As all International School Community members know, each of the 2081+ school profile pages on our website has four comments sections: School Information, Benefits Information, City Information and Travel Information. Our members are encouraged to submit comments on one or all of these sections if they currently work at an international school or have worked at one in the past.
It is important that we all share what we know so that we can in turn help other teachers make a more informed decision before they sign any contract! *Additionally, for every 10 comments you submit (which are anonymous by the way), you will automatically get one free month of premium membership added on to your account! The more comments you leave, the more free membership you get!
So, what are the recent statistics about the School Information sections on all the school profile pages? The current total number of submitted comments in the School Information section is 14742 (out of a total of 31084+ comments).
There are 24 subtopics in the School Information section on each school profile page. Check out each one of these subtopics below and find out the total number of comments in that specific sub topic and an example comment that has been submitted there.
• Describe the different aspects of the school building and the school grounds. Also, describe the surrounding area around the campus. (1391 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The school is set in 3 separate building, one being a 5 minute walk and the other across the road. Crossing the road is quite a safety hazard with the kindergarten class due to taxis over taking them whilst they are on the crossing and the local police not doing anything to monitor this. There is no proper play area and students are taken to local parks for lunch breaks, which is difficult when having to share with babies. No proper gym areas make p.e quite difficult.” – Canadian International School (Tokyo) (Tokyo, Japan) – 93 Comments
• What types of accreditation does this school have? When is the accreditation up for renewal? Any religious affiliations? (1041 Total Comments)
Example comment: “It is a non-religiously affiliated school owned by a Christian affiliated college and operated on that campus. It is WASC accredited, but is not accredited by the Korean authorities and seems to be a limbo in regards to its local status.” –Global Prodigy Academy (Jeonju, South Korea) – 48 Comments
• Recent things that the school has taken on (i.e. new curriculum, specific professional development, etc.). (628 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The school is discussing becoming IB and has implemented Teacher’s College Readers and Writer’s Workshop as well as whole language learning in the primary schools. Secondary schools do MAPS-based action plans to show and monitor student improvement and compare them to US students.” – American School of Torreon (Torreon, Mexico) – 51 Comments
• 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? (1413 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Last year they were NOT hiring people with non-EU passports. Some positions that they had last year were local hires, even if the candidates weren’t the strongest of the CVs that they received. Most of this though is out of the school’s control and more the new/changing laws regarding hiring foreigners into the country.” – Southbank International School (London, United Kingdom) – 15 Comments
• 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? (1312 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The school is located near one of the hub stations in Tokyo, with easy access by several trains and subways. The school also has two school bus routes. The school will help the teachers find housing if necessary, but it does not itself provide housing. A transportation allowance is provided to cover the transportation cost from home to school and back.” – New International School of Japan (Tokyo, Japan) – 30 Comments
• Are the expectations high of teaching staff? Are there extra curricular responsibilities? Describe workload details. (716 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Expectations are high but the atmosphere is supportive. Staff are expected to undertake duties on a rota bais before and after school, at break times and lunch times. Staff are expected to run one extra curricular activity for one term per year. There is a decent amount of non-contact time at around 20% of timetable.” – Rasami (Thai-British) International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 75 Comments
• Average class size for primary and secondary. Describe any aide support. (731 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Class sizes are very small. In primary, they are normally a combination of two grade levels (i.e. Grades 1 and 2 together) and about 16 kids with a teaching assistant. In secondary class size is smaller and can range from four to twelve per grade level.” – Hiroshima International School (Hiroshima, Japan) – 64 Comments
• Describe language abilities of students at this school and what is the “common language spoken in the hallways”? Is there one dominate culture group? (1106 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The Thao Dien (Primary) campus in the expat area has students from about 20 countries. The TT Campus, Primary, Middle School and Secondary is mainly Vietnamese. Korean is the next largest student group. Very few students from Western Countries. Has a large EAL population.” – Australian International School HCMC (Vietnam) (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) – 19 Comments
• Describe what kinds of teachers work here (local vs. expat, nationality, qualifications [or lack there of], etc.) and staff turnover rate. (1154 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Primarily expat teachers, without any one nationality dominating things. When I left in 2011 there were teachers from Australia, Canada, US, UK, South Africa, Belgium, and Tanzania just within my department. Some teachers stay 7 to 10 years or more, while others just 2 to 4 years, as in most international schools.” – International School of Tanganyika (Dar es salaam, Tanzania) – 171 Comments
• What types of budgets to classroom teachers/departments get? (441 Total Comments)
Example comment: “budgets have been steadily dropping. Ownership slyly changed the school from a not for profit school to a for profit school, without notifying parents of the change.” – Makuhari International School (Tokyo, Japan) – 22 Comments
• PARENTS ONLY – General comments from parents of students that go to this school (158 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The mastery system is open to the interpretation of each teacher, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.” – QSI International School of Dongguan (Dongguan, China) – 64 Comments
• What types of sports programs and activities does the school offer? (615 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The school offers a wide variety of after school activities which are run by teachers. There is no extra pay for this. Teachers can choose which activity they would like to lead.” – International School of Koje (Geoje, South Korea) – 47 Comments
• Name some special things about this school that makes it unique. (623 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The school has an excellent music program that frequently presents music and drama to the local community and other schools. Students in the diploma program seek out ways to serve the community needs.” – Oeiras International School (Lisbon, Portugal) – 157 Comments
• In general, describe the demeanor of the students. (531 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The students are generally great, however there are no entrance exams or behavior requirements. The owners Tehmine and Stephan want to make as much money as possible. There definitely are no requirements to enter this school.” – Surabaya European School (Surabaya, Indonesia) – 20 Comments
• Has the school met your expectations once you started working there? (286 Total Comments)
Example comment: “I’ve really enjoyed working at the school. I have always been able to approach admin if I needed to.” – The Codrington School (Int’l School of Barbados) (St. John, Barbados) – 70 Comments
• What does the school do to create a harmonious state of well-being and high morale amongst its staff? (339 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The school has a health and wellness program where a lot of teachers connect and exercise together. Also, the PTO regularly hosts cocktail events after school. Plus there are scheduled tours and cultural events.” – Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia) – 69 Comments
• Describe the technologies available at the school and how people are/are not using them. (405 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Each teacher has a PC (windows only. The printer server won’t talk to macs) and a smart board. However, the smart boards are not all hooked up or working so it’s a very expensive video screen. Slow internet. Nothing Google, youtube, or Facebook works in China.” – Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (Beijing, China) – 143 Comments
• Details about the current teacher appraisal process. (252 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Get on your principal’s good side and you are fine. If they do not like you you will immediately get put on a corrective plan and ushered out. Just flatter the admin and you will be fine.” – Abu Dhabi International Private School (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) – 43 Comments
• Is the student population declining, staying the same or increasing? Give details why. (382 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The number of students has increased. There is a waitlist for Year 6 now.” – UCSI International School Subang Jaya (Subang Jaya, Malaysia) – 11 Comments
• How have certain things improved since you started working there? (200 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The one more important thing that changed for the positive, in around 2011-12, was the school initiated an 8000 RMB per year, per teacher, PD allowance. Before that there wasn’t an allowance. There was though PD for the DP teachers before that.” – Yew Chung International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China) – 30 Comments
• How is this school different or the same when compared to schools in your home country? (147 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Well one thing that my school had in the United States was a coordinator for reading in the Primary school. I feel that CIS would benefit from having one of those. We need somebody to coordinate how the primary school teaches reading and someone to coordinate resources. Also, someone to help us have a clearer stop and sequence across the grade levels.” – Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 350 Comments
• What controversies have been happening lately? Please be objective. (263 Total Comments)
Example comment: “The school hires foreign teachers but sometimes it is difficult for the teachers to integrate into the school. It is really a combination of moving to Chile and assimilating as a foreigner as well as the schools lack of support to receive foreign teachers. The administration has recognized this problem and is working to help future hires.” – Santiago College (Santiago, Chile) – 24 Comments
• What insider information would you give to a teacher considering working at this school? (373 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Remember state school teachers are paid twice as much for half the work. All the locals are on waiting lists for Govt. schools but they are years (centuries) long.” – International School of Paphos (Paphos, Cyprus) – 123 Comments
• How much curriculum development work are you expected to do? (Atlas Rubicon, etc.) (235 Total Comments)
Example comment: “A curriculum coordinator offers huge levels of support for this. During the current year, this load is heavy because of where we are in the accreditation cycle. High School has used Rubicon for a while. Lower School is just starting to use Rubicon.” – American School of Marrakesh (Marrakesh, Morocco) – 29 Commentscontinue reading
In my earlier career in public schools in Alberta, Canada I was a Drama teacher. The arts always seemed to be under threat in the public education system, and in my experience Music, Art and Drama teachers always seemed to be fighting for their survival. We had thriving Drama classes and a popular extra-curricular programme at my school where students in Junior High and Senior High competed in Zone and Provincial Drama Festivals, but when I went to teach in Australia on a year-long exchange they cancelled the Drama programme to save money, and only the Art classes and the Band programme survived the arts cuts that year.
Teaching in Queensland, Australia for a year was an eye-opener as far as the arts went. Programmes seemed to be very well supported with excellent facilities and had far more to offer students such as many workshops in specialities like mime, street theatre and dance for example than the much more basic curriculums I was used to in Canada. The arts curriculums seemed to be very extensive and arts taken for granted as a part of an Australian school. After a huge well supported musical “Annie Get Your Gun” I returned to my school in Canada where we had no theatre and I taught Drama in a regular classroom, pushing aside the desks as needed.
I had to return to Canada and teach as an English teacher even though I wanted to teach Drama. For many students in my experience, the arts are vital to balance out academics and sports. All students need an opportunity to excel and be successful in something, and for many that is not their regular exam classes or a sports team. So the art teacher and I collaborated and kept the school productions going, a total of 25 Junior and Senior High shows over the years where students could act, sing and dance or work backstage, or designing the set. Students loved the opportunity to be creative, and often it was the behaviourally challenged students or those who didn’t quite ‘fit in’ in other classes that loved Drama the most. We continued to participate in the Zone Festivals winning many times, and what a treat it was to be in a real theatre! The highlight was going to the Provincial Drama Festival and winning Best Ensemble and raft of other awards for our huge production of “The Canterbury Tales.’
Before I left Canada I was chosen for a Commonwealth Teacher Exchange to the United Kingdom. I went to teach in beautiful Norwich, Norfolk and became familiar with the British National Curriculum at KS3 and KS4 in particular. In England I was exposed to the rigour of a Drama programme shaped around students completing exams for their GCSE’s. I liked in particular how Drama, Music and Art were all exam subjects with strict, demanding curriculums and the disciplines were treated the same as academic subjects. In Alberta, Canada the arts are not exam subjects and the curriculum is very much left up to the teacher. I left England after our huge whole-school production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” with much to think about.
The thinking led me to the Search Associates Recruiting Fair in London, England and a decision to work in International Schools. I accepted an offer to teach GCSE Drama and IBDP Theatre at one of the top British Curriculum schools in China. The school was expanding from the Junior School to a brand-new Senior School. Before I became a teacher I had done a degree in Technical Theatre and so I had a lot of input into the building of the brand new Black Box classroom I would be working in and the incredible state-of the-art Theatre. What a treat it was to work in such amazing facilities with such keen students and such small classes after public education! I was familiar with the GCSE Drama curriculum and put students through both the EdExcel and the Cambridge exam board. My top tip for teachers wanting to work in British curriculum schools is don’t apply unless you already know the British National Curriculum, and the requirements of at least one GCSE exam board. It’s a very steep (I would say almost impossible) learning curve if you don’t already come in with that knowledge. It was no problem that I had no IBDP Theatre experience. The school had an unlimited budget and was quick to send me for training for my Category 1 IBDP Theatre course and countless other IBDP workshops. It’s easy to do well and get good results working in this kind of environment. Don’t kid yourself though-the results and marks really matter to the students, the parents and the school and if you don’t deliver you’ll be out. My love of Theatre and the performing arts in particular was well supported here with productions of “Aladdin,” “Macbeth,” “Blood Brothers,” “Cinderella” and “Marriage Proposal” amongst many other class and exam productions.
In my current school in Singapore I’m in a different role. I am Head of Arts for the Secondary school. I supervise the Music, Visual Arts, Drama and Theatre programmes. I have six teachers working in the Arts Department. We are an IB World School and run PYP, MYP and IBDP curriculum. It’s important as HOD Arts to make sure we offer a balanced programme, no one art discipline can take precedence over another. Our students in Years 7, 8 and 9 all take all three arts classes. In Years 10 and 11 they choose one of the Arts disciplines to specialize in for two years and complete their exam ePortfolio of four assignments in Year 11. At the school we also offer IBDP Visual Arts and Theatre for two years. I teach some Drama classes and Theatre, but I am also given a lot of HOD time to manage staff, take care of the budget, ensure curriculum is being taught well, arrange standardisation and moderation of marks and a myriad of other responsibilities. I have my IBDP Cat 2 now and am an Examiner for the IBDP Theatre curriculum.
We run Arts Nights for the performing arts in each semester, as well as a school Talent Show. The Visual Arts puts up displays of art at these times as well as participating in the huge IN Exhibition of Visual Art from fifteen International Schools in Singapore as well as the IBDP Visual Arts Exhibition in the Spring. We run extensive co-curricular and extra-curricular activities for the students in the arts like bands, singing groups, drumming lessons and arts workshops. We are an International School Theatre Association School and run a lot of workshops through them e.g bringing the theatre company ‘Frantic Assembly’ in from the UK or Marco Luly- a Commedia dell’ Arte expert in from Italy. We run two Musicals a year, the Secondary Musical for Years 9-13 and the Primary/Middle School Musical for Years 3-8. The last four years we have done “Urbs, Urbis,” “Arlecchino and the City of Love,” “Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, “ “A Christmas Carol” and currently with a team of ten teachers and over 75 students “Cinderella, Rockerfella.” All of our shows are performed in professional theatre facilities we rent in Singapore. All of this is such a pleasant change from fighting for the arts survival in a Canadian public school, and having to fight for every cent we wanted to spend. I wish I had gone to work in International Schools much earlier in my career, but better late than never!
This article was submitted to us by International School Community member, Sara Lynn Burrough. Sara Lynn Burrough has worked as a Drama/Theatre teacher for the past 38 years in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, China and Singapore. She has a BEd, an MEd, was a professional stage manager at the Banff Centre for the Arts and studied Technical Theatre at McGill University in Montreal. In Canada as a teacher she worked for many years for Northern Gateway Schools in Alberta, and during that time was selected for two teacher exchange programmes. Her first exchange to Australia was with Alberta Education and the Queensland Department of Education where she taught at Costessey High School, in Coolum Beach on the Sunshine Coast. Her second exchange was with the prestigious ‘League for the Exchange of Commonwealth Teachers’ (LECT) where she was one of two Canadian teachers selected to go to the United Kingdom for the millennial year to the United Kingdom. The Queen Mother was the patron of LECT and as she was celebrating her 100th birthday that year Sara Lynn was privileged to attend the celebrations in London as an invitee. In 2013 Sara Lynn decided to teach in International Schools and attended the Search Associates recruiting fair in London, England. From there she went to Dulwich College in Suzhou, China to teach GCSE Drama and IBDP Theatre in the Senior School. After China Sara Lynn went to Singapore for almost five years as Head of Arts (Music, Visual Arts, Drama) at Chatsworth International School where she taught MYP Drama and IBDP Theatre.
Using our unique Comment Search feature on our website (premium membership access needed), we found 96 comments that have the keyword “Drama” in them, and 14 comments that had the word “The Arts” in them.
Here are some comments that shown a positive light on Learning Support programs at international schools:
“The school just celebrated its 50th anniversary and there are many banners around the school. The school in involved with the SITS programme which is a quality drama and arts programme for kids.” – Oslo International School (17 Total Comments)
“Stoke City FC just started this school year and there are several other “big” initiatives as well, mostly in music and drama departments.” – Western International School of Shanghai (312 Total Comments)
“It is limited. In primary there is futsal, while secondary usually has volleyball and basketball. Baseball is popular but it is not offered in any organised way. The school usually participates at the MUN conference in Kobe in February each year. Drama and arts offerings have increased in recent years.” – Hiroshima International School (64 Total Comments)
“The school offers no sports programs, and occasionally offers a drama Club to students, depending on teacher interest.” – Alexandria International Academy (78 Total Comments)
“Piloting the iPad initiative this year and also looking to expand the arts program with the addition of the multi-purpose hall that houses a mini-theater.” – Universal American School in Dubai (57 Total Comments)
“There are opportunities in the arts (dance, voice, musical instrumental, drama), a good number of sports offerings (climbing, competitive sports, etc.). Lots!” – American School of Dubai (98 Total Comments)continue reading
“Morale and attitude are fundamentals to success.”
― Bud Wilkinson
A school can be a complicated place. There aren’t many jobs where you surround yourself with hundreds of children every day!
But like any other place of “business”, a school needs to have a think about how they will keep their staff feeling good about where they work and how they are doing their job. We all know that teaching can, at times, be quite stressful on the teachers.
When you are feeling good about your workplace and job performance, everyone benefits; namely the students, but also your colleagues and bosses. But when teachers are stressed out and with a low morale about working at their school, typically nobody benefits.
You can, of course, be with high spirits on your own doing. But it is important to feel valued by the whole school community as that plays a factor as well. Feeling like you are part of a team can help you stay positive and optimistic at your school.
What, then, do international schools do to make sure their staff is feeling valued?
International School Community is full of thousands of useful and informative comments…16780 (24 Apr. 2016) to be exact. We scoured our database of comments, and we found nine that stood out to us as being some of the coolest ways to show appreciation and boost staff morale.
9. Khartoum International Community School (Khartoum, Sudan) – 65 Total Comments
“The school administration does a lot to make life easy for expats. They have put systems in place that make it very easy to live here and feel looked after. Along with the board they also put on big social events for teachers and staff at least once a semester (start of year / xmas party / end of year etc). There is a social committee as well which has organised coffee afternoons, Nile boat trips, picnics and so on. Truth to say the morale in the Senior Section has dipped in recent years but many of those who were not happy have now left so we are all hoping that things will now improve. Morale across the rest of the school is great.”
8. Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 202 Total Comments
“Welcome back brunch and lots of staff socials. Set up a Social Committee to feedback ideas to Director on all aspects of school. Director regularly thanks and acknowledges staff through e-mail and meetings. There have been 3 cases of surprise bonus’ paid to all staff as a thanks.”
7. Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 282 Total Comments
“One way to create some “social capital” at our school year this was to have a whole-staff scavenger hunt the first day back. It was VERY well received, and everyone had a great time. There were like 30 teams of 5-6 people and we all went around the city to collect items and/or take pictures of certain things, all for various amounts of points. Super fun! It was all organized by teachers actually.”
6. Yew Chung International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China) – 27 Total Comments
“There is a social committee at this school and they arrange different activities for the teachers. Like one night could be bowling or everyone meet at a bar. The group tries to do something every month. A lot of people participate. There was also a karaoke night and laser tag.”
5. Kampala International School (Kampala, Uganda) – 50 Total Comments
“At the beginning of each school year, we go to a resort for an overnight training and social. There is a PD during the day, evening there is dinner and a band. The next more there is breakfast and maybe go for a swim in the pool. There has been training in from people abroad. Last year, it was somebody with pivotal education, Darryll.”
4. American School of Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain) – 157 Total Comments
“There was a social committee in place for a couple of years, but it was a volunteer position and the demands of it weren’t worth the time anymore. There is an HR person in place now who has set up a wine tasting and other events for staff. The staff tends to socialize quite a bit outside of school, even with kids! The school puts on holiday parties and festive lunches around holidays, though not extravagant, most of the food-drinks are free.”
3. Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia) – 66 Total Comments
“The school has a health and wellness program where a lot of teachers connect and exercise together. Also, the PTO regularly hosts cocktail events after school. Plus there are scheduled tours and cultural events.”
2. Hiroshima International School (Hiroshima, Japan) – 64 Total Comments
“Christmas and end of year staff parties. It is also traditional to bring “omiyage” gifts (cookies and other small snacks) from teachers who have attended a conference or tournament elsewhere in Japan.”
1. KIS International School (Bangkok) (Bangkok, Thailand) – 70 Total Comments
“There are a lot of teacher and admin getaways as well as plenty of room for professional development. The management goes out of its way to answer questions before issues come up, and western holidays are recognized with food and decorations from home.”
If you would like to share what your school does to create a high staff morale, log in to International School Community and submit your comments. For every 10 submitted comments, you will get one month of free premium membership added to your account!continue reading
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.
A few entries that we would like to highlight:
“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.
“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!continue reading
Can you relate?
• Traveling around on trains using the Japanese Rail Pass, and having unlimited access for the entire trip.
• Enjoying the beauty of cherry blossoms, called ‘sakura’ in Japanese.
• Paying good money for a few pieces of delicious fatty tuna sushi. Worth every penny!
• Being offered dessert from a kind group of Japanese young people, after they catch us checking out their food.
• Having a group photo, soon after, with this same group of young people.
• Seeing Hello Kitty everywhere!
• Noticing that everything is so darn cute in Japan.
• Walking for miles in search for the perfect bowl of tempura.
• Wondering what is going on when every few people you see are wearing medical masks, and discovering that though some people wear them when they are sick, others wear them to hide a blemish or their emotions!
• Entering a store dedicated entirely to chopsticks, some running in the hundreds of dollars.
• Visiting Kyoto in hopes of seeing at least one, elusive geisha, and being lucky enough to see one after another, after another.
• Walking around to look at all of the beautiful temples, and constantly being passed by fast walking, little old ladies, who may even be in their 90’s! There’s longevity in this country.
• Watching some very strange TV programs while in the hotel room. Was it a game show, a reality show, a talk show? It was all in Japanese, so who knows!
• Walking around the bottom ﬂoor a fancy department store, which was devoted all to food, including perfectly wrapped strawberries which cost about $50, and a watermelon which cost $100.
• Taking the train to Osaka just for dinner.
• Spending the last night in the Tokyo neighborhood of Shibuya, and trying to cross the busiest intersection in the world.
• Asking myself, since I live in Korea, why it has taken me three years before visiting Japan?
Currently we have 39 international schools listed in Japan on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profile pages:
• Hiroshima International School (23 Comments)
• Canadian Academy (Kobe) (10 Comments)
• Kyoto International School (14 Comments)
• Nagoya International School (12 Comments)
• American School in Japan (20 Comments)
• Seisen International School (33 Comments)
• Horizon Japan International School (9 Comments)
• St. Mary’s International School (14 Comments)
If you are on a trip right now, away from your host country, write to us at email@example.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 6 free months of premium membership!continue reading
Are you inspired to start up a blog about your adventures living abroad?
Our 26th blog that we would like to highlight is called “A Leaf Around The World” Check out the wealth of information in the blog entries of this international school educator who currently works at Yokohama International School in Japan.
A few entries that we would like to highlight:
“I have been reading this book called ‘How to Be an Explorer of the World’. It’s basically a guidebook/ reminder of my creative thinking, whenever I feel like, I turn the pages and roll in. Last night, I came across the exploration #4 which is a very simple practice. During your walk to your work/school,etc. you pick up 30 things. A collection of 30 random things… I decided that I will pick one object everyday and will record my findings and thoughts here. It will take a month and in the end I will try to create an artwork with my findings. It is a challenge for me to break away from my daily routine of speed walking to the train station while I am nibbling over my so called breakfast consisting a piece of toasted bread with cheese, paying attention to nothing but the road that leads me to my destination. A nice challenge though, one that will make me look at things rather than seeing them passing by…”
What a great idea! I think every one should have a go at this if they are living in a foreign country. Sometimes we can walk down a street many times in a foreign city and not notice certain things, even things such as a store. If we can remember to take a look around ourselves while living abroad, it could only help us to better understand our current situation and aide you in making new connections with regards to your life living in your host country.
“If you are living in Japan, you make a big commitment to recycle. The moment that you register with your neighbourhood ward, you are given an A4 paper of how to separate your rubbish. There are certain days for certain garbage and you need to tie them up as shown in the picture and moreover you need to wash your plastic garbage before you put it out in front of your door…”
I love the topic of recycling in other countries. Each one does it slightly different. Sometimes it takes awhile to get into the swing of things when trying to recycle things from your home after you have just moved to a new country. If you are living in Shanghai, there isn’t really a city recycling programme. But that doesn’t mean people in Shanghai don’t recycle. There are always people with big bags going to and looking inside of garbage cans in Shanghai. They are the recyclers. Actually, they look at their recycling other people’s garbage as their job, according to an article I read on the That’s Shanghai website.
“Every morning, I walk to the train station in Yutenji. On my way to the station I meet the same people everyday, the little old lady neighbour who sweeps her front door, the young woman on her fancy bike with a trendy green backpack, the father and daughter walking down to Nakameguro, the big old neighbourhood watchman sitting on a bench in Yutenji park which is the smallest park ever with its own rules and regulations written on a sign in both Japanese and English. The most interesting thing every morning for me, is the board that hangs on the wall of a very old house with weekly messages from a wise neighbour. Everyday when I walk down that road, I stop, read the message and think about it on my way to the station…”
Your journey to work is an important one. Going to work in a car is a bit different than going to work by bike or walking. You can see and interact with more people when walking to work. You can get some exercise biking to work. It is important to research how teachers get to work at international schools you are intersted in working at; will it be a good match with the preferred way you like to get to work?
If you are also interested in starting your career in the international school community, feel free to check out the 1300+ international schools that are listed on International School Community here. Also, don’t forget to check out our latest submitted comments and information about these schools. We have over 6000+ submitted comments and information as of this blog entry!
Want to work for an international school in the Japan like this blogger? Currently, we have 37 international schools listed in the Japan on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:
• American School in Japan (19 Comments)
• Seisen International School (22 Comments)
• St. Mary’s International School (14 Comments)
• Kyoto International School (9 Comments)
• Horizon Japan International School (9 Comments)
• Canadian Academy (Kobe) (10 Comments)
• Hiroshima International School (17 Comments)
• Gunma Kokusai Academy (8 Comments)
An educator shares about his experiences working over 20 years in and with international schools (Part 1)
I began teaching a long time ago, in a brand new high school, 35km south east of Melbourne, Australia. I was trained as a Science and Mathematics teacher, but, over the years, I’ve taught just about everything except Art – it has really helped to give me an understanding of how young people learn. I worked in secondary schools around Melbourne for a while, and had a stint as a government curriculum consultant in my district.
A friend had induced my former wife and I to go on a group tour to Bali, the first time I had been overseas (like many, many Australians). We then visited the same friend when she went to work in Penang, and then I was fortunate to be part of a trip to Los Angeles and Brazil through Rotary.
My former spotted an advertisement in the paper for Hiroshima International School. I applied, and got the job as the teacher of 25 grade 6 to 10 students. At that time, the school was in the process of planning a move from a small warehouse in the inner suburbs to a new school further out. We had two small children, and lived in a house about 1km up the hill (and there are plenty of them in Japan) from the school.
Living in Japan was wonderful, and we had a lot of amazing experiences. We made friends with our neighbours, even though only one of them spoke English, and we spoke virtually no Japanese. Everyone we met was very friendly. We returned to Melbourne after one year and resumed a normal suburban existence.
My true international career began much later, when things weren’t going that well in my life. I went to an information night for a recruiting agent. It was mentioned that Bali International School needed an IT person, so I went home, adjusted my CV accordingly, and got the job. I worked with some very talented teachers in a small school, and met my wife, Helen, there. During my fourth year, things didn’t quite go to plan, and I found myself helping a friend establish a small school, which became an economic casualty of the Bali bombing. It was at B.I.S. that I first became involved with the International Baccalaureate, through the Middle Years Programme. I really liked it, because it was in line with what we had been doing in secondary schools back in Australia. Bali was a good place to live, and we all worked hard and partied hard.
Helen and I found jobs at Sekolah Ciputra, in Surabaya. I was running their new international program, out of Melbourne, with 12 students out of 90 in Grade 12. Helen was a classroom teacher, but, during the break, successfully applied for the position of Elementary Principal. By the end of the first year, I found myself as Secondary Principal. We were there for seven years, and turned it into an excellent 3-programme IB school. A major factor was the professional development that we did with our colleagues every week. It was very difficult at first, because we were foreigners who were really changing the paradigms, but we persevered and still keep in touch with many of our Indonesian colleagues.
The school was in a large estate on the western outskirts of the city, and we had a great lifestyle, Golf, on a fabulous course, was part of the contracts, and we often hacked our way around. We could go for bicycle ride out through the villages on the weekends and there was enough to do in the city to keep us occupied.
Stay tuned next month for the 2nd part of this article. In the meantime, make sure the check out Andrew’s website which tells more about the services he currently offers to international schools.continue reading
Tell us about your background. Where are you from?
Auckland, New Zealand
How did you get started in the international teaching community?
My husband died and I decided to register with Search Associates with another couple who I taught with in Auckland – we decided we wanted to teach abroad in an internationals school, so we registered with Search Associates. We attended a fair in Sydney – initially on registration we had all been approached by a Principal from a school in the Middle East but decided to attend the Fair before making a decision. At the Fair, they were offered (and accepted) jobs in the Middle East, and I returned to NZ . I declined the job in the Middle East and was later offered a position in Tokyo, which I accepted, to start in August 2008.
Which international schools have you worked at? Please share some aspects of the schools that made them unique and fun places in which to work.
I have only worked at the one international school – Seisen International School from 2008. I am in my 4th year of teaching at Seisen. Seisen was my first experience in a PYP school. It was a new learning curve, but one which I was happy to engage in and has been a great experience. I love teaching the PYP programme and consider my years have been both personally enriching and intellectually and professionally very exciting. I love my profession and delight in seeing and sharing in my students learning. I see teaching as a holistic profession and never cease to be amazed with my students.
Describe your latest cultural encounter in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.
I recently traveled to Yudanaka, up north, to see the snow monkeys. The town was a winter wonderland: gigantic icicles that sparkled like jewels, snow drifts as pristine as one would imagine, powder snow that wafted into space when one took a handful and blew on it, and monkeys that romped in the snow, rolled up snow balls and threw them at each other and dive bombed their elders in the hot pool. Those in the pool wore faces of absolute contentment and relaxation, as the hot water warmed their bodies, and all this midst a constant fall of gentle snow flakes. From there to Zao, to freezing temperatures and white out. Huge trees covered in snow that had frozen to give them the look of ‘snow monsters’ – and all this in sub zero temperatures at the top of the mountain where one couldn’t stay up there for too long coz of the sheer rawness and frigid temperatures. Nature in the raw! Magic!! and such a contrast from the concrete and human jungle of Tokyo! Japan – a country of contrasts – from ancient tradition and human culture, to the raw beauty of nature.
Solemn contrast to our school trip to Ichniomake – where we saw the negative power of nature – the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and the Tsunami, as we worked throughout the days to support those clearing up the aftermath. The sheer magnitude of the destruction was almost beyond comprehension, and has left memories that quell the heart and leave one reminded that we are at the mercy of nature, despite our human progress! Left me feeling so humbled by the courage and fortitude of those who survived the disaster. Their tenacity, courage was living testimony to the frailty and yet strength of the human will to survive!
What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?
Personal health and well being – the social support system, the medical system and insurance, the political stability, an income that allows one to live and travel to see the culture and history of the country, and personal freedom.
In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?
Challenging, invigorating, demanding, breathtaking , fun!
Thanks Beverley! If you are a member of International School Community and would like to be our next member spotlight, contact us here. If we choose to highlight you, you will get a coupon code to receive 6 months free of premium access to our website!
Want to teach at an international school in Japan like Beverley? Currently, we have 34 international schools list in Japan on International School Community. Some of our members have left comments and information on the following schools in Japan:
• International School of the Sacred Heart (5 Comments)
• American School in Japan (19 Comments)
• Canadian International School (Tokyo) (9 Comments)
• Kais International School (2 Comments)
• Makuhari International School (7 Comments)
• Nishimachi International School (7 Comments)
• Fukuoka International School (5 Comments)
• Osaka International School (6 Comments)
• Yokohama International School (4 Comments)
• St Michael’s International School (7 Comments)
• Hokkaido International School (7 Comments)
• Hiroshima International School (16 Comments)
TED talks are pretty awesome. This one caught our attention because it is reminiscent of the life of an international school teacher.
Living in your home country, sometimes you can get caught up in materialism. You want to get your own big house. You want to get your own nice car. You want your own cool, huge television in your living room…along with all the other things in and around your house.
After “buying” all of those things, though, you might find yourself in some debt, like the guy in the TED talk. Living your life in debt, the credit card companies and banks are taking away a bit or most of your freedom. Not the best way to live your life.
But as an international school teacher, most of that materialism goes away. Some of us do not want so many possessions anymore in our lives. For the more possessions you have, the more you have to move to the next country! Kidding aside, our priorities seem to change to a different path.
There is a shift from wanting to be materialistic to wanting to get more experiences; the more experiences, the better! We also want more freedom; more freedom to do what we want with our lives. Additionally, we want to go traveling more, to get more of those experiences; to explore the cultures of the world firsthand.
On a foreign-hired benefits package, we are now allowed to be more in control of our money situation. International school teachers are able to pay off those debts that we had in our home countries. Furthermore, we can finally start to have some savings that we were not able to do so easily in our home countries. We can now make plans to use our savings to buy those big things without having to be in debt.
Having the freedom to live our lives without always worrying about the bank and credit card companies is a dream that can actually become a reality in the world of international school teaching.
Of course not all international school teachers have the same result when they decide to teach abroad, but many of us do. It all mostly depends on what school you work at, in which country and what benefits package you have. You also have to set personal and financial goals for yourself/your family (like the guy in the TED talk). Once you have made some goals, you can work hard to achieve them.
We have a comment topic on our school profile pages. It is called – “Average amount of money that is left to be saved.” Knowing this information ahead-of-time will be one of the most important things to know when considering working at an international school. Here are a few of the hundreds of comments that have been submitted in that comment topic:
“Relative in accordance to lifestyle and discipline with savings. There should be no problem saving 20,000 for those who enjoy their comforts of house cleaners and the weekend visits to Western restaurants. For those a little more attentive to how they spend their money, it is possible to save over $40,000 as a single teacher each year.” – Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea) – 45 Comments
“They match a certain amount of the retirement funds that you put away. I personally save about $800 a month, though I have a wife and two kids to support.” – KIS International School (Bangkok) (Bangkok, Thailand) – 61 Comments
“As a family of four on a single salary we managed to save about $20,000 USD in two years. However, it all depends of course on how frugal you are. Traveling in Japan is wonderful but trains and accommodation are expensive.” – Hiroshima International School (Hiroshima, Japan) – 64 Commentscontinue reading
Speaking the language of the host country is on every international school teachers’ mind.
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.”
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 Commentscontinue reading