The Journey to School

The Journey to School: Rasami (Thai-British) International School in Bangkok, Thailand

June 18, 2014


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

One of our members, who works at the Rasami (Thai-British) International School, in Bangkok, Thailand, described his way to work as follows:

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I open my front door to the sound of a disparate chorus of tropical birds and the waning night time sounds of cicadas and bullfrogs. Bangkok is one of the hottest and busiest metropolises on the planet and by 7am it is already nearly 30 degrees Celsius and my shirt is sticking to my back before I have walked downstairs, past the spirit house that is a feature of almost every building in Thailand, with its strong sweet scent of burning incense sticks and onto the soi (narrow side street) below. The traffic congestion on the soi is considerable, though it never reaches the proportions of the average Bangkok street as one end leads into an army base through which only authorised vehicles may pass. Fortunately working at RBIS entitles me to one of these passes for the princely sum of 200 Baht (about GBP4) per year. I don’t drive the 300 metres to school though! If the morning is cool enough I elect to walk, but on particularly sultry mornings I take a motor-cycle taxi which costs 10 Baht. The journey may be short but it is not uneventful.

The morning aroma emanating from the Bougainvillea and Frangipani is a delightful treat for the nostrils and its heady perfume more than compensates for the less appealing stench of the Bangkok sewage system which competes for nasal attention. The vivid colours of the flowers against the almost ubiquitous azure blue sky, relax my eyes and help to mentally prepare me for the impending day’s teaching. There is no pavement (sidewalk) on the soi, so one can never entirely drift off as the need to avoid military vehicles, taxis and scurrying motorcycles as well as the cars of our parents hurrying to drop their offspring at school before going on the lucrative employment that enables them to send their children to an international school.

When I arrive at the school, I greet the School Director – a former army officer, who is always present to greet staff and children – with a wai, a prayer like gesture which he cheerfully returns, before entering the compact campus and commencing the days teaching.

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Currently, we have 38 international schools listed in Bangkok on our website.  19 of them have had comments submitted on them by our members. Check out which ones here by using our school search feature.

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

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Information for Members

16907 Total Comments in All the School Profile “School Information” Sections

April 25, 2020


As all International School Community members know, each of the 2147+ school profile pages on our website has four comments sections: School Information, Benefits Information, City Information and Travel Information.  Our members are encouraged to submit comments on one or all of these sections if they currently work at an international school or have worked at one in the past.

Example School Information page on Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea) – 172 Comments

It is important that we all share what we know so that we can in turn help other teachers make a more informed decision before they sign any contract! *Additionally, for every 10 comments you submit (which are anonymous by the way), you will automatically get one free month of premium membership added on to your account!  The more comments you leave, the more free membership you get!

So, what are the recent statistics about the School Information sections on all the school profile pages?  The current total number of submitted comments in the School Information section is 16907 (out of a total of 36283+ comments).

There are 24 subtopics in the School Information section on each school profile page.  Check out each one of these subtopics below and find out the total number of comments in that specific sub topic and an example comment that has been submitted there.

• Describe the different aspects of the school building and the school grounds. Also, describe the surrounding area around the campus. (1594 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The school is set in 3 separate building, one being a 5 minute walk and the other across the road. Crossing the road is quite a safety hazard with the kindergarten class due to taxis over taking them whilst they are on the crossing and the local police not doing anything to monitor this. There is no proper play area and students are taken to local parks for lunch breaks, which is difficult when having to share with babies. No proper gym areas make p.e quite difficult.” – Canadian International School (Tokyo) (Tokyo, Japan) – 93 Comments

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• What types of accreditation does this school have? When is the accreditation up for renewal? Any religious affiliations? (1193 Total Comments)

Example comment: “It is a non-religiously affiliated school owned by a Christian affiliated college and operated on that campus. It is WASC accredited, but is not accredited by the Korean authorities and seems to be a limbo in regards to its local status.” –Global Prodigy Academy (Jeonju, South Korea) – 48 Comments

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• Recent things that the school has taken on (i.e. new curriculum, specific professional development, etc.). (781 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The school is discussing becoming IB and has implemented Teacher’s College Readers and Writer’s Workshop as well as whole language learning in the primary schools. Secondary schools do MAPS-based action plans to show and monitor student improvement and compare them to US students.” – American School of Torreon (Torreon, Mexico) – 64 Comments

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• Describe their hiring policies. Which recruiting fairs do they go to? How do they typically hire (e.g. face-to-face interview, Skype, etc.)? Are there any hiring restrictions mandated by the country? (1543 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Last year they were NOT hiring people with non-EU passports. Some positions that they had last year were local hires, even if the candidates weren’t the strongest of the CVs that they received. Most of this though is out of the school’s control and more the new/changing laws regarding hiring foreigners into the country.” – Southbank International School (London, United Kingdom) – 15 Comments

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• Describe school’s location in relation to the city center and to the teacher’s housing. How do staff get to school before and after school? (1462 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The school is located near one of the hub stations in Tokyo, with easy access by several trains and subways. The school also has two school bus routes. The school will help the teachers find housing if necessary, but it does not itself provide housing. A transportation allowance is provided to cover the transportation cost from home to school and back.” – New International School of Japan (Tokyo, Japan) – 30 Comments

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• Are the expectations high of teaching staff? Are there extra curricular responsibilities? Describe workload details. (828 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Expectations are high but the atmosphere is supportive. Staff are expected to undertake duties on a rota bais before and after school, at break times and lunch times. Staff are expected to run one extra curricular activity for one term per year. There is a decent amount of non-contact time at around 20% of timetable.” – Rasami (Thai-British) International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 75 Comments

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• Average class size for primary and secondary. Describe any aide support. (848 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Class sizes are very small. In primary, they are normally a combination of two grade levels (i.e. Grades 1 and 2 together) and about 16 kids with a teaching assistant. In secondary class size is smaller and can range from four to twelve per grade level.” – Hiroshima International School (Hiroshima, Japan) – 64 Comments

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• Describe language abilities of students at this school and what is the “common language spoken in the hallways”? Is there one dominate culture group? (1229 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The Thao Dien (Primary) campus in the expat area has students from about 20 countries. The TT Campus, Primary, Middle School and Secondary is mainly Vietnamese. Korean is the next largest student group. Very few students from Western Countries. Has a large EAL population.” – Australian International School HCMC (Vietnam) (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) – 19 Comments

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• Describe what kinds of teachers work here (local vs. expat, nationality, qualifications [or lack there of], etc.) and staff turnover rate. (1268 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Primarily expat teachers, without any one nationality dominating things. When I left in 2011 there were teachers from Australia, Canada, US, UK, South Africa, Belgium, and Tanzania just within my department. Some teachers stay 7 to 10 years or more, while others just 2 to 4 years, as in most international schools.” – International School of Tanganyika  (Dar es salaam, Tanzania) – 171 Comments

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• What types of budgets to classroom teachers/departments get? (518 Total Comments)

Example comment: “budgets have been steadily dropping. Ownership slyly changed the school from a not for profit school to a for profit school, without notifying parents of the change.” – Makuhari International School (Tokyo, Japan) – 22 Comments

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• PARENTS ONLY – General comments from parents of students that go to this school (181 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The mastery system is open to the interpretation of each teacher, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.” – QSI International School of Dongguan (Dongguan, China) – 64 Comments

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• What types of sports programs and activities does the school offer? (701 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The school offers a wide variety of after school activities which are run by teachers. There is no extra pay for this. Teachers can choose which activity they would like to lead.” – International School of Koje (Geoje, South Korea) – 47 Comments

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• Name some special things about this school that makes it unique. (689 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The school has an excellent music program that frequently presents music and drama to the local community and other schools. Students in the diploma program seek out ways to serve the community needs.” – Oeiras International School (Lisbon, Portugal) – 183 Comments

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• In general, describe the demeanor of the students. (617 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The students are generally great, however there are no entrance exams or behavior requirements. The owners Tehmine and Stephan want to make as much money as possible. There definitely are no requirements to enter this school.” – Surabaya European School (Surabaya, Indonesia) – 20 Comments

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• Has the school met your expectations once you started working there? (342 Total Comments)

Example comment: “I’ve really enjoyed working at the school. I have always been able to approach admin if I needed to.” – The Codrington School (Int’l School of Barbados) (St. John, Barbados) – 70 Comments

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• What does the school do to create a harmonious state of well-being and high morale amongst its staff? (400 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The school has a health and wellness program where a lot of teachers connect and exercise together. Also, the PTO regularly hosts cocktail events after school. Plus there are scheduled tours and cultural events.” – Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia) – 69 Comments

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• Describe the technologies available at the school and how people are/are not using them. (485 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Each teacher has a PC (windows only. The printer server won’t talk to macs) and a smart board. However, the smart boards are not all hooked up or working so it’s a very expensive video screen. Slow internet. Nothing Google, youtube, or Facebook works in China.” – Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (Beijing, China) – 158 Comments

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• Details about the current teacher appraisal process. (306 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Get on your principal’s good side and you are fine. If they do not like you you will immediately get put on a corrective plan and ushered out. Just flatter the admin and you will be fine.” – Abu Dhabi International Private School (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) – 43 Comments

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• Is the student population declining, staying the same or increasing? Give details why. (460 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The number of students has increased. There is a waitlist for Year 6 now.” – UCSI International School Subang Jaya (Subang Jaya, Malaysia) – 11 Comments

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• How have certain things improved since you started working there? (242 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The one more important thing that changed for the positive, in around 2011-12, was the school initiated an 8000 RMB per year, per teacher, PD allowance. Before that there wasn’t an allowance. There was though PD for the DP teachers before that.” – Yew Chung International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China) – 30 Comments

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• How is this school different or the same when compared to schools in your home country? (178 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Well one thing that my school had in the United States was a coordinator for reading in the Primary school. I feel that CIS would benefit from having one of those. We need somebody to coordinate how the primary school teaches reading and someone to coordinate resources. Also, someone to help us have a clearer stop and sequence across the grade levels.” – Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 375 Comments

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• What controversies have been happening lately? Please be objective. (306 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The school hires foreign teachers but sometimes it is difficult for the teachers to integrate into the school. It is really a combination of moving to Chile and assimilating as a foreigner as well as the schools lack of support to receive foreign teachers. The administration has recognized this problem and is working to help future hires.” – Santiago College (Santiago, Chile) – 24 Comments

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• What insider information would you give to a teacher considering working at this school? (456 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Remember state school teachers are paid twice as much for half the work. All the locals are on waiting lists for Govt. schools but they are years (centuries) long.” – International School of Paphos (Paphos, Cyprus) – 123 Comments

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• How much curriculum development work are you expected to do? (Atlas Rubicon, etc.) (280 Total Comments)

Example comment: “A curriculum coordinator offers huge levels of support for this. During the current year, this load is heavy because of where we are in the accreditation cycle. High School has used Rubicon for a while. Lower School is just starting to use Rubicon.” – American School of Marrakesh  (Marrakesh, Morocco) – 29 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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Surveys

New Survey: How many people are leaving your international school at the end of this school year?

March 8, 2015


A new survey has arrived!

Topic:  How many people are leaving your international school at the end of this school year?

Screenshot 2015-03-08 21.57.33It is always a mix of emotions when you or your colleagues are leaving the school. Change is good, but change can be hard.  It is not the best feeling in the world to find out one of your closest colleagues is leaving. On the flip side, you might be elated to hear that a certain annoying colleagues is leaving as well!

There are many reasons why teachers leave their current international school. Maybe they have come to the conclusion that the benefits are just too low for the lifestyle that they want to live.  If you are worrying too much about money, it might be time to move on to another international school.

Teachers also might be leaving because the international school that they are at is going in a direction that does not make sense for their career anymore. A new director might have started this year and is making too many changes to the school that you just don’t agree with.

There are many, many more reasons teachers decide to leave.

International schools know that teachers come and go for a variety of reasons, but it’s true that they don’t want too many people leaving at once.  It could give a bad reputation to the school, having so many staff leaving at once.  It could also cost the school a fair amount of money trying to recruit and replace the teachers who are leaving. If you need to recruit for so many people, it is also possible that the school won’t find that many quality candidates.

But, many international schools go through cycles of low and high turnover rates.  It is pretty normal.  The best international schools just know how to deal with those cycles in the best ways.

Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today on How many people are leaving your international school at the end of this school year?

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: Describe what kinds of teachers work here (local vs. expat, nationality, qualifications [or lack there of], etc.) and staff turnover rate.

Right now there are over 670 individual comments (about 100s of different international schools) in this comment topic on our website.  Here are a few of them:

“Spanish teachers are Guatemalan, most other teachers are from North America. Turnover varies with most renewing their contract at least once. Large percentage of teachers have a masters and there are local opportunities to work towards a masters at a reduced cost.” – The American International School of Guatemala (Colegio Maya) (Guatemala City, Guatemala)– 40 Comments

“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 (Bangkok, Thailand) – 17 Comments

“There seem to be a lot of Australian, Canadian, British and American teachers. A few New Zealanders, too. In all grades up to Grade 2 there are local assistants in each class. From talking to the teachers here, there is a turnover of staff, but it’s not huge. People seem to be pretty happy with the school.” – NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 65 Comments

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How NOT to Save Money

How NOT to save money when working as an international school teacher #6: Spend tons of money during your trip back home

December 21, 2014


We all hear about the big possibility of saving money while working at international schools, but the reality is that many of us don’t save much of any money.  So, why aren’t these international school teachers saving money?

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How NOT to save money when working as an international school teacher #6 – Spend tons of money during your trip back home

Of course you go back to your home country to spend time with your friends and family. It is important to go back at least once a year to see them in person and hang out like before you moved abroad. Even if you are able to Skype a lot with these people throughout the year, you can’t beat getting a hug from them in person!

boots2We all know though that there is something else on our minds when we go back home…and that is shopping!  We all have those go-to-stores that we must visit.  If you are from the United States, then it might be Target. If you are from England, then it might be Boots. Finding time to do a bit of shopping in these stores is a must!

Maybe clothes are cheaper in your home country. Buy them!

Are some toiletries cheaper and are there brands that you can’t get in your host country? Buy them!

Did you bring an extra suitcase in your other suitcase just for putting the stuff you bought from your trip back home? Buy even more!

Now to food.

Food is extremely important when living abroad. One of the best parts of living abroad is trying the local products and food delicacies, but having a bit of the food from your home country around can be quite comforting.

Img00003Everyone has their own food that they want to buy and bring back to their host country. What one teacher might bring back, another teacher might say why. To each their own really.  We all have those things that we want and that is how life goes as an expat.

But, the key is not to let your home country purchases get outta hand!  “Oh, I’ll just buy one of these and two of those” one day. The next day you find yourself saying, “Oh, I better buy one more of each!”  Purchase after purchase, the amount you spend goes up and up.

It is easy to get caught up in the mainframe of “well, I am only here one time a year, so I better stock up.”  Though that is true, saying it over and over in your head can increase your purchases even more than you were expecting (not allowing your save your money as it were!).

How can you then keep your purchases under control? One key rule to keep in mind: only buy things that you for sure can’t already buy in your host country.

Is it true that the longer you live abroad, the less things that you buy when you go back home? Or maybe it is that you get smarter about the things you let yourself purchase. Some might say both of those statements are not true at all and that we are all subject to the temptation of buying products from our homeland when we go back for a visit and putting our savings plan on hold for a bit.

Happy shopping back home and bringing those items back to your home abroad!

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We do have a comment topic on our website related to the theme of what food items you might want/need to bring to your new host country (don’t go overboard though!).  It is in the city section of the comments and information tab on the school profile pages. It is called: Tell about your experiences in the local grocery stores. What can you get or cannot get? Which ones are your favorites.

“There are almost no British/Australian/NZ/Canadian/American food items that can’t be found in Bangkok nowadays. Items from home tend to be expensive though, so you you may wish to pack a couple of jars of Marmite/Vegemite and your favourite tea bags.” – Rasami (Thai-British) International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 11 Comments

“Sometimes, items are in abundance, and other times they are scarce, such as peanut butter.” – Orchlon School (Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia) – 68 Comments

“We can get nearly everything. Rooibos tea is hard to find, but everything basic is easy to get.” – Qatar Academy (Doha) (Doha, Qatar) – 56 Comments

“There is a very large supermarket 5 minutes walk from the school. It has a wide variety of products. (Greater variety than Danish supermarkets)” – International School of Helsinki (Helsinki, Finland) – 30 Comments

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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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Comment Topic Highlight

What is the best part of living in your host city?

September 16, 2016


Living and working in cities around the world can be very tiresome, confusing and stressful. On the other hand, it can also be wonderful, exciting and eventful.

host city

When you first move to a city there are so many new places to visit and restaurants at which to eat.  Even after a couple of years, there are still new places to check out and restaurants that you haven’t eaten at yet. If you are lucky, a new favorite place pops up every once and awhile.

Even after a short time of living in a city, there are certainly places that become your favorite. When your friends and family visit, you tend to take them on mini tours that go to these places. These places become a huge part of your ‘expat’ experience.

After moving away to a new city, you always think about the good times you had in your old city and the places you frequently visited. These favorite places truly become solidified in your memory of living in that city.

host city

The best part of moving away from a city you’ve lived in, is going back to visit. When you make a trip to return to a place you’ve once lived, your old favorite places are on the top of your ‘sight-seeing list’ during your visit.  And typically you don’t have as much time to see them all, so you truly find out which places were your really top ones. These really top ones are the must-go places that bring back old memories, and also help make new ones.

Most international school teachers can list off the best parts of living in their city. Some have longer lists than others (depending on their personality and the place in which they live), but there are always new and interesting things to check out and do…if you are getting yourself out to enjoy them.  The more local friends you get too, the more you can check out and hear out the ‘best places’ in the city from the people that truly know it well.

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to what life is like in various cities around the world, so you can stay the most informed as possible. It is called: “What is the best part of living in this city for you?

Our veteran international school teachers have submitted a total of 69 comments in this comment topic (Sept. 2016).  Here are a few that have been submitted:

“KK is a very multi-cultural city. There are many different religions and ethnicities represented here. Because of this there is nearly always a festival or celebration going on. It is wonderful to see everyone celebrating them all. Muslims openly welcome Chinese, Tamil and Expats to their homes during Hari Raya. Everyone is welcome to attend the temple during Deepavali. And of course everyone always enjoys Chinese New Year and Christmas celebrations.” – Kinabalu International School (Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia)10 Comments

“Outside of school, there is a very relaxed pace of life. You will see people in the coffee shops, on the beach or just strolling the avenues all hours of the day. The food is excellent, and the wines are cheap and second to none. Forget the expensive Italian and French wines. Stick with the huge variety of portuguese wines and you can’t go wrong.” – Oeiras International School (Lisbon, Portugal)98 Comments

“Seisen is located in Setagaya ward, which is one of the greenest parts of Tokyo. You are never more than a short bike ride or stroll from Kinuta Park, Komazawa Park, Todoroki Gorge or the expanse of green along the Tama River bank.” – Seisen International School (Tokyo, Japan)66 Comments

“It’s hard to put your finger on. Bangkok can be infuriating. Travel can be tough off the Skytrain finding products you need, a real challenge and yet the city has a pleasant, almost relaxed vibe for a place of its size. The Thais are a fun loving people, there are some great bars and restaurants and if you search off the beaten track some architectural and historical gems.” – Rasami British International School (Bangkok, Thailand)75 Comments

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