International School Community Blog

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?

______________________________________________________________________________

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

Applying for a Teaching Post in an International School

I’ve reviewed applications and interviewed prospective staff for over 20 years, and in that time I’ve seen some candidates excel, and others fall short for the simplest reasons. If you are applying for a teaching post in an international school, here are some dos and don’ts that will increase your chances of landing your dream role.

1. Read the Advert

Do

  • check that you meet the minimum requirements for the role eg:
    • qualifications
    • number of years of teaching experience
    • subject experience
    • language requirements
    • visa limitations (if any)
  • follow the application steps carefully.

Don’t

  • apply if you don’t meet the minimum expectations; it will be a waste of your time and that of the recruiting team;
  • apply if you feel the school’s ethos doesn’t align with your own. It’s unlikely you will get the role, but if you do, you won’t be happy!

2. Your Resume

  • There are plenty of online tools such as Canva that will help format your resume to look modern, organised and structured
  • Be consistent with fonts and font size
  • Most recent experience is most relevant, so this goes first with the oldest later. If there are any gaps, explain them briefly
  • Include all your relevant qualifications including your teaching certificate
  • Photos are not normally required for your resume
  • If you wish, include links to additional resources such as a professional website or LinkedIn, but not to Facebook!

3. Your Personal Statement

Do

  • find out and use the name of the head of school
  • clarify your own educational philosophy. Are you all about academic outcomes? Are you more holistic in your approach?
  • include reference to any extra-curricular activities however unusual. Bee-keeping? Rock-climbing? Dungeons & Dragons? International schools serve a wide-ranging community so add your interests.
  • use an accurate spell-check and don’t be afraid to use a tool like Grammarly to guide you in crafting your statement to have the right impact
  • personalise your statement by referring to the school’s mission and vision

Don’t

  • repeat what’s on your CV
  • write too much, or too little. Between 350 words and 1,100 is about right. Too short and recruiters will not get a sense of who you are, and too long and they may not read it all.

4. Preparing for an interview

If you are lucky enough to get an interview, then:

  • read the school website and the job details – print them off and highlight keywords;
  • ask your contacts around the world for information about the school;
  • research websites such as ISC to find out more about the philosophy;
  • highlight key aspects of your own set of skills and experience that you really need to mention at the interview;
  • write down some questions that you may be able to ask at the interview.

5. If you get an interview

  • Increasingly, interviews are online so practise with a friend, record yourself and review the video.
  • Most importantly, be yourself. Interviewers know it is a stressful situation and they really want to get to know the person behind the camera, so try to relax.
  • Be smart in terms of attire and general appearance
  • Consider your background – avoid dirty dishes and laundry appearing over your shoulder!
  • Find somewhere quiet where you won’t get disturbed. If necessary, have a sign outside your door saying please do not disturb.
  • Consider lighting so your face is neither too bright nor a silhouette.
  • Sit at a table and use your laptop rather than your phone.
  • Use a few prompts if you need to. Sticky notes dotted around your screen that you can peel off when you’ve mentioned them are often useful.
  • Never read from a script.
  • Try to maintain eye contact by looking at the camera rather than the image of the interviewers.
  • Don’t be too close to your camera nor too far, and ideally have the camera somewhere in front of your face rather than below or above.
  • Do smile and be warm, but not too relaxed.
  • Stick to time limits – if they ask for something to take 5 minutes, set a timer.
  • Practice with the platform before the day to minimise technical problems that will fluster you on the day.

Good luck!

Gavin Lazaro – Deputy Head, The Lisboan International School, Portugal

Gavin initially trained as an industrial chemist in the UK and worked in agrochemicals, perfumery and catalysis before moving into teaching. He has spent nearly 30 years working in and leading international schools in the Middle East and South-East Asia. Currently working at The Lisboan International School in Lisbon he is relishing the challenge of helping to create a school from scratch with a clear focus on a culture of kindness, holistic learning and high expectations.

Above image from https://images.pexels.com/photos/4226140/pexels-photo-4226140.jpeg?auto=compress&cs=tinysrgb&w=1260&h=750&dpr=2

Introducing Educators Going Global – A New Resource in Our Global Community

Where – besides the International School Community – do you go to learn about and stay connected to International Education? We have a new one-stop shop for you! It’s called Educators Going Global.

We just started a new enterprise with multiple channels organized around school life, recruiting, transitions, finances, and travel

The central portal of our endeavor is the Educators Going Global (EGG) website. There you will find a podcast, a blog, a resource library, and links to our YouTube videos where international educators share their “Going Global Stories.” We also have a Facebook group where we post resources and crowdsource questions on topics such as potential guests, questions we need help with, and lots more. 

Have a question about finances or your upcoming transition to a new school? Visit our site to select “Finances” or “Transitions” to see podcast episodes, blog posts, books, and website resources for your review. We hope you will see our website as an additional tool for your international teaching toolkit.

At the same time, you can subscribe to the Educators Going Global podcast on your device using your favorite podcasting app to listen to our shows. We have posted 15 shows now and we have many more in the works. Our guests have been interesting and informative, and there is something there for everyone, whether you are new to International Education or a long-time veteran like ourselves.

We hope you will see our website as an additional tool for your international teaching toolkit. Have a question about finances or your upcoming transition to a new school? Visit our site to select “Finances” or “Transitions” to see podcast episodes, blog posts, books, and website resources for your review. 

We will share with you how to travel, teach and connect!

That should cover What Educators Going Global is. Now, here’s the Who! We are Audrey Forgeron and David Carpenter.  

Audrey is a thirty-year international teaching veteran of seven international schools on four continents. She has variously taught Health and Physical Education, Social Studies, French, Film and Design Technology in grades three through twelve and has been an instructional technology educator. She is now a trailing spouse and mother of two grown Cross-Cultural Kids (CCKs), and she is currently training to become a life coach.

David is also a long-time international educator, having worked in ten international schools over a 30-year period. He has worn many hats, from Social Studies teacher to Counselor to Curriculum Designer to Instructional Technologist to Instructional Coach for Wellness. David is now semi-retired, wearing his dad hat whenever possible to support and learn from his adult sons, Maxwell and Samuel. 

So Why are we keen to share our insights and the expertise of our guests? We want to give back to the community of educators that gave each of us so much. We see our effort as a public service. 

Our mission is to inform both veteran and aspiring international educators about working overseas – What it’s like and how it’s changing, Where to find more information, Why “going global” is so attractive, and How and When to work through the recruiting process. We do this via targeted podcast episodes that include informational interviews and personal vignettes related to these five Ws of international education.

We work to tell the whole story, so you are really in the know about international schools. Our motto is: Eyes wide open!

The bottom line is that just like when we worked in international schools, we want to build community and be of service. Please connect with us as we go global together!

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Myanmar

Around the world, there are countries (like Myanmar) that have more than one international school. Many times there is an American school, a British School, and an international school that uses an international curriculum.

The big question always is…how do the comments about each school compare to each other?

This blog series looks at comparing some of these comments, all coming from international schools in the same country.

Myanmar

Currently, we have 15 schools listed in Myanmar on International School Community.

6 of these schools have had comments submitted on them:

Ayeyarwaddy International School (66 Total Comments)
International School of Myanmar (23 Total Comments)
Myanmar International School Yangon (33 Total Comments)
The International School Yangon (17 Total Comments)
Total Learning Academy (9 Total Comments)
Yangon International School (81 Total Comments)

Amount of Money Left to be Saved

“Single- 30, 000. Couple- 60, 000…” – The International School Yangon

“Most people will save more than half their salary. You have to be trying hard to spend your money. Keep it for traveling…” – Myanmar International School Yangon

“It depends on your lifestyle, but most people can save between 50-80% of their salary, easily…” – Ayeyarwaddy International School

School Campus

“The surrounding area of the campus is quite suburban. There are grocery stores and restaurants within walking distance of the campus…” – The International School Yangon

“The building is not for purpose. With the school role rising, pupils are being stuffed into classes not big enough to accommodate them. Primary especially are struggling. The area around the school is not really adequate for play or PE. Outside the grounds has roaming dogs and an ever-accumulating number of car wrecks in various stages of being dismantled. The teachers are overworked, it has got worse in the past two years. While appreciating the need for setting standards, the overloaded teachers are burning out. Staff are generally great, friendly and helpful. There will be another big turnover this year. Many teachers are completing contracts and getting out. Others were forced into signing 2-year contracts even though they had been on 1 year contracts for a few years. In saying that, the contacts are not worth anything. Major changes made by the management last year means that they are invalid. Students are nice, salaries are on time, housing allowance is decent…” – Myanmar International School Yangon

“There is a small pool and some playground equipment for the younger kids…” – Ayeyarwaddy International School

Housing Information

“Housing is provided by the school, which comes fully furnished, and all utilities are included and paid for…” – International School of Myanmar

“Teachers are living in either a shared house or in some cases apartment-style living closest to the branch you will be working at…” – Total Learning AcademyC

“Utilities are included in your benefits. All the housing comes furnished…” – The International School Yangon

Benefits for Teachers with Children

“Non-trailing spouses can be an issue. Visas have been much easier to get than in previous years but the application process is not smooth compared to other countries. A shorter visa is often granted before a 1 year visa is issued. Not a big deal but it can be an inconvenience to have to deal with the Myanmar Embassy for a spouse. The school will need to sponsor the spouse in most cases…” – Yangon International School

“100% free tuition for 1 child…” – International School of Myanmar

“Free tuition for up to 2 children…” – Myanmar International School Yangon

Are the Expectations High of Teaching Staff?

“Workload is increasing. school hours have changed as well. 0800 – 1600
Classes in Primary finish 1445 and secondary 1500. The additional after-school time will be taken up with 2 after-school activities and meetings…” – Myanmar International School Yangon

“The workload is very reasonable. Foreign staff is never given breakfast or lunch duty, and the after-school activity is only required once per week…” – Ayeyarwaddy International School

“The expectations of teachers is that students are learning and doing well in class. There are very few demands outside of the classroom. In the elementary school, each teacher is required to do one after-school activity for a 9-week period…” – Yangon International School

(These are just 5 of the 66 different comments topics that are on each school profile page on our website.)

If you work at an international school in Myanmar, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited free premium membership!

Collaborative Teaching: Enhancing Inclusion at International Schools

The opportunity for teachers to ply their trade in the international school setting offers many unique experiences, both professional and personal. From the professional perspective, none is more rewarding than engaging culturally diverse groups of students in their learning on a day-to-day basis. Every student in the class brings their own unique language experiences, beliefs and values, along with their travel and unique third-culture experiences. In these settings, the opportunity exists for teachers to extend their repertoire of teaching practice, to ensure all students are engaged in the learning journey in their classes.

As a teacher, one quickly learns to see students in the class for what they can do, and what they bring to the table in terms of classroom discussions, group work and dynamics. Additionally, each student has a unique view of classroom behavioural ‘norms’ through their own cultural lens. Some cultures have very few teacher-student interactions in the classroom, whilst in others, this is a constant. The latter can be quite a shock for students from particular cultures, and take some time to adjust, extending the well-known ‘silent period’. Often these students become the most outspoken in the class!

Viewing curriculum outcomes through various cultural lenses represented in the class is key to a teacher effectively engaging the students in their international school classes. Valuing each and every student’s views or experiences, and positively acknowledging the political and economic systems from which they come is paramount to a positive and engaging classroom culture, based upon the saying “just because it is different, does not make it wrong”.

The practicalities in terms of ‘scaffolding up’ for students whose first language is not the language of instruction at the school is a vital aspect of teaching in the international school sector. As teachers know, schools have various approaches to catering to students whose first language is not the language of instruction, from fully-sheltered language schools, to partially sheltered programs, and most recently the much-espoused collaborative teaching (co-teaching) domain. Having been fortunate enough to experience all three of these approaches, a well-organised and data-driven co-teaching program is the most effective for these students, both in terms of the all-important student well-being, along with academic performance. In short, in an effective co-teaching program, students feel connected to their school as they are not being sheltered away from the mainstream cohort for language lessons. In turn, students whose first language is the language of instruction are always in awe of what their peers achieve on a daily and hourly basis, this in turn makes the students in question extremely proud of their achievements, and this pride is clearly validated as they are seeing the academic bar which is set in their mainstream classrooms each and every lesson. Students rarely linguistically fossilise in effective co-teaching programs.

An effective co-teaching program in this context requires staff who are truly willing to share, collaborate and build professional relationships, through co-planning, co-teaching, co-assessing and co-reflecting through regular meetings (See Cycle of Collaboration graphic below). Having co-taught in this context across Year 6-8 Science and Humanities classes for six years, rest assured that co-teaching is the best professional development a teacher will ever have, and it is daily! Subject teachers become excellent academic language teachers, and language co-teachers become quite confident subject teachers. Effective co-teaching programs are first and foremost relationship-based, and without positive and collaborative staff relationships much effectiveness for effective student learning is sadly lost.

A Cycle of Collaboration

Students’ academic language proficiency progression is accelerated exponentially in effective co-teaching programs in upper primary and middle school year levels (see data provided below – school name withheld), however, the catch is students who are in the beginning phase of their academic language acquisition journey can for various reasons become lost in the shuffle and may require sheltered instruction to accompany their mainstream class experiences. Experience and data demonstrate that intermediate and advanced academic language level students thrive in true co-teaching environments. This linguistic progression is doubled down in terms of acceleration through an effective mother tongue program at the school, ensuring additive bilingualism is occurring.

The role of the co-teacher is to flesh out the academic language embedded in each unit of work and explain to students the regular independent study habits required to learn the required tier two and tier three academic language needed for each unit of work, prior to and during the teaching of the unit in question. Furthermore, effective co-teachers provide resources such as comprehension, pre-reading/viewing activities and provide notetaking scaffolds, along with support resources for production tasks such as structural scaffolds (relevant to text type), sentence frames and writing samples as required. There is much more to co-teaching than this brief overview, however these are very sound pillars upon which to build, along with knowing each student’s current year-level appropriate academic language proficiency in the reading, writing, speaking and listening domains. The wonderful by-product is that all students benefit from these ‘scaffold up’ resources, not only the students whose first language is not the school’s language of instruction.

Next time you apply for an international school role, ask if the school has a co-teaching program, because it is one of the most satisfying teaching experiences a teacher can enjoy, and proudly watch your students fly.

This article was submitted by Tim Hudson, an academic language acquisition expert with 34 years of experience in teaching and leading EAL and other subject department teams at the secondary level in international school settings, including Shanghai American School and more recently the Australian International School in Singapore. Tim was also instrumental in building the very successful international student program at Fraser Coast Anglican College in Queensland, Australia.

He is currently on sabbatical, offering tutoring services for EAL learners and consultancy services for schools in the EAL domain.

His skills include curriculum design, assisting schools new to this domain in developing context-appropriate EAL programs, and enhancing existing EAL programs in schools. He has extensive experience providing professional development to subject-teaching teams across the curriculum in the realm of academic language acquisition and has a passion for EAL co-teaching. You can reach him at aclangedge@gmail.com

ISC now has over 2273 international school profiles listed

At International School Community, we now have over 2273 international school profiles listed on our website!

The last 5 schools to be added:

Sunway International School (Iskandar Puteri) (Iskandar, Malaysia)
International School of Rimini (ISR) (Rimini, Italy)
The Lisboan International School (Lisbon, Portugal)
The International School (Karachi, Pakistan)
Tenby International School Tropicana Aman (Selangor, Malaysia)

The top 5 schools with the most members:

American International School in Egypt (Main Campus)
(New Cairo City, Egypt) – 31 Members
International School of Kuala Lumpur 
(Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – 29 Members
Copenhagen International School 
(Copenhagen, Denmark) – 27 Members
MEF International School Istanbul
(Istanbul, Turkey) – 26 Members
International School Manila
(Manila, Philippines) – 26 Members

The top 6 most viewed schools:

Jeddah Knowledge International School
(Jeddah, Saudi Arabia) – 203748 views
Al Hada International School
(Taif, Saudi Arabia) – 172031 views
International School of Chile (Nido de Aguilas)
(Santiago, Chile) – 82486 views
British International School Moscow
(Moscow, Russia) – 72162 Views
The Universal American School
Salwa, Kuwait –56341 views

The last 5 schools to have something written on their wall:

Hillside Collegiate IS
(Geoje-si, South Korea) – 0 Comments
American International School Riyadh
(Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) – 48 Comments
British Columbia International School (Thailand)
(Bangkok, Thailand) – 6 Comments
Taipei European School
(Taipei, Taiwan) – 84 Comments
Light International School
(Nairobi, Kenya) – 0 Comments

But check them all out yourself!  Get answers to your questions about the international schools you are interested in by clicking on the geographic region of your choice.  It’s a great way to learn about different international schools around the world and gather information!

International School Community has the following 2273 international schools listed on our website (last updated on 26 February, 2023)

Results: (185) Countries, (831) Cities, (2230) Schools, 
(42543) Comments

Asia (221)

Caribbean (39)

Central America (46)

Central/Eastern Europe (128)

East Asia (331)

Middle East (306)

North Africa (69)

North America (113)

Oceania (31)

SE Asia (355)

South America (104)

Sub-Saharan Africa (183)

Western Europe (347)