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Going home for the summer: No one cares about your international life!

June 27, 2022


I always hope that somebody will care every year I go home, but every year most of them don’t. (Ha ha!)

It is not because they really don’t care though, it is mostly because they just don’t fully understand or connect to the international/expat life you are living.  When visiting family and friends in my home country, very rarely do the conversations relate to my life living abroad.  Hardly do we even talk about the amazing trips that I have been on the past year! (Oh, the things I have seen!)  It is hard to talk about your trips without giving an impression of bragging though.

International school teachers indeed live a life that is a foreign world to our old friends, so different from where we were born and raised.  Additionally, so many people in this world still just stay living close to where they were raised.  When I look at my home-country friends and relatives, most are living in the same city they grew up in or in the city just next to that one. (Side note: Why do we feel the need to escape our hometowns?)

And of course, quite a large percentage of people in the United States are without a passport (is that true for the Americans YOU know??).  Being that these friends and family that you know maybe haven’t had so much experience living abroad or even traveling abroad, you would think that would make them even more interested in your international life…but that isn’t always the case.

I guess when you go home, you spend most of your time just reminiscing about the good times of the past, of when you used to live there maybe. Most of the conversations you have also are just normal ones, talking about day-to-day things (e.g. the weather, etc.).

Sometimes your friends and family dominate the conversation with updates from their life, which of course you are curious about as well.  You want to get the lowdown on their lives being that you are only there visiting with them for typically such a short time.  I mean they haven’t seen you in a while as well, and they are excited to see you and catch you up on their lives.

Though it is truly so nice to go back home and catch up with everyone, little do your friends and family realize or understand the reverse culture shock you may be experiencing when you go back home, even if it is the 8th time you have come home in 10 years (let’s say) that you’ve been abroad.

International school teachers live a dual life basically.  The fact is…that we live most of the year in our host country; eating our host country food, hanging out with our host country friends, being surrounded by a foreign language and culture, living in our host country apartment, using and thinking in a foreign currency, etc.  When you visit your home country, you really want to tell people in your host country about those things!  Some will listen though when it comes up naturally in the conversation, but it is usually a fleeting moment…not giving you enough time to share as much as you would like.

This article is not meant to make fun of or hate on our home country friends and family, but it is meant to express our feelings about how an expat teacher might feel and how they might think in their head as they go home for the summer. When you are living abroad for so long, it is so nice (and important) to see and catch up with your family and old friends.

How do you feel when you go home to your host country? Are you able to have conversations with your friends and family about your life living abroad?

This article was submitted anonymously by an ISC member.

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Highlighted Articles

11 International Schools that are Close to Nature

October 25, 2021


Many of us international school educators would ideally like to teach abroad and also have close access to nature.

Escaping into a forest or a big green park can often reset our minds and bring our stress levels down to manageable levels.

Some international schools are already directly in nature. Maybe they are in a forest or right next to a water source, or maybe they are just in a city center that has a number of very green parks.

But not all international schools are in cities that have easy and quick access to nature.

Some cities do have a few trees lining the streets and also a few small parks scattered around, but often the number of buildings outnumber these two things. And if you look closely, there can even be a layer of dust/dirt on the leaves making the green look more like a brownish color!

Even if there is not a lot of nature in the city center itself, it is still important to note that it can be worth it if you can find some nature close by via public transport or car.

Having access to a number of day trip options that go into nature can really be a selling point to working in a certain city and country.

Nature is important to many of us international educators, so it is necessary to ask around and do your research before making a decision to relocate.

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 235 comments that had the keyword “Nature” in them. Here are 11 of them:

Thailand

“The school is quite far from the center of Chiang Mai but it is possible to find nice places to eat and plenty of local shops and markets a short car or scooter ride away. The plus side is that you have total peace and are surrounded by lush green making it a wonderfully relaxed place to live and explore. Staff are given apartments on the school grounds with the option to live off-campus for those who wish it.” – Prem Tinsulanonda International School (55 total comments)

United Arab Emirates

“Single people enjoy their lives here. There are many other expats to date. There are a lot of things to do during the day and night here. There is a good coupon book that some people use. The book is huge so that means there is much to do. With regards to nature, there is actually a lot of living things in the desert. In our garden, there are many kinds of critters!” – American Community School of Abu Dhabi (30 total comments)

Malaysia

“There isn’t much to do in Putrajaya apart from nature walks and the lake activities. KL has lots to offer but lacks the excitement of other SE Asian destinations. It’s great for families though and has a charm of its own.” – Nexus International School – Malaysia (94 total comments)

Germany

“I would say there is a lot of nature here in Hamburg. There is water everywhere basically. There are many parks in the city as well. Just no mountains.” – International School of Hamburg (55 total comments)

Costa Rica

“Anywhere you around in the city, you will be able to see beautiful mountains. The sun is typically shining as well making all the views of the trees and flowers so lovely. And if the nature in the city isn’t enough, then you are not too far away from more nature in other cities around the country.” – American International School of Costa Rica (12 total comments)

France

“There is so much night life here, if that is your scene. There is also a lot of nature here too with so many parks around the city. On a sunny, warm day, Paris just looks sooooo beautiful! Last night I saw two gay men holding hands while walk down the sidewalk, and then around the Seine, I saw a group of gay bears meeting up for a mini party/gathering. Seems like Paris is really gay friendly.” – International School of Paris (24 total comments)

Norway

“However it’s the best place for nature and getting out of the city in no time.” – Norlights International School Oslo (122 total comments)

Ukraine

“It is possible to find any kind of activities you want here. There is a lot of nightlife, but also easy access to large parks and nature. Buying or renting a car will allow opportunities to get out into the country and really experience nature, if desired.” – Qsi – Kyiv International School (36 total comments)

Japan

“There are so many temples/shrines to see here. Many of them are going up the nearby mountainside. There is such beautiful nature there with amazing trees everywhere. In the spring, it is awesome and in the fall it can be very gorgeous.” – Kyoto International School (65 total comments)

Oman

“There isn’t that much nature in the city of Muscat itself, but you don’t have to do too far to see some green. There are palm trees that are dotted around the area, like near to the Grand Mosque. There are even areas of beautiful green grass and flowers like near to the Corniche Mutrah. But most of Muscat is desert-like. Just flat and sandy!” – American International School of Muscat (34 total comments)

Colombia

“School is built on a large hillside with beautiful views of the city. It is surrounded by a sort of nature preserve so it’s very green all around. The buildings are old and cannot be rebuilt due to building restrictions but they do their best to keep them repaired best they can.” – Colegio Nueva Granada (60 total comments)

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How Northfields International School simplified textbook distribution with eBooks.com

September 14, 2021


Key points

  • New service makes it easy to acquire e-textbooks and issue them to students.
  • Find and issue e-texts to your class in a few minutes.
  • You only pay for ebooks that are actually accessed by a student. (No leftovers.)

How it works

The goal of all international schools is to give students the best chance of success. Whether your students are studying for the IGCSE, the International Baccalaureate or following another curriculum, getting the right textbooks into their hands is critical. Traditionally there is a lot of administration and overhead involved in sorting out appropriate books for students. Before purchasing textbooks:

  • You need to determine student numbers accurately
  • Then submit a bulk order request to a book distributor
  • Then wait days or weeks for the books to be shipped and delivered, particularly during the current pandemic
  • If better textbooks or new editions become available, you’ll have to submit another order and wait all over again.

eBooks.com has developed a service that simplifies the distribution of ebooks to international school students. Once you’ve set up an account, you can choose from millions of titles and get the relevant text into the hands of your students within minutes. The flexibility of the system ensures that you always buy the correct number of ebooks for your students and you’ll only get charged when a student accesses the ebook for the first time. So there’s no guesswork as to numbers; no wastage.

Helen Keetarut, the Librarian from Northfields International School has said:

“At Northfields International School we have children from Nursery right through to Year 13, and we are a busy school with lots of book requirements. eBooks.com has been a fantastic supplier for us mainly due to their amazing customer service and friendly helpful staff. We have queries from students and teachers alike and Ebooks.com is always on hand to help. We recently started using their Ebook course management, which has made ordering and allocating books much easier and efficient. This was explained to us in our own private training session. Well done eBooks.com for your great team and thank you for all your support.”

Using this simple interface, you can just choose the book(s) for the course and then upload a spreadsheet of your students’ email addresses. We’ll handle the rest.

Here’s how the Ebook Course Management platform simplifies your life:

  • Allows students to access content with just their email address or a unique fulfillment URL.
  • You’ll have open access to the entire eBooks.com catalog to choose from.
  • Multiple administrators or teachers per course.
  • Multiple groups per course, allowing you to split students into cohorts.
  • Multiple levels of authorized access to the system.
  • Students own their ebooks forever.
  • We’ll bill monthly, based on the number of students that have accessed their ebook for the first time.

If you’re interested in learning more, just register your interest, or contact us directly at ecm@ebooks.com. Wherever you’re based, we’re happy to organise a demo of the system.

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How to prepare your teaching CV for a job fair

November 18, 2020


An international education job fair is an excellent opportunity to meet and interview with a range of different schools, all in one convenient location. Events like the Explore CRS Shanghai job fair, taking place 8 – 10 January 2021, allow you to explore the career opportunities available to you, as well as build connections with new and interesting schools.

But just as during the normal job application process, it’s your CV that will determine whether a school wants to see you for an interview or take discussions further.

The recruitment consultants at Explore CRS sift through hundreds of CVs a year, in search of talented candidates to introduce to schools. They know exactly what information school hiring managers are looking for and what candidates can do to prepare their CVs ahead of an international education job fair. Here are their top tips:

Make an impression, fast

Recruiters and hiring managers are busy and spend as little as 3 to 5 seconds reading a CV. You, therefore, need to ensure that the layout of your CV is clear and that your employment story is coherently presented. Someone scanning the information needs to be able to quickly understand what you offer as a potential new employee.

Lay your CV out in clear sections: personal information, education, teaching experience, referees and other interests. Organise your work experience chronologically, starting with the most recent at the top. Don’t forget to include employment dates (month and year) and locations, as well as when and where you graduated from college or university.

Don’t go overboard

We appreciate that it’s hard to condense a long and varied teaching career down into a few paragraphs. It’s important, however, that you don’t include too much information in your CV. Try to keep it to a maximum of 3 to 4 pages. You need to present only the absolute highlights of your career and experience. Remember that adding more information also acts to dilute what is there, so keeping it brief will only strengthen your CV.

Emphasise your curricula experience

Many of the schools that Explore CRS work with are interested in teachers with specific curricula experience so be sure to emphasise all the curricula and national education systems you’re familiar with.

Although first preference will often be given to candidates whose experience matches a school’s criteria, many hiring managers do appreciate the similarities between curricula so it’s always helpful if you can clearly state those you’ve been involved with.

Explain the gaps

If there are gaps in your employment history, you should ensure you explain what you were doing during these times. There are a number of legitimate reasons for taking career breaks and very often these periods are spent doing things that actually enhance your CV. However, unexplained gaps in employment history can sometimes ring alarm bells amongst recruiters and hiring managers, so it helps enormously if you clarify why you took time out.

Write out your acronyms

In the international education sector, there are so many different institutions and academic bodies that it’s important to write out the name in full first and then use the acronym after. This is especially important if it’s not a well-known or globally used acronym. You need to ensure recruiting schools are able to understand your CV and quickly assess who you’ve worked for previously!

Include relevant professional development

Obviously, it’s great for recruiters and hiring managers to see that you’re dedicated to your ongoing professional development. They don’t, however, need to read every single PD workshop you’ve ever attended so make sure only to list the most relevant and recent you’ve taken part in.

Don’t forget, however, to include the most impressive examples of professional development, such as qualifications gained or participation in professional organisations, mentoring or research.

Spellcheck!

It’s amazing how many CVs come through to the Explore CRS consultants with grammatical or spelling mistakes. These errors completely undermine your attempts to come across as professional and diligent. Make sure you check your CV through at least twice and if you’re still unsure whether it’s error-free, have someone else check it too.

Use your CV at the event

Many job fairs (including those offered by Explore CRS) will include pre-scheduled interviews, so you will need to ensure your CV is ready to give to your consultant before you attend the event.

When the time comes for the event, it’s a good idea to print out 10 to 15 copies of your CV in colour and on high-quality paper to hand out to schools in person. You never know what face-to-face connections you’ll make, and a CV is an important tool in attracting the interest of a potential new employer.

One last useful tip for ensuring hiring managers remember you on the day is to include a professional headshot with your CV. While this is in no way mandatory, it’s a great way to make a lasting impression with school staff who will potentially meet hundreds of other candidates on the same day.

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This article was submitted to us by Explore CRS.

As well as helping applicants find teaching opportunities throughout the year, the Explore CRS team is also hosting a job fair in Shanghai, China, on 8 – 10 January 2021.

Attendees will have the opportunity to interview and network with a variety of international and bilingual schools, based both in China and beyond. After last year’s fair, over two-thirds of attending candidates were offered positions. An added benefit of attending the fair is the opportunity to take part in professional development workshops, after which all attendees can receive certification.

Learn more about the fair and sign up to attend via the Explore CRS website.

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TEACHING on PRINCIPLE: How CGC Builds Learning Cultures in Every Classroom

November 11, 2020


In previous articles in this series we looked at the first two elements in the CGC Learning Ecosystem: Define and Design. Now we turn our attention to the Deliver element, asking, ‘How do we teach for learning and create a shared, schoolwide, learning culture?’.

The search for consistent quality of learning, and therefore consistent quality of teaching, is a long and winding road. The usual markers on that road seem to focus on developing ‘standards’ for teachers, and then ‘evaluating’ teachers against those standards. It’s all very compliance-oriented and rule-bound. Even the language around it smacks of the factory floor. In what other profession are we the ‘supervisors’ of our colleagues?

In CGC, we take a very different approach. We believe that schools are learning cultures and that cultures are framed by principles, not constrained by rules. We define a principle as ‘a shared truth that brings order and freedom to a system’. To us, common sense alone dictates that, as professionals, we are more likely to follow a ‘shared truth’ than to attempt to comply with the mind-boggling number of standards that seem to over-populate evaluation systems.

So, where do our Learning Principles come from? We believe that a well-crafted, co-created set of Learning Principles will be a practical synthesis of our shared learning experiences and the most reliable research. As always in CGC, we also believe in simplicity over complexity, so we generally work hard to synthesize our collective wisdom into 4-5 Learning Principles, and we find that this is plenty to guide learning, teaching and leading.

Of course, a set of Learning Principles has no value on its own. Just another wall adornment to nail up by the Mission Statement. The real learning impact comes when Learning Principles are translated into Learning Practices, then into the necessary Teaching Practices to support the learning, then Leading Practices to support the teaching. It’s basic logic, a simple if-then syllogism: If we are living this principle, then here’s what we’ll see our learners doing, here’s what our teachers will be doing in support and here’s what our leaders will be doing to sustain this culture of ‘learning, teaching and leading on principle’. For example, if the Principle is about Self-regulation, then learners, guided by teachers, will be able to set their own learning goals, and teachers will be able to set their own professional learning goals. It’s a system, and the system shapes the culture.

So, that’s the simple idea. A school-wide culture shaped by a few deeply-held shared learning principles that drive practices for learning, teaching and leading, including practices for Self-directed Professional Learning. When it comes to improving our practice, it seems obvious that we learn to improve our practice, so we should be following learning theory not out-moded evaluation practices. 

A final point. In our member schools, we have seen rapid transformation by simply working together as a faculty on one collective annual goal of high learning impact for all students. It’s a simpler, more effective use of time and energy than the annual ritual of scatter-shot multiple personal goal-setting by each faculty member, a process we have labeled, somewhat irreverently, ‘Letters to Santa’. It’s one of many Energy Vampires that we would best be rid of. But that’s another story…

This article was submitted by Kevin Bartlett. Kevin led international schools for over 30 years in 4 different locations, while working on a number of fronts to systematize international education. This work included designing accreditation systems including ACE, leading courses for the Principals’ Training Center, initiating and leading the IB Primary Years Programme, and co-founding The Next Frontier Inclusion and the Common Ground Collaborative.

www.thecgcproject.org
kevin@thecgcproject.org
#CGCKevin

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