughts and experiences getting jobs at international schools in 2022. It is April, so we are getting closer to the end of the hiring season. If you don’t have a position secured, you might be feeling a bit nervous about your prospects.

The landscape for getting an international school teaching position has certainly changed in the last 10 years. And if one thinks about 20 years ago, some people might have the perspective that the power of the international school job market was definitely in the hands of a teacher. The most experienced international teachers would remember these days of glory.

Surely, there are multiple factors that come into play for both the international school and the teacher that affect their decision-making processes. It can be a very rocky past to bring the teacher and the school together in harmony.

A lot of frustration and maybe even confusion can occur for both stakeholders from when a vacant position becomes available to when it is filled. The lack of clarity about what is happening during that process is the most frustrating part, especially for the teacher candidates.

We asked five seasoned international school teachers their thoughts on some or all of the following questions:

• Who has more of the power right now: schools or teachers? and why do you think this?
• How easy was it for you to find your last international school teaching placement? Please explain.
• What advice would you give to a recruiting teacher still looking for a job at an international school in April?
• Does having connections at an international school help and/or having lots of relevant teaching experience help in your job search? Please explain.

Thoughts from an international school teacher currently working in SE Asia.

I don’t like the word power.

So much depends on the candidate’s experience and capabilities, and also on the type of school. Most people are chasing the dream of a beautiful location, great school community, and high salary. Those schools can pick and choose. Other good schools with less budget in more challenging locations find it harder to recruit.

People who have too high expectations, mediocre references, and poorly constructed applications find it harder to recruit. People should be more intelligent about how they use social media and represent themselves. Not many schools are looking for people with self-serving agendas!

Thoughts from an international school teacher currently working in Central Europe.

I was recruiting this year and I signed a contract before the winter break in December. I had a shortlist of schools around the world that I was interested in working at and nearly all of them posted a position between September and December that fit my qualifications. (After I accepted the job, even more positions were posted.)

I was really happy that I had a lot of great places to even apply to, this time around. I had read online in some forums and groups that some people felt there “weren’t a lot of jobs this year” comparatively speaking, but it’s always a game of how many positions are open that are a match for your skills and qualifications. Each year is different.

I would say that a history of working at great schools, and connections/excellent references always help add something to an already great resume.

Thoughts from an international school teacher currently working in Vietnam.

As a maths teacher with PGCE and QTS but no maths degree I normally find I have to wait a while for the market to swing in my favour, normally April or May. This year has been different. I updated my details on teach horizons and 3 schools interviewed me in the first week. 2 made me an offer and the third said I would get a second interview. I took one of the first two and I’m off to Thailand in the summer. All done and dusted before the end of Feb. Very early for me so I guess the power is with the teacher

Thoughts from an international school teacher currently working in Taiwan.

I think for who has the power, it really depends on the individual schools and teachers. I applied to many schools via different platforms this season and had many interviews. It wasn’t easy but I ended up with 2 solid offers from good schools. I accepted in November and that is very early compared to what I have been used to. If one has a solid network of people someone at a school you’re interested in, then that can certainly give you a leg up. For me this time around, I believe it was my subject (economics) and my experience that helped me get interviews and offers. I think if teachers are still looking now, they should be persistent as people drop out of contracts and some very good schools are still looking now.

Thoughts from an international school teacher currently working in Oceania.

How easy? It wasn’t. While I did secure an appointment in May of 2020 for an August start, on the first day of school, the corporation announced our school was closing permanently by 31 December. I had a six-month unemployed period trying to find another posting.

Connections? Vital, especially given my age and experience level (both high). It appears that most heads/hiring officials don’t bother to read introductory letters where I explicitly explain I come with my own health cover and the school doesn’t have to pay for it. I know some schools that are forcing highly experienced teachers out to cut their HR costs.

Issues: Aside from the obvious of a slow return to anything resembling normal, I have had school heads tell me to my face that a certain country has a mandatory retirement age… and while partially true, as a legal resident of that country, I know that mandatory age is only applicable to government workers, not to non-government entities.

These statements were submitted anonymously by ISC members.

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Traveling Around

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

March 6, 2022


Traveling Around: Småland, Sweden

Can you relate?

  • getting a private tour of a crazy Swedish man’s small moose park. The moose were so big and cute!
  • staying at two different Swedish hotels (here’s one in Kalmar) that offered not only breakfast but also dinner as included in the price of the room.
  • taking the trains to get around from city to city, and splurging by buying the First Class ticket for some more comfort.
  • going to a local restaurant and being the only guests in it. It is hard to do, but you can be surprised by some tasty food!
  • finding a unique Italian restaurant run by actual Italians (in a Swedish city of around 50000 people) and being treated to such a wonderfully authentic Italian meal.
  • stepping into a small butcher’s shop and buying unique locally-made products like jams and crackers.
  • driving around to find a castle that is also a hotel and realizing we should’ve stayed there instead!
  • traveling to a water tower that also doubled as an echo chamber. I wouldn’t have believed it until we got there. It was super amazing!
  • driving by a huge outlet area and agreeing to stop and check it out. We bought some discounted clothes!
  • driving off the beaten path a number of times on very dirt, bumpy roads. Super exciting and fun!
  • taking in the view of the beautiful nature. Even though it was winter and very cold, the sunny days still made the views so wonderful.
  • getting a bit of a snowstorm one night and waking up to everything covered in snow.
  • stopping by the local mall for some shopping. We bought a pot of a Swedish knockoff of le Creuset.
  • having the easiest pick up of a rental car….EVER!
  • wondering why we went traveling for a week in small-town Sweden only to realize that it was super relaxed and cozy…just want needed.
  • taking the free pass from the hotel to the local “spa/pool” and then seeing that it was overrun by small children!
  • stopping by the IKEA museum and learning about the amazing history of this iconic store.

Currently, we have 14 international schools listed in Sweden on International School Community. 7 of them have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of those schools:

Bladins International School of Malmo33 Comments
International School of Almhult141 Comments
International School of Helsingborg28 Comments
International School of the Gothenburg Region6 Comments
Stockholm International School11 Comments

If you are on a trip right now, away from your host country, write to us here 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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Save Money Anywhere

Save $$$ at International Schools ANYWHERE: Tip #5 (Network with other Super Savers)

January 23, 2022


As a career international teacher, I am happy to continue this series on Save $$$ ANYWHERE! Last month we introduced the Extravagant Vacations topic as a way for international teachers to save $$.

Helpful Hint #4: Network with other Super Savers

In any country, there is always a way to live economically and save. Asking teachers and administrators is rarely helpful, as they are all part of the same “elite” group. To find ways to live well and save, you must source out locals or other foreigners that have lived in that country for a long time.

If they’re not part of the upper crust of society, they’ve learned how to live like one, without spending like one. This should be part of an international school’s induction program, but unfortunately, they are rarely helpful, as they assume all foreigners are wealthy and don’t mind spending money. Make local friends, search the internet for long-term foreigners, every country has a strategy to live well and save BIG.

It all starts with the understanding that savings is a choice. If you want to experience the high-flying expat lifestyle, with fabulous vacations, and a Starbucks latte every day, you can do that, but that is a choice. A higher salary is not a license to spend money.

Schools that offer high salaries, are usually located in countries with a very high cost of living. Buying from local markets, avoiding the foreign import section in the grocery store, taking the local buses, and network with people OUTSIDE our school community, have helped us exceed our saving goals.

We pride ourselves on being global, and by stepping outside of our comfort zone, we’ve learned that to live well, we don’t have to sacrifice our savings. Pay yourself FIRST, live well, and save like an All-Star!!!

Stay tuned in the future for Tip #6 on Save $$$ ANYWHERE!

This article was submitted by an ISC member and veteran international school teacher. If you are interested in being a guest author on our blog, please contact us here.

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Comparing the Schools and Comments

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Morocco

November 21, 2021


Around the world, there are countries (like Morocco) 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.

The big question always is…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 country.

Morocco

Currently, we have 10 schools listed in Morocco on International School Community.

7 of these schools have had comments submitted on them. Here are some that have the most submitted comments:

American School Fes (18 Total Comments)
American School of Marrakesh (29 Total Comments)
American School of Tangier (10 Total Comments)
British International School of Casablanca (37 Total Comments)
Casablanca American School (39 Total Comments)
George Washington Academy (108 Total Comments)
Rabat American School (16 Total Comments)

Amount of Money Left to be Saved

“Single teachers can save up to $15000 a year and teaching couples up to $30000. The saving potential is high…” – Rabat American School

“Easily saved about $10,000 without living particularly frugally. The cost of living is generally quite low…” – American School of Marrakesh

“With a working couple, you can easily save one salary. That said a family of four would have to watch their budget as costs of things such as car hire can add heavily to expenditure…” – British International School of Casablanca

School Campus

“Nice open feeling to central campus areas. Able to take class outside and read a book under a tree. Limited facilities – no pool, etc…” – Casablanca American School

“A quiet area by the ocean, walking distance to a tennis club and a few local places to eat and shop. The school has two cars you can borrow to run errands, but the cars are manual only (fyi)…” – George Washington Academy

“Next to the campus there are many trees and low rise residential, shops and restaurants nearby…” – Rabat American School

Housing Information

“Housing is provided in an apartment complex. Utilities within reason included. Apartments have basic furnishings and wifi. There is a cable TV package or something similar, but few channels in English…” – American School of Marrakesh

“Furnished housing is provided. The school also pays for your utilities…” – American School of Tangier

“Accommodation is provided in a modern golf complex. Bills are to be paid by the teachers…” – British International School of Casablanca

Benefits for Teachers with Children

“If two parents are working for the school then the kid gets in free but if one parent is working for the school there is a fee that would need to be paid…” – George Washington Academy

“Free tuition for two children; half tuition for additional children…” – American School of Marrakesh

“Free child places. It is possible to hire a nanny for around 4000 MAD a month if needs be…” – British International School of Casablanca

Are the Expectations High of Teaching Staff?

“Having come from one of the big high pressure schools, I can honestly say the workload is not hard. Classload is light with only 2 or 3 classes per day, and extra curriculuar are optional and paid. The work day ends at 3:45 and only the new teachers with limited experience consider the workload “tough”. I’m home every day by 4 to cook dinner for my family, that is something I have never been able to do before in my professional career, and I think that is a real blessing of GWA…” – George Washington Academy

“In addition to teaching duties, you are expected to run one extra curricular activity and participate in one school committee. For most grades, there is a reasonable amount of prep time (entitled to 4 periods, but most people have at least 8 per week, some even more). You are also required to do 1-2 duties per week…” –American School of Marrakesh

“The expectations are high but not over demanding. Timetables are no different to other international schools although the day is long. Clubs are taken by staff, currently once a week…” –British International School of Casablanca

(These are just 5 of the 66 different comments topics that are on each school profile page on our website.)

If you work at an international school in Morocco, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited free premium membership!

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Highlighted Articles

11 International Schools that are Close to Nature

October 25, 2021


Many of us international school educators would ideally like to teach abroad and also have close access to nature.

Escaping into a forest or a big green park can often reset our minds and bring our stress levels down to manageable levels.

Some international schools are already directly in nature. Maybe they are in a forest or right next to a water source, or maybe they are just in a city center that has a number of very green parks.

But not all international schools are in cities that have easy and quick access to nature.

Some cities do have a few trees lining the streets and also a few small parks scattered around, but often the number of buildings outnumber these two things. And if you look closely, there can even be a layer of dust/dirt on the leaves making the green look more like a brownish color!

Even if there is not a lot of nature in the city center itself, it is still important to note that it can be worth it if you can find some nature close by via public transport or car.

Having access to a number of day trip options that go into nature can really be a selling point to working in a certain city and country.

Nature is important to many of us international educators, so it is necessary to ask around and do your research before making a decision to relocate.

Luckily, ISC was designed to help international school teachers find the information they are looking for. Using the Comment Search feature (premium membership needed), we found 235 comments that had the keyword “Nature” in them. Here are 11 of them:

Thailand

“The school is quite far from the center of Chiang Mai but it is possible to find nice places to eat and plenty of local shops and markets a short car or scooter ride away. The plus side is that you have total peace and are surrounded by lush green making it a wonderfully relaxed place to live and explore. Staff are given apartments on the school grounds with the option to live off-campus for those who wish it.” – Prem Tinsulanonda International School (55 total comments)

United Arab Emirates

“Single people enjoy their lives here. There are many other expats to date. There are a lot of things to do during the day and night here. There is a good coupon book that some people use. The book is huge so that means there is much to do. With regards to nature, there is actually a lot of living things in the desert. In our garden, there are many kinds of critters!” – American Community School of Abu Dhabi (30 total comments)

Malaysia

“There isn’t much to do in Putrajaya apart from nature walks and the lake activities. KL has lots to offer but lacks the excitement of other SE Asian destinations. It’s great for families though and has a charm of its own.” – Nexus International School – Malaysia (94 total comments)

Germany

“I would say there is a lot of nature here in Hamburg. There is water everywhere basically. There are many parks in the city as well. Just no mountains.” – International School of Hamburg (55 total comments)

Costa Rica

“Anywhere you around in the city, you will be able to see beautiful mountains. The sun is typically shining as well making all the views of the trees and flowers so lovely. And if the nature in the city isn’t enough, then you are not too far away from more nature in other cities around the country.” – American International School of Costa Rica (12 total comments)

France

“There is so much night life here, if that is your scene. There is also a lot of nature here too with so many parks around the city. On a sunny, warm day, Paris just looks sooooo beautiful! Last night I saw two gay men holding hands while walk down the sidewalk, and then around the Seine, I saw a group of gay bears meeting up for a mini party/gathering. Seems like Paris is really gay friendly.” – International School of Paris (24 total comments)

Norway

“However it’s the best place for nature and getting out of the city in no time.” – Norlights International School Oslo (122 total comments)

Ukraine

“It is possible to find any kind of activities you want here. There is a lot of nightlife, but also easy access to large parks and nature. Buying or renting a car will allow opportunities to get out into the country and really experience nature, if desired.” – Qsi – Kyiv International School (36 total comments)

Japan

“There are so many temples/shrines to see here. Many of them are going up the nearby mountainside. 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 (65 total comments)

Oman

“There isn’t that much nature in the city of Muscat itself, but you don’t have to do too far to see some green. There are palm trees that are dotted around the area, like near to the Grand Mosque. There are even areas of beautiful green grass and flowers like near to the Corniche Mutrah. But most of Muscat is desert-like. Just flat and sandy!” – American International School of Muscat (34 total comments)

Colombia

“School is built on a large hillside with beautiful views of the city. It is surrounded by a sort of nature preserve so it’s very green all around. The buildings are old and cannot be rebuilt due to building restrictions but they do their best to keep them repaired best they can.” – Colegio Nueva Granada (60 total comments)

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What Expats Must Endure

Chasing our Dream School!!

August 9, 2021


As international teachers, we all left our home country for a reason. The motivations to become an international teacher are varied. Some of us wanted the adventure of seeing the world before its gone.

Others fell in love with a foreigner, started a family, and became an “international” teacher in name only. Others had so much personal debt, that if we worked in our home country, we might be debt-free before we retired. Or maybe we just wanted to be respected in our profession, and we wanted to live in a place where it was still safe for our kids to play ball games on the street in front of our houses. The motivations for international teaching are varied, but all of us are in some way or another. We are not just chasing our dream school, we’re searching for our new home.

           We have all sat down with a recruiter or a Head of School, and listened to their sales pitch on why their school is “THE DREAM SCHOOL”. Unfortunately, 9 times out of 10, it ends up being an illusion. As an international teacher we must endure a lot; we pick up our lives, move two countries over, and settle in for a few years before repeating the cycle. Upon each new recruiting cycle, we hope that we have gained enough experience to finally get into the coveted Tier 1 international school, and that will be our “DREAM SCHOOL”.

           But what do we and our families have to endure along the way? Over my last 10 years of international teaching, I experienced a school that hired and fired six principals in six months. Upon landing in that new country, Principal #7 informed us that all our contracts would have to be renegotiated. Our passports were then taken for “processing” and escorted to our new school compound and prevented from leaving for 13 weeks…”for our own safety”. The school was subsequently banned from ISS and Search Associates, had a 100% turnover of teachers two years in a row, but still received its full IB certification. After everything we had endured, we were escorted to the airport, given a large bundle of cash, and told to not bother applying for jobs in this country again. We took our bag of silver, shook our heads, and left happily.

            International teaching is a balance between precarity and privilege. We accept the unknown and unstable working environment for the promise of a salary and lifestyle we could never have in our home country. When we are young and single, this is a great deal. But as we grow older, and have families, we start to look for more stability. Any international teacher who watched their once happy and thriving child leave a school they love, and then come home crying every day from their new school, understands the guilt and sadness it causes.

            Recruiters and Heads of School are playing a finite game. Their focus is on hiring for this year and getting the best teacher they can into the classroom for this year. Most international teachers only last 2 years in a school anyway, so the “right fit” turns into the “right-now fit”.  As an international teacher, what I have endured is nothing compared to what my family has endured. As I complete another contract and listen to another sales pitch, I am not chasing my DREAM SCHOOL, I’m searching for a home. I’m searching for a school that understands, if you take care of my family, I’ll renew my contract (time and time again). I’m searching for a school that understands, there are no such things as a dream school. We are searching for a school that aligns with our values, prioritizes family, and treats us like a member of the community, and not just a 2-year rental. That is my “DREAM SCHOOL”.

This article was submitted by an ISC member and veteran international school teacher. If you are interested in being a guest author on our blog, please contact us here.

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Comment Topic Highlight

New Comment Topic: How Progressive is your Host Country with Regards to Recycling?

July 29, 2021


Let’s hope that all of our host countries recycle in some way. If they do, then certainly the ways they do it will be different and interesting, and also affect the international school at which you are working.

Many international school teachers are interested in living a sustainable life in a country that supports that lifestyle. Not all countries are the same, of course, and they are unable to put their current focus on recycling. For some international educators, this might be a deal-breaker.

If your new host country does recycle, figuring out how your host country recycles is another thing. If the directions or letters you receive are in a language you can’t read and understand, then it can definitely be a challenge. But asking around your international school, and maybe even calling on your neighbors can help.

What will you be able to recycle when living in your new apartment building or house? Will you be able to recycle plastic, metal, batteries, glass, bio waste, carton, paper, etc.? If you can recycle these things, how easy will it be to do just that?

Maybe you pay some sort of a deposit when you buy something at a store that comes in a plastic bottle. Then you need to find the place where you can return these bottles and get your deposit back (sometimes it is the same store). In other countries, you don’t pay a deposit and thus all your plastic bottles might just go into one big garbage bag. In both cases, there might also be people going around to different dumpsters and garbage cans around the city looking for those recyclables and doing the recycling for you.

Then again, there might be an easy way to recycle most of the things you are using, but you just haven’t figured it out yet. Years can pass with you not recycling the best way that you can in your host country. Once you find out the way, then you might feel a bit stupid that you haven’t been doing it that way since you first moved there!

The ways your host country recycles might be a bit inconvenient for you (or really easy!), but once you get it to be part of your new routine of living there, then it is typically a snap to recycle all the time.

At ISC, we are really curious to see how progressive your host countries does with recycling. Login today and share what you know. The new comment topic is located in the City Information section of all school profile pages.

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Top 10 Lists

11 International Schools that have a Good Work-Life Balance

May 2, 2021


Nobody wants to be worked to the bone. And then not have any time to enjoy life outside of work.

Many of us left our home countries to escape being worked too much at our home country schools.

Teachers want to do their best and have time, inspiration and encouragement to do just that.

Just like the schools located in your home country, there is also a wide range of work-life balance situations at international schools.

Sometimes the work-life balance is affected by the norms of the host country’s laws and culture. Other times it is more influenced by the school itself and its admin.

But luckily, there are some international schools out there striving to have the best possible work-life balance for their teachers. As they say, teachers are more able to keep their focus and do their best if they are not so stressed at work.

So which international schools then have some good work-life balance conditions? Can you guess which countries/schools around the world would make for the best conditions for a good work-life balance?

Luckily, ISC was designed to help international school teachers find the information they are looking for. Using the Comment Search feature (premium membership needed), we found 30 comments that had the keyword “Life balance” in them. Here are 11 of them:

Sudan

“There is a good work-life balance at the school. Teachers are required to lead an after school activity (1 hour/8 weeks) each semester…” – Khartoum American School (44 total comments)

Thailand

“Expectations are high and teachers work hard. There is very reasonable non-contact time and staff gets paid if they do extracurricular activities. The workload is not excessive and there is a good work/life balance…” – Lanna International School (LIST) (18 total comments)

Germany

“The expectation of quality is very high, but this is reflected in giving ample prep-time. One can also request a “retreat” morning/afternoon/day if you would like to spend some extra time planning with a team. I find this to be one of the best places for work/life balance, without sacrificing quality…” – International School Hannover Region (38 total comments)

Jordan

“Reasons to stay:
– Amman is pretty easy to live in – most things are available in stores
– The staff is a lot of fun and friendly and enjoyable to work and play with
– Jordan has a lot of amazing things to see and do, especially if you enjoy an outdoor life
– The school program is strong but the expectations on staff are realistic
– The school values a healthy work-life balance, there is not a workaholic mentality here…” – American Community School (Amman) (55 total comments)

Norway

“It is a great place to work at and the work-life balance is good too…” – Norlights International School Oslo (122 total comments)

Qatar

“In general people stay because they feel supported, welcome and have a good quality of work/life balance…” – The English Modern School (Doha) (99 total comments)

Vietnam

“There are pros and cons but I think it depends on what you value. If you want a good work-life balance you can find that here. You don’t need to bring work home with you once you are established. The school also has great kids and the lack of structure means you have a lot of creative freedom…” – The Canadian International School Vietnam (147 total comments)

Taiwan

“KAS is the best international school in Kaohsiung as far as school resources, work/life balance, collegiality among staff, pay, vacation time, and students who work hard. As of yet, it is not the best in Taiwan (those would probably be TAS or TES in Taipei), but it’s working towards it…” – Kaohsiung American School (43 total comments)

Ivory Coast

“There is a good work-life balance at the school. Teachers are required to lead an after school activity 2 out of 3 trimesters…” – International Community School of Abidjan (68 total comments)

Denmark

“There are many couples at our school, mainly young couples that are actively having children. There are so many staff having children each year! It is a great place to have children because of the long maternity and paternity leave, etc. What I’m trying to say is that if you are a couple and want to work at our school, it is a great match because couples really enjoy their work/life balance here…” – Copenhagen International School (391 total comments)

Philippines

“There is a lot of work, but everyone can maintain their work-life balance. The school is supportive of on-campus wellness activities before and after school…” – International School Manila (110 total comments)

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Discussion Topics

Traveling to get Vaccinated in your Home Country

April 18, 2021


Let’s be honest. Not all countries are equally successful with their COVID19 vaccination roll-out.

Many of us are in countries in which there seems to be no hope to get vaccinated before the summer (or even the foreseeable future). The international school community hasn’t been able to see their families in almost two years, so they are eagerly hoping to do so this summer.

Although vaccination is not a mandatory prerequisite for travel, being vaccinated would definitely give them some peace of mind while visiting their loved ones.

Different regions of the world are having different dynamics in rolling out their vaccination programs. Europe is currently lagging behind the countries such as UK, Israel, Chile, Serbia, the USA, etc. But most developing countries are lagging behind Europe.

Because of the time crunch, a number of international school teachers are choosing to go to their home countries anyway and looking at maybe also getting vaccinated there.

As plane tickets are being bought (hopefully with a flexible rescheduling policy), we are currently seeing new waves of infections in many countries around the world (and maybe even your home country). This puts all of us in a moral doubt of whether we should take a risk and travel to see our friends and family or should be more patient and wait until more certain times.

After looking at some flights from Europe to the USA, the prices look very attractive compared to previous years. So buying one of these flights is hard to resist.

However, it is hard to know what the world will look like come June. We don’t know yet which requirements you’ll have to meet to even fly to your home country. As of today, most countries just require proof of a negative PCR test for citizens of that country (and their spouse/family).

What are your plans for this coming summer? Will you take the chance and fly home?

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Discussion Topics

Are international schools more likely to hire teaching couples?

February 14, 2021


Most of us have been in the situation while job hunting for a position at an international school when the topic of our relationship status comes up. Of course, it is none of their business and a very strange thing to ask at a job interview. But in the world of international schools, it is quite common to ask this and important information to know from the school’s perspective. 

International schools have this idea that teaching couples are the ideal hiring choice as they try to fill their vacancies. It is like a 2-for-1 deal. It is a dream for an international school to find a teaching couple that consists of two top-notch teachers with lots of experience. The general observation though is that the school often hires one top-notch partner first who is a really good fit for a certain position, and then finds a vacant position for the spouse who might not truly be their first choice for that role. 

Regardless of finding the perfect fit for those positions, teaching couples are supposed to be more stable. They can support each other better when adapting to a new country and culture. No international school likes it when a teacher arrives and within the first few months can’t handle their new situation which leads to their prompt resignation, or even a no-show. If a teacher is already living with someone familiar, this person will automatically have the feeling of home which will lessen the sometimes harsh effects of culture shock making it more manageable for them to settle in. Also, when partners go through some of the negative parts (and positive ones) of culture shock together, these experiences become nice bonding moments. With those shared experiences, teaching couples potentially could indeed be more stable.

Another reason international schools like to hire teaching couples is that it is cheaper when they are handing out the housing allowances. Usually, the housing allowance is a bit more for teaching couples, but it is definitely less than two single teacher housing allowances combined. But if teaching couples want, they can even get a smaller apartment that is cheaper and could save the difference (not available in every school). In turn, teaching couples can often save more money than single teachers. They can even save one partner’s whole salary in some situations in certain countries. If one can keep saving more money, teaching couples may stay longer at that school.

The truth is, though, that not all teaching couples have these same positive experiences and advantages. Moving abroad as a couple can be just as unpredictable as going as a single teacher. Imagine a teaching couple that has moved from a spacious apartment and now has to live together in close quarters. This situation can create not-seen-before tensions. Additionally, maybe you are a new couple and haven’t experienced living together for that long. Add on culture shock and adapting to a new work environment and that can be a recipe for disaster.

If a teaching couple hasn’t worked together in the same school before, then the couple could find it challenging to establish the balance of work and life as their life and community become part of the work. This gets even trickier when maybe their children are being taught at the same school! It could also really get on the teaching couples’ nerves being together all the time, every day. However, odds are that this is not so challenging because many teaching couples don’t really see each other that much especially if the teachers are teaching at different grades or departments.

And there can be also downsides for the international schools themselves when they hire teaching couples. For one, it is often a difficult task to fill two vacant positions using a teaching couple. Then when a teaching couple leaves, it can be quite the challenge to easily find their replacements (like another, similar teaching couple). Many teaching couples are often on the market longer because of this quest to find the perfect match. Of course, both parties can be flexible, but this flexibility can lead to a less than perfect fit. It is recommended for a teaching couple to address these expectations early in their job-seeking process.

If an international school is going through some tough financial times and needs to let some staff go, it can get complicated when they have to sift through the staff while also thinking about whether they are part of a “package” or not.

Certain international schools are now specifically stating that they prefer single teachers to hiring teaching couples. So a single teacher just needs to find the right school for themselves, and also have a bit of luck and good timing on their side. It’s a pity when an international school has interviewed a single teacher and has told them they are a really good fit and then just before handing out their contract, they respond that they have given the position to a teaching couple. This situation has happened so many times to single jobseekers and has created this sense of “I need to be in a teaching couple to get hired at an international school”. However, this idea is simply not the case for all international schools. The reality is that at one school teaching couples are favored and single teachers can actually be more desirable at a different one.

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Top 10 Lists

10 things to do when you are stuck in your host country for the holiday break

December 28, 2020


We can all agree that 2020 was a very strange year for international school teachers. Every country has been affected by all of the pandemic craziness. Many countries have gone through a number of “waves” this year when the infection rates got quite high. Though countries have responded differently, many have decided to put their residents under a lockdown.

There are different levels of lockdowns, but a number of countries are under the strictest level at the moment during the Christmas holidays. Typically international school teachers will go to their home countries to be with their family, while others go on vacation to take advantage of their 2-3 week-long break. But for many of us, it is not possible to travel anywhere during this holiday break. It can be quite depressing! But being that we can’t solve the pandemic anytime soon, it is good to try and stay positive with the situation we are dealt with.

So if you too are stuck in your host country during this Christmas break, here are some things you can do to enjoy your holiday, be productive, stay positive, etc:

Video chat with many friends from around the world.

Now is the best time to catch up with friends that maybe you don’t video chat with so much during the school year. These could be friends from your home country or your friends from past countries in which you’ve lived. Set up times to chat with these friends and you will be surprised with all the things you will talk about. It is certain that some conversations will go over 2-3 hours!

Invite your current work colleagues over for a dinner

Many of us have been meaning to invite some of our cool work colleagues over to our place. Now is the time when everyone is available because they are all locked inside your country as well! Once a dinner time is scheduled, maybe find a new recipe that you can make so you can broaden your repertoire of meals to impress your guests. Who knows, maybe this dinner will bring you and your colleague’s friendship even closer!

Clean/organize small parts of your home every day

Let’s face it, even though you clean your house regularly, there are still parts in your house that get dirty and disorganized. One day, clean out and organize your silverware and cooking utensil drawers. They will look so nice when you are finished! On the next day, attack the drawers and shelves in your bathroom. It feels so good to know things are organized in your life! Marie Kondo!

Go through your clothes and donate

Why do closets get so full sometimes?! Take a moment to go through your shirts, pants, coats and shoes. If you haven’t worn some of those things in awhile, donate them. If there are some things that don’t fit anymore, donate them. Then take your bag of donations to your nearest thrift store/donation center. Done! And now you have some more space for more things, just kidding!

Get outside every day

It is not good for your well-being to be stuck inside all day. The weather plays a big factor in you wanting to actually go outside. But even if there is a bit of rain/snow or cold weather that day, get yourself outside! Especially if you go walking with a friend, you’ll forget about the gross weather anyway. There is something about some fresh air, checking out the locals, and taking in your local surroundings that do a body and brain good.

Allow yourself to get into a new tv series

The worst thing is that you run out of episodes of your current favorite tv-series (let’s say, Schitt’s Creek) and then have nothing on the horizon to watch. Ask your friends what they are watching and check those ones out next. Or have a search online to see what is popular at the moment in the world/in your host country. Here is one to spark your interest: “How To With John Wilson” (HBO).

Look up some informational videos about dream cities you’d like to live in for your next placement.

Well maybe this is not the best thing to do while you are stuck in your home country, but it is sure fun. Melbourne, New York, Barcelona, etc. There are many videos on youtube that people have made showing you what life is like in your favorite cities. How much does one spend in a week there, a video tour around the hip parts of the city, a person visiting and trying out some of the best food options there, etc…

Keep up your workout routine

This is a hard one if your gym has been closed by your local government. If that is the case, some people find that they can do a pretty good workout outside, maybe even using the free workout equipment at the local park. Even others bite the bullet and buy some free weights and other workout equipment for their home. Some gyms have even offered online training sessions to their members, so why not try some of those out??

Practice your local language

Now is the time to start up a productive routine of learning (more) of your local language. We all dream of being proficient in speaking, listening, reading and writing in our host country’s language, so make a plan to get closer to that goal. You are lucky if you language is on Duolingo, as that is a great, free way to start. Give just 10-20 minutes of your time to focus on language learning and that surely will go along way in your quest to be more fluent.

Be nicer to your family/Find cozy time with your partner

It is easy to get caught up in the endless surfing the internet or browsing your social media walls, but that sometimes shuts other people out. Make sure to spend time having good conversations, making and eating food together, or even just watching a movie together on the couch. These are special moments that we shouldn’t take for granted, and sometimes these things need to be planned.

This article was submitted by an ISC member. If you’d like to earn free premium membership by submitting an article as a guest author on our blog, write to us here.

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News Reports about your Host Country

COVID 19 Update: What is the Current Situation and Well-being of Staff like at 4 International Schools?

November 30, 2020


International school teachers around the world are all going through challenging times at their schools. The range of experiences goes from complete lockdowns with the government mandating remote learning for all schools to basically doing “normal” in-school teaching with only a few precautions being taken.

Regardless of what your international school is doing, COVID 19 is and has been taking its toll on all stakeholders: teachers, parents, students, etc.

We asked some ISC members about their experience related to their well-being at the moment living in these days of COVID 19 and lockdowns.

We also asked them…

1. What is the current state of COVID 19 in your city and country?
2. How is that current state affecting your school and teaching?
3. Because of this state, how is your well-being and the well-being of the students and staff at your school?
4. What is your international school doing to help and be supportive to all stakeholders during this time?

The American School of London (London, United Kingdom)

The numbers are currently rising and we are currently in a one-month lockdown (although you wouldn’t know it by the number of people you see).

I have appreciated the school’s steps to keep us all safe – strict bubbles, SD, increased cleaning & mask-wearing from K-12. We have had a few cases, with the majority in the upper years, but in general, they have been mostly linked to outside contact. The school has an excellent track & trace system & I feel very confident in their protocols. Admin has been very gracious & understanding that stress levels are higher and have changed PD days into holidays. I feel ASL cares a lot about my well-being.

That being said, enrollment has dropped and there is some obvious financial strain. There is a lot of mistrust in the UK government as their policies have been very inconsistent and people are fed up. Local schools do not require masks and people are not really adhering to social distancing. Cafes, restaurants, etc. are only open for take-out. The economic fallout will be huge and apparently take 3 years to recover.

The school has a solid continuous learning plan for teachers/students who have to isolate and it has been offered to families for 2 weeks post-winter break.

Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen International School)

In Denmark, the numbers right now are at the highest they’ve been since the pandemic began, but they are staying steady at the moment and the deaths per day are low (compared to other EU countries).

Right now my school is doing in-person teaching, and we are doing “Normal +” which means we are basically doing our normal teaching, but with all the added precautions (like middle and high school teachers and students wearing masks all day, teaching teams staying in their “bubbles” throughout the day, etc.). It seems unlikely that we would go to full remote teaching or an emergency learning setup again, but we’ll see.

Because it is normal teaching pretty much, many teachers are just getting on with their teaching without too much worry, but we do have teachers that are worried and concerned. We’ve had a handful of teachers and students that have tested positive and for the most part, my school has taken the correct actions and precautions.

My school has a work environment group that looks out for the wellbeing of the staff, and they have been regularly meeting with admin to discuss the current situation and what more can we do to make sure our school is following the guidelines set out by the Danish government and how best to support teachers during these crazy times. There is some extra added pressure for classroom teachers to make sure they are doing all these extra precautions (cleaning desks, washing hands, etc.) while also doing their normal planning and lessons. It is a lot and can be overwhelming!

KIS International School (Bangkok, Thailand)

CoVid in Thailand has been very well handled. We locked down in March and the schools stayed closed until August. The borders are still closed to most outsiders. Although this is killing tourism, it is not allowing the spread of the disease. Most of our kids held up well even with the IB debacle and most graduates managed to get a place at university although most are still studying here online. At school, it is masks all around both in and out of classrooms which is a tad annoying in the heat, but most things seem to be running well. Both my wife’s school [in Thailand] and mine have been trying to help the local communities with food drives, etc.

Hope International Academy Okinawa (Okinawa, Japan)

Here in Okinawa (Japan), we are facing the beginning of the third wave of COVID-19, which is expected to bring a higher number of cases than the first two waves that we experienced last July and August. As of November 29th, we are currently on Stage 3 on Japan’s scale of the pandemic’s severity, just one level below the highest warning level of widespread infection level.

We have been fortunate thus far and have had no COVID-19 cases among our school community. We still can have “normal” days at school, so our teaching duties and practices haven’t changed. On school grounds, teachers, school staff, students, and parents wear masks at all possible times. Also, we wash hands regularly, take water breaks, and open all windows in the buildings during the day. Besides these preventive measures, we have canceled all the major school events for the next month, including Sports Day, Ice-Skating field trip, and the Parent-Teaching Conference will be a virtual event.

After experiencing one month of remote learning last April, it seems everyone in our school community is aware of how lucky we are to go to school, meet each other, and support each other in different ways. The level of collaboration and communication among teachers and staff has significantly improved. For instance, creating online groups has helped us share ideas, concerns, and, most importantly, get a sense of belonging. We are in these difficult times together.

For the last four months, we have updated our communication tools (website, blogs, Google sites) to provide more efficient and transparent communication with parents, teachers, and school staff. For instance, renewing Seesaw for School licenses to increase student and family engagement, purchasing Amazon Echo smart speaker devices for all classes to improve communication among teachers and school staff. In other words, our school has invested in updating tech tools to enhance the level of communication among stakeholders.

If you work at an international school and would like to share what it is like at your international school in a future ISC blog article, please consider joining the International School Community Advisor’s Facebook Group.

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Highlighted Articles

Making Friends Outside of Your International School is…

August 30, 2020


…HARD!

I don’t know about you, but I think making friends outside of your school community can be one of your biggest challenges when you live abroad.

International teachers hanging out in a bar

If you are an outgoing person, maybe it is a bit easier. However, if you are on an introverted side and also don’t know the local language, then you are up against a steep hill.

Either way, you could say that it is just safer and more comfortable to be friends with your colleagues at your international school. You usually have a lot in common with your colleagues as they also like adventure, share your love for traveling, and have the same vacation calendar as you.

But to get the most out of your international school teaching experience, the elusive goal of many international school teachers is to make some local friends, too.

Lonely expat on the street

If you don’t know the local language yet, then you are limited to the locals that are able to speak English (or your home language). Normally, these locals already have other foreigner friends and most likely have traveled internationally or had even lived abroad. These locals are easy to find as friends because you have a lot in common. For example, you probably have many places to go visit and hang out together in the city. If you are lucky, these locals are even available to do some traveling with you during your vacations.

To meet locals who don’t speak English and have a very tight-knit group of friends, let’s say, is a different story. To befriend the locals is typically easier if you have a partner or spouse that is also a local. If that is the case, then you have “a ticket in” to those exclusive groups of friends. Having these kinds of local friends really can give you the “VIP level” on the experience of the city and country that you are living in. These locals know what and where things are happening. International school teachers without these types of friends typically miss out on a number of cultural events and are left without a deep insight into the local lifestyle.

Expat friends talking

One of the ultimate events in your friendship with a local is to be invited over to their house, even better – for a meal. It can be that you invite a local to your house for dinner multiple times before finally, the stars align and they invite you back to their place. If you are at your international school for only two years, that might not be enough time for this to happen. Building this kind of relationship usually takes longer than that.

What is your experience with making friends in your host city/country? Logon to ISC and share what you know by submitting some comments on your school’s profile page.

When using the keyword search feature (premium membership required), we found 143 comments about friends. Read below a few that are connected to making friends outside of your international school.

Comments about Making Friends

“Leysin is a small mountain village and as a result, the community is limited. There is a definite LAS bubble and most of the staff spend time outside of work with each other. It is rare to meet and become friends with people outside of the school community unless you have worked here for many years. It isn’t easy being single here, but the lifestyle is worth it if you love the outdoors and the mountains. It is a quiet village and a great place to live if you don’t like the city.” – Leysin American School (113 total comments)

“I find my Albanian friends quite generous: they always fight to pay the bill in a coffee shop but also for lunch. It is a local tradition though, and keep in mind that, if you want to keep your friends close to you, next time will be your turn. It is important to understand quickly these cultural habits as it will allow you to make good friends. One thing that it is generally badly perceived is to be stingy in friendship.” – Albanian College Durres (111 total comments)

“The locals are very friendly and accommodating. We recently went on a one-day trip with a local tour company. As the only foreigners, we didn’t have much company at the beginning but we found out the locals on the trip actually spoke a very good level of English. By the end of the day, we made friends with many of them!” – Khartoum International Community School (153 total comments)

“Lots of people learning English in Saigon and they will all want to practice with you. Learning some Vietnamese helps with bonding and making local friends but generally, a lot of people speak or are learning to speak English.” – Renaissance International School Saigon (52 total comments)

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Comparing the Schools and Comments

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Guatemala

June 28, 2020


Around the world, there are countries (like Guatemala) 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.

The big question always is…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 country.

Guatemala

Currently, we have 8 schools listed in Guatemala on International School Community.

6 of these schools have had comments submitted on them. Here are some that have the most submitted comments:

American School of Guatemala (47 Total Comments)
Antigua International School Guatemala (14 Total Comments)
Colegio Interamericano de Guatemala (124 Total Comments)
Han Al American School (11 Total Comments)
The American International School of Guatemala (Colegio Maya) (75 Total Comments)

Amount of Money Left to be Saved

“If you are very frugal or share an apartment you can save money. If you have debt or loans to make payments on, you will likely not save any…” – The American International School of Guatemala (Colegio Maya)

“After you have been there a couple of years you get extra bonuses which help with saving money. Most teachers save between 5 and 10k…” – Colegio Interamericano de Guatemala

“Because my experience was minimal at the time I made $1,500 a month. I was able to save $500 a month…” – Antigua International School Guatemala

School Campus

“Building is old but in working order. Reparations are done in a timely manner. Pre-K classrooms are recently renovated, plans to renovate all classrooms in the future. Class sizes are standard. Teachers are mostly from North America…” – American School of Guatemala

“The school campus is basically small, but cozy too. There are four buildings where classes are held…” – Han Al American School

“The school is located on the outskirts of Guatemala City. The campus is on a steep site that goes uphill from the carpark at the bottom to the elementary school at the top. There is a lovely nature-scape play area, primarily for use by the elementary school, at the top of the campus. There are also plans in place for a new “Innovation Hub”, which will then allow the school to relocate Middle School classrooms and provide more space for project-based learning…” – The American International School of Guatemala (Colegio Maya)

Housing Information

“There was no housing allowance provided by the school…” – Antigua International School Guatemala

“$300/month housing allowance…” – Han Al American School

“The school provides gorgeous apartments which are usually 2 bedrooms 2 bath got a single teacher. The apartment standard is high with many teachers commenting on how great their place is…” – Colegio Interamericano de Guatemala

Pension Plan Details

“Your first year, the school will match a measly 2% of your salary. Your second year, 3%. This continues to a maximum of 5%. Plan is through Raymond James…” – The American International School of Guatemala (Colegio Maya)

“No pension provided, teachers are expected to save from their salary and use the gratuity at the end which is one money salary per year worked…” – Colegio Interamericano de Guatemala

Are the Expectations High of Teaching Staff?

“As a bi-lingual school, foreign staff members in elementary/early childhood have a large amount of planning because their Guatemalan counterparts teach for approx. 1/3 of the day. Some of this time is spent in mandatory meetings, some is self-directed planning time. Middle and high school teachers have more than adequate planning time…” – American School of Guatemala

“The staff had to have a club each term. It could be an academic, sport or art club…” – Antigua International School Guatemala

“Extra curricular responsibilities are minimal especially when comparing with other schools. MS teachers and HS teachers don’t really do extra-curricular, and the ones who do seem to always be the same few individuals taking on that responsibility…” – Colegio Interamericano de Guatemala

(These are just 5 of the 66 different comments topics that are on each school profile page on our website.)

If you work at an international school in Albania, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited free premium membership!

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Top 10 Lists

10 Consequences of Covid-19 on International Schools around the World

May 8, 2020


The vast number of international schools around the world are still closed and doing some kind of remote learning. It has truly been a challenge for these schools to adapt and adjust to this new way of teaching.

The pressure has been on the school’s administration to organize a clear plan that will follow the local government’s rules and guidelines. These administrators strive to clearly communicate to all stakeholders given the very short amount of reaction time to put the new ways of working in place.

When using ISC’s unique Comment Search feature (Premium Membership is needed), we found a number of comments that had the keyword Covid in them. Here are 10 comments that show some implications of Covid-19 on these international schools:

1. Peking University Experimental School (Jiaxing) (51 total comments)

“School communication has always been a struggle for the school, particularly for the foreign hires who generally hear things last. During the distance learning program due to Covid-19, this had huge repercussions in the trust of the school. Ultimately however the school eventually came to good decisions that people were happy with….”

2. American International School Dhaka (110 total comments)

“The school is currently going through the accreditation for NEASC and IB/PYP. This process may be delayed due to Covid-19…”

3. Doshisha International School Kyoto (134 total comments)

“DISK is working on accreditation with WASC, They were to do the initial visit before the end of this year, then Covid-19 messed it up. We expect them in September. Due to Covid-19, we extended the closure of campus to May 11. Learning is still taking place online…”

4. Copenhagen International School (375 total comments)

“Because of Covid 19, our school has been doing remote teaching for many weeks now. But after only 4 weeks, the Danish government has ordered that kids aged 0-10 should go to school (MS and HS still have remote learning, probably until the end of the year). The Early Years and Primary School sections are now teaching in person again on campus, but we have so many new rules and guidelines that we must follow. We are calling it “emergency learning”. One rule is that there can only be 10 kids per classroom because we need to have kids sit two meters apart and to limit the number of adults the students interact with. That in turn requires more teachers to teach a grade level, so the drama, art, music, etc teachers are now all classroom teachers teaching. It is very full on!”

5. Zurich International School (49 total comments)

“Students in EC-Grade 5 are using Seesaw as the primary platform for learning while students in 6-12 are using Google Classroom. This has been very helpful in transitioning to online learning due to the Covid-19 situation…”

6. Western International School of Shanghai (466 total comments)

“Pretty much all PD cancelled when Covid 19 hit. Even those that could have been rescheduled…”

7. American International School (Vietnam) (153 total comments)

Covid-19 has put teaching online. Added costs of increased electricity use and wifi upgrades (if required) must be born by teacher. One school in the vicinity has provided a bonus to its faculty for this increase in costs…”

8. Albanian College Tirana (20 total comments)

“New principal is hardly at school and doesn’t know teachers. In every critical situation (earthquake, Covid-19 closure) director was the first one to leave the country and ‘manage from distance’…”

9. Khartoum International Community School (142 total comments)

“As of March, 2020, KICS has switched to online learning/teaching as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s a bumpy transition, especially as it happened right at the start of the spring break, which is why some teachers and families are out of Sudan…”

10. Hoi An International School (41 total comments)

“Salaries for primary and secondary teachers have been cut to 80% during the Covid-19 shutdown even though teachers are expected to teach their full course load. IB PYP candidacy was abandoned…”

ISC would like to hear from you! Log on to ISC today and submit a comment about the consequences of Covid-19 on your international school. You can submit your comment in the School Information section under the comment topic “Recent things that the school has taken on (i.e. new curriculum, specific professional development, etc.).”

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Highlighted Articles

Starting Virtual School Off on the Right Foot

March 4, 2020


Insights from a Middle School Teacher at Saigon South International School

As we head into our fifth week of Virtual School in Vietnam, I think back to the day it was announced that students would not be returning to campus due to the ​COVID-19 Coronavirus​. This was late on a Sunday evening, but the next day, teachers came to campus as usual. By the end of that Monday, our middle school had our Virtual School platform up and running. The credit for such a successful start goes to the organization and communication of our principal, as well as the willingness of our unified staff to tackle the challenge together. We were fortunate to have positive support and clear direction from Day 1.

There are quite a few structures and strategies that have helped us be successful. The uniformity across our middle school at Saigon South International School has helped create stability and positive experiences for our students and staff. For those of you just getting started, I’d like to share some of the approaches that have worked well for us:

Preparation

–For those of you who have not started Virtual School, make sure students take home their notebooks/books every day. You likely won’t know in advance if your school will close. Likewise, as a teacher, take your needed items home each day. We’re allowed on campus to work, but in some countries, no one is allowed on campus.

–Determine if there can be a pick-up location for students or parents to get materials, books, or other items they may need from the classroom. For our school, this is outside of our security and health checkpoints, not in our secure campus grounds.

Pacing

–Realize that you can’t keep to the same lesson pace as you would in the classroom. It’s okay to have lessons that extend over two classes. It’s okay to change pacing to fit your students’ digital capabilities and digital access. It’s okay to have check-in days to make sure students are ready to move on to the next teaching point. As professionals, we are always modifying for our students’ needs and if pacing has to adjust, we have to tell ourselves that it’s okay!

–Give estimated times for completing each part of a lesson. Having these as guidelines will help students with understanding expectations and help them with time management. It also helps teachers plan better. ​We don’t really know how long it will take kids in their home environment – and we can’t see how long it is taking them. This allows us to figure out what adjustments need to be made.

Simplicity

–Definitely keep it simple. Estimate that students can do about 1/2 of what they can do in class for the time given. Some students may need more time, or 1-1 instruction through video conferencing.

–Give clear, simple, numbered directions for each assignment. Remember that not all of our students speak English as a first language, and even for those that do, simple, short directions are best. For example:

1. Open this ​slideshow​.
2. Find the document called: “5. Narrative Ideas” in your Google Drive.
3. As you read the slides, complete the matching sections in your document.
4. When you are finished, submit your document through PowerSchool Learning. 5. Due Date: 9 p.m. on Tuesday, March 10th.

Formatting

–Keep your format for delivery the same for each lesson. For my own Virtual Classroom lessons, I have slideshows for each lesson which are uploaded to PowerSchool Learning, our school’s online learning platform. I’ve found that keeping my slideshow presentation for each lesson and creating a matching document in their Google Drive is easiest for my students. The slideshow often includes a video of me teaching as one of the slides.

–Start a numbering system in their Google Drives. I suggest your first virtual assignment being called: 1. (And whatever it’s name is). You’ll thank yourself later when you’re going through 10+ documents for 100+ kids!

—-Have all class lesson directions delivered in the same format for all subjects. Unify the layouts of pages where students will find information for each class. This was managed by our IT director and administration. On our first day, every teacher immediately created a “Virtual School” page that every student would land on when they went to any PowerSchool Learning class. This page has identical layouts for all subjects, making it easier for students to find what they need.

Consistency in Times

–Consistent timing across a division is important. At our middle school, all teachers post their lessons at the same time each day. This time is between 7:30-8:00 a.m. All assignments are due at the same time as well (9:00 p.m. to allow students to help younger siblings at home during the day.) This allows for students, whether in or out of country, to access information at the same time each day, as well as only having one time to remember for submission deadlines.

–We’ve encouraged our students to stay on a school schedule, and to check in with their classroom teacher at the beginning of each class block. We know how important it can be to have routines in an abnormal situation, for both physical and emotional well-being. The feedback we have received is that having a routine as close to regular school as possible is helping our students to view this experience as Virtual School, rather than, “having a lot of homework.”

–Students are asked to check in for the first 20 minutes of each block via Google Meet. I go over the new lesson, answer questions, and clarify directions. More often than not, students

are desiring interaction. They love to see their classmates online, and even though it isn’t the same, seeing their faces virtually always makes my day better as well! After the first 20 minutes, anyone can stay and work via video conference with me.

Structures for Feedback

–The structures we have in place for feedback have been incredibly helpful. Our administrator sends weekly surveys to students and we use these to monitor who we can reach out to on a regular basis. We track responses week-by-week to see change over time, to determine how our students are feeling about their learning, and to see where we can improve. We know that our students have academic needs and socio-emotional needs, and our feedback systems focus on both. If your school has an advisory system, I’d encourage you to capitalize on advisory teachers’ relationships with students as you ask students for feedback.

Structures for Tracking and Helping Students

–Our administration also has systems in place for monitoring which students need help, tracking missing assignments, and setting up “case managers” for students who need extra support. These have worked very well. From using the analytics of PowerSchool Learning, to keeping track of contact with every student in Google Sheets, we can see the history of personal outreach to each student in our middle school.

–All of our teachers and staff reach out to individual students each day by video chats or phone calls, but we are also case managers for students who are struggling. We reach out to these students more frequently. For the three students I help, I talk with them 3-5 times a week. We set up plans for learning together, and I cheer them on as they finish assignments. I also encourage them to join their class chats with other teachers. The more contact we have with our students, the better it is for all of us!

Keeping Up the Fun!

–We’ve kept up what makes middle school fun for our students, too. House Leagues are still happening, our latest trivia being, “Which Teacher Sang That Song?” A weekly video on Mondays is sent out for House Leagues, with jokes, wigs, funny hats, and point results all included.

–Videos are loved by our students! We are sending weekly fun videos on Fridays to the students from our entire MS staff. So far we’ve had TikTok challenges, “SSIS Without You,” and a video montage that included Marz, the science classroom lizard. Our principal is the positive force behind these videos, and they are a huge hit.

–Our librarian has set up a system for daily library book check-outs. She has even wrapped up books as “blind dates” for students to enjoy, and there were a plethora of pink and red-wrapped books on Valentine’s Day! Students could pick them up in a delivery area outside of school grounds from 9-3, and they are disinfected upon return. Our Book Bingo reading challenge continues as well.

–In my own classroom, we are going to have a “Battle of the Memes” next week with student-generated memes connected to their analysis of Greek literature. I also have a joke ready for my class each day when they log on for our Virtual Class. When students finish all of their assignments, I’ve been known to dance on our video chats.

Wellness

–Wellness for our staff is highly encouraged and supported. People care for each other at SSIS. We invite each other to go off campus and eat lunch. We get each other out of the classroom to take walks outside. Our P.E. department organizes daily activities to get us moving. Our Sunshine Committee provides healthy snacks and smoothie vouchers at a nearby cafe. We meet at the coffee pot, and we take breaks as needed. We listen, cheer each other on, and understand that this is tough and that we are there for each other.

–As a staff, we recognize that some days are great and we’re super productive, and other days it’s hard to even open up another student folder to give feedback. These are the times when we reach out to the teacher next door for perspective (and perhaps some chocolate). Lots of grace for others and for ourselves is encouraged.

Finally, I have to say that the support and clear direction from my administrators has been fantastic. Our middle school leadership team is strong and unified. They are a critical connection between administration and teachers, as we are not allowed to have large-group gatherings. I am very fortunate to have such a positive and supportive school in an uncertain time.

While we all eagerly await for the day our students can return (I have promised to throw paper confetti and dance, much to the delight of my students), we know that the structures we have in place are working, and we are modifying all the time to improve them. While we may only see our students through a screen for the unforeseen future, I’d like to think that our relationships with them are even stronger, as we face this unique situation together. I wish the same for you and your students as well.

Erin Johnson is a Language Arts and Digital Literacy teacher at Saigon South International School. Along with her husband, she taught in China, Indonesia, South Korea, and the U.S. prior to coming to Vietnam. Erin is involved in leading students in Global Issues Network Club and believes that Service Learning should be a foundational component of a K-12 curriculum. Her interests include curriculum development, strategy board games, reading, and coffee. You can connect with her at ejohnson@ssis.edu.vn
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Highlighted Articles

Shut Down Due to Health Emergency: Four Stories from International Schools in China and Vietnam

February 9, 2020


We all seem to know somebody in the international school community that is being affected by the health scare in Asia connected to the Coronavirus.

But how are those international schools coping with this situation? What are the teachers’ responsibilities? Where are the teachers doing the online teaching? Which technologies are they using? What is the overall feeling of the situation from all stakeholders? How was the organization of it all?

Here are four stories from four different teachers at international schools in China and Vietnam:

International School of Tianjin

In the days leading up to the Chinese New Year break, there was awareness and increasing concern about the new virus in China. A lot of masks were being worn at school and some students were talking about it with a degree of concern. The virus quickly became a national issue and by the third day of the break, on January 28, we were told that school would be closed until at least February 17. During the holiday week our school let us know that we would be implementing an online learning structure. Leadership teams met and outlined what this would look like in order to continue to provide a rigorous curriculum but not overwhelm the students and parents. In elementary school our primary platform is Seesaw, which the students had already been using all year. We are maintaining the daily schedule as much as possible (i.e. if your class has PE on Monday, the PE teacher would send an assignment on Seesaw that day). Homeroom teachers are expected to send out a morning message with daily assignments by 9:00 each day and be available for the entire work day providing feedback to students. The secondary school is following a similar model using Microsoft Teams and Managebac to share content and assignments.

It has been more work than everyone anticipated, but it has also been nice to be able to connect with students. As parents we are also working with our own children and it has been good to create some structure in their day as the time away from school stretches on. The situation is ongoing. We are far from Wuhan, but there have been a number of cases reported in our city. There is not a formal quarantine but movement is very limited and we are under a lot of pressure to stay indoors at all times. The police are outside taking temperatures and collecting information. As of right now it is likely that the school will stay closed for several more weeks and there is a lot of uncertainty. We are hoping for a resolution of some kind to this crisis and we look forward to getting back to the familiar routines of a normal school day.

American International School in Shanghai, China

I work at an American International School in Shanghai, China. We received an email about starting E-learning lesson on Feb. 3rd and to contact our administrators if we had questions. The email stated to follow our daily class schedule and post a mini lesson video of no less than 15 minutes for each subject taught. As an EAL teacher in primary for different grades, I’ve had to make reading, writing, phonics, and handwriting videos. The email also had a long list of expectations for teachers such as assignments with deadlines to be uploaded on our grading website, students must work for 30 minutes and give feedback. However, little to no support has been given on the IT side of e-lessons, other than contact your supervisor for questions. Edmodo was the only platform suggested to use where someone could support you with it, but we were told to use any platform we preferred which led to parents getting bombarded with messages to sign up to Edmodo, Seesaw and others. I only chose Seesaw because my collaborating teachers were using it, and I wanted to make it easier for my students’ parents.

The two biggest problems we are facing with our E-lessons is not being allowed to use Google technology due to its restrictions in China and most parents not having a VPN. Second one was how to upload videos of 15 minutes in Wechat when it has a five-minute limit. Our school’s official Wechat group went blasting with messages about condensing videos using different websites, different APPs, and etc. Nothing concrete on these APPs with specific tutorials on how to get set it up in a few days to start running e-learning. These links were all helpful however we needed time for E-training, which we haven’t receive in 3 years that I’ve been working there. Luckily for me, I had received classes on using technology in grad school.

I think my school’s expectations are unrealistic due to parents and teachers being stranded all over the world due to CNY holidays and not having access to reliable internet. I was vacationing in Boracay, so I did my lessons with an IPad and my IPhone. Yes, I am without a laptop making this a headache for me. I also have limited or unreliable internet access. Also, you can’t expect the same teaching as the classroom when not everyone has internet, web knowledge or skills, nor the time to sit through a regular day schedule of videos, which include videos for math, science, reading, writing, Specials subject (art, P.E., etc), and foreign language for K-5. Parents spent a long time setting up accounts, learning how to navigate one, two or three APPs. In all honesty, it was hell for teachers, parents and students. I’ve been working around the clock answering questions from parents.

One parent said it best when he voiced his frustrations “Parents can’t teach children. We are not native speakers nor teachers.” Think about the difficulties one of my student’s parent is facing having to login to different APPS and instructions from all teachers for her three children. Can you imagine the series of videos they have to watch daily for each kid? She is beyond frustrated because she’s in the pharmaceutical industry, so she’s still working during the day and has to come home to help her children.

You see I’m happy to learn as I’m doing e-lessons, but I wish my school was more realistic and practical with their expectations. Although I think handwriting is important, I don’t think under these circumstances we need to have e-lesson. I’ve only been focusing on reading and writing and that’s all I can do for now. That’s all more than enough for parents to handle. They are not trained teachers to assist their kids specially in grades K to 3 where children have a shorter attention span and are not yet independent learners. I can teach in a video, but can students be expect to sit through six videos of 10-15 minutes from all their teachers? 

An International School in Ho Chi Minh City

On the Saturday before the school was supposed to open after the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday, the school sent an email to staff and parents saying they intended to keep the school open during the Coronavirus outbreak, outlining the enhanced health and safety measures the school would implement. Less than an hour later, the Vietnamese government announced that the virus was an epidemic and all the local and international schools decided to close soon after. Such is life when you live in a country where the government is less than transparent – executive decisions seem to come at short notice, and all schools and administrators can do is adapt as best they can.

As teachers, we all know that death, taxes, and faculty meetings are the unchanging staples of life. As such, even though the students are away, we have faculty meetings three days a week. We enter the campus one at a time, as a guard checks our temperature and directs us to a giant bottle of hand sanitizer we must use before entering. We are updated on the situation on the ground and how it affects school. We meet about students of concern – who’s not doing their remote work, who didn’t bother to check their email until Tuesday, etc. We also discuss strategies for remote work. Everyone uses various online platforms and is happy to share success stories and advice. This is the silver lining of the whole situation: while remote learning is a bit dull if you actually enjoy engaging with students as individual human beings, it’s a great opportunity to experiment with different types of learning platforms. I’m using Edpuzzle and Flipgrid for the first time – I’m not sure if I would have the time or inclination to test them in normal circumstances, but I’m happy to test them out in hopes that I can use them again when everything returns to normal.

United World College Changshu China

When I accepted an offer to work in China I was never to expect that something like the outbreak of Corona virus would happen. However, I consider myself to be the virus free, being in self quarantine for the last 12 days without showing any symptom of infection.

As for the next week, I am required to start teaching online. What does it mean in terms of my effectiveness to share knowledge with students in few classes (different subjects, years and levels)? To be honest, the difference in comparison to my usual days when in school is not so significant (in theoretical terms). As since the beginning of this school year, we have been required to explore and use opportunities of digital learning. My usual working day (for the last few days) starts around 9am and I work, both with teachers and students for the next few hours (read, until I start getting that feeling that my brain will explode). I am relying on Microsoft Teams as the school follows the official Chinese politics and does not welcome Google classrooms. The initial stage of working with Microsoft Teams (this is not an advertisement!) may seems confusing as you can create as many Teams (groups and classes) as you want but soon you may realize that you may be overwhelmed with the amount of messages which keep on getting higher. Students are being required to learn about services of Microsoft Teams on their own while teachers have received some support in that. This basically means that in theory I can use any teaching platform which fits to my current needs, but in reality I have to communicate lessons and instructions on Teams and Manage back only. I am also using Wechat for a quick communication with students.

What I am also currently surviving is the feeling of panic as I have students from six different continents in my classroom and I must reach all of them. I am currently planning our virtual timetable and that seems to be the biggest challenge that we are currently facing (as I must offer face to face instructions). For the last 24 hours I was trying to reach students across the globe, to determine their time zones and assure them that they will have enough knowledge and skills to take the final exams.

In terms of strategy, what to do, how to deliver lessons, I can no longer rely on lesson plans being planned for our classroom space as they emphasize the value of activities much. Now I am trying to find text and create written assignments which would force them to read, think, analyze and construct their responses. In terms of what to do for summative assessment, well, as for now, that is science fiction. I am counting on their honesty when doing formative assessment (though I still aim to use Turnitin).

All in all, the sense of panic is still being strong as I don’t fixed timetable and I am rushing to plan lessons for five different teaching programs,. There is a feeling of fear in me too as some of my students are in cities which were locked down more than two weeks ago and their chance for survival depends only on their willingness not to leave their apartments.

To finish this story, I am still learning how to deliver completely effective virtual classes but I have delivered my first teaching instructions already (in the virtual space which reminds to those of countless forums). I am spending much of my time in calling students wherever they are, to assure them that we can go through this situation and that no one of them will be damaged in terms of their knowledge acquisition.

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News Reports about your Host Country

The News Reports about your Host Country Don’t Always Match the Reality of your Daily Life

January 8, 2020


Living abroad can be full of many surprises. Even more so when your host country is in the current world news (typically for something unfortunate). What happens then is that your friends and family from your home country (or other countries around the world where your international school friends live) write to you to see if you are safe or to ask how things are going there.

In this entry, we have 4 international school teachers sharing what is going in their host countries. They also share details about what they are experiencing and how they see things from their perspective.

Hong Kong

“I recently returned to busy Causeway Bay, Hong Kong (my home for nearly 6 years), after three weeks away for Winter Break. The roads were packed with shoppers, outside vendors, and people enjoying chestnuts and sweet potatoes on the street corner. These are not the media images shown these days about Hong Kong. Yes, a lot has been going on in this city during the past 7 months, but depending where you live, you may see very little of the chaos. My school is on the south side of Hong Kong island where (as far as I know) there has been zero protest activity. The majority of our student population live in this area as do many teachers. Life carries on as usual for the most part in this part of Hong Kong. I, on the other hand, live where most large scales demonstrations begin and where there has been much protest activity and police presence. Despite this, I can sometimes go for weeks without feeling the affects of the protests. When my family and friends see the violence in the news, they are surprised to hear that most of the time, it is business as usual here in Hong Kong. Most pro-democracy/anti-government gatherings are easy to avoid if you choose to do so.

My first night back in Hong Kong in 2020, I went to dinner in Wan Chai. Restaurants were full and all felt normal- though normal has a different feel here these days.”

Australia

“There is a lot of news coverage about the bushfires in Australia these past few weeks, and there are definitely tremendous problems associated with them. There are numerous areas in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia that are being destroyed by all of these fires. They are still going on at the moment, with barely any relief (like rain) on the way. I have been traveling around many of these states for the past month, and I must say that I haven’t seen or gone through the parts of those states that have been damaged or destroyed. Life goes on pretty much as normal in all the parts that I’ve visited recently. Many of my friends and family abroad have messaged me about my safety and if I’m near the fires. I tell them no, and that I’m safe. When I turn on BBC and CNN, I can see why they would think I’m in trouble here as their reports are indeed showing a lot of danger and devastation. But people do need to realise that Australia is a huge country. And even though the fires are in numerous locations, they are not in the big city metropolises that the majority of Australians are living in. That is not to say these big cities aren’t feeling the effects of the fires. On certain days, the fire smoke is definitely hovering over the cities here and causing a lot of air pollution. Some days the air pollution is worse than cities in nations like India and China, but it is only at that level a day or two and then the air quality usually returns back to safer levels.

It is important to mention though, yesterday at a store in Sydney, I overhead two people saying things like “I didn’t think these fires were going to affect me and my house, and then it did…” it made it more real to me hearing that story in person and that these fires are indeed affecting many people here.”

Qatar

“I have been living in Qatar with my family for 9 years. Originally moved here as my husband was offered a job (he is in construction) and I found a teaching job at one of the many international schools here. My school is located in the West Bay area where a lot of expats live and is surrounded by tall buildings, offices, hotels, restaurants, cafes and shopping malls.

Two years ago, an air, land and sea blockade was imposed on Qatar by four other neighbouring countries which cut diplomatic and trade ties with Doha. About 60% of Qatar’s food supplies came from the countries causing the blockade. There was chaos at the supermarkets at the time. Shelves were emptied fast. While Qatar was trying to figure out alternative ways to import goods people were finding it difficult to find certain foods at the supermarket including milk. I remembered it last yesterday that I struggled, at that time, to find milk for my kids. It was a crazy couple of months.

Qatar actually imported tens of thousands of cows to ensure milk supplies.”

Cambodia

“Cambodia. The first thing I hear is “where?”  Then I hear, “oh, yeah, Tomb Raider, right?” But my everyday life as a principal is so much more than ruins (although we’ve got plenty).  Regular life is the open-air tuk-tuk rides to school, counting dogs with my six year old daughter.  Regular life is using smiles and a mix of Khmer and English to negotiate for fresh vegetables for dinner.  It’s the warm greetings from the owner of our favorite restaurant when we make our weekly visit, and the warm croissants from the corner bakery.  It’s having friends from all over the world, who teach my daughter new words in their languages and invite us to their homelands for holidays.  Most of all, my regular Cambodian life is about balance, because I can leave work at work, and enjoy my family and friends.  Cambodia may be challenging in some ways, but it ultimately is about being able to relax, be yourself, and enjoy the ride (especially in a tuk-tuk).”

If your host country is in the world news at the moment and your family and friends are contacting you about what’s happening, please write to us and share your experience for an upcoming article in the blog series. We’d love to know what it is really like living in these countries all around the world. You will receive 6 months of premium membership for contributing 1-2 paragraphs about your host country.

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Traveling Around

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

December 26, 2019


Traveling Around: Melbourne, Australia

Can you relate?

  • learning a bunch a new words that are just abbreviations of words you already know in English.
  • eating out at restaurants and finding that there are all cuisines on offer in the city, so diverse!
  • taking a day trip to Phillip Island to find those fairy penguins, but also enjoy the lovely summer day full of sunshine.
  • having an encounter with a mob of 15 wild kangaroos by yourself with no one else around.
  • being amazed by all the different kinds of animals in the wild that many countries don’t have.
  • being shocked by how much the temperature can change from day to day, sometimes with a 20+C difference!
  • thinking that the prices for food at restaurants look expensive, but after converting the price into my host country current, realizing it is kind cheap here.
  • wanting to catch up with a local (a person I worked with at one of my past international schools) but finding out it wasn’t going to work out do to that person being too busy during the holiday season.
  • meeting up with a friend who just moved there and finding out all the details about the pros and cons of living and working there.
  • renting a car and finding it not that stressful to drive on the other side of the road.
  • going to a restaurant of your partner’s home country cuisine and talking to the servers and owner who were also from that country.
  • checking out places that you didn’t visit the first time that you were in Melbourne (Luna Park, the bathing houses, Flinders Station, etc.)
  • walking into the National Library and being amazed by the architecture of the place.
  • not buying one souvenir, but taking lots of pictures of all the unique buildings, both old and new.
  • being disappointed when arriving at a favorited restaurant to realize it was closed for the holiday season, then checking ahead of time if the next restaurants were open for future meals.
  • seeing a near crash between car and tram, ‘trams can’t swerve’ said the sign!
  • loving that the trams in the CBD are free to use for everyone, every day!

Currently, we have 31 international schools listed in Oceania on International School Community. 8 of them have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of those schools:

Kwajalein Senior High School24 Comments
Woodford International School12 Comments
International School Nadi9 Comments
Majuro Cooperative School8 Comments
Port Moresby International School8 Comments

If you are on a trip right now, away from your host country, write to us here 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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Blogs of International Teachers

International School Teacher Blogs: “Education Rickshaw” (Two teachers that work in China)

December 11, 2019


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

Our 49th blog that we would like to highlight is called Education Rickshaw Check out the blog entries of these two international school educators that work in China:

A few entries that we would like to highlight:

Taking the Plunge: Should America’s Teachers Consider Moving to Teach Overseas?

“Followers of this website will know that Education Rickshaw is a blog on teaching and living overseas. My wife Stephanie and myself, both raised attending public schools Tacoma, Washington, were teachers at a Native American school before “taking the plunge” and moving to teach at an international school in Vietnam. Since then, we’ve taught in Khartoum, Sudan, and are now teaching in an international school in China.

There are a lot of benefits to moving to teach in international schools overseas. While not all international schools are created equal, for the most part international school jobs come with decent salaries and savings potential (See our previous post, 5 Luxuries Bestowed Upon Thee As An International Teacher). Teachers can expect to receive flight allowances to and from their home countries and have their housing paid for. In my experience, students at international schools are often quite clever and well-behaved, and parents are generally quite respectful and involved in their kids’ learning. Many international schools, due to how they are funded, are at the cutting edge in education compared to their stateside counterparts, providing students with opportunities to learn in tech- and information-rich environments and express themselves through the arts, makerED, and robust athletics and extracurricular programs. Because international schools invest in their teachers by paying for professional development, both in-house and by sending their teachers to conferences abroad, international school teachers have the chance to really grow as professionals and improve their craft…”

There is a comment topic related to Professional Development on our website called “Professional development allowance details.” There are 540 total comments that have been submitted in this comment topic on 100s of schools. 

Here is an example comment that was submitted about The English Modern School (Doha): “Professional development subsidaries are connected to the type of PD you are applying for. If you are taking the Suny Masters PD subsidary then other PD will not be subsidised. If you use your subsidy for a Cambrsdge PDQ you will also not get small PD courses for free. Smaller PD courses from Seraj the sister company at EMS usually amount to 3 free a year per teacher. You can also aply for other PD outside school and a judgement will be made on how much the school will support you in the cost.”

5 Luxuries Bestowed Upon Thee As An International Teacher

“The typical American teacher is afforded few luxuries. A coffee at Starbucks is seen as a rare treat. A PB&J for lunch is the norm. When I was teaching in a U.S. public school I remember clearly the time when the conversation at the faculty lounge centered around counting how many in the room had a tarp covering some part of their car (to protect from the rain in Washington State) to raise their hands. I’m not even playing, in a room full of 30 educators there were five hands that raised that day admitting to having a tarp on their cars.

While, in my opinion, most international educators are still underpaid for what we do, the cost of living in many of our host countries allows for some pretty sweet perks. That coupled with the built-in savings potential that comes with many international teaching contracts (free housing, free flights, etc) makes it so that many international teachers find the benefits of international teaching to be too lucrative to ever want to return to teaching public school back home.

Compared to teachers back home, we have it good. We have teaching assistants. Our classrooms are well resourced. The class sizes are smaller. There is money for PD. These are all things that we experience in the international school classroom. But on this educationrickshaw.com post, we will be looking at 5 luxuries that most international teachers enjoy* that teachers back home just can’t afford…”

There is a comment topic related to comparing international schools to schools back in our home countries on our website called “How is this school different or the same when compared to schools in your home country?” There are 167 total comments that have been submitted in this comment topic on 100s of schools. 

Here is an example comment that was submitted about American School Foundation of Monterrey: “The school is much better equipped than schools in my home country and the students have the financial means to supply their own high-quality MacBooks and smartphones, so the school doesn’t have to worry about providing computers (except some emergency checkout Chromebooks for students who forgot their Mac or it breaks down).”d

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Want to work for an international school in China like this blogger?  Currently, we have 523 international school teachers that have listed that they currently live in this country. Check them out here. We also have 44 members that are 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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Blogs of International Teachers

International School Teacher Blogs: “Expat Heather” (A teacher who works in South Korea)

September 17, 2019


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

Our 48th blog that we would like to highlight is called Expat Heather: Teacher, Traveler, Writer Check out the blog entries of this international school educator who works in South Korea:

A few entries that we would like to highlight:

How to Start a Career as an International Teacher

“Many schools prefer to hire through placement companies such as International Schools Services (ISS) or Search Associates. These companies provide a database of both schools and potential candidate, and they also arrange hiring fairs around the world. You will need to pay a fee when you apply, and be sure to apply only if you meet the company’s requirements. Once accepted, you will have access to information about international schools, the salary packages they offer, and current vacancies…”

It is true. Many of the top tier schools still register with and search for quality candidates using the few recruitment agencies out there. The best part for the candidate is the access to the job vacancies that they post in their database. Though often the vacancies posted there can quickly become outdated, unfortunately!

Related to recruitment fairs, check out our blog on this topic called: International School Recruitment Season: Recruitment Fair or Skype?
Times are changing for international schools teachers. Even though it is sometimes good to be registered with a recruitment agency, it is not necessary any more to attend one of their fairs.
T

Teaching at ISHCMC American Academy in Vietnam

“My classroom is sweet. There is a built-in projector that I use almost everyday – it saves a TON of writing and rewriting on the board. All the desks and chairs are pretty new and there are big windows that let in a good amount of light when it’s not cloudy. Thankfully, the English Department is on the second floor…”

There is a comment topic on our website called: “Describe the technologies available at the school and how people are/are not using them.’ There are 435 total comments that have been submitted in this comment topic on 100s of schools.

Here is an example comment that was submitted about Seoul Foreign School: “Macbooks; 1:1 for grade 4 and above. combination of macbooks and iPads in lower grades. Apple TVs in all rooms. Google Classroom and Seesaw used for student portfolios and assignments. There are 3 digital learning coaches that are employed to support tech integration but the system for this support is patchy and could be improved.”

How to Become an International Teacher

“There are scores of schools that are international in name, but what teachers often call a “true international school” is a school that enrolls students from a variety of countries. These schools tend to be located in major cities, diplomatic capitals and international financial centers. Students include ambassadors’ kids, expat kids, teachers’ kids and local children whose parents can foot the bill.

Other schools may be internationally accredited but enroll primarily local students. Teachers refer to this type of school as a “national” school, although both types hire foreign teachers. Some national schools hire only foreign-qualified staff; others hire most teachers locally but employ foreigners for certain subjects like English. The ratio of foreign to local faculty at schools can vary widely even within the same country or city.

Many dubious schools, who claim to be “international,” will also have neither an international student population nor any type of international accreditation. Be wary of these ones…”

There is a comment topic related to technology on our website called “Describe language abilities of students at this school and what is the “common language spoken in the hallways”? Is there one dominate culture group?” There are 1152 total comments that have been submitted in this comment topic on 100s of schools.

Here is an example comment that was submitted about Tarsus American College: “Turkish is the common language. The school’s goals speak about bilingualism, however, students speak Turkish, during your English instructed lessons and in the corridors. Teachers who are “supposed to be” bilingual converse with students in Turkish, so the only time students use English is when speaking with an expat. Notices mounted in Turkish, emails sent in Turkish. Weekly assemblies are in Turkish, as an expat one has to turn to a Turkish colleague or student and ask for a translation and many times announcements made in the assembly have an impact on the teaching staff.”

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Want to work for an international school in South Korea like this blogger?  Currently, we have 130 international school teachers that have listed that they currently live in this country. Check them out here. We also have six members 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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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight #39: Rachel Owens (A veteran international school teacher)

July 31, 2019


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

Tell us about your background.  Where are you from?

Hi my name is Rachel Owens! I am an elementary school teacher and have taught pre-k, kindergarten, grade 2 and grade 3! 

I love teaching in the elementary school because the kids are so excited to learn and their energy is contagious! 

I grew up all over the Midwest in the United States. Born in Ohio, raised in Michigan and Illinois and then back to Michigan for college. 

When I was in 3rd grade, I started figure skating. It became my life. When I was 16, I was fortunate enough to join an elite group of synchronized skaters from Dearborn, Michigan called The Crystallettes. It was with this team that I learned the value of traveling. Being one of the three top skating teams in the country, I was able to represent our country in two international competitions- in Prague and Berlin. It was when I arrived home from those competitions that I realized I’d caught the travel bug. I couldn’t wait to grow up and see the world. 

My husband and I are both elementary teachers and have now lived and taught overseas for 7 years. We have two little boys who were both born during our time abroad. Jonah (3) was born in Kuwait and Eli (1.5) was born in Jordan. 

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

During my student teaching year in 2011, I started looking into what it would take to be an international school teacher. I come across the Counsel of International Schools (COIS) website and they happened to be having a job fair the following week. I booked a ticket on a bus to Chicago for $1 and made my way the Windy City. When I arrived at the fair, I was in way over my head.

I was surrounded by seasoned educators with years of international experience. What I thought was surely a small group of people interested in leaving the United States to teach in distant lands ended up being a whole community of teachers that I am so glad to be a part of today. After 7 interviews of hearing I needed experience before I could come to their school, I finally heard my first yes; which is how I started my international teaching year in Kuwait.

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.

My husband and I have taught at 2 international schools.

The first school was The American School of Kuwait. It was a great place for us to start our teaching careers. The school was already establishing programs such as Lucy Calkins R&WW and Responsive Classroom long before a lot of more prestigious schools were. It was also a great place to start our family. All the teachers live in two apartment buildings on a small compound which meant I had a built-in community of friends for ourselves and our little one. What made this school a unique and fun place to work was the staff that worked there. There isn’t much to do in Kuwait besides shop, go out to eat, and hang out at the pool (gosh that doesn’t sound too bad actually!) so you develop really deep and lasting friendships with your colleagues.

Then we moved to Amman, Jordan and worked at American Community School (ACS). We loved living in Jordan! It really has the perfect climate- mild and short winters, warm springs and hot summers. There is so much to do for both kids and adults there. The Dead Sea is just a 45 minute drive south and 45 minutes north is forests and mini mountainous areas for hiking. The school was wonderful! It is a smaller school, which we found we prefer and love because we got to know all the kids from multiple grade levels, knew all the staff well, and it truly felt like one big family. We grew so much as educators during our time at ACS. Being trained in Adaptive Schools, working with Paul Anderson for NGSS science, and working with Tim Stuart for PLCs were all experiences that we will carry with us to our next schools. Something unique and fun about ACS is every year at the end of the year the teachers make a End of Year Staff video that is shown to the students to kick off the summer. This year’s video was one of epic proportions as we took on legendary Queen! It turned out amazing! Here it is > https://youtu.be/MYybe0QmXzs

As for where we work now… well that’s what we are wondering too! Back in Dec 2018, we were hired to work at the Anglo-American School of Moscow. We were thrilled to begin working at an IB school where we knew we would grow exponentially as educators and where our children would thrive in their first classroom experiences. Unfortunately, due to political strife with Russia, our work visas were denied and the school had to cancel our contracts. 

Newspaper article link

AAS has been very supportive in our process of figuring out what comes next for our family- but we are still disappointed that Moscow isn’t going to be our next home. For now, we will be living in Fort Collins, Colorado, where we will continue to search for jobs overseas that will be a good long term fit for our family. We are excited to see where we end up next!

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

This summer while staying with my sister-in-law in Michigan, my 3 year old son heard us talking about some upcoming workshops she was attending, including one on masonry. My son asked “what’s masonry?” and he was told it is when you build things with stone. And his immediate response was, “Oh, so like the pyramids in Egypt?” In that moment I knew we were doing the right thing by raising our kids overseas. The cultural knowledge and appreciation my 3 year old already has is well beyond what most kids (and even adults) in the United States have. 

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

First and foremost we look for a location that is going to be safe and has a good quality of life for our children. Having both of my children born overseas, this life away from extended family is all they know. So we want to make sure that if they don’t get to be around grandparents and cousins, they need to be in a spot where they can still thrive, have friendships, be safe, and be happy.

Professionally, we look at the what programs/standards are being used by the school (Reader’s and Writer’s Workshop, NGSS, etc) and what professional development opportunities there are. We also look to see if we think this is a school where we can grow either in our teaching practice or in leadership opportunities. 

I also think that the ability to save money is important. If we are choosing to take our children and ourselves away from family, then I’d like to be saving a bit of money to prepare for our kids’ long term futures.

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

 The. Best. Way. To. Teach

teacher

Thanks, Rachel Owens!

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 receive one year free of premium access to our website!

Do you think you have what it takes to be a veteran international school teacher like Rachel Owens?  What character traits does it take?  We have an article on our blog that discusses this very question. It is called the “Top 10 Character Traits of a Seasoned International School Teacher“. Read the whole article here.

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Top 10 Lists

11 International Schools that have Enthusiastic Teachers and Students

May 7, 2019


Schools thrive when there are enthusiastic teachers and students in them. But, do all international schools have this?

With around 10000 international schools currently, there are bound to be differences between them. However, it is certain that all international schools strive to students that are excited to come to school and do their best to learn in the lessons and engagements in their classes.

But do students just come to schools already engaged or is it the environment and staff that helps with that?

Some could argue that hiring engaged and excited teachers plays a huge factor in the enthusiasm of students. If the teachers are interested and excited in their lessons, typically the students will follow suit.

If the teachers are jaded, overworked, and caught in a low staff morale spiral, then this feeling is sure to be reflected in the students.

But even if the students and teachers are not so engaged at the moment, what can be done? International schools need to make drastic and carefully planned changes to achieve this change to more enthusiastic stake holders!

So which international schools then have enthusiastic teachers and/or students?

Luckily, ISC was designed to help international school teachers find the information they are looking for. Using the Comment Search feature (premium membership needed), we found 17 comments that had the keyword “Enthusiastic” in them. Here are 11 of them:

Denmark
“Students in primary are overwhelmingly kind, caring, and enthusiastic learners. The middle and high school will benefit from having a full-time secondary principal next year.” – Esbjerg International School (50 total comments)

Kyrgyzstan
“You need to be enthusiastic, open-minded and flexible. There is a strong community at school that is very involved in every aspect of the school’s life. School is looking for teachers who are passionate about their job and willing to differentiate for every student.” – Bishkek International School (57 total comments)

India
“The students are mostly respectful, enthusiastic, and hardworking. You might not be that impressed if you’re coming from Korea or another academically-driven Asian country, but compared to Latin America or any Western public institution it’ll be a big step up.” – Oberoi International School (36 total comments)

Spain
“The pupils are very affectionate, and the school has a very family-like feel. They are eager to please and enthusiastic about topics etc.” – The British School of Marbella (36 total comments)

Japan
“Students are very well behaved. Behavioural issues are very minimal, and most students are enthusiastic to learn and prove themselves to teachers and their classmates.” – Tokyo International School (104 total comments)

Indonesia
“The students are extremely polite and respectful. They are positive and enthusiastic though somewhat reserved.” – Global Jaya School (60 total comments)

United Arab Emirates
“While I have not myself worked elsewhere in the Emirates, I get a sense that our students are relatively well behaved. Understand that, while kids are kids, well behaved in the Emirates is not the same as say, well behaved in South Korea. That said, Liwa does not generally find itself subject to the kinds of behavior found in the government schools of the area. The kids are generally quite enthusiastic about Liwa and as capable as any children anywhere.” – Liwa International School (23 total comments)

Russia
“Very curious and enthusiastic learners. PYP and IB encourages this and students are excited to be at school every day!” – Anglo-American School of Moscow (69 total comments)

Chile
“The students are respectful, creative and enthusiastic. They love to chat and socialize!” – Santiago College (24 total comments)

Ethiopia
“Students are enthusiastic about being at school, in general. Almost 100% of our students are involved in activities or athletics after school and on weekends.” – International Community School Addis Ababa (80 total comments)

Belgium
“The students are amazing. So welcoming, so enthusiastic to learn.” – The British School of Brussels (36 total comments)

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Discussion Topics

Is Your Host Country Safe?

April 2, 2019


Nobody wants to live in a place where they feel unsafe. It doesn’t matter if you are a man, a woman, a gay or lesbian person, a person of color, a physically challenged person, a senior citizen, etc., you definitely want to live somewhere you can you feel safe in your environment and surroundings.

It is unfortunate, but not every city in the world is considered a safe place for everyone. But I think people would be surprised to find out which cities are making the lists of top 50 safest cities in the world.

If you haven’t been to a certain city in the world before to check it out yourself, then there can be a lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions about that place. People tend to revert to using stereotypes to describe the places that they haven’t been to before. Surely your mom has said this to you before you move to or even travel to a specific country: ‘oh, I’ve heard some bad things about that place. Make sure you are safe there!’, but most likely your mom is just getting her information from her local newspaper, for example. Maybe your mom is just referring to a story she heard about that city 10, 20 even 30 years ago! And of course, some of that information might not actually be true and cities can and do change over time.

After having visited many cities in many countries in the world, people will realize that every place has nice people that live there. Even if there is a small lack of safety at the moment, the fruit seller is still selling her/his fruit. Meaning that life goes on as normal, in most cities in the world, regardless of most recent events.

Besides war, we unforutnately consistently see episodes of terrorist attacks on a number of cities around the world. And they are happening everywhere, any place and any time. It would appear impossible to avoid living in a place where there is a 0% chance of a terrorist attack.

“The political unrest has subsided and feel very safe. However, It seems that many people get frustrated with politics between the National school and the International school. The National school has control of everything and it has a negative impact on day-to-day working conditions at the International school. If the International school was independent of the National school, I feel, it would be a tremendous place to work. Many people, however, simply get tired of trying to work with such limiting parameters imposed by the National school.” – MEF International School Istanbul

In some cities, often found in developing countries, you might find yourself living in a compound or a building with some level of security. Living in a building with a guard can be a new experience for many international school teachers. You might also find yourself living in a city where you will see high walls with barbed wire surrounding each building as you drive to and from your home to work. Not everyone wants to look at that every day. Even though it gives you a feeling a being safer, it doesn’t give the best feeling that you are constantly reminded of the fact that you seem to be living in an unsafe city.

“Many of the buildings, stores and houses will have fences around them with barbed wire. There are also police couples walking around the downtown area of the city all the time. Though these things keep you safe and feeling security, it doesn’t have the most cosiest feeling as you go around the city.” – American International School of Costa Rica

When you live abroad in a new city, you want the freedom to explore and walk around your new city. As you spend more time there, you will find out the ‘right places’ that you can walk around in your new city. Most people would prefer to walk around freely without any worries, but it is always good to aware of your surroundings as you do your exploring.

“Compared to many Latin American cities I have visited or lived in, Santo Domingo is safe. You don’t have to look over your shoulder all of the time if you stay in the right parts of the city. You can exercise in a park without worrying about getting mugged. Of course you shouldn’t flash money and expensive jewelry around but with common sense it’s not hard to stay out of trouble.” – MC School

Many of us are used to having our own car in our home countries. However, a smaller percentage of us own cars while living abroad. It might be that we view cars as an unnecessary expense in our expat lives, but it also might be that it would be unsafe for you to drive there in your host country. Maybe you would be the unsafe person on the road as it might also be that you are unfamiliar with the local way of driving and that the roads are not very well maintained.

“The best way to make the best out of your stay in KL during your contract it to buy a car and drive around. Driving is really safe, roads are well signaled and the quality is very good. Considering that Malaysia is a relatively small country in terms of territory, it is possible to visit all states and major cities during weekends and have fantastic road trips with gorgeous views.” – Fairview International School

In the end, international school teachers want to move abroad and have a goal to start a new life exploring a new country and getting immersed in a new culture. Thinking of all the factors that come into play with regards to feeling safe while living abroad, achieving this goal can prove to be a difficult talk. But with great cities improving and becoming safer all the time, there are more and more good options for us international school teachers for our next move!

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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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Comparing the Schools and Comments

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in India

December 27, 2018


Around the world, there are countries (like India) 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 countries, 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 country.

India

Currently, we have 133 schools listed in India on International School Community.

32 of these schools have had comments submitted on them. Here are some that have the most submitted comments:

American Embassy School New Delhi (39 Total Comments)
American School of Bombay (34 Total Comments)
Good Shepherd International School (409 Total Comments)
Hebron School (35 Total Comments)
Indus International School (Pune) (43 Total Comments)
Kodaikanal International School (35 Total Comments)
Oberoi International School (36 Total Comments)
Woodstock School (95 Total Comments)

Amount of Money Left to be Saved

“It depends on lifestyle. If you like the posh life, your money will be spent quickly at Mumbai’s many hotels and bars. However, if you live a more modest lifestyle and travel around India, you can easily save half of your salary. Expat couples with no kids can live on one salary.” – Oberoi International School

“Bonuses paid to expat staff who renew contracts are the main savings or opportunity to pay down student loans. Very little savings monthly, most people spend it during the generous breaks sightseeing Asia. Comfortable cost of living in India.” – Woodstock School

“See above for monthly salary – due to the unique nature of the school and it’s ethos, this really depends on your own situation, budget, and spending habits.” – Hebron School

School Campus

“The school has a beautiful green campus in the heart of Delhi’s diplomatic district. There are three elementary buildings, and separate MS/HS buildings. In addition, there are shared spaces for PE and athletics, swimming, Performing Arts, cafeterias, etc. The neighborhood features many embassies and other compounds, but there is also a “camp” with a large population of squatters across the street from the on-campus faculty housing complex.” – American Embassy School New Delhi

“The campus is beautiful. It is probably the best thing about the school. It has its flaws, but it is a terrific environment for living and learning.” – Kodaikanal International School

“Not much changes in the Fernhill Campus, the reason is that the Junior campus will soon move together with the Main Campus.” – Good Shepherd International School

Housing Information

“The school owns all the apartments and they are all beautiful safe and guarded either inside the campus or walking distance from the school” – Good Shepherd International School

“School provides furnished housing for expat teachers.” – Oberoi International School

“Cold winters with little indoor heat – wood stoves most common. Think rustic and adventure and you will not be disappointed. Some of the homes updated, others have more historic character. All require walking/hiking to work and to town. Utilities negligible, except cost of fuel for heat in winters.” – Woodstock School

“There is an allowance for housing which covers expenses as well.” – American School of Bombay

Health Insurance and Medical Benefits

“Fine for minor things. Setting not recommended if specialist consultation is required or for faculty with ongoing medical conditions. The hillside alone requires a decent level of fitness (or will soon provide an opportunity for fitness!).” – Woodstock School

“Health cover within India is included, and if need be can include arrangements for travel to home country in extreme circumstances. There is on site team of nurses who provide care in a ‘hoz.’ Local clinics and hospitals are surprisingly good for India.” – Hebron School

“They will count your absence when you are sick as deductible unless you have worked during your day off or exeats which translate to 7 days a week of work. Even the car that you used to go down to a decent hospital will be charged to you.” – Good Shepherd International School

“There is a doctor on site but in general the schools’ medical services are not well respected. Staff can now go to other local hospitals for medical treatment.” – Kodaikanal International School

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

If you work at an international school in India, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited premium membership!

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Discussion Topics

Why Do International School Educators Teach Abroad? To Work AND Party!

December 1, 2018


The majority of international educators are professionals. They are some of the most innovative and progressive teachers out there.

However, International schools teachers certainly like to have their fun as well. Some might say the whole point of teaching abroad is to escape their boring home country/city life and inject some more excitement.

When not teaching at their international schools, there must be time to take in the city life and party!

Teach Abroad

It is not that difficult to find a group of colleagues at your international school to go out and party with you. And depending on what city you are living in the world, there are always certain spots at which to hang out.

People teach abroad for many reasons, and one of them is for a good nightlife. Some cities in the world are better known for their nightlife than others, so it is good to do a bit of research before your move. But anywhere there are expats, there is bound to be a neighborhood or two that they like to hang out in.

Teach Abroad

And let’s not forget the annual school Christmas party! Many international schools go all out to put together a nice Christmas party for their staff. Crazy antics usually happen at an international school Christmas party, thus proving that numerous international school educators indeed like to balance doing their job and also saving some time to party!

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Using our ISC’s unique Comment Search feature, we searched the keyword “party.” We found that we currently have 71 comments (Dec. 2018) with that keyword on it.

Here are a few of those submitted comments:

“There is so much nightlife here. If you want to go out and party in the city centre, there are endless place to do that. Locals love to go to a pub and stand outside of it and drink away with their friends, even if it is cold out outside. But I must say that last night, we saw at least spots on the sidewalk where someone had vomited. So people are definitely getting piss drunk here. LOL.” – American School of London (London, UK)15 Total Comments

“Plenty of nightlife. Clark Quay is probably the most known of the party scenes, but there are lots of other options from a plethora of rooftop bars, brewpubs to small local clubs…” – Singapore American School (Singapore)184 Comments

“Foreign staff usually are offered accommodation in an apartment complex that is next to the school. The complex features a small pool, gym and party area. Parties are held by neighbours regularly so it can be noisy at times, but it dies down after a certain time. Also, the size of the bedrooms are a bit small but you get used to that….” – American School of Belo Horizonte (Belo Horizonte, Brazil)72 Total Comments

Teach Abroad

“New staff start a day earlier and are invited to a welcome breakfast, where we met all the academic coordinators and people in key roles, such as the nurse and admin staff. Christmas is a special time, where we had a special staff breakfast on top of a glamorous Christmas party! The principal is also very friendly and arranges social gatherings…” – SEK Catalunya International School (La Garriga, Spain)29 Comments

“They’ve started having an annual New Year’s party after the winter break where parents, faculty, and alumni have a very relaxed evening, catching up after their holiday adventures…” – Canadian Academy (Kobe) (Kobe, Japan)68 Comments

“You can find anything for any taste. You can opt for some quiet activities or team sports, quiet walks or a wild party in the city. There are excellent clubs and bars, and some quiet places. Ask the locals or more “experienced” expats and they will guide you…” – Knightsbridge Schools International Panama (Panama City, Panama)39 Comments

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ISCommunity Features

New ISC Feature: Get Notified When One of Your Favorited Schools is Updated!

November 17, 2018


When you are a member at International School Community, you can easily Favorite the school profile pages that you are most interested in and view all of them on your Dashboard Profile Page.

Just go to any school profile of the international school you are interested in and click on the red “Add School to Favorites” button. A pop-up screen will show up and say “This school has been successfully added to your Favorited Schools.”

favorited schools

Once you have successfully Favorited a school profile page, then that school will show up as a link on your Dashboard Profile Page.  The next time you want to access that specific school profile page (e.g. to check out any new comments that have been written, to write some more of your own comments and information, etc.) it will be listed like this example:

Favorited Schools
As you can see, it will be quick and easy for you to go straight to the schools you are interested in knowing about. The Favorited Schools page has the following stats:

  • name and link to that school’s profile page
  • the location of that school: city, country
  • the date in which that school was last updated with new user-submitted comments
  • the total number of user-submitted comments on that school’s profile page
  • a subscribe button so that you can receive email alerts when your favorited school is updated that day.

The subscribe feature is new. Basically, if your school is updated with new comments, at the end of the day you will receive an email from us letting you know. It will look like this:

Favorited Schools

If you are not interested anymore in having that school listed as a link on your profile under the “Favorited Schools” section, simply click on the “Trash can” icon/link to remove it. As a reminder, this Favorited Schools that you create is only visible to you.

With the school profile bookmark feature all members will be able to access the international schools most important to them with ease!  Favorite your schools now by visiting our schools list page.  If you are not a member of International School Community, join today here and get a free coupon code to receive two days of free premium membership!

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Comment Topic Highlight

What are some events your international school is planning during New Teacher Orientation?

August 5, 2018


When you start at a new school, it is important to bond with your new colleagues and to also blow off some steam so that you can reduce the stress you might be feeling (being that you are now immersed in a new country and culture and a completely new work environment).
staff outings

Of course, new teachers can try and organize some outings themselves, but it is nice when the school organizes some of it. The returning teachers and administration know the city better, and they can help facilitate some really fun parties and/or outings.

Most new teachers will not know so much of their new city/country, so the school could organize some day trips to nearby nature areas or special towns of interest. If the school doesn’t want to take to you too far away, they can easily host some events in popular local restaurants or fun places of interest.

staff outings

Even if you don’t like the places the school takes you so much, it will definitely be an opportunity for you to bond with the returning staff members as well as the other new teachers.  Bonding with new teachers is important. Typically, new teachers tend to bond most with each other and they become lifelong friends (even after one or both of them moves away). If you are lucky, there will be a number of new teachers that you will able to connect with.

Excellent international schools will definitely have a plan of events for all new teachers at the very beginning of the school year before the students arrive. A carefully planned week full of different events will definitely pay off as the new teachers will start their integration process on the right foot, thus making them enjoy their new surroundings and most likely do their best working at in their new school.

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of new teacher orientation plans/events. Our members can share what current international schools are doing in this matter. There are a total of 107 comments (August 2018) that have been submitted by our veteran international school teachers in one of the 65 comment topics called – “Where did the school take you in the city when you first arrived? What were some staff outings/party locations?”

Here are a few of those submitted comments:

“We often hang out around campus or downtown on the weekends, but many people like to use the Arex to go to some of the cool spots in Seoul. Many of us go for picnics in Lake Park or down to the Canal Area for visiting noraebang (singing room) or bars. There really is quite a lot to do in Cheongna and new places are going in all the time. Several faculty members like to go play screen baseball and screen golf.” – Cheongna Dalton School (Incheon, South Korea)60 Total Comments

“Most of the staff parties and gatherings each year, when not on campus, are held at the high-end hotels in the area. There are a few Indian restaurants that also seem to be popular among the teachers, so the parties often end up going back there after a year or two of somewhere else.” – NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand)242 Comments

“New faculty were invited to dinner in town one night and to the directors’ home another night, which was intimate and nice. There was another faculty gathering at the director’s house soon after school began, and a holiday party in December.” – International School of Stavanger (Stavanger, Norway)44 Total Comments

“In the first week, we were taken to Taygaytay to Lake Taal for lunch. As well as this we were taken to one of the school’s service partners which is an orphanage. Trips to a cash and carry store and markets are also arranged in the first week. The divisional principals will have a social gathering at their homes for new staff and the superintendent hosts a welcome back BBQ.” – International School Manila (Manila, Philippines)71 Comments

“No city tour. It’s all administrative and logistic arrangements; a meeting with the principal, on campus, where you will be told when you need to submit your Scheme of Work @ curriculum planning. Next, you will be taken on an apartment hunting adventure by a HR personnel.” – Raffles International Christian School (Jakarta, Indonesia)42 Comments

“They had a get to know you party. Old members of staff came and you got to know people. They also took us to Carrefore and Ikea when we first got there with a coach. This is helpful when you’ve just arrived and you’re trying to figure your life out. They also take you to get a bank account set up and take you to the required medical.” – Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China)368 Comments

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Traveling Around

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

June 11, 2018


Traveling Around: Zhouzhuang, China

Can you relate?

  • If you visit Shanghai take a day or two side trip to an ancient water town, there are many.
  • Take a canal cruise and have the boatswain sing to you.
  • Use a driver from Zhouzhuang 600RMB (Tom 150-5166 5990, lives in Zhouzhang and has a family), a driver from Shanghai 2000RMB.

  • Zhouzhuang makes it’s own beer and has a local distillery!
  • This town is difficult to find a C-Trip hotel. Anyplace to stay in the city is listed as a Historical Site. After we booked a hotel under construction the Mayor came to our rescue!
  • The lady in charge of tourism found a room for us with an older couple in the center of the preserved district for about 75RMB per night (including hot tea morning and night!)

  • Remember, no parking in this ancient city. This place was not designed for cars! Commercial hotels are outside the ancient boundaries.
  • Many artists with high quality artwork on sale on the streets of town. We got a great calligraphy by a struggling artist.
  • Fishermen use cormorants to fish in Lake Taishi thus the reason so many boathouses as boats and birds come to roost.
  • Zhouzhaung is known for the “double bridges”.

  • Chinese Opera House on the “Ancient Platform” rebuilt in the year 2000.
  • Many great silk shops, ties three for 60RMB
  • Shops that spin their own cotton and make clothing of all sizes!
  • Fantastic teapots made from stone!

  • Shen Wansan, the first millionaire in the Lower Yangtze is from Zhouzhuang!
  • Lot’s of walking around, many bridges, shops everywhere!
  • Many places to eat, traditional Chinese food with reasonable prices.

Currently, we have 197 international schools listed in China on International School Community. 132 of them have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of those schools:

Access International Academy (Ningbo) 48 Comments
Beijing BISS International School67 Comments
Beijing International Bilingual Academy53 Comments
Canadian International School (Hong Kong)134 Comments
Changchun American International School 111 Comments
Concordia International School (Shanghai) 166 Comments
Guangzhou Nanfang International School – 163 Comments
Hong Kong International School – 127 Comments
Kang Chiao International School (Kunshan) – 81 Comments
Keystone Academy – 94 Comments
QSI International School of Dongguan – 64 Comments

If you are on a trip right now, away from your host country, write to us here 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 1 free year of premium membership!

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Highlighted Articles

Side Gigs for Teachers on Holiday… and Beyond

June 1, 2018


side gigs

Regardless of where they teach, the sad fact remains that most teachers earn less than contemporaries with backgrounds in similar fields. School holidays provide prime opportunities to earn more money to save for a house, travel, pay down bills, or stash away into a retirement fund. The following list includes ideas on how you can parlay your teaching skills into viable income whether during school breaks or school terms.

Sell Your Materials

You’ve created and taught lessons, curricula, and activities. Why not upload those plans to Teachers Pay Teachers or another online marketplace where teachers can purchase and sell their creations? Once you start, everything you sell generates passive income.

Write Curricula

In addition to education giants like Pearson, Houghton-Mifflin, and others, many companies who employ in-house curriculum writers also hire contract writers to pick up the slack. Some of these companies, who write curricula designed to be taught in different countries, occasionally hire experts familiar with a specific country’s culture and customs to advise on curriculum projects.

side gigs

Teach Anything Online

Qualified to teach levels other than those you’re teaching in a traditional classroom? Hook up with an online course. Many school districts offer online classes, and there are other online education sites seeking teachers in the primary and secondary school levels. Consider teaching higher education online, too, or connecting with an online tutoring service.

Take it a step further! If you’re teaching ELL abroad, you can also contract with various online platforms, like VIPkid, to teach English.

Blog

Love to write? Create a blog about your experiences teaching, living abroad, or any number of topics. You can partner with advertisers or affiliates, even sell products and services, and parlay a fun hobby into something that generates steady income. Or, you can write an eBook and share your expertise with others.

Start an Edtech

The global investment in edtech is set to reach $252 billion by 2020. You’ve already got your finger on the pulse of education. Why not contribute your observations to developing solutions that incorporate technological processes and resources to improve education?

Become a Test Scorer or Grader

Whether you live in the States or abroad, you can pick up side work for grading district or state exams and standardized tests. The Higher Ed remote job board is a good place to start.

side gigs

Work at a Museum 

If there’s a museum with exhibits in which you specialize, reach out to see if you can work as a docent or guide or perhaps collaborate with their staff to create and teach a class or two.

Write City Guides

Live in an area dependent upon the tourist trade? Travel and tourism and real estate businesses often contract writers to write neighborhood/city guides, information about amusements and entertainment, restaurants, transport, accommodations, and more.

Join Airbnb

If you’ve got the space to rent a room or you’re traveling for a month and don’t want your home untended, become an Airbnb host. It’s a neat way to generate income and meet new people.

Translate

Are you multilingual? Consider translation work. You can work with translation agencies or for a multinational company. Check out websites like Gengo.com for job listings.

side gigs

Creating the Perfect Home Workspace

If your side gig includes working from home — or you’re looking for a better atmosphere for grading papers and lesson prep — make sure you have a workspace carved out where you can work without distractions. Set office hours so your family knows your schedule, too.

A good, usable workspace should have proper lighting, a solid table or desk, laptop or desktop, a comfy chair, and printer. If you’re working from multiple documents or have many tabs open at once, splurge for a second monitor to save your eyes and sanity.

Extra Credit

Whether you’re looking for a second gig related to your career or something completely new, there’s a wide variety of options available. You’re blessed with a skill set that lets you explore many opportunities — whether you want to expand your current knowledge or learn something completely new!

This article was submitted by guest author and ISC Member, Jenny Wise. She created Special Home Educator as a forum for sharing her adventures in homeschooling and connecting with other homeschooling families.

Photo Credit: Pexels.com

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Comment Topic Highlight

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

May 17, 2018


When you live abroad in a foreign country, one of the best parts is enjoying all that your host country has to offer. When you first arrive, you don’t know just yet which things are your favorite to do, which restaurants that you’ll frequent a lot, and which places you’ll want to go all the time to. But as you explore around every weekend or month, you get yourself more familiarized with our your new country and start to create all of your new favorites’ lists.
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Eating out and finding a really tasty restaurant in your host city is the best. Such delicious local food (or ‘expat food’ cuisine) to be had! While not all local restaurants will be the best, there are sure to be some excellent ones. Typically you find these out from the veteran teachers at your school. They’ve been there awhile, so they are the best ones to let you know where to eat out at. And if the cost of living is low where you are, you might just find yourself eating out all the time (see How NOT to save money when working as an international school teacher #2: Go out to eat all the time!)

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

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

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

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

Here are a few of those submitted comments:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo Contests

Top Three Photos For How Does Your Host Country Recycle: And the winners are…

May 4, 2018


We’re happy to announce the winners of our latest Photo Contest: How Does Your Host Country Recycle?

First Place“At our school, we lead up to Earth Day with a week-long event called Sustainable Solutions. Innovators and activists from around the world, as well as Green School and local students, present different thoughts, ideas, and projects on making our planet more sustainable. One part of it is The Trash Walk. Staff and students spend part of each day with the school’s founder, John Hardy, walking through villages and rice fields collecting trash. Then it’s recycled through the school’s recycling center called Kembali.

Here in Bali recycling is still a work in progress. There are recycling bins on many street corners, but the education surrounding the need and importance of recycling are still not in place. Many of these bins are full of trash that is not separated or is not recyclable. Green School is trying to get the word out one village at a time through what we call “pilot villages.” Green School students and local students work together, one village at a time, to raise awareness and provide sustainable solutions to plastics use, trash dumping, and practical recycling.”

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Congratulations, Tom South! He currently works at Green School Bali

Prize awarded: Premium membership for TWO YEARS on our website!

Second Place: “Bangladesh recycles in the most beautiful way.  Women take worn, ripped sarees that can no longer be worn and stack them together in layers to make a soft blanket.  Hand-stitched together with rows and rows of colored thread and with patches of patterned fabric to cover holes or stains, they take something old and create a beautiful new product.”

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Congratulations, Annie Tunheim! She currently works at American International School Dhaka.

Prize awarded: Premium membership for ONE YEAR on our website!

Third Place“Although Thailand does not have a formal and official recycling or waste management program for all the households, some apartments and condos do have their recycling program that is administrated by the main office. All the recycling materials are divided by categories and it is weighted monthly. The income generated by the householders is used to improve the quality and conditions of common areas such as swimming pool, playground, and library.”

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Congratulations, Mariano Zuk!

Prize awarded: Premium membership for SIX MONTHS on our website!

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

Stay tuned for our next photo contest. Check out our previous Photo Contests here.

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Comparing the Schools and Comments

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Costa Rica

April 30, 2018


Around the world, there are countries (like Costa Rica) 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 countries, 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.

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Costa Rica

Currently, we have 13 schools listed in Costa Rica on International School Community.

8 of these schools have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few that have the most submitted comments:

United World College of Costa Rica (28 Total Comments)
The British School of Costa Rica (31 Total Comments)
Marian Baker School (33 Total Comments)
Lincoln School (San Jose) (36 Total Comments)
Country Day School (26 Total Comments)
Costa Rica International Academy (40 Total Comments)
Blue Valley School (21 Total Comments)

Hiring Policies

“Apply through email, interview through skype. Typically hire American/ Canadians for English positions. Hire from other countries as well, especially for Spanish speaking positions.” – Costa Rica International Academy

“You can email with your resume attached and they will contact you if they are really interested. Otherwise at ISS fair in Atlanta.” – Country Day School

“All teaching positions require instructional fluency in English, minimum University Bachelor’s degree with a major or concentration in the field of specialty(24 university credits in the field), 12 University credits in Education, valid teacher’s license, two-year successful teaching experience. Preference is also given to candidates who will be positive role models to students within the context of a traditional Latin American school community.” – Lincoln School (San Jose)

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School Campus

“Small school setting with beautiful views of the central valley overlooking downtown San Jose and surrounding mountains (you can even see the national stadium!). Nice outdoor spaces with lovely flora and even nice bird species which fly around like the Oropendola and Motmot. School is not far from Parque del Este which has really nice rainforest hiking trails, and a few local restaurants nearby. San Jose itself is not a pretty area, but up on the mountain where Marian Baker is it is a sort of oasis.” – Marian Baker School

“It is mainly open plan with low level buildings surrounding a football pitch. There is a small theatre, gym and an on site soda selling food for the staff and students. The primary school has a couple of outside play areas with equipment. The surrounding area is residential with the domestic airport close by. You can see the mountains of the Central Valley in the east and the west, including Volcan Poas. It is situated on a broad but quiet road with little traffic.” – The British School of Costa Rica

“The campus is relatively small for a residential school, but the grounds are beautiful and quiet. It feels like a private community. The residential buildings are in a separate area from the academic buildings. Students live three to a room, 24 to a residence. The residence coordinators live in small houses next to each residence building. The Academic area is in the middle of the campus. There are eight one-story wings of three classrooms each, plus some offices for administration and teachers. There is plenty of light and space for class sizes between 8 and 20. Near the entrance to the campus is a large soccer field and a social center.” – United World College of Costa Rica

Housing Information

“None provided.” – Blue Valley School

“Furnished apartments available on campus – not luxurious but reflective of typical Costa Rican style housing. Can be comfortable, very secure. Off campus housing ranges in cost – no housing allowance provided. Off campus housing can range from $700 – 2000 a month not including utilities.” – Costa Rica International Academy

“An allowance is provided for teachers…” – Country Day School

“Housing allowance is $750 per month for singles or $1,000 a month for teaching couples…” – Marian Baker School

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Health insurance and medical benefits

“There is a national health plan that is high quality but slow (and generally in spanish) that all teachers and their families get. The school also helps pay for (pays 50%) of Private health care, which is faster but not necessarily better. They also pay for a MediSmart private health care discount card that can cover 30-80% of other health care (dentists, orthodontists, etc). Health care in general is pretty good in the country, but with private you have to do some research.” – The British School of Costa Rica

“The health insurance has worldwide coverage with emergency evacuation. No life or dental insurance.” – Marian Baker School

“All teachers get Costa Rican life insurance (Aprox $15000). The insurance provided has world-wide coverage. Teachers can get a visit with the school doctor when needed at no cost for teachers.” – Lincoln School (San Jose)

“Local is great, especially for specialities, if you have the time. Private is sometimes not as good.” – Country Day School

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

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If you work at an international school in Costa Rica, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited premium membership!

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: Jerudong International School

April 9, 2018


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 Jerudong International School (Brunei), described his way to work there as follows:

The road to Jerudong International School…

Brunei, a small country on the island of Borneo, which is famous for its’ lush jungle and wildlife. Brunei is a beautiful country with views of lush green jungle on almost any journey.

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Working at Jerudong International School means we have an option of taking the school allocated housing close to school or taking an allowance and going further out.

My wife and I being a teaching couple choose to stay close to school at Armada Housing (Rimba Estate). The journey itself is a 6 minute drive with hardly any traffic.

Armada Housing has literally been cut out of the jungle to make a complex which is safe and secure comprising of a gym, swimming pool and a variety of different housing styles ranging from 4 bed houses to penthouses.

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Our morning generally starts in a relaxing manner when we wake up between 4.30-5am to shower, followed by mediation/prayer. We eat breakfast then start our journey to school around 7am.

We choose to drive, but there are a few colleagues who bike through the jungle every morning. The drive takes us out of Armada Housing, on to the highway with views of the jungle on either side. We then get off at the JIS exit when the DST tower is on our left (5th tallest building in Brunei, a mere 71m/14 floors), where we then drive up to one of four entrances to park our car.

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All in all, a swift and efficient journey to school.

Here is a video of our journey on a beautiful Saturday afternoon:

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author, Amarpreet Singh. Amarpreet is a UK trained Teacher of Mathematics, currently teaching in Brunei Darussalam at Jerudong International School. He is moving to teach at a leading not for profit international school in Dubai (UAE) later this academic year. He made the move to Brunei with his wife (Teacher of Biology) and has enjoyed the adventures and challenges an international school provides.

What to know more what it is like to visit and live in SE Asia?  Out of a total of 311 international schools we have listed in SE Asia, 155 that have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

Ican British International School (74 comments)
Northbridge International School (58 Comments)
Gandhi Memorial Intercontinental School (86 Comments)
Green School Bali (98 Comments)
Sekolah Victory Plus (137 Comments)
Fairview International School (121 Comments)
International School of Kuala Lumpur (107 Comments)
Mont’Kiara International School (69 Comments)
Nexus International School (82 Comments)
International School Manila (71 Comments)
Singapore American School (90 Comments)
Stamford American International School (108 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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Traveling Around

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

February 15, 2018


Traveling Around: Muscat, Oman

Can you relate?

  • realizing that any local is willing to help you
  • actually having a hard time finding local dates at a fruit market
  • walking along the corniche in Mutrah and loving the palm tree mountain combo
  • eating Omani cuisine at Bait Al Luban and loving it, but not so much the frankincense water
  • amazed by all the gold jewelry in the souk and wondering to what events do people wear these pieces
  • being thankful that getting from the airport to your hotel is very easy

  • spending hours in LuLu Hypermarket
  • enjoying the sunshine, blue skies and perfect temperatures
  • watching locals play football on the beach
  • having a variety of cool day trips available (desert, wadis, mountains)
  • being offered coffee after making a purchase

  • seeing the giant incense burner
  • amazed by the grandness of the Grand Mosque
  • wishing you had reservation for a show in the Royal Opera House

  • eating amazing Lebanese food at Zahr El Laymoun Muscat and wishing it was an endless bowl of hummus
  • wondering what kind of trees does frankincense grow on
  • having a stranger pull you over on the side of the highway and ask if you need a guide somewhere

Currently, we have 11 international schools listed in Oman on International School Community. 7 of them have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of those schools:

Al Batinah International School 10 Comments
Al Sahwa Schools – 7 Comments
American British Academy – 34 Comments
American International School of Muscat – 34 Comments
Muscat International School 6 Comments
United Private Schools – 7 Comments

If you are on a trip right now, away from your host country, write to us here 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: 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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Information for Members

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

September 12, 2017


International School Community is full of tens of thousands of useful, informative comments…22211 comments (12 Sept. 2017) to be exact.

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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 “excellent” parts of working at international schools from across the globe.

12. Health insurance and medical benefits. Describe your experiences using these benefits and going to the local hospitals.

“Currently, insurance is through Scholars International. Coverage for medical care in the United States is something like 70% (not great) but outside of the US, coverage is great. Local hospitals are excellent and many teachers have surgeries, medical treatments (including cancer treatments), ect here in Korea. Our school is close to an amazing International Hospital, Severance Hospital at Yonsei University. Many other hospitals in the area are also well-known and provide excellent care!” – Seoul Foreign School (South Korea, Seoul) – 133 Comments

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

“Keystone was built in 2013/14 as a purpose-built school. It looks like a New England or UK boarding school. It’s facilities are excellent. There is a fabulous performing arts centre, lots of meeting areas and tons of classrooms. The sports facilities are also top-notch. The grounds are well-kept. The staff apartments are spacious and well-appointed. There are separate primary and middle/high school buildings as well as the sports hall, residences and the performing arts centre. The management is also upgrading and maintaining facilities as needed. The surrounding area is very suburban. This is not downtown Beijing. There are grocery stores close by as well as a couple of small shopping malls. There are stores catering to expats nearby too.” – Keystone Academy (China, Beijing) – 54 Comments

10. Name some special things about this school that makes it unique.

“Since 2010 there have been 2 Head Teachers, 2 Primary Heads and 2 Deputy Heads due to overarching management cost cutting and general incompetencies. As well as massive staff turnovers. People see out their contracts and don’t renew because money, housing and work life balance are better at other schools. However that being said, the teachers at the school both primary and secondary are excellent teachers. Very social, helpful and happy. They bind together and get along well. The teachers that have left have gone into fantastic things, probably because of the chaos that comes from management, has built these people to make it in the real world. Lasting friendships between the teachers and everyone looks after everyone. I did enjoy the comradary here.” – Jumeira Baccalaureate School (United Arab Emirates, Dubai) – 104 Comments

9. How have certain things improved since you started working there?

“The Academic Registrar for the past two years has done much to review, simplify and streamline processes. She has also maintained – latterly when support has been lacking – almost single-handedly excellent relations with staff, parents, students and the expatriate community when helping to market the school.” – The International School of Sanya (China, Sanya) – 29 Comments

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

“The school has a wonderful multistory building with fully equipped Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Computer Science laboratories. There is a gymnasium and multi cuisine food court as well. The auditorium of the school is excellent with a seating capacity of around 800.” – Gandhi Memorial International School (Indonesia, Jakarta) – 6 Comments

7. What types of sports programs and activities does the school offer? 

“Football is the main sport and both boys and girls are involved in football. Also basketball is popular, The school has excellent facilities.” – Colegio Los Nogales Bogota (Colombia, Bogota) – 33 Comments

6. In general, describe the demeanor of the students.

“Generally, excellent. 2013’s comment still stands; Wells is fortunate to have students from not the “richest” families of Bangkok, so a degree of humbleness still exists in most.” – Wells International School (Thailand) (Thailand, Bangkok) – 55 Comments

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5. Health insurance and medical benefits. Describe your experiences using these benefits and going to the local hospitals.

“Health insurance provided. Taiwan has excellent and affordable national health insurance.” – Ivy Collegiate Academy (Taiwan, Taichung City) – 41 Comments

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

“This is a good place to be in. The working atmosphere is excellent and as teachers we can do and suggest many things in order to help with the school’s normal development. We have reached to a point were we are stable in terms of foreign staff and locals do everything they can to help foreign teachers to feel as comfortable as possible.” – Changchun American International School (China, Changchun) – 71 Comments

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

“Hong Kong has excellent public transport. You can check in at IFC in Central or Kowloon half a day before the flight and then take your time shopping, eating, or sightseeing. The express train to the airport is quick, comfortable, and inexpensive. There are numerous buses and the MTR. As well, taxis are readily available, as are hire cars.” – Canadian International School (Hong Kong) (China, Hong Kong) – 111 Comments

2. Describe what kinds of teachers work here (local vs. expat, nationality, qualifications [or lack there of], etc.) and staff turnover rate.

“More local teachers than expat. There are approximately 15-20 American teachers working at the school. Local teachers speak excellent English and are great colleagues.” – American School of Belo Horizonte (Brazil, Belo Horizonte) – 46 Comments

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

“Compared to teaching in the UK this is a dream, as long as you are prepared for the culture shock of living in a small village of thirteen million. Small classes, good behaviour and a genuine interest in study, excellent resources, great quality of life. Admin is less than in the UK although it is creeping up. Some of it good, some of it of limited value (just like the UK). I enjoy my teaching and the travel opportunities this place offers.” – Wellington College International Tianjin (China, Tianjin) – 54 Comments

If you have an interesting and useful comment to add related to the excellent 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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Blogs of International Teachers

International School Teacher Blogs: “Two Apples a Day” (Two teachers working in Seoul)

September 2, 2017


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

Our 48th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Two Apples a Day”  Check out the blog entries of these two international school educators who work in Seoul:
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A few entries that we would like to highlight:

FAQs About Becoming an International School Teacher

“Q: What qualifications are necessary in order to become a teacher at an international school?

J: Most reputable international schools will want teachers to be certified and have at least a bachelor’s degree. Some of the more competitive schools would like you to have at least 2 years of teaching experience and/or your master’s degree as well. If you are already living abroad and you want to pursue teaching, you can start an online teaching program where you can get certified and/or your masters.

M: No matter what, to become a teacher you should have your teaching certificate (as mentioned several times previously, but hey- some people overlook it!). There are several programs available that last from one to two years, and others as short as nine months. There are also programs that will give you a master’s degree as well as a teaching certificate, but not ALL education master programs do that, so make sure you do your research…”

Related to what teaching qualifications that you need to work at international schools, we have 936 comments that have been submitted on this comment topic on our website: “Describe what kinds of teachers work here (local vs. expat, nationality, qualifications [or lack there of], etc.) and staff turnover rate.”

Here is one of them from American School of Torreon: “It is roughly 60% local and 40% import. The staff turn-over rate is on average 2-3 years. The turn-over has been higher in the past due to instability in the area that has declined and stabilized recently. Almost all new staff is licensed and from the states. Many teachers are retired from the US or very young, new teachers. It has a good internal culture though.”

“How do you find an international school teaching job?

1. Sign up with an international school recruiting company.

I would highly recommend Search Associates or International Schools Service (ISS). A lot of the accredited and reputable international schools uses either or both of these companies. Both companies have multiple job fairs throughout the year in the US, Asia, Australia, and Europe that teachers can go to. Also, they have extensive online database that they put your profile in that many international schools look at to recruit. There is a fee when you sign up, but it is worth it. I would recommend Search Associates, because I’ve used that and had good success with finding jobs. Also, you will need confidential administrator recommendations and also parent recommendations for teaching positions…”

Recruitment agencies are definitely a part of many international school teachers’ experience trying to secure a job in the international school community. We have a number of articles (9) that have been submitted in our blog category called 9 Lessons Learned Regarding Intl School Hiring Fairs“. Here is a blurb from our latest one titled “Remember to check yourself in the mirror before you leave your hotel room for the day’s interviews.”:

“The first fair that I ever went to, I didn’t even own a suit. I had to get one from a department store a couple of weeks before. I remember not even knowing what the “rules of wearing a suit” were at the time. I ended up getting advice from the “suit expert” at the store; when and when not to button the 3rd button, which tie colours were best “suited” for interviewing, etc. I felt a bit silly when I wore this suit at the time of the fair, but I ended up getting 4 offers, so maybe my new clothes were having the right effect. I only had two sets of shirts and ties (using the same suit), so I hope that none of the schools noticed being that many teachers have multiple interviews with the same school over the 2-3 days of the fair...”

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Want to work for an international school in South Korea like these bloggers?  Currently, we have 97 international school teachers that have listed that they currently live in this country. Check them out here.

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

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Comment Topic Highlight

How Is The New Teacher Orientation at Your School?

August 12, 2017


Starting at a new school can be scary and make you quite nervous, but it can also be extremely exciting and life enriching. To help new teachers experience more of the positive side of moving to work at a new international school, the staff and administration need a clear plan to how they will induct these new teachers to their school, routines and educational program.

orientation

The ISC blog has discussed in detail the many “Must-Haves” that international schools should consider when designing their new teacher orientation program.  Pretty easy to remember ones include just getting a thorough tour of the school campus when you first arrive at the school and an on-time pick up from an administrator when you first arrive at the airport with all your bags.

But new teacher orientation actually starts way before your arrive at the airport. One strategy is to set up the new teacher with a resource/contact person that they can ask all their burning questions to from the time they sign their contract. Administrators don’t necessarily have tons of time to be replying back to the sometime long-winded emails from their incoming staff. Having a (sometimes volunteer) contact person for the new teacher to communicate with can be quite helpful and efficient.

orientation

But once the new teachers arrive at the school and in their new country, there are even more things that can help and guide those new teachers into a more positive and exciting experience versus once that is more nerve-wracking and full of endless unknown surprises.  A few other things international schools might choose to do during their plan for new teacher orientation are to give all the new teachers a starter bag of groceries for their new apartment, a dinner outing with all the new teachers and the school administration, and a timely reimbursement of the settling-in money benefit and moving allowances.

It all sounds very easy when you just look at the simple things international schools could do to make a smooth transition for their newly arriving teachers, but we all know that challenges can arise and many things don’t go necessarily as planned. But when a new teacher orientation committee and the school administration are effectively working together and being well-planned in advance, the experience of all the new teachers will most likely be great and much appreciated!

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of new teacher orientation, so you can stay the most informed as possible. There are 69 comments (premium access only) that have the word “orientation in them, and a total of 98 comments (August 2017) have been submitted by our veteran international school teachers in the comment topic called – “Details about new teacher orientation.”

Here are a few of those submitted comments:

“There is a native English speaker and a native Turkish speaker who run orientation which takes place one week before returning teachers report. You might have dinner in an administrator’s apartment, have a tour of archaeological sites in Ankara, be driven to IKEA or be taken to a nearby market. You will be taken to visit a nearby hospital and to the bank on campus to set up avbouts, to the phone company to get cell service set up, and to the clinic for a medical exam.” –Bilkent Laboratory & International School (Ankara, Turkey)128 Total Comments

“There is an initial few days for new teachers before all staff return after summer break. It is a decent mix of philosophy and practical things, with a day trip into Beijing thrown in for good measure. It can be long, as all our meetings can be, since it is done in both languages. The school tries to get all new staff to arrive just a few days before the beginning of school so all the bank account, cell phone, etc. details can be handled as a group. If you arrive before this ‘group’ session, you are on your own. Message the mayor (me) if you are in this situation.” – Keystone Academy (Beijing, China)48 Comments

“It is okay. They take you to some good restaurants and you get to bond with the new teachers. They are understanding of the new move and give you time to take care of whatever you need to take care of. They need to do something with the Itau, bank day so that teachers can get set up with online banking that same day instead of having to wait and figure it out on your own.” – American School of Asuncion (Asuncion, Paraguay)107 Total Comments

“New teacher orientation is very unorganized. Many times you will be told to work on lesson plans and setting up rooms during the 2 week orientation. If you are given a grade level, you will not be told how many students to prepare for until often the first day of school. On the first day of school you will often receive your list of students names.” – Pan Asia International School (Bangkok, Thailand)48 Comments

“There is a week of new teacher orientation before returning teachers commence. During this time, new staff are assisted in setting up bank accounts and doing the mandatory health check as well as more formal aspects of induction into the school. There is usually at least one social activity.” – Northbridge International School (Phnom Penh, Cambodia)58 Comments

“Very little help is offered to new teachers, although the primary school seems much more organized that the high school. The school has a very ‘sink or swim’ approach (there was no curriculum or resources in place when I arrived).” – Beijing Huijia Private School (Beijing, China)32 Comments

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An Insider's Story

International School Libraries: An Insider’s Story

July 27, 2017


Let’s daydream for moment, shall we?

A successful international school library is the center of the school, both physically and metaphorically. It is the hub of student learning, active and buzzing with the newest technologies, inquiry-driven investigations, maker space or STEM stations, and thousands of books available on any and all topics that could occur to members of the school community. The Teacher Librarian is an active part of the teaching community, integrating information literacy skills into the curriculum and supporting the teachers and staff in using best practices. He or she is passionate about all things literary and encourages a love of reading in students, matching reluctant readers with the perfect book to awaken their inner bookworm.

libraries

Hey – a girl can dream, can’t she?

Because sometimes the library isn’t at the center of the school, and instead it’s in the basement. (Albeit the basement of an old mansion house.) And sometimes it’s a ‘Learning Commons’ or a “Media Center’ or it’s called-something-else-other-than-a-library. As is the case with most international schools, all international school libraries are not created equal.

I’ve been working as an International School Teacher Librarian for nine years now, and the more colleagues I meet and Facebook groups I join and listservs I read, that idea is drilled home. All libraries are not created equal. Some librarians have multiple assistants, healthy budgets, abundant resources and administrative support. A lot of librarians don’t have any or all of those things. Some libraries are full of amazing resources for their school community, and some are full of dusty old books that are older than I am.

Every library seems to have its issues. Here are a few examples from my own international career:

  • I was offered a job in one library that was hoping I could help it to automate from the old card catalogue to a computer system… in the 21st century!
  • In Barcelona there was one library – and only one librarian – for an entire EC-thru-grade-12 school. (They’ve since hired more people and built a gorgeous new library!)
  • In London there were three libraries and three librarians, but no assistants (which meant it was hard to ever leave the library, and therefore to do much collaboration), small budgets and no windows in my library.
  • In Dar es Salaam I have assistants (which brings along a whole other set of issues), a decent budget, and an elementary counterpart – but it is very difficult to get books into the country through customs and a corrupt governing system.

BUT.

But – each of these libraries has given me opportunities that I didn’t have as a librarian in the USA. I have always had the autonomy and support to make the library a central part of the school and of student learning. I’ve been able to collaborate with amazing teachers, had opportunities to win over reluctant teachers, and been involved with planning exciting interdisciplinary units. The Teacher Librarian role has been a leadership role, seated at the table with other leaders making decisions about what’s best for our students. And I’ve been supported to take leadership roles in the librarian community – to attend great PD, present at international conferences, join professional organizations, and to serve on the ECIS Librarian Special Interest Committee.

When schools in the US are getting rid of librarians, closing libraries, moving away from the written word – these have been blessings that make the rest of the issues worth it.

libraries

If you’re thinking about working in an International School library, do your homework. We are research specialists, after all! Find out about staffing, budgets, PD opportunities, leadership roles, curriculum, attitudes toward the library and the challenges the current librarian faces. You know which of things these are most important to you, what you can handle and what’s a deal breaker. Automating an entire collection was not how I wanted to spend my time as a Teacher Librarian, but perhaps the thought excites you. Find the right fit for what you are looking for in your international experience, where you are in your career, and what fits your strengths.

The International School Community website has great resources to help you do this! See below for specifics on how to use the comment search to find information about libraries.

My last bit of advice – find a network! Librarians are often the lone librarian in a school or part of a small team. It’s important to find the connections and support of other librarians. Because most international schools are in big cities, there are often other international school librarians nearby to connect with. There are also regional associations – your school should be able to point you towards the ones they participate in.

There are always other librarians who have dealt with the same issues, solved the same problems, created the same resources, etc. And I’ve found the librarian community to be great at sharing, commiserating with and supporting one another. Some personal favorites are the Int’l School Library Connection Facebook group and the ECIS iSkoodle listserv. AND – most excitingly – the ECIS Triennial Librarian Conference is in February 2018 in Chennai, India. International school librarians from all over the world will come together to learn from each other, get inspired by each other, and learn how we can continue to be Leaders in our school communities. Please join us!

This article was submitted to us by an International School Community member.

Using our unique Comment Search feature on our website (premium membership access needed), we found 61 comments that have the keyword “library” in them, and 20 comments that had the word “libraries” in them.

Here are some comments that shown a positive light on the library and their international schools:

“The library department recently got a lot of money to do some renovations which were done this past summer. It is almost complete and looks very nice.” International School of Tanganyika

“The SIS library supports the school curriculum, promotes the appreciation of literature, and guides all its patrons in information problem-solving with over 28,000 print and electronic resources.” – Surabaya Intercultural School

“The library also is great because we have 25,000 books for such a small sized school, in English and Italian.” – The Bilingual School of Monza

“The library has a new video viewing room that is useful for a small class of IB Film Making, or webinars, or our face to faith programme.” – Sekolah Victory Plus

and here are a few comments that stated their school library was in need of updating or some tender-loving care:

“The school’s library was very small and I was given no materials to use to teach language arts and social studies. Picture books were essential for my young learners and if you can, bring them from the states.” – Antigua International School Guatemala

“There are text books for main subjects but the media library resources are next to nil and specialists have zero to bare basics.” – Jeddah Knowledge International School

“No library for middle of high school!” – Canadian International School (Tokyo)

“There are more computers in the library but some are so old they still run Windows XP!” – EtonHouse International Schools, Wuxi

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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?!

bulgaria
• 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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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.

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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.

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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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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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Traveling Around

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

April 21, 2017


Traveling Around: Madrid

Madrid
Can you relate?

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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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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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight #36: Cassandra Anthony (A teacher at Stamford American International School)

March 11, 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 Cassandra White:

member spotlightTell us about your background.  Where are you from?

I’m originally from Sydney, Australia however as a child I lived in both Germany and the UK for various amounts of time. I first did a Music degree at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, followed by a Graduate Diploma of Education at the University of New England, Australia. A couple of years after this, with an interest in Education Psychology which had been piqued whilst studying Music Education at the Conservatorium, I decided to do a Masters of Arts (Music Psychology in Education), at the University of Sheffield, UK. This masters degree really opened my eyes to the world of Academia as well and I’m currently halfway through a PhD in Music Education at the University of Queensland, Australia. I guess you could say I’m the eternal student!

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

The travel bug hit me big time in my early 20’s and I travelled extensively around Europe, Asia, the USA and Africa. I became very interested in the International School scene after meeting a music teacher who worked at WAB in Beijing and had been international for the last 15 years, this really opened my eyes to what could be an amazing lifestyle overseas whilst still teaching. This friend kept me in the loop of ‘good’ jobs that were coming up in various countries but due to study commitments, it wasn’t until I was 30 that I was truly ready to embark on an International School journey. I found my job on the schools website and applied, within a month I had a job interview and a job offer a few days after that. It was definitely a case of right place, right time for me.

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.

member spotlightI began working at Stamford American International School, Singapore in August last year. I have close friends who live in Singapore and have visited them very regularly so knew that Singapore was an ideal ‘first international school’ country for me. SAIS is an IB world school which also follows the AERO (American Education Reaches Out) standards, this was my first IB PYP experience and it’s been a learning curve but I absolutely love inquiry education and I’ve learnt so much in my first 8 months already. My school has a huge mix of nationalities, Americans, Canadians, Brits, Aussies, New Zealanders, as well as several other nationalities. It’s a cultural melting pot and it’s one of my favourite aspects of the school. My school is quite large with over 3000 students from 2 years-grade 12. The students are exposed to a wide variety of CCA’s and they have a Global Mentors Program which brings leaders in various fields to the school to give presentations and engage with the students, already this year we have had a Nobel Laureate, a Real Madrid soccer player and the ex-flautist of the London Symphony Orchestra visiting the school! 

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

Singapore is a unique place, a lot of people say it’s boring but there is so much to do here! I have funny cultural interactions with my colleagues a lot, I share my classroom with an American teacher and she has learnt a lot of Aussie slang from me! The first time I described a lesson as a ‘ripper’ she looked very concerned until I explained a ‘ripper’ meant a great lesson, it still makes me laugh! I can’t convince her to like vegemite for breakfast but she does love weetbix now! 

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

DO YOUR RESEARCH! I read as many reviews as I could possibly find about the school, read the good, the bad and the ugly so you can make the most informed choice. Find out about the professional development opportunities (ie if you’re new to a curriculum, will they send you on training?). Good leadership is also essential, ideally you want those in positions of authority to have several years of classroom experience behind them so they can be supportive of decisions for staff as well as students. The internet is such a powerful research tool now, use google maps and google images to find out about the location of the school, if there is accommodation nearby that is affordable or will you need to spend a lot of time in transit to and from, check out expat forums to get an idea of salary or prices of food/travel/transport. 

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

Exhilarating, Challenging, Adventurous, Broadening, Inspiring

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Thanks Cassandra!

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 one year free of premium access to our website!

Want to work for an international school in the Singapore like Cassandra?  Currently, we have 24 international schools listed in Singapore on International School Community. 13 of them have had comments submitted on their profiles. Here are just a few of them:

EtonHouse International School (Singapore) (Singapore, Singapore)30 Comments
International School Singapore (Singapore, Singapore)17 Comments
Nexus International School (Singapore, Singapore)22 Comments
One World International School (Singapore, Singapore)16 Comments
Overseas Family School Singapore (Singapore, Singapore)26 Comments
Singapore American School (Singapore, Singapore)44 Comments
Stamford American International School (Singapore, Singapore)47 Comments

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Comparing the Schools and Comments

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Cambodia

February 5, 2017


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.

Cambodia

Cambodia

Currently, we have 14 schools listed in Cambodia on International School Community.

9 schools have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few that have the most submitted comments:

Footprints International School (Phnom Penh, Cambodia)38 Comments
Hope International School (Phnom Penh, Cambodia)6 Comments
Ican British International School (Phnom Penh, Cambodia)64 Comments
International School of Phnom Penh (ISPP) (Phnom Penh, Cambodia)10 Comments
Logos International School (Phnom Penh, Cambodia)6 Comments
Northbridge International School (Phnom Penh, Cambodia)33 Comments
The Liger Learning Center (Phnom Penh, Cambodia)14 Comments
Western International School (Phnom Penh) (Phnom Penh, Cambodia)2 Comments
Jay Pritzker Academy (Siem Reap, Cambodia)23 Comments

Housing

“When you first arrive you get up to 10 days local housing on arrival, then you get $700 a month for a housing allowance.” – Jay Pritzker Academy

“Housing allowance is provided which, depending on where you want to live and what standard of housing you require, can cover part or entire cost of housing. If you share or live in more local style options, you can even save some of the allowance.” – Northbridge International School

“Annual housing allowance is Single $7920, Couple/Family – $12100.” – International School of Phnom Penh (ISPP)

Cambodia

School Campus

“The Middle Years area has just been renovated to accommodate more students and create an outdoor basketball space on the roof. Grounds are geared towards primary school as this is the majority of students, and are very nice, however it is nice to have more for the older students now.” – Ican British International School

“The campus grounds span 11 hectares in countryside surroundings. The campus blends modern and traditional architecture. It is surrounded by padi fields.” – Jay Pritzker Academy

“New hub building for library and administration, new Primary buildings and renovated Secondary building. The setting is lovely on 8 green hectares (20 acres) of campus with well maintained gardens. Nice new playgrounds and use of pool attached to adjacent Northbridge communities.” – Northbridge International School

Types of Budgets for Teachers

“No budget to speak of. Annual ordering from overseas has to be approved by relevant Principal.” – International School of Phnom Penh (ISPP)

“Budgets for resources are never an issue – if you have a good reason for purchasing something and can demonstrate the learning that it will support then you are generally approved. Art, Maths and Science materials are often ordered in from overseas and are of high quality.” – Ican British International School

“About $80/term (3 terms)” – Footprints International School

“Budgets are tightly controlled and not transparent. The accounting and purchasing systems are very difficult to negotiate.” – Northbridge International School

Cambodia

Kinds of Teachers that Work There

“1/2 of the teachers are from USA or Canada, with only a few being from the UK. The rest are Cambodian.” – Jay Pritzker Academy

“All of the teachers need to be degree qualified and registered teachers in their home countries. With the exception of language teachers, they need to have native or near native speaking level of English as this is the language of instruction. Almost all admin and support staff are local. Staff turnover is fairly high.” – Northbridge International School

“There are a few core teachers who have been there for years, and a lot of teachers on two-year contracts. Some stay for three. All are internationally qualified, some are locally hired, more internationally.” – Ican British International School

“13 nationalities – Filipino, American, Canadian, Australian, British, Cambodian – quite the mix.” – Footprints International School

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

Cambodia

If you work at an international school in Cambodia, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited 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

ukraine
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.

ukraine ukraine

• 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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Photo Contests

New Photo Contest: What Does Christmas Look Like in Your Host Country?

December 4, 2016


A number of countries around the world celebrate the Christmas holiday season. Though some cities celebrate in similar ways to your home country, other cities in the world do it in their own unique and special way.

Even cities that don’t get much snow put up decorations. It might be that stores just want to get your attention to come into their stores and buy things, but these holiday decorations help make the holiday season brighter and more joyful for its citizens (especially for the expat community living there).

Being away from friends and family during this time of the year is difficult, so having something to remind you of your home is a good thing. You try to keep some of your Christmas holiday traditions while living abroad, but inevitably you always create some new ones.

So, how does your host country celebrate the Christmas holiday season?  Submit your photo to us and enter our photo contest! All participants receive free premium membership to our website!

photo contest

Christmas decorations in Shanghai, China

Photo contest topic:
Your best photo on how your host country celebrates the Christmas season/holiday

The PRIZES:
1st prize: 2 YEARS FREE of premium membership
2nd prize: 1 YEAR FREE of premium membership
3rd prize: 6 MONTHS FREE of premium membership

(Those submissions that are not in the top three will receive 1 free week of premium membership just for participating.)

Send your photo to editor @ internationalschoolcommunity.com. Please remember to:

• Write your name and email address
• Attach your picture and write a short description about it
• Enter these words in your subject: International School Community Photo Contest Entry: Christmas season

or

Tweet the photo and mention our profile @IS_Community to make sure we will see it. If you are on Instagram, use the official hashtag #iscommunityphoto

(Deadline to submit your photo: 18 December, 2016. Maximum one photo entry per contestant.)

Check out our previous Photo Contests here.

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Top 10 Lists

12 Ways to Make a Successful and Effective International School Teacher Regional Conference

November 24, 2016


Typically in an international school teacher’s career he/she gets a chance to attend a regional international school teacher conference as part of their PD benefit.

There is ECIS (the Educational Collaborative of International Schools), which is mostly for international schools in Europe.

There is also EARCOS (the East Asia Regional Council of Schools), AISA for those in Africa and AASSA for the international educators in South America.

conference
But how do you best make these annual conferences very useful and worthwhile (i.e. ones people will want to attend)? At some of these annual international school teacher conferences there is a pattern of declining attendance amongst the participating educators.  So, now is the time to really have a good think about what makes them relevant PD events that people want to attend.

Here are some of the possible ways to make international school teacher regional conferences successful and effective:

1. Provide more opportunities to network during the event.

One of the best places to mix and mingle with your nearby international school colleagues is definitely at an international school annual regional conference. Although the content and theme of the conference is important, one main reason people attend is to network. Conference participants need time in the schedule to mix and mingle with the other attendees. Whether it happens during scheduled break times or not, participants will appreciate a conference schedule that gives them the chance and opportunity to get acquainted with each other and meet new people in the international school community

2. Make sure the registration fee is a price that is reasonable.

Unfortunately, PD budgets at many international schools are feeling the pinch. If the conference fee is too high that will of course cause a number of teachers and administrators to not come anymore. Holding a regional conference at a school is often cheaper than renting out a conference center, so that is one way conference organizers can help keep the fees lowered. Another option is to hold the conference in a country where they costs are lower, where they don’t need to pay so much for renting out the conference center or pay the regional tax (e.g. you don’t need to charge European VAT fees if the conference is held in a non-EU country, for example).

conference

3. Choose a desirable host location.

Let’s face it, location is everything when going on a PD opportunity. Part of attending an international school teacher regional conference is also exploring and enjoying the host city.  The conference organizers themselves can facilitate a cultural excursion as part of the conference package (usually at an additional cost), or they can provide information to the participants themselves so that they can explore on their own. Not only is the city of the conference important, but also the location of the conference within the host city. It is no good being so far away from the center of the city, for example, as the majority of participants will want easy and quick access to it. Either they are staying in a hotel in the city center or they will want to go there to explore after a day’s worth of attending presentations and break-out sessions.

4. Include a delicious lunch and snacks.

After a day of workshops and keynote speakers, having a delicious lunch is just what you need. If the food is more like an after thought, then that will affect the mindset of conference participants. Having bag lunches available is not the best choice, as they tend to be served cold and participants might not think they are getting their money’s worth. Conference organizers must work with their host site and make sure they will be providing a worth-while and tasty lunch, one that they also cater to different people’s dietary needs. Keeping conference participants nourished is a great way to help keep morale up and brains focused on the new learning that is happening.

5. Incorporate a healthy balance of invited speakers and teacher presenters.

What is the best balance to have?  Would you like more invited speakers when you go to a conference or would you prefer more teacher presenters? Invited speakers often present about big ideas and concepts to inspire your teaching (mostly indirectly), but teacher presenters typically present things that are more hands-on and directly linked to your classroom lessons.  It is definitely good to have both the theory and the practice so that teachers stay focused and inspired during the conference.

6. Create a conference schedule is easy to follow and one that makes sense.

As you plan a conference, you want it to be the best one ever. Trying new ways of organizing each day to maximize learning can be a challenge. Making sure the schedule makes sense is paramount. It is no good creating a complicated one that leaves people frustrated. A schedule that is easy to follow, which allows participants to maximize their time at the conference, will be well-appreciated!

7. Don’t have too many new initiatives at one time.

It is good to try these new strategies, but it is also important to not go overboard and confuse conference participants. You don’t want to arrive at a workshop session and have the presenter mention their confusion about what type of session they are actually doing. Also, it is not advisable to use a lot of new ‘buzz words’ or worse, newly created words used just for that specific conference.

8. Respond back to all conference registrants in a timely manner.

From before you register to all the way up to the conference itself, it is important to keep good communication with non-registered and registered people. Getting answers to your questions helps make sure everyone is content and up-to-date with the latest information. Not getting a reply to your email can lead to confusion not just about the conference details, but about the organization itself; the company organizing the conference.

9. Help teachers create meaningful and relevant links and connections to their classrooms.

Knowing about the conference participants’ backgrounds and schools is important so that the conference can better tailor their presentations to them.  Because most, if not all, conference participants are coming from a variety of international schools around the world, then the presenters should either reflect those people or have a good background knowledge of their situation. Conference participants are looking for real ways to apply new knowledge learned during presentations. Many conference presenters know this already and have designed their presentations accordingly. However, there are still a number of presenters that include very few connections and links to the classroom.

conference

10. Provide a forum where conference attendees can discuss the conference theme and its presentations. 

Sometimes 45-60 minutes isn’t enough time to really discuss and debate everything you would like to in a conference presentation. In turn, why not make sure to provide the conference participants with a forum to keep the discussion going. Maybe the conference could help to facilitate some kind of a forum where attendees to a presentation can continue their learning and questioning. In this way, people can keep the presentation topic and issues at the forefront of their thinking and not quickly forget their new learning.

11. Provide support and guidance after the conference by helping past participants in their quest to share new learning with their own school. 

There are still a number of international schools that require their teachers to share their new learning at their school, when they get back after a PD event. It all sounds like a great plan, to justify the school’s money spent on a PD opportunity for their teacher. But sharing what you’ve learned with a bunch a people who weren’t there with you can be tricky. Additionally, there is hardly any real-time to do this kind of PD at your school. One solution to help facilitate this “sharing of new learning” could come from the conference itself. Maybe the conference and/or the conference presenters could plan ahead and help prepare supportive materials to help you get prepared.  They could help make sure to discuss with their member school administration the idea of setting aside meeting time to allow for conference participants to share their new learning at their schools. A joint ownership of this sharing part could prove to be helpful and beneficial.

12. Choose a conference venue with some character

There is nothing worse than being in a conference site and it not inspiring you. If it is held in a school, that is one thing. But if it is at a conference center or a hotel, then it should be one that is well-situated and cosy. Boring decor and a boring layout of break-out rooms are unattractive and uninspiring. Conferences held in modern, light spaces can bring a good energy to the presentations and transition times when walking from session to session. After listening to an inspiring presentation, it is also ideal to have some hideaway places to sit down and chat with your colleagues or newly made contacts.

conference

There is much work to do and things to think about when planning a conference. It appears that you need to balance what has worked well for the conference in the past and mix those things with a few new initiatives.  International school teacher regional Conferences have been around for decades now, but are they still relevant? That is the question that these organizations need to answer. If they are still relevant, then as they plan for and organize future regional conferences, they might want to keep these 12 helpful tips in mind.

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Blogs of International Teachers

International School Teacher Blogs: “Jazzystan” (Two teachers that work in Kazakhstan)

November 17, 2016


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

Our 46th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Jazzystan”  Check out the blog entries of these international school educators who work in Kazakhstan

teacher blog

A few entries that we would like to highlight:

Ode to the Almaty Pigeon Market

“Last Sunday, Anna and I had our good friends Frankie and Keith to visit from Bishkek, where they have recently moved. Keith used to live in Almaty and Frankie had been before so it was trickier to wow them with the ‘go-to’ visitor activities. (The top choices being Big Almaty Lake, Kok Tobe etc. which are great by the way.) So we decided to go a pigeon market we’d heard of. We have actually tried to go to this pigeon market a number of times but always end up lolling about having brunch and missing it as it closes at 12. But, finally, we made it there and it was definitely worth the wait.

The market is right next to Kazan Cathedral, the oldest Orthodox Cathedral in Almaty, debating back to 1854. The cathedral is plainer than most orthodox churches I have visited before and has a refreshing amount of fresh flowers. It is also home to a cat and a small but nifty little gift shop. I’d highly recommend the gift shop if you really like gold things with saints faces on which I really, really do. To work out where church is- check out the map on this Tripadvisor page…”

How fun to visit the local markets in your host country. You really get a firsthand look at the locals and what they are buying and selling. Of course, the best ones are the ones that are selling things that you would consider a bit strange; crickets, exotic animals, and pigeons!

After searching the keyword “market” on our Comment Search page, we found 76 comments. Here is one of them from Qatar Academy (Sidra): “Once the weather cools, there is an outdoor market next MIA (museum of Islamic Art) they sell food from around the world – Indian, Arabic, Thai, American, etc…clothes, art, knick knacks. It’s a nice way to spend the weekend outside, it’s one of the largest green spaces in Qatar and great for families too. I generally bring a blanket and a book during the winter months when it’s not hot and the sun isn’t intense for long periods of time (though there are shaded areas too.)”

 

“Most people in Almaty are bilingual and many speak three or four languages. The two big languages in the city are Russian and Kazakh. Linguistically unrelated, Russian is a Slavic language whereas Kazakh is Turkic. Kazakh is on the rise but in central Almaty Russian is the language you hear floating around the streets. Both are written in the Cyrillic alphabet but Kazakh has some bonus letters added. In 2015, the Minster of Sports and Culture announced that there would be a gradual move to transfer Kazakh into the Latin alphabet. We hope this doesn’t happen. The Uzbek government has been promoting the use of the Uzbek in the Latin script since the early 2000s.  However, the strange mixture of Cyrillic and Latin Uzbek all over Tashkent hurt our eyes and brains.

It is interesting the language abilities of the local people. Good to know about these abilities before you move there so you can get prepared. Luckily, we have a comment topic related to the language of the local people. It is called: “Languages of the host city and the level of English spoken there.” Here is a sample comment from this topic from Alexandria International Academy: “Language in Egypt is Egyptian Arabic. Many younger people people some English, though the level is usually fairly low. It’s generally easy enough to get around with a basic understanding of Arabic, but the locals can tend not to be very helpful when language difficulties arise.”

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Want to work for an international school in Kazakhstan like these bloggers?  Currently, we have 17 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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Information for Members

Analyzing the School Profiles on International School Community

November 7, 2016


Using the School Profile Search feature on the main homepage of International School Community, we found the following stats about the 1948 international schools currently listed on our website.  (Updated from our September 2015 statistics – 101 more schools!)

school profile

Total Schools with Comments: 922
Asia: 51
Caribbean: 22
Central America: 29
East Asia: 177
Eastern Europe: 52
Middle East: 127
North Africa: 35
North America: 40
Oceania: 5
SE Asia: 136
South America: 59
Sub-Saharan Africa: 58
Western Europe: 131

(East Asia has the most school profiles that have had comments submitted on them. 2nd place is almost a three-way tie with Western Europe, SE Asia and Middle East.)

Age of School:
Schools more than 51 years old: 427 ( 34)
Schools from 16-50 years old: 722 ( 33)
Schools from 0-15 years old: 799 ( 34)

(Our school database continues to grow!  We have increased around 30 some schools in all age categories.)

School Curriculum:
UK curriculum: 680 ( 50)
USA curriculum: 700 ( 68)
DP curriculum: 573 ( 23)

(The UK and USA curricula school continue to dominate our website.  On the other hand the DP schools represented on our website are becoming almost equal to those two.)

School Nature:
For-profit schools: 887 ( 93)
Non-profit schools: 1061 ( 8)

(Non-profit schools are still in the lead for international schools represented on International School Community.  For-profit schools are still on the increase though!)

School Region:
Schools in East Asia: 267 ( 18)
Schools in South America: 93 (same)
Schools in Middle East: 261 ( 9)
Schools in Western Europe: 285 ( 13)
Schools in SE Asia: 291 ( 16)

(The winner is now SE Asia, but East Asia, Western Europe and Middle East schools are creeping up. It seems as if there are limited options really if you would like to work at an international school in South America as there just aren’t that many international schools there.)

Number of Students:
Less than 300: 962 ( 64)
300-700: 486 ( 18)
700-1200: 258 ( 6)
More than 1200: 242 ( 13)

(There appears to be more international schools with very small student bodies.)

Feel free to make your own searches based on your criteria on International School Community.  You can search using up to eight different criteria (Region of the world, curriculum, school nature, number of students, country, age of school, metro population and kinds of student).  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!

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: Singapore American School

October 9, 2016


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 Singapore American School (Singapore), described her way to work there as follows:

The road to Singapore American School…

It is no accident that I wake up each morning to sweeping views of the rainforest. Like all SAS teachers new to Singapore, we had to decide if we would live near the school in Woodlands at the northernmost point of the island or commit to more of a commute by living away from campus.  While many teachers make this decision based on their interest in being closer to the city center, we were looking for the opposite!  My family and I decided early on in the relocation process that living close to some sort of green space was a must.  Finding just such a spot in densely populated Singapore which also had all the necessary transport options was a challenge, but not impossible. Though, we do feel a little like we hit the jackpot with our condo.

Singapore American School

The MRT (train system) in Singapore is known for being efficient and punctual, which in my experience is definitely true.  What many people don’t realize is that the bus system is equally so!  I was tipped off by a fellow expat, (thanks Mette) who encouraged us to venture further away from the MRT stations and look for housing with a great bus route.  We hit the jackpot there too! Before we signed the lease, we did a practice run to the school and were very relieved to discover it was easy peasy. We’ve been for a while now and have our commute down to a smooth routine.

Here is our journey to Singapore American School in numbers:

5:15: time the alarm goes off (for the first time)

6:35: time I have to leave in order to make it to school around 7am (nice and early to get a head start on the day)

> 3: number of apps available which track public transport services and tip me off to when my next bus will come by.  On a perfect day, I can leave our condo and stroll to the bus stop just in time to walk onto the bus.  On the less than perfect days, rarely more than 10 minutes passes between busses.

23: number of floors we ride the elevator down. We’re not alone in our highrise living.  According to 2014 Singapore Housing statistics, over 80% of island residents live in HDBs, while a further 13% live in apartments and condos.  This means that a full 93% of the country’s inhabitants live high above the ground.  In that way, we are definitely amongst the majority with our one-floor-shy-of-the-penthouse condo.

up to 2: minutes of elevator time. The bus stop in front of our condo is max 200 meter as the crow flies from our front door, but I inevitably underestimate the vertical commute! Luckily, when I step off the elevator I’m greeted with a lush pool area and I’m reminded of one of the many reasons we made this move.

Singapore American School

26-29: degrees Celsius, the temperature that greets me each early morning as I stroll through aforementioned pool area. The temperatures vary very little here, with an almost daily high of 33 and nighttime low of 26. It’s easy to dress knowing exactly what the weather will be like each day (just remember to pack an umbrella). I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to the constant gloss of sweat, though.

2: number of taps of my school ID card it takes to pay for the bus ride to school-one to get on and one to get off.

S$1.30: bus fare each way

70-80%: passengers sleeping on the bus, head nodded forward or leaned awkwardly against a window.  I’ve noticed sleeping on the bus is a ‘thing’ here.  The result is a truly quiet ride, perfect for getting into the mental zone of the day.

4: languages (Malay, Tamil, Mandarin and English) bus sign are written in which is reflective of the cultural mix on the island.

0: sips of coffee I’ve taken since getting on the bus. I’ll avoid the $500 fine, thank you! I do miss the option of bringing my mug and a snack on the days when I’m running late though.

12-15: total bus ride, in minutes.

4: times per hour the school shuttle departs from Marsiling MRT station to the campus in case you want to skip the…

8: minutes walk between Marsiling MRT and campus.

Approximately 2 out of 5: days in a work-week that I get to witness a beautiful sunrise from the top deck of the bus.  On the days when I’m a little behind schedule, nature reminds me to slow down and enjoy the ride with one of these:

Millions: trees and plants lining the roadside. Singapore prioritizes landscaping in any new building project, roads included. While the result is a very manicured landscape, it certainly beats the concrete jungle. Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest and lived many years in Scandinavia, I do miss a good wild forest though.

Dozens:  motorcycles and scooters zooming by, weaving in and out of traffic, sometimes erratically.  

1*26’: distance of school from the equator. Because Singapore sits so close to the equator, the day is consistently 12hrs long: sun up 7:15ish, sundown 19:15ish.

At least 10: school busses backed up at the intersection leading to the school. Something like 80% of students arrive on school busses each morning. That requires dozens of busses and quite complex logistics. It works though, like a well-oiled machine.

7-8: security guards smiling, waving, standing watch at the school’s well-guarded main entrance.

S$2.50-4: price of a tasty Hawker Center meal. A bonus of the walk back to the bus stop from school in the afternoon is passing through the local Hawker Center where very inexpensive and tasty local food can be had.  Good for those late afternoons when the thought of cooking is just too much!

approx S$10: cost of a taxi home on the days that I can’t take the thought of an 8 minute walk to the bus stop after a loooong day. Taxis are relatively inexpensive here, especially compared to owning a car (astronomical, and purposely in order to keep the number of cars down). On taxi days, I’m home in less than 10 minutes.

There are days now and then when I wish we’d chosen to live in the neighborhood close to school. They are, however, far outnumbered by the days I look out over the jungle and am thankful that we stumbled upon this little gem. And, that all the numbers add up to a pleasant journey and a smooth start to our school 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 Singapore?  Out of a total of 24 international schools we have listed in Singapore, 13 that have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

EtonHouse International School (Singapore) (Singapore, Singapore)30 Comments

International School Singapore (Singapore, Singapore)17 Comments

Nexus International School (Singapore, Singapore)22 Comments

One World International School (Singapore, Singapore)16 Comments

Overseas Family School Singapore (Singapore, Singapore)26 Comments

Singapore American School (Singapore, Singapore)38 Comments

Stamford American International School (Singapore, Singapore)40 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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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: Xian Hi-Tech International School in China

August 27, 2016


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 Xian Hi-Tech International School (Xian, China), described his way to work there as follows:

The road to XHIS…….

This is going to sound terribly stereotypical but one of the many reasons I love living in Shaanxi province is the potatoes! Now can you guess where I come from? I will tell you later. My journey to work each day is a very short one, but my journey to Xi’an has been a long one. I hope you enjoy reading about it.

journey to Xian Hi-Tech International School

My name is Brian Lalor and I am in my third year at Xi’an Hi-Tech International School, in Shaanxi province in China. We are a two programme IB world school and are working towards offering three of the four excellent IB programmes. Our school is small at present with only 270 students but we are at capacity and have an exciting move to a new purpose-built campus coming up in August 2017.

journey to Xian Hi-Tech International School

Each morning I get up and travel about four minutes to school! I know, the shortest ever commute, right? Our school is situated in residential area and all of our teachers’ apartments are located around the school. We are about 30 minutes from the city center in the southern suburbs. I ride my bicycle to school each day, that is why my journey is so short.

journey to Xian Hi-Tech International School

On my journey to school I pass through the morning market. Here local vendors sell fruit, vegetables, nuts and breads for very reasonable prices. One of the wonderful advantages to living in Xi’an is the potential to save money. It is much easier to live here when compared to other big cities such as Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong. Our school pays for our apartment, flights, international health insurance and gives us a monthly allowance for living overseas. Before coming to Xi’an I worked in Ha Noi for nine years, and in Jakarta before that. Each city has its own advantages and disadvantages. The main disadvantages living in Xi’an are the standard of healthcare and the bad pollution in Winter.

journey to Xian Hi-Tech International School

Some of the wonders Xi’an has to offer are as follows. We are literally just a short 25-minute car ride to the beautiful Qin Ling Mountains which provides us with a great way to escape the heat in summer and some lovely snowy landscapes in winter. Another highly attractive feature unique to this city, is its amazing millenary history, with archaeological sites found literally in every part of town, with the city wall being one of its main attractions. And who hasn’t heard of the world-famous “Terra Cota Warriors”. Xi’an was once the ancient capital of China so as you can imagine there are lots to see in and around the community.

If you have not guessed it I am born and bread Irish. Oh those lovely potatoes! The food here is incredible and you could literally have a potato dish, every day of the week. Some noodles are even made out of potato here!

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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 China?  Out of a total of 165 international schools there are 110 that have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

Beijing BISS International School (Beijing, China)36 Comments

Beijing City International School (Beijing, China)31 Comments

Beijing International Bilingual Academy (Beijing, China)35 Comments

International School of Beijing (Beijing, China)25 Comments

Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (Beijing, China)95 Comments

Western Academy Beijing (Beijing, China)43 Comments

Changchun American International School (Changchun, China)50 Comments

QSI International School of Dongguan (Dongguan, China)64 Comments

Guangdong Country Garden School (Foshan, China)48 Comments

Guangzhou Huamei International School (Guangzhou, China)48 Comments

Harbin No. 9 High School International Division (Songbei Campus) (Harbin, China)45 Comments

American International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China)24 Comments

Canadian International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China)69 Comments

Creative Secondary School (Hong Kong, China)39 Comments

Hong Kong Academy (Hong Kong, China)34 Comments

Hong Kong International School (Hong Kong, China)104 Comments

Canadian International School Kunshan (Kunshan, China)28 Comments

Kang Chiao International School (Kunshan, China)41 Comments

Access International Academy (Ningbo) (Ningbo, China)48 Comments

British International School Shanghai – Puxi (Shanghai, China)35 Comments

Concordia International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China)86 Comments

Shanghai American School – Puxi (Shanghai, China)39 Comments

Shanghai Community International School (Shanghai, China)33 Comments

Shanghai Rego International School (CLOSED) (Shanghai, China)74 Comments

Shanghai United International School (Shanghai, China)40 Comments

Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China)204 Comments

Yew Chung International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China)27 Comments

Buena Vista Concordia International School (Shenzhen, China)39 Comments

International School of Nanshan Shenzhen (Shenzhen, China)26 Comments

QSI International School of Shekou (Shenzhen, China)20 Comments

Suzhou Singapore International School (Suzhou, China)47 Comments

Wellington College International Tianjin (Tianjin, China)54 Comments

EtonHouse International Schools, Wuxi (Wuxi, China)49 Comments

Xian Hi-Tech International School (Xian, China)54 Comments

Zhuhai International School (Zhuhai, China)59 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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Highlighted Articles

The Finland Phenomenon – Inside the World’s Most Successful School Systems

August 21, 2016


Finland’s Education System has been the toast of the Education World with educators from all of the world all wanting to know what makes its tick & also one of the best systems in world, here is why…

Finland

WHY FINLAND EDUCATION

A little over 4 decades ago, Finland transformed its education system as part of the country’s economic recovery plan. Finnish students had become the best young readers by the time the 2000 Program for International Student Assessment (a global standardized test for 15-year-olds) results were published. Three years later, Finnish students led global students in Math, and by 2006 they were doing it again in science. Perhaps more important than their PISA results, however, was the take home that the Finnish school system is one of the most equitable in the world, i.e. performance variation among students in schools remains small.

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Success of the Finnish education is based on providing equal opportunities for all. This means that in everyday school work the individual characteristics of everybody, including the strongest and weakest pupils, are taken into account. Providing equal opportunities for all results in even learning out comes as it does not depend on the geographical location or size of the schools nor pupil’s socio-economic background.

Finland
The success of providing equal opportunities for all is attested by the Finnish students’ performance in high level in all domains in PISA studies. An exceptionally small share of students are at the lowest proficiency level and there are relatively small differences between schools across the country.

Finland’s excellent learning outcomes are the result of research-based pedagogy and its innovative approach to teaching and learning. This pedagogy and the methods can be applied in different countries and societies, they are not based on the characteristics of the Finnish society. In Finland, teaching in not based on a specific religion or philosophy, thus the pedagogical approached used can be applied in various settings and societies.

Finland

In a study of the parents’ satisfaction on the quality of education and care in Qatar-Finland International School (established in Doha, Qatar in 2014) It was found that the parents were very satisfied with the quality of education and care. As quality elements parents emphasized enjoyment of the child, teaching methods, characteristics of the teachers and positive experience of home-school collaboration. The operations in Qatar-Finland FinlandInternational School are based on the Finnish National Core Curriculum but it is adapted to the Qatari standards and context. In the study no statistically significant difference between nationalities were found. In the study the parents also expressed satisfaction with the individualized learning possibilities and differentiated teaching. The findings of the study support the statement that the Finnish quality criteria responds to and can be adapted to the international education requirements.

Here are some links that you may find of interest:

1. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/top-20-education-systems-countries-20152016-anupam-vaid?trk=hp-feed-article-title-publish

2. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-finland-has-best-schools-anupam-vaid?published=t

3. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/11-ways-finlands-education-system-shows-us-less-more-anupam-vaid?published=t

4. http://hechingerreport.org/how-finland-broke-every-rule-and-created-a-top-school-system/

5. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/why-are-finlands-schools-successful-49859555/?no-ist

6. http://www.koulugroup.com/finnish-education/

Finland

This article was submitted by a guest author Anupam Viad, General Manager of Travel to Learn.

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Traveling Around

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

August 14, 2016


Traveling Around: Slovenia

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Can you relate?

• Enjoying a nice walk along the river that runs through the city of Ljubiana. I definitely had thoughts that it would be nice to live here in this city.
• Loving that the symbol of Ljubiana is the dragon. I quite enjoyed the cool sculptures of dragons on one of the bridges going over the main river, Ljubljanica.
• Walking across the whole city, from our airbnb, to go to a restaurant that we had planned to check out only to find out that they had run out of food already. We never went back there!
• Running into a food fair in the center of the city. The food fair was very unique and had stands that sold so many different, delicious cuisines. We found out that the next day had another, different food fair in the same spot. We went back again the following day to check it out. 🙂

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• Renting a car and doing day trips in and out of Ljubiana. Enjoying the freedom of having a car, but as I was the driver, I couldn’t fully enjoy the beautiful views of all the mountains and landscapes.  It is dangerous trying to take pictures and drive at the same time!
• The level of English of Slovenian people is quite high. Everywhere we traveled to in the country had locals that could speak in at least a conversational level of English.
• Going up at just the right time to enjoy the views of the Ljubljana Castle, which you can see from basically every part of the city. We went during the sunset.
• Appreciating the older buildings throughout the city, with their colorful facades and intricate designs. I wonder why we don’t make such cool buildings any more for our cities. They really make a city special and unique. Plus, they are great to look at and I would imagine they would make the locals very proud to live there.
• Checking out all the graffiti around the city. I wonder who are the people who actually do this graffiti. I would feel so bad defacing city property. Well some people don’t see it that way, but some day I would guess. I suppose the graffiti artists think they are making boring buildings more beautiful to look at.
• Loving the beautiful weather that we luckily got during our trip here. The view from our top floor airbnb was great!  The fresh, clean air too was very nice.
• It’s true that Slovenia really has everything. It has a seaside on the Mediterranean, which isn’t too far away (Piran is a super cool city). It also has mountains (the ALPS) which are awesome to look at. Plus their climate isn’t that bad either.  The nature on offer is just unbelievable. We found a number of amazing spots with great landscape views, and there weren’t hardly any other people around. Very serene!
• If there is one place that you should definitely go on your trip here, it is Lake Bled. This place and area is just so beautiful. It is truly like a storybook fairytale there. Loved it!

slovenia slovenia

Currently we have 105 international schools listed in Eastern Europe on International School Community. 52 of them have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of those schools:

• American International School of Zagreb (Zagreb, Croatia)29 Comments
• International School of Latvia (Riga, Latvia)33 Comments
• 
Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia)66 Comments
• 
Pechersk School International (Kyiv, Ukraine)51 Comments
• 
International School of Belgrade (Belgrade, Serbia)34 Comments
• 
Wroclaw International School (Wroclaw, Poland)46 Comments
• 
American School of Warsaw (Warsaw, Poland)74 Comments
• 
QSI International School of Ljubljana (Ljubljana, Slovenia)9 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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Blogs of International Teachers

International School Teacher Blogs: “ 2seetheglobe” (A teaching couple that work at American International School Bamako in Mali)

July 13, 2016


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

Our 45th blog that we would like to highlight is called “2seetheglobe”  Check out the blog entries of this international school educator who works at American International School Bamako in Bamako, Mali.

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A few entries that we would like to highlight:

Chapter 18: That’s MALI. With an M. And no AW.

“Bali, not Mali.

A year ago we signed a contract to teach in Mali, an African country that nobody had heard of before. People assumed we said Bali, even though it’s not a country and nowhere near Africa. But it does rhyme.

Or they thought we were heading to Malawi. It was also an obscure African nation, well, until Madonna adopted David Banda and Chifundo there and it was featured on E Entertainment News and in scholarly magazines like People, Us, and Star (whose current cover screams “It’s Demi! Cougar Goes Wild in Mexico: THE SEX WAS VERY LOUD”).

Then people would ask US, “What’s Mali close to?” And we would mention neighboring countries such as Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Mauritania. And they would do that nod-without-actually-understanding-what was just-said thing…”

It is sometimes a challenge for your home country friends and family to completely understand your life abroad, especially if you are living in a country that nobody has even heard of before (or maybe heard of once on a tv news channel maybe).  For another interesting article related to this topic, check our our own blog article called “Going home for the holidays: No one cares about your international life!“.

Chapter 29: I’d Rather Get a Root Canal in Mali Than Teach in the U.S.

Last year, during a severe sugar craving bout,  I found an old piece of hard candy in my desk at school. Despite the fact that this red sticky thing was probably manufactured back when Mali became a country in 1960, I still popped it into my mouth. Then it got stuck on my lower molars, and upon disengaging it I also yanked off a crown.

This is not a good situation to be in when you live in a developing country where some

dental work occurs roadside. But lo and behold, I discovered a Lebanese dentist (raised in Senegal) who operated a modern, dental practice in an actual building near our school, and he had a number of our students as patients. So off I went to have him reattach the old crown which I was sure would take ten minutes. Except the old crown was cracked and he needed to make a new one. And then he discovered that a root canal had not been done on that old tooth (thank you crappy Florida dentist).

So long story short, he did the root canal (even finding a 4th root which he said was rare)…

Having a medical emergency while living abroad can be an international school teacher’s worst nightmare come true. Though most often than not, you will be able to figure out a plan to get your medical situation resolved, the process in doing so will most likely be stressful. 

Check out some of our submitted comments regarding health benefits and experiences using the host country health care system in one of our our past surveys called How is your experience using your health insurance and medical benefits?” 

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Want to work for an international school in China like this blogger?  Currently, we have 162 international schools listed in this country. 58 have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

Kampala International School (Kampala, Uganda)50 Comments

American International School of Lusaka (Lusaka, Zambia)45 Comments

The School of St. Jude (Arusha, Tanzania)18 Comments

International School of Tanganyika (Dar es salaam, Tanzania)143 Comments

Khartoum American School (Khartoum, Sudan)23 Comments

Khartoum International Community School (Khartoum, Sudan)65 Comments

The International School of Dakar (Dakar, Senegal)44 Comments

International School of Seychelles (Victoria, Seychelles)18 Comments

TLC International School (Nouakchott, Mauritania)43 Comments

American International School of Mozambique (Maputo, Mozambique)32 Comments

Saint Andrews International High School (Blantyre, Malawi)41 Comments

International School of Kenya (Nairobi, Kenya)46 Comments

International Community School Addis Ababa (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)61 Comments

The American School of Yaounde (Yaounde, Cameroon)26 Comments

The American School of Kinshasa (Kinshasa, Congo (DRC))59 Comments

Additionally, there are a number of International School Community members who currently live in Sub-Saharan Africa. 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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Comment Topic Highlight

How is the school calendar at your international school? Is there ample vacation time?

June 23, 2016


The school calendar is important, no doubt about that! It decides how many days of vacation you get, or course. We work hard, tireless hours during the school year, so we indeed deserve some breaks…and so do the kids!

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But when working at international schools, the school calendar that you are used to in your home country might look a bit different. If the international school is an American one, then the calendar does resemble a typical American public school one. Likewise for UK schools. For Australian international schools, it could either look the same or follow the more northern hemisphere school calendar depending on their location in the world.

But things get much better in international schools because they normally ALSO celebrate or honor the holidays of the host country as well. Double the holidays for teachers (well not really double)! Of course when your school celebrates the host country holidays that means the costs of travel will be high. Not good on your finances. If your international school celebrates your home country holidays though, then that is awesome because host country nationals won’t also be traveling at that time; meaning travel costs should be lower.

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Making a school calendar can be a challenging task for the administration. They need to keep all stake holders pleased. Careful attention needs to be paid to all the different variables that come into play during one year at a school. Otherwise later down the line, once that school year has started, some stakeholders could get upset and confused why things where scheduled and planned the way they were.

It is good to get an idea of what the calendar year will look like for you when considering working at an international school. Then you can get a better insight into what your life will be like that first year there, outside of work.

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to what kind of budgets international schools offer, so you can stay the most informed as possible. It is called: “How is the school calendar?  Is there ample vacation time?

Our veteran international school teachers have submitted a total of 254 comments in this comment topic (June 2016).  Here are a few that have been submitted:

“The school has to follow Mexican law as far as contracted school days. It’s either 208 or 210. Honestly, it’s a pretty brutal work year. For 16/17 staff arrives on Aug. 9 and will be done on June 24. No fall break except for a few days at Thanksgiving.” –American School Foundation of Guadalajara (Guadalajara, Mexico)59 Comments

“Vacations are decided by the administration and it can vary from year to year.” – Good Shepherd International School (Ooty, India)185 Comments

“Point of contention. Clearly we are in a Muslim country so we have to abide by the holidays, but as Ramadan keeps pushing up 2 weeks every year, so does Eid (which usually falls in the first term. But we are in one of those awkward times where Eid is falling the first week of school so that means no break from the start of school until December. There is only one week at xmas this year, because we have to make sure to finish school around the start of Ramadan, it will be too hot to come to school while the kids (majority) will be fasting or they just won’t attend school. We will still have a week in Feb and a week in April. No long weekends here. 3 months off for summer.” – Qatar Academy (Sidra) (Doha, Qatar)47 Comments

“The school calendar was reasonable and vacation time was fantastic.” – Suzhou Singapore International School (Suzhou, China)47 Comments

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Surveys

New Survey: How does your international school compare to other schools in your city?

May 11, 2016


A new survey has arrived!

Topic:  How does your international school compare to other schools in your city?

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Once you move to a city to work at your new international school, you find out pretty soon how your school compares to the other ones in the same city. Who knows how that happens, but it does.

The teachers at the schools labeled the worst feel embarrassed to even bring up their international school in conversation with other international school educators in the area or even throughout the world. In comparison, the teachers at the school labelled the “top” school in the city can have their heads held up high.

So then the question is what makes a school get the top or the worst ranking in the city? At International School Community, we like to think that all schools have something cool about them that makes them unique; which in turn makes them have a great learning environment for their kids.

See our blog article called “What Makes Your International School Unique?” for a look at this topic and also some related comments about a number of international schools around the world.

But it is not just these unique things that get internationals schools to the top or the bottom of the list, it has to do with a combination of different factors. Factors that come into play are the current state of the school’s building and campus, the quality of teachers and teaching, the benefits package for the teacher (the salary), the professional development opportunities, etc.

Though it is true that some cities in the world only have one international school in them, which in turn, I guess makes them the best international school in the city. But other cities in the world (e.g. Bangkok, Shanghai, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, etc.), there are many international schools to choose from (for both parents and teachers). These cities have international schools that are actively competing for the top spot!

So, how does your international school compare to other schools in your city? Please take a moment and submit your vote!

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We have a comment topic related to this survey, except it is comparing international schools with home country ones. It is called: “How is this school different or the same when compared to schools in your home country?

Here are a few sample comments from this comment topic:

“One of the biggest differences between the NIS schools and most other schools around the world is to do with vacations. In many countries, when students are not in school, neither are the teachers, with some exceptions for things like PD Days and report writing, etc.. This is not the case at NIS schools; regardless of whether the students are in school or not, teachers are expected to attend. If a teacher wishes to be absent, she or he must request leave – paid or unpaid. Given that international teachers have a total allowance of 56 days of paid leave (which includes weekend days if they are within the leave period), this can have a serious impact on vacations.” – Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Astana (Astana, Kazakhstan)37 Comments

“It is very much based along English public school lines, but with a strong international flavour and ethos. There are many more nationalities present in the school than you would normally find in an English school.” – St. Julians School (Lisbon, Portugal)9 Comments

“Compared to teaching in the UK this is a dream, as long as you are prepared for the culture shock of living in a small village of thirteen million. Small classes, good behaviour and a genuine interest in study, excellent resources, great quality of life. Admin is less than in the UK although it is creeping up. Some of it good, some of it of limited value (just like the UK). I enjoy my teaching and the travel opportunities this place offers.” – Wellington College International Tianjin (Tianjin, China)54 Comments

“Different: The teacher’s salaries and the new teacher induction and support program are dismal. Same: Budget and lack of professional development opportunities within the school due to very strict labor laws.” – American School of Bilbao (Bilbao, Spain)26 Comments

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Traveling Around

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

May 6, 2016


Traveling Around: Cyprus

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Can you relate?

• Driving on the left side with a steering wheel on your right side and feeling weird by every crossing.
• Thinking it was going to be much warmer than it actually turned out to be. I guess hanging out on the beach was not in the plans.
• Going into the mountainous region in the middle of the country and finding an empty cafe to sit down and have a drink to enjoy the view. We tried a local drink made from almonds. They served it warm like a tea, and it was actually quite tasty.
• Staying the whole time in what was probably the coolest AirBnb I’ve ever seen. This place was so unique and was a refurbished old monastery.
• Our AirBnb host was so great. We wanted to buy the best olive oil on the island and we asked him for his advice. He ended up showing us a secret bottle of olive oil he received from one of his relatives. He said he would ask his relative for another bottle and get it to us during our trip. He ended up just giving us his own bottle!  What a nice guy!
• Very much enjoying the city’s stray cat population. These cats would hang outside our AirBnb as well, mostly during night-time. We tried to feed them some food one night, but they were picky on what they would eat.
• There was a holiday happening in Cyprus during our stay there. They were celebrating the Greek liberation from the Turkish empire. We were so lucky to run into a huge parade. The local military dress was very interesting. Also in the parade were big groups of students, each from a different college. They all had to walk in a very special way, lifting both arms up as they walked down the street.
• Waiting in a long line to get to the Turkish side of the downtown area and watching some people trying to pass without having to show their passports.
• Enjoying the Turkish side of the country, but feeling bad that we didn’t explore more. We rented a car, but we weren’t allowed to drive our car on that side.
• Loving the first breakfast that I had in the country. It was a very cozy restaurant with lots of locals in it. I got served a piece of toast with avocado with asparagus and poached egg on top. Then they drizzled olive oil on top. It was so delicious. Too bad that we never went back to that place.
• Arriving to a seaside town and having to choose a fish restaurant to eat at. The one we ended up sitting down at didn’t serve us at all in like 15 minutes of sitting there. We left and try another restaurant that was full of people. Right when we walked in a table opened up. We sat down and within a minute our order was taken. After another minute we were served our food! The fish dishes were so delicious. It is funny choosing restaurants when traveling. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose.
• Driving off the main road in the mountains to find a beautiful hidden waterfall.
• Coming back to Lefkosia in the night and seeing a huge Turkish flag made of lights on a hill in the Turkish part of the city. During the day, the flag is painted on. Seems like the rivalry between the two nations is still very high.
• Visiting the coastal towns of Limassol and Larnaca, to find many shop and restaurant signs in Russian. It seems like they do a lot of business in Cyprus.
• Stepping into the Mall of Cyprus and getting disappointed how empty does it looked. Maybe the business is better during the summer tourist season?
• Finding out that the capital has two names – Lefkosia and Nicosia. Road signs only say Lefkosia, though.
• Eating healthy breakfast in hip cafes in the central Lefkosia and finding an Icelandic woman’s vegan restaurant in Lefkosia.

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Currently we have 4 international schools listed in Cyprus on International School Community. Here are two that have had comments submitted on them:

•  American International School of Cyprus (27 comments)
•  International School of Paphos (77 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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Blogs of International Teachers

International School Teacher Blogs: “The Roaming Filipina” (A counselor working at Shekou International School in Shenzhen, China)

April 11, 2016


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

Our 44th blog that we would like to highlight is called “The Roaming Filipina”  Check out the blog entries of this international school educator who works at Shekou International School in Shenzhen, China.

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A few entries that we would like to highlight:

How Did I Get Here?

“I attended my first Search fair in Cambridge, MA and came away with interview experience, but no job. ISM even left me a “thanks, but no thanks” note.  Frustrated, but undeterred.  Through that experience I learned that it wasn’t really about moving to the Philippines anymore, but about fulfilling my desire to explore the world.

About 2 weeks after the Cambridge fair, one listing caught my eye.  A listing for a whole school counselor at a school in Uzbekistan. YES UZBEKISTAN.  I waited a day or two to think about whether or not I really wanted to apply to this school.  Afterall, it is in a country that I knew so little about.  My boyfriend gave me a weird look, but said that I should do it if it’s what I really want.  I also sent resumes to more schools in the East Asia/SE Asia region and even considered teaching English somewhere.  But after perusing the school’s site thoroughly and reading every article I could possibly find on Google, I started to imagine myself living in Central Asia. It didn’t seem so bad.

I interviewed with the two principals and Head of School on Skype.  After a few days, they asked if I wanted to meet face to face in California. I was offered the position and I immediately accepted.  I spent three GREAT years in Uzbekistan…”

Getting your first job overseas is always exciting and typically makes for a great story to tell your international school teacher friends. 

Want to read more about what “newbies” to international school teaching should know about?  Check out our blog series called “For the Newbies.

Surviving the International School Job Fairs

Day Two and Three – Saturday & Sunday

This is THE HEART of the fair. It is the day you sign-up for interviews and will likely do all your initial interviews during this time. Do:

• WEAR YOUR POWER SUIT – DRESS TO IMPRESS

• organize your resumes, laptop, etc. I preferred to keep my laptop/iPad with me so I can work on stuff outside of my room – saved a lot of time vs. going back to my room between interviews.

• agree to interviews with schools that you’re not sure you’re interested in. Good for practice and you never know – it might be a GREAT fit for you.

• find a quiet corner besides your room to chill between interviews – you just never know who is walking around. Visibility is important.

• breathmints – use them

• prioritize which school tables you want to hit first during sign-ups. Some schools are REALLY popular so you might want to go to the ones that have shorter lines first and get interviews lined up.

• if you get a “fast pass”  – direct invitation from the school to bypass the line to schedule an interview, HIT THOSE SCHOOLS FIRST

• try to get to the interview 10 minutes before – don’t schedule your interviews so close together that you’d be late. Also – keep in mind that hotel elevators will be really busy, especially if there are 200+ candidates rushing to interviews...

Great advice from an experience international school teacher. Going to the recruitments fairs with a plan of attack is always a good choice.  Knowing ahead of time what to expect can better help you manage your emotions throughout the fair experience.

For more advice check out our blog series called Nine Lessons Learned Regarding International School Hiring Fairs.”  As a sneak peek, lesson number one is “Bad interviews are good things.

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Want to work for an international school in China like this blogger?  Currently, we have 160 international schools listed in this country. 109 have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

Wellington College International Tianjin (Tianjin, China)47 Comments
EtonHouse International Schools, Wuxi (Wuxi, China)49 Comments
Suzhou Singapore International School (Suzhou, China)47 Comments
Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China)202 Comments
British International School Shanghai – Puxi (Shanghai, China)35 Comments
Concordia International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China)77 Comments
Access International Academy (Ningbo) (Ningbo, China)48 Comments
Hong Kong International School (Hong Kong, China)92 Comments
Creative Secondary School (Hong Kong, China)39 Comments
Canadian International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China)55 Comments
QSI International School of Dongguan (Dongguan, China)64 Comments
Guangdong Country Garden School (Foshan, China)48 Comments
Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (Beijing, China)93 Comments
Western Academy Beijing (Beijing, China)43 Comments

Additionally, there are 264 International School Community members who currently live in China. 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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Comment Topic Highlight

What type of classroom/department budget do you get at your international school?

March 12, 2016


Many of us teach abroad to save money!  So, why do some international schools make their teachers pay for simple supplies? Well not all do, but according to a number of comments submitted on our website, some indeed leave their teachers in a situation where they need to.  Why do some international schools give nice big budgets to classroom teachers and others do not?

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Some might say that only the for-profit international schools don’t give appropriate budgets. However, that would not be true. A number of non-profit international schools also leave their staff with limited budgets to buy supplies.

Let’s say that your international school does provide some money to buy some supplies. It is nice to get at least something for your classroom! But the question is, when you are working abroad, where can you/the school buy these supplies?

If you order from your host country, then it will be cheaper, but the supplies might not be exactly what you want or have a quality you are used to. If you order from abroad, then the costs will be higher because of shipping and the wait time will most likely be a long time (with the risk of never even getting your order because it gets lost somewhere along the way).

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Another question to consider is does a big budget for classroom teachers equal to better instruction and more learning for students.  Teachers can get quite creative in a budget-less classroom, and it is fairly certain that good learning still happens.

But when an emergency arrises and materials that are necessary for the lesson/curriculum are not there, a number of teachers will use money out of their own pocket to buy them. It is the sacrifice that many teachers choose to do to make sure that their students are getting the best education possible and that the promise the school has made to paying parents can be met.

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But does the administration/owner of an international school really want their own teachers to be using their own money to buy basic and necessary supplies for their classrooms?  It would be hard to believe that they would. But when other factors (like a recession in the world or a declining student population) come into play, sometimes schools don’t have a choice to provide a nice budget for their staff.

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to what kind of budgets international schools offer, so you can stay the most informed as possible. It is called: “What types of budgets do classroom teachers/departments get?

Our veteran international school teachers have submitted a total of 212 comments in this comment topic (March 2016).  Here are a few that have been submitted:

“Teachers have no budget to spend in their classrooms. They can take supplies from the resource room, which has basic materials like pens, white board markers, tape, etc. Everything else has to be paid for yourself.” – The International School of Egypt (New Cairo City, Egypt)12 Comments

“Budgets for resources are never an issue – if you have a good reason for purchasing something and can demonstrate the learning that it will support then you are generally approved. Art, Maths and Science materials are often ordered in from overseas and are of high quality.” – Ican British International School (Phnom Penh, Cambodia)51 Comments

“In past years, teachers have been required to submit their budget requests in October for the following school year � a full ten months before the beginning of the year being budgeted for! This was a major source of stress. As of today, no one has been asked to submit a budget and the budget process has not been discussed.” – American School of Warsaw (Warsaw, Poland)64 Comments

“The businessman Mr. Strothoff pays for the school and pays most operating costs. In general, teachers fight for basic things such as staplers, two-hole punchers, tape, whiteboard markers, etc. Departments have budgets but protocol for ordering and getting something as simple as a pear of scissors is 100 layers of red-tape.” – Strothoff International School (Frankfurt, Germany)49 Comments

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Top 10 Lists

Did You Bring These Things Back From Your Home Country This Past Winter Holiday?

January 25, 2016


We all do it. We feel slightly guilty and maybe embarrassed about it. We plan special trips to stores to make sure we get everything that we “need.” We even make sure that the airline we use to get back to our home country allows for a checked bag, maybe even two checked bags if we’re lucky (that is if our partner let’s us use their elite member status!).

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We can’t wait to go home for the holidays!  It is lovely seeing our family and friends. Some of us only get to see them this one time out of the year. But even though spending time with family is the number one reason we go back home each year, we also like stocking up on all the wonderful (and secret) items of our home countries!

Clothes
Of course, I stock up on clothes. Many times clothes are cheaper in our home countries. They also have sales more often in our home countries. Our parents might have coupons that we can use to make the total price even cheaper.  As another plus, some states in the USA don’t even have sales tax on clothes. Additionally, it is often easier to find our own size and understand the size labeling system! Don’t be deceived though, clothes can add a lot of weight to your suitcase, so plan accordingly!

Baking Ingredients
One of the best feelings in the world is baking some food that reminds you of your time in your home country. There are just some spices that you can’t get while living abroad. One is high quality vanilla extract. Baking powder can be also hard to find.  In many countries, it is basically impossible to find stores that sell other baking items such as dried cranberries, pecan nuts, chocolate chips, and the list goes on. It is worth it in the end to bring these ingredients back because there will always be that one night when you are inspired to make your favorite recipe that reminds you of home.

Garbage Bags and Quart and Gallon-Sized Plastic Bags
Now these items do seem quite ridiculous. Why bring these bags back with you when you can put so many other more important things in your suitcase? Not until you live abroad do you realize how crazy garbage bags are in other countries. They are typically super small, don’t have drawstring enclosures, and are more prone to ripping. I’m quite comfortable with making some space in my suitcase for a roll of garbage bags from my home country as I know I will very much appreciate having them throughout the coming year.

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Tortilla Chips and Corn Tortillas
If you live outside of the Spanish-speaking countries (including USA), you can probably relate to this one. High quality tortilla chips are extremely hard to come by in many countries. You can usually find some brand (or if you are lucky, brands) of tortilla chips where you are living, but they are of a low standard that’s for sure. Even though your home country bought brand of tortilla chips might break a bit in your checked bag, it is still worth it to pack as you will definitely impress your other expat friends when you invite them over for a mexican-themed dinner.  Corn tortillas are even harder to find and are a must to bring back for baking a nice batch of enchiladas.

Cooking Spray
It appears as if cooking spray doesn’t exist in other countries, only USA. Though to be honest, I have tried some host country alternatives. But, they are not the same in my opinion. As I like to cook and bake a lot, I find myself gravitating towards this product while grocery shopping at home. I usually buy two cans!

Salad Dressing
It is hard to find nice, quality salad dressings in other countries.  Sometimes their version of salad dressing is definitely not to your liking, or they just don’t do salad dressing at all. It is a bit American to use salad dressing for a salad or dips, so I guess that is one reason they are not so popular in other countries. It’s true, sometimes they do import salad dressings from the UK and USA. But even if they state the same kind of dressing you like on the bottle’s label, it certainly will not taste the way you were hoping it would taste because of the generic brand that they are selling (a brand that you’ve never heard of and have never encountered before in your home country).

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Bottled Water

I just heard from an expat friend today that their expat friend used to fill their whole suitcase up with bottled water from their home country! Can you imagine?!?  Must be some excellent tasting water!

With that last one being said, it is clear that everybody has a weakness that brings them to buy certain things while traveling back home.

You might say that the longer you stay at a school in a certain country, the less things that you find yourself wanting to bring back. But there seems to be always something that an expat wants to bring back regardless of their time spent abroad.  It might not be the same things that they brought back with them their first year abroad, but there is typically something else that takes priority.

I have got to the point where I have a rule for myself: don’t buy anything that I can actually buy in my host country, even if it is slightly more expensive there and has a different brand name.

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This article was submitted to us by a International School Community member guest author. If you have a “Top 10 list” that you’d like to send us. Write us here. All guest authors receive 6 free months of premium membership to our website.

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Comment Topic Highlight

Surprise Purchases You Need to Buy/Pay For When You First Arrive at Your New School

January 12, 2016


When you first arrive at your new international school, you don’t necessarily want to be scrambling around your new city looking for many things to buy.  We all know that without the helpful guidance of a veteran international school teacher at your new school, it is very easy to end up making huge financial mistakes buying things left and right for prices a little too high than you should have paid (e.g. not knowing where to go to get the best price or get the “local price”).

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In an ideal scenario: you arrive at the airport, get picked up promptly by someone who works at your new school, and they quickly and politely drop you off at your new home. After you open the door to your new place, there is a fully-furnished house with a recently purchased bag of groceries waiting for you to help you get through the day with minimal hassle and without having to leave your apartment/house too much.

But we all know that it doesn’t always turn out that way. There are always things that you will need to buy, sooner than later. Some things more important than others, of course. If they are small things (like an iron, maybe), then it shouldn’t be such a big deal to take a short walk down the road (to the Carrefour, maybe) and pick up a few things. It is good/fun to take the first plunge into your new neighborhood.

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But if there are a number of small items (plus a few big ones) that you need to buy, then things could get a bit stressful; especially if you need to go somewhere more than just a short walk down the street.

Depending on your chosen living situation, you might end up needing to do some emergency purchases ASAP. A trip to a store like IKEA will definitely be in order for you on your first day. Some schools even will take you there in the school van, if you’re lucky!

And now, let’s not forget our new schools themselves. They might also have some things that you will need to bring or buy for the greater good of the school. If they gave you a head’s up on these items, you can make sure to pack them into your shipping container.  But if you weren’t set up with a great contact at the school beforehand, you might not get the head’s up in time. Then you are left with possibly buying things for your classroom in the local shops. Hopefully, your school will give you a budget for those things, but that is not always the case!

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Living abroad is not like our home countries. International school teachers do need to be open minded and adaptable. It is definitely tempting to want everything to be as perfect as it can be once you arrive, but we must be ready for a few surprises (i.e. surprise purchases) that will come our way the first few months.

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to figuring out which things you might need to buy once you arrive in your new host country, so you can stay the most informed as possible. It is called: “What are some things that you need to buy/pay for when you first arrive at the school that you didn’t know about beforehand?

Our veteran international school teachers have submitted a total of 111 comments in this comment topic (Jan. 2016).  Here are a few that have been submitted:

“Beds are HARD in Thailand – if you rent a furnished place you might need a mattress topper or take the plunge and buy your own mattress/bed (or bring your comfy one with you – cost is irrelevant as it is important to be able to sleep comfortably at night). If you like a hard mattress you will be very happy here…” – Ruamrudee International School Bangkok (Bangkok, Thailand)75 Comments

“You will need deposit and first/last months rent to get your condo. No one told me this and I was not prepared with enough cash. When you arrive you don’t have a bank account yet and ATM’s limit how much cash you can withdraw. If you arrive early before new staff orientation, no one may tell you that NIST will loan you the money until your first paycheck. You just need to ask HR for the loan and it won’t be a problem. Or come with lots of cash that you can change to baht.” – NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand)109 Comments

“Your kitchen utensils, cleaning supplies, dishes, and small appliance needs in the school apartment will vary widely depending on what the last tenant left. You will not receive a TV, iron, ironing board, etc., just furniture and one set of light bedding.” –American International School (Abu Dhabi) (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)39 Comments

“Don’t worry if you forgot something here because the school has a relationship with the local embassy and teachers can use the commissary there. Teachers can order things even on amazon.com and have it shipped to Moscow through them, as you can use their “American address.” – Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia)61 Comments

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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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If you work at an international school in Germany, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited premium membership!

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Photo Contests

New Photo Contest: Best Funny Sign in your Host Country (All entries win free premium membership!)

September 16, 2015


One of the best parts of living abroad is running into a funny sign in your host country: maybe you see one on a day trip out into the countryside, while you are going out to a restaurant in the downtown area, having a walk around the main tourist area of your city, or even at the international school itself at which you are currently working.

Each country has their own unique signs that catch your attention as a little bit strange and a little bit funny; most likely a sign that you would never see up in your home country…though our home countries have many of their own funny signs!

So, what funny signs have you seen so far in your home country?  Submit your photo to us and enter our photo contest!

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Quiet section sign on a train in Denmark

Photo contest topic:
Your best funny sign shot from one of your explorations around your host country.

The PRIZES:
1st prize: 2 YEARS FREE of premium membership
2nd prize: 1 YEAR FREE of premium membership
3rd prize: 6 MONTHS FREE of premium membership

(Those submissions that are not in the top three will receive 1 free week of premium membership for just participating.)

Send your photo to editor@internationalschoolcommunity.com. Please remember to:

• Write your name and email address
• Attach your picture and write a short description about it
• Enter these words in your subject: International School Community Photo Contest Entry: Funny Sign

or

Tweet the photo and mention our profile @IS_Community to make sure we will see it. If you are on Instagram, use the official hashtag #iscommunityphoto

(Deadline to submit your photo: 27 September, 2015. Maximum one photo per contestant.)

Check out our previous Photo Contests here.

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Traveling Around

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

August 27, 2015


Traveling Around: Riga, Latvia

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Can you relate?

• Enjoying a wonderful view from our hotel window. Perfect for relaxing in the hotel room after walking around all day.
• Rolling my eyes a little bit as I watch all these tour groups walking around the city; the tour guide with some sort of funny umbrella so that the group won’t lose him/her.
• Arriving at one of the important buildings in the main square only to find it covered up by scaffolding, I guess it will have to be the next time I visit that I see it.
• Seeing well-designed and well placed wall murals on old buildings throughout the city, quite beautiful some of them!
• Getting to Riga at just the right time for raspberry and strawberry season; some tables at the market had huge lines waiting to buy some of these unbelievably delicious fruits.
• Finding a restaurant that was in a building built way back in 1221, well at least that was the year that was on the building.
• Listening to some street performers and being amazed at their talent; I could only guess that they were professionals.
• Spending time with an old friend in a foreign city for both of us; just so nice and get to make some new memories.
• Feeling fortunate and lucky that we had really great weather every day of our trip; the sky and clouds were magnificent.
• Going back to a restaurant more than once because of the great food and great restaurant staff, so nice.
• Laughing out loud a bit watching a local trying to count out change in EUR, a currency they just started using a year ago I think.
• Using my Russian every chance I got, only to find myself in a conversation at the main market where I could only nod my head like I understood everything that the saleswoman was saying to me.
• Singing the Latvian Eurovision song from this year in our hotel room, and watching the performance on Youtube.
• Getting a tip from the hotel receptionist to take a certain tram, thinking it was going to give us a nice tour of the city, only to find out that it took us way out into completely nowhere.
• Looking at a pastry display case and being in awe of the decadent sugar masterpieces. (and then not trying any of them!)
• Loving the central market here, located in an old German Zeppelin hanger. You can get everything here!
• Being a stupid tourist and probably paying a tourist price to get on a boat and take a 30 minute ride up and down the river running through the old and new parts of Riga.
• Going up the main tower here to get a good view of the city. We went up on the perfect evening with amazing clouds and sun shining!
• Walking by an 60s restaurant with a live honky-tonk band playing American music, how strange it’s here. People love it too, always a packed house.
• Entering a museum, getting all the way into the entrance and the ticket counter and NOT buying a ticket to get inside.

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Currently we have 2 international schools listed in Riga, Latvia on International School Community:

•  International School of Latvia (15 comments)
•  International School of Riga (12 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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School Profile Searches

Using the School Profile Search feature #16: Check out which schools met the criteria!

August 16, 2015


Only on International School Community will you be able to search for the perfect international school for you.  You get 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 international 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 school that best fits their needs as a teacher and as a professional.  Your 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 an international 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 1843 schools (updated from 1773 on January 2015) for the perfect school using up to 9 different criteria.  The 9 criteria are: Region of the world, Country, City, Curriculum, School Nature, Number of Students, Age of School, Kinds of Students and Metro Population.  You can do a school profile search in two different locations on our website: the Schools List page and on the side of every school profile page. Check out our past school profile search results here.

Search Result #16

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Criteria selected:

  1. Region of the world (Western Europe)
  2. Country (All)
  3. City (All)
  4. Curriculum (DP)
  5. School Nature (Non-profit)
  6. No. of students (300-700)
  7. Year founded (All)
  8. Kinds of student (Mostly Int’l)
  9. Metro Population (Medium 750K-3m)

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The 16 international schools that met the criteria were found in 9 different countries and in 13 different cities. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on them:

International School of Helsinki (Helsinki, Finland)41 Comments
American School of Milan (Milan, Italy)23 Comments
American Overseas School of Rome (Rome, Italy)5 Comments
Marymount International School (Rome) (Rome, Italy)7 Comments
International School Turin (Turin, Italy)15 Comments
Oslo International School (Oslo, Norway)17 Comments
Carlucci American International School of Lisbon (Lisbon, Portugal)22 Comments
International School of the Stockholm Region (Stockholm, Sweden)7 Comments
ACS International School – Hillingdon Campus (Hillingdon, United Kingdom)10 Comments
UWC Atlantic College (St Donat’s, United Kingdom)14 Comments

Why not start your own searches now and then start finding information about the schools that best fit your needs (available to premium members only)?  Additionally, all premium members are able to access the 14309 comments and information (updated from 12936 on January 2015) that have been submitted on 864 international school profiles on our website.

*If you are not a member yet, 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 with a free 2-day trail of premium membership coupon code sent to you in your welcome email after joining.

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Blogs of International Teachers

Blogs of international school teachers: “Wandering Whirligig” (A teacher who worked at Copenhagen International School)

July 18, 2015


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

Our 42nd blog that we would like to highlight is called “Wandering Whirligig” (A teacher who worked at Copenhagen International School).  Check out the blog entries of this international school educator who recently worked at Copenhagen International School in Denmark.

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A few entries that we would like to highlight:

Copenhagen, I will miss you

“I moved to Copenhagen in January 2011. Next week, I will leave. After four and a half years, I will leave this fabulous city for new adventures. There are so many mixed emotions pulsing through my body.

The people I’ve met, the experiences I’ve had, the memories I’ve made… Do I feel happy? Or sad? Right now it’s a rollercoaster. A rollercoaster I know so many people have ridden. It’s the rollercoaster ride that takes you from one place to the next, that carries you and all of your belongings from one exciting adventure to another, hopefully bringing all the wonderful memories you’ve made trailing along in the wind: there’s a seat for every friend you’ve ever made during your adventure on this rollercoaster, but you know you’re now in different carriages.

I feel about Copenhagen what I have never yet felt about any other place I’ve moved to: I feel at HOME here…”

Leaving a school is tough, especially when you have been there for many years. You go through so many emotions. Change is good, but change is hard.

Want to read more about teachers leaving a school (and how many are leaving this school year)?  Check out this survey we had back in March 2015 called “New Survey: How many people are leaving your international school at the end of this school year?

My Daily Copenhagen Commute

“I’ve written before about how refreshing a daily commute by bike can be and how I’ll never ever take for granted the opportunity I’ve had to do that every day since moving to Copenhagen in January 2011. By the time I arrive at work, I feel completely revitalised and thoroughly refreshed – I feel as though I’ve already done something for ME before the day has even begun. It’s free excercise that I don’t even realise I’m doing since I just consider biking my mode of transport. Anyhow… recently, I received a GoPro from my family for my (ahem, 30th) birthday and the first thing I (ahem, very VERY geekily) did with it was… film my daily commute to work.

My first attempt was to shorten my 8.5km, half hour commute…

What a great idea to GoPro your journey to work!  Riding your bike to work can be invigorating and get you starting on the right foot for your day at work.

Want to learn more about how international school teachers get to their international school each day?  Luckily, we have a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this theme called “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?”  Here are a few examples of the 761 comments (July 2015) from this topic:

‘I would disagree that it is close to downtown; that is American Community School. The school is about 20 minutes south of the downtown, which is still quite accessible by bus and taxi. The school does provide a van to work if you live in school apartments. Those not in school apartments can pay to ride the van or about half the staff buy used cars.’ – New International School of Japan (Tokyo, Japan)16 Comments

‘The school is around a 10 minute drive from the city center. Al Ain is a fairly compact city, so nothing is more than 20 minutes or so away. Teachers are mainly housed around 10 to 15 minutes away in the northern part of the Jimi district. The housing seems tolerable, but being situated across the street from a sewage treatment plant, I’m told that there are serious odor issues there. Most staff either drive themselves or carpool to work.’ – Liwa International School (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)23 Comments

‘The school is in an industrial park area of SIP about 20 minutes from most housing. School coaches pick staff up at compounds at a set time in the a.m. You can catch the coach home at 4.30 or 5 pm. Alternatively catch a taxi ( about 20 RMB) or get an ebike ( about ) 2,000 RMB and have fun riding to/from school in the separate bike lanes.’ – Dulwich College Suzhou (Suzhou, China)17 Comments

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Want to work for an international school in Denmark like this blogger?  Currently, we have 15 international schools listed in this country. Here are a few that have had comments submitted on them:

• Aarhus Academy for Global Education (9 comments)
• 
Copenhagen International School (244 comments)
• 
Osterbro International School (17 comments)
• 
Esbjerg International School (12 comments)
• 
Odense International School (10 comments)

Additionally, there are 21 International School Community members who currently live in Denmark. 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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Traveling Around

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

June 24, 2015


Traveling Around: Istanbul, Turkey

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Can you relate?

• Walking around in a non-tourist area and using the GPS on our phone to navigate the hilly streets and alleys and at times the uneven sidewalks and roads.
• Trying to fit/blend in while also observing the locals at the same time, then having a local walk by and say “hello” to us (we didn’t pass for Turkish I guess.)
• Thinking you are the well-experienced traveler, and yet getting easily ripped off or conned by a local salesman.
• Tasting the local ice cream and finding out it is quite different from the ice cream you are used to.
• Realizing that there are people everywhere in this city, way bigger than the city you are currently living in.
• Wanting to finally try (after visiting Istanbul three times) a simit and finding out it tasted very good!
• Going out to eat at a variety of places in the city, some super cheap and really good and some super expensive and not so good tasting.
• Finding stray cats EVERYWHERE! There were cute ones, but some really looked like they needed some tender loving care.
• Taking a second look when running into restaurants and stores that you thought would never be in Istanbul (Shake Shack, Arby’s, etc.)
• Lucking out and having the best weather possible for our visit. The rain and clouds ended just as we arrive and came back just as we left.
• Being amazed at not just the Blue Mosque, but ALL the many mosques around the city; all works of art and just beautiful!
• Walking next to the Blue Mosque at just the right time for when Iftar was happening. There were local bands playing songs and tons of people all around eating donated food. Wonderful community feeling!
• Eating at a really local place and not being able to communicate at all because both parties didn’t know each others’ languages. Showing kindness and giving kind gestures created, though, a wonderful cultural exchange.
• Finding some fruit in a local green market that we had never seen before, and the store owner giving us one to try. Actually, in many stores the people were so generous by giving us free samples.
• Taking a boat down the Bosphorus River and enjoying the wonderful sea breeze and sunshine on such a beautiful day.
• Arriving in a small town realizing that it was a complete tourist trap!
• Seeing some locals protesting some issue from their boats in the Bosphorus, wishing we knew what they were protesting about.
• Feeling happy by supporting the local businesses and the businesses that are trying to support local people in their work by paying them an honest wage.

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Currently we have 14 international schools listed in Istanbul, Turkey on International School Community. Here are a few of them that have had comments submitted on them:

•  Enka Schools (Istanbul) (Istanbul, Turkey)13 Comments
•  Hisar School (Istanbul, Turkey)17 Comments
•  Istanbul International Community School (Istanbul, Turkey)12 Comments
•  
ISTEK Schools, Istanbul (Istanbul, Turkey)8 Comments
•  
Koc School Istanbul (Istanbul, Turkey)10 Comments
•  
Kultur 2000 Koleji (Istanbul, Turkey)27 Comments
•  
MEF International School Istanbul (Istanbul, Turkey)43 Comments
•  
Robert College of Istanbul (Istanbul, Turkey)19 Comments
•  
TED Istanbul College (Istanbul, Turkey)17 Comments
•  
The British International School – Istanbul (Istanbul, Turkey)9 Comments
•  
Uskudar American Academy & Sev Elementary (Istanbul, Turkey)15 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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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.

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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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Top 10 Lists

Top 10 reasons to stay longer than four years at an international school

May 18, 2015


Many international schools ofter 1-2 year initial contracts for new hires. But does that mean that most international school teachers leave after that initial contract?

We all know some teachers do exactly that. They leave after 1-2 years of working at their new international school. The reasons they leave are varied, and many of those reasons are out of their control.

It is true, though, that some international school teachers leave too soon. Leaving too soon can be good or bad, depending on your situation.  But maybe, just maybe there are very positive things that can happen if the stars align for you to stay longer than four years.

So, what are the Top 10 reasons to stay longer than four years at an international school? Maybe you can relate to some of these!

#1 – You get more fluent in the local language.

Sometimes it is hard to get yourself to attend language classes when you first arrive. It is difficult giving up two evenings of your work week to go to these classes. Waiting a few years until you are more established into your new life in your host country is sometimes a better option for some international school teachers.  Although it is not the case with everyone, staying longer in the host country will also provide you with more authentic opportunities to acquire new words and phrases.  You never know when you will learn your next new words, but if you provide yourself with more opportunities and put yourself in more situations with the local people, you will certainly learn more of the host country language.

#2 – You make more long-lasting local friends.

In so many countries, it is down right a challenge to make local friends. Many international school teachers just find friends among other international school teachers at their school. The reason being that it is sometimes scary and nerve-racking to get yourself out there and meet the locals. Additionally, you got to get yourself out and get to know A LOT of locals too because we all know that you can’t be everyone’s friend that you meet.  You have to meet a lot to find a few good ones.  You don’t always find a good match every time you are out and about in your host city.  Also, locals don’t necessarily want to invest their friend-time with foreigners that are going to be leaving in a year or two. If you are staying around, that makes you more desirable in terms of friendship material.

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#3 – You save more money.

Your first and second years at an international school can indeed be costly ones. You need to buy so many things (excuse me…did somebody say IKEA?) for your new home.  You also make some stupid purchases during these first few years when you don’t know the best places to go and get the best deal.  The longer you stay could equal the better savings in your bank account, especially if your international school is giving you a great salary with excellent benefits. Why leave when you’re potentially making the most money in your teaching career?!

#4 – You get to do more special projects at your school.

When you first start at an international school, you are just getting your feet on the ground. Because everything is new, you typically stick to doing what you know and that’s that. You are still doing a good job, but you find it a challenge to start any special projects.  After your third and fourth year, you have more ownership in the school. Being more familiar and comfortable with your international school allows you to be more creative and make some of your ideas come true. Once you have built a strong trust, after a couple of years with your administration and the PTA, they will then support you in these new ideas.  The key is to keep the ideas and inspiration flowing. Here is one special project idea as an example: why not get beekeeping started up at your school?

#5 – You build stronger collaborative partners at work.

Some research related to co-teaching in schools state that it can take a good two to three years to get to a high level of collaboration.  You need time to build those collaborative relationships, and sometimes one to two years is not enough.  Also, if you stay at an international school for longer than two years, you also get to know your colleagues better, both professionally and on a personal level.  All of that teaching at a specific international school then is time well-spent, as it will only strengthen your collaborative relationships.

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#6 – More time for more of your home country family and friends to visit you. 

Why is it so hard for some of your family and friends to get their act together and visit you?  The fact is that many of those friends and family need time to plan. They need time to save their money, find the right time to visit you, and get the time off of their work. Many people are simply not able to figure that all out in one to two years. By the third and fourth year, the stars will align for some of them to finally visit you.  What a shame if there is a missed opportunity for your friends and family to check out a potential new place in the world!  The best part is that they won’t even have to pay for a hotel or guide services as they will have your place to stay at and you to happily show them around.

#7 – You get more time to travel around your host country and visit all the spots you’ve been wanting to see.

During your holidays, it is easy to forget about checking out more of your host country. Indeed, you are too busy planning to see the other countries that surround your host country.  If you are not on a tropical island, buying a ticket to one sounds more appealing then just staying in your host country.  Even if your host country is a small one, there are still countless cities to go visit.  The more you see of your host country, the better appreciation you have for it.  You learn more about your host country culture as well and how the locals are living in different parts of the country.  Traveling around to more parts of your host country also helps to you feel more like a local too because you know more about them and their culture.

#8 – You get to make your home more yours.

It takes awhile to make a home your home. In some countries, you are placed into a furnished house/apartment. Making other people’s furniture your furniture takes time. If you move into an unfurnished place, then you must buy stuff to put in there. If it is new, then that stuff also takes time to then make your home your home.  Sure, some international school teachers ship their own furniture to their new host country and they need less time to cozy up to their new surroundings, but a home is indeed more than just furniture. It takes time for memories to be created in your apartment/house.

#9 – You get more time to eat out at your favorite restaurants and find new ones that open up.

It is the best feeling to go out for dinner in your host country. Going out and enjoying really tasty food at your favorite restaurant, yes! What a shame to find that one place after a year, and then leave the following year. And then if you leave after only two years, you are maybe not there enough to check out the new ones that pop up. Then you hear from your ex-colleagues that they are still going to your favorite restaurant and you get those seconds thoughts of did I leave that city too soon?

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#10 – You finally get to see and work in your school’s new, amazing, purpose-built school building that it finally made.

We have all worked at international schools that have a grand plan to make a new building. If you have had this experience, then you know for sure that two things happen: either the new school building just simply never gets built or that is does get built but only after years and years of planning and waiting. Staying longer than four years gives ample time for you to actually get the chance to work in this new, amazing building!

All guest authors to our blog get six months of free premium membership to our website.  Email us if you have a top 10 list idea and would like it to be highlighted on our blog as a guest author.

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Traveling Around

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

April 29, 2015


Traveling Around: Berlin, Germany

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Can you relate?

• Tasting your first currywurst and the smell of it following you everywhere
• Getting the feeling that art is everywhere around you
• Being enchanted by design of the old metro (U-Bahn) smelling like hardware store
• Wanting to go up the big tower, but never getting around to doing so. When the weather was perfect to go up, you find yourself too tired or too far away to go.
• Hoping that it was going to be more spring-like, but then finding out it wasn’t that spring-like just yet. Seems like spring is coming later and later nowadays…
• Seeing quite impressive building murals around the city. Who does these art installations anyway? So cool!
• Finding so many alternative people, restaurants, etc. all around the city. People had even spray painted “Vegan revolution” on the walls.
• Being shocked to be bombarded with hail on multiple days. It looked like it was snowing with all this hail everywhere!
• Running into a restaurant called “White Trash Fast Food” and then hearing that it is actually a posh, good-tasting restaurant.
• Forgetting that Berlin actually has many canal rivers running around the city, ala Amsterdam.
• Loving the lovely walks through the beautiful city parks, on nice, pretty warm sunny days.
• Realizing the size of the city (9 times bigger than Paris) by not being able to walk around the city center and seeing everything in 5 days.
• Staying at a hotel for three nights in what was probably the noisiest room. The hotel also had a HUGE number of little children running around, a bit chaotic.
• Taking advantage of the cheap public transport from the city airport to the city center. Other cities can learn from Berlin and take a note of this! No one wants their way from the airport to the city center to be too expensive or too long of a journey.
• Being open-mouthed in awe to find an enormous section of canned hotdogs in one of the aisles. Who needs that many kinds of canned hotdogs?
• Staying at a very nice hotel for only one night, too expensive to stay more nights. The view from the breakfast room was awesome!
• Buying super expensive bottled water at the Tegel airport. Airport shouldn’t have the option to sell bottled water at such a high price. It was around four EUROS!

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Currently we have 7 international schools listed in Berlin, Germany on International School Community:

• Berlin Brandenburg International School (11 comments)
• Berlin British School (31 comments)
Berlin International School (12 comments)
• Galileo Gymnasium (Germany) (11 comments)
• John F. Kennedy School Berlin (11 comments)
• Nelson Mandela School
• Phorms Berlin Mitte

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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New Teacher Orientation Must-Haves

New Teacher Orientation Must-Haves at International Schools: A sit-down with an admin to go over each part of your contract

April 24, 2015


In this blog series we will talk about the ins and outs of an excellent new teacher orientation programme at an international school.  A new teacher orientation programme can really play a very important part to the start at your new school, in your new host country.  What are all the must-haves then?  Check out our blog series here to read all about the ones that we have discussed so far.

Must-have #14: A sit-down with an admin to go over each part of your contract

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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.

Another reason that contract details could be easily overlooked is that you also might be looking at the contract with rose-colored glasses; meaning you are just focused on the more positive aspects of the contract instead of the parts that might actually give you cause for concern.

There might even be additional things that are NOT on your contract that you are entitled to. For example, in Denmark you are entitled to take off a certain number of days to be with your children, but it might not necessarily be spelled-out for you in the contract. Good idea to ask around or have an admin tell you about these entitlements straight away during new teacher orientation.

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So, if an admin did sit you down and went through your contract sometime during the new-teacher orientation, it would be nice if they went over the follow parts:

Duties and responsibilities – Making it clear what you need to do is exactly what all new teachers want to know. Sounds simple, but they can be easily forgotten to be explicitly explained to you. Admin might think the duties and responsibilities that you will have will be implied or learned about by talking with your colleagues.  Of course, if that is the case, new teachers often find themselves just learning about these things last-minute!  Also, it is good to know up front what is required of you so that you don’t feel obligated to do the extra things an admin might ask of you.

School year and work day – It is important to know how many work days that you in the year; well you can look at the school calendar for that.  But what about what is required of you for each day of the week?  Maybe you need to arrive 30 minutes before school starts and 30 minutes after school ends.  Some days you might be required to stay longer for meetings, which days are those?  Are the meetings optional? Some international schools are doing that now.  All important details to know before you get caught not following those rules.

Workload – How nice to sit down with somebody who can give you an honest picture about how much you will be expected to work. How many reports will you need to write each year and how often will they be sent out to parents?  Even more important is how do the reports look like?  Writing multiple reports in a year definitely increases your workload.  The admin could also give you an honest picture of how much the other teachers are putting in extra hours.

Other parts of the contract you would most likely want to discuss with your admin are salary, retirement, housing benefitssettling-in allowance, insurance, curriculum duties, etc.

So, does your international school set up a time for your to thoroughly discuss each part of your contract?  Please share your experiences!

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Luckily on International School Community we have a new comment topic that specifically addresses this issue of getting reimbursed.  It is called: Details about the teaching contract. What important things should prospective teachers know about?

We have 23 comments so far in this topic on our website since it is so new. Here are just a couple of those comments:

“Read your contract carefully. do not sign an unsigned contract. contracts signed by the teachers have been changed and then signed by the owner. If you have issues with the owner his first and only reaction is to tell you to take him to court where he will happily drag the case out to cost you a lot of money.” – 
Makuhari International School (Tokyo, Japan)23 Comments

“They reserve the right to interpret, change, manipulate dates, avoid transparency when dealing with staff regarding their contracts. A teacher that recently left at the start of the year discovered there were several things in the contract that actually conflicted with Japanese labor law. Fortunately for them, they consulted with an attorney and were able to avoid paying a one month penalty for leaving on short notice. By the way they left because they lost several thousands of dollars due to mistakes the school made regarding visas that they were unwilling to rectify.” – Seisen International School (Tokyo, Japan)51 Comments

If you currently work at an international school or have worked at one in the recent past, share the information and details about the contract that you have at your school. You can find easy access to all international schools on our Schools List page.

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We also have a useful Comment Search page. Using a keyword search of ‘Contract‘, we found 160 comments.  Here are a few comments from those results:

“This has changed a LOT. Flight in and out at the end of contract. No mid-contract flights. No settling-in allowance; it is a repayable loan. Lunch is free.” – Phuket International Academy (Phuket, Thailand)43 Comments

“The school will help with negotiating a contract if you don’t read Spanish. Your apartment will either come with a phone or you’ll use your cell phone. Cell service is cheap, usually less than $15 US a month, data plans cost more. Be careful with smart phones because they are easily stolen.” – The American International School of Guatemala (Colegio Maya) (Guatemala City, Guatemala)40 Comments

“Airfare for initial contract to Panama and departing flight for end of contract(typical initial contract 2 years). When renewing contract “home leave” flight per yearly renewal as well as renewal bonus. You can also ask for the funds from your annual ticket so you can use towards the “summer” travel you wish.  Settling in money of $1000 (all), moving allowance between $500 (single) and $750 (dependents/family). When leaving said to also get some “departing” relocation money, your “retirement fund” of 1.5% annual salary school sets aside for you per Panama Law, and money for your airfare if wishing to buy your own ticket.” – International School Panama (Panama City, Panama)38 Comments

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Photo Contests

New Photo Contest: Best Nature Shot in your Host Country (All entries win free premium membership!)

April 20, 2015


One of the best parts of living abroad is to explore the nature (flora and fauna) of your host country:  a day trip into the mountains if you live in Switzerland, a weekend safari trip if you live in Tanzania, a group tour to the sand dunes if you live in Abu Dhabi, a car trip to the rainforests if you live in Costa Rica, etc.

Each country has their own unique offerings of nature.

What is on offer in your host country with regards to nature?

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Sand dunes near to Abu Dhabi

Photo contest topic:
Your best nature shot from one of your explorations of your host country.
By nature we mean animals, plants, trees, insects, mountains, bodies of water, sky/clouds, etc.

The PRIZES:
1st prize: 2 YEARS FREE of premium membership
2nd prize: 1 YEAR FREE of premium membership
3rd prize: 6 MONTHS FREE of premium membership

(Those submissions that are not in the top three will receive 1 free week of premium membership for just participating.)

Send your photo to editor@internationalschoolcommunity.com. Please remember to:

• Write your name and email address
• Attach your picture and write a short description about it
• Enter these words in your subject: International School Community Photo Contest Entry: Nature

or

Tweet the photo and mention our profile @IS_Community to make sure we will see it. 🙂

(Deadline to submit your photo: 12 May, 2015. Maximum one photo per contestant.)

Check out our previous Photo Contests here.

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Discussion Topics

Find out what languages your host country speaks and the level of English spoken there

March 17, 2015


Speaking the language of the host country is on every international school teachers’ mind.

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How great to speak the language of the host country well enough so that you are able to have some local friends who may or may not know English!  You might say that is every international school teachers’ goal when they move abroad.  Communication is the key, and knowing the language will also give you direct insight into the host country’s culture.

Many international school teachers do their best to fit in. Meeting new friends or going on dates in your new country is difficult, if you rely only on English language capabilities of the locals. That is why taking language classes and dedicating some of your weekday evenings to attending them is very advisable. Until you reach a comfortable level of proficiency when you can converse with the locals (at the market for example), it is important to find some of them that might speak English, especially during the first few months.

Everyone marks well in their head, their very first successful conversation in the new language. It is a tremendously liberating experience, which is inspiring one to pursue their way to a high-level speaking fluency and understanding without stuttering and asking people to speak slower.

Out of the 60 comments topics on each school’s profile page, there is one specifically about languages. It is called: “Languages of the host city and the level of English spoken there.

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From the Hong Kong International School (62 comments) school profile page.

Currently we have 150+ submitted comments in that comment topics on a number of school profile pages.

Here is a sneak peek at a few of them:

“The level of English here is intermediate I would say. Some taxi drivers know a lot and some don’t know very much. The people working in stores know an intermediate level of proficiency. People speak Italian here, but that is not to say that there aren’t people speaking other languages. There are many dialects of Italian that people speak.” – American School of Milan (Milan, Italy) – 23 Comments

“Spanish is the main language but you can get by with very minimal language skills. Most restaurants have English menus. Many taxi drivers can understand some English. In the markets the venders are usually indigenous and speak Spanish as a second language so speak slower and use more limited vocabulary.” – The American International School of Guatemala (Colegio Maya) (Guatemala City, Guatemala)– 40 Comments

“With basic level of Chinese it’s easy to manage. With zero Chinese it’s also possible but lots of things will be missed and at times it’s tougher to deal with everyday issues.” – Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 162 Comments

“English is spoken only in the school. Korean is the dominant language, and many, many fewer people speak English than in places like Seoul, but there are still plenty of people who can help you communicate. Many menus are in English too even if the staff does not speak English.” – Global Prodigy Academy (Jeonju, South Korea) – 48 Comments

“You will enjoy your stay here much more if you can learn at least some basic conversational Japanese. Although they study English in high school, very few Japanese on the street that you might approach for directions will be able to speak to you in English.” – Hiroshima International School (Hiroshima, Japan) – 64 Comments

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Traveling Around

Traveling Around: Hong Kong, China (The life of an international school teacher is good!)

March 14, 2015


Get inspired to make your next travel plan!

Traveling Around: Hong Kong, China

Can you relate?

• Being overwhelmed by the thousands of people you see as you are getting out of the metro system.
• Trying your best to just walk in a straight line on a sidewalk because of all the people around you trying to also walk in a straight line to their destination.
• Enjoying the wonderful view of the mountains and sea and thinking how nice it would be to live here.

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• Keeping your head looking up to the sky as you are walking around the city because of all the amazingly tall skyscrapers.
• Finding it very cool to get the chance to walk into a little temple and observe the locals in a non-obtrusive way.
• Being surprised to find that the normal grocery stores here have a wide range of products, including many products from my home country. How nice!
• Walking around the city and randomly running into the local zoo, realizing it is free and taking advantage of looking at all the cool animals on offer.

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• Loving looking at all the large signs on each street, how they jet out over the streets.
• Eating at a more ‘local’ restaurant and getting the chance to eat some of the seasonal dishes on offer.
• Finding out that expats here can go to mainland China for some time, to go shopping, without having a tourist visa.
• Feeling lucky to go up to the peak on a cloudless, sunny day. The view is really outstanding.

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• Running into a school that had outside walls that were so colorful and inviting.
• Riding on the old trams in the downtown area and finding out that they were shipped over long ago from somewhere in the UK I think.
• Taking a ride on a smaller city bus and seeing that there was a number sign telling how fast that the driver was driving.
• Enjoying eating at the non-restaurants places, like the ones that just have take-away food available, such tasty food!

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• Being astounded hearing about how much apartments actually cost there, so expensive!
• Hearing Cantonese being spoken through the city, but then not really meeting anyone that didn’t also speak English.
• Finding it surprising how much there was discrimination between Hong Kongers and mainland Chinese people.

Currently we have 29 international schools listed in Hong Kong on International School Community. Here are the ones that have had comments submitted on them:

 American International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China) – 24 Comments

• Hong Kong Academy Primary School  (Hong Kong, China) – 34 Comments

• Hong Kong International School  (Hong Kong, China) – 62 Comments

• International Christian School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China) – 19 Comments

• Singapore International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China) – 14 Comments

• Yew Chung International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China) – 17 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 SIX free months of premium membership!

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Top 10 Lists

Top 10 reasons for wanting to move back to my home country (USA)

February 24, 2015


Many of us have been out of our home country for many years (check out our Seasoned International School teachers post).  Sure, we love our international school teaching life, and there are many reasons to continue that life. If the school is inspiring, stay. If the benefits are great, why not stay. If the travel opportunities are awesome, definitely stay!

Like all good things though, they are bound to come to an end.

But why would an international school teacher move back to his/her home country? There are different reasons for everyone because everyone is coming from a variety of situations and circumstances. With that in mind…what are the Top 10 reasons for wanting to move back to my home country? (USA) Maybe you can relate to some of these!

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#1 – I want to have the experience of living as an adult in my home county (I was 24 with I left).

Some teachers leave to start their international school teaching career straight out of university, which means you are between 21-24. If you leave your home country that early in your “life after college”, there is not much time to enjoy the pleasures of being an adult doing adult things.  For example, leaving at 21 doesn’t leave too much time for you to save up enough money to buy a house.

#2 – I am tired of being a foreigner and need a break. I may go out again after a year or two.

It can be quite exciting when everything is new and different, but it can also be draining on your day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month, year to year life while living abroad. Of course the longer you live somewhere, most things become routine and normal. However, it doesn’t mean that you completely forget your life back home. Sometimes you just want to go back and remind yourself of all the things you missed or forgot about.

3294589793_45af18de38_z#3 – I miss my friends.

You can make some great friends in the international school community, especially the ones that started the same year as you did.  The friends you make while living abroad are truly your family away from home.  The friends from your home country are unique though and super important to you. Not being able to see them can be quite difficult at times. Usually you only get to see your home-country friends once a year if you are lucky. Many times when you set up a time to see them, many other old friends are there too…not leaving you enough quality time to catch up on everything. How nice to have all the time in the world to hang out with your friends if you are back living in your home country again!

#4 – I am tired of people saying hateful things about my home country to my face as soon as they meet me.

You really learn a lot about your home country while living abroad. You get to hear, first hand, the multiple perspectives people have related to where you are from. Not all the things they say to you are positive though, making you feel bad and pensive. If you are from an area that has a negative stereotype attached to it, you end up constantly hearing it, after you meet new people and mention your home country to them.  Over and over again, you need to explain to these people how you are not like that stereotype and teach them about your experience.  It can definitely get a bit irritating.

#5 – I want a garbage disposal again.

It is all the conveniences of your home country that you start missing. The list of things you miss can be a long one!  There aren’t many countries that have garbage disposals as a standard feature in a kitchen.  Because of this, I miss them.

4241390495_635818a2b6_z#6 – I want to be able to walk into one store and buy everything I need.

If you are from the United States, then you know what a Super Target is. Now it has everything that you would need to buy for your weekly shopping.  For those of us that don’t want to spend extra time shopping in multiple stores to get everything we want, the idea of just going to one store to get it all done sounds great. Living in your host country, you don’t know where things are most of the time (the language barrier comes into play here as well). Back home, you are an expert on knowing where to go and what you can get there.

#7 – I want to see my country, travel around and really experience it.

Many of the veteran international school teachers have been traveling around the world like crazy. Traveling is a top priority for many of us. Once and a while you see a movie or a tv program and see some pictures of your home country that are stunningly beautiful. You wonder why you never went to that stunning place when you were living there. Going back home might just give you a better opportunity to explore more of your homeland; a nice way to re-appreciate where you came from.

#8 – I want to do a proper Halloween.

You can try and celebrate your home-country holidays while living in your host country, but some things just won’t be the same  to how you would celebrate them back home. Halloween is one of them.  Some countries try and celebrate a few of your home-country holidays (like Halloween), but some are just not comparable to how your home country would celebrate them. Being surrounded by many houses again, all with their light on to welcome trick-or-treaters, can be just the thing to know you are back home to your roots again.

#9 – I want to experience the weather that I grew up with again.

Not many places in the world have exactly the same weather as the place in which you grew up. Sure you can try and experience what it is like to live in a tropical location (like Singapore), but being hot and sweaty every time you go out of the house can get tiresome.  You can also check out the weather living in a colder climate (like Moscow), but having endless cloudy days of freezing cold weather in the winter is enough for you to wish you didn’t live there.  Going back to the weather you grew up with can be just what the doctor ordered.

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#10 – I want to be able to turn on the tv and be able to understand most channels. 

You can go for years without turning on a tv while living abroad. If you don’t understand the local language very well, you know that you won’t be able to understand or follow many of the tv programs anyway.  It’s true that you can get all the news and information you want from the internet, but it is nice though to have an option where you just turn on the tv and surf the channels (like how you used to do when living back in your home country).

This top 10 list was submitted to us by a guest author and International School Community member who is from the United States.

All guest authors to our blog get six months of free premium membership to our website.  Email us if you have a top 10 list idea and would like it to be highlighted on our blog as a guest author.

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Blogs of International Teachers

Blogs of international school teachers: “Farleys Far Away” (An American teaching couple at Korea International School Seoul)

February 19, 2015


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

Our 40th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Farleys Far Away”  Check out the blog entries of these international school educators who work at Korea International School (Seoul) in South Korea.

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A few entries that we would like to highlight:

How Did This Happen?

“A very, very long time ago, Jim decided to teach in Taipei, Taiwan. He lived there for 2 years and met me when he got back. That was 12 long awesome years ago. This entire time he’s told me how he would like to move back to East Asia. For 11 years I said, “No. Way. Jose.

Then, at the beginning of this school year, there were rumblings of change at my school. Our state assessment scores left something to be desired (something being, native English speakers from the middle or upper class) and there are a couple of ways the district “fixes” this problem. One of those ways is by letting all the teachers go. If you have tenure, like me, they’ll place you for one year, then after that year, you’re on your own. It’s pretty bleak and I was sad to leave a staff of extremely talented, caring teachers, but what can you do? I know what you can do-you can leave the country!

We signed up for the Overseas Recruitment Fair at the University of Northern Iowa. That was an intense weekend. On the flight to Cedar Rapids we were sitting next to the middle school principal at Korea International School. Korea hadn’t really been on the radar, but after a brief interview on Sunday, and then several Skype interviews, and a little bit of research into life in Korea we were on our way.

That’s how it happened. 11 years of convincing and one quick weekend of deciding…”

Many times you need to wait until the right moment in time to start your career in international school teaching. Some teachers wait one year while others wait 12!

Want to learn more about what it is like to go to an international school recruitment fair?  Check out our popular blog category called “9 Lessons Learned Regarding International School Hiring Fairs.” 

Really? But Jim’s Out of Town

“Let me start by saying, everyone is fine. But we’re experiencing the health care system here in Korea. On Sunday, about 15 minutes before Jim left for his trip to Singapore, I had him check out August’s *ahem* you know. Well, things weren’t looking so good down there (it turns out August has a hernia). I called the director of KIS‘ wife, who is a nurse. She was very reassuring over the phone, so I allowed Jim to go to Singapore.

My boss recommended I get him checked out at the Baylor Clinic in Jeongja, which is very close to us. We found the building with no problem and made it to the clinic-on the 2nd floor. There are 2 floors to the clinic. Both say “Baylor Clinic” in English, but the rest is in Korean. The 2nd floor clinic had people in the waiting room, but no receptionist. We sat and as I looked around, I saw at least 2 signs that said “Audiology” so we decided to go to the 3rd floor clinic.

When we got there, I called Raina, our bilingual school nurse, and had her talk to the receptionist. It turns out the Baylor Clinic is an ENT. Good for a sore throat but probably not so good below the waist. However, Raina found out that there is a pediatrician on the 6th floor of the same building. Awesome.

As we waited for the elevator in front of a bank, a teller ran out and handed August a handful of candy, so he was in good spirits about the trip. He seriously had like 8 pieces of candy in his hands.

Ah yes, this is more like it…”

It is hard to know what going to the hospital will be like when living in a foreign country. You sure have some great memorable moments and not so great moments.  

Want to learn more about what international school teachers think of the local hospitals in their host countries?  Luckily, we have a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this theme called “Health insurance and medical benefits. Describe your experiences using these benefits and going to the local hospitals.”  Here are a few examples of comments from this topic:

‘We have insurance with Metlife valid throughout the world. We also have a supplemental emergency medical evacuation insurance with AMREF. There is basic local care, but for serious or more difficult cases, evacuation to either South Africa or Nairobi is necessary.’ – International School of Tanganyika  (Dar es salaam, Tanzania) – 140 Comments

‘Health insurance is okay, not great, but not awful. Co-pays range from 10-20% at some more expensive hospitals and international medical centres. Dental coverage included but again 0-30% copay depending on the procedure (cavities are covered 100%, root canals are not, for example). Local hospitals are a mixed bag. Some great, some very “Chinese” in their approach to medicine. Would recommend that you ask coworkers for referrals and get prior approval from insurance company whenever possible. In Shanghai, you will be able to find a competent, western-educated specialist in any & every medical field, although you may have to search a bit.’ – Yew Chung International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China) – 50 Comments

Want to work for an international school in South Korea like this blogger?  Currently, we have 28 international schools listed in this country. Here are a few that have had comments submitted on them:

• Daegu International School (Daegu, South Korea) – 15 Comments
• International School of Koje (Geoje, South Korea) – 51 Comments
Dwight School Seoul (Seoul, South Korea) – 35 Comments
• Seoul Foreign School  (Seoul, South Korea) – 45 Comments
• Seoul International School  (Seoul, South Korea) – 82 Comments
• Colegio Granadino Manizales (Manizales, Colombia) – 43 Comments
Yongsan International School of Seoul (Seoul, South Korea) – 57 Comments

Additionally, there are 63 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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Traveling Around

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

January 30, 2015


Get inspired to make your next travel purchase!

Traveling Around: Casablanca, Morocco

Can you relate?

• Arriving at the airport in Casablanca and not expecting such pleasant and cheerful passport control officers.
• Standing in a small SIM card shop at the airport for 10 minutes while two sellers are talking in Arabic to 5 other people at the same time trying to open you an account.
• Getting 2000 Dirhams (MAD – Moroccan currency) and hoping that it’s gonna cover you for 5 days.

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• Being surprised by quality and punctuality of the Moroccan railway.
• Getting attacked by numerous taxi drivers in front of Casablanca’s Gare du Voyagers train station (our hotel was within 2 minutes walking from the station).
• Smelling smoke in a non-smoking hotel room.
• Learning how “q” is pronounced in Arabic.

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• Being wowed by Casablanca’s brand new tram system.
• Eating your first tajin and not being amazed, like you’ve heard.
• Using FourSquare and having it find us just the right place to eat at.
• Being served that tasty, round Moroccan bread with EVERYTHING.

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• Ordering food at a restaurant that we were planning to eat it, double checking first that they could accept our credit cards, only to find out later that they only accepted Moroccan based credit cards. (low on local currency)
• Having always somebody just outside of the hotel, restaurant, etc. who was there to help you flag down a taxi. Nice.
• Deciding to attend an expensive “party evening for tourists” even knowing that it was going to have a lot of tourists and potentially going to be lame, but then actually enjoying the show/dinner (some excellent local, traditional bands and performers…they were pretty good and entertaining)
• Sitting in a train car cabin with a local and her being super nice to us, even offering some of the snack she was eating.

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• Learning about amlou, a Moroccan spread made of almonds, honey and argan oil. Buy yourself a big jar of it! It is totally worth it.
• Trying to bargain and get a better deal at the market will lead you to getting called “a cheap American”. Works better if you say you are from Eastern/South Europe. 🙂
• Seeing cute, stray cats everywhere…even in the restaurants!
• Trying to talk in broken French as many of the local people did not know much English.
• Walking around and not see really any tourists wondering about, anywhere.
• Finding a Paul’s Bakery to get a sandwich to go right before we headed out on our flight home.

Currently we have 8 international schools listed in Morocco on International School Community. Here are the ones that have had comments submitted on them:

 Casablanca American School  (36 comments)
• George Washington Academy (34 comments)
• American School Fes (7 comments)
• American School of Marrakesh (29 comments)
• Rabat American School  (15 comments)
• American School of Tangier (10 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 SIX free months of premium membership!

PHOTO CONTESTS!  Don’t forget to enter your trip photos in our photo contests. Top three photos win free premium membership. Actually, every that participates wins 1 week of free premium membership.

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School Profile Searches

Using the School Profile Search feature #15: Check out which schools met the criteria!

January 28, 2015


Only on International School Community will you be able to search for the perfect international school for you.  You get 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 international 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 school that best fits their needs as a teacher and as a professional.  Your 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 an international 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 1773 schools (updated from 1606 on 20 February 2014) for the perfect school using up to 9 different criteria.  The 9 criteria are: Region of the world, Country, City, Curriculum, School Nature, Number of Students, Age of School, Kinds of Students and Metro Population.  You can do a school profile search in two different locations on our website: the Schools List page and on the side of every school profile page. Check out our past school profile search results here.

Search Result #15

Criteria selected:

  1. Region of the world (East Asia)
  2. Country (All)
  3. City (All)
  4. Curriculum (UK)
  5. School Nature (All)
  6. No. of students (All)
  7. Year founded (All)
  8. Kinds of student (Mostly Local)
  9. Metro Population (All)

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Schools Found: 15

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The 15 international schools that met the criteria were found in 4 countries. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on them:

• Harbin No. 9 High School International Division (Songbei Campus) (Harbin, China) – 45 Comments
• Shanghai Rego International School (Shanghai, China) – 74 Comments
• Orchlon School (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia) – 68 Comments
• International School of Koje (Geoje, South Korea) – 48 Comments
• North London Collegiate School (Jeju) (Jeju-do, South Korea) – 19 Comments

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 12936 comments and information (updated from 10304 on 20 February 2014) that have been submitted on 812 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 with a free 2-day trail of premium membership coupon code sent to you in your welcome email after joining.

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Blogs of International Teachers

Blogs of international school teachers: “Teach. Travel. Taste.” (An American teacher at Colegio Panamericano)

January 17, 2015


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

Our 39th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Teach. Travel. Taste. A peek into the life of an American teacher in Colombia”  Check out the blog entries of this international school educator who has worked at Colegio Panamericano in Colombia.

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A few entries that we would like to highlight:

What Now?

“Soon I’ll be on way to South America to teach 1st grade in an international school! While the prospect of going down to 1st grade is terrifying, even if it’s only one step down, I couldn’t be more excited (and nervous) for this change. To answer some of the questions I’ve been receiving: This is a two-year contract…at that point, I’ll see how I’m feeling. I will be teaching in English with my own classroom, literally identical to here in the states. They use the Common Core standards, Daily 5/CAFE literacy model, Everyday Math, and more American-based curriculums. They speak Spanish in Colombia, though naturally every country (and city!) has its own dialect and slang. I know it’ll be a rough adjustment, not only coming from English everyday for the last two years, but also because the Spanish I got okay at was “Spain-spanish”. One of my ultimate goals in doing this, however, is to become truly fluent…not stumble along in broken Spanglish with my students’ parents as I have been doing. Any other questions, please comment…”

So exciting to get your brain thinking about your future move to your new country. So many things to be thinking about! 

Good to know a bit about how the school runs and about their curriculum too, so you can plan ahead. 

Want to learn even more about what new programs and curriculum that international schools are taking on?  We have a comment topic called “Recent things that the school has taken on (i.e. new curriculum, specific professional development, etc.).”  Currently there are 183 individual comments in this comment topic talking about 100s of different international schools. Check them out by doing a search for the school you want to know about here.

A Few Thoughts on Being Home

“As it always is when you move to another culture, you find that you miss certain parts of your own culture, while discovering that parts of your new culture really make a lot of sense if you stop to think. Being home was great, but vacations are always a bit haphazard and I’m ready to get back to my regular routine…”

It is always a mixed bag of emotions when taking a trip back to your home country.  The culture that you surround yourself in 24/7 in your host country is now gone and you are surrounded by your home country culture. 

It is good to go back home, and many veteran international school teachers can relate to just wanting to get back to you host country and your daily routine there.

Want to learn even more about what international school teachers think of the local customs in their host country?  We have a new comment topic called “What are some locals customs (regarding eating, drinking and going out, family, socializing, etc.) that you find interesting for expats to know about?”  Here is an example of one of them:

‘If you travel somewhere, you are expected to bring back “omiyage” snacks for co-workers and friends; these are normally or other sweets that happen to be the specialty of whatever city or region you have visited and which you can pick up at any train station when you are on your way back.’ – Hiroshima International School (Hiroshima, Japan) – 64 Comments

Want to work for an international school in Colombia like this blogger?  Currently, we have 17 international schools listed in this country. Here are a few that have had comments submitted on them:

• Colegio Karl C. Parrish (Barranquilla, Colombia) – 24 Comments
• Colegio Anglo Colombiano (Bogota, Colombia) – 17 Comments
• Colegio Nueva Granada (Bogota, Colombia) – 15 Comments
• Colegio Panamericano  (Bucaramanga, Colombia) – 34 Comments
• Colegio Albania (La Guajira, Colombia) – 19 Comments
• Colegio Granadino Manizales (Manizales, Colombia) – 43 Comments
 Columbus School Medellin (Medellin, Colombia) – 22 Comments
• Fundacion Liceo Ingles (Pereira) (Pereira, Colombia) – 28 Comments

There are 11 International School Community members who currently live in Colombia. 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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Surveys

New Survey: What is/was your most successful strategy for finding vacancies for the 15-16 school year?

January 11, 2015


A new survey has arrived!

Topic:  What is/was your most successful strategy for finding vacancies for the 15-16 school year?

Screenshot 2015-01-11 14.59.42It is hard to know what is the best strategy to use when recruiting. Some might say any strategy that gets you the job!

You can try a combination of all of the strategies, but usually one finally wins over the others in the end.  But which one is the most popular nowadays?

Even if you find the most popular strategy that everyone is using, a strategy that works for one person might not work for the next.  In turn, it is good to use as many as you can.

It is true though that different schools post in different places. For example, mostly British international schools post on the TES website.  It is vital then to check out your top schools and where they are most likely to post their vacancies.

Additionally, there are some schools where no vacancies appear anywhere (or very limited places). These schools might be placing a high importance on whether the school has any personal connection to the candidate. If somebody working at the school already knows/has worked with the candidate, the person just might shoot to the top of shortlist.

Regardless of all the strategies, it is truly all about luck and timing. If you are recruiting this year, are you going to be at the right place and the right time to get the chance to interview for your dream job?

Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today on What is/was your most successful strategy for finding vacancies for the 15-16 school year?

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: 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? 

Right now there are over 839 individual comments (about 100s of different international schools) in this comment topic on our website.  Here are a few of them:

“It does not use the methods of most International or bilingual schools. It is not on Search, TIE, or ISS nor does it use any job fairs. Face to face interviews are for local hires, and skype interviews are common.” – Global Prodigy Academy  (Jeonju, South Korea) – 48 Comments

“The school generally recruits at the Search fairs, in Johannesburg, Bangkok and London. There are some long-term local hire teachers. Many local hires are expats who are here with their partners. I believe they also hire through Skype interviews. There is a good mix of people – couples, families and singles. Recently there have been a lot of singles hired which has put a bit of a crunch on housing.” – International School of Tanganyika  (Dar es salaam, Tanzania) – 130 Comments

“I believe that they usually go to the Search Associates job fair in London. And they hire face-to-face, as well as via Skype. As long as there are valid teacher qualifications, immigration generally gives few problems. When I was hired I received a lot of informative emails that let me know about the school and Barbados. They also gave me the emails of a couple of current staff members.” – The Codrington School (Int’l School of Barbados)  (St. John, Barbados) – 68 Comments

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How NOT to Save Money

How NOT to save money when working as an international school teacher #6: Spend tons of money during your trip back home

December 21, 2014


We all hear about the big possibility of saving money while working at international schools, but the reality is that many of us don’t save much of any money.  So, why aren’t these international school teachers saving money?

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How NOT to save money when working as an international school teacher #6 – Spend tons of money during your trip back home

Of course you go back to your home country to spend time with your friends and family. It is important to go back at least once a year to see them in person and hang out like before you moved abroad. Even if you are able to Skype a lot with these people throughout the year, you can’t beat getting a hug from them in person!

boots2We all know though that there is something else on our minds when we go back home…and that is shopping!  We all have those go-to-stores that we must visit.  If you are from the United States, then it might be Target. If you are from England, then it might be Boots. Finding time to do a bit of shopping in these stores is a must!

Maybe clothes are cheaper in your home country. Buy them!

Are some toiletries cheaper and are there brands that you can’t get in your host country? Buy them!

Did you bring an extra suitcase in your other suitcase just for putting the stuff you bought from your trip back home? Buy even more!

Now to food.

Food is extremely important when living abroad. One of the best parts of living abroad is trying the local products and food delicacies, but having a bit of the food from your home country around can be quite comforting.

Img00003Everyone has their own food that they want to buy and bring back to their host country. What one teacher might bring back, another teacher might say why. To each their own really.  We all have those things that we want and that is how life goes as an expat.

But, the key is not to let your home country purchases get outta hand!  “Oh, I’ll just buy one of these and two of those” one day. The next day you find yourself saying, “Oh, I better buy one more of each!”  Purchase after purchase, the amount you spend goes up and up.

It is easy to get caught up in the mainframe of “well, I am only here one time a year, so I better stock up.”  Though that is true, saying it over and over in your head can increase your purchases even more than you were expecting (not allowing your save your money as it were!).

How can you then keep your purchases under control? One key rule to keep in mind: only buy things that you for sure can’t already buy in your host country.

Is it true that the longer you live abroad, the less things that you buy when you go back home? Or maybe it is that you get smarter about the things you let yourself purchase. Some might say both of those statements are not true at all and that we are all subject to the temptation of buying products from our homeland when we go back for a visit and putting our savings plan on hold for a bit.

Happy shopping back home and bringing those items back to your home abroad!

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We do have a comment topic on our website related to the theme of what food items you might want/need to bring to your new host country (don’t go overboard though!).  It is in the city section of the comments and information tab on the school profile pages. It is called: Tell about your experiences in the local grocery stores. What can you get or cannot get? Which ones are your favorites.

“There are almost no British/Australian/NZ/Canadian/American food items that can’t be found in Bangkok nowadays. Items from home tend to be expensive though, so you you may wish to pack a couple of jars of Marmite/Vegemite and your favourite tea bags.” – Rasami (Thai-British) International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 11 Comments

“Sometimes, items are in abundance, and other times they are scarce, such as peanut butter.” – Orchlon School (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia) – 68 Comments

“We can get nearly everything. Rooibos tea is hard to find, but everything basic is easy to get.” – Qatar Academy (Doha) (Doha, Qatar) – 56 Comments

“There is a very large supermarket 5 minutes walk from the school. It has a wide variety of products. (Greater variety than Danish supermarkets)” – International School of Helsinki (Helsinki, Finland) – 30 Comments

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Top 10 Lists

Top Ten Tips For International School Teachers To Build A Solid Retirement

December 17, 2014


Many international school teachers don’t think enough about retirement.  And that’s understandable.  The whole concept can seem confusing.  Andrew Hallam, however, says it isn’t.  He says that those who fail to plan are planning to fail. That could mean eating dog food instead of gourmet, during your golden years.

So, what are the top 10 tips for international school teachers to build a solid retirement?

8593533521_f6c29c0913_z#1 – Work at a school that allows you to save at least $18,000 USD as a single or at least $25,000 USD a year as a couple.

If you can’t save at least this amount, and you’re not just “experiencing” international teaching for a year or two, then go home or find another school. Otherwise, you might be eating dog food when you retire.

At private international schools abroad, you won’t be contributing to Social Security (for Americans) or its foreign equivalents. Nor are you contributing to a defined benefit pension plan, offering guaranteed income for life. Don’t glibly suggest that Social Security or your home country equivalent won’t be around when you retire. In one form or another, it will.

No, you don’t need to work at a top-tier school to save these amounts. Meet Andreas Clesle. He saves $20,000 a year teaching in Myanmar.

#2 – Work at a school that doesn’t FORCE YOU to invest in an offshore pension. How can you tell?   Ask this one question: Can I pull my money out, at any time, without penalty? If the answer is no, find another school. These are usually expensive, inflexible products. They cost so much in hidden fees, that the only person they make rich is the joker who’s selling the product. Unfortunately, many international school administrators haven’t caught on to the racket. When their recruitment pools start drying up, perhaps they’ll start asking why.

#3 – Pay off your student loans, car loans and credit card debts before investing. Then, invest at the beginning of every month. Those that invest while carrying credit card debt are categorically insane. They’re paying interest of 18 percent per year (or more) and expecting to make 9 percent per year in the stock market.  Enough said.

5206199427_b32a919a36_z#4 – Buy low-cost index funds. Avoid buying actively managed funds. Active funds are pricey.

The Alexander Beard Group is a favorite among financially illiterate administrators. The firm sells actively managed funds. But Jeri Hurd, at the Western Academy of Beijing, is one of the smart teachers who refused to invest. Including the company’s platform costs and actively managed fees, investors pay more than 3 percent per year. So if global stocks make 6 percent, investors will be giving away 50 percent of their profits to the firm. If global stocks average 3 percent in a given year, investors will give 100 percent of their profits to the firm. If you think bonuses, paid by your school, can offset this leakage, think again.

#5 – Don’t let anyone convince you to trade currencies. Trading currencies is not investing. It’s speculating. The only person who makes money, long-term, will be the broker or the bank. And they’ll be making their money from you—not for you. Here, I describe a woman at my former school. Her bank decided to trade currencies on her behalf. It’s a very foolish move indeed.

#6 – Diversify your assets. This means buying a variety of low-cost funds (preferably indexes) allowing exposure to a multitude of different markets: your home country stock market, international stocks, and a bond market product for added stability.

#7 – Don’t base investment decisions on economic outlooks or predictions. Most of them prove to be wrong. The average person listens to forecasts. Often, it’s their broker’s. But consider this. U.S. stocks averaged more than 9 percent per year from 1994-2014. According to Dalbar, the average investor in U.S. stocks made about 5 percent a year during the same time period. Why? The biggest culprit is behavior. They listened to their gut, and to investment speculators.   Remember what Warren Buffett says: “Stock market forecasters exist to make fortune tellers look good.”

Financial injection

#8 – Share your annual savings goal with your friends. Studies show that if you want to succeed, write down your goals and track your progress. If you don’t want to save enough for retirement, keep it all to yourself and ignore your expenses.

#9 – Write down what you spend each month. By writing down your spending, you’ll simply spend less.

#10 – Remember that you aren’t on a holiday. You’re working overseas. And your future is in your hands.

TAH in Lod Cavehis top 10 list was submitted to us by a guest author Andrew Hallam.  He is the author of The Global Expatriate’s Guide To Investing. He’s a columnist for AssetBuilder and for The Globe and Mail. He’s also the author of the international bestseller, Millionaire Teacher. He taught at Singapore American School from 2003-2014.

 

Check out the pension plan details of 100s of international schools on our website.  Currently, we have 336 comments that have been submitted on the comment topic “Pension plan details” on our school profile pages. Here are just a few of them:

“There are 2 things: 1. Mexico has a “social security” plan and you pay into that so you pay in for your years, leave, and you can come back when you are 65 to collect. 2. The school has a 13% matching program that you can collect 1 or 2 times a year based on your choosing. This is the retirement plan but it is up to you to do move the money somewhere.” – American School Foundation of Monterrey (Monterrey, Mexico) – 34 Comments

“For certain nationalities, the required contributions for staff member and school into the Employee Provident fund are locked in until the age of 60 so people leave without this money and no hope for ever retrieving it.” – Kodaikanal International School (Kodaikanal, India) – 53 Comments

“The school provides no pension, but 9% is deducted from the monthly paycheck to pay into IPS, which is sort of like Social Security. If a teacher retires in Paraguay, he or she will receive money through IPS. So for the most part, saving for retirement is in the hands of the foreign hires; they must have the discipline to do it themselves.” – American School of Asuncion (Asuncion, Paraguay) – 58 Comments

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Traveling Around

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

December 14, 2014


Traveling Around: Bermuda

Can you relate?

• Having an international school teacher friend that moved to a tropical location that you were FOR SURE going to visit at some point.
• Realizing that Bermuda is indeed so close to the United States and only around 1.5 hour flight from JFK airport in New York.  Why did I wait so long to visit this country!?
• Staying at a friend’s apartment and enjoying the view from their balcony while eating breakfast every morning.

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• Finally understanding exactly what Bermuda shorts are and when the locals wear them.
• Taking the local public transportation (with a mix of locals and tourists) to one of the many beautiful beaches in Bermuda.
• Filming a 30-second movie on my smartphone at each of the beaches that I visited and posting them on Facebook for all my friends to see!
• Visiting the school that my international school teacher friend works at and getting a personal tour of campus.

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• Being a bit jealous of my friend’s less than five-minute walk to work.
• Going grocery shopping at a local grocery store and finding a paper bag (for bagging up your purchased products) that had a printed warning about the upcoming hurricane season on it.
• Checking out some the more popular caves in Bermuda and wondering whether I truly like visiting caves or not.
• Seeing animals that only a tropical island would have, but also finding animals that I thought an island wouldn’t have (e.g. cardinal birds).

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• Walking around a wooded area and finding a “secret spot” to swim, only to find that some other people were already swimming in this secret spot!
• Getting a nice ride on my friend’s moto to her most favorite beach on the island and finding it to be very worth the scariness of being on the back of a small motobike going at pretty fast speeds.
• Thinking I’m being all free and all by walking around the area around the beach in my bare feet only to find that I wish I would have worn my sandals because of the extremely rocky ground (sharp!).
• Taking lots of pictures of all the free-roaming roosters walking around everywhere on the island. Beautiful feathers!

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• Being in awe of the parrot fish. Finding it in one place and then finding it even up closer in another location the next day. So colorful!
• Eating some amazing local fish (wahoo anyone?) at a variety of restaurants.
• Getting the opportunity to go on my friend’s work colleague’s house sailboat for the day. He took us around the beautiful island to a secret spot to go swimming in the open ocean. It was a really nice, warm and sunny day too!
• Avoiding going to the more popular, very touristy, beach in Bermuda. I ended up going there though on my last day and I am glad that I did. There weren’t too many people there and it was fun to walk around the beach to enjoy the awesome views.
• Not getting burnt at all from being out in the sun too much. Still got some color on my skin, but I was very wise to not over do it and make sure to put on enough sunscreen.
• Shopping at the local “expat/imported” grocery store and being astounded by the VERY expensive prices there. I think a bag of cherries was 25 USD!!!

Currently we have 19 international schools listed in Caribbean on International School Community. Here are the ones that have comments submitted on them:

 Lucaya International School (Freeport, Bahamas) – 15 Comments
• 
St. Andrew’s – International School of the Bahamas (Freeport, Bahamas) – 7 Comments
• 
The Codrington School (Int’l School of Barbados) (St. John, Barbados) – 32 Comments
• 
Somersfield Academy (Devonshire, Bermuda) – 18 Comments
• 
The Bermuda High School for Girls  (Pembroke, Bermuda) – 41 Comments
• 
International School of Havana (Havana City, Cuba) – 15 Comments
• 
American school of Santo Domingo (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) – 6 Comments
• 
Saint George School (Dom. Rep.) (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) – 4 Comments
• 
St. Michael’s School (Dominican Republic) (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) – 11 Comments
• 
The Ashton School of Santo Domingo (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) – 21 Comments
• 
International School of Sosua (Sosua, Dominican Republic) – 9 Comments
• 
American International School of Kingston (Kingston, Jamaica) – 7 Comments
• 
International School of Curacao (Curacao, Netherlands Antilles) – 8 Comments
• 
Saipan International School  (Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands) – 13 Comments
• 
Guamani Private School (Guayama, Puerto Rico) – 16 Comments
• 
Caribbean School (Ponce, Puerto Rico) – 7 Comments
• 
International School St. Lucia (West Indies) (Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia) – 20 Comments
• 
International School of Port of Spain (Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago) – 17 Comments
• 
Cedar International School (Tortola, Virgin Islands, British) – 7 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!

PHOTO CONTEST!  Don’t forget to enter our current photo contest: Best Beach Shot. Top three photos win free premium membership. Actually, every that participates wins 1 week of free premium membership. Enter today!

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How NOT to Save Money

How NOT to save money: Transferring money back to your home country multiple times and at the wrong times

November 2, 2014


We all hear about the big possibility of saving money while working at international schools, but the reality is that many of us don’t save much of any money.  So, why aren’t international school teachers saving money?

How NOT to save money when working as an international school teacher #5 – Transferring money back to your home country multiple times and at the wrong times

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 5.24.22 PMWhen you have three or more bank accounts in three or more different countries, you know you are an international school teacher.

It is exciting dealing with multiple currencies.  Suddenly, you are quite interested in the exchange rate of EUR to USD and can quote how it has changed over the past 3-5 years, or longer.  Knowing about the value of currencies is super important when working abroad, especially if your goal is to transfer that money into bank accounts that are supposed to help you save.

International schools pay their teachers is a variety of ways.  Many schools just pay you in their local currency, quite simple.  Other schools will pay you one percentage in your home country currency and the other percentage in the local currency (thus possibly elimating the need to transfer any money at all!).

There are also schools that might pay you all in USD (even though you are teaching in Uganda for example) and transfer your salary to your home account each month for you.  Another example of how international school pays their teachers is when they might pay you all in EUR (even though you are teaching in China for example) and send that to your home bank account each month.  money-transfer-onlineIf your home bank account isn’t in EUR, then that could be a problem.  The problem is that each month you will potentially be receiving a different amount each time your salary is transferred. If the school doesn’t lock in an exchange rate for a year (meaning you get the same amount each month) and if the exchange right in question starts to change in an unfavorable direction, then you will find yourself getting less and less money each month.  Of course it could fluctuate in a positive way as well, which will definitely make you smile and rejoice, but the risk is maybe not what most are willing to take.

 

It is nice when your international school will do the bank transfer for you; nice and convenient for you. However, when you have to do the bank transfers yourself, it can be a bit of a headache for you.  Knowing that most international bank transfers completed at the bank itself are more expensive, your best bet it to do the bank transfer via online banking.  You are lucky if your online banking with your host country bank is in English (or your own mother tongue), but most times it is in the language of the host country.  Some advice: get a local friend to help you figure out and translate your bank’s website or call your bank’s customer service number (most times they will have somebody that can speak to you in English).  Remember to get all the right numbers in order to make a successful international bank transfer (SWIFT code, bank account number, etc)!

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 5.25.00 PMEven when you initiating your own international bank transfers, you need smart about when you do them because of fluctuating exchange rates and all the fees involved. You will most likely need to pay a transfer fee at your host country bank as well as a receiving fee in your home country bank.  You also don’t want to be transferring many times throughout the year, sending only little amounts. Your best bet is to transfer the maximum amount each time your do a transfer (hopefully when the exchange rate is favorable for you!), so that you can minimize the bank transfer fees.

Usually international bank transfers will take 5-7 days to get into your home bank account, so make sure you don’t this money immediately and plan ahead.

We all have our reasons for transferring money back home and for transferring money from home to your host country.  Maybe you need to make a monthly payment for a mortgage that you have.  Maybe you decide to use your home country credit card for big purchases that you make while living abroad (e.g. capital one has a good credit card that doesn’t charge fees for international purchases and you can also earn points for free flights!) that you need to pay off.  With all these things that we need to transfer money for, we need to be smart about when and how we make these bank transfers.

How often do you have to make international bank transfers? Please share any advice about how you do it, so that you are not wasting your money away.

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We do have a comment topic on our website related to salaries and the currency/currencies in which they are paid (some also discuss transferring money).  It is in the Benefits section of the comments and information tab on the school profile pages. It is called: Average monthly salary after taxes and in what currency (explain taxation situation). How often do you get paid throughout the year?

“Many teachers don’t need to have a local bank account as your salaries are just transferred in your home country one. – International School of Tanganyika  (Dar es salaam, Tanzania) – 60 Comments

“Staff are paid in LKR, which is near on impossible to transfer out of the country. Especially if you want to send it back to the UK.” – The British School in Colombo (Colombo, Sri Lanka) – 35 Comments

“Salaries are at a competitive level, varying according to the teacher’s qualifications and experience. They are paid in addition to fully furnished housing, a local transportation allowance, health insurance, annual tickets for repatriation, and a discount of 50% for teachers’ children in the school. Salaries are paid at the end of each month by being transferred into the teacher’s bank in Saud Arabian Riyals (SAR) which can be converted easily into the currency of choice and sent elsewhere or maintained there, as the teacher chooses. All salary and benefits are free of tax in Saudi Arabia.” – Dhahran Ahliyya Schools (Dammam, Saudi Arabia) – 60 Comments

“Salary is paid on the last working day of each month. Salary is paid in Euro, whilst wage slips are in Sterling. Italian bank accounts are opened for the transfer of salaries. The school assists in this process at the start of the academic year.” – The English International School of Padua (Padova, Italy) – 12 Comments

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Photo Contests

New Photo Contest: Host Country Cultural Event (Top 3 photos win free membership to our website!)

October 12, 2014


One of the best parts of living abroad is to partake in the local cultural events.  So new, so different, so interesting!

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Castellers in Barcelona.

Photo contest topic:
A cultural event in your host country that you got the wonderful chance to experience and watch.

The PRIZES:
1st prize: 2 YEARS FREE of premium membership
2nd prize: 1 YEAR FREE of premium membership
3rd prize: 6 MONTHS FREE of premium membership

(Those submissions that are not in the top three will receive 1 free week for just participating.)

Submit your photo today!

(Deadline to submit your photo: 26 October, 2014. Maximum one photo per contestant.)

Check out our previous Photo Contests here.

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