International School Community is full of thousands of useful, informative comments…44256 comments (30 May 2022) to be exact.
Members are recommended to keep their comments objective on our website, and sometimes they need to share how it really is working at their international school.
We scoured our database of comments, and we found 12 that stood out to us as being some of the most controversial.
12. Has the school met your expectations once you started working there?
“Disorganised. Micromanagement from leaders who haven’t been teaching a range of schools before. Limited experience from Tier 1 schools which reflects the disorganization and reactive rather than proactive approach to problems. Leadership runs to stomp down teachers, bully them and drain their enthusiasm for teaching. AOBA has a huge staff turnover, which was a question that I asked when interviewed. I was told a very low turnover rate until I turned up and was met with a large new teaching cohort. Leadership sees good teachers, and lies to get them because they know that what they offer is not good enough for the truth-telling of how this school is actually run…” – Aoba Japan International School (Tokyo, Japan) – 49 Comments
11. Details about the teaching contract. What important things should prospective teachers know about?
“The ONLY contract that matters is the teacher’s contract with the government of Azerbaijan, and that is for one year and one year only. The “2-year” that is issued by the school? It’s not worth the paper it is written on. The business office regularly ignores sections of that contract that it finds inconvenient! Coming from a country where contracts are considered sacrosanct, that was a shocking realization…” – European Azerbaijan School (Baku, Azerbaijan) – 7 Comments
10. What controversies have been happening lately? Please be objective.
“Leaders have been fired without any forewarning shocking leaders and staff. Replacements were hired who are not trusted or have a reputation for being unpleasant. Student leaders behaved in a manner this year that caused a great number of problems for staff, parents, and admin. This is not a new behavior but rather part of the school persona and spirit…” – Tarsus American College (Mersin, Turkey) – 278 Comments
9. What insider information would you give to a teacher considering working at this school?
“This is a top-down working environment and your professional opinion is not expected or valued. Smile, agree and do your best to follow through with all directives. Lay low and never make ripples, much less waves. This is a great place for 1st ever international teachers, but an unacceptable post for professional international educators…” – American International School (Abu Dhabi) (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) – 97 Comments
8. Has the school met your expectations once you started working there?
“No, Not at all. There is no PAY SCALE as promised. Teachers even don’t get paid what they should get paid when inflation rises. Salaries stay the same every year. no way you can discuss this further with your HOD or director. Different building with more facilities was said to change, during my interview. During Covid, online teaching they cut salaries. Can you believe that? We spent more time in organising online learning and then they cut salaries! Flexibility only comes from one side in this school. I would not recommend this school to any teacher nor student!!!!” – International School Ruhr (Essen, Germany) – 65 Comments
7. Has the school met your expectations once you started working there?
“No, the interview process was great yet when I joined there were clashes of values and I was constantly asked to stop and ‘listen’ (listen in the sense of ‘do what I say’ rather than ‘listen’ from the heart to hear and incorporate perspectives). As a creative person with ambition and well-read and connected, I had to keep lowering expectations until I felt there was no way I could continue working here. I had a completely different ethic, based on quality international school standards. I was highly disappointed by the lack of innovative thinking and the authoritarian and competitive feel of the majority of the leaders. I think the school is too American and not enough “international”. the culture was not healthy…” – Anglo American School of Sofia (Sofia, Bulgaria) – 74 Comments
6. Pension plan details.
“It is not a pension. Due to Brazilian law, each teacher pays 8% of their salary each month into a guarantee fund. This is more or less an unemployment insurance. At the end of your contract, the school agrees to “fire” you, so you can access that fund. Based on the exchange rate at that time, it can vary in USD. At the beginning of my contract is was estimated around $12,000. But, now it will be much closer to $7,000. There is no way to know how much it will actually be in the end…” – American School of Belo Horizonte (Belo Horizonte, Brazil) – 78 Comments
5. Has the school met your expectations once you started working there?
“The school has changed severely since the new head of school started this school year. 6 people had been fired so far, the morale is really low, there is a fear of “who will be the next”. The environment is not healthy at all…” – Benjamin Franklin International School (Barcelona, Spain) – 116 Comments
4. Has the school met your expectations once you started working there?
“My first impression of the school was that it was warm, welcoming, and compassionate. I thought I would truly matter as an employee – I was eager to find a school with a family-like atmosphere that I could make home. The family-like atmosphere is a total illusion. Employees are expendable. HR put out a health survey to prepare for Covid-19. Anyone (local staff and teaching assistants) seen as expendable that marked that they were at a higher risk of Covid on that survey was fired at the end of the school year. The motto for the year was “We Are One.” The irony was not lost on the foreign staff with this. Generally, the moment you have a differing opinion, an issue, or a criticism, you are treated like garbage. This school is the epitome of the term “toxic positivity…” – School of the Nations (Brasilia) (Brasilia, Brazil) – 41 Comments
3. Are the expectations high of teaching staff? Are there extracurricular responsibilities? Describe workload details.
“Workload has increased, as teachers have been fired/let go… those remaining are regularly requested to cover (during their planning periods) for those who are out sick…” – Lahore American School (Lahore, Pakistan) – 193 Comments
2. Average monthly salary after taxes and in what currency (explain taxation situation). How often do you get paid throughout the year?
“This is a great school with a fantastic community of teachers and staff. Such a shame that the owners will ignore the contract and refuse to pay health insurance above a yearly total of $180 per year, but then use the poor wording in the contract to cheat other people out of their final month’s salary. Beware if you want to work here…” – Sekolah Victory Plus (Jakarta, Indonesia) – 143 Comments
1. Average monthly salary after taxes and in what currency (explain taxation situation). How often do you get paid throughout the year?
“No raise last year and I believe no raise this year as well…. Makes you wonder if the school is having some issues…” – Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea) – 226 Comments
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When there is a supportive environment at a school, then everyone thrives.
But times can get stressful and things can change at the last minute in schools which can cause teachers and other stakeholders to seek help and support.
If there is a supportive environment at a school, then these stakeholders are likely to lend a helping hand to others in need.
There are many stressors at an international school: new students starting all of the time (some that are even new to English), endless meetings (sometimes not so useful for everyone), workload, having to reply to concerning parent emails, etc.
During the COVID19 pandemics, all stakeholders at the school really needed help and support to cope with all of the changes (sometimes very last minute!) to how your school runs their day and teaches their students.
But luckily, there are some international schools out there that have quite nice and supportive environments for their students, teachers, staff, and parents.
So which international schools then have these supportive environments for their stakeholders? Can you guess which countries/schools around the world would make for the best supportive conditions?
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 166 comments that had the keyword “supportive” in them. Here are 11 of them:
“The school meets my expectations due to on-time and competitive salary / benefits; broad range of Cambridge curriculum, excellent facilities, supportive administration, involved and supportive parents, mostly cooperative colleagues, excellent IT support, fresh and free Vietnamese lunches and incredible students…” – VinSchool The Harmony (18 total comments)
“The school has been supportive during the pandemic. During the height, when many teachers we outside of china, the school often let us know that our jobs were safe, which was much appreciated…” – Keystone Academy (189 total comments)
“For starters administration is awesome. The head of school and principals are supportive and empathetic. Now that the epidemic is ebbing we are starting to have community-building events such as happy hours…” – American Overseas School of Rome (40 total comments)
“Appraisals are held by the HoD which are usually very supportive and motivates teachers to improve and develop further their teaching practices…” – St Georges College (27 total comments)
“Very well established IGCSE Cambridge school with lots of international teachers. Few students are Turkish. Others are foreigners. Even though students represent many different countries including England, Venezuela, and Korea, they are mostly from Middle Eastern countries. Very supportive staff. No hierarchy at all. You feel real like working in USA or Canada. As long as you treat your students as your King and be loyal to them and master IGCSE you d be doing great there…” – Istanbul International School (15 total comments)
“The workload is very manageable due to small class sizes and supportive leadership. There are hardly ever stressful times…” – The Codrington School (International School of Barbados) (111 total comments)
“There is a probationary observation after about 3 months then a mixture of formal observations and drop-ins by senior and middle managers. The system is generally positive and supportive…” – Lanna International School (LIST) (55 total comments)
“There are sufficient staff children that the school is very flexible and supportive to working parent needs. For example, there is a shuttle bus across the various sites, so if a staff member works at one campus with children at another, the children are transported for free on the shuttle bus…” – Prague British International School (65 total comments)
“If you are active, there is a wonderful community of open water swimmers, bikers, and runners, etc. to connect with. There’s also the annual Conchman triathlon that takes place every November that is a great event to train for and participate in. It really brings the community together and everyone is very supportive. Great for the kids, too. There are other events to look forward to as well, including the annual Bernie Butler’s swim race and beach party in August…” – Lucaya International School (30 total comments)
United Arab Emirates
“The Headteacher is always approachable and will back you and support you. My department was amazing, a great group of people. Very supportive. There is a community feel around the school…” – Ajman Academy (44 total comments)
“Excellent, caring, supportive teachers who truly understand their students and how they learn best! Lots of wealth & mostly traditional families but it is growing more diverse…” – American School of London (49 total comments)continue reading
Nobody wants to be worked to the bone. And then not have any time to enjoy life outside of work.
Many of us left our home countries to escape being worked too much at our home country schools.
Teachers want to do their best and have time, inspiration and encouragement to do just that.
Just like the schools located in your home country, there is also a wide range of work-life balance situations at international schools.
Sometimes the work-life balance is affected by the norms of the host country’s laws and culture. Other times it is more influenced by the school itself and its admin.
But luckily, there are some international schools out there striving to have the best possible work-life balance for their teachers. As they say, teachers are more able to keep their focus and do their best if they are not so stressed at work.
So which international schools then have some good work-life balance conditions? Can you guess which countries/schools around the world would make for the best conditions for a good work-life balance?
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 30 comments that had the keyword “Life balance” in them. Here are 11 of them:
“There is a good work-life balance at the school. Teachers are required to lead an after school activity (1 hour/8 weeks) each semester…” – Khartoum American School (44 total comments)
“Expectations are high and teachers work hard. There is very reasonable non-contact time and staff gets paid if they do extracurricular activities. The workload is not excessive and there is a good work/life balance…” – Lanna International School (LIST) (18 total comments)
“The expectation of quality is very high, but this is reflected in giving ample prep-time. One can also request a “retreat” morning/afternoon/day if you would like to spend some extra time planning with a team. I find this to be one of the best places for work/life balance, without sacrificing quality…” – International School Hannover Region (38 total comments)
“Reasons to stay:
– Amman is pretty easy to live in – most things are available in stores
– The staff is a lot of fun and friendly and enjoyable to work and play with
– Jordan has a lot of amazing things to see and do, especially if you enjoy an outdoor life
– The school program is strong but the expectations on staff are realistic
– The school values a healthy work-life balance, there is not a workaholic mentality here…” – American Community School (Amman) (55 total comments)
“It is a great place to work at and the work-life balance is good too…” – Norlights International School Oslo (122 total comments)
“In general people stay because they feel supported, welcome and have a good quality of work/life balance…” – The English Modern School (Doha) (99 total comments)
“There are pros and cons but I think it depends on what you value. If you want a good work-life balance you can find that here. You don’t need to bring work home with you once you are established. The school also has great kids and the lack of structure means you have a lot of creative freedom…” – The Canadian International School Vietnam (147 total comments)
“KAS is the best international school in Kaohsiung as far as school resources, work/life balance, collegiality among staff, pay, vacation time, and students who work hard. As of yet, it is not the best in Taiwan (those would probably be TAS or TES in Taipei), but it’s working towards it…” – Kaohsiung American School (43 total comments)
“There is a good work-life balance at the school. Teachers are required to lead an after school activity 2 out of 3 trimesters…” – International Community School of Abidjan (68 total comments)
“There are many couples at our school, mainly young couples that are actively having children. There are so many staff having children each year! It is a great place to have children because of the long maternity and paternity leave, etc. What I’m trying to say is that if you are a couple and want to work at our school, it is a great match because couples really enjoy their work/life balance here…” – Copenhagen International School (391 total comments)
“There is a lot of work, but everyone can maintain their work-life balance. The school is supportive of on-campus wellness activities before and after school…” – International School Manila (110 total comments)continue reading
Schools thrive when there are hardworking students in them.
It is a dream to have students at your school that are hardworking and who focus on their learning when they come to school.
But do all international schools have hardworking students?
Most likely not. There are over 10000 international schools throughout the world, so there are bound to be some differences.
There are some international schools that have very privileged students in them, and they often don’t prioritize completing their classwork or even on their learning in general.
Can having effective teachers play a factor in achieving a high level of hardworking students in the school? Surely that is important as well. If the teachers are disengaged, then that is often demotivating for the students.
But, of course, there are many international schools that have amazingly hardworking students. These students are focused on their learning and are typically supported by their involved parents. The schools probably also have top-notch teachers and an engaging way of teaching their curriculum.
So which international schools then have these hardworking students?
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 36 comments that had the keyword “hardworking” in them. Here are 11 of them:
“Kids are hardworking in general. Mostly well behaved and friendly, especially welcoming to new students.” – Western International School of Shanghai (481 total comments)
“Positive, hardworking, driven, and respectful of adults.” – International School of Zanzibar (57 total comments)
“The kids are wonderful. Adorable, very loving and inclusive. Mainly hardworking and keen to learn. We have a couple of challenged learners but our counsellor is fantastic at supporting their teachers and indeed the whole community in understanding their challenges.” – KIS International School (Bangkok) (355 total comments)
“The school really is a great place to grow as a professional. There are many opportunities to develop new skills just by learning from other colleagues. The biggest comparison would be the student body – students at SFS are motivated, hardworking, involved, and love learning! It is a dream!” – Seoul Foreign School (176 total comments)
United Arab Emirates
“Respectful, conscientious, hardworking, courteous.” – American School of Dubai (167 total comments)
“The students are wonderful to work with. They are respectful, kind, hardworking, and smart.” – Yangon International School (81 total comments)
“Some stay for the great education for their own kids, and the opportunity to impact upon other students who by and large are hardworking and cooperative.” – Hebron School (35 total comments)
“The staff is great. There’s a good sense of communities. Students are generally well-behaved and hardworking. Parents are supportive.” – International School of Tanganyika (171 total comments)
“The students are hardly ever disciplined at the school, but thankfully that is not an issue most of the time as the students are very well behaved and hardworking by default.” – Beijing National Day School (81 total comments)
“My students were fantastic! Hardworking and well behaved. I loved every minute of my time at the school.” – Uruguayan American School (32 total comments)
“Happy, hardworking, driven, excited about learning.” – International School Manila (96 total comments)continue reading
We can all agree that 2020 was a very strange year for international school teachers. Every country has been affected by all of the pandemic craziness. Many countries have gone through a number of “waves” this year when the infection rates got quite high. Though countries have responded differently, many have decided to put their residents under a lockdown.
There are different levels of lockdowns, but a number of countries are under the strictest level at the moment during the Christmas holidays. Typically international school teachers will go to their home countries to be with their family, while others go on vacation to take advantage of their 2-3 week-long break. But for many of us, it is not possible to travel anywhere during this holiday break. It can be quite depressing! But being that we can’t solve the pandemic anytime soon, it is good to try and stay positive with the situation we are dealt with.
So if you too are stuck in your host country during this Christmas break, here are some things you can do to enjoy your holiday, be productive, stay positive, etc:
Video chat with many friends from around the world.
Now is the best time to catch up with friends that maybe you don’t video chat with so much during the school year. These could be friends from your home country or your friends from past countries in which you’ve lived. Set up times to chat with these friends and you will be surprised with all the things you will talk about. It is certain that some conversations will go over 2-3 hours!
Invite your current work colleagues over for a dinner
Many of us have been meaning to invite some of our cool work colleagues over to our place. Now is the time when everyone is available because they are all locked inside your country as well! Once a dinner time is scheduled, maybe find a new recipe that you can make so you can broaden your repertoire of meals to impress your guests. Who knows, maybe this dinner will bring you and your colleague’s friendship even closer!
Clean/organize small parts of your home every day
Let’s face it, even though you clean your house regularly, there are still parts in your house that get dirty and disorganized. One day, clean out and organize your silverware and cooking utensil drawers. They will look so nice when you are finished! On the next day, attack the drawers and shelves in your bathroom. It feels so good to know things are organized in your life! Marie Kondo!
Go through your clothes and donate
Why do closets get so full sometimes?! Take a moment to go through your shirts, pants, coats and shoes. If you haven’t worn some of those things in awhile, donate them. If there are some things that don’t fit anymore, donate them. Then take your bag of donations to your nearest thrift store/donation center. Done! And now you have some more space for more things, just kidding!
Get outside every day
It is not good for your well-being to be stuck inside all day. The weather plays a big factor in you wanting to actually go outside. But even if there is a bit of rain/snow or cold weather that day, get yourself outside! Especially if you go walking with a friend, you’ll forget about the gross weather anyway. There is something about some fresh air, checking out the locals, and taking in your local surroundings that do a body and brain good.
Allow yourself to get into a new tv series
The worst thing is that you run out of episodes of your current favorite tv-series (let’s say, Schitt’s Creek) and then have nothing on the horizon to watch. Ask your friends what they are watching and check those ones out next. Or have a search online to see what is popular at the moment in the world/in your host country. Here is one to spark your interest: “How To With John Wilson” (HBO).
Look up some informational videos about dream cities you’d like to live in for your next placement.
Well maybe this is not the best thing to do while you are stuck in your home country, but it is sure fun. Melbourne, New York, Barcelona, etc. There are many videos on youtube that people have made showing you what life is like in your favorite cities. How much does one spend in a week there, a video tour around the hip parts of the city, a person visiting and trying out some of the best food options there, etc…
Keep up your workout routine
This is a hard one if your gym has been closed by your local government. If that is the case, some people find that they can do a pretty good workout outside, maybe even using the free workout equipment at the local park. Even others bite the bullet and buy some free weights and other workout equipment for their home. Some gyms have even offered online training sessions to their members, so why not try some of those out??
Practice your local language
Now is the time to start up a productive routine of learning (more) of your local language. We all dream of being proficient in speaking, listening, reading and writing in our host country’s language, so make a plan to get closer to that goal. You are lucky if you language is on Duolingo, as that is a great, free way to start. Give just 10-20 minutes of your time to focus on language learning and that surely will go along way in your quest to be more fluent.
Be nicer to your family/Find cozy time with your partner
It is easy to get caught up in the endless surfing the internet or browsing your social media walls, but that sometimes shuts other people out. Make sure to spend time having good conversations, making and eating food together, or even just watching a movie together on the couch. These are special moments that we shouldn’t take for granted, and sometimes these things need to be planned.
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