An educator shares about his experiences working over 20 years in and with international schools (Part 1)
I began teaching a long time ago, in a brand new high school, 35km south east of Melbourne, Australia. I was trained as a Science and Mathematics teacher, but, over the years, I’ve taught just about everything except Art – it has really helped to give me an understanding of how young people learn. I worked in secondary schools around Melbourne for a while, and had a stint as a government curriculum consultant in my district.
A friend had induced my former wife and I to go on a group tour to Bali, the first time I had been overseas (like many, many Australians). We then visited the same friend when she went to work in Penang, and then I was fortunate to be part of a trip to Los Angeles and Brazil through Rotary.
My former spotted an advertisement in the paper for Hiroshima International School. I applied, and got the job as the teacher of 25 grade 6 to 10 students. At that time, the school was in the process of planning a move from a small warehouse in the inner suburbs to a new school further out. We had two small children, and lived in a house about 1km up the hill (and there are plenty of them in Japan) from the school.
Living in Japan was wonderful, and we had a lot of amazing experiences. We made friends with our neighbours, even though only one of them spoke English, and we spoke virtually no Japanese. Everyone we met was very friendly. We returned to Melbourne after one year and resumed a normal suburban existence.
My true international career began much later, when things weren’t going that well in my life. I went to an information night for a recruiting agent. It was mentioned that Bali International School needed an IT person, so I went home, adjusted my CV accordingly, and got the job. I worked with some very talented teachers in a small school, and met my wife, Helen, there. During my fourth year, things didn’t quite go to plan, and I found myself helping a friend establish a small school, which became an economic casualty of the Bali bombing. It was at B.I.S. that I first became involved with the International Baccalaureate, through the Middle Years Programme. I really liked it, because it was in line with what we had been doing in secondary schools back in Australia. Bali was a good place to live, and we all worked hard and partied hard.
Helen and I found jobs at Sekolah Ciputra, in Surabaya. I was running their new international program, out of Melbourne, with 12 students out of 90 in Grade 12. Helen was a classroom teacher, but, during the break, successfully applied for the position of Elementary Principal. By the end of the first year, I found myself as Secondary Principal. We were there for seven years, and turned it into an excellent 3-programme IB school. A major factor was the professional development that we did with our colleagues every week. It was very difficult at first, because we were foreigners who were really changing the paradigms, but we persevered and still keep in touch with many of our Indonesian colleagues.
The school was in a large estate on the western outskirts of the city, and we had a great lifestyle, Golf, on a fabulous course, was part of the contracts, and we often hacked our way around. We could go for bicycle ride out through the villages on the weekends and there was enough to do in the city to keep us occupied.
Stay tuned next month for the 2nd part of this article. In the meantime, make sure the check out Andrew’s website which tells more about the services he currently offers to international schools.continue reading
Tell us about your background. Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Spain, attending international schools in Barcelona and Madrid. My father’s American and my mom is Spanish, so I was always considered ½ and ½ . I went to college in the U.S. and got a B.F.A. (Fine Arts) from Otis College in Los Angeles. I started teaching at a public school in L.A. in 1998 and never looked back.
How did you get started in the international teaching community?
In 2006 I made the decision to move back to my “home town” and applied for a job at my old school, The American School of Barcelona. I worked there for 4 years where I shared students and classrooms with some of the elementary school teachers from my childhood. My experience at ASB was a wonderful experience. Once I had those years under my belt…I was hooked on the International School life-style. Our initial idea was to move to Argentina, where my husband is from, but when the opportunity came up to move to Brazil and teach at Graded, my family and I were thrilled to take on the challenge.
Which international schools have you worked at? Please share some aspects of the schools that made them unique and fun places in which to work.
The American School of Barcelona and Graded – The American School of São Paulo. The best part of ASB was it’s location, Barcelona. Graded is challenging in a professional way, but São Paulo is a tough city.
Describe your latest cultural encounter in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.
Graded is very strong on offering Community Service opportunities in the area. I am the staff leader for one of those groups, in which a group of high school students fund-raise for and visit a Cancer Shelter close by. Every time we visit this location I am further impressed by how mature and resilient our students can be. It’s quite inspiring.
What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?
Location is key. I look for a place that I can picture myself living for at least 3-4 years. In my case, I need to consider my non-teaching spouse. He can legally work in South America & Europe, so I’m going to be drawn to those areas. Another really important factor is the true savings potential. Each school has it, some more than others, and I’m more interested in saving money than traveling.
In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?
Stimulating, unpredictable, addictive, inspiring, challenging.
Thanks Gloria! If you are a member of International School Community and would like to be our next member spotlight, contact us here. If we choose to highlight you, you will get a coupon code to receive 6 months free of premium access to our website!continue reading
Members of International School Community have written some new and informative comments on the following schools:
New Comment: “ASFG has the second largest collection of books published in English among the private schools in Mexico.”
New Comment: “Students are taught to speak, read, and write both French and English, but the school aims to offer more than mere knowledge of the two languages. The policy is one of integration: young Americans must be integrated into French classes and French children must study English along with their American classmates.”
New Comment: “SCIS has a faculty of 210 teachers who are fully licensed in their area of teaching. They come from the USA, Canada, England, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa.”continue reading