International School Community Blog

New Teacher Orientation is Now Underway: 14 Must-Haves

Stressing out about what your new international school is actually going to be like once you finally arrive?

Want to get a good idea of what you can expect (or not expect) during your first few weeks at your new international school?

Wondering what you can do before and after your move to put yourself more at ease and to be better prepared?

Take some time then to read this 14-part series on the ISC blog. It is the go-to series for staff in charge of inducting their new staff members.

Here are the 14 must-haves with a little excerpt of each article:

1. “A trip around the city

“A friend just told me that there is a hidden rule amongst international school teachers, and that is that you shouldn’t accept any visitors to your new home within the first six months of living there.  I suppose that is true in some ways and not true in other ways.  One time I did have a friend visit me during…” READ MORE

2. A pick-up from the airport from administration

“To start things off right, it might be the most ideal if the person who hired you picks you up from the airport when you first arrive. Starting off on the right note is very important for an international school teacher, especially when you are bound to experience a bit of culture shock.  One way to start off in the right way is how you get…” READ MORE

3. Lunches provided by the school during the orientation week at the school campus.

“Having a catered, home (cafeteria)-cooked lunch is NOT a given when you start working at an international school.  Some international schools include free lunches in their benefits package all year round (for all teachers mind you!), but some international schools don’t offer this benefit…not even during PD events or during new teacher orientation. It is definitely a nice gesture on the school’s part to offer…” READ MORE

4. Help finding a place to live!

“Finding a place to live in any country can be a headache! When you involve different languages, different cultural traditions and norms, etc. finding an apartment can be even more of a headache. In turn, it is much appreciated if the administration/business staff at your new school can help you out. Some international schools just place you in a compound that the school owns and you must live there for…” READ MORE

5. An organized trip to help you get furniture for your new home.

“It is not ideal to arrive the first day/night in your new host city only to arrive at your new apartment and find it VERY unfurnished.  It doesn’t necessarily start you on the right foot with regards to settling-in with your new life when maybe you do not even have a bed on which to sleep.  For sure there are many international schools out there that place their new teachers directly into…” READ MORE

6. A settling-in allowance given to you in cash (local currency)!

“You just get off the airplane.  You have what seem to be a million bags with you. You are quite tired from your long flight journey to your new host country.  You are frantically looking for the person that said that they were going to pick you up from the airport.  You find them and they bring you to your new place that will be your home for the next few years.   So many things on your mind, so many things to worry about, and SO many things to buy…” READ MORE

7. A dinner outing with the director and administration

“In some cultures, it is very much of a bonding moment between people when they share a meal together.  It is a time when you can really relax and have some nice conversations with each other.  Getting to know your director and other new teachers in this kind of setting will help you with future encounters with the director and also with your potential new good friends. Having a meal with your bosses can really…” READ MORE

8. A starter supply of groceries for your new home.

“Luckily, many international schools out there are getting this one right.  Someone in the “new teacher orientation” committee is going out to a grocery store before you arrive and getting you the basic necessities for you. What are the basic necessities?  Typically you get some…” READ MORE

9. Resource person with a contact number and email address

“There is so much going on for international school teachers in their first days, weeks, and even months after starting at their new school.  There is just as much going on for you before you arrive in your new host country.  Being that there is so much to think about, one of the most important things that international schools can do for their new hires is set up so that they have a resource person.  New teachers actually need…” READ MORE

10. Getting access to the internet AS FAST AS POSSIBLE!

“Please schools (the ones that help teachers find apartments or have new teachers move into school-owned housing), the best thing you can do to help out your new staff is to think ahead and somehow get the internet set up in their houses…before they arrive or VERY soon after they arrive…” READ MORE

11. Beginning-level host country language classes.

“At times there is nothing worse than the feeling of not know how to communicate with the people in your community. Many of us decide to move to countries where we do not know the host country language.  It is impossible for people to know every language spoken in this world, especially really local languages that are not even possible to learn in universities in your home country…” READ MORE

12. A tour of your new campus

“Finally you are at your new school!  After the initial shock on seeing the campus for the first time and getting introduced to tons of important people at the school, you take a deep breath and get ready to really see the campus…” READ MORE

13. Learning how to get reimbursed and meeting the business office staff

“It takes so much money to move yourself from one place to another.  Now add in the fact that you are shipping boxes and whatnot half way across the world, and the cost just gets higher and higher. Many times, international school teachers need to pay for these shipping costs upfront.  Hopefully you are getting an relocation allowance…” READ MORE

14. A sit-down with an admin to go over each part of your contract

“Contract details can be easily overlooked. They are not overlooked because you are not interested in them (because of course you want to know ALL the details when you are in the initial stages after being offered a contract), but because there are too many fine details to fully understand everything you see…” READ MORE

Do you have another must-have to add to our list? Email us here and ask about submitting a new article for this series as a guest author on our blog. All guest authors receive one free year of premium membership to our website!

The Journey to School: Harrow Haikou International School (Haikou, Hainan, China)

The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries to which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

One of our members, who works at the Harrow Haikou International School (Haikou, Hainan, China), described the way she gets to work as follows:

The road to Harrow Haikou International School in China

Haikou is the capital city of the smallest province in China, Hainan island. It is located in the South of China and has a comfortable tropical wet and dry climate. Haikou is also known as the “Coconut City”, displaying its charm with lots of little cafes and restaurants, lush green parks and vibrant life. With the sea on three sides, beaches, seaside resorts, wetlands and tropical wildlife, the city is the main port of Hainan.

“Harrow Haikou” school is a pertinent project for the Hainan government as they transform Haikou into an international education hub. The school is in the Jiandong New area, a major zone in Hainan Free Trade Port with new infrastructure in high-speed development. This area will be home to a new international trading hub for energy, shipping, commodities and financial instruments.

Harrow Teachers can rent apartments at the Kaiwei compound close to the school and a 6-km-long beach.

The teachers could also choose to live in the city, making their travel much longer yet more accessible to shopping malls, entertainment venues, bars and dining options.

I live in Kaiwei because it is convenient to commute to school. We have a little store here, and Guilinyang village with fruit & vegetables market is not so far away. There’s a children’s playground, a swimming pool and a beautiful golf course with walking paths around it.

As you get closer to school, it becomes less developed. The school is surrounded by a protected forest area which is quite pretty.

Many teachers who live in Kaiwei purchase an e-bike for the morning ride to school, which would take no longer than 7-8 minutes. Walking from Kaiwei to school or the local beach would take approximately 15-20 minutes. Three school buses take staff from different parts of the city to school and back, and one stops at Kaiwei.

In the morning, I wake up to this view, overlooking the city street from one side and the quad within the compound from the other.

I generally leave between 7:10 and 7:20 am to arrive at school before 7:30 am.

The traffic is usually smooth, with just a few vehicles and no rush. I feel safe as I use bike lanes. Only in case of heavy rain, it is more convenient for me to take the school bus. In the school’s underground parking, I can charge my e-bike for just 0,30 RMB, which will last me a week.

I love my morning e-bike ride to school because I can get there quickly, feeling the refreshing breeze and enjoying the beautiful greenery on the way.

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by an ISC member, Aleksandra Grbic. She is currently the Head of Music and Performance at Harrow Haikou International School. Aleksandra has been working in international schools for 15 years in Thailand, the UAE and China. You can find her on Linkedin.

What to know more about what it is like to visit and live in China?  Out of a total of 216 international schools that we have listed in China, 151 have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of them:

Access International Academy (Ningbo) (48 total comments)
Beanstalk International Bilingual School (Beijing) (59 total Comments)
Beijing BISS International School (79 total Comments)
Beijing International Bilingual Academy (118 total Comments)
Changchun American International School (157 total comments)
Concordia International School (Shanghai) (180 total Comments)
Guangdong Country Garden School (71 total Comments)
International School of Nanshan Shenzhen (88 total Comments)

So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn one year free of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

Summer Shopping: What products do you stock up on in your home country?

“How many suitcases should I bring home???” thinks an international school teacher who is traveling home for summer vacation.  Inside though this teacher knows what they will end up doing during their trip back home. Even though it might cost them in the end when they pay for the extra weight of one or more of their suitcases or when they pay the extra fee for an additional suitcase on the airline they are flying on.  It’s a pity that many airlines are now only allowing one free suitcase for an economy ticket, even on international flights!

The allure of home products is too strong though.  When living abroad as an expat, it is almost vitally important to have some things around you that are familiar in your home abroad.  Sometimes I open up one of my kitchen cabinets and because of the many home products that I see, it could be me opening a cupboard in my old home in my home country.  Surely the first and second year abroad you might do this, stocking your cupboards full of home products, but doing this in your third or fourth (or tenth or more) year…. is it time to “let go?”

I heard one international teacher say that after eight years of living abroad she now refuses to buy products at home when she can find the exact same thing or something comparable in her host country.  That would most likely save her in the long run on baggage fees, even if the product is a little bit more expensive than in her home country.  However, sometimes we just want to have our favorite brand that we were using all the time when we lived in our home country, even if we can find something exactly the same (minus the brand name that we have “grown to trust”) in our current country.  This is the dilemma then, to buy or not to buy??!

This year I personally decided to only take one suitcase back home for the summer.  Well if I am being completely honest, I still did bring a carry-on travel backpack…in the hopes that I could squeeze in a few more of my favorite things to take with me on my flight back home. It was very difficult to limit myself.  The mantra that I kept repeating in my head “Can I get this where I live now?” If the answer was yes, I reluctantly didn’t buy it.

It is fun to shop in other countries.  Exploring grocery stores in other countries is one of my most favorite things to do actually (though I find it equally enjoyable to shop in my old grocery stores at home, too)!  You never know what you will find.  Well actually you do end up seeing some products from your home country in foreign grocery stores, but countries obviously have many of their own products as well.  As you try new products, you are bound to find new favorites.

Sometimes if you see products that look familiar, they have a different language on the packages.  Some even try and display messages in English that seem a bit funny to you.  I’m not for sure the Lays company would put the same phrase “best with cold drinks” on their United States packages…maybe though.  Also, foreign countries have people with different tastes, so you might find potato chip flavors like Chili Chinese with Schezwan Sauce and Seaweed Pringles….probably wouldn’t be popular flavors in United States.  One thing that is hard to find living abroad is proper potato or tortilla chips; that aisle in a United States grocery store is a long one with many different brands and options!

Another factor to consider when buying foreign products is when you are trying to read the ingredients; this is where many international school teachers draw the line.  Many, many people nowadays need to know exactly each ingredient that is in a product. And when you have to do this in a second language (in which you likely only know a few words in total), you might find yourself being drawn to bring back more of your home country’s products.  Knowing the ingredients is very important.  Sometimes even on imported products in your host country, the country itself covers up the English ingredients list by putting a sticker over it listing the ingredients in the host language. It is can be frustrating for sure!

Interesting story….I just witnessed an international school teacher lug up three boxes of home country goods to her apartment.  When I asked her where did she get these boxes, she said that she got them from somebody who works at the embassy of her home country.  After living abroad for a while and meeting embassy workers, we maybe don’t all know one of the perks they get.  They can order home country products in bulk and the embassy will ship them over to you.  I guess this embassy worker had extra and enough to share with an international teacher friend!  I didn’t see all the different kinds of products that were in the boxes, but I do know that I saw some boxes of Duncan Hines cake boxes from the USA!  You might be able to find easy-to-bake cake mixes in your host country, but this just might be one of those products that are only available at grocery stores in the United States.

Go ahead…continue to go home and stock up on all your favorite things.  However, don’t forget to keep your eye out in the local grocery stores where you are living.  Try a few new things every 1-2 weeks.  There are most likely some amazing products that you didn’t know about.  Some things though you just might want to pass on, like whatever kind of meat this is in the display case and what ever kind of product that is on a certain shelf.  Sometime the risk is too great on your wallet to try out new (and strange) products and foods!

If you are an international school teacher, please share what you stock up on when you return to your home country!  How many suitcases do you bring home?

If you’d like to share your story and earn free premium membership to ISC, please send us a message here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article was submitted anonymously by an ISC member.

Allowed or no way: Bringing pets to another country

We cannot just leave them behind. Well, sometimes we do, when we find a happy home for them (usually a friend or a relative).  However, if there is a possibility of bringing our pet with us to our next destination, then people will probably do it.

Moving is a hard task, that is for sure.  It can be even harder, though, transplanting yourself with a pet.  There are so many hoops that you may need to go through before you have your pet with you, safe and sound in your new home/country.

Sign this form here. Sign this form there. Quarantine your pet for XX amount of days, weeks, or months??

Not so much fun for you or your pet.

For the love of this inseparable part of your family, you do it.  Because at the end of it all, you will both be able to enjoy and explore the new country together and comfort each other when things get tough and lonely.

Bringing a pet to another country varies across the globe as there are different laws in different countries.  Additionally, we must not forget about the international school itself. It is very possible your new international school highly discourages you to bring your pet (due to staff housing policies, etc…).  Good to know these things ahead of time then!!

Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to international school teachers with pets, so you can stay the most informed as possible. It is called: “Describe your experience bringing pets.

There are a total of 357 comments in this comment topic (June 2022).  Here are a few that have been submitted:

“The biggest obstacle will be the landlords not allowing pets. This despite that there are tons of dogs and cats around. The landlords that do allow pets will require a $1000 USD deposit. Lots of vets, people love dogs here, but also lots of strays and roving packs of dogs. Vets are inexpensive compared to elsewhere…”
International School of Belgrade (Belgrade, Serbia) – 95 Total Comments

“No support from school. Do all your own research. Viet Nam is fairly easy for bringing pets into the country but, depending on where you are going next or what type of pet you have, it may be much more problematic leaving…”
TH School (Hanoi, Vietnam) – 9 Total Comments

“Many staff this year successfully brought cats. Most chose to do the paperwork on their own – others paid $$$$ for pet shippers. Personal choice. The school didn’t help with this…”
International School of Panama (Panama City, Panama) – 89 Total Comments

“Very easy to come into the country with pets and a good area to have them. Not too many areas have grassy bits but there are parks etc to bring them to. Recently GRAB, (Uber here) started a pet carrying service. Veterinary care is very good too from my experience…”
KIS International School (Bangkok) (Bangkok, Thailand) – 401 Total Comments

“Updated on this pet situation. With the new housing benefits coming into effect now, many newly constructed apartments do not allow pets, and therefore housing that allows pets is at a premium. You need to discuss your pet situation with HR if you are considering coming here…”
Chadwick International School – Songdo (Incheon, South Korea) 158 Total Comments

Traveling Around: Sicily (The life of an international school teacher is good!)

Traveling Around: Sicily

Can you relate?

  • entering a local deli shop by chance and being in awe of all the delicious food!
  • getting an Airbnb right in a small harbor where the locals are doing their daily fishing.
  • planning this trip with some international school teacher friends that you met at a conference many years ago.
  • learning about the history of the island when you run into some ancient ruins.
  • resisting the urge to buy things from the local market when you see that your partner is purchasing a number of things.
  • Imagining what life would be like living in Sicily as you walk down cute and quaint narrow streets.
  • running into huge packs of high school aged children all over the city and not understanding why they aren’t in school!
  • succumbing to the urge and getting at least one delicious gelato a day.
  • taking a detour two times during the trip and stopping at some remote, local beaches to just lay down and relax (some of us taking a dip as well).
  • walking around the beautiful nature and being curious about all of the local wildflowers.
  • going all the way up to Mount Etna and being amazed at the fact you are standing so close to an erupting volcano!
  • ringing a doorbell of a closed store that sells honey only for the bell to be answered by the owner who then lets you in (the honey was delicious!)!
  • loving the city life as you people-watch in downtown Catania.
  • stopping the car to get out and buy four peaches from a local produce seller selling produce out of their truck.
  • driving around and being scared because of the way the locals drive. It was like the driving rules there were merely suggestions.
  • visiting a touristy town but realizing how amazing it was, especially the views of the sea.
  • eating at a different restaurant every night and totally enjoying every meal and experience.
  • running into a local wedding that was just ending and watching firsthand all of the traditions of their culture.

Currently, we have 39 international schools listed in Italy on International School Community. 21 of them have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of those schools:

The Bilingual School of Monza29 Comments
International School Florence34 Comments
American Overseas School of Rome40 Comments
Bilingual European School of Milan79 Comments
St. Stephens School Rome29 Comments
Westminster International School29 Comments

If you are on a trip right now, away from your host country, write to us here with your “Can you relate?” traveling experiences.  Tell us where you are traveling in the world, what you are seeing, and how you are coping with any culture shock.  Once your Traveling Around experience is posted on our blog, International School Community will give you 6 free months of premium membership!

Top 12 Most Controversial Comments Submitted by Our Members (2nd edition)

International School Community is full of thousands of useful, informative comments…44256 comments (30 May 2022) to be exact.

Members are recommended to keep their comments objective on our website, and sometimes they need to share how it really is working at their international school.

We scoured our database of comments, and we found 12 that stood out to us as being some of the most controversial.

12. Has the school met your expectations once you started working there?

“Disorganised. Micromanagement from leaders who haven’t been teaching a range of schools before. Limited experience from Tier 1 schools which reflects the disorganization and reactive rather than proactive approach to problems. Leadership runs to stomp down teachers, bully them and drain their enthusiasm for teaching. AOBA has a huge staff turnover, which was a question that I asked when interviewed. I was told a very low turnover rate until I turned up and was met with a large new teaching cohort. Leadership sees good teachers, and lies to get them because they know that what they offer is not good enough for the truth-telling of how this school is actually run…” – Aoba Japan International School (Tokyo, Japan) – 49 Comments

11. Details about the teaching contract. What important things should prospective teachers know about?

“The ONLY contract that matters is the teacher’s contract with the government of Azerbaijan, and that is for one year and one year only. The “2-year” that is issued by the school? It’s not worth the paper it is written on. The business office regularly ignores sections of that contract that it finds inconvenient! Coming from a country where contracts are considered sacrosanct, that was a shocking realization…”European Azerbaijan School (Baku, Azerbaijan) – 7 Comments

10. What controversies have been happening lately? Please be objective.

“Leaders have been fired without any forewarning shocking leaders and staff. Replacements were hired who are not trusted or have a reputation for being unpleasant. Student leaders behaved in a manner this year that caused a great number of problems for staff, parents, and admin. This is not a new behavior but rather part of the school persona and spirit…” – Tarsus American College (Mersin, Turkey) – 278 Comments

9. What insider information would you give to a teacher considering working at this school?

“This is a top-down working environment and your professional opinion is not expected or valued. Smile, agree and do your best to follow through with all directives. Lay low and never make ripples, much less waves. This is a great place for 1st ever international teachers, but an unacceptable post for professional international educators…” – American International School (Abu Dhabi) (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) – 97 Comments

8. Has the school met your expectations once you started working there?

“No, Not at all. There is no PAY SCALE as promised. Teachers even don’t get paid what they should get paid when inflation rises. Salaries stay the same every year. no way you can discuss this further with your HOD or director. Different building with more facilities was said to change, during my interview. During Covid, online teaching they cut salaries. Can you believe that? We spent more time in organising online learning and then they cut salaries! Flexibility only comes from one side in this school. I would not recommend this school to any teacher nor student!!!!” – International School Ruhr (Essen, Germany) – 65 Comments

7. Has the school met your expectations once you started working there?

“No, the interview process was great yet when I joined there were clashes of values and I was constantly asked to stop and ‘listen’ (listen in the sense of ‘do what I say’ rather than ‘listen’ from the heart to hear and incorporate perspectives). As a creative person with ambition and well-read and connected, I had to keep lowering expectations until I felt there was no way I could continue working here. I had a completely different ethic, based on quality international school standards. I was highly disappointed by the lack of innovative thinking and the authoritarian and competitive feel of the majority of the leaders. I think the school is too American and not enough “international”. the culture was not healthy…” – Anglo American School of Sofia (Sofia, Bulgaria) – 74 Comments

6. Pension plan details.

“It is not a pension. Due to Brazilian law, each teacher pays 8% of their salary each month into a guarantee fund. This is more or less an unemployment insurance. At the end of your contract, the school agrees to “fire” you, so you can access that fund. Based on the exchange rate at that time, it can vary in USD. At the beginning of my contract is was estimated around $12,000. But, now it will be much closer to $7,000. There is no way to know how much it will actually be in the end…” – American School of Belo Horizonte (Belo Horizonte, Brazil) – 78 Comments

5. Has the school met your expectations once you started working there?

“The school has changed severely since the new head of school started this school year. 6 people had been fired so far, the morale is really low, there is a fear of “who will be the next”. The environment is not healthy at all…” – Benjamin Franklin International School (Barcelona, Spain) – 116 Comments

4. Has the school met your expectations once you started working there?

“My first impression of the school was that it was warm, welcoming, and compassionate. I thought I would truly matter as an employee – I was eager to find a school with a family-like atmosphere that I could make home. The family-like atmosphere is a total illusion. Employees are expendable. HR put out a health survey to prepare for Covid-19. Anyone (local staff and teaching assistants) seen as expendable that marked that they were at a higher risk of Covid on that survey was fired at the end of the school year. The motto for the year was “We Are One.” The irony was not lost on the foreign staff with this. Generally, the moment you have a differing opinion, an issue, or a criticism, you are treated like garbage. This school is the epitome of the term “toxic positivity…” – School of the Nations (Brasilia) (Brasilia, Brazil) – 41 Comments

3. Are the expectations high of teaching staff? Are there extracurricular responsibilities? Describe workload details.

“Workload has increased, as teachers have been fired/let go… those remaining are regularly requested to cover (during their planning periods) for those who are out sick…” – Lahore American School (Lahore, Pakistan) – 193 Comments

2. Average monthly salary after taxes and in what currency (explain taxation situation). How often do you get paid throughout the year?

“This is a great school with a fantastic community of teachers and staff. Such a shame that the owners will ignore the contract and refuse to pay health insurance above a yearly total of $180 per year, but then use the poor wording in the contract to cheat other people out of their final month’s salary. Beware if you want to work here…” – Sekolah Victory Plus (Jakarta, Indonesia) – 143 Comments

1. Average monthly salary after taxes and in what currency (explain taxation situation). How often do you get paid throughout the year?

“No raise last year and I believe no raise this year as well…. Makes you wonder if the school is having some issues…” – Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea) – 226 Comments

If you have an interesting story in your school that you would like to share, log in to International School Community and submit your comments. For every 10 submitted comments, you will get one month of free premium membership added to your account!

Why Are People Staying at or Leaving Your International School?

If you work at an international school, you know that your decision to stay or leave has already been decided by now. Teachers most likely have already decided whether they will stay for another year or two at their current school or move on back home or to another international school.  

At some international schools, 1/4 or 1/3 of their current teachers decide to let their school know that they will be moving on at the end of the school year. Though it is not the case necessarily at other international schools that have a lot of local hires (not necessarily on foreign-hired contracts). Those with lots of local hires generally tend to have teachers that want to stay there for longer periods of time because they have more ties to the local country (e.g. they are married to a local, etc.).

Regardless of the personal situation of the teacher, another big factor that guides a teacher’s decision to stay or leave is the school itself. For example, the school might be losing student numbers as of late. Fewer students mean less demand for all the teachers on the current staff roster, meaning some need to go whether they like it or not. Maybe even the school has decided to alter or eliminate the staff children benefit (to have them attend the school for free). And the list goes on…

There are of course even other factors that come into play that affect this big decision that a number of teachers need to make each year. One of these factors is that the school has decided to move in a direction that doesn’t match your teaching philosophy anymore. Staying at a school that doesn’t match you and your teaching style can be a serious concern leading you to search for other positions in a school that better suit you.

The biggest factor to stay or leave might just boil down to money, plain and simple. If the school isn’t meeting your needs financially anymore, there are many more that probably will.

So the question for you is why are YOU going to stay or leave your current school? It might be one of these reasons listed above or a combination of these and even other reasons.

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of staying or leaving, so you can stay the most informed as possible. There are a total of 477 comments (May 2022) that have been submitted by our veteran international school teachers in one of 67 comment topics called – “In general, why are people staying at or leaving this school?”

Here are a few of those submitted comments:

“People are staying because they are mostly not getting a better job anywhere else and people are leaving because of the rude behavior, less salary, false promises, promotion of wrong candidate, lack of resources and overloaded routine.” – Indus International School (Pune) (Pune, India) – 43 Total Comments

“Staying because the campus is nice, supply and PD budgets are generous, students are overall courteous and engaged, and because Berlin rocks. Leaving because salaries are too low, and some departments are more disorganized than others.” – Berlin Brandenburg International School (Berlin, Germany) – 87 Comments

“Staying: Turnover is low. In my opinion, people are staying because the school climate is generally very positive – it is a happy place to work. The school has generally got its act together (curriculum, policies, etc) very well so there are structures in place to make teaching positive. It is a vibrant, stimulating place to work. Japan is a lovely place to live. Leaving: The cliche is single females find it harder to date in Tokyo and that could be a reason to leave. The school’s pay is OK and the school’s reputation is good and growing but the pay is not as great as some other big-name schools. People leave as they get the experience and then are drawn to the lure of $$. This is especially the case of teachers in their late 40’s looking for a pension.” – Tokyo International School (Tokyo, Japan) – 140 Total Comments

“People stay a long time because the pay and benefits are great, the city is very livable, the cost of living is low and the classes are not too large.” – Anglo-American School of St. Petersburg (St. Petersburg, Russia) – 38 Comments

“The overall package is hard to beat and the staff is not overworked. Combined with minimal classroom management requirements due to small class sizes, DISK really is a great place to work.” – Doshisha International School Kyoto (Kyoto, Japan) – 140 Comments

“If you survive your first year most teachers stay on. The first year is a challenge, especially if you are late arriving (a common issue because of how long it takes to get a visa).” – Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (Beijing, China) – 193 Comments

New Photo Contest: The Street You Live On (All entries win free premium membership!)

How is the street you live on??

Is it interesting to look at? Inspiring to walk on?

Maybe it is full of trees and greenery, or maybe it is lined with apartment buildings that all look the same.

Where an international teacher lives is important, but you don’t always initially get what you are looking for…your dream neighborhood.

But some international school teachers luck out and find the perfect area to live in which matches their hopes and dreams.

Even if it is not on your dream street, wherever you live often becomes your home. And when you live in a certain area for 1+ years, that area creates many fond memories of that time in your life.

At ISC, we are really curious to see the streets our members are living on. The next time you leave for or come back from work, take a picture with your smartphone of the street that you live on. We’ll have a vote and then chose the top 3 photos that are the most interesting to win the photo contest prizes!

So, what is your best of the street you live on? Submit your photo to us and enter our photo contest! All participants receive free premium membership to our website!

Photo contest topic:
Best photo of the street you live on

The PRIZES:
1st prize: 2 YEARS FREE of premium membership
2nd prize: 1 YEAR FREE of premium membership
3rd prize: 6 MONTHS FREE of premium membership

(Those submissions that are not in the top three will receive 1 free week of premium membership just for participating.)

Send your photo to editor @ internationalschoolcommunity.com. Please remember to:

• Write your name and email address
• Attach your picture and write a short description about it
• Enter these words in your subject: International School Community Photo Contest Entry: Best photo of the street you live on

or

Tweet the photo and mention our profile @IS_Community to make sure we will see it. If you are on Instagram, tag us when you post the photo and/or use the official hashtag #iscommunityphoto

(Deadline to submit your photo: Monday, 23 May 2022. Maximum one photo entry per contestant.) Winners will be contacted around 4-5 days after the contest deadline and that is also when all participants will receive their free premium membership prizes.

Check out our previous Photo Contests here.

Photo credits: Pixabay

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Kuwait

Around the world, there are countries (like Kuwait) 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.

Kuwait

Currently, we have 26 schools listed in Kuwait on International School Community.

17 of these schools have had comments submitted on them. Here are some that have the most submitted comments:

American International School Kuwait (74 Total Comments)
Cambridge English School Mangaf (41 Total Comments)
Ajial Bilingual School (27 Total Comments)
Al Bayan Bilingual School (30 Total Comments)
American Creativity Academy (31 Total Comments)
American School of Kuwait (51 Total Comments)
Dasman Bilingual School (24 Total Comments)
The Universal American School (22 Total Comments)

Amount of Money Left to be Saved

“Teachers can save 15% of their salary on average and you could definitely support a non-teaching spouse on this salary…” – The Universal American School

“Saving money here is doable if you are conservative. Many staff tutor which almost doubles their income. I know of many staff that tutor enough for their travel and cost of living so they bank near all of their salary. As a single provider with a family tutoring would be a must to save…” – American Creativity Academy

“I can save around 1000 to 1500 USD each month. Kuwait can be an expensive country, but because the dinar is strong (it’s the strongest currency in the world), it doesn’t fluctuate much at all when compared with the dollar…” – Al Bayan Bilingual School

School Campus

“The school is in a new state-of-the art purpose-built building; with a multi-level cinema with a capacity of 80 seats, 2 floors theater of 400 seats, 2 swimming pools, 4 science labs, 4 computer labs, 2 basketball courts, 4 libraries & a 3 cafeterias…” – Ajial Bilingual School

“The school is now in a new building with new equipment and furniture, rooftop playground for seniors and two play areas for Early Years providing climbing equipment, bicycles and imaginative play area…” – Cambridge English School Mangaf

“The school relocated from Surra to its present location in Salmiya, Kuwait City in 1995. The campus, sheltered by a brick wall from the wind and weather, has middle and high school buildings that open onto an interior court in the Arabic style and three elementary buildings that surround an open play area. A 1200 seat auditorium, an indoor gymnasium and a sheltered outdoor gymnasium form another part of the complex. The roof of these structures holds a third story soccer field and running track…” – American International School Kuwait

Housing Information

“Staff housing has very basic furnishing. Nice places though. Need to pay the caretaker 5KWD a month for services. No utilities to pay…” – American International School Kuwait

“Shared accommodation for teachers or a housing allowance. Management have single accommodation. Utilities paid for except gas which is very cheap. There is internet but poor connection so most teachers provide their own…” – Cambridge English School Mangaf

“Foreign hires get single furnished apartments that are well-equipped and very nice…” – Ajial Bilingual School

Benefits for Teachers with Children

“Shameful that an expatriate would have to pay 50% for their child to attend a school where they would be the only non Arab and only English speaker. That 50% means you would still pay about 6000 US…” – American Creativity Academy

“One dependent’s tuition is paid for each contracted teacher…” – American School of Kuwait

“Your first child gets free tuition and the 2nd gets 50% off…” – Dasman Bilingual School

Are the Expectations High of Teaching Staff?

“Teachers without IB experience may find their workload higher than usual until they adjust. Teachers are usually expected to participate in and/or lead extra curricular activities, one day per week…” – American International School Kuwait

“Most staff are there for the money and don’t have high expectations. They arrive as late as possible and leave on the dot…” – Cambridge English School Mangaf

“When I worked there, core subject secondary teachers taught an average of four 45-minute periods per day, with occasional subbing duties. All teachers were required to supervise one after-school extra curricular club or activity for six weeks per year…” –Ajial Bilingual 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 Kuwait, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited free premium membership!