Blogs of International Teachers

International School Teacher Blogs: “Expat Heather” (A teacher who works in South Korea)

September 17, 2019


Are you inspired to start-up a blog about your adventures living abroad and working at an international school?

Our 48th blog that we would like to highlight is called Expat Heather: Teacher, Traveler, Writer Check out the blog entries of this international school educator who works in South Korea:

A few entries that we would like to highlight:

How to Start a Career as an International Teacher

“Many schools prefer to hire through placement companies such as International Schools Services (ISS) or Search Associates. These companies provide a database of both schools and potential candidate, and they also arrange hiring fairs around the world. You will need to pay a fee when you apply, and be sure to apply only if you meet the company’s requirements. Once accepted, you will have access to information about international schools, the salary packages they offer, and current vacancies…”

It is true. Many of the top tier schools still register with and search for quality candidates using the few recruitment agencies out there. The best part for the candidate is the access to the job vacancies that they post in their database. Though often the vacancies posted there can quickly become outdated, unfortunately!

Related to recruitment fairs, check out our blog on this topic called: International School Recruitment Season: Recruitment Fair or Skype?
Times are changing for international schools teachers. Even though it is sometimes good to be registered with a recruitment agency, it is not necessary any more to attend one of their fairs.
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Teaching at ISHCMC American Academy in Vietnam

“My classroom is sweet. There is a built-in projector that I use almost everyday – it saves a TON of writing and rewriting on the board. All the desks and chairs are pretty new and there are big windows that let in a good amount of light when it’s not cloudy. Thankfully, the English Department is on the second floor…”

There is a comment topic on our website called: “Describe the technologies available at the school and how people are/are not using them.’ There are 435 total comments that have been submitted in this comment topic on 100s of schools.

Here is an example comment that was submitted about Seoul Foreign School: “Macbooks; 1:1 for grade 4 and above. combination of macbooks and iPads in lower grades. Apple TVs in all rooms. Google Classroom and Seesaw used for student portfolios and assignments. There are 3 digital learning coaches that are employed to support tech integration but the system for this support is patchy and could be improved.”

How to Become an International Teacher

“There are scores of schools that are international in name, but what teachers often call a “true international school” is a school that enrolls students from a variety of countries. These schools tend to be located in major cities, diplomatic capitals and international financial centers. Students include ambassadors’ kids, expat kids, teachers’ kids and local children whose parents can foot the bill.

Other schools may be internationally accredited but enroll primarily local students. Teachers refer to this type of school as a “national” school, although both types hire foreign teachers. Some national schools hire only foreign-qualified staff; others hire most teachers locally but employ foreigners for certain subjects like English. The ratio of foreign to local faculty at schools can vary widely even within the same country or city.

Many dubious schools, who claim to be “international,” will also have neither an international student population nor any type of international accreditation. Be wary of these ones…”

There is a comment topic related to technology on our website called “Describe language abilities of students at this school and what is the “common language spoken in the hallways”? Is there one dominate culture group?” There are 1152 total comments that have been submitted in this comment topic on 100s of schools.

Here is an example comment that was submitted about Tarsus American College: “Turkish is the common language. The school’s goals speak about bilingualism, however, students speak Turkish, during your English instructed lessons and in the corridors. Teachers who are “supposed to be” bilingual converse with students in Turkish, so the only time students use English is when speaking with an expat. Notices mounted in Turkish, emails sent in Turkish. Weekly assemblies are in Turkish, as an expat one has to turn to a Turkish colleague or student and ask for a translation and many times announcements made in the assembly have an impact on the teaching staff.”

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Want to work for an international school in South Korea like this blogger?  Currently, we have 130 international school teachers that have listed that they currently live in this country. Check them out here. We also have six members that is from this country.

* If you are an international school teacher and would like your blog highlighted on International School Community contact us here.

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: Anglo American School of Sofia

May 28, 2017


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 Anglo American School of Sofia (Bulgaria), described her way to work there as follows:

The road to Anglo American School of Sofia…

Some teachers drive to work. It is not that far from the center of the city. The school is location in a more residential, countryside area. These pictures of from a spring day with lots of sun!

Sofia, Bulgaria
The best part of the school’s location is of course the amazing view of the nearby mountains. The school grounds are also pretty to look at and walk around in as they are well-landscaped. In the spring a number of the plants are flowering.

Sofia, Bulgaria

Walking towards the school’s main entrance.

Sofia, Bulgaria

There are huge sports fields for students to play in.

Sofia, Bulgaria

There is a sense of community as you walk around the campus. There is even an outdoor amphitheater. This day the school was using it during their Bulgarian cultural week.

Sofia, Bulgaria

Here is the road leading out of the school campus.

Sofia, Bulgaria

Here is that same road looking back towards the school.


You do need to pass through some security. Even taxis are not allowed through when you get visitors. This day I was actually leaving via an arranged taxi going to the airport. It was very cheap and quick. I think I was there in 15-20 minutes that day.

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author and International School Community member.

What to know more what it is like to visit and live in Eastern Europe?  Out of a total of 105 international schools we have listed in Eastern Europe, 55 that have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:

Pechersk School International Ukraine, Kyiv 122 Comments
International School of Belgrade Serbia, Belgrade 34 Comments
Anglo-American School of Moscow Russia, Moscow 66 Comments
American International School Bucharest Romania, Bucharest 20 Comments
Wroclaw International School Poland, Wroclaw 46 Comments
American School of Warsaw Poland, Warsaw 89 Comments
International School of Latvia Latvia, Riga 33 Comments
Anglo American School of Sofia Bulgaria, Sofia 49 Comments
International School of Azerbaijan Azerbaijan, Baku 39 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.

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Blogs of International Teachers

International School Teacher Blogs: “Josefino Rivera” (A teacher that works at Anglo American School of Sofia)

April 15, 2017


Are you inspired to start-up a blog about your adventures living abroad and working at an international school?

Our 47th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Josefino Rivera”  Check out the blog entries of this international school educator who works in Bulgaria:


A few entries that we would like to highlight:

Moving to the Balkans

“This time, the butterflies in my stomach flapped gingerly. Perhaps it was the recondite Cyrillic which I struggle to understand. Perhaps it was the confused responses upon sharing the news of this job in stark contrast to other locations. Perhaps it was the skills I’ve developed in finding home within myself and not necessarily a location.

On the individual screen from my aisle seat, I watched The Time Traveler’s Wife, empathizing not with the intended wife, but with the time traveler himself: the false sense of control, the naked vulnerability in each travel, and the excitement that comes with such profound experiences…”

How interesting that this international school educator experienced a different reaction from his friends based on the location of the place he was moving to. There are a lot of misconceptions about certain locations and cultures in the world. These people typically haven’t even visited the location that you are moving to and they strangely still have such strong opinions about it!

Related to arriving in your new city/country, we have 60 comments that have been submitted on this comment topic on our website: “Where did the school take you in the city when you first arrived? What were some staff outings/party locations?”

Here is one of them from Qatar Academy (Sidra): “We did trips to the malls and Ikea to buy things. There was one staff lunch at the Rec Center before the whole staff joined but that was it. There are no xmas parties or anything like that. There was an iftar (meal at sunset during Ramadan) but it was in Education City and in the evening, which isn’t convenient for the staff who live outside Education City. There is a social club that tries to organize events for the staff-some drinking and non drinking events and events for families too.”

“Today, the new hires of 2016–2017 stepped foot on the campus of the Anglo-American School of Sofia, home of the wolves. The campus is located on the southeast outskirts of the capital of Bulgaria. It is nestled at the foot of the Vitosha mountains.

Before any new group of educators can work towards a common mission, we have to know each other because eventually we will rely on each other. In the field of education, we are not islands. I can teach a phenomenal course within my work day, but if, vertically, my colleague doesn’t continue developing on the same skills in the next course, we haven’t done our job well. Or if horizontally, I don’t communicate with a student’s other teachers to understand his low performance in my class or what makes her excited in another class, we haven’t done our job well.

Thus to break the ice, our head of school, Jim Urquhart, modeled a community building activity to help remember each other’s names called “Appellation Alliteration”. We stood in a circle, each making an alliteration of our own first name with an alliterative adjective or phrase. In addition, we had to identify a movement that represented that phrase…

New teacher orientation is super important and definitely has a lasting effect on the new teacher. We have a number of  articles (14) that have been submitted in our blog category called “New Teacher Orientation Must-Haves“.  Here is a blurb from our latest one titled “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.

Contracts can also be easily misunderstood. Maybe you already “read” the contract, but it would be safe to say that you would not completely understand everything you “read”.  International school teaching contracts definitely contain parts that are using language you may not be familiar with. If it contains parts that are specific to the rules/laws of the host country, then it is very possible that you might not be so familiar with that jargon in terms of what a certain part is really trying to say…”

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Want to work for an international school in Bulgaria like this blogger?  Currently, we have 7 international school teachers that have listed that they currently live in this country. Check them out here. We also have one member that is from this country.

* If you are an international school teacher and would like your blog highlighted on International School Community contact us here.

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Surveys

New Survey: How much Professional Development money do you have to use this school year?

September 14, 2014


A new survey has arrived!

Topic:  How much Professional Development money do you have to use this school year?

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Working at international schools has its perks, that’s for sure.  One of those perks is getting an annual Professional Development allowance (well at most international schools). Public-school teaching back in your home country does have it moments of getting PD for its teachers, but typically that money is being decided on by somebody other than you!  At international schools, you are (mostly) in charge of your own personal PD monies and how you want to use that money. It is important to note that international schools do dictate some of the PD for their own teachers (e.g. for in-house PD), but the other PD money (the money that hopefully you are getting as part of your contract) is for you to use on your own PD theme and topic.

It is so important for our careers to keep learning new things in the field of education. Luckily there are numerous PD options for international school teachers. There is the annual ECIS conference (who’s going to Nice this year?).  Maybe you live in Asia and are planning on going to the annual EARCOS conference in Kota Kinabalu.  Some international schools are leading the way and hosting their own conferences like NIST International School. They recently have started their annual ELLSA Conference in Bangkok.

905866_320405608135805_7598251834492740465_oIf conferences aren’t looking the best this year, then there are still many other options for international schools teachers on which to use their personal PD allowance. The Creativity Workshop has been very popular this past year as well as the staple Teachers College Summer Institutes (Reading and Writing) in New York.

Wherever you end up going this year, you are bound to learn a few new things and get inspired for your return back to work.  You are also bound to run into some people who you know in the international school community; good times catching up with former colleagues.  Going to these conferences and workshops are also a great place to network and meet others teachers in your field.  It can be quite helpful having some new peers to contact when you want to get some feedback on something or learn more about a new technology that person is using for example.

The main problem though in getting to these workshops and conferences is money. Not only do you have to pay for the conference registration fee, you must also pay for your flight to get there and the hotel. Many times one year of PD money is not enough to get you to a conference every year.  Some teachers can save their PD money from one year and add it one to the next one (up to three years typically).  If you don’t have enough money to attend a certain workshop, then it doesn’t hurt to ask your boss if there might be any PD money around that you can use to help you pay for the rest of costs involved. Your administration might say no to you, but they also might say yes!  It’s worth a try.

All international schools handle their PD allowance differently, so let’s share about the international schools we know about.  Go ahead and vote on How much Professional Development money do you have to use this school year? Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today!  You can check out the latest voting results here.

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We actually have a comment topic related this to this issue. It is called: Professional development allowance details.

Right now there are over 180 individual comments (about 100s of different international schools) in this comment topic on our website.  Here are a few of them:

“In general, the school has a four-tiered approach: in-house PD, required external PD, goal related PD and personal professional support.
Upon school approval staff have access to a personal professional development sum that can be used annually or accrue for up to three years.” – 
Anglo American School of Sofia (Sofia, Bulgaria)28 Comments

“Professional development is a strong focus. Quality of in-house varies wildly as it does in every school. Lots of training for IB available and all IB teachers go on prep courses as soon as possible.” – Nexus International School (Putrajaya, Malaysia)44 Comments

“PDs are usually done in-house therefore there is no structured amount for PD per teacher. Principals are up to date regarding international and local PDs so when there is an appropriate PD some teachers are selected to attend. Teachers, on the other hand, can always search for possible and appropriate local/international PDs.” – Royal Tots Academy (Jakarta, Indonesia)35 Comments

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Recently Updated School Profiles

Recently Updated School Profiles #20: International School Florence, Anglo American School of Sofia & Saint Andrews International High School

October 23, 2013


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Members of International School Community have written some new and informative comments on the following schools:

17 Oct    International School Florence (10 new comments)  Florence, Italy:

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One of the new comments in the City Information section: “You can definitely find store workers that don’t know very much English. I just went to a nearby pasticerria and the guy didn’t know how to even say tomato. But most people are very kind and will definitely know some English to communicate with you at a basic level…”

 

10 Oct    Anglo American School of Sofia (14 new comments)   Sofia, Bulgaria:

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One of the new comments in the School Information section: “The class size ranges from 12-20. There are generally 2 classes at each grade level. Each class has its own teaching assistant who also acts as a bus monitor…”

 

06 Oct    Saint Andrews International High School (18 new comments)  Blantyre, Malawi:

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One of the new comments in the Benefits Information section: “13 salaries plus gratuity paid in local currency, no official link to dollar or pound. 30% tax. Salary depend on pay scale, one nudge up every year…”

Check out the rest of the last 40 international school profile pages that have been recently updated on International School Community here.

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