Traveling Around

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

September 30, 2014


Traveling Around: Paris, France

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Can you relate?

• Forgetting to print some tickets and stopping by at a hotel that wasn’t ours to get them printed.  The hotel printed the papers for free, but we decided to give them 5 EUR for helping us anyway.
• Going to see Versailles and being slightly let down by how crowded the interior was, which detracted from the beauty of the place.  And then realizing that the outside park was actually free (I think it was free).
• Seeing a man at Versailles trying to get out of one of the rowing boats that you could rent and falling straight into the pond water. Embarrassing!
• Walking into a group of ballroom dancers dancing out in a public area. These people were serious!
• Checking out a super posh mall and realizing that there are so many people richer than me! It has a super beautiful ceiling and had an awesome terrace that was free and had great views of the city.
• Finding a new neighborhood to explore and being pleasantly surprised on how cool it was. Finding a hole-in-the-wall restaurant to eat at that was delicious!  No way did I think the food was going to be good there.
• Eating crepes for the first time (in France/Paris) and being slightly disappointed. I guess I chose the wrong place to try one out.
• Going to the Louvre once again, but just walking around the pyramid part and not going inside. Never seems to be a good time to visit the actual museum when you are only in Paris on a short holiday.
• Walking along the Seine and enjoying every minute of it. How beautiful is it to walk along this river?  Every part of it is so nice, perfect places to sit down and just enjoy the surroundings and view.
• Sitting down at a cafe near to a river (not thinking it was really anywhere special), ordering a beer, having a good chat, and then realizing that the beers cost 9 EUR each!  I guess they were more expensive depending on where you were sitting!
• Getting drunk after only one (big) glass of beer and then going drunk grocery shopping in a Paris grocery store. Good times!
• Loving the walking from anywhere in Paris and getting closer and closer to the Eiffel Tower.  It is so cool seeing glimpses of the tower peeking out from behind some buildings, like it is calling you to get nearer to it.
• Using different review websites to find new restaurants to eat at each day, having fun exploring all different parts of the city and being pleasantly surprised at the restaurants that were truly worth the journey to get there.
• Being overwhelmed by the crazy high number of tourists everywhere. So many Americans there, but also there appeared to be people from every other country possible as well.
• Experiencing one of the best meals ever eaten at a restaurant. Paris has so many good restaurants with amazingly tasty food!
• Realizing once again how cool the Paris metro system is. Such great design and art everywhere.
• Going to see Roland Garros for the third time in my life and loving every minute of it! This time my friend and I actually got some pictures with some of the tennis players.
• Meeting up with an international school teacher friend who I used to work with a few years ago, at an international school we both don’t work at anymore.

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Currently we have 5 international schools listed in Paris, France on International School Community.  Here are a few of the them that have had comments submitted on them:

American School of Paris (16 Comments)
• British School of Paris (7 Comments)
• International School of Paris (17 Comments)

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

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Highlighted Articles

11 International Schools that are Close to Nature

October 25, 2021


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thailand

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

United Arab Emirates

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

Malaysia

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

Germany

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

Costa Rica

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

France

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

Norway

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

Ukraine

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

Japan

“There are so many temples/shrines to see here. Many of them are going up the nearby mountainside. There is such beautiful nature there with amazing trees everywhere. In the spring, it is awesome and in the fall it can be very gorgeous.” – Kyoto International School (65 total comments)

Oman

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

Colombia

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

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Top 10 Lists

11 International Schools that have Hardworking Teachers and Students

January 31, 2021


Schools thrive when there are hardworking students in them.

It is a dream to have students at your school that are hardworking and who focus on their learning when they come to school.

But do all international schools have hardworking students?

Most likely not. There are over 10000 international schools throughout the world, so there are bound to be some differences.

There are some international schools that have very privileged students in them, and they often don’t prioritize completing their classwork or even on their learning in general.

Can having effective teachers play a factor in achieving a high level of hardworking students in the school? Surely that is important as well. If the teachers are disengaged, then that is often demotivating for the students.

But, of course, there are many international schools that have amazingly hardworking students. These students are focused on their learning and are typically supported by their involved parents. The schools probably also have top-notch teachers and an engaging way of teaching their curriculum.

So which international schools then have these hardworking students?

Luckily, ISC was designed to help international school teachers find the information they are looking for. Using the Comment Search feature (premium membership needed), we found 36 comments that had the keyword “hardworking” in them. Here are 11 of them:

China

“Kids are hardworking in general. Mostly well behaved and friendly, especially welcoming to new students.” – Western International School of Shanghai (481 total comments)

Zanzibar

“Positive, hardworking, driven, and respectful of adults.” – International School of Zanzibar (57 total comments)

Thailand

“The kids are wonderful. Adorable, very loving and inclusive. Mainly hardworking and keen to learn. We have a couple of challenged learners but our counsellor is fantastic at supporting their teachers and indeed the whole community in understanding their challenges.” – KIS International School (Bangkok) (355 total comments)

South Korea

“The school really is a great place to grow as a professional. There are many opportunities to develop new skills just by learning from other colleagues. The biggest comparison would be the student body – students at SFS are motivated, hardworking, involved, and love learning! It is a dream!” – Seoul Foreign School (176 total comments)

United Arab Emirates

“Respectful, conscientious, hardworking, courteous.” – American School of Dubai (167 total comments)

Myanmar

“The students are wonderful to work with. They are respectful, kind, hardworking, and smart.” – Yangon International School (81 total comments)

India

“Some stay for the great education for their own kids, and the opportunity to impact upon other students who by and large are hardworking and cooperative.” – Hebron School (35 total comments)

Tanzania

“The staff is great. There’s a good sense of communities. Students are generally well-behaved and hardworking. Parents are supportive.” – International School of Tanganyika (171 total comments)

China

“The students are hardly ever disciplined at the school, but thankfully that is not an issue most of the time as the students are very well behaved and hardworking by default.” – Beijing National Day School (81 total comments)

Uruguay

“My students were fantastic! Hardworking and well behaved. I loved every minute of my time at the school.” – Uruguayan American School (32 total comments)

Philippines

“Happy, hardworking, driven, excited about learning.” – International School Manila (96 total comments)

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Information for Members

11 International Schools that have Relaxing Environments

May 31, 2020


Who doesn’t want to work in a relaxed environment at their work? Then after you leave work, you enter into a very relaxed local city environment and home. Sounds pretty nice, right?

However, the world of international schools and the cities they are situated in aren’t always so relaxing! On the other hand, it is important to note that there are indeed a number of schools that are!

Work-related stress can really take a toll on one’s wellbeing, so it is good to keep healthy and give yourself breaks and time to reflect. Talking about your worries and concerns also helps to keep you calm and focused. Meanwhile, it is nice when there are opportunities to do that at your school and you have supportive colleagues that are good listeners and in good spirits themselves.

If your host city is chaotic, that can take a toll on your wellbeing as well. Pollution and lack of nature around may give you less opportunities to recharge yourself and enjoy a well-deserved and relaxing break.

International schools can do a number of things to create a more laid-back environment for its staff. Some schools have a massage therapist come and do appointments on campus once every 2 weeks or so. Other schools allow more autonomy to their teachers in how they want to organize their workday and teach in their classes without being micromanaged. And the list of possible actions goes on…

Cities can and should also make choices that make their neighbourhoods more relaxed. Expanding the urban greenery, working on noise reduction, protecting the water and buildings, and inspiring public recreational facilities are only some of them.

So who are the international schools that have created a more relaxed working environment? And which local cities around the world have relaxing environment to live in?

Luckily, ISC was designed to help international school teachers find the information they are looking for. Using the Comment Search feature (premium membership needed), we found 45 comments that had the keyword “Relaxed” in them. Here are 11 of them:

Thailand

“The school is quite far from the center of Chiang Mai but it is possible to find nice places to eat and plenty of local shops and markets a short car or scooter ride away. The plus side is that you have total peace and are surrounded by lush green making it a wonderfully relaxed place to live and explore. Staff are given apartments on the school grounds with the option to live off campus for those who wish it.” – Prem Tinsulanonda International School (41 total comments)

Guinea

“The school is developing and needs innovative and creative thinkers to solve the issues that developed due to the location and lack of resources in the region. Those looking for an adventure and willing to sacrifice the comforts of schools in more developed countries can enjoy relaxed work, a family like setting if the right personalities are in place.” – American International School of Conakry (47 total comments)

Malaysia

“Teaching staff are given leeway to be the professionals in the classroom. Therefore, there is a relaxed, yet committed staff. Administration promotes and values the balance between professional and personal needs.” – Mont’Kiara International School (84 total comments)

Germany

“It’s a true non-profit school. Board is not breathing down your neck. In some ways, it’s quite relaxed (no one is inspecting your lessons, usually.) In others ways, there’s unnecessary stress (poor communication, some teaching loads piled too high.)” – Berlin Brandenburg International School (81 total comments)

Girls in Japan

Costa Rica

“The culture of UWCCR is much more relaxed and informal then in most other schools. Everyone is addressed by their given name and there is no dress code for students or teachers. Since it is a community there is a more egalitarian atmosphere.” – United World College of Costa Rica (108 total comments)

France

“The school provides a lot of flexibility for students and teachers in terms of the day-to-day schedule. There is a relaxed atmosphere at many points in the year.” – American School of Paris (51 total comments)

Norway

“We are a small team, we get on really well and are very supportive of each other. If you came here thinking that this is a wealthy school with amazing resources, you would be disappointed. If you come here thinking that this is a friendly, relaxed place where teachers and students really grow, then you would be happy!” – Norlights International School Oslo (114 total comments)

Ukraine

“It is a pretty relaxed city and low costs make eating out very easy. As stated below, the architecture is amazing!” – Pechersk School International (162 total comments)

Indonesia

“There is a Christmas tea hosted for the staff on campus where all the expat and Indonesian staff from all grade levels get an opportunity to spend some relaxed moments together.” – Gandhi Memorial Intercontinental School (203 total comments)

Indonesia

“People stay because it is relaxed, easy, and relatively safe. People leave because of the extra 9% taxes that kick in the 2nd year that are not offset and that you are not told about in the interview. People also leave because of the culture of the parents, not being able to grow, and not having a lot to do when not working.” – American School of Asuncion (145 total comments)

Cambodia

“People are leaving to pursue international teaching careers. People are staying because they enjoy the relaxed lifestyle.” – Ican British International School (74 total comments)

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Highlighted Articles

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

February 9, 2020


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

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

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

International School of Tianjin

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

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

American International School in Shanghai, China

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

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

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

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

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

An International School in Ho Chi Minh City

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

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

United World College Changshu China

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Comment Topic Highlight

What is the dream Professional Development model at an international school?

October 4, 2019


We are lucky working at international schools. In comparison with working at public schools in some of our home countries (USA, for example), we are typically getting more opportunities to go on our own professional development adventures, and very interesting and unique ones!

But it all depends on the international school you are working at, of course. Some international schools offer a fair amount of money to each teacher as a personal professional benefit for them. Other international schools don’t have a PD budget at all for teachers to access, and barely offer any in-house PD sessions for their staff.

Some teachers new to international schools can be in for a bit of a shock when your principal/coordinator offers to send you to Kenya or Malta for a required training that the school needs to have you complete (let’s say if your school was located in Eastern Europe). Can this be really true?

On the flip side, other international schools will offer that same or similar training to you in-house. Is one better than the other? Well, it is not so exciting to just stay at your current workplace to get that training. Although there might be some benefit to working with more of your current colleagues and possibly even will some teachers from nearby schools that have sent them to your school to get that training as well.

The debate is (or has it been decided now?) what is the best way to train their teachers and for the teachers to get the best professional development?

Some people say that ongoing professional development is the most effective, and one-off PD sessions and workshops are not the most effective.

But getting PD is not all about improving your teaching skills and learning better teaching strategies. It is also about networking. Getting to know teachers that have a similar role to you in a similar setting even can really be some of the best PD experiences. It is more what is happening in between sessions that can be quite inspiring and thought-provoking.

Not all PD needs to cost an amazing amount of money either. If you find a school that is doing something you are interested in at the moment, but doing it at a higher level than your current school, it can be some of the best PD to just go and do a planned/structured visit to that school. You might even find out about this school through some networking you may have done at a conference you once attended.

But it all comes down to money, really. Some international schools have a lot of it, and share it out as much as they can to support and train their teachers. Other international schools (and not just for-profit schools) would rather not spend that much money on PD for their teachers and ‘save’ it for other things.

If there isn’t a specific PD allowance benefit for each teacher and you need to apply to receive an allowance, then there are bound to be feelings of inequality. Some teachers will surely be getting their PD requests accepted more than other teachers, and that might be the sense people are having throughout the school (causing low staff morale for some). Maybe some favoritism comes into place, whether that is actually happening or not. One clear benefit of doing PD in this manner is that the school most likely will be spending less money.

If a school willing to let their teachers follow their own paths of learning, will the school only allow their teachers to get trained in things the school wants them to do, or will the school just shut off all opportunities for their teachers and make it basically impossible or really undesirable to even ask for some financial support in getting a PD experience?

Many teachers might agree that the dream school situation is that there would be a specific PD benefit in the teacher’s contract. It is their money to use for their own professional hopes and dreams as a teacher. It is likely that the teacher’s current school and students will benefit from that teacher’s PD experience, but even if it doesn’t directly have that effect, it will help that person grow as a teacher; and probably that teacher’s future school work places will benefit.

On ISC we have a comment topic related to this topic in the Benefits Information section on the school profile pages. It is called: “Professional development allowance details.” There have been 512 comments submitted in this comment topic on 100s of international schools from around the world. Here are just a few of them:

“Very good PD, in my opinion. At least one pertinent course per year (usually with IB). However, it is currently required that these be in-country.” – Qatar Academy (Sidra)

“Over the course of the academic year, the school funds a select number of teachers to attend Professional Development seminars by the International Baccalaureate.” – Aga Khan Academy Mombasa

“Teachers are not given a PD fund. If there is a PD that a teacher is interested in, he/she will have to apply for it at least a month ahead and wait for approval. Out of the 5 teachers that I know who applied for PD fund, only 1 was approved.” – SMIC Private School

“Great PD allowance. I believe it’s about $1200/year. As well, admin will help teachers find and enroll in opportunities nearby and a bit further out. I’d say it’s excellent.” – Shekou International School

How is the PD benefit at your international school? Please login to our website and share what you know!

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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight #40: Amber Acosta (A teacher at the American International School in Egypt)

August 28, 2019


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

Tell us about your background.  Where are you from?

Hi! My name is Amber Acosta. I grew up in Connecticut, but when I am back in the United States, I call Vermont home. I have a bachelors degree in business from Fordham University and a masters degree in teaching from Sacred Heart University. I have taught grade 2 for the past 5 years at the American International School in Egypt (West Campus) and am excited to start a new position this year teaching lower elementary technology, using my certification as an Educational Media Specialist. My professional interests outside of technology are STEM education, library, and makerspaces. I recently became certified in STEM and am looking forward to using my skills this year, as well as creating a makerspace at my school. I have a husband and an 11 year old son. My husband is a teacher, too. He teaches economics and business at the same school.

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

I did not really plan to teach internationally – I fell into it and ended up loving it! I taught in Egypt for one year after college before starting my masters, but did not necessarily intend to come back. However, my husband and I decided to move to Egypt (where he is originally from) in 2011. I contacted a previous administrator and found they had an opening for me at their school. The rest is history! I knew I would continue to teach internationally after that, especially after my husband joined me in teaching as well.

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 Global Paradigm International School and American International School of Egypt (West Campus), both in Cairo. Global Paradigm was in its second year when I joined, so there was a lot of room for me to be a part of the accreditation process and really help build the foundations of the curriculum. I enjoyed the challenge! Also, we had small class sizes and I loved feeling like my students and I were a little family. At the American International School of Egypt, we have a large student body and staff. I have really benefited from meeting so many teachers from around the world and learning from them through discussion and observation. Another great thing about AIS is that we not only have professional development in our staff meetings, but also have the chance through our stipends to take classes or attend professional development anywhere we wish. I have had the chance to grow so much in my time at AIS, as well as have fun! Our Seuss-themed Literacy Week is a blast for both students and teachers. Also, it is fantastic to take my students every year to the pyramids- where else can you do that?

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

My son has grown up with both Egyptian and American cultures and we also travel internationally for many of our vacations. He has developed such a broad perspective of the world and a curiosity about different cultures. I think one of the best cultural encounters anywhere is always trying the food in a new country!

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

My husband and I would absolutely love to teach in and explore a new country in the near future, so we have been thinking about this recently. It is very important to me that the school is progressive, has opportunities for professional development, and values teacher-input into curriculum. I would also like for there to be emphasis on project-based and real-world learning. My husband and I started and currently run the school gardening program, in which students grow, pack, and sell produce, so we would love to work somewhere that we could still be involved in gardening or eco-initiatives. 

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

Teaching around the world – awesome!

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Thanks, Amber Acosta!

If you are a member of International School Community and would like to be our next member spotlight, contact us here.  If we choose to highlight you, you will receive one year free of premium access to our website!

Interested in comparing the schools and comments in Egypt. Check out our blog post here.

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Comment Topic Highlight

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

September 20, 2018


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

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

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

A number of international schools are having their staff work with the Managebac program. There are 57+ comments related to Managebac on our website.

It’s also fairly certain that your school is now or will very soon be going through an accreditation. ISC has 347+ total comments related to school accreditation on 247 international schools at the moment.

With regards to curriculum, it appears that a number of schools are doing training with the Common Core curriculum. There are 24 comments that are about the different schools taking on this in recent years.

There are also 25 comments on IB training.  117 comments on different workshops going on in 90+ international schools.

And the list goes on…

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

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of new things added at a school. Our members can share what current international schools are doing in this topic. There are a total of 567 comments (Sept. 2018) that have been submitted by our veteran international school teachers in one of the 65 comment topics called – “Recent things that the school has taken on (i.e. new curriculum, specific professional development, etc.).”

Here are a few of those submitted comments:

“The use of Kagan cooperative structures is the focus for this year. The entire faculty had 2 days of training before the commencement of the school year with another session upcoming later in the year. The goal being student engagement. Most of the faculty have been receptive and are already using the structures in their classrooms…” – Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea)147 Total Comments

“The school just finished a multi-year curriculum initiative designed to put the entire Pre-K through 12th grade curriculum documents onto Rubicon Atlas. The school seems to focus most on literacy in the Lower School, innovation and design in the Middle School, and IB/AP in the Upper School. School-wide, there is a focus on Differentiated Instruction, but this takes different forms in different divisions. There is a new Head of School coming in for the 2018-2019 school year…” – American School of Paris (Paris, France)47 Comments

“The administration said they care more about kids learning English and Maths rather than any other subjects. What makes the school unique, seems independent of what they are pursuing; bring more local students no matter what their academic level is…” – Changchun American International School (Changchun, China)122 Total Comments

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“Professional development this year has included IBDP two-day Category 3 in-school workshops on the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge. All staff also completed a Stewards of Children online course and a one-day first aid and CPR course…” – Tsukuba International School (Tsukuba, Japan)25 Comments

“The school has offered, over the past two years, very little in terms of professional development. There has been talk of a curriculum change to the Cambridge Primary Curriculum for September 2018…” – Cambridge School Doha (Doha, Qatar)57 Comments

“The school is just setting up a Professional Learning Centre to improve instruction and practice at the school first. The school has designated professional learning time on Friday afternoons and encourages professional development…” –  YK Pao School (Shanghai, China)38 Comments

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Highlighted Articles

Facing and Learning From Our International School Contradictions

August 15, 2018


I learned about International Schools in the early 1980’s. A Principal whom worked with in the States mentioned he had just returned from two years of teaching in Jedda. He explained International Schools to me and I thought, “Are you kidding?” I tucked the information away in my ‘mental pocket’.

About ten years later, I was working with a successful juggling, magic and music ‘Medicine Show’. I had created this show with a partner and it became quite successful. Nonetheless, I was feeling ‘stale’ in my work and in fact, in my life and felt the need to be challenged and indeed, ‘confused’. I decided to travel… to India. I remembered that Principal and thought that it would a good idea to get short-term work at an International School to help pay for a trip or to simply get a tax write-off. I sent letters to every International School in India. I was invited to come to Kodaikanal International School in Tamil Nadu.

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It was, by then, the mid to late ’80’s, a time before the Indian economy had opened to global trade. My arrival at the airport startled me, filled with both confusion and a complex smell of multiple ingredients. My bus trip from the airport left me far from my eventual destination of Colaba, the old Victorian section near the original Taj. It was around 2am. I walked towards my destination. The streets were filled with sleeping people. I walked filled with the alert caution I cultivated from growing up in New York City. In spite of anticipating potential ‘trouble’ I couldn’t ignore the fact that the vibe was actually quite tranquil and not in the least confrontational. My shoulders relaxed, my gait slowed and I realized I had just received the first lesson of my journey, never judge what you see, from what you’ve seen.

That has been one of the many gifts I’ve received from 35 years of visits to International Schools in over 65 countries. There have been others…stories of the world’s endless diversity, opportunities to work with intelligent and dedicated people, the chance to see how an education blessed with abundant resources, time, space and adventures effects students and their teachers. While working, I have always tried to carve out time to travel… a few days here and there, a dip into Lake Malawi, Christmas time in Ethiopia’s Lalibela, hiking the Steppes of Mongolia driving the mountain roads around the ‘Grand Canyon’ of Oman and simply being a flaneur in the streets of Paris, Rome, Sofia, Gothenburg, Lima, etc.

I’ve been lucky with what I’ve been able to see and learn. I purposely placed myself in circumstances previously unexplored by me and where I had to trust my instincts and the world I was temporarily immersed in. The results has been one gift after another; the experience and appreciation of the essential goodness and abundance of the planet; its physical beauty and its diverse inhabitants.

However, I can’t deny that part of working with the International School community is also a discomfort that comes from an awareness that the world that supports International Schools is often one supported by economic inequality and resource and human exploitation. Working in International Schools helps all of us understand that we, the privileged, walk ‘roads’ around the world occupied by a very small percentage of the Earth’s inhabitants. It can feel like a contradiction when we teach about the importance of supporting our planet’s social and ecological diversity while realizing that the system that supports our profession often consciously or inadvertently contributes to the very things we are trying to erase; inequality and unsustainable use of resources.

How do we resolve this? We probably never fully do. I probably haven’t, but being part of International School Community has convinced me that the education we share must now move towards one that is not oblivious to these contradictions. Nor, in my opinion, should we assuage our discomfort through charity or a sense of ‘noblesse oblige’; an attitude that leads to ‘top down’ benevolence. The true nature of our engagement with the world must begin with the idea that ‘We are all in it together’ Only when we understand that our fates and the fates of those who are much less economically privileged than us and who so often provide the food and services that privileges us, are the same.

In this ‘next era’ of International School education, we know that colonialism is not the system that should define our engagement with the world. We understand that ‘charity’ no longer is enough or even smart. Our engagement with the worlds of our ‘host’ countries, must be based on respecting the intelligence and often unacknowledged ways these countries have traditionally negotiated complex problems of social and ecological diversity and limited resources. In the International School Community, we must now see ourselves as partners with our host countries and not as overlords; partners in the struggle for a sustainable and more egalitarian world.

I have learned first hand that this understanding is not the one that has been dominant. One year, I was brought to a school in India to work with non-violence issues. Next to the school was a settlement of poor folk living in crowded and incredibly trying circumstances. I wondered how they get along with each other in these trying situations, so I suggested going into this community and finding out how they dealt with conflict. Previously, the only contact the school had with this community was a charity based, where the children of the community were invited in to do art, receive food and to play with the children in the International School. The leadership of the school nixed the kind of exploration I proposed.

A shift in this perspective to one of mutual learning will point us to creating a shared practice with those who are our neighbors and colleagues; a shift that will allow us to learn from those who have lived in our ‘adopted’ countries much longer than we have. Their practices, often part of our host countries historical agricultural techniques, their water use policies, waste disposal and construction methods, are things we can learn from. Living within limits are often part of many people’s cultural heritage, philosophy and behavior. To learn from and participate with others in taking care of all of our environment and population leads to an investigation of how the industrialized world sometimes promotes practices with the opposite effect. Understanding and learning about locally based wisdom can be a big step in moving our relationship with our host countries to one of equality and sharing and an understanding that inequality, exploitation and the imposed destruction of the ‘locally grown’ aren’t smart for anybody. The result of not taking advantage of learning about local wisdom can result in everyone being vulnerable to its effect.

This kind of education, one that understands that everyone teaches and everyone learns, can help to resolve the discomfort we feel living and working in worlds seemingly isolated from the problems of the multitude of people who live outside our gates. International Schools can be part of a vanguard movement in International Education that learns as well as it teaches, shares as well as takes and helps the planet moves forward to an acknowledgment of the fragility of our Earth and how our ‘boat’ is ultimately shared by all…a good way to educate for the future, I think.

This article was submitted to us by guest author, Marc Levitt. Marc Levitt is a filmmaker (Stories in Stone, Woven in Time and the ‘in process, Triple Decker, A New England Love Story), author (Putting Everyday Life on the Page, Changing Curriculum Through Stories, A Holistic Approach to Culture Change), storyteller, radio host (www.ActionSpeaksRadio.com) and has been working in the International School Community as a Key Note speaker, workshop leader and storyteller for over 35 years. He is currently the ‘Scholar in Resident’ in a working class community’s school system in Rhode Island, USA. Marc can be reached at www.MarcLevitt.org or MarcJoelLevitt@gmail.com

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Top 10 Lists

8 Reasons International Hires Get Nervous When Turning Into a Local Hire

May 22, 2016


Oh, the bountiful benefits that foreign-hired teachers get!  You are treated like royalty in comparison to teachers that get hired locally. But these “royal” benefits often don’t last forever.  International schools across the globe have policies in place that say once you past a certain number of years working there (e.g. let’s say five years is the average), your foreign-hired benefits are over.

Now there is no need to worry if you leave before this change happens. But if you like the school and the city/country you are living in, you might find yourself getting nervous about this transition into locally hired status.

Eight Reasons International Hires Get Nervous When Turning Into a Local Hire

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1. Good-bye to your annual or biennial flight benefit
The best part of going back home for a visit is not paying for that flight! Some schools just give you a set amount, others will buy your flight for you (in economy class, of course). Either way, you are not paying what could be upwards of EUR 1500 just to get back to your homeland every year. But the longer you stay in your host country, the more likely the school you are working at might think that your current country is your new home. If that is the belief, then that might be the reason international schools eventually take away this benefit.

2. No more extra payment each month that foreign-hires get
Some international schools give an extra payment to all foreign-hired staff each month. It is meant to be a marketing tool that schools use to attract quality foreign-hired teachers. You can get very used to receiving this extra payment in your salary each month. This extra money can be used as your rent money or your travel money. If you are clever, you will use this extra payment and put it into some type of investment (see Top 10 Tips to Build a Solid Retirement). After some time though, say goodbye to seeing this extra payment in your monthly pay-slip.

3. Now you need to move out of school housing and start paying your own rent
It is not always ideal to be living in school housing, but it is definitely ideal when your school is paying for your rent and part or all of your utilities. But as you gain more seniority at your school, the more and more new teachers arrive. Some schools will limit the number of years you can receive their housing allowance benefits (e.g. the new teachers require your school housing unit). As you near to the end of this wonderful benefit, it’s best to make a plan to if you are to continue renting somewhere else or maybe even buy some local property.

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4. Leaving benefits go away or are diminished
It is nice to know that when you ultimately leave a school that they will help you with moving some of your things and buy your flight back to your home country. Locally hired staff often don’t get this benefit when they finally decide to move on, maybe to another international school for example. At some international schools, if you give enough notice before you decide to leave, they will let you continue to receive the leaving benefits. But at others, you will be on your own when you finally decide to leave after you become a local hire.

5. You slowly turn into the locally hired teachers that you maybe scoffed at when you first arrived
You probably said to yourself, I’ll never be like them. Foreign-hired teachers often get too comfortable in their status as foreign-hired and think they’re on the top of the world.  They look at locally hired teachers and think “why would anyone ever want to be locally hired!?” Meaning that if you are locally hired, you don’t get all those extra benefits. But after some time, foreign-hired teachers slowly are turning into one of them. It is not all that bad being on a local contract, and many, if not all, teachers will survive that transition.

6. You start to take part in some low staff morale thoughts
When you are losing some benefits, even though you have put in years and years of effort to do the best at your job, it doesn’t feel good inside. It is confusing to be losing money as you gain seniority at your school, a bit disheartening. Your professionalism will be tested during this transition, but typically it won’t be that damaging. Nice though to talk with other teachers at your school that have recently gone through that same transition into locally hired status to get their advice.  The loss in benefits might not be as dramatic as you are obsessing about.

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7. Am I going to stay here forever (like 30+ years)!?
You never know when you will move on to another international school. Many SISTs (see Top 10 Character Traits of a Seasoned International School Teachers) will changes schools every 2-5 years. Once you get to six years of working at a school, you are definitely turning into more of a local hire. Other teachers with locally hired status at your school have been there maybe 10, 20, or even 30+ years!  It can be a bit nerve-wracking to think that you will never work at another international school in the world. There are so many countries to live in and schools to work at!

8. Will I have to pay full tuition to have my children attend my school?
One of the best benefits for teachers with children is that you typically don’t have to pay for tuition (if your want your children to attend the international school you are currently working at). Often this benefit is that the school will pay for 90-100% of your children’s tuition. At some international schools, tuition costs parents and companies 10s of 1000s of EUR a year. Locally hired teachers don’t regularly receive this same benefit for their children. They might receive a reduced rate of 50% if they are lucky, but many do not receive any financial support for their children’s tuition.

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Of course, many say that international schools should just give equal benefits and equal pay for all teachers at their school, regardless of whether they were foreign hired or not. It doesn’t create the best school climate anyway. But this concern of wanting to save money wherever possible, the “tradition” of having this disparity will continue in many international schools all over the world.

This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author and International School Community member. If you would like to submit an article as a guest author, email us here. All guest authors receive six months of premium membership to our website!

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Surveys

New Survey: How does your international school compare to other schools in your city?

May 11, 2016


A new survey has arrived!

Topic:  How does your international school compare to other schools in your city?

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Once you move to a city to work at your new international school, you find out pretty soon how your school compares to the other ones in the same city. Who knows how that happens, but it does.

The teachers at the schools labeled the worst feel embarrassed to even bring up their international school in conversation with other international school educators in the area or even throughout the world. In comparison, the teachers at the school labelled the “top” school in the city can have their heads held up high.

So then the question is what makes a school get the top or the worst ranking in the city? At International School Community, we like to think that all schools have something cool about them that makes them unique; which in turn makes them have a great learning environment for their kids.

See our blog article called “What Makes Your International School Unique?” for a look at this topic and also some related comments about a number of international schools around the world.

But it is not just these unique things that get internationals schools to the top or the bottom of the list, it has to do with a combination of different factors. Factors that come into play are the current state of the school’s building and campus, the quality of teachers and teaching, the benefits package for the teacher (the salary), the professional development opportunities, etc.

Though it is true that some cities in the world only have one international school in them, which in turn, I guess makes them the best international school in the city. But other cities in the world (e.g. Bangkok, Shanghai, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, etc.), there are many international schools to choose from (for both parents and teachers). These cities have international schools that are actively competing for the top spot!

So, how does your international school compare to other schools in your city? Please take a moment and submit your vote!

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We have a comment topic related to this survey, except it is comparing international schools with home country ones. It is called: “How is this school different or the same when compared to schools in your home country?

Here are a few sample comments from this comment topic:

“One of the biggest differences between the NIS schools and most other schools around the world is to do with vacations. In many countries, when students are not in school, neither are the teachers, with some exceptions for things like PD Days and report writing, etc.. This is not the case at NIS schools; regardless of whether the students are in school or not, teachers are expected to attend. If a teacher wishes to be absent, she or he must request leave – paid or unpaid. Given that international teachers have a total allowance of 56 days of paid leave (which includes weekend days if they are within the leave period), this can have a serious impact on vacations.” – Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Astana (Astana, Kazakhstan)37 Comments

“It is very much based along English public school lines, but with a strong international flavour and ethos. There are many more nationalities present in the school than you would normally find in an English school.” – St. Julians School (Lisbon, Portugal)9 Comments

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

“Different: The teacher’s salaries and the new teacher induction and support program are dismal. Same: Budget and lack of professional development opportunities within the school due to very strict labor laws.” – American School of Bilbao (Bilbao, Spain)26 Comments

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: Chatsworth International School (Singapore)

July 10, 2015


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

One of our members, who worked at the Chatsworth International School (Singapore), described her way to work there as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Traveling Around

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

April 29, 2015


Traveling Around: Berlin, Germany

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Can you relate?

• Tasting your first currywurst and the smell of it following you everywhere
• Getting the feeling that art is everywhere around you
• Being enchanted by design of the old metro (U-Bahn) smelling like hardware store
• Wanting to go up the big tower, but never getting around to doing so. When the weather was perfect to go up, you find yourself too tired or too far away to go.
• Hoping that it was going to be more spring-like, but then finding out it wasn’t that spring-like just yet. Seems like spring is coming later and later nowadays…
• Seeing quite impressive building murals around the city. Who does these art installations anyway? So cool!
• Finding so many alternative people, restaurants, etc. all around the city. People had even spray painted “Vegan revolution” on the walls.
• Being shocked to be bombarded with hail on multiple days. It looked like it was snowing with all this hail everywhere!
• Running into a restaurant called “White Trash Fast Food” and then hearing that it is actually a posh, good-tasting restaurant.
• Forgetting that Berlin actually has many canal rivers running around the city, ala Amsterdam.
• Loving the lovely walks through the beautiful city parks, on nice, pretty warm sunny days.
• Realizing the size of the city (9 times bigger than Paris) by not being able to walk around the city center and seeing everything in 5 days.
• Staying at a hotel for three nights in what was probably the noisiest room. The hotel also had a HUGE number of little children running around, a bit chaotic.
• Taking advantage of the cheap public transport from the city airport to the city center. Other cities can learn from Berlin and take a note of this! No one wants their way from the airport to the city center to be too expensive or too long of a journey.
• Being open-mouthed in awe to find an enormous section of canned hotdogs in one of the aisles. Who needs that many kinds of canned hotdogs?
• Staying at a very nice hotel for only one night, too expensive to stay more nights. The view from the breakfast room was awesome!
• Buying super expensive bottled water at the Tegel airport. Airport shouldn’t have the option to sell bottled water at such a high price. It was around four EUROS!

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Currently we have 7 international schools listed in Berlin, Germany on International School Community:

• Berlin Brandenburg International School (11 comments)
• Berlin British School (31 comments)
Berlin International School (12 comments)
• Galileo Gymnasium (Germany) (11 comments)
• John F. Kennedy School Berlin (11 comments)
• Nelson Mandela School
• Phorms Berlin Mitte

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

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Member Spotlights

International School Community Member Spotlight #31: Lauren Kohlhoff (A teacher at the American School of Madrid)

April 2, 2014


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

Tell us about your background.  Where are you from?

989362_10151961808925686_1496660034_oHi there! My name is Lauren Kohlhoff and I currently teach Drama and Grade 7 World Geography at the American School of Madrid. I’m originally from the Atlanta area – a southern girl born and raised! After earning my degree in Early Childhood Education, I relocated to Northern Virginia where I taught third grade in the Prince William County district for three years. During that time I got married to my then boyfriend of eight years. It wasn’t long before we were itching for a new adventure.

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

If I’m being honest, becoming a teacher in the international community was a complete fluke. My husband had received a job offer in Barcelona in the spring of 2008. I knew nothing about international schools or how to get my proverbial “foot in the door”.  So, I committed an afternoon to surfing the net and literally googled “american schools in Barcelona” just to see what my options were. The first hit was the American School of Barcelona. Bingo! I clicked the link, browsed the site, drafted a cover letter, and submitted a resume despite the fact there were no posted positions. Within days the director at the time contacted me, one thing led to another, and I had a grade 6 Humanities job faster than we could say, “Well, it looks like we’re moving to Spain!” I had contacted the right school at the right time; it was all about timing. It’s been six years and we haven’t looked back.

10152146_10151961815280686_736214447_oWhich international schools have you worked at?  Please share some aspects of the schools that made them unique and fun places in which to work.

The American School of Barcelona is alive with energy. The school is small by comparison to other international schools, which allows the faculty, students, and families to foster a community that in many ways feels more like a family. I have truly never worked in a school where there is such passion for kids and their well-being beyond just academics and the walls of a classroom.

Having just recently moved to Madrid, I am still discovering what makes ASM a special place to work. There is certainly a greater sense of calm, which is something that stands out in a country like Spain! The campus is beautiful and features two new facilities dedicated to sports, sciences, and the performing arts. I am impressed with the number of programs that are on offer for our students, especially when it comes to performance and music. We have a very talented team of teachers who work tirelessly to guide our students to do amazing things!

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

If there’s one thing I have come to love about the Spanish culture, it’s the laid-back “mañana” attitude towards, well, everything. Really, it’s a wonder anything ever gets done around here! But this love and appreciation did not come easily or swiftly that first year. I mean, it took nearly a month before we had internet! Businesses close early and open late, and you can forget running errands on Sundays. It took us the entire first year to adjust our expectations and learn to simply stop swimming against the current. We weren’t in Kansas anymore, Toto. We slowed our pace and eventually came to embrace the “mañana” outlook on life ourselves. Mealtimes are perhaps the embodiment of Spanish culture. Sharing a meal with others is an event that can last hours; there’s no such thing as “fast food”. Even long after the table has been cleared, conversations will continue to flow and the wine will too. This is known as the “sobremesa” and what I think is most special about dining the Spanish way – enjoying your company is just as important as enjoying your meal.

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

10152851_10151961811710686_564378207_nThis is a tough question to answer because I’ve been in such a unique situation. My destination was chosen and I was fortunate enough to land a job there. If there’s anything I’ve learned about job hunting over the last six years, however, it’s that geography weighs heavily on my happiness and well-being. The destination must speak to me and resonate in a way that fulfills me beyond the school’s campus. Yes, job satisfaction is very important, but it’s only part of the experience. International teaching is also about exploring who you are, learning your limits, and discovering what you never knew about yourself. So much of this happens off campus, and it would be tough to be in a place that stymies that personal growth. For me, Spain is perfect and I’m not sure that I’ll ever need to look anywhere else. I have spoken to a number of colleagues over the years who were not happy in their former placements because the location wasn’t right for them. If I had a dime for every conversation about this topic that included the phrase, “The school was great, but…”, I would no longer need tutoring hours!

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

Lifelong learning at its finest!

Thanks Lauren!  You can check our more about Lauren at her blog.

If you are a member of International School Community and would like to be our next member spotlight, contact us here.  If we choose to highlight you, you will get a coupon code to receive 6 months free of premium access to our website!

Want to work for an international school in the Spain like Lauren?  Currently, we have 26 international schools listed in Spain on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

• American School of Barcelona (119 Comments)

• Benjamin Franklin Int’l School (49 Comments)

Sotogrande International School (6 Comments)

American School Madrid (27 Comments)

American School Valencia (21 Comments)

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For the Newbies

How Do I Get into International Education #2: How Do I Find That Coveted Position? (Part 1 of 2)

September 20, 2013


Teachers Wanted

“Be All That You Can Be Doing All You Can Do”

Live in exotic places, Experience all the world has to offer….

U.S. Military 1980-2001

Sounds great, huh? Actually, this is excerpted from the marketing campaign of the U.S. Military, but there are some really good comparisons to be drawn.

Ok, so you have read and analyzed the first article and you have decided that in fact, you have what it takes and that a career in international education is for you. Congratulations! It is, without a doubt, everything that you imagine, and more. No doubt, it will be different than anything you have experienced before. This article will focus on the nuts and bolts of how to make those first contacts, get your name out there and get the interviews. It will give you some specific details on where to look, what to look at and for, and how to evaluate what you see. There has been no effort to include all possible resources, but it should give you a strong start and those leads will open other leads.

I´ve got my papers!

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 9.55.30 AMYour first step, as with any career move, is to gather the necessary documents. At this point, it is worth mentioning, that when you land that job and move thousands of kilometers from your home country, if you need another document or another copy of a document, it is likely to be a monumental process that might involve an expensive trip back home, so to avoid that, if it is possible, get two or maybe three copies of all of your documents. The documents that you will most certainly need include an up-to-date CV or resume. Official copies of your birth certificate, teaching certification(s) / license(s), university diploma(s) and transcripts. Criminal background checks are also a requirement. Depending on your country of origin, this may include not only federal, but state, province or regional reports. The background checks are typically easy and inexpensive to obtain in your home country. Another important thing to note is that once you enter your international career, be sure that if you are planning to leave a country, you also get a background check from that country as well. Although you are likely to need official copies of all of your documents to present on arrival, you should have electronic copies as well, because most of the services mentioned below and many schools, will want electronic copies before considering you for a position. Many countries also require a medical report. This is unique to each country, so once you are offered a contract, your school will give you the specifics of those requirements. If you plan to drive in that country, you may need an international driver´s license and / or a copy of your complete driving record.

Regarding authenticity of documents, different countries have different rules regarding how long they consider a document valid, for example, even if your birth certificate says it is valid for one year, some countries may only accept it for six months. The same is true for background checks, driver records, etc., so keep that in mind as you prepare for the transition. Regarding authenticity, most countries accept as proof of authenticity, an Apostille. The process varies depending on your home country. For example, in the U.S., the process is to have your document(s) notarized, then take them to the Secretary of State for your state, who will then Apostille the document. In essence, this means that the notary has certified the document as an official copy, and the Apostille is proof that the notary has the legal authority to do so. If you are in a country that is not a signatory to the Apostille agreement, typically, the procedure is to obtain the official document and any documentation that may be available from the issuing agency, and take those things to the embassy or consulate, in your home country, of the country you will be moving to. They will then be able to authenticate the documents. Assuring that you verify the procedure and what your new country will accept, will save you many headaches and potentially significant expense. One additional set of documents that is beneficial is letters of reference and / or evaluation reports from previous employers; or if you are just graduating, letters of recommendation from your professors will suffice.

“Show me the money jobs!” (Jerry McGuire 1996)

Once you have your documents together, the next step is to find out where the jobs are. There are hundreds of businesses who offer their services to help you find a job. Your process begins by finding a reputable service that meets your needs and produces results. Depending on whether you hold a TEFL certificate or a government issued teaching certificate, which typically requires a minimum of a bachelor´s degree, extensive teaching practice and exams, you will find different services to fit those needs.

educ29-rdv-tmagArticleTwo of the simplest and least expensive option for becoming aware of the openings by subscribing to mailing lists, electronic publications, such as: TES Connect www.tes.co.uk, TIC Recruitment www.ticrecruitment.com. Although this is a very easy and inexpensive option, it is extremely popular. An international school director recently reported to me that for one teaching position, he received more than 3600 applications. Word-of-mouth is another great way to network and identify openings, but they don´t always produce results. The challenge here is to be in the right place at the right time.

Most international schools are members of organizations that provide recruiting services and / or school accreditation. These organizations screen and process applications and provide a forum to connect teachers wanting jobs with schools needing teachers. The most common agencies are: The Council of International Schools www.cois.org, International School Services, www.iss.edu and Search Associates www.searchassociates.com. COIS does not charge teachers a fee to place their CV or to attend their recruitment fairs. ISS and Search Associates both charge an annual membership fee. An advantage of these services is that they will work with you to create an online profile and verify your records. Your profile is searchable by their member schools. Schools know that teachers using these services have already been pre-screened. Additionally, they host recruitment fairs in various locations around the world. You can select the conference(s) you wish to attend and it will give you an opportunity to talk with many schools under one roof. A disadvantage is that interviewers generally interview a large number of applicants every day, and if you do not really stand out, it is easy to get lost in the crowd. Opinions vary among teachers ranging from a great opportunity to a meat market. They are; however, obviously successful, so it is an option to consider.

A bit of insider information here is that just as you are competing for those “prize” locations and schools, the schools are competing for the top candidates. That means that in practice, if a school identifies candidates they are really interested in, they are asking them to meet “before the conference starts.” In essence, what that means is that the conference starts a day early for many.

Stay tuned next month for part two of this article!

Screen Shot 2013-08-10 at 4.34.33 PMThis article was submitted by guest author and International School Community member: John Brown
(John has held both administrative and teaching positions for over 20  years, with the last five being in international education. He is a well respected presenter at regional, national and international education and technology conferences as well as a consultant, who has helped set standards in teacher training and assessment, use of technology in the classroom, curriculum development and effective management practices. A graduate of Tarleton State University in Texas, USA, with graduate studies at North Texas State University and Texas Wesleyan School of Law, he is currently teaching IB Psychology and Spanish at an international school in Portugal. His current projects include development of an online tutoring system for Spanish, consulting on development of a National Language Policy for the United States, and research into the effects of early language learning on brain development. You can contact John at jbb0906@gmail.com.)

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Member Spotlights

International School Community Member Spotlight #24: Cherry Doromal (An int’l school educator working at Mahatma Gandhi International School Manila)

May 18, 2013


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

Screen Shot 2013-05-18 at 5.34.47 PMTell us about your background.  Where are you from?

Mabuhay! Let me take you to Manila, Philippines! I am Dr. Cherry Moriones- Doromal, Bachelor of Mass Communication, Bachelor of Laws, Master in Business Administration, Doctorate of Strategic Studies, Licensed Teacher, Secondary Education—specializing in English and Literature, multi-awarded educational and community leader, composer, blogger, Generalist Educator for MGIS International Primary Curriculum, Quad-Media Director of Mahatma Gandhi International School, and a lifelong learner .

My career, in sum, has been 19 years of exciting journey, allowing me to meet different kinds of people, in different walks of life, in different parts of the world. These experiences have not only molded me to become versatile and sociable, but also prompted me to devote my future in the academe. I believe that being an educator is the perfect avenue where I can best serve my purpose, and is the noblest profession where I can maximize, utilize and impart my God-given talents.

As to the other things about me, such as my quotes, family life, hobbies and writings, they may be found everywhere on the Web.

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

All my life, I worked as quad-media (that is radio, television, print and online) and public relations practitioner locally and internationally, such as in the United States and in my home country, with clientele in Malta, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, Singapore, France, Hong Kong and many more. Along the way, I have been actively involved in political and non-governmental organizational and ecclesiastical leadership, as well as in community service. My teaching experience of more than 20 years is mostly evangelical church and community-based; and the first international school exposure I had was working with one owned and operated by a British national where I taught Social Sciences and Communication Arts. I have vast teaching experiences from pre-school to post graduate.

I am currently working at the Mahatma Gandhi International School Manila, or MGIS for brevity, and I am truly thankful to our Headmaster Lawrence M. Buck for this opportunity.

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.

Mahatma Gandhi International School Manila , or MGIS, is exceptional in many aspects. My two sons are enrolled here. Here are some of its unique features, and please bear with me as I try my best to shorten my description:

• Individualized teaching – Generally, less than 10 students per class; in rare cases, maximum of 15 pax per class
• Comfortable indoor learning environment: air conditioned, spacious, sanitized classrooms; Smartboard facilities, computer sets, ICT Room, E-Library, Physical Library etc.
• Outdoor learning: students regularly explore different places outside of the school for experiential learning as integrated in their subjects/ units of learning.

At MGIS, potentials are determined, recognized, enhanced and supported. Here’s just one out of the many examples. There’s one 6th Grader, James Ketcher, who loves singing. When the teachers saw this interest in James, they believed and supported the kid’s potentials, such that he was diligently coached and guided by the MGIS Music and Theater Arts specialists making James Ketcher one of the most admired lead role actors in the series of theatrical shows of The King and I at Resorts World Manila.

At MGIS, we let your kids think. We don’t teach religion; we teach VALUES. We respect individual and inter-cultural differences and freedom of expression where the students are heard. Plus, there’s no haircut policy, which is common in our local schools where the boys are required to have their heads shaved or cut at a certain length.

Most of all, at MGIS, the teachers who are all specialists in their respective subject area are passionate about teaching, practicing empathy towards the learners. Our staff are supported towards being life-long learners where they are being sent to local and international conferences and seminars regularly; thus, assuring that MGIS 21st century educators will acquire the competence expected of them.

In this school, international and professional quality performing arts is taught to students at all levels. Each year, before the end of the last term, MGIS comes up with a school-wide play/musical, participated by all students, faculty and staff. Last SY 2011-2012, we had Notre Dame de Paris– French Version; the year before, we had Cats the Musical.

Another feature is that MGIS connects daily with parents and students through our state-of-the-art online facilities; and yes, we use Edmodo.

MGIS listens to suggestions, addresses needs, and cares for your kids the way you would at home. Simply said, MGIS serves the community, celebrates with the world, values nationalism, promotes internationalism, loves the earth, and makes a difference.

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

First off, MGIS is a small school with a total population not exceeding 250, inclusive of the staff.  So you can just imagine that the tendency is for “everybody to know everybody”.  Each day is a fresh cultural encounter for me, with a British headmaster, and colleagues whose nationalities vary. Although the school is situated in the Philippines where I am a local, our school community is home to, as far as I can recall, at least 13 nationalities—Australian, Israeli, Russian, Nigerian, Indian, Korean, American, Filipino, Japanese, British, French, Russian, and Hungarian – who live and learn together idyllically in harmony despite diversity.

What puts a smile on my face? Well, I am a satisfied parent- educator with two kids studying in MGIS! Witnessing how my own children and the rest of our international students get to easily adapt to MGIS upon entry, and how they develop camaraderie among their classmates and schoolmates, is such an affirmation of the kind of convivial environment we have here in MGIS where the school values of C.E.R.T. (Compassion, Empathy, Respect and Tolerance) are truly thriving.

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

All I want is a school that genuinely promotes a positive learning and working environment for all. One that empathizes with and cares for the teachers, administrative staff, and the students, hence, providing their needs to be more effective in teaching and in learning.

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

Successfully making a positive difference!

Thanks Cherry!

If you are a member of International School Community and would like to be our next member spotlight, contact us here.  If we choose to highlight you, you will get a coupon code to receive 6 months free of premium access to our website!

Want to work for an international school in Manila like Cherry?  Currently, we have 8 international schools listed in the Manila on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

The British School Manila (7 Comments)
International School Manila (32 Comments)
German European School Manila (12 Comments)
• Brent School Manila (4 Comments)

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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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Highlighted Year for Int’l Schools

International schools that were founded in 1945 (San Jose, Cairo, Athens & more)

December 14, 2012


Random year for international schools around the world: 1945

There is much history in the international teaching community.  We have international schools with founding dates of 1838 and 1854 and we also have many, many international schools with founding dates in the 21st century.  The numbers are increasing for sure.

Utilizing the database of the 1328 (14 December, 2012) international schools currently listed on International School Community, we found 7 international schools that were founded in 1945.  Here are a few of those schools that also have had comments and information submitted on them on our website (excepts about their founding are taken from the schools’ websites)

Lincoln School (San Jose) (18 Comments)  (San Jose, Costa Rica)

Screen Shot 2012-12-14 at 11.29.33 PM“In 1945, a group of visionary Costa Rican parents and US immigrants founded Lincoln School to provide a bicultural and bilingual education for their children. Lincoln is a non-profit, private educational institution offering programs from Preschool to 12th grade. It is governed by an elected Board of Directors, where parents are encouraged to participate actively.”

American School of Guatemala (Colegio Americano) (0 Comments) (Guatemala City, Guatemala)

Screen Shot 2012-12-14 at 11.35.37 PM“The School was founded in 1945 by a small group of parents who wished to provide their children with a bilingual, coeducational, quality education. Legal statutes were drawn up embodying the founding principles and establishing a framework for an enduring institution. Under these original statutes, a board of directors was elected by members of the American School Association. In addition to establishing a governing board, the statutes clearly outlined the non-profit, non-denominational, non-political character of the school and established a sound basis for decision making. The statutes also made provision for a separation of board and administrative functions.

The first classes were held on June 10, 1945, in a large family home in zone 9. Thirty four students were enrolled in grades Kindergarten through five. By the end of the first school year, there were 75 students and 12 teachers.”

Cairo American College (19 Comments)  (Cairo, Egypt)

Screen Shot 2012-12-14 at 11.33.54 PM“In the fall of 1945, fifty students enrolled in grades one though eight at The Cairo School for American Children and began attending classes in a rented, three-story, vine covered villa located at 36 Road 7 in Maadi. Fourteen high school students were admitted at the beginning of second academic year when the high school curriculum was added.”

American Community Schools Athens (3 Comments)  (Athens, Greece)

Screen Shot 2012-12-14 at 11.35.42 PM“In 1946, the British Army School was established in several homes in the Glyfada area to educate the children of British military personnel who were stationed in Greece at the close of the Second World War. The history of ACS begins here; for shortly after its inauguration, the school began to admit British and American civilians. In 1949, many more American children arrived in Greece, and a high school was opened for them in Kolonaki. Also established was an elementary school , in Psychico, which was later moved to a facility in Filothei. The British Army School had metamorphosed into the Anglo-American school.”

American School of Paris (8 Comments) (Paris, France)

Screen Shot 2012-12-14 at 11.37.26 PM“Americans in post-war Paris ask Ms. Edward Bell, whose husband was a Director of Missions for the Northern Baptist Conference, to come to France and open an American school in the American Church on the Quai d’Orsay. Founders include the American Embassy, Guaranty Trust, the Morgan Bank and the American Express Company.”

The Newman School MA (4 Comments) (Boston, United States)

Screen Shot 2012-12-14 at 11.48.58 PM“The Newman School was founded as Newman Preparatory School in 1945, the centennial of Cardinal John Henry Newman‘s conversion to Catholicism, by Dr. J. Harry Lynch and a group of Catholic laymen, for the purpose of providing college preparation to veterans returning from service to their country in World War II. Over the years, “Newman Prep” evolved into a co-educational, diploma-granting program, and eventually began to accept younger students into the ninth grade. During the 1960s, the school operated The Newman School for Boys as a separate four-year (grades nine through twelve) and then six-year (grades seven through twelve) college preparatory school. Walter J. Egan was head of the School for Boys during most of its existence. ”

Check out the rest of the international schools listed on International School Community and check out their histories as well!  We have over 1328 international schools that have profile pages on our website.

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ISCommunity Newsletters

International School Community Newsletter v2012.04 – 07 April, 2012

April 7, 2012


v2012.04 – 7 April, 2012:

We hope everyone is enjoying their spring break.  The range of different countries being visited during this time of traveling (with the international school teachers that the ISCommunity staff know) is quite intreguing and exciting: Bucharest, Tbilisi, Aruba, Madrid, Amersterdam, Bangkok, Colombo, Almaty, Tenerife, London, Dubai, etc.

In the international schools we have worked at though, it seems quite common that the more veteran teachers (ones that have been at the same international school for 20+ years) don’t seem to travel as much any more.  Is that the future of international school teachers?  Do you “lose interest” in traveling the longer you stay at an international school post?

It is true however that there are some good reasons for deciding not to travel during school breaks: saving money, spending time with family, going to a summer home, high airline ticket prices, etc.

Furthermore, if you travel “too much” sometimes people start seeing trips as being all the same, appearing a bit too similar.  Not that the cities and countries are the same, but the experiences and actions are the same sometimes.  For example: going into an old church, walking through a museum, shopping at the main market, checking into a hotel, going through security at an airport, going out to restaurants every night, not being able to communicate with the locals very well, getting a coffee at the Starbucks, etc.

Some times traveling naturally gets to this point.  Not that you stay at this point and never go back, but it is possible that when you travel as much as international school teachers do, it is bound to happen at some point.

So if you did decide to travel this holiday, what goals did you have for this trip? (e.g. pleasure, adventure, beach, visit old friends, etc.)

With regards to our website, we have had another surge of new members on International School Community this past month taking us over the 400 mark.  Now, ISCommunity members currently work at or have worked at over 141 different international schools in over 50 countries!

Furthermore, we have just reached the 4000 milestone for the number of submitted comments and information!  More information and comments means our members being more informed about the world of international school teaching!

From the staff at International School Community.


Recently updated schools with new comments and information:

· 06 Apr  Haileybury Almaty (31 new comments)
Almaty, Kazakhstan
“The common language in the hallways, lunchtime, break time is Russian. The teachers have to constantly remind the students to speak in English…”· 06 Apr  American School of Warsaw (12 new comments)
Warsaw, Poland 

“Average monthly salary for teachers is $3600, paid in United States Dollars. No taxes are taken out…”· 05 Apr  Britannica I.S. (Belgrade) (11 new comments) 
Belgrade, Serbia 

“The school typically prefers to hire single teachers. 60 years old is the age limit…”

· 04 Apr  QSI International School of Tbilisi (8 new comments)
Tbilisi, Georgia

“There is a flea market that is open every day near the highway and river. There are many people selling antiques and also…”

· 03 Apr  Kongsberg International School (7 new comments)
Kongsberg, Norway

“There is a one hour commute from Oslo with direct train links to the city and to the main airport as well…”

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


Recent blog entries:

· Teach Internationally – Opportunities the World Over for Qualified Teachers
“With over 6,000 international schools throughout the world, it’s a market much bigger than most people – even those within the education sector – realise…”

· 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…”

· International Teaching Predictions for 2012 #3: Africa
“With the Egyptian elections over, I predict a huge requirement for teachers in Egypt as the country pulls itself up by its bootstraps and with the help of international investment will try to change the face of the country…”

· Survey results are in: Which international school recruitment fair have you had the most success at?
“The survey results are in, and it seems as if most visitors and members of International School Community have had the most success at the Search Associates international school teacher recruitment fairs…”

· International schools that were founded in 1970 (Salalah, Nairobi, Monterrey, San Josa and Brussels)
“Founded in 1970 in response to the need for a top quality co-educational school in Monterrey, Mexico, Colegio Ingles offers international students…”

· The number of children at international schools reaches 3 million!
“The latest figures published by ISC Research show that the number of children attending the world’s international schools has passed three million. This is phenomenal growth in…”


Recently added schools:


Requested schools to have members leave comments on:


Last month we have had visits from 93 countries around the world!

Site Stats:
Current members: 405 ( 80)
School profiles
: 1167 ( 41)
Blog entries
: 252 ( 26)
Posted comments & info
:
4003 ( 702)
Twitter followers: 323 ( 26)


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:

· Sonya Terborg
(Riverstone International School)
· Paula Sweetten
(King’s College –
British School of Madrid)
· Jordanka Marceta
(American International School Budapest)
· Orlando Fold
(SRS Dubai)
· Marina
(Atlantic International School)
· A Ranc
(International School of Paris)


Current Survey Topic:

Vote here!


Member spotlight:

Beverley Bibby
“I am in my 4th year of teaching at Seisen.  Seisen was my first experience in a PYP school.  It was a new learning curve, but…”

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!


Discussion Topic

While living in foreign country you might periodically ask yourself: What is this thing?“You eyes search around for a purpose. I can‘t see what this is for?! You try and fiddle around with it. Try and turn it on! Is this right?”“I just found this on the bottom of one of my walls, very close to the floor, and just outside my bathroom. When I turn it on, the green light goes on but nothing happens.  So, I guess I will just keep it off.  Thank goodness for the internet.  It turns out it is some sort of thermostat.  I am still not for sure if I will use it though.  For sure people don’t typically have these things on the walls (near the floor) in homes in the United States…”

We invite our readers and members to discuss their list of things that they haven’t done in a year (or more for that matter).

Check out this blog entry
 to leave a comment about the strange things you have found in your home while living in a foreign country.

Highlighted blogs of international teachers:

This international school teacher’s blog is about teaching and living in Japan.
One of her blog entries (One Week After) is describing her experience when the big earthquake hit Japan last year:

“The students broke into groups in all 3 of our classrooms. I wandered around, listening to their conversations. The students were animated, hanging out with friends, sharing their passions and their proud moments from the week. And then 2:47. The classroom started shaking. I was standing near a group of girls who immediately got under a table. Usually, earthquakes stop within seconds, but this didn’t. It was rocking us like babies in a rocker, and it wasn’t stopping…”

Another one of her entries (Teaching and Discoveryis about how teachers feel when they first go back to school after the summer holidays:

We’re back to school again, and it’s almost as if we never left. Great group of kids again. The students always amaze me with their energy and joie de vivre. It would be hard to go back to students who don’t find school so amusing…”

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

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Recently Updated School Profiles

Recently Updated School Profiles #14: Wuxi Taihu Int’l School, Shanghai United Int’l School & Int’l School of Paris

March 31, 2012


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

30 Mar  Wuxi Taihu International School (9 new comments) :

One of the new comments: “10% gratuity at end of 2 years; you get paid for your unused sick/personal leave as well….”

29 Mar  Shanghai United International School (9 new comments):

One of the new comments: “The school is located at Minhang District, Shanghai. It is 20 minutes taxi drive from our school to the downtown…”

29 Mar  International School of Paris (9 new comments):

One of the new comments: “10% contribution is what the school gives to your retirement plan…”

Check out the rest of the international school profile pages that have been recently updated on International School Community here.

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Highlighted Articles

Highlighted Article – International Teaching: What Is It Really Like?

March 7, 2012


Have you ever wondered what teaching in London or Paris is like? Are you curious about Norway, Turkey, or the Philippines? Would you consider teaching in Kuwait, Indonesia, Zambia, Bangladesh, or Abu Dhabi? Education World interviewed four teachers who did more than just consider.


Istanbul, Turkey

“I knew I wanted to see the world,” Donna Spisso told Education World. “I had a masters and eight years of experience when I left the United States. When I taught in Rockingham County, in Virginia, I took five years to save up for a two-week trip to England. At that rate, I was not going to see much!”

“I’ve been abroad for 20 years now. It began as a one-year break after ten years of teaching in New York City,” Laura Forish told Education World.

“If I had to do this all over again, the only thing I would do differently,” said Bill Jordan, “is to get out of stateside public education sooner than I did.”

“Although our lives have been very ordinary in one sense, they have been filled with adventure and new learning every day,” added Karen Dunmire. “Both our girls (ages 28 and 21) were born overseas. Our best friendships have come from the ranks of teachers who’ve chosen this life, even for a brief time. Our girls speak several languages and easily navigate around the world, as that has been their world.”

Those are just a sampling of comments from four teachers who have taught abroad. They have taught in more than 15 nations and have more than 60 years of combined international teaching experience.

LAURA FORISH

For Laura Forish, that one-year break became a new way of life. Since her first foray into international teaching, she has taught at the American Community School-Cobham (England) and at American Schools in London and Paris. Twenty years later, Forish was still teaching abroad.


Paris, France

Education World: You have taught in what many people would consider “dream” places — Paris and London. Is it hard to get positions there?

Laura Forish: It’s all a question of being in the right place at the right time and being persistent. A solid rsum and a minimum of two years of experience is a requirement. Flexibility is also necessary because international schools do not have the same support services United States’ schools offer. Often one is called upon to wear a variety of hats. Although such places as the Munich International School are Christmas-card beautiful, for someone from New York City being in a city was very important.

EW: Did you know the language or about the culture before you left?

Forish: I spoke minimal French, but it certainly has improved. The language as it is spoken bears some — but not much — resemblance to the language as it is taught in textbooks. Culture shock is real and happens to everyone. It is not a fleeting thing but something that lasts through the years. Culture shock was just as real in the United Kingdom, so it should not be thought of as language-based only.

EW: As a foreigner, were you accepted?

Forish: Tough one. I’m always an expatriate American. Those with whom you bond tend to have similar backgrounds. Although they may be Brits or French, they have lived outside their culture. Except for a short stint in Guatemala, I have always lived in places where physically I “fit in,” and that’s a big difference. I can look the “native” when it’s appropriate and act the “foreigner” when I feel like it. For me, that’s a wonderful combination.

EW: What is life like as a teacher in France?

Forish: The physical environment may change, but teaching is something that changes very little once you’re in the classroom. In my current position, our day lasts from 8:45 till 3:30. After-school sports and activity programs run until 6:15.

EW: Was there anything special about teaching in the places you have taught? Were there negatives?

Forish: The big negative is professional. You’re out of the mainstream. Going to a conference is a big deal. Continuing education can be hard to arrange as well, although with online courses becoming more popular, that is easing some.

Another negative is compensation. I am not paid as well as my cohorts in the United States are. Some of this differential is because of the dollar to French franc exchange rate. Salaries vary greatly from school to school. In general, schools in what are considered “hardship” areas tend to pay better than those in “prime” locations: Paris, Rome, London. In my experience, this is based not on the cost of living in these areas but on the availability of teachers.

However, as I’ve done this for 20 years, I obviously feel that the positive outweighs the negative. I have met some wonderful people — as colleagues, as students, as parents of students, as neighbors.

The school population is really exciting. Many students are true global nomad. They’ve lived all across the world. In my current school, the 850 students from grades pre-K through the 13th year of the International Baccalaureate program represent approximately 45 nationalities. Roughly 50 percent of them hold U.S. passports.

EW: You’re a 30-year teaching veteran. In your opinion, is teaching abroad mainly for the young?

Forish: No way! Living in a different culture expands horizons and empathy levels. It’s not always easy, but it’s rarely boring.

KAREN DUNMIRE

Karen Dunmire and her husband, Denny, have been teaching abroad for more than 30 years. Currently, she is middle school principal at the American School in Warsaw, Poland.

Education World: You have spent more than 30 years abroad. Where have you taught?

Karen Dunmire: After the Peace Corps, Denny and I met and started our married life in a very remote boarding school of 700 in Sesheke, Zambia. Our first girl was born there. She was delivered by kerosene lamp in a government hospital. Very memorable and wonderful.

We returned to the United States to complete graduate degrees at Michigan State and then went to Indonesia. Our second child was born in Singapore. We came home to Lake Placid, New York, for what we thought was to be forever, but we stayed only two years, returning to Indonesia for two years and then [moving] to Abu Dhabi for three. In 1992, we went to Kuwait. In 1994, we moved to Poland, where we’ve been for seven years.

EW: Did this nomadic life affect your children?

Dunmire: Our kids were always ready to explore a new country. They have probably been the ones who’ve kept us moving. It is a wonderful life for families who are open to new experiences. We just kind of fell into this and love it.

DONNA SPISSO

Donna Spisso has taught in Spain, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and the Dutch Caribbean. For the past six years, she has taught in Bangladesh.

EW: In Bangladesh, you were a foreigner in a country with a culture very different from your own. Were you accepted?

Donna Spisso: Bangladeshis like to be associated with foreigners. There is some status attached to it. Teachers are respected. It is harder to become part of the community in Europe if you don’t speak the language. In Bangladesh, everyone’s second language is English.

EW: What are the schools like in Bangladesh? Is it safe there?

Spisso: My school has approximately 600 students in pre-K through 12th grade. My day runs from 7:30 to 3:30, and we’re on a block schedule. We do have air conditioning, but when the power goes off, we lose it.

Safety? Driving a car in Bangladesh requires the utmost attention. At any given time, a motorist must watch out for men walking their cows or goats — they graze on the median sometimes. Women are walking to the garment factories. Rickshaws and taxis clog the roads, waiting for customers. Brightly painted trucks, horns blaring, stop for no one. People cross the street without looking where they are going! There are no sidewalks, no traffic lights, and no stop signs in our area — and if there were, no one would pay any heed!

EW: Why did you choose to teach in Bangladesh.

Spisso: Bangladesh offered a great package. In Europe, you pay taxes. In Bangladesh, we pay none. My school, like many others in the developing world, provides free tickets home annually; pays rent, utilities, and health insurance; and, for a nominal fee, provides a car and pays for its maintenance.

The trade off, of course, is quality of life. No one would agree to work in the developing world if the benefits were not excellent. If you work in Europe for only two years, you don’t worry about the future, and schools capitalize on that. If international teaching becomes your career, that’s a different story. You have to be able to save.

I find the students here very dedicated and their parents solidly behind their education. I have a lot of academic freedom and few discipline problems, and my husband and I are saving for our retirement. Travel is excellent. I have fulfilled my dream of seeing the world.

BILL JORDAN:

Bill Jordan taught in Norway, Turkey, and the Philippines and then created WWTEACH.com, to help other people find overseas teaching jobs.

Education World: Bill, you have taught in three very different places. Few Americans know much about the Philippines. What was teaching there like?

Jordan: It was in the Philippines that I found out why teachers rarely go back to teaching in the United States after teaching abroad. Where else can one be paid to hike a volcano, snorkel beautiful coral reefs, or learn about survival deep in the jungle?

My school had a resource center that rivaled those in universities. The science department had a full-time lab technician who took care of the labs. I’d just tell her what equipment I needed and poof — it was set up in my room. If I wanted to work with a video recorder, the equipment arrived — Hollywood-style, with a camera person to take care of all the recording while I just worried about teaching! I requested a small radio, and I received a brand-new $200 dollar portable stereo system in my room for the year. More than a dozen people staffed the large library. Ready and waiting to help, they were an interesting mix of locals and expatriates from all over the world.

EW: Did you have any teaching experiences that you think you will always remember?

Jordan: We had frequent power outages, making teaching computers challenging. I used pantomime to teach my beginning English as a second language classes. And I butchered the pronunciation of everybody’s names: Si-Nyong Lee, Nobuyoshi, Umer Khaldoon Aftab Ahmed …

Think of New York City and how different it is from rural Montana. The same is true overseas. Every place is very different from the other places, but it is always fun and exciting. In the Philippines, I learned that kids will be kids no matter where you are. Teaching, learning, testing, and sharing is fundamentally the same no matter where you live.

Students came and went constantly, but I never got used to the gifts they gave. Things like that just didn’t happen to me stateside. It was nice being in a place where teachers were valued.

Taken from the Education World website.
 

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Great Resource

Recruitment Resources for International Teachers: The long list of things to think about! (Part 1 of 3)

February 15, 2012


There are so many things to think about and search for information about when recruiting.  Why not have all the links you need to reference all in one location?

Recruitment Resources for International Teachers: (Part 1)

Cost of living comparisons between cities: http://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living

Association of American Schools in South America: http://www.aassa.com/ (Annual stateside recruitment fair; AASSA seeks qualified educators to fill positions in private schools located throughout South America. Schools vary in size and offer a predominately U.S. based curriculum)

Association of Christian Schools International: http://www.acsi.org

(Features a searchable database of 750+ current positions at 150 ACSI

member international Christian schools, frequently asked questions about missionary teaching and a free teacher listing service. Email: teachoverseas@acsi.org)

ECIS: http://www.ecis.org

Carney, Sandoe, & Associates: http://www.CarneySandoe.com

Overseas Digest http://overseasdigest.com/index.html

(ISS) International School Services: http://www.iss.edu

INTERNATIONAL OVERSEAS JOBS http://www.escapeartist.com/jobs16/international.htm (Good site on over-seas living)

International Supply Teachers http://teachersonthemove.com/ (the only organisation recruiting specialist teachers for short-term vacancies in international schools.)

Joy jobs: http://joyjobs.com/

(This site seems a bit heavy on the promotional side of things but fun to cruise)

Queens University, Canada:http://educ.queensu.ca/careers/torf.html

(200+ international teachers placed a year)

Search Associates: http://www.search-associates.com/

Teachers On Net: http://www.teachers.on.net/ (Internet Employment hub for Austrailian Independent schools also maintains an international jobs section)

TIE (The International Educator): http://www.tieonline.com

TIE is the newspaper that most leading international schools use to advertize their teaching vacancies; plus personal, school development news about the Int’l network. Most recent issues have over 130 ads placed by int’l schools representing over 2000 open positions. *Also* TIE’s new Vacancy Notification System, through which you can get automatic and instant notice of every vacancy posted in your area(s) of interest. And once you are notified via email and review the ad, you can have a notification of interest sent with ONE CLICK to the school in question, giving them quick and easy access to your resume.

UNI Overseas Placement Service for Educators: http://www.uni.edu/placement/overseas/ (annual UNI Overseas Recruiting Fair held each February/early March.)

For those returning to the states:

Carney, Sandoe, & Associates: http://www.CarneySandoe.com

The Education America Network – http://educationamerica.net – America’s largest online source for education employment opportunities. There are over 20,000 available employment opportunities from 880 employers from all 50 states. There is NO COST to search jobs, post your resume or receive customized employment e-mails.

Southern Teachers http://www.southernteachers.com/

This Agency works with both independent and public schools in the Southeastern United States. The Agency, directed by

7 Elliewood Ave., Suite 2A Charlottesville, VA 22903-2603

Tel 804.295.9122 Fax 804.295.6448

(Taken from the blog article from wwteach.)

Also check out all the comments and information about 1000s of different international schools around the world on International School Community!

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ISCommunity Newsletters

International School Community News v2011.07 – 12 November, 2011

November 12, 2011


Site Stats:
Current members: 172 ( 21)
School profiles
: 955 ( 58)
Blog entries
: 127 ( 22)
Posted comments & info
:
1427 ( 348)
Facebook likes: 105 ( 14)
Twitter followers: 195 ( 26)


Bookmark a school profile function on our website:

When you are a member at International School Community you can bookmark the school profile pages that you are most interested in on your member profile page.

Just go to the school profile of the international school that you are most interested in and click on the “Bookmark this school” link at the top.  Once you have successfully bookmarked a school profile page, then that school will show us ap as a link on your member profile page.  The next time you want to access that specific school profile page (e.g. to check out any new comments that have been written, to write some more of your own comments and information, etc.), just click on the bookmark link!


New members:

·Antonina Kleshnina
(Sunland International School)
·Walter Munz
(Harbin No. 9 High School International Division)
·Neil Howie
(British International School – Serbia)
·Jane Evans
(The International Academy)
·William Watkins
(The Blake School)
·Enrique Damasio
(Colegio International de Carabobo)


Current Survey Topic:

Vote here!


Member spotlight:

Check out our last 6 member spotlights 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 LinkGreat resource: Want to work at an international school in Germany?The How To Germany websitehas some excellent insight on the many international schools in Germany.  There are many international educators interested in working at these schools.  Currently, there are 21 international schools listed under Germany on International School Community.  There are 20 international schools listed on the How To Germany website. Highlights from their website:”There are compelling reasons why you might choose to send your children to one of Germany’s many fine international schools. Many English-speaking expatriates are educating their children at Germany’s international schools, and an education at such a school has numerous advantages. There is, of course, instruction in the native language. And, since the student body is usually quite international, they expose the young people to a variety of cultures. They also do a better job than most German schools of introducing the students to computers, and the program of sports and extracurricular activities is more like what they are accustomed to at home…”
Highlighted blog of an international teacher:

Culture Shock and the Expat Educator

“If you’re a new expat teacher (or an expat teacher in a new setting), you may be wondering what the #@!*% you were thinking when you decided to move. It’s normal. Perfectly normal. You probably moved in late July and are heading into the dreaded period of anxiety associated with culture shock. Even in countries lovingly termed “expat lite” (i.e. Hong Kong, Singapore) the most mundane things can be frustrating.”International Students Go to Camp: The Importance of Play
“When I taught in the US, students went to Outdoor School. The Oregonian children learned to read the age of a tree, the names of major plant species, and experience the Northwest natural habitat. Imagine my surprise when I first learned that my international school students go to Camp to play. So this is a really long recess? I wondered. I’m sacrificing hot showers, quality food, and personal hygiene so that students can PLAY? While I admit to Facebook grumbling about ants in the shower, plastic beds, and food representing only the white and brown food groups, I have come to see the value in free play for tweens in my setting.”*If you are an international school teacher and would like your blog highlighted on International School Community contact us here

v2011.07 – 12 November, 2011:

Using the School Profile Search feature on the main homepage of International School Community, we found the following stats about the 955 international schools currently listed on our website.
(Updated from our May 2011 statistics)

Age of School:
Schools more than 51 years old: 197 ( 37)
Schools from 16-50 years old: 412 ( 81)
Schools from 0-15 years old: 346 ( 121)
(How interesting that there is indeed an influx of new schools starting up all over the world!  The vast majority of the ones on our website are in the East Asia and Middle East areas of the world.)

School Curriculum:
UK curriculum: 281 ( 72)
USA curriculum: 350 ( 66)
IB curriculum: 378 ( 70)
(Each type of curriculum appears to be increasing at relatively the same rate. The USA and IB curricula seem to be equally represented around the world on our website.)

School Nature:
For-profit schools: 336 ( 142)
Non-profit schools: 619 ( 97)
(Non-profit schools are still double the amount of for-profit schools on International School Community.)

School Region:
Schools in East Asia: 129 ( 33)
Schools in South America: 70 ( 10)
Schools in Middle East: 118 ( 46)
Schools in Western Europe: 167 ( 37)
(The clear winner…still Western Europe. Though it looks like the Middle East is increasing at a higher rate with regards to schools represented on our website.)

Feel free to make your own searches based on your criteria on International School Community.  Members with premium membership are able to do unlimited searches on our website.  If you are already a member, you can easily renew your subscription on your profile page.  If you are not a member, become a member today and get 1 month free of premium membership.

With regards to our current members, International School Community’s members work at or have worked at 77 international schools! Check out which schools here.


Recently updated schools:

· 11 Nov  The Codrington School (Int’l School of Barbados) (6 new comments)
(St. John, Barbados)
“You have to buy your own car. The school will lend you money to do so. It took about 45 minutes from my house…”
· 11 Nov  Hokkaido International School (7 new comments)
(Sapporo, Japan)
“Sapporo is a fantastic setting for outdoor enthusiasts with excellent camping, hiking, biking, fishing and winter sports including skiing and snowboarding…”
· 09 Nov  American International School Bucharest (12 new comment)
(Bucharest, Romania)
“BA +5 = 34K, BA +10 = 38K, MA +5 = 36K, MA +10 = 40K. All in USD. There are no deductions for taxes as long as the teachers does not obtain Romanian citizenship or permanent residence status…”
· 08 Nov  International School of Bologna (3 new comments)
(Bologna, Italy)
“I went through CIS online. I applied directly through the website. Then I interviewed with them over the phone…”

· 06 Nov  International School of Paris (8 new comments)
(Paris, France)
“The teachers are mostly European. It is very hard to get a job at an international school in Paris. They prefer to hire native speakers of English because the French parents prefer it…”

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


Recent blog entries:

· Educators Overseas: International schools definitions (the schools, the students and the teachers)
“From Argentina to Zimbabwe international schools come in all shapes and sizes. Some schools are non-profit and are affiliated with an embassy (most often British or American). while others are proprietary. Originally established to educate children of expatriates, or “expats”, (diplomats and international business people who have relocated to that country) international schools have become the elite schools of most major cities around the world…”

· The Wonderful World of Int’l School Hiring Fairs: Lesson #3 – “Interview questions make the interviewer.”
“International schools though only have a limited amount of time during the actual interview session with the different candidates at the recruitment fair.  Because the candidate before inevitably goes longer than he/she should of and because the interviewers themselves sometime need a break between their back to back interviews…”

· Highlighted article – The IPC: a curriculum growing in popularity amongst many international schools (Part 2)
“With schools in over 63 countries learning with the IPC, opportunities abound for children to share their local experiences related to an IPC unit with children in dramatically different environments…”

· Teachers International Consultancy (TIC): Teaching from Australia to Abu Dhabi
“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…”

· Comments and information about hiring policies on International School Community #1 (Singapore, Kuwait & Beijing)
“I interviewed with this school last March. It was over Skype with the elementary principal. She was very nice. The interview was professional, but also a bit informal which is what I prefer, a more casual conversation about my teaching experience and the school…”


Recently added schools:


Requested schools to be reviewed:


This last month we have had visits from 66 countries around the world!

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Information for Members

Total comments in all the Travel Information sections: 2672!

April 25, 2021


As all International School Community members know, each of the 2199+ 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 Travel Information sections on all the school profile pages?  The current total number of submitted comments in the Travel Information sections is 2672 (out of a total of 40304+ comments); up almost 535 comments since August 2019.

There are 6 subtopics in the Travel Information section on each school profile page.  Check out each one of these subtopics below and find out the total number of comments in that specific subtopic and also an example comment that has been submitted there.

Sample travel airfares from host city airport to destinations nearby. (461 Total Comments)

Example comment: “You can fly mostly anywhere in Europe from Berlin. Unfortunately there has been a new airport in construction for many years now with no real outlook on when it will be complete. You have to connect elsewhere to fly internationally (i.e Copenhagen, Paris, London, Reykjavik etc.)” – Berlin Cosmopolitan School (Berlin, Germany) – 94 Comments

Screenshot 2015-01-25 12.40.58

Describe proximity of major airport hubs to the city center and give sample taxi, train, subway and/or bus fares to get there. (585 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Narita International Airport is the most convenient in terms of distance, parking, and bus connections. It is approximately 45-50 minutes by car on the highway (tolls are about $12 or $13 USD each way), 75 minutes by car by more local roads, and about an hour by bus ($25 USD). Haneda Airport in Tokyo is further away from Tsukuba and more conveniently reached by a combination of the Tsukuba Xpress and Tokyo subways (90 to 120 minutes and $18 to $25 USD, depending on the various options and combinations). There is also the more local Ibaraki Airport (which has free parking) about 45 minutes from town, but flights are very limited and only include a few destinations within Japan (such as Kobe, Fukuoka, Naha and Sapporo) and Shanghai and Seoul (and sometimes Taipei by charter flights) internationally.” – Tsukuba International School (Tsukuba, Japan) – 47 Comments

Screenshot 2015-01-25 12.40.58

Popular travel websites to buy plane tickets or tours that are popular for expats living in the city and/or country. (301 Total Comments)

Example comment: “My Switzerland is a very comprehensive and informative website for locals and expats. which provides a wide breadth of information.
https://www.myswitzerland.com/en-ch/home.html” – Zurich International School (Zurich, Switzerland) – 62 Comments

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Places to travel to outside the city by bus or train. (546 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Expatriate teachers are recommended to not use public transit. The school recommends hiring a school driver to drive us to our desired destination using the car the school provides us. School drivers for a very reasonable rate. If there is a place you want to go, ask the head of security and he will check to ensure it is safe to travel to your desired destination.” – Lahore American School (Lahore, Pakistan) – 193 Comments

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Are there many teachers that travel during the holidays? Where are they going? (377 Total Comments)

Example comment: “It truly depends on the teacher and their own personal situation. Many younger, single teachers will travel during breaks. Usual destinations are somewhere around east our southeast Asia. Teachers who are married with children will stay in Korea many times. During summer break, most teachers will go to their home country.” – Korea Kent Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea) – 41 Comments

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What are the airports like in this city? (arriving, departing, shopping, customs, etc.) (402 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Queues at immigration can be very very very long. (between 15 min and 1.5 hours of waiting) Just make sure you have some battery left on that phone of yours! ;-)” – Dulwich College Beijing (Beijing, China) – 50 Comments

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Information for Members

We Just Passed 40000 Total Comments: Free Premium Membership for All!

April 2, 2021


It’s true, ISC now has over 40000 comments!

Here is a bit of history about how many comments that we have had on our website since it started back in January 2011:

0 Comments – January 2011
71 Comments – May 2011
939 Comments – September 2011

2147 Comments – January 2012
4578 Comments – May 2012
5965 Comments – September 2012

6767 Comments – January 2013
8004 Comments – May 2013
9109 Comments – September 2013

10018 Comments – January 2014
10689 Comments – May 2014
11455 Comments – Sept 2014

12981 Comments – Feb 2015
15023 Comments – Nov 2015
16017 Comments – Feb 2016

18000 Comments – Sept 2016
19000 Comments – Dec 2016
20200 Comments – March 2017

22010 Comments – August 2017
23000 Comments – November 2017
24000 Comments – January 2018

27000 Comments – May 2018
30000 Comments – January 2019
33000 Comments – Sept 2019

36000 Comments – March 2020
40000 Comments – March 2021

We would like to formally thank our community of members (now at over 21000!) for submitting all of the comments on our website.

Are you an International School Community member that wants to submit some comments but currently doesn’t have premium membership?

48 hours of Premium Membership Promotion: Right now EVERY member on our website has premium membership access for 48 hours. Just log on and enjoy free, full access to our website.
This 48 hours free promotion will expire on 4 April, 2021 (11:59pm PST)

Don’t forget to submit comments during this time (which are done so anonymously, by the way) because during the next 48 hours you can get EXTRA premium membership added your account.

We want members who participate and share what they know to have free premium access to our website. For it is them that keep our website up to date and full of useful comments!

After you submit some comments, check out the other things you can do with premium membership access:
1. Check out our the latest posted job vacancies.
2. Take a look at our compare school salaries page. (783 schools with 1438 comments about salaries are listed on this page)
3. Make a search on our Comments Search page. Find the specific comments you’d like to read about, faster!
4. Do unlimited school profile page searches and check out our easier-to-use/updated school results page.
5. Contact one of our 21200+ members and use our Member Search feature to find someone to network or ask a question to.
6. Go to our School Comparison page and compare 109 schools using eight different comment topics. Who will win?

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Information for Members

What are some of ISC’s Many Unique Features?

January 5, 2021


So many prospective international school teachers are always looking to answer these two questions: “What is it like working at XXX school?” and “What is it like living in XXX country/city?”

It is not so easy though to find answers to these questions.

At ISC, our mission is to show that information to these prospective international school teachers in a clear, easy-to-find format that is hopefully very informative to them.

But we don’t just stop there, we have added many unique features that make finding their answers faster, more interesting and fun. In this article, we would like to give an overview of the many unique features that ISC has to offer to its premium members.

School Comparison: School vs. School

Around three years ago, our dream came true when we launched our School Comparison page.

We placed each school’s submitted comments side by side so that our members could make an easy comparison. It is a common request to know “which school is better?”, especially if you are considering two job offers at two, sometimes very different, schools.

The School Comparison page does just that. It places two schools “against” each other to see which one comes out on top. We are not aware of another website that does this!

Compare School Salaries

The number one thing prospective teachers want to know about is “How much money will I make working at XXX school?”

Why then is it almost impossible to find information about salaries before you are offered the position?

Yes, we have 1000s of comments about the salary details of 100s of international schools on the ISC website. However, we took it further and made a unique page so that our members can compare these school salary details side by side with other schools. If you are considering working in Shanghai, China, you can now easily search for only schools in Shanghai on this page and quickly compare which school has a better salary package for you.

Check out our Compare School Salaries page today.

School Vacancies History

Many websites deal with posting international school job vacancies, but ISC has brought this to the next level as we leave expired vacancies on our website so that you can see which vacancies have been posted on a specific school over time.

If you really want to work at a specific international school and you see that they have recently hired your position during the last school year, it could give you some more insight about whether that position will be available for the next school year.

Check out all of our most recently posted Job Vacancies here.

Comment Search Feature

Only ISC allows its members to search for specific comments. We have over 38000 comments that have been submitted on 1150+ international schools, but sometimes you just want to search for specific comments on many international schools, especially if you are open to working at a number of international schools in different parts of the world.

If you are looking for a school that often hires teaching couples, you can easily search those keywords to find 100s of comments related to that topic. Or if you are a single international school teacher, you might want to search these keywords as well to see which schools might discriminate against single teachers and that prioritize hiring teaching couples.

ISC actually has even more unique features, but here are four that really make our website stand out. Of course, new features are always in the works. If you have a suggestion for another feature for the ISC website, contact us here. Otherwise, stay tuned for more unique features in the near future.

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Information for Members

ALL Members Have Free Premium Membership for 48 Hours!

September 12, 2020


Are you an International School Community member that wants to submit some comments but currently doesn’t have premium membership?

48 hours of Premium Membership Promotion: Right now EVERY member on our website has premium membership access for 48 hours. Just log on and enjoy free, full access to our website.
This 48 hours free promotion will expire on 15 September, 2020 (11:59pm PST)

Don’t forget to submit comments during this time (which are done so anonymously, by the way) because during the next 48 hours you can get EXTRA premium membership added your account.

Normal members get 1 month of premium membership added to their account for every 10 comments they submit, but for the next 48 hours, they can get even more!

Here’s how it will work:
• Submit 40-59 comments = 6 extra months will be added to your account
(for a total of 10-11 months of premium membership!)
• Submit 60+ comments = 12 extra months will be added to your account
(for a total of 18+ months of premium membership!)

** This submitting-comments promotion will expire on 14 September, 2020 (11:59pm PST). Total comments submitted can be on one or more school profile pages (FYI: there are 66 comment topics on each school profile page), and they must be submitted between 12 September, 2020 and 14 September, 2020 (11:59pm PST). All submitted comments must be at least one full, complete sentence; the more details, the better! The extra months will be awarded to each member’s account between 15-18 September, 2020.

We want members who participate and share what they know to have free premium access to our website. For it is them that keep our website up to date and full of useful comments! We just passed 37800+ submitted comments by the way, on more than 1150 school profile pages!

After you submit some comments, check out the other things you can do with premium membership access:
1. Check our the latest posted job vacancies.
2. Take a look at our compare school salaries page. (769 schools with 1363 comments about salaries are listed on this page)
3. Make a search on our Comments Search page. Find the specific comments you’d like to read about, faster!
4. Do unlimited school profile page searches and check out our easier to use/updated school results page.
5. Contact one of our 19300+ members and use our Member Search feature to find someone to network or ask a question to.
6. Go to our School Comparison page and compare 94 schools using eight different comment topics. Who will win?

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Highlighted Articles

Countries Closing Their Borders: A Quick Decision to Get “Home”

March 15, 2020


Sharon (Pseudonym) and I arrived back in Shanghai yesterday morning, after a quick decision to return before it became difficult.

We travelled from Edinburgh and transited in Paris before on to Shanghai. In Edinburgh and Paris it was business as usual; no questions, no extra measures, nobody wearing masks. Until we got to the gate where we boarded the plane to Shanghai. Here the passengers were all masked up as were the crew. Masks were to be worn for the full 12-hour flight. Temperature checks were taken as we boarded, then again mid-flight and before landing. Blankets, pillows, headphones were not distributed due to containment measures. There was a seating area sectioned at the rear of the plane along with toilet facilities, for anyone who showed symptoms of COVID-19 during the flight. Before landing we completed paper and online health declarations.

On landing, we were held on the plane, and called off in batches. We stepped into a different world, where all airport staff were in body suits, masks, visors, gloves. The airport had been configured to create channels for passengers to move through with stops to revisit health forms, complete more information and do temperature checks. We then passed through immigration (which was super-quiet) before being guided to an area where we reported to a regional team. Again, more health declarations and information gathered before being escorted to pre-arranged pick-ups or to pre-arranged buses provided by the airport. During this process, we were awarded a sticker (green – yellow – red) which determined our next course of action. We were accompanied to a driver who was waiting for us, to continue our journey home.

When we arrived at our housing compound, we were greeted by a team of ten people, made up of a doctor, local health team and compound management. Again, health declarations and temperature checks, before being taken into our home and our quarantine commencing. As David (Pseudonym) lives in the house too, he has to undertake quarantine with us, or we would have been taken to a quarantine facility.

So, we are home now and will remain indoors for the next two weeks. We did an online shopping order which was delivered to the gates. Then the compound guards left it outside our door for us, texting us when it was clear for us to bring the goods inside.

There are two lenses to view this through: fear or safety.
Fear, due to the unpredictability of the situation, the rapidly changing climate and lack of control. I did have a couple of moments. One where I had one foot in the amusing rabbit hole of ‘This is what it probably felt like when trying to smuggle ET to his spaceship’, then the other of ‘What if Sharon and I get separated. How do I know where she may be? What would be happening/ what could be?’ The what-ifs were lurking, waiting to grab and sink their sharp little teeth in. Families were kept together through the process. There were staff available to speak different languages and although there was uncertainty, it was very efficient and organised.

This is a country where health is priority. Containment measures are put in place to ensure the health of all citizens. Social responsibility is empowered as we are required to put others first by undertaking quarantine, to avoid any possible contamination. Everyone is mobilised to do their part for the community. Do I feel scared? The unknown is always a little scary. Do I feel safe? Absolutely. I know that the virus is a priority and is being taken very seriously. The actions of the country reflect this.

If you are planning your return – some tips:
• Make sure you have your own headphones.
• Dress in layers – the plane was cold, the airport was hot.
• Have extra snacks and water with you so that you can keep the hanger away whist you wait to leave the plane/get home.
• Bring distractions for kids. Talk to them about how staff will be dressed in the airport and that there will be temp checks etc.
• Got to the toilet before you leave the plane. Facilities in the airport are on lock down.
• Carry wipes. It can get hot and a little uncomfortable in the heat as you wait.
• Do an online shop that can get delivered as you arrive home.
• If you do not have a thermometer at home, buy one before you return. You will need to report your temp if in quarantine.
• Be mentally prepared for quarantine, either at home or in a facility, and pack a few treats to help you through it all.

Safe travels…and stay positive! If you are alone, keep in touch with someone in Shanghai and don’t be afraid to reach out as you go through the process! A reassuring text is enough to keep you calm.

This article was submitted by an ISC member living in Shanghai, China

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Traveling Around

Top 10 Things to Do in Japan in 7 days

November 11, 2018


Japan is, due to its remoteness and quirkiness, a dream destination for many Westerners. Common opinion is that, to fully experience wonders of the land of the rising Sun, one should plan for at least a ten-day long vacation. However, I still think that a week-long trip to Japan is a great idea for a spring or autumn break.

I traveled to Japan in the fall of 2018 when the weather was just perfect with almost no rain and the temperatures between 20 and 25°C. Itinerary wise, I chose to do the best of (and ideal for the first trip to) Japan: Osaka – Kyoto – Tokyo tour, flying to Osaka and leaving from Tokyo, and I would like to present you the 10 highlights from my trip.

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  1. Visit the Osaka Castle

Depending on where you are located, it is good to go visit the Osaka Castle first, and during the day, as it is situated a bit separately from other tourists’ sights. This is a pre-Edo era fortress and a castle with a large moat, fortified with wonderfully executed stone wall. The castle itself is an architectural eye candy rising in the middle, that you can climb and get a view of Osaka skyline for as cheap as 600 JPY (5 USD).

  1. Osaka City Center in the night: Dotombori, Takoyaki

In the evening, I suggest you hit up the Dotombori area for a postcard worthy picture of the Moving Crab or the Swimmer neon poster. Take a stroll down the main shopping street that is so lit up with LEDs and neon lights in the night that you will lose every impression of the night sky above. This is a great place to try Takoyaki, the Japanese seafood balls that originate from this area. The big (moving) models of crabs, octopuses and squids are to indicate the kind of food that the restaurant is serving, so use them as a guide.

  1. Walk the Shinsekai in Osaka, The Tsutenkaku Tower, Kushikatsu

Shinsekai is an old, colorful, part of Osaka ironically called the New World. Well, once it was new, in 1920s that is, when it first emerged. The area was modelled by New York and Paris of that time, with the Tsutenkaku Tower dominating the neighborhood in the middle. It allows for another great view of Osaka skyline, but also to the Shinsekai from above. This area is famous for Kushikatsu –panko covered, deep-fried skewers made of vegetables, meat, eggs, cheese and the mixture of it. It is suitable for vegans as you can select only vegetables on your menu.

  1. Go to the Osaka Aquarium

The central tank of this aquarium features a couple of whale sharks and that alone is a big reason to visit the Osaka Aquarium located in the eastern part of the city and easily reachable by the subway. Apart from the sharks, which is the aquarium’s main attraction, this place showcases not only a huge variety of marine life from the world’s seven seas, but rivers, creeks and lakes as well such as otters, birds and even penguins!

  1. The Imperial Palace of Kyoto

Kyoto is Japan’s old capital and hosts the second active palace of the Emperor – The Imperial Palace of Kyoto. Enjoy the free tour of walking the vast courtyard with traditional Japanese architecture and gardens with lakes and bridges, posing for some fantastic photo opportunities. Located centrally, it is easily reachable from every part of the city.

Japan

  1. Kyoto downtown: Nishiki Market, Gion district and The Yasaka Shrine

If you are in for some shopping, check out the center of Kyoto – The Nishiki shopping area with both high-end boutiques and Asian covered bazaar markets. On a walking distance from there stands Gion, the old, geisha district of Kyoto. Stroll down the romantic streets on of Gion heading east and you will reach the Yasaka Shrine, a popular tourist spot. Before you enter the Shrine, I advise you to try Pablo’s cheesecake tarts which stand just a couple hundreds of meters on the left side of the entrance.

  1. Kyoto – Kodaiji Temple, Fushimi Inari Shrine, and climb the mountain for the views

For a more spiritual experience, walk south from the Yasaka shrine and experience the Kodaiji Temple, the ceremonial Japanese garden where traditional weddings happen and walk the mini bamboo forest that they have in the small hill behind the temple. The entrance fee is 600 JPY. Then you can take a train south from there to Fushimi Inari Shrine, (the main shrine of the god Inari) which is represented on most postcards from Kyoto: an array of orange arches called Torii leads towards the top of a hill where you may feel as a pilgrim, but the top promises you some great picture worthy openings.

  1. Tokyo – The Centers: Shinju-Ku and Shibuya

Take a bullet train from Kyoto to Tokyo for a great traveling experience. Taking about 3 hours to reach it from Kyoto, Tokyo is a gigantic city, so one should not even dream of seeing it all in 3 days, but it is definitely enough to scratch the surface. After the traditional Kyoto, you may be hungry for some futuristic views. Head to Shinju-Ku in the evening and Shibuya in the night and experience the lights of Tokyo at their prime.

  1. Tokyo – Akihabara and the Kitchenware district

Akihabara is the electronic and gamer’s town of Tokyo – “Otaku district”. For all the geeks and anime lovers, this is the right area to browse vintage video game stores, comic and toy collector stores, maid cafes and other quirky stuff. Not far away from there is the Kitchenware district in a street of Kapabashi. Here you can find any kind of kitchenware, but most of the people come to purchase a Japanese knives, known for their quality, precision and durability.

Japan

  1. Tokyo – The Imperial Gardens, Roppongi and Akasaka

Scratch the surface of the cultural experience of Tokyo by walking the Imperial Palace garden. Only East garden is open for public admission, while you can preregister for an organized tour of the palace itself. You can have an afternoon tea in a bar of the Imperial Palace Hotel which is an attraction of Modernism architecture in itself, offering numerous restaurants and luxury shopping experience. Hit Roppongi and Akasaka for some excellent eats in the evening. Both of these neighborhoods are located close by and are in a walking distance from each other. They offer great bars, restaurants and cafes for you to enjoy and relax after this amazing and trip.

Bonus tip: Try to book a hotel with a Japanese spa in Tokyo. It will help you unwind at the end of every day full of experience, and the sauna and hot water of the spa will do miracles for your tired feet!

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Lessons From Your Country

How to Enjoy Life in Japan (Part 1)

February 23, 2017


Japan is unique among Asian countries. Many expats, even those who have lived in Asia for years, struggle living in Japan. I’ve seen families leave after only a year. What makes Japan so difficult? Is it the culture? Some secret only known to the initiated? The answer, while it may seem obscure, is simple.

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Japan is not Asian.

I don’t mean this literally, of course. Metaphorically, however, it is true. Japan is the America of Asia, and the key to enjoying life in Japan is to understand this. It’s not that Japanese speak English well. Most can’t. Nor is it that Japanese eat mostly Western food. They don’t. In fact, culturally, Japan is perhaps one of the most enigmatic countries in the world. You can spend a lifetime in this country and still not understand all of the intricacies of a simple business transaction.

So what is it that makes Japan un-Asian?

It’s economically Western. Things aren’t cheap here, and it pisses people off. Yet no one bats an eye at the high price of living in Western Europe. Why? It’s a trade-off of salary for lifestyle. Yes, your salary might not go far in Vienna, Paris, or Stockholm. But generally international teachers move there for the culture, not the money. Asia, in contrast, remains one of the premier locations for expats wishing to live a lavish lifestyle. A typically international school salary puts you in the top 1% in countries like Thailand or Bangladesh. Top salaries in China soar over top salaries in Japan. Working at a major international school in Tokyo or Osaka, you can expect to be firmly middle class, at best.

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The teachers I know who leave Japan after a few years are those who are used to having nannies, hired help, frequent vacations to beach resorts, and people catering to them as something special. This kind of lifestyle is unaffordable in Tokyo. Take traveling, for example. In Japan, hotels charge per person, not per room. And it’s not uncommon to be charged $200USD per person, per night. Nor is transportation cheap. Bullet train tickets from Kyoto to Tokyo run upwards of $150, one way. Just accommodation and transportation for a weekend trip could be well in excess of $1,000. You can live a good life in Japan on an international school salary, but not the same expat life you could in other Asian countries. Much like living in Copenhagen, this means going local. Don’t buy all American products at jacked up prices in Costco. By local, Japanese products. Eat, drink, and live like a local, and perhaps you can live an upper-middle class lifestyle.

Coming to Japan from developing Asian countries, expats lose considerable social and economic status. They find themselves unhappy, and return to the Asia they know and love. Cheap Asia. English Friendly Asia. Cater-to-foreigners Asia. So why stay? What does Japan have to offer, if not generous salaries and a super affluent lifestyle?

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The answer is, of course, culture. Part II coming soon…

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

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How NOT to Save Money

How NOT to save money when teaching abroad #8: Paying (sometimes at high prices) for a housekeeper, cook, etc. while living the expat lifestyle

March 31, 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.  So, why aren’t these international school teachers saving money?

How NOT to save money when teaching abroad #8: Paying (sometimes at high prices) for a housekeeper, cook, etc. while living the expat lifestyle

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Is it affordable to hire a housekeeper in your host country?

Many of us have never had a housekeeper while living in our home countries. We never even had the idea that we would need one or even be able to afford one. But while living abroad as an expat, international school teachers potentially can live a very different life and lifestyle in comparison to their former home country lives. Many times they will find themselves in situations where they can now financially afford certain help around the house. And who doesn’t want to hire somebody to clean their house and iron their work clothes every week?

Of course the cost of this help can be quite varied in different parts of the world. Hiring a house cleaner in Spain might be cheaper than hiring one in Norway, but then could be more expensive than one you would pay for in Japan.

There are international school teachers that refuse to get help like a housekeeper. They are quite content to continue their lifestyle as they were living in their home country. But in many 3rd world counties, there are locals that could very much benefit from employment from an international school teacher. Some might say hiring a local and having them come on a regular basis (and also paying them an accept rate for the area) to help you out around the house is a good thing for the local economy.

So, before you just have anybody come to your place and do some work for you, it is advisable, of course, to check with your colleagues at your school about their experience hiring housekeepers, for example. Often there is another teacher that is currently using one that is also looking for more work. Sharing a good housekeeper amongst work colleagues is a great way to assure you are getting a trustworthy person.

Even if you get a trustworthy person it is not always smooth sailing once they start working at your place. In some situations, the housekeeper might not speak English. And if you not fluent in the local language yet, there can be some issues with communication and getting things done in the ways that you like and prefer. One solution is to get one of your local friends to come over and help interpret for you; for some bigger issues that may arise.

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Some international school teachers hire a local to cook some meals for them during the week.

If you are lucky, you will find a great person that fits your needs. Maybe you’ve set up a schedule where the housekeeper cleans your place while you are at work. Then when you get home, you have a fresh and tidy house in which you can immediately relax. It is always nice to see the little things that your housekeeper might do in certain parts around the house; like a special way of folding the towels or making up your bed.

It all sounds good, doesn’t it?  But it does come at a cost. So to make sure that you are still saving money while living abroad, be certain that you can find a balance between how much you have your housekeeper do things for you around the house.  On the other hand, hiring a housekeeper does save you time!

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We have a comment topic on our website related to the theme of how much it costs to pay for these types of extra help in your international school life living abroad.  It is in the city section of the comments and information tab on the school profile pages. It is called: Sample prices for food, transportation, average hourly rates for a housekeeper, etc. Here are a few examples of comments related to housekeeper costs:

“Housekeepers, but law, must be full-time, though some are hired part-time, unofficially. Minimum wage for housekeeper is ~4500HKD per month.” – Canadian International School (Hong Kong) (55) Total comments

“Individuals make their own contracts with housekeepers, nannies and gardeners, though the school assists with obtaining visas for nannies and housekeepers. (This process can be frustrating at times based on the Omani bureaucracy, but gets done.). A nanny/housekeeper will make anywhere between 170 and 300 OMR/month and the number of hours in that frame go from a regular 40 hr week with weekends and holidays off with overtime provided (along with yearly airfare and insurance — can be obtained for under 200 OMR/year), to 24-hour on-call, no benefits or overtime.” – American British Academy
(33) Total comments

“You can get a housekeeper here that comes for 1/2 a day, every day of the week, for 250,000 Shillings a month! It is wonderful! The person will do all the cleaning and all your laundry (and you need someone do do your ironing here as some washing needs to be done by hand, etc.).” – International School of Tanganyika (141) Total comments

“One thing great about teaching in Malaysia is the opportunity to have a different lifestyle than would be affordable in the Western world. Most teachers with kids have a full time (some live in) nanny and maid. A full-time nanny is paid $500 -$600 a month. Part time help is affordable, costing between $6 and $10 an hour. For $300 a month, you can have a part-time housekeeper come 3 times a week.” – Mont’Kiara International School (27) Total comments

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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

Highlighted article: What blogging steals from travel

March 16, 2012


After checking out the article on the Matador website, it made me wonder a bit about traveling and our traveling routines (and habits).

Are we traveling just to take pictures, the “best pictures ever”? One friend told me one time, “I don’t take pictures when I travel. I would rather enjoy the moment instead.”

Are we traveling just to take a “cool” photo that I am going to post on Facebook to “show-off” all my friends?

And like the author of the Matador article, is he just traveling to write a blog entry?

What are the rules of traveling then?  What are the things you “must do” and what are the things you are doing that are not on that list and that possibly take away from the things on that list?

Some people say that one “must do” on the list is to eat the local food.  Others say that you “must” interact with the locals as much as you can (see the video highlight of Rick Steves on our blog).  I have friends who are over 40 and still make it a point to stay at hostels so that they can “rough” it and thus being more “in tune” to the host country more and being able to interact with the other travelers there that also want to be more “in tune.”  That is a “must do” for them.

Some people just travel to see and be on the beach.  Relaxing every day at the hotel possibly at an all inclusive resort.  Are those people getting out of traveling like they “should” or are their separate trips abroad that are just for relaxing and “getting away”?

And then there is the Amazing Race show.  Who doesn’t like the Amazing Race show?  It is like all our dreams coming true (with regards to traveling and exploring the world).  But time and time again I meet people who say that sure these teams are traveling the world, but they aren’t really interacting with the host country people and culture at all.  The teams are not in the cities long enough to really see what the culture is all about.  They are not able to be “present” to fully take in where they are and what they are experiencing.  I am not for sure I agree.  I really feel like there is definitely something the teams are getting out of their traveling.  It may not be the same experience as if you are traveling somewhere for 3 weeks and having a home stay at a local family’s house, but sure it is another form a traveling that could possibly be just as rewarding.

“I went to Paris and saw the Eiffel Tower. I wasn’t too impressed.”  If you are working at an international school in Europe, you might have said to your other international school teacher friends, “After traveling to many cities in Europe, they are all starting to look the same.”  Some times traveling naturally gets to this point.  Not that you stay at this point and never go back, but I think when you travel as much as international school teachers do, it is bound to happen at some point.  Because when you travel too much, sometimes the “routines” that you experience when traveling have a similar feeling to each other.  Check into the hotel.  Go into the famous church there.  Look at the Eiffel Tower.  Eat out at restaurants every night.  Go to the Starbucks!  It just might just start all appearing to be the same trip.

I used to have a blog.  It was about all my trips.  I started it originally about my experiences living abroad after moving to my first international school, but my interest in it soon waned as I found myself being less and less “excited” about my day to day experiences living in the host country.  The blog turned into a travel blog basically as I ended up posting entries about my travels. I remember thinking…well I have to edit all my photos.  And then after editing, I have to write insightful things about those photos and publish them (the best ones) on my blog.  My friends and family actually really liked my blog.  They loved reading my entries and looking at my photos.  My aunt even printed out all the blog entries that were on the blog and put them into an album.  She gave the album of my blog entries to my mother as a present!

BUT….I had to stop.  I really started to dread it.  Did I take it out on my traveling and stop enjoying my trips to the fullest?  Probably not that much, but it might have affected my travels.  I can’t image actually writing the blog every day of your trip (like how the Matador author might be doing) and then having the pressure to write insightful entries and publish an entry each day for a blog.  For sure that might take away a bit from his traveling experience and being “present” on his trip.

I think that every one travels for their own reasons.  Somebody’s reasons for traveling might not be exactly the same as the next person’s reasons.  Most people in the “real world” aren’t actually able to travel as much as we do (international school educators) and surely we shouldn’t take that fact for granted.  Maybe a good idea is to make one or two traveling goals before you embark on your trip.  “I’m going to try and interact more with the host country people.”  “I am going to travel more of the local cuisine when I choose which restaurants that I eat at.”

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