International School Community Blog

ISC is Back! All Members Get Premium Membership Access in July ’23 + Discount Code Offer

Dear ISC members,

June has been a tough month for ISC. We had to do a major upgrade to our website’s code which brought along with it many bugs to fix! I sincerely apologize for the downtime of our website. It took a long time to fix these things, but now most if not all functions are back working at 100% again. But please contact us here if you notice anything off or not correctly functioning, and we can try our best to get it fixed ASAP. 

ISC would like to offer free premium membership access to all members for the time our website was down/not fully functioning – around two weeks. So from 1-14 July 2023, all members can just log in to their ISC account and enjoy unlimited access to all the unique features on our website.

We encourage our members to use this time wisely and submit comments on the international schools they know about because we also have another offer. For every 10 comments you submit, your ISC account will be updated with 1 free month of premium membership! There is no limit to how many free months you can earn, so submit as many comments as your fingers are able to (remember each submitted comments needs to be at least 1-2 complete sentences long…the more details, the better informed our members will be). * Email us here if your account isn’t automatically updated with the free months as we are still making sure this correctly functions as before.

And there is more…

In addition to the free premium membership access for all ISC members, we would like to offer an astounding 50% off coupon code on all premium membership subscriptions. Select the type of subscription you’d like and then enter this coupon code: JU23LY50 on our payment page to receive 50% off of any of the 3 subscription offers. This coupon code will expire on 14 June at 23:59 GMT.

In the meantime, here is an overview of some of the unique ISC features that require premium membership access:

Keyword Search Feature

Let’s say that you want to read some comments related to the topic of “teaching couples“. Simply enter the keyword/s in the Search Bar at the top of our homepage (or at the top of any page of our website) or go directly to the Comments Search page on our website to search your keyword directly there.

School Comparison: School vs. School

On this page we place two schools’ submitted comments side by side so that our members can make an easy comparison. It is a common request to know “which school is better?”, especially if you are considering two job offers at two, sometimes very different, schools.

The School Comparison page does just that. It places two schools “against” each other to see which one comes out on top. We are not aware of another website that does this!

Compare School Salaries

Yes, we have 1000s of comments about the salary details of 100s of international schools on the ISC website. However, we took it further and made a unique page so that our members can compare these school salary details side by side with other schools. If you are considering working in Shanghai, China, you can now easily search for only schools in Shanghai on this page and quickly compare which school has a better salary package for you.

Job Vacancy Page

Our Job Vacancies feature was launched just over three years ago, but its popularity already exceeds all our expectations. With our members submitting these job vacancies, each of their submissions helps another teacher find new and interesting positions at international schools worldwide. Every job vacancy submission helps schools around the globe reach new people who might just be the perfect fit for the position.

So tell your friends to log in (or join if they are not already members of ISC) so that they can enjoy the
• Two weeks of free premium membership from 1-14 July, 2023
• The submitting comments promotion (10 comments = 1 free month of premium membership)
• And the 50% coupon code: JU23LY50

We appreciate our 26000+ members, and we can’t wait to welcome even more!

We are so happy that ISC is back!

Become an ISC Mayor and Get Unlimited Free Premium Membership

Our mission for the International School Community website is to have the most updated information about what it is like to work at numerous international schools around the world. One way to help us achieve that mission is to have Mayors.

Being a Mayor is super easy, and the best part is that you get unlimited free premium membership to our website!

And ANYONE can be the Mayor of their school. Most of our active Mayors are just regular teachers at their schools, but we also have heads of schools, HR representatives, principals, etc. as Mayors as well.

Mayors are commenting on the school and the benefits information, but they also comment on the city and travel information of the country as well. Mayors also don’t need to represent all aspects and perspectives of the school. They are recommended to just share their experience and perspective on living and working at that international school and in that city/country.

Mayor Responsibilities:

• Submit at least 3-6 new comments on your school every 1-2 months (on the 68 different comment topics). It takes around 5-8 minutes of your time to do this. It will take a Mayor 2 years to submit one comment in all 68 comment topics.

• Make sure to check on your school’s Wall and occasionally post updates about their school (any big changes to the school that are happening, good tips to know about, recent events at the schools, etc.)

• Make sure that your school has the most updated and correct information (e.g. basic info, links, Facebook page, Youtube video, etc.) on the Overview and Social Media tabs.

• Submit job vacancies that are currently available at your school.

Here are just a few of the almost 700+ schools that have or have had a Mayor on our website:

Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 566 Comments

NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 325 Comments

Tarsus American College (Mersin, Turkey) – 283 Comments

Canadian International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China) – 185 Comments

American School Foundation of Monterrey (Monterrey, Mexico) – 150 Comments

Concordia International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China) – 180 Comments

Yongsan International School of Seoul (Seoul, South Korea) – 145 Comments

Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 419 Comments

Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea) – 223 Comments

American International School Dhaka (Dhaka, Bangladesh) – 136 Comments

International School of Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – 129 Comments

Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (Beijing, China) – 210 Comments

Hong Kong International School (Hong Kong, China) – 157 Comments

The more Mayors that we have on our website means the more our members will be informed; as there will be more up-to-date information on the schools they want to know about!

Become the Mayor of an international school that you work at today!

Screenshot 2015-10-20 18.23.34

Please note that being the Mayor of a school is anonymous and that all comments and job vacancies submitted on our website are also done so anonymously. Posting on the school profile page Wall though is not anonymous.

Tips for African Teachers Looking to Teach Abroad

If you’re an African teacher who is considering the idea of teaching abroad, I’ve gathered some valuable tips based on my own experience of studying, qualifying, and working overseas. These tips can help you navigate the process and increase your chances of securing a teaching position in a foreign country.

1. Teach English (TEFL/TESOL)

Interestingly, one of the easiest ways to teach abroad, particularly online, is to teach English. English is in high demand globally, especially in countries like Asia and the Middle East. You might be surprised at the opportunities available and the competitive compensation offered for teaching English.

Required Qualifications:

a) Bachelor’s Degree: Most employers require a bachelor’s degree in any subject.

b) TEFL/TESOL Certification: This certification demonstrates your ability to teach English. Many employers prefer a 120-hour TEFL certificate.

Tip: Be cautious when selecting an online TEFL certification. While there are numerous inexpensive options available, it’s advisable to invest in a reputable course that costs at least $100. Research the course thoroughly before enrolling.

2. Obtain a Teaching Qualification

While this may seem obvious, it’s important for individuals like myself who don’t come from a teaching background to acquire a teaching qualification. This could be a Teaching Methodology Course, a PGCE/PGDE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education), or an equivalent certification. These courses typically span one year.

Tip: If possible, consider completing your teaching qualification in South Africa, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, or Australia. Having a certification from one of these countries can be advantageous, as I will explain later.

3. Be a Registered Teacher

Ensure that you are a fully recognized teacher in your home country according to the requirements set by your national teaching council or relevant authorities. Other countries will likely request proof of your teaching credentials from your home country.

4. Embrace the South African Advantage (with a Twist of Humor)

On a more lighthearted note, it’s worth mentioning that, for some reason, South Africa is often favored by many prominent international schools compared to other African countries. Being trained in South Africa can provide you with a significant advantage in the job market abroad.

5. Teach an International Curriculum

Most international schools follow international curricula rather than local ones. Therefore, they prefer candidates who have experience teaching an international curriculum.

The most popular international curricula include Cambridge, International Baccalaureate (IB), Edexcel, and Advanced Placement (AP). Most international schools seek teachers with at least two years of experience teaching an international curriculum.

Tip: Seek employment at schools in your home country that offer these international curricula. While the pay might not be as high, gaining experience and achieving excellent IGCSE or IB results will significantly enhance your chances of securing a teaching position abroad.

6. Register on International Job Boards

Sign up for international job boards that cater to teachers seeking opportunities abroad. These platforms can serve as valuable resources for finding teaching positions in foreign countries.

Two popular websites you can explore are tes.com and teacherhorizons.com, which have been instrumental in my own job search.

In conclusion, venturing into teaching abroad can be an exciting and rewarding experience for African teachers. By following these tips and conducting thorough research, you can increase your chances of finding suitable teaching opportunities in different parts of the world. Best of luck with your journey!

This article was submitted by a guest author and ISC member,
Chimwemwe Shaba
Email:
chimwemweshaba@outlook.com
Linkedin:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/chimwemweshaba

Chimwemwe Shaba is a holder of a Bachelor of Science in Computing. He is a Cambridge, Google and Microsoft certified ICT/Computer Science teacher with over five years of experience teaching international curricula at both primary and secondary school levels in multicultural learning institutions.

Embracing New Directions: Nurturing International Teachers’ Growth and Transition

It’s hard to keep up to date with the comings and goings in education at the moment. In today’s ever-evolving educational landscape, many teachers find themselves seeking new directions and exploring alternative career paths. The desire for personal growth, fresh challenges, and purposeful opportunities is prompting educators to go on a journey of self-discovery and re-evaluation. With a whole world to discover, the possibilities are almost limitless in international education. You may be reading this as an international educator. You’re settled into life in a new country, a new school, and thinking about career advancement. Maybe you’ve never worked in another country, and you are wondering if working in an international school is just the challenge you need. In this article, we will delve into the importance of discovering and nurturing your innate talents, growing them into strengths, and leveraging them to support a transition into new ventures.

The Desire for New Directions

Teachers, like professionals in any field, yearn for personal and professional fulfillment. The need for growth and the pursuit of passion are universal drivers that can lead educators to seek new directions. Left unexamined, continuing to work in any environment that is not fulfilling or stimulating can lead to stress and burnout. With more than 50% growth in the international schools market (based on the numbers of schools, students and staff) in the last 10 years, international movement within the teaching profession is a growing trend.  Seeking opportunities in a new part of the world means that many professionals are immersing themselves in diverse experiences and cultural exchanges while still working in the field they are familiar with. There are opportunities globally, with every international school having its own unique characteristics.  The question is, which one fits you?

Unleashing Talents

At the heart of every successful transition lies self-discovery and understanding one’s innate talents. Teachers should engage in self-reflection, assessments, or coaching to discover unique abilities and passions. Identifying these talents serves as a compass, guiding educators toward these new avenues, schools that may be aligned with their core strengths, values and interests. It is this self-awareness that forms the foundation for exploring new directions and finding purpose in your professional life.  Having a clear idea of what makes you stand out from the crowd – your unique talent DNA – grows confidence when thinking about changing roles, schools, country or a complete career pivot.

Growing Strengths and Skillsets

Once teachers have identified their innate talents, the next step is to cultivate them into strengths. A talent becomes a strength when we invest time in nurturing it. Professional development opportunities, networking with like-minded educators, and taking on additional responsibilities within current roles are just a few ways in which teachers can nurture their talents. Feedback from others helps hone this development. Embracing a growth mindset and adopting a continuous learning approach empowers educators to adapt to new directions and seize emerging opportunities with more confidence and resilience.

Leveraging Strengths in New Ventures

As teachers venture into new career paths or even consider roles beyond the traditional classroom, leveraging their strengths becomes paramount. Their expertise, honed through years of dedication and experience, serves as a solid foundation upon which to build their new ventures. By effectively communicating their transferable skills, updating their resumes or CVs, and showcasing their strengths, educators can confidently navigate the transition and unlock doors to diverse opportunities in and outside the education sector.

In a rapidly changing world, teachers must embrace evolution, take risks, and forge new paths to fulfil their personal and professional aspirations. By embarking on a journey of self-discovery, nurturing their innate talents, and growing them into strengths, educators can unlock their untapped potential and find new purpose in their careers. Whilst we may believe the ‘grass is greener’ somewhere else, it is important to remember that true fulfilment lies not only in exploring these new directions but also in deeply understanding ourselves. There’s a world to discover, and fantastic tools, resources and support are available to support the discovery to make the change both a personal and professional highlight.

This article was submitted by guest author, Alison Mitchell, Founder and lead coach at A Coaching Culture.

I’m Alison Mitchell, a certified coach accredited by the International Coaching Federation. With over 30 years of experience in teaching and leadership roles in UK and international schools, my leadership and transformational coaching is centred around schools and all the people who make up any amazing school community. My signature PRIME Strengths Programme is a researched-based coaching programme, helping educators to discover their unique talents, cultivate strengths, and unlock their full potential.

Follow me on LinkedIn
Email for more information hello@acoachingculture.com

New School, New Wallet: Prepare for Surprising Purchases

Are you moving to a new international school? You may be excited to start your new adventure, but don’t forget about the essentials. It can be overwhelming to arrive in a new city and not know where to buy things. You don’t want to end up paying more than you should have because you don’t know where to go to get the best prices.

Ideally, you would arrive at the airport, and someone from the school would pick you up and take you straight to your new fully-furnished home with groceries waiting for you. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. There will be things that you need to buy, and some are more important than others. If they are small things, it’s not a big deal to walk down the street to pick them up. It’s a great way to explore your new neighborhood.

However, if you need to buy many small items or a few big ones, it can be stressful. Depending on your living situation, you may need to make emergency purchases. You may need to go to a store like IKEA, which some schools may take you to in their van. Don’t forget that your new school may also require you to bring or buy some items for the classroom.

Living abroad is different from living in your home country. You need to be adaptable and open-minded. Don’t expect everything to be perfect when you arrive. Be prepared for a few surprises, such as surprise purchases, in your first few months.

Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to figuring out which things you might need to buy once you arrive in your new host country, so you can stay the most informed as possible. It is called: “What are some things that you need to buy/pay for when you first arrive at the school that you didn’t know about beforehand?

Our veteran international school teachers have submitted a total of 403 comments in this comment topic (May 2023).  Here are a few that have been submitted:

“You WILL need a car, although some teachers rent one. If you get a nanny (not on the school’s nanny visa) you will need to pay for their visa which is usually about 850 OMR for two years but must be paid up front. You will also need to pay for their healthcare (about 150 OMR for a year)…” – American British Academy (Muscat, Oman) – 65 Total Comments

“You need to come with a lot of money! This was a shock for us. We needed money for a car rental and eventual purchase (hard to finance a car as a foreigner) and first and last months rent plus damage deposit for housing…” – St. Andrews I.S Green Valley (Pattaya, Thailand) – 31 Total Comments

“The school provides a limited amount of textbooks or resources. As a new teacher, this is often a challenge as you develop or buy the resources needed for your daily lessons. The school has expectations on what will be taught but the teacher is responsible for providing the materials used in class. The school pays for one Twinkle subscription that teachers can use in school. The school also provides a color copier, lamination tools, some manipulatives, Google /SeeSaw classroom, and a class supplies list (glue, storage containers, notebooks, etc) from the teacher list given the prior year…” – International School of Brno (Brno, Czech Republic) – 99 Total Comments

“The school offers the help of a real state agent. He can help you to find your places and manage internet and utilities, at a cost. Other than that, you will have to buy everything else. Furnished apartments can be a good way to go if you do not want to spend much just landing…” – Benjamin Franklin International School (Barcelona, Spain) – 125 Comments

The Battle of the International Schools: ISC’s Compare Schools Page

It has been a couple of years since we launched this unique ISC premium feature, the Compare Schools page!

Our members are always looking to compare one international school to another. Using the 47636+ comments that our ISC Mayors have also helped to submit, we think it is so cool that we have an ISC page where you can compare two international schools based on eight pre-selected comment topics. Surely the results will help you make the important decision of signing a contract with one of them!

So, here is how it works. When you select two schools from the drop-down menus, you will be able to compare the following eight comment topics:

  1. Salaries
  2. Savings
  3. Housing
  4. Retirement
  5. Professional Development
  6. Health
  7. Workload
  8. Staff Morale

Additionally, once you have selected two of the listed schools (here is an example), you can see a point score that each school received for each of the 8 comment topics.  The total score for each school is also displayed, clearly showing the “winner” with the most points.

Of course, the score is based on teacher-submitted comments/reviews, therefore it is subjective. But having in mind that multiple teachers are submitting comments, we believe that this unique ISC page reflects the realistic situation at a specific school.

At the moment, we have 183+ schools available to be compared. We usually add a new school to the list every two weeks or so. If your school is already listed, please have a look at each displayed comment and assigned score. If you would like us to improve some of the comments or scores, write to us here.

However, if your school is not listed yet, we need your help to get it added! Please write to us by contacting us via our Help and Support page with the details for each section and your suggested score for each comment topic. Or just submit some new comments on your school profile page and we will add your school to our Compare Schools page.

Thank you in advance for your feedback and support in making this feature the best it can be. It is truly a unique feature to help people gather information and analyze it so that they can make the best decisions for themselves when working in the international school community.

The Summer Vacation Dilemma: To Go Home or Not to Go Home

Summer vacation is the time of year all teachers are waiting for (and I suppose all students as well!).  The 1.5 to 2 months of summer break is especially important though for teachers who work at international schools because it is typically when they take their annual trip back home to their native country.  When you live in a foreign country, halfway across the world, it does indeed feel good to go home.  Even though you do create a new ‘family’ when you live abroad with the other international school teachers that you are working with, your home is where your real family lives.  Going home too can simply mean just going back to your home country, not necessarily going back to where you grew up.

There are some good reasons to go back home and maybe some things to consider first before making the decision to travel back to your home country during the summer:

• Some international school teachers make their annual trip home during their winter break. Those that do typically say that they already went home during the winter holiday and don’t plan on going back six months later during the summer months; that would be too soon to go back!

• You get to see your old friends from when you went to University maybe or people that you went to high school with.  It is important to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances; Facebook still can’t compete with real face-to-face meetings with these people from your life. Also, you can tell them all about the adventures you have been on while they have been staying-put, most likely in the same city where they went to high school in.

• Speaking of talking about your adventures.  Many family and friends from your home country actually don’t care very much about your adventures and traveling.  Very few of my friends and family even bring up the topic, and when I do, they don’t seem to be showing much interest in hearing the details.  Maybe it is not so interesting to them because traveling around the world and seeing more than 6-8 countries a year is just something they can’t relate to.  They also want to share what they have been up to, just like you, so I suppose there should be a bit of give and take to try and understand each other’s very different lives.

• If you go to your home country during the summer, you get to stock up on all your favorite products from your old life.  Many international school teachers love to go to their favorite grocery stores to stock up on all the products not available in their host country supermarkets.  Be careful though, food products weigh a lot and can easily make your suitcase go over the allowed weight on your flight back!

• You get to see your nieces and nephews in person, noticing how they are getting so much older now and all grown up.  You can do things with them like taking them to the movies or for a few games of bowling. The years past by so fast and soon they will be adults and possibly off to university!

• The price of flights and plane tickets to your home country are just unbelievably high now.  Many of us without a flight benefit just literally can’t afford to buy plane tickets home.  Sure, at some schools, the school pays for your flight home each summer.  But, not all international school teachers are as lucky.  In many international schools in Western Europe, teachers are left to pay for their annual flight home themselves.  And if you have two children in your family, your total cost has just gone from $2500 for two people to $5000 for four people.  That amount is just not a feasible amount to pay for a trip for some international school teaching couples. Even with the annual flight allowance, you might have already used that allowance for your winter break trip home.

• Some international school teachers just want to stay put in their host country during the summer.  Some feel you don’t have the time to really explore the city, the nearby cities, and the other cities in the country during the school year. And in the northern hemisphere, summer is the best time typically to explore these countries. 

• Some teachers also just simply stay put to save money!! We all need to carefully plan for our future (hopefully early) retirements!

• A month-long trip to Africa or a month-long trip to the Chicago area? A question you might be asking yourself in April. Some are faced with this international school educator’s dilemma each summer.  For many international school teachers, the price of the flight to go home is actually the same price it would take to go to more exotic places like Kenya or Costa Rica, or even Bali.  Who would want to go home (a place you have seen many times already) in place of going on an exciting adventure?  Many choose the adventure option each summer!

When some of the International School Community’s members were asked the question: “To go home or not to go home?”  Here are a few responses we got:

“Choosing to go ‘home’ over the summer is always a tough decision. I usually head back to see friends and family. It feels really good to reconnect with the people you don’t see every day and your own culture. After about 10 days though, I am ready to head back to my other ‘home’ or my next adventure.”

“Absolutely go home! First of all, many schools will pay for your ticket home during the holidays, but more importantly, is the idea that one needs a “home base” when doing these international teaching assignments. There is a real feeling of refreshment when one goes home, it regenerates your sense of self, everything is familiar to you, and you regain the energy needed to face another year of the ‘unknown’.  On a side note, this year, I will not be able to ‘go home’ as I am too pregnant to travel back and forth before my second baby is born…and I’m already feeling the stress of it. Although, I know it is well worth it to stay in Brazil this time around….I feel a slight sense of panic every time I think of it.”

At Brent International School Manila, one ISC member said, “Many teachers leave on major holidays, most to other locations in South East Asia. During summer almost all teachers travel home.”

At theUnited World College South East Asia, another ISC member said, “Most teachers travel during school holidays. Singapore is an amazing hub from which to travel to all other Asian cities/countries. Many staff travel home during summer and for Christmas.”

At the American School of Torreon, a different ISC member said, “It is expensive to travel home for the holidays. The airport is small and prices are high. Traveling by bus is also time-consuming and long.”

So, are you planning on going home this summer? Are you the international school teacher that makes their annual trip home each summer, the one that stays in the host country, or the one that is traveling to another country on some adventure?  Share your stories and reasons for your summer plans on ISC!

International School Tech: Overcoming Challenges and Maximizing Benefits

Sometimes it feels like we are working in an international school with the worst technology available. Looking around, teachers only see laptop computers and iPads that are so outdated that their battery life is almost non-existent. These schools might also have interactive whiteboards that are not so “interactive” anymore, and staff just use them as overhead projectors instead.

Some international schools even have teachers that are scared of technology. They think they can’t or don’t need to use it; depending on the staff they work with to “take over” when a certain technology is needed for a lesson.

It is not fun being de-motivated by technology that depresses you, confuses you, or just plain doesn’t work.

On the flip side, many of us are working at international schools that are well-resourced with the latest technologies.  Everywhere a teacher looks, there are new technologies popping up around the school. Maybe there’s a teacher down the hallway who is using a new App and having success, thus inspiring and prompting the other teachers to quickly get that app on their device as well. Exciting times!

These “technology-friendly” schools typically have an inspiring group of ICT teaching professionals on hand that are making sure the technologies are being used (and used effectively for that matter). The ICT teachers educate the students AND the teachers on how to use these technologies in an educational setting. Furthermore, they also collaborate and team-teach classes with classroom teachers during lessons that integrate the use of technology.

Cool technology is great in schools, but there’s a downside. If the technology is not literally in your classroom all the time, often it is not being used to its full potential (meaning the impact it can have on the students’ learning). Having all technologies available in EVERY teacher’s room is just not a reality in most (all?) international schools.

But, there are dream stories that do happen. I heard a real story about a private international school situated in the mountains in Switzerland. This school wished to have some new computers, and surprisingly, one of the parents came to school the next day bringing with her many Mac computers (you can assume they were the latest version as well). There were enough new computers for all the students at the school (the school’s population wasn’t that large by the way).  Now that’s a nifty 1:1 programme that the school just adopted!

Not all international schools are so lucky though, and their teachers are left with years-old technologies to use with their students with little to no hope of a plan to upgrade everything (I mean it costs thousands of $$$ for schools to even try and stay up-to-date!).

It is also a time-consuming job to keep a school updated with new technology.  There needs to be a clever person in charge and one that has a master plan on how to fund and organize a school’s technology resources. The big question then is which international schools have just gone through an overhaul of their technologies and which ones are currently at a standstill?!

Screenshot 2015-01-25 12.40.58

Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to figuring out what technology an international school has and how they use it, so you can stay the most informed as possible. It is called: “Describe the technologies available at the school and how people are/are not using them.

Our veteran international school teachers have submitted a total of 672 comments in this comment topic (April 2023).  Here are a few that have been submitted:

“Classroom PCs and overhead projectors desperately need an upgrade. You get a hand-me-down laptop when you start at the school. When teaching, you have to connect your laptop to the birds nest of cords lying on the classroom floor near the teacher’s desk. Chalkdust covers the cords. And yes, the classrooms use chalkboards, similar to the 1970s. There are only a handful of Viewsonic TVs in use in the classroom, not enough to say the classrooms are high tech in any case…” – I-shou International School (Kaohsiung City, Taiwan) – 90 Comments

“The technological setup is usually projectors, with Mac and Apple TV connectivity. Most staff use Macs as a result. These are loaned out for the school year. These are supported by the use of iPads (by learners) and a decent WiFi connection (built-in VPN for Chinese-blocked websites). Some classes have Smart TVs and touch screens, although these are limited due to the impending move to the new campus. There are standard printer facilities available as well, with a direct connection via the WiFi system…” – Utahloy International School (Zengcheng) (Zengcheng, China) – 134 Comments

“You are provided a Macbook or iPad which version will depend on the grade level and availability. Students from grade 4 and up bring their own device (apple products are highly suggested) You will at least have a projector in your room but not necessarily a smartboard…” – American International School in Egypt (Main Campus) (New Cairo City, Egypt) – 76 Comments

“All classrooms are equipped with a desktop PC and an interactive whiteboard. The school Wifi connection is sometimes slow. There is a Primary ICT room as well as 2 Secondary ICT rooms. There are 3 iPADS available for teachers to use. Use of technology has not been a huge focus and investing in more iPads would be great…” – International School of Seychelles (Victoria, Seychelles) – 53 Comments

EFT Tapping in International Schools for Stress Management

Working in an international school can be very rewarding. It can also come with its own unique combination of stresses and strains. When we let these types of stressors go unacknowledged and fester, this can affect our well-being at work, and even our health.

On top of the usual challenges schools face, like dealing with challenging student behavior, stressors of an international school career may also include:

  • Going through the stress and overwhelm of relocating.
  • Dealing with parents who perceive their paying for a private education as outsourcing their parenting responsibilities to the school – with all the challenges that come with that.
  • Dealing with incidents of ‘difficult’ (often actually ‘aggressive’ or ‘abusive’) behaviour from a parent or a student who is harassing school staff for grade inflation.
  • Having to attend meetings and training that aren’t useful for your work.

Of course, working conditions and staff training vary depending on what stage the school is at and what systems and culture do and do not exist in a school environment.

Irrespective of the differences, it’s becoming more and more common for staff working in international schools to practice mindfulness-based tools for stress management. Some invest in such training for personal use, and it then also benefits their work. Others have the good fortune of having administrators who are open to investing some of their staff-training budget in upskilling their staff in stress management strategies.

The most cost-effective stress management strategy I’ve come across for working with international school counsellors, teachers, SLT, and support staff is a mindfulness-based stress management technique called EFT Tapping. EFT Tapping is sometimes just referred to as Tapping, or EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques. Not to be confused with the other EFT, Emotionally Focused Therapy, which is a talk therapy).

There is a range of applications for coaching school staff and students in schools using EFT Tapping. One is for reducing staff stress and overwhelm, which aids with communicating more constructively, problem-solving, and teaching in a more collaborative manner. I’ve also found EFT Tapping valuable when coaching students in international schools for school-related stress. It’s great for fear of failing their exams, study motivation or concentration problems, study procrastination problems, missing deadlines, panic attacks in tests or exams, fear of going on stage for school plays, and more.

Tapping helps regulate the nervous system and reduces our cortisol levels when we think about an upcoming event or a goal we want to achieve. For students, that may be an upcoming test, exam, tournament, or school play. For teachers, that may be an upcoming parent-teacher conference, report writing period, meeting with a difficult parent or colleague, or lesson with a difficult class.

When we tap, it neutralizes the stress response in our body so that we can go into the meeting, class, exam, or another event in a more grounded and balanced emotional and physiological state.

Isn’t that what we all want?

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This article was submitted by Eleni Vardaki, an Educational Consultant for international schools with 22 years of experience as a student and a teacher/administrator working in international schools. Eleni works as an independent service provider for international schools that value well-being and mindfulness-based stress management practices. She is also a qualified EFT Practitioner who uses EFT Tapping for goals, stress management, and anxiety to coach students and adults who want to work with her 1-to-1. You can reach her at: eleni@elenivardaki.com

Information on the science behind EFT Tapping and school applications (all levels): https://elenivardaki.com/tapping-in-schools-summit/

A hands-on introduction to EFT Tapping for newbies: https://elenivardaki.com/eft-for-stress/

Insider Information about 11 International Schools

Oh, if we were to have all the insider information before signing a contract with an international school that has just offered you a job.  In theory, knowing the insider information about working at a specific school could be a game-changer and definitely help you make a more informed decision.

There are so many international schools in the world. Each international school is in a different situation. Even if you try and keep the most up-to-date by reading every review about the school that you can get your eyes on, it is difficult to know exactly what it is really like to work there.

But, the more you know, the better. Or is it that the less you know, the better? Our guess though is that most teachers recruiting to work at international schools want to know as much information (good or bad) as possible; with a preference for firsthand information.

How then can you get this insider information?  One of the best ways is to have some communication with a veteran international school teacher. If you are already a veteran international school teacher yourself, it shouldn’t be so hard to find somebody who knows somebody who has worked at a certain international school.  The longer you stay in the international school community, the number of connections that you dramatically increases.

Once you find a good connection, he/she is more than willing to share with you what they know and answer your burning questions.  The connection shares about what life is like living in the city, all the ins and outs of what it is like working at the school, how the money situation is along with all the other benefits (or lack of benefits), etc.  

It would appear that there is actually an endless list of insider information topics.  This connection will most likely also tell you answers to questions that you never even had thought to ask.  The more information the connection shares with you, the more at ease (or nervous) you become. It definitely feels good to finally get some answers from real people who have recently worked there.

But for the newbies, who don’t know many (if any) international school teachers yet, it would appear they have a much more difficult task of getting this insider information. Maybe they can try to get some insider information at the recruitment fair that they might have attended.  There are always other candidates that are walking around the hotel common areas.  These newbies might even try to start chatting with some of the administration from the other schools.  You would be surprised how much the administration enjoys talking about these insider information topics as well.

If there is one thing that is certain, people in the international school community love talking about the schools they currently work at or have worked at in the past. Insider information is what we want to know and what we are all craving to know.

Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to figuring out some of this insider information about working at certain international schools, so you can stay the most informed as possible. It is called: “What insider information would you give to a teacher considering working at this school?

Our veteran international school teachers have submitted a total of 611 comments on this comment topic (April 2023).  Here are a few that have been submitted:

“The secondary is laid back and you will enjoy it if you have good classroom management. There won’t be much actual support from the admin regarding discipline. The elementary is micro-managed, meeting-heavy and overloaded.” – American International School (Abu Dhabi) (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) – 97 Total Comments

“One important thing to note right now is that the primary and middle school principals are leaving at the end of this year, and the director and the high school principal are leaving at the end of the next school year. So, there will be a complete changeover of admin staff in the next year or so. There is no specific reason why these admins are leaving, just a coincidence that they are all leaving at the same time. Most of them have been at the school between 4-6 years.” – Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 419 Total Comments

“You are given a lot of autonomy to make it or break it in the classroom. The salary won’t make you rich, but you can live off it on a Mediterranean island for a couple of years. There’s always something to complain about, and the facilities are sometimes more functional than glamorous, but all these reflect the island itself. You’re given everything you need to do a great job and the kids appreciate it.” – Verdala International School (Pembroke, Malta) – 22 Total Comments

“The locals are mostly friendly but yes, experience living in developing countries is important before coming here. Teachers who came without that ended up breaking contract more often than the school likes to admit.” – Khartoum International Community School (Khartoum, Sudan) – 229 Total Comments

“Staff who come from British state schools love it! Staff who come from other international schools are… surprised. Learning Portuguese will massively improve your quality of life because your health care app and banking app (for example) is not in English.” – St. Paul’s School (Sao Paulo, Brazil) – 45 Total Comments

“The community is great and supportive. For teachers, collaboration and teamwork are essential here. Most teachers are willing to help and support other new teachers when needed. Staffs are very helpful and resourceful too.” – Raffles American School (Johor, Malaysia) – 33 Total Comments

“The salary is comparatively lower than anywhere else, while the incompetence of the administrative departments (including the Head of School) will frustrate you when needing support both inside and outside of the school. If you are passionate and sincere about your teaching vocation, rather consider alternative schools in Guangzhou.” – Utahloy International School (Zengcheng) (Zengcheng, China) – 134 Total Comments

“For the 2023-2024 school year, the Board of Directors has approved the following salary and benefits increases for all teachers.
• A 1% increase to the current base salary.
• An additional 30 OMR monthly WIFI stipend (per household)
• A 5 OMR per month, increase for utilities (per household)
• An additional 5 OMR per month, for travel allowance (per person)
• An additional 6% (avg) per month, increase for housing allowance (per household)” – American British Academy (Muscat, Oman) – 65 Total Comments

“If you need an international school experience, that could be the start, but definitely does not provide much room for professional development.” – GEMS International School (Al Khail) (Dubai, United Arab Emirates) – 89 Total Comments

“Ensure that your own personal philosophy aligns with that of the school. Educators here are nurturing a generation of activists that will be ready to make a change. Before you join, perhaps ensure you are ready to go full steam ahead! I would suggest reviewing the school website at www.unishanoi.org as well as the International Baccalaureate at www.ibo.org.” – United Nations International School (Hanoi) (Hanoi, Vietnam) – 132 Total Comments

“You will live with your coworkers in a fishbowl-type environment. If you value privacy, I would consider looking somewhere else. Most teachers aren’t very competitive, so it’s easy to stand out and gain more responsibilities if you work hard. It’s a very, very small school, so class sizes are usually manageable. Teams are only made up of only a few people, usually something like two teachers per team. Internet and technology are unreliable, as is electricity. As with all postings in West Africa, malaria is a real threat. It is not easy to travel within or outside of Nigeria. Safety is a big issue for domestic travel, and traveling outside of the country, even to neighboring countries, is very expensive.” – American International School of Lagos (Lagos, Nigeria) – 43 Total Comments