The journey to work is indeed an important one. The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries to which they have never been. So let’s share what we know!
One of our members, who worked at the Western International School of Shanghai (China), described his way to work there as follows:
Shanghai, the East’s equivalent of New York. The city runs 24/7, nightlife is rampant, traffic induces headaches, and glamour seems to be always in the spotlight. That is usually the thrill behind the city’s most vibrant areas such as the French Concession and the Bund. All of which is exciting to your common expat. That of course is if you are an expat living around these areas.
Most international schools in Shanghai exist around the peripheral suburbs of the city and for many new teachers entering the school they are given an interesting choice. One can either live near the school in bang-for-your-buck valued houses usually in areas with relatively limited entertainment or live in the downtown where the action is. As you probably can insinuate on your own, it is usually the young single people who trade-off for the longer commute and smaller apartments in order to have a larger selection of nearby restaurants, bars, and social gatherings.
I on the other hand belong to the group that lives in compounds near the school I work at, Western International School of Shanghai. Now this area is not as boring as I may have indicated as it has become a bit of a development zone for the never-ending expansion of Shanghai. Part of the reason being that the area we are in, Qingpu, is the location of several of the well-known international schools in Shanghai, and developers are aiming at them as their audience. In the last 2 years I have seen a great Italian restaurant open up down the street, a whole new nightlife commercial area has come about by Jinfeng Road, and a few imported grocery stores have popped up. We might not have the adrenaline of downtown, but at least we are being well fed!
From my home the school is less than a 10-minute bus ride (or in my case a 10-minute e-bike ride) away. Having two school-aged children, this location is a solid choice for housing, given its lower monthly rent (compared to apartments downtown), spacious and safe environment where kids can play with their friends without constant supervision, and most importantly the ability to wake up later on schoolday mornings. A perk that I don’t take for granted and often poke fun at one of my young colleagues in the math department about.
My school day usually starts off with a 5am wake-up, which at times means a quick morning bike ride to get the blood flowing and other times it gives the opportunity to check e-mails and get some quiet time before the start of another busy day.
At about 6:30, which is the same time most of my downtown colleagues start walking out of their apartments toward their bus pick-up points, I wake up the kiddos, throw them in the shower and take a shower myself. Cereal for the kids, bacon & eggs for daddy and walk outside at about 7:40. If weather permits we hop on the e-bike and off to school we go.
On the way to school we pass by the well-known “corner store”, the one right outside the compound gates. After a quick right turn the scooter takes is into the already buzzing Ming Zhu road. On weekdays the traffic is usually busy, drivers tend to ignore most traffic rules, e-bikes go in all sorts of direction without much concern for red lights or other vehicles. It sometimes feels like a game of chicken while driving. Experience has taught me that it is best to adopt the local culture and go with the flow.
Within the first kilometer we pass by a building that houses the strange combination of a dodgy KTV on its second floor with a wet market on its first floor. The road nearby this building gets extremely busy resulting in traffic jams almost daily, thanks to cars making illegal U-turns without signaling or other scooters pulling a left or right without looking in their rearview mirrors. Sometimes I question myself on whether it was the safest idea to get my own scooter. But at least the ride to work gets my blood pumping enough where I consider skipping my morning coffee.
Beyond this madness, the road gets a bit less congested. Crossing the Huqingping highway can also be intimidating to many but the traffic light is mostly followed there. In this area there are several newly opened compounds with real estate agents already standing outside with their signs advertising apartments for rent or sale. I always find it curious just how desperate they are to sell leases. I wonder how many houses are actually occupied.
Once we passed these compounds we see the friendly faces of the security guards greeting us at the main gate of the school. The entire journey from door to door takes less than 10 minutes for us living nearby the school, while others may spend as much as 50-60 minutes on the faculty bus coming to work day after day. Either way, we all end up at the school we love, doing the work we enjoy!
What to know more about the many international schools in Shanghai? Check out our blog article called – Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Shanghai, China.
So what is your journey to the international school you work at? Earn six free months of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’. Email us here if you are interested.continue reading
I was born, grew up, and graduated from college (BA in Mathematics and English Language and Literature) in Hungary. During my third year of college I found a flyer by the college entrance showing “Teach in New York” and I immediately got interested. As a result, I got in touch with AAECA (Austrian American Educational Cooperation Association) that was recruiting teachers to the Big Apple from all over Europe. I traveled to Vienna for an interview and, after I was accepted, for a weekend workshop. From then on it all worked out quite smoothly and just about a month after being handed my college diploma I found myself on a plane heading for New York City. After the initial chaos in NYC I was placed in Walton High School to teach 9th-10th grade Mathematics. After one year I was reassigned to teach at Bronx High School for Law and Community Service and remained there for the following two years. During this time I met and married a Filipina and then we decided to move to the Philippines.
After teaching three years in the NYC public school system I got a position as Secondary Mathematics teacher at Cebu International School. There I got familiar with international teaching and the IB Diploma Programme. After my initial two-year contract with CIS I moved on to teach Upper School Mathematics at Xiamen International School in China, where I taught in both the Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the Diploma Programme (DP). During my 2nd and 3rd year at XIS I was appointed the Head of the Mathematics Department and for my final two years I held the position of the Diploma Programme coordinator as well as Pamoja Education’s Site-Based Coordinator.
After my five years in Xiamen I recently moved to Shanghai to continue teaching Secondary Mathematics at Western International School of Shanghai (WISS).
How did you get started in the international teaching community?
My first international school experience was in the Philippines, in Cebu city at Cebu International School. Through them I got introduced to International Baccalaureate’s Diploma Programme and became a DP Mathematics teacher, teaching Mathematical Studies SL and Mathematics SL. From here on living the life of an international school teacher came naturally and I very much enjoy what I do.
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.
In SY2006-2008 I worked in Cebu International School. After teaching three years in the NYC public school system this place felt like paradise to me. The students were attentive, kind, and genuinely fun to work with. Being in a small school such as CIS helped me make friends and rediscover what teaching was really all about. Being part of a small but genuinely kind and helpful community was an amazing way to start working in Asia, so far from my roots.
In SY2008-2013 I worked at Xiamen International School. After my first year at XIS I gained the respect of both the Upper School principal, Dr. David Freeman, and the Headmaster, John Godwin, who entrusted me with the position of the Head of the Mathematics Department. I held this position for two years before I was given the opportunity to be the Diploma Programme Coordinator for SY2011-2013. During these five years at XIS I also became MYP Mathematics Moderator and DP Mathematics Examiner, as well as Site-Based Coordinator for Pamoja Education. As the school is about a 40-minute bus ride from the island, where most faculty and families live, I started to regularly cycle to school to the point when it became routine to pedal to and from work every day.
Now, in SY2013-14, I am at Western International School of Shanghai (WISS) as a secondary Mathematics teacher and I immensely enjoy the start of this new chapter in my life in this fantastic school with such an amazing staff. Although the school is only a 5-minute bus ride from my home now, keeping my passion for cycling will be much easier as there are plenty expat cyclists who organize regular rides around Shanghai.
Describe your latest cultural encounter (or reverse cultural encounter) in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.
Having “cultural encounters” in China is really a daily experience. Moving around the city and observing the local customs and habits really became natural by now, after having spent five years in China. One of the many habits of the Chinese that still put a smile on my face is to see them walk backwards as a form of exercise in the pajamas. This morning as I ventured out for my morning jog, I discovered a running track nearby my home. (We just moved to Shanghai a few days ago and I’m still discovering my area.) On the track, at 6am, I found at least 15 people of all ages walking backwards in their pajamas to perform their (I guess regular) morning exercise. Yes, I smiled.
What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?
Having a non-teaching spouse and two school-aged boys my very first criterion is whether the school accepts two children as dependents. Once that’s given I check the school’s location, the programs they offer (which is crucial for me being an experienced MYP/DP teacher), and the salary and benefits. The size of school becomes important only when seriously considering an offer simply because I have experience with both large and smaller size schools.
In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?
Living life full of energy.
If you are a member of International School Community and would like to be our next member spotlight, contact us here. If we choose to highlight you, you will get a coupon code to receive 6 months free of premium access to our website!
Want to work for an international school in the China like Denes? Currently, we have 22 international schools listed in Shanghai on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:
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.
On the ISC blog, we have a blog category called The Journey to School. It discusses the ins and outs of how international school teachers get to work/school in many countries around the world.
Nobody wants a horrible journey to work. Long journeys can really waste away your day (if your journey is one hour each way, for example). In some schools you need to use public transport, other schools you need your own car. It is possible that some teachers actually can take the school bus along with the students at their school. Usually, that is free, so that can be nice. Also, it can stop teachers from working long hours as you need to be ready to go home when the school bus leaves!
In some countries and at certain international schools, your journey can be one that has very nice things to look at. How wonderful to have some beautiful scenery to look at as you get your mind ready for a day of work. On the other hand, it can be that teachers at some international schools are just going on a highway with views of boring high-rise apartment buildings with very little nature to look at.
Another way to get to work is to ride your bike or just walk. For teachers who’d like to get a bit of exercise in their daily routine, this can be quite a good setup!
We currently have 23 journeys listed in The Journey to School blog category. We have listed them all here:
Anglo American School of Sofia
Xian Hi-Tech International School
Singapore American School
Leysin American School
American International School in Egypt
Ruamrudee International School Bangkok
Western International School of Shanghai
Chatsworth International School (Singapore)
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’.
All you need to do is take a few pictures of what you see or do on your way to school and then write a description of your journey. ISC members will appreciate you sharing what you know as it gives an excellent insight (for prospective teachers) into what it might be like to go to work at your school each day.
Email us here if you are interested.
How many times have you applied to a school wishing that you knew somebody that worked there?
Knowing somebody and getting the ‘inside scoop’ on an international school could definitely help you in your quest to set up an interview there.
Currently, our top 40 international schools with the most members are (6 December 2020):
30 members – American International School in Egypt
28 members –International School of Kuala Lumpur
27 members – Copenhagen International School
25 members – International School Manila
24 members – MEF International School Istanbul
23 members – Western International School of Shanghai
21 members – Fairview International School
21 members – Brent International School Manila
21 members – Seoul Foreign School
21 members – American International School (Vietnam)
21 members – American School Foundation of Mexico City
20 members – International School Dhaka
20 members – International School of Tanganyika
19 members – Jakarta Intercultural School
19 members – Seoul International School
19 members – Graded School Sao Paulo
18 members – Shanghai United International School (Hongqiao)
18 members – Shanghai Community International School
18 members – American School of Barcelona
18 members – Aga Khan Academy Mombasa
17 members – Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Astana
17 members – Qatar Academy (Doha)
17 members – International School Panama
17 members – Pathways World School
17 members – International School of Phnom Penh (ISPP)
17 members – American International School of Johannesburg
17 members – International School Bangkok
17 members – Good Shepherd International School
17 members – Singapore American School
17 members – American International School Dhaka
16 members – United Nations International School (Vietnam)
16 members – Cairo American College
16 members – Suzhou Singapore International School
16 members – Western Academy of Beijing
16 members – NIST International School
16 members – Anglo-American School of Moscow
With 100-200 new members joining each month, this list will continue to grow and grow; with even more members showing up as potential people to network with.
It is simple to network on our website: just click on a member and then click on the ‘Contact this member’ button (premium member feature). Then write him/her a message. When your message is sent, the other member will get an email alert letting them know that they have a new message waiting for them on our website (so, hopefully he/she/they will get back to you in a timely manner!). Numerous International School Community members have already taken advantage of this unique feature on our website!
As far as we know, International School Community is one of the only websites where you can quickly and easily network with real people at a specific international school. Meaning, if you want to get in touch with somebody from Suzhou Singapore International School in China and you are currently a premium member of International School Community, you now have 16 members that you can contact on our website that either work there now or have worked there in the past. Get the answers to your questions; now that is easy networking!continue reading
As all International School Community members know, each of the 2225+ 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.
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 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 19653 (out of a total of 42453+ 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. (1838 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
• What types of accreditation does this school have? When is the accreditation up for renewal? Any religious affiliations? (1381 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) – 68 Comments
• Recent things that the school has taken on (i.e. new curriculum, specific professional development, etc.). (943 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
• 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? (1716 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
• 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? (1644 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
• Are the expectations high of teaching staff? Are there extra curricular responsibilities? Describe workload details. (970 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
• Average class size for primary and secondary. Describe any aide support. (1010 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Class sizes are very small. In the 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
• Describe the language abilities of students at this school and what is the “common language spoken in the hallways”? Is there one dominant cultural group? (1364 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
• Describe what kinds of teachers work here (local vs. expat, nationality, qualifications [or lack thereof], etc.) and staff turnover rate. (1417 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
• What types of budgets do classroom teachers/departments get? (614 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
• PARENTS ONLY – General comments from parents of students that go to this school (312 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
• What types of sports programs and activities does the school offer? (803 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
• Name some special things about this school that makes it unique. (802 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) – 214 Comments
• In general, describe the demeanor of the students. (707 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
• Has the school met your expectations once you started working there? (430 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) – 83 Comments
• What does the school do to create a harmonious state of well-being and high morale amongst its staff? (502 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
• Describe the technologies available at the school and how people are/are not using them. (584 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) – 182 Comments
• Details about the current teacher appraisal process. (368 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
• Is the student population declining, staying the same or increasing? Give details why. (562 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
• How have certain things improved since you started working there? (294 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) – 53 Comments
• How is this school different or the same when compared to schools in your home country? (226 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) – 407 Comments
• What controversies have been happening lately? Please be objective. (372 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) – 74 Comments
• What insider information would you give to a teacher considering working at this school? (535 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
• How much curriculum development work are you expected to do? (Atlas Rubicon, Toddle, etc.) (343 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
• How did this school handle the COVID-19 situation? (14 Total Comments)
Example comment: “I was very impressed with ISHRs response to covid. No reductions in salary or positions cut, although some departing members of staff were not replaced. The school gave teachers the autonomy to work from home, although other schools in Germany asked staff to be on site. They checked in regularly to see how we were doing outside of school. I would go as far as saying it was probably one of the best responses in the international school world. We all got to keep our jobs, work from home when we felt like we needed to, and were treated with compassion…” – International School Hannover Region (Hannover, Germany) – 42 Commentscontinue reading
Nobody was fully prepared to deal with the lockdowns international schools have been experiencing.
Some international schools experienced teaching from home, doing remote learning. And though many international schools are back to in-person learning at the moment (with or without masks), others are still in the throws of remote teaching!
It has been hard on all stakeholders, and it continues to be hard on the international school community. Most of us are subjected to the rules and regulations of our host country, which can be comforting and also stressful. And international schools must make plans to follow these (sometimes ever-changing) rules.
We all want to do our part to get this pandemic over and done with. But the reality is that it has been very stressful constantly making changes to how we teach. And even if an international school teacher is getting into the groove with their current setup, there is always a sense that a new change is coming soon.
Adding to the stress and anxiety, the truth is that some international school teachers haven’t been back to their home in over two years because they have not been allowed to leave their host country!
How then have international schools made these decisions to teach during the COVID 19 pandemic? How have they made their decisions to teach in a safe way, and how were those decisions perceived and experienced by the staff?
Luckily, ISC was designed to help international school teachers find the information they are looking for. We have a comment topic called, “How did this school handle the COVID-19 situation?” and here are 11 comments that have been submitted in this section:
“The school went above and beyond on the covid-19 situation in helping families, setting up robust online learning. Some teachers took advantage of this, so things have tightened up a bit. Online learning has greatly been minimised due to extreme government caution but everyone is still masked and subjected to frequent test requests / inspections etc. Travel is severely hampered and is totally unpredictable…” – Western Academy of Beijing (76 total comments)
“The school did a great job following the government’s guidelines…” – International School Saigon Pearl (103 total comments)
“Terribly. They furloughed most of the teacher assistants and cafeteria workers. They fired someone very last minute, claiming low enrollment when she had already signed a contract for the following year…” – Ruamrudee International School (Ratchapruek) (45 total comments)
“Not well. When 40%+ of the faculty was trapped outside china (along with much of the families) the school furloughed/fired a huge chunk of them even though all of us who weren’t furloughed/fired eventually got back in. The school then hired replacements for the classrooms. It was clear that the people that were fired were people the administrators wanted to get rid of (i.e. tougher personalities). It felt like the school used COVID, instead of normal improvement plan processes, to part ways with people. This left many individuals stuck in countries that weren’t their home with no job and no income – it was devastating to many. Most of us wish they would have kept everyone on at reduced pay for 1 year (supposedly we had the money to do so) with knowing that they would need to make reductions the following year. It would have been compassionate to give everyone time to figure out what they needed to do…” – Shanghai American School (Pudong) (197 total comments)
Thailand (Chiang Mai)
“COVID has had a huge impact on the school, its managers, teachers, parents and students. Parents and teachers have been critical of some of the things the school has done but generally, everyone accepts these are intolerably difficult and unique times and that management does not have a crystal ball and is generally reacting well to the latest whims of government policy…” – Lanna International School (LIST) (55 total comments)
“In March of 2020, the school followed government guidelines and transitioned to remote learning mostly synchronously. This was initially meant to last for a few weeks, but in the end, we never returned to school. Our spring break was shortened so that we could end the year early, and this was generally appreciated. With a rigorous testing/masking/distancing regimen in place (and a general ban on parents entering the building), we were able to return to in-person classes for the entirety of the 2020/21 school year. There were always a handful of students who attended in a hybrid mode, and small categories of students were occasionally excluded and moved to virtual mode for short periods of time depending on testing results. Graduation was held in drive-in mode on campus for the classes of 2020 and 2021, which was an excellent concession. The protocols continue to be followed this year (though hybrid students are generally not accommodated for except in extraordinary circumstances) and things feel as close to “normal” as one could hope for…” – American School of Warsaw (167 total comments)
“Brilliantly. Paid for flights and quarantine costs for all employees stuck outside of China. Will do the same for the next summer break as well…” – Shekou International School (109 total comments)
“We were very lucky to have only 1 month of online/remote learning in which the Head of Tech Integration was able to set up the online program for teachers, students, and parents…” – Hope International Academy Okinawav (76 total comments)
“Really really badly although the CEO is convinced otherwise. During the last lockdown, staff was close to breaking point (and still are). Laurent and his minions decided the stick approach was best so forced staff to work from campus and remove lunches, remove the ability for staff to buy their own, and remove coffee. Then they decided that it was a good time to do appraisals, observations and hand out personal criticisms. You honestly couldn’t make this shXX up. Every single one of his remaining decent staff members is now looking elsewhere. He has fundamentally damaged the core of the school-his staff and does not appear to see this as a problem. In 18 months this school has gone from ‘has potential ‘ to ‘RUN’…” – Berda Claude International School (39 total comments)
“The school has an online learning plan when it is necessary to implement. Macau has been a very safe place to live and work during COVID but with that safety comes very limited movement. Getting into Macau is very difficult and when you are here it is basically impossible to leave. This has made life very hard for expats…” – The School of the Nations (Macao) (28 total comments)
“China, and especially Suzhou, is lucky to have been open most of the time during COVD-19! SSIS was forced to have a delayed start to the school year this year by the local government due to COVID-19 which has affected the calendar a bit by shortening staff vacations…” – Suzhou Singapore International School (147 total comments)continue reading
So interesting, our top 40 school profiles with the most views page.
Are the ones at the top those “Tier one” international schools that we all hear about? You might be surprised which schools are really on this list then!
The school that has the most views right now is the Al Hada International School (13 total comments), which currently has around 170967 views. Who wouldn’t want to work in the Middle East?!
Here are some of the other top schools on our list (along with a sample comment from its school profile page):
International School of Chile (Nido de Aguilas) (48 total comments) Santiago, Chile
“I found the interview process to be very random and not very organized. The ES principal was not someone I am excited to work for. That said, the school has a good reputation and is in a great location…”
British International School Moscow (42 total comments) Moscow, Russia
“Not recommended to use shipping. I moved with suitcases. Most apartments are fully furnished and the paperwork and red tape make it highly discouraged to relocate with anything other than luggage. The school was very up front with this and explain the nightmare that is Russian bo…”
The Universal American School (22 total comments) Salwa, Kuwait
“UAS facilities are air-conditioned including an indoor swimming pool, multi-purpose play court, fully equipped gymnasium, a 400-seat auditorium, large library, and a multi-purpose hall. Students have access to three computer labs, science labs at all levels, music/band rooms, large…”
International School of Elite Education (13 total comments) New Cairo City, Egypt
“No taxes have to be paid. Salaries are in USD. Monthly salary, average is between 1800-1900 USD…”
“For me personally, many aspects of my job was discussed during the interview. Talking to teachers before coming to Manizales also helped clear up some of the unknown areas. For some of my colleagues, however, this wasn’t the case, and there were some unexpected surprises…”
American International School of Budapest (55 total comments) Budapest, Hungary
“In secondary, the meeting schedule for the school year is mapped out in advance and the meeting of the week (Tuesday for MS and Wednesday for HS) rotates between full faculty meetings, department meetings, grade-level meetings, and no meetings when it is a week where grades are d…”
Leman International School Chengdu (21 total comments) Chengdu, China
“Most of the large shopping malls have gourmet markets that include Western foods and ingredients, and two or three chains specifically cater to them as well. A huge number of expat-oriented pubs and restaurants can be found, especially along Sukhumvit Road…”
International School of Kuala Lumpur (135 total comments) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
“Pay is good, with a great retirement (EPF) program that can go up to 42% of salary (including both employer and employee amounts). Teachers are paid 10 times (August through June) but in June they also get their July salary.”
Western International School of Shanghai (481 total comments) Shanghai, China
“Tons of activities if one wants to do something. It’s pretty easy to fund running, cycling, hiking, tennis, basketball, rugby, and so forth. Pretty much anything is on offer here!”
Copenhagen International School (391 total comments) Copenhagen, Denmark
“This year CIS went to a recruiting fair in London. The director mentioned that he wants to make sure our school ‘stays visible’ at these fairs every once and awhile. There weren’t that many vacancies this year, which is typical because people tend to stay here a…”
Singapore American School (313 total comments) Singapore, Singapore
“Short-term disability benefit. Worldwide health insurance coverage.”
NIST International School (403 total comments) Bangkok, Thailand
“Campus is south of the city. Apartments are being built around it and public transportation links near the school are improving…”
Concordia International School (Shanghai) (180 total comments) Shanghai, China
“The school buildings are quite modern. Many students walk to school as there are many neighbourhoods near the school.”
American International School in Egypt (Main Campus) (64 total comments) Cairo, Egypt
“This is a bit of an issue at AIS. They seem to hire people without checking references and most interviews are just over the phone or Skype. Several people get fired a year due to behaviors that I am sure would have shown before hiring should AIS do face to face interviews and…”
Canadian International School (Hong Kong) (168 total comments) Hong Kong, China
“A fair number of teachers make multiple stops on their way back to “home” in Canada, USA, Europe, Australia, or New Zealand. Since these are long flights (~10-18 hours), it is easy to find extended layovers en route.”
Check out the rest of the schools on our list here.continue reading
Now there are 1171+ international schools that have had comments/reviews submitted on them on our website (up almost 60 schools from one year ago)!
Once schools have over 70 submitted comments, then it is very likely that you will be able to see how a specific comment topic has changed (or not changed) over time; with all the comments being date stamped.
If there is more than one comment in a specific comment topic, the more recent comments either add on, compliment or amend the previous comments.
Some of our schools that have many submitted comments will sometimes have over 15 comments in one comment topic!
Just click on the “Show all” link to see the complete history of comments in this comment topic.
So let’s get to it, which schools are in the top 27? This list comes from May 2021 with a sample comment for each school.
Here we go:
27. American School of Warsaw
(Warsaw, Poland) – 161 Comments
“Since housing isn’t provided by the school, you get a lot of leeway in terms of what kind of accommodations you choose and whether you keep within your housing allowance or “top up” for a bigger/nicer/better place. As such, how well-appointed your apartment or hou…“
26. Vietnam Australia International School
(Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) – 161 Comments
“Housing allowance up to 500 $ per month. Internet up to 40$ per month. The monthly allowance varies in relation to the qualifications of each teacher between 350-500 $ per month…”
25. Pechersk School International
(Kyiv, Ukraine) – 162 Comments
“Apartments are furnished by landlords so it can vary – but generally pretty basic. School gave me a metro card and a SIM card and phone til I sorted out my own…”
24. MEF International School Istanbul
(Istanbul, Turkey) – 162 Comments
“Teacher turnover is high. Everything from 1st-year teachers, teachers new to being overseas, to very experienced international educators. Living in Istanbul is a big draw…”
23. Canadian International School (Hong Kong)
(Hong Kong, China) – 165 Comments
“CDNIS is an IB World School, implementing PYP, MYP, and DP. In a recent report by the IB governing body, CDNIS must make major administrative and governing reforms in the next year…”
22. American School of Dubai
(Dubai, UAE) – 167 Comments
“Lately a number of teachers are heading to places like Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. They report great experiences! Oman remains the number one travel option, however, as it is right next door (door to door to Muscat is around the five hour mark) and has lots of great outdoor…”
21. Green School Bali
(Sibang, Indonesia) – 168 Comments
“As time has gone by the new airport has gotten better and better. Lots of eating options, good duty free, loads of places to sit. Departing is fairly straightforward. Check in, customs (who don’t care about your liquids as long as their not large), immigration, th…”
20. International School of Tanganyika
(Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) – 171 Comments
“The IT infrastructure has improved significantly but is still not without its challenges. Internet speed is reasonably fast, much much better than it used to be. All teachers are provided with a Macbook. At secondary, there are 4 computer labs. The science department has 25 m…”
19. American School of Barcelona
(Barcelona, Spain) – 175 Comments
“The turnover rate is getting a bit higher because the cost of living in Spain is getting higher and higher and salaries are staying the same. Economically it is difficult in Spain right now. That being said Barcelona is a fantastic city to live in and no one wants to leave…”
18. Concordia International School (Shanghai)
(Shanghai, China) – 180 Comments
“The ‘common language spoken in the hallways’ depends on the grade level. Students who are only 3 or 4 might not have a lot of English. As the students get older, they are quite skilled in English…”
17. The International School of Dakar
(Dakar, Senegal) – 181 Comments
“Very low turnover this year but we had a large turnover the previous year. Teachers tend to stay 3-4 years but some have stayed much longer…”
16. Tsinghua International School (Beijing)
(Beijing, China) – 182 Comments
“There is a new airport going in south of Beijing to relieve the traffic at the main airport…”
15. Khartoum International Community School
(Khartoum, Sudan) – 186 Comments
“Teachers stay because they feel appreciated, their voices are heard, and they get to make a difference. Teachers leave because it’s not…”
14. Oeiras International School
(Lisbon, Portugal) – 189 Comments
“Back in the re-accreditation mode again with the self study this year. The visit will be a joint visit next year with IB, ECIS and NEASC…”
13. Lahore American School
(Lahore, Pakistan) – 193 Comments
“1/2 of the teachers are from North America and 1/2 from Pakistan, a few from UK…”
12. Seoul Foreign School
(Seoul, South Korea) – 193 Comments
“Tutoring through the school is available if it is not your student. The school takes a portion leaving you with about $20 for 30 minutes of tutoring. Coaching stipends from $350-900 and lifeguarding at the school pool can bring in 25-45 dollars an hour.”
11. Cairo American College
(Cairo, Egypt) – 196 Comments
“The subway costs 2 Egyptian pounds per ride. Taxis vary, since you might have to haggle. Many people at the school use a regular driver. The one I use charges less than 200 Egyptian pounds for a trip to the airport, which is about an hour away…”
10. Ghandi Memorial International School
(Jakarta, Indonesia) – 203 Comments
“Bahasa Indonesia is the official language, with English spoken in major cities and tourist areas…”
9. American International School (Vietnam)
(Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) – 207 Comments
“Now, it is extensive as it has not been done at all. Atlas Rubicon full steam ahead…”
8. Tarsus American College
(Mersin, Turkey) – 272 Comments
“Down to two weeks of holiday in January. No other breaks and we’ve been told that in addition to losing our fall and spring breaks for intensive staff development other PD will be held on weekends…”
7. NIST International School
(Bangkok, Thailand) – 304 Comments
“With the start of construction on the street the school is located on, the entire schedule has shifted to a later start. Elementary students begin at 8:00 and secondary students at 8:30. So far the response has been overwhelmingly positive…”
6. Stamford American International School
(Singapore, Singapore) – 307 Comments
“The school is the northeast corner of Singapore with very easy access to the city center. Staff can choose their own accommodation location based on their financial and lifestyle preferences. Most teachers live 2-3 MRT (underground) stations away. Public transport is excellent…”
5. Singapore American School
(Singapore) – 311 Comments
“Transport options are good. The taxi queue right outside of arrivals can be long at times, but the system works well to get people moving as fast as possible…”
4. KIS International School
(Bangkok, Thailand) – 358 Comments
“Using a mobile is now so cheap that many teachers do not have a landline. The Satellite TV provider is dreadful, neither their offerings nor their boxes have changed in 20 years. If you want to watch sport most teachers just go to the pub…”
3. Copenhagen International School
(Copenhagen, Denmark) – 391 Comments
“You can get travelers and accident insurance from your bank here, like at Nordea. It is really cheap and it gives you health insurance coverage anywhere in the world! It is important to know about this option because now the Danish CPR health social health care card doesn’t…”
2. Good Shephard International School
(Ooty, India) – 409 Comments
“Presently they are having their Trinity College London Music Examinations. This is an option but they try to maintain high grades although most students only take Initial to Grade 1 due to restrictions of the admin to practice music…”
1. Western International School of Shanghai
(Shanghai, China) – 481 Comments
“Airport is okay. It’s clean and easy to navigate. Immigration can take a long time to get through at peak times during the year but it’s okay. They have water fountains, which as a frequent traveler I really appreciate…”
You can see the rest of the Top 40 school profile pages with the most comments here on our website.
Keep the schools that you work at now (or have worked at in the past) updated with new comments. Want to share what you know and get unlimited free premium access to our website? Become a Mayor today!continue reading
Schools thrive when there are hardworking students in them.
It is a dream to have students at your school that are hardworking and who focus on their learning when they come to school.
But do all international schools have hardworking students?
Most likely not. There are over 10000 international schools throughout the world, so there are bound to be some differences.
There are some international schools that have very privileged students in them, and they often don’t prioritize completing their classwork or even on their learning in general.
Can having effective teachers play a factor in achieving a high level of hardworking students in the school? Surely that is important as well. If the teachers are disengaged, then that is often demotivating for the students.
But, of course, there are many international schools that have amazingly hardworking students. These students are focused on their learning and are typically supported by their involved parents. The schools probably also have top-notch teachers and an engaging way of teaching their curriculum.
So which international schools then have these hardworking students?
Luckily, ISC was designed to help international school teachers find the information they are looking for. Using the Comment Search feature (premium membership needed), we found 36 comments that had the keyword “hardworking” in them. Here are 11 of them:
“Kids are hardworking in general. Mostly well behaved and friendly, especially welcoming to new students.” – Western International School of Shanghai (481 total comments)
“Positive, hardworking, driven, and respectful of adults.” – International School of Zanzibar (57 total comments)
“The kids are wonderful. Adorable, very loving and inclusive. Mainly hardworking and keen to learn. We have a couple of challenged learners but our counsellor is fantastic at supporting their teachers and indeed the whole community in understanding their challenges.” – KIS International School (Bangkok) (355 total comments)
“The school really is a great place to grow as a professional. There are many opportunities to develop new skills just by learning from other colleagues. The biggest comparison would be the student body – students at SFS are motivated, hardworking, involved, and love learning! It is a dream!” – Seoul Foreign School (176 total comments)
United Arab Emirates
“Respectful, conscientious, hardworking, courteous.” – American School of Dubai (167 total comments)
“The students are wonderful to work with. They are respectful, kind, hardworking, and smart.” – Yangon International School (81 total comments)
“Some stay for the great education for their own kids, and the opportunity to impact upon other students who by and large are hardworking and cooperative.” – Hebron School (35 total comments)
“The staff is great. There’s a good sense of communities. Students are generally well-behaved and hardworking. Parents are supportive.” – International School of Tanganyika (171 total comments)
“The students are hardly ever disciplined at the school, but thankfully that is not an issue most of the time as the students are very well behaved and hardworking by default.” – Beijing National Day School (81 total comments)
“My students were fantastic! Hardworking and well behaved. I loved every minute of my time at the school.” – Uruguayan American School (32 total comments)
“Happy, hardworking, driven, excited about learning.” – International School Manila (96 total comments)continue reading
As an international teacher of color and proud TCK (Third Culture Kid), I often find myself being the only one or part of a minority group of teachers who are not the ‘standard’ international teacher, who fits the profile as ‘native speaker, western, and light-skinned’. The question that often arose in my mind and like-minded people is, “What does native speaker mean?” Does this question often relate to language skill, ethnicity, skin color or background? However, the more I pondered, observed and discovered in my experiences, this means more to the latter; which brings us back to the question of which became the result of skill vs ethnicity. Let’s begin to really unpack and dig deeper into this.
Many researches have shown that diversity in schools are beneficial to our society. With the growing migration and international job opportunities around the world, the demand for international education follows suit which created different schools of thoughts, philosophies, curriculums and practices; all driven to provide a holistic, enriching and global-minded education to children. However, the reality is that educators who are hired to be the ‘instructors’ and ‘role-models’ of these great elements of education are often lacking in diversity. Considering the fact that most international schools have a diverse population of students from all over the world, shouldn’t educators be represented by the same amount of diversity too? Where is the standard of being ‘internationally-minded’ and ‘multicultural’ represented in any given school? How do we rectify this and should we?
From my experiences teaching internationally, I have been blessed and also cursed at the same time. Some experiences really made me feel like I am a contributor and part of something great in education; trying to make a difference in this world by doing small acts and making changes as an educator who believes that education is a right for all children, regardless of wealth, background and geographical location. However, there were some experiences which made me feel small, insignificant, rejected and unwanted because of how I look like, speaking with an accent and my multi-cultural background. It became a chore trying to explain my background, identity and who I am as a person which affected my job as an educator as I felt victimized and paralyzed. I kept questioning myself, “Is this for real? Do all good educators have to be western, white and of certain look or speak a certain accent?” It made me insecure and unsure about my decision to continue pursuing a career as an international educator.
Fortunately, travelling and a passion for education helped me to continue my career as an educator which also sparked a fighting spirit and determination to change the way education should look, sound and feel like. It made me realize that there are many factors contributing to the lack in diversity of educators in international schools. These factors range from cultural expectations, norms, economic prosperity, societal needs, income levels, status and background, and even unfamiliarity with change or others outside the group. All these add to the definition on what makes a good international teacher which often relates back to the specification of ‘native speaker, western and light-skinned’ profile.
A few questions to extend and ask ourselves are, “How can we empower all educators to become the best teachers today?” and “Are we being fair to our children in giving them equal opportunities and knowing their identities through education?” Hence, diversity is KEY to develop global-minded citizens who will lead and run the world as our future. Start embracing, accepting and promoting diversity and equality today if we want a better tomorrow!continue reading
The vast number of international schools around the world are still closed and doing some kind of remote learning. It has truly been a challenge for these schools to adapt and adjust to this new way of teaching.
The pressure has been on the school’s administration to organize a clear plan that will follow the local government’s rules and guidelines. These administrators strive to clearly communicate to all stakeholders given the very short amount of reaction time to put the new ways of working in place.
When using ISC’s unique Comment Search feature (Premium Membership is needed), we found a number of comments that had the keyword Covid in them. Here are 10 comments that show some implications of Covid-19 on these international schools:
“School communication has always been a struggle for the school, particularly for the foreign hires who generally hear things last. During the distance learning program due to Covid-19, this had huge repercussions in the trust of the school. Ultimately however the school eventually came to good decisions that people were happy with….”
“The school is currently going through the accreditation for NEASC and IB/PYP. This process may be delayed due to Covid-19…”
“DISK is working on accreditation with WASC, They were to do the initial visit before the end of this year, then Covid-19 messed it up. We expect them in September. Due to Covid-19, we extended the closure of campus to May 11. Learning is still taking place online…”
“Because of Covid 19, our school has been doing remote teaching for many weeks now. But after only 4 weeks, the Danish government has ordered that kids aged 0-10 should go to school (MS and HS still have remote learning, probably until the end of the year). The Early Years and Primary School sections are now teaching in person again on campus, but we have so many new rules and guidelines that we must follow. We are calling it “emergency learning”. One rule is that there can only be 10 kids per classroom because we need to have kids sit two meters apart and to limit the number of adults the students interact with. That in turn requires more teachers to teach a grade level, so the drama, art, music, etc teachers are now all classroom teachers teaching. It is very full on!”
“Students in EC-Grade 5 are using Seesaw as the primary platform for learning while students in 6-12 are using Google Classroom. This has been very helpful in transitioning to online learning due to the Covid-19 situation…”
“Pretty much all PD cancelled when Covid 19 hit. Even those that could have been rescheduled…”
“Covid-19 has put teaching online. Added costs of increased electricity use and wifi upgrades (if required) must be born by teacher. One school in the vicinity has provided a bonus to its faculty for this increase in costs…”
“New principal is hardly at school and doesn’t know teachers. In every critical situation (earthquake, Covid-19 closure) director was the first one to leave the country and ‘manage from distance’…”
“As of March, 2020, KICS has switched to online learning/teaching as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s a bumpy transition, especially as it happened right at the start of the spring break, which is why some teachers and families are out of Sudan…”
“Salaries for primary and secondary teachers have been cut to 80% during the Covid-19 shutdown even though teachers are expected to teach their full course load. IB PYP candidacy was abandoned…”
ISC would like to hear from you! Log on to ISC today and submit a comment about the consequences of Covid-19 on your international school. You can submit your comment in the School Information section under the comment topic “Recent things that the school has taken on (i.e. new curriculum, specific professional development, etc.).”continue reading
I very much consider myself a third-culture kid despite living 25/31 years in Western Sydney. This area is the most culturally diverse area in the southern hemisphere and I grew up experiencing both Australian and Arab cultures.
Born in Kuwait, I spent the first four years of my life there before migrating to Australia. Throughout my life I frequently travelled to Jordan to visit my extended family. My family originates from Palestine before it was partitioned. And previous to that, we have routes in Egypt.
My schooling and tertiary education were completed in Sydney. When I was completing my high school studies, I was considering teaching as my profession. Although, I decided to study a Bachelor of Commerce first knowing that obtaining a Masters of Teaching would only take two years of full-time study on top of that.
Throughout my tertiary studies, I worked in a variety of education and community welfare jobs. At that time, I never thought I would be embarking on an international teaching journey. I was very much a typical guy in his 20s in Australia. I loved Rugby League, Touch Rugby and cycling and all my travels with friends via domestic trips. By the time I graduated, I was ready to experience a life-changing international journey.
During my last semester of university, I attended a job fair organised for the post graduate students completing educational courses in my university. At the fair were some recruiters looking for teachers to work in the UK and I immediately was interested. The process was straight forward. The recruiter organised an interview with herself and then a principal within a school. They liked my enthusiasm and how I was looking forward to the adventure and willing to learn about the UK curriculum. From there I had to collect documentation such as police checks, and I was helped to apply for a Youth Mobility Visa. Before I knew it, I was offered a short term maternity leave contract for a Grade 5 class and a few weeks after graduating, I was ready for a September start in the UK.
Before going to the UK, I took a detour to visit a close friend of mine in Shanghai for one week. He was about to begin his 2nd international teaching post. It was a wonderful visit which opened my eyes to a new culture. It wasn’t long before I was back there teaching kindergarten.
In my first year of teaching I was extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to have completed six weeks of casual teaching in Australia, a semester block as a Grade 5 homeroom teacher in an East London public school, and being the first teacher to open the one of two new kindergarten classes (a first for the school). My life was very different; I met so many new people, learned how to speak basic conversational mandarin, enjoyed a diverse lifestyle in two major world class cities and grew a lot as a teacher.
I have worked in England (Brookside Junior School), Egypt (Cairo English School), China (Shanghai United International School, Fudan International School and Guangdong Country Garden School), and Brazil (The American School of Belo Horizonte.) In this time I have had the opportunity to teach Canadian British Columbian, UK National Curriculum, American Common Core Curriculum as well as the International Baccalaureate. All schools were fun places to work.
Cairo English School stands out as the school with a stunning campus. It had over 1500 students and chaotic hallways but the students were always cheerful and there were always many extravagant events going on around the school.
An even bigger school was Guangdong Country Garden School. They had over 4500 students! It was impossible to even meet all the students. I worked in the kindergarten. I remember the play times with over four hundred 3-5-year-old students running around in many directions. It was a boarding school, and it was common to see even kindergarten students still having lessons in the evening.
Both Fudan International School and The American School of Belo Horizonte are smaller schools with approximately 350 students from K-12. I was the Grade 5 homeroom teacher at both schools so I was given a lot of freedom in planning a lot of the curriculum according to the American Common Core and IB syllabi, and the school’s scope and sequence.
It is still hard to decide whether I prefer the larger schools or smaller schools. They both have their advantages. Every school was unique in its own way.
I have been in Belo Horizonte for two months now. My impression is that Brazilians are very social and love to enjoy themselves. Every weekend there is loud music coming from different places in my neighbourhood and many social gatherings within my apartment complex. Just about everybody greets you in a friendly manner and people are usually excited to hear where I am from and speak of their desires to visit there.
Belo Horizonte is considered the Brazilian Belgium. It may not be known for having beautiful beaches like the other places in Brazil, but it is known for producing beers of good quality such as Krug Bier, FalkBier, Backer, Küd, Wäls and Artesamalte. To complement this you will find the popular night spot of Savassi heaving every weekend complemented by music festivals.
Whilst Belo Horizonte seems to be unknown from the outside world, it is the third largest city in Brazil. It boasts the most bars per capita with over 12,000 bars in the city. Most of these are informal sit down spots where you can enjoy an informal meal. Beagá (the city’s nickname which is its initials in Portuguese) also boast a fine arts culture with beautiful street art sprawled around the city. It is definitely a hidden gem (and ironically the mining capital of the country).
It is very important to be responsible and choose your employer well. That means finding out as much as you can about the position and the school, where you will live and information about the country you will be living in. After you have found out as much as possible, evaluate what is really important to you.
For me, as I have moved around a few times in my 7 years of teaching. Now I am more inclined to look for supportive school that will offer me 2-3 year contracts and ongoing professional development so I can take my teaching pedagogy to the next level.
An amazing and unforgettable experience.
Thanks, Tareq Hajjaj!
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!
Do you think you have what it takes to be a veteran international school teacher like Tareq Hajjaj? What character traits does it take? We have an article on our blog that discusses this very question. It is called the “Top 10 Character Traits of a Seasoned International School Teacher“. Read the whole article here.continue reading
Of course, new teachers can try and organize some outings themselves, but it is nice when the school organizes some of it. The returning teachers and administration know the city better, and they can help facilitate some really fun parties and/or outings.
Most new teachers will not know so much of their new city/country, so the school could organize some day trips to nearby nature areas or special towns of interest. If the school doesn’t want to take to you too far away, they can easily host some events in popular local restaurants or fun places of interest.
Even if you don’t like the places the school takes you so much, it will definitely be an opportunity for you to bond with the returning staff members as well as the other new teachers. Bonding with new teachers is important. Typically, new teachers tend to bond most with each other and they become lifelong friends (even after one or both of them moves away). If you are lucky, there will be a number of new teachers that you will able to connect with.
Excellent international schools will definitely have a plan of events for all new teachers at the very beginning of the school year before the students arrive. A carefully planned week full of different events will definitely pay off as the new teachers will start their integration process on the right foot, thus making them enjoy their new surroundings and most likely do their best working at in their new school.
Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of new teacher orientation plans/events. Our members can share what current international schools are doing in this matter. There are a total of 107 comments (August 2018) that have been submitted by our veteran international school teachers in one of the 65 comment topics called – “Where did the school take you in the city when you first arrived? What were some staff outings/party locations?”
Here are a few of those submitted comments:
“We often hang out around campus or downtown on the weekends, but many people like to use the Arex to go to some of the cool spots in Seoul. Many of us go for picnics in Lake Park or down to the Canal Area for visiting noraebang (singing room) or bars. There really is quite a lot to do in Cheongna and new places are going in all the time. Several faculty members like to go play screen baseball and screen golf.” – Cheongna Dalton School (Incheon, South Korea) – 60 Total Comments
“Most of the staff parties and gatherings each year, when not on campus, are held at the high-end hotels in the area. There are a few Indian restaurants that also seem to be popular among the teachers, so the parties often end up going back there after a year or two of somewhere else.” – NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 242 Comments
“New faculty were invited to dinner in town one night and to the directors’ home another night, which was intimate and nice. There was another faculty gathering at the director’s house soon after school began, and a holiday party in December.” – International School of Stavanger (Stavanger, Norway) – 44 Total Comments
“In the first week, we were taken to Taygaytay to Lake Taal for lunch. As well as this we were taken to one of the school’s service partners which is an orphanage. Trips to a cash and carry store and markets are also arranged in the first week. The divisional principals will have a social gathering at their homes for new staff and the superintendent hosts a welcome back BBQ.” – International School Manila (Manila, Philippines) – 71 Comments
“No city tour. It’s all administrative and logistic arrangements; a meeting with the principal, on campus, where you will be told when you need to submit your Scheme of Work @ curriculum planning. Next, you will be taken on an apartment hunting adventure by a HR personnel.” – Raffles International Christian School (Jakarta, Indonesia) – 42 Comments
“They had a get to know you party. Old members of staff came and you got to know people. They also took us to Carrefore and Ikea when we first got there with a coach. This is helpful when you’ve just arrived and you’re trying to figure your life out. They also take you to get a bank account set up and take you to the required medical.” – Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 368 Commentscontinue reading
In my earlier career in public schools in Alberta, Canada I was a Drama teacher. The arts always seemed to be under threat in the public education system, and in my experience Music, Art and Drama teachers always seemed to be fighting for their survival. We had thriving Drama classes and a popular extra-curricular programme at my school where students in Junior High and Senior High competed in Zone and Provincial Drama Festivals, but when I went to teach in Australia on a year-long exchange they cancelled the Drama programme to save money, and only the Art classes and the Band programme survived the arts cuts that year.
Teaching in Queensland, Australia for a year was an eye-opener as far as the arts went. Programmes seemed to be very well supported with excellent facilities and had far more to offer students such as many workshops in specialities like mime, street theatre and dance for example than the much more basic curriculums I was used to in Canada. The arts curriculums seemed to be very extensive and arts taken for granted as a part of an Australian school. After a huge well supported musical “Annie Get Your Gun” I returned to my school in Canada where we had no theatre and I taught Drama in a regular classroom, pushing aside the desks as needed.
I had to return to Canada and teach as an English teacher even though I wanted to teach Drama. For many students in my experience, the arts are vital to balance out academics and sports. All students need an opportunity to excel and be successful in something, and for many that is not their regular exam classes or a sports team. So the art teacher and I collaborated and kept the school productions going, a total of 25 Junior and Senior High shows over the years where students could act, sing and dance or work backstage, or designing the set. Students loved the opportunity to be creative, and often it was the behaviourally challenged students or those who didn’t quite ‘fit in’ in other classes that loved Drama the most. We continued to participate in the Zone Festivals winning many times, and what a treat it was to be in a real theatre! The highlight was going to the Provincial Drama Festival and winning Best Ensemble and raft of other awards for our huge production of “The Canterbury Tales.’
Before I left Canada I was chosen for a Commonwealth Teacher Exchange to the United Kingdom. I went to teach in beautiful Norwich, Norfolk and became familiar with the British National Curriculum at KS3 and KS4 in particular. In England I was exposed to the rigour of a Drama programme shaped around students completing exams for their GCSE’s. I liked in particular how Drama, Music and Art were all exam subjects with strict, demanding curriculums and the disciplines were treated the same as academic subjects. In Alberta, Canada the arts are not exam subjects and the curriculum is very much left up to the teacher. I left England after our huge whole-school production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” with much to think about.
The thinking led me to the Search Associates Recruiting Fair in London, England and a decision to work in International Schools. I accepted an offer to teach GCSE Drama and IBDP Theatre at one of the top British Curriculum schools in China. The school was expanding from the Junior School to a brand-new Senior School. Before I became a teacher I had done a degree in Technical Theatre and so I had a lot of input into the building of the brand new Black Box classroom I would be working in and the incredible state-of the-art Theatre. What a treat it was to work in such amazing facilities with such keen students and such small classes after public education! I was familiar with the GCSE Drama curriculum and put students through both the EdExcel and the Cambridge exam board. My top tip for teachers wanting to work in British curriculum schools is don’t apply unless you already know the British National Curriculum, and the requirements of at least one GCSE exam board. It’s a very steep (I would say almost impossible) learning curve if you don’t already come in with that knowledge. It was no problem that I had no IBDP Theatre experience. The school had an unlimited budget and was quick to send me for training for my Category 1 IBDP Theatre course and countless other IBDP workshops. It’s easy to do well and get good results working in this kind of environment. Don’t kid yourself though-the results and marks really matter to the students, the parents and the school and if you don’t deliver you’ll be out. My love of Theatre and the performing arts in particular was well supported here with productions of “Aladdin,” “Macbeth,” “Blood Brothers,” “Cinderella” and “Marriage Proposal” amongst many other class and exam productions.
In my current school in Singapore I’m in a different role. I am Head of Arts for the Secondary school. I supervise the Music, Visual Arts, Drama and Theatre programmes. I have six teachers working in the Arts Department. We are an IB World School and run PYP, MYP and IBDP curriculum. It’s important as HOD Arts to make sure we offer a balanced programme, no one art discipline can take precedence over another. Our students in Years 7, 8 and 9 all take all three arts classes. In Years 10 and 11 they choose one of the Arts disciplines to specialize in for two years and complete their exam ePortfolio of four assignments in Year 11. At the school we also offer IBDP Visual Arts and Theatre for two years. I teach some Drama classes and Theatre, but I am also given a lot of HOD time to manage staff, take care of the budget, ensure curriculum is being taught well, arrange standardisation and moderation of marks and a myriad of other responsibilities. I have my IBDP Cat 2 now and am an Examiner for the IBDP Theatre curriculum.
We run Arts Nights for the performing arts in each semester, as well as a school Talent Show. The Visual Arts puts up displays of art at these times as well as participating in the huge IN Exhibition of Visual Art from fifteen International Schools in Singapore as well as the IBDP Visual Arts Exhibition in the Spring. We run extensive co-curricular and extra-curricular activities for the students in the arts like bands, singing groups, drumming lessons and arts workshops. We are an International School Theatre Association School and run a lot of workshops through them e.g bringing the theatre company ‘Frantic Assembly’ in from the UK or Marco Luly- a Commedia dell’ Arte expert in from Italy. We run two Musicals a year, the Secondary Musical for Years 9-13 and the Primary/Middle School Musical for Years 3-8. The last four years we have done “Urbs, Urbis,” “Arlecchino and the City of Love,” “Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, “ “A Christmas Carol” and currently with a team of ten teachers and over 75 students “Cinderella, Rockerfella.” All of our shows are performed in professional theatre facilities we rent in Singapore. All of this is such a pleasant change from fighting for the arts survival in a Canadian public school, and having to fight for every cent we wanted to spend. I wish I had gone to work in International Schools much earlier in my career, but better late than never!
This article was submitted to us by International School Community member, Sara Lynn Burrough. Sara Lynn Burrough has worked as a Drama/Theatre teacher for the past 38 years in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, China and Singapore. She has a BEd, an MEd, was a professional stage manager at the Banff Centre for the Arts and studied Technical Theatre at McGill University in Montreal. In Canada as a teacher she worked for many years for Northern Gateway Schools in Alberta, and during that time was selected for two teacher exchange programmes. Her first exchange to Australia was with Alberta Education and the Queensland Department of Education where she taught at Costessey High School, in Coolum Beach on the Sunshine Coast. Her second exchange was with the prestigious ‘League for the Exchange of Commonwealth Teachers’ (LECT) where she was one of two Canadian teachers selected to go to the United Kingdom for the millennial year to the United Kingdom. The Queen Mother was the patron of LECT and as she was celebrating her 100th birthday that year Sara Lynn was privileged to attend the celebrations in London as an invitee. In 2013 Sara Lynn decided to teach in International Schools and attended the Search Associates recruiting fair in London, England. From there she went to Dulwich College in Suzhou, China to teach GCSE Drama and IBDP Theatre in the Senior School. After China Sara Lynn went to Singapore for almost five years as Head of Arts (Music, Visual Arts, Drama) at Chatsworth International School where she taught MYP Drama and IBDP Theatre.
Using our unique Comment Search feature on our website (premium membership access needed), we found 96 comments that have the keyword “Drama” in them, and 14 comments that had the word “The Arts” in them.
Here are some comments that shown a positive light on Learning Support programs at international schools:
“The school just celebrated its 50th anniversary and there are many banners around the school. The school in involved with the SITS programme which is a quality drama and arts programme for kids.” – Oslo International School (17 Total Comments)
“Stoke City FC just started this school year and there are several other “big” initiatives as well, mostly in music and drama departments.” – Western International School of Shanghai (312 Total Comments)
“It is limited. In primary there is futsal, while secondary usually has volleyball and basketball. Baseball is popular but it is not offered in any organised way. The school usually participates at the MUN conference in Kobe in February each year. Drama and arts offerings have increased in recent years.” – Hiroshima International School (64 Total Comments)
“The school offers no sports programs, and occasionally offers a drama Club to students, depending on teacher interest.” – Alexandria International Academy (78 Total Comments)
“Piloting the iPad initiative this year and also looking to expand the arts program with the addition of the multi-purpose hall that houses a mini-theater.” – Universal American School in Dubai (57 Total Comments)
“There are opportunities in the arts (dance, voice, musical instrumental, drama), a good number of sports offerings (climbing, competitive sports, etc.). Lots!” – American School of Dubai (98 Total Comments)continue reading
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?
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
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
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!continue reading
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 Xian Hi-Tech International School (Xian, China), described his way to work there as follows:
The road to XHIS…….
This is going to sound terribly stereotypical but one of the many reasons I love living in Shaanxi province is the potatoes! Now can you guess where I come from? I will tell you later. My journey to work each day is a very short one, but my journey to Xi’an has been a long one. I hope you enjoy reading about it.
My name is Brian Lalor and I am in my third year at Xi’an Hi-Tech International School, in Shaanxi province in China. We are a two programme IB world school and are working towards offering three of the four excellent IB programmes. Our school is small at present with only 270 students but we are at capacity and have an exciting move to a new purpose-built campus coming up in August 2017.
Each morning I get up and travel about four minutes to school! I know, the shortest ever commute, right? Our school is situated in residential area and all of our teachers’ apartments are located around the school. We are about 30 minutes from the city center in the southern suburbs. I ride my bicycle to school each day, that is why my journey is so short.
On my journey to school I pass through the morning market. Here local vendors sell fruit, vegetables, nuts and breads for very reasonable prices. One of the wonderful advantages to living in Xi’an is the potential to save money. It is much easier to live here when compared to other big cities such as Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong. Our school pays for our apartment, flights, international health insurance and gives us a monthly allowance for living overseas. Before coming to Xi’an I worked in Ha Noi for nine years, and in Jakarta before that. Each city has its own advantages and disadvantages. The main disadvantages living in Xi’an are the standard of healthcare and the bad pollution in Winter.
Some of the wonders Xi’an has to offer are as follows. We are literally just a short 25-minute car ride to the beautiful Qin Ling Mountains which provides us with a great way to escape the heat in summer and some lovely snowy landscapes in winter. Another highly attractive feature unique to this city, is its amazing millenary history, with archaeological sites found literally in every part of town, with the city wall being one of its main attractions. And who hasn’t heard of the world-famous “Terra Cota Warriors”. Xi’an was once the ancient capital of China so as you can imagine there are lots to see in and around the community.
If you have not guessed it I am born and bread Irish. Oh those lovely potatoes! The food here is incredible and you could literally have a potato dish, every day of the week. Some noodles are even made out of potato here!
This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author and International School Community member.
What to know more what it is like to visit and live in China? Out of a total of 165 international schools there are 110 that have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:
Beijing BISS International School (Beijing, China) – 36 Comments
Beijing City International School (Beijing, China) – 31 Comments
Beijing International Bilingual Academy (Beijing, China) – 35 Comments
International School of Beijing (Beijing, China) – 25 Comments
Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (Beijing, China) – 95 Comments
Western Academy Beijing (Beijing, China) – 43 Comments
Changchun American International School (Changchun, China) – 50 Comments
QSI International School of Dongguan (Dongguan, China) – 64 Comments
Guangdong Country Garden School (Foshan, China) – 48 Comments
Guangzhou Huamei International School (Guangzhou, China) – 48 Comments
Harbin No. 9 High School International Division (Songbei Campus) (Harbin, China) – 45 Comments
American International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China) – 24 Comments
Canadian International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China) – 69 Comments
Creative Secondary School (Hong Kong, China) – 39 Comments
Hong Kong Academy (Hong Kong, China) – 34 Comments
Hong Kong International School (Hong Kong, China) – 104 Comments
Canadian International School Kunshan (Kunshan, China) – 28 Comments
Kang Chiao International School (Kunshan, China) – 41 Comments
Access International Academy (Ningbo) (Ningbo, China) – 48 Comments
British International School Shanghai – Puxi (Shanghai, China) – 35 Comments
Concordia International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China) – 86 Comments
Shanghai American School – Puxi (Shanghai, China) – 39 Comments
Shanghai Community International School (Shanghai, China) – 33 Comments
Shanghai Rego International School (CLOSED) (Shanghai, China) – 74 Comments
Shanghai United International School (Shanghai, China) – 40 Comments
Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 204 Comments
Yew Chung International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China) – 27 Comments
Buena Vista Concordia International School (Shenzhen, China) – 39 Comments
International School of Nanshan Shenzhen (Shenzhen, China) – 26 Comments
QSI International School of Shekou (Shenzhen, China) – 20 Comments
Suzhou Singapore International School (Suzhou, China) – 47 Comments
Wellington College International Tianjin (Tianjin, China) – 54 Comments
EtonHouse International Schools, Wuxi (Wuxi, China) – 49 Comments
Xian Hi-Tech International School (Xian, China) – 54 Comments
Zhuhai International School (Zhuhai, China) – 59 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.continue reading
“Morale and attitude are fundamentals to success.”
― Bud Wilkinson
A school can be a complicated place. There aren’t many jobs where you surround yourself with hundreds of children every day!
But like any other place of “business”, a school needs to have a think about how they will keep their staff feeling good about where they work and how they are doing their job. We all know that teaching can, at times, be quite stressful on the teachers.
When you are feeling good about your workplace and job performance, everyone benefits; namely the students, but also your colleagues and bosses. But when teachers are stressed out and with a low morale about working at their school, typically nobody benefits.
You can, of course, be with high spirits on your own doing. But it is important to feel valued by the whole school community as that plays a factor as well. Feeling like you are part of a team can help you stay positive and optimistic at your school.
What, then, do international schools do to make sure their staff is feeling valued?
International School Community is full of thousands of useful and informative comments…16780 (24 Apr. 2016) to be exact. We scoured our database of comments, and we found nine that stood out to us as being some of the coolest ways to show appreciation and boost staff morale.
9. Khartoum International Community School (Khartoum, Sudan) – 65 Total Comments
“The school administration does a lot to make life easy for expats. They have put systems in place that make it very easy to live here and feel looked after. Along with the board they also put on big social events for teachers and staff at least once a semester (start of year / xmas party / end of year etc). There is a social committee as well which has organised coffee afternoons, Nile boat trips, picnics and so on. Truth to say the morale in the Senior Section has dipped in recent years but many of those who were not happy have now left so we are all hoping that things will now improve. Morale across the rest of the school is great.”
8. Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 202 Total Comments
“Welcome back brunch and lots of staff socials. Set up a Social Committee to feedback ideas to Director on all aspects of school. Director regularly thanks and acknowledges staff through e-mail and meetings. There have been 3 cases of surprise bonus’ paid to all staff as a thanks.”
7. Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 282 Total Comments
“One way to create some “social capital” at our school year this was to have a whole-staff scavenger hunt the first day back. It was VERY well received, and everyone had a great time. There were like 30 teams of 5-6 people and we all went around the city to collect items and/or take pictures of certain things, all for various amounts of points. Super fun! It was all organized by teachers actually.”
6. Yew Chung International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China) – 27 Total Comments
“There is a social committee at this school and they arrange different activities for the teachers. Like one night could be bowling or everyone meet at a bar. The group tries to do something every month. A lot of people participate. There was also a karaoke night and laser tag.”
5. Kampala International School (Kampala, Uganda) – 50 Total Comments
“At the beginning of each school year, we go to a resort for an overnight training and social. There is a PD during the day, evening there is dinner and a band. The next more there is breakfast and maybe go for a swim in the pool. There has been training in from people abroad. Last year, it was somebody with pivotal education, Darryll.”
4. American School of Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain) – 157 Total Comments
“There was a social committee in place for a couple of years, but it was a volunteer position and the demands of it weren’t worth the time anymore. There is an HR person in place now who has set up a wine tasting and other events for staff. The staff tends to socialize quite a bit outside of school, even with kids! The school puts on holiday parties and festive lunches around holidays, though not extravagant, most of the food-drinks are free.”
3. Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia) – 66 Total Comments
“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.”
2. Hiroshima International School (Hiroshima, Japan) – 64 Total Comments
“Christmas and end of year staff parties. It is also traditional to bring “omiyage” gifts (cookies and other small snacks) from teachers who have attended a conference or tournament elsewhere in Japan.”
1. KIS International School (Bangkok) (Bangkok, Thailand) – 70 Total Comments
“There are a lot of teacher and admin getaways as well as plenty of room for professional development. The management goes out of its way to answer questions before issues come up, and western holidays are recognized with food and decorations from home.”
If you would like to share what your school does to create a high staff morale, 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!continue reading
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.
A few entries that we would like to highlight:
“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.“
“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.“
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!continue reading
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?
Our new blog series will look at comparing some of these comments, all coming from international schools in the same city.
Currently, we have 25 schools listed in Shanghai on International School Community.
Schools with the most submitted comments:
Yew Chung International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China) – 50 Comments
Shanghai Community International School (Shanghai, China) – 33 Comments
Shanghai American School – Puxi (Shanghai, China) – 18 Comments
Concordia International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China) – 37 Comments
British International School Shanghai – Puxi (Shanghai, China) – 25 Comments
Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 146 Comments
“You can expect to make 16000 RMB a month after taxes.” – Singapore International School (Shanghai)
“Base pay for teachers with 3 or more yrs of experience is between $32,000 and $39,000 (tax-free). Entry level is a little bit lower at $26,000-$32,000.” – Shanghai Community International School
“I would say that teachers NET is around 21000 – this must be dependent on teaching experience etc” – Shanghai United International School
“The full salary is paid in RMB. The school adds an extra 500 RMB towards utility bills. The yearly pay is divided into 12 months. For newcomers, their first pay is in September 20th, although school starts early August. This is clearly stated in the contract but those new teachers coming in need to be aware of this that they won’t see money until September.” – Western International School of Shanghai
“Teachers need to have at least two years of teaching experience in order to be considered.” – Concordia International School (Shanghai)
“WISS starts recruiting early but is very fair to its teachers. Those who “may” leave have their position advertised and only have to make a final decision when someone has been found as a replacement.” – Western International School of Shanghai
“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)
“They attend Search Associates in January. They advertise in TES and through Teachanywhere.com. They interview in person or via Skype.” – British International School Shanghai – Pudong
Recent things the school has taken on
“A few years ago, the school decided it was important to do open houses (like other international schools in Shanghai) and that added a lot more work for the teachers. But hopefully they discontinued that this year.” – Yew Chung International School (Shanghai)
“The school is now implementing ‘high performance learning’ initiative which is being implemented across all the Nord Anglia Schools” – British International School Shanghai – Puxi
“There were many accomplishments from staff and students. It is amazing how many different areas were top notch: Sports, drama department, music program, Chinese language and much more.” – Shanghai Community International School
“Furnished 2-bedroom for single & married teachers, not sure about families. Furnished means basic furnishings including TV, sofa, dining table & chairs, beds & bedding, bath linens, kitchen appliances, & basic cooking utensils & dishes. After one year, staff can opt to take housing allowance instead of school housing. Most people are satisfied with housing overall, although sometimes it takes several “reminders” for repairs or service requests in school apts. Utility costs vary but are fairly cheap. My average for electricity, gas, & water is 100-200 RMB per month. Internet is 1,400 RMB per year. Mobile phone depends on plan/amount of data.” – Yew Chung International School (Shanghai)
“Housing is provided by WISS for the 1st year. Teachers can decide for themselves for subsequent years whether they want to stay in the provided accommodation or find their own place.” – Western International School of Shanghai
“Hosing allowance provided but most staff pay a bit more out of their own pocket to live in more desirable areas Staff can chose to stay in school housing” – British International School Shanghai – Puxi
(These are just 4 of the 65 different comments topics that on each school profile page on our website.)
If you work at an international school in Shanghai, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited premium membership!continue reading
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.
A few entries that we would like to highlight:
“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.”
“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!continue reading
We all hear about the big possibility of saving money while working at international schools, but the reality is that many of us don’t save much of any money. So, why aren’t these international school teachers saving money?
How NOT to save money when working as an international school teacher #4 – Stupidly buy things impulsively
When you move somewhere, you typically don’t know where to buy anything. You usually need help, and fast! But that help isn’t always there for you at every moment and you inevitably find yourself out and about, all alone in your new city, making stupid purchases.
Let’s face it, you are basically a tourist when you first arrive at your new placement, and even the smartest tourist (most veteran international school teacher) can make mistakes. When you go out shopping for the first few times, you don’t know exactly what things should cost. You also don’t know exactly what is available in the whole city/area either.
Let’s say that you found some cranberries (not many countries have these readily available to buy in stores) and get super excited. You think, yes I’ll buy this, I deserve it! You also may think that you will not be able to find them again. We all know that scenario; the store has a product one week and not (or never again) the next!
You also many think in your head that the cranberries might be costing a crazy high price. However, it is sometimes hard to know because you may not completely understand how much money you are actually spending. In the first few months, you are not so familiar with the new currency that you are now dealing with just yet. If that is the case, you typically decide to make this impulsive purchase.
Maybe you buy the cranberries because you think that no other store will have them for sale (even though there might be one right next to your school for example). Maybe you made a special trip to an inconvenient location in the city that day, a place that you wouldn’t normally be going to on a weekly basis, and that is the reason you make the purchase. All of these scenarios add up to you potentially buying something that could be found cheaper somewhere else and maybe even at a place closer to your house (saving you even more money).
During the first few months, international school teachers find themselves spending money on things that can be found cheaper in another place/store. Your goal of saving some money is then put on hold, at least during this time of adjusting to your new city.
You can try and do your research to not let this happen to you; ask around, check out the expat websites for your city, etc. Doing this before you go out shopping can help you stop making these impulse purchases at stores you don’t know so well.
Another way to not stupidly buy things: always go out shopping with a local (they know the best stores and they know the local language as well) or with another international school teacher that has been there a few years already.
Going shopping in another country can be quite exciting. So many new stores and new products that might very much interest you. Just make sure to do your research as must and you can to stay the wiser, and you will not be wasting so much of your hard-earned money during the first few months!
To save you some money, we do have a comment topic on our website related to this theme. It is in the benefits section of the comments and information tab on the school profile pages. It is called: Places, markets and stores where you can find really good deals.
“Carrefour has quite a decent selection of imported products. There are also Metro supermarkets around although quite far from WISS. Smaller grocery stores also have good deals from time to time (nearest on Jinfeng lu). For quality meats and other products it’s also possible to shop online and have groceries delivered.” – Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 93 Comments
“There are different areas of the city where sales items tend to concentrate, so ask a local. E-mart is the dominant local discount chain (a cross between Target and K-mart), with reliably low prices. Costco has several branches in Korea–reportedly they recognize US Costco cards.” – Yongsan International School of Seoul (Seoul, South Korea) – 39 Comments
“There is a flea market that is on Sundays and Wednesdays, Jakuševac. It is like a bazaar selling everything and you can bargain for the right price. You never know what you will find there, but you will also find something.” – American International School of Zagreb (Zagreb, Croatia) – 29 Comments
“In my experience, the best deals have not been deals at all because the quality is questionable. You get what you pay for in Asuncion. The better quality things are almost always more expensive. If something is too cheap, think twice!” – American School of Asuncion (Asuncion, Paraguay) – 58 Commentscontinue reading
In this blog series we will talk about the ins and outs of an excellent new teacher orientation programme at an international school. A new teacher orientation programme can really play a very important part to the start at your new school, in your new host country. What are all the must-haves then? Check out our blog series here to read all about the ones that we have discussed so far.
Must-have #13: Learning how to get reimbursed and meeting the business office staff
It takes so much money to move yourself from one place to another. Now add in the fact that you are shipping boxes and whatnot half way across the world, and the cost just gets higher and higher. Many times, international school teachers need to pay for these shipping costs upfront. Hopefully you are getting an relocation allowance (not all international school offer this though) as there are also many other things that you will need to pay for upfront (e.g. the flight, extra baggage, visa costs, etc.). It is a tough time financially, that’s for sure.
When you finally get to your new school in your new country, you almost want to make a beeline to the business office to immediately get some of your money back! It is not that easy though at a number of international schools. Helping new teachers get reimbursed should be as easy as pie, but at For-profit schools (for example), it can take a loooong time and much paperwork to get your money back.
There are two ways to get reimbursed at an international school: the easy way and the hard way.
The easy way of course is the preferred way. You go in, hand in a receipt/reimbursement form, and then you either get paid right there in the local currency (e.g. cash) or they make a bank transfer that is made to your local bank account and you either receive that money that same day or the next day. You might say that the goal of all international schools should be to make sure that getting money back to its teachers is as easy and as quick as possible.
To also make things easy, the dream would be that somebody would take you to the business office and introduce you to all the important people in the business office, all within the first week at work. Word of advice: go in with a huge smile on your face and your hand extended out to shake everyone’s hand, also remember to say many thank yous and make some friendly conversation to get to know the staff more personally. Because every month or so, of your first (and second, third, etc.) year, you will be walking into that business office wanting some money or some assistance with a number of financial issues, and you will need to have a good relationship with these guys. So make sure that somebody is there during your orientation to get you started on the right foot with the business staff.
The hard way to get reimbursed is every international school teacher’s worst nightmare. You don’t want to be worrying about getting money back from your new international school (or even worrying about getting your salary paid on time!). It is stressful that’s for sure. Also, it can distract you from doing your job at times. In some countries though, it is not the school’s fault that makes getting reimbursed a difficult task. The country itself can have certain laws and regulations that make the reimbursement process a difficult one for expats. It can be very confusing to some new teachers, so how nice if there is straight-away somebody that will “show you the ropes” during new teacher orientation.
The business staff play a huge part in the wellbeing and staff morale of an international school. Knowing the business staffs’ names and getting introduced to them as soon as you start working there can really have a positive effect to your experience starting at your new school. Also, make sure to take a few notes during your orientation week/days about how to get reimbursed for things the correct way at your school.
Luckily on International School Community we have a new comment topic that specifically addresses this issue of getting reimbursed. It is called: What is the process of getting reimbursed for things?
We have 2 comments so far in this topic on our website since it is so new:
American International School of Lusaka –
“Pretty basic. Show receipts, get paid. Flights can be a bit of a hassle in terms of dealing with the business office and its interpretation of “cheapest, most direct.”
Western International School of Shanghai –
“All receipts must be kept and submitted with a filled out form to the director who then signs and returns them to the finance office. From the day of leaving the forms at the director’s office it might take 4-6 weeks to see any money back.”
If you currently work at an international school or have worked at one in the recent past, share the information and details about getting things reimbursed. You can find easy access to all international schools on our Schools List page.
So, does your international school have an easy, confusing, or difficult way of getting reimbursed for things? Please share your experiences!continue reading
Our 37th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Cliff Jumping: Risk-taking and New Beginnings” Check out the blog entries of this retired international school teacher that currently is back living in her home country (United States).
A few entries that we would like to highlight:
“I’ve slowly dealt with the red tape of health insurance, car purchase, phone decisions, computer, internet, cable, condo painting/remodel/furnishing, and getting my household shipment through the delays of NY homeland security exams, Mpls. customs, and condo association regulations. Each step has been fraught with exasperation. Why am I so thin-skinned, so impatient? How could I deal with daily power rationing, hideous traffic, and oppressive heat in India, and not be able to accept the processes I must go through here more easily? I feel as though I’ve been in a time warp for 40 years, and I don’t know how to do things in this new age. I’ve lost my confidence…”
Are you a veteran international school teacher thinking about retiring soon? We have a very popular article on our blog that discusses this issue. An International School Community member shares her experiences about working for 30+ years in international schools and what her plan is for her retirement. It is called ‘Where do international teachers go when they retire and what do they do?‘. Check it out here.
We also have a few other articles on our blog related to this topic of going back to your home country and feeling a bit of reverse culture shock:
• Culture Shock and Misplaced Normal (An int’l school teacher’s experience in Tanzania)
• Going home for the holidays: No one cares about your international life
• The summer vacation dilemma: To go home or to not go home…that is the question!
“I have had the privilege of enjoying a 40-year career in the most exciting and satisfying field there could be: international education. It’s a vocation that young and old should consider, whether at the beginning of their working years, midway through as a ‘reset’, or after retirement. If you’re already a teacher and you’re bored, worried about getting ahead financially, tired of overcrowded classrooms, or wanting to see the world, this is for you. Take a leave of absence or sabbatical, or attend a recruiting fair, and take a job at an overseas school with an American or western curriculum. You’ll earn more money, experience more adventures, and probably never look back. If you’re young and unsure of your direction, love working with kids, feel curious about other cultures, and want to make a difference, this is also for you. And if you’ve already got a pension, going overseas could be icing on the cake. Or if you can’t find a job– get your teaching certification, and head on out…”
If you don’t already have a pension and want to know more about what pension plans are like at other international schools, take a moment to check out one of our 40 comment topics on the school profile pages in the Benefits Information section. It is called: Pension plan details. Right now there are 320 comments in this comment topic. Here are just a few:
“No pension plan, hopefully the school will address this issue in the future. (Although the school gives a bonus of one monthly pay for every year served at the school after 3 years and this may be considered retirement, but technically it isn’t.)” – Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 54 Comments
“The school provides no pension, but 9% is deducted from the monthly paycheck to pay into IPS, which is sort of like Social Security. If a teacher retires in Paraguay, he or she will receive money through IPS. So for the most part, saving for retirement is in the hands of the foreign hires; they must have the discipline to do it themselves.” – American School of Asuncion (Asuncion, Paraguay) – 58 Comments
“There is a pension plan that is in accordance to the labor law. For every year you work you are to receive 12 days pay. After your 6th year you will get 24 days pay. (roughly 2 weeks pay for the first 5 years and a month for every year after 5). Now for clarification: Your pension (called indemnity) is to be paid at the end of service at your highest pay, according to the labor law. However, the school does not follow this and will pay it to you yearly when you return in September. This seems like a good plan until you realize after 5 years how much money you lose out on.” – American Creativity Academy (Hawalli, Kuwait) – 31 Comments
What reasons do parents think about when selecting a school for their children when they move abroad? Are they similar reasons for why teachers choose to work at a school abroad as well? There are many different kinds of international schools and they are all in different situations. How important is finding out about if the international school’s teachers are fully qualified or not? It could be beneficial to ask these types of questions at your interview, before you make any big decisions to move or choose a school at which to work. So, how do you choose the right international school for your children to attend or for you to work at? In this blog series, we will discuss the Tips for Selecting an International School.
Tip #8 – Are the teachers fully qualified?
This is not typically a concern with mainstream international schools, but it can be a concern with some newer schools and in certain regions of the world.
Some might say having qualified teachers from early years all the way to secondary school are essential for an international school to thrive. Why then do some international schools hire non-certified teachers? Of course there are many reasons why schools make such choices for their staff.
One reason is that qualified teachers are sometimes hard to come by in some (if not all) countries. Additionally, the more experienced teachers may not be considering positions at less established international schools. In some parts of the world, the pay is low. Being that certified teachers seek out positions that value their teaching degrees (that they have worked hard for), they might not even consider working at some schools where the pay and benefits are less than desirable.
Another factor that comes into play is timing. Some international schools get into “binds” every once and awhile, and sometimes the best choice is to hire a less qualified (or not qualified) teacher to fill the position. That non-qualified teacher is just waiting and waiting for the right moment, when the stars align for them, to finally get that job at the nearby international school versus staying at the “language” school down the road. Also, when international schools are trying to fill vacancies for the coming school year during not ideal times of the year (e.g. the summer months or even May), they might not have the same pick of qualified teachers as they would have had back in January and February.
Even another reason that international school hire non-qualified teachers could be related to money. International schools (especially for-profit ones) are always on the look-out on how to save money. Hiring non-qualified teachers can potentially save the school money as they can sometimes pay them less. If there is a pay scale at the school, they would most likely be on the bottom of it.
Many educators without university teaching certificates are the ones that are already living abroad. They maybe moved abroad when they got a job at an English-language school or had an interest in “teaching English” in a foreign country. We are sure that there are some great English-language schools around the world, but most of the teachers at those schools would prefer to work at an international school; mainly because of the better pay and benefits. More established international schools though won’t consider them because they might not have the exact teaching qualifications that they require. The less established international schools might consider these less-qualified teachers though, especially if they are scrounging to find quality candidates to fill their positions.
It is true that you can be a good teacher, even an excellent one, without a teaching certificate from a university. Experience in the field can definitely equal quality teaching, and parents and other qualified teachers shouldn’t be so turned off to working with them. If you agree to that statement, maybe we shouldn’t be so caught up in whether an international school has an all-qualified staff. We all work hard to do the same job, it isn’t as if qualified teachers would work any harder at the school. On the other hand, it is important to honor the time spent when teachers do go an get diplomas in education. Many people with university teaching certificates have worked very hard to make teaching their career choice and not just a “job”. It can be a bit of an “unfortunate circumstance” and a downer when a qualified teacher shows up at their new international school to find out that their colleagues are all “English teachers”!
On our website we have a specific topic in the School Information section of each school profile page that discusses the issue of which international schools have qualified teachers or not. It is called “Describe what kinds of teachers work here (local vs. expat, nationality, qualifications [or lack there of], etc.) and staff turnover rate.” Our members have submitted 100s of comments and information in this topic on a number of different international schools listed on our website. Here are just a few of the comments and information submitted in this topic:
“About 65% North American, 20% European and 15% local and other. All teachers are certified and have at least 4 years’ experience…”
– MEF International School Istanbul (27 total comments)
“The school has both Colombian and expat teachers. All of the expat teachers are North American and all are qualified teachers. The Colombian teachers are also well certified. There is not a high turnover rate at the school. Many expat teachers, though young, stay three or four years and some have been at the school much longer…”
– Colegio Granadino Manizales (43 total comments)
“High Staff turnover. Probably 1/3 local hires vs. expats. The qualifications can be low. Many first year teachers with no teaching degree. Most expats are Americans and Canadians. People do not stay here because the taxes are high, the frustration level with the administration is high, and the level of academic rigor is low…”
– American School Foundation of Mexico City (35 total comments)
“You will find a range of teachers from New Zealand to Canada, via UK, Egypt, Palestine, South Africa, Australia, France and more. Most teachers are expat hire. Local hire teachers are well qualified. The school is still only 7 years old so turnover rate is hard to reflect on. It ranges from 1-7 years at current time…”
– Khartoum International Community School (37 total comments)
“Turn over rate last year was very low. This year is different with several teachers in the Secondary school being pushed out. The school pays on time and there are good benefits. Many teachers in the Secondary school do not have formal teaching qualifications but they have good subject knowledge…”
– Western International School of Shanghai (57 total comments)
If you are an International School Community member with premium access, log on today and submit your own comments about the international schools you know about!
If you are not a member yet, make sure to join www.internationalschoolcommunity.com and automatically get one full month of premium access. You will become a part of our over 1950+ members!continue reading
IB conferences/workshops can prove to be a very motivating and enlightening experience. Isn’t that what going to conferences is all about? Most people might say that teaching is viewed as a career, and with careers comes professionalism. Many international school teachers aspire to be the best professionals in the field. The IB (PYP and MYP too) teachers definitely have similar aspirations as well; to learn more and more about the new ways of thinking and teaching using inquiry. They are also looking to learn more about how to make their students’ thinking visible.
But like many workshops that you may attend at international school teaching conferences, the benefit of the workshop you attend greatly depends on the instructor that you get. It can also be said that the success of your workshop depends on the people that attend it as well. So many different factors come into play, but when all of them line up correctly, you are most likely in for an enlightening experience. Those types of workshops can really inspire you throughout the rest of the conference and stay with you when you return back to work.
In terms of staff development benefits, the IBO requires that the teachers working in approved/accredited schools get on going PD in the IB philosophy and latest strategies on how best to instruct students in their inquiry programme. Instead of using your own PD monies to attend IB workshops, very often the school will take the costs involved out of their own monies.
There are many factors to consider when deciding on which international school at which to work. Knowing about the professional development allowance (or lack there of) can prove to be helpful information to know; just to see what you can expect in terms of you getting the opportunity to attend workshops and conferences while you work there. Luckily on International School Community, we have a Benefits Information section in the comments and information part of each school’s profile page that discusses this very topic.
• Professional development allowance details.
Taken from International Community School Addis Ababa (35 Total Comments) school profile page.
There have been many comments and information submitted in this topic on numerous school profiles on our website.
One International School Community member said about working at Mef Int’l School Istanbul: “IBO certified IBDP and PYP training provided. Outside speakers such as Virginia Rojas brought in to provide in house PD.”
Another member said about working at Western International School of Shanghai: “Most teachers don’t get any out of school PD their first year of contract. Depends on the needs of the school.”
Another member submitted a comment about working at American School of Barcelona: “The PD amount is 390 Euros a year. You can roll over this amount for 3 years. But the reality some people get more, it is not so clear cut on who gets what amount and who gets to go to what PD opportunity.”
If you are currently a member of International School Community, please take a moment to share what you know by submitting some comments and information about the PD allowances at your international school. You can start by logging on here.
Stay tuned for our next survey topic which is to come out in a few days time.continue reading
In this blog series we will talk about the ins and outs of an excellent new teacher orientation programme at an international school. A new teacher orientation programme can really play a very important part of your start at your new school, in your new host country.
Must-have #4: Help finding a place to live!
Finding a place to live in any country can be a headache! When you involve different languages, different cultural traditions and norms, etc. finding an apartment can be even more of a headache. In turn, it is much appreciated if the administration/business staff at your new school can help you out.
Some international schools just place you in a compound that the school owns and you must live there for the whole length of your time working at that school. Other international schools don’t own or have a relationship with buildings or complexes through the city and you are meant to search and get your own place completely on your own. But there are more than just two kinds of experiences when it comes to where you will end up living after moving to your new international school. There are some that state you must live in a certain apartment for the entire first year you work at a school. After your first year, then you are allowed to find and move to a completely different apartment of your choice. Other international schools ask their current staff who are leaving if they can help to set up a new teacher to take over their apartment or they might even send out an email to the current staff asking around if any current teachers are looking for a roommate. If there are some options, then these schools will usually help to make the right connections so that you can immediately move into your new place with your new roommate.
If there aren’t any options for you and the school just places you in a specific place, you shouldn’t have too much to worry about as you know you will immediately have a place to live when you arrive without much of a headache. If there are options for you, you need to be prepared for potential headaches, unknowns and possible disappointments when you arrive. Additionally, you might need to be prepared to move two or three times during your first year. Your first place might be completely opposite to what you were thinking it would be!
If you can work it out and are lucky enough to visit the location that you will be moving to, then of course you can get some of the apartment searching done in person. How ideal would that be? I have a colleague that made a point to make a visit to their future city during the beginning part of the summer (before they officially moved there later that summer). They got the opportunity to view some apartments that the school had recommended to them in person. Not all of us can be so lucky though as to make a pre-move trip to check out possible living situations, but if you are able to, then for sure that would be beneficial.
A good international school will make sure to answer all your questions that you have about your future living situation. They should send pictures if applicable of your future apartment. They should request answers to a housing survey that they send to you, so that they can better gauge what type of place best suits your needs and wants (that is if the school does indeed help to find you a place). They should have language support available to you if you need some interpreting or translating of the rental documents. Good schools would even help you out to pay the sometimes high cost of a rental deposit (e.g apartments in Western Europe).
There are many international school teachers experiencing a wide range of experiences related to how they found a place to live.
Here are some firsthand accounts of how these international schools teachers found a place to live in the city they just moved to (and whether or not their new school helped them out or not):
“The Canadian Academy has a first year rule: all new teacher must live in school accommodations for the first year. This includes a variety of apartments and houses both on and off campus, and options depending on the number of dependents. All in all, they took care of everything, and it made it the best transition we’ve ever had. Besides getting a futon with pillows, sheets, and blankets, we had a stocked fridge, a basket of cleaning supplies and toiletries, snacks, a phone, a fax machine, furniture, and many more items. While I wouldn’t describe it as moving into a furnished place, it did have all the essentials. Also, after the first year, we’re free to move to our own choice of accommodations or select a new school housing option. Very user-friendly. A teacher from Canadian Academy (Kobe).
“My current school offered to help find an apartment, however I was more interested in finding share accommodation as I find that’s a nice quick way to make new friends and to always have someone on hand who know’s the area you live in. They put me onto a website for share housing and also asked around the school to see if anyone was interested in having a new teacher share with them. Someone did and now I share a house with two other people in a beautiful, artfully decorated place 3 minutes walk from school and town and for half the rent I would pay to live in a place on my own. I also didn’t need to pay any deposit. They’re happy for it to be short-term in case I decide to move into my own place later, but I’m thinking that staying here is a good thing. I would personally recommend seeking share housing to anyone (not in a couple) who is open to the idea. I’ve also experienced living in my own apartment straight out, but became bored with that after a year and moved into a new place with 2 other friends. It can also be a pain setting up a new apartment in terms of buying furniture, crockery and connecting the internet.” A teacher from The Bermuda High School for Girls.
“The school helps you find your first apartment before you arrive. Actually, all new teachers move into a gated community called Shanghai Gardens when I worked there. Basically all new teachers need to live there their first year. After that first year, then you can use the allotted housing if you decide to move and find your own place. When I moved into the apartment at Shanghai Gardens, it had all the furniture you would need. The school also left a ‘survival’ package of things to get you started (e.g. pots and pans, sheets, etc.). I was appreciative of the school helping to place new teachers in this building complex and the apartment; many of the staff in the business office could also speak English which was a perk. On the other hand, many teachers had a negative experience living at Shanghai Gardens. There were problems with the apartments sometimes (as some of them were owned by different owners). There were also problems with your bills at time, some of them being way too high from the price they should’ve been. I was quite happy to find a different apartment my second year there.” A teacher from Shanghai Rego International School.
“ACS Hillingdon was great to us in helping us find a place to live. They have a staff member, Maxine, who is there all year, including during the summer, and she worked with a local estate agent to help us find a flat that fit our needs, location, and price range. I know she drove several of even the pickiest people around to multiple places, and she knows the areas where the school’s bus routes go for those of us who don’t have a car.
The school even helped a newly hired couple whose flat was damaged by fire in the London riots of 2011 by giving them extra time off, arranging a place to stay while they looked for a new permanent residence, and even donating money from an emergency fund while insurance agencies worked through their claims.
A+ all the way around.” A teacher from Acs International School – Hillingdon Campus.
In the Benefits Information section of the school profile page on our website, we have a topic related to housing – Details about the staff housing or the housing allowance.
Log-on today to check out the hundreds of comments and information submitted in this section topic! Become the most informed you can be when it comes to finding a place in your new city.
So, does your school provide help for new teachers to find a place to live? Please share your experiences!continue reading
v2012.06 – 2 June, 2012:
Summer vacation is the time of year all teachers are waiting for (and I suppose all students as well!). The 1.5 to 2 months of summer break is especially important though for teachers who work at international schools because it is typically when they take their annual trip back home. When you live in a foreign country, half way across the world, it does indeed feel good to go home. Even though you do create a new ‘family’ when you live abroad with the other international school teachers that you are working with, your home is most likely where your birth family lives. Going home too can simply mean just going back to your home country, not necessarily going back to where you grew up.
There are some positives to going back to your home country during the summer:
• You get to see your old friends from when you went to University maybe or people that you went to high school with. It is important to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances; Facebook still can’t compete with real face to face meetings with these people from your life. Also, you can tell them all about the adventures you have been on while they have been staying-put most likely in the same city that they went to high school in!
• If you go to your home country during the summer, you get to stock-up on all the favorite products from your old life. Many international school teachers love to go to their favorite grocery stores to stock-up on all the products not available in their host country supermarkets. Be careful though, food products weigh a lot and can easily make your suitcase go over the allowed weight on your flight back!
• You get to see your nieces and nephews in person, noticing how they are getting so much older now and all grown-up. You can do things with them like taking them to the movies or going out for a few games of bowling.
A few alternatives for your summer if you don’t fancy going home:
• Some international school teachers just want to stay put in their host country during the summer. Some feel that you don’t have the time to really explore the city, the nearby cities, or the other cities in the country during the school year. And if you are currently living in the northern hemisphere, summer is the best time typically to explore these cities. Some teachers also just simply stay put to save money.
• A month-long trip to Africa or a month-long trip to the Chicago area where your family lives? A question you might be asking yourself in April. Some are faced with this international school educator’s dilemma each summer. For many international school teachers, the price of the flight to go home is actually the same price it would take to go to more exotic places like Kenya or Costa Rica or even Bali. Who would want to go home (a place you have seen many times already) in place of going on an exciting adventure? Many choose the adventure option each summer!
So, are you planning on going home this summer? Are you the international school teacher that makes their annual trip home each summer, the one that stays in the host country, or the one that is traveling to another country on some adventure? Share your stories and reasons for your summer plans here!
From the staff at International School Community.
· 31 May North Jakarta International School (13 new comments)
“Teachers live in school-provided, furnished housing in the vicinity of the school…”
· 30 May Yongsan International School of Seoul (8 new comments)
Seoul, South Korea
“Many of the teachers are from United States with just a few more single teachers than teaching couples…”
· 28 May Bina Bangsa School (13 new comments)
“There is a baggage allowance of US$500…”
· The Wonderful World of International School Hiring Fairs: Lesson #8 – “Courtesy is cool, good will is good stuff.”
“As an international school teacher you definitely don’t want to intentionally close any doors that might lead to other opportunities in the future…”
· Common Myths and Misconceptions about Bilingual Children #3: Young children soak up languages like sponges.
“I think the key with students learning the target language faster than adults is that they are going to school (their job) every day for 7-8 hours…”
· International Teaching Predictions for 2012 #7: Latin America
“I find that growth in international schools often follows a construction boom, and Brazil in particular…”
· Survey results are in: How much does your school pay for your housing benefits?
“Some of my international school teacher friends don’t get any housing allowance, namely those that are living in Western Europe…”
· New Teacher Orientation Must-Haves at International Schools #1: A Trip Around the City
“Should your new international school be organizing a trip around the city for all their new teachers…”
· Which international chools do IS Community members represent?
“Currently, International School Community members work at or have worked at the following 179 international schools…”
Why for-profit schools can be good.“GEMS schools director: ‘We don’t care about profit.’ GEMS currently runs 10 schools in the UK, but it acquired these schools from other operators, rather than creating them from scratch. It now plans to open six new schools over the next two years, and promises that they will charge more competitive fees than many existing private schools.”
“In 2009, the firm’s then chief executive Anders Hultin warned that the Conservative’s proposed free school programme would fail, if private firms weren’t allowed to run schools for a profit…”
Highlighted blog of an international teacher:
This international school teacher’s blog is about teaching at British International School Shanghaiand living in Shanghai, China.One of their blog entries (New Year, new role…building the team) is describing how international schools are sometimes in a pickle trying to organize good, useful, purposeful, effective, etc. professional development on the few days back after a break:
“Following our wonderful Christmas break in India, it was great to get back and see our colleagues at BISS; and especially the Humanities team, who I am excited to now be leading. Although, I cannot believe how cold Shanghai has become! Our first day back was a training day and was well structured and enjoyable; following a warm welcome back from Sir Terry, the secondary and primary staff split to follow separate training schedules. Our day (secondary) was focused on Formative Assessment and was extremely interactive and practical…”
Another one of their entries (Cutting Ties…) is about how each international school is different and has their own rules about how they would like their school to be run:
“I was recently contacted by my previous employer, an International School in Vietnam, who politely asked me to close down the Edmodo groups I had set up whilst at the school. In particular they wanted me to close a group I had set up named ‘Social Connections’ that was created to allow students (and staff) to remain in touch after moving on…as so often happens on the international circuit. They stated that new school policy dictated that any contact with students must cease when you leave…”
Are you interested in reading about the numerous international schools in China?
Then you might want to check out the “International School!” website.
China is one of the countries where the economy is booming. As a result, the number of international schools there is also booming. Many teachers are finding themselves taking a chance on China and having a great time working at an international there. Many of the international schools there offer some excellent benefits, thus making the choice to live and work an easy one.
China has so much to offer too in terms of culture and travel. With an endless list of interesting places to visit, international schools teachers will never get bored when wanting to explore the country.
Some people think the language there (Mandarin Chinese) is too difficult to learn and acquire, but after working in China for two years myself, I met and worked with many expats there that had become very highly proficient.
The International School website has many different sections to it.
“Mr. Kai said that the nationalities of the students in his ACS schools are of more than 69 countries. Fitzmaurice from Nord Anglia said that all the children studying in the three schools in China received one lesson of Chinese mandarin once a week from the first beginning, so that when they leave they can reach the proficient level although they may not speak Chinese quite fluently…(more)”
“The international schools for foreigners’ children are set in the name of middle school, primary school or kindergarten. The courses offered, the teaching materials and the teaching plans are determined by the school itself. Generally, the system is the same as that in the founder’s motherland, or the popular IB system, and even the school can set its system by itself.
The NCCT in China provides the authentication service for the international schools. The international schools which are set for more than three years can apply for authentication voluntarily. And each time of authentication is valid for 5 years. The international schools receiving this authentication means that the graduation certificates conferred by the international schools are directly acknowledged by China’s official.
Western Academy of Beijing is the first one to get this authentication and this authentication system is first proposed by Western Academy of Beijing…(more).
There are also separate pages for the 3 different sections at international schools (Primary, Middle School, and Secondary). In each section, you can find the following information: the latest news from international schools in that section, highlighted articles, the latest news that is recommended to read, a list of recommended international schools, articles about the perspective of the students in that section, a FAQ section, a section about when there are Open Days at various international schools, etc.
Currently there are 106 different international schools listed in China on www.internationalschoolcommunity.com. The cities with the most international schools listed on our website are:
• Hong Kong (22)
American International School (Hong Kong) (22 Comments)
Hong Kong Academy Primary School (14 Comments)
International Christian School (Hong Kong) (11 Comments)
Li Po Chun United World College of Hong Kong (11 Comments)
• Shanghai (18)
Concordia International School (Shanghai) (15 Comments)
Shanghai Community Int’l School (10 Comments)
Shanghai Rego International School (72 Comments)
Western International School of Shanghai (27 Comments)
Take a look at the numerous comments and information that have been submitted about these international schools in China!
There are so many international schools in Shanghai. Which ones are good places for international school teachers to work at? How does the parent community view the international schools there.
We stumbled upon a great resource at Move One. Their website has a wealth of information about the ins and outs of moving abroad to a variety of cities around the world. They have many videos explaining what the international school situation is like in cities like Prague, Kiev, Budapest, etc.
Check out their video about Shanghai’s international schools.
Here is what Moveoneinc.com had to say in general about expats that are moving to China and the current schooling situation:
“In the past few years, a number of local Chinese schools have opened up to expat children and some expats without education allowances are giving it a go. Although these are remarkably cheaper than private schools and give children the opportunity to become immersed in the Chinese language and culture, most expats still opt to send their children to international schools.
China’s larger cities, such as Shanghai, Beijing or Guangzhou, offer a diverse range of international schools based on the International Baccalaureate programs, the American curriculum as well as the English National curriculum. These have a very high reputation and offer first-rate facilities, advanced teaching technology and equipment, internationally experienced teachers, low student/teacher ratios, and a wide variety of extracurricular activities.”
Their website has many more videos about life in Shanghai. The numerous topics covered are: medical clinics, what to do in case of an emergency, housing, kids activities, Chinese language, expat shopping, and more…
Currently on www.internationalschoolcommunity.com we have 18 international school listed in the city of Shanghai. The number of comments and information that have been submitted for each school is listed to the right the link to each school.
British International School Shanghai – Puxi ( 0 Comments)
British International School Shanghai – Pudong ( 0 Comments)
British International School Shanghai – Nanxiang ( 0 Comments)
Concordia International School (Shanghai) ( 15 Comments)
Dulwich College Shanghai ( 7 Comments)
Fudan International School ( 1 Comments)
Livingston American School Shanghai ( 0 Comments)
Shanghai American School – Puxi ( 0 Comments)
Shanghai American School – Pudong ( 0 Comments)
Shanghai Community Int’l School ( 10 Comments)
Singapore International School (Shanghai) ( 5 Comments)
Shanghai United International School ( 0 Comments)
Shanghai Rego International School ( 72 Comments)
Western International School of Shanghai ( 27 Comments)
YK Pao School, Shanghai ( 0 Comments)
Rainbow Bridge International School ( 11 Comments)
Yew Chung International School (Shanghai) ( 0 Comments)
Lycée Français de Shanghai ( 0 Comments)
If you know about what it is like working at one of these international schools in Shanghai, log-on today and submit your own comments and information. If you submit more than 30 comments and information, then you can get 1 year of premium access to International School Community for free!continue reading
Tell us about your background. Where are you from?
I am a true blue, dinky-di Aussie. I grew up in a beautiful beach side suburb called Mount Eliza, which is close to the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. I wanted to be a teacher from a very young age, as I was inspired by many of my educators at school. I can remember the names of all of the teachers that taught me from Primary School through to Secondary School! After I finished my last year of school, I studied for 4 years at Deakin University and gained a Bachelor of Education. Following this, I taught in Australia for many years before embarking on a 3 year exploration of the world. During this time, I gained my first experiences as an international teacher and definitely acquired a thirst for life abroad. Upon my return to Australia, I married by boyfriend of 10 years (Ben) and we had 2 beautiful daughters (Eliza and Alexandra). After the birth of our children, we found that our finances were quite tight (because only Ben was able to work) and we started to consider our options….This is when we decided to follow in the footsteps of my husband’s parents and (try to) become teachers at international schools!
Which international schools have you worked at? Please share some aspects of the schools that made them unique and fun places in which to work.
I worked at SRIS for three years. I taught Grade One and Grade Two in the time that I spent there. SRIS had a fantastic and diverse range of teachers that I felt privileged to work with. I learned a lot from them and am very grateful to the people there that made my three years there such positive ones. My background before teaching at SRIS was mainly in the secondary sector, so the learning curve (teaching primary students) was an extremely steep one to stay the least! One of the best things about this school was the unpredictable nature of the job. No day was ever boring! There was always something interesting going on! I also gained enormous satisfaction through the time that I spent with my students and their parents, too! After 3 years at SRIS, I decided to leave for a couple of reasons but the main one was that it was too far from the area where we were living. I was offered a teaching position at Western International School Shanghai (WISS) as a Grade One teacher and this is my second year here. I am currently Head of Year and teach a wonderful class with extremely diverse backgrounds. This school is an IB world school from early years to graduation, so I have now gained invaluable experience as a PYP teacher. I love the PYP system and the fact that it promotes inquiry-based learning. WISS is very unique in that it is the only school in Shanghai offering this educational programme and I feel privileged, once again, to be part of the solid team here.
Describe your latest cultural encounter in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.
Everyday that I spend in this city presents either a hilarious or bizarre cultural encounter….It’s just never ending. I am a huge fan of Chinglish- especially when it comes to clothes. Recently I went on an escalator that read ‘keep your legs, no running’ and I like the ‘deformed man’ toilet signs that I see a lot…. ‘
What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?
Firstly, it needs to be a country that interests me and that is safe. I am not interested in making a living in a country that is not stable and that doesn’t inspire me. I also like being in a country that is relatively close to Australia and preferably, in the same time zone! I am a bit of a foodie, so the area that I work needs to have an interesting and diverse range of restaurants and cuisine. I also need to mention that I like the cost of living to be low enough to allow me to save some money and finally, there need to be cities and countries nearby that I can explore during my time away from school!
In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?
Fascinating, exciting, lucrative, wide-ranging and addictive!
Thanks Jo! 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!
A new blog topic on International School Community: Comments and information about salaries at international schools.
Every week members are leaving information and comments on the salaries that teachers are making at international schools around the world. Which ones pay more? Which ones do you have to pay very high taxes? Which ones offer tax-free salaries? All important questions to think about when job searching, but where to find the answers to those questions?
Why do schools keep their salary information so secret? Even at international school job fairs, you don’t really get to see the exact amount of your yearly and monthly salary until you see the contract paperwork. Even then sometimes you don’t know what will be your exact take-home pay each month. At International School Community, we want to make the search for salaries easier for international school teachers. In the benefits section of the school profile page, there is a section specifically for salaries. The topic is: “Average monthly salary after taxes and in what currency (explain taxation situation). How often do you get paid throughout the year?”
Here are 3 out of the many comments and information related to salaries that have been posted on our website:
Seoul International School
“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.”
Western Int’l School of Shanghai
“Net salary for someone with over 10 yrs exp is currently 24000 rmb. Not bad in rmb but doesn’t convert very well! Payment is monthly.”
American International School (Hong Kong)
“Taxes are low in Hong Kong and there is no sales tax. Teachers must pay for housing, though, and that is quite expensive, unless you want to live outside the city and/or in substandard accommodation. I was able to live comfortably and travel when I wanted to, but I was not able to save anything.”
v2011.02 – 7 June, 2011:
Well, the school year is winding down for most of us. Some int’l schools are already out and some still have a month to go! Either way summer is upon us and travel awaits. Most of us go back to our home countries, some of us skip going “home” and explore new countries and then there are the few that stay in their host country to relax or because they have visitors coming. Finally, there are the international educators that are moving on. Lots of packing to do and shipping of boxes to their new destination. Many will be taking a chance on a new school and new country; and a lucky few finally got a job to go work at their dream school in their dream country/city.
If you are moving on to live in a new destination, don’t forgot to update your member profile to show your new “current location” and your new “current school.” Also, now that many of us have some more freetime on our hands, now is the time to share what you know by writing some new comments on the school profile page of the school you currently work at.
The offical launch promotion continues: All new members that sign up will automatically receive a free 1-month subscription of premium membership. Make sure to forward this newsletter to your friends and colleagues so that they can also benefit from this promotion. Current members can still benefit from this promotion. Just sign-on and click on the My Account tab and then the renew your subscription link. Use the coupon code “MESGRATIS” on the payment page (coupon code expires on 30 June, 2011)
New incentive program: Now when you submit comments on the school profile pages, you can earn coupon codes to receive up to 1 year free of premium membership access! Putting-in 15-29 comments gets you 6 months free. Submitting over 30 or more comments will get you 1 YEAR FREE! Please remember that the comments you submit on the school profile pages are anonymous, but we can keep track of which members write how many comments in our system. Once we see you have submitted your comments, we will send you an email with a special coupon code to extend your current premium membership.
· Survey results are in – Which area of the world would you prefer to work in?
“it seems as if Western Europe is the top area of the world that internationals school educators want to live and work in….”
· Are students from one culture group “taking-over” certain international schools?
“Is it true that in most places in the world, where there are international schools, that there is many times a “dominant” culture group at each school…”
· Why do people leave international school teaching to go back to their own country?
“With regards to the single teachers, it seems that many of them move back to their home countries for reasons not necessarily related to money, but for love as well…”
· Highlighted article: Destinations and Dispositions (IKEA dependence)
“IKEA is indeed the best friend of international school teachers. What a great friend too because…”
· It’s all about luck and timing: Getting the international school job of your dreams
“If you really want to live and work in a specific city in the world and there are only 2-4 jobs available at the two international schools there…”
*If you’d like to be one of our next member spotlights send us a message here. If you are chosen to be highlighted, you will receive a coupon code to receive 6 months of premium access to our website for free!
How do you figure out the population of each city?
We use the latest numbers from Wikipedia. We also use the metro area population instead of just the city proper itself. We thought it would give a better indication of the actual number of people that live in and around the city.
Our mission for the International School Community website is to have the most updated information about what it is like to work at the numerous international schools around the world. One way to help us achieve that mission is to have Mayors.
Being a Mayor is super easy, and the best part is that you get unlimited free premium membership to our website!
And ANYONE can be the Mayor of their school. Most of our active Mayors are just regular teachers at their schools, but we also have heads of schools, HR representatives, principals, etc. as Mayors as well.
Mayors are commenting on the school and the benefits information, but they also comment on the city and travel information of the country as well. Mayors also don’t need to represent all aspects and perspectives of the school. They are recommended to just share their experience and perspective on living and working at that international school and in that city/country.
• Submit at least 3-6 new comments on your school every 1-2 months (on the 68 different comment topics). It takes like 5-8 minutes of your time to do this. It will take a Mayor 2 years to submit one comment in all 68 comment topics.
• Make sure to check on your school’s Wall and occasionally post updates about their school (any big changes to the school that are happening, good tips to know about, recent events at the schools, etc.)
• Make sure that your school has the most updated and correct information (e.g. basic info, links, Facebook page, Youtube video, etc.) on the Overview and Social Media tabs.
• Submit job vacancies that are currently available at your school.
• Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 547 Comments
• NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 304 Comments
• Tarsus American College (Mersin, Turkey) – 278 Comments
• Canadian International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China) – 168 Comments
• American School Foundation of Monterrey (Monterrey, Mexico) – 129 Comments
• Concordia International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China) – 180 Comments
• Yongsan International School of Seoul (Seoul, South Korea) – 145 Comments
• Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 414 Comments
• Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea) – 223 Comments
• American International School Dhaka (Dhaka, Bangladesh) – 130 Comments
• International School of Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – 135 Comments
• Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (Beijing, China) – 193 Comments
• Hong Kong International School (Hong Kong, China) – 157 Comments
The more Mayors that we have on our website means the more our members will be informed; as there will be more up-to-date information on the schools they want to know about!
Become the Mayor of an international school that you work at today!
* Please note that being the Mayor of a school is anonymous and that all comments and job vacancies submitted on our website are also done so anonymously. Posting on the school profile page wall though is not anonymous.continue reading
As all International School Community members know, each of the 2201+ 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 6457 (out of a total of 40745+ comments); up 939 comments since January 2020.
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. (720 Total Comments)
Example comment: “Going to check out and relax in the church that was made in rock (Temppeliaukio) is a great thing to do on a rainy (or sunny) day. They play relaxing music as you just sit in one of the pews and look up to see the copper-designed ceiling. So beautiful!” – Helsinki International School (Helsinki, Finland) – 41 Comments
• Locations in the city geared towards the expat lifestyle (grocery stores, bars, etc.). (585 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
• Sample prices for food, transportation, average hourly rates for a housekeeper, etc. (599 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
• Detailed info about lifestyles: singles vs. couples, gay vs. straight, nightlife vs. quiet and big city vs nature. (485 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) – 161 Comments
• Languages of the host city and the level of English spoken there. (616 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) – 62 Comments
• Sample activities that you can do around the city? Including ones that you can do with a family (children)? (446 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
• Describe the city’s weather at different times of the year. (650 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) – 182 Comments
• Places, markets and stores where you can find really good deals. (312 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
• Describe a funny culture shock moment that you’ve had recently in this city. (150 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
• Where did the school take you in the city when you first arrived? What were some staff outings/party locations? (210 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
• What is the best part of living in this city for you? (315 Total Comments)
Example comment: “I love the ease of getting what you want, when you want.” – Hong Kong International School (Hong Kong, China) – 157 Comments
• What advice can you give on how to set things up like internet, phone, experience dealing with landlord, etc.? (270 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) – 481 Comments
• Tell your experience moving your items to this city. What company, insurance policy, etc. did you use? (110 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
• Tell about your experience with the local banks and dealing with multiple currencies. (273 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
• What are some locals customs (regarding eating, drinking and going out, family, socializing, etc.) that you find interesting for expats to know about? (182 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
• Tell about your experiences in the local grocery stores. What can you get or cannot get? Which ones are your favorites. (233 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
• What is the most challenging/difficult part of living in the city? (301 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) – 72 Commentscontinue reading
Our 21026 current members (up 3215 members from January 2020) work at or have worked at 1250+ international schools.
How amazing is that?! In just over 10 years now, our “international school community” has grown into an excellent network of international school teachers. With so much experience and knowledge about life working at over 1250 international schools on our website, ISC members are able to stay updated and informed about the schools at which they are interested in working. Additionally, now it is even easier to find the right members to contact for networking purposes and for gathering more information about the specific questions you may have about working at a certain international school.
Which international schools on our website have the most members you ask? Here are our top 10 schools:
American International School in Egypt
Copenhagen International School
International School of Kuala Lumpur
Western International School of Shanghai
International School Manila
Seoul Foreign School
MEF International School (Istanbul)
Jakarta Intercultural School
Seoul International School
International School of Tanganyika
Want to see the rest of the top 40 list of schools with the most members? Check out this page which displays the names and avatar pictures of each member that either currently works at that school now or has worked there in the past.
And don’t forget to take a moment to browse our School list page as ISC members have worked at over 1250 international schools from all over the world. Maybe you will find that we have some members who know about the international school about which you are looking to gain more information!continue reading
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
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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 Commentscontinue reading
Cultural integration in China may be the Holy Grail for many expats who head over to teach, live, and experience the country for a while. Although not impossible, reaching for ultimate integration is a highly challenging task and, if anything, it may just happen after years (if not decades) in the country.
Adapting to the local culture as a foreigner may be a more realistic aim, especially if you’re heading to China to teach for the very first time. Give yourself some time to adjust to the culture-shock, follow Western International School of Shanghai’s ten tips to help you adapt to Chinese culture, and you’re guaranteed to be on the right path.
1. Learn a little about Chinese culture and history before you even arrive
Alright, cram-studying China’s entire cultural history before you arrive might be impossible. After all, this is the longest-living culture in the world! Yet what you can do and what helps expats better assimilate in China is getting a general overview of how the country has evolved over the last few centuries. Knowing how China got to where it’s at now means you’ll understand the country’s sensitive subjects (leave the Free Tibet T-shirt at home, please), and that will help you behave in a more culturally appropriate way. Moreover, learning about China beforehand will help blunt that dreaded culture-shock!
2. Leave your preconceived notions about China at home and pack only an open mind
It’s fair to say that everything you think you know about China has been influenced by foreign media. To this end, the most important thing you shouldn’t forget to pack is an open mind. Nothing about this beautiful country and its immensely hospitable people has ever been rightly depicted abroad, so take that as the single most invaluable tip.
The very best way to integrate into Chinese culture, as an expat, is to know the real story.
3. Learn (at least some) of the language
Taking Mandarin lessons is the most important “first step” to finding your place in Chinese culture, and this is one thing you can start doing before you even travel. Linguistic fluency takes many (many) years, yet even just getting a grasp of the basics (like appropriate greetings) will go a long way to helping you assimilate in your new home. Being able to chit-chat in Mandarin and the local dialect of wherever you happen to be (there are thousands!) will earn you respect from colleagues and locals you meet, and this will, in turn, help you with the next tip.
If you’re bringing children over, international Schools in China will ensure that they learn Mandarin as part of their curriculum too, allowing them to really fit in and make friends across cultural lines.
4. Understand the Chinese culture of “saving face”
Showing up a colleague and even your boss in front of others may be acceptable in some countries, but it certainly isn’t in China. Saving face and protecting one’s reputation is critical in the local culture. Once you understand this, you’ll be able to navigate your way through social and work situations much better. For example, a teacher who wants to resign because they just don’t get along with their colleagues may simply cite ‘personal reasons’ for leaving. The fastest way to ruin any relationship with local Chinese is to embarrass or criticize them in any way, especially in public.
5. Find your voice: assertiveness and confidence are key
China is no place for a wallflower, and if there’s ever a teaching destination that downright demands assertiveness, this would have to be it. To outsiders, Chinese locals may come off as blunt or rude, but in reality, they live in a fast-paced world that requires very little fluffing about. So get with the program, be ready to stand up for yourself when the need arises (with your employer or landlord, for example), and don’t let anyone walk all over you or be a pushover.
Respectful assertiveness (back to #4) is the name of the game and, if you can find that much-coveted balance, you’ll do just fine in China.
6. Show respect to elders
Respecting your elders is immensely important in the local culture. You’ll soon discover that, in China, the polite form of you (nín) is even used within the family unit – not only for older aunties and grandparents but also among siblings of varying ages. Usually, titles are preferred to first names so, when in doubt, always ask a local friend how you should refer to people before you’re even introduced to them.
Oh! That brings us to our next point…
7. Make local friends and don’t get stuck in an expat bubble
It’s far too easy to get stuck in an expat bubble in China, a country whose culture can be overwhelmingly foreign for so many expats. But fight that urge and immerse yourself in local social groups instead, and you’ll benefit from endless rewards. Your first local contacts will undoubtedly be work colleagues, and this is an amazing chance to make new friends immediately. Understand the ‘give and take’ of Chinese social etiquette (they invite you out for a restaurant meal, so why not cook them a dish from your country at home?), and you may just cement some of the most rewarding and valuable friendships of all.
8. Hugs and kisses are frowned upon – keep your hands to yourself!
In local Chinese culture, public displays of affection aren’t often seen even among couples, let alone friends. Don’t embarrass your new local friends by giving them a hug or kiss on the cheek! Once friendships are cemented, of course, the Chinese can be just as affectionate as other cultures, but you do need to let them call the shots on this one.
9. Skip the Western restaurant chains and eat like a local instead
Not only will this save you some pretty pennies, but it’ll also show you how outstanding real Chinese cuisine is. Not sure how to choose a hole in the wall on your next lunch out in town? Ask that new local friend to show you their favorite haunt, enjoy what is bound to be an awesome meal and, to show your appreciation, pay for their meal. That’s a 3-in-1 win!
10. Find your own local family!
Marrying a Chinese local to better assimilate into the culture may be a bit drastic, we admit, yet accepting that invitation to visit a new friend’s family would be just perfect. Many big-city dwellers come from small rural villages, and they often return home on special holidays, like Chinese New Year. It isn’t uncommon for a new foreign friend to be invited to come along, and this is one invite you’ll never want to turn down. The unique experience will likely be an absolute highlight for you and, who knows, you may gain a new local family of your own. Moving to China and trying to integrate into the local culture may seem like an impossible task to foreigners. But it needn’t be! Simply follow some tried-and-true tips from those who’ve come before you, and you’ll soon feel right at home.
This article was submitted by Western International School in Shanghai. Check out more about this school by clicking on the following links: https://www.wiss.cn/welcome/work-at-wiss/ https://www.wiss.cn/welcome/our-team/post=8128&action=editcontinue reading
On of the most visited pages on ISC is our Recently Updated Schools page. It shows the international schools that were most recently updated with new comments.
Now there is a faster way to find those new comments with the Newest Comments link on each school’s profile page. It is located just under the Overview link in the left column of a school’s profile page.
The Newest Comment page lists the last 20 comments that were submitted on that school.
Each of those 20 comments shows the date it was submitted, the Comment Topic Section and Comment Topic it was submitted in. And, of course, the new comment itself.
Once you are finished checking out the last 20 comments to be submitted on a school, then you can read the rest of the comments by clicking on the Comment Topic sections in the left column (School Information, Benefits Information, City Information, Travel Information).
It is what makes ISC so unique. Our mission was to have our members share information about the international schools they know about. But instead of having that information hiding in long paragraphs, etc. we’ve organized all of the information to be easily found into 66 comment topics. This organization helps our members find the information they are looking for faster!
Also, one of the best ISC features is the ability to see how the submitted comments in one comment topic have changed over time. Here is an example from Western International School of Shanghai’s profile page about housing allowances, etc.:
ISC is always looking to improve the user experience of our members. If you have other ideas for improvement or new feature ideas, please send us a message here.continue reading
How many times have you applied to a school wishing that you knew somebody that worked there?
Knowing somebody and getting the ‘inside scoop’ on an international school will definitely help you in your quest to set up an interview there.
Currently, our top 40 international schools with the most members are:
24 members – American International School in Egypt
23 members – Copenhagen International School
21 members – International School of Kuala Lumpur
21 members – International School Manila
17 members – Seoul International School
17 members – International School of Tanganyika
17 members – Jakarta International School
17 members – MEF International School Istanbul
17 members – Western International School of Shanghai
16 members – Fairview International School
16 members – American School Foundation of Mexico City
16 members – American School of Barcelona
15 members – Singapore American School
15 members – International School Bangkok
14 members – United Nations International School (Vietnam)
14 members – Shanghai Community International School
14 members – Shanghai United International School (Hongqiao)
14 members – Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Astana
14 members – Istanbul International Community School
14 members – NIST International School
14 members – Brent International School Manila
14 members – Seoul Foreign School
14 members – Qatar Academy (Doha)
13 members – KIS International School (Bangkok)
13 members – Graded – The American School of Sao Paulo
13 members – American School of Dubai
13 members – American International School of Johannesburg
13 members – American International School (Vietnam)
13 members – Cairo American College
13 members – Good Shepherd International School
12 members –Suzhou Singapore International School
12 members – Chadwick International School – Songdo
12 members – International School of Beijing
12 members – Western Academy of Beijing
12 members – American International School of Kuwait
12 members – Anglo-American School of Moscow
12 members – American School of Kuwait
12 members – Canadian International School (Singapore)
11 members – American Embassy School New Delhi
11 members – Bilkent Laboratory & International School
The members of these schools include members that currently work there now or have worked there in the past.
With 100-300 new members joining each month, this list will continue to grow and grow; with even more members showing up as potential people to network with.
It is simple to network on our website: just click on a member and then click on the ‘Contact this member’ button (Premium membership access required). Then write him/her a message. When your message is sent, the other member will get an email alert letting them know that they have a new message waiting for them on our website (you don’t need premium membership access to reply to a private message on our website). Numerous International School Community members have already taken advantage of this unique feature on our website!
As far as we know, International School Community is the only website where you can quickly and easily network with real people at a specific international school. Meaning, if you want to get in touch with somebody from the United Nations International School in New York and you are currently a premium member of International School Community, you now have 6 members that you can contact on our website that either work there now or have worked there in the past.
Get the answers to your questions; now that is easy networking!
Since we started our website back in February 2011, we have had a total of 35 member spotlight articles highlighted on our blog. Thanks to all 35 members who have participated so far!
Learning more about our fellow international school teachers can be very enlightening, inspiring and also quite interesting!
Who were the 35 members that have been our members spotlights so far you ask? Well they haven’t all been teachers, some have held other positions either in a school setting or in a field of eduction with also a connection to international schools. Others had prior experience working in international schools. Here is the breakdown of what job titles they have:
International School Teachers: 25
Staff Development Coordinator: 1
International school directors: 4
Curriculum coordinator: 1
Veteran international school teacher: 1
International School Consultant: 1
Members of an international school board of directors: 1
There are 6 parts to the questionnaire that all member spotlights fill out:
• Tell us about your background. Where are you from?
• How did you get started in the international teaching community?
• 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.
• Describe your latest cultural encounter (or reverse cultural encounter) in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.
• What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?
• In exactly five words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?
It is pretty amazing the amount of experience and useful information that our member spotlights have provided in their answers to these six parts.
So, how did all of our members answer this part of the questionnaire: In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?
• Living life full of energy
• Culturally enriching, questioning true internationalism.
• Beautiful, soul satisfying, enriching, enlightening and delightful.
• Eye-opening, educational, humbling, challenging, fulfilling.
• Successfully making a positive difference!
• truly rewarding challenging and capability enhancing.
• Discovery. Rewarding. Engaging. Relationships. Awesome.
• Opportunity for growth, an eye opener.
• Exciting, inspiring, educating, challenging and fulfilling.
• Adventure, culture, education, difference, satisfaction.
• Open-minded, Professional, Dedicated, Discovery, Fun
• Transforming, Exciting, Challenging, Embracing, Engaging
• Make the best of it.
• Challenging, enriching, frustrating, reflective, confirming
• Exciting adventure of a lifetime!
• Fantastic Educational Humbling Expanding Gratifying
• The job of a lifetime.
• Challenging, invigorating, demanding, breathtaking , fun!
• Hard work, but immensely rewarding.
• Stimulating, unpredictable, addictive, inspiring, challenging.
• Fascinating, exciting, lucrative, wide-ranging and addictive!
• Eye opening, cultural, well paid, opportunity, life changing.
• Exciting, interesting, enlightening, educational and unique.
• 1. Rewarding 2. Different 3. Adventurous 4. Dynamic 5. Unpredictable
• Full of variety, rewarding, challenging.
• Rewarding, eye-opening, fun, flexible, and ADDICTIVE
• The opportunity of a lifetime.
• Lifelong learning at its finest!
• Rejuvenating, Creative, Innovative, Culturally Rich
• The novelty never wears off!
• Exhilarating, Challenging, Adventurous, Broadening, Inspiring
• Enriching, adventurous, challenging, rewarding, limitless.
• Exciting, fun, new friends, challenges!
These 35 members have a wealth of knowledge about working at a number of international schools. Maybe you have worked at an international school that they have worked at as well?! Here are just a few of the schools that they either currently work at now or have worked at in the past:
• Cebu International School – 7 Comments
• Xiamen International School (Xiamen, China) – 25 Comments
• Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 222 Comments
• Benjamin Franklin Int’l School (Barcelona, Spain) – 66 Comments
• Universal American School in Dubai (Dubai, United Arab Emirates) – 17 Comments
• Thai-Chinese Int’l School Bangkok – 21 Comments
• American International School in Egypt – 62 Comments
• International School of Tanganyika – 145 Comments
• Mahatma Gandhi International School – 3 Comments
• British Early Years Centre (Bangkok, Thailand) – 10 Comments
• American School Madrid (Madrid, Spain) – 54 Comments
• Frankfurt International School & Wiesbaden (Frankfurt, Germany) – 13 Comments
• Albanian International School (Tirana, Albania) – 19 Comments
• British International School Moscow (Moscow, Russia) – 11 Comments
• Stamford American International School (Singapore, Singapore) – 47 Comments
Thanks again to everyone who has participated in the Member Spotlight feature on our blog so far.
If you are a member of International School Community and would like to be our next member spotlight, contact us here at editor @ internationalschoolcommunity.com. All highlighted members receive 1 free year of premium access to our website!continue reading
Speaking the language of the host country is on every international school teachers’ mind.
How great to speak the language of the host country well enough so that you are able to have some local friends who may or may not know English! You might say that is every international school teachers’ goal when they move abroad. Communication is the key, and knowing the language will also give you direct insight into the host country’s culture.
Many international school teachers do their best to fit in. Meeting new friends or going on dates in your new country is difficult, if you rely only on English language capabilities of the locals. That is why taking language classes and dedicating some of your weekday evenings to attending them is very advisable. Until you reach a comfortable level of proficiency when you can converse with the locals (at the market for example), it is important to find some of them that might speak English, especially during the first few months.
Everyone marks well in their head, their very first successful conversation in the new language. It is a tremendously liberating experience, which is inspiring one to pursue their way to a high-level speaking fluency and understanding without stuttering and asking people to speak slower.
Out of the 60 comments topics on each school’s profile page, there is one specifically about languages. It is called: “Languages of the host city and the level of English spoken there.”
From the Hong Kong International School (62 comments) school profile page.
Currently we have 150+ submitted comments in that comment topics on a number of school profile pages.
Here is a sneak peek at a few of them:
“The level of English here is intermediate I would say. Some taxi drivers know a lot and some don’t know very much. The people working in stores know an intermediate level of proficiency. People speak Italian here, but that is not to say that there aren’t people speaking other languages. There are many dialects of Italian that people speak.” – American School of Milan (Milan, Italy) – 23 Comments
“Spanish is the main language but you can get by with very minimal language skills. Most restaurants have English menus. Many taxi drivers can understand some English. In the markets the venders are usually indigenous and speak Spanish as a second language so speak slower and use more limited vocabulary.” – The American International School of Guatemala (Colegio Maya) (Guatemala City, Guatemala)– 40 Comments
“With basic level of Chinese it’s easy to manage. With zero Chinese it’s also possible but lots of things will be missed and at times it’s tougher to deal with everyday issues.” – Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 162 Comments
“English is spoken only in the school. Korean is the dominant language, and many, many fewer people speak English than in places like Seoul, but there are still plenty of people who can help you communicate. Many menus are in English too even if the staff does not speak English.” – Global Prodigy Academy (Jeonju, South Korea) – 48 Comments
“You will enjoy your stay here much more if you can learn at least some basic conversational Japanese. Although they study English in high school, very few Japanese on the street that you might approach for directions will be able to speak to you in English.” – Hiroshima International School (Hiroshima, Japan) – 64 Commentscontinue reading
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 the current results we got (from 12 July 2021) along with five random schools from that region:
Asia: 69 Schools
American International School Dhaka (130 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) (83 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 (64 total comments)
Lincoln School (San Jose) (54 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)
Central/Eastern Europe: 73 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 (161 total comments)
International School of Latvia (33 total comments)
East Asia: 225 Schools
Canadian International School (Hong Kong) (168 total comments)
Concordia International School (Shanghai) (180 total comments)
Hong Kong International School (157 total comments)
Kang Chiao International School (Kunshan) (82 total comments)
Keystone Academy (129 total comments)
Middle East: 155 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 (103 total comments)
North Africa: 41 Schools
Alexandria International Academy (79 total comments)
American International School in Egypt (Main Campus) (64 total comments)
Cairo American College (196 total comments)
Misr American College (53 total comments)
George Washington Academy (97 total comments)
North America: 51 Schools
American School Foundation of Guadalajara (133 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: 9 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)
SE Asia: 187 Schools
Ican British International School (74 total comments)
Northbridge International School (59 total comments)
Green School Bali (168 total comments)
Sekolah Victory Plus (143 total comments)
International School of Kuala Lumpur (135 total comments)
South America: 66 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 (114 total comments)
Uruguayan American School (32 total comments)
Sub-Saharan Africa: 72 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 (77 total comments)
Western Europe: 172 Schools
American International School Vienna (81 total comments)
International School of Paphos (123 total comments)
Copenhagen International School (395 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 1176 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.continue reading
Eating out and finding a really tasty restaurant in your host city is the best. Such delicious local food (or ‘expat food’ cuisine) to be had! While not all local restaurants will be the best, there are sure to be some excellent ones. Typically you find these out from the veteran teachers at your school. They’ve been there awhile, so they are the best ones to let you know where to eat out at. And if the cost of living is low where you are, you might just find yourself eating out all the time (see How NOT to save money when working as an international school teacher #2: Go out to eat all the time!)
There are also just your favorite things to do in the city. Maybe it is taking a jog around the corniche if you live in a city in the Middle East. Maybe it is going to a posh bar downtown where a lot of expats frequent, like the Bund in Shanghai, China. Maybe it is just a quiet park that you like in Western Europe where people go to just relax and enjoy the clean air and surrounding nature (and people watch). The best part is you don’t know your favorite things to do in your host city until you arrive. You could say this aspect is one of the more exciting part of living abroad and teaching internationally.
Another cool thing to do in your host country and traveling around and exploring the different places it offers. If you like the mountains, hopefully you will live not too far away from one that you go to do on the weekend (let’s say if you live in Zurich). If you like the sea, maybe there will be a nice coast that you can take a local bus to (let’s say north of Barcelona). Enjoying your day at the beach can be a great getaway from your sometimes busy life at your international school. In China, they have these really beautiful water towns. Many international school teachers in Shanghai are bound to have a favorite water town that they frequent every so often.
So many favorite things, so little time. Especially if your plan is to only stay 2-3 years in your current host country, it is good to frequent your favorite places and often! Soon enough, you’ll be moving away to live in your next location and you’ll certainly miss all of your current favorite things! (see Going back to a place you once lived – I almost cried!)
Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of your favorite host country restaurants, places and things to do. There are a total of 394 comments (May 2018) that have been submitted by our veteran international school teachers in one of 65 comment topics called – “Name your favorite restaurants, favorite places to go to and favorite things to do in the city.”
Here are a few of those submitted comments:
“Cheongna it is pretty easy to get to the famous Hongdae area of Seoul. The area has tons of restaurants, cafes, bars, street food vendors, and live performances. In Cheongna itself, there are new places opening all the time. Current favorites are Roy’s (a Mexican place), Wembley’s Bar, Chicken & Beer, Big Grill (a Korean BBQ place), Texas BBQ, and Hans Craft (craft beer pub). For activities, many teachers like to use the boats in Lake Park or go for a picnic. Many teachers enjoy mountain biking and hiking on the nearby trails. Screen golf and screen baseball are fun activities and of course noraebang (singing rooms).” – Cheongna Dalton School (Incheon, South Korea) – 42 Total Comments
“Oslo has an amazing fjord. Its cheap and plenty of little islands can be got to for the normal cost of your monthly T-Bane card. There are fantastic restaurants – but you will need a mortgage before going out for a good dinner here. Skiing and hiking are cheap or free and we spend our summers picking berries in the forests and winters skiing or skating. Its a paradise in truth.” – Northern Lights International School (Oslo, Norway) – 28 Comments
“Zurich is definitely a city worth walking through. Ambling through the narrow lanes of the old town is a treat. Pop into either the Fraumunster church to see the stunning Chagall windows or walk to up the tower of the Grossmunster church, or walk into the cript of the Water Church. On a nice day a short boat ride (Kleine rundfahrt) which starts at the main boat docks near Burkliplatz is worth the time.” – Zurich International School (Zurich, Switzerland) – 33 Total Comments
“Tianjin is a very beautiful city with lots of canals and urban parks and greenways. It is incredibly flat. There are two lakes next to school and expat teachers live in apartments around the lakes. It is a wonderful location for running and exercise in all seasons of the year.” – HIKSVS International School (Tianjin, China) – 30 Comments
“One of my personal favorites is a nice place in Paragon called Midtown. They have a large menu with a lot of traditional Thai dishes and a few international options. Some of their spicy dishes are fantastic (if you can handle Thai chili peppers).” – NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 242 Comments
“We just went to Bait Al Luban near to the Corniche Mutrah. The food there is delicious! It really seems like they use fresh ingredients and things made there are done to a really nice perfection. Another favorite restaurant that we’ve been to is in the Wave area. It is a Lebanese restaurant that’s called Zahr El Laymoun. We got some hot and cold mezza dishes and every single one was so tasty. Will definitely be going back to these places soon.” – American International School of Muscat (Muscat, Oman) – 34 Commentscontinue reading
Tell us about your background. Where are you from?
I was born and raised in a city just outside of Toronto, Canada, but I haven’t lived there since 2005.
How did you get started in the international teaching community?
I first left Canada in 2005 to teach English in South Korea. Originally, I was only going to go for a year in an attempt to save enough money to pay for teachers college in the UK and get relevant teaching experience. Then one year turned into two because I was really enjoying life there and started to recognise all the benefits of living abroad (eg. travel, new cultures, new friends, free accommodation etc.). After the two years, I went to the UK to get my teaching degree as I had originally planned. Living in the western world again was a bit of a shock and made me appreciate my experience in Korea even more. It was then that I decided to look for jobs at international schools in Asia…life just seemed to be more exciting and a bit easier abroad. After sending out applications to random schools, and going to a job fair, my boyfriend and I finally got offered jobs at the same school in Shanghai. We accepted and have been here ever since.
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.
The only international school that I have worked at is Shanghai Rego International School. It is unique in that it is quite small but really has a nice mix of nationalities amongst the students. The children are really lovely there and are generally very easy to teach.
Describe your latest cultural encounter in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.
At our school, all the teaching assistants are Chinese, so I usually learn something new about the Chinese culture every day. There are lots of teaching assistants that always get really dolled up for work and dress to the nines every day (short skirts, high heels, hair done, lots of makeup, etc). Recently, I was very surprised to see one particularly glam T.A. come in wearing clothes that looked like pyjamas, a radiation-proof apron (supposedly), thick glasses, greasy hair, etc). It turns out that she had just found out that she was pregnant and the Chinese have very strong ideas on what women can and cannot do when they are pregnant, so I learned some pretty unique rules and traditions. For example, you can only look at beautiful things when you are pregnant if you want to have a beautiful baby. Although these traditions sound strange, they are very interesting to learn about!
What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?
When I’m searching for a new school, I look for several things. I like busy and bustling cities, so that is a must. I also look at the salary and if that can provide us with the lifestyle we’re looking for. Health and dental care is also crucial and accommodation or living allowance is key.
In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?
Exciting, interesting, enlightening, educational and unique.
Thanks Katie! 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!continue reading
I was just talking with an international school teacher friend of mine who is part of a teaching couple with 3 children. They are looking for another job right now; their next international school. I asked her where in the world that they would most like to move to. She told me that it would have to be in a city where the “living is cheap!”
I have actually lived in 2 of the cities currently on the list for 2010 of the most expensive cities in the world. One of them is in the top half of the list and the other is in the lower half. I’m not for sure that looking at this list is really helpful when deciding where to live internationally (if you get offered a job at an international school there, mind you). It seems like the salary and/or benefits are typically raised in accordance to the high cost of living in the city, but not always I suppose.
Housing allowance: the main factor at play?
Some schools on the list (Canadian International School Singapore, Shanghai Community International School, Hong Kong International School, Seoul International School, etc…) offer generous housing allowances; when the school pays for all of your rent (and sometimes even the utilities). However, I know other schools on the list (American School of Barcelona, Acs International Schools – Egham Campus, etc…) that don’t offer a housing allowance. Not having to pay for rent (which is sometimes 1/3 of your take home pay) plays an important factor in how expensive the city is for you. I was told by another friend who has worked at international schools for 4 years now that she plans to never pay for housing again! I guess once you get that benefit, it is hard to go back to paying for your own rent! There is always the money-saving option of having a roommate to help with high rent costs, but many teachers, as they get older, don’t want to consider that as an ideal option.
High-priced goods: paying 2-3 times what you would normally pay.
I know some teachers in the “most expensive cities in the world” sometimes think twice about paying 7 USD for a loaf of bread at a bakery geared towards the expat community. Surely, that is expensive. They would never do that if they lived in their home country. I can’t even think of a place that would sell a loaf of bread for that price in the United States. BUT, they actually have the money now in their budget to buy those types of things. For sure the stores know the secret; which is that many of the expats living there don’t have to pay for their housing and have extra money to pay high prices for things that remind them of home/western-type stuff. Especially when a new teacher first moves to a new city (when they don’t know exactly where to buy things yet and where the best prices are at different stores), there are always expats willing and able to pay high prices for western things.
There are always cheaper alternatives.
When you first move to a city, you don’t know where to get the good prices. Once you find those places and ask your colleagues where to go, then for sure you might think the city is much less expensive than you had originally thought. Especially if you are in a city that has a culture similar to the type of foods you like to eat. For example, if you want to buy Cranberry juice in the United States, it is going to be relatively cheap. However, cranberry juice is not a popular juice to drink in most other countries in the world, thus it is going to be much more expensive (if you are luckily to even find it). Buying the local version of the products you like will for sure be a cheaper alternative.
Taxis and transportation.
If you live in one of the most expensive cities in the world, you will most likely also be paying a lot of money for taxis and other transportation. It is especially true for cities on the list like London, Tokyo and Barcelona. However, it is not necessary true for other cities on the list like Shanghai and Beijing. Not being able to utilize taxis because of financial constraints can definitely play a factor in your decision to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world.
There are so many factors that come into play when you decide whether a city is going to be too expensive for you. It is difficult to get a good idea of how that will effect your decision to move there before you are actually living there. I interviewed with a school in Singapore and they were really adamant about getting me to realize beforehand how expensive it was to live there. It was difficult for me to fully understand their concerns (after looking at their salary and benefits) without actually having experienced the high cost firsthand. Luckily, International School Community is now here to help international educators. We have specifically designed our school profile pages to include questions about everything related to money, benefits and the many facets of the cost of living. With new comments being submitted every week, International School Community is certainly the website to find out important information about many international schools around the world!continue reading