Comment Topic Highlight

Why Are People Staying at or Leaving Your International School?

November 15, 2017


If you work at an international school, you know that this is already the time to be thinking about whether you will stay for another year or two at your current school or move on back home or to another international school.
International School

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.

International School

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.

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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 Comments

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Comment Topic Highlight

How Is The New Teacher Orientation at Your School?

August 12, 2017


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

orientation

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

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

orientation

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

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

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

Here are a few of those submitted comments:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Comment Topic Highlight

Has Your International School Appraised Their Teachers This School Year?

May 13, 2017


Schools say they are going to do them, but for some reason they just don’t get done for one reason or another. It maybe that it is truly an impossible task to complete in one school year, to appraise all staff members.
appraisal

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.

appraisal

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.

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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 Comments

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Comment Topic Highlight

How Much Curriculum Development Work are You Expected to Do? (Atlas Rubicon, etc.)

February 27, 2017


When you work in a public school district in the USA, it is typically unlikely that you will also have to spend time specifically working on curriculum development. Unless I suppose when you are getting paid extra to do so. Usually curriculum development is handled at the district office.

curriculum

But at international schools, it is very common place to also have this task added to a teacher’s annual workload. Especially at small schools with fewer teachers, then the odds are quite high you will spend a number of hours doing curriculum development.

Who even can remember how this work was done 20 years ago, but of course now it is all done online. A popular choice amongst international schools is Rubicon Atlas. Though this service has a lot of good features and is “easy to use”, it is not always so popular and user-friendly for teachers.

curriculum

Many international schools require teachers to plan their lessons every day and then also update their units on whatever the school uses for their written curriculum. It can be a lot of work!  Each international school needs to think about what is the right balance for the teachers and who is responsible exactly for the updating of their writing curriculum.

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of curriculum development, so you can stay the most informed as possible. It is called: “How much curriculum development work are you expected to do? (Atlas Rubicon, etc.)

Our veteran international school teachers have submitted a total of 128 comments in this comment topic (March 2017).  Here are a few that have been submitted:

“Since this is a new-ish school, there is still a considerable amount of curriculum development going on. The MS/HS uses Managebac and the PS uses something similar. There is a decent amount of time allocated during the day for division and grade level planning.” – Keystone Academy (Beijing, China)14 Comments

“I have to say, there is a lot of “reinventing the wheel” when it comes to curriculum, particularly in Elementary. We are expected to create several Unit plans for Reading and Writing Workshop when we already paid for (and have in our possession) Lucy Calkins detailed Units and Plans available. In this regard, work is highly repetitive, redundant, and unnecessary. Of course, there is a need to review, modify and adapt Units and Lessons to meet the needs of your kids, but in the Elementary division, it seems reinventing the wheel is more cherished than using the proven resources we already have.” – American International School Abuja (Abuja, Nigeria)36 Comments

“The goal is to have a UbD plan for every unit of every class. Some departments are closer to achieving that goal than others, depending on the schedules of curriculum review cycles. Each department is given specific goals, and some meeting and planning time arranged (occasionally pull-out times during a school day, for which substitutes are required for your classes) to facilitate the process, but much of the work is expected to be done during teachers’ planning times.” – American International School Vienna (Vienna, Austria)38 Comments

“International teachers are expected to undertake all of the curriculum development work, and the school introduced the use of Atlas Rubicon at the back end of the 2015/2016 school year. This development is expected to tail off, however, as the authority with oversight of the NIS schools has decreed that all curricula must be uploaded by the end of the 2015/2016 school year, with the understanding that no changes will be made after that time.” – Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Astana (Astana, Kazakhstan)37 Comments

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Comment Topic Highlight

How Much Do Flights Actually Cost from Various Cities Around the World?

December 27, 2016


It’s holiday time and most of us are on some trip enjoying our time off. We might be home with our families in our home countries, or we also might be on some tropical island (if we are so lucky!).

How Much Do Flights Actually Cost

But where you go often depends on how much the flight costs to the place you want to go. If your school is paying via your flight allowance benefit, then perfect! But if you are paying, then you for sure are looking out for the best deal (sometimes for hours on flight search websites!)

It is hard to know what it is like flying out of a city you haven’t lived in yet. How much are the flights to within the host country itself, to nearby countries and to your home country like England or the United States for example?

If the flights are too expensive in relation to your salary, then it might be very likely you won’t be going home a lot for the holidays. If going home every holiday season is important for you, then it is good to know this information up front before you make a decision to move and live somewhere.

How Much Do Flights Actually Cost

An average international school teacher probably goes on at least one flight every one to two months while living abroad. That means many cities in a number of different countries. These costs can add up and take away from your savings, but it is just what international school teachers like to do!

When job searching, make sure to consider the full picture of the host country airport that you might just be using if you sign a contract with a school there.

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to getting the inside scoop on how much flights actually cost from various host cities across the world, so you can stay the most informed as possible. It is called: “Sample travel airfares from host city airport to destinations nearby.

Our veteran international school teachers have submitted a total of 141 comments in this comment topic (Dec. 2016).  Here are a few that have been submitted:

“Direct flights to the US can be up to 2000USD (JFK), Europe around 1500USD and Australia similar. Prices shoot up around major holidays. There are a number of low-cost airlines operating, which means you can fly more or less anywhere in East/South East Asia for less that 200USD.” – Hong Kong Academy (Hong Kong, China)54 Comments

“Flights purchased 21 days in advance on discount airlines within Europe can be as little as 20$. But beware, sometimes these flights are cancelled with little or now warning, and you’re left having to purchase a much more expensive one with a different airline at the last-minute. Flights to Asia or the USA will run between 500-1000$, depending on when you travel. Everything is more expensive in July and August, so try to plan travel in off-peak times for the best deals.” – Oeiras International School (Lisbon, Portugal)111 Comments

“Check KLM’s website every now and again. They sometimes give great deals on empty seats from Denpasar to Singapore. I’ve flown it for $59 on occasion. Also- pro tip- If you have money to spare and want a few hours of luxury. When checking in, go to the Business Class counter and ask if there are any empty seats. They used to sell them for $50 extra. Now they’ve fixed the price at about $110.” – Green School Bali (Denpasar, Indonesia)54 Comments

“Doha is a central airport in the world – usually the stopover for flights from Europe to Asia, so there are amazing flight options from here. Cheapest weekend flights are to other middle eastern countries/cities – Dubai/Abu Dhabi/Bahrain/ Oman. You can get good deals on Qatar Airways too. Popular destinations from here (but not in a weekend): Maldives, Sri Lanka, India, Turkey. I think the flight prices aren’t too bad (in relation to salaries here) they might seem expensive when you exchange to another currency.” – Qatar Academy (Sidra) (Doha, Qatar)59 Comments

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