Information for Members

ISC now has over 2100 international school profiles listed

September 29, 2019


At International School Community, we now have over 2100 international school profiles listed on our website!

The last 5 schools to be added:

Colegio Americano Menno (La Mesa, Colombia) – 0 Comments
The Village School (Houston, USA) – 24 Comments
The International School @ ParkCity Hanoi (ISPH) (Hanoi, Vietnam) – 1 Comments
The Escola Internacional del Camp (Salou – EIC) (Salou, Spain) – 0 Comments
PaRK International School (Lisbon, Portugal) – 0 Comments

The top 5 schools with the most members:

American International School in Egypt (Main Campus) (New Cairo City, Egypt) – 25 Members
Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 24 Members
International School of Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – 22 Members
International School Manila (Manila, Philippines) – 21 Members
Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 18 Members

The top 5 most viewed schools:

Colegio Granadino Manizales (Manizales, Colombia) – 37232 Views
American International School of Budapest (Budapest, Hungary) – 19338 Views
American School of Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain) – 2735 Views
Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 2593 Views
International School of Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – 2553 Views

The last 5 schools to have something written on their wall:

International School of the Hague (The Hague, The Netherlands) – 63 Comments
International School of Helsingborg (Helsingborg, Sweden) – 13 Comments
World Academy of Tirana (Tirana, Albania) – 21 Comments
Colegio Roosevelt Lima (FDR) [The American School of Lima] (Lima, Peru) – 28 Comments
Renaissance International School Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) – 23 Comments

But check them all our yourself!  Get answers to your questions about the international schools you are interested in by clicking on the geographic region of your choice.  It’s a great way to learn about different international schools around the world and gather information!  

International School Community has the following 2110 international schools listed on our website (last updated on 29 September, 2019)

Results: (184) Countries, (797) Cities, (2110) Schools, (33366) Comments

Asia (207)

Caribbean (39)

Central America (45)

Central/Eastern Europe (114)

East Asia (309)

Middle East (282)

North Africa (65)

North America (108)

Oceania (31)

SE Asia (322)

South America (98)

Sub-Saharan Africa (172)

Western Europe (318)

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Discussion Topics

International Schools With Money Problems

May 11, 2018


Working at an international school that is currently having money problems is not fun for all stake holders. Let’s face it, international schools of all types can encounter a financial crunch: Tier one schools, big and small schools, Profit or non-profit ones, etc. During these difficult times, a lot can change or just stop completely for things that are on the school’s budget.

Money Problems

Teachers get nervous. The parents get nervous. The school board and admin are nervous. Even the students might get nervous.

There are both reasons that are outside of the school’s power and inside the school’s power that might get the school into money problems.

One obvious cause that is somewhat out of the school’s power is because of declining students numbers. We all know that international school families are the ones bringing in the money to the school.  Some international schools in certain countries get money from the state for various reasons, but those monies do not cover all that a school needs to run smoothly. The majority of the school’s income comes from fee-paying parents or actually fee-paying companies that the parents work at.

But what then causes parents to take their child out of your international school? Maybe there are now a few other international schools in the community (cheaper ones) that are convincing families to change schools. Another reason that causes families to not re-enroll is also related to how the big-named companies are doing in the area. If they are not doing so well, then they need to cut employees. It’s pretty certain that some of their employees have families with children that go to your school. If a lot of people get fired at these big companies, then families tend to be forced to leave the country, and the obvious result is that they also stop sending their children to your school.

Companies are also starting to limit or stop completely the tuition benefit that they offer to their expat employees. Even expat parents with nice jobs will reconsider how they spend their personal money when the tuition at the international school they are sending their children to is getting on the expensive side.

Another cause of international schools with money problems stems from the mismanagement of the school’s income.  There are a fair amount of international schools that have business departments that are a mystery to staff as a whole. Typically the business is staffed with all locals. If you don’t know the local language and the local system of doing things, it is hard for a general staff member to know how they are doing and if they are doing things in the correct manner. For international schools, this mismanagement can result in drastic outcomes, from embezzlement to money flow problems.

Most for-profit international schools, even in times of having money problems, pay their staff on time and for the correct amounts. However, some teachers at these for-profit schools have experienced not getting their monthly salaries paid on time; sometimes 2-3 weeks late! How can staff focus on their job when they are not getting paid on time so that they can pay their rent? An international school that isn’t paying their staff on time surely has major money problems and cash flow. The worst outcome, of course, is that the school just has no other choice but to completely close down due to lack of money to run itself. It would be interesting to see how many international schools close their doors in this manner.

The most important thing to think about when your international school is experiencing money problem is your job security. International schools with money problems is the perfect condition for some teachers to be let go. Paying the teachers’ salaries and benefits are for sure the biggest expense that a school has. Combined with declining students numbers, there are clear reasons that a school simply just needs to downsize its staff.

Money Problems

When you know you might be let go because of a reason that has nothing to do with you or your job performance, it does not feel good.  Even more complicated, some teachers get let go, but they decide to keep you. The staff really needs to be supportive of each other when this kind of situation occurs.

There are many other factors that come into play when an international schools has money problems, and it is certain that the situation is not a welcomed one for any stakeholder. Luckily, many of the international schools around the world are thriving out there. It has been well documented that new international schools are popping up around the world all the time, especially in the Middle East and Asia. Let’s hope that these new international schools will learn from the unfortunate circumstances of the past ones, so that they can thrive and make it less likely they will experience money problems.

This article was submitted anonymously by an ISC member guest author.

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Top 10 Lists

11 Member-Submitted Comments Related to Single International School Teachers

November 5, 2017


With the hiring season upon us, there is a divide amongst us international school teachers. Will the international school you are interviewing with prefer to hire a teaching couple or a single teacher?

I guess it could seem like the international school is being a bit discriminatory when they state their preference (sometimes in the job description vacancy itself), but there might be a number of factors that come into play in their decision to be so explicit in what they are looking for.

Single

Sometimes hiring a single teacher can be more expensive than hiring a teaching couple. We all know schools love saving money! Money aside though, the administration at international schools also know the lifestyle that prospective teachers are signing up for. The set up could be good for both singles and teaching couples, but the city and country where the school is located could also lend itself better to a single person OR to a teaching couple.

It is hard to guess which type of teacher would be better for which set up, but the administration can see patterns developing amongst their staff. For example, are the single teachers or the teaching couples staying longer (or shorter) at the school? Are single teachers finding it difficult to save money there?  Are single teachers able to easily meet up with other expats or locals in the city for a date?

The fact is, though, that single teachers get hired all the time during each recruitment season. If you are a quality teacher with a good resume and references (+luck and timing), the school will definitely consider hiring you. However, it might be good to know which international schools have a good record of hiring single teachers.

Single

Additionally, if a school gives an offer of employment to a teacher who is single, what are the exact details about the benefits the school is offering you specifically?  What is the lifestyle like for single teachers that live in different cities around the world?

So many factors and things to consider!

Luckily, ISC was designed to help international school teaching couples and single teachers find the information they are looking for. Using the Comment Search feature (premium membership needed), we found 92 comments that had the keyword “Singles” in them. Here are 11 of them:

United Arab Emirates
“Dubai is a big city in most ways with very modern nightlife etc. singles should have no trouble meeting other singles, and couples will find the city enjoyable as well. Sex between people who are not married is illegal and people DO go to jail for it/get deported for it, but usually only when it is something very blatant (like having sex on a public beach). Homosexuality is illegal in the UAE and is still prosecuted. UAE is trying very hard to balance between a modern, cosmopolitan city while at the same time being respectful of traditional Arab culture.” – Raffles International School (South) (59 total comments)

Japan
“Kyoto has a pretty balance for all interests. singles may find it difficult here, however, as there isn’t much nightlife in Kyoto (a lot of things close around 8 or 9) and it can be hard to meet people. Osaka is 30 minutes to an hour away, however, and has a lot of options in that department. There are plenty of parks and outdoor spaces in Kyoto, unlike Tokyo or other metropolitan regions of Japan.” – Doshisha International School Kyoto (92 total comments)

Hong Kong
“The housing allowance for singles was increased to 23,000HKD (2900USD) which allows for a bit more choice. Because of the price discrepancy among singles, teaching couples and a teacher with dependent(s), singles were the only ones who received an increase.” – Hong Kong International School (118 total comments)

El Salvador
“The school itself is a very family orientated place, though there are lots of singles in the school. Often group trips are organised renting beach houses and lake houses.” – Academia Britanica Cuscatleca (30 total comments)

Thailand
“Chiang Mai is a great place to live for couples and families. Singles who like the Great Outdoors will also be satisfied. Those seeking a full on nightlife need to save their Bahts for a weekend in Bangkok or Pattaya. Chiang Mai has some great pubs and restaurants, but currently all are forced to close at midnight.” – Varee Chiang Mai International School (62 total comments)

Qatar
“Staff housing is provided. 2 bedroom apartments for singles, just in and around Doha (Al Saad, Al Marqab) or in Education City (mostly families because of the parks and facilities that in and around the compound). You can ask for rent allowance but once you forfeit housing you can’t get back in! QF policy. Think it’s around 8,000 qar a month plus 500 for utilities.You’ll never find anything as nice as the housing provided for that money, without getting a roommate (then you can save money)” – Qatar Academy (Sidra) (65 total comments)

Single

Tanzania
“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 (171 total comments)

Zambia
“Lots of activities for singles, but people generally agree Lusaka is great for families, less so for singles wanting to find love. There is a small gay culture, but not vibrant due to the country’s general conservatism.” – American International School of Lusaka (45 total comments)

Colombia
“I am a single parent with a 5-year-old so life is very quiet for us. singles seem to have a very active social life as there are a lot of bars and Manizales is very safe. In terms of gay life, I know there are gay bars here and gay couples but I they feel they need to be discreet in public.” – Colegio Granadino Manizales (44 total comments)

South Korea
“Staff housing differs for singles and married couples. They are both located near the school and are in an area which has plenty to do. Major bills include gas, electricity, internet, etc. The most expensive is the gas in the winter. Teachers are responsible for their utilities.” – Busan Foreign School (5 total comments)

France
“There is a mix of local and expat teachers. The majority of expat teachers come from the UK, but others come from other English-speaking countries as well. There is very low turnover rate at the school- maybe one or two positions open up each year. The staff are mostly married couples- very few singles.” – International School of Lyon (12 total comments)

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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

teacher

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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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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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.

Screenshot 2016-04-09 11.10.31

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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How NOT to Save Money

How NOT to save money when working as an international school teacher #7: Earn a Salary in a Currency Which is Losing Value

October 15, 2015


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?

How NOT to save money when working as an international school teacher #7 – Earn a Salary in a Currency Which is Losing Value

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Five years ago many international school teachers (those earning their salaries in their host country’s currency) were doing quite well with their monthly paychecks.  But because of the rising value of the USD in the last year, these teachers’ salaries are in despair.

Month after month, teachers earning in a currency that is losing its strength (when compared to USD for example) have been seeing their once really nice monthly paycheck go south.  Each time these teachers have to transfer some of their money earned back to their home country (maybe 3-4 times a year for some teachers), the actual amount received gets lower and lower; even though it was the same amount transferred each time.  These international school teachers need to figure out another way to pay off their mortgage, student loans, etc. and fast!  The other choice is to make it your last year at your current school and plan to find a job at another international school in a different country; earning in a different currency.

But some of us are doing alright in this recent “rise of the USD.” There are a number of international school teachers that pay their staff in USD.  A number of countries have a local currency that is just not stable enough for foreign hires, and the school prefers to just pay their staff in a currency that is more stable and secure.  Additionally, many currencies are tied to the USD. For example, Hong Kong Dollars are connected to the USD. Click here for a list of currencies around the world and which specific currency they are tied to.

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So, for international school teachers working in Hong Kong, making HKD, they are still on the right track to achieve their savings goal this year.

There are also some international school teachers earning multiple currencies, at one school.  The British School Caracas and Seoul International School do just that (as well as a number of other international schools around the world).  Part of your salary is paid in your home country currency and automatically transferred/deposited into your home country bank account, while the other part of your monthly salary is directly deposited into your host country bank account. Teachers in this situation seem to have all their based covered then. Unless, of course, both your home currency and host-country currency plummet!

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We do have a comment topic on our website related to the theme of how international school teachers get paid at their school (and in what currency).  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?

“It is important to note that you are getting paid 100% in local currency. Because the USD is gaining strength and continuing to do so, the salaries here are getting considerably less attractive (meaning you are not making USD 100K a year anymore as the previous comment states). Some teachers have a part in their contract that helps to alleviate some of this difference in exchange rate, but others don’t. The ones that do are getting like 25% of their salary paid at a better exchange rate. It is kind of random, but the board thinks that American teachers here might be spending around 25% of their salary in the USA or in USD. Of course, this is creating a bit of controversy.” – Graded School Sao Paulo (Sao Paulo, Brazil)39 Comments

“The previous comment is off on the current tax rates. It is now up to 23%, and slated to rise further in the coming year. Japan is no longer a place to work and make enough to save significant amounts. This is especially true for couples and doubly so if you have children. It’s a shame as raising children here leaves wonderful impressions on them, and it is amazingly safe.” – Seisen International School (Tokyo, Japan)51 Comments

“10 years of teaching with a masters plus 30 units will get you about 55,000 USD. No tax. Upon departure, the Korean government pays you about 4,000 dollars for each year of occupancy for US citizens, it is some tax exemption agreement between countries. There is also an 8.5% bonus for each year of teaching that accrues interest and is relinquished upon departure.” – Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea)73 Comments

“We get paid every month, around the middle of the month. June and July pay are both given before the end of the school year. We can choose how much of our pay we would like to receive locally and how much we would like to have transferred to our home country. We get paid in dollars, and are guaranteed salaries after taxes. For 2015-16 the maximum salary is $54,111 (Masters with 24 years experience, an extra $1500 for PhD), minimum is $35,390 (Bachelors 1 year experience). In addition to this is a 13% pension. There is also a possible longevity bonus and re-signing bonus.” – International School of Tanganyika (Dar es salaam, Tanzania)141 Comments

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Comparing the Schools and Comments

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Kuala Lumpur

October 11, 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.

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Kuala Lumpur

Currently, we have 17 schools listed in Kuala Lumpur on International School Community.

Schools with the most submitted comments:
Newlands International School (51 comments)
Garden International School (21 comments)
International School of Kuala Lumpur (99 comments)
Mont’Kiara International School (27 comments)
Sunway International School (15 comments)
Taylor’s College (16 comments)
Alice Smith School (8 comments)

High Expectations for Teachers?

“The school’s workload is average. We certainly hear of neighboring (similar caliber) schools who expect a lot more out of their teaching staff. In addition to a normal teaching day, teachers also are expected to lead 2 after school activities (running 10 weeks long each) per year. Coaching satisfies this requirement. This is standard for international schools in Malaysia, as the government requires schools to offer ASAs. Some teachers work until 3:30 (official end of day), and others are consistently there until 5 or later. However, this is a matter of choice and personal work ethic, most often not because of additional duties required by the school.” – Mont’Kiara International School

“I dont think the workload is particularly heavy although the school has high expectations. A 100% teaching load comes with two non contact hours per day, slightly less in lower grades. In ES some of these blocks are taken up by co-planning and team meetings. After school meetings are twice monthly, relatively low compared to other schools” – International School of Kuala Lumpur

“Teachers usually take on one extra-curricular.” – Taylor’s College

“Teachers are trusted but a great commitment is expected. One after school club/week/term.” – Newlands International School

Language Background of the Students

“The students are mainly from the expatriate community of Kuala Lumpur and come from over 50 different countries. Malaysian students are only allowed to attend international schools if they have obtained approval from the Malaysia’s Ministry of Education. The GIS roll currently comprises approximately 40% Malaysian students, the second largest nationality group is British.” – Garden International School

“The Principal reminds the pupils every day to speak in English but some lapse back into Chinese.” – Newlands International School

“Chinese dialects, Bahasa Malaysian, some international sts.” – Taylor’s College

“The school requires students entering after kinder have been previously educated in English. I would say about 75% of the students are fluent in English, and the rest are in the ELL program. Students almost all speak English, even if they have friends who speak their native languages. I am not sure of the exact number, but I would guess about half of the students are native English speakers.” – Mont’Kiara International School

Housing Allowance

“The school provides an accommodation allowance of RM2,500 per month for single teachers, RM2,700 per month for married teacher with no children whose spouse is not working, RM2,500 per month each for married teachers, both of whom are employed by the school and RM3,000 per month for married teachers with children whose spouse is not working in the school.” – Garden International School

“For married housing you get around 987 USD a month; For single housing you get around 846 USD a month; For each dependent child you get 109 USD extra a month. No utilities allowance is given.” – Mont’Kiara International School

“The housing allowance is paid with the salary and is taxable. After tax for a single it amounts to appx 750 USD, for a couple, or with dependents it is more, up to about 1300 USD. Depending on area and size, it is possible to find accommodation in this bracket, though many people treat it as salary and just rent the place they really want for a bit more.” – International School of Kuala Lumpur

Salary Information

“As of next year, teachers will be paid in Malaysian RM. This is actually a positive change and will raise salaries that have gone down with the weak dollar. Taxes are between 12 and 20%, and teachers also contribute about 10% to EPF (retirement plan).” – Mont’Kiara International School

“Pay is good, with a great retirement (EPF) program that can go up to 42% of salary (including both employer and employee amounts). Teachers are paid 10 times (August through June) but in June they also get their July salary.” – International School of Kuala Lumpur

“Salaries are automatically paid into each teacher’s bank account at the end of every month, (usually on the 28th day of the month).” – Garden International School

“Beaconhouse have a real problem getting work-permits so much so that none of the eight foreigners at Newlands have made year two of their contracts. Some have been told to get out on returning from a Visa run. None have been able to stay to year two which means they have to pay a large fine to BH for breaking contract.” – Newlands International 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 Kuala Lumpur, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited premium membership!

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: Western International School of Shanghai

October 7, 2015


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

One of our members, who worked at the Western International School of Shanghai (China), described his way to work there as follows:

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Shanghai, the East’s equivalent of New York. The city runs 24/7, nightlife is rampant, traffic induces headaches, and glamour seems to be always in the spotlight. That is usually the thrill behind the city’s most vibrant areas such as the French Concession and the Bund. All of which is exciting to your common expat. That of course is if you are an expat living around these areas.

Most international schools in Shanghai exist around the peripheral suburbs of the city and for many new teachers entering the school they are given an interesting choice. One can either live near the school in bang-for-your-buck valued houses usually in areas with relatively limited entertainment or live in the downtown where the action is. As you probably can insinuate on your own, it is usually the young single people who trade-off for the longer commute and smaller apartments in order to have a larger selection of nearby restaurants, bars, and social gatherings.

I on the other hand belong to the group that lives in compounds near the school I work at, Western International School of Shanghai. Now this area is not as boring as I may have indicated as it has become a bit of a development zone for the never-ending expansion of Shanghai. Part of the reason being that the area we are in, Qingpu, is the location of several of the well-known international schools in Shanghai, and developers are aiming at them as their audience. In the last 2 years I have seen a great Italian restaurant open up down the street, a whole new nightlife commercial area has come about by Jinfeng Road, and a few imported grocery stores have popped up. We might not have the adrenaline of downtown, but at least we are being well fed!

From my home the school is less than a 10-minute bus ride (or in my case a 10-minute e-bike ride) away. Having two school-aged children, this location is a solid choice for housing, given its lower monthly rent (compared to apartments downtown), spacious and safe environment where kids can play with their friends without constant supervision, and most importantly the ability to wake up later on schoolday mornings. A perk that I don’t take for granted and often poke fun at one of my young colleagues in the math department about.

My school day usually starts off with a 5am wake-up, which at times means a quick morning bike ride to get the blood flowing and other times it gives the opportunity to check e-mails and get some quiet time before the start of another busy day.

At about 6:30, which is the same time most of my downtown colleagues start walking out of their apartments toward their bus pick-up points, I wake up the kiddos, throw them in the shower and take a shower myself. Cereal for the kids, bacon & eggs for daddy and walk outside at about 7:40. If weather permits we hop on the e-bike and off to school we go.

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On the way to school we pass by the well-known “corner store”, the one right outside the compound gates. After a quick right turn the scooter takes is into the already buzzing Ming Zhu road. On weekdays the traffic is usually busy, drivers tend to ignore most traffic rules, e-bikes go in all sorts of direction without much concern for red lights or other vehicles. It sometimes feels like a game of chicken while driving. Experience has taught me that it is best to adopt the local culture and go with the flow.

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Within the first kilometer we pass by a building that houses the strange combination of a dodgy KTV on its second floor with a wet market on its first floor. The road nearby this building gets extremely busy resulting in traffic jams almost daily, thanks to cars making illegal U-turns without signaling or other scooters pulling a left or right without looking in their rearview mirrors. Sometimes I question myself on whether it was the safest idea to get my own scooter. But at least the ride to work gets my blood pumping enough where I consider skipping my morning coffee.

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Beyond this madness, the road gets a bit less congested. Crossing the Huqingping highway can also be intimidating to many but the traffic light is mostly followed there. In this area there are several newly opened compounds with real estate agents already standing outside with their signs advertising apartments for rent or sale. I always find it curious just how desperate they are to sell leases. I wonder how many houses are actually occupied.

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Once we passed these compounds we see the friendly faces of the security guards greeting us at the main gate of the school. The entire journey from door to door takes less than 10 minutes for us living nearby the school, while others may spend as much as 50-60 minutes on the faculty bus coming to work day after day. Either way, we all end up at the school we love, doing the work we enjoy!

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author and International School Community member: Denes Tilistyak. Check our his HighFour competition website here.

What to know more about the many international schools in Shanghai?  Check out our blog article called – Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Shanghai, China.

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

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Comparing the Schools and Comments

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Tokyo, Japan

June 13, 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.

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Tokyo, Japan

Currently, we have 23 schools listed in Tokyo on International School Community.

Schools with the most submitted comments:
American School in Japan (Tokyo, Japan)20 Comments
Canadian International School (Tokyo) (Tokyo, Japan)41 Comments
Makuhari International School (Tokyo, Japan)23 Comments
Seisen International School (Tokyo, Japan)51 Comments
New International School of Japan (Tokyo, Japan)16 Comments
St. Mary’s International School (Tokyo, Japan)15 Comments

Average amount of money left to be saved?

“Most teachers can save around 20% here.” – St. Mary’s International School

“Maybe around 16000 USD a year for single teachers.” – Seisen International School

“Single teachers should be able to save around 12000 USD a year.” – Canadian International School (Tokyo)

“Some single teachers and teaching couples can save over 25000 USD a year. – American School in Japan

Sports programs

“The school has zero proper sports programs and has no interest in implementing one. No specialist p.e. teachers” – Makuhari International School

“The school has a complete PE programme in all grades, as well as an active sports programme (basketball, volleyball, soccer, futsal).Two full-time PE teachers are an integral part of the faculty.” – Canadian International School (Tokyo)

“Many activities of ASIJ’s close-knit faculty center around the school, including musical and theatrical performances, ikebana, martial arts, cycling, aerobics, tennis, swimming, basketball and volleyball.” – American School in Japan

“The school offers a wide variety of extra curricular activities for all levels. These include such team sports as cross-country, tennis, wrestling, swimming, basketball, soccer, track and field, and baseball. Fine arts and activities offered include vocal and instrumental music, speech, debate, drama, musical, student government and publications.” – St. Mary’s International School

School Building

“ASIJ has two campuses offering outstanding facilities. The Early Learning Center is located in the Roppongi area of Tokyo serving ages 3-5 with an exciting educational program. The Chofu campus houses three divisions in separate buildings on a 14-acre site located in Tokyo’s western suburbs. This campus includes three gyms, an indoor swimming pool, tennis courts, two athletic fields, three libraries with over 70,000 titles and a new 570-seat, state-of-the-art theater incorporating a flexible main auditorium, black box theater, choir and practice rooms and a digital video studio. All classrooms are air-conditioned.” – American School in Japan

“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)

“The school occupies two complete buildings and parts of two others in Minami-Ikebukuro, right next to Zoshigaya. It is convenient to several trains and subways, including Ikebukuro Station, which is one of the hubs around the city center.” – New International School of Japan

“The school is in an older building. However, the furniture and classroom supplies are all up-to-date for collaborative teaching and learning.” – Seisen International School

Housing

“Housing allowance is USD1,200/month. Teacher pays for utilities.” – St. Mary’s International School

“Landlords in Japan have a lot of rights. For example, the apartment needs to be returned to it original condition or a lot of money will be coming out of your deposit. Many apartment require a ‘gift fee’ for the landlord. For example, giving 1 or 2 months rent as a gift to the landlord. Most apartments you forfeit your cleaning deposit when you leave.” – Seisen International School

“Accommodation allowance is very poor compared to rental cost. The school pushes expensive housing on new teachers which are 120000yen ($1200) a month. housing around the school is quite expensive.” – Makuhari International School

“Housing allowance is 600$ in cash.” – Canadian International School (Tokyo)

(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 Tokyo, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited premium membership!

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Top 10 Lists

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

January 13, 2015


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 for why attending an international school recruitment fair is super fun? Maybe you can relate to some of these!

Screenshot 2015-01-13 22.50.19#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 will 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 hearing 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 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.

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#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 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 writing down the pros and cons about life working at that school itself, your actually job. The pros in that list could truly be the changes you have been looking for in your next school.

4320245924_b8f945a7f8_z#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, you just do not need to or find 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 spend 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 out or take a walk around some cool neighborhood. 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.

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#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 have 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 of 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 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 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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Top 10 Lists

Top 10 Character Traits of a Seasoned International School Teacher

October 9, 2014


A seasoned international school teacher (SIST) has worked at 3+ international schools in more than three parts of the world (or more).  They know the ins and outs of international schools.  They now have many old friends (from international schools that they’ve worked at) that have since moved on and now live in all parts of the world.  Many teachers say that they originally meant to be abroad for only 2-3 years, but once you get into the international school community, it is easy to get hooked!

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What type of teacher does it take to move around so much, to venture out and work at a variety of international schools in various countries all over the world? These SISTs most likely possess (and sometimes need to have) the following traits:

1. Tolerance

Living in diversity and uniqueness is what SISTs love!  They are open to different cultures and the different ways that those cultures do things.  Doing basic things in the sometimes crazy and annoying way of your new home country can be frustrating, but SISTs take it all in stride.  They understand that things are going to be different from their last country and from their home country.  They accept these differences and try their best to welcome them and react to them appropriately.  SISTs interact with the locals positively and have a good awareness of their ways of doing things.

2. Flexible

Experienced international school teachers know they can’t just walk into their new school and teach exactly how they have taught in their previous schools.  Even if they use the same curriculum and have a majority of teachers from their home country, each international school is different and does things in their own way.  SISTs are able to adapt their teaching to fit the new school’s way of teaching, adding new things slowly when appropriate.  To help make the transition an easier one, SISTs ask the right questions at their interview and gather all the information they can about the school itself.  Knowing things ahead of time is smart as it prepares you better for the changes you experience.  When sudden changes occur, being flexible is the key to happiness at your new school.

3. Decisive

As international school teachers get more seasoned, they know better what they want in a school.  They also know better where they are in their lives and which locations/cities in the world that will help them achieve their life goals. Knowing better which international schools to consider in a job search is beneficial not only to the school but also to the candidate themselves.  SISTs are decisive and make the right decision for themselves, even if the decisions are tough ones to make.  Making the right choice equals to a happier life living abroad.

4. Honesty

When job searching, seasoned international school teachers tell the truth about their current life-situation and their previous teaching experience.  Schools need to know as much as they can about the candidate before they decide to hire them. Likewise, veteran teachers seek out as much as they can about the school.  The goal always is to find the best fit.  The school wants the best fit for their vacancy and school, and international school teachers want the best fit for their life and career.  They are honest with themselves and follow their instincts. Even if a new job opportunity is in their dream country and city to live in, if it is not a good fit, the SISTs will choose to decline if offered a contract.

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5. Adaptable

Moving around and getting the chance to live in a foreign country is truly exciting for an international school teacher. In one country you are riding your bike to work, in another country you might be taking the school bus.  SISTs can more easily adapt to these changes in routine in their new location.  When they first arrive, it is an exciting time of learning all the ins and outs of your new host country. The culture will have some things that SISTs are used to, but the culture is definitely going to have things that are new to them…and not all these new things will be easy to handle.  When SISTs encounter these culture shock moments, they know better how to respond and react. They are not immune to culture shock, but they know better how to deal with it.

6. Curious

After teaching in a number of countries, SISTs stay curious to everything that surrounds them.  They take time to learn as much as they can about the local language. They also seek about restaurants where they can try new types of food, even food that they wouldn’t normally eat in their previous countries.  SISTs know that they best way to get to know the locals is to get out and make some local friends.  They ask these new friends a multitude of questions to gather as much information about this foreign culture. It is easy to start making assumptions about a whole culture after talking with one or two of the locals, but SISTs know better and continue their curiosity about certain topic areas as the months/years progress in their new location.

7. Independence

Well it is true that you will be on your own when you move abroad. As much as your new school and your new school friends help you, much of the time spent will be on your own.  It is pretty daunting knowing that when you leave your new home, there is a super foreign world awaiting you.  SISTs though love that feeling and go out to explore every day that they get.  They will walk to a new area of the city on their own.  They also don’t shy away from interacting with the locals (at the nearby market for example); starting to make new connections in the community (even if they don’t know the local language that well). SISTs don’t necessarily need the help of another person when they venture out to start-up a bank account, call the phone company to get internet installed in their apartment, or go to the local police department to register themselves. SISTs know that they need to have some alone time as well.  They are comfortable having a night on their own either at a restaurant down the street or at their own apartment to watch a movie.

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8. Resilience

Things can get rough at times when teaching abroad.  Your new school can give you many headaches.  The new administration you need to work with or the new teachers you need to collaborate can, at times, not be the most ideal situation.  Your new city can also bring you down some days.  Not knowing how much things really cost and stupidly spending your money is not fun.  Having a negative interaction with a local on the street is also tough to handle.  The more you live abroad though, the more you can easily understand and cope with these troubling experiences.  SISTs know it is not always going to be perfect in their new city and at their new school.  They have been at a number of international schools in similar situations already and can bounce back faster.

9. Persistence

Getting the job of your dreams doesn’t happen straight away for most people. Securing a job at a top international school is a difficult one, even for SISTs.  SISTs know that it is all about luck and timing.  They also know that they must be persistent to get the job of their dreams.  If it doesn’t work out one year, they you try again next year.  SISTs know that things change every year.  One year the school is not able to hire people with certain passports, the next year they can.  Being persistent is what helps SISTs be seasoned.  Having this character trait also helps their new school.  SISTs might try and help guide a new direction for the school with little success (maybe that was one of the reasons they were hired).  Even if the school staff doesn’t respond well to this new change, they don’t give up easily.  SISTs know better how international schools function and can stay focused on their target.  They have the skills to keep on doing their thing even if others are slowing them down.

10. Happy go lucky

SISTs gotta have this trait because you never truly know what to expect when working in a foreign country at an international school.  They don’t let little things get them down.  Of course there are going to be bumps in the road. But if you spent all your time stressing out about everything, then you are going to miss out on many things.  SISTs strive to be happy-go-lucky when these bumps occur.  They are able to see better the bigger picture and can focus more on the positives (like their really high salary, the yummy restaurant down the street, their own family, their next vacation, etc.).  Also,  no one likes to hang around stressed-out and negative people that much!

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This top 10 list was submitted to us by a guest author and International School Community member.

All guest authors to our blog get up to one year of free premium membership to our website.  Email us if you are interested in becoming one of the next guest authors on our blog.

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark)

August 28, 2014


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

One of our members, who works at the Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) described his way to work as follows:

2014-08-28 07.57.59-2In August, there is plenty of light in the morning; always good for putting a smile on your face and good thoughts in your mind. Also the weather is a bit fresh already in the morning, meaning you need a light jacket on during this time of the year.  As I leave my apartment building, I see a sea of bikes and people on bikes zooming by me. Gotta keep a keen eye on the street and the sidewalk to check for other pedestrians and bike riders otherwise you will be run over!

Next I get on my bike, glad that it wasn’t stolen the night before. I choose to leave my bike (locked) on the sidewalk every night, even though it is very common to get your bike stolen in Copenhagen. I have a place to put it inside my building, but it is more convenient to just leave it on the sidewalk. Also, I have never got my bike stolen, but many…many people here do. I got my bike for free actually (It was gifted to me when a colleague left the school to move back to his home country), so I’m not too worried about it getting stolen. It is definitely not the first bike that a stealer would choose to steal as it is pretty old looking.

2014-08-28 07.58.17As much as I would like to ride my bike all the way to school, I choose to just ride my bike to the nearest train station (a 2-minute ride). If I do ride my bike all the way to school, it would take around 25-30 minutes.  In a few minutes, I am at the train station. There is usually a space to park and lock my bike nearby. Then I walk up a few steps to get to a long bridge-like walkway.  The walkway spans 8 tracks I think. It is a big station. There are two ways I can get to the train station near to my school (Hellerup), the S-train and the regional train.  If you miss one train, there is always another one coming soon. The regional train might be a bit faster because it doesn’t make any stops to Hellerup, the S-train stops at two train stations in between my station and Hellerup.

The S-train can have a lot of people, so it can be crowded (not so fun), so when I can get on the regional train, I do that instead. The train ride is maybe 4-6 minutes long and then I’m at Hellerup. Many people get off here as it is another hub for many trains.  Typically I run into other staff members on the train or getting off at Hellerup.  We say good morning and then walk together to get to the school campus.  The walk from Hellerup to the campus is like 1 minute.  The current school location is VERY convenient to public transportation; super important when working at an international school.

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My total journey to work, if I time everything right, is between 12-15 minutes. Super convenient. I forgot to mention that I could also take a nearby bus to work, but that would not be the best choice.  The bus can be very crowded as well and the journey is longer, maybe 20-25 minutes.

2012-05-29 18.35.40When it is a sunny morning (which it usually is during this time of the year), the journey to Copenhagen International School is a really great one. It is so relaxing usually and oh I forgot to mention you can watch the sea go by as you look out the window of the train!

Copenhagen International School is actually building a whole new, purpose-built school. It is going to be located even closer to my apartment!  The best part of this new school campus is its location.  The new location will be on the water. I can’t wait!!

Currently, we have 14 international schools listed in Denmark on our website.  6 of them have had comments submitted on them by our members. Check out which ones here by using our school search feature and ticking the box ‘schools with comments’.  Copenhagen International School is a very popular school profile page on our website.  It has 183 total comments on it (one of the most on our website so far).  It also has 11 members that either currently work there or have worked there in the past (which is the 2nd highest number of members for a school profile page).

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So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn 6 free months of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

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Surveys

New Survey: What is the main way that you get to work at your current international school?

March 25, 2014


A new survey has arrived!

Topic:  What is the main way that you get to work at your current international school?

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It is so important; your journey to work.  It shouldn’t be one that is dreadful, and it shouldn’t be one that is long and difficult.  You don’t want to be spending the majority of your day on a bus or waiting for a bus, for example.

Many times an international school teacher will have to forego the ‘luxury’ of having their own car to get to work (e.g. like many Americans).  You need a car in the USA because many cities don’t have the best public transport to use, or it is just not so normalized to use public transport to get to work.

So if you don’t have a car while living abroad, how do you get to work?  I would say that it can very from city to city and from country to country, and of course, it depends on where you are living in those cities.

In China, you might be living in the same building as a bunch of other teachers at your school.  Many times the schools will hire a school coach to come and pick you up each morning at that building and then take you home after school (good reason to not stay so late at school!  When the bus leaves, you leave!).  It is nice to have your transport all arranged for you.  If you are late (because of the bus), it is not your fault!   On the other hand, you might have some things to complete that morning, so a late bus definitely not the best way to start the day.  Another possible downside of using a school coach bus is that you will most likely have to travel with your coworkers every day; you might say that there are both pros and cons about that situation.

Maybe you live in Western Europe or Scandinavia and find yourself in a community of bikers.  If you don’t live too far away from the school, a ride to work on your bike could be just the thing to get your brain/body going in the morning!  Not so good though to ride your bike to work if you live in a place with cold/rainy weather or if you often carry a big bag to work.

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If you are in some less-developed countries, you just might have a car as your mode of transport to work.  Driving a car in those countries just might be the only way that you can get to work (as public transport is unreliable or non-existent).  If you are lucky (or not, depending on your perspective), you might even be able to hire a driver!  We all know that driving in other countries can be tricky and even dangerous in some places, so better have a local do the driving for you!

Sure there are pluses and minuses to the environment and to the community you are living in based on the way people (you) get to work.  You will have to make the best choice for yourself when considering teaching jobs at a variety of international schools that are in different locations in the world.  The question then boils down to what do you want as your preferred way to get to work every day.

Please take a moment and share your comments and experiences about the topic of getting work while working at an international school.

Also, go ahead and vote What is the main way that you get to work at your current international school?  Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today!  You can check out the latest voting results here.

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Discussion Topics

Where Do International Teachers Go When They Retire and What Do They Do?

January 18, 2014


The beginning of new a phase of life is often a time for reflection–thinking about where one has been and where one is going. I would like to share some of the questions I have learned to ask myself with regard to retirement; something I never seriously considered until I was 50 when life events compelled me to do so.

When I walked out of the school door for the last time at the end of June last year, I knew that another door was opening to the next adventure because, for me, teaching in an international school has been a series of adventures.  Retirement was, finally, a reality after 38 years of non-stop teaching, with only a 4 month maternity leave back in the 70s.

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My first and only international school teaching position began in 1975 in what was then a small international school in a pleasant little northern European country.  I never imagined that I would stay, make the new country my home and eventually retire there. What’s more, I certainly didn’t think much about retirement planning along the way. I was too busy working, doing the family thing, and traveling. I was also learning to deal with the challenges presented by living in a different culture, with different traditions and a new unpronounceable language to learn. I quickly learned that the host country had expectations of someone who comes to stay—integrate, or else. As time passed, I also found out that I was different from the teachers who moved from country to country. Sometimes I envied them because their lives seemed more exciting and exotic than mine.

Many years passed, the marriage ended when I was 50 and suddenly I was faced with sole responsibility for my financial future. Fortunately, I had been married to a man with sensible economic values; he understood the national tax and financial system and kept our family economy balanced while saving for the future. Unfortunately, I wasn’t paying attention. 16 years later I am still learning lessons.

At about the same I was active in the International Schools Curriculum Project and subsequently, the IB-Primary Years Programme. This work enabled me to connect with other international colleagues, and the curriculum focus on inquiry pedagogy provided an intellectual tool for posing questions from multiple perspectives. This has helped me become a more critical thinker and I constantly remind myself that if I don’t pose the right questions, I won’t get the information or answers I need. The international professional network and critical thinking skills are two key elements that I continue to value greatly.

To make a long story short, these are some of the questions that I have posed and reframed along the way. They might give a clue to some of the issues I have considered when choosing to retire in country other than my country of origin.

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• Where do I want to retire? Where can I afford to live? Where do I feel I fit in and can have a good life?
• Will I buy or rent? Will I have multiple residences?
• When will I retire? How will age of retirement affect retirement benefits?
• What will my total retirement benefits be? How will I collect funds if I have worked in many different countries? • Will they all add up to enough to live the life to which I have become accustomed?
• If my present school doesn’t provide a retirement plan, how do I save or invest my money? How do I protect myself against economic down-turns?

• If my school does have a retirement plan, how and when do I get the money paid out?
• Will I still be able to travel as much as I want to? How will I balance my own travel wishes with visits to the family back in the home country?
• Will I work part-time? Be a consultant? Volunteer?
• Do I qualify for the national pension of my adopted country? What are the residence qualifications if I am not a citizen of the country?How do I feel about citizenship, especially if becoming a citizen of the adopted country gives better retirement benefits? Do I qualify for citizenship?

• How I can I balance major planned and unexpected expenses—medical and dental, home maintenance, accidents, natural disasters, etc—with my wish to travel often? (recent personal example: new fridge/freezer + new glasses + new washer = 3 round-trip air tickets between northern Europe and USA)
• Am I covered by the national health care system? Is it of a good quality and reliable? Do I need supplementary medical/dental insurance? Accident insurance? Does my credit card offer comprehensive travel insurance?
• Am I comfortable with the language, culture and traditions of the country in which I choose to retire?
• What sorts of creative affordable travel are there to explore? How can keep earning frequent flyer miles?
• Do I have a personal network, local and international?

I continue to ask these questions and many more. It is never too early to think about retirement and some sort of planning makes it easier to predict what might be possible. If you are a career international school educator, most likely you will want to continue to travel. One of the hardest adjustments for me is that living on a fixed income often presents difficult choices. However, I am very determined and persistent and am developing some very resourceful strategies to get what I want.  Am I enjoying retirement?  Yes!!

This article was submitted by International School Community member:  NordicLifer

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Information for Members

International School Community now has over 1445 International Schools listed on our website!

June 28, 2013


At International School Community, we have 1445 international school profiles listed. We are adding even more international schools to our list every month.

Get answers to your questions about the international schools you are interested in by clicking on the geographic region of your choice on our School List page.

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It’s a great way to learn about different international schools around the world and gather information!  Who knows where you might end up living and working next?!

Currently, International School Community has the following international schools listed on our website (last updated on 23 April, 2013):

   Asia (113) (up 8)
   Caribbean (32) (same)
   Central America (36) (up 2)
   East Asia (208) (up 2)
   Eastern Europe (82) (up 1)
   Middle East (191) (up 3)
   North Africa (47) (same)
   North America (80) (up 2)
   Oceania (17) (same)
   SE Asia (201) (up 9)
   South America (87) (up 1)
   Sub-Saharan Africa (118) (up 4)
   Western Europe (233) (up 2)

Don’t want to spend hours and hours browsing through all the schools at the same time?  Try our school profile search feature to find the specific schools that you are looking for, faster!  Take a moment to check out some of our recent school profile searches that we have done using the school profile search feature.  Finding the right international schools for you has never been easier on International School Community!

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12 Tips for Selecting an Int'l School

Selecting an international school: Tip #9 – Does the international school properly deal with disciplinary problems?

April 1, 2013


What reasons do parents think about when selecting a school for their children when they move abroad? Are they similar reasons for why teachers choose to work at an international school abroad as well?  There are many different kinds of international schools and they are all in different situations.  How important is finding out about how well the international school deals with disciplinary problems?  It could be beneficial to ask these types of questions at your interview, before you make any big decisions to move or choose an international school at which to work.  So, how do you choose the right international school for your children to attend or for you to work at?  In this blog series, we will discuss the Tips for Selecting an International School.

Tip #9 – Does the school properly deal with disciplinary problems? Some international schools, unfortunately, are lax on discipline, and problem children and their disruptive behavior can adversely affect other children’s learning.

4 -- Parent's Orientation at Ashmah Int.School Parents and teachers have so many considerations to ponder when selecting an international school!  Naturally, questions abound regarding the academics, the co-curricular and extra-curricular offerings, class size, accreditation, teacher quality, and the list goes on.  So what about discipline?

Discipline is an essential element for children to experience school success.  Without it, there is a compromised climate for learning that can eventually resemble chaos.  No one wants their child to learn in that type of environment.  Usually questions regarding school discipline policies and procedures can be answered by a school administrator or by reviewing the international school’s handbook and/or website.  In most cases, parents and teachers will find the procedures school personnel follow and the resulting consequences for a litany of offenses.  How well that is implemented will partially determine the effectiveness of discipline in that international school.

As schools create Mission statements that often include phrases like “preparing students for the 21st century” or “meaningful roles in society”…suggesting the inter-personal development of the student in addition to the academic excellence every parent and teacher expects, but they also need to ask for explanations of how that is accomplished in that international school setting.

This level of questioning brings us to a more complete cycle for discipline.  The procedures discussed earlier are “partially effective” because they represent control from the outside in.  Rules are written, procedures are outlined, and consequences are administered with varying levels of fidelity and consistency.  That is the tricky part of traditional discipline programs—they can include judgment and some cases just are not as clear as others.

Given those facts, schools can expand their focus on discipline to include inner disciplinary development.  This might be brought about through special Character Education programs that can be implemented or in the case of a religiousinternational-schools-good-choice-1 school, certainly through a spiritual lens.  This is what I call value-added discipline.  It is transformational compared to traditional rules and consequences that are based on outside controls.  International schools can function at a highly effective level when both approaches are in place.  From this combined approach, children are doing several things that are life-changing:

• They are examining their own actions and taking responsibility.
• They discuss situations with a teacher, mentor, or adviser.
• They learn how to change/manage their own behavior.
• They develop a deeper appreciation and respect for others and their surroundings.
• They develop problem-solving strategies that transfer well for a lifetime.
• They come to know their own personalities and can work effectively with people they encounter.

Effective value-added discipline programs depend greatly on an investment in each child by a responsible adult, consistent mentoring, and positive connections between family and school.  The rewards are beyond measure, however.  When parents happen to discover this holistic approach to discipline, seize the opportunity!  It is a jewel that shines for a lifetime.

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/)
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On our website we have a related topic in the School Information section of each school profile page that discusses the issue of the students’ demeanor at each school.  It is called “In general, describe the demeanor of the students.”  Our members have submitted over 70 comments and information in this topic on a number of different international schools listed on our website.  Here are just a few of the comments and information submitted in this topic:

“ISD is a primary school, with children ages 3-12. The school’s buddy program pairs the older children with the younger ones, so that the pre-k and kindergarten classes become very comfortable with the big kids. Since most of the children are expats, they are very friendly to newcomers and take changes (such as new students arriving and students leaving) in stride…”
– International School of Dublin (8 Comments)

“Whereas it cannot be described as a school for the gifted, DAS does have an exceptionally large number of gifted students. Whereas students with negative attitudes are definitely there – as everywhere – expat teachers regularly remark about their enjoyment of the teaching-learning process at DAS because of the eagerness of most of the students to learning…”
– Dhahran Ahliyya Schools (60 Comments)

“The students are students. Just like anywhere else you have some who are there to learn and some who are not. You have some that you have a rapport with and some you do not. In general these are funny kids who like to tease and like to get to know you as a person and as a teacher. And just like any kids, in the beginning they will test you to see what you are made of. Stay strong, don’t let them see you sweat and you will be fine…”
– Colegio Granadino Manizales (43 Comments)

“Pretty good for the most part, although overall respect and tradition of bowing was going out the window. Some cheating on homework and other areas. Very humorous and fun to teach, save for a few small groups who needed to be expelled for cheating, threatening teachers to try to change a grade, setting fires in the bathrooms, smoking, swearing, skipping school, hiding in the wedding hall to sleep, going over to the dark gym to snog and make out, sneaking in beer during school events, stealing school property…etc. Most of these violations were done by a small group of boys and girls who must have had special status with the school or principal…”
– Indianhead International School (14 Comments)

“They are pretty rich and spoiled, mostly. Their priorities include shopping, partying and traveling. Studying might be next, but most students don’t stay for more than one or two years. The students I enjoyed the most were either in the dorm I was responsible for or on yearbook staff (which was also my responsibility)…”
– TASIS The American School in Switzerland (29 Comments)

If you are an International School Community member with premium access, log on today and submit your own comments about the students’ demeanor at the international schools you know about!

If you are not a member yet, make sure to join www.internationalschoolcommunity.com and automatically get 7 free days of premium access. You will become a part of our over 2200+ members.

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12 Tips for Selecting an Int'l School

Selecting an international school: Tip #8 – Are the teachers fully qualified?

February 23, 2013


What reasons do parents think about when selecting a school for their children when they move abroad? Are they similar reasons for why teachers choose to work at a school abroad as well?  There are many different kinds of international schools and they are all in different situations.  How important is finding out about if the international school’s teachers are fully qualified or not?  It could be beneficial to ask these types of questions at your interview, before you make any big decisions to move or choose a school at which to work.  So, how do you choose the right international school for your children to attend or for you to work at?  In this blog series, we will discuss the Tips for Selecting an International School.

Tip #8 – Are the teachers fully qualified?

This is not typically a concern with mainstream international schools, but it can be a concern with some newer schools and in certain regions of the world.

pic1104Some might say having qualified teachers from early years all the way to secondary school are essential for an international school to thrive.  Why then do some international schools hire non-certified teachers?  Of course there are many reasons why schools make such choices for their staff.

One reason is that qualified teachers are sometimes hard to come by in some (if not all) countries. Additionally, the more experienced teachers may not be considering positions at less established international schools.  In some parts of the world, the pay is low.  Being that certified teachers seek out positions that value their teaching degrees (that they have worked hard for), they might not even consider working at some schools where the pay and benefits are less than desirable.

Another factor that comes into play is timing.  Some international schools get into “binds” every once and awhile, and sometimes the best choice is to hire a less qualified (or not qualified) teacher to fill the position. That non-qualified teacher is just waiting and waiting for the right moment, when the stars align for them, to finally get that job at the nearby international school versus staying at the “language” school down the road.  Also, when international schools are trying to fill vacancies for the coming school year during not ideal times of the year (e.g. the summer months or even May), they might not have the same pick of qualified teachers as they would have had back in January and February.

Even another reason that international school hire non-qualified teachers could be related to money.  International schools (especially for-profit ones) are always on the look-out on how to save money. Hiring non-qualified teachers can potentially save the school money as they can sometimes pay them less.  If there is a pay scale at the school, they would most likely be on the bottom of it.Mr-Boli-and-Primary-186

Many educators without university teaching certificates are the ones that are already living abroad.  They maybe moved abroad when they got a job at an English-language school or had an interest in “teaching English” in a foreign country.  We are sure that there are some great English-language schools around the world, but most of the teachers at those schools would prefer to work at an international school; mainly because of the better pay and benefits.  More established international schools though won’t consider them because they might not have the exact teaching qualifications that they require. The less established international schools might consider these less-qualified teachers though, especially if they are scrounging to find quality candidates to fill their positions.

It is true that you can be a good teacher, even an excellent one, without a teaching certificate from a university. Experience in the field can definitely equal quality teaching, and parents and other qualified teachers shouldn’t be so turned off to working with them.  If you agree to that statement, maybe we shouldn’t be so caught up in whether an international school has an all-qualified staff.  We all work hard to do the same job, it isn’t as if qualified teachers would work any harder at the school.  On the other hand, it is important to honor the time spent when teachers do go an get diplomas in education.  Many people with university teaching certificates have worked very hard to make teaching their career choice and not just a “job”.  It can be a bit of an “unfortunate circumstance” and a downer when a qualified teacher shows up at their new international school to find out that their colleagues are all “English teachers”!
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On our website we have a specific topic in the School Information section of each school profile page that discusses the issue of which international schools have qualified teachers or not.  It is called “Describe what kinds of teachers work here (local vs. expat, nationality, qualifications [or lack there of], etc.) and staff turnover rate.”  Our members have submitted 100s of comments and information in this topic on a number of different international schools listed on our website.  Here are just a few of the comments and information submitted in this topic:

“About 65% North American, 20% European and 15% local and other. All teachers are certified and have at least 4 years’ experience…”
MEF International School Istanbul (27 total comments)

“The school has both Colombian and expat teachers. All of the expat teachers are North American and all are qualified teachers. The Colombian teachers are also well certified. There is not a high turnover rate at the school. Many expat teachers, though young, stay three or four years and some have been at the school much longer…”
Colegio Granadino Manizales (43 total comments)

“High Staff turnover. Probably 1/3 local hires vs. expats. The qualifications can be low. Many first year teachers with no teaching degree. Most expats are Americans and Canadians. People do not stay here because the taxes are high, the frustration level with the administration is high, and the level of academic rigor is low…”
American School Foundation of Mexico City (35 total comments)

“You will find a range of teachers from New Zealand to Canada, via UK, Egypt, Palestine, South Africa, Australia, France and more. Most teachers are expat hire. Local hire teachers are well qualified. The school is still only 7 years old so turnover rate is hard to reflect on. It ranges from 1-7 years at current time…”
Khartoum International Community School (37 total comments)

“Turn over rate last year was very low. This year is different with several teachers in the Secondary school being pushed out. The school pays on time and there are good benefits. Many teachers in the Secondary school do not have formal teaching qualifications but they have good subject knowledge…”
Western International School of Shanghai (57 total comments)

If you are an International School Community member with premium access, log on today and submit your own comments about the international schools you know about!

If you are not a member yet, make sure to join www.internationalschoolcommunity.com and automatically get one full month of premium access. You will become a part of our over 1950+ members!

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12 Tips for Selecting an Int'l School

Selecting an international school: Tip #7 – Does the school feature a curriculum that is consistent with your future plans?

January 16, 2013


What reasons do parents think about when selecting a school for their children when they move abroad? Are they similar reasons for why teachers choose to work at a school abroad as well?  There are many different kinds of international schools and they are all in different situations.  How important is finding out about if the school features a curriculum that is consistent with your future career plans?  It could be beneficial to ask these types of questions at your interview, before you make any big decisions to move or choose a school to work at.  So, how do you choose the right international school for your children to attend or for you to work at?  In this blog series we will discuss the Tips for Selecting an International School.

Tip #7 – Does the school feature a curriculum that is consistent with your future plans?

indexInternational schools teach in many different curricula.  Some of the most common are the UK, USA, Canada, IPC, PYP, MYP, and IB curricula. Which curriculum is one that is consistent with your future plans?  Are you comfortable just continuing teaching in the same one curriculum that you have been teaching in your whole teaching career or do you have aspirations to teach and to gain experience in a different curriculum?

Most of us international school teachers start off in a school that teaches in the same curriculum as your home country.  After all, your home country curriculum is what you have the most experience teaching in, and it is also probably the one in which you are the most comfortable.  Also, if you work at a school that teaches your home country curriculum, then you will most likely be teaching alongside others who are just like you (which could make you feel “more at home” while living abroad).

There are definitely international school teachers out there that seek out new experiences though and would be risk takers and seek out to try and work at an international school that teaches in a curriculum of which they are not familiar.  It definitely broadens your skills in teaching once you start having experiences teaching in different curricula.  You may find that your personal teaching philosophy also starts to get modified or solidified even more.  You definitely have more “tools” in your teaching “toolbox.” Not only does teaching in the new curriculum change you, it is the people that you interact with at that new school (who might be from a different country and teaching background than you) that influence how you teach your lessons as well.

imagesIt is nice to have a couple of different experiences noted on your CV that refer to the different curricula in which you have taught.  It is not only good for you so that you grow professionally, but it is also potentially good when job hunting.  Only a few cities in the world have more than 20 international schools in them (Beijing, Shanghai, Bangkok, etc…) and can offer many different kinds of curricula.

Most cities though only have a handful of international schools (Paris, Chang Mai, Buenos Aires, etc…), mean limited choices for different curricula.  If you are interested in working in a specific city in the world and there are only three international schools in that city, then you can for sure “better your chances” of getting a job there if you have previous experience teaching the curriculum at two or all three of those schools.  It is not a given though that you will automatically get an interview/the job there of course (if you have experience in that curriculum), but it most definitely might put you on their radar.

With the international schools that teach the IB curriculum, some people say that it is getting increasingly difficult to get a job at these schools if you don’t have previous IB experience.  You might have PYP, MYP, and IB as part of your plans in your future teaching career, but many schools are not even considering candidates without previous experience.  There definitely have been candidates though who “got their break” and landed a job at an IB school without previous experience in the curriculum.  Those candidates say that some directors tell them that if you are a good teacher, then it does not matter one bit if you don’t have previous IB experience.  If you are a good teacher in one curriculum, then typically that would mean you are a good teacher in another one (with proper training and PD of course to help you along the way). So, if you are trying to secure a job at an international school that teaches a curriculum that you have no experience in, don’t just give up and not send them your cover letter and CV.  You never know truly who they are specifically looking for and of course they aren’t just considering candidates that have previous experience in the curriculum.  It might just be that they are not getting enough “ideal” candidates and are already considering candidates without previous curriculum experience.

screenshot-2016-11-19-07-26-54On our website we have a School Profile Search feature that allows you to search for the schools that teach the curriculum that you are looking for in your next job.  You can search by choosing the following curricula: UK, USA, Canada, IPC, PYP, MYP, and IB.  We also have an “other” option to search schools that teach a curriculum that is not one of those eight choices.  When searching our 1340 international schools (updates on 16 January 2013), we have found the following results regarding curricula:

• There are 435 international schools that teach the USA curriculum.
• There are 413 international schools that teach the UK curriculum.
• There are 57 international schools that teach the IPC curriculum.
• There are 306 international schools that teach the PYP curriculum.
• There are 237 international schools that teach the MYP curriculum
• There are 472 international schools that teach the IB curriculum
• There are 29 international schools that teach the Canada curriculum
• There are 647 international schools that teach the “Other/Host Country” curriculum

If you are an International School Community member, log on today and submit your own search for the curriculum that is consistent with your future plans!

If you are not a member yet, make sure to join www.internationalschoolcommunity.com and become a part of our over 1600 members.  Many of our current members have listed that they have worked at over 200 international schools around the world, schools that teach all 8 of the curriculum search criteria. Feel free to send these members a message with your questions and get firsthand information about what it is like teaching in the curriculum at their international school.

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Surveys

New Survey: Which international school teacher conference do you prefer to go to?

November 26, 2012


A new survey has arrived!

Topic:  Which international school teacher conference do you prefer to go to?

Most international schools will offer some benefits to their teachers.  If you are lucky, your school will offer a benefit that gives you a set amount of money each year to use on a professional development event of your choice.  Many of those international schools will also let you now roll-over your unused PD money into the following year, up to three years worth in total if you need to.  Knowing that going to and attending an international school teacher conference can be quite expensive (e.g. registration costs, flight, hotel, meals, taxi rides, etc.), it is good to know that your school will either pay for you to go to them (all expenses paid) or that you can use your own PD money to go to them (hopefully all expenses paid as well).

If you have the money and the school you work at is open to where you use your PD money, the question then is…where should you go?   There are a nice handful of conferences that international school teachers can go to (EARCOS, ECIS, AASSA, MAIS, AISA, IB, etc.).  They also pretty much offer the same style of conference: a variety of guest speakers show up to inspire the attendees somehow (professionals in education or in topics related to education), and then there are different workshops led by international school teachers themselves (sharing a new strategy, research, best-practice techniques, etc.).  Is there one of these conferences that is better than the others?  We are not for sure.  Mostly teachers just go to the one that is closest to their school.

One thing that does seem for sure is that it seems as if the numbers of attendees at international school conferences is lower than normal as of late (e.g. the ECIS Conference in Nice this year).  There are also less companies signed up to be exhibitors as well.  Some participants at ECIS this year were saying that just a few years back there were 1000s more attendees that showed up.  They also were surmising that because there are so many international school teacher conferences nowadays, there just isn’t enough time and money for all the exhibitors to go to them…and the same goes for the teachers and administrators.

Did you know that some international schools (mostly for-profit ones) will grant you the money to attend a PD event (if it directly relates to the benefit of the school) only if you plan on staying for another two years?  If you decide to leave the school before that two-year deadline, then you must pay back all the money that you used to go to that PD event!  Hopefully there aren’t too many international schools out there that do that to their teachers still.  It is so important that international school teachers are treated as professionals in the field of education.  As professionals, we need to stay up-to-date with current trends and practices, as well as what current research is saying about how to be an effective teacher.  Additionally, it is vitally important for international school teachers to be at these events so that they can network with others that also work in the international school community. Networking can maybe lead to a future job at another international school for you, but it also can help you do the things you need to do in your current placement.  Why do the job by yourself when there are most likely other international school teachers that also need to do that same job?  Two heads are better than one, no?  Then you can share the load and work together on different projects that are of interest to both of you.

So, which international school teacher conference do you prefer to go to?  Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today!  You can check out the latest voting results here.

From the staff at International School Community.

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New Teacher Orientation Must-Haves

International school orientation must-have for new teachers #4: Help finding a place to live!

September 20, 2012


 

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 of your start at your new school, in your new host country.

orientation

Must-have #4: Help finding a place to live!

Finding a place to live in any country can be a headache!  When you involve different languages, different cultural traditions and norms, etc. finding an apartment can be even more of a headache.  In turn, it is much appreciated if the administration/business staff at your new school can help you out.

Some international schools just place you in a compound that the school owns and you must live there for the whole length of your time working at that school.  Other international schools don’t own or have a relationship with buildings or complexes through the city and you are meant to search and get your own place completely on your own.  But there are more than just two kinds of experiences when it comes to where you will end up living after moving to your new international school.  There are some that state you must live in a certain apartment for the entire first year you work at a school. After your first year, then you are allowed to find and move to a completely different apartment of your choice.  Other international schools ask their current staff who are leaving if they can help to set up a new teacher to take over their apartment or they might even send out an email to the current staff asking around if any current teachers are looking for a roommate.  If there are some options, then these schools will usually help to make the right connections so that you can immediately move into your new place with your new roommate.

orientation

If there aren’t any options for you and the school just places you in a specific place, you shouldn’t have too much to worry about as you know you will immediately have a place to live when you arrive without much of a headache.  If there are options for you, you need to be prepared for potential headaches, unknowns and possible disappointments when you arrive.  Additionally, you might need to be prepared to move two or three times during your first year.  Your first place might be completely opposite to what you were thinking it would be!

If you can work it out and are lucky enough to visit the location that you will be moving to, then of course you can get some of the apartment searching done in person. How ideal would that be?  I have a colleague that made a point to make a visit to their future city during the beginning part of the summer (before they officially moved there later that summer).  They got the opportunity to view some apartments that the school had recommended to them in person.  Not all of us can be so lucky though as to make a pre-move trip to check out possible living situations, but if you are able to, then for sure that would be beneficial.

A good international school will make sure to answer all your questions that you have about your future living situation.  They should send pictures if applicable of your future apartment.  They should request answers to a housing survey that they send to you, so that they can better gauge what type of place best suits your needs and wants (that is if the school does indeed help to find you a place).  They should have language support available to you if you need some interpreting or translating of the rental documents. Good schools would even help you out to pay the sometimes high cost of a rental deposit (e.g apartments in Western Europe).

orientation

There are many international school teachers experiencing a wide range of experiences related to how they found a place to live.

Here are some firsthand accounts of how these international schools teachers found a place to live in the city they just moved to (and whether or not their new school helped them out or not):

“The Canadian Academy has a first year rule: all new teacher must live in school accommodations for the first year. This includes a variety of apartments and houses both on and off campus, and options depending on the number of dependents. All in all, they took care of everything, and it made it the best transition we’ve ever had. Besides getting a futon with pillows, sheets, and blankets, we had a stocked fridge, a basket of cleaning supplies and toiletries, snacks, a phone, a fax machine, furniture, and many more items. While I wouldn’t describe it as moving into a furnished place, it did have all the essentials. Also, after the first year, we’re free to move to our own choice of accommodations or select a new school housing option. Very user-friendly.  A teacher from Canadian Academy (Kobe).

“My current school offered to help find an apartment, however I was more interested in finding share accommodation as I find that’s a nice quick way to make new friends and to always have someone on hand who know’s the area you live in. They put me onto a website for share housing and also asked around the school to see if anyone was interested in having a new teacher share with them. Someone did and now I share a house with two other people in a beautiful, artfully decorated place 3 minutes walk from school and town and for half the rent I would pay to live in a place on my own. I also didn’t need to pay any deposit. They’re happy for it to be short-term in case I decide to move into my own place later, but I’m thinking that staying here is a good thing. I would personally recommend seeking share housing to anyone (not in a couple) who is open to the idea. I’ve also experienced living in my own apartment straight out, but became bored with that after a year and moved into a new place with 2 other friends. It can also be a pain setting up a new apartment in terms of buying furniture, crockery and connecting the internet.” A teacher from The Bermuda High School for Girls.

orientation

“The school helps you find your first apartment before you arrive.  Actually, all new teachers move into a gated community called Shanghai Gardens when I worked there.  Basically all new teachers need to live there their first year.  After that first year, then you can use the allotted housing if you decide to move and find your own place.  When I moved into the apartment at Shanghai Gardens, it had all the furniture you would need.  The school also left a ‘survival’ package of things to get you started (e.g. pots and pans, sheets, etc.).  I was appreciative of the school helping to place new teachers in this building complex and the apartment; many of the staff in the business office could also speak English which was a perk.  On the other hand, many teachers had a negative experience living at Shanghai Gardens.  There were problems with the apartments sometimes (as some of them were owned by different owners).  There were also problems with your bills at time, some of them being way too high from the price they should’ve been.  I was quite happy to find a different apartment my second year there.”  A teacher from Shanghai Rego International School.

“ACS Hillingdon was great to us in helping us find a place to live. They have a staff member, Maxine, who is there all year, including during the summer, and she worked with a local estate agent to help us find a flat that fit our needs, location, and price range. I know she drove several of even the pickiest people around to multiple places, and she knows the areas where the school’s bus routes go for those of us who don’t have a car.

The school even helped a newly hired couple whose flat was damaged by fire in the London riots of 2011 by giving them extra time off, arranging a place to stay while they looked for a new permanent residence, and even donating money from an emergency fund while insurance agencies worked through their claims.

A+ all the way around.” A teacher from Acs International School – Hillingdon Campus.

In the Benefits Information section of the school profile page on our website, we have a topic related to housing – Details about the staff housing or the housing allowance.

Log-on today to check out the hundreds of comments and information submitted in this section topic!  Become the most informed you can be when it comes to finding a place in your new city.

So, does your school provide help for new teachers to find a place to live? Please share your experiences!

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Highlighted Articles

Professional Development Opportunities for International School Educators in Europe

August 22, 2012


Chapters International – Learning Abroad

The following is a list of upcoming workshops in Europe:

The Emerging Culture of Teaching and Learning
By  Alan November
22nd – 23rd September, 2012, Luxembourg
Price: Euro 575
Our schools are at the beginning of a historic transition from paper as the dominant storage and retrieval media to digital. The traditional technology planning approach of bolting technology on top of the current design of school will only yield marginal results. Contrast this “$1,000 pencil” approach with the kinds of skills that are highly valued in the global economy…Read more about this PD opportunity here.

Concept Based Curriculum and Instruction for The Thinking Classroom
By Dr . Lynn Erickson
29th – 30th September 2012, Cyprus
Price: Euro 575
Lynn Erickson expands our understanding of the conceptual level of knowledge, thinking, and understanding. In this highly interactive session, Dr. Erickson will challenge your mind as she contrasts a three-dimensional concept-based curriculum and instruction model with the worn out two-dimensional coverage model…Read more about this PD opportunity here.

Teaching and Learning through Inquiry
by Kath Murdoch
24th – 25th November 2012, Istanbul
Price: USD 720
In this practical workshop, participants have the opportunity to clarify their understanding of what it really means to use an inquiry based approach to teaching and learning in the primary/elementary classroom.  Over two interactive days, teachers examine the essential elements of inquiry and how these elements can be ‘brought to life’ through quality planning, use of materials, choice of teaching strategies and interactions with students…Read more about this PD opportunity here.

Standard Based Grading and Reporting by Ken O Conor
1st – 2nd December 2012, Warsaw
Price: Euro 500
Day 1:
Nothing really changes until the grade book and the report card changes.”
Curriculum, instruction, and assessment have increasingly become standards-based but parallel changes in grading and reporting have been slow, especially in middle and high schools.
Day 2:
“Nothing really changes until the grade book and the report card changes.” Curriculum, instruction, and assessment have increasingly become standards-based but parallel changes in grading and reporting have been slow, especially in middle and high schools. This session will include a review of eight guidelines for grading and will focus on guidelines for standards-based reporting…Read more about this PD opportunity here.

Creating a  Culture of Thinking
Creating  Places where Thinking is Valued Visible by Dr Ron Richhart
13th – 14th April 2013, Florence
Price: USD 750
The Cultures of Thinking Project is a global initiative under the direction of Dr. Ron Ritchhart, a Principal Investigator and Senior Research Associate at Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education.  Learning is a product of thinking.  If we want our students to learn well and develop understanding, we must create cultures of thinking that actively engage students in thinking on an ongoing basis…Read more about this PD opportunity here.

For more information about these workshop contact:
Shonal Agarwal
CEO
Chapters International
Email: shonal@chaptersinternational.com
chaptersinternational@gmail.com

Website: www.chaptersinternational.com

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New Teacher Orientation Must-Haves

New teacher orientation must-have: Lunches provided by the school during the orientation week at the school campus.

August 10, 2012


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 of your start at your new school, in your new host country.

Must-have #3: Lunches provided by the school during the orientation week at the school campus.

Having a catered, home (cafeteria)-cooked lunch is NOT a given when you start working at an international school.  Some international schools include free lunches in their benefits package all year round (for all teachers mind you!), but some international schools don’t offer this benefit…not even during PD events or during new teacher orientation.

It is definitely a nice gesture on the school’s part to offer lunches to the new staff during the orientation week.  It is setting the right tone amongst the new staff and their budding relationship with their new school.  Additionally, it is a great opportunity for new staff and administration to get to know each other better being that they are kind of forced to dine together because they are eating the same food.

It is important to note that new teachers most likely don’t have everything set up in their new apartments to be ready to cook themselves a packed-lunch to bring to work.  The new teachers might not know exactly where to go (e.g. where there is a proper grocery store) to buy food they like to eat either.  Well they might know a place to go (one that was recommended to them by a new friend at work), but it might propose a challenge for them to walk there or to navigate a taxi or the public transportation to get there.  All of these things are stressers for new teachers during their first few weeks in their new host city/country, and one of the main goals of a new teacher orientation week is to make sure the new teachers are as least stressed as possible.

Now I’m not saying that schools are offering free lunches like in this picture (the beautiful hummus wrap), but some international schools have very nice cafeterias and cooks that can make some quite tasty lunches.  At a colleague’s international school in Mediterranean [American School of Barcelona (79 Comments)], they did offer free lunches during new teacher orientation week (during the whole year as well).  The food wasn’t the highest quality, but it was nice and made in-house.  Lots of fish and local cuisine were prepared on a number of the days.  At another colleague’s school Seoul, South Korea [Seoul International School (68 Comments)], there is a buffet available to staff every day…a pretty nice buffet too.  There are many choices to choose from. The quality can be quite good at times as well.  The colleague noted that sometimes they had to control themselves from not over-eating being that the buffet choices where very good some days! There is a small cost though involved for the teachers to pay if they wanted to eat at the school’s buffet, but it is reasonably priced at $3. However at new teacher orientation, the new staff get it for free (breakfast and lunch).  Additionally, the new teachers and the whole staff also get free lunches provided by the school during the first week back before students arrive.

At a for-profit international school in Shanghai though, it was a different story.  For the most part, the school did not provide lunches for the new staff during orientation week. If they did provide lunch one day, it wasn’t a lunch prepared for by the kitchen staff.  It was from a take-away place nearby to the school.  Most days though the new teachers had to figure out their own food to eat during orientation week.  The new teachers that didn’t want to make their own lunch (and most new teachers didn’t want to or weren’t really able to), they could also order for themselves (and also pay for themselves) from the take-away place.  After trying to navigate a menu all in Chinese characters with a Chinese staff member translating, when the food arrived it definitely wasn’t the highest of qualities or not even close to what you thought it would be.  It would have been better really if the school had started up a better relationship with another take-away place.  The problem was though that the school was basically in a very rural part of Shanghai, far away from the nicer places. On a positive note, the lunches at the take-away place nearby were priced very, very cheaply!

It is important that the basic needs be met for a new teacher working at an international school.  They should have a place to sleep (shelter), they should have some money (via a relocation allowance possibly) to spend on necessities, and they should have food and water (among other things).  A wise international school chooses to play a major part and takes an active role is helping to make sure their new teachers have their basic needs met.  One way to support this decision, for sure, is to provide lunches to teachers during new teacher orientation.  Now how that provided-lunch will look like can vary a lot though!  It is definitely not a “deal-breaker” though and you should mostly likely not be asking about the possibility of catered lunches (and their quality) at your interview!

How funny though if schools did come prepared to show pictures of the types of free lunches they provide to their new staff.  Actually, seeing those pictures at the interview might be nice; anything really to help you make your decision before you sign the contract.

So, does your school provide lunch during new teacher orientation week?  Please share your experiences!

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12 Tips for Selecting an Int'l School

Selecting an international school: Tip #2 – Location: Is the school conveniently located?

July 19, 2012


What reasons do parents think about when selecting a school for their children when they move abroad? Are they similar reasons for why teachers choose to work at a school abroad as well?  There are many kinds of international schools and they are all in different situations.  Finding out where exactly your international school is located and where you will be located is very important to know, before you make any big decisions to move or choose a school to attend or work at.  So, how do you choose the right international school for your children to attend or for you to work at?  Our new blog series will discuss the Tips for Selecting an International School.

Tip #2 – Location: Is the school conveniently located?

The American School of London (see picture to the left) and the United Nations International School are conveniently located, but not all international schools are in the same situation.  Some international schools are built way outside of the city center, far away, especially if you plan on living in the city center.  Sometimes your journey to work might be around 1 hour, one-way; an important thing to know before you decide on signing a contract to work at an international school.

If you don’t mind living in a 3rd ring suburb, maybe it wouldn’t be such a big of an issue that your school is so far away from the city center.  However, if you like to enjoy city life and prefer to live there as well, then it might not be the best fit to work at an international school that is not centrally located.

If you are a teacher with children that attend the school, living closer to school also might be a positive thing.  Maybe if you have children, you wouldn’t mind working at a school that is way out in the suburbs because that is always where you would prefer to live anyways.

Before signing a contract, an international school teacher definitely needs to evaluate their current situation and what their living-situation needs are.  Make sure to ask the right questions at the interview about how your current situation and needs match with the location of the school and where you would most likely be living in relation to that school.

If you had a choice, what would be the preferred way for you to and from work every day?  Would you rather ride your bike, take a bus, take the school’s bus, ride on a train, walk, drive your car, take a taxi, or a combination of 2-3 types of transportation?  What amount of time is an acceptable journey length: 10-15 minutes, 15-30 minutes, 45 minutes, or over one hour?

One colleague friend of mine worked at a school that was more than a one-hour journey from their apartment.  Most of the teachers there were taken to and from the school on one of the school’s buses “for teachers.”  One positive thing this teacher took away from that experience was that many teachers were forced to not work so long at the school.  Because of the fact that the school’s bus for teachers left at a specific time, you had to get on that bus…otherwise you would be stuck at school with limited options to get home!  Sometimes teachers do need to stay long at school to get work completed, but often teachers don’t really need to stay for hours and hours.  If you are forced to end your workday at a certain time, you would be surprised how much of your work gets done during that time constraint.

Another colleague friend of mine lives in the city center and their school is very conveniently located in relation to the city center.  Many teachers at this school also live where this teacher lives, and the journey from home to school is around 12-15 minutes by train and 20-25 minutes by bike.  Many of the teachers at this school are quite pleased that they at least have the option of living in the city center and also have a relatively easy commute to work.  There are also many options to get to work based on the needs and situation of each teacher.  It is nice when there are many transportation options available to the meet the needs of a diverse staff.

We have had hundreds of comments and information submitted about this very topic on a number of international schools on International School Community’s website.  For example on the Shanghai Rego International School‘s profile page there have been three comments submitted so far:

On the Misr American College school profile page, we have one rather informative comments about the school’s location:

If you are an international school teacher currently working abroad, please share your comments about if your school is conveniently or NOT conveniently located.

Additionally, make sure to join www.internationalschoolcommunity.com as you are able to check out our over 830 members.  Many of our current members have listed they work at over 200 international schools around the world. Feel free to send these members a message with your questions about where most teachers are living in relation to the school and the city center.

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9 Lessons Learned Regarding Intl School Hiring Fairs

The Wonderful World of International School Hiring Fairs: Lesson #9 – “Remember to check yourself in the mirror before you leave your hotel room for the day’s interviews.”

June 29, 2012


“Nine Lessons Learned” taken from The Wonderful World of International School Hiring Fairs article by Clay Burell’s blog Beyond School.

9. “Remember to check yourself in the mirror before you leave your hotel room for the day’s interviews.

“I can’t believe I forgot my belt. At least my fly wasn’t down.”

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.

Do schools really notice then what the candidates are wearing?  Seems a bit silly when you are trying to show your “real” self, when most of us teachers aren’t wearing suits at our schools (well at a British international school you might be) or in our personal lives.  But as the rules go at international school recruitment fairs, most believe that wearing a suit is a must.  Unfortunately then, you must actually have one already or have to buy one, and if you live in the United States…suits aren’t necessarily cheap.  If you currently live in a country where getting clothes personally made for you is relatively inexpensive (e.g. China), then I suppose you might as well get 2-3 of them!  Still though, you are only wearing the suits most likely for 2-3 days at the fair and then not wearing them again for another 2-3 years!  Seems a bit of a waste to spend the money and not use the clothes more often.

So, you have your suit now and you arrive at the fair.  As you unpack your “formal” clothes, make sure to note whether there are wrinkles or not.  If you have flown to the fair on an airplane and have put your suit in your checked luggage, then you most likely will have to do a bit of ironing before you head out to do any interviews.  If you are staying in a hotel room that is hosting the fair, then you are in luck because it is most likely a 4-5 star hotel and the rooms will have ironing equipment in them. Ironing under stress though can prove to be difficult, so iron with caution otherwise you might give yourself a burn which could ruin your hand-shaking hand.  Also, make sure you try on your new clothes before you arrive at the fair.  I remember having a roommate (one that the fair set me up to share a room with) and him just realizing in our hotel room that the shirt he brought was like 2-3 sizes too big for him (and extremely wrinkled as well).  He asked for my opinion, and I was astonded how over-sized it was! He ended up getting a job in Switzerland at that fair, so apparently the school didn’t notice or care.

But, you never know which schools will care at the fair.  So, it is good to remember the phrase that everyone knows: Always make a good first impression.  And besides your clothes, there are other things to check in the mirror before you leave your hotel room which well help you in your goal to make a good first impression.  Maybe there is something in your teeth, so brush your teeth really well.  Maybe there is something on your face like an eyelash, so check your face really up close.  Maybe there is something in your nose, check up there too!  There is nothing worse then having something on your face (that usually isn’t there) showing up and having your interviewer noticing it and your seemingly ignoring it!  Hopefully they will just tell you straight away and you both can redirect your focus on the interview again without any more distractions.  As a kind gesture to your fellow candidates, why don’t we all help each other to avoid these things when we see each other in the elevator?  Better to have another candidate let you know about something on your face or clothes than the director of a school you would like to work at.

I think there are a wide range of dress styles though when I look at the other candidates at international school recruitment fairs.  I guess it is like a bell curve I suppose.  There are a few teachers that are really dressed up, almost too much so.  And then there are a few teachers that are dressed-down a bit and should’ve put a little more effort into their clothes and style choices.  And finally there is the majority of candidates, who are just in the middle somewhere.

So, what is your plan at the fair with regarding to the goal of making a good first impression?  Share what clothes you prefer to wear at the fair or routines you typically use to check yourself.  Also, have you ever had an embarrassing moment when you forgot to check yourself in the mirror?

There are over 5327 submitted information and comments about over 1232 international schools around the world on International School Community.  Each international school has its own profile page, and on each school profile page there are four sections: School, Benefits, City and Travel.  Members of internationalschoolcommunity.com are able to read about and submit their own comments and information in those four sections, all in a very easy to read and organized manner.  It is a great way to get a better glimpse into what could be your future life as you venture out into the world to work at your next international school! It is also a great resource at your disposal as you interview with different international schools when job hunting.

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Member Spotlights

International School Community Member Spotlight #14: Carol Craig (An international teacher currently working in Nairobi, Kenya)

June 27, 2012


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

Tell us about your background.  Where are you from?

I started teaching when I was forty and realized after about 6 years working in RI and CT that if I wanted to make enough money to save anything I would have to go overseas to do it.  I also found that teachers in the U.S. were ill-treated in their school districts and that kids and parents were running the show in education stateside.  I had come out of sales and engineering fields where I was accustomed to being respected in my fields.  I started teaching math and science to educate young people about climate change and other important factors about the world around them.  I have lived all over the U.S. and always loved adventure, so I was a perfect candidate for being an overseas teacher.

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

I heard about a job fair coming to Boston and decided to see what it was all about and low and behold, I got hired at my #1 choice in the Caribbean and off I went the next year.

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 worked at a school in Port of Spain, Trinidad ( International School of Port of Spain) and then in Cairo at an all Egyptian school called Misr American College and now we are in Nairobi (Aga Khan Academy Mombasa).

All of the schools have been wonderful and fun.  Each of them had their own unique reasons for being such. For instance, I am a scuba diver and living on a Caribbean island allowed me to dive occasionally.  I have been to Grenada 3 times and to Tobago many times since I first started coming here.  I also met my husband while at this post and we just celebrated our third anniversary.  He is a local island man and has now shared many new and exciting adventures with me as a trailing spouse of an overseas teacher.  We spent an exciting two years in Egypt and even lived through the uprising/revolution there.  During our stay there we traveled all over Egypt taking a Nile River cruise, climbing Mt. Sinai and diving in the Red Sea, just to name a few of the adventures.  There were so many places to visit that we never went anywhere else during our time there.  We still have some spots that we did not get to, but when the contract ended, we came home to Trinidad for one year while he worked and I wrote a book.  Now we are in Kenya for a new adventure.  I had done summer volunteer work for four years in a row here when I first started teaching, so I have had experience with this part of the world.  There is still so much to see and do; it is a great country to live in.

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

The cultural encounter that put a smile on my face was when I discovered a new roadside produce stand and I filled my canvas bag with an assortment of lovely fruits and vegetables which would have cost around $20US back home, but was only around $2.50 ~ Yea!

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

I look for a school that has a reasonable student/teacher ratio, I look at information on the standard of living based on salary, I look to see if housing is included, I read other teacher’s opinions about the school through websites like this (I do take comments with a grain of salt as more complainers tend to post vs. contented employees), I ask other overseas teachers what they know about a school I may be applying to.  I also talk to my director if he/she is someone who has worked the circuit.  I go to a myriad of websites to see what the new location is like economically, politically, and what there is to do from a sightseeing standpoint.  I ask a lot of questions during an interview regarding the teaching venue, the curriculum, the technology that is available and the extra-curricular expectations.  Is there medical insurance and also adequate medical facilities available?  What are some of the other benefits that I can expect?  Will there be an orientation and someone available to help us get settled into life at the new location?  What are the travel arrangements and also what visa requirements are there?  There is a lot to ask when getting ready to move overseas.

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

Exciting adventure of a lifetime!

Thanks Carol!  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 Kenya like Carol?  Currently, we have 9 international schools listed in Kenya on International School Community:

Aga Khan Academy Mombasa
St. Austin’s Academy Nairobi
Braeburn Mombasa International School
Oshwal Academy
Brookhouse International School
The Banda School
International School of Kenya
Pembroke House
Greensteds International School

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12 Tips for Selecting an Int'l School

Selecting an international school: Tip #1 – Weighing the advantages and disadvantages of local and international school systems.

June 19, 2012


What reasons do parents think about when selecting a school for their children when they move abroad? Are they similar reasons for why teachers choose to work at 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?  Our new blog series will discuss the Tips for Selecting an International School.

Tip #1: Have you fully weighed the advantages and disadvantages of placing your child in an international school in (insert country name here)? It is difficult to go back and forth to the (insert local country) system and it will affect high- er education choices.

As it is a real option for most international school teachers, it is important to think about whether you are going to send your children to a local school versus the international school you work at.

We all know international school teachers typically get free tuition for their children, but not all international school offer this benefit.  Furthermore, some international schools might make the teacher actually pay for a certain percentage of the tuition cost, sometimes up to 50% or more.  With 2-3 children, that could all add up to make your benefits package not that attractive!  Other international schools offer free tuition, but don’t actually guarantee a spot for your child which might result in waiting 1-2 years.  The schools that do this are seeing more of the monetary benefit of getting more ‘paying’ students in the school versus ‘non-paying’ students.

In my opinion it is to the international school’s benefit to have their teachers’ children attend the school.  Many international schools only have a small percentage of students in the class that are native speakers of English.  When the number of native speakers is low, then the level of English and proficiency of the students tends to be low as well.  In general, non-native speakers of English needs native speaker role models in the class to help them achieve a high proficiency in English. At least that was the case at one of my previous international schools in the Mediterranean where the student population was 45% from the host country.

Some international school teachers are married to a local from the host country.  When that is the case, many times the family will send their children to the local schools, so that the children can learn fully in the local language.  Knowing the local language like a native speaker will definitely be a important factor in that child’s future if the family’s plan is to stay in the host country forever (or a really long time). Sending your children to a local school is typically the cheaper option if you are in a situation where the international school you work at wants to have you pay a certain percentage.

Sometimes the choice to have their children attend a local school is a choice the family is making for themselves, or it is a choice that is made because of the difficulty with getting a spot for enrollment in the international school.  It is important to note that most international schools though do make sure to have a spot for teachers’ children if they are foreign-hires. Otherwise it would be most difficult to get any teaching couples (with dependents) to sign a contract! But for international school teachers with a local spouse, like in some areas of the world (e.g. Western Europe), getting a spot might prove to be more challenging as the international school will state that the children have an viable option to attend a local school.

If you are an international school teacher with children, please share your comments about ‘Weighing the advantages and disadvantages of local and international school systems.’

Additionally, make sure to join www.internationalschoolcommunity.com as you are able to check out our almost 700 members.  Many of our current members have listed they are ‘married with dependents’ on their profile pages.  Feel free to send these members a message with your questions about what life is like as an international school teacher with children.

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Video Highlight

Video Highlight: Living in Dubai and its International Schools

May 17, 2012


There are so many international schools in Dubai.  Which ones are good places for international school teachers to work at?  How does the parent community view the international schools there?

We stumbled upon a great resource at Move One.  Their website has a wealth of information about the ins and outs of moving abroad to a variety of cities around the world.  They have many videos explaining what the international school situation is like in cities like Prague, Kiev, Budapest, etc.

Check out their video about Dubai’s international schools.Here is what Moveoneinc.com had to say in general about expats that are moving to Dubai and the current schooling situation:

“The city of Dubai is fully aware of the number of expats and their children that move there every year. As so many families have moved there a plethora of International Schools following different curriculum’s and teaching styles have opened to cater to all the different nationalities. There is so much choice in fact it can sometimes be difficult to decide which school your child or children should attend. to send your children to. The government tries to control this by ranking the schools in different categories giving parents some guidance. Many parents also choose to listen to other expats recommendations. All schools have beautiful top notch facilities and qualified staff – so no matter which school is chosen one can rest assured that a good education is being received.”

Their website has

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

Raffles International School (South) (9 Comments)
Horizon School Dubai (16 Comments)
Uptown Primary School (Mirdif) (10 Comments)
Al Mizhar American Academy (10 Comments)
Dubai International Academy (10 Comments)
Universal American School in Dubai (9 Comments)
Deira International School (9 Comments)

If you know about what it is like working at one of these international schools in Dubai, log-on today and submit your own comments and information.  If you submit more than 30 comments and information, then you can get 1 year of premium access to International School Community for free!

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ISCommunity Newsletters

International School Community Newsletter v2012.05 – 05 May, 2012

May 5, 2012


v2012.05 – 5 May, 2012:

“Having left your own safe environment suddenly you no longer have control (which as teachers we typically enjoy in our classroom) over your world. As soon as you step out into the outside world in whatever country, you can be faced with:

  • street signs and scripts you cannot read (e.g. in Asia, Middle East etc.)
  • a language you do not understand
  • how to get the simplest things done (fix a tap leak, AC problem)
  • who to ask for help

It is similar to a new born chick who has just left the nest – since you lack confidence in your new surroundings you start out by going on small excursions, but then as you get more confident you go on further trips away from ‘the nest’.”

It is true I suppose that teachers prefer to have “control” in their classrooms.  How ironic then that international school teachers put themselves in a situation where they for sure don’t have control.  Living in another country is certainly you letting go of the control and safety of your home country and culture, or at least a familiar place to you.  But that is what makes this career choice really exciting; you never know what to expect and what you will experience next.  How frustrating though to not be able to read street and road signs, we can all relate to that.  Additionally, not being able to understand the local language really makes you use all your other senses more in how to interpret body language and to gather meaning from body positioning, gestures and context.  At this point native-English international school teachers are so used to being on a train or plane where everyone around them is speaking a different language than themselves that it is strange now (and quite over-stimulating) to be on a plane in the United States (for example) where they understand all the many conversations going on around their seat.  We get very used to “tuning” out what is going on around us while living abroad, mostly because we just don’t understand what is being said.

This past month International School Community we had over 100 new members sign up!  If this rate keeps up, we might have over 1000 members by the end of October!  More members means more people that you can network with when you are job hunting or that you can ask questions to about a specific international school in which you are interested in working.  Now, ISCommunity members currently work at or have worked at over 160 different international schools in over 53 countries!

From the staff at International School Community.


Recently updated schools with new comments and information:

· 04 May  Copenhagen International School (4 new comments)
Copenhagen, Denmark
“The surrounding area is a bit posh. Most people from Copenhagen view the Hellerup area as place for…”· 04 May  Southbank International School (5 new comments)
London, England

“There is a great food, green, meat market at Borough market, it is near London Bridge station. It is pretty cool there. They have…”· 02 May  American School of El Salvador (10 new comments)
San Salvador, El Salvador

“EA provides foreign hire teachers furnished housing in modern school-owned town homes and houses located on…”· 01 May  Tokyo International School  (11 new comments)
Tokyo, Japan

“I interviewed with them a few years ago at the CIS fair in London. There were two male administrators there. They were…”

· 30 Apr  Institute of Applied Technology (Abu Dhabi) (8 new comments)
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

“End of Service (Gratuity) equal to one month’s basic salary for each year of service…”

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


Recent blog entries:

· Traveling Around: Tbilisi, Georgia (The life of an international school teacher is good!)
“Can you relate: Putting an update on Facebook on where I am and everyone not knowing where Tbilisi is…”

· International schools that were founded in 1932 (Hong Kong, Henderson, Masero & Lisbon)
“Founded in 1932 by Madam Tsang Chor-hang, Yew Chung has been providing quality bilingual education to the learners of Hong Kong for almost 80 years…”

· Overview of an int’l school #5 – Rainbow international School in Seoul
“Rainbow school is an international school established by Mr. Eshraf Saglam, a Turkish educationist in Seoul promoting multiculturalism and international diversity. With 260 students from 29 countries and 42 teachers from 6 countries…”

· Schools around the world get chance to sing in global recording
“An exciting global singing project has been announced. The project is called Voices around the World and the aim is for young people all over the world to learn and participate in a global recording…”

·  International Teaching Predictions for 2012 #5: SE Asia
“We expect continued growth in Indonesia, Malaysia and even Vietnam as those emerging economies steadily prosper.  Salaries may seem very low in these countries but…”

· The Wonderful World of International School Hiring Fairs: Lesson #8 – “Benefits, preps, class sizes, and student mix.”
“If all these benefits and other factors don’t seem to match up for you at this point in your international school career, then the answer you will most likely give…”


Recently added schools:


Requested schools to have members leave comments on:


Last month we have had visits from 96 countries around the world!

Site Stats:
Current members: 506 ( 101)
School profiles
: 1205 ( 38)
Blog entries
: 271 ( 19)
Posted comments & info
:
4578 ( 575)
Twitter followers: 336 ( 13)


One month free promotion ending soon:

International School Community will soon be ending its one month free of premium membership promotion for new members.  Make sure to let your colleagues and friends know about this promotion before it expires.  If you are not a member yet yourself, sign-up today!


New members:

· Jamel Khalil
(American International School of Kuwait)
· Emin Huseynov
(Rainbow International School)
· Claire Moore
(Newton International School)
· Firdaus Bhathena
(Canadian International School –
Hong Kong)
· Eric Lee
(American International School Vietnam)
· Lauren Spear
(International Montessori School of Beijing)


Current Survey Topic:

Vote here!


Member spotlight:

Sonya TerBorg
“A great leader is really important to me.  I try and find out about the school leadership so I know…”

Check out the rest of her interview on our blog here.  If you’d like to be one of our next member spotlights send us a message here.  Highlighted members will receive a coupon code for 6 free months of premium access!


Highlighted Article

Kazakhstan Attracts Teachers Looking for Career Development“Kazakhstan may not be the obvious destination for teachers wanting to work abroad. But the Nazarbayev Intellectual School Networkis offering experienced, English-speaking middle and secondary teachers a one-year contract that is proving very tempting for some.”“There are NIS schools in cities throughout Kazakhstan, all of which are leading a programme of educational reform in the country led by the President of the Republic. The aim is to develop a new way of educating the future elite of Kazakhstan and the NIS Network is enlisting the skills of experienced English-speaking teachers to spearhead the progress….”

Check out this blog entry to read more about what your life might look like as an international school teacher in Kazakhstan.
Highlighted blog of an international teacher:
This international school teacher’sblog is about teaching and living in Dubai, Almaty, etc.One of their blog entries (International Schools: The circuit)is describing how small the international school community is and how many of us “hop” around from school to school:“It is in fact a very small community and the chances are that you will know someone who has been to a specific school, once you have been in one or two schools overseas. Don’t be surprised after some years if you walk into a staffroom in a different school, and country, and you meet someone you worked with in another school…”Another one of their entries (What to expect at a job fair) is about what candidates might experience at the international school recruitment fairs:

During the afternoon, the school will have interviews in their hotel rooms – it is all a bit surreal, but the recruiters carry out the interviews in their rooms (this is normal procedure!) At the end of this day the schools will then look at the candidates they have interviewed (and if you are one of them) then they will either invite you for a second interview…”

* 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

Blogs of international school teachers: “Gary and Sally: About international teaching”

April 29, 2012


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

Our 18th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Gary and Sally: About international teaching”  Check out the blog entries of these international school teachers who have worked in both Dubai and Almaty (including even a few other cities around the world).

A few entries that we would like to highlight:

International schools – “The circuit”

In the world of international education there are many teachers who are “on the circuit”. It is in fact a very small community and the chances are that you will know someone who has been to a specific school, once you have been in one or two schools overseas. Don’t be surprised after some years if you walk into a staffroom in a different school, and country, and you meet someone you worked with in another school.

School reputations are developed among the teachers through word of mouth, staff at a good school will be very positive and upbeat, staff at a school with issues will not be so positive. You have to learn to read between the lines – sometimes what is left unsaid is more important than what is said – in the similar way that recruiters are careful to give you the good side.

When you attend a job fair, one of the best things you can do is talk to other candidates in the recruiting lounge, over a coffee etc, and ask about the international schools in their country, and also their current school. For example you can find out if there is a stable staff or a regular high turnover – things that most recruiters are unlikely to pass on. In some cases there are one or two international schools in the country, so it is worth asking – in other countries there are numerous schools. Word of mouth and the reactions and knowledge of people “on the ground” is very important – as they are not only able to tell you about the school, but also the general lifestyle, cost of living, social opportunities, potential for saving etc etc.

Other teachers are your best resource, in my opinion, for honest information about schools. Of course there will be some teachers who will be unhappy in a school (not because of the school, but because of themselves) and will be negative, but these are easy to spot, so you can usually discount their vitriol against a school and its administration.  Most people will give you a balanced view of the school, point out some of the negatives and things that need to be addressed, but will also be honest about the positives in the school as well. One sign of a good school is one which will put current teachers in touch with you (after you sign the contract :) ) so that you can ask them direct questions about the school.

A recent development I have noticed in the last few years is that some teachers encourage colleagues from a previous school to come to a school where they are, this has many benefits, for the school and the people coming in –

* they do not have to recruit the teacher through Search or CIS,
* the school is trusting the staff they have to bring in tried and tested staff who they rate,
* the people being employed usually do not have to attend a job fair,
* and they have the safety of mind that their friends have checked out the country and school for them.”

The international school community is indeed quite small.  With a prediction of there being over 10,000 international schools in the next decade (there are just around 6,000 right now) the community of teachers might be just getting a little bit larger.  I think there are many factors that determine the school’s reputation in the community.  Word of mouth is definitely one of those ways.  I think the benefits that the school offers sometimes is related to the school’s reputation as well (i.e. Shanghai American School in Shanghai).  I wonder how fast reputations change about a school or if they change even at all.  If you are new to the international school community, then you might not necessarily know the current reputation of the international school you are interviewing with at the fair.  You can get some information from the internet and certain websites, but now we have International School Community.  On our website, you can go to the school’s profile page that you are interested in and contact a member that either currently works at that school or has worked at that school in the past.  You can easily get a first hand account of the reputation from a current or former teacher at that international school.

Living overseas

Having left your own safe environment suddenly you no longer have control (which as teachers we enjoy) over your world. As soon as you step out into the outside world in whatever country, you can be faced with

  • street signs and scripts you cannot read (eg in Asia, Middle East etc)
  • language you do not understand
  • how to get the simplest thing done (fix a tap leak, AC problem)
  • who to ask for help

It is similar to a new born chick who has just left the nest – since you lack confidence in your new surroundings you start out by going on small excursions, but then as you get more confident you go on further trips away from ‘the nest’.”

This entry made me laugh out loud a bit.  It is true I suppose that teachers prefer to have “control” in their classrooms.  How ironic then that international school teachers put themselves in a situation where they for sure don’t have control.  Living in another country is certainly you letting go of the control and safety of your home country and culture.  But that is what makes this career choice really exciting; you never know what to expect and what you will experience next.  How frustrating though to not be able to read street and road signs, I can relate to that.  Additionally, not being able to understand that local language really makes you use all your other senses more in how to interpret body language and to gather meaning from body positioning, gestures and context.  At this point I am so use to being on a train or plane where everyone around me is speaking a different language than me that it is strange now (and quite over-stimulating) to be on a plane in the United States where I understand all the many conversations going on around my seat.

What to expect at a job fair

“During the afternoon, the school will have interviews in their hotel rooms – it is all a bit surreal, but the recruiters carry out the interviews in their rooms (this is normal procedure!) At the end of this day the schools will then look at the candidates they have interviewed (and if you are one of them) then they will either invite you for a second interview – the next day – or drop a note in your folder to say that they no longer wish to continue seeing you. In some cases – and this has happened to us – some schools will show a lot of interest in you at interview, and be very enthusiastic, but then not inform you either way. It is quite depressing when this happens, but most schools are professional and will let you down easy instead of just ignoring you.

There is often the “shmoosh” – an informal drink in the evening with recruiters and candidates. I feel it is very important to go to this and network – with other candidates as well as recruiters. It can give you the chance to ask a few informal questions of recruiters of a school you are contemplating, and you might even meet a candidate from that school, or who has worked there.

Day 2 : This is the callback day – the recruiters will hopefully have narrowed the field and you will still be in the running. If you are lucky, you will have a second interview. After a second interview one of two things will happen, either the school will offer you the position or they will say that they will get back to you later. If they say the second thing, ask them to give you a definite date. If you are offered a contract, then you sign a preliminary document which is a legally binding agreement to inform the fair organisers that you have accepted a position. Later, when the recruiters return to their schools and countries, they will send you the proper contract to sign.

I describe a job fair as “an emotional roller coaster” as you go from the depths of despair to the heights of elation, usually in the space of a few minutes.

It is a bit surreal to have job interviews in hotel rooms, but the international school community has been doing it so long at recruitment fairs that now it is normalized.  Do the administrators actually sleep in those rooms though?  That I’m not so sure of.  The folder at an international school recruitment fair: it is the most looked at mailbox of your life.  Be prepared though to hardly get anything at some fairs.  It all depends on your past experience, but also is related to who has the “power” that year: the international schools or the candidates.  You know I have been to three recruitment fairs and have never gone to the informal drink event at the end of the first day.  Never thought it was something I was interested in going to.  What does everyone think of this event?

Check out the international schools that are listed in Almaty and Dubai on International School Community.

Currently, there are 25 international schools listed in the Dubai area on our website, with 13 of them being schools that have had information and comments submitted on them.  Check out the submitted comments about these schools here.

Currently, there are 5 international schools listed in the Almaty area on our website, with 3 of them being schools that have had information and comments submitted on them.  Check out the submitted comments about these schools 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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Highlighted Articles

Schools around the world get chance to sing in global recording

April 23, 2012


An exciting global singing project has been announced. The project is called Voices around the World and the aim is for young people all over the world to learn and participate in a global recording of a song called Building Our Own Future. The song has been written by UK singer/songwriter Howard Jones.

Schools and youth choirs are being encouraged to create their own recording of the song so that it can then be included in a mass world-wide recording which will be released as a single in December.

Vocals, choir parts and backing music is all available free of charge and easily accessible to schools and groups on the Voices Around the World website page at www.wave7music.co.uk . Details of how to submit a recording, simply by uploading it to the website, are also available. The single, which will be released in December, will include the voices of hundreds if not thousands of children from schools and groups all over the world

Grazebrook Primary School in Hackney, London is one school already in rehearsal. “We love a good sing song,” says Headteacher, Michelle Thomas. “And being part of a global recording is incredibly exciting for us all. It’s a thrilling collaboration and we can’t wait to hear the mass recording knowing that we’re a part of it.”

Howard Jones explains the song: “This song is about the potential within all of us to create our own unique future, and taking on the responsibility for the happiness of ourselves and our fellow human beings.” He’s sent a message to the schools already participating in the project saying: “It is amazing to hear that you have been learning to sing Building Our Own Future in many countries around the world. I hope you are enjoying singing the song and I can’t wait to hear you all.”

The International Primary Curriculum and the British Council are two organisations already involved and are encouraging the schools around the world that they work with to participate. Organiser Laurie Lewin says “It’s a collaborative project on a global scale aimed at linking the voices of young people everywhere.”

Recordings of Building Our Own Future by schools and choirs need to be submitted by 18th July. You can listen to a version of the song and find out more information on the Voices Around the World website page at http://www.wave7music.co.uk  or at www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWnnHj8OgPY

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Great Resource

Great Resource: International School – a website about the many international schools in China.

March 23, 2012


Are you interested in reading about the numerous international schools in China?

Then you might want to check out the “International School!” website.

China is one of the countries where the economy is booming.  As a result, the number of international schools there is also booming.  Many teachers are finding themselves taking a chance on China and having a great time working at an international there.  Many of the international schools there offer some excellent benefits, thus making the choice to live and work an easy one.

China has so much to offer too in terms of culture and travel.  With an endless list of interesting places to visit, international schools teachers will never get bored when wanting to explore the country.

Some people think the language there (Mandarin Chinese) is too difficult to learn and acquire, but after working in China for two years myself, I met and worked with many expats there that had become very highly proficient.

The International School website has many different sections to it.

The advantages of International Schools

“Mr. Kai said that the nationalities of the students in his ACS schools are of more than 69 countries. Fitzmaurice from Nord Anglia said that all the children studying in the three schools in China received one lesson of Chinese mandarin once a week from the first beginning, so that when they leave they can reach the proficient level although they may not speak Chinese quite fluently…(more)”

The system and approval of International Schools

“The international schools for foreigners’ children are set in the name of middle school, primary school or kindergarten. The courses offered, the teaching materials and the teaching plans are determined by the school itself. Generally, the system is the same as that in the founder’s motherland, or the popular IB system, and even the school can set its system by itself.

The NCCT in China provides the authentication service for the international schools. The international schools which are set for more than three years can apply for authentication voluntarily. And each time of authentication is valid for 5 years. The international schools receiving this authentication means that the graduation certificates conferred by the international schools are directly acknowledged by China’s official.

Western Academy of Beijing is the first one to get this authentication and this authentication system is first proposed by Western Academy of Beijing…(more).

There are also separate pages for the 3 different sections at international schools (Primary, Middle School, and Secondary).  In each section, you can find the following information:  the latest news from international schools in that section, highlighted articles, the latest news that is recommended to read, a list of recommended international schools, articles about the perspective of the students in that section, a FAQ section, a section about when there are Open Days at various international schools, etc.

Primary Schools in China
Middle Schools in China
High Schools in China

Currently there are 106 different international schools listed in China on www.internationalschoolcommunity.com.  The cities with the most international schools listed on our website are:

Hong Kong (22)

American International School (Hong Kong) (22 Comments)
Hong Kong Academy Primary School (14 Comments)
International Christian School (Hong Kong) (11 Comments)
Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong (11 Comments)

Shanghai (18)
Concordia International School (Shanghai) (15 Comments)
Shanghai Community Int’l School (10 Comments)
Shanghai Rego International School (72 Comments)
Western International School of Shanghai (27 Comments)

Beijing (16)
Western Academy Beijing (23 Comments)
International School of Beijing (15 Comments)
Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (10 Comments)
Beijing National Day School (12 Comments)

Taiwan (11)
Morrison Christian Academy (3 campuses) (13 Comments)
Ivy Collegiate Academy (7 Comments)

Guangzhou (5)
American International School of Guangzhou (12 Comments)
Alcanta International College (6 Comments)

Take a look at the numerous comments and information that have been submitted about these international schools in China!

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Blogs of International Teachers

Blogs of international school teachers: The Miles Abroad. Chapter 1 Dhaka

February 19, 2012


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

Our 15th blog that we would like to highlight is called “The Miles Abroad. Chapter 1 Dhaka.”  Check out the blog entries of this international school teacher who has worked at International School Dhaka.

A few entries that we would like to highlight:

A few photos
“Here’s a collection of photos we took the other day, on the roof of our apartment block. If you consider the size of our apartment and that there are two like that on each floor, it’ll give a real idea of the size of the space up there. There’s a few ISD families in this block, with young children; we’re figuring it’d be great to meet up for brunch on the roof during weekends.”

Where shall we go?
“I know we’ve only just arrived, but it’s time to start thinking about where to go on holiday.  We’ve a week in October, a month at Christmas, and two weeks at Easter.  So many places are relatively close, so we’re spoilt for choice.  Only problem is it costs about $200 in exit taxes per person.

So, for example, we got an email about a $115 round trip flight to Bangkok before the end of October, but we’re talking more than $1200 for the whole family to visit for a week/9 days.  That’s a hell of a lot of money and we’re trying to save and work on the debt situation.  Bummer.  And it looks like it’s w a a a a a y more expensive at Christmas time, so doesn’t look that feasible either.

What else can we do?  Well, apparently Nepal would be relatively easy to get to, and much cheaper.  Also, Kolkatta, although you fly there, you can also take a bus (11 hours – is this a good idea with two kids?) or the train (also 11 hours, but more doable)  In fact, the train idea looks great, since it costs, apparently, $20 each.  I expect there may well be some exit taxes involved too, but nowhere near as much as flying.

An alternative would be to travel around Bangladesh.  Winter time is the best time to travel here, since the country is much drier then.  One option would be take a boat trip around the Sundarbans for a few days.  Another would be to visit Cox’s Bazar. Here’s a photo, and some info.  Sounds like a fantastic place.”

First impressions
“Speaking of that, that’s the main issue right now.  Not speaking the language means it’s impossible to really argue with someone, and also not knowing the local values.  As foreigners we’ll always pay over the odds for things, that’s fine, but I don’t like being taken advantage of.  However, there’s a rickshaw driver named Jalal who hangs around outside, with another guy Rashed, both of whom speak English.  Jalal’s is great and he’s pretty much adopted this building as it’s mostly ISD people living here.  He’s helped Chris (PE teacher, lives upstairs, has a 2-year old son whose name I can’t spell but it sounds like kie-er) to do some shopping, driven him about, bargained for him.  That’s great, exactly what we need, someone who’ll honestly and sincerely help without taking advantage of us.  He and Rashed took us to the school on Saturday so we could use the pool, he helped us get to our restaurant that evening by getting the motorized rickshaw and arguing with the driver about the price (of course I didn’t understand what he said but it was spattered with English words like ‘schoolteacher’ and I’m guessing he was saying “Come on man, don’t take the p”@” we’re not talking rich foreigner’s here they’re just teachers)  Anyway, he told us how much to pay for the ride (100 taka, which is about 66p) and made sure the driver knew where we were going.”

Check out the International School Dhaka profile page on International School Community.  Currently, there are 5 international schools listed in Bangladesh on our website, with all 5 of them being in Dhaka.

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

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ISCommunity Newsletters

International School Community Newsletter v2012.02 – 04 February, 2012

February 4, 2012



Recently updated schools:

· 04 Feb  Casablanca American School  (11 new comments)
(Casablanca, Morocco)
“Over 70% of the teachers are from North American countries. With the next highest being from Morocco and then a few from the UK…”

· 04 Feb  Yew Chung International School (Hong Kong) (8 new comments)
(Hong Kong, China)
“New teachers are placed in furnished quarters (in China). There is a housing allowance of 1200 USD for teachers in Hong Kong. Management fee for the housing is paid for by school. Teachers in HK will be housed in hotel for 2 months…”

· 04 Feb  St. Andrew’s – International School of the Bahamas (7 new comments)
(Freeport, Bahamas)
“There is a retirement plan offered. The school’s contribution is 7%…”

· 03 Feb  Karachi American School  (5 new comments)
(Karachi, Pakistan)
“Due to visa restrictions, the school prefer hiring teaching couples with US certification. Due to new visa and tax laws US citizenship is a priority when the school is recruiting. Age limit for hiring is 55 years old…”

· 03 Feb  Üsküdar American Academy & Sev Elementary (7 new comments)
(Istanbul, Turkey)
“There is a masters/PHD stipend and a contract extension bonus…”

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


Recent blog entries:

· Great resource: Maps of world website and information about international schools
“This website not surprisingly is an excellent resource for finding the map that best fits your needs, but it also oddly enough has some information about international schools.There are at least two sections that we found that highlight the international schools in specific locations around world.  We would like to highlight…”

· Highlighted article: Mumbai’s new genre international schools
“Another issue with a resurgence of international schools is finding highly qualified teachers to work at them.  Hiring international teachers can be a big business as well with sometimes many international schools fighting over to get first pick at finding suitable candidates…”

· Video highlight: A discussion about language learning and the second language learning of children at international schools
“How great to start off each day with the flag ceremony and the Thai National Anthem! Being that the majority of their students are Thai, they have a strong focus on honoring and respecting Thai and Asian cultural values…”

· Highlighted article: India’s most admired international schools
“It is challenging to come up though with the perfect second language acquisition environment in international schools.  There are many factors that come into play…”

· Comments and information about salaries on International School Community #3 (Harbin No. 9 School, Int’l School of Helsinki & Cph Int’l School)
“18000RMB per month 2000RMB taken out in taxes each month. No receipt of this transaction is given as would be the regular accounting practice for a well run school. YOu may need a record of this when you leave the country…”


Recently added schools:


Requested schools to have members leave comments on:


This last month we have had visits from 89 countries around the world!

Site Stats:
Current members:
258 ( 34)
School profiles
: 1088 ( 32)
Blog entries
: 205 ( 26)
Posted comments & info
:
2689 ( 542)
Twitter followers: 266 ( 29)


BIG improvements:

Recently, we have made some changes on our school profile pages. One of the most important sections on this page is where members can read and submit comments and information.  In turn, our comments and information section has been revamped.  Now the four comment categories (School Information, Benefits Information, City Information and Travel Information) are on tabs. This change was made so that members could go from one section to the other much easier and faster.
The City and Travel Information sections have also changed.  Now they been linked up with other school profile pages that share they same city.  For example, if a members has left comments and information in the City Information section on an international school in Shanghai, those submitted comments will now show up on all the other international schools in Shanghai listed on our website!  Now it will be much easier to access information about the city and travel information on international school profile pages that share the same city!

Another improvement made has been with how our members view, write, submit, and then edit or delete their submitted comments on each school profile page.  For each topic in the four comment sections members will now be able to only view the last 3-4 comments submitted and the dates they were submitted. Then to read all the comments that have actually been submitted, members can now click on the “Show more” link.  In a pop-up screen members will be able to read every submitted comment and information (in full) for that section’s topic.  Members can also submit a new comment on this pop-up screen at the bottom. From this pop-up screen members are now able to edit or delete one of their previously submitted comments.  Only the member that has submitted the comment will see the “Edit” and “Delete” buttons; other members are not able to edit or delete other member’s comments.

Check out pictures of the improvements and other details here!


New members:

· Kim Leus
(American School of Barcelona)
· Julie Bowen
(Santiago College)
· Ceri Thorns
(Systems Little House)
· Jeff Shaw
(International School of the Hague)
· Diamond Ndiamond
(Abraham Lincoln School)
· Paul Grundy
(Taipei European School)


Current Survey Topic:

Vote here!


Member spotlight:


Annette Harvey

Shanghai Rego International School: great colleagues who have become friends. Again some wonderful, supportive parents and amazing children. Champagne brunches. My tailor who…”

Check out the rest of her interview on our blog here.  If you’d like to be one of our next member spotlights send us a message here.  Highlighted members will receive a coupon code for 6 free months of premium access!


Highlighted Link

Teachers International Consultancy (TIC)“Have you ever wanted to teach internationally but struggled to know what school and what country would be best? Do you have questions about getting an international job? Well Teachers International Consultancy (TIC) is holding two one-hour webinars on Thursday 9th February to help teachers during their decision-making process. Both webinars will be run by Andrew Wigford, Director of TIC, who has over 20 years of international teaching experience. The first webinar focuses on finding the right international school and the right job. This will include information on the different types of international schools, their locations and the different curriculum options. Plus, there will be a question and answer session where you can ask Andrew any questions you may have. This webinar will take place at 5pm GMT on Thursday 9th February…”
Highlighted blog of an international teacher:

A few photos:
“Here’s a collection of photos we took the other day, on the roof of our apartment block. If you consider the size of our apartment and that there are two like that on each floor, it’ll give a real idea of the size of the space up there. There’s a few ISD families in this block, with young children; we’re figuring it’d be great to meet up for brunch on the roof during weekends…” Where shall we go?:
“I know we’ve only just arrived, but it’s time to start thinking about where to go on holiday.  We’ve a week in October, a month at Christmas, and two weeks at Easter.  So many places are relatively close, so we’re spoilt for choice.  Only problem is it costs about $200 in exit taxes per person….”
*If you are an international school teacher and would like your blog highlighted on International School Community contact us here.
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Highlighted Articles

Highlighted article: Mumbai’s new genre international schools

January 30, 2012


We found an interesting article around the international school community in the city of Mumbai.  It discusses the business side of the international school, the big business sometimes international schools can be to a community.  We have read before that the future of international schools are ones that are actually For-Profit ones.  Why is that a fact for the future of international schools?

Why might there be a resurgence of international schools in a community?  It could be very much related to the new upwardly mobile middle class in a society like as in the case of Mumbai.

Another issue with a resurgence of international schools is finding highly qualified teachers to work at them.  Hiring international teachers can be a big business as well with sometimes many international schools fighting over to get first pick at finding suitable candidates.

Currently there are 9 international schools in Mumbai India on International School Community.  They are: American School of Bombay, RBK International Academy, Dhirubhai Ambani International School, B.D.Somani International School, Oberoi International School , Podar International School, École Mondiale World School, NES International School (Mulund) and Singapore International School (Mumbai).  Overall, we have 39 international schools listed in India.

According to the article, Dhirubhai Ambani International School is the first of this new genre of international school.

Highlights from the article:

Although globally famous as resurgent India’s commercial capital, synonymous with Bollywood, the stock exchange, premier corporates and fashion houses, perhaps because of prohibitive real estate prices, the island city of Mumbai (pop. 13 million) is less than renowned for quality education institutions, particularly its schools. The city’s handful of vintage high profile schools such as Cathedral & John Connon (estb.1860), St. Mary’s (estb.1540), Campion (estb.1943) etc have reigned as Mumbai’s most difficult-to-access secondaries for half a century. Now somewhat belatedly, the city of gold’s school education scenario is about to experience a radical makeover.

During the past four years India’s commercial and entertainment capital has witnessed the promotion of over 35 new genre international schools. Launched with massive budgets ranging from Rs.10-50 crore, Mumbai’s latter-day five-star schools which offer fully-wired campuses bristling with hi-tech equipment and teaching aids, expat headmasters and affiliation with highly reputed offshore examination boards, are beginning to eclipse the city’s vintage secondaries as the first choice of the new upwardly mobile middle class.

The city’s first new genre international school the Dhirubhai Ambani International School, promoted by Nita Ambani (wife of Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries (annual sales revenue: Rs.110,886 crore) admitted its first batch of students in 2003. Since then on average in this city of fast-track private enterprise, ten new genre international schools have been promoted every year, dizzy real estate prices and land scarcity notwithstanding.

Indeed, somewhat belatedly some of Mumbai’s most well-known business families the Goenkas, Podars, Somanis, and Ajmeras as well as other private entrepreneurs have hopped aboard the school education bandwagon. Among them: the Podar World School (estb.2004) and B.D Somani International School (estb.2006). Next year, two high profile international schools the Aditya Birla Group promoted New Era School (Cambridge) in South Bombay and Oberoi International School in Goregaon are scheduled to admit their first batches, and in 2009, industrialist and page 3 celebrity Yash Birla intends to open the doors of the Sunanda Birla International School on South Bombay’s plush Napean Sea Road. According to the state government’s directorate of education in Mumbai, over 90 proposals for inaugurating new schools have been submitted in the past two years (2005-2007) and are pending clearance.

Coterminously with the boom in international schools, India’s commercial capital, which is receptive to new ideas including education philosophies, is also witnessing the promotion of alternative schools which abhor conventional school education practices crowded classrooms, uniforms, competitive exams, and authoritarian, omniscient teachers. Started by four parents disillusioned with conventional schools, the Tridha School (estb. 2001) subscribes to the alternative education philosophy developed by Rudolf Steiner, the late 19th century Austrian philosopher and educator. Steiner schools aka Waldorf schools, focus on educating and developing the whole child, not just her intellect. In consonance with the Waldorf system, Tridha provides its students a stress-free environment striving for a balance between academics, arts and crafts, music, dance and environment awareness. Tridha is one of three Waldorf schools in India (the other two are in Hyderabad) with an enrollment of 233 students who pay annual tuition fees ranging from Rs.29,000-33,000.

While Mumbai’s international schools are perceived as rendering valuable service by offering students much sought after international certifications, all’s not well with them. Most admit to being confronted with severe shortages of high-quality teachers, a pre-requisite of delivering the globally-reputed syllabuses and curriculums of the CIE, UK and IBO, Geneva. Given their academic rigour and broad-based life skills content, these international curriculums mandate stringent in-service teacher training and continuous skills upgradation programmes. Therefore recruiting, motivating and retaining best teachers has become a top priority of Mumbai’s five-star school managements. And it’s hardly a secret that most of them have signed up recruitment firms and headhunters to poach, purloin and entice the best teachers from schools across the country with unprecedented pay packages, including housing and other perks.

“There’s a drought of quality teachers globally and a severe shortage of new blood in the teaching profession. Therefore international schools are experiencing considerable difficulty in recruiting and retaining high quality teachers. Indian teachers trained in India’s new international schools are now being offered jobs abroad and tend to jump ship as soon as opportunity knocks. Therefore the attrition rate in five-star schools is very high. The only option for them is to hire expat teachers, but the government is creating hurdles to importing them. This is to India’s disadvantage,” says Capt. Raj Mohindra.

If you would like to read the whole article, check it out here:

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Discussion Topics

Discussion topic: Choosing international school teaching as a profession.

January 22, 2012


Most international school teachers have teaching degrees and have taught for a few (or a lot of) years in the schools of their home countries.  Thus they have definitely made teaching their true profession.  If you are interested in teaching at international schools, check out International School Community and check out the numerous comments and information about what life is like teaching at over 1000 international schools from around the world.


Highlights taken from the blog entry on the miketidd.com website:

‘It isn’t what you say that defines you but what you do’

“These are the wise words of Batman that every aspirational teacher should know.

Teaching is a popular profession for many graduates. Last year 16, 845 people completed a secondary PGCE. The number of graduates completing PGCE’s has steadily risen over the last few years. It is a role that people find exciting, challenging and extremely stimulating. It is a profession where we are able to move people forward in their aspirations and assist their learning.

Unfortunately, I was sad to read earlier this year that the number of teacher training places at universities and colleges is to be cut by one fifth. The Coalition wants more teachers to learn their skills on the job in schools rather than in training colleges. Now I agree that we should have more on the job training – it’s where I learnt my skills and it was where I did most of my learning– but fewer teachers and training opportunities? Universities and teaching colleges offer fantastic teaching expertise and facilities that should be further funded. This maybe in response to subject demand but I am sure we will need teachers in the future and these cuts maybe putting off hundreds of potential brilliant teachers.

Nicholas Hargreaves of Radipole School, Weymouth says, ‘teaching is a wonderful career choice for anyone. From a young age several teachers and friends helped and encouraged me to aspire to become a teacher. To provide young minds with the knowledge, skills and passion to take control of their lives and become the experts of tomorrow. Personally it has given me the chance to inspire young people with my knowledge and expertise. Working with a group of like-minded teachers and young people is extremely inspirational. It is a role I have always been determined to succeed in and work hard for.’

The role teachers’ play in their local community is also central to a student’s development. Schools’ and communities must work collaboratively together for an area to benefit. Economic investment is a necessity with schools. Schools are the training ground for our future generations and they need to be at the forefront of technology for our young learners with the very best facilities for them to achieve their potential. The local community and schools’ must be incorporated into working together to create an ethos of self belief and to achieving their personal best. The community must be involved in their local schools creating community centres, so local people can benefit from the facilities and technology a school has. A community that sees the benefit of an education can help generate our leaders of tomorrow but they must work in partnership with the local schools. We as teachers are the facilitator of this role and can help enrich a wide variety of lives in the process. Working with the local community to enhance the school ethos and help an area develop.

Russell Wait, Curriculum Leader of Global Studies at Cove School, Hampshire; ‘I was inspired by my secondary school Headteacher who encouraged me from the tender age of 12 to reach my aspirations and goals. I find that teaching is an ever-changing occupation that keeps you on your toes. To teach the future generation of Britain with a passionate voice can create change and can only be a benefit for the country’.

Many professionals from industry are turning to a career in teaching because of the many benefits the role brings. They bring with them a vast range of experiences from industry that can only enhance the profession. Experience from outside the classroom and shared with the students is vital. Young people do need to have role models and even though they sometimes might not want to admit it, teachers are a very important one. It is very clear that many people want to train as teachers but cannot afford to take a whole year off for training. With the recent credit crisis it is understandable, but it does show that people do want to be teachers.

With this in mind, young people choosing to become a teacher may not get a job at the end of their training. If the government get their way we will all be working till at least sixty-eight – where is the opportunity for the young, fresh and talented teachers? We need teachers, inspirational teachers with new ideas and outlooks. Choose teaching – be a teacher!”

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Highlighted Articles

More International School Places Needed in Hong Kong

January 17, 2012


Hong Kong is struggling to meet the demand for places for children at its international schools even though the number of these schools has grown significantly in recent years.


Hong Kong

It is as a result of a surge by British and American expats to Hong Kong since 2010, fuelled by job opportunities in the banking sector, coupled with an increasing desire for local families to have their children educated at the international schools that is creating the huge demand. There are now over 15,000 British and almost 30,000 American expats living in Hong Kong and those with children are requiring places at the international schools there, many of which already have waiting lists for September 2012.

According to ISC Research, the organisation that researches and analyses data on international schools worldwide, in the year 2000 there were 70 schools in Hong Kong teaching 37,800 students. Today that number has increased to 164 international schools teaching 64,300 students.  On Hong Kong Island alone there are 74 schools, with another 37 in Kowloon, and 45 in the New Territories. 21 of these schools including Island School and the Chinese International School, both on Hong Kong Island, have an intake of well over 1000 students. 42% of all these international schools follow the English National Curriculum, 10% follow a US curriculum and 14% follow an international curriculum such as the International Baccalaureate; all popular choices not only for UK and American expats but for the local families too who see this as a route to better opportunities for their children in the worlds most respected universities.  It is the significant increase in the number of local students applying to the international schools, along with the surge in expats to the area that is driving this high demand.

Nicholas Brummitt, Managing Director of ISC Research Ltd says:  “There is an acute shortage of places in Hong Kong. The existing schools are responding by rapidly expanding existing facilities wherever they can, but demand is predicted to outstrip supply for a number of years. A great many new schools are opening over the next couple of years. These include more schools linked to prestigious parent schools in the UK such as the brand new, state of the art Harrow International School located in Tuen Mun in the New Territories and which will open in September 2012.”

But for expats, the situation currently looks tough and the word from schools is apply as soon as you can.

Highlighted article by ISC Reasearch.  ISC Research is the only organisation that supplies data and market analyses covering all the world’s English-medium international schools; data that it has been tracking for over twenty years. The latest market updates plus individual school information, news, statistical overviews, and country reports are all available from ISC Research www.iscresearch.com

Check out the latest comments and information about international school teachers submitted by numerous international schools from around the world at International School Community.

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Highlighted Articles

Highlighted article: India’s most admired international schools

December 30, 2011


Within the hearts and minds of the uninformed, there is considerable prejudice against India’s small but growing number of new genre international schools. Left intellectuals and fellow travelers who dominate Indian academia and have considerable influence in the media, naively dismiss them as elitist and expensive. Yet contrary to popular opinion, the country’s estimated 105 low-profile international schools — of which number only 25 were sufficiently familiar names to over 20 sample respondents in the regions in which the international schools included in the EW-C fore Survey of Schools 2009 are sited — serve several useful social purposes.

For one, international schools — defined for the purposes of this survey as schools majorly affiliated with international examination boards such as the International Baccalaureate Organisation (IBO), Geneva; Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), UK and The College Board, USA — discharge  the vital role of raising primary-secondary education standards. Delivering high-quality school education benchmarked with the latest innovations in Western countries where pedagogies and learning outcomes are seriously researched, they have already helped to upgrade the quality of K-12 education in India across the board. If today there is a new awareness of the importance of pedagogic concepts such as learning through understanding, joyful learning, introduction of ICT (information communications techno-logies) in education, counseling and pastoral care, India’s small minority of  international schools with their well-trained teachers and excellent infrastructure, have contributed greatly in creating it.

Moreover it’s important to bear in mind that although high-priced by Indian standards, they provide world class primary-secondary education at a fraction of the tuition fees levied by their counterparts abroad. Little wonder that a growing number of children from countries around the world are flocking to India’s international schools for the high quality English medium instruction dispensed by them.

Middle and upper middle class India has also been quick to appreciate the high market value of internationally benchmarked foundational education in a rapidly globalising world. Therefore it’s no surprise that the Woodstock School, Mussoorie (estb. 1852), which over the past 150-plus years has acquired a global reputation for dispensing high quality classes VI-XII education in the pristine Himalayan foothills to its 454 students, has retained its premier ranking as India’s most respected international school in the EW-C fore Survey of Schools 2009. Highly rated on the vital parameters of academic reputation, leadership/manage-ment and infrastructure provision, this American-inspired institution of academic excellence has outdistanced its former sister school  — Kodaikanal International down south, ranked second (again) this year — by a considerable aggregate score margin.

“We are delighted that for the second year running, Woodstock has been ranked the top international school in the country in the EW-C fore Survey of Schools 2009. But while Woodstock celebrates past achieve-ments, we continue to invest in the future. We are planning additions to the school’s academic programme over the next year, and we will continue to invest in our facilities and staff to fulfill our mission of producing world citizens and leaders. Our curriculum will also feature an enhancement of the outdoor education programme with specialist-led expedi-tions and skills-building exercises such as rock-climbing and wilderness first-aid. A challenging and exciting future awaits the next generation, and Woodstock will welcome the future with them, striving to provide education for a world of difference,” says Dr. David Laurenson, principal of Woodstock School, Mussoorie.

These two top-ranked institutions which have retained their rankings apart, there’s been considerable rearrangement of seating at the Top 10 table. The low-profile Hebron School, Ootacamund and Indus International, Bangalore have vaulted from sixth and twelfth to third and fourth respectively this year. And while the British and American embassy schools have retained their last year’s rankings, the high-profile Pathways World School, Gurgaon has moved up two places to No. 9.

“I’m very pleased to hear that indus international has risen from last year’s 12th rank to No. 4 this year in the EW survey of international schools.  I attribute this to the excellent leadership our chief executive Gen. Arjun Ray has provided the school, strong support from our parents’ community, and our cooperative and enthusiastic student body. I am especially pleased by the high ratings we have received under the parameters of individual attention to students and academic reputation. All this is the result of substantial investments we have made in terms of time and resources in teacher recruitment and training during the past year,” says Sarojini Rao, principal of the Indus International School, Bangalore (estb. 2003).

Among the schools which for mysterious reasons have slipped badly in the international schools league table this year are Mallya Aditi, Bangalore (3 to 11); Good Shepherd International, Ootacamund (3 to 5); The International School, Bangalore (8 to 15); Mahindra United World College, Pune (9 to 17);  Canadian International, Bangalore (10 to 18); Calcutta International School (13 to 21); DRS International, Hyderabad (17 to 23) and International School of Hyderabad (18 to 24).

On the other hand, three institutions which hadn’t made it to the international schools league table last year have made respectable entries in 2009 — Mercedes Benz International, Pune (16); Billabong High International, Mumbai (19) and Sreenidhi International, Hyderabad (22). Regretably the Trivandrum International School, ranked 16 last year, has slipped below the public radar and didn’t qualify for ranking this year.

Taken from the article at: http://educationworldonline.net/index.php/page-article-choice-more-id-1923

Check out the latest information and comments submitted on the 37 international schools listed in India on International School Community.

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Blogs of International Teachers

Blogs of international school teachers: You are the author of your own life story – Create your life!

December 21, 2011


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

Our 13th blog that we would like to highlight is called “You are the author of your own life story – Create your life!“  Check out the blog entries of this international school teacher who is currently working at an international school in United Arab Eremites.

Entries we would like to highlight:

International Teaching Fair 2/2010

“International Teaching Fairs are the traditional way to connect prospective schools with teachers.  I believe technology will be changing this practice more each year as it is less costly to interview via Skype than to send a hiring team around the globe.  Skype misses that element of personal connection which can be critical in creating a good fit between staff and school, although some principals with extensive international teacher hiring experience may not see that as a priority.  Online portfolios allow the applicant to upload files, photos, even videos and the administrator can choose what they would like to review.  If different documents are needed, a quick email to request and a few moments to transfer, is all that is required.  In my case, my use of rubrics was of interest and I was able to share specific lessons, rubrics I created and student work samples in several content areas.  The ability to upload immediately demonstrated my ability to respond to requests quickly as well as my organization and technology skills. The job offer that I accepted was the one where the process was all online, except for the one concluding phone call.  At the time of the fair, though, I had only sent this school my CV and resume.

Making the decision to go to California for the international teaching fair was, like most events in my life, attempted one step at a time.  I had the invitation.  I had the airline miles.  What I didn’t have was money for the hotel, food and other things needed while there.  Also, my professional clothes were in storage in Oregon.  I bought a couple blazers online and luck was with me as they coordinated with my slacks and blouses and fit well, too.  Investing in makeup and an awesome hair cut/color (thanks Michelle at All Things Beautiful Salon) was the most expensive part but incredibly important.  The last part was the hotel and associated costs, but thankfully, my tax return came through and I had the funds to make the trip.

I stayed at the less expensive hotel next to where the fair was being held.  What I had researched strongly suggested staying in the hotel where all the action was, but I was very glad to not be.  There were times that I needed to get away.  Staying in the same hotel is in the best interest of the folks hiring, but not as much for the applicant.  I was able to sit at the bar, reading and enjoying a dinner without having to wonder who else was around.  I could take off my teacher hat for awhile and just relax.

I woke up later than I anticipated, but really was taking my time, I think, to feel in control.  I didn’t want to be one of the first to arrive and the days schedule was long.  By the time I walked across the parking lot to the conference rooms I was nervous again.  There was so many people!  Going into the candidates “lounge” where the rooms walls were covered in sheets of paper listing the school, country and positions available, I noticed that most people had an intensity that I wanted to resist.  The tables were covered in laptops and I started to regret not bringing Brett’s, but I travel light.  I did end up using the hotels business center at a cost of $5 for fifteen minutes and calling Kelina to go online for me quite a bit.

Many people had printed special coordinating note cards, cv’s and other stationary needs.  That is not my style.  Many of the candidates also requested interviews with many, many  schools.  I only had a few countries that I would go.  Once again, I find myself in the position of being different than the majority.  Immediately, I started networking, introducing myself and asking, “What’s your story?”  I think that was my favorite part.  Talking with many teachers from many states and many with international experience, too.  We all got to be very friendly, supporting each others efforts and contributing to a positive atmosphere.

Interviews were all super short, most commonly about 15 minutes.  Some schools, especially the new ones, were prepared to interview dozens of teachers.  Other schools were obviously looking for only certain qualities and were limited their number of interviews.   All day Friday I participated in the process to secure interviews for the next two days.  Saturday was spent interviewing and chatting.  Saturday night was the “dinner” which was enjoyable, but not really helpful for me.  By this time, there had been some job offers and also many rejections.

A great part of the fair was the presentations from schools. All day, there were several small rooms where schools brought out their power points and marketing pitches.  Some were a hard sell, others not, but I loved them!  It was like the travel channel.  I learned about many countries and really confirmed by decision to focus on the UAE.

By Sunday, I knew that I was going to be one of the ones who left without a job offer.  I was okay with that and had faith that things would work out well.  Many of the candidates were very stressed by this time.  Sunday afternoon, I was ready to go but my flight wasn’t until the next morning.  Checking my email in the hotel business center I opened an email from the school in Abu Dhabi asking if I was still available.”

You’re What?!

“Telling folks that I have accepted a kindergarten teaching position in Abu Dhabi and will be living in Dubai has been fun.  Their reactions, both in facial expressions as well as in words, has ranged from, “Wow”, “No!””, “That’s great” and “Why?” to my personal favorite, “Are you out of your fricken mind?”

Usually, the first question has been why, a completely reasonable question to which I have several answers.  The quick answer is, because I can.  Another answer has been a short explanation on the three category system that Brett and I used while making the decision.  The categories were  1. quality of life  2. school for Brett  3. ability to save money with a possible one, two or three stars in each.  Staying in my position in Hawaii resulted in a score of 5, other options were discussed, but then the offer for the Abu Dhabi scored a 8.

The reason that I even started thinking about  it was because one evening, before the holidays, I was aimlessly googling phrases like “how to make money as a teacher” and “extra work for teachers”.  (In Hawaii, when the teacher furloughs started and my pay was decreased 9%, I started tutoring after school three days a week to make up the difference in my budget, but every month is still a struggle.)  International Teaching came up in my internet search and I thought it was a great idea.  A few days later, at a holiday potluck for staff at my school, I met a couple who were previous teachers.  They were visiting since they had returned from several years overseas.  Getting some direction as to how to proceed in my research, what recruiters to trust, what to watch out for, and sharing their satisfaction with their choice to teach overseas gave me good background information to proceed.

I applied to many, many schools online.  From Thailand to Taiwan, Singapore to Malaysia, Indonesia to Hong Kong – but the country that was my first choice was, from the very first, UAE.  I applied at a great school in Abu Dhabi, but didn’t hear back before I went to an international teaching fair in San Francisco.  At the fair, I had several interviews but not an offer.  (More about the fair in another post) When I returned, I received an email from the CEO of the Abu Dhabi school asking for more information.  I sent my online portfolio as well as links to my two websites for class use, and was very happy to accept the offer that soon came.

When I told Brett about the offer, the fact that we had only 6 hours to decide since this person was at different international teaching fair in Dubai didn’t faze him at all.  He called, emailed and texted his friends, both in Hawaii and in Oregon, and arrived at his decision in less than two hours.”

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

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Discussion Topics

Out of the thousands of international schools, people ask me why did I choose to work here?

December 10, 2011


Sometimes it’s like life keeps throwing you those ”Sliding Doors – moments.” Remember that movie with Gwyneth Paltrow where one decision can change you entire life? It’s these moments where you have to decide in a split-second, completely unaware of the repercussions, or how life-altering that decision might be. We have all been in that situation when you’ve had an international school put a contract in front of you, to be signed by you.  When you start to think about it, it might take your breath away for a second, knowing that each decision you make is somehow unique, and to put it more metaphorically: is the beginning of yet a thread in the tapestry that is your life.

In meteorology there is a term called “butterfly effect.” It is derived from the chaos theory, and describes the contingent phenomena that when a butterfly flaps it wings on one side of the planet it can cause a hurricane several weeks later another place on the planet. It basically means that events are connected, and what may seem as something insignificant and small, has consequences way beyond the first perception. It’s the obvious remark, in a somewhat grander scale, that there’s consequence to everything we do, and the choices we make.  One year you are thinking that Asia is the place for you to move to the following school year, but then suddenly you open your eyes and you are actually in South America having the time of your life!  It is so hard to predict where is the best place for you at a future time in your life.

There is a plethora of decisions to be made every day, some of them are of more significance than other, but we are faced with decision-making every single day of our lives. As we grow older, we learn about the term “consequence.”  We later learn that some decisions are to be based on solidarity and some solely on ourselves.  We learn that we are part of a community or a society, where some of our decisions are expected to coincide with the norm, and that breaking away from that shows lack of solidarity and selfishness. It’s all about making the right decision at the right time.

In childhood it is given that we act selfish, and each decision is derived from our own needs, selfish needs. The older we get the more vital our decisions become, and suddenly we have to think about ethics and how that decision may affect everyone around us. And thus begins the never ever ending circle of think and decision.

“At the international school job fair in Toronto, I was faced with so many options. I had offers from schools in Okinawa, Japan; Izmir, Turkey; Istanbul, Turkey; Ibadan, Nigeria; Rangoon, Burma; Bahrain; Monterrey, Mexico and Mexico City, Mexico. I felt like the prettiest girl at the ball.”  Taken from the blog Thatsawesome.  Most international school teachers have also been in this position.  So many cities in which to live and work, but only one can be possible.  This international school teacher chose Izmir, Turkey (and he told us that he is quite happy working and living there), but have a look at his influences and thought-process.  At times there can be so many factors to consider!

Decisions can be tough, and of course their importance varies, but in the end there’s only one person who can make them. Not every decision we make has the “butterfly effect” etiquette, but they do change our lives in one way or another. It can chisel the engine of your mind to almost overload. What really is the best decision?  How can we possibly choose from the plethora of choices that are sometimes placed in front of us?  It is a fact though, at times in the international school community split-second decisions need to be made; even when you have only hours to decide after you have been offered a contract.

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Blogs of International Teachers

Blogs of international school teachers: PlaneSimple Thoughts

December 4, 2011


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

Our 12th blog that we would like to highlight is called “PlaneSimple Thoughts.”  Check out the blog entries of this international school teacher who is currently working at an international school in Brunei.

Entries we would like to highlight:

Dining at Home

“Living as expats in this part of the world we are fortunate enough to be able to employ a maid. Although the main reason for doing so is to look after family member #3 when she comes along in December, we have enjoyed getting used to having someone ‘live in’ and complete the chores and prepare some great meals.

This blog post is going to showcase this coming week’s meals prepared by our hard working maid, May. Usually May cooks 4 or 5 evenings in the week. She is happy to follow recipes out of books (in fact, I think she prefers doing this) so it is great fun browsing through cook books as though they are menus!”

Life in Brunei doesn’t seem so bad!  The pictures of the meals this international teacher has posted look amazing.  Many international school teachers are able to employ a house keeper to clean their place a few times a week or every two weeks, but the number of international school teachers that are able to employ one to cook meals as well is less (usually that is just for the Head or a teaching couple).  It is probably more possible than we think though (for single teachers) to employ a maid to cook as well as clean, but it is just that we can’t believe that it would even be possible.  If your school is paying for all your housing and utilities, then surely there is enough money for you to spend on a house keeper while you fully enjoy your expat life.  Some international school teachers just prefer though to do their own cooking and cleaning themselves, probably because that is the way that they have been doing it most of their adult life.  After looking at these meals prepared by May, those teachers just might change their mind!

The unfinished story of a new car…

“The next afternoon I returned to collect the Praire and take it to the mechanic. A few hours later I was at the seller’s cousin’s house enjoying some curry and naan bread with some tea as the negotiations began (everything was being done the true Pakistani way!).

We chatted about Pakistan, Brunei, living abroad and different cultures. Eventually I explained the problems I felt the car had and how this needed to be reflected in the price. I made an offer and a bit of to-ing and fro-ing later we agreed on a price! I would return the next day to collect the vehicle. So three and a half hours after collecting the car I made my way home. I hadn’t envisaged being out the house for more than an hour or so but it was all good fun!

Of course, the story doesn’t end there as the next day the Mrs and I returned to collect the car. Before handing over the cash and being given the keys we were invited in for some more Pakistani food and more tea! The Mrs also got ‘Mendhi’ done on her hands! Buying a car the Pakistani way surely has to be one of the more interesting and enjoyable ways to do so!”

In some locations in the world, international teachers do need to get a car.  Actually, in some locations (e.g. the Caribbean) you basically have no choice but to get one.  Some international teachers leave their host countries though because they are tired of their dependence on having a car; like in the United States when you most likely cannot live without one.  This blogger’s experience getting a car in Brunei is quite the inter-cultural experience!  Probably a series of events that would not happen to you if you bought a used car in your host country.  How amazing to get invited into their house and share a meal with your sellers!

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

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Overview of an Int’l School

Overview of an int’l school #3 – Ak Lu’ Um International School

November 27, 2011


How great that each international school is unique!

In this overview of an international school, by Michele Kinnon, we would like to highlight Ak Lu’ Um International School in .

Currently there are 18 international schools listed in Mexico on International School Community.

Making a choice about a child’s education is perhaps the most important decision a parent is faced with. All children have different needs and interests and investigating all of the educational options available is crucial to finding the school that is right for each child. Over the past decade, the educational options for families living on the Riviera Maya have increased exponentially. While just a few years ago, parents seeking a quality private learning institution for their children were limited to two or three options, there are now nearly a dozen schools to select from with even more opening their doors every year. All of the schools vary in their methodologies, student demographics and facilities. Several of the newer campuses offer tremendous sports facilities and opportunities for students to participate in a variety of competitive sports. Parents looking for a more holistic learning environment may now look to one of the region’s Montessori or Waldorf inspired schools, the most innovative being the Ak Lu’um International School located in Playa del Carmen.

Fundacion Ak Lu’um A.C., the Riviera Maya’s only not for profit privatized school was created in 2006 by educators Siobhan Bowers and Gabriela Nunez. This Waldorf initiative employs a Heart, Head and Hands approach to education and Learning through the Arts methodology is used to teach curricular subjects such as Math, Science and Social Studies. In addition to the nationally standardized curriculum required by the Mexican Government (SEP), children are taught art, music and environmental studies complimented the facilities of the self sustaining jungle campus established in 2008. Students maintain a garden and raise chickens, harvesting the organic eggs for use in the school’s kitchen, and participate in a myriad of activities designed to stimulate not just their minds and bodies but their hearts as well. Ak Lu’um School is completely bilingual welcoming students from all over Mexico and across the globe.

Parents with special needs students will also now find a viable option for their school age children. The Waldorf trained teachers successfully integrate physically and developmentally challenged children into mainstream classroom settings, providing a safe and inclusive learning environment where each child is encouraged to reach his or her potential. Currently, 36 percent of the student population is on full scholarship support, ensuring that qualified families are not excluded simply because of their financial position. Parents whose children are receiving tuition assistance are asked to participate in the daily operations of the school, making a valuable contribution with their time and skills.

Ak Lu’um’s non-profit status allows for financial support from corporate and individual donors. Contributions go to expand and improve the physical campus, increase the curricular and extracurricular activities and allow more local children to be admitted on scholarships. This year Ak Lu’um has been chosen as the recipient of funds raised by Taste of Playa International Food Festival. Funds raised by Taste of Playa, scheduled for September 5, 2009, will provide clean and safe drinking water for the students, teachers and volunteers at Ak Lu’um International School for the 2009/2010 school year.

Each of the area’s private schools employs multilingual administrative staff members who welcome questions and visits from parents and can guide new families smoothly through the admission process. With all of the educational options available to families on the Riviera Maya, there is certain to be a school that is a match for your child, one that will support his or her individual interests while providing a well balanced curriculum. Look for a school where your child will be challenged and stimulated and you will help them pave their own road to success.

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Highlighted Articles

Highlighted article: The benefits of international schooling

November 21, 2011


The benefits of international schooling: First-person account of the life and prospects of international pupils.

The graduation gown of the school was a uniform blue, but when the students lined up for the final photos they could not look more different from one another.

The picture my father took of me and my friends included an American born in Egypt, a Chinese girl, and a Dutch girl – and there was my friend Annelie, who is half-Swedish and half-Sri Lankan.

My school was the Overseas School in Colombo, Sri Lanka, an International School attended by what educators call “Third Culture Kids” – young people who grow up in two or more different cultures and try to live with their own, “third,” mix of this experience.

Around 17,000 German students attended German Schools overseas in 2006, part of a growing group of such children, Melanie Schulz from the German Foreign Office told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

The daughter of a German father working in international development, I first went to Sri Lanka when I was barely 17.

Two years later and back in Germany, my world appears very different to me and to that of other teenagers in my home town Dortmund in western Germany.

“It is strange to see people in suburban terraces, who finish school, do local apprenticeships, marry their kindergarten sweetheart, have two children, and just seem to stay in a little world for the rest of their lives,” says Jenni Griewel, 21. Also from Germany, she finished one year abroad in Ireland in 2006.

Ruth Van Reken, from Indianapolis, a former nurse, who now works with children of diplomats, members of the army and missionary workers, confirms the overwhelming experience of children who grew up in different worlds.

“Life is learned in living out a full three-dimensional view rather than through history and geography books alone,” she tells dpa.

I still remember the day when my father received a phone call in our Colombo flat and later told my younger sister and me that the LTTE had moved their attacks from the north of the country and bombed the airport in Colombo just 30 kilometres away from our flat.

Even though we were normally not exposed to Sri Lanka’s civil conflict, I was frightened. When I mailed my German friends in Dortmund about this, nobody knew about it.

Nobody even knew what the LTTE – Tamil rebels fighting for a separate state in Northern Sri Lanka – was.

It is not just that your school pals can come from more than three continents. As a Third Culture Kid, you feel in the middle of things that appear very far away for other children.

For Reken, who spent her childhood in Nigeria and later co-authored the book Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Between Worlds, everything she does today is connected to her multicultural childhood.

“The applications of lessons learned from and in my life shape my entire way of thinking and viewing things,” she says, adding she is now far more sensitive to seeing “hidden diversities” that other people may miss.

As a result, Third Culture Kids can adapt better to the modern globalized world, she points out: “They use what they have learned from life including for many language acquisition, larger world view, comfortableness in moving and living between cultural worlds etc. Perhaps above all is often they can think outside the box.”

However, the impact of the cultural transitions Third Culture Kids are forced to make is not necessarily only positive. Some children don’t learn to grieve and cope with the separations they experience, Reken says.

As a result, they can develop depression, emotional difficulties and career problems in later life.

In German overseas schools it is part of the school’s task to prepare the children for reintegration into their home country, according to Schulz of the German Foreign Office.

Sometimes, however, even the term “home” is not clear when it comes to Third Culture Children.

“I never realized until I was 39 that when I left Nigeria as a child of 13, my entire world died except for my immediate family.

“All my friends, my trees I loved to climb, the sights and sounds of the market that were all part of ‘home’ to me, were gone forever. But I had no language or understanding of it when it happened,” she tells dpa.

Other children, who lived in many countries, don’t know at all what “home” is, she has learned from her work with Third Culture Kids. Basic identity questions remain for them, as well as a fundamental feeling of “belonging everywhere and nowhere.”

I do know where home is, but I now feel an unspoken connection especially with those friends in Germany who have also been far away from home.

Jenni did not want to move back in with her parents when she came back to Germany. “It wasn’t because it was not great there but I just felt it was time to be independent.”

Everytime I see my graduation photos, I am proud to have friends all over the world.

Having lived the experience – and the trauma – that the world is a bigger place, many Third Culture Kids seem to embrace the difference, complexity, and multiculturalism also in their later career choices.

Jenni is now studying to be a social worker. I have applied to study political science in Austria. My Chinese friend is studying environmental studies in Canada.

And Annelie, after living in Sweden, Sri Lanka, the Kashmiri mountains and Spain, plans to study sociology and work on human rights with the United Nations.

Reprinted from the expatic.com website here.

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Recently Updated School Profiles

School profile highlights #10: Int’l School of Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai Rego Int’l School and Colegio Nueva Granada

November 17, 2011


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

International School of Kuala Lumpur (2 new comments) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

New information or comment in the School section: “English is the primary language in the hallways. There are a number of EAL students, but are not the majority. The largest single cultural group is Korean (24%) but there is a cap of 25% per class year of any one particular cultural group, ensuring an international make up to the school community.”
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Colegio Nueva Granada (2 new comments) in Bogota, Colombia

New information or comment in the City section: “If you either speak or at least try to speak Spanish they will love you. It is a great city to learn the language and the people are very happy to speak to foreigners about their own countries, etc.”

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Shanghai Rego International School (6 new comments) in Shanghai, China

New information or comment in the Benefits section: “This year the school has given another option for housing. It’s a place called Royal Garden and everyone seems quite impressed with it! I’m still happy though with my own choice in the city but its good to have another option.”

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Highlighted Articles

Teachers International Consultancy (TIC): Teaching from Australia to Abu Dhabi

October 30, 2011


Teaching from Australia to Abu Dhabi

Charles Tripolone is explaining the rains: “In my first few months in India, back in 2008, we had 5 ½ metres in 4 months!”  he says. “That’s quite a contrast to the millimetres of rainfall that we normally measure in Australia.” He goes on: “In 2009 the monsoons were very light. It was fascinating for science teaching; soil erosion, sedimentation; it could easily by taught through real life experiences there.”

Since moving on from India, 39 year old Charles, now works with Taaleem Edison Learning in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Education Council, as a Science Consultant for local schools. This has been an excellent move which has allowed him to consolidate his teaching experience – experience that has spanned several countries.  Prior to his current post, Charles was teaching at the International School Aamby in India and, since leaving Australia as a qualified teacher in 2001, has also taught at an international school in Turkey. “This whole international teaching experience has definitely been a positive move for me,” he says. “You just learn so much by moving out of your comfort zone. I’ve learnt five languages at various levels, travelled to about 100 countries, taught a whole mix of national and international curricula, and have done things I’d never thought I’d do before I left Australia,”  explains Charles. “I’ve got so much more confidence because I’ve not been placed in one education system for an extended period of time, and, as for teaching in India, that experience definitely helped me to calm down. Life happens at a much calmer pace there; things always get done but everything is so much more chilled.”

Charles taught Science and IT at the International School Aamby which involved working with a wide range of curricula including the IPC, CPC, IGCSE and IB. “I really enjoyed the blending of different curricula as it helped me to crystallize in my mind how children learn best. This definitely benefitted my career,” he says.

As with most international schools, the intake of students at Aamby was a mix of local children and expatriate children and, as with all international schools, every child was learning through the medium of English. As for teaching colleagues, Charles worked alongside UK, American, Indian and other Australian teachers. “It’s a great atmosphere,” he says. “International school teachers are all very supportive of each other. And the children are fantastic. Their behaviour is excellent. You never need to raise your voice. I spend most of my time teaching rather than managing behaviour and that makes such a difference academically and on a personal level too.”

Charles is one of over 260,000 English-speaking teachers now teaching internationally and many more are heading that way thanks to the significant growth in international schools. In the last year alone, over 500 new English-speaking international schools were opened across the globe, taking the total number of international schools worldwide to 5,700. This is anticipated to grow to 8,000 international schools within five years according to data provided by ISC Research, the organisation that analyses developments in the international schools market.

“Recruiters from international schools are looking for qualified teachers from countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, South Africa and Canada,” says Andrew Wigford, Director of Teachers International Consultancy (TIC), an organisation that specialises in international school recruitment. The reason why: “English is the language of choice for international schools wherever they may be in the world. So if you’re an English-speaking teacher and have a few years teaching experience, you can literally work anywhere in the world,” says Andrew.

Charles was helped by Teachers International Consultancy to find his job and offers this advice to other teachers considering working in an international school: “Do your homework. Make sure it’s somewhere you’d like to live for a while. Research the school and the contract they offer. Ask as many questions as you can before you make the decision; it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting in to. Use all resources available to you including friends, recommendations, the internet and specialist organisations. You also need to very flexible and accommodating to changes along the way. TIC provided me with a lot of insight and guidance that I couldn’t get anywhere else. They helped to match me with the right job and, before my interview, spoke to the school about me and that was all so important. It was much better than applying independently.”

As for home in Sydney, Charles says he does miss it and he does miss his family and friends. “The internet can sometimes be patchy and communication can be a bit of an issue, but I wouldn’t have missed these opportunities for anything,” he says. “There’s a whole world out there and the options now for me are tremendous. This experience has opened up many new doors and when I’m ready, I’ll head back home. But not for a while!”

For more advice about international teaching opportunities, visit the Teachers International Consultancy website at www.findteachingjobsoverseas.co.uk and to search for the international school that meets your search criteria and to gather information and read comments about various international schools around the world, visit the International School Community website at www.internationalschoolcommunity.com.

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Highlighted Articles

An article by the International Primary Curriculum: Leading a change in learning.


Leading a change in learning. Vietnam, now Bangkok

An article by the International Primary Curriculum

David Lowder is a Headteacher who is leading change. As Head of An Phu, the largest Primary Campus at the British International School Vietnam, David led the very first international school in Vietnam to introduce the International Primary Curriculum. With it, he adopted a creative and internationally-minded approach to learning relevant for all children within the school; both the locals and the expatriates who were not just from Britain but from all corners of the world. Not only did this establish a new curriculum choice for parents in Ho Chi Minh City, but it put the IPC on the map for other international schools within the FOBISSEA group (Federation of British International Schools in South East Asia and Asia) looking for an up-to-date and more engaging curriculum for their primary age children.

Since moving to St. John’s International School in Bangkok, David has led the field again; becoming the first school in Bangkok to adopt the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) and, as Chair of TISAC (the Thailand International Schools Association Committee) in Bangkok, he looks set to drive a curriculum rethink here too.

“It all started because we needed a change,” David says, explaining why he originally introduced the IPC at the British International School Vietnam. “The curriculum had become quite stagnant. Not only that but it was too anglicised. The children were learning about the great fire of London and WWII from a European perspective. For our many non-British children living and learning in Vietnam, this was totally irrelevant. But also there was no consistency of curriculum development and no strong teaching and learning philosophy within the school. We had become too passive in our teaching; there was a lot of wasted time, missed learning opportunities and very little creativity.”

David says that, once introduced to it, he immediately saw the value of the IPC. “I listened to Theresa Forbes (the then Director of the IPC) speak about it at a conference and was inspired. So, fully supported by his Deputy, Ben Dixon who played a key role in its introduction, and with advice from Theresa and the team at IPC, David launched the IPC at BISV and saw immediate success.  “It brings a more exciting, active element to children’s learning.  The IPC is totally relevant for today’s children. It’s helping us to take a more global approach to learning.  A good part of our IPC learning is linked to where we are living now, as well as looking at our learning from the perspective of other countries too.”

As well as making learning relevant for all students, the IPC introduces an active, collaborative and engaging approach to learning that David says made a big difference to the children in Vietnam: “No longer did we have children sitting at desks the whole time being spoon-fed knowledge. The children now learn through enquiring, investigating, collaborating together, as well as through creative approaches to learning such as painting, dancing, music, model-making and role-play; all hands-on, shared, problem-solving experiences that encourage them to lead their own learning and to think for themselves. The IPC is fun but with a clear purpose and direction. It’s making our children adaptable, resourceful and independent in their learning. Children are quite naturally inquisitive learners, and if they’re put in the right environment to do this, they become excited about their learning. Through the IPC, the real learner is allowed to flourish.”

During his three years learning with the IPC in Vietnam, David saw several other FOBISSEA schools follow suit. “As a result of our success with the IPC, we were able to show other schools within the group what a difference it was making to the school and to the children’s learning,” he says. “Our staff was great at speaking about the IPC to other FOBISSEA schools and were eager to talk about the impact it was making on the children. In fact, we were so convinced of the power of the IPC that we hosted a regional IPC conference to show other schools what we were doing.” Not only did David share the IPC with other school leaders, he also shared it with his parents. “During its introduction, we hosted a number of parent workshops and open days to show parents how their children would be learning. It was important for us to know the parents understood what this change was all about.  As a result, we had the full support of the parents who could see that their children were getting a very exciting and rigorous curriculum programme.”

David says that as other schools in the FOBISSEA group adopted it, so the IPC “became an educational currency. Relocating expat families would move from one international school to another and they would start looking for a school using the IPC so that there was a common learning approach that meant the transition was much easier for their child,” he explains.  David expects the same to happen for families moving to Bangkok and it’s not just because of the engaging and creative curriculum. “It’s the standards that the IPC is helping us to achieve too,” says David. “In Vietnam, we received great references from CIS accreditation on the high quality of learning witnessed throughout primary and CIS also paid a lot of attention to our international dimension which the IPC helped us to deliver.”

It is the global perspective within the IPC learning which, David says, has made a significant difference to both BIS Vietnam and is now also doing at St. John’s. “The IPC has helped to lead both schools out of a blind Britishness and in its place has introduced a more refreshing, exciting, far-reaching, up-to-date and international ethos.” Needless to say, knowing that the IPC meets the requirements of the English National Curriculum has still been a very important marketing tool for both schools. “We are still providing an English education but in a more internationally-minded way,” says David. “Our parents relate to Britain’s academic standards and see it as a pathway to a good education, leading to excellent university possibilities. It’s important for them to know that the IPC delivers all the learning of the English National Curriculum but with a relevant and up-to-date approach to the learning. For the children in Vietnam, the IPC enabled and actually encouraged us to explore the Vietnamese culture in a meaningful and learning-focused way, at the same time, helping to develop their understanding of their place in the world.  And for the children here in St. John’s, the same is true for the Thai culture. It’s a significant part of the IPC and it’s a key priority for many parents, particularly of the local children here.”

So does David see himself as a pioneer? “Not at all,” he says. “All I’ve done is tried to make a change to a situation where both children and staff were restricted as far as the learning was concerned.  I think it’s just about having confidence to make that change. Now what I see is so exciting.  It’s taken the British International School Vietnam to another level and I believe it will do the same at St. John’s. There is a real buzz about the place. I just know that what we’re doing with the IPC is the right thing. You can see it in the children and in the teachers. It is a dramatic benefit to the whole school.”

Press enquiries:
Anne Keeling
Media Relations
International Primary Curriculum
Email: anne@greatlearning.com

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Highlighted Articles

Highlighted article: The IPC: a curriculum growing in popularity amongst many international schools (Part 1)

October 18, 2011


The IPC is a very popular curriculum used by many international schools (in 68 countries around the world) because it is very learning-focused, allows great flexibility for teachers to personalise it to the needs of their children and their school, and also brings international-mindedness into much of the children’s learning. The following is a good explanation of the IPC which helps teachers, school leaders and parents alike to understand it.

Learning with the International Primary Curriculum

It has always been important for children to receive a great education. In the challenging global, interdependent world of the 21st century it is more important than ever before.


Oshwal Academy Mombasa, Kenya explore their local beach as part of the IPC Habitats unit

But it’s also more difficult than ever. In the same way that far fewer children play football because there are so many other competing things for them to do, so it’s far harder to help young children learn in school when other parts of their lives can seem so much more attractive, and when so many children are in homes – professional and non-professional – where time for parents to be attentive to their children is at a premium.

This is the paradox we inhabit. The need is great and, at the same time, the opposing forces are more powerful than they’ve ever been.

Getting a primary curriculum right is more difficult today than it’s ever been because it has to meet multiple goals. Of all those goals, the most essential ones are:

– Rigorous learning: Paying attention to essential and transformational knowledge, to the development of key skills, and to the slow, steady progress towards deep understanding across a broad range of subjects.

– High levels of children’s engagement: Making sure that this rigorous learning can win the battle against superficially more exciting out-of-school activities so that a) children enjoy it and stick to it and b) come to like learning enough to want to continue throughout their lives. And incorporating easy, accessible opportunities for parents to get involved in order to encourage and support their kids.

– International, global and intercultural awareness: So many of our problems at local and global level are caused by different groups not knowing or respecting each other. So many of the key problems we face today will only be solved through local and global cooperation. So many of the opportunities open to our current generation of children will be in countries and cultures different from the one in which they are growing up.

– The development of personal dispositions: Creating opportunities for children to develop qualities that will help them on their journey through life as individuals, citizens and partners. Qualities such as adaptability, morality, respect, resilience, enquiry, cooperation, communication and thoughtfulness.

– Supporting teachers: Providing teachers with everything they might need to make the curriculum work to its very best for every single child.

– Supporting schools: Providing all that a school requires to be confident in delivering good practice

A curriculum that thoroughly meets each one of these priority areas is not an easy trick to pull off. But feedback from schools, parents, teachers, children, inspectors and authorities tells us that one curriculum – the International Primary Curriculum – is well on the way.

If that’s the case, how does the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) ensure rigorous learning? What does a high level of engagement mean in IPC practice? What about the development of personal dispositions?  And what is it about the IPC that has gained the commitment of over 1,300 schools in over 63 countries around the world in just ten years?

Engaging Children

Well, for a start, we all know that children learn best when they want to learn. That’s why the IPC has over 80 different thematic units of learning; all child-friendly, modern-day topics appealing to all ages of primary children. Themes such as Time Detectives, Airports, I’m Alive, Inventions and Machines and Global Swapshop. Teachers use the theme as the hook, the learning platform and the ‘wrapping paper’ in order to excite and engage children.


Students at BIS Ljubljana in Slovenia investigate what’s going on within their soil colletions as part of the IPC Habitats unit.

The theme enables young children to remain motivated through the learning of science, geography, history and so on. It also allows them to make purposeful links and connections throughout their learning and to see how their subject learning is related to the world they live in.

Within each theme, the IPC suggests many ideas for collaborative learning, for active learning, for learning outside the classroom, for role play, and for children learning from each other. “All these approaches are crucial factors affecting engagement,” says Director of the IPC, Steven Mark. “Teamwork with a purpose, where every person plays a vital but different role, enables children to become deeply engaged in their learning, especially when that learning is relevant to their interests and needs. At the same time, there’s a huge flow of knowledge and many skills are practised and developed.” For example, in the IPC Rainforest unit children, through role play, debate the impact of slash and burn from all perspectives; from those of the indigenous forest dwellers to the prospectors. “This is something that we have continually prioritised and developed within the IPC,” continues Steven. “Child-friendly themes involving issues relevant for today’s children and creating opportunities for them to make their own choices in the progress of their learning. As a result, the learning becomes inspiring and fulfilling for them.”

The IPC’s engaging approach also encourages parental involvement as children, inspired by their learning, talk freely to parents and family members about what they’ve done at school and often choose to continue their learning at home. Parental involvement is also promoted through learning-focused letters, extended learning ideas, and end of unit ‘Exit Point’ events.

Rigorous Learning

Each IPC unit incorporates most of the core subjects including science, history, geography, ICT, Art and PE and provides many opportunities to incorporate literacy and numeracy. Subjects are only included into each theme if there is a direct link between the required learning and the ideas behind the theme. Each subject then has a number of learning tasks to help teachers to help their children meet a range of learning goals set out in the curriculum.

Take, for example, the IPC Chocolate unit. In history, children explore the discovery of chocolate, the period it was discovered, the motivation for discovery and the changing attitude to chocolate through the ages. In geography they look at the countries that grow cacao and how particular localities have been affected by its production and by slash and burn. They look at the links between countries that grow cacao and countries that produce chocolate. In art children look at how chocolate is sold and how packaging is designed. In science, children use the Chocolate unit to look at the energy values in foodstuff and to explore the effects of heating and cooling.

The IPC learning goals are deliberately explicit; designed to make sure that teachers distinguish clearly between children’s learning of knowledge, skills and understanding.

IPC Director, Steven Mark points out that knowledge, skills and understanding may all be examples of learning but that each is learned differently, assessed differently and, therefore, IPC believes, should be taught differently. “There is absolutely no point in talking about rigorous learning if we don’t make explicitly clear the nature and implications of the learning we want children to achieve,” says Steven. So each IPC unit has a detailed teaching framework incorporating very explicit skills. “As skills take time to develop, children need to have the chance to continually revisit and practise these key skills,” he explains. “To develop these skills, individuals need context and purpose. Which is why the IPC suggests real life, practical learning experiences to help them. All our units encourage children to work individually and together towards learning goals. It’s important that children can see that they are still learning skills found in history and geography but set in the context of the big picture theme.”

For more information about the IPC contact the IPC at +44-207-7531-9696 or visit www.internationalprimarycurriculum.com

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ISCommunity Milestones

International School Community Milestone: We now have over 900 international school profiles listed!

October 16, 2011


At International School Community, we now have over 903 international school profiles listed!

Get answers to your questions about the international schools you are interested in by clicking on the geographic region of your choice.  It’s a great way to learn about different international schools around the world and gather information!

The last 5 schools to be added:

ABC International School (Vietnam) (Ho Chi Mihn City, Vietnam)


Castelli International School
(Rome, Italy)


Ambrit-Rome International School
(Rome, Italy)


International School of Central Switzerland
(Cham, Switzerland)


Overseas Family School Singapore
(Singapore, Singapore)

 

Currently, International School Community has the following 903 international schools listed on our website (last updated on 16 October, 2011):

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Highlighted Year for Int’l Schools

International schools that were founded in 1969 (Hong Kong, Seychelles, Madagascar, etc.)

August 28, 2011


Random year for international schools around the world: 1969

Utilizing the database of the 850 international schools currently listed on International School Community, we found  schools that were founded in 1969 (excepts about their founding are taken from the schools’ websites):

German Swiss International School (Hong Kong, China)

“The German Swiss International School Hong Kong (GSIS) was established in 1969 by German Swiss families who were looking for a bilingual German-English education in an international setting. From these early beginnings, GSIS has grown into one of the leading international schools in Hong Kong. The school’s main campus is strategically located in the picturesque and prestigious setting of The Peak, Hong Kong.”

American School of Antananarivo (Antananarivo, Madagascar)

“ASA was founded in September, 1969 as an independent, non-sectarian, co-educational day school. Its function is to provide an excellent education in an international setting to children through the twelfth grade.”

International School of Seychelles (Victoria, Seychelles)

“ISS has grown to nearly 700 students from a small beginning of nine students in 1969. ISS continues to be a vibrant learning community with students excelling themselves both academically, in sports and in many other ways.”

International School Moshi (Moshi) (Moshi, Tanzania)

“Established in 1969 to serve the needs of the expatriate and local communities, the school has grown to provide a fully accredited international education for children from age 3 to age 19, offering the International Baccalaureate Diploma, Middle Years and Primary Years programmes.”

Sir James Henderson School (Milan, Italy)

“The Sir James Henderson British School of Milan was founded in 1969 by British parents who wanted to provide a British education to their children. The school was named after Sir James Henderson, a British businessman who started up Coats in Italy after WW1. He also founded the British Chamber of Commerce and the first Rotary Club in Italy. His wife provided a generous donation to start the school.  In 1969 the school had just over 90 students (84 in the lower school,12 children in the upper school). In 1994 it had 380 students and currently the school has over 770 students (440 in the lower school, over 330 children in the upper school).”

Bangalore International School (Bangalore, India)

“Bangalore International School, or American Community School as it was once called, was started in 1969. In the 60s and the 70s, although there were hundreds of American and Canadian families living in the city, there were no local schooling options that offered a North American curriculum and instruction style. The only available choice would have been boarding school. And luckily for us, this idea did not appeal to Eloise R. Bennett and her family, the founders of BIS. On contract through the University of Tennessee for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Bennett family moved to Bangalore for two years between 1969 and 1971. Finding no suitable schooling options, they decided to open their own, and so the American Community School was born, in a garage on Millers Road.”

Medan International School Sumatra (Medan, Indonesia)

“Medan International School began in 1969 and has being operating from its present site, approximately 10km for the centre of Medan, since 1980. Medan is a large city of over three million people, although the expatriate population is relatively small.”

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Blogs of International Teachers

Blogs of International School Teachers – “Backpacking Teacher”

May 28, 2011


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

Check out the experiences of another teacher from the moment they signed the contract to what they are writing about after a few years working abroad.

Our 2nd blog that we would like to highlight is called “Backpacking Teacher.”  What an interesting experience living in Saigon and working at a young school that is growing and expanding.

Entries we would like to highlight:

What do I expect from my new life in Saigon?
Before I head off for another overseas sojourn it’d be a nice idea to document what I’m expecting to find and what I’m looking forward to. That way, down the track, I can review my expectations against a future reality. Most of what I’m expecting is based upon what life was like when I lived in Indonesia.
I’m expecting:
The very poor and the very rich
A political system that exists largely in the background…

Worst thing that’s happened to you whilst traveling?
How about the time I worked in Indonesia managing a remote resort .. ah yes ..that one.  I managed this remote resort on the island of Java. The country was in upheaval, students had recently been shot on the streets of Jakarta and my security manager came into see me.  “Pak”, he says. “Bad news. The local people they not like the resort making money on their land. They coming tomorrow to burn it down”.  “ok”, says I, attempting to be calm. “time to put our contingency plans into gear”. Thinking all along how absurd it was that I had contingency plans, for rioting villagers, ready to go…

Reflections on my new school
The physical environment is superb with well appointed classrooms, interactive whiteboards in each classroom, air-conditioning and a management team that is very supportive of the teaching staff. The school has real potential and for a school this young it has made massive strides in it’s quest to be a leading school in Saigon. This can be shown by the number of teachers and students who have moved to the school from other international schools in town. It’s an exciting place to be and makes for an environment that’s both challenging and a pleasure to teach in. I’m certainly happy with my choice and enjoy working here.

The previous blog address of this teacher can be found here.  There are some great entries about the process a person goes through when searching for and getting a job at an international school.

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Information for Members

The Total Comments in All the City Information Sections: 5518!

January 14, 2020


As all International School Community members know, each of the 2120+ school profile pages on our website has four comments and information sections: School Information, Benefits Information, City Information and Travel Information.  Our members are encouraged to submit comments and information 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 new 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 automatically get one free month of premium membership added on to your account!  The more comments you leave, the more free membership you get!

FOR UNLIMITED FREE MEMBERSHIP, BECOME A MAYOR OF A SCHOOL TODAY!

So, what are the recent statistics about the City Information sections on all the school profile pages?  The current total number of submitted comments in the City Information sections is 5518 (out of a total of 35256+ comments); up 1134 comments since February 2019.

There are 17 subtopics in the City Information section on each school profile page.  Check out each one of these subtopics below and find out out the total number of comments in that specific subtopic and also an example comment that has been submitted there.

• Name your favorite restaurants, favorite places to go to and favorite things to do in the city. (599 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Going to check out and relax in the church that was made in rock (Temppeliaukio) is a great things to do on a rainy (or sunny) day. They play relaxing music as you just sit in one of the pews and looks up to see the copper designed ceiling. So beautiful!” – Helsinki International School (Helsinki, Finland) – 41 Comments

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• Locations in the city geared towards the expat lifestyle (grocery stores, bars, etc.). (516 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Taipa has a lot geared towards expat. The local Park’n’Shop grocery store is full of imported things.” – The School of the Nations (Macao, China) – 20 Comments

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• Sample prices for food, transportation, average hourly rates for a housekeeper, etc. (525 Total Comments)

Example comment: “You could definitely get a good main dish at a nice restaurant for 6-8 EUR. The public transportation is free for the locals, but for tourists, it is .80 to 1.60 EUR a ride. Of course there are cheaper tickets, like days passes, etc.” – International School of Estonia (Tallinn, Estonia) – 22 Comments

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• Detailed info about lifestyles: singles vs. couples, gay vs. straight, nightlife vs. quiet and big city vs nature. (423 Total Comments)

Example comment: “If you like riding your bike around everywhere, there aren’t always the best bike paths in the city. In turn, you need to be alert at all times! With regards to nature, there are super green parks spotted all around the city center. There is also the Wisla river has some “beach” areas where people hang out on a warm day. It is a bit smelly there, but still nice.” – American School of Warsaw (Warsaw, Poland) – 143 Comments

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• Languages of the host city and the level of English spoken there. (533 Total Comments)

Example comment: “On a scale from 1 to 5, English level is somewhere around 3+. Not everyone speaks English, so knowing German is a big advantage.” – Zurich International School (Zurich, Switzerland) – 46 Comments

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• Sample activities that you can do around the city? Including ones that you can do with a family (children)? (373 Total Comments)

Example comment: “During the summer don’t miss out on Treptower park with Badeschiff (not good for those with children). There is an artificial tropical island not far away from Berlin and many people take their kids there during winter, or to Wannsee during summer. Should you want to go and do the recreational swimming, Berlin Bade Betrieb is there for you on numerous locations.” – Berlin International School (Berlin, Germany) – 12 Comments

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• Describe the city’s weather at different times of the year. (578 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Nov. 15 – March 15 is when the government heat is on in the apartments. That’s pretty much when temperatures are below freezing all the time. Over the weekend the weather changed to 5 – 10 degrees above freezing. Spring is about six weeks long. Then summer is hot.” – Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (Beijing, China) – 158 Comments

• Places, markets and stores where you can find really good deals. (266 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Walmart and Kalea (like Ikea) has just about everything you’ll need to set up house. El Martially in zona 14 sells used furniture but bring a Guatemalan friend to negotiate for you. You can also by hand-made furniture off the street very cheaply.” – The American International School of Guatemala (Colegio Maya) (Guatemala City, Guatemala) – 75 Comments

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• Describe a funny culture shock moment that you’ve had recently in this city. (122 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Babies and toddlers with open butt pants and shorts are always fun to see pee all over the place. Trying to cross the street without getting killed is fun as well.” – QSI International School of Dongguan (Dongguan, China) – 64 Comments

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• Where did the school take you in the city when you first arrived? What were some staff outings/party locations? (170 Total Comments)

Example comment: “When you first arrive, the school sets up a week-long itinerary. . .shopping at many shops, eating at a variety of restaurants. It’s one of the highlights of coming here. Many of the places seen during orientation are too expensive for people to return to often.” – The American School of Kinshasa (Kinshasa, Congo (DRC)) – 59 Comments

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What is the best part of living in this city for you? (268 Total Comments)

Example comment: “I love the ease of getting what you want, when you want.” – Hong Kong International School (Hong Kong, China) – 145 Comments

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What advice can you give on how to set things up like internet, phone, experience dealing with landlord, etc.? (224 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Internet’s been funky lately but that’s just the new reality in China at the moment. Nobody can do anything about it.” – Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 436 Comments

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• Tell your experience moving your items to this city. What company, insurance policy, etc. did you use? (89 Total Comments)

Example comment: “SOS International is a popular choice and you can use it at their clinics here. It’s pricey, though.” – Orchlon School (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia) – 76 Comments

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• Tell about your experience with the local banks and dealing with multiple currencies. (228 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Most local banks charge $10-$20 for an account. The government now also charges 10% of any fees charged by the bank. Most banks then charge you 1% to withdraw dollars, even if you have a dollar account. This is because their exchange rate is horrible, so people take out the money in dollars then walk to an exchange bureau and get a much better rate. IST has a few agreements in place so that the first $1000 a month does not get charged the fee. Other than that, the banks are okay. Nothing to write home about and you have to watch for random fees, but you can usually get it sorted. Some people just use overseas accounts and you can get money from the ATM, but people often find thousands of dollars missing from accounts when they do that.” – International School of Tanganyika (Dar es salaam, Tanzania) – 171 Comments

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• What are some locals customs (regarding eating, drinking and going out, family, socializing, etc.) that you find interesting for expats to know about? (157 Total Comments)

Example comment: “When you receive something in person, from somebody else, it is best to take it using both hands, not just one. Do it with two hands to show respect and appreciation.” – Hong Kong Academy (Hong Kong, China) – 67 Comments

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• Tell about your experiences in the local grocery stores. What can you get or cannot get? Which ones are your favorites. (192 Total Comments)

Example comment: “If you are from an Asian country I would suggest finding an H Mart. The Buford Highway farmers market has country specific named aisles with all of the countries. The Dekalb farmers market has a lot of unique fruits (think durian) and vegetables that you won’t find in a typical grocery store as well. All of these markets are worth a visit, especially the Dekalb Farmers Market (don’t go on a weekend!) and are huge.” – Atlanta International School (Atlanta, United States) – 31 Comments

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• What is the most challenging/difficult part of living in the city? (255 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The Spanish spoken here is very difficult to understand. There is a lot of slang and people speak very fast.” –Santiago College (Santiago, Chile) – 24 Comments

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10 tips for my NQT self

October 10, 2019


As a new cohort of graduating teachers look forward to their first role as newly qualified teachers, I reflected on how mine was coming to an end and contemplated on advice I would have given myself at the beginning of mine and how I might have done things differently.

My A-level chemistry teacher on my first day of A-levels taught me and my peers a very valuable lesson and outlook, and one I still use today. “Close your eyes and imagine it is results day and you receive your brown envelope with your results in it. You’ve applied to the university you want, and they have given you a conditional offer, all you need are the grades. You’re so nervous and all your friends also have theirs and are opening their envelopes one by one. As they do, a wave of euphoria and excitement hits them as each is successful, but now it’s your turn. You open your envelope. As your eyes glance along the bold letters, instead of the same ecstatic emotions, you feel distraught because you, out of all your friends, are the only one who missed, and what makes it worse, by one grade. The realisation sets in that you are not likely to get in to your first choice, maybe not even second, or worse still, not at all. The summer of relaxation before heading off to university vanished by the thought of frantic phone calls hoping and praying that clearing will allow you in, but it is still no guarantee. You think to yourself, if only I had a time machine I would go back and tell myself to work harder instead of going out every Tuesday because its student night or play that extra hour every night of COD and instead study.

Now, open your eyes. You found the time machine and you’re here, back at the start where you can put those things right. I exaggerate for effect of course but the premise is the same. There are a few things, had I known, I would have done differently, or paid more attention to, which would have made my NQT year a little easier, not least for starting and maintaining good habits. So as we dive in, do not take these as things you must do or “another one of those teachers who thinks they know everything” but someone offering some gentle thinking points about what might make your NQT year, and beyond, a little less stressful.

1. Get to know the resource material

Most schools offer at least a 1-day induction. Some more and some offer PGCE students an early start at the school in June upon completion of the course. DO IT! I was unfortunate not to do this due to personal reasons (I got married instead) and had I known this I would have altered my wedding dates to allow me to attend the induction period at the very least. As a result, I started the academic year behind and it took me at least 7 weeks to get up to speed with the material, the schemes of work on top of other equally important bureaucracy areas such as behaviour policies, school policies etc. Our main job as teachers is to teach and if you are not comfortable with what you are teaching, everything else becomes much more difficult to understand and implement.

2. Get to know AND understand school policies

Aside from teaching you are expected to enforce and follow school policies ranging from behaviour management to meetings and duties. Naturally it will take some time to fully understand and feel comfortable and confident in following said policies as it is often much easier to understand once you see it in action. Try your best to think of every scenario and how you would deal with it. As you will likely be new in your school, the students will try you catch you out and push the boundaries. This is when they will find you if you know the policies or not and can set the tone for the rest of the year or longer. Read, read and read again and run through some scenarios in your head with how you would react and how you would deal with it.

3. Marking – there is no escape

There have been some improvements in recent years in terms of workload for teachers and one thing that has improved significantly is the quantity of marking. Though marking is immensely important, or I should say feedback, for student improvement, it can take up most of your time outside of the classroom leaving less time for planning and preparation. Each school will have their own marking policy and it is essential that you understand how the marking works and how often it needs to be completed. On top of this, it is important to understand HOW the marking is to be done and what notations should be used for the marking. I recommend making a timetable for yourself of which classes you will mark on which days and stick to it. A little marking everyday is much easier than no marking and having to do it all in one afternoon/evening. Your marking will also be more beneficial to the students as the marking time will be less each day so feedback will be more constructive than a standard comment.

4. Track and get to know your students

During my PGCE one of the tasks we were asked to do was to track three students. By this they asked us to find information on them (SEN, PP etc) and then keep a record of how they were doing whether that be BfL, scores, homework or just a few notes about students that stood out, both strong and weak. Though the actual task was monotonous and tedious, I realised in my NQT year just how useful it is to do this. Each school has their own set of students with their own personalities. It really helps to get to know your students, what makes them tick and what makes them bored. Additionally, track students who have a record of being stronger and weaker and try to support them as much as you can. Every student needs to make progress so ensure you use techniques (extensions, scaffolding, keywords etc) to allow ALL students to progress.

5. Get to know your school’s focus for the term and year

There are a plethora of areas that schools can focus on and each school is different. Some schools focus on classroom environment and management, some on teaching and learning and others on the tasks surrounding it. All schools will have some form of CPD and twilight session to address all of these, but most will identify their weakest and try to improve them. Knowing what areas are being targeted helps you to understand the current ethos of the school and drive with all colleagues in the same direction. It also helps you when completing your official observations as it shows your observer you are paying attention to what management are wanting to focus on and that you are taking the CPD sessions seriously.

6. Don’t get lost – finds your rooms

This isn’t a make or break but can lead to unnecessary stress at the start of term. In all schools I’ve been to, students like to think they are on control without being in control. They like to know that there is always someone else they can ask if they don’t know something. If you are asking students how to get to rooms, some students can get a bit confused and it may even harm your respect, particularly with the older students. It’s not the end of the world, but if you are constantly asking students, then it can have an impact. Get to know your rooms, how to get there from your previous room and what the layout is. This will help with room transitions so your start of lesson is as punctual as possible to cut down on classroom disruption as possible and knowing the layouts will help you organise your seating plan as early as possible to avoid classroom disruption.

7. Who are the specialists?

All teachers will have some expertise in one area of teaching or more. Find out who these people are and what their specialism is. As an NQT you are expected to find more answers on your own so seeking out those who are more experienced could not be more important at this stage. If you are struggling with classroom management, as many teachers do, find out who is the expert. Ask them to sit in your lesson and to find out what you could improve. If you are struggling of thinking how to teacher a certain topic, find out the subject specialist and quiz them, or better still, observe their lessons to see how they engage their students. Questioning is a major focus currently. Seek out someone who is great at questioning students and having discussions.

8. Get to know your colleagues

In my first school I didn’t see my colleagues outside of school save for a wedding. I regret this looking back because I would have enjoyed my time a lot more had I made the effort to get more comfortable with my colleagues. I may have asked more questions and progressed more so as a teacher. There were some great teachers in the department so use them, both for professional advice and social relaxation. The usual Friday drinks at “the library” are there for a reason so go, enjoy yourself and moan to your hearts content so the people at home don’t have to listen.

9. Reflect, reflect, reflect

The PGCE does a great job of getting teachers to become reflective. This becomes especially important as you enter your NQT year and beyond as there isn’t someone who is observing you most lessons and telling you where you need to improve. It is important than from the outset you assess yourself and think about common weaknesses over a series of lessons. One suggestion could be to keep a diary and write a few notes after each lesson/day about things that what went and things that didn’t. This will help you really understand areas of strength and weakness. Once your NQT year is complete, you will have yearly appraisals where you set your own targets and to meet them you need evidence. This relies on you knowing what our weaknesses are and how to overcome them which requires you to know yourself as a teacher.

10. And finally, enjoy it!

Your NQT year is very important because it helps you to understand yourself and how to become an independent teacher. The career you have chosen is a very rewarding, challenging and exciting career. One with many prospects and benefits, both personally and professionally. This is your springboard for a (hopefully) long, happy and successful working life. Enjoy it, set out with the mindset you wish to continue with and try, though it may seem difficult at times, to relax, destress and remember why you got into teaching.

I hope these 10 suggestions help you enjoy a more productive and less stressful year. In my experience, my PGCE year was more stressful though not all teachers have the same opinion. Just remember, you’ve done it before, you can do it again.

This article was submitted by International School Community member, Steven Simnett.

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OMG: I’m Becoming a Citizen of my Host Country

June 26, 2019


When most international teachers move abroad, they aren’t thinking “oh, this is the country that I want to be living in for many, many years.” They also aren’t thinking “When I move there, I’m going to do whatever it takes to become a citizen.”

But somehow, some of us get ourselves into that exact position. What was once the goal of staying at an international school for 4-6 years has turned into 8, 10 or even more than 12 years!

If the situation is good where you are at, then why not stay?! Most likely, not everyone can work and live where you are. Actually, some international school teachers would probably die to live and work in your host country! (note: the grass is always greener problem…)

As you stay longer and longer in your host country, the question about trying to become a citizen starts to be a popular one to talk about and discuss (depending on where you are living, of course).

Things to think about:

What are the requirements to becoming a citizen in your host country? There are many in some cases!

Can you have dual citizenship so that you don’t have to give up your home country passport? Some of us would very quickly give up our home country passport, but many of us would very much not!

What is the time frame for waiting around to get your citizenship application approved? In some countries the processing time can take up to two years!

So the question comes, what then does it take to actually become a citizen?

You will probably have to fork over a sizeable amount of money for your application. Could be from hundreds of USDs to thousands of USDs!

You will probably have to pass some sort of host country language test. Some countries don’t have this as a requirement, but others do. Sometimes just having a A2/B1 level is alright, but other countries might want higher than that!

You will also most likely need to pass some sort of citizenship exam. There will be a bunch of questions about the culture, history, politics, laws, etc. of the country. It can take quite some effort to read and study about all of these topics so that you can pass this exam.

Once you pass all the tests and pay all the fees, the next step is to complete and submit the application and also to check and see if you meet the rest of the requirements. For example, if you have unpaid speeding tickets from driving, that can be a problem. If you have received some financial support from the government in the past few years, that can also be a deterrent. Other problems can include: if you have been outside of the country for more than 6 months, if you haven’t been making a certain amount of money during the time you’ve been working there, if you haven’t had full time work for the duration of your stay so far, etc. All of these things can delay or make it so that your host country will refuse your application.

Even if it is fun to get caught up in all the excitement of becoming a dual citizen, what does it mean to really be a citizen of your host country? Maybe you have got married to a local and had children together and need to get citizenship so that everyone in your family has the same legal rights in the country. That can be stressful for you until you get the passport!

Another question to ask yourself: Once you get citizenship, does that mean you will stay there the rest of your life and that your life as a roving international school teacher is over? That prospect could sound daunting to some people. It is good to have choices though in life. Once you get a host country passport, you could still move and try living somewhere else for a bit, and then you can rest knowing that you could always move back if you want. If your new passport is from an EU country, that would definitely open up more possibilities for places to live and work without the hassle of having some school sponsor you in anyway (which is often a problem for most schools in EU).

We all know that the passport you hold can really make a difference in many ways. If you have an EU passport, you can often get through passport control much faster. If you want to visit Iran, then it would be much easier to go there on an EU passport vs. a USA one. If you want to vote and participate in the main elections in your host country, a passport will allow you to do just that. If you want to get out of teaching and your current job, a passport would allow you to try out a different school or even a different career. The benefits and advantages go on and on…

Of course, the main advantage of having a host country passport is that you can rest and relax knowing that you will not be kicked out of the country for any reason, you will have the same legal rights as any of the other citizens there, and you can stay as long as you want and enjoy the country that you have gotten to know and fall in love with over the years. Even though you probably don’t have your own relatives and direct family there with you, you can stay with and build even stronger relationships with your new family in your host country (or now just your country).

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Ten Commandments of Relocating Overseas

The New 11 Commandments of Relocating Overseas

July 1, 2018


It’s never easy to move to a new country, especially one where the culture is vastly different than what you are used to. Concepts such as immigration and international relocation have become increasingly common in the modern age, with developed nations such as the United States a popular destination for citizens across the globe.

Still, between 2.2 million and 6.8 million U.S. citizens are known to have themselves according to 2017 figures, as some look for new pastures during retirement, some relocate for the purpose of work, and others decide to travel for school or self-fulfilment.

Relocated

Whatever the reasons behind your move, relocating overseas can be extremely challenging, particularly from a financial and emotional perspective. In the post below, we’ll consider the 11 commandments of moving abroad, as you look to embrace new opportunities and immerse yourself in a new and unfamiliar culture.

1.    Make Positivity Your Watchword 

As we’ve already said, issues such as international relocation and economic migration are extremely relevant in the current political climate, particularly since the election of U.S. President Donald Trump and the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.

This means that some will continue to talk about international relocation in negative terms, which in turn may dampen your enthusiasm for the move and discourage you from taking the plunge.

However, if you’ve made a strategic decision to relocate abroad and determined that the benefits outweigh the potential issues (whatever your motivation may be), it’s important that you do not allow such negativity to undermine your best-laid plans.

In this respect, positivity and clarity of thought must be your key watchwords when relocating abroad, as you look to maintain your focus, do not allow negative comments or attitudes to shift your outlook. Surrounding yourself with positive people in the first place is central to this, as while you always want to hear a diversity of thoughts and opinions you must engage with individuals whose minds are progressive and open to new opportunities.

2.    Remain Flexible in your Attitudes

On the subject of your mindset, there’s also a pressing need for you to remain flexible and agile when relocating abroad.

This applies to both your preparation and the transition period that takes place when you arrive at your chosen destination, as these experiences will vary considerably depending on your reasons for moving and your choice of international location.

When it comes to the former, an agile mindset will enable you to adapt to the setbacks that occur while planning your relocation, from organizing the logistics of your move to securing accommodation in time for your arrival. Remember, even the best plans can go awry, so you’ll need to manage your expectations and adapt positively to any changes that you encounter.

The same principle applies when adapting to a new culture and way of life, as this takes time, patience, and a willingness to learn quickly from your mistakes. Even in an increasingly multicultural world, there are subtle nuances that separate global cultures, and a flexible outlook will ensure that you learn and adapt to these quickly.

Relocated

3.    Gain a Real Understanding of your New Host Country

Prior to your move, you’ll also need to gain a deep and realistic insight into your new host country.

Like we say, multiculturalism may have helped to blur the lines between independent cultures, but each country will have its own unique heritage and prevailing way of life. This will have a direct impact on every conceivable aspect of everyday life, from the clothes that you wear to the way in which you interact with locals.

The key to this is conducted detailed and informed research, which charts a country’s history and its standing in the current world order. This prevents you from forming an impression of your new home based on outdated perceptions and clumsy notions of nationality, which can lead to significant issues when you initially move abroad.

Instead, you can relocate with a clear understanding of your new host country, and one that is based on knowledge, insight and relevant, real-world observations.

4.    Expect to Encounter Different Attitudes and a Diminished Sense of Urgency

In the western world, the pace of technological advancement has made patience an increasingly sparse commodity. This is reflected by the demands that we place on others and the devices that we use, as we’re increasingly accustomed our creature comforts and things being done almost as soon as we’ve requested them.

When relocating east to a less developed economy, however, you may find that these things can no longer be taken for granted. More specifically, the locals may have a diminished sense of urgency that compels them to complete tasks at a slower pace, while the amenities and the facilities that you use may fall below the standards that you expect.

And there’s nothing wrong with feeling that way.

Remember, we are creatures of habit and we only know what we know until we expand our outlook.

It’s crucial that you prepare for this before completing your move, and manage your expectations as you look to grow accustomed to your new surroundings.

This will help with the challenging transition period, while hopefully preventing you from enduring any strained or unpleasant interactions with the locals!

5.    Maintain a Strong Sense of Humor

As we’ve already said, relocating abroad can be extremely challenging both from a financial and an emotional perspective.

This sense of difficulty can be compounded further in instances when things go awry, and it’s easy for feelings of doubt and anxiety to build in a relatively short period of time.

However, a strong and omnipresent sense of humor can help with this, as it prevents you from taking yourself or the process too seriously and makes it possible to seek out positivity even during challenging periods.

The same principle applies when you first arrive abroad, as you’ll need to prepare for the fact that making social faux-pas and linguistic mistakes are part and parcel of adapting to a new culture. By laughing with others and seeing the funny side of these instances, you’ll feel empowered and ultimately transform a potentially negative cultural experience into a positive one.

Relocated

6.    Try to Understand the Host Country Perspective in any Given Scenario 

The issue of social and cultural interaction is an important consideration, as this will dictate your day-to-day experience when you first move abroad.

In order to facilitate positive experiences, you’ll need to make a concerted effort to understand the host country perspective in any given scenario. After all, you’ll be talking to individuals that are likely to have enjoyed entirely different upbringings to your own, and this will leave with an alternative view on a host of potential issues.

By comprehending these viewpoints and taking them on-board when you first engage with locals, you can participate in open and positive conversations that hopefully serve as an entry point into new and exciting relationships.

Otherwise, you’ll run the risk of clashing regularly with locals without every really understanding and allowing for your differences.

7.    Plan for a Difficult Adjustment Period of Around Six Months

While you may well know that you’re in for a challenging period of adjustment when you first move overseas, this alone is not enough to ensure that you negate this. In fact, you’ll need to plan strategically for this transition, by considering the various stages of your adjustment and expecting it to last for at least six months or so.

We’ve broken down these phases below, so you can prepare for them and develop viable coping mechanisms.

  • The Honeymoon Phase: This phase applies to any type of new experience or relationship, and it tends to inspire an innate sense of excitement and adventure. From your new home and office to the people that you meet, your mind is open to a host of exciting possibilities and far more willing to embrace change. You should definitely make the most of this phase as it unfolds, while recognizing that it cannot be sustained indefinitely. 
  • The Negotiation Phase: The second phase usually triggers a period of anxiety, as the excitement of your international adventure fades and the realities of everyday life in a foreign country take hold. Linguistic and cultural differences can take root here, creating a sense of uncertainty and alienation that is difficult to overcome. It’s important at this stage that you focus on your work and developing relationships with locals, as this will help to settle your mind and encourage a far greater work-life balance.
  • The Adjustment Phase: If you’re able to maintain your focus and overcome the issues posed by the negotiation phase, you’ll enter a more settled period of adjustment after six months or so. At this stage, your new surroundings become normal, while you’ll have learned the cultural and linguistic nuances that can prove so problematic. It’s important at this stage that you maintain the positive behaviors in terms of work and social interaction, as you must not become complacent even as you begin to settle.

8.    Look for Ways of Strengthening and Maintaining your Enthusiasm 

When attempting to cope during the formative phases of your relocation, it’s absolutely imperative that you identify viable ways of maintaining your enthusiasm.

This is particularly important from a social perspective, as there may be times where you’re alone in your new apartment and develop a tremendous sense of isolation from your fellow man.

To overcome these feelings, you’ll need a robust and fortified mindset, and one that is constantly striving to maintain a keen sense of optimism. Socialising with your new colleagues is an excellent way to achieve this, as this helps to maintain contact with the outside world while also building positive and long-standing relationships.

Joining a local meetup.com group in your new city is also a worthwhile measure, as this exposes you to new experiences and relationships while providing a crucial learning experience.

Socialising

9.    Use Home Comforts to Manage Your Transition

In order to make a successful transition to a new culture, you’ll need to commit to your new surroundings and ensure that you maintain an open mind.

However, this does mean that you cannot ease the transition period by leveraging home comforts where possible, as this can have a decidedly positive impact on your mindset during the adjustment period.

You could make sure that you access some of your favorite TV shows and box-sets online, for example, enabling you to access a slice of home whenever the mood takes you.

Similarly, try to combine an appreciation of new cuisine and dishes with some of your old dietary staples. Consuming your favorite food and drink from home can provide genuine comfort during times of transition, reminding you of your loved ones in the process.

10.Look Out for the Signs of Culture Shock

While you may well struggle with various issues when transitioning to a new culture, this is part and parcel of relocating abroad and can generally be overcome with a number of relatively simple measures.

In more serious instances, however, you may find yourself struggling with the effects of culture shock. This is a far more debilitating condition, and one that can close your mind to new experiences and ultimately force you to return home.

The symptoms or effects of culture shock are numerous, and include a sense of feeling uprooted and a sustained feeling of disorientation. These can be compounded by the sensation of being overwhelmed by the need to make significant changes, and this can cause you to become intolerant of the very culture that you seek to integrate into.

It’s important to address these effects as early as possible, before such feelings take root and completely alter your mindset. You may want to seek out professional guidance and counselling to deal with these issues, or at least share your feelings with a trusted friend or loved one.

11.Negate the Emotional Side of Relocation by Partnering with Professionals

On a final note, it’s crucial that you manage the emotional aspect of relocating internationally before you complete the move.

This is particularly true if you have a family, as younger children may be overwhelmed by the prospect of leaving their family home and leaving their friends behind.

To focus on this, you should ensure that you partner with a skilled and reputable removals firm, particularly one that has experience or organizing international moves. This will enable you to delegate the practical and logistical requirements of your move to an industry expert, so that you can spend your time attending to the needs of your loved ones.

This is an important consideration and one that can aid the transition process, while also helping you to make the most of your time.

Bio: At A1 Auto Transport, we have a wealth of experience when dealing with domestic and international locations, and can effectively manage your relocation overseas. This type of service is worth its weight in gold, particularly when moving to a brand new country and an unfamiliar culture.
* pictures are from pixabay.com

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Highlighted Articles

The Impossible “Trinity” When Teaching Abroad

March 21, 2018


It was more than ten years into my international teaching career when a colleague said to me, ’You never get all three – the school, the location and the package’.

Teaching Abroad

That was nearly two years ago, but I have returned to that idea many times since. In fact, I wonder if doesn’t explain many an international school career, my own included: are some of us looking for something which, in the end, we can’t really have?

My first international school provided a first class professional experience. Coming from an unremarkable UK comprehensive school, suddenly I had not one, but two, well-appointed classrooms for my own individual use as we taught different Secondary sections on different floors. Suddenly, no class had more than twenty students. At first, I used to sometimes catch myself wondering where ‘the others’ were. Suddenly, every student had their own personal textbook (…this was the ‘90s!). No more sharing and photocopying. The students were polite, pleasant, keen to learn – everything, in fact, that I had sometimes wished for during that last period on a Friday back in the UK.

Teaching Abroad

As if this wasn’t enough, my take-home pay doubled. Was this too good to be true? A fantasy? Would I wake up with a jolt and find it was all a dream? Well, if I did wake up with a jolt in my first few weeks it was because of the unfamiliar sound of the call to prayer echoing across a walled compound. Yes, I was in Saudi Arabia.

Like anywhere, the Kingdom has its fans and its detractors. While my classroom experience was excellent, and rekindled my enthusiasm for teaching, working in Saudi Arabia, for me, was not the problem. Rather, not working was, in that I found life outside work, while initially interesting, not for me. To go back to the idea of the ‘the school, the package and the location’, I had two out of three and, after completing my two-year contract, moved on.

Teaching Abroad

Looking for something completely different, I resolved to forget about earning and saving for a few years and just to go somewhere ‘for the experience’, adjusting my priorities. Therefore I was staggered when, in Latin America, I found myself saving nearly as much money as in Saudi and experiencing an, at times, overwhelmingly different culture, one I’m not sure I made the most of in part perhaps because of the two years that had come before. After the Kingdom, all that reckless hedonism may well have been wasted on me. Three years on, I made another move. Yes, you guessed it: once again I felt I had two out of three and made another move, adjusting my priorities once again.

It would be neat and predictable if I got two out of three again but, unfortunately for me, the next time it was only one. One more move followed, and it was two out of three again. Perhaps subconsciously influenced by the idea of ‘The Impossible Trinity’, I am into my fifth year at my current school, the one where I have been happiest. Whether the school is that much different from those that came before or whether I am, I reckon I have a creditable 2.5 right now. Is that as good as it gets? Maybe. Is there anyone who has found their perfect fit, with their school, country and remuneration all ticking the box? You tell me, I’d love to know!

Teaching Abroad

This article was submit by an ISC member. If you are interested in submitting an article as a guest author on our blog, contact us here. Once your article is submitted, you will receive one free year of premium membership to our website.

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Top 10 Lists

Top 10 Things a Recruiting Int’l Teacher is 😟 Worrying About in November

November 25, 2017


Yes, it is November and many international school teachers are already thinking about the next school year. Actually, many of these teachers started recruiting back in September or August! It is necessary to recruit this early because international schools seem to be hiring earlier and earlier every year. Additionally, the international school recruitment fairs are also requiring candidates to have already applied to attend their fairs by now; by November you are most likely too late to apply to attend one (especially the ones in Bangkok)!

So, what are the top 10 things a recruiting international school teacher is worrying about in November? Maybe you can relate to some of these!

recruiting

1. Why aren’t schools writing me back!?

You are trying to be proactive. Sure, it is advisable to contact international schools as soon as you see that they have a vacancy listed. You might even send your CV to schools that don’t even have a vacancy for you at the moment. It is really unfortunate though that many schools just don’t have the time to write everyone back in a timely manner…or at all. Though the truth might be that if the school really wanted to contact you, they would!  If they are not contacting you, it might also mean that they are simply not ready to start short-listing candidates or that you are indeed not the best fit for the position at this moment in time.

2. Should I tell my school that I am FOR SURE leaving at the end of the current school year?

International schools are not making it easy for recruiting teachers.  It appears as if many schools are requiring that their teachers tell them (if they are going to leave or sign another contract) earlier and earlier in the school year.  It makes sense though.  Admin needs to plan ahead.  The earlier international schools start recruiting, the better choice and more selective they can be when hiring for the next school year.  But officially signing the paper stating your intentions, it is something that will raise your heart beat a bit (in a good way and not so good way, depending on your present situation).

3. When will I finally secure a job?

It is so nerve-wracking to quit your job without having another job already lined up.  An international school teacher is lucky to already get a job secured in November for the next school year. Admin positions might get hired around this time, but typically not regular teachers. Many teachers don’t sign a contract for their new job until April or May, so to wait that long…it is torture!  Even if you go to an international school recruitment fair, it is not guaranteed that you will be signing a contract there either. You often need to wait another few weeks as the school wants time to interview some other candidates at the next recruitment fair. They also need time to contact and check all your references.

4. How am I going to stand out at the recruitment fair?

We’ve seen them at the fairs.  The candidates that seem to have everything in order.  They’ve thought of everything!  They have smart, professional, and personalized stationary for thank you notes. They also have extra flash drives with their portfolio presentations on them to give to the schools.  Some teachers  at the recruitment fairs have CVs with unique, eye-catching designs.  Others will have scrapbook-like binders with photos that show highlights from their teaching career; nice to have real photos of your teaching as talking points during your interview.  The truth is you do need to think about your strategy at the fair, well ahead of time, so that you are prepared to represent yourself in the best way possible.

recruiting

5. Can’t I just interview with schools on Skype and not have to attend a recruitment fair?

Attending recruitment fairs are great for networking and meeting your potential future boss in person, but they are also quite stressful and expensive. It is sometimes more ideal to just do all your interviewing over Skype.  It is cheaper for your budget and also cheaper for the schools to hire people online.  Some teachers are lucky and they get a school wanting to do a first interview with their shortlisted candidates before the recruitment fair even starts. Of those pre-screened teachers, some will get snatched up because of that pre-recruitment fair Skype interview (more and more candidates are getting hired via Skype and only Skype). Others though, will still have to go to the recruitment fair to do another in-person interview.

6. What if I don’t get another job at an international school and I need to move back to my home country?

It isn’t the end of the world to move back to your home country. But when you want to continue on in the international school community, moving back to your home country is definitely a last resort option.  Come March/April, if you haven’t secured a job, the thought does run through your mind.  Your mind runs through all the possible scenarios. Will you move back to the last place you lived in your home country and work in the same school/district as you did before?  Will you consider a different city in your home country and try to start a new life there?  Some of these scenarios do actually sound enticing to you, but your mind always goes back to the next international school that you are hoping to work at.

7. Will my top school have a vacancy for me and if they do, will the vacancy still be there by the time the recruitment fair starts?

When you see that your top school has posted a vacancy for that fits your skills, it is a time to rejoice!  Screaming out loud in your apartment is not uncommon when this happens; screams of exhilaration, relief and excitement! Once those feelings subside a bit, the realities of the situation start to set in. What if someone who is more qualified than me gets the school’s attention first? What if they end up hiring that position internally, a person already working at the school?  What if someone with a connection to the school gets referred for the position (hiring a good candidate with a connection to somebody who already works at the school is desirable!)? Maybe they will decide to fill the position with some local hire; it is usually cheaper to do that. So many scenarios and possibilities completely out of your control. When recruiting, it is truly all about luck and timing. If it was meant to be, to work at your top school in next school year, then it will happen regardless of all the time and effort you put towards applying for the position. That does not mean you do not try everything in your power though to get the school’s attention, demonstrating you are a good fit for the vacancy. Some teacher might back out a month after they sign the contract (that you were hoping to get) and you might be second in line for the position!

8. Did my current and past supervisors give me a super-positive confidential references or not-so-positive ones?

I guess that is why they are confidential, they are not for you to see or know about. Even if you have a good relationship with your boss, it is hard to know exactly how honest they will be on those confidential references that you might have to do  (if you are attending a recruitment fair for example).  The likelihood that they wrote you a positive reference is far higher than them writing a super negative one for you. When schools are not writing you back though, it is easy to start thinking about what the schools might be reading on your recruitment fair online profile. It is good to remember that most admin are supportive of their teachers, and will do all they can to help you secure your next job.

9. Kidding oneself that you are all cool, calm and collected about everything.

No one wants to be stressed-out for 3-5 months, but that is what your future holds for your when recruiting.  Inevitably, it is going to be a bumpy ride.  Be proactive about this and think of ways that you can get yourself grounded.  When in the middle of the craziness of recruiting to work at an international school, don’t forget about your health and well-being. One idea to keep yourself in the right frame of mind is to continue enjoying what your host country has to offer. It is easy to take for granted the awesome opportunity to live in your current host country when recruiting, since your main focus is currently on moving. Don’t let that distract you too much and get out to continue to enjoy what your host country has to offer.  Additionally, keep going out with your local friends that you’ve made during your time there and to get your mind off recruiting for a few hours.

10. Is there hope just around corner?

The fact is that it typically all works in the end, when recruiting. You WILL find a job. Many times, teachers do find the position at the school and in the city of their dreams. Keep your hopes and dreams alive during these recruitment months. Your positive energy will be apparent to your interviewer and the stars will align as you somehow have just the right answers to their tough questions.  Make your dream school become your reality!

recruiting

This top 10 list was submitted to us by a guest author and International School Community member.

All guest authors to our blog get one year 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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Top 10 Lists

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

July 8, 2017


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

summer

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

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

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

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

Weather

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

summer

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

Saving Money

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

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

Friends vs. Family

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

summer

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

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

Travel

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

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

Relaxation

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

summer

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

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Comment Topic Highlight

How Much Curriculum Development Work are You Expected to Do? (Atlas Rubicon, etc.)

February 27, 2017


When you work in a public school district in the USA, it is typically unlikely that you will also have to spend time specifically working on curriculum development. Unless I suppose when you are getting paid extra to do so. Usually curriculum development is handled at the district office.

curriculum

But at international schools, it is very common place to also have this task added to a teacher’s annual workload. Especially at small schools with fewer teachers, then the odds are quite high you will spend a number of hours doing curriculum development.

Who even can remember how this work was done 20 years ago, but of course now it is all done online. A popular choice amongst international schools is Rubicon Atlas. Though this service has a lot of good features and is “easy to use”, it is not always so popular and user-friendly for teachers.

curriculum

Many international schools require teachers to plan their lessons every day and then also update their units on whatever the school uses for their written curriculum. It can be a lot of work!  Each international school needs to think about what is the right balance for the teachers and who is responsible exactly for the updating of their writing curriculum.

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of curriculum development, so you can stay the most informed as possible. It is called: “How much curriculum development work are you expected to do? (Atlas Rubicon, etc.)

Our veteran international school teachers have submitted a total of 128 comments in this comment topic (March 2017).  Here are a few that have been submitted:

“Since this is a new-ish school, there is still a considerable amount of curriculum development going on. The MS/HS uses Managebac and the PS uses something similar. There is a decent amount of time allocated during the day for division and grade level planning.” – Keystone Academy (Beijing, China)14 Comments

“I have to say, there is a lot of “reinventing the wheel” when it comes to curriculum, particularly in Elementary. We are expected to create several Unit plans for Reading and Writing Workshop when we already paid for (and have in our possession) Lucy Calkins detailed Units and Plans available. In this regard, work is highly repetitive, redundant, and unnecessary. Of course, there is a need to review, modify and adapt Units and Lessons to meet the needs of your kids, but in the Elementary division, it seems reinventing the wheel is more cherished than using the proven resources we already have.” – American International School Abuja (Abuja, Nigeria)36 Comments

“The goal is to have a UbD plan for every unit of every class. Some departments are closer to achieving that goal than others, depending on the schedules of curriculum review cycles. Each department is given specific goals, and some meeting and planning time arranged (occasionally pull-out times during a school day, for which substitutes are required for your classes) to facilitate the process, but much of the work is expected to be done during teachers’ planning times.” – American International School Vienna (Vienna, Austria)38 Comments

“International teachers are expected to undertake all of the curriculum development work, and the school introduced the use of Atlas Rubicon at the back end of the 2015/2016 school year. This development is expected to tail off, however, as the authority with oversight of the NIS schools has decreed that all curricula must be uploaded by the end of the 2015/2016 school year, with the understanding that no changes will be made after that time.” – Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Astana (Astana, Kazakhstan)37 Comments

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How NOT to Save Money

How Not to Save Money #9: Finding a New, Amazing Grocery Store in Your Host City

October 17, 2016


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 at all.  So, why aren’t these international school teachers saving money?

How NOT to save money when teaching abroad #9: Finding a New, Amazing Grocery Store in Your Host City

When you move abroad, the goal isn’t to recreate your exact life and lifestyle as you had in your home country. Check out the 10 Commandments of Relocated Overseas for more information about moving abroad.

International school teachers try their best to take in the local culture and local foods; it is a part of getting acclimated to their new setting.  On the other hand, it is important to “take a break” from that goal, and get some foods that remind you of home and your home culture.  In addition, having a wide variety of food choices while living abroad is also quite important.

One challenge of buying products in grocery stores in your host city is that you might not be able to read which food product is actually in the package/box. If you are not able to read in the local language there, it might be a challenge to even figure out which food products some items are. If you don’t know what it is, most of us wouldn’t necessary buy it.  Plus, if you are not able to read and understand all the ingredients of a product, then you probably won’t buy those ones either.

how not to save money

It is hard knowing exactly where to go grocery shopping during your first year of living in a new city. You tend to just go to the ones near to where you are living. Every once and awhile you might hear from a colleague of a new grocery store you should check out. Even if the grocery stores near to you are good (if you are lucky that is), it is still good to keep your ears open to what else is available in your host city.

Even after five years of living some place, things change and change fast sometimes. You can easily get into the routine of just going to the three stores around your home and be quite content with the food options those places have. But even the same chains of grocery stores in your host city can be very different from each other depending on their location (e.g. in a rich neighborhood vs. a non-rich neighborhood).

how not to save money

Recently, my partner and I were in a different location of our host city than we usually are when we were doing some grocery shopping. We went into this grocery store thinking that it would be quite similar to the same one we go to nearer to our home. But once we started looking around, this store had so many more products than we were used to!  Completely different products, more imported products, and brandnames (local and foreign) that we were used to buying but with many more varieties.

Of course, we got that awesome excitement feeling straightaway.  It’s that feeling of finding something new (and maybe familiar as well) while living abroad and the realization that there are many more options for groceries for you in your host city.

As you might have guessed, we filled up our grocery carts with many of these new products (well new products to us)…spending more money than our usual grocery store outings. Finding new food products, especially ones geared towards to the expats in that city, can definitely do some damage on your back account!

how not to save money

Finding a bunch of new products that you didn’t know existed in your host city can be one of the best feelings while living abroad. International school teachers definitely do their best to enjoy the local grocery stores and buying the local products (which can also be awesome and delicious) they sell in those stores, but mixing those products with some other ones that remind you of home or at least of a cuisine that is familiar to your palate, is also very desirable.  Just be careful though, because it can cost you a lot of money buying all these products you think you just “must have!”

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We have a comment topic on our website related to the theme of grocery stores in your host city.  It is in the city section of the comments and information tab on the school profile pages. It is called: Locations in the city geared towards the expat lifestyle (grocery stores, bars, etc.). Here are a few examples of comments related to grocery stores:

“There are “Foreign Food Markets” in Itaewon where you can buy anything, literally ANYTHING you could find in an American grocery store. And if they don’t have it, typically they can order it for you. Of course these shops are more expensive. Local grocery stores are well stocked with a wide variety of foods. The local grocery store closest to our campus, Saruga, carries everything (slightly higher prices though) and even has a (perfectly legal) “Black Market” in the middle of it where you can buy all kinds of food imported from the US. The only things we ever buy at the Black Market stalls are things like chips or candy (for parties), and some seasonings or spices.” – Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea)83 Comments

“One grocery store that I like is called Pomme’s on Davie St. They have a lot of organic items and produce from all over the world including many items made locally.” – Vancouver International School (Greybrook Academy) (Vancouver, Canada)11 Comments

“There are a number of grocery stores in the area that have imported items from the US and UK. Lulu’s Hypermartket is great.” – Rowad Alkhaleej International School (Dammam) (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)69 Comments

“Oscar’s is a good grocery store in the area that caters to expats. You can get anything you need at the surrounding malls.” – The International School of Egypt (New Cairo City, Egypt)43 Comments

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Highlighted Articles

RoboRAVE: Today’s Play, Tomorrow’s Pay.

October 4, 2016


RoboRAVE

RoboRAVE is a growing Robotics education program to teach teachers and students how to design, build, program and test robots to perform a variety of tasks.  It is also a competition for teams of kids, ages to 8 to adults, to test their design in one or more RoboRAVE Challenges. Kids have the choice to use any hardware and software.

RoboRAVE focus on STEM education.

Here kids learn to use what they have learned in Science (mass, velocity, forces, friction etc) along with Maths (Variables, functions, formulas etc.) to develop Engineering skills (design, materials, systems) using Technology (programs, sensors, computers) in order to get the best results. Learning is fun. It is sharing of information and above all teamwork.

ROBORAVE HAS CREATED THE FOLLOWING VALUES – THAT FORMS THE FOUNDATION FOR SUCCESS”

1. COMMUNITY > COMPETITION
RoboRAVE

2. SHARING > WINNING
RoboRAVE

3. TEAMWORK > INDIVIDUALS
RoboRAVE

Kids have to build robots in order to perform tasks in a stipulated time (3 minutes). Kids need to build and use autonomous robots, so they become familiar with the mechanical parts, electronic boards and software programs.

One of the challenges is Robotovate – Entrepreneurial challenge. Here kids present their idea and develop the idea into wonderful products.

RoboRAVE

Kids compete in their own divisions in challenges like Line Following and A-Maze-ing.

1. Elementary School – 3 to 5 Grades

2. Middle School – 6-8 grades

3. High School – 9 to 12 Grades

4. Big kids – College & Above

Fire Fighting and Robotovate are open challenges. Everyone plays in One division. Robot Performance and Team Presentation performance are graded separately.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

Now for the first time, we are organizing RoboRAVE in India. This year we have Kochi, Kerala as the venue. The competition is coming up during 5th & 6th November 2016.

It is a two-day event. Kids can practice and tune their robots on actual challenge tracks on the first day. They can conduct demos and score bonus runs while the second day is the actual competition.

In order to participate this year, Schools can register online on http://www.roboraveindia.org

First they have to register their coach and then their team.

For further details and support, mail to info@roboraveindia.org

Or

Contact: Jisha Sera Joji, National Coordinator, RoboRAVE INDIA at +91 9847322999

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Highlighted Articles

Top Seven Cities to Teach English

April 29, 2016


Choosing a place to teach English can be an overwhelming feeling. With so many things to consider from salary ranges, local languages, social scene, and quality of the job; one will have to take a lot of time to filter their preferences down to a few choices. Fortunately, we took the time to compile a list of some of the top cities to Teach English.


Shanghai JO Zoho

1. Shanghai

Shanghai is the largest city in the world by population and the financial hub of China. And the teaching English opportunities are reflected in the market. There’s a surplus of jobs ranging from online, primary schools, International schools, and training centers. Shanghai has a population of around 25 million people and 1% of it is expats, being 250K people, so you’ll be able to meet plenty of foreigners in similar or different walks of life. Nightlife in Shanghai is globally recognized as one of the most vibrant and beautiful scenes. If you’re looking for a chicer look, you can head down to The Bund or if you want to bar hop, Yongkang Lu is popular with expats. Nearby cities such as Hangzhou, Suzhou or Nanjing are just train rides away. These cities provide a more historic view into China’s history as well as some time outside the big city. Shanghai is also very close to South Korea with flight times below two hours. Salaries range from $1,500 to $2,700 USD each month, with the cost of living; you’ll be able to save a large amount.

shenzhen JO Zoho

2. Shenzhen

Shenzhen is an up and coming city in China but don’t let that discourage you. Shenzhen is the 2nd largest trading hub in China behind Shanghai so there’s ton of development and expansion. With close proximity to Hong Kong and Macau, this is a traveler’s dream situation. Teaching English jobs available range from training centers to international schools, so no matter your preferences, there’s a position right for you. Shenzhen has a sub-tropical climate so the weather will be pleasant most times of the year and no sight of snow. Don’t forget you can go to any number of beaches in the city. Salaries range from $1,300 to $2,600 on average. For football (soccer) lovers, Shenzhen has two clubs:  Shenzhen F.C. and Shenzhen Renren F.C. Due to the architecture and relaxed laws, skate boarders around the world travel there.

dubai

3. Dubai

Dubai is one of the most competitive ESL markets and for good reason. Teaching English in Dubai offers top-tier packages for their teachers. Offers may include high salaries ($2,500- $5,000) monthly, paid housing, insurance and travel allowances. Dubai is in the dessert so no worries about cold weather and the landscape will be at your disposal. The outdoors will have plenty of adventures to enjoy from sand boarding, sky diving, jet skis, and boat riding. Traveling to neighboring places such as Abu Dhabi, Muscat, and Saudi Arabia will be a hop skip away.

riyadh
4. Riyadh

Jobs in Teaching jobs in Riyadh will include universities, international schools, language institutes with teaching hours averaging 25 hours each week. Riyadh as well with other Middle-eastern countries is tax-free. Salaries range from $2,500-$5,000 USD monthly. Most schools will provide housing for you in addition to your cash compensation so your saving potential rises greatly. Foreigners and other expats will generally live within designated complexes so you’ll be amongst others new to the country. Employee contracts will range between 2-3 years so you’ll have job security and ample time to save more money.

City of Seoul Korea

5. Seoul

Seoul is known for its technology community and nightlife atmosphere. Samsung is headquartered in Seoul and has a huge influence on the tech scene. Also, there’s WIFI everywhere from the metro, parks, and more. With a huge expat population there will be plenty of local and foreign people to befriend. Also, don’t forget there are daily flights to fly directly to Japan, China, and Thailand. Salary ranges average about $2,000 USD with accommodations including flight and housing allowances or reimbursement. Your choices will include public or private schools. Seoul is known for its party culture and is internationally recognized for it. The metropolitan area includes about 23 million people. Baseball is the country’s nation sport so you’ll be able to attend a game in the season and it’s a big event. K-Pop is internationally known for its musical influence not only in South Korea but also throughout eastern and southeast Asia. Make sure to attend a concert to discover what the buzz is all about. Make sure to try Korean BBQ, as it’s an international recognized cuisine. And for you ravers out there, Ultra Music Festival Korea comes to Seoul annually bringing some of the top artists in the EDM realm for a weekend of music, friends, and good vibes.

busan

6. Busan

Busan is the 2nd largest city in South Korea with a population around 3.5 million. In Busan, the outdoors will be your best friend. If you choose to teach English in Busan, you’ll have your choice of beaches to visit daily. Busan attracts tourists, expats, and travelers globally for its 6 beautiful beaches, just to name a few: Dadaepo Beach, Songdo Beach, and Gwangalli Beach. Busan also hosts the Busan International Film Festival, which is one of the most popular film festivals in Asia. Busan is the Baseball capital of South Korea and has the Sajik Baseball Stadium. Salaries average about $2,000 USD. Most schools will pay for your travel and housing so you’ll be able to save anywhere from $500/month based on your saving and traveling habits.

In addition, you can hike Geumjeong Mountain if you’re up for a challenge with a well worth view. Just like Seoul, Busan has a huge expat population so meeting people in a similar experience will be easy.

7. Taipei

Off the course of the Mainland rests Taiwan, a small island full for culture, history and teaching English opportunities. With a population of 7.8 million people, Taipei has Mainland China to its west, Japan to its east, and the Philippines to its south. Taipei has a huge expat population whether they are fellow English teachers or students studying Chinese at one of the local universities. The tropical climate and surplus of beaches easily at disposal makes every single day a vacation. Dabajian Mountain is a hiker’s favorite so give it a try. To get a breathtaking view and Instagram porn, make sure to go to the top of Taipei 101 formerly known as the Taipei World Financial Center, which was the world’s tallest building from 2004 – 2009. Taipei is the capital of Taiwan but with a thorough public transportation system, buses and trains, you’ll be able to reach all ends of the island with ease. Don’t forget about the clean air. Teaching English in Taipei usually requires 25 hours of teaching time while having an average salary of $2000 USD. Given the lost cost of living, you’ll be able to save more than $500 USD each month.

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This article was submitted by guest author Teaching Nomad. They are an American owned and operated education recruitment company based in Shanghai, China. Their goal and purpose is to help great teachers find great teaching jobs. Year round, they have hundreds of teaching job vacancies. Whether your goal is to be an ESL teacher or teach in an international school, they have a teaching job for you. You can browse jobs online here for the latest job openings. Teaching Nomad makes finding a job teaching in China easier, so please feel free to reach out and contact them with any questions or inquiries!

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Photo Contests

Top three photos for Best Beach Shot: And the winners of this photo contest are…

January 6, 2015


I’m happy to announce the winners of our Fourth Photo Contest (Best Beach Shot).

First Place: Taken at a beach in Rabat, Morocco.

“I have never seen so many people playing soccer on a beach, also with a huge cemetery in the background!”

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Congratulations, Anonymous! (This member wanted to be anonymous in the photo contest.)

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

Second Place: Taken on a beach near Hoi An, Vietnam. “My son and I rented bicycles and rode out to the beach just as a big thunderstorm was brewing offshore.”

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Congratulations Michael Kelly (an international teacher working at Qingdao Ameriasia International School, Qingdao, China!)

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

Third Place: Taken at Ras Tanura Beach in Saudi Arabia.

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Congratulations Roaa Taha (an international teacher working at Iman Academy South West, Houston, United States!

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 which will happen sometime during the next 1-2 months.

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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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Highlighted Articles

The Teacher on 2 Wheels is Still Making Her Way Home

March 30, 2014


I’m 18,000 kilometers from where I started, traveled through 24 different countries, visited 35 different schools, taken 167 hot showers, 32 cold, and gone 7 nights without any.  I’ve stayed in 103 hotels, been hosted by 90 different people and camped for 25 nights.  I’ve drank 213 coffees, been rained on 16 days, but had 154 days of sunshine and faced 56 days of grueling head wind, and changed 6 flat tires.  With all of those statistics accumulated, I still have another 14,000 kilometers to go before I reach my hometown of Eugene, Oregon next October.

P1070005For those of you who don’t cycle, just reading those statistics must seem like a painfully long journey, but for me, the time has flown by and my legs are almost just as fresh as the first day I started, if not a tad stronger.  I write a blog post almost every three days, but in reality with everything that I experience, I could do a daily post.  Regardless of the country, I find that traveling by bike I’m constantly exposed to the world.  I don’t have much intimacy on the road meaning I’m susceptible to my surroundings and traveling as a solo female, I believe I draw more attention to myself.  People feel compelled to go out of their way to interact with me and take care of me, and I welcome their kindness with open arms.

I was an open-minded person before I started pedaling home, but now I become even more so, erasing all my prejudices.  I’ve encountered incredible hospitality on the road wherever I am and never doubt once the sincerity global of human kindness.  I start pedaling in the morning and the only thing I have planned is to pedal 100 kilometers, and sometimes that doesn’t even happen.  I can never predict what my day will be like, who I will meet, and where I will end up staying.  Of course I try to plan my accommodations in advance, but even then I can encounter surprises.

I’m on my journey alone, yet never once have I felt lonely.  In SE Asia, I would stop for my mid-morning snack at a café with a few locals, and before I had my coffee in front of me there was a swarm of people around, mystified by my presence.  Communication can be one of my greatest challenges, but through hand gestures, pictures, and Google Translator, I almost always find a way to express myself.  I thoroughly enjoyed the novelty of traveling through SE Asia from November through January.  It is a very easy to explore on bike.  Although the road conditions weren’t always optimal, I had food stops almost every 5 kilometers, basic and cheap accommodation was plentiful, and the weather, although hot and humid, P1050610made for packing little gear, so I was able to lighten my load on my bike.  As in Europe, distances from town to town were short and I never felt too isolated.  That all changed when I arrived in New Zealand in February.  All of a sudden I found myself in vast and remote wilderness with limited services.  I had to prepare my daily routes, even 2 or 3 days out, carefully in order to ensure I had enough food.  Although I had seen plenty of beautiful places along my route, New Zealand was by far the most breathtaking country for scenery because 95% of my day was spent alongside the most gorgeous and pristine nature.  From crystal clear lakes and ocean, snow-capped mountains peaks, lush rain forests, and arid mountain passes, I never stopped ohhing and awwwing at the landscape.  The terrain was by far the most difficult with constant elevation change, but it was also in New Zealand where I encountered the most tour cyclist to talk with along the way.  On any given day I ran into 5 to 10 cyclists on the road!

I’ve been in Australia during the month of March, and have another 4 weeks of travel in this vast country, including a tour around Tasmania.  I’ve been well accompanied for this portion of my trip, including a visit from my parents, meeting up with former colleagues and clients I had from working as a ride leader for a bike touring company in Europe.  Their hospitality during the past month and the familiar faces have been a refreshing change.

When I visit schools, a lot of kids ask me which has been my favorite place so far on my travels, a question that is virtually impossible to answer.  There are three main highlights to tour cycling for me: the scenery, the people, and the food.  Each of these categories corresponds to a different country preference, but overall I think SE Asia, as a continent, is my first choice, again because of the contrast in their every day life routines, compared to what I’m used to.  Naturally I’ve come up with a list of places that I could see myself living after this trip, from all the different places I’ve discovered on my route. After visiting all the schools along my route, I can’t help but welcome the idea to try living and working in a different location.  Barcelona has been home to me for 10 years now and although it is a very special place for me, I am too curious about the other places I have seen to return, at least any time soon.

P1040923I’ve had a handful of school visits that have made hopping on my bike afterwards difficult.  I’ve felt so inspired and motivated after some of my visits, fascinated by the school’s curriculum and pedagogy that I was ready to stay and start teaching again.  The school visits have given me the opportunity to continue interacting with children during my year away from the classroom and exposed me to different teaching methods, both an added benefit to my trip.  At the start of my trip I talked to larger audiences of students, however, now I prefer to work with a few grade levels and tie my experience and travels into a unit of study.  For me, it is more challenging and interesting to link my real world experience to the conceptual framework of a unit and for students it makes my visit more meaningful.  However, I never fail to have a question and answer session because they always have so many wonderings.  In SE Asia, I came across a lot of school holidays, which made for fewer visits, but I did manage to contact a few local schools as well in China and Laos.  Now that I’m in English-speaking countries, I visit a lot of public schools and a few private schools.  Once I reach the United States, I look forward to hopefully visiting some bilingual schools to take advantage of my Spanish and talk with the Latino population.

If all goes as planned, I arrive to San Francisco at the end of April and although Oregon is north, I will pedal south down the coast and then into the interior.  Starting with the Grand Canyon, I intend to make my way north through the various national parks, cross the Canadian border and reach Banff.  From there I will head west to Vancouver, and finally travel south to Oregon, a loop that includes roughly 12,000 kilometers. I’m a bit apprehensive about traveling in such remote wilderness areas in North America, but as I have learned on this trip so far, it is better to trust others and give them the benefit of the doubt. So far I haven’t ever felt like I was in danger or encountered any threats.

After the last article was published in the International School Community Member Spotlight, I had several teachers contact me about visiting their schools and even a few hosted me.  Please do look at my website and if I’m going to be pedaling through your area, or the area of a colleague, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  Thank you for your continued support and encouragement.

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Surveys

Survey results are in: Which region in the world would you most NOT want to move to next?

July 14, 2013


The survey results are in, and it seems as if most visitors and members of International School Community who voted have the Middle East as the region in the world they would most NOT want to move to next.

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Well, what is so undesirable about living in the Middle East? The really hot weather basically all year round?  The vast difference in the culture in comparison to your own?  The local food is not to your liking?  It could be any number of reasons why most of our members voted that the Middle East is the place they would most not want to move to next.

Being that many people don’t want to move there may present a problem for international schools in that region.  How can the schools find quality candidates to move to their Middle Eastern country and work at their school?

One major attraction for candidates looking for a job at an international school is the salary and benefits package.  And it is widely known that many of the international schools in the Middle East (Non-profit ones and For-profit ones) offer excellent benefits with tax-free, very high salaries as well.  I guess though that disregarding how high the salaries are or how amazing the benefits package is, many international schools teachers will still turn a blind eyes to an opportunity to interview at a school in this region.

Let’s remember though that there are still many international school teachers that are interested in working in the Middle East; some might even put working in the Middle East as their number one choice.  Those who put ‘saving money’ as a top priority are likely to consider working at an international school in the Middle East.  Those who also are career-minded will find a number of ‘Tier 1’ school in that region which can even be quite competitive in which to even get an interview.

International schools in the Middle East are also known for their flexibility to hire single teachers with dependents, teaching couples with dependents, and single teachers with a non-teaching, trailing spouse. Not all international schools around the world will be able to hire these types of candidates.  Not every teacher with dependents though desires to have their children grow up in the Middle East region (i.e. they will most likely be living in compounds…which is not to everyone’s liking.).

If you are a single teacher, maybe the Middle East is also not the best place for you to move. It might be hard to find/going out on dates there.  It might be hard to meet the locals, but it also might be difficult to find other expat people to go on dates with since a high number of them might already be married.

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Luckily on International School Community, we have a City Information section in the comments and information part of each school’s profile page that discusses many aspects of the city/region for each school.  One major reason to help international school teachers know more about where they would like to move to next is the weather.  Fortunately, we have a comment topic related to weather called:

• Describe the city’s weather at different times of the year.

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Taken from the school profile page.

There have been many comments and information submitted in this topic on numerous school profiles on our website.

One International School Community member said about working at : “For six months of the year, the Eastern Province has beautiful weather – from about mid-October to mid-April, ideal for outside activity. After that, it begins to get hot and from July to September it is very hot and sometimes very humid – generally oppressive. That is when everyone is very grateful for the fact everything is air-conditioned. Fortunately, school is out for much of that time and everyone who can leaves the area. From mid-October, the temperature starts to cool off and the Arab winter can be very pleasant, even requiring a few light wool sweaters and socks at night. In years when there is a fair amount of rain, especially when it comes in December or earlier, the desert blooms and everyone with a car packs up their tents and heads out to enjoy the flowers , watch the baby camels, and view the glorious night time sky undiluted by city lights.”

Another member said about working at : “Always good except for rainy season, which changes around each year. It can last for 1-2 months.”

Another member submitted a comment about working at : “From November to April, the weather is cool (22 to 28 Celsius), with little rain and lots of sunshine! You do get occasional thunderstorms though.”

If you are currently a premium member of International School Community, please take a moment to share what you know about the weather in the different regions/cities of the world at which you have worked. You can start by logging on here.

Stay tuned for our next survey topic which is to come out in a few days time.

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Highlighted Articles

Kazakhstan Attracts Teachers Looking for Career Development

May 2, 2012


Kazakhstan may not be the obvious destination for teachers wanting to work abroad. But the Nazarbayev Intellectual School Network is offering experienced, English-speaking middle and secondary teachers a one-year contract that is proving very tempting for some.

There are NIS schools in cities throughout Kazakhstan, all of which are leading a programme of educational reform in the country led by the President of the Republic. The aim is to develop a new way of educating the future elite of Kazakhstan and the NIS Network is enlisting the skills of experienced English-speaking teachers to spearhead the progress.

Richard Evans is one of these teachers. He was a science teacher in the UK for 25 years and had been at the same school for 19 years. “Every vacation was spent traveling,” says Richard. “So combining a new job with living abroad seemed attractive.” He and his partner both accepted teaching posts with the Nazarbayev Intellectual School in Kokshetau last September and have not looked back. “It was the right job at the right time and we haven’t regretted the move,” he adds.

Richard is teaching the Kazakh curriculum in English to Grade 11 Biology and Grade 9 Chemistry students in collaboration with local teachers. This is one of the specific roles of the expatriate teachers; to mentor the local teachers, working alongside their Kazakh counterparts to support them with the teaching, planning and assessment and leading professional development sessions. Richard is also involved in curriculum design.

“The students have a positive work ethic here, allowing teachers to concentrate on teaching and to spend less time on class management,” says Richard. “Class numbers are small; for English, Mathematics and Physics the average size is 8 to 12 students. The work load is less than in the UK. We work hard and are in school from 8am to at least 5pm, but the demands of producing reams of paperwork that are rarely looked at are not as great. The pressure is less and experienced teachers are valued. The local teachers are very keen to develop their teaching skills and have been excellent, very supportive and friendly. We’ve made some very good friends.”

The new curriculum is being written in association with Cambridge University and is integrating skill development and progression. “These are exciting times with the change towards a new curriculum beginning in September this year; it’s exciting to be in a front row seat as the education undergoes a rapid development,” says Richard adding that this experience is proving  very good for his career development.

As for living in Kazakhstan, Richard and his partner say life is good. “Once you are accepted, the local community is very welcoming. Kazakhs love celebration and love to dance and there are regular concerts here of all types. The larger cities have thriving expat communities. There are many clothes and shoe shops, decent restaurants and bars, local live sport to watch such as ice hockey and football, and a number of pools and gyms. Our apartment is very comfortable and warm and within ten minutes’ walk of the school. Everywhere is very safe; there is little crime.”

As for the financial rewards, “many things are cheaper here and disposable income for a foreign teacher here is higher than in the UK. Income tax is 10%,” says Richard who is renewing his contract for a second year. “After 8 months here, we feel totally committed to supporting the hard working students in achieving their ambitions and helping them to get into the university of their choice. Kazakhstan is a fabulous country in which to live and work.”

There are currently many opportunities for experienced teachers interested in working at the Nazarbayev Intellectual School in the capital city of Astana and at other NIS schools in the cities of Semey, Kokshetau, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Taldykorgan and Uralsk starting in August 2012. Contracts are for one year with option to renew. If you are an English speaking, fully qualified, experienced teacher and would be interested in this unique opportunity, contact Amy Bardsley at TIC Recruitment at amy@ticrectruitment.com or visit www.findteachingjobsoverseas.co.uk

There are currently 10 international schools listed in Kazakhstan on International School Community.  The following have had comments and information submitted on their profile pages:

QSI Almaty International School (4 Comments)
Haileybury Almaty (31 Comments)
International School of Almaty (6 Comments)
Miras International School (Astana) (10 Comments)
QSI International School of Astana (6 Comments)
Nazarbayev Intellectual school of Astana (11 Comments)

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Ten Commandments of Relocating Overseas

TEN COMMANDMENTS OF RELOCATING OVERSEAS: #10 – Do not allow negative comments and attitudes to darken your outlook.

April 3, 2012


TEN COMMANDMENTS OF RELOCATING OVERSEAS

10. Surround yourself with positive people. Do not allow negative comments and attitudes to darken your outlook.

It is hard to stay positive, but when culture shock is at its worst, it is very easy to slip.  Sure the other new teachers at your school (and the veteran ones) have a lot to say to you about the host country and culture, but you just might find yourself joining in with them. Commence the inevitable negative thought process!

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” – Helen Keller

It is hard to know exactly about the meaning behind those negative comments from your coworkers (or from yourself).  Are they saying those things because that is just what you do and say when you are an expat, even if it is said like it is only a joke?  On the other hand, people say things as a joke under stressful times and there is usually much truth behind their negative comment.

Some things are small and people are easily quick to be negative about it.

“Why do I have a pay this media tax? I never had to pay this in any of the other countries I’ve lived in.  I don’t even have a TV.  I refused to pay this stupid fee!”

“Seriously the internet in this country is so slow. You can’t even access Facebook and Youtube here.  Now I have to pay for a VPN service, which usually makes my internet connect even slower!”

“Nothing is open around here.  Good luck finding a store open after 18h here.”

“Arg! It is so dirty here.  I open the windows to my apartment and one hour later the floors are covered in a thin layer of dust.  I can’t want to move back to a country that is cleaner!”

There are many more things to talk negatively about when living in another country.  We forgot too, under the influence of culture shock, that there are many negative aspects to living in our home country as well (e.g. getting a cable service repair person to come to your home to fix your internet or cable).  People complain and obsess about negative aspects of their lives in their home countries too.  But some might say that is your country so maybe you are “allowed” to say negative things every once and awhile about your own culture and way of doing things.  Is it different or the same then when living abroad?  When you are in a host country, the country is your “host.”  Certainly, we all would agree that you should try and be gracious to your host.