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
Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of has your international school met your expectations once you started working there. There are a total of 202 comments (January 2018) that have been submitted by our veteran international school teachers in one of 65 comment topics called – “Has the school met your expectations once you started working there?”
Here are a few of those submitted comments:
“At first, I was not impressed with the high rate of misbehaved students (because the school advertises that there are “no behavior issues” in the school. However, once the school year got underway, I have watched how teachers have reflected on their management routines and changed them accordingly. I have come to love working at this school because I see students learning and engaged in their work. I also appreciate the camaraderie among the faculty and staff. However, the thing that I did not expect was getting paid late.” – Beijing BISS International School (Beijing, China) – 67 Total Comments
“During my interview it was clearly described what I was getting into and what was expected from me. I have been at the school three years now and look to stay on longer.” – American International School of Rotterdam (Rotterdam, Netherlands) – 52 Comments
“The educational provision of the EYFS and Primary departments has improved rapidly in the 15 months since their establishment. It is now a well organised school and everyone is moving forward together. I could not envisage the progress being so rapid when I started. Currently the school exceeds my expectations.” – Varee Chiang Mai International School (Chang Mai, Thailand) – 65 Total Comments
“Exceeded- I’ve grown a lot as an educator and the collaboration with my colleagues has really pushed me to try new things and think more deeply about my own practice.” – International School of Brussels (Brussels, Belgium) – 31 Comments
“The interviews were extremely realistic and did not deceive in any way. The school was far better than expected.” –Woodstock School (Mussoorie, India) – 58 Comments
“The school definitely exceeded my expectations. It’s such a wonderful place to work at. Teachers , students and office staff really live and work in harmony.” – British International School of Stavanger (Stavanger, Norway) – 24 Commentscontinue reading
At some international schools, 1/4 or 1/3 of their current teachers decide to let their school know that they will be moving on at the end of the school year. Though it is not the case necessarily at other international schools that have a lot of local hires. Those with lots of local hires generally tend to have teachers that want to stay there for longer periods of time because they have more ties to the local country (e.g. they are married to a local, etc.).
Regardless of the personal situation of the teacher, another big factor that guides a teacher’s decision to stay or leave is the school itself. For example, the school might be losing student numbers as of late. Fewer students mean less demand for all the teachers on the current staff roster, meaning some need to go whether they like it or not. Maybe even the school has decided to alter or eliminate the staff children benefit (to have them attend the school for free). And the list goes on…
There are of course even other factors that come into play that affect this big decision that a number of teachers need to make around this time of the year. One of these factors is that the school has decided to move in a direction that doesn’t match your teaching philosophy any more. Staying at a school that doesn’t match you and your teaching style can be a serious concern leading you to search for other positions in school that better suit you.
The biggest factor to stay or leave might just boil down to money plain and simple. If the school isn’t meeting your needs financially any more, there are many more that probably will.
So that questions is for you is why are YOU going to stay or leave your current school? It might be one of these reasons listed above or a combination of these and other even other reasons.
Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of staying or leaving, so you can stay the most informed as possible. There are a total of 145 comments (November 2017) that have been submitted by our veteran international school teachers in one of 65 comment topics called – “In general, why are people staying at or leaving this school?”
Here are a few of those submitted comments:
“People are staying because they are mostly not getting better job anywhere else and peoples are leaving because of the rude behavior, Less salary, false promises, promotion of wrong candidate, lack of resources and overloaded routine.” – Indus International School (Pune) (Pune, India) – 43 Total Comments
“Staying because the campus is nice, supply and PD budgets are generous, students are overall courteous and engaged, and because Berlin rocks. Leaving because salaries are too low, and some departments are more disorganized than others.” – Berlin Brandenburg International School (Berlin, Germany) – 52 Comments
“Staying: Turnover is low. In my opinion people are staying because the school climate is generally very positive – it is a happy place to work. The school has generally got its act together (curriculum, policies etc) very well so there are structures in place to make teaching positive. It is a vibrant, stimulating place to work. Japan is a lovely place to live. Leaving: The cliche is single females find it harder to date in Tokyo and that could be a reason to leave. The school’s pay is OK and the school’s reputation is good and growing but the pay is not as great as some other big name schools. People leave as they get the experience and then are drawn to the lure of $$. This is especially the case of teachers in their late 40’s looking for a pension.” – Tokyo International School (Tokyo, Japan) – 69 Total Comments
“People stay a long time because the pay and benefits are great, the city is very livable, the cost of living is low and the classes are not too large.” – Anglo-American School of St. Petersburg (St. Petersburg, Russia) – 38 Comments
“The overall package is hard to beat and the staff are not overworked. Combined with minimal classroom management requirements due to small class sizes, DISK really is a great place to work.” – Doshisha International School Kyoto (Kyoto, Japan) – 92 Comments
“If you survive your first year most teachers stay on. The first year is a challenge, especially if you are late arriving (a common issue because of how long it takes to get a visa).” – Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (Beijing, China) – 121 Commentscontinue reading
Starting at a new school can be scary and make you quite nervous, but it can also be extremely exciting and life enriching. To help new teachers experience more of the positive side of moving to work at a new international school, the staff and administration need a clear plan to how they will induct these new teachers to their school, routines and educational program.
But new teacher orientation actually starts way before your arrive at the airport. One strategy is to set up the new teacher with a resource/contact person that they can ask all their burning questions to from the time they sign their contract. Administrators don’t necessarily have tons of time to be replying back to the sometime long-winded emails from their incoming staff. Having a (sometimes volunteer) contact person for the new teacher to communicate with can be quite helpful and efficient.
But once the new teachers arrive at the school and in their new country, there are even more things that can help and guide those new teachers into a more positive and exciting experience versus once that is more nerve-wracking and full of endless unknown surprises. A few other things international schools might choose to do during their plan for new teacher orientation are to give all the new teachers a starter bag of groceries for their new apartment, a dinner outing with all the new teachers and the school administration, and a timely reimbursement of the settling-in money benefit and moving allowances.
It all sounds very easy when you just look at the simple things international schools could do to make a smooth transition for their newly arriving teachers, but we all know that challenges can arise and many things don’t go necessarily as planned. But when a new teacher orientation committee and the school administration are effectively working together and being well-planned in advance, the experience of all the new teachers will most likely be great and much appreciated!
Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of new teacher orientation, so you can stay the most informed as possible. There are 69 comments (premium access only) that have the word “orientation“ in them, and a total of 98 comments (August 2017) have been submitted by our veteran international school teachers in the comment topic called – “Details about new teacher orientation.”
Here are a few of those submitted comments:
“There is a native English speaker and a native Turkish speaker who run orientation which takes place one week before returning teachers report. You might have dinner in an administrator’s apartment, have a tour of archaeological sites in Ankara, be driven to IKEA or be taken to a nearby market. You will be taken to visit a nearby hospital and to the bank on campus to set up avbouts, to the phone company to get cell service set up, and to the clinic for a medical exam.” –Bilkent Laboratory & International School (Ankara, Turkey) – 128 Total Comments
“There is an initial few days for new teachers before all staff return after summer break. It is a decent mix of philosophy and practical things, with a day trip into Beijing thrown in for good measure. It can be long, as all our meetings can be, since it is done in both languages. The school tries to get all new staff to arrive just a few days before the beginning of school so all the bank account, cell phone, etc. details can be handled as a group. If you arrive before this ‘group’ session, you are on your own. Message the mayor (me) if you are in this situation.” – Keystone Academy (Beijing, China) – 48 Comments
“It is okay. They take you to some good restaurants and you get to bond with the new teachers. They are understanding of the new move and give you time to take care of whatever you need to take care of. They need to do something with the Itau, bank day so that teachers can get set up with online banking that same day instead of having to wait and figure it out on your own.” – American School of Asuncion (Asuncion, Paraguay) – 107 Total Comments
“New teacher orientation is very unorganized. Many times you will be told to work on lesson plans and setting up rooms during the 2 week orientation. If you are given a grade level, you will not be told how many students to prepare for until often the first day of school. On the first day of school you will often receive your list of students names.” – Pan Asia International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 48 Comments
“There is a week of new teacher orientation before returning teachers commence. During this time, new staff are assisted in setting up bank accounts and doing the mandatory health check as well as more formal aspects of induction into the school. There is usually at least one social activity.” – Northbridge International School (Phnom Penh, Cambodia) – 58 Comments
“Very little help is offered to new teachers, although the primary school seems much more organized that the high school. The school has a very ‘sink or swim’ approach (there was no curriculum or resources in place when I arrived).” – Beijing Huijia Private School (Beijing, China) – 32 Commentscontinue reading
Even when the administrators divide and conquer (to appraise all the many staff members), it still often times doesn’t get done. Sometimes they start off in August-October with a few goal making meetings, but often that is as far as it goes for that school year.
This begs the question, are appraisals really necessary? I guess there are pros and cons to doing appraisals, maybe all pros. But if the appraisal is not done so in an effective manner or is perceived as an unauthentic experience, it seems like it will not be so meaningful for both parties.
It is possible to just go on with your jobs and through casual drop-ins make informal appraisals. It’s possible that if you are not really doing your job very well, most staff members know…including the administration.
It is also nice when staff members just organically make their own professional goals though and work towards achieving them for that school year; inviting their administration and other staff to observe certain lessons or to even get involved.
It’s certain that some international schools have indeed figured it out, doing appraisals from start to completion every year. But for many, maybe those with a high administration turn over, it is still a long-term goal to get a formal appraisal system underway and working effectively for everyone involved.
This article was submitted by guest author and International School Community member.
Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of appraisals, so you can stay the most informed as possible. “There are 51 comments (premium access only) that have the word appraisal in them, and a total of 144 comments in our comment topic called – “Details about the current teacher appraisal process.” Here are a few of those 144 comments related to appraisals about various schools from around the world:”
Our veteran international school teachers have submitted a total of 144 comments in this comment topic (May 2017). Here are a few that have been submitted:
“Primary teachers are observed by newly-appointed Heads of Department that have little to no experience” – Wycombe Abbey International School (Changzhou, China) – 78 Total Comments
“The school has worked with Pam Harper over the last year to define student learning and align teaching to it. The model that has been adopted, the Teaching for Learning Index, serves as the framework for professional learning and appraisal.” – NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 176 Comments
“Teachers are observed, given a print of the evaluation and a brief feedback meeting. No data is formally collected/recorded.” – Canadian International School (Tokyo) (Tokyo, Japan) – 93 Total Comments
“In a year and a half of teaching here, I have only had one formal classroom observation. The principal gave me an excellent evaluation and apparently hasn’t felt the need to return!” – Misr American College (Cairo, Egypt) – 53 Comments
“They have a system called Responsibility for Learning which is tailored to the situation. New teachers go through a pre-determined portfolio process supporting professional standards. Returning teachers are given options as to how to best support their own growth. Administrative visitations are ongoing and both formal and informal.” – American School of Dubai (Dubai, United Arab Emirates) – 84 Comments
“Teachers are observed twice in an academic year. At the end of the year, the results of these observations are then combined with evaluations from the senior Thai admin (who never see you teach). The score is then tabulated and you are given a bonus based on this score. Teachers can see the results of the observations but are not allowed to see the evaluations from the Thai admin.” – Assumption College (Bangkok, Thailand) – 21 Commentscontinue reading