Information for Members

Top 40 International Schools with the Most ISC Members (Update)

November 12, 2019


How many times have you applied to a school wishing that you knew somebody that worked there?

Knowing somebody and getting the ‘inside scoop’ on an international school could definitely help you in your quest to set up an interview there.

At International School Community, we made that search for ‘informed people’ even easier with our Top 40 Schools with the Most Members page.

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Currently, our top 40 international schools with the most members are (12 November, 2019):

26 members – American International School in Egypt

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24 members – Copenhagen International School
22 members – Western International School of Shanghai
22 members International School of Kuala Lumpur
21 members – International School Manila
19 members – Jakarta Intercultural School
18 members – MEF International School Istanbul
18 members – International School of Tanganyika
17 members – Seoul International School
16 members – International School Bangkok
16 members – American School Foundation of Mexico City
16 members – Graded School Sao Paulo
16 members – American School of Barcelona
16 members – United Nations International School (Vietnam)
13 members – Shanghai United International School (Hongqiao)
16 members – Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Astana
15 members – Brent International School Manila
15 members – Seoul Foreign School
15 members – Fairview International School
15 members – Shanghai Community International School
14 membersAmerican International School (Vietnam)
14 members – Cairo American College
14 members NIST International School
14 members – Qatar Academy (Doha)
14 members – American School of Dubai
14 members – Singapore American School
14 members – Istanbul International Community School
13 members – Anglo-American School of Moscow
13 membersAmerican School of Kuwait
13 membersGood Shepherd International School
13 members – KIS International School (Bangkok)
13 members – Hong Kong International School
13 members – International School Beijing
13 members – American International School of Johannesburg
12 membersAmerican International School Dhaka
12 membersBilkent Laboratory & International School
12 members – Shanghai American School – Puxi
12 membersInternational School Dhaka
12 members – Shanghai American School – Pudong
12 members – Canadian International School (Singapore)

With 100-200 new members joining each month, this list will continue to grow and grow; with even more members showing up as potential people to network with.

It is simple to network on our website: just click on a member and then click on the ‘Contact this member’ button (premium member feature).  Then write him/her a message.  When your message is sent, the other member will get an email alert letting them know that they have a new message waiting for them on our website (so, hopefully he/she will get back to you in a timely manner!). Numerous International School Community members have already taken advantage of this unique feature on our website!

international schools

As far as we know, International School Community is the one of the only websites where you can quickly and easily network with real people at a specific international school.  Meaning, if you want to get in touch with somebody from Suzhou Singapore International School in China and you are currently a premium member of International School Community, you now have 12 members that you can contact on our website that either work there now or have worked there in the past.  Get the answers to your questions; now that is easy networking!

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Information for Members

Top 26 Schools With the Most Comments/Reviews on ISC (UPDATE)

March 3, 2019


Now there are 1084+ international schools that have had comments/reviews submitted on them on our website (up almost 80 schools from one year ago)!

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

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

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

reviews
Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark)

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

So let’s get to it, which schools are in the top 26 (from February 2019, with some including a sample comment)?

Here we go:

26. Changchun American International School (Changchun, China) – 131 Comments
“There is an age limit for hiring and it is 60 years old. Interviews are via Skype mostly. Candidates should have at least a BA and a teaching qualification. Ideally you would have at least 2 years of int’l school teaching experience. The school does prefer teachers that a…”

25. International School of Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – 134 Comments
“There is a clear and structured pay scale. You enter it according to experience and qualifications, up to a maximum experience level. Within the school you receive an annual ‘step’ for every year of experience, plus there are usually small inflationary raises to the salary scale. Additionally stipends are paid for team leader responsibility. There are resigning bonuses after four years of employment.”

24. Bilkent Laboratory & International School (Ankara, Turkey) – 135 Comments

23. Hong Kong International School (Hong Kong, China) – 136 Comments

22. Fairview International School (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – 137 Comments
“Teachers share their unit plans, but write their own lesson plan. All has to be submitted to the subject heads for vetting and approval.”

21. Canadian International School (Hong Kong) (Honk Kong, China) – 139 Comments
“Hong Kong is one of the major stops for big name concerts and theatrical productions. Tickets can be expensive, but some large music festivals, such as Clokkenflap and Party in the Park, are more reasonably priced.”

20. Sekolah Victory Plus (Jakarta, Indonesia) – 143 Comments
“Due to new Indonesian regulations, all salaries must be paid in Rupiah. However, the school guarantees a portion of your salary (~30%) in USD calculated at the official rate each month. A sort of best of both worlds scenario.”

19. Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (Beijing, China) – 143 Comments

18. American School of Asuncion (Asuncion, Paraguay) – 145 Comments

17. Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea) – 147 Comments
“Tutoring through the school is available if it is not your student. The school takes a portion leaving you with about $20 for 30 minutes of tutoring. Coaching stipends from $350-900 and lifeguarding at the school pool can bring in 25-45 dollars an hour.”

16. MEF International School Istanbul (Istanbul, Turkey) – 156 Comments
“Teacher turnover is high. Everything from 1st year teachers, teachers new to being over seas, to very experienced international educators. Living in Istanbul is a big draw.”

15. Cairo American College (Cairo, Egypt) – 157 Comments

14. Oeiras International School (Lisbon, Portugal) – 157 Comments
“Back in the re-accreditation mode again with the self study this year. The visit will be a joint visit next year with IB, ECIS and NEASC.”

13. Pechersk School International (Kyiv, Ukraine) – 162 Comments
“Apartments are furnished by landlords so it can vary – but generally pretty basic. School gave me a metro card and a SIM card and phone til I sorted out my own.”

12. American School of Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain) – 165 Comments
“The turn over rate is getting a bit higher because the cost of living in Spain is getting higher and higher and salaries are staying the same. Economically it is difficult in Spain right now. That being said Barcelona is a fantastic city to live in and no one wants to leave!”

11. Stamford American International School (Singapore, Singapore) – 169 Comments

10. International School of Dakar (Dakar, Senegal) – 169 Comments

9. International School of Tanganyika (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) – 171 Comments

8. Concordia International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China) – 175 Comments
“The “common language spoken in the hallways” depends on the grade level. Students who are only 3 or 4 might not have a lot of English. As the students get older, they are quite skilled in English.”

7. Ghandi Memorial International School (Jakarta, Indonesia) – 203 Comments

6. Singapore American School (Singapore) – 207 Comments
“Transport options are good. The taxi queue right outside of arrivals can be long at times, but the system works well to get people moving as fast as possible.”

5. NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 252 Comments

4. KIS International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 296 Comments
“Using a mobile is now so cheap that many teachers do not have a landline. The Satellite TV provider is dreadful, neither their offerings nor their boxes have changed in 20 years. If you want to watch sport most teachers just go to the pub.”

3. Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 345 Comments

2. Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 409 Comments
“Airport is okay. It’s clean and easy to navigate. Immigration can take a long time to get through at peek times during the year but it’s okay. They have water fountains, which as a frequent traveller I really appreciate.”

1. Good Shephard International School – (Ooty, India) – 409 Comments
“Presently they are having their Trinity College London Music Examinations. This is an option but they try to maintain high grades although most students only take Initial to Grade 1 due to restrictions of the admin to practice music…”

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

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

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: Tarsus American College (Turkey)

January 30, 2019


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 at which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

One of our members, who works at the Tarsus American College (Mersin, Turkey), described the way she gets to work as follows:

The road to Tarsus American College (Turkey)

Tarsus is a city near the Mediterranean near the larger cities of Mersin and Adana. The school is located in the old part of the town means rich Roman and Biblical historical sites, that include an old Roman road, the Well of St. Paul, mosques, a bazaar, crumbling Roman Baths, Cleopatra’s Gate and a nearby waterfall.

I’m originally from a small town in the state of Iowa in the Midwest USA, so while Tarsus is not a major city, it is larger than where I grew up, but smaller than the capital cities I worked in before coming to Turkey.

My commute to work is a five-minute walk from my school furnished apartment located near campus. Most local teachers live off campus, in the nearby towns of Adana or Mersin and take school buses each morning and afternoon. Most international faculty live on or near campus.

Living on or near campus means teachers can use the school’s, fitness equipment or join others to play tennis on the outdoor courts while walkers and joggers can find flat paths or stroll through parks in the city.

Tarsus American College is a bilingual school that follows the Turkish Ministry of Education and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. International teachers work in English, Science, and Math Departments or International University Counseling and Administration.

The school is located near a number of shops and bakeries, so In the morning, I don’t have to walk far to find a warm simit at a nearby bakeries or bring in office treats such as a box of cezerye, a Turkish dessert made from caramelized carrots, shredded coconut, and roasted walnuts, hazelnuts or pistachios. Following are more photos of food that can be found near campus.

On the way home from school I usually pick up fresh produce oranges, lemons, mandarins and grapefruit. Pomegranate season means I eat delicious pomegranates every day.

A few new drinks I’ve grown to love while living in Tarsus.

Şalgam Suyu, is fermented turnip juice, it can be spicy and draink alone, or enjoyed with rakka on a night out.

Cinnamon topped salep is made from a flour of ground tubers of wild orchids, and is a warm alternative to coffee or tea.

Baklava is commonly known as the Turkish dessert, but there are many more treats to try. Turkish Künefe is served with the same sweet syrup, but has cheese inside a crispy shredded wheat type outer coating and covered in pistachios.

On the weekends, I can find a traditional Turkish breakfast served with tea and Turkish coffee, break, cheeses, olives, butter, honey, jam, and eggs.

Hummus is served hot and is a full meal, not just an appetizer when served with bread, tomatoes, and pickled vegetables. Most restaurants allow diners to choose from traditional covered in olive oil, or served with beef.

A common meal here is the Turkish kebab and the best kebab in my opinion comes with decision salads.

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author, Ellen Johnston.

What to know more what it is like to visit and live in Turkey?  Out of a total of 25 international schools we have listed in Turkey, 17 have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

Bilkent Laboratory & International School (135 comments)
Enka Schools (Istanbul) (45 Comments)
Istanbul International Community School (54 Comments)
MEF International School Istanbul (156 Comments)
MEF International School Izmir (58 Comments)
Robert College of Istanbul (47 Comments)
Tarsus American College (47 Comments)

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

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Highlighted Articles

Gay International School Teachers: Can You Feel Comfortable Everywhere?

August 23, 2015


For all international school teachers, it is hard to adapt to your new host country.  For gay international school teachers, it can be even more of a challenge.  In recent months, it made world news that the USA’s government legalized gay marriage.  Not all countries have gone down a similar path though. As a result, there are varying gay rights (or lack there of) across the globe.

2011 Capital Pride Parade - Dupont Circle - Washington, DC

Regardless of the kinds of gay rights the country has, there are definitely gay international school teachers and couples that work at international schools all over the world. But like we all know, not all countries (and schools for that matter) are all that welcoming to gay teachers. On the other hand, some schools (and the countries they are in) are very welcoming.

Maybe a good strategy for gay teachers is to just ask the administration during their interview, to ask them how things are at their school and in their country.  Better to know more information before you decide to sign a contract with a school.  Some schools might respond by telling you that they currently have gay teachers working there and that they don’t experience any discrimination both at work and in the community. Other international schools will stare back at you blankly, not knowing how to respond to your direct question about being gay at their school.  If a school shows hesitation, it might be a good indicator that they are indeed not the best fit for you at that time.

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You might say though, that regardless of what the administration says, it is important to do your research about each city and country. Even if the gay rights are not so progressive in a certain country, it does not mean that you should give up an opportunity to work there.  There are always other gay people to connect with once you arrive, both in the community and hopefully also at your school.

A great website to stay up-to-date with the current events (all things gay related) of each country is globalgayz.com.

Another great resource is the International School Community website. Using our Comments Search feature, we found 33 comments (a premium membership feature) that talked about what life is like for gay people in that city. Here are just a few that we would like to highlight:

“The city is huge and very diverse. City center is inhabited by lower-income citizens, as it’s very loud and dirty. The city is muslim and definitely not gay-friendly, though you could see a gay bar here and there and there was a transsexual pride going on this year. The city itself is very lively, with nice bars and cafes in a walking street Yeni Carsi near Taksim square.” – MEF International School Istanbul (Istanbul, Turkey)50 Comments

“Berlin has a long history as being gay friendly. Schöneberg is considered the gaypart of the city, and if you walk anywhere southern form Lietzenburger Straße you will see a lot of rainbow flags on balconies as well as in bars and shops. If you want to avoid nightlife, don’t live in Kreuzberg: this is the party/hipster area. Friedrichshein and Prenzauler Berg are emerging as a very popular places to live, and the prices in these neighbourhoods are rising. Charlottenburg is a very nice and quiet neighbourhood especially for the ones for kids and it’s not far from anything (check out Goethestraße area).” – Berlin International School (Berlin, Germany)12 Comments

“I’ve heard from my gay friend here that dating can be a bit difficult. If you’ve seen the new show last year called Looking, then that pretty much is accurate in our dating is here for gay men. There are definitely endless bars to go to at night. Just be careful of the location of the bar and how safe is it there at night. Good to use Uber to get yourself home after you dance the night away!” –International High School of San Francisco (San Francisco, United States)37 Comments

“Do not go to a night club unless you know they are foreigner friendly. Fights occur at the other ones. There is a gay club in town, but homosexuality “does not exist” in their way of thinking/culture. Ulaanbaatar (UB) is the ugliest city in the world in the world’s most beautiful country. UB is quiet, as their aren’t that many people. A great place for a single male, but couples may find it boring. Many foreign women marry Mongolian men, too, so it’s okay on that front.” – Orchlon School (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia)68 Comments

“I had friends who were gay that had no troubles while living here, they just maintain a low profile…not all over one another in public. I made sure to avoid public displays of affection while out with my husband too though. I mean, it is an ultra-conservative society and one should behave accordingly. We also wore clothing that covered our shoulders and our knees because of respect for the locals which are uncomfortable with all the skin that Westerners like to show off. My husband and I are a mixed race couple and we had no issue with that at all. We did not know what to expect when we came to Cairo but for two years we were treated very well and never experienced any racism that we noticed.” – Misr American College (Cairo, Egypt)37 Comments

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Traveling Around

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

June 24, 2015


Traveling Around: Istanbul, Turkey

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Can you relate?

• Walking around in a non-tourist area and using the GPS on our phone to navigate the hilly streets and alleys and at times the uneven sidewalks and roads.
• Trying to fit/blend in while also observing the locals at the same time, then having a local walk by and say “hello” to us (we didn’t pass for Turkish I guess.)
• Thinking you are the well-experienced traveler, and yet getting easily ripped off or conned by a local salesman.
• Tasting the local ice cream and finding out it is quite different from the ice cream you are used to.
• Realizing that there are people everywhere in this city, way bigger than the city you are currently living in.
• Wanting to finally try (after visiting Istanbul three times) a simit and finding out it tasted very good!
• Going out to eat at a variety of places in the city, some super cheap and really good and some super expensive and not so good tasting.
• Finding stray cats EVERYWHERE! There were cute ones, but some really looked like they needed some tender loving care.
• Taking a second look when running into restaurants and stores that you thought would never be in Istanbul (Shake Shack, Arby’s, etc.)
• Lucking out and having the best weather possible for our visit. The rain and clouds ended just as we arrive and came back just as we left.
• Being amazed at not just the Blue Mosque, but ALL the many mosques around the city; all works of art and just beautiful!
• Walking next to the Blue Mosque at just the right time for when Iftar was happening. There were local bands playing songs and tons of people all around eating donated food. Wonderful community feeling!
• Eating at a really local place and not being able to communicate at all because both parties didn’t know each others’ languages. Showing kindness and giving kind gestures created, though, a wonderful cultural exchange.
• Finding some fruit in a local green market that we had never seen before, and the store owner giving us one to try. Actually, in many stores the people were so generous by giving us free samples.
• Taking a boat down the Bosphorus River and enjoying the wonderful sea breeze and sunshine on such a beautiful day.
• Arriving in a small town realizing that it was a complete tourist trap!
• Seeing some locals protesting some issue from their boats in the Bosphorus, wishing we knew what they were protesting about.
• Feeling happy by supporting the local businesses and the businesses that are trying to support local people in their work by paying them an honest wage.

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

•  Enka Schools (Istanbul) (Istanbul, Turkey)13 Comments
•  Hisar School (Istanbul, Turkey)17 Comments
•  Istanbul International Community School (Istanbul, Turkey)12 Comments
•  
ISTEK Schools, Istanbul (Istanbul, Turkey)8 Comments
•  
Koc School Istanbul (Istanbul, Turkey)10 Comments
•  
Kultur 2000 Koleji (Istanbul, Turkey)27 Comments
•  
MEF International School Istanbul (Istanbul, Turkey)43 Comments
•  
Robert College of Istanbul (Istanbul, Turkey)19 Comments
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TED Istanbul College (Istanbul, Turkey)17 Comments
•  
The British International School – Istanbul (Istanbul, Turkey)9 Comments
•  
Uskudar American Academy & Sev Elementary (Istanbul, Turkey)15 Comments

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

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Surveys

Survey results are in: Describe the current condition of the international school building you work at.

September 15, 2013


The survey results are in, and it seems as if most visitors and members of International School Community who voted are working in a Brand new/Excellent international school building.

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We all dream about teaching in the perfect, purpose-built school building, but many of us never get the opportunity.  According to our recent survey results though, it appears as if most of us are!

Maybe it is because of working at an international school, I mean many of these schools are run by some of the richest people in the city’s community. Most of these well-off families want their children to attend not just the best school in the city, but possibly the nicest looking as well.  If some people with money and good connections in the community want a nice-looking school building for their children, then I am sure they can and will do just that!

Many international schools however find themselves stuck in a converted building, meant for another purpose….not so much for teaching.  In those buildings, international school administers and teachers struggle to ‘make-it-work’; somehow managing to educate students in less-than-ideal situations.  Even when they try to update something in the building, there are too many extraneous factors that stop them from doing so.

Other international schools start off as someone’s (or a group of people) dream.  Not existing before, the new building is constructed to fit that dream.  The people in charge can direct how the building looks like and make it the most purpose-built as they can to fit their needs.  There are definitely international schools out there just like that, someone’s dream school.

But for the other international schools stuck in a building that is either falling apart or too small to fit the growing needs of the school, getting a new building made for them is a big challenge to say the least.  Constructing a new international school building is multi-faceted and very time-consuming.  Many factors come into play and the timing has to be perfect.  There needs to be the right amount of funding up-front.  There needs to be years of planning to take place and support from all stake holders.  There also usually needs to be a stable student-body where the student numbers are either growing or holding very tight.

Of course when the stars align, then the lucky international school teachers (and all the other stake holders) get to work and learn in a brand new, excellent school building. I mean who wouldn’t want to work in a new purpose-built international school building?

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Luckily on International School Community, we have a School Information section in the comments and information part of each school’s profile page that discusses the building and campus for each school.  It can be important to know more about the school’s building if you are planning on moving across the world to work in it.  Is your potential new international school state-of-the-art in its design with the most up to date technology or a building that is falling apart?

The comment topic in the School Information section tab is called:

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

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Taken from the Vietnam American International School‘s school profile page.

There have been many comments and information submitted in this topic on numerous school profiles on our website; 547 to be exact.  Here are just a few:

One International School Community member said about working at MEF International School Istanbul: “The Int’l school is very subservient to the National school in terms of use of facilities and is given a real afterthought treatment by the general management.”

Another member said about working at Yokohama International School: “Space is really expensive in the school area, however, YIS has adequate space for its size. It is somewhat restricted in terms of sports facilities, but uses a nearby field.”

Another member submitted a comment about working at Wells International School (Thailand): “Wells includes three campuses: 2 kindergartens and 1 primary and secondary campus. All three are relatively small, but the facilities are expansive given the land restrictions. The head campus, located on Sukhumvit at On Nut, has over 30 classrooms, an auditorium, three science labs, 2 sports courts and more.”

If you are currently a premium member of International School Community, please take a moment to share what you know about the buliding/campus of the international schools 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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12 Tips for Selecting an Int'l School

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

February 23, 2013


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

Tip #8 – Are the teachers fully qualified?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Recently Updated School Profiles

Recently Updated School Profiles #19: Dhahran Ahliyya Schools, Al Ghanim Bilingual School and Mef Int’l School Istanbul

January 27, 2013


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

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21 Jan  Dhahran Ahliyya Schools (36 new comments)      Dammam, Saudi Arabia:

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One of the new comments in the school information section: “DAS does have high expectations of its teaching staff. The school is working hard to make the shift to a dual language program and it expects the teachers to participate fully in its efforts. Most of these efforts take place during school hours although, like in good schools everywhere, teachers do take work home to prepare lessons and grade papers. Most teachers have preparation time for approximately one-third to one-half of their time in school. Some of that time is taken up by meetings in the department and everyone has a few assignments of yard duty per week…”

20 Jan  Al Ghanim Bilingual School (15 new comments)      Salwa, Kuwait:

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One of the new comments in the benefits information section: “Although I recommend staying away from this school, if you are even considering working there, make sure that you get the following before making a final decision: 1. A copy of the contract. 2. A copy of the staff manual. If it’s the same staff manual that I received, you’ll find a list of things teachers should not do and the consequences including the number of days pay that will be lost. 3. Your assignment and schedule in writing. (There were teachers who were told that they would be doing one thing, and when they arrived they were told that they would be doing something else.) …”

14 Jan  Mef Int’l School Istanbul (27 new comments)      Istanbul, Turkey:

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One of the new comments in the benefits information section: “A flight every 2 years and at end of contract. 600 USD shipping at beginning and end of contract. Receipts at beginning but not needed when leaving. Free breakfast, lunch and snack…”

Check out the rest of the last 40 international school profile pages that have been recently updated on International School Community here.

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Surveys

Survey results are in: Which international school teacher conference do you prefer to go to?

January 19, 2013


The survey results are in, and it seems as if most visitors and members of International School Community who voted have had the most success at IB conferences.

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IB conferences/workshops can prove to be a very motivating and enlightening experience.  Isn’t that what going to conferences is all about?  Most people might say that teaching is viewed as a career, and with careers comes professionalism.  Many international school teachers aspire to be the best professionals in the field.  The IB (PYP and MYP too) teachers definitely have similar aspirations as well; to learn more and more about the new ways of thinking and teaching using inquiry.  They are also looking to learn more about how to make their students’ thinking visible.

But like many workshops that you may attend at international school teaching conferences, the benefit of the workshop you attend greatly depends on the instructor that you get.  It can also be said that the success of your workshop depends on the people that attend it as well.  So many different factors come into play, but when all of them line up correctly, you are most likely in for an enlightening experience.  Those types of workshops can really inspire you throughout the rest of the conference and stay with you when you return back to work.

In terms of staff development benefits, the IBO requires that the teachers working in approved/accredited schools get on going PD in the IB philosophy and latest strategies on how best to instruct students in their inquiry programme. Instead of using your own PD monies to attend IB workshops, very often the school will take the costs involved out of their own monies.

There are many factors to consider when deciding on which international school at which to work.  Knowing about the professional development allowance (or lack there of) can prove to be helpful information to know; just to see what you can expect in terms of you getting the opportunity to attend workshops and conferences while you work there.  Luckily on International School Community, we have a Benefits Information section in the comments and information part of each school’s profile page that discusses this very topic.

• Professional development allowance details.

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Taken from International Community School Addis Ababa (35 Total Comments) 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 Mef Int’l School Istanbul: “IBO certified IBDP and PYP training provided. Outside speakers such as Virginia Rojas brought in to provide in house PD.”

Another member said about working at Western International School of Shanghai: “Most teachers don’t get any out of school PD their first year of contract. Depends on the needs of the school.”

Another member submitted a comment about working at American School of Barcelona: “The PD amount is 390 Euros a year. You can roll over this amount for 3 years. But the reality some people get more, it is not so clear cut on who gets what amount and who gets to go to what PD opportunity.”

If you are currently a member of International School Community, please take a moment to share what you know by submitting some comments and information about the PD allowances at your international school. 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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ISCommunity Newsletters

International School Community Newsletter v2012.06 – 2 June, 2012

June 2, 2012


v2012.06 – 2 June, 2012:

Summer vacation is the time of year all teachers are waiting for (and I suppose all students as well!).  The 1.5 to 2 months of summer break is especially important though for teachers who work at international schools because it is typically when they take their annual trip back home.  When you live in a foreign country, half way across the world, it does indeed feel good to go home.  Even though you do create a new ‘family’ when you live abroad with the other international school teachers that you are working with, your home is most likely where your birth family lives.  Going home too can simply mean just going back to your home country, not necessarily going back to where you grew up.

There are some positives to going back to your home country during the summer:

• You get to see your old friends from when you went to University maybe or people that you went to high school with.  It is important to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances; Facebook still can’t compete with real face to face meetings with these people from your life. Also, you can tell them all about the adventures you have been on while they have been staying-put most likely in the same city that they went to high school in!

• If you go to your home country during the summer, you get to stock-up on all the favorite products from your old life.  Many international school teachers love to go to their favorite grocery stores to stock-up on all the products not available in their host country supermarkets.  Be careful though, food products weigh a lot and can easily make your suitcase go over the allowed weight on your flight back!

• You get to see your nieces and nephews in person, noticing how they are getting so much older now and all grown-up.  You can do things with them like taking them to the movies or going out for a few games of bowling.

A few alternatives for your summer if you don’t fancy going home:

• Some international school teachers just want to stay put in their host country during the summer.  Some feel that you don’t have the time to really explore the city, the nearby cities, or the other cities in the country during the school year. And if you are currently living in the northern hemisphere, summer is the best time typically to explore these cities.  Some teachers also just simply stay put to save money.

• A month-long trip to Africa or a month-long trip to the Chicago area where your family lives? A question you might be asking yourself in April. Some are faced with this international school educator’s dilemma each summer.  For many international school teachers, the price of the flight to go home is actually the same price it would take to go to more exotic places like Kenya or Costa Rica or even Bali.  Who would want to go home (a place you have seen many times already) in place of going on an exciting adventure?  Many choose the adventure option each summer!

So, are you planning on going home this summer? Are you the international school teacher that makes their annual trip home each summer, the one that stays in the host country, or the one that is traveling to another country on some adventure?  Share your stories and reasons for your summer plans here!

From the staff at International School Community.


Recently updated schools with new comments and information:

· 02 Jun  The English International School of Padua (12 new comments)
Padova, Italy
“Members of staff are expected to be on the school premises no later than 08:30 a.m…”
· 01 Jun  The British School of Tashkent (6 new comments)
Tashkent, Uzbekistan

“The school provides accommodation and access to the local international clinic with direct billing for all treatment including GP visits but excluding dental cover…”

· 31 May   North Jakarta International School (13 new comments)
Jakarta, Indonesia
“Teachers live in school-provided, furnished housing in the vicinity of the school…”

· 30 May  Yongsan International School of Seoul (8 new comments)
Seoul, South Korea
“Many of the teachers are from United States with just a few more single teachers than teaching couples…”

· 28 May  Bina Bangsa School  (13 new comments)
Jakarta, Indonesia

“There is a baggage allowance of US$500…”

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


Recent blog entries:

· The Wonderful World of International School Hiring Fairs: Lesson #8 – “Courtesy is cool, good will is good stuff.”
“As an international school teacher you definitely don’t want to intentionally close any doors that might lead to other opportunities in the future…”

· Common Myths and Misconceptions about Bilingual Children #3: Young children soak up languages like sponges.
“I think the key with students learning the target language faster than adults is that they are going to school (their job) every day for 7-8 hours…”

· International Teaching Predictions for 2012 #7: Latin America
“I find that growth in international schools often follows a construction boom, and Brazil in particular…”

· Survey results are in: How much does your school pay for your housing benefits?
“Some of my international school teacher friends don’t get any housing allowance, namely those that are living in Western Europe…”

·  New Teacher Orientation Must-Haves at International Schools #1: A Trip Around the City
“Should your new international school be organizing a trip around the city for all their new teachers…”

· Which international chools do IS Community members represent?
“Currently, International School Community members work at or have worked at the following 179 international schools…”


Recently added schools:


Requested schools to have members leave comments on:


Last month we have had visits from 101 countries around the world!

Site Stats:
Current members: 629 ( 123)
School profiles
: 1222 ( 17)
Blog entries
: 271 ( 17)
Posted comments & info
:
4913 ( 335)
Twitter followers: 349 ( 13)


Ways to get free premium membership:

1. Write and submit 15-29 comments and information on the schools you know about  for 6 free months.
2. Write and submit 30+ comments and information for 1 year free.
3. Become our next member spotlight for 6 free months.
4. Submit a blog article (e.g. a Can you Relate? blog entry) for 1 free month.


New members:

· Benjamin Wagor
(Xiamen International School)
· Topic Dog
(QSI International School of Brindisi)
· Sobelle Belcaid
(El Alsson British and American International School)
· Jeffrey Goldberg
(Dhirubhai Ambani International School)
· Joseph Levno
(Brent School School)
· Tassos Anastasiades
(Day Waterman College)


Current Survey Topic:

Vote here!


Member spotlight:

Anne Llewellyn
“Then I said: “Now I am going to see the world”.  I am going to learn all that cultural/language/life I didn’t have time for when studying science…”

“The best part of teaching for me was instilling into my students a knowledge, respect and love of their own country.”

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


Highlighted Article
Why for-profit schools can be good.“GEMS schools director: ‘We don’t care about profit.’ GEMS currently runs 10 schools in the UK, but it acquired these schools from other operators, rather than creating them from scratch. It now plans to open six new schools over the next two years, and promises that they will charge more competitive fees than many existing private schools.”
“In 2009, the firm’s then chief executive Anders Hultin warned that the Conservative’s proposed free school programme would fail, if private firms weren’t allowed to run schools for a profit…”



Check out this blog entry to read more about for-profit international schools. Out of the 1222 international schools listed on ISCommunity 499 are for-profit and 723 are non-profit schools.  If you prefer to work at a non-profit international school, it looks like you are in luck as they are currently in the majority on our website.

 

Highlighted blog of an international teacher:

This international school teacher’s blog is about teaching at British International School Shanghaiand living in Shanghai, China.One of their blog entries (New Year, new role…building the team) is describing how international schools are sometimes in a pickle trying to organize good, useful, purposeful, effective, etc. professional development on the few days back after a break:

“Following our wonderful Christmas break in India, it was great to get back and see our colleagues at BISS; and especially the Humanities team, who I am excited to now be leading.  Although, I cannot believe how cold Shanghai has become!  Our first day back was a training day and was well structured and enjoyable; following a warm welcome back from Sir Terry, the secondary and primary staff split to follow separate training schedules. Our day (secondary) was focused on Formative Assessment and was extremely interactive and practical…”

Another one of their entries (Cutting Ties…) is about how each international school is different and has their own rules about how they would like their school to be run:

“I was recently contacted by my previous employer, an International School in Vietnam, who politely asked me to close down the Edmodo groups I had set up whilst at the school. In particular they wanted me to close a group I had set up named ‘Social Connections’ that was created to allow students (and staff) to remain in touch after moving on…as so often happens on the international circuit. They stated that new school policy dictated that any contact with students must cease when you leave…”

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

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Information for Members

The total comments in all the Benefits Information sections: 10704!

November 25, 2019


As all International School Community members know, each of the 2110+ 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 will automatically get one free month of premium membership added on to your account!  The more comments you leave, the more free membership you get!

So, what are the recent statistics about the Benefits Information sections on all the school profile pages?  The current total number of submitted comments in the Benefits Information section is 10704 (out of a total of 34612+ comments); that is up 6082 comments from around 12 months ago (Nov. 2018).

Example Benefits Information page on KIS International School (Bangkok)
(316 total comments) Bangkok, Thailand

There are 20 subtopics in the Benefits Information section on each school profile page.  Check out each one of these subtopics below and find out out the total number of comments in that specific sub topic and also an example comment that has been submitted there.

• Average monthly salary after taxes and in what currency (explain taxation situation). How often do you get paid throughout the year? (1269 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Salary is paid regularly each month directly into your bank account which the school will help you set up. It is paid in $US…” – Northbridge International School (Phnom Penh, Cambodia) – 59 Comments

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• Details about the staff housing or the housing allowance. If there is no housing allowance, how much are rent costs and utilities? (1279 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Rent prices went up all over Shanghai in the past 1-2 years and even places near the school cost more now, as landlords start seeing that there’s many expats in the area willing to pay more…” – Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 433 Comments

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• Average amount of money that is left to be saved. (672 Total Comments)

Example comment: “A teaching couple could easily live and travel on one salary and save 100% of the other.  Savings opportunity is obviously significantly less on one salary, but still possible…” – Singapore American School (Singapore) – 256 Comments

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• Detailed info about flight, shipping and settling-in allowances. Any other benefits (e.g. free lunches, etc.)? (1134 Total Comments)

Example comment: “$4000 per teaching couple moving allowance (once you arrive in cash), optional $10,000 loan from school interest free (to buy car), annual flights home…” – American International School of Lagos (Lagos, Nigeria) – 21 Comments

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• Health insurance and medical benefits. Describe your experiences using these benefits and going to the local hospitals. (980 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Teachers must pay for their own health insurance here as Switzerland doesn’t have a social health care program model. Some of the staff’s partners are actually the local doctors in Leysin, so expect to get seen or have your children get seen by them..” – Leysin American School (Leysin, Switzerland) – 72 Comments

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• Ways to make extra money (tutoring, after-school activities, etc.). (433 Total Comments)

Example comment: “As the April 6, 2016 comment below states, there are many opportunities for increasing your monthly pay. Other than that, it is illegal to work for anyone but your visa provider (the school) in China. Lots of teachers tutor or work otherwise on the side anyway, but it is illegal.” – Kang Chiao International School (Kunshan, China) – 81 Comments

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• Information about benefits for teachers with dependents. (755 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Teachers with dependents need to pay some fees. These vary and are at the discretion of the school so they could conceivably become higher each year. They do not like to hire people with dependents.” – MEF International School Istanbul (Istanbul, Turkey) – 160 Comments

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• Professional development allowance details. (534 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The PD allowance allows you to travel and pay for one IB workshop (or any conference) per year. Or you can do two IB online workshops…” – The International School of Dakar (Dakar, Senegal) – 181 Comments

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• Pension plan details. (610 Total Comments)

Example comment: “It is not a pension. Due to Brazilian law, each teacher pays 8% of their salary each month into a guarantee fund. This is more or less an unemployment insurance. At the end of your contract, the school agrees to “fire” you, so you can access that fund. Based on the exchange rate at that time, it can vary in USD. At the beginning of my contract is was estimated around $12,000. But, now it will be much closer to $7,000. There is no way to know how much it will actually be in the end.” – American School of Belo Horizonte (Belo Horizonte, Brazil) – 78 Comments

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• Describe your experience bringing pets. (259 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Some teachers bring their pets from the USA (and other countries like UAE and Qatar). Some do it via the airlines or a pet relocation service. You need to make sure you pet has their up-to-date shots and whatnot to avoid certain delays and hassles along the way. The shorter your flight to Egypt the easier it might be to get your pet to Egypt.” – American International School in Egypt (Main Campus) (New Cairo City, Egypt) – 62 Comments

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• Explain how salaries are decided (e.g. is there a pay schedule? extra step for masters degree? Annual pay raises? Bonuses?). (542 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Each teacher is paid differently. No pay scale. Some teachers with lots of experience paid less than teachers with little experience. Men get paid more than women…” – American School of Durango (Durango, Mexico) – 39 Comments

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• How do the school’s benefits compare to other international schools in the area/city? (332 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The pay is lower than other international schools in the area but the school fees are also lower. It is the mid range between the “posh” international schools and the ones that don’t hire internationally trained teachers.” – Ican British International School (Phnom Penh, Cambodia) – 74 Comments

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• How is the school calendar? Is there ample vacation time? (517 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Point of contention. Clearly we are in a Muslim country so we have to abide by the holidays, but as Ramadan keeps pushing up 2 weeks every year, so does Eid (which usually falls in the first term. But we are in one of those awkward times where Eid is falling the first week of school so that means no break from the start of school until December. There is only one week at xmas this year, because we have to make sure to finish school around the start of Ramadan, it will be too hot to come to school while the kids (majority) will be fasting or they just won’t attend school. We will still have a week in Feb and a week in April. No long weekends here. 3 months off for summer.” – Qatar Academy (Sidra) (Doha, Qatar) – 97 Comments

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• What are some things that you need to buy/pay for when you first arrive at the school that you didn’t know about beforehand? (276 Total Comments)

Example comment: “If you have a pet you have to pay an extra deposit to the landlord, not covered by school…” – Pechersk School International (Kyiv, Ukraine) – 162 Comments

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• Details about the maternity benefits of the host country and school. (139 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Women get 12 weeks at 80% pay. She can take more time off, but without pay and at the business’ discretion. I think men don’t get any time off to be with their newborn.” – Zurich International School (Zurich, Switzerland) – 46 Comments

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• What is the process of getting reimbursed for things? (179 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Fill out a simple form, submit the receipt, and the money is deposited into your account after the purchase has been approved. If you are concerned as to whether or not you will be reimbursed, seek out approval first. I have never been turned down.” – Daegu International School (Daegu, South Korea) – 25 Comments

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• Details about new teacher orientation. (212 Total Comments)

Example comment: “We were picked up at the airport by a school driver who drove the Superintendent there to meet us. We were taken directly to our house, and someone had purchased some staple foods for the refrigerator. There were new towels, sheets and pillows. Other teachers/admin in the neighborhood came to greet us that evening and brought over hot food for dinner. It was an excellent welcome. We immediately felt very much at home…” –Lahore American School (Lahore, Pakistan) – 175 Comments

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• In general, why are people staying at or leaving this school? (320 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Everyone leaves because the salary scrap and administration is crap. If you had any moral integrity you would also leave after a week.” – Colombo International School (Colombo, Sri Lanka) – 64 Comments

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• Details about the teaching contract. What important things should prospective teachers know about? (209 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Read carefully. 3 page contract is very vague and WILL be used in favor of the administration against you. Expect them to try and keep as much of your money as they can. Hence the 2 month salary withholding which you are assured you will get at back end of contract. This does not usually come to fruition.” – Pan Asia International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 69 Comments

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• Information on trailing spouses. Can they work under spousal visa (also availability of work) or is it possible to live only on one salary? (53 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Trailing spouses can only be sponsored if you are earning a certain amount. It is not very easy to get a job in some professionals; however, this might change soon with the sponsorship system changing often as we near the World Cup 2022.” – The English Modern School (Doha) (Doha, Qatar) – 64 Comments

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Information for Members

It’s easy to network on ISC!

August 6, 2019


How many times have you applied to a school wishing that you knew somebody that worked there?

Knowing somebody and getting the ‘inside scoop’ on an international school will definitely help you in your quest to set up an interview there.

At International School Community we made that search for ‘informed people’ even easier with our new Top 40 Schools with the Most Members page.

Currently, our top 40 international schools with the most members are:
24 members – American International School in Egypt
23 members – Copenhagen International School
21 members – International School of Kuala Lumpur
21 members – International School Manila
17 members – Seoul International School
17 members – International School of Tanganyika
17 membersJakarta International School
17 membersMEF International School Istanbul
17 membersWestern International School of Shanghai
16 membersFairview International School
16 members – American School Foundation of Mexico City
16 members – American School of Barcelona
15 members
Singapore American School
15 membersInternational School Bangkok
14 membersUnited Nations International School (Vietnam)
14 membersShanghai Community International School
14 membersShanghai United International School (Hongqiao)
14 members – Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Astana
14 members – Istanbul International Community School
14 membersNIST International School
14 membersBrent International School Manila
14 members – Seoul Foreign School
14 membersQatar Academy (Doha)
13 members – KIS International School (Bangkok)
13 membersGraded – The American School of Sao Paulo
13 membersAmerican School of Dubai
13 membersAmerican International School of Johannesburg
13 membersAmerican International School (Vietnam)
13 membersCairo American College
13 membersGood Shepherd International School
12 members –Suzhou Singapore International School
12 membersChadwick International School – Songdo
12 membersInternational School of Beijing
12 membersWestern Academy of Beijing
12 membersAmerican International School of Kuwait
12 membersAnglo-American School of Moscow
12 membersAmerican School of Kuwait
12 membersCanadian International School (Singapore)
11 membersAmerican Embassy School New Delhi
11 membersBilkent Laboratory & International School

The members of these schools include members that currently work there now or have worked there in the past.

With 100-300 new members joining each month, this list will continue to grow and grow; with even more members showing up as potential people to network with.

It is simple to network on our website: just click on a member and then click on the ‘Contact this member’ button (Premium membership access required).  Then write him/her a message.  When your message is sent, the other member will get an email alert letting them know that they have a new message waiting for them on our website (you don’t need premium membership access to reply to a private message on our website). Numerous International School Community members have already taken advantage of this unique feature on our website!

As far as we know, International School Community is the only website where you can quickly and easily network with real people at a specific international school.  Meaning, if you want to get in touch with somebody from the United Nations International School in New York and you are currently a premium member of International School Community, you now have 6 members that you can contact on our website that either work there now or have worked there in the past.  

Get the answers to your questions; now that is easy networking!

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Discussion Topics

Is Your Host Country Safe?

April 2, 2019


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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