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.
This article was submitted by an ISC member. If you’d like to earn free premium membership by submitting an article as a guest author on our blog, write to us here.continue reading
The vast number of international schools around the world are still closed and doing some kind of remote learning. It has truly been a challenge for these schools to adapt and adjust to this new way of teaching.
The pressure has been on the school’s administration to organize a clear plan that will follow the local government’s rules and guidelines. These administrators strive to clearly communicate to all stakeholders given the very short amount of reaction time to put the new ways of working in place.
When using ISC’s unique Comment Search feature (Premium Membership is needed), we found a number of comments that had the keyword Covid in them. Here are 10 comments that show some implications of Covid-19 on these international schools:
“School communication has always been a struggle for the school, particularly for the foreign hires who generally hear things last. During the distance learning program due to Covid-19, this had huge repercussions in the trust of the school. Ultimately however the school eventually came to good decisions that people were happy with….”
“The school is currently going through the accreditation for NEASC and IB/PYP. This process may be delayed due to Covid-19…”
“DISK is working on accreditation with WASC, They were to do the initial visit before the end of this year, then Covid-19 messed it up. We expect them in September. Due to Covid-19, we extended the closure of campus to May 11. Learning is still taking place online…”
“Because of Covid 19, our school has been doing remote teaching for many weeks now. But after only 4 weeks, the Danish government has ordered that kids aged 0-10 should go to school (MS and HS still have remote learning, probably until the end of the year). The Early Years and Primary School sections are now teaching in person again on campus, but we have so many new rules and guidelines that we must follow. We are calling it “emergency learning”. One rule is that there can only be 10 kids per classroom because we need to have kids sit two meters apart and to limit the number of adults the students interact with. That in turn requires more teachers to teach a grade level, so the drama, art, music, etc teachers are now all classroom teachers teaching. It is very full on!”
“Students in EC-Grade 5 are using Seesaw as the primary platform for learning while students in 6-12 are using Google Classroom. This has been very helpful in transitioning to online learning due to the Covid-19 situation…”
“Pretty much all PD cancelled when Covid 19 hit. Even those that could have been rescheduled…”
“Covid-19 has put teaching online. Added costs of increased electricity use and wifi upgrades (if required) must be born by teacher. One school in the vicinity has provided a bonus to its faculty for this increase in costs…”
“New principal is hardly at school and doesn’t know teachers. In every critical situation (earthquake, Covid-19 closure) director was the first one to leave the country and ‘manage from distance’…”
“As of March, 2020, KICS has switched to online learning/teaching as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s a bumpy transition, especially as it happened right at the start of the spring break, which is why some teachers and families are out of Sudan…”
“Salaries for primary and secondary teachers have been cut to 80% during the Covid-19 shutdown even though teachers are expected to teach their full course load. IB PYP candidacy was abandoned…”
ISC would like to hear from you! Log on to ISC today and submit a comment about the consequences of Covid-19 on your international school. You can submit your comment in the School Information section under the comment topic “Recent things that the school has taken on (i.e. new curriculum, specific professional development, etc.).”continue reading
Schools thrive when there are enthusiastic teachers and students in them. But, do all international schools have this?
With around 10000 international schools currently, there are bound to be differences between them. However, it is certain that all international schools strive to students that are excited to come to school and do their best to learn in the lessons and engagements in their classes.
But do students just come to schools already engaged or is it the environment and staff that helps with that?
Some could argue that hiring engaged and excited teachers plays a huge factor in the enthusiasm of students. If the teachers are interested and excited in their lessons, typically the students will follow suit.
If the teachers are jaded, overworked, and caught in a low staff morale spiral, then this feeling is sure to be reflected in the students.
But even if the students and teachers are not so engaged at the moment, what can be done? International schools need to make drastic and carefully planned changes to achieve this change to more enthusiastic stake holders!
So which international schools then have enthusiastic teachers and/or 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 17 comments that had the keyword “Enthusiastic” in them. Here are 11 of them:
“Students in primary are overwhelmingly kind, caring, and enthusiastic learners. The middle and high school will benefit from having a full-time secondary principal next year.” – Esbjerg International School (50 total comments)
“You need to be enthusiastic, open-minded and flexible. There is a strong community at school that is very involved in every aspect of the school’s life. School is looking for teachers who are passionate about their job and willing to differentiate for every student.” – Bishkek International School (57 total comments)
“The students are mostly respectful, enthusiastic, and hardworking. You might not be that impressed if you’re coming from Korea or another academically-driven Asian country, but compared to Latin America or any Western public institution it’ll be a big step up.” – Oberoi International School (36 total comments)
“The pupils are very affectionate, and the school has a very family-like feel. They are eager to please and enthusiastic about topics etc.” – The British School of Marbella (36 total comments)
“Students are very well behaved. Behavioural issues are very minimal, and most students are enthusiastic to learn and prove themselves to teachers and their classmates.” – Tokyo International School (104 total comments)
“The students are extremely polite and respectful. They are positive and enthusiastic though somewhat reserved.” – Global Jaya School (60 total comments)
United Arab Emirates
“While I have not myself worked elsewhere in the Emirates, I get a sense that our students are relatively well behaved. Understand that, while kids are kids, well behaved in the Emirates is not the same as say, well behaved in South Korea. That said, Liwa does not generally find itself subject to the kinds of behavior found in the government schools of the area. The kids are generally quite enthusiastic about Liwa and as capable as any children anywhere.” – Liwa International School (23 total comments)
“Very curious and enthusiastic learners. PYP and IB encourages this and students are excited to be at school every day!” – Anglo-American School of Moscow (69 total comments)
“The students are respectful, creative and enthusiastic. They love to chat and socialize!” – Santiago College (24 total comments)
“Students are enthusiastic about being at school, in general. Almost 100% of our students are involved in activities or athletics after school and on weekends.” – International Community School Addis Ababa (80 total comments)
“The students are amazing. So welcoming, so enthusiastic to learn.” – The British School of Brussels (36 total comments)
It is that time of year when recruiting teachers need to get their things in order and register with various recruitment agencies. There are a number of them out there now: Search Associates, ISS-Schrole Advantage, Teacher Horizons, etc.
However, it isn’t so ‘quick and easy’ as one might think to get fully signed up with one of these organizations. There are a number of things that you need to prepare, find, upload and create. It is a time consuming process, so it is best to start early. Even if you have been keeping track of things and collecting the necessary documents, each time you move countries, you need to keep yourself well-organized so that you can find things easily.
International school administrators want to see and read a short write-up about yourself and your teaching philosophy. This statement shouldn’t be too long, but long enough. It should be personable and reflect your true self and ambitions. It could include a highlight of your past experiences in teaching and your passions so far in your career.
It has been quite common for awhile now that international schools want to see confidential references of the candidates that they are considering to interview. Getting these confidential references doesn’t always happen in a quick way, so it is best to ask your references well in advance so that they will have enough time to fill it out for you. You definitely need to include a reference from your current supervisor. Talking to them in person about this request beforehand is advised before you send them the reference request.
You typically need to enter your latest contact information as this can change quite often for international school teachers. You also need to include a copy of your current passport. Don’t forget to make those changes on your updated CV as well.
Schools need to know what you are qualified to do, so that you will become searchable for them via the recruitment website’s database. Also, for you to receive the sometimes daily email updates on the latest job vacancy information, of course, you want to receive the information related to the job position/s you actually want to apply for.
This one is tricky if you are not prepared. Every time that you leave a country, you need to make sure you get a police report stating that you have not be charged for any crimes there. Some places, you can get this report for free. Other places, you need to pay a fee. The part where it could get even more expensive, is if you need to get the police report translated into English. Once you get the report, scan them in and save them somewhere as you’ll need them when you move on to your next country. It is not just a requirement to have your past police reports uploaded on a recruitment agency’s website, it is also typically a requirement when applying for a visa in a new country.
You need to write down the school names and the years you worked there for all the schools that you’ve worked at in your teaching career. Hopefully, you don’t have too many gaps in your career as that will often need some explanation. Also, you will need to include your supervisor there at the time. The challenging part is which email and phone number will you put… as your former administrator there has probably moved on and is working at a new international school. Make sure you get up-to-date email addresses for these past bosses.
You are required to enter the universities that you’ve attended. You will need to write in what your area of focus was for all of your degrees. You also need to upload a copy of your scanned diplomas and teaching certificate. A lot of us need to keep our teaching certificate valid and up-to-date, so don’t get lazy and forget to renew your teaching license before it expires.
Many international schools will be looking for candidates that can run after school activities and/or sports teams, so make sure to include all of your experiences doing that. If this is your thing, then it could make you stand out more and help you get the job. It will be a nice addition to your pay check there! On the other hand, other international schools will not necessarily pay you to do these things as it will be a requirement in a lot of teaching contracts that you offer at least one after school activity in a school year…for free!
Make sure to state your proficiency in all of the languages that you know. It is an asset in many international schools if you can speak the local language; especially at schools where the parent population has a low or even non-existing knowledge of English. For example, you might need to hold parent conferences in the local language.
Many international school teachers still attend recruitment fairs. It is a good way to meet the school administrators face-to-face. However, many recruitment agencies often will state that their candidates get hired before the recruitment fairs even happen, so it is not always necessary to attend a fair. Other international schools like to know which fairs that you will be attending, so that they can set up some interviews there in advance.
For you to be an available and accessible candidate in a recruitment agency’s database, teachers often will have to pay some sort of fee. It can be for free as well with some companies, but typically the fee could range from USD 50-250. If you don’t get hired that year, some agencies will not require you to pay again. If you do get hired through the recruitment agency, then you will need to pay the fee again if you want to recruit with them a second time. In some countries it is illegal to charge a person to get access to jobs and interviews.
Get all of your past university transcripts scanned in as well and make sure to upload them to the recruitment agency’s website. To fully complete your profile, you will also need to upload the most recent copy of your CV. The maximum pages for a CV is typically no more than two pages.
Finally, all international schools need to know that you are a safe candidate to hire and this is in relation to child protection laws. Many countries are getting very strict with this process so as to keep their students safe at school.
These are really just some of the things you will need to prepare and do when applying to be on an international school recruitment agency’s website. It can take only a few days if you are really prepared and if your references fill out the confidential reference in a very timely manner! However, if you are not the most prepared, this process can take many weeks. In turn, be sure to start early. As you hop from international school to international school, find a spot online where you can store all of these important documents.
Good luck to everyone recruiting this year!continue reading
Yes, it is November and many international school teachers are already thinking about the next school year. Actually, many of these teachers started recruiting back in September or August! It is necessary to recruit this early because international schools seem to be hiring earlier and earlier every year. Additionally, the international school recruitment fairs are also requiring candidates to have already applied to attend their fairs by now; by November you are most likely too late to apply to attend one (especially the ones in Bangkok)!
So, what are the top 10 things a recruiting international school teacher is worrying about in November? Maybe you can relate to some of these!
1. Why aren’t schools writing me back!?
You are trying to be proactive. Sure, it is advisable to contact international schools as soon as you see that they have a vacancy listed. You might even send your CV to schools that don’t even have a vacancy for you at the moment. It is really unfortunate though that many schools just don’t have the time to write everyone back in a timely manner…or at all. Though the truth might be that if the school really wanted to contact you, they would! If they are not contacting you, it might also mean that they are simply not ready to start short-listing candidates or that you are indeed not the best fit for the position at this moment in time.
2. Should I tell my school that I am FOR SURE leaving at the end of the current school year?
International schools are not making it easy for recruiting teachers. It appears as if many schools are requiring that their teachers tell them (if they are going to leave or sign another contract) earlier and earlier in the school year. It makes sense though. Admin needs to plan ahead. The earlier international schools start recruiting, the better choice and more selective they can be when hiring for the next school year. But officially signing the paper stating your intentions, it is something that will raise your heart beat a bit (in a good way and not so good way, depending on your present situation).
3. When will I finally secure a job?
It is so nerve-wracking to quit your job without having another job already lined up. An international school teacher is lucky to already get a job secured in November for the next school year. Admin positions might get hired around this time, but typically not regular teachers. Many teachers don’t sign a contract for their new job until April or May, so to wait that long…it is torture! Even if you go to an international school recruitment fair, it is not guaranteed that you will be signing a contract there either. You often need to wait another few weeks as the school wants time to interview some other candidates at the next recruitment fair. They also need time to contact and check all your references.
4. How am I going to stand out at the recruitment fair?
We’ve seen them at the fairs. The candidates that seem to have everything in order. They’ve thought of everything! They have smart, professional, and personalized stationary for thank you notes. They also have extra flash drives with their portfolio presentations on them to give to the schools. Some teachers at the recruitment fairs have CVs with unique, eye-catching designs. Others will have scrapbook-like binders with photos that show highlights from their teaching career; nice to have real photos of your teaching as talking points during your interview. The truth is you do need to think about your strategy at the fair, well ahead of time, so that you are prepared to represent yourself in the best way possible.
5. Can’t I just interview with schools on Skype and not have to attend a recruitment fair?
Attending recruitment fairs are great for networking and meeting your potential future boss in person, but they are also quite stressful and expensive. It is sometimes more ideal to just do all your interviewing over Skype. It is cheaper for your budget and also cheaper for the schools to hire people online. Some teachers are lucky and they get a school wanting to do a first interview with their shortlisted candidates before the recruitment fair even starts. Of those pre-screened teachers, some will get snatched up because of that pre-recruitment fair Skype interview (more and more candidates are getting hired via Skype and only Skype). Others though, will still have to go to the recruitment fair to do another in-person interview.
6. What if I don’t get another job at an international school and I need to move back to my home country?
It isn’t the end of the world to move back to your home country. But when you want to continue on in the international school community, moving back to your home country is definitely a last resort option. Come March/April, if you haven’t secured a job, the thought does run through your mind. Your mind runs through all the possible scenarios. Will you move back to the last place you lived in your home country and work in the same school/district as you did before? Will you consider a different city in your home country and try to start a new life there? Some of these scenarios do actually sound enticing to you, but your mind always goes back to the next international school that you are hoping to work at.
7. Will my top school have a vacancy for me and if they do, will the vacancy still be there by the time the recruitment fair starts?
When you see that your top school has posted a vacancy for that fits your skills, it is a time to rejoice! Screaming out loud in your apartment is not uncommon when this happens; screams of exhilaration, relief and excitement! Once those feelings subside a bit, the realities of the situation start to set in. What if someone who is more qualified than me gets the school’s attention first? What if they end up hiring that position internally, a person already working at the school? What if someone with a connection to the school gets referred for the position (hiring a good candidate with a connection to somebody who already works at the school is desirable!)? Maybe they will decide to fill the position with some local hire; it is usually cheaper to do that. So many scenarios and possibilities completely out of your control. When recruiting, it is truly all about luck and timing. If it was meant to be, to work at your top school in next school year, then it will happen regardless of all the time and effort you put towards applying for the position. That does not mean you do not try everything in your power though to get the school’s attention, demonstrating you are a good fit for the vacancy. Some teacher might back out a month after they sign the contract (that you were hoping to get) and you might be second in line for the position!
8. Did my current and past supervisors give me a super-positive confidential references or not-so-positive ones?
I guess that is why they are confidential, they are not for you to see or know about. Even if you have a good relationship with your boss, it is hard to know exactly how honest they will be on those confidential references that you might have to do (if you are attending a recruitment fair for example). The likelihood that they wrote you a positive reference is far higher than them writing a super negative one for you. When schools are not writing you back though, it is easy to start thinking about what the schools might be reading on your recruitment fair online profile. It is good to remember that most admin are supportive of their teachers, and will do all they can to help you secure your next job.
9. Kidding oneself that you are all cool, calm and collected about everything.
No one wants to be stressed-out for 3-5 months, but that is what your future holds for your when recruiting. Inevitably, it is going to be a bumpy ride. Be proactive about this and think of ways that you can get yourself grounded. When in the middle of the craziness of recruiting to work at an international school, don’t forget about your health and well-being. One idea to keep yourself in the right frame of mind is to continue enjoying what your host country has to offer. It is easy to take for granted the awesome opportunity to live in your current host country when recruiting, since your main focus is currently on moving. Don’t let that distract you too much and get out to continue to enjoy what your host country has to offer. Additionally, keep going out with your local friends that you’ve made during your time there and to get your mind off recruiting for a few hours.
10. Is there hope just around corner?
The fact is that it typically all works in the end, when recruiting. You WILL find a job. Many times, teachers do find the position at the school and in the city of their dreams. Keep your hopes and dreams alive during these recruitment months. Your positive energy will be apparent to your interviewer and the stars will align as you somehow have just the right answers to their tough questions. Make your dream school become your reality!
This top 10 list was submitted to us by a guest author and International School Community member.
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