International school teachers around the world are all going through challenging times at their schools. The range of experiences goes from complete lockdowns with the government mandating remote learning for all schools to basically doing “normal” in-school teaching with only a few precautions being taken.
Regardless of what your international school is doing, COVID 19 is and has been taking its toll on all stakeholders: teachers, parents, students, etc.
We asked some ISC members about their experience related to their well-being at the moment living in these days of COVID 19 and lockdowns.
We also asked them…
1. What is the current state of COVID 19 in your city and country?
2. How is that current state affecting your school and teaching?
3. Because of this state, how is your well-being and the well-being of the students and staff at your school?
4. What is your international school doing to help and be supportive to all stakeholders during this time?
The American School of London (London, United Kingdom)
The numbers are currently rising and we are currently in a one-month lockdown (although you wouldn’t know it by the number of people you see).
I have appreciated the school’s steps to keep us all safe – strict bubbles, SD, increased cleaning & mask-wearing from K-12. We have had a few cases, with the majority in the upper years, but in general, they have been mostly linked to outside contact. The school has an excellent track & trace system & I feel very confident in their protocols. Admin has been very gracious & understanding that stress levels are higher and have changed PD days into holidays. I feel ASL cares a lot about my well-being.
That being said, enrollment has dropped and there is some obvious financial strain. There is a lot of mistrust in the UK government as their policies have been very inconsistent and people are fed up. Local schools do not require masks and people are not really adhering to social distancing. Cafes, restaurants, etc. are only open for take-out. The economic fallout will be huge and apparently take 3 years to recover.
The school has a solid continuous learning plan for teachers/students who have to isolate and it has been offered to families for 2 weeks post-winter break.
Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen International School)
In Denmark, the numbers right now are at the highest they’ve been since the pandemic began, but they are staying steady at the moment and the deaths per day are low (compared to other EU countries).
Right now my school is doing in-person teaching, and we are doing “Normal +” which means we are basically doing our normal teaching, but with all the added precautions (like middle and high school teachers and students wearing masks all day, teaching teams staying in their “bubbles” throughout the day, etc.). It seems unlikely that we would go to full remote teaching or an emergency learning setup again, but we’ll see.
Because it is normal teaching pretty much, many teachers are just getting on with their teaching without too much worry, but we do have teachers that are worried and concerned. We’ve had a handful of teachers and students that have tested positive and for the most part, my school has taken the correct actions and precautions.
My school has a work environment group that looks out for the wellbeing of the staff, and they have been regularly meeting with admin to discuss the current situation and what more can we do to make sure our school is following the guidelines set out by the Danish government and how best to support teachers during these crazy times. There is some extra added pressure for classroom teachers to make sure they are doing all these extra precautions (cleaning desks, washing hands, etc.) while also doing their normal planning and lessons. It is a lot and can be overwhelming!
KIS International School (Bangkok, Thailand)
CoVid in Thailand has been very well handled. We locked down in March and the schools stayed closed until August. The borders are still closed to most outsiders. Although this is killing tourism, it is not allowing the spread of the disease. Most of our kids held up well even with the IB debacle and most graduates managed to get a place at university although most are still studying here online. At school, it is masks all around both in and out of classrooms which is a tad annoying in the heat, but most things seem to be running well. Both my wife’s school [in Thailand] and mine have been trying to help the local communities with food drives, etc.
Hope International Academy Okinawa (Okinawa, Japan)
Here in Okinawa (Japan), we are facing the beginning of the third wave of COVID-19, which is expected to bring a higher number of cases than the first two waves that we experienced last July and August. As of November 29th, we are currently on Stage 3 on Japan’s scale of the pandemic’s severity, just one level below the highest warning level of widespread infection level.
We have been fortunate thus far and have had no COVID-19 cases among our school community. We still can have “normal” days at school, so our teaching duties and practices haven’t changed. On school grounds, teachers, school staff, students, and parents wear masks at all possible times. Also, we wash hands regularly, take water breaks, and open all windows in the buildings during the day. Besides these preventive measures, we have canceled all the major school events for the next month, including Sports Day, Ice-Skating field trip, and the Parent-Teaching Conference will be a virtual event.
After experiencing one month of remote learning last April, it seems everyone in our school community is aware of how lucky we are to go to school, meet each other, and support each other in different ways. The level of collaboration and communication among teachers and staff has significantly improved. For instance, creating online groups has helped us share ideas, concerns, and, most importantly, get a sense of belonging. We are in these difficult times together.
For the last four months, we have updated our communication tools (website, blogs, Google sites) to provide more efficient and transparent communication with parents, teachers, and school staff. For instance, renewing Seesaw for School licenses to increase student and family engagement, purchasing Amazon Echo smart speaker devices for all classes to improve communication among teachers and school staff. In other words, our school has invested in updating tech tools to enhance the level of communication among stakeholders.
If you work at an international school and would like to share what it is like at your international school in a future ISC blog article, please consider joining the International School Community Advisor’s Facebook Group.continue reading
So interesting, our top 40 school profiles with the most views page.
It’s like, which school is the most popular amongst our 18K+ members? Before reading below or checking out the page, which schools do you think show up on this list?
Are the ones at the top those “Tier one” international schools that we all hear about? You might be surprised which schools are really on this list then!
The school that has the most views right now is the British International School Moscow (42 total comments), which currently has around 70337 views. Who wouldn’t want to work in Easter Europe?!
Here are some of the other top schools on our list (along with a sample comment from its school profile page):
Copenhagen International School (375 total comments) Copenhagen, Denmark
“This year CIS went to a recruiting fair in London. The director mentioned that he wants to make sure our school ‘stays visible’ at these fairs every once and awhile. There weren’t that many vacancies this year, which is typical because people tend to stay here a…”
NIST International School (298 total comments) Bangkok, Thailand
“Most of the large shopping malls have gourmet markets that include Western foods and ingredients, and two or three chains specifically cater to them as well. A huge number of expat-oriented pubs and restaurants can be found, especially along Sukhumvit Road…”
International School of Kuala Lumpur (135 total comments) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
“Pay is good, with a great retirement (EPF) program that can go up to 42% of salary (including both employer and employee amounts). Teachers are paid 10 times (August through June) but in June they also get their July salary.”
KIS International School (Bangkok) (343 total comments) Bangkok, Thailand
“KIS has just gone through its five-year accreditation for both the CIS and the IB as well as the one from the Thai Ministry of Education. Obviously the full reports have yet to be made public but the feedback from the team leaders was certainly constructive and said that the school was certainly heading in the right direction.”
Seoul Foreign School (172 total comments) Seoul, South Korea
“I literally think these are the best students to have on the planet. I can’t think of a country where the student caliber is any higher. Wonderful and attentive students who perform well. Require work to get them to think outside of the box and problem solve.”
Hong Kong International School (148 total comments) Hong Kong, China
“The school is a very well established school and has been a part of Hong Kong for nearly 50 years.”
Western International School of Shanghai (476 total comments) Shanghai, China
“Tons of activities if one wants to do something. It’s pretty easy to fund running, cycling, hiking, tennis, basketball, rugby, and so forth. Pretty much anything is on offer here!”
Singapore American School (292 total comments) Singapore, Singapore
“Short term disability benefit. Worldwide health insurance coverage.”
Concordia International School (Shanghai) (180 total comments) Shanghai, China
“The school buildings are quite modern. Many students walk to school as there are many neighbourhoods near the school.”
American International School in Egypt (Main Campus) (62 total comments) Cairo, Egypt
“This is a bit of an issue at AIS. They seem to hire people without checking references and most interviews are just over the phone or Skype. Several people get fired a year due to behaviors that I am sure would have shown before hiring should AIS do face to face interviews and…”
Canadian International School (Hong Kong) (155 total comments) Hong Kong, China
“A fair number of teachers make multiple stops on their way back to “home” in Canada, USA, Europe, Australia, or New Zealand. Since these are long flights (~10-18 hours), it is easy to find extended layovers en route.”
Green School Bali (137 total comments) Sibang, Indonesia
“A lot depends on where you’re living. If you’re in the Ubud area expect at least an hours commute to the airport. From Canggu, less time. Denpasar traffic, in fact traffic everywhere in the touristy parts of Bali is horrendous. Drivers charge varying amounts depending o…”
American School of Dubai (161 total comments) Dubai, UAE
“The area across the street from the school, Barsha Heights (previously known as Tecom) has a number of highrise buidlings and good number of restaurants and shops in the area. It’s a 10-15 minute walk from there for the teachers that live in that area. On the opposite side a…”
American School of Warsaw (155 total comments) Warsaw, Poland
“In connection to the school’s growing percentage of ELL students, every grade level in the elementary and middle schools now has a dedicated ELL coach/teacher/classroom aide.”
Check out the rest of the schools on our list here.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
A new survey has arrived!
Topic: How is your experience using your health insurance and medical benefits?
It is not fun worrying about your health when you live abroad, as medical systems can vary from country to country in their efficiency, price and quality.
Some cities have only local hospitals on offer; meaning ones that are staffed by locals and that serve mostly locals. It is not uncommon for these hospitals to have a staff with poor English or any foreign language fluency. It might be necessary for you to find, or in a best case scenario – for your school to provide someone who can accompany you at the hospital to serve as an interpreter. The quality of these hospitals isn’t necessarily poor, as one may suggest, but not knowing the local culture of “how things work” in a local hospital can indeed be quite nerve-wracking.
Other locations have more expat-oriented medical facilities and/or special-health insurance plans for foreigners. These types of hospitals can put expats at ease in how they are served. They have foreign-hired doctors on hand that can speak their language. Expat-oriented hospitals typically also have all the different types of medicine and prescriptions that you may need while living abroad. In less developed areas (ones that have lower employment desirability), you are in luck if you have access to these types of expat-oriented medical facilities.
It is all fine and dandy to have super accessible and well-resourced hospitals in your host country, but let’s not forget out the health insurance benefits package that you are receiving through your school. It is clear that your medical insurance coverage can vary from school to school in their efficiency, price and quality as well. In one international school, they give you amazing health coverage with everything covered (including health insurance for you around the world), no co-payments, with most dental needs included. In the next school, you find yourself very limited to what you can do with your benefits. A less desirable health insurance package might not include dental or cover you during your travels around the world or back in your home country.
Your health insurance benefits package should always be talked about and maybe even negotiated with your international school before you sign the contract.
Because things are so different for each of us at international schools across the world, take a moment to go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today!
If you are interested, you can check out the latest voting results here.
We actually have a comment topic related this to this issue. It is called: Health insurance and medical benefits. Describe your experiences using these benefits and going to the local hospitals.
Right now there are over 598 individual comments (about 100s of different international schools) in this comment topic on our website. Here are a few of them:
“The insurance is pretty good. At hospitals that accept it, you pay approximately $13 U.S. for the visit, treatments and prescriptions. The difficulty is not with the insurance, but the hit and miss quality of care available in town.” – Liwa International School (Dubai, United Arab Emirates) – 23 Comments
“You can get travelers and accident insurance from your bank here, like at Nordea. It is really cheap and it gives you health insurance coverage anywhere in the world! It is important to know about this option because now the Danish CPR health social health care card doesn’t cover you anymore in Europe, well for non-Danish people with a CPR card.” – Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 244 Comments
“Macau offers free health care coverage to all residents and all who hold work permits. This kicks in after about 3 months of living in Macau. The school helps facilitate private insurance until the government insurance starts up.” – The School of the Nations (Macao, China) – 20 Comments
“Health insurance is not the best. It only covers emergencies and specialist doctors, not a General Practitioner. I have been to the doctor here, and it was a good experience. Doctors were efficient and I got taken care of pretty quickly. I would advise asking people who have lived here a while, who to go to though.” – The Codrington School (Int’l School of Barbados) (St. John, Barbados) – 70 Commentscontinue reading
The journey to work is indeed an important one. The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers, when looking for jobs at schools and cities/countries to which they have never been. So let’s share what we know!
One of our members, who works at the Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) described his way to work as follows:
In August, there is plenty of light in the morning; always good for putting a smile on your face and good thoughts in your mind. Also the weather is a bit fresh already in the morning, meaning you need a light jacket on during this time of the year. As I leave my apartment building, I see a sea of bikes and people on bikes zooming by me. Gotta keep a keen eye on the street and the sidewalk to check for other pedestrians and bike riders otherwise you will be run over!
Next I get on my bike, glad that it wasn’t stolen the night before. I choose to leave my bike (locked) on the sidewalk every night, even though it is very common to get your bike stolen in Copenhagen. I have a place to put it inside my building, but it is more convenient to just leave it on the sidewalk. Also, I have never got my bike stolen, but many…many people here do. I got my bike for free actually (It was gifted to me when a colleague left the school to move back to his home country), so I’m not too worried about it getting stolen. It is definitely not the first bike that a stealer would choose to steal as it is pretty old looking.
As much as I would like to ride my bike all the way to school, I choose to just ride my bike to the nearest train station (a 2-minute ride). If I do ride my bike all the way to school, it would take around 25-30 minutes. In a few minutes, I am at the train station. There is usually a space to park and lock my bike nearby. Then I walk up a few steps to get to a long bridge-like walkway. The walkway spans 8 tracks I think. It is a big station. There are two ways I can get to the train station near to my school (Hellerup), the S-train and the regional train. If you miss one train, there is always another one coming soon. The regional train might be a bit faster because it doesn’t make any stops to Hellerup, the S-train stops at two train stations in between my station and Hellerup.
The S-train can have a lot of people, so it can be crowded (not so fun), so when I can get on the regional train, I do that instead. The train ride is maybe 4-6 minutes long and then I’m at Hellerup. Many people get off here as it is another hub for many trains. Typically I run into other staff members on the train or getting off at Hellerup. We say good morning and then walk together to get to the school campus. The walk from Hellerup to the campus is like 1 minute. The current school location is VERY convenient to public transportation; super important when working at an international school.
My total journey to work, if I time everything right, is between 12-15 minutes. Super convenient. I forgot to mention that I could also take a nearby bus to work, but that would not be the best choice. The bus can be very crowded as well and the journey is longer, maybe 20-25 minutes.
When it is a sunny morning (which it usually is during this time of the year), the journey to Copenhagen International School is a really great one. It is so relaxing usually and oh I forgot to mention you can watch the sea go by as you look out the window of the train!
Copenhagen International School is actually building a whole new, purpose-built school. It is going to be located even closer to my apartment! The best part of this new school campus is its location. The new location will be on the water. I can’t wait!!
Currently, we have 14 international schools listed in Denmark on our website. 6 of them have had comments submitted on them by our members. Check out which ones here by using our school search feature and ticking the box ‘schools with comments’. Copenhagen International School is a very popular school profile page on our website. It has 183 total comments on it (one of the most on our website so far). It also has 11 members that either currently work there or have worked there in the past (which is the 2nd highest number of members for a school profile page).
So what is your journey to the international school you work at? Earn 6 free months of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’. Email us here if you are interested.continue reading