Every school year, a school always goes through some new changes or simply experiences new things that the staff is now required to do or complete. The changes could be related to the school’s curriculum, some new professional development based on new initiatives, new building procedures (like fire drills), new mandatory training (like child protection), etc.
For many things (like ones actually dictated by the host country), they are mandatory and the admin simply just needs to fit those required things into their yearly meeting schedule. Combine those required things with the other things and initiatives that a school wants to do, it can make for a sometimes stressful school year for the staff (and admin!). Furthermore, balancing these new things with your normal planning work and actually teaching students can prove to be very challenging.
So what are some of these new initiatives that international schools are focusing on in recent years?
A number of international schools are having their staff work with the Managebac program. There are 97+ comments related to Managebac on our website.
It’s also fairly certain that your school is now or will very soon be going through an accreditation. ISC has 525+ total comments related to school accreditation on 351 international schools at the moment.
With regards to curriculum, it appears that a number of schools are doing training with the Common Core curriculum. There are 45 comments that are about the different schools taking on this in recent years.
And the list goes on…
What is a possible plan then for balancing all of these newly added things so that staff and admin don’t get too overwhelmed? As one ISC member wrote about working at United Nations International School (Vietnam), “the [needs to be a] conscious adoption of a “less is more” ethos.”
Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of new things added at a school. Our members can share what current international schools are doing in this topic. There are a total of 1007 comments (Sept. 2022) that have been submitted by our veteran international school teachers in one of the 68 comment topics called – “Recent things that the school has taken on (i.e. new curriculum, specific professional development, etc.).”
Here are a few of those submitted comments:
“The use of Kagan cooperative structures is the focus for this year. The entire faculty had 2 days of training before the commencement of the school year with another session upcoming later in the year. The goal being student engagement. Most of the faculty have been receptive and are already using the structures in their classrooms…” – Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea) – 231 Total Comments
“The school just finished a multi-year curriculum initiative designed to put the entire Pre-K through 12th-grade curriculum documents onto Rubicon Atlas. The school seems to focus most on literacy in the Lower School, innovation and design in the Middle School, and IB/AP in the Upper School. School-wide, there is a focus on Differentiated Instruction, but this takes different forms in different divisions. There is a new Head of School coming in for the 2018-2019 school year…” – American School of Paris (Paris, France) – 68 Comments
“The administration said they care more about kids learning English and Maths rather than any other subjects. What makes the school unique, seems independent of what they are pursuing; bring more local students no matter what their academic level is…” – Changchun American International School (Changchun, China) – 168 Total Comments
“Professional development this year has included IBDP two-day Category 3 in-school workshops on the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge. All staff also completed a Stewards of Children online course and a one-day first aid and CPR course…” – Tsukuba International School (Tsukuba, Japan) – 58 Comments
“The school has offered, over the past two years, very little in terms of professional development. There has been talk of a curriculum change to the Cambridge Primary Curriculum for September 2018…” – Cambridge School Doha (Doha, Qatar) – 85 Comments
“The school is just setting up a Professional Learning Centre to improve instruction and practice at the school first. The school has designated professional learning time on Friday afternoons and encourages professional development…” – YK Pao School (Shanghai, China) – 61 Commentscontinue reading
We cannot just leave them behind. Well, sometimes we do, when we find a happy home for them (usually a friend or a relative). However, if there is a possibility of bringing our pet with us to our next destination, then people will probably do it.
Moving is a hard task, that is for sure. It can be even harder, though, transplanting yourself with a pet. There are so many hoops that you may need to go through before you have your pet with you, safe and sound in your new home/country.
Sign this form here. Sign this form there. Quarantine your pet for XX amount of days, weeks, or months??
Not so much fun for you or your pet.
For the love of this inseparable part of your family, you do it. Because at the end of it all, you will both be able to enjoy and explore the new country together and comfort each other when things get tough and lonely.
Bringing a pet to another country varies across the globe as there are different laws in different countries. Additionally, we must not forget about the international school itself. It is very possible your new international school highly discourages you to bring your pet (due to staff housing policies, etc…). Good to know these things ahead of time then!!
Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to international school teachers with pets, so you can stay the most informed as possible. It is called: “Describe your experience bringing pets.“
There are a total of 357 comments in this comment topic (June 2022). Here are a few that have been submitted:
“The biggest obstacle will be the landlords not allowing pets. This despite that there are tons of dogs and cats around. The landlords that do allow pets will require a $1000 USD deposit. Lots of vets, people love dogs here, but also lots of strays and roving packs of dogs. Vets are inexpensive compared to elsewhere…”
International School of Belgrade (Belgrade, Serbia) – 95 Total Comments
“No support from school. Do all your own research. Viet Nam is fairly easy for bringing pets into the country but, depending on where you are going next or what type of pet you have, it may be much more problematic leaving…”
TH School (Hanoi, Vietnam) – 9 Total Comments
“Many staff this year successfully brought cats. Most chose to do the paperwork on their own – others paid $$$$ for pet shippers. Personal choice. The school didn’t help with this…”
International School of Panama (Panama City, Panama) – 89 Total Comments
“Very easy to come into the country with pets and a good area to have them. Not too many areas have grassy bits but there are parks etc to bring them to. Recently GRAB, (Uber here) started a pet carrying service. Veterinary care is very good too from my experience…”
KIS International School (Bangkok) (Bangkok, Thailand) – 401 Total Comments
“Updated on this pet situation. With the new housing benefits coming into effect now, many newly constructed apartments do not allow pets, and therefore housing that allows pets is at a premium. You need to discuss your pet situation with HR if you are considering coming here…”
Chadwick International School – Songdo (Incheon, South Korea) 158 Total Comments
If you work at an international school, you know that your decision to stay or leave has already been decided by now. Teachers most likely have already decided whether they will stay for another year or two at their current school or move on back home or to another 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 (not necessarily on foreign-hired contracts). 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 each year. One of these factors is that the school has decided to move in a direction that doesn’t match your teaching philosophy anymore. 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 a 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 anymore, there are many more that probably will.
So the question 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 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 477 comments (May 2022) that have been submitted by our veteran international school teachers in one of 67 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 a better job anywhere else and people 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) – 87 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) – 140 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 is 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) – 140 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) – 193 Commentscontinue reading
We all want to work at an international school that is a positive working experience and where there is high staff morale.
High staff morale means that you are happy to go to work, all your basic needs are met (e.g. you have good benefits and you get paid well and on time), and you are excited to work together with other staff members, the admin, the students, and the parents.
But keeping a high staff morale at an international school is not as easy as one might think. There are many factors that can affect this. And with ever-changing staff and students, the strategy needs to be ongoing.
Internationals schools can create a harmonious state of well-being by putting time and effort (and probably money) towards a number of different areas. Some of these areas being: sending out care packages when times are rough (e.g. remote teaching), giving Happy Teacher’s Appreciation Day notes/gifts, providing free (really nice) lunches and opportunities to relax with friends and colleagues, offering a well-organized onboarding process, etc.
But it is not just the admin that has the responsibility to do these things to promote a harmonious state of well-being, the other stakeholders can also play an important role in this effort.
Some international schools have a Sunshine Committee that provides a number of positive things to staff and also hosts events/parties throughout the school year. Even parents can offer different things to promote high staff morale like holding teacher appreciation buffet lunches on special days.
Each international school is on its own journey with creating a harmonious state of well-being amongst its staff. Before taking a job at an international school, it might be a good idea to find a way to ask about the current state of staff morale, why it is that way, and what is the school doing to address this topic.
Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of staff morale and well-being. In this comment topic, our members can share what their experience has been working at various international schools around the world. There are a total of 510 comments (January 2022) that have been submitted by our veteran international school teachers on this specific comment topic (one out of the 68 in total) called – “What does the school do to create a harmonious state of well-being and high morale amongst its staff?”
Here are a few of those submitted comments:
“Morale is good at the school currently even though we have had a roller coaster of both face-to-face and online learning due to the rise and fall of Covid. Teachers have been given shared planning time and we meet weekly on Wednesdays (early dismissal for students) as a staff to work on both professional development and other school/staff priorities…” – The American School of Kinshasa (Kinshasa, Congo (DRC)) – 84 Total Comments
“The school tries to place an emphasis on a work and life balance. It is trying to promote a healthy working community. With almost all the staff living on campus, this is very much needed as there can be a working all the time feeling and that you are always at work. The Christmas holidays is a welcome break after a long semester…” – Keystone Academy (Beijing, China) – 143 Comments
“The staff has pretty high morale, and that is shown again and again at the end of the year climate survey. The middle school tends to be known as the happiest division. The school has been working to increase wellbeing by adding wellness options (fitness, culture, fun activities) at each PD day, allowing mid-day workouts in the school gym, mental health days in addition to sick days, and a surprise Thanksgiving bonus this year…” – American International School of Budapest (Budapest, Hungary) – 73 Total Comments
“There is a wellbeing committee that is allowed to host wellbeing days. But this feels artificial when we aren’t structurally creating an environment where wellbeing is sustainable. Teachers with more than 5 preps (sometimes multiple preps in the same class), teachers who have obligatory after school contacts year-round, teachers who are chided for taking mental health days, not hiring enough teachers to support the programs, and acquiescing to demanding parents to change courses/grades/teachers. Not the conditions for wellbeing…” – Shanghai American School (Pudong) (Shanghai, China) – 197 Comments
“Last year they provided a masseuse and a free one hour massage to all staff who wanted it. They also gave Christmas ornaments to teachers and presents to kids. There are staff BBQs, pool parties, trivia nights, and more…” – Schutz American School (Alexandria, Egypt) – 61 Commentscontinue reading
Let’s hope that all of our host countries recycle in some way. If they do, then certainly the ways they do it will be different and interesting, and also affect the international school at which you are working.
Many international school teachers are interested in living a sustainable life in a country that supports that lifestyle. Not all countries are the same, of course, and they are unable to put their current focus on recycling. For some international educators, this might be a deal-breaker.
If your new host country does recycle, figuring out how your host country recycles is another thing. If the directions or letters you receive are in a language you can’t read and understand, then it can definitely be a challenge. But asking around your international school, and maybe even calling on your neighbors can help.
What will you be able to recycle when living in your new apartment building or house? Will you be able to recycle plastic, metal, batteries, glass, bio waste, carton, paper, etc.? If you can recycle these things, how easy will it be to do just that?
Maybe you pay some sort of a deposit when you buy something at a store that comes in a plastic bottle. Then you need to find the place where you can return these bottles and get your deposit back (sometimes it is the same store). In other countries, you don’t pay a deposit and thus all your plastic bottles might just go into one big garbage bag. In both cases, there might also be people going around to different dumpsters and garbage cans around the city looking for those recyclables and doing the recycling for you.
Then again, there might be an easy way to recycle most of the things you are using, but you just haven’t figured it out yet. Years can pass with you not recycling the best way that you can in your host country. Once you find out the way, then you might feel a bit stupid that you haven’t been doing it that way since you first moved there!
The ways your host country recycles might be a bit inconvenient for you (or really easy!), but once you get it to be part of your new routine of living there, then it is typically a snap to recycle all the time.
At ISC, we are really curious to see how progressive your host countries does with recycling. Login today and share what you know. The new comment topic is located in the City Information section of all school profile pages.continue reading