Information for Members

ISC now has over 2150 international school profiles listed

September 27, 2020


At International School Community, we now have over 2150 international school profiles listed on our website!

The last 5 schools to be added:

Traill International School (Bangkok, Thailand)
Olive Tree International Academy (Hangzhou, China)
North London Collegiate School (Singapore) (Singapore)
Leeds International School (Galle, Sri Lanka)
The British College of Brazil (Sao Paolo, Brazil)

The top 5 schools with the most members:

American International School in Egypt (Main Campus) (New Cairo City, Egypt) – 30 Members
Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 24 Members
Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 23 Members
International School of Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – 22 Members
International School Manila (Manila, Philippines) – 22 Members

The top 6 most viewed schools:

British International School Moscow (Moscow, Russia) – 70640 Views
Colegio Granadino Manizales (Manizales, Colombia) – 38970 Views
American International School of Budapest (Budapest, Hungary) – 20524 Views
Bodwell High School (Vancouver, Canada) – 5255 Views
Haileybury Almaty (Almaty, Kazakhstan) – 4288 Views
International School of Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – 4217 Views

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

Kyoto International School (Kyoto, Japan) – 63 Comments
School of the Nations (Brasilia) (Brasilia, Brazil) – 41 Comments
International School of Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – 135 Comments
Deutsche Schule Kobe – European School ‘s Wall(Kobe, Japan) – 50 Comments
United Lisbon International School (Lisbon, Portugal) – 0 Comments

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

International School Community has the following 2171 international schools listed on our website (last updated on 27 September, 2020)

Results: (185) Countries, (811) Cities, (2171) Schools, (37965) Comments

Asia (212)

Caribbean (39)

Central America (45)

Central/Eastern Europe (114)

East Asia (325)

Middle East (293)

North Africa (68)

North America (109)

Oceania (31)

SE Asia (335)

South America (100)

Sub-Saharan Africa (175)

Western Europe (325)

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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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Top 10 Lists

11 International Schools that have Enthusiastic Teachers and Students

May 7, 2019


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

Japan

  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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Highlighted Articles

Universities with the Most International Teachers

October 30, 2018


Students are often taught that when they study at schools abroad they are opening their mind to new opportunities and lessons. In fact, there are plenty of universities that benefit from a diverse culture when they accept students from all over the world.

International Teachers

It isn’t just students that make up a diverse culture, though. Having a diverse panel of teachers from all over the world also plays a huge role in helping students learn from different points of view.

If you are interested in going to a diverse university, where should you go? What are the most culturally varied universities in the world?

It’s important to remember that a large part of looking at the universities with the most international teachers are often the most advertised through international programs for students. With more international students, though, you are likely to find more international teachers to match.

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

The first university we will look at today is the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne or, in English, the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. As is told in the name, this university is located in Lausanne, Switzerland.

This means that students and teachers are a cultural center in this French-speaking section of Switzerland. After all, they are studying and working in the heart of Europe with France, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Liechtenstein all bordering the country making them close and ready for exploration.

As far as the university itself, it specializes in natural sciences and engineering. Interestingly enough, this is one of very few universities that run a nuclear reactor, a fusion reactor, a Gene/Q Supercomputer, as well as P3 biohazard facilities all for research and teaching purposes.

The university also runs a number of exchange programs. As a result, they are home to a diverse student body hailing from 112 different nationalities.

University of Hong Kong

If you are looking for a particularly diverse university, the University of Hong Kong should definitely be on your list.

International Teachers

This university has the goal of becoming “Asia’s Most Global University”. In practice, this means that by 2019, they plan for 50% of their undergraduates to study internationally. By 2022, every undergraduate student will have the same opportunity making this a university rife with the possibility for each student to expand their horizons. Even at this point, diversity is a high priority with 40% of the University of Hong Kong being international students.

For professors, this is a great chance to build your career as this is a research driven university. In fact, 111 of the professors at this universities have been ranked within the top 1% in the world by Essential Science Indicators.

For students, the University of Hong Kong will help you graduate with a highly valuable degree. Throughout the last 11 years, they have boasted a 99.4% graduate employment rate.

National University of Singapore

If you decide the University of Hong Kong isn’t for you but you still want to work or study within Asia, you should consider the National University of Singapore. The National University of Singapore is actually considered one of the best universities in Asia, so students and professors alike can expect a lot of value out of their time here.

For students who are looking to travel, the National University of Singapore has plenty of overseas colleges that students can attend during overseas programs. These include chances to travel and study in Beijing, Israel, Munich, Shanghai, New York, Stockholm, Silicon Valley, and Lausanne. The National Universities of Singapore also works closely with two of the best American universities – Yale University and Duke University.

As a student, you would also have the chance to work towards double degree or joint degree with exchange programs with other leading universities.

University of Geneva

The University of Geneva is not only known as one of the most diverse universities in the world, it is also known as Switzerland’s second largest university.

International Teachers

While studying or working at the University of Geneva, there are more than 280 different degree programs and over 250 continuing education programs. This, paired with the fact that they have an average of 16,000 international students from more than 140 different countries, makes the University of Geneva a place rife with opportunities for both students and teachers.

This article was submitted to us by ISC member and guest author, David Smith.

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Highlighted Articles

Traveling the world and getting to know more than 30,000 people through pancakes

July 14, 2018


For the past 9 years I have met more than 30,000 people. How? By traveling the world and handing out Dutch pancakes for free wherever I go!

How it all started

My story started 9 years ago, when I was studying in Hong Kong for a university exchange program. My friends there cooked Asian food for me and in return I decided to serve them Dutch pancakes. This was a big success and people liked the pancakes and the atmosphere a lot. Back then I already thought that if this event was such a success in Hong Kong, why not anywhere else in the world?!

traveling

When back in the Netherlands I started hosting people at my apartment­­ on Saturday nights, first for 10 or 20 people, but when encouraging my friends to invite more people, it soon grew out towards 100+ people every week. A few months into this, my landlord decided that he wanted to sell my apartment. At that moment I had to make a decision whether to rent a new apartment or to invest my salary in flight tickets and to travel the world in my free time. I decided on the second one and have since then been a nomad for the past 5+ years.

Initially I just approached my own friends who lived all over Europe and asked them whether they fancied to host an edition in their apartments. This worked, but the pace was low (only 1-2 editions per month). At one point I decided to approach strangers on Facebook, Couchsurfing, etc with the question whether they would know of suitable locations or to host the event in their own apartments. Luckily I was always able to find a location this way. However, nowadays the event has outgrown the capacity of regular apartments, so I decided to switch to bars, hostels and more professional venues.

Very different places

Over the course of these 9 years I have organized the pancake events for around 460 times, in 78 countries and in around 200 different cities, literally all over the world, from Tokyo to Rio de Janeiro and from Dar es Salaam to Boston. During these events we prepared more than 50,000 Dutch pancakes!

traveling

All the places I have visited are of course very different from each other, but the atmosphere at the events is surprisingly similar: people are generally very enthusiastic, easy-going and open to meet many more people. They are also often very willing to help and support, for example by finding locations for the events, helping with groceries, bringing along cooking material, preparing pancakes, or help with cleaning. Occasionally the location even looks cleaner than before the event!

How did the pancake event grow so big?

I have always wondered what drove the success of these events. I think the following factors made the difference:

  1. Pancakes: people all over the world love pancakes and most people have tried them since they are young. In many countries the pancakes even have their own method of preparation and flavor.
  2. Diverse crowd: the events typically attract a very diverse and international crowd, from many different cultures and professional backgrounds.
  3. Personal approach: I try to write everyone who indicates to be interested, either by liking, clicking to attend, joining a group chat etc. Welcoming and encouraging them to bring more people, drives conversion.
  4. Pop-up event: I generally organize these events only one time in a city, so people have no other chance to try the event out in that city.
  5. Free food: there are not too many events around the world with unlimited free food. It is therefore not surprising that potential attendants of the events are often suspicious and think that there must be a way I earn money with these events (which is not the case).

traveling

What are my plans for the future?

Even though I have organized these pancake events for 9 years already, I never looked further than 3 months. There were many moments that I thought about stopping, for example if I experienced disappointments or setbacks or if I did not feel like putting in the effort required to organize more editions. However, there were always many more moments that I felt so happy having completed editions successfully and getting a lot of positive feedback from participants. That has always kept me going!

traveling

As for the Dutch pancake nights, I keep on searching for ways to make the experiences for the participants more unique, for example by making them larger (I now think of creating an XXL edition for more than 1000 people), at more unique locations (in an embassy, on a yacht, etc), by creating social impact (e.g. community building, charity), or otherwise.

How can you join?

In case you are also curious to join a Dutch Pancake edition, feel free to visit the event in Hong Kong on Saturday 21 July: https://www.facebook.com/events/201543413811969/

If you cannot make it to the edition in Hong Kong, then here you can find the calendar with other editions: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Dutch-Pancake-events-1127435713963068/events

Here you can find two related videos about the Dutch Pancake Night:

– My TEDx speech: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPa7V5shQAs&t=250s

– An impression of the event: https://vimeo.com/256783761

Next to that, I do hope that people will be inspired by this journey, connecting people through 3 different ingredients: milk, flour and eggs. And I do hope that people will also start using their own ingredients to shape their own unconventional lifestyle!

traveling

Bio

Robin Vogelaar has a background in finance (at MIT Sloan School of Management) and management consulting (at The Boston Consulting Group and ING Bank in Amsterdam) and currently travels the world bringing people together through Dutch pancakes and supporting NGOs and social enterprises with volunteer consulting on any strategic topic.

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Discussion Topics

International Schools With Money Problems

May 11, 2018


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

Money Problems

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Money Problems

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

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

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

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: Jerudong International School

April 9, 2018


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

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

The road to Jerudong International School…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: American Embassy School New Delhi

March 15, 2018


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

One of our members, who works at the American Embassy School New Delhi (India), described her way to work there as follows:

The road to American Embassy School New Delhi…

I have been working at the American Embassy School (AES) in New Delhi for the past year. My journey to school starts every morning at 7:45am (March 2018) when I leave my apartment. I consider myself pretty lucky because the whole commute takes less than ten minutes and I can walk.

I am currently living at the Embassy of Bulgaria. apparently, Bulgaria had a huge delegation in India in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, but due to some financial issues, the delegation has shrunk considerably in recent years. Thus, many of the apartments at the Embassy that used to be occupied by Bulgarians are now occupied by teachers from my school. Out of twenty-one apartments in the complex, eleven are occupied by AES teachers and ten are occupied by Bulgarian diplomats.

Journey to School

(The gardens on the Bulgarian Embassy grounds.)

The grounds of the apartment complex are quite beautiful. When I leave my apartment, I can hear birds chirping and see the sun shining (at least, I can in the spring and summertime – in the fall and winter there is quite a bit of pollution). But, this time of year, March, the sky is blue and there is bougainvillea blooming everywhere. The bright pink flowers bring a profusion of color to the landscape.

Journey to School

(Bougainvillea along the walls of the Bulgarian Embassy Compound.)

The gardener waves to me as I walk past. He’s busy feeding some of the many cats that live on the compound. There is a mama cat with four kittens who always say hi. They like to hang out in the backyard of the building. Every apartment comes with a terrace and garden, which is quite nice. There is also a pool that we can use, some barbecue grills, and a playground with a trampoline for kids.

Journey to School

(The pool at the Bulgarian Embassy – it’s filled from April to September.)

The apartment complex is a walled compound and there is a guard at the entrance 24/7. On my way out of the complex, I say to the guard “Namaste, Aap kaysayhey?” and he replies “Mayen tikh hoon.” I step out of the quiet of the Bulgarian and on to the street. There is color everywhere and the bees are humming around. It’s warm and breezy, maybe 70 degrees fahrenheit, and the high for the day will be close to 90F.

Journey to School

(The outside of the Bulgarian Embassy.)

I turn right and start walking. Along the way, I pass yellow and green auto-rickshaws (the traditional mode of transport in Delhi, very similar to the tuk-tuks of Bangkok), city taxis, motorbikes, and the ever ubiquitous white Suzukis that are used by Uber drives. Uber has recently become the preferred method of transport in Delhi and the white cars are everywhere. That’s one of the reasons why the traffic in the city is so bad. The proliferation of Uber. Thankfully, I don’t have to drive to get to school.

The walk is lovely. I pass the grounds of the Russian Trade Federation and the Ravi Shankar Foundation. There are bushes and yellow flowers and everything has been newly trimmed and smells like cut grass. I think most people who come to Delhi would be surprised by how green the city is. Although it’s home to twenty-five million people, there are quite a lot of trees.

Journey to School

(The entrance to the Russian Trade Federation.)

A sweet yellow dog comes up to me and says hello. Delhi has lots of street dogs and they are, for the most part, super cute and very friendly. I give yellow dog a pat on the head and continue on my walk. I pass a giant banyan tree, it’s roots all twisted and gnarly. I like the way the sunlight looks when its coming through the leaves. Everything is golden and shimmering.

Journey to School

(Yellow dog outside the British School.)

The traffic on the street in the morning is heavy because the British School is on this street. It’s across the street from my own school and parents and drivers are dropping their kids off for the day. I side step the traffic and continue along the street. Like I said, the whole walk only takes about 10 minutes. But sometimes I dawdle and daydream.

Journey to School

(The banyan tree in front of the British School.)

Journey to School

(The yellow and green auto rickshaw waits for someone who needs a ride. Be ready to barter.)

Across the street from the British School is Vivekanand Camp. The people living in this community have been there for generations. It’s a miracle that the camp hasn’t been torn down yet – it’s the only one still left in the Embassy area, Chanakyapuri. It’s estimated that as many as 2,000 people live in the camp. They don’t have running water. Sometimes, on my way home from school, I see the municipal water truck parked outside the camp entrance. The women come outside with buckets to fill up from the spigot on the side of the truck.

There are always kids from the camp hanging out on the street. In the morning, they are headed to school. They wear the white pants and red sweaters that signal the government school uniform. In the afternoon, the boys play cricket. They harbor dreams of being the next Virat Kohli. He’s the current captain of the Indian national team. The camp is a stark reminder of the wealth inequity that persists in India and other countries in the developing world to this day.

Journey to School

(Boys hanging out outside Vivekanand Camp.)

I cross the street after passing Vivekanand Camp and I am at the entrance to my school. The school is surrounded by high walls and security guards. Men stand patrol at the gates and there are armed soldiers present. The campus is secure and safe. It’s right next to the American Embassy. I go in gate number 4.

Journey to School

(A woman walks past Gate #4, one of the entrances to AES.)

Once inside, it’s a short walk for me to the middle school building. The AES grounds are approximately eleven acres, and it feels a lot like a college campus. There are separate buildings for the elementary, middle, and high schools, athletic fields, a theatre, a cafe, a gymnasium, a pool, and even a climbing wall.

Journey to School

(A campus directory points the way to some of the different buildings that make up AES.)

The campus is known for being home to many different species of butterflies and birds. The biodiversity is incredible. Especially if you are used to living in a grey urban landscape. The number of gardeners who work on campus must number close to fifty. There are so many flowers to water and plants to take care of – they do an amazing job.

Journey to School

(Flowers on campus. They change with the seasons.)

I consider stopping to sit on a bench and enjoy the sunshine, but it’s close to 8am already. Teachers have to be at work at 8:00, although classes don’t start until 8:30. I’ll go to my classroom to do some prep and get ready for my classes.

Journey to School

(Benches and a garden outside the entrance to one of the elementary school buildings.)

I’ve made it to the entrance to my building. I give thanks for the nature that surrounded me on my walk, blink once more in the sunshine, and go inside to greet my day.

Journey to School

(A bulletin board next to the entrance to the middle school. Go AES tigers!)

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author, Megan Vosk. Megan Vosk is a middle school MUN and Humanities teacher at the American Embassy School in New Delhi. She loves helping young people become more compassionate and engaged citizens. When she is not teaching, she likes to spend her time reading, watching movies, practicing yoga, and dining out with her husband.

What to know more what it is like to visit and live in Asia?  Out of a total of 201 international schools we have listed in Asia, 59 that have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

American International School Dhaka (53 comments)
American Embassy School New Delhi (39 Comments)
Good Shepherd International School (411 Comments)
Indus International School (Pune) (43 Comments)
Kodaikanal International School (53 Comments)
Oberoi International School (36 Comments)
SelaQui International School (36 Comments)
Woodstock School (58 Comments)
Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Astana (53 Comments)
Abraham Lincoln School (Nepal) (36 Comments)
Colombo International School (64 Comments)
The British School in Colombo (41 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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Blogs of International Teachers

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

September 2, 2017


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

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

A few entries that we would like to highlight:

FAQs About Becoming an International School Teacher

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

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

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

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

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

“How do you find an international school teaching job?

1. Sign up with an international school recruiting company.

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

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

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

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

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

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Comment Topic Highlight

How Is The New Teacher Orientation at Your School?

August 12, 2017


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

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

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

orientation

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

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

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

Here are a few of those submitted comments:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lessons From Your Country

How to Enjoy Life in Japan (Part 2)

April 8, 2017


What does Japan have to offer expats that other Asian countries don’t? It doesn’t offer much bang for your buck. Even a position at a major, affluent international school in Tokyo can’t offer a salary that compares to Singapore. Nor will your salary take you as far as it will in a place like Laos or Thailand.

So why choose Japan?

The depth and breadth of culture in Japan is unparalleled in Asia. China might be older, but thanks to the Cultural Revolution and the current penchant in China for tacky modernity, you’ll have a harder time finding it. But in Japan you can easily find it, at almost any street corner. Japanese are proud of being Japanese, and will bend over backwards to show off their culture to foreigners. There’s a surplus of Japanese TV shows that capitalize on this theme. “Why did you come to Japan?” follows Japan-obsessed foreigners on crazy odysseys throughout the country. It starts by following gaijin as soon as they land at the airport, often with the intention of backpacking to some remote area, studying some obscure Japanese art, or attending something unique. More often than not, the locals take great care of these vagabonds, inviting them into their homes, taking them great distances, and generally honoring these guests. Japan is very hospitable.

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But not always.

You’ll probably have a few experiences like this at first. But once the honeymoon wears off, you’ll notice that in daily interactions, especially big cities, Japanese are actually avoiding you. They don’t want to sit next to you on the train. No small talk at the bus station. They aren’t interested in talking about politics. You’ll hear the dreaded, “Ah, nihongo joozu, desu ne!” This means you speak good Japanese. It sounds like a compliment, but when you’ve heard it for the tenth time in one day, you’ll realize it’s an insult. A micro-aggression. Yes, they are complimenting you the same way you would a trained dog. Congrats, you can badly pronounce several words of our language, now piss off. You’ll discover you have few Japanese friends, and feel isolated from society.

What do you do?  How do you get past this hump and enjoy a long-term stay?

Make Japanese friends. This sounds odd, but many people have difficulty doing this. Many expats don’t have any close Japanese friends, or even a loose circle of Japanese acquaintances. These are the people that have the most difficult time in Japan and leave the soonest.

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This is because most Japanese people generally won’t make friends on the street. Japan is a very group-oriented culture, and Japanese grow up learning to make friends within strict confines. From the moment a young Japanese child enters school, they are taught that the group membership is paramount, and individualism is not welcome. They spend all their school life dressing in uniforms and following tight regimes, only to graduate into the even more regimented world of work. Uniforms become unofficial dress codes, and the company they work for takes over their life. You strictly socialize within your company. You even vacation with them. Having worked at a Japanese company, I’ve had the weird experience of going on a company sponsored vacation with my co-workers. After many all-night bouts of drinking, we all literally took a bath together. (Google Japanese public bath etiquette after you read this.)

Herein lies your hope. Once you find a group to belong to, you’ll never lack for want of social contact. You will be invited to do everything with your group. The Japanese, familiar with this way of socially orienting themselves, open up like flowers. Indeed, you may find that some get too personal with you, too quickly.

japan

So how do you maximize your life in Japan? How do you truly experience the beauty of Japanese culture? Join a club, organization, social circle, team sport, or group activity. Find a special interest group. Go to those late night drinking parties. Go flower blossom viewing together. Join the cheesy group vacations. Learn ikebana (flower arranging). Practice chado (tea ceremony.) Choose any Japanese art, join the classes, let the group take you in. Join and become Japanese. You will not be disappointed.

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

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Member Spotlights

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

March 11, 2017


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

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

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

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exhilarating, Challenging, Adventurous, Broadening, Inspiring

teacher

Thanks Cassandra!

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

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

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

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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.

japan

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.

japan

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?

japan

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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Top 10 Lists

12 Ways to Make a Successful and Effective International School Teacher Regional Conference

November 24, 2016


Typically in an international school teacher’s career he/she gets a chance to attend a regional international school teacher conference as part of their PD benefit.

There is ECIS (the Educational Collaborative of International Schools), which is mostly for international schools in Europe.

There is also EARCOS (the East Asia Regional Council of Schools), AISA for those in Africa and AASSA for the international educators in South America.

conference
But how do you best make these annual conferences very useful and worthwhile (i.e. ones people will want to attend)? At some of these annual international school teacher conferences there is a pattern of declining attendance amongst the participating educators.  So, now is the time to really have a good think about what makes them relevant PD events that people want to attend.

Here are some of the possible ways to make international school teacher regional conferences successful and effective:

1. Provide more opportunities to network during the event.

One of the best places to mix and mingle with your nearby international school colleagues is definitely at an international school annual regional conference. Although the content and theme of the conference is important, one main reason people attend is to network. Conference participants need time in the schedule to mix and mingle with the other attendees. Whether it happens during scheduled break times or not, participants will appreciate a conference schedule that gives them the chance and opportunity to get acquainted with each other and meet new people in the international school community

2. Make sure the registration fee is a price that is reasonable.

Unfortunately, PD budgets at many international schools are feeling the pinch. If the conference fee is too high that will of course cause a number of teachers and administrators to not come anymore. Holding a regional conference at a school is often cheaper than renting out a conference center, so that is one way conference organizers can help keep the fees lowered. Another option is to hold the conference in a country where they costs are lower, where they don’t need to pay so much for renting out the conference center or pay the regional tax (e.g. you don’t need to charge European VAT fees if the conference is held in a non-EU country, for example).

conference

3. Choose a desirable host location.

Let’s face it, location is everything when going on a PD opportunity. Part of attending an international school teacher regional conference is also exploring and enjoying the host city.  The conference organizers themselves can facilitate a cultural excursion as part of the conference package (usually at an additional cost), or they can provide information to the participants themselves so that they can explore on their own. Not only is the city of the conference important, but also the location of the conference within the host city. It is no good being so far away from the center of the city, for example, as the majority of participants will want easy and quick access to it. Either they are staying in a hotel in the city center or they will want to go there to explore after a day’s worth of attending presentations and break-out sessions.

4. Include a delicious lunch and snacks.

After a day of workshops and keynote speakers, having a delicious lunch is just what you need. If the food is more like an after thought, then that will affect the mindset of conference participants. Having bag lunches available is not the best choice, as they tend to be served cold and participants might not think they are getting their money’s worth. Conference organizers must work with their host site and make sure they will be providing a worth-while and tasty lunch, one that they also cater to different people’s dietary needs. Keeping conference participants nourished is a great way to help keep morale up and brains focused on the new learning that is happening.

5. Incorporate a healthy balance of invited speakers and teacher presenters.

What is the best balance to have?  Would you like more invited speakers when you go to a conference or would you prefer more teacher presenters? Invited speakers often present about big ideas and concepts to inspire your teaching (mostly indirectly), but teacher presenters typically present things that are more hands-on and directly linked to your classroom lessons.  It is definitely good to have both the theory and the practice so that teachers stay focused and inspired during the conference.

6. Create a conference schedule is easy to follow and one that makes sense.

As you plan a conference, you want it to be the best one ever. Trying new ways of organizing each day to maximize learning can be a challenge. Making sure the schedule makes sense is paramount. It is no good creating a complicated one that leaves people frustrated. A schedule that is easy to follow, which allows participants to maximize their time at the conference, will be well-appreciated!

7. Don’t have too many new initiatives at one time.

It is good to try these new strategies, but it is also important to not go overboard and confuse conference participants. You don’t want to arrive at a workshop session and have the presenter mention their confusion about what type of session they are actually doing. Also, it is not advisable to use a lot of new ‘buzz words’ or worse, newly created words used just for that specific conference.

8. Respond back to all conference registrants in a timely manner.

From before you register to all the way up to the conference itself, it is important to keep good communication with non-registered and registered people. Getting answers to your questions helps make sure everyone is content and up-to-date with the latest information. Not getting a reply to your email can lead to confusion not just about the conference details, but about the organization itself; the company organizing the conference.

9. Help teachers create meaningful and relevant links and connections to their classrooms.

Knowing about the conference participants’ backgrounds and schools is important so that the conference can better tailor their presentations to them.  Because most, if not all, conference participants are coming from a variety of international schools around the world, then the presenters should either reflect those people or have a good background knowledge of their situation. Conference participants are looking for real ways to apply new knowledge learned during presentations. Many conference presenters know this already and have designed their presentations accordingly. However, there are still a number of presenters that include very few connections and links to the classroom.

conference

10. Provide a forum where conference attendees can discuss the conference theme and its presentations. 

Sometimes 45-60 minutes isn’t enough time to really discuss and debate everything you would like to in a conference presentation. In turn, why not make sure to provide the conference participants with a forum to keep the discussion going. Maybe the conference could help to facilitate some kind of a forum where attendees to a presentation can continue their learning and questioning. In this way, people can keep the presentation topic and issues at the forefront of their thinking and not quickly forget their new learning.

11. Provide support and guidance after the conference by helping past participants in their quest to share new learning with their own school. 

There are still a number of international schools that require their teachers to share their new learning at their school, when they get back after a PD event. It all sounds like a great plan, to justify the school’s money spent on a PD opportunity for their teacher. But sharing what you’ve learned with a bunch a people who weren’t there with you can be tricky. Additionally, there is hardly any real-time to do this kind of PD at your school. One solution to help facilitate this “sharing of new learning” could come from the conference itself. Maybe the conference and/or the conference presenters could plan ahead and help prepare supportive materials to help you get prepared.  They could help make sure to discuss with their member school administration the idea of setting aside meeting time to allow for conference participants to share their new learning at their schools. A joint ownership of this sharing part could prove to be helpful and beneficial.

12. Choose a conference venue with some character

There is nothing worse than being in a conference site and it not inspiring you. If it is held in a school, that is one thing. But if it is at a conference center or a hotel, then it should be one that is well-situated and cosy. Boring decor and a boring layout of break-out rooms are unattractive and uninspiring. Conferences held in modern, light spaces can bring a good energy to the presentations and transition times when walking from session to session. After listening to an inspiring presentation, it is also ideal to have some hideaway places to sit down and chat with your colleagues or newly made contacts.

conference

There is much work to do and things to think about when planning a conference. It appears that you need to balance what has worked well for the conference in the past and mix those things with a few new initiatives.  International school teacher regional Conferences have been around for decades now, but are they still relevant? That is the question that these organizations need to answer. If they are still relevant, then as they plan for and organize future regional conferences, they might want to keep these 12 helpful tips in mind.

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Top 10 Lists

13 Insightful International School Interview Experiences Submitted by Our Members

October 21, 2016


International School Community is full of thousands of useful, informative comments…18371 comments (21 Oct. 2016) to be exact.

Members are recommended to keep their comments objective on our website. In one of the 65 comment topics, they are encouraged to share their international school interview experiences. How did it go? Was it easy to get? Recruitment fair or Skype? Was the experience positive or less than ideal?

interview

We scoured our database of comments, and we found 13 that stood out to us as being some of the most interesting and insightful interview experiences.

13. “The school has improved its hiring practices during the last few years. Now department heads sometimes get involved in hiring decisions. Don’t let the director’s lack of enthusiasm during an interview throw you off – that’s just his personality – and don’t believe anything that he promises you, unless it is writing.” – Internationale Schule Frankfurt-Rhein-Main (Frankfurt, Germany)33 Comments

12. “Speaking from the Director’s office, you need to have a focus on collaborative action toward mission. Knowing our mission and core values is key to interview for our team. While we are happy to train, we are also looking for good experience and foundation that will add to our body of expertise and keep us refreshed in best practice.” – Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia)66 Comments

11. “The school has not met any of my expectations in professionalism. Many of the things I was told in my interview turned out to be untrue. The fall of the peso has not been addressed by administration.” – Colegio Anglo Colombiano (Bogota, Colombia)32 Comments

interview

10. “Singapore age restrictions keep hiring (and renewals) under age 60. First round interview is typically done via Skype, but they want to do second round interviews in person, in Singapore or London.” – United World College South East Asia (Singapore, Singapore)6 Comments

9. “They rely a lot on hiring people who are recommended by current employees. You still go through the interview process, etc. My initial contact to the school was through a connection I had to somebody already working here.” – Yew Chung International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China)27 Comments

8. “Please be careful when considering to work at this school! I wasn’t and am in quite a fit now…. On May 5, 2014 I had a telephone interview with the director and the head of secondary. On May 30, 2014 I got a firm job offer for September 2014. We discussed several contract details via mail (school fees, moving allowance etc.) but I did not receive a formal contract. On June 11 I wrote an email asking for a contract copy. On June 13 the job offer was revoked, giving as a reason that “the position no longer exists on the curriculum plan, so we cannot proceed with the appointment”. Draw your own conclusions about the school’s level of commitment and organisation.” – British School of Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain)3 Comments

7.
“Face-to-face. As in most international school in Bangkok, it is much easier to get a job if you know someone on the inside of the school. The pay-scale is shrouded in secrecy (as in many schools here). The interview process is not that difficult, being from a native English-speaking country is a huge plus.” – Pan Asia International School (Bangkok, Thailand)38 Comments

6. 
“I was hired via Skype, as well. The interview was very informal but informative about the school and life Venezuela.” – Escuela Las Morochas (Ciudad Ojeda, Venezuela)28 Comments

5. “The school does not attend any fairs. Hiring is done via announcements on the school’s website. The hiring process is not quick. Expect to be interviewed, via Skype most likely, four times. Each interview is with a person a bit further up the food chain. At the moment Indonesia has an age cutoff of 60.” – Green School Bali (Denpasar, Indonesia)54 Comments

interview

4. “They do tend to hire internally a lot. The interview process is a bit intense with multiple interviews being set up for one person. They ask questions from a list. They are usually open to sponsoring visas for non EU candidates.” – International Community School London (London, United Kingdom)49 Comments

3. “I met with Julie Alder at the school campus because I was already in the city. I contacted them before I came and they were more than willing to give me a time and a place to meet and interview with me. The interview lasted 45 to 60 minutes. I also got to walk around and visit some classrooms.” – International School Singapore (Singapore, Singapore)17 Comments

2. “The school is quite small, so it doesn’t attend job fairs. I was interviewed by phone and got the job from there. I know they have also brought in teachers whom live nearby (within Western Europe) to interview them in person. Hiring restrictions: YES- they will now only hire people who have valid working papers to work in France. The school also now typically only employs expat teachers from the UK or within the EU. Many of the teachers who work at the school have a French spouse.” –International School of Lyon (Lyon, France)12 Comments

1. “I interviewed with the elementary principal this feb at the search associates fair in boston. She was very kind and sweet to me. The interview went very well, she was willing to allow me to lead the interview by showing her my portfolio. She was a very experienced teacher in the international school world. She was kind enough to send a note to me in my folder to let me know that I didn’t get the job, and she also highlighted somethings that I said in the interview. Very professional!” – American International School Bucharest (Bucharest, Romania)20 Comments

If you have an interesting and insightful international school interview experience that you would like to share, log in to International School Community and submit your comments. For every 10 submitted comments, you will get one month of free premium membership added to your account!

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Top 10 Lists

Retirement: Nine International Schools With Excellent Pension Plans

July 30, 2016


It’s never to early to think about your retirement plan. As many of you know, we have a wealth of information on the International School Community website.  There are now over 17500 reviews and comments submitted on over 900+ international school across the globe. We’re certain to reach 20000 by the end of this year! A number of schools have reached the 100 comments milestone (with a few even going over 200 comments!).  Check out this blog article regarding the most-commented schools on our website from July 2016.

saving for retirement

A number of our members are curious about their future, especially if their future is to become a “seasoned international school teacher“.  Part of our future is planning for retirement. Many of us have unfortunately stopped contributing to the retirement plans we were paying into before we moved abroad.

In turn, we now are hoping that international schools will help us do the saving. But not all international schools are a great help in this area; the truth is that some have non-existent retirement plan options for their teachers.

There are a few though that are leading the way in terms of helping you save something for when retire. Using our unique Comment Search feature (premium membership access only), we found 203 comments that have the keyword “retirement”.  After scouring through these comments, we would like to share nine of them that highlight some schools that appear to have some excellent retirement benefits.

1. Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea)
“SFS is a treasure amongst international schools. It is not spoken of as much as other “top” Asian international schools–this is what keeps it special. This school has allowed me to grow professionally and in my faith, has set me up with a hefty retirement for my future and plush savings for the present. The amount of on site training, college certificates, and international conferences I have been allotted to participate in haa been fully funded by the school. The package retains teachers and the demand of hard work keeps the professional teachers here for the long haul. It is a living, learning, and growing community with lots of busyness and potential to never become stagnate.”

2. American School Foundation of Monterrey (Monterrey, Mexico)
“There are 2 things:
1. Mexico has a “social security” plan and you pay into that so you pay in for your years, leave, and you can come back when you are 65 to collect.
2. The school has a 13% matching program that you can collect 1 or 2 times a year based on your choosing. This is the retirement plan but it is up to you to do move the money somewhere.”

3. International School of Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
“We get paid monthly but receive July’s salary in June also. Salary is paid in RM with up to 40% at a fixed USD rate. Tax is around 21-23 % depending on salary. Average for 8 yrs experience (max entry point) and an advanced degree would be appx 5000 USD after tax and deductions (this includes travel and housing allowance) Additionally 11% is previously deducted for retirement fund with an extra 17% added by the employer. On same criteria this would be 1500 USD per month into a retirement plan.”

man thinking about retiring

4. American School in Japan (Tokyo, Japan)
“The school provides a retirement plan and contributes 5.27% of base salary in each of the first two years, 11.57% in year three, and increasing each year up to a maximum of 16.82%. The school does not participate in US or Japanese social security. The retirement age at ASIJ is 65 years old.”

5. Escola Americana do Campinas (Campinas, Brazil)
Retirement plan is 8% school contribution a month. School pays 8% of salary to local savings plan for employee.”

6. United Nations International School (Vietnam) (Hanoi, Vietnam)
“In lieu of a school-established retirement plan, the school currently reserves an annual salary supplement of fifteen percent (15%) of the annual base salary and disburses the total amount of this annual salary supplement to the expatriate professional staff member upon termination of employment with UNIS. Alternatively, this supplement may be paid to the employee on an annual basis.”

7. Hong Kong Academy (Hong Kong)
“With a reasonable mix of some travel and eating out it is possible for a single teacher to comfortably save anywhere from 8,000-12,000 US$ per year not including the 10% +10% of base salary matching retirement plan.”

8. American School of the Hague (The Hague, The Netherlands)
“The school offers a retirement plan which is open to all employees on a voluntary basis. ASH offers two different plans: Nationale Nederlanden (pre-tax) and ECIS. ASH contributes 8% of the pensionable salary to the plan. Participation in the ECIS scheme on a pre-tax basis is only possible if one has vested and contributed regularly at another school before coming to the Netherlands. The teacher may make additional pre-tax pension contributions based on his/her age, ranging between 0.2% and 26% of the pensionable salary for employees. The pensionable salary is the gross annual salary minus about € 12,500 (on a full-time basis).”

9. Seoul International School (Seoul, South Korea)
“I have 14 years experience and my Masters. I earn about $1,500 per month in Won (about $400 of that is taken out of my paycheck for a retirement plan which is matched by school which I have access to at the end of the school year), and then another $2,000 in US dollars which is sent to my US account every month. I pay no taxes. The school takes care of it. I am paid 12 times a year although we get the summer pay all at once, in May.”

retiement piggypank

It’s never too early to think about retirement.

Of course there are many more schools that have attractive retirement plans for their teachers, but the nine schools we’ve highlighted here sure do seem nice! It all depends on what stage you are at in your career and how old you are, regarding how attractive a retirement plan would be to you. But we suppose that any retirement plan option is better then none at all!

Please share what you know about the retirement plans of the international schools you’ve worked at. Login to our website today and submit some comments here!

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Blogs of International Teachers

International School Teacher Blogs: “The Roaming Filipina” (A counselor working at Shekou International School in Shenzhen, China)

April 11, 2016


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

Our 44th blog that we would like to highlight is called “The Roaming Filipina”  Check out the blog entries of this international school educator who works at Shekou International School in Shenzhen, China.

Screenshot 2016-04-09 11.10.31

A few entries that we would like to highlight:

How Did I Get Here?

“I attended my first Search fair in Cambridge, MA and came away with interview experience, but no job. ISM even left me a “thanks, but no thanks” note.  Frustrated, but undeterred.  Through that experience I learned that it wasn’t really about moving to the Philippines anymore, but about fulfilling my desire to explore the world.

About 2 weeks after the Cambridge fair, one listing caught my eye.  A listing for a whole school counselor at a school in Uzbekistan. YES UZBEKISTAN.  I waited a day or two to think about whether or not I really wanted to apply to this school.  Afterall, it is in a country that I knew so little about.  My boyfriend gave me a weird look, but said that I should do it if it’s what I really want.  I also sent resumes to more schools in the East Asia/SE Asia region and even considered teaching English somewhere.  But after perusing the school’s site thoroughly and reading every article I could possibly find on Google, I started to imagine myself living in Central Asia. It didn’t seem so bad.

I interviewed with the two principals and Head of School on Skype.  After a few days, they asked if I wanted to meet face to face in California. I was offered the position and I immediately accepted.  I spent three GREAT years in Uzbekistan…”

Getting your first job overseas is always exciting and typically makes for a great story to tell your international school teacher friends. 

Want to read more about what “newbies” to international school teaching should know about?  Check out our blog series called “For the Newbies.

Surviving the International School Job Fairs

Day Two and Three – Saturday & Sunday

This is THE HEART of the fair. It is the day you sign-up for interviews and will likely do all your initial interviews during this time. Do:

• WEAR YOUR POWER SUIT – DRESS TO IMPRESS

• organize your resumes, laptop, etc. I preferred to keep my laptop/iPad with me so I can work on stuff outside of my room – saved a lot of time vs. going back to my room between interviews.

• agree to interviews with schools that you’re not sure you’re interested in. Good for practice and you never know – it might be a GREAT fit for you.

• find a quiet corner besides your room to chill between interviews – you just never know who is walking around. Visibility is important.

• breathmints – use them

• prioritize which school tables you want to hit first during sign-ups. Some schools are REALLY popular so you might want to go to the ones that have shorter lines first and get interviews lined up.

• if you get a “fast pass”  – direct invitation from the school to bypass the line to schedule an interview, HIT THOSE SCHOOLS FIRST

• try to get to the interview 10 minutes before – don’t schedule your interviews so close together that you’d be late. Also – keep in mind that hotel elevators will be really busy, especially if there are 200+ candidates rushing to interviews...

Great advice from an experience international school teacher. Going to the recruitments fairs with a plan of attack is always a good choice.  Knowing ahead of time what to expect can better help you manage your emotions throughout the fair experience.

For more advice check out our blog series called Nine Lessons Learned Regarding International School Hiring Fairs.”  As a sneak peek, lesson number one is “Bad interviews are good things.

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Want to work for an international school in China like this blogger?  Currently, we have 160 international schools listed in this country. 109 have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

Wellington College International Tianjin (Tianjin, China)47 Comments
EtonHouse International Schools, Wuxi (Wuxi, China)49 Comments
Suzhou Singapore International School (Suzhou, China)47 Comments
Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China)202 Comments
British International School Shanghai – Puxi (Shanghai, China)35 Comments
Concordia International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China)77 Comments
Access International Academy (Ningbo) (Ningbo, China)48 Comments
Hong Kong International School (Hong Kong, China)92 Comments
Creative Secondary School (Hong Kong, China)39 Comments
Canadian International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China)55 Comments
QSI International School of Dongguan (Dongguan, China)64 Comments
Guangdong Country Garden School (Foshan, China)48 Comments
Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (Beijing, China)93 Comments
Western Academy Beijing (Beijing, China)43 Comments

Additionally, there are 264 International School Community members who currently live in China. Check out which ones and where they work here.  Feel free to go ahead and contact them with any questions that you might have as well; nice to get first hand information about what it is like to live and work there!

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

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Member Spotlights

International School Community Member Spotlight #33: Tchialian Hong (A former student at an international school in Greece)

September 1, 2015


Every so often International School Community will highlight one of our members in our Member Spotlight feature.  This month we interviewed Tchialian Hong:

DSCN0579Tell us about your background.  Where are you from?

I was born to a Greek mother and a Chinese father. Greece and China: Two cultures both with ancient civilizations dating back, since today, at least 2,000 years.    

Which international schools have you attended?  Please share some aspects of the schools that made them unique and fun places in which to attend.

As a boy, I went to a Chinese primary school-which was in Malaysia, and later an international school in Athens, Greece. By the age of 16, I was fluent in Mandarin (standard Chinese language: Also known as: pu tong hua), Greek, English and Bahasa Malaysian (which is the language that the natives of Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia speak). After graduating from high school, I studied at London University. During that time, I spent a lot of time reading other subjects, aside from engineering: thus became well-grounded in Engineering, Medicine, English Literature and Common Law.

I returned to Malaysia after graduating from London University. I had found my time, when I was studying in Tasis Hellenic International School, very productive – much more so than even London University. The student to teacher ratio was very small: very few students per teacher – which means subjects were explained very clearly – compared to local schools in Asian countries such as Malaysia. I found that with such a learning environment, all I had to do was “put in the hours” or rather finish the homework for the day, every day; and would be certain to score high results in my examinations as well as the final grades.

On this note: Another plus for international schools was that the final grades were calculated; not only on examination results, but also on attendance, homework, coursework, and small tests. This means: EVERY ounce of my effort in my studies……COUNTED. It was really encouraging. I scored A’s for all subjects: including Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography, History, English Language, English Literature, Mathematics and Computer Programming. Later, when I studied at London University, I used my studies-foundation at the international school to expand on my knowledge.

I also learnt how to teach: I was offered a camp counsellor’s position in Camp Vacamas, New Jersey, U.S.A. In the beginning, all the campers yawned at me, but not at other counsellors. I later learnt, in subsequent teaching stints, in Malaysia: where I taught Chinese children, Indian children AND the local native children from Malaysia, Indonesia, and Myanmar: that “yawning” was a sign that I was very explicit in explaining lessons, and very specific: The children were actually realizing concepts, learning material which I was teaching. Today, I chat with children more than teach-much like international school teachers did when I was a teenager. You see, aside from school material, children want to know politics, philosophy-especially philosophy. Philosophy shapes souls. Empowers it.

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

Cultural shock: Asian kids do not behave like European kids. They can be very nasty, as in: disrespect, crude. If you admonish them, even verbally, their parents threaten you. Most of them leave school and get pregnant before they are of-age. The secret is: sometimes a teacher in Asia has to act like he is not smart. And say: God Bless-Asians are very superstitious.

What makes some international schools unique and special?

International Schools are special because of the philosophy and the politics: At least the one I went to – Tasis Hellenic International School. Ideas and principles are raised from “the four corners of the Earth.” There are students from the four corners of the Earth, that’s why it is called an international school. ANYTHING and EVERYTHING is discussed. Advice is sought, until, like a sword that is tempered by repeated hammering, heating and cooling, A FOUNDATION IS ESTABLISHED! 

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

Diverse, empowering, encouraging, defining, happy. (God bless everybody!)

Thanks Tchialian Hong!

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 1 year free of premium access to our website!

Want to work for an international school and teach in Greece or Cyprus?  Currently, we have 8 international schools listed in both Greece and Cyprus on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

• American International School of Cyprus (17 comments)
• International School of Paphos (51 comments)
• American Community Schools Athens (3 comments)

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Comparing the Schools and Comments

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Bangkok, Thailand

April 16, 2015


Around the world, there are cities that have more than one international school. Many times there is an American school, a British School, and an international school that uses an international curriculum.

Some cities, though, have MANY international schools!  When that is the case, how do the comments about each school compare to each other?

This blog series looks at comparing some of these comments, all coming from international schools in the same city.

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Bangkok, Thailand

Currently, we have 49 schools listed in Bangkok on International School Community.

Schools with the most submitted comments:
Bangkok Patana School (Bangkok, Thailand)17 Comments
Concordian International School (Bangkok, Thailand)23 Comments
KIS International School (Bangkok) (Bangkok, Thailand)61 Comments
NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand)65 Comments
Ruamrudee International School Bangkok (Bangkok, Thailand)21 Comments
Wells International School (Thailand) (Bangkok, Thailand)18 Comments

Recent things they have taken on
“In 2012 the school implemented the Literacy by Design program for K3 – Grade 4, and the IB Diploma Programme in 2013. It also began scheduling more consistent weekly professional development meetings in 2013, including WASC focus and home group sessions, and grade-level meetings. As of 2012, it joined EARCOS and now regularly sends its staff to the annual conferences.” – Wells International School (Thailand)

“The ELD team just attended the ELLSA conference in Bangkok.” – Ruamrudee International School Bangkok

“In 2014 the school will be launching the Professional Development Hub, which is intended to be a central location for teachers in the Southeast Asian region to receive professional development.” – NIST International School

“The school is well-known for IB standards as quite a few of the teachers are IB Examiners and moderators. The Head of School is also on the Board of the IBO worldwide. Currently they are participating in a pilot study for the MYP.” – KIS International School (Bangkok)

Expectations of staff
“Teachers are assigned a maximum of 25 contact periods (45 minutes each) per week, while department heads have a maximum of 20. Minimum expectations include curriculum mapping on Atlas, and personal daily or weekly lesson plans that are attached to the maps. Weekly professional development is mandatory. Staff are encouraged, though not required, to take on extra-curricular classes or activities.” – Wells International School (Thailand)

“Expectations are high but lots of support.” – Concordian International School

“(Sorry, as admin it’s hard for me to comment, but teachers seem to work hard, but get non-contact time).” – KIS International School (Bangkok)

“High expectations, but with exceptional support and resources. Teachers are expected to participate in 2 extra curricular activities each year, which is quite manageable.” – NIST International School

Kinds of teachers that work there
“Approximately 30% of staff are from the United States, while the rest are a mix of over a dozen nationalities. While the school will hire inexperienced teachers in special circumstances, prospective hires should expect to be turned away if they don’t have a degree in education (or their subject areas at the secondary level) and a few years of experience. Nearly 70% of the teaching staff has master’s degrees.” – Wells International School (Thailand)

“Most teachers are from USA (there around 180 in total). A few are from the UK and Thailand.” – Ruamrudee International School Bangkok

“All teaching staff are fully qualified. Most are British, with some Australians, South Africans and Filipina. turnover is high. Last year 40% left. Most leave due to the lowish salary rather than because they are unhappy with the school.” – Rasami (Thai-British) International School

Housing
“Ruamrudee does have a housing allowance – B20,000, but it is part of the actual salary, so it’s taxed at 30%. So, effectively, the allowance is B14,000 – enough for a small local house/apartment.” – Ruamrudee International School Bangkok

“There is a housing allowance which is sufficient to rent a small studio. There is no extra for married teachers.” – Rasami (Thai-British) International School

“Around 40000 Baht a month for singles and 60000 Baht for teaching couples.” – NIST International School

“Small housing allowance.” – KIS International School (Bangkok)

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

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

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Blogs of International Teachers

Blogs of international school teachers: “Farleys Far Away” (An American teaching couple at Korea International School Seoul)

February 19, 2015


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

Our 40th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Farleys Far Away”  Check out the blog entries of these international school educators who work at Korea International School (Seoul) in South Korea.

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A few entries that we would like to highlight:

How Did This Happen?

“A very, very long time ago, Jim decided to teach in Taipei, Taiwan. He lived there for 2 years and met me when he got back. That was 12 long awesome years ago. This entire time he’s told me how he would like to move back to East Asia. For 11 years I said, “No. Way. Jose.

Then, at the beginning of this school year, there were rumblings of change at my school. Our state assessment scores left something to be desired (something being, native English speakers from the middle or upper class) and there are a couple of ways the district “fixes” this problem. One of those ways is by letting all the teachers go. If you have tenure, like me, they’ll place you for one year, then after that year, you’re on your own. It’s pretty bleak and I was sad to leave a staff of extremely talented, caring teachers, but what can you do? I know what you can do-you can leave the country!

We signed up for the Overseas Recruitment Fair at the University of Northern Iowa. That was an intense weekend. On the flight to Cedar Rapids we were sitting next to the middle school principal at Korea International School. Korea hadn’t really been on the radar, but after a brief interview on Sunday, and then several Skype interviews, and a little bit of research into life in Korea we were on our way.

That’s how it happened. 11 years of convincing and one quick weekend of deciding…”

Many times you need to wait until the right moment in time to start your career in international school teaching. Some teachers wait one year while others wait 12!

Want to learn more about what it is like to go to an international school recruitment fair?  Check out our popular blog category called “9 Lessons Learned Regarding International School Hiring Fairs.” 

Really? But Jim’s Out of Town

“Let me start by saying, everyone is fine. But we’re experiencing the health care system here in Korea. On Sunday, about 15 minutes before Jim left for his trip to Singapore, I had him check out August’s *ahem* you know. Well, things weren’t looking so good down there (it turns out August has a hernia). I called the director of KIS‘ wife, who is a nurse. She was very reassuring over the phone, so I allowed Jim to go to Singapore.

My boss recommended I get him checked out at the Baylor Clinic in Jeongja, which is very close to us. We found the building with no problem and made it to the clinic-on the 2nd floor. There are 2 floors to the clinic. Both say “Baylor Clinic” in English, but the rest is in Korean. The 2nd floor clinic had people in the waiting room, but no receptionist. We sat and as I looked around, I saw at least 2 signs that said “Audiology” so we decided to go to the 3rd floor clinic.

When we got there, I called Raina, our bilingual school nurse, and had her talk to the receptionist. It turns out the Baylor Clinic is an ENT. Good for a sore throat but probably not so good below the waist. However, Raina found out that there is a pediatrician on the 6th floor of the same building. Awesome.

As we waited for the elevator in front of a bank, a teller ran out and handed August a handful of candy, so he was in good spirits about the trip. He seriously had like 8 pieces of candy in his hands.

Ah yes, this is more like it…”

It is hard to know what going to the hospital will be like when living in a foreign country. You sure have some great memorable moments and not so great moments.  

Want to learn more about what international school teachers think of the local hospitals in their host countries?  Luckily, we have a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this theme called “Health insurance and medical benefits. Describe your experiences using these benefits and going to the local hospitals.”  Here are a few examples of comments from this topic:

‘We have insurance with Metlife valid throughout the world. We also have a supplemental emergency medical evacuation insurance with AMREF. There is basic local care, but for serious or more difficult cases, evacuation to either South Africa or Nairobi is necessary.’ – International School of Tanganyika  (Dar es salaam, Tanzania) – 140 Comments

‘Health insurance is okay, not great, but not awful. Co-pays range from 10-20% at some more expensive hospitals and international medical centres. Dental coverage included but again 0-30% copay depending on the procedure (cavities are covered 100%, root canals are not, for example). Local hospitals are a mixed bag. Some great, some very “Chinese” in their approach to medicine. Would recommend that you ask coworkers for referrals and get prior approval from insurance company whenever possible. In Shanghai, you will be able to find a competent, western-educated specialist in any & every medical field, although you may have to search a bit.’ – Yew Chung International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China) – 50 Comments

Want to work for an international school in South Korea like this blogger?  Currently, we have 28 international schools listed in this country. Here are a few that have had comments submitted on them:

• Daegu International School (Daegu, South Korea) – 15 Comments
• International School of Koje (Geoje, South Korea) – 51 Comments
Dwight School Seoul (Seoul, South Korea) – 35 Comments
• Seoul Foreign School  (Seoul, South Korea) – 45 Comments
• Seoul International School  (Seoul, South Korea) – 82 Comments
• Colegio Granadino Manizales (Manizales, Colombia) – 43 Comments
Yongsan International School of Seoul (Seoul, South Korea) – 57 Comments

Additionally, there are 63 International School Community members who currently live in South Korea. Check out which ones and where they work here.  Feel free to go ahead and contact them with any questions that you might have as well; nice to get first hand information about what it is like to live and work there!

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

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School Profile Searches

Using the School Profile Search feature #15: Check out which schools met the criteria!

January 28, 2015


Only on International School Community will you be able to search for the perfect international school for you.  You get the possibility to search (using our unique search engine) for international schools based on the type of school that best fits your criteria.  There are many different kinds of international schools: ones that are small in student numbers to ones that have more than 1200 students, ones that are for-profit to ones that are non-profit, ones that are in very large cities to ones that are in towns of only 1000 people, etc.  Each international school teacher has their own type of school that best fits their needs as a teacher and as a professional.  Your personal life is also very important when you are trying to find the right match.  Most of us know what it is like to be working at an international school that doesn’t fit your needs, so it’s best to find one that does!

Utilizing the School Profile Search feature on International School Community, you can search our 1773 schools (updated from 1606 on 20 February 2014) for the perfect school using up to 9 different criteria.  The 9 criteria are: Region of the world, Country, City, Curriculum, School Nature, Number of Students, Age of School, Kinds of Students and Metro Population.  You can do a school profile search in two different locations on our website: the Schools List page and on the side of every school profile page. Check out our past school profile search results here.

Search Result #15

Criteria selected:

  1. Region of the world (East Asia)
  2. Country (All)
  3. City (All)
  4. Curriculum (UK)
  5. School Nature (All)
  6. No. of students (All)
  7. Year founded (All)
  8. Kinds of student (Mostly Local)
  9. Metro Population (All)

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Schools Found: 15

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The 15 international schools that met the criteria were found in 4 countries. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on them:

• Harbin No. 9 High School International Division (Songbei Campus) (Harbin, China) – 45 Comments
• Shanghai Rego International School (Shanghai, China) – 74 Comments
• Orchlon School (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia) – 68 Comments
• International School of Koje (Geoje, South Korea) – 48 Comments
• North London Collegiate School (Jeju) (Jeju-do, South Korea) – 19 Comments

Why not start your own searches now and then start finding information about the schools that best fit your needs?  Additionally, all premium members are able to access the 12936 comments and information (updated from 10304 on 20 February 2014) that have been submitted on 812 international school profiles on our website.

Join International School Community today and you will automatically get the ability to make unlimited searches to find the international schools that fit your criteria with a free 2-day trail of premium membership coupon code sent to you in your welcome email after joining.

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Member Spotlights

International School Community Member Spotlight #32: David Walters (A director at an international school in Bangkok)

September 24, 2014


Every so often International School Community will highlight one of our members in our Member Spotlight feature.  This month we interviewed David Walters:

6239_unnamedTell us about your background.  Where are you from?

My name is David and I have been working abroad since 2005. I am originally from an area just South of London. I came to Thailand straight from University and never really looked back. I started my career teaching PE and then went on to teach Year 5, all at my first school in Bangkok. I then changed to my second school, also in Bangkok, where I worked for 5 years in Key stage 1 and 2 positions. Whilst working at my second school I opened a Kindergarten with a colleague, which has now been going for four years. I love both travelling and teaching, so teaching abroad couldn’t be more perfect for me.

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

A lot of luck was involved with my first job in, not only  international teaching, but in teaching itself. I had just been rejected from what at the time, I thought, was my dream job . It was a fast track management position at a well known leisure centre chain in the London. I was just out of University and it was a dream opportunity. Having made it down to the last 8 candidates from 400 odd, I fell at the final hurdle. It was a time when jobs in the UK were hard to come by, so I sought experience abroad. I luckily landed a PE teaching job in Thailand. After about a month of teaching I fell in love with the kids, the culture, the freedom and the teaching. I still wasn’t a fully qualified teacher at that point and after two years I returned to study in the UK to become fully qualified and pursue a full time career as a Primary and Early Years teacher. I consider myself lucky on three counts:

1) not getting that first job

2) finding teaching

3) starting my career teaching in Thailand.

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.

06DavePhonicsAlthough I was lucky to get into the international school setting and teaching to start with, being that I wasn’t qualified, the school that I worked at didn’t exactly set high standards. The first school, Heathfield International School, was not very good at all and I didn’t spend long there. When I joined I didn’t have much experience an like I said I wasn’t qualified at the time, so it was at least a good stepping stone. The second school, Rasami International, was better but still had a lot of problems. The first two years that I worked there were fantastic, the third good but after that it was all downhill. To begin with I was surrounded by really good teachers and a very supportive Head but the school was badly run and the good teachers began to leave. When the Head left I knew it was time to go and at that point the school that I had opened myself was more or less established.

I set up my own school with a close colleague of mine. He was one of the teachers I met at Rasami. We decided to open a school because we both had dreams and ideas of how a school should be run. Both of us think alike and have always fostered ideas and teaching philosophies that break the norms of how we are taught to teach. I am somewhat of a rebel in this sense, often going against suggested practices for teaching. The freedom to teach the way I want to teach makes everyday amazing. What could be more fun than doing the job you love however you want to do it?

Even though I have had ups and downs in the schools where I have worked, I would definitely recommend working abroad to anyone. Even through the downs I have enjoyed every moment of my working life and not many people can say that. I never look at my job as work. I don’t think of that 6am alarm call as the start of a boring day but rather one of excitement and discovery. If I could, I would go back and do it all again, but I wouldn’t change a thing. The things I have seen, the people I have met, both good and bad, have made me a better, stronger, more rounded person. The fact that I could open the school of my dreams at such an early age, is a testament to the opportunities available when working abroad.

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

The list of cultural differences between Thais and Westerners is never-ending. With so many talking points, from floods through to coups, the ways in which we think is so much more different and this becomes apparent the longer that you stay here. We all think our culture has it right and that the others are doing something wrong, but given that they think that about us as well, one of us has to be wrong. Nevertheless you have to accept the differences and move on but even after living here for 9 years and being fluent in Thai, I still don’t understand a lot of what Thais do and every day I find my jaw dropping to new lows. Sometimes it’s frustrating (most of the time) but sometimes it can be the cause of laughter too.

In my first Year of teaching here I made a grave error that to my good fortune the Thai “victim” saw the funny side of. The Thai staff greet each other with what is called a “Wai”. To do this you put your hands together in prayer form and rest the fingers either below the chin, nose or on the forehead. The higher up the Wai, the more respectful it is. This is because Thais believe that the top of the body is the most revered part and the feet or bottom is the least. One day after changing for swimming an elder Thai teacher walked past and gave a Wai. At that exact moment I had a shoe in hand and being slightly startled I raised my shoe to my head and gave what was probably the first and last “Shoe Wai”. This is actually quite a big insult but the Thai teacher found my embarrassment more amusing than the insult of the action.

DSC_0058What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?

After being my own boss for some time now, it is very difficult to know what I would look for if I was to find a new school. It might happen one day and if everything went badly and I found myself having to look for jobs again I would definitely look at working in Japan or Taiwan. I have visited many places in Asia and several places from other parts of the world and these are the only two countries I really felt at home from the moment I arrived. It helps that Japanese food is my favourite.

I have obviously set up my school the way that I think a school should run and finding another one that matches my vision would be difficult, but I would hope that the way the world is changing it won’t be too long before schools around the world follow suit. I would definitely like to see a school bend the rules a little and put the focus back onto the children. Schools that give time to the teachers to develop new teaching ideas and games rather than pushing teachers to mark books or fill in paper work can achieve wonderful things with the children. I would also like to see a school caring about the environment. I love following scientific trends and it is important to me that a school looks after and is part of the community in which it is situated. Schools have a responsibility to teach children how to look after the world, how to recycle and how to keep fit and eat healthily. I would look for a school with a social conscious and a moral compass.

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

The opportunity of a lifetime.

Thanks David!  You can check our more about David at his 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 1 year free of premium access to our website!

Want to work for an international school in the Thailand like David?  Currently, we have 44 international schools listed in Bangkok on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

• Bangkok Patana School (17 comments)

• KIS International School (Bangkok) (40 comments)

NIST International School (29 comments)

Thai-Chinese Int’l School Bangkok (16 comments)

Wells International School (Thailand) (18 comments)

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Surveys

New Survey: How much Professional Development money do you have to use this school year?

September 14, 2014


A new survey has arrived!

Topic:  How much Professional Development money do you have to use this school year?

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Working at international schools has its perks, that’s for sure.  One of those perks is getting an annual Professional Development allowance (well at most international schools). Public-school teaching back in your home country does have it moments of getting PD for its teachers, but typically that money is being decided on by somebody other than you!  At international schools, you are (mostly) in charge of your own personal PD monies and how you want to use that money. It is important to note that international schools do dictate some of the PD for their own teachers (e.g. for in-house PD), but the other PD money (the money that hopefully you are getting as part of your contract) is for you to use on your own PD theme and topic.

It is so important for our careers to keep learning new things in the field of education. Luckily there are numerous PD options for international school teachers. There is the annual ECIS conference (who’s going to Nice this year?).  Maybe you live in Asia and are planning on going to the annual EARCOS conference in Kota Kinabalu.  Some international schools are leading the way and hosting their own conferences like NIST International School. They recently have started their annual ELLSA Conference in Bangkok.

905866_320405608135805_7598251834492740465_oIf conferences aren’t looking the best this year, then there are still many other options for international schools teachers on which to use their personal PD allowance. The Creativity Workshop has been very popular this past year as well as the staple Teachers College Summer Institutes (Reading and Writing) in New York.

Wherever you end up going this year, you are bound to learn a few new things and get inspired for your return back to work.  You are also bound to run into some people who you know in the international school community; good times catching up with former colleagues.  Going to these conferences and workshops are also a great place to network and meet others teachers in your field.  It can be quite helpful having some new peers to contact when you want to get some feedback on something or learn more about a new technology that person is using for example.

The main problem though in getting to these workshops and conferences is money. Not only do you have to pay for the conference registration fee, you must also pay for your flight to get there and the hotel. Many times one year of PD money is not enough to get you to a conference every year.  Some teachers can save their PD money from one year and add it one to the next one (up to three years typically).  If you don’t have enough money to attend a certain workshop, then it doesn’t hurt to ask your boss if there might be any PD money around that you can use to help you pay for the rest of costs involved. Your administration might say no to you, but they also might say yes!  It’s worth a try.

All international schools handle their PD allowance differently, so let’s share about the international schools we know about.  Go ahead and vote on How much Professional Development money do you have to use this school year? Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today!  You can check out the latest voting results here.

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We actually have a comment topic related this to this issue. It is called: Professional development allowance details.

Right now there are over 180 individual comments (about 100s of different international schools) in this comment topic on our website.  Here are a few of them:

“In general, the school has a four-tiered approach: in-house PD, required external PD, goal related PD and personal professional support.
Upon school approval staff have access to a personal professional development sum that can be used annually or accrue for up to three years.” – 
Anglo American School of Sofia (Sofia, Bulgaria)28 Comments

“Professional development is a strong focus. Quality of in-house varies wildly as it does in every school. Lots of training for IB available and all IB teachers go on prep courses as soon as possible.” – Nexus International School (Putrajaya, Malaysia)44 Comments

“PDs are usually done in-house therefore there is no structured amount for PD per teacher. Principals are up to date regarding international and local PDs so when there is an appropriate PD some teachers are selected to attend. Teachers, on the other hand, can always search for possible and appropriate local/international PDs.” – Royal Tots Academy (Jakarta, Indonesia)35 Comments

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Blogs of International Teachers

Blogs for international school teachers: “Banyan Global Learning” (Provider of educational services to K-12 schools in Asia)

April 12, 2014


Our 36th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Banyan Global Learning”  Check out the blog entries of this organization that currently works with a variety of schools in Asia (e.g. Taiwan).

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A few entries that we would like to highlight:

5 Tips for Teachers Abroad

“I would have parents who helped their children with their homework and who were eager to communicate with me – but in a good way! To boot, Taiwan is a country where education and, by extension, teachers are well-respected and highly valued!  I expected this whole thing to be a cakewalk.

I also expected that compared to East Harlem the kids would be angels, whereas what I got, instead, were kids.  And instead of a cakewalk I got an experience that was challenging and rewarding in ways I never expected…”

I think this is a common misconception about working with ‘privileged’ international school students versus working with the kids of generational poverty families that you may have worked with in your home country (many of us I’m sure have had a similar experience teaching in urban settings).

Sure the poor kids you taught in your home country had many needs.  They also might have had many behavior problems because of the poverty they were living in.  Teaching at international schools with mostly rich kids can also be a challenge.  They also have many needs, but just different ones.  And because of the sometimes challenging home lives of these children, there can also be many behavior problems at school. 

Luckily, we have a comment topic in the School Information section of all school profile pages that is about student behavior.  It is called – “In general, describe the demeanor of the students.”  We currently have 128 separate comments (about a number of international schools) in that comment topic on our website.

12 Reasons to Teach Abroad in China and Taiwan

2 – Save money while you travel. Japan, check. Korea, check. Bali, why not? From your base in Asia you can travel to places that would otherwise be economically challenging to reach. And, with the lower cost of living in China and Taiwan, a BGL salary will allow you to bank some cash while you see the world…”

It does play a big factor on your travel plans; the location where you are currently living.  Though it is important to note that it doesn’t mean that all flights will be cheap!  Living in Shanghai, China you are for sure in Asia.  However, you are still a 5 hour flight to Bangkok, 3 hour flight to Japan, etc.  These flights aren’t the cheapest either.  But if you compare the prices and flight times to living in the United States, then for sure the flights will most likely be cheaper with quicker flight times.  Going to Bali for Christmas vacation can be just what the doctor ordered!

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Want to work for an international school in Taiwan?  Currently, we have 12 international schools listed in this city/country on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

• Ivy Collegiate Academy (19 Comments)
• Morrison Christian Academy (3 campuses) (13 Comments)
• NanKe International Experimental H.S. (14 Comments)
• Pacific American School (30 Comments)
• Taipei American School (11 Comments)
• Taipei European School (11 Comments)

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

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For the Newbies

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

October 20, 2013


(This article is a continuation of Part 1)

If the meat market or job fair theme is not for you, another option is to work directly with an independent recruiter. In light of the changing attitudes toward job fairs and tight budgets, many educators are now turning to recruiters. They provide many of the same benefits as the major recruiting organizations, but offer more individual attention. As with the organizations mentioned above, some charge educators a fee, others are funded by the schools. A unique advantage to using a recruiter is that they have more intimate contact with schools and are focused on helping both. The screening process is bilateral. They work with schools to screen candidates for best fit and also screen schools in an attempt to provide a match for candidates that will be mutually beneficial. One of those agencies is Carney Sandoe www.carneysandoe.com. Although they advertise schools around the world, they seem to have more placements in the United States. One recruiter that is relatively new and growing stronger every day is Teacher Horizons www.teacherhorizons.com. A recent check of their listings revealed a number of postings throughout Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Snake oil—diamond—or diamond in the rough?

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To quote a phrase made famous by U.S. President Ronald Reagan, Доверяй, но проверяй (doveryai, no proveryai) for those non-Russian speakers among us, “Trust but verify.” As you begin to sift through the offers rolling in, it is important to do your research. Before interviewing with a school, and certainly before accepting a position, it is in everyone´s best interest to do your research. You want to get an objective picture of the school, administration, potential colleagues, students and families, not to mention the country and city, it´s politics, and possibly, if this is a priority for you, even what brands of deodorant are available. The rub in all of this is the term objective. Bear in mind that everyone has an agenda. Unfortunately, there is a lot of, at a minimum hyperbole and at worst, fiction out there. As long as you approach your research with that in mind, you will be usually be able to find the facts among all of the roses—or thorns.

The first place to look in your search is a school´s website. It will give you a good picture of what´s going on and their priorities. It also can give you a look between the lines. If for example the information is up-to-date and relevant, someone at the school has made it a priority to present a current picture of the school. If it´s not, it could be that it is no longer relevant, that they are not proud of what is going on, or simply that everyone is too busy to take care of it. Look closely at the vision, mission and values of the school. Do they represent your vision, mission and values in education? Are they practical and relevant? Do they look like they lead to an actionable plan, or do they look like cookie-cutter, feel-good idealisms that do not really say anything? Look at the goals and the strategic plan. Are they achievable by mere mortals? Are they missing? If there is no strategic plan, could it be that the ship is rudderless?

Another option are the myriad of school review sites. Among the most common, is International Schools Review www.internationalschoolsreview.com. A weakness to this site is that you do not have to be a member to post a review [on International School Community you need to be a member to leave comments]. There truly are facts to be found here, but only with a microscope. First, to read the reviews, you must be a member. The fee is reasonable but might be the best investment. This anonymity for posting, opens the door to the hyperbole and fiction referred to above. The thing to keep in mind as you read these reviews is that if it seems very rosy, it was most likely written by someone with a vested or financial interest, i.e.: a founder, board member or administrator. If on the other hand, it seems like hell on earth, it was most likely written someone who left the school under less than friendly terms. You have to read between the lines to find the kernels of truth, but hopefully you will also be able to identify some rational and objective reviews.

Other places to look are the International Baccalaureate (IBO) site, www.ibo.org, or discussion forums found on such sites as Linked In www.linkedin.com, or Internations www.internations.org. Ultimately, it is incumbent on you to do the research to be sure that you make informed decisions that are right for you.

Talk to me!

Burnout stress - woman sleeping on computerSo you have your papers in order, you have jumped through all of the hoops. You know about the schools and countries you are considering and you heard that they have a position. The next step is to sign the contract, right? Well, not so fast. You still have to convince them that you are the perfect person for the job.

Before blasting out 200 CV´s with a form cover letter, do your homework. Although at job fairs, it may seem that international schools are isolated entities in “competition” with each other, the reality is that it is a small group. The directors of these schools know each other, and whether they are best friends or passing acquaintances, they talk and compare notes. You want them to see that you have carefully considered your skills and their needs and that you truly believe that you are a solid fit. Remember that there are a set number of hours in a day and just as you have limited time to get things done, so do directors and recruiters. Do not waste your time or theirs by sending a letter of interest to a school that is not a clear fit for your skill set.  Likewise, if you do not know enough about a school to write an individually crafted cover letter, why should they be bothered to find out about you? That being said, everyone has a dream location in mind, but if you allow yourself the opportunity, you will discover that some places you never dreamed of living, can provide a rich, colorful and amazing experience. Having grown up in a time (in the U.S.) when most people imagined Africa to be nothing but desert, bugs and snakes, and New York City to be nothing but crime, it is easy to understand how we let our preconceived ideas limit our opportunities and potential. The greatest gift you can give yourself is to ignore those preconceptions and be open to consider any country. Wherever you go, I can assure you that you will find warm, open, friendly and dedicated colleagues and citizens.

The first step in landing a contract for a job that will be rewarding for you and beneficial to your employer, is to know yourself and be honest with yourself and on your CV. There has been a great deal of news lately about how common it is to lie on a CV. There are two perspectives from which to view this. “One is that everybody is doing it, so if I don´t, I can´t compete.” If that is your perspective, ask Lance Armstrong how that worked out for him. Further, exaggerating your CV might land you a job, but if you are not truly qualified for that job, it will inevitably end badly. On the other hand, as an educator, we are role models and just as we would cringe at giving a student a grade for something he did not do, what would it say about the character of an educator who got a job fraudulently. Be honest—completely. It will not open every door, but it will open the right one.

A career change brings with it a lot of excitement, frustration, exhaustion and in some cases, panic. International education is not for everyone but if I still have your attention at this point, you are on the path to an amazing life, with all its joys, heartache, highs and lows.

In the next article, we will talk more about the interview, what to look for, what to expect and what questions to ask.

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 #26: Usha Iyer (An international school educator/director currently working in India)

July 25, 2013


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

Screen Shot 2013-07-24 at 11.05.45 PMTell us about your background.  Where are you from?

I hail from Tamil Nadu (India). I am from Chennai but brought up in Dehradun, Uttranchal. The serene valley and the beauty of the hill culture exist here. It’s a small place but known for its best of the residential and day schools. I studied in a residential school but I was a day scholar. Mine was not an international school but we had a multi cultural environment as other nationality kids did study here. We had Anglo Indian teachers who taught us good discipline and grammar. I did my college also in Dehradun as my mother refused to send me to Delhi (Capital Of India) for my studies as she felt the city life could spoil me.

Teaching happened as it had to happen. I was a self made woman and felt that I should stand on my own legs .My father had instructed my mother to enroll me in the hotel management course in PUSA institute in Delhi .As he was working in Indonesia and communication was not that easy those days , I not doing hotel management and opting for teaching was not known to him. I wanted to earn and I felt I must pay for my post graduation. As I was obstinate in pursuing my goal my mother gave in. My father was very upset as there was no need to work; he felt it that way as he was making good money.

There was no look back after that. I got an opportunity to work in the same day and residential school. I was just 19 years and handling the 5th graders very efficiently. I finished my post graduation and procured the teaching degree while still teaching.

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

I got opportunity to work in a metropolitan city after marriage. It made a big difference in terms of interacting with different people. In fact after a very short span of 4 years of working in the city schools, I left for Saudi Arabia. That was my first opportunity working outside India in the International school of India. I could see a lot of Indian Muslim kids but we did have a lot of Muslim kids from Indonesia and other countries and a lot of kids from Pakistan. It was a wonderful experience as I got to learn Arabic. I lived in an international community where I was interacting with Egyptian, Lebanese and women from Philippines. I did make a few Lebanese friends.

It was a great experience for me as I learnt the prayers from Quran. I coming from a Hindu background I found it a cultural difference as the kids were allowed to do Namaz three times in school hours. There were separate prayer rooms for them to render prayer.

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.

1993-1997 – It was a great experience for me at the International Indian School Jeddah at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia  as I learnt the prayers from Quran. I found them very cooperative and we used to have fun days too where in we cooked our nationality food and have a good get together. What I liked about the school is it was very impartial .Although I was not a Muslim but I was chosen to represent Jeddah, Saudi Arabia along with an Indian colleague of mine to attend the two week workshop at Dubai. There were 52 delegates all over from the Gulf who attended the workshop. It was an icing on the cake for me. I got an opportunity to interact with people from Bahrain, Kuwait, U.A.E, Sharjah, Qatar etc. This kind of exposure opened my vistas for me to evolve a better English teacher as we could exchange notes on best practices. I came back to Saudi Arabia and the principal gave me an opportunity to establish the unique English lab which I dreamt of.

1997-2000 – It was another opportunity which God had given me to work in Nigeria. I was very keen in working in an international school but destiny had decided it differently for me. I was walking on the roads of Ikoyi, Nigeria. I just felt like walking with my resume into a Black school, called Kemsons School. The director seemed to be of a pleasant disposition. I told her that I want to head the school. She just looked at me and said yes, go ahead. It was fun setting up the school. I constructed a classroom made of glass instead of the regular walls for the play group kids and the kids loved it.

The best part for which I was applauded was when I conducted the FUNFEST for the school and raised 7 million Nairas The director was very happy with me. The most interesting thing about Nigeria is when I approached companies for sponsorship ,there was such a good response, especially from Lufthansa, the German airlines. They sponsored air ticket to go to London and back. That was the first prize in the raffle ticket .I was instrumental in telling the fun world Nigeria to bring down the toy train to our school.Oh! everyone enjoyed it.

The parents trusted me so much. My director met with an accident and I had to run the school without her. That’s the phase when I took the decision of sending my students to London on an educational trip and a cultural exchange programme. It was a great success. The best part was when we went to get their visas. The U.K embassy refused to give visa to my teacher as her passport had no stamping as it was totally empty as she has not  travelled to any country. It was a herculean task convincing those officers.

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

I was back in India in 2000. After having traveled to Malasia, U.K., Saudi Arabia, U.A.E, Nigeria, U.S., France either for professional development courses or to work, it was very difficult to compromise with quality and standards. I was very happy when I got an opportunity to set up an International school from scratch in Bangalore, India. It was named India International school. I became the founder principal of that school. I always wanted to have a student cultural exchange programme and wanted to enroll students from different races and community. I established the school in 2002 but it was achieved in 2009 and we had 1000 children. I travelled to Bangkok for several presentations. We had Thai kids enrolled in our school, followed by Chinese, Children from Hong Kong and Korea. It was very satisfying. What really made me happy was the school was created by me. The infrastructure, curriculum, the cross cultural environment everything was created by me.

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

I have been so far running school for others. Now, I look at establishing an I.B. school. I have started my preschool in 2012. It has been rated as the best 20 preschools in Bangalore. Slowly it will have its elementary and high school wings and what I intend to do is to give the young children very strong roots and the wings to fly so that they can discover far more new horizons.

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

Beautiful, soul satisfying, enriching, enlightening and delightful.

Thanks Usha!

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 Saudi Arabia like Usha?  Currently, we have 5 international schools listed in Jeddah on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

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12 Tips for Selecting an Int'l School

Selecting an international school: Tip #11 – Does the school provide or have access to qualified teachers who cater to students with special needs?

July 20, 2013


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

Tip #11 – Does the school provide or have access to qualified teachers who cater to students with special needs? Fortunately, the options for adequate support and positive learning environments are increasing.

parent-teacher-meeting-sp-needsAs parents and educators consider international living, school websites can answer many general questions.  However, some parents have specific questions for the needs of their children.  Likewise, teachers and administrators who seek international employment also want to know what services are available at schools and how their skills align with the school’s programs and services.

A growing concern in schools is the question of addressing the special needs of students.  Today that question can have a broad spectrum—- physical, academic, emotional, medical, and psychological.  Schools today have had to expand their programs and providers in order to adequately serve all children.  Internationally, does this protocol of serving all students present similar challenges and are different parts of the world answering the challenge the same or differently?

For the purpose of sharing an international snapshot of this question, I invited various international educators to respond to this topic.  The results of my limited inquiry provided some common results: 1) the need for schools to provide for special needs students is prevalent; 2) many countries have a legal mandate of how this will be done; 3) what is written is difficult to attain; 4) there is a scarcity of special needs teachers; 5) some areas can better address the issues than others due to monetary resources and location.

So, where does that leave a family who is searching for an appropriate place for their special needs child?  The answer I believe is that the parent will have to be the advocate for their child and do in-depth questioning, examining websites, visiting schools, and connecting with the right people.

In England, it is required that all schools (public and state) have a SENCO (Special Needs Coordinator) who is a teacher responsible for pupils with SEN needs and for ensuring that their needs are being met.  Also all inspection reports must comment on the effectiveness of SEND and provision for English as Additional Language students and how the school is meeting those needs. overview_osx

Responses I received from India varied depending on location.  While Boards talk about serving these students, the reality is colored by 1) the scarcity of special education teachers especially in small cities and 2) main stream teachers not being trained in serving special needs.  Part-time tutors are hired and shared when available.

From a different location in India, an international school educator indicated that there is generally a Head of Special Needs appointed in all schools as every child has a Right to Education as per the Government RTE Act.  Under this head, there can be a few junior teachers who are trained to handle children with Special Needs up to a certain level.  If the case is very severe and requires one-on-one care, there are special schools that have specially trained staff and facilities including lifts, special bathrooms to accommodate wheelchairs, etc.  In cases of autism, dyslexia, and attention deficit, those children are identified and served on a one-on-one basis with the Special Needs Department in concert with the Classroom Teacher, Subject Teachers, School Counselor, Parents, and student peers.  These students are closely monitored for improvement, and many times when they attend regular classrooms, a special needs assistant is alongside the student to clarify the lesson and assure there is no interruption in the classroom.  This responder concluded by saying that in his area of India, the Special Needs Department works hard to ensure these children grow up as normal kids who can have a happy schooling experience.

A third international school educator from India added that there are some special schools in urban and rural areas, noting that training centers have recently appeared to train teachers for special needs schools.  Also he sees in-service training starting to be offered.  His summary statement on current conditions—-“There is a ray of hope: politicians, social activists, and educators are becoming more aware of the issues of special needs children and it is widely discussed and debated almost everywhere.”  From these discussions, “we can hope that all these moves will give a better platform for students with special needs in the coming days.”

Moving on to Shanghai where two international school educators shared their insight…..  One summarized that in his small school there is no special needs program and that he did not know of any mainstream international school in Shanghai that has a robust program.  However, that could be changing.  He then connected me to an amazing couple who shared their personal experience.  They are both educators in Shanghai and they were seeking an appropriate program for their son with profound autism.  When they struggled to find what they felt their son needed, Lori and Mike Boll last year started a small, inclusive school for all children called Shine Academy.  It serves 20+ students that range in age from 3-18.  Some have disabilities, some do not.  By forming this inclusive program, they saw it as a way to bring services to their son and the greater community.  See their story at www.shineacademy.asia.  For families seeking support and teachers who are building understanding of how to serve autistic children, the Bolls have additional resources at www.autismpodcast.org.  The Bolls are just one example of what one responder called the “general nature of international teachers—they just find a way.”

In conclusion, the special needs education picture is the same and different across the world.  With a spirit of justice, parents, educators, and communities can make a difference by working collaboratively to improve the accessibility of a quality education for all children.  In unity, the possibilities can become realities.

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

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Have a specific international school in mind that you thinking of applying at? Check out our “Where our Members have worked” page and start contacting some of our members that know about the international school you are interested in knowing more about. Our 2700+ members currently work at (or have worked at in the past) 487 different international schools.  Feel free to send them a private message related to finding out more about their Special Needs programming at their international school.

Furthermore, 26 members have specifically stated on their member profile that they currently hold the position of Special Education Teacher.  Check out which positions our members hold here.

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Highlighted Articles

An experience of a lifetime: visit to John Donne School (UK) from a school in India

July 10, 2013


On 25th June 2012, I was fortunate to visit a school in South East part of London at a place called Peckham. Peckham holds significance as during the London riots it was a hotbed of violence. It has a mixed racial community of Africans, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans, and people from South East Asia.

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Mr.Phil Mayo (see above photo) explained about the sign “Peace at Peckham” made creatively by the pupils of JD after the riots with all used polythene bags, rags and waste paper. The pupils from a mixed racial background strongly wanted to convey the message of peace to their community thru this sign.

John Donne School is situated in the heart of this vibrant, exciting and multi-cultural area and is a community primary school, which is part of Southwark Local Authority where the admitting body is the London Borough of Southwark. JD as it is popularly known among people is an exceptional school of London. I got to see many facets of a school and different approaches adopted by their academic faculty. The learning derived in spending half a day at JD has not only been enriching but enabled me to gain a better insight at the teacher student dynamics which I would have not explored earlier.

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Let me take you thru a journey of discovery thru JD……

Reaching school at 7.15am I waited for Mr. Chris Souvlis (South London Schools Internationalism Support) who played a crucial role in coordinating this visit. As UK rules for visiting a school are very strict and without an official invite from a school no person is allowed to enter. Mr. Souvlis was a contact of another contact Mr. Chris Williams (Comenius Expert, British Council Ambassador for the East Midlands) who has been a vital link for the ISA and without whose assistance this visit would not have been possible.

Being early gave us time to discuss various school projects undertaken by Mr. Souvils. At 8am we met Mr.Phil Mayo (Pastoral Manager) at JD who was very welcoming and eager that I viewed their assembly which was scheduled for 8.30am in a large hall with no stage where about 200 pupils had gathered. The Assembly was conducted by the Deputy Head teachers Ruth Moyler & Simon Wattam on the theme London Olympics 2012 and started with a piece of music “Chariots of Fire”.  After which the pupils were asked to identify that piece of music. They showed high awareness and a lot of hands went up giving the right answers. The various sports to be played at the games were then mimed one by one by Simon and Phil. This was a very interactive assembly where all the pupils were enjoying and learning simultaneously. The energy and enthusiastic manner with which the teachers conducted this was a visual treat.

This reinforced my belief that enthusiasm in a person is not only infectious but also a energy booster for the pupils. The school provided 5 pupils with wrestling tickets for the Olympics which was a real time treat for them. Purple badges were given for full attendance; the child who was a star of the week was announced to motivate others to be regular at school. The school had also purchased new special Olympic themed tyres which were displayed on the play ground and the students were excited to explore the same.  They were asked to respect school property without damaging it.

After this wonderful assembly we wrapped up for a school tour. Seeing various creative classrooms decorated with artwork by pupils was a total “WOW moment” for me. What impressed me more was they were from the 1st-5th grade and with the help of their teachers they brought out the best of their creativity. This ability of the teachers to capitalize and bring out the best from them was awesome. By giving those options to choose from it enabled them to become independent and smarter. The teachers’ found innovative ways of teaching which boosted the pupil’s creativity.

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Speaking with their 4th grade teacher was informative as she shared while teaching a particular topic for the month all other subjects would be correlated with the main theme. e.g. While she was doing Africa as the  main theme even the art and craft was correlated in which animals were made in a jungle setting.

This creativity extended to different subjects and with various teachers as I spoke with the English and Math Teacher Mrs. Jabbar. Who introduced math in the form of various games where the pupils were learning but best of all they were looking forward to the classes. Creating interest is all in the hands of the teachers by being innovative and different.

Mr.Phil shared that JD was an example of an exceptional school where the staff were very involved with the pupil’s welfare as they were coming from different multi cultural backgrounds. Some were from broken homes or having one or no parents. All pupils would eat breakfast at school and no one would attend class if they had not eaten. The councilor’s room was a place to express their feeling through drawing, colouring, writing or just talking. Parents could also join in on the discussion over there. They had a very unique way of punishing a pupil who had repeatedly been naughty. There were made to fill out a questionnaire where they would actually reflect upon their behavior. It was called the 5 W’s form. This way of punishment really worked as it enabled the child to really think about their behavior and not just brush it aside.

I learnt and saw so much in the span of half a day that the overall experience and learning was nothing short of awesome in every way.

Charmaine Vida Tayal

International School Award Coordinator, Facilitator Projects, Khaitan Public School Sahibabad, India

Email: charmainetayal@gmail.com

Thanks Charmaine for sharing your visit with us!  Currently we have 71 international schools listed in India on our website, with many of them having comments and information that have been submitted on them.  Check them out here.

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Discussion Topics

It is time to say goodbye to your current international school: getting rid of your things before the big move!

June 15, 2013


lostluggagebhpIt is sad to say goodbye.  Even more so when you are an international school teacher.  Goodbye new country, goodbye new teacher-friends, goodbye new local friends, goodbye the excellent local cuisine and your new favourite restaurants, etc. And let’s not forget….goodbye to some of your possessions.

At this time of year you already know the teachers for whom it will be their last year working at your current international school.  There is almost a stage of denial that you go through.  You don’t want them to leave for many reasons, some personal and some work-related. On the other hand, you might be quite content with them leaving!

Whether you want them to go or not, international school teachers have to plan and think about a lot of things when they decide to leave an international school.

Selling your things: Some international schools have an end-of-the-year flea market where leaving parents and teachers can bring their stuff to sell.  What a great way to get some money for the things you won’t be taking with you.  If there isn’t an organized flea market, some international school teachers use Facebook and Craigslist-type websites to sell their things.  You can also get in contact with the new hires that will be arriving in the fall to see if there are a few things that they would like to buy…as there will be probably many things that they will need.

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Giving away your things: Sometimes it is not worth the ‘hassle’ of trying to find people to which to sell your things. In the international school teaching community where you’re at, you will always find others that will take your unneeded things!  One time I received 2-3 boxes of things (that I didn’t ask for) from a parting teacher, and there were some really nice things!  Also, it is fun to give away your things, and it leaves a little bit of you with them. One time I took out all the artwork in all the frames in my apartment. Then I had my good friends choose a favorite picture that I had taken during my time there.  I blew up the chosen pictures and put them into my frames (can’t always take big frames with you when you move anyway!).  It was a nice gift to give to them as it came closer to my last couple weeks before my official moving date.

Taking your things with you: If you are lucky, your next international school will have some shipping benefits.  You can use that money to send most of your personal belongings to your next location.  Some international schools don’t have that benefit though, so make sure to get all the details. If you are even luckier, your current school will also have some shipping benefits for leaving teachers as well (Double the money!).  Sometimes international schools have a date that if you formally resign before that date, you will be eligible to receive another baggage/shipping allowance.  In the international school teaching world, it appears it pays to plan ahead then.  I have never used a formal, professional moving company, but many do.  At first, it doesn’t seem like you have a lot of things to move (especially if you are living in a furnished apartment), but then as you start packing, the number of boxes always always seem to multiply!

We have a comment and information topic (in the Benefits tab section on all of our school profile pages) directly related to shipping/moving allowance.  It is called “Detailed info about flight, shipping and settling-in allowances. Any other benefits (e.g. free lunches, etc.)?

Here are some other example comments and information that our members have submitted in this topic:

“You get up to 2000 Euros to use for a moving allowance. You also can get 2000 Euros (interest free loan) if you need some extra money for a “settling-in allowance”. No flight allowance, though the school does pay for your first flight there. (1000 USD for people in Europe and 1500 USD for overseas hires).” – 

“Moving allowance is around 450 Euros. They will pay for your airfare to get there, but there is no annual flight allowance. The school gives you a lunch allowance as well, around 126 Euros a month.” – 

“Moving allowance provided is 1200 USD for singles and 2300 USD for teaching couples.” – 

“The school pays for your flight, visa costs and a shipping allowance of 500USD…but no shipping allowance when you leave. You also can pay for lunch at a nominal cost. Tuition is covered for two dependents but you still have to pay for transportation and food costs which is approximately 230,000 COP per month.” – 

If you know about the shipping and baggage allowance details of the international school you currently work at or have worked at in the past, log-on today to share what you know!  For every 10 submitted comments and information, you will automatically receive one free month of premium membership added to your account.

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Member Spotlights

International School Community Member Spotlight #19: Andrew Vivian (An veteran international teacher currently working at MV Education Services)

December 1, 2012


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

(This member spotlight is a continuation from an interview we did earlier which can be found here.)

From there, we spent a year in Guangzhou, China, at Utahloy International School, with Helen as Primary Principal and me as Head of Science. Guangzhou, despite the air quality, was a really nice place to live. We started off in an apartment in town, while we looked for a place big enough to hold our material possessions – for us, home is where we live, and we take our furniture and everything with us, so relocation costs are substantial. We ended up in a ground-floor apartment out of town, but only a cheap 30-minute taxi ride to “the action”. The shopping was the main attraction, particularly for Helen,

We were asked to come and work at a school in Jakarta, and relocated, because we wanted to continue teacher training and we love Indonesia. Things didn’t work out, and we decided to try our hands at consulting, because we have a lot of connections with Indonesian private schools and Helen is a well-established Primary Years Programme workshop leader for the IB. After a year and a half for Helen, and a year for me, we are keeping the wolf from the door. Helen does a lot of IB workshops around Asia, and is working with the management of a school in East Jakarta. I’ve done one workshop for the IB, a few in Jakarta and one in Beijing. My main work has been a couple of tours doing school inspections in Dubai. I’ve done some course writing and prepared some teaching materials for a couple of organisations. We have just finalised our working visas and our Indonesian company, and will, hopefully, be expanding our business soon.

Teaching internationally has been great for us. We’ve had a few heartbreaks, but, overall we have been able to save money, travel, and every day brings a new experience. We have been to most of the countries in Asia, and some amazing places in them. We speak Bahasa Indonesia, so, when we see something interesting, we can ask questions. One of our delights in Surabaya was just walking through the villages behind us, and talking to the locals.

We’ve had a lot of funny experiences, and no really dangerous ones. For example, we were on a boat up river in Kalimantan, after visiting the orang-utan sanctuary, when the boat broke down, 50 km from the port. We literally hitch-hiked with a passing fisherman. Enroute to Tibet, we stopped in Chengdu, in China. We caught a taxi to a restaurant recommended in a guide book. Half-way there, we realised that we didn’t have the hotel’s card, so we had no way of knowing where to go back to or how to communicate it to anyone. After dinner it took us two taxi rides and a 1km walk before we recognised a landmark.

International schools are funny places – some are excellent. Also, the “true” international schools now make up only a fraction of the places in which you can teach internationally and in tougher economic times, in Asia, at least, they have increasing numbers of local students anyway. Overall the positives tend to outweigh the negatives. Our philosophy is that we want to make a difference, so that working in host-country schools that offer IB programmes is our preference. Not everyone is comfortable in these sort of schools, but they are the places that give real insight into other cultures.

Many people like to teach overseas for the change in locale. That is a factor for us, but it is more about the sort of school we work in. For us, working in IB schools has been fabulous. We have been to most of the regional conferences over the past ten years and have met so many talented, committed people. We get to visit schools and help teachers do it better. In the process, we keep learning something new about education most days.

One thing I would recommend is to get everything in writing and even then, depending on which country you are in, it doesn’t matter any way if someone decides to be unpleasant. If you are prepared to “roll with the punches”, while sticking to your principles, then teaching internationally can be amongst the best things you can do in education.

In 5 words: adventure, culture, education, difference, satisfaction.

Make sure the check out Andrew’s website which tells more about the services he currently offers to international schools.

Thanks Andrew!

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 Guangzhou like Andrew?  Currently, we have 8 international schools listed in Guangzhou on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

American International School of Guangzhou (12 Comments)
Guangzhou Nanhu International School (4 Comments)
Alcanta International College (6 Comments)
Guangzhou Huamei International School (5 Comments)
Clifford International School (8 Comments)
The Affiliated High School of SCNU (8 Comments)

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Highlighted Year for Int’l Schools

International schools that were founded in 1955 (Accra, Carabobo, La Paz & Surrey)

June 5, 2012


Random year for international schools around the world: 1955

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 1224 (05 June, 2012) international schools currently listed on International School Community, we found 7 international schools that were founded in 1955 (excepts about their founding are taken from the schools’ websites):

Ghana (British) International School (0 Comments) (Accra, Ghana)

“This is a far cry from the humble beginnings of the school when it first opened its doors on 1st September 1955. Back then, the school was known as the Gold Coast International School and was the brainchild of eight founding members. These were: Sir Kobena Arku Korsah and Justice Edward Akuffo Addo, both Justices of the Supreme Court of the Gold Coast, Dr Lusty of the University College of Gold Coast (now the University of Ghana, Legon), Mr Kenneth Humphreys, first registrar of the West Africa Examinations Council, Dr Ruby Quartey-Papafio, an educationist, Dr Kofi George Konuah, also an educationist and Mr Edward James Bailey of the United Africa Company and his wife, Mrs Valerie Bailey. The membership of the committee was later expanded to include the Indian High Commissioner as well as the American and French Vice-Consuls.

The vision for the school was a school that would provide quality international education to children of different races and creeds and a school that would serve both the international and local communities.

The first task for the committee was finding a suitable location. Looking at the school now, it’s hard to believe that the original school was a small bungalow originally allocated to the Director of Surveys. Yet that small bungalow was the setting for a school that became so popular that it had an enormous waiting list within its first three months of opening. By January 1956, the school committee had no option but to relocate to bigger premises.”

American Cooperative School La Paz (9 Comments)  (La Paz, Bolivia)

“Founded in 1955, the American Cooperative School of La Paz, Bolivia, is a private, co-educational school with a current enrollment of about 400 students. We offer an American based educational program, taught in English, from Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12 for students of all nationalities. The high school curriculum is designed to prepare students for the college experience.”

Colegio International de Carabobo (5 Comments)  (Carabobo, Venezuela)

“Colegio Internacional de Carabobo in Valencia, State of Carabobo, Venezuela, was organized in 1955 with four companies: Celanese, Firestone, Goodyear, and U.S. Rubber. These provided the initial capital.

In 1958, a ten-classroom school was constructed in El Trigal, a residential sector of Valencia. During the 1962-63 school year, a library, four classrooms, showers and dressing rooms, and a photographic darkroom were added. In 1968, the High School building was constructed and was opened for classes on September 2, 1968. The building consisted of two science laboratories, a computer laboratory, and classrooms, a lounge, and offices. The High School library, constructed in 1968 and renovated in 2006, today houses 8,000 volumes. A “comedor” and Middle School were added during the early 1980’s. A multi-purpose recreational building was completed in August of 1988. Most recently, two annexes, a lower primary building, a second Middle School level, and a maintenance complex were added in the mid 1990’s.”

Marymount International School (0 Comments)  (Surrey, United Kingdom)

“Established in 1955 to meet the educational needs of families in the international business and diplomatic community, Marymount London is part of a worldwide system of schools and colleges directed by the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary, a Roman Catholic Congregation founded in Béziers, France, in 1849.”

International School of Penang (Uplands) (9 Comments)  (Penang, Malaysia)

“The International School Of Penang (Uplands) is a non-profit, co-educational primary and secondary School with boarding facilities, open to children aged 5 – 18 years old.

Since being established in 1955 at the top of Penang Hill and now established in a modern campus in Batu Feringgi, Uplands has strived to embody a caring community; a School where both international and Malaysian students are happy to learn.”

International School of Yangon (6 Comments)  (Yangon, Myanmar)

“The International School Yangon, founded in 1952, is a private co-educational day school, providing an American curriculum from pre-school through grade 12. The school is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). ISY is also a member of the East Asian Regional Council of Schools (EARCOS). ISY is committed to ensuring that its students achieve a high level of accomplishment using English as the medium of instruction. French, Spanish (high school) and Mandarin are taught as foreign languages. Standardized tests such as the International Schools Assessment (ISA), and the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) are conducted at ISY to evaluate student performance and school wide programs. In high school, ISY offers a college preparatory program, leading to a U.S. diploma and an International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma. There are currently 252 students in elementary school, 115 students in middle school and 144 students in the high school. ”

Woodford International School (0 Comments)  (Honiara, Solomon Islands)

“ The school originally started in the mid 1950’s with about a dozen pupils. It was government run, and was housed in a succession of buildings in Central Honiara. By the early 1970’s the need for a new school was recognized, and in the later half of the 1970’s, a new Woodford School project was included in the Solomon Islands National Development Plan. This project recognized “That a primary educational system offering a curriculum meeting international standards is a critical infrastructure requirement necessary to support Solomon Islands objectives of attracting investment and technical expertise.”

Check out the rest of the international schools listed on International School Community and check out their histories as well!  We have over 1224 international schools that have profile pages on our website.

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ISCommunity Newsletters

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

May 5, 2012


v2012.05 – 5 May, 2012:

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

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

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

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

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

From the staff at International School Community.


Recently updated schools with new comments and information:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Recent blog entries:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Recently added schools:


Requested schools to have members leave comments on:


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

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


One month free promotion ending soon:

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


New members:

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


Current Survey Topic:

Vote here!


Member spotlight:

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

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


Highlighted Article

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

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

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

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

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Highlighted Articles

The number of children at international schools reaches 3 million!

March 22, 2012


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 just ten years. In 2002 there were one million international school students. It is this increasing demand for places which is driving the rapid expansion of international schools worldwide; a trend that ISC Research predicts will continue for the foreseeable future.

Ten years ago, the typical international school student was from an expatriate family. Today, that student is from a local family. The number of expatriate children attending international schools has not decreased, indeed there are many more . What has changed is the recognition by local families that international schools are a means of advancing to further education at some of the world’s best universities. “Parents of the next generation are looking towards international schools to satisfy the need for critical thinking rather than learning by rote,” says Clive Pierrepont, Director of Communications at Taaleem which owns and manages 13 schools in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. “The parents clearly see international schools as a route through for university opportunities.” It is this recognition, coupled with increased income, which is making attendance at an international school a real possibility for the wealthier local families. Today 80% of students at international schools are local children.

In a number of cities, this demand from both expat and local families, is outstripping supply. Hong Kong, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha all have significant problems. So much so, that many relocating expats with families are now demanding security of their school places before accepting new placements. In certain locations, it is the availability of good school places that is driving job decisions by expats rather than salaries and destinations. As a result of this demand, a number of countries are actively encouraging the growth of international schools including China, India, Malaysia, Korea, and the UAE.

International schools are typically fee-paying schools that deliver the curriculum wholly or partly in English (outside an English-speaking country). The good quality of learning at international schools is recognised the world over. Many of these schools follow, to a large extent, the English National Curriculum. Others deliver such highly respected international curricula as the International Baccalaureate and the International Primary Curriculum. Others deliver alternative national curricula such as American or Dutch. The best international schools have extremely good reputations, are accredited, and are used as models by national schools the world over.

ISC Research, the organisation that researches and analyses data on international schools worldwide predicts that the number of students in international schools will reach six million in another ten years and that the number of international schools will increase from 6,000 today to 10,000.

Managing Director of ISC Research, Nicholas Brummitt, says “The international school market has become big business. There are now a number of highly respected, multinational groups of schools driving growth forward. Examples of these are Taaleem with schools throughout the UAE and partnerships in other Middle East countries, WCL with schools in the US and Qatar, Nord Anglia with schools in China and Europe, Cognita with schools in the UK, Europe and Asia, ESOL with schools in a number of Middle East countries, Yew Chung Education Foundation with schools in Hong Kong, China and the US, and GEMS with schools in many parts of the world.  Most of these groups are expanding aggressively, either by buying existing schools, expanding current operations, or building new schools. There are also schools with campuses in several countries. These include a number of UK private schools with international operations such as Harrow (in Beijing, Bangkok with a third school in Hong Kong  opening in September this year) and Dulwich which has schools in China and is opening several more in Asia over the next few years.”

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

For more information about what it is like to work at many of these international schools, make sure to visit www.internationschoolcommunity.com

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Great Resource

Great Resource: Want to work at an international school in Hong Kong?

February 7, 2012


The Top Schools website (http://www.topschools.hk/) has some excellent information about the many international schools in Hong Kong.

There are many international educators interested in working at these schools.  There are around 29 international schools listed on the Top Schools website.  Some of the international schools listed on their website are: Australian International School, Canadian International School, Kingston International School, German Swiss International School, etc…

Highlighted sections from their website:

DISCOVERY BAY INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL
“With 940 students, DBIS follows a curriculum based on that of the National Curriculum of England and Wales.  Admissions are non selective and students are drawn from the Discovery Bay community.  Demand for places is high and the school introduced a iPremium School Development Levy of HK$450,000 – s a means for parents to gain a “fast track” entry to the Kindergarten and Primary sections. Presumably, this means those that pay this premium levy get priority in the selection process.”

HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL
“A highly reputable school following an American-style curriculum. 58% of its students are American and 56% are Christian.  Debenture holders receive priority.  Lower Primary will be relocated for three academic years.  R2, Grade 1 and Grade 2 classes will relocate to an existing unused school building in Chai Wan. Click for detailed info on the relocation.”

HARROW INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL
“Opening September 2012.  The first international day and boarding school in Hong Kong. Operated by the Harrow International Group, Harrow International school is an arm of the 439-year old British school that educated Winston Churchill. The Hong Kong branch is the third in Asia. The others are in Beijing and Bangkok.  This is a full through-train school accepting students as young as 2.  Debentures sold out.  The first batch of individual debentures and individual capital certificates has been fully subscribed. Parents interested in ICCs and IDs, may apply to be put on the waiting list. The price of the second batch is yet to be determined.  Applicants may opt to pay the annual levy at $50,000/year – this is non-interest bearing, non-refundable and non-transferable.”

Currently, there are 17 international schools listed under Hong Kong on International School Community:

American International School (Hong Kong) ( 22 Comments)

Canadian International School (Hong Kong) ( 7 Comments)

Chinese International School
( 0 Comments)

German Swiss International School ( 2 Comments)

Hong Kong Academy Primary School ( 14 Comments)

Hong Kong International School ( 2 Comments)

Independent School Foundation Academy ( 0 Comments)

Kennedy School ( 0 Comments)

Renaissance College Hong Kong ( 5 Comments)

The ISF Acadmey (Hong Kong) ( 0 Comments)

Japanese International School ( 0 Comments)

Singapore International School (Hong Kong) ( 7 Comments)

Diocesan Boys School ( 0 Comments)

Hong Lok Yuen International School ( 4 Comments)

Discovery College (Hong Kong) ( 5 Comments)

Yew Chung International School (Hong Kong) ( 8 Comments)

International Christian School (Hong Kong) ( 11 Comments)

Check out the latest comments and information that have been submitted on these schools or submit your own at International School Community.

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Great Resource

Great resource: HAYS – Recruiting Experts in Education (International Teaching)

February 5, 2012


Here is a summary of their organization and the services they offer:

Hays plc is the UK’s largest publicly listed recruitment group and a world leader in specialist recruitment.

The International division of Hays Education was founded in 2005. The aim of the division is to provide a first class recruitment service to all British and International Schools. Over the past few years we have grown significantly and now have a considerable portfolio of schools we work with across a number of continents.

Since our conception we have played a huge part in the movement of teachers all over the world. In addition to this, we keep a close eye on the ever-changing face of International schools, so we can continually offer a first class service. Our involvement with organizations such as the BSME enable us to build closer relationships with our schools as well as keep abreast of issues affecting schools globally.

They also have a job vacancy section which can be found here.

TESTIMONIALS

There is no better recommendation than the feedback we receive from schools we have worked with in the past. Read below a selection of comments headteachers have made about the service we provide.

TEACHERS CASE STUDIES

Choosing to embark on an international teaching career is a life changing decision. Whether it is for the first time or tenth time the prospect of a new life in a foreign country can be as daunting as it is exciting. Click on the case studies on the left to share in others teachers frank observations on their own overseas experiences.

FEATURED SCHOOLS

We work with many different schools around the world in their search for the best teachers. Click on our featured school to read more in depth about what to expect when you decide to make that jump into an international teaching career.

They also have a great section of their website describing the different regions that they service: Africa, South East Asia, Europe, Middle East, and South America.

Here is an example of the information they provide on the region of Africa.

Schools in Africa

Many of the schools we work with, started as very small private schools and have evolved considerably over the years, undertaking ambitious programmes of expansion and development. Many now boast superb facilities and offer a fine institute for employment. Schools in Africa reflect the UK year timetable with the man differences being the times school begins and finishes each day. Usually schools in Africa start earlier in the morning and finish early afternoon.

Standard package

The schools offer:

• Flights
• Accommodation
• Medical cover
• Varying salaries
• Other benefits depending on school
(Laptop, Phone, Car and driver etc)

In Northern African countries, such as Sudan many schools offer tax-free salaries and in many of these locations, where there is not a lot to spend your money on, teachers find they are able to save quite a percentage of their salary and also travel in and around Africa.

Other information

Safety is very important and most schools offered secured accommodation and schools. In addition to this, many schools offer secured transport for teachers to easily move about the cities and towns.

Like all international opportunities choosing to teach in Africa is a true-life adventure. Africa is a land whose climate of experience will both humble and enrich you. The land, the people and the culture will be a classroom within themselves and your experience will be come pages of a textbook you will use to teach in the future.

Check out the other information they provide about the other regions here.

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ISCommunity Newsletters

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

February 4, 2012



Recently updated schools:

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

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

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

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

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

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


Recent blog entries:

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

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

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

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

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


Recently added schools:


Requested schools to have members leave comments on:


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

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


BIG improvements:

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

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

Check out pictures of the improvements and other details here!


New members:

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


Current Survey Topic:

Vote here!


Member spotlight:


Annette Harvey

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

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


Highlighted Link

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

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

Great Resource: want to work at an international school in Shenzhen, China

January 25, 2012


The Start in China website (http://www.startinchina.com/) has some excellent insight on the many international schools in Shenzhen, China.


There are many international educators interested in working at these schools.  There are around 16 international schools listed on the Start in China website.  Some of the international schools listed on their website are: Sheck Hard Kindergarten, Green Oasis International School, Quality Schools International (Futian), etc…

Highlighted sections from their website:

GREEN OASIS INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL

“Green Oasis offers the CIPP (University of Cambridge International Primary), CLSP and IPC. It provides programs for children aged 4 to 14 and has classes in Mandarin and Maths that meet national standards. Green Oasis has professional facilities, labs and so on. The campus is located near Shenzhen’s Central Park, close to SEG.”

SHENZHEN AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL

“The SAIS school was created by the efforts of a group of businessmen from Shenzhen and Lee Academy of Lee, Maine USA. The school offers Pre-school and Kindergarten as well as grade 1 – 8 (American system). High school tuition fees are 95,250 RMB per year but include free lunch, transport and books. The school now has 163 students from more than 15 countries.”

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF SINO-CANADA

“The International School of Sino-Canada (ISSC) was founded in 2002. ISSC teachers are hired in Canada by “Atlantic Education International” and then sent to China. Students will receive a program that is fully certified and inspected by the Department of Education from New Brunswick, Canada. Graduates will receive a regular Canadian diploma and transcript. The school offers programs for pre-grade one and grade one to five (elementary school), middle school and high school. Tuition for high school is US$ 7500.00 per term (about 51K RMB).”

SHEKOU INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL

“Shekou International School is a non-profit school originally founded by oil companies in 1988, but now sponsored by International School Services. It is the oldest international school in Shenzhen. ISS is based in Princeton, New Jersey USA. The school offers programs for children aged 2 to 18. The school has two locations in Shekou: Jingshan Villas and Bayside. SIS is the first international school in Guangdong to hold the Chinese NCCT (National Council of Curriculum and Textbooks) accreditation as well. Tuition for kindergarten is 132K RMB, elementary and middle school is 148K RMB and high school is 156K RMB per year. Shekou International School presently has over 650 students representing 40 different countries. Among them 20% are American, 55% are Asian and 20% are European.

Currently, there are 3 international schools listed under Shenzhen on International School Community:

Shekou International School
QSI International School of Shekou
Green Oasis School

Check out the latest comments and information that have been submitted on these schools or submit your own at International School Community.

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Highlighted Articles

Highlighted article: Teaching abroad in American and International schools

January 10, 2012


There are literally hundreds of overseas schools offering employment opportunities for those wishing to move abroad or those who find themselves in a foreign location in search of work. The first thing one must realize is that there are generally two classifications of employees at most schools: local hire expatriates (as opposed to host country national) and overseas hires. This is an important distinction to remember.

Local hire status usually brings with it (but not always) the same salary as overseas hire (O/H) but without the benefits such as housing, airfare, etc. It is intended to take advantage of the fact that many qualified teachers arrive at post accompanying their spouse and thus receive housing and airfare as part of their family status, saving the school money. Anyone contemplating moving abroad to teach is advised to secure a job before moving: it makes a big difference in living standard. On the other hand, if someone needs experience and would not be competitive as an O/H, it may be easier to find a job on a local hire basis and later parlay the experience gained to O/H status at another school.(Most schools will not change someone’s status once hired.)

Schools determine the ratio of local to overseas hires based on how many qualified candidates areavailable locally, but the better schools keep quality the first priority. They like to maintain a surplus of local applicants to fill in as substitute teachers and when unexpected vacancies occur during the year. School directors eagerly welcome new local talent. While teaching qualifications and experience for local hires are mandatory at most schools, expediency rules at others and it is possible to work one’s way into a full time teaching job through experience substituting or working as a teacher’s aide. In fact, volunteering is a great way to become known and first in line when a job opens.

Applying from overseas, however, the applicant needs to have at least a BA/BS degree, a teaching credential and at least two years experience to be considered. There are many more applicants than jobs available and it is not uncommon for a school to have twenty to one hundred applications for each vacancy. A single parent with dependents does not stand much of a chance, nor does a retired teacher looking for an overseas experience. Schools prefer to hire teaching couples with no dependents, though most schools will hire couples with children and a few will hire singles with dependents. Almost all will hire single teachers if they cannot find couples.

Anyone applying will need to carry excellent recommendations, be healthy and energetic and willing to work in the after- school program. Flexibility and adaptability are key attributes for successful candidates. Prior experience living abroad or at least foreign travel and knowledge of another language are helpful. The bottom line is expertise as a teacher and love of kids and if an interviewer discerns that in a candidate, a contract offer is likely.

So, how does one apply to teach overseas?

The better schools insist on an interview if at all possible, although they will hire through one of the major recruiting agencies if they have vacancies at odd times of the year. Schools which have a high percentage of host country national students or that tend to have lower salaries may hire on the basis of correspondence and could be targeted by inexperienced teachers. Beware, however, that salaries in such schools might be at the subsistence level and working conditions less than ideal. Most international schools are exceedingly reputable: a handful are not, so investigate carefully.

Applying directly to the better schools is a good way to establish contact, but most successful candidates use recruitment agencies which arrange Recruitment Fairs that attract anything from 20 to 140 or more schools for 3 to 4 days of marathon interviewing. A cycle has emerged as follows:

September: the candidate selects and contacts a recruitment agency to register
October/November: references are submitted and a dossier created.
December: the candidate is advised if they are accepted.
February: interviews take place at recruitment fairs. Some contracts are offered on the spot.
March/April: more contracts are consumated.
May/June: a few more recruiting fairs open for schools to fill last minute vacancies.
July/August: recruitment agencies are requested to fill final vacancies

There are several major sources to choose from:

Search Associates: PO Box 2007   Minden, NV 89423    Telephone (775) 267-3122  Fax (775) 267-4122
Street address: 2618 Fuller Avenue  Minden, NV 89423  http://www.search-associates.com
A private agency comprised mainly of former directors of international schools, Search places around 500 candidates annually. Fairs are operated in Kuala Lumpur, Sidney, Dubai, Oxford, Houston, Cambridge, Toronto and Carmel, CA and Bethesda.

International Schools Services, PO Box 5910, Princeton, NJ 08543 A non-profit organization witha wide range of services for international schools, ISS annually operates two large fairs each February: one on the east coast (Washington, DC in 1998), one on the west coast (San Francisco, 1998) plus a late one in Philadelphia each June. They place over 500 candidates.

European Council of International Schools, 21 Lavant Street Petersfield GU32 3EL UK ECIS hosts a major recruitment fair in London early each February and a later one in April. A mix of American and British based schools attend.

University of Northern Iowa This is the grandaddy of all recruitment fairs and the one that started them all back in the 70s. It attracts up to 700 teachers and 140 schools.

Several other colleges or universities also sponsor recruitment centers:check with your university to see if they might be one of them. Which one is best for you? It may depend on location, time of the fair, whether you want a large one or one which is smaller with more personalized attention. ECIS London tends to attract a lot of schools from Europe; Search KL is heavy with international schools in Asia while Search-Houston focuses on Latin America and Search-Dubai is British oriented. UNI has schools from all over, as does ISS. All of the recruiting sources above have websites. Use a search engine to access them and learn more.

The Office of Overseas Schools (U. S. State Department) maintains an excellent website with links to the above. Fees for the above are all moderate and should not be a determiner of which one is chosen. Sources for learning more include the ISS Directory of Overseas Schools; The International Educator (TIE), a newspaper of great interest (PO Box 513, Cummaquid, MA 02637 for subscription); or, visit the Teacher’s Internet Pages (TIPS) on the world-wide web.

Taken from the article summitted  on overseasdigest.com

About the author
Mr. Ambrose was named “Superintendent of the Year” by the Association for the Advancement of International Education in 1997. He has served as the President of the Society Limited to Overseas School Heads; represented international schools on the Elementary Commission of the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges; was a long standing officer of the Board of Directors of the Near East, South Asian (NESA) Council of Overseas Schools; a member of the Board of Directors of TIE, for which he regularly writes articles, and; wrote, produced or directed a series of videotapes designed to train overseas school board members. During his 24 years overseas, he administered a number of schools and was most recently Director of the United Nations International School in Hanoi, Vietnam.

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Discussion Topics

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

December 10, 2011


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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Blogs of International Teachers

Blogs of international school teachers: “Expat Educator”

October 29, 2011


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

Our 10th blog (http://expateducator.com/) that we would like to highlight is called “Expat Educator: Every child. Every lesson. Everyday.“  This international educator seems to be quite experienced, having been in education for the past 16 years.  Check out the blog entries of this international school teacher who is now working in Hong Kong at Hong Kong International School.

Entries we would like to highlight:

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.

Here is what I notice:

1. My students get a break from over-scheduled lives.
Many parents in my community buy into the philosophy of Amy Chua, believing that the best way to love children is to push them to achieve. Highly achieve. Lest one think this phenomenon is reserved for parents of Asian heritage, many of my students’ parents are former Ivy-leaguers and/or CEOs of international companies and expect nothing less from their children. The pressure to succeed is enormous.

By adding play time to our annual calendar in the form of camp, sports days, and field days, students develop the skills they will need to run the major companies of the future. They learn emotional control and practice social skills that can make them better leaders.

2. Students practice independence.
While students often have enormous amounts of academic pressure, many students do not learn to do chores such as changing beds, sweeping floors, or scraping dishes. Like students in many international school communities, my students’ families employ domestic helpers. At camp, students make their own beds and clean their own cabins. They are required to scrape plates and pile their dishes.

3. Students don’t miss their electronic devices.
We spend a great deal of time and effort enforcing “screen-free zones” at school. No student has ever verbally expressed missing an xbox. Instead, they play Uno, Spoons, and Blockus.

4. Students return from camp different than when they left.
As I type this, I’m thinking about two of my new students who, until this week, were quite shy. One student was spotted taking leadership in her group’s cabin clean-up efforts. Another one has been given a nickname – and he smiles whenever he hears it. Camp allowed him the opportunity to show off his amazing tennis skills, earning the respect of the other class athletes.”

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.

An example…
I’ll never forget the first time I wanted to send a check in $US to someone in America. I left school early to make the hour-long trek so that I could get to one of the branches. I arrived to find the branch closed with a sign indicating they closed at 4:30. Seriously? 4:30? I took the hour-long bus ride home.

The next day I left school even earlier, racing out the door after the students left. I arrived at the branch.
“I’d like to get a check in US dollars,” I said.
“You’d like to check your account?” the woman asked.
“No, I’d like a CHECK,” I tried to enunciate clearly as I made the universal hand motion for a signature.
Poor gal was still confused. She went to get her colleague.
I waited. And waited. Branch doors started closing. Security guards were glancing back and forth between their watches and me.
The colleague arrived. “Check?” she asked. “I can get you a checkbook.”
“A checkbook in US dollars?” I asked.
“No, [local country] dollars.”

I burst into tears. The ladies at the bank branch looked at one another, wondering what to do with the foreigner dripping liquid from unsanitary facial orifices.

Flustered, the ladies started handing me forms. One of the forms had to hold the necessary clues to the mysterious transaction request. The forms helped me deduce that chequebook is spelled with a que. I quietly cursed Webster. Finally, I phoned a colleague. Turns out I wanted a demand draft.

Normally, I’m pretty level-headed. I don’t generally curse dead dictionary authors. But, for a task that would take me 10 minutes in my home country, I had invested almost three hours of travel time over two days and I couldn’t figure out how I was going to pay my US credit card bill on time. My head spun into pictures of credit card penalties and bad credit rating reports. I was convinced my credit card would be shut down and I wouldn’t be able to buy a DVD player to replace the one I first bought that wouldn’t play DVDs from the US (Region 1? Why in the world would countries make DVDs that couldn’t be played elsewhere?). If I could just get the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice to play, I could ruminate on the problems of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy and cry over something that wasn’t my current situation.

When I finally pieced together that string of thoughts, I wondered if I needed counseling. How would I pay for counseling without a credit card??? The blubbering started again.

Fortunately, I had read up on culture shock and, a glass of wine later, I realized the irrational behaviors could all be traced back to the predictable stage (okay, maybe it was a few glasses bottle of wine).”

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

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Blogs of International Teachers

Blogs of international school teachers: “Tip of the Iceberg”

October 18, 2011


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

Our 9th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Tip of the Iceberg.”  This international educator seems to be quite experienced in the international school community, having worked at international schools since 2001.  Check out the blog entries of this international school teacher who is now working in Singapore at United World College South East Asia.

Entries we would like to highlight:

My Journey to Work

“I was kindly tagged by Kim Cofino in this blog meme of sorts, (via Jess McCulloch) which involves documenting how you get to work. It’s an interesting one, because I love seeing the diverse lifestyles of my friends around the world – check out the journeys of Kim, Jess & Clint, by way of example.  The journey starts at the elevator, where my son Griffin (more often than not wearing only PJ top & underpants) waves us all goodbye. Scarlett, Miles & I love this part, because he makes us smile as we leave.”

This photo journey idea is a great one!  It has the staff at International School Community very interested in trying it out ourselves.  How great if we all shared our journeys with each other.  For sure that would help prospective teachers get a better idea of what life is like traveling to and from the teachers’ homes to the international school they work at.

Lessons from outside the ballet class

“One (Singaporean) parent said she had found the perfect school for her daughter. I was intrigued! Her criteria? The teachers had been teaching at the same school for over 20 years.  I know fabulous teachers (as I’m sure you do) who have been teaching for more than 20 years, and I do not mean to take anything away from them. I also know fabulous teachers who are only just beginning their careers, and I feel the Mum who judged a good school by the fact that the teachers had been there a long time was missing the boat.  Longevity does not necessarily equal a good teacher.  Longevity at an international school doesn’t equal a good teacher either! The cynic in me might think (upon hearing a teacher has been at the same school for 20 years), what’s the package like at THAT school?”

Great topic to think about.  Indeed, what was the package like at the international school where teachers stayed for 20+ years?  All the international school teachers that have been at the same international school for more than 20 years have of course married a local….maybe staying for such a long time doesn’t appear to be the result of wanting to reap the wonderful benefits of a benefits package.

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

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ISCommunity Newsletters

International School Community News v2011.06 – 9 October, 2011

October 9, 2011


Site Stats:
Current members: 151
School profiles: 897
Blog entries: 105
Posted comments & info: 1079
Facebook likes: 91
Twitter followers: 169

v2011.06 – 9 October, 2011:
Are you ready for your midterm break yet?  If you live in China (or Asia in general), most likely you have already gone on your midterm trip.  Some have gone to Bali, others to Vietnam.  If you live in Europe, then your midterm break is probably in just 1-2 weeks time, or week 42 as it is known amongst the locals.  Some will go to Malta, others to Greece.  If you live in the United States and work for a public school, then you most likely will not get any week off of work until Christmas.  Another one of the many perks teaching abroad at international schools!

We all need a break at this point in the year.  Ironically though, some trips take time to plan…a lot of time!  Hours and hours of searching on various search websites for flights.  More hours searching and searching for the right hostal or hotel to stay at or what tour to join.  The frustrating part sometimes is that the cheapest flight prices in certain countries are actually found on websites that are only in the host country’s language.  Great if you can read that langauge, but a bit challenging if you don’t.  It is good to have a native speaker help you out with checking out the airfares on those websites, just to double check you are getting the best deal.

The midterm break is a good chance to go visit some of your friends around the world.  Got a friend now in Egypt?  Now is your chance to go visit him/her!  At International School Community, networking and gathering information is very easy.  Get answers about schools that you are interested in by clicking on the school profile page link and sending a message to one of the members of that school on our website.  It’s a great way to get firsthand information!  Also, it is a great way to start making some new friends across the world that you can go visit.  Currently, International School Community members work at or have worked at 72 international schools! Check out which schools here.


Photo by Duncan P Walker


Recently updated schools:

· 09 Oct  Carlucci American International School of Lisbon (5 new comments)
(Lisbon, Portugal)
“The general allowance for all the shipping, baggage, flight, etc…is 2,250 USD, which is also taxed and reimbursed in Euros….”· 08 Oct  German-American International School (2 new comments)
(Menlo Park, United States)
“The settling-in allowance is 1000 U.S. dollars and the airfare allowance is the same amount as well but the flight is only for the start of the contract….”· 08 Oct  International School of Kigali  (7 new comments)
(Kigali, Rwanda)
“There are 21 full-time faculty, 1 classroom assistant and a Director who represent diverse nationalities. Nine nationalities are represented. Teachers are predominately from the US, with the UK, Uganda, Sri Lanka, and Kenya…”· 08 Oct  Nishimachi International School (7 new comments)
(Tokyo, Japan)
“The school has a retirement plan, but it is only available to teachers after 3 years of service…”

· 06 Oct  Universal American School (6 new comments)
(Hawalli, Kuwait)
“The school year comprises two semesters (four nine-week quarters of a 4X4 “accelerated block” schedule) between late August and early-June….”

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


Recent blog entries:

· Featured article: Moving Overseas with Children by Teachers International Consultancy (part 2)
“If your child is joining an international school where many expatriate children attend, then expect the school to be the social as well as the learning centre for the community…”

· The Wonderful World of Int’l School Hiring Fairs: Lesson #2 – “Energy is eternal delight”
“We have all had interviews in one of those hotel rooms where the interviewers seem disorganized, unaware really of who is sitting in front of them at the moment.  Some interviewers due indeed look rather confused and out-of-sorts…”

· Educating children abroad can be an expensive business, so it’s important to start planning early
“One good benefit that international schools provide for their teachers is free tuition for their children to attend the school.  That is worth around £20,000!  Too bad teachers without children can’t pocket that money if they were offered the same benefit…”

· Comments and information about salaries on International School Community #1 (Hong Kong, Shanghai & Seoul)
“I have 14 years experience and my Masters. I earn about $1,500 per month in Won (about $400 of that is taken out of my paycheck for a retirement plan which is matched by school which I have access to at the end of the school year), and then another $2,000 in US dollars which is sent to my US account every month. I pay no taxes….”

· Great link – U.S. Dept. of State’s information on Teaching Overseas
“There is a list of 197 international schools that the U.S. Department provides assistance to. These school support an American-style education…”


Recently added schools:



Requested schools to be reviewed
:


This last month we have had visits from 60 countries around the world!


1000 comments and information celebration:

International School Community is celebrating over 1000 comments and information which have been posted now on our website!  Currently, we are at 1079. For a limited time, all members can use the coupon code (1000COMMENTS) to get 50% off of their next premium membership subscription.  With the coupon code: 1 month is only 5 USD, 6 months is now only 10 USD and 1 year is only 15 USD!

Take advantage of this special deal now as this coupon code is valid only until 8 November, 2011.  International School Community is the website to go to for international school teachers!


New members:

·Slc Chu (International School Singapore)
·Eli Mouland (Canada)
·Josselyn van der Pol (Berlin Brandenburg International School)
·Ian Lally (John F. Kennedy School Berlin)
·Anastasia AnastasiaV (The International School of Moscow)


Current Survey Topic:

Vote here!


Member spotlight:

Taylor Smith

“I was recommended a job by an old swimming friend who was already working in an international school.  The job was in Shanghai, China so without hestiation, I packed my bags and made the beiggest decision of my life (or so I thought at that point)…

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


Highlighted Link
An international school’s encounter with internet pirates“Over the past several months, the International School of Stavanger has been challenged with a new and unpleasant phenomenon – being taken ‘virtual hostage’ by internet pirates.In February, 2011 we started getting some emails from candidates applying for non-existent ESL and English teaching jobs. They referred to having seeing ads on various ESL employment websites.When I went onto one of these websites, sure enough there was a posting for an ESL job at our school starting in May 2011. The job would pay benefits including 1800 Euro per month and the advert suggested applicants write to an individual (who really does work here), referring to her as the ‘Recruitment Manager.’

Of course, the job was pure fiction. Probably the silliest part is the idea that we would be paying a Euro-based salary. The Norwegian Kroner is the only currency we use for salary payments. (However, that last piece of information is also what has led the police to believe that this mischief had been accomplished not by a disgruntled individual with a possible connection to the school, but was probably was a ‘phishing’ expedition.)”

Highlighted blog of an international teacher:
The Night Before
“Once I get there I am sure the excitement will set in again. I am sure I will still have periods where I am homesick. I am so glad that the internet, cell phones and skype have all been invented, and I have access to them.”

Getting to know the school

“The schedule here is quite interesting and confusing right now. They have an 8 period day, but periods 1 &2, 3 & 4, and 6 & 7 are block periods. Periods 5 and 8 are single periods. They also do not have the classes the same time everyday.”*If you are an international school teacher and would like your blog highlighted on International School Community contact us here.
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Great Resource

Great resource: Want to work at an international school in the UAE?

September 19, 2011


http://www.dubaifaqs.com/  has some excellent insight on the ins and outs of teaching at international schools in the UAE.

There are for sure a fair amount of “international schools” in the UAE.  When that is the case for a country, there usually are a lot of differences that are very important to keep in mind as you are interviewing with some of them.  That is surely the case with the many “international schools” all over China.

Sections International School Community would like to highlight:

They came up with a list of schools that were deemed the “best” in UAE.  They first explained though a bit about how they came up with the list.

– This list is our very subjective opinion only. By “best” we mean relatively professional working environment, administration for the most part is supportive of teachers in a professional capacity, resident visas are organised promptly, salaries and benefits package are decent to good (roughly AED 15k-20k per month in 2010-2011), salaries are paid on time, and teachers should suffer from minimal or no bureaucratic hassles on arrival, during employment, or when departing.

– If a school is not in the list below, that doesn’t mean it is necessarily bad (although there are plenty that are), but it’s not regarded as one of the best ones, or we don’t have enough information to add it to the list. The list is deliberately kept short.

– Jobs at schools in this list are usually hard to come by. You’re unlikely to find them advertised on job websites. Best approach directly to the school early in the academic year, and/or keep an eye on the specialist teaching recruitment agencies and publications. You’d be expected to have at least 2 years experience, be properly qualified, and have achievements that make you stand out from the crowd.

– Many schools (and companies in general) in the UAE often make things particularly difficult for departing teachers, attempting to withhold gratuity and/or other payments that are due to them.

– Before whining and jumping up and down, teachers should at least check the UAE labour law since confusion over contracts and other employment related matters is common in the UAE.

– Schools in this list are usually western or international curriculum. Even the better Asian curriculum schools still have relatively low salary scales.

– Schools in this list usually coincide with schools that are also the best for students, in the opinion of parents.

Best schools for teachers in Abu Dhabi

– American Community School (ACS-Abu Dhabi) – US curriculum (not related to the American International School of Abu Dhabi)

– Al Khubairat British School Abu Dhabi (BSAK)

Schools worth trying in Abu Dhabi if you can’t find a job at one of the best ones

– Al Muna Primary School

– Al Yasmina School

– Aldar Academy schools

– Al Raha International School

Brighton College Abu Dhabi (new in September 2011 so we’re not sure yet)

Best schools for teachers in Dubai

– American School in Dubai (not related to the American International School of Dubai)

– Dubai College

– DESC (Dubai English Speaking College)

– DESS (Dubai English Speaking School)

– JAPS (Jebel Ali Primary School)

– JASS (Jebel Ali Secondary School)

– JESS (Jumeirah English Speaking School)

– JESS Arabian Ranches

– JPS (Jumeirah Primary School)

Schools worth trying in Dubai if you can’t find a job at one of the best ones

– Dubai American Academy

– Dubai British School

– Dubai International Academy (maybe)

– GEMS World Academy

– Jumeirah College (maybe)

– Kings School Dubai

– Repton School Dubai (maybe)

Universal American School

Teacher job satisfaction in Abu Dhabi – mid 2011 survery

  • A WAM news report 15 August 2011 had the headline Teachers’ professional satisfaction rate in Abu Dhabi Schools is as high as 78.3%. The conclusion was the result of a survey conducted during June and July 2011 whereby 5022 public and private school teachers completed a questionnaire on the ADEC web portal. It wasn’t clear from the report how random the survey was or how participants were chosen.
  • There was a confusing line in the report about overall job satisfaction (the first question) which said … related to the teacher’s salary and as predicted, the levels of satisfaction were relatively low, in both public and private sectors, with 31.9 in the public sector and 43.8 in the private sector (but didn’t say who made the prediction or when it was made). Presumably referring to a component asking about pay and salaries. Whereas the first paragraph of the report said A recent survey conducted by Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) on teachers’ job satisfaction in Abu Dhabi Schools showed a satisfaction index in public schools of 77.7% while in private schools, it reached 78.9.
  • The National had a slightly different slant on the survery, with a headline on 16 August 2011 that said Teachers criticise apathetic parents, and highlighted that In a survey of 5,000 teachers, carried out by the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) last month to gauge job satisfaction, it was found that 76.3 per cent of public school teachers and 67.3 per cent of private school teachers were unhappy with behaviour in the classroom.

Salaries for teaching jobs in Dubai and the UAE

There is supposed to be a minimum teacher salary of 2,000 dhs/mth in the UAE according to the UAE Ministry of Education (for most jobs in Dubai there is no minimum salary) but some schools try to pay less than that, at least according to several press articles. See the teacher salaries in Dubai discussion. Update (16 June 2010): the minimum might be higher – Gulf News reported that Asian schools teachers are among the lowest paid in the market with the minimum salary fixed at Dh2,500 by the Ministry of Education. Figure unconfirmed. Update again (22 February 2011): the minimum is apparently still AED 2,000 per month – Emirates Business 24-7 reported that Currently, most teachers in schools with Indian curricula earn less than Dh2,500 – just above the UAE Ministry of Education’s minimum wage cap of Dh2,000.

Salary range for classroom teachers is 1,000-6,000 dhs per month for most government schools and 1,000-20,000 dhs per month for private schools. Schools with IB, UK or US curriculums usually pay the highest – the better ones are 10,000-15,000 dhs per month (with accommodation, flights etc included), at the top of the range secondary school teachers could get over 20,000 dhs per month. Indian schools pay about 2,000-4,000 dhs per month. Other Asian schools are similar, other European schools are closer to UK/US curriculum schools with their packages.

  • For example, a British curriculum school in Abu Dhabi (unnamed) was advertising in August 2010 for a primary school teacher to KS1 with salary range of AED 11,000-15,000. Benefits included family housing, flights, medical, free schooling for 2 children (presumably if they attend the same school as the employee, not clear if fees paid to send them to another school). School claimed to be offering one of the top Abu Dhabi international school teacher salaries.
  • The ADEC was offering Abu Dhabi teaching jobs in their Abu Dhabi PPP schools program which started in 2006, with salaries advertised up to AED 20,000 per month from some providers. But that’s a maximum. Range is probably something like AED 5,000 to 20,000 per month.

In the list of Dubai schools, if there is no teacher salary information, the school fees will give an indication of the salaries on offer. Divide the annual secondary school fee by 3 to get a very approximate monthly salary figure, or divide the primary school annual fee by 2. Reduce the result by 25% for profit-making schools. This should give you a mid to high point on the school salary scale.

  • Teachers should check carefully what the salary package includes. Most overseas hire packages will include accommodation (which can vary from very good to slum), medical (which can also vary substantially – a government health card is only regarded as a bare minimum), return flights once a year (if the school insists on making bookings for you, this can be an aggravating experience). Some will include allowances for transport and utilities, and free or reduced tuition charges for children attending the same school.
  • If a school offers an accommodation allowance instead of accommodation, it is likely to be insufficient for good accommodation – assume it will cover about 50% of your rental costs (which are normally paid one year in advance in full). Especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and until 2009 at least, it’s difficult to even find properties for rent.
  • Teachers on local contract hires will normally not be offered any of the above and may find it difficult financially if they have to cover their own accommodation costs – rental properties are very expensive in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
  • Check also the policy for salary increments. Some schools do not move teachers up a salary scale irrespective of years of service or additional qualifications gained.
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Highlighted Year for Int’l Schools

International schools that were founded in 1983 (China, South Korea, Senegal, etc.)

June 11, 2011


Random year for international schools around the world: 1983

Utilizing the database of the 778 international schools currently listed on International School Community, we found 10 schools that were founded in 1983 (excepts about their founding are taken from the schools’ websites):

Chinese International School (Hong Kong, China)
When CIS opened its doors in 1983, its co-founders Nelly Fung, Kin-Yue Fu and Joyce Tai realized a long-held dream of a school that would offer the best of both Chinese and Western worlds.  Born in Asia and educated in Asia and the West, they saw a need in the late 1970s for an educational institution in Hong Kong that could provide an alternative to local schools teaching mainly an exam-based curriculum and to international schools teaching mainly Western curricula.  Their vision was for a school open to all regardless of nationality, race or creed, where students would achieve fluency in Chinese (Mandarin) and English and an understanding of the dual heritage that makes Hong Kong unique.

International School of Busan (Busan, South Korea)
The International School of Pusan (not Busan as it is now called) opened in September 1983 with seven young pupils in kindergarten and elementary school, and two teachers. Busan was not the expatriate centre that it is today but still the parents wanted their children to have a world-standard international education (rather than a national system education), so that they could transfer around the world. They also wanted a caring, nurturing, family-like ethos which would give the children a high level of self confidence and esteem, and would teach them tolerance and respect for other cultures. The basic education principles of BIFS were formed!

International Bilingual School at Hsinchu Science Park (Taiwan, China)
The school was proposed by the founder of the Science Park Kwoh-Ting Li and administered by Ministry of Education, National Science Council and administration of the Park. IBSH only admits children of employees of private enterprises in the Park, government organizations, Industrial Technology Research Institute, National Chiao Tung University and National Tsing Hua University.

International School of Dakar (Dakar, Senegal)
It was founded in 1983 in order to provide a non-sectarian alternative for international families who are temporarily based in Dakar. The initial leadership of the school was primarily North American, with strong support, which continues today, from the United States Embassy and U.S. Department of State’s Office of Overseas Schools.

British School Lome (Lome, Togo)
Founded specifically as an international school to meet the needs and interests of expatriate families living in Togo, BSL soon expanded to offer boarding facilities to students from across the region.

Colegio Albania (La Guajira, Colombia)
The school started with only 5 students! (if you can read Spanish, check out their history here)

Tanto International School (Stockholm, Sweden)
The Tanto School was founded in 1983 by Connie Näslund and Anne Haldane. The school expanded over the next few years to a total of five classrooms with an age range from four to twelve years old. The curriculum at this time was a mixture of British and American. After many years of dedicated service to the school both Mrs. Näslund and Miss Haldane retired.

Cempaka International School (Selangor, Malaysia)
Cempakans’ record in National Public Examinations ever since its inception in 1983 has been impeccable : 100% passes each year in all examinations.

American School of Bangkok (Bangkok, Thailand)
The American School of Bangkok was founded in 1983 as a kindergarten. It was originally called Didyasarin International Kindergarten. “Didyasarin” was the family of Mrs. Lakhana Tavedikul, the founder, owner, and Director of the school.

Ibn Khuldoon National School (Manama, Bahrain)
On the 22nd of September 1983 the concept of a truly bi-lingual system of education took form. It all started as a dream for Bahraini parents who sought an academic institution that would be bi-lingual and cater for the specific needs of Arab children, yet would meet high international educational standards.

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Information for Members

The total comments in all the Benefits Information sections: 12207!

January 14, 2021


As all International School Community members know, each of the 2180+ 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 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 12207 (out of a total of 39249+ comments); that is up 1503 comments from around 13 months ago (Nov. 2019).

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 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? (1415 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? (1414 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) – 481 Comments

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• Average amount of money that is left to be saved. (761 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) – 309 Comments

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• Detailed info about flight, shipping and settling-in allowances. Any other benefits (e.g. free lunches, etc.)? (1236 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. (1085 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) – 113 Comments

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• Ways to make extra money (tutoring, after-school activities, etc.). (523 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) – 82 Comments

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• Information about benefits for teachers with dependents. (825 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) – 162 Comments

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• Professional development allowance details. (617 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. (676 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. (310 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?). (617 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) – 54 Comments

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• How do the school’s benefits compare to other international schools in the area/city? (393 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? (592 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? (330 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. (169 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) – 59 Comments

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• What is the process of getting reimbursed for things? (226 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. (270 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) – 193 Comments

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• In general, why are people staying at or leaving this school? (403 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? (250 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) – 70 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? (95 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) – 91 Comments

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Top 10 Lists

Top 12 Most Controversial Comments Submitted by Our Members

October 26, 2015


International School Community is full of thousands of useful, informative comments…14691 comments (25 Oct. 2015) to be exact.

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Members are recommended to keep their comments objective on our website, and sometimes they need to share how it really is working at their international school.

We scoured our database of comments, and we found 12 that stood out to us as being some of the most controversial.

12. In general, why are people staying at or leaving this school?
The management is largely ineffective and there is no clear goal for the school overall. There are no lines of communication between administrators and teachers, and not even within departments at the same school. There is very much of an “every man for himself” attitude. The pay is good enough to make some people stay for a while because of that. – Cambridge International School (Cambridge, United Kingdom)9 Comments

11. Health insurance and medical benefits. Describe your experiences using these benefits and going to the local hospitals.
“Most of the third tier International Schools (which PAIS is one of) will just pay the bare minimum legal requirement, as a box-ticking exercise to be able to say their teachers are covered. In reality the insurance is little more than a joke, teachers have shared anecdotes of actually getting laughed at when showing their card at a hospital. This is endemic across many, many schools here. With that said, PAIS’s teacher insurance program is not the absolute lowest, there are worse ones, but not by far.” – Pan Asia International School (Bangkok, Thailand)16 Comments

10. Pension plan details.
“There is something not at all right about the pension plan. No one understands it. Very little information is given. No other international schools in Germany use this dodgy system. The director used to be a banker and so he knows how to manipulate the system I guess. It’s a very insecure feeling.” – Metropolitan School Frankfurt (Frankfurt, Germany)36 Comments

9. Average amount of money that is left to be saved.
“Hong Kong is no longer the “Golden Goose”, with rent increases and the peg to the US eating away much of the previous savings potential. I worked at the Hong Kong YCIS when the accommodation packages were being negotiated with staff. Previously, the school provided small and basic accommodation but it was conveniently located (Wanchai, Sai Kung, Tai Po). They warned expats at the time about going to cash allowances, since the rents at the time were at a very low point (1999). Now they have almost tripled, and the cash allowance won’t even cover half the cost of the same flats the school used to provide.. Careful what you wish for, I guess.” – Yew Chung International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China)17 Comments

8. Details about the staff housing or the housing allowance.  If there is no housing allowance, how much are rent costs and utilities?
“Housing is a contentious issue. Most housing is either at elementary campus (older apartments, flood-prone), Twiga Apartments near the secondary (nice new apartments, but with a high population density and a LOT of children), Regents Estate (older apartments a bit of a way from both campuses. Used to be nice, but need better maintenance). There is a new building going up at elementary campus, consisting of fairly small 2 bedroom apartments. The school has committed to investing quite a bit of money to improve the older elementary housing and bring it up to standards and flood proof them. However, options are still limited and especially new teachers end up “at the bottom of the barrel”. Dar es Salaam in general has notoriously high rental prices.” – International School of Tanganyika (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)141 Comments

7. Average monthly salary after taxes and in what currency (explain taxation situation). How often do you get paid throughout the year?
“There is no tax in the UAE so what you earn is yours. It is VERY expensive to enjoy the UAE however, so don’t get too excited about a salary which would be attractive in your own country’s equivalent money. The school pays you each month, but it is often paid late (could be up to a week late!) and there’s nothing you can do about it. The UAE law states that ALL teachers should be paid a minimum of 12,000 dirhams, however Wesgreen pays most teachers way less than this and instead pay the fine to the ministry of labour (which is considerably less than paying staff members the correct wage!). Take my advice and DO NOT ACCEPT LESS THAN 10,000 DIRHAMS! The school will try to pay you as least as they can and you will be upset when you speak to another teacher in the same department doing exactly the same job earning 2 or 3 thousand more dirhams than you! This happens a lot! Men seem to get paid more than the female staff (doing exactly the same job) and passport holders of certain countries seem to get paid more than other also. Even if you think you will be fine earning 8 or 9 thousand, wait until you see the price of a decent food shop, or a normal meal out or a few drinks in a bar etc. etc. it is VERY expensive to enjoy Dubai!!!” – Wesgreen International Private School (Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)23 Comments

6. Are the expectations high of teaching staff? Are there extra curricular responsibilities? Describe workload details.
“The workload on paper looks amazing…but the lack of organization, the reactive nature, covering classes as a substitute, poor communication, confusing expectations all tend to destroy ones ability to focus on what’s best for the kids like planning and implementing really great lessons k-12.” – Seisen International School (Tokyo, Japan)51 Comments

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5. What does the school do to create a harmonious state of well-being and high morale amongst its staff?
“Note: About the male principal–he was sleeping on the job!! While the rest of us teachers were putting in over 40 hrs a week–he would sleep every afternoon. He deserved to be fired! When he and the Head teacher would come into our classrooms to visit–they would yell at us in front of the students–very de-moralizing! I’m so glad those people don’t work at our school anymore! AND–the students and parents were happier after they were fired!!  The female principal took too many “free days” and her husband who was teaching French, had failed to do a good job. They left after a professional French teacher from the University of Tirana came and did an assessment of the student’s learning abilities. The students had ALL failed the test!” – Albanian International School (Tirana, Albania)19 Comments

4. What insider information would you give to a teacher considering working at this school?
“Do not join this school if you are expecting to be treated professionally by the upper management (above principal level) Feedback from the Director responsible for Quality Control is non-existent. Do not believe anything you are told as it can bechanged at the last moment on a whim.” – United Private Schools (Muscat, Oman)7 Comments

3. What controversies have been happening lately? Please be objective.
“An endless list of controversies. All teachers on different pay scales and contracts (causing division amongst staff). A Managing Director who tried to cut staff holidays and pay, and then allegedly assaulted a staff member. The introduction of teaching some subjects in German, causing teachers to feel demotivated and concerned about their jobs, as well as a great deal of parent dissatisfaction” – Berlin British School (Berlin, Germany)31 Comments

2. Recent things that the school has taken on (i.e. new curriculum, specific professional development, etc.).
“International schools must comply with new ministerial decree The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | May 23 2014 | 10:38 PM Share The Education and Culture Ministry says that international schools must make adjustments to their curriculum as stipulated by a new ministerial decree issued on April 23. Education and Culture Ministerial Decree No. 31/2014 on the cooperation and management of foreign education institutions with Indonesian education institutions stipulates that educators at international schools must be registered with the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry and the Education and Culture Ministry, Antara news agency reported. Furthermore, the Education and Culture Ministry’s director general of early childhood education programs, Lydia Freyani Hawadi, said that teachers at international schools must also be proficient in Indonesian, as stipulated by Manpower and Transmigration Ministry laws. She explained that they must be proficient in the language because Indonesian students studying at international schools must take four compulsory subjects: religious studies, Indonesian language, history and citizenship studies. “The teacher’s education must be suited to the subject they teach,” Lydia told reporters on Friday. A school’s curriculum must also be adjusted to national standards, and foreign students must be taught cultural studies, she said. Furthermore, Lydia emphasized that international schools could not be fully owned by foreign stakeholders, as the law stipulates that foreigners can only own 49 percent of a school. The school must also be able to prove that it has enough capital to run the school for the next six years. “Most importantly, there will no longer be ‘international schools’. They must change their names,” she explained. Lydia said that the ministry had held talks with 44 schools to discuss the new ministerial decree, adding that a majority of the schools did not have any accreditation. If a school does not comply with the ministry’s demands, the school management could be sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined Rp 1 billion (US$86,000) under Law No. 20/2003 on the national education system. (fss)” – Surabaya International School (Surabaya, Indonesia)54 Comments

1. Details about the teaching contract. What important things should prospective teachers know about?
“Read your contract carefully. do not sign an unsigned contract. contracts signed by the teachers have been changed and then signed by the owner. If you have issues with the owner his first and only reaction is to tell you to take him to court where he will happily drag the case out to cost you a lot of money.” – Makuhari International School (Tokyo, Japan)22 Comments

If you have an interesting story in your school that you would like to share, log in to International School Community and submit your comments. For every 10 submitted comments, you will get one month of free premium membership added to your account!

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Information for Members

Which Regions of the World Have the Most Comments on ISC?

July 24, 2020


Finding comments and reviews on the schools we want to know about is a top priority for most ISC members.  We have a number of features on our website that help our members do just that!

Using the School Search feature on the ISC website, members can specifically search only for the international schools that have had comments submitted on them. All members need to do is use the filter feature + tick the “schools with comments” box. Here are current results we got (from 24 July 2020) along with five random schools from that region:

Asia: 68 Schools

American International School Dhaka (110 total comments)
American Embassy School New Delhi (39 total comments)
Good Shepherd International School (409 total comments)
Kodaikanal International School (53 total comments)
Indus International School (Pune) (43 total comments)

Caribbean: 24 Schools

The Codrington School (Int’l School of Barbados) (70 total comments)
Somersfield Academy (44 total comments)
The Bermuda High School for Girls (41 total comments)
International School St. Lucia (West Indies) (21 total comments)
International School of Havana (20 total comments)

Central American: 32 Schools

International School Panama (49 total comments)
Lincoln School (San Jose) (61 total comments)
Marian Baker School (33 total comments)
The British School of Costa Rica (31 total comments)
The American International School of Guatemala (Colegio Maya) (75 total comments)

most comments

Central/Eastern Europe: 67 Schools

International School of Belgrade (59 total comments)
Anglo-American School of Moscow (69 total comments)
Wroclaw International School (46 total comments)
American School of Warsaw (155 total comments)
International School of Latvia (33 total comments)

East Asia: 222 Schools

Canadian International School (Hong Kong) (155 total comments)
Concordia International School (Shanghai) (180 total comments)
Hong Kong International School (148 total comments)
Kang Chiao International School (Kunshan) (81 total comments)
Keystone Academy (119 total comments)

most comments

Middle East: 152 Schools

American International School of Kuwait (74 total comments)
International College Beirut (121 total comments)
Awsaj Academy (43 total comments)
Qatar Academy (Doha) (71 total comments)
Dhahran Ahliyya Schools (83 total comments)

North Africa: 41 Schools

Alexandria International Academy (79 total comments)
American International School in Egypt (Main Campus) (62 total comments)
Cairo American College (174 total comments)
Misr American College (53 total comments)
George Washington Academy (91 total comments)

North America: 50 Schools

American School Foundation of Guadalajara (117 total comments)
American School Foundation of Mexico City (72 total comments)
American School Foundation of Monterrey (129 total comments)
International High School of San Francisco (37 total comments)
Atlanta International School (31 total comments)

Oceania: 8 Schools

Woodford International School (12 total comments)
Port Moresby International School (8 total comments)
Majuro Cooperative School (16 total comments)
Kwajalein Senior High School (24 total comments)
International School Nadi (9 total comments)

most comments

SE Asia: 182 Schools

Ican British International School (74 total comments)
Northbridge International School (59 total comments)
Green School Bali (148 total comments)
Sekolah Victory Plus (143 total comments)
International School of Kuala Lumpur (135 total comments)

South America: 64 Schools

The American Int’l School of Buenos Aires (Lincoln) (48 total comments)
Colegio Nueva Granada (60 total comments)
American School of Asuncion (145 total comments)
Colegio Internacional de Carabobo (95 total comments)
Uruguayan American School (32 total comments)

Sub-Saharan Africa: 71 Schools

The American School of Kinshasa (59 total comments)
International Community School Addis Ababa (80 total comments)
International School of Kenya (52 total comments)
Saint Andrews International High School (41 total comments)
American International School Abuja (58 total comments)

most comments

Western Europe: 167 Schools

American International School Vienna (81 total comments)
International School of Paphos (123 total comments)
Copenhagen International School (375 total comments)
International School of Stuttgart (78 total comments)
Berlin Brandenburg International School (87 total comments)

Well those are all the regions of the world on our website. In total, we now have over 1140 international schools that have had comments and reviews submitted on them! Our goal is to keep that number going up and up. Thanks to our hundreds of Mayors as well for keeping their schools consistently updated with new comments and information every one or two months.

* To access these school links you do need to have premium membership access. Become a paid member today!  Or if you would like to become a Mayor and get free unlimited premium membership, send a request here.

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Traveling Around

Traveling Around: Historical and Cultural Xi’an, China

April 18, 2020


If you are seeking places to visit in China, I highly recommend visiting Xi’an, particularly if you enjoy history. Currently the Upper Primary Art Teacher for Xi’an Liangjiatan International School, I have had the opportunity to visit many of this ancient city’s sights. While it is not one of the top cities in terms of population, it ranks near the top in terms of historical importance. For over 1,000 years it served as the capital of China under thirteen dynasties and 73 emperors. Some of its notable dynasties included the Qin, Tang, Han, and Zhang. Even today, construction efforts of this rapidly expanding city continue to be interrupted by archaeological discoveries.

Terracotta Warriors and Emperor Qin ShiHuang Mausoleum 

 Most people come to Xi’an to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Terracotta Warriors, located about 20 km east of modern Xi’an. Despite the large crowds (over 1 million visitors annually), this site is a must. Don’t forget to visit the Exhibition Hall and the Qin ShiHuang Mausoleum, both of which are included in the entrance fee. Just as with any popular destination in China, avoid going during any Chinese national holiday. In winter, crowds are less, as is the entrance fee. Getting your own transportation there (such as a taxi or Didi – China’s version of Uber) will be more expensive, but it will enable you to arrive early and before the tour groups. After being one of the first people in line for tickets, I immediately headed to Pit 1 and had it to myself for over five minutes. Pit 1 and the Exhibition Hall were the most impressive ones for me. Cheap, local buses will take you back into Xi’an. Tour guides are available, but I opted to conduct my own research prior to visiting. You will find many people selling souvenirs; you can find similar ones in Xi’an at a much better price.

Xi’an City Wall

One of Xi’an’s most recognizable landmarks is its city wall. This massive well-preserved structure (much of which dates back to the 14th century) is surrounded by a moat. Rent a bike or walk on top of the wall, for all or part of the 14 km (8.7 miles) length. Around the time of Chinese New Year, a lantern festival is held here. To experience fewer crowds during this time, I recommend going while it is daylight and observe the changes to the lanterns and watchtowers as nightfall descends. For photography of the wall and surrounding city, you have a greater chance of clear skies outside of late fall/winter. Air quality in winter can be quite bad.

Drum and Bell Tower

Centrally located within the confines of the ancient City Wall are the Drum and Bell Towers. Built in 1384, Xi’an’s Bell Tower is the largest and the best-preserved in all of China. Nearby is the Drum Tower (1380), also one of the largest in China. Both structures are beautifully illuminated at night. For a small fee, you can ascend the structures and also see some artifacts. From the Drum Tower, you can also see the immensely popular Muslim Quarters.

Muslim Quarter

If you follow the crowds near the Drum Tower, you will find yourself in what is known as the Muslim Quarter. Foodies (particularly meat-eaters) will rejoice, with the plethora of tasty offerings in this crowded area. Snack your way along or rest your feet in one of its many restaurants that serve up signature dishes such as hand-pulled noodles (one of my favorites), steamed dumplings, or Yangrou Pao Mo (pita bread pieces soaked in lamb soup). The Xi’an hamburger also makes a tasty snack. The Muslim Quarter is also a fun place for photography–if you don’t mind the crowds. While in the Muslim Quarter, you can take in a short shadow puppet show in Gao’s Grand Courtyard. 

While in the Muslim Quarter, don’t miss the Grand Mosque. The largest and one of the most important mosques in China, the Grand Mosque dates back over a thousand years. Enjoy its beautiful traditional architecture while you get a respite from the bustle of the crowded food streets. Its minaret and the Phoenix Pavilion are particularly noteworthy.

Shuyuanmen Ancient Cultural Street

Located just to the east of the South Gate of the City Wall is the Shuyuanmen Ancient Cultural Street. Many of its well-restored buildings date back to the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. It is pleasant to wander the street and peek into the small shops selling calligraphy supplies, papercuts, shadow puppets, jade, paintings, and other souvenirs. During the Chinese New Year, the street is even more lively. At the end of the street is the famous Stele Forest.

Big Wild Goose Pagoda

Also known as Dayanta, the Big Wild Goose Pagoda is one of the most famous pagodas in China. Originally built in 652AD, the present 7-story brick structure was built without any cement. It was constructed to house Buddhist relics brought from India via the Silk Road. Visitors can pay a small fee to climb up the UNESCO World Heritage site to see some statues, paintings, poems, and great city views. While there, visit some of the structures within the Da Ci’en Buddhist Temple (648 AD). At the spacious North Square is the largest fountain square in Asia. At night, the fountain shows (set to music) are illuminated, as is the pagoda. The fountain show is particularly enjoyable on a warm late spring/late summer evening.

Small Wild Goose Pagoda

Located five kilometers away from its bigger brother, the Small Wild Goose Pagoda was erected in 709AD. Like Dayanta, the Small Wild Goose Pagoda is architecturally significant and well-preserved. On the same park-like grounds is the Xi’an Museum (free admission with passport). It houses over 130,000 relics and historical artifacts. Elsewhere in the park is a visitor center. I enjoyed learning more about how shadow puppets are made.

Shaanxi History Museum

This world-class museum houses over 370,000 exhibits, of which many of the items were excavated within the province. Exhibits within the three main halls are dual-sign-posted in Mandarin and English. Some of the museum’s signature pieces include several TerraCotta Warriors, Tang Dynasty tri-colored pottery (my favorite), and Tang Dynasty mural paintings. Admission (with passport) is free, but the Tang Murals Hall requires a separate, paid ticket. Any lover of history/art should visit this museum.

Han Yang Ling Mausoleum of the Han Dynasty

Otherwise known as the Tomb of Emperor Jingdi, the joint tomb of Liu Qi and his empress Wang covers an area of 20 square kilometers. Built in 153AD, the emperor’s tomb is at the center. The Outside Pits Exhibition Hall is the first underground museum in China. Transparent walkways enable visitors to see excavations of his tomb in progress–a very cool effect.  It contains over 50,000 terracotta doll-size figures and life-like animals arranged as if it were an army formation. 

Tang Paradise

Located just north of the original Tang Dynasty Lotus Garden site, this theme park is built in the style of the Tang royal garden. While it is pleasant to wander the beautiful grounds and admire the beautiful Tang-style architecture, it is especially beautiful during the Chinese New Year. During this period, huge lanterns and illuminated sculptures are a sight to behold in the lake and throughout the park. Indoor and outdoor cultural performances entertain visitors, along with the world’s largest movie on water-screen. I enjoyed the dragon dance outside the Zihyun building and some mini-concerts inside. Tang Paradise is also a beautiful place for photography in the spring.

Qinglong Temple

If you happen to be in Xi’an during the cherry blossom season, be sure to visit Qinglong Temple (originally dating back to 582 AD). Opening hours are extended, so try to be there very early in order to avoid the hordes of people. Bring your passport and camera. The area around the main Buddhist temple buildings is full of cherry blossoms. The area around the bridge is also very picturesque.

Getting Around

Many of Xi’an’s other popular sites are located fairly close to each other. The subway, signposted in English, is continually expanding, making it easier to get around to some of these sights. Taxis are available, but be sure to have the address written in Mandarin, because few drivers understand English. For expats living in China, DiDi is convenient. iPhone users will be able to use Apple Maps VPN-free to navigate, including subway and public buses.

This article was submitted by guest author and ISC member, Melissa Enderle.

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Comment Topic Highlight

Using Health Insurance While Teaching Abroad: Delightful or Nightmare?

January 19, 2020


Getting good health care is important, especially while living in a foreign country. You get used to the health insurance plan and coverage so much growing up in your home country that sometimes you can’t even think of another way to have it.

Living in the United States my whole life, I thought that it was normal to pay deductibles and co-payments. I even had heard that teachers working at US schools get one of the best health insurance plans (when compared to other professions), so I was quite content. And true to my experience and now looking back on it, I was pleased with many aspects of my coverage.

But living abroad had afforded me different experiences, from socialized medicine to full-coverage private insurance plans. And I would say that both of those experiences had their pros and cons and some aspects were better or a bit worse than my experience living in the United States.

Regardless of the plan that I have living abroad, it is definitely nice to not have to pay out of pocket expenses for my health insurance. So plans that pay everything for you up front are the best ones in my opinion. I also have appreciated having health insurance that has world coverage as we international school teachers do like the travel a lot and of course go back to our home country once or twice a year.

The issue of waiting time often comes up. All health insurance coverages include some time waiting to get seen and for getting an appointment, especially with a specialist doctor, etc. It is true that some insurance plans get you those appointments faster. I know that in some European countries the wait for a specialist doctor can take many weeks, but one way to get around this is to pay a little bit from your pay check for a private insurance. With this, you can get your appointments assigned to you much faster!

Paying for your prescriptions can be a pain on your wallet as well depending on which coverage you have. With one private insurance plan I had in Asia, I didn’t have pay any out of pocket money for all prescriptions. That was amazing! I can imagine though that in many insurance plans, you are expected to pay at least something for your prescriptions.

On ISC we have a comment topic related to this topic in the Benefits Information section on the school profile pages. It is called: “Health insurance and medical benefits. Describe your experiences using these benefits and going to the local hospitals.” There have been 992 comments submitted in this comment topic on 100s of international schools from around the world. Here are just a few of them:

“Medical insurance is through a Chinese company. This is not ideal for several reasons: We live in Viet nam not China, and the package, compared to other countries, is basic. Very basic by international school standards, expect a lot of out of pocket, paying in advance, claiming back which takes a long time as language barrier (Mandarin speakers might do well), and submitting forms makes it a deterrent to claim back or even try.” – International School of Vietnam

“Everyone receives medical card on arrival. This gives you access to local hospital services. In our experiences this is fine for woman bit not for men.
Once you receive your company private insurance you pay QAR 50 for your initial consultation and then the rest s free form there. On larger more emergency cases you sometimes have to pay a deposit until the approval is given from the insurance which can take a few hours. This has never been an issue and always resolved in the teachers favour. Private care is very clean, as is local care. Health care for women in Qatar is very good.” – The English Modern School (Doha)

“The Health Insurance is not very good. It used to be through a reputable international provider and is now through a sub-standard Chinese company. The cover is global (non-US) but is not 100% and is only available at selected providers. If you are in an emergency situation and do not go to a pre-authorised hospital, it won’t be covered.” – The British International School of Kuala Lumpur

“The insurance is quite good in Maracaibo and in the USA. The doctors are trained, but hospitals are not equipped to serve patients right now. The price for medical care has increased by 10 fold in one year. It is a terrible situation for Venezuelans and foreigners who get sick.” – Escuela Bella Vista Maracaibo

What has been your experience using the health insurance benefits at your international school? Please login to our website and share what you know!

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Information for Members

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

January 14, 2020


As all International School Community members know, each of the 2120+ school profile pages on our website has four comments and information sections: School Information, Benefits Information, City Information and Travel Information.  Our members are encouraged to submit comments and information on one or all of these sections if they currently work at an international school or have worked at one in the past.  It is important that we all share what we know so that we can in turn help other new teachers make a more informed decision before they sign any contract! *Additionally, for every 10 comments you submit (which are anonymous by the way), you automatically get one free month of premium membership added on to your account!  The more comments you leave, the more free membership you get!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Information for Members

Total comments in all the Travel Information sections: 2137!

August 18, 2019


As all International School Community members know, each of the 2098+ 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!

travel

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 2137 (out of a total of 32776+ comments); up almost 458 comments since July 2018.

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. (352 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) – 72 Comments

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Describe proximity of major airport hubs to the city center and give sample taxi, train, subway and/or bus fares to get there. (492 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) – 41 Comments

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Popular travel websites to buy plane tickets or tours that are popular for expats living in the city and/or country. (237 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) – 46 Comments

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Places to travel to outside the city by bus or train. (445 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) – 116 Comments

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Are there many teachers that travel during the holidays? Where are they going? (284 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) – 22 Comments

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What are the airports like in this city? (arriving, departing, shopping, customs, etc.) (327 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) – 28 Comments

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Highlighted Articles

A Seemingly Simple Question: Where are you From?

August 22, 2018


Living abroad for over 25 years has been an exciting and fulfilling experience marked by the many rewarding opportunities to meet new people. When we meet new people, our natural curiosity takes over and we quickly begin to ask questions.  The answers help us find commonalities and develop bonds, which make us feel connected. One question I have always struggled to answer is the one I hear most often: where are you from? This seemingly simple question is packed with many expectations and assumptions. I never know which answer I should provide. Several questions of my own flash through my head in the seconds before I answer; Should I answer with my country of birth, my passport, my ethnicity? For me, and many others today, the answer is no longer singular.

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Often times we are expected to provide a standard answer to a question that is no longer standard. In the recent era of multicultural and multilingual families, these answers are not as simple anymore. As a Asian-American expat living abroad, whenever I get asked this question, I find myself having an inner dialogue.  Do I give this person the expected answer that falls in line with their expectations based on my Asian appearance, or do I give a different answer that I know will lead to the next question; yes, but where were you born? Or where are your parents from? Recognizing that people have good intentions and are genuinely curious, I most commonly share this response; I was raised in the States, but my parents are from South Korea.

This complexity manifests in schools as well.  I remember walking into a classroom one day; the children were sitting in front of a world map and the teacher asked each child to place a pin on the map to answer the question ‘where are you from?’ One child asked the teacher for two additional pins. When the teacher asked why, the child explained he needed a pin for each country his family represented. His father was Swiss-Canadian, and his mother was German. To my delight, rather than making the child choose, the surprised teacher simply gave the child additional pins. This story demonstrates that we often expect a single answer to a single question.  Whether we identify as a global nomad, third cultural/cross cultural citizen, multiplicity in our identities in now the new norm, and our questions and conversations should begin to reflect this.

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One day, as I was sharing my frustration at being asked this general question, my friend asked me,  ‘What would you ask instead?’ After thinking about it, I responded that it depended on what I really wanted to know about that person.  I have found that an additional moment of consideration when choosing which question I pose has often led to more sincere and meaningful interactions.  Examples of questions I now ask include:

  • Where did you grow up?
  • Where does your family live?
  • Where were you born?
  • Where did you go to school?
  • Where did you live before moving here?  
  • Where have you lived the longest?
  • Where is home for you?

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Although each question may still not have a simple answer, go against your urge to ask the easy question and challenge yourself to go deeper and more personal.  You can try one of my questions or come up with ones of your own. Demonstrating curiosity and sharing our personal histories are gifts we have as humans. Asking more mindful and thoughtful questions may lead to more robust interactions and certainly more engaging conversations.  So next time you meet someone new, consider asking them a different question that uncovers a deeper level beyond nationality, passport or ethnic background. Each question is a gateway to the possibility of a new connection, a fascinating dialogue, and maybe even a new friendship along the way.  

This article was submitted to us by guest author, Ji Han.  Over the past 28 years,  Ji’s professional journey has included positions as Principal, Curriculum Coordinator, classroom teacher and educational consultant in many schools and countries around the world.  She remains active in promoting collaboration and sharing mutual best practice through her involvement as a workshop facilitator, conference presenter, accreditation leader and a member of various committee groups.

All images are sourced by Google images
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Top 10 Lists

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

July 8, 2017


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

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

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

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

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

Weather

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

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

Saving Money

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

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

Friends vs. Family

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

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

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

Travel

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

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

Relaxation

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

summer

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

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Comment Topic Highlight

How Much Do Flights Actually Cost from Various Cities Around the World?

December 27, 2016


It’s holiday time and most of us are on some trip enjoying our time off. We might be home with our families in our home countries, or we also might be on some tropical island (if we are so lucky!).

How Much Do Flights Actually Cost

But where you go often depends on how much the flight costs to the place you want to go. If your school is paying via your flight allowance benefit, then perfect! But if you are paying, then you for sure are looking out for the best deal (sometimes for hours on flight search websites!)

It is hard to know what it is like flying out of a city you haven’t lived in yet. How much are the flights to within the host country itself, to nearby countries and to your home country like England or the United States for example?

If the flights are too expensive in relation to your salary, then it might be very likely you won’t be going home a lot for the holidays. If going home every holiday season is important for you, then it is good to know this information up front before you make a decision to move and live somewhere.

How Much Do Flights Actually Cost

An average international school teacher probably goes on at least one flight every one to two months while living abroad. That means many cities in a number of different countries. These costs can add up and take away from your savings, but it is just what international school teachers like to do!

When job searching, make sure to consider the full picture of the host country airport that you might just be using if you sign a contract with a school there.

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to getting the inside scoop on how much flights actually cost from various host cities across the world, so you can stay the most informed as possible. It is called: “Sample travel airfares from host city airport to destinations nearby.

Our veteran international school teachers have submitted a total of 141 comments in this comment topic (Dec. 2016).  Here are a few that have been submitted:

“Direct flights to the US can be up to 2000USD (JFK), Europe around 1500USD and Australia similar. Prices shoot up around major holidays. There are a number of low-cost airlines operating, which means you can fly more or less anywhere in East/South East Asia for less that 200USD.” – Hong Kong Academy (Hong Kong, China)54 Comments

“Flights purchased 21 days in advance on discount airlines within Europe can be as little as 20$. But beware, sometimes these flights are cancelled with little or now warning, and you’re left having to purchase a much more expensive one with a different airline at the last-minute. Flights to Asia or the USA will run between 500-1000$, depending on when you travel. Everything is more expensive in July and August, so try to plan travel in off-peak times for the best deals.” – Oeiras International School (Lisbon, Portugal)111 Comments

“Check KLM’s website every now and again. They sometimes give great deals on empty seats from Denpasar to Singapore. I’ve flown it for $59 on occasion. Also- pro tip- If you have money to spare and want a few hours of luxury. When checking in, go to the Business Class counter and ask if there are any empty seats. They used to sell them for $50 extra. Now they’ve fixed the price at about $110.” – Green School Bali (Denpasar, Indonesia)54 Comments

“Doha is a central airport in the world – usually the stopover for flights from Europe to Asia, so there are amazing flight options from here. Cheapest weekend flights are to other middle eastern countries/cities – Dubai/Abu Dhabi/Bahrain/ Oman. You can get good deals on Qatar Airways too. Popular destinations from here (but not in a weekend): Maldives, Sri Lanka, India, Turkey. I think the flight prices aren’t too bad (in relation to salaries here) they might seem expensive when you exchange to another currency.” – Qatar Academy (Sidra) (Doha, Qatar)59 Comments

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Highlighted Articles

Top Seven Cities to Teach English

April 29, 2016


Choosing a place to teach English can be an overwhelming feeling. With so many things to consider from salary ranges, local languages, social scene, and quality of the job; one will have to take a lot of time to filter their preferences down to a few choices. Fortunately, we took the time to compile a list of some of the top cities to Teach English.


Shanghai JO Zoho

1. Shanghai

Shanghai is the largest city in the world by population and the financial hub of China. And the teaching English opportunities are reflected in the market. There’s a surplus of jobs ranging from online, primary schools, International schools, and training centers. Shanghai has a population of around 25 million people and 1% of it is expats, being 250K people, so you’ll be able to meet plenty of foreigners in similar or different walks of life. Nightlife in Shanghai is globally recognized as one of the most vibrant and beautiful scenes. If you’re looking for a chicer look, you can head down to The Bund or if you want to bar hop, Yongkang Lu is popular with expats. Nearby cities such as Hangzhou, Suzhou or Nanjing are just train rides away. These cities provide a more historic view into China’s history as well as some time outside the big city. Shanghai is also very close to South Korea with flight times below two hours. Salaries range from $1,500 to $2,700 USD each month, with the cost of living; you’ll be able to save a large amount.

shenzhen JO Zoho

2. Shenzhen

Shenzhen is an up and coming city in China but don’t let that discourage you. Shenzhen is the 2nd largest trading hub in China behind Shanghai so there’s ton of development and expansion. With close proximity to Hong Kong and Macau, this is a traveler’s dream situation. Teaching English jobs available range from training centers to international schools, so no matter your preferences, there’s a position right for you. Shenzhen has a sub-tropical climate so the weather will be pleasant most times of the year and no sight of snow. Don’t forget you can go to any number of beaches in the city. Salaries range from $1,300 to $2,600 on average. For football (soccer) lovers, Shenzhen has two clubs:  Shenzhen F.C. and Shenzhen Renren F.C. Due to the architecture and relaxed laws, skate boarders around the world travel there.

dubai

3. Dubai

Dubai is one of the most competitive ESL markets and for good reason. Teaching English in Dubai offers top-tier packages for their teachers. Offers may include high salaries ($2,500- $5,000) monthly, paid housing, insurance and travel allowances. Dubai is in the dessert so no worries about cold weather and the landscape will be at your disposal. The outdoors will have plenty of adventures to enjoy from sand boarding, sky diving, jet skis, and boat riding. Traveling to neighboring places such as Abu Dhabi, Muscat, and Saudi Arabia will be a hop skip away.

riyadh
4. Riyadh

Jobs in Teaching jobs in Riyadh will include universities, international schools, language institutes with teaching hours averaging 25 hours each week. Riyadh as well with other Middle-eastern countries is tax-free. Salaries range from $2,500-$5,000 USD monthly. Most schools will provide housing for you in addition to your cash compensation so your saving potential rises greatly. Foreigners and other expats will generally live within designated complexes so you’ll be amongst others new to the country. Employee contracts will range between 2-3 years so you’ll have job security and ample time to save more money.

City of Seoul Korea

5. Seoul

Seoul is known for its technology community and nightlife atmosphere. Samsung is headquartered in Seoul and has a huge influence on the tech scene. Also, there’s WIFI everywhere from the metro, parks, and more. With a huge expat population there will be plenty of local and foreign people to befriend. Also, don’t forget there are daily flights to fly directly to Japan, China, and Thailand. Salary ranges average about $2,000 USD with accommodations including flight and housing allowances or reimbursement. Your choices will include public or private schools. Seoul is known for its party culture and is internationally recognized for it. The metropolitan area includes about 23 million people. Baseball is the country’s nation sport so you’ll be able to attend a game in the season and it’s a big event. K-Pop is internationally known for its musical influence not only in South Korea but also throughout eastern and southeast Asia. Make sure to attend a concert to discover what the buzz is all about. Make sure to try Korean BBQ, as it’s an international recognized cuisine. And for you ravers out there, Ultra Music Festival Korea comes to Seoul annually bringing some of the top artists in the EDM realm for a weekend of music, friends, and good vibes.

busan

6. Busan

Busan is the 2nd largest city in South Korea with a population around 3.5 million. In Busan, the outdoors will be your best friend. If you choose to teach English in Busan, you’ll have your choice of beaches to visit daily. Busan attracts tourists, expats, and travelers globally for its 6 beautiful beaches, just to name a few: Dadaepo Beach, Songdo Beach, and Gwangalli Beach. Busan also hosts the Busan International Film Festival, which is one of the most popular film festivals in Asia. Busan is the Baseball capital of South Korea and has the Sajik Baseball Stadium. Salaries average about $2,000 USD. Most schools will pay for your travel and housing so you’ll be able to save anywhere from $500/month based on your saving and traveling habits.

In addition, you can hike Geumjeong Mountain if you’re up for a challenge with a well worth view. Just like Seoul, Busan has a huge expat population so meeting people in a similar experience will be easy.

7. Taipei

Off the course of the Mainland rests Taiwan, a small island full for culture, history and teaching English opportunities. With a population of 7.8 million people, Taipei has Mainland China to its west, Japan to its east, and the Philippines to its south. Taipei has a huge expat population whether they are fellow English teachers or students studying Chinese at one of the local universities. The tropical climate and surplus of beaches easily at disposal makes every single day a vacation. Dabajian Mountain is a hiker’s favorite so give it a try. To get a breathtaking view and Instagram porn, make sure to go to the top of Taipei 101 formerly known as the Taipei World Financial Center, which was the world’s tallest building from 2004 – 2009. Taipei is the capital of Taiwan but with a thorough public transportation system, buses and trains, you’ll be able to reach all ends of the island with ease. Don’t forget about the clean air. Teaching English in Taipei usually requires 25 hours of teaching time while having an average salary of $2000 USD. Given the lost cost of living, you’ll be able to save more than $500 USD each month.

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This article was submitted by guest author Teaching Nomad. They are an American owned and operated education recruitment company based in Shanghai, China. Their goal and purpose is to help great teachers find great teaching jobs. Year round, they have hundreds of teaching job vacancies. Whether your goal is to be an ESL teacher or teach in an international school, they have a teaching job for you. You can browse jobs online here for the latest job openings. Teaching Nomad makes finding a job teaching in China easier, so please feel free to reach out and contact them with any questions or inquiries!

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Photo Contests

Top three photos for Best Beach Shot: And the winners of this photo contest are…

January 6, 2015


I’m happy to announce the winners of our Fourth Photo Contest (Best Beach Shot).

First Place: Taken at a beach in Rabat, Morocco.

“I have never seen so many people playing soccer on a beach, also with a huge cemetery in the background!”

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Congratulations, Anonymous! (This member wanted to be anonymous in the photo contest.)

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

Second Place: Taken on a beach near Hoi An, Vietnam. “My son and I rented bicycles and rode out to the beach just as a big thunderstorm was brewing offshore.”

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Congratulations Michael Kelly (an international teacher working at Qingdao Ameriasia International School, Qingdao, China!)

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

Third Place: Taken at Ras Tanura Beach in Saudi Arabia.

photo

Congratulations Roaa Taha (an international teacher working at Iman Academy South West, Houston, United States!

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

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

Stay tuned for our next photo contest which will happen sometime during the next 1-2 months.

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Photo Contests

Top three photos for Host Country Cultural Event: And the winners of this photo contest are…

October 27, 2014


I’m happy to announce the winners of our Third Photo Contest (Host country cultural event).

After a lengthy debate with our panel of international school educators, we have decided on the top three photos.

First Place: Taken at Cochabamba, Bolivia.

“The “Urkupiña Virgin” festival is one of the most important in Bolivia. It takes place every year from the 14th to the 16th of August in the province of Quillacollo at only 13 Km from the city of Cochabamba. Hundreds of schools, social clubs and organizations dance in the streets in colorful traditional costumes and lively dances.”

Urkupina Festival, Bolivia

Congratulations, Mario Arena!

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

Second Place: Taken in Singapore.

“This is from the celebration of Thapusam as it’s done here in Singapore. People fast for a month and then the men have hooks etc pierced in their skin in order to carry these large decorative items that they then parade and dance through the streets with on the way to the temple. A fascinating event.”

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Congratulations, Angela Collins!

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

Third Place: Taken at Qingdao, China. Creating traditional crafts at the Seoul Airport at the Korean cultural center for foreign visitors.

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Congratulations Michael Kelly (an international teacher working at Qingdao Ameriasia International School, Qingdao, China.!

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

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

Stay tuned for our next photo contest which will happen sometime during the next 1-2 months.

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Highlighted Articles

The Teacher on 2 Wheels is Still Making Her Way Home

March 30, 2014


I’m 18,000 kilometers from where I started, traveled through 24 different countries, visited 35 different schools, taken 167 hot showers, 32 cold, and gone 7 nights without any.  I’ve stayed in 103 hotels, been hosted by 90 different people and camped for 25 nights.  I’ve drank 213 coffees, been rained on 16 days, but had 154 days of sunshine and faced 56 days of grueling head wind, and changed 6 flat tires.  With all of those statistics accumulated, I still have another 14,000 kilometers to go before I reach my hometown of Eugene, Oregon next October.

P1070005For those of you who don’t cycle, just reading those statistics must seem like a painfully long journey, but for me, the time has flown by and my legs are almost just as fresh as the first day I started, if not a tad stronger.  I write a blog post almost every three days, but in reality with everything that I experience, I could do a daily post.  Regardless of the country, I find that traveling by bike I’m constantly exposed to the world.  I don’t have much intimacy on the road meaning I’m susceptible to my surroundings and traveling as a solo female, I believe I draw more attention to myself.  People feel compelled to go out of their way to interact with me and take care of me, and I welcome their kindness with open arms.

I was an open-minded person before I started pedaling home, but now I become even more so, erasing all my prejudices.  I’ve encountered incredible hospitality on the road wherever I am and never doubt once the sincerity global of human kindness.  I start pedaling in the morning and the only thing I have planned is to pedal 100 kilometers, and sometimes that doesn’t even happen.  I can never predict what my day will be like, who I will meet, and where I will end up staying.  Of course I try to plan my accommodations in advance, but even then I can encounter surprises.

I’m on my journey alone, yet never once have I felt lonely.  In SE Asia, I would stop for my mid-morning snack at a café with a few locals, and before I had my coffee in front of me there was a swarm of people around, mystified by my presence.  Communication can be one of my greatest challenges, but through hand gestures, pictures, and Google Translator, I almost always find a way to express myself.  I thoroughly enjoyed the novelty of traveling through SE Asia from November through January.  It is a very easy to explore on bike.  Although the road conditions weren’t always optimal, I had food stops almost every 5 kilometers, basic and cheap accommodation was plentiful, and the weather, although hot and humid, P1050610made for packing little gear, so I was able to lighten my load on my bike.  As in Europe, distances from town to town were short and I never felt too isolated.  That all changed when I arrived in New Zealand in February.  All of a sudden I found myself in vast and remote wilderness with limited services.  I had to prepare my daily routes, even 2 or 3 days out, carefully in order to ensure I had enough food.  Although I had seen plenty of beautiful places along my route, New Zealand was by far the most breathtaking country for scenery because 95% of my day was spent alongside the most gorgeous and pristine nature.  From crystal clear lakes and ocean, snow-capped mountains peaks, lush rain forests, and arid mountain passes, I never stopped ohhing and awwwing at the landscape.  The terrain was by far the most difficult with constant elevation change, but it was also in New Zealand where I encountered the most tour cyclist to talk with along the way.  On any given day I ran into 5 to 10 cyclists on the road!

I’ve been in Australia during the month of March, and have another 4 weeks of travel in this vast country, including a tour around Tasmania.  I’ve been well accompanied for this portion of my trip, including a visit from my parents, meeting up with former colleagues and clients I had from working as a ride leader for a bike touring company in Europe.  Their hospitality during the past month and the familiar faces have been a refreshing change.

When I visit schools, a lot of kids ask me which has been my favorite place so far on my travels, a question that is virtually impossible to answer.  There are three main highlights to tour cycling for me: the scenery, the people, and the food.  Each of these categories corresponds to a different country preference, but overall I think SE Asia, as a continent, is my first choice, again because of the contrast in their every day life routines, compared to what I’m used to.  Naturally I’ve come up with a list of places that I could see myself living after this trip, from all the different places I’ve discovered on my route. After visiting all the schools along my route, I can’t help but welcome the idea to try living and working in a different location.  Barcelona has been home to me for 10 years now and although it is a very special place for me, I am too curious about the other places I have seen to return, at least any time soon.

P1040923I’ve had a handful of school visits that have made hopping on my bike afterwards difficult.  I’ve felt so inspired and motivated after some of my visits, fascinated by the school’s curriculum and pedagogy that I was ready to stay and start teaching again.  The school visits have given me the opportunity to continue interacting with children during my year away from the classroom and exposed me to different teaching methods, both an added benefit to my trip.  At the start of my trip I talked to larger audiences of students, however, now I prefer to work with a few grade levels and tie my experience and travels into a unit of study.  For me, it is more challenging and interesting to link my real world experience to the conceptual framework of a unit and for students it makes my visit more meaningful.  However, I never fail to have a question and answer session because they always have so many wonderings.  In SE Asia, I came across a lot of school holidays, which made for fewer visits, but I did manage to contact a few local schools as well in China and Laos.  Now that I’m in English-speaking countries, I visit a lot of public schools and a few private schools.  Once I reach the United States, I look forward to hopefully visiting some bilingual schools to take advantage of my Spanish and talk with the Latino population.

If all goes as planned, I arrive to San Francisco at the end of April and although Oregon is north, I will pedal south down the coast and then into the interior.  Starting with the Grand Canyon, I intend to make my way north through the various national parks, cross the Canadian border and reach Banff.  From there I will head west to Vancouver, and finally travel south to Oregon, a loop that includes roughly 12,000 kilometers. I’m a bit apprehensive about traveling in such remote wilderness areas in North America, but as I have learned on this trip so far, it is better to trust others and give them the benefit of the doubt. So far I haven’t ever felt like I was in danger or encountered any threats.

After the last article was published in the International School Community Member Spotlight, I had several teachers contact me about visiting their schools and even a few hosted me.  Please do look at my website and if I’m going to be pedaling through your area, or the area of a colleague, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  Thank you for your continued support and encouragement.

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Ten Commandments of Relocating Overseas

TEN COMMANDMENTS OF RELOCATING OVERSEAS: #10 – Do not allow negative comments and attitudes to darken your outlook.

April 3, 2012


TEN COMMANDMENTS OF RELOCATING OVERSEAS

10. Surround yourself with positive people. Do not allow negative comments and attitudes to darken your outlook.

It is hard to stay positive, but when culture shock is at its worst, it is very easy to slip.  Sure the other new teachers at your school (and the veteran ones) have a lot to say to you about the host country and culture, but you just might find yourself joining in with them. Commence the inevitable negative thought process!

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens, but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” – Helen Keller

It is hard to know exactly about the meaning behind those negative comments from your coworkers (or from yourself).  Are they saying those things because that is just what you do and say when you are an expat, even if it is said like it is only a joke?  On the other hand, people say things as a joke under stressful times and there is usually much truth behind their negative comment.

Some things are small and people are easily quick to be negative about it.

“Why do I have a pay this media tax? I never had to pay this in any of the other countries I’ve lived in.  I don’t even have a TV.  I refused to pay this stupid fee!”

“Seriously the internet in this country is so slow. You can’t even access Facebook and Youtube here.  Now I have to pay for a VPN service, which usually makes my internet connect even slower!”

“Nothing is open around here.  Good luck finding a store open after 18h here.”

“Arg! It is so dirty here.  I open the windows to my apartment and one hour later the floors are covered in a thin layer of dust.  I can’t want to move back to a country that is cleaner!”

There are many more things to talk negatively about when living in another country.  We forgot too, under the influence of culture shock, that there are many negative aspects to living in our home country as well (e.g. getting a cable service repair person to come to your home to fix your internet or cable).  People complain and obsess about negative aspects of their lives in their home countries too.  But some might say that is your country so maybe you are “allowed” to say negative things every once and awhile about your own culture and way of doing things.  Is it different or the same then when living abroad?  When you are in a host country, the country is your “host.”  Certainly, we all would agree that you should try and be gracious to your host.