I don’t know about you, but I think making friends outside of your school community can be one of your biggest challenges when you live abroad.
If you are an outgoing person, maybe it is a bit easier. However, if you are on an introverted side and also don’t know the local language, then you are up against a steep hill.
Either way, you could say that it is just safer and more comfortable to be friends with your colleagues at your international school. You usually have a lot in common with your colleagues as they also like adventure, share your love for traveling, and have the same vacation calendar as you.
But to get the most out of your international school teaching experience, the elusive goal of many international school teachers is to make some local friends, too.
If you don’t know the local language yet, then you are limited to the locals that are able to speak English (or your home language). Normally, these locals already have other foreigner friends and most likely have traveled internationally or had even lived abroad. These locals are easy to find as friends because you have a lot in common. For example, you probably have many places to go visit and hang out together in the city. If you are lucky, these locals are even available to do some traveling with you during your vacations.
To meet locals who don’t speak English and have a very tight-knit group of friends, let’s say, is a different story. To befriend the locals is typically easier if you have a partner or spouse that is also a local. If that is the case, then you have “a ticket in” to those exclusive groups of friends. Having these kinds of local friends really can give you the “VIP level” on the experience of the city and country that you are living in. These locals know what and where things are happening. International school teachers without these types of friends typically miss out on a number of cultural events and are left without a deep insight into the local lifestyle.
One of the ultimate events in your friendship with a local is to be invited over to their house, even better – for a meal. It can be that you invite a local to your house for dinner multiple times before finally, the stars align and they invite you back to their place. If you are at your international school for only two years, that might not be enough time for this to happen. Building this kind of relationship usually takes longer than that.
What is your experience with making friends in your host city/country? Logon to ISC and share what you know by submitting some comments on your school’s profile page.
When using the keyword search feature (premium membership required), we found 143 comments about friends. Read below a few that are connected to making friends outside of your international school.
“Leysin is a small mountain village and as a result, the community is limited. There is a definite LAS bubble and most of the staff spend time outside of work with each other. It is rare to meet and become friends with people outside of the school community unless you have worked here for many years. It isn’t easy being single here, but the lifestyle is worth it if you love the outdoors and the mountains. It is a quiet village and a great place to live if you don’t like the city.” – Leysin American School (113 total comments)
“I find my Albanian friends quite generous: they always fight to pay the bill in a coffee shop but also for lunch. It is a local tradition though, and keep in mind that, if you want to keep your friends close to you, next time will be your turn. It is important to understand quickly these cultural habits as it will allow you to make good friends. One thing that it is generally badly perceived is to be stingy in friendship.” – Albanian College Durres (111 total comments)
“The locals are very friendly and accommodating. We recently went on a one-day trip with a local tour company. As the only foreigners, we didn’t have much company at the beginning but we found out the locals on the trip actually spoke a very good level of English. By the end of the day, we made friends with many of them!” – Khartoum International Community School (153 total comments)
“Lots of people learning English in Saigon and they will all want to practice with you. Learning some Vietnamese helps with bonding and making local friends but generally, a lot of people speak or are learning to speak English.” – Renaissance International School Saigon (52 total comments)continue reading
The vast number of international schools around the world are still closed and doing some kind of remote learning. It has truly been a challenge for these schools to adapt and adjust to this new way of teaching.
The pressure has been on the school’s administration to organize a clear plan that will follow the local government’s rules and guidelines. These administrators strive to clearly communicate to all stakeholders given the very short amount of reaction time to put the new ways of working in place.
When using ISC’s unique Comment Search feature (Premium Membership is needed), we found a number of comments that had the keyword Covid in them. Here are 10 comments that show some implications of Covid-19 on these international schools:
“School communication has always been a struggle for the school, particularly for the foreign hires who generally hear things last. During the distance learning program due to Covid-19, this had huge repercussions in the trust of the school. Ultimately however the school eventually came to good decisions that people were happy with….”
“The school is currently going through the accreditation for NEASC and IB/PYP. This process may be delayed due to Covid-19…”
“DISK is working on accreditation with WASC, They were to do the initial visit before the end of this year, then Covid-19 messed it up. We expect them in September. Due to Covid-19, we extended the closure of campus to May 11. Learning is still taking place online…”
“Because of Covid 19, our school has been doing remote teaching for many weeks now. But after only 4 weeks, the Danish government has ordered that kids aged 0-10 should go to school (MS and HS still have remote learning, probably until the end of the year). The Early Years and Primary School sections are now teaching in person again on campus, but we have so many new rules and guidelines that we must follow. We are calling it “emergency learning”. One rule is that there can only be 10 kids per classroom because we need to have kids sit two meters apart and to limit the number of adults the students interact with. That in turn requires more teachers to teach a grade level, so the drama, art, music, etc teachers are now all classroom teachers teaching. It is very full on!”
“Students in EC-Grade 5 are using Seesaw as the primary platform for learning while students in 6-12 are using Google Classroom. This has been very helpful in transitioning to online learning due to the Covid-19 situation…”
“Pretty much all PD cancelled when Covid 19 hit. Even those that could have been rescheduled…”
“Covid-19 has put teaching online. Added costs of increased electricity use and wifi upgrades (if required) must be born by teacher. One school in the vicinity has provided a bonus to its faculty for this increase in costs…”
“New principal is hardly at school and doesn’t know teachers. In every critical situation (earthquake, Covid-19 closure) director was the first one to leave the country and ‘manage from distance’…”
“As of March, 2020, KICS has switched to online learning/teaching as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s a bumpy transition, especially as it happened right at the start of the spring break, which is why some teachers and families are out of Sudan…”
“Salaries for primary and secondary teachers have been cut to 80% during the Covid-19 shutdown even though teachers are expected to teach their full course load. IB PYP candidacy was abandoned…”
ISC would like to hear from you! Log on to ISC today and submit a comment about the consequences of Covid-19 on your international school. You can submit your comment in the School Information section under the comment topic “Recent things that the school has taken on (i.e. new curriculum, specific professional development, etc.).”continue reading
International School Community is full of tens of thousands of useful, informative comments…35536 comments (2 Feb. 2020) to be exact.
Members are recommended to keep their comments objective on our website. In one of the 66 comment topics, they are encouraged to share their experiences interviewing with international schools. How did it go? Was it easy to get? Recruitment fair or Skype? What did you have to do? Was the experience positive or less than ideal?
We scoured our database of comments, and we found 12 that stood out to us as being some of the most interesting and insightful about each school’s interview process.
“Interviews are usually handled via Skype by the Head of School. HR manages the hiring process very well. Faculty recommendations for new staff are heavily considered.” –North Jakarta Intercultural School (99 total comments)
“GIS uses renowned recruiting agencies and also posts its vacancies in its website. Candidates must send their CVs and educational statement to:
email@example.com . Initial contact is done via email, inviting candidate for skype/ whatsapp interview. Should they pass this phase, then they are interviewed by the educational consultant. Once both parties are happy, a letter of engagement is sent and visa process which is taken care of by the school is initiated. Teachers must have a fully qualified teaching degree and at least two years experience. The school is committed to offer PYP training.” –GIS – The International School of Sao Paulo (22 total comments)
“I had a very positive interview experience, yet no job offer. The process was fast. I applied one day and the next was called for a skype interview. The next day I interviewed for a second time. No restrictions that I am aware of.” – Veritas International School (3 total comments)
“I was interviewed by skype, first with 2 persons from my department, nearly a month later there was a 2nd interview with the school director.
The whole process lasted about 2 months.” – Euroamerican School of Monterrey (10 total comments)
“Each interview comes with a demo lesson. The main purpose is to see if you click with the kids and can get their attention. The second main criterion is that you must be able to not be teacher-centered. Basic.” – Assumption College Sriracha (47 total comments)
“Hiring is done through direct applications as well as through Search Associates. First interview is with the head of school (which they call “principal” here), followed by a second interview with the head of section (secondary, primary, or little KICS). No hiring restrictions I’m aware of, even age limit doesn’t seem to be a problem, although I’m not 100% sure on that one.” – Khartoum International Community School (116 total comments)
“If you want to apply to NIST, prepare for it well in advance. Whether you go through ISS-Schrole or Search, have all your docs ready to upload and make sure your referees are ready to submit their recommendations online. There’s also a recorded safeguarding interview that you’ll have to complete as one of the final steps if you’re being considered for a position, so think about how you would answer questions related to that area.” – NIST International School (298 total comments)
“The complete hiring took a pretty long time. I went through 4 interviews and had to do a very extensive background check. Make sure you apply with plenty of time. The interviews were pretty nice, people seemed always friendly and requested a live demo lesson.” – The Village School (24 total comments)
“Religion is not discussed in hiring, except to ensure that potential staff members have read and are in agreement with their open and inclusive Religious Life policy. Interviews are far more focused on teaching (newly adopted MYP/DP means they’re looking for those with experience) and whether the active lifestyle (walking up and down the hilly campus) would be a good fit. Single parents would do well here; with a large of number of staff kids and the school’s activities, there would be a community of support.” – Woodstock School (128 total comments)
“Once shortlisted, an applicant will be scheduled for a panel interview that consists of the headmaster, principal, assistant principal, and head of department via Skype. HR will contact the successful applicant with a job offer. Age restrictions have been relaxed.” – TEDA Global Academy (85 total comments)
“CMIS advertises openings on the school website and TIE online. interview process is fairly direct, generally consisting of 2 to 3 interviews with section administrator and then the school superintendent.” – Chiang Mai International School (24 total comments)
“I just interviewed with this school over Skype. There was the first interview with the actually staff that you would be working with, and then a follow up interview with the Principal/Head of School. Each interview lasted around 50 minutes. Just a note to consider, Singapore/the school doesn’t allow for non-teaching partners to get a work visa. They will need to get a work visa themselves if they want to work there, or they can also sign up and register a company (which I guess is easy to do and cheap) and then they can do work there.” – Nexus International School – Singapore (54 total comments)
If you have interviewed at an international school and know first hand knowledge about their interview process, log in to International School Community and submit your comment. For every 10 submitted comments, you will get one month of free premium membership added to your account!continue reading
Are you inspired to start-up a blog about your adventures living abroad and working at an international school?
Our 49th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Education Rickshaw“ Check out the blog entries of these two international school educators that work in China:
A few entries that we would like to highlight:
“Followers of this website will know that Education Rickshaw is a blog on teaching and living overseas. My wife Stephanie and myself, both raised attending public schools Tacoma, Washington, were teachers at a Native American school before “taking the plunge” and moving to teach at an international school in Vietnam. Since then, we’ve taught in Khartoum, Sudan, and are now teaching in an international school in China.
There are a lot of benefits to moving to teach in international schools overseas. While not all international schools are created equal, for the most part international school jobs come with decent salaries and savings potential (See our previous post, 5 Luxuries Bestowed Upon Thee As An International Teacher). Teachers can expect to receive flight allowances to and from their home countries and have their housing paid for. In my experience, students at international schools are often quite clever and well-behaved, and parents are generally quite respectful and involved in their kids’ learning. Many international schools, due to how they are funded, are at the cutting edge in education compared to their stateside counterparts, providing students with opportunities to learn in tech- and information-rich environments and express themselves through the arts, makerED, and robust athletics and extracurricular programs. Because international schools invest in their teachers by paying for professional development, both in-house and by sending their teachers to conferences abroad, international school teachers have the chance to really grow as professionals and improve their craft…”
There is a comment topic related to Professional Development on our website called “Professional development allowance details.” There are 540 total comments that have been submitted in this comment topic on 100s of schools.
Here is an example comment that was submitted about The English Modern School (Doha): “Professional development subsidaries are connected to the type of PD you are applying for. If you are taking the Suny Masters PD subsidary then other PD will not be subsidised. If you use your subsidy for a Cambrsdge PDQ you will also not get small PD courses for free. Smaller PD courses from Seraj the sister company at EMS usually amount to 3 free a year per teacher. You can also aply for other PD outside school and a judgement will be made on how much the school will support you in the cost.”
“The typical American teacher is afforded few luxuries. A coffee at Starbucks is seen as a rare treat. A PB&J for lunch is the norm. When I was teaching in a U.S. public school I remember clearly the time when the conversation at the faculty lounge centered around counting how many in the room had a tarp covering some part of their car (to protect from the rain in Washington State) to raise their hands. I’m not even playing, in a room full of 30 educators there were five hands that raised that day admitting to having a tarp on their cars.
While, in my opinion, most international educators are still underpaid for what we do, the cost of living in many of our host countries allows for some pretty sweet perks. That coupled with the built-in savings potential that comes with many international teaching contracts (free housing, free flights, etc) makes it so that many international teachers find the benefits of international teaching to be too lucrative to ever want to return to teaching public school back home.
Compared to teachers back home, we have it good. We have teaching assistants. Our classrooms are well resourced. The class sizes are smaller. There is money for PD. These are all things that we experience in the international school classroom. But on this educationrickshaw.com post, we will be looking at 5 luxuries that most international teachers enjoy* that teachers back home just can’t afford…”
There is a comment topic related to comparing international schools to schools back in our home countries on our website called “How is this school different or the same when compared to schools in your home country?” There are 167 total comments that have been submitted in this comment topic on 100s of schools.
Here is an example comment that was submitted about American School Foundation of Monterrey: “The school is much better equipped than schools in my home country and the students have the financial means to supply their own high-quality MacBooks and smartphones, so the school doesn’t have to worry about providing computers (except some emergency checkout Chromebooks for students who forgot their Mac or it breaks down).”d
Want to work for an international school in China like this blogger? Currently, we have 523 international school teachers that have listed that they currently live in this country. Check them out here. We also have 44 members that are from this country.
Are you inspired to start-up a blog about your adventures living abroad and working at an international school?
Our 45th blog that we would like to highlight is called “2seetheglobe” Check out the blog entries of this international school educator who works at American International School Bamako in Bamako, Mali.
“Bali, not Mali.
A year ago we signed a contract to teach in Mali, an African country that nobody had heard of before. People assumed we said Bali, even though it’s not a country and nowhere near Africa. But it does rhyme.
Or they thought we were heading to Malawi. It was also an obscure African nation, well, until Madonna adopted David Banda and Chifundo there and it was featured on E Entertainment News and in scholarly magazines like People, Us, and Star (whose current cover screams “It’s Demi! Cougar Goes Wild in Mexico: THE SEX WAS VERY LOUD”).
Then people would ask US, “What’s Mali close to?” And we would mention neighboring countries such as Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Mauritania. And they would do that nod-without-actually-understanding-what was just-said thing…”
It is sometimes a challenge for your home country friends and family to completely understand your life abroad, especially if you are living in a country that nobody has even heard of before (or maybe heard of once on a tv news channel maybe). For another interesting article related to this topic, check our our own blog article called “Going home for the holidays: No one cares about your international life!“.
“Last year, during a severe sugar craving bout, I found an old piece of hard candy in my desk at school. Despite the fact that this red sticky thing was probably manufactured back when Mali became a country in 1960, I still popped it into my mouth. Then it got stuck on my lower molars, and upon disengaging it I also yanked off a crown.
This is not a good situation to be in when you live in a developing country where some
dental work occurs roadside. But lo and behold, I discovered a Lebanese dentist (raised in Senegal) who operated a modern, dental practice in an actual building near our school, and he had a number of our students as patients. So off I went to have him reattach the old crown which I was sure would take ten minutes. Except the old crown was cracked and he needed to make a new one. And then he discovered that a root canal had not been done on that old tooth (thank you crappy Florida dentist).
So long story short, he did the root canal (even finding a 4th root which he said was rare)…”
Having a medical emergency while living abroad can be an international school teacher’s worst nightmare come true. Though most often than not, you will be able to figure out a plan to get your medical situation resolved, the process in doing so will most likely be stressful.
Check out some of our submitted comments regarding health benefits and experiences using the host country health care system in one of our our past surveys called “How is your experience using your health insurance and medical benefits?”
Want to work for an international school in China like this blogger? Currently, we have 162 international schools listed in this country. 58 have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:
Kampala International School (Kampala, Uganda) – 50 Comments
American International School of Lusaka (Lusaka, Zambia) – 45 Comments
The School of St. Jude (Arusha, Tanzania) – 18 Comments
International School of Tanganyika (Dar es salaam, Tanzania) – 143 Comments
Khartoum American School (Khartoum, Sudan) – 23 Comments
Khartoum International Community School (Khartoum, Sudan) – 65 Comments
The International School of Dakar (Dakar, Senegal) – 44 Comments
International School of Seychelles (Victoria, Seychelles) – 18 Comments
TLC International School (Nouakchott, Mauritania) – 43 Comments
American International School of Mozambique (Maputo, Mozambique) – 32 Comments
Saint Andrews International High School (Blantyre, Malawi) – 41 Comments
International School of Kenya (Nairobi, Kenya) – 46 Comments
International Community School Addis Ababa (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) – 61 Comments
The American School of Yaounde (Yaounde, Cameroon) – 26 Comments
The American School of Kinshasa (Kinshasa, Congo (DRC)) – 59 Comments
Additionally, there are a number of International School Community members who currently live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Check out which ones and where they work here. Feel free to go ahead and contact them with any questions that you might have as well; nice to get first hand information about what it is like to live and work there!continue reading
“Morale and attitude are fundamentals to success.”
― Bud Wilkinson
A school can be a complicated place. There aren’t many jobs where you surround yourself with hundreds of children every day!
But like any other place of “business”, a school needs to have a think about how they will keep their staff feeling good about where they work and how they are doing their job. We all know that teaching can, at times, be quite stressful on the teachers.
When you are feeling good about your workplace and job performance, everyone benefits; namely the students, but also your colleagues and bosses. But when teachers are stressed out and with a low morale about working at their school, typically nobody benefits.
You can, of course, be with high spirits on your own doing. But it is important to feel valued by the whole school community as that plays a factor as well. Feeling like you are part of a team can help you stay positive and optimistic at your school.
What, then, do international schools do to make sure their staff is feeling valued?
International School Community is full of thousands of useful and informative comments…16780 (24 Apr. 2016) to be exact. We scoured our database of comments, and we found nine that stood out to us as being some of the coolest ways to show appreciation and boost staff morale.
9. Khartoum International Community School (Khartoum, Sudan) – 65 Total Comments
“The school administration does a lot to make life easy for expats. They have put systems in place that make it very easy to live here and feel looked after. Along with the board they also put on big social events for teachers and staff at least once a semester (start of year / xmas party / end of year etc). There is a social committee as well which has organised coffee afternoons, Nile boat trips, picnics and so on. Truth to say the morale in the Senior Section has dipped in recent years but many of those who were not happy have now left so we are all hoping that things will now improve. Morale across the rest of the school is great.”
8. Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 202 Total Comments
“Welcome back brunch and lots of staff socials. Set up a Social Committee to feedback ideas to Director on all aspects of school. Director regularly thanks and acknowledges staff through e-mail and meetings. There have been 3 cases of surprise bonus’ paid to all staff as a thanks.”
7. Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 282 Total Comments
“One way to create some “social capital” at our school year this was to have a whole-staff scavenger hunt the first day back. It was VERY well received, and everyone had a great time. There were like 30 teams of 5-6 people and we all went around the city to collect items and/or take pictures of certain things, all for various amounts of points. Super fun! It was all organized by teachers actually.”
6. Yew Chung International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China) – 27 Total Comments
“There is a social committee at this school and they arrange different activities for the teachers. Like one night could be bowling or everyone meet at a bar. The group tries to do something every month. A lot of people participate. There was also a karaoke night and laser tag.”
5. Kampala International School (Kampala, Uganda) – 50 Total Comments
“At the beginning of each school year, we go to a resort for an overnight training and social. There is a PD during the day, evening there is dinner and a band. The next more there is breakfast and maybe go for a swim in the pool. There has been training in from people abroad. Last year, it was somebody with pivotal education, Darryll.”
4. American School of Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain) – 157 Total Comments
“There was a social committee in place for a couple of years, but it was a volunteer position and the demands of it weren’t worth the time anymore. There is an HR person in place now who has set up a wine tasting and other events for staff. The staff tends to socialize quite a bit outside of school, even with kids! The school puts on holiday parties and festive lunches around holidays, though not extravagant, most of the food-drinks are free.”
3. Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia) – 66 Total Comments
“The school has a health and wellness program where a lot of teachers connect and exercise together. Also, the PTO regularly hosts cocktail events after school. Plus there are scheduled tours and cultural events.”
2. Hiroshima International School (Hiroshima, Japan) – 64 Total Comments
“Christmas and end of year staff parties. It is also traditional to bring “omiyage” gifts (cookies and other small snacks) from teachers who have attended a conference or tournament elsewhere in Japan.”
1. KIS International School (Bangkok) (Bangkok, Thailand) – 70 Total Comments
“There are a lot of teacher and admin getaways as well as plenty of room for professional development. The management goes out of its way to answer questions before issues come up, and western holidays are recognized with food and decorations from home.”
If you would like to share what your school does to create a high staff morale, 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!continue reading
Are you inspired to start up a blog about your adventures living abroad and working at an international school?
Our 43rd blog that we would like to highlight is called “From the Principal’s Office.” Check out the blog entries of this international school educator who works at Khartoum International Community School in Sudan.
A few entries that we would like to highlight:
“It seems as if the further I travel, the less well trodden the paths, the more that the western so-called developed world in which I grew up becomes foreign and strange. Each person’s world-view is, of course, plastic and fluid, moulded by the environment in which we live and the experiences we undergo. Looking back to my own parochial working class Lancastrian upbringing in the late 60s and through the 70s I cannot even find the words to describe the changes that have impacted on how I now see the world. So, looking at my son and his experiences – and considering how rapidly the world is changing – I cannot even begin to comprehend how his world-view will develop in the decades to come. Multiply him by the 390+ other students in my school and the challenge of preparing young people for the future is wildly self-evident.…”
It is exciting working at an international school teaching an international curriculum as it is most likely not how most of us went to school back when we were younger.
At times, living overseas isn’t always the easiest thing and there are challenges that present themselves. On the other hand, if you keep an open mind, there are definitely some moments of enlightenment as well!
Want to read more about the guidelines of moving/living abroad? Check out our blog series called “Ten Commandments of Relocating Overseas.“
“It is a world of carbonized paper and paper messages passed furtively from school to candidate and back again. It is a world of snap judgements and horse trading. It is a world where the relief at having survived trumps the ludicrous farce in which we all play a part.
Now that is some real insight into the recruitment fair experience, from the administrator’s perspective.
Heading off to a recruitment fair anyway? For some helpful advice, check out our blog series called “Nine Lessons Learned Regarding International School Hiring Fairs.” As a sneak peek, lesson number one is “Bad interviews are good things.“
Want to work for an international school in Sub-Saharan Africa like this blogger? Currently, we have 156 international schools listed in this area of the world. 57 have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:
• The American School of Kinshasa (Kinshasa, Congo (DRC)) – 52 Comments
• International Community School Addis Ababa (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) – 61 Comments
• Saint Andrews International High School (Blantyre, Malawi) – 41 Comments
• TLC International School (Nouakchott, Mauritania) – 43 Comments
• The International School of Dakar (Dakar, Senegal) – 30 Comments
• Khartoum International Community School (Khartoum, Sudan) – 65 Comments
• International School of Tanganyika (Dar es salaam, Tanzania) – 141 Comments
• Kampala International School (Kampala, Uganda) – 50 Comments
• American International School of Lusaka (Lusaka, Zambia) – 45 Comments
Additionally, there are 87 International School Community members who currently live in Sub Saharan Africa. Check out which ones and where they work here. Feel free to go ahead and contact them with any questions that you might have as well; nice to get first hand information about what it is like to live and work there!continue reading
A new survey has arrived!
Topic: When looking for reviews and comments about an international school, which topic is the most important for you?
Right now our members are looking for as much information as they can. The more information the better. Luckily, we just celebrated getting over 15000 comments! So International School Community is definitely the website to go to when looking to gather information about different international schools from around the world.
Even though we have over 65 separate comment topics on each school profile page, you might say that these six topics are some of the most important to know about.
Current statistics about these rather important comment topics on our website (taken from 20 November 2015):
Salary – 811 Total Comments
Retirement Plan Details – 367 Total Comments
Housing Benefits – 805 Total Comments
Teaching Contract Details – 36 Total Comments
Hiring Policy – 949 Total Comments
Savings Potential – 385 Total Comments
Of course all comments and reviews related to these comment topics are important. Recruiting international schools teachers need to know this information, detailed information, about these topics before they sign a contract.
But, which topic is the most important to you? Please take a moment and submit your vote!
We actually have two blog categories related this to survey question.
One blog category is called “Hiring Policies at Int’l Schools.“
Here are a few of the entries in this section:
• Comments about Hiring Policies #9: Int’l High School of San Fran, The American School of Kinshasa & British Early Years Centre – Read Here.
• Comments and information about hiring policies on International School Community #8: Benjamin Franklin Int’l School, American Cooperative School of Tunis & Green School Bali – Read Here.
• Comments and information about hiring policies on International School Community #7: Int’l School of KL, Escola Internacional de Alphaville & Guangdong Country Garden School – Read Here.
The other category is called “Salaries at Int’l Schools.”
Here are a few of the entries in this section:
• Comments and information about salaries on ISCommunity #7: Blue Valley School, Ivy Collegiate Academy & Wellspring Int’l School (Hanoi) – Read Here.
• Comments and information about salaries on ISCommunity #6: Khartoum Int’l Community School, Int’l School of KL & Vietnam American Int’l School – Read Here.
• Comments and information about salaries on ISCommunity #5: Hong Kong Int’l School, Shanghai Community Int’l School & Guamani Private School – Read Here.continue reading
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 out-dated that their battery life is almost non-existent. These schools might also have interactive white boards 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 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 in the latest technologies. Everywhere a teacher looks, there are new technologies popping up around the school. Maybe there’s a teacher down the hallway 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 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 at 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 stand still?
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 75 comments in this comment topic (Sept. 2015). Here are a few that have been submitted:
“Teachers are provided with a MacBook and iPad for professional use. Elementary classrooms are stocked with a wide variety of technology: 1:1 iPads, Apple TV, Promethean boards with surround sound, iPad stands, projector…” – Singapore American School (Singapore, Singapore) – 17 Comments
“The technologies available are reasonably good. Most classrooms have projectors and some even have the interactive white boards. Teachers usually have a computer in their classroom to work on and laptops can be borrowed by staff to use at home if absolutely necessary. The IT department has a full computer suit with reasonably modern computers and printer etc. but you would have to ask permission if this could be used for any other lesson than ICT.” – Wesgreen International Private School (Sharjah, United Arab Emirates) – 23 Comments
“2015-16 – Currently overhauling IT department and school IT infrastructure to support high-speed internet across the campus. Has a computer lab with 25 computers available for students. Teachers are provided desktop computers for classroom use.” –American Pacific International School (Chang Mai, Thailand) – 18 Comments
“The school has site-wide high-speed broadband (20mb) with a really hardworking tech support team. All teachers are required to operate in a blended learning environment with Moodle. This has been introduced over the last two years as part of the board’s new KICS 2020 strategy to integrate C21 approaches to learning. There is a full time EdTech integration coordinator who supports us all as we build our Moodle classes.” – Khartoum International Community School (Khartoum, Sudan) – 65 Commentscontinue reading
Each international school is unique, that’s for sure.
Of course, many top international schools of the world have unique qualities that make them special. However, let’s not forget about all the other international schools (big and small). Even for-profit international schools have cool things to offer that maybe non-profit schools are not able to have.
What then are these unique qualities?
Some international schools have a unique make-up of students. They are from over 80 or more different countries, all coming together in a perfect, diverse blend. The students are also super kind and considerate which make classroom management a non-issue.
An international school can also be unique for the extra-curricular programme it offers. Maybe it has a newly constructed olympic-sized pool with an effective and inspiring staff of swimming teachers. The school might also be the only one that offers unique sports like fencing with a fully functioning fencing facility.
Many international schools dream of having their own garden. Especially one that the students can tend to during break or class-lesson times. This garden can also be unique because the school kitchen can incorporate the newly picked food into their menu.
Another unique quality about international schools could be related to the teachers themselves. Maybe they have the perfect set up for effective collaboration to happen (we all know that many international schools don’t have this luxury). Additionally, the teachers have ample planning time to create inspired lessons. The director maybe even has carefully selected new teachers to join the teaching community that fit very well into the school’s mission and vision.
A unique quality that many teachers seek out is a school that is well-resourced. Having all the materials and equipment is definitely a dream come true, especially when working at an international school. A school that has well-established connections with getting materials ordered and delivered in a timely manner is not an international school to overlook when recruiting.
And the list goes on and on of the unique qualities that international schools can have.
It is important to celebrate the good things about our schools. These good things can inspire the students and staff to do their best and bring the community closer together in the school’s vision and mission.
Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to the unique qualities of international schools, so you can stay the most informed as possible. It is called: “Name some special things about this school that makes it unique.”
There are a total of 313 comments in this comment topic (June 2015). Here are a few that have been submitted:
“KICS is bringing a concept of 21st century inquiry-based education to a country very much in need of such access. It isn’t a school for every teacher though. Teachers who do well are motivated by this vision. They also need to be into educational technology for learning. If they arent then they can struggle.” – Khartoum International Community School (Khartoum, Sudan) – 65 Comments
“The physical facilities of the school are excellent. The technology infrastructure is really good. It is a one-to-one programme with new Macbook airs from grade 5 to 12. The size of the school enables a lot of varies extra curricular activities which would be hard to support in a smaller school.” – American School of Warsaw (Warsaw, Poland) – 29 Comments
“There is a very welcoming environment at all levels. Anyone can walk around and sense the positive “vibe”. Often we get remarks that, though the school is not small, much of the social ‘feel’ is indicative of traditionally small schools (e.g. friendly, open, welcoming, etc.)” – International School of Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – 84 Comments
“Well because of the dream of Eugenia, the director of the school for 20 years, there is a strong sense of multi-lingualism in the school. This school is leading the way in terms of language policy.” – The Bilingual School of Monza (Milan, Italy) – 27 Commentscontinue reading
What reasons do parents think about when selecting a school for their children when they move abroad? Are they similar reasons for why teachers choose to work at a school abroad as well? There are many different kinds of international schools and they are all in different situations. How important is finding out about if the international school’s teachers are fully qualified or not? It could be beneficial to ask these types of questions at your interview, before you make any big decisions to move or choose a school at which to work. So, how do you choose the right international school for your children to attend or for you to work at? In this blog series, we will discuss the Tips for Selecting an International School.
Tip #8 – Are the teachers fully qualified?
This is not typically a concern with mainstream international schools, but it can be a concern with some newer schools and in certain regions of the world.
Some might say having qualified teachers from early years all the way to secondary school are essential for an international school to thrive. Why then do some international schools hire non-certified teachers? Of course there are many reasons why schools make such choices for their staff.
One reason is that qualified teachers are sometimes hard to come by in some (if not all) countries. Additionally, the more experienced teachers may not be considering positions at less established international schools. In some parts of the world, the pay is low. Being that certified teachers seek out positions that value their teaching degrees (that they have worked hard for), they might not even consider working at some schools where the pay and benefits are less than desirable.
Another factor that comes into play is timing. Some international schools get into “binds” every once and awhile, and sometimes the best choice is to hire a less qualified (or not qualified) teacher to fill the position. That non-qualified teacher is just waiting and waiting for the right moment, when the stars align for them, to finally get that job at the nearby international school versus staying at the “language” school down the road. Also, when international schools are trying to fill vacancies for the coming school year during not ideal times of the year (e.g. the summer months or even May), they might not have the same pick of qualified teachers as they would have had back in January and February.
Even another reason that international school hire non-qualified teachers could be related to money. International schools (especially for-profit ones) are always on the look-out on how to save money. Hiring non-qualified teachers can potentially save the school money as they can sometimes pay them less. If there is a pay scale at the school, they would most likely be on the bottom of it.
Many educators without university teaching certificates are the ones that are already living abroad. They maybe moved abroad when they got a job at an English-language school or had an interest in “teaching English” in a foreign country. We are sure that there are some great English-language schools around the world, but most of the teachers at those schools would prefer to work at an international school; mainly because of the better pay and benefits. More established international schools though won’t consider them because they might not have the exact teaching qualifications that they require. The less established international schools might consider these less-qualified teachers though, especially if they are scrounging to find quality candidates to fill their positions.
It is true that you can be a good teacher, even an excellent one, without a teaching certificate from a university. Experience in the field can definitely equal quality teaching, and parents and other qualified teachers shouldn’t be so turned off to working with them. If you agree to that statement, maybe we shouldn’t be so caught up in whether an international school has an all-qualified staff. We all work hard to do the same job, it isn’t as if qualified teachers would work any harder at the school. On the other hand, it is important to honor the time spent when teachers do go an get diplomas in education. Many people with university teaching certificates have worked very hard to make teaching their career choice and not just a “job”. It can be a bit of an “unfortunate circumstance” and a downer when a qualified teacher shows up at their new international school to find out that their colleagues are all “English teachers”!
On our website we have a specific topic in the School Information section of each school profile page that discusses the issue of which international schools have qualified teachers or not. It is called “Describe what kinds of teachers work here (local vs. expat, nationality, qualifications [or lack there of], etc.) and staff turnover rate.” Our members have submitted 100s of comments and information in this topic on a number of different international schools listed on our website. Here are just a few of the comments and information submitted in this topic:
“About 65% North American, 20% European and 15% local and other. All teachers are certified and have at least 4 years’ experience…”
– MEF International School Istanbul (27 total comments)
“The school has both Colombian and expat teachers. All of the expat teachers are North American and all are qualified teachers. The Colombian teachers are also well certified. There is not a high turnover rate at the school. Many expat teachers, though young, stay three or four years and some have been at the school much longer…”
– Colegio Granadino Manizales (43 total comments)
“High Staff turnover. Probably 1/3 local hires vs. expats. The qualifications can be low. Many first year teachers with no teaching degree. Most expats are Americans and Canadians. People do not stay here because the taxes are high, the frustration level with the administration is high, and the level of academic rigor is low…”
– American School Foundation of Mexico City (35 total comments)
“You will find a range of teachers from New Zealand to Canada, via UK, Egypt, Palestine, South Africa, Australia, France and more. Most teachers are expat hire. Local hire teachers are well qualified. The school is still only 7 years old so turnover rate is hard to reflect on. It ranges from 1-7 years at current time…”
– Khartoum International Community School (37 total comments)
“Turn over rate last year was very low. This year is different with several teachers in the Secondary school being pushed out. The school pays on time and there are good benefits. Many teachers in the Secondary school do not have formal teaching qualifications but they have good subject knowledge…”
– Western International School of Shanghai (57 total comments)
If you are an International School Community member with premium access, log on today and submit your own comments about the international schools you know about!
If you are not a member yet, make sure to join www.internationalschoolcommunity.com and automatically get one full month of premium access. You will become a part of our over 1950+ members!continue reading
For many of us, I suppose teaching abroad at international schools is a temporary circumstance in our lives. Some of us have international school colleagues that move abroad to teach, and after their one and only international school posting, they are now living and happily working back in their home countries. Sure, there is a chance of them moving abroad again, but it likely to not happen again. Many people look for stability in their lives, and many people ultimately find that stability back in their home countries.
For other international school educators, when they start working at international schools, they can’t seem to get enough of this life. Working at international schools and moving from country to country can be very addictive. 10 total people out of 23 voted that they will be working at international schools 7-10 more years and even maybe for forever! The salaries/benefits, work conditions and standard of life must be quite attractive for these people. If things are going well and you are not having to worry about money, why not choose to stay working at international schools? It is nice to not have to worry about paying for housing or any utilities for example. It is also maybe nice to not have to clean your house or wash your clothes as you may be able to hire a house keeper to do those things for you in your current position. These people might have met their partner while living in their host country and now have decided to stay abroad for the long term!
Then there are the teachers that have made the all-important (and possibly difficult) decision to make this year their last one (3 people in our survey have said that this is what their future holds for them). To say goodbye to the international school teaching world is sometimes not an easy decision to make. Livin’ the ‘good life’ will soon be ending for you, and you may not ultimately want things to end. Also, the anticipation of reverse culture shock is not necessarily welcomed with open arms. Cringe!
On the other hand, your current situation might just be a very bad fit for you, enough of a bad fit that you have decided to not take the risk of working at another international school. A very negative experience at one international school might have you come to the realization that this life really just is not a good fit for you.
Moving back home has it pros and cons, and one must look at them carefully. One reason to not move back to many of the states in the United States is that the job market for teachers is not so good right now. There are many, many teachers applying for one position still right now. Hopefully as the U.S. economy improves, more money for staffing and for school districts in general will become available which may lead to more jobs for prospective teachers. I think the same thing is happening at many international schools right now. Many international schools are looking for and actually finding more families with children to attend their school. More students typically means a higher need for more staffing. How nice would it be if the power was back in the candidate’s hand at the recruitment fairs; more options and opportunities for us!
There are many factors to consider when deciding to stay abroad or move back home. Knowing about what kinds of teachers work at an international school and the average staff turnover rate can prove to be helpful information to know; just to see what others are doing who maybe from the same country and situation as you. Luckily on International School Community, we have a School Information section in the comments and information part of each school’s profile page that discusses this very topic.
• Describe what kinds of teachers work here (local vs. expat, nationality, qualifications [or lack there of], etc.) and staff turnover rate.
There have been many comments and information submitted in this topic on numerous school profiles on our website.
One International School Community member said about working at Khartoum International Community School: “You will find a range of teachers from New Zealand to Canada, via UK, Egypt, Palestine, South Africa, Australia, France and more. Most teachers are expat hire. Local hire teachers are well qualified. The school is still only 7 years old so turnover rate is hard to reflect on. It ranges from 1-7 years at current time.”
Another member said about working at Tsinghua International School (Beijing): “Can’t really comment too much on this as things may have changed. When I was there lots of staff were from North America, but what could be called “old Chinese hands.” They’d lived in China a long time. Other staff were Chinese with American passports. All were great, but at the time, not many were what you’d think of as north American trained teachers. Very high turnover when I was there.”
Another member submitted a comment about working at Colegio Granadino Manizales: “The school has both Colombian and expat teachers. All of the expat teachers are North American and all are qualified teachers. The Colombian teachers are also well certified. There is not a high turnover rate at the school. Many expat teachers, though young, stay three or four years and some have been at the school much longer.”
So how many more years do you expect to keep teaching abroad at international schools? Please share what your plans are!
Stay tuned for our next survey topic to come out in a few days time.continue reading
Comments and information about salaries at international schools on International School Community.
Every week members are leaving information and comments on the salaries that teachers are making at international schools around the world. Which ones pay more? Which ones do you have to pay very high taxes? Which ones offer tax-free salaries? All important questions to think about when job searching, but where to find the answers to those questions?
Why do some international schools keep their specific salary information so secret? Even at international school job fairs, you don’t really get to see the exact amount of your yearly and monthly salary until you see the contract paperwork. Even then sometimes you don’t know what will be your exact take-home pay each month. At International School Community, we want to make the search for salaries easier for international school teachers. In the benefits section of the school profile page, there is a section specifically for salaries. The topic is: “Explain how salaries are decided (e.g. is there a pay schedule? extra step for masters degree? Annual pay raises? Bonuses?)”
Here are 3 out of the many comments and information related to salaries that have been posted on our website:
Khartoum International Community School (36 total comments)
“The school has a structured pay scale. Entry depends on qualifications or experience. Advanced degrees attract more money as does extensive experience. There are responsibility steps, particularly in Seniors. Every teacher receives a step each year and there are inflationary/cost of living adjustments annually. The school pays 1 year (2500 GBP pounds) and 2 year (6000 GBP pounds) resigning bonuses (very appealing to couples!).”
International School of Kuala Lumpur (28 total comments)
“There is a clear and structured pay scale. You enter it according to experience and qualifications, up to a maximum experience level. Within the school you receive an annual \’step\’ for every year of experience, plus there are usually small inflationary raises to the salary scale. Additionally stipends are paid for team leader responsibility. There are resigning bonuses after 4 years of employment.”
Vietnam American International School (26 total comments)
“I don’t know about all salaries. However, I don’t believe there salary increased with increased education, experience, or years of service. For example, there were no increases in salary between the first year of teaching at VAIS and the second year. Another example, one teacher with ten years of experience received the same salary as another teacher with only 2 years experience.”
Check out the other comments and information about these schools (and 1000s of others) on our website: www.internationalschoolcommunity.comcontinue reading