Every 1-2 months International School Community will highlight one of our members in our Member Spotlight feature. This month we interviewed Denes Tilistyak:
Tell us about your background. Where are you from?
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:
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…”
(Click here for the last 40 schools to be updated with new comments)
· 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…”
* If you are an international school teacher and would like your blog highlighted on International School Community contact us here.
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