Comment Topic Highlight

Back to School Initiatives and New Demands: Welcoming or Stressful?

September 18, 2022


Every school year, a school always goes through some new changes or simply experiences new things that the staff is now required to do or complete. The changes could be related to the school’s curriculum, some new professional development based on new initiatives, new building procedures (like fire drills), new mandatory training (like child protection), etc.

For many things (like ones actually dictated by the host country), they are mandatory and the admin simply just needs to fit those required things into their yearly meeting schedule.  Combine those required things with the other things and initiatives that a school wants to do, it can make for a sometimes stressful school year for the staff (and admin!). Furthermore, balancing these new things with your normal planning work and actually teaching students can prove to be very challenging.

So what are some of these new initiatives that international schools are focusing on in recent years?

A number of international schools are having their staff work with the Managebac program. There are 97+ comments related to Managebac on our website.

It’s also fairly certain that your school is now or will very soon be going through an accreditation. ISC has 525+ total comments related to school accreditation on 351 international schools at the moment.

With regards to curriculum, it appears that a number of schools are doing training with the Common Core curriculum. There are 45 comments that are about the different schools taking on this in recent years.

There are also 49 comments on IB training.  200 comments on different workshops going on in 149+ international schools.

And the list goes on…

What is a possible plan then for balancing all of these newly added things so that staff and admin don’t get too overwhelmed?  As one ISC member wrote about working at United Nations International School (Vietnam), “the [needs to be a] conscious adoption of a “less is more” ethos.”

155595-linebreak

Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of new things added at a school. Our members can share what current international schools are doing in this topic. There are a total of 1007 comments (Sept. 2022) that have been submitted by our veteran international school teachers in one of the 68 comment topics called – “Recent things that the school has taken on (i.e. new curriculum, specific professional development, etc.).”

Here are a few of those submitted comments:

“The use of Kagan cooperative structures is the focus for this year. The entire faculty had 2 days of training before the commencement of the school year with another session upcoming later in the year. The goal being student engagement. Most of the faculty have been receptive and are already using the structures in their classrooms…” – Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea) – 231 Total Comments

“The school just finished a multi-year curriculum initiative designed to put the entire Pre-K through 12th-grade curriculum documents onto Rubicon Atlas. The school seems to focus most on literacy in the Lower School, innovation and design in the Middle School, and IB/AP in the Upper School. School-wide, there is a focus on Differentiated Instruction, but this takes different forms in different divisions. There is a new Head of School coming in for the 2018-2019 school year…” – American School of Paris (Paris, France) – 68 Comments

“The administration said they care more about kids learning English and Maths rather than any other subjects. What makes the school unique, seems independent of what they are pursuing; bring more local students no matter what their academic level is…” – Changchun American International School (Changchun, China) – 168 Total Comments

“Professional development this year has included IBDP two-day Category 3 in-school workshops on the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge. All staff also completed a Stewards of Children online course and a one-day first aid and CPR course…” – Tsukuba International School (Tsukuba, Japan) – 58 Comments

“The school has offered, over the past two years, very little in terms of professional development. There has been talk of a curriculum change to the Cambridge Primary Curriculum for September 2018…” – Cambridge School Doha (Doha, Qatar) – 85 Comments

“The school is just setting up a Professional Learning Centre to improve instruction and practice at the school first. The school has designated professional learning time on Friday afternoons and encourages professional development…” –  YK Pao School (Shanghai, China) – 61 Comments

continue reading

Great Resource

New Teacher Orientation is Now Underway: 14 Must-Haves

August 1, 2022


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

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

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

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

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

1. “A trip around the city

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

2. A pick-up from the airport from administration

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

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

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

4. Help finding a place to live!

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

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

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

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

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

7. A dinner outing with the director and administration

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

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

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

9. Resource person with a contact number and email address

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

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

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

11. Beginning-level host country language classes.

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

12. A tour of your new campus

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

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

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

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

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

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

continue reading

Highlighted Articles

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

June 27, 2022


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This article was submitted anonymously by an ISC member.

continue reading

Comment Topic Highlight

Why Are People Staying at or Leaving Your International School?

May 23, 2022


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

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

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

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

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

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

155595-linebreak

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

Here are a few of those submitted comments:

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

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

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

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

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

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

continue reading

Information for Members

Become an ISC Mayor and Get Unlimited Free Premium Membership

April 17, 2022


Our mission for the International School Community website is to have the most updated information about what it is like to work at the numerous international schools around the world. One way to help us achieve that mission is to have Mayors.

Being a Mayor is super easy, and the best part is that you get unlimited free premium membership to our website!

And ANYONE can be the Mayor of their school. Most of our active Mayors are just regular teachers at their schools, but we also have heads of schools, HR representatives, principals, etc. as Mayors as well.

Mayors are commenting on the school and the benefits information, but they also comment on the city and travel information of the country as well. Mayors also don’t need to represent all aspects and perspectives of the school. They are recommended to just share their experience and perspective on living and working at that international school and in that city/country.

Mayor Responsibilities:

• Submit at least 3-6 new comments on your school every 1-2 months (on the 68 different comment topics). It takes like 5-8 minutes of your time to do this. It will take a Mayor 2 years to submit one comment in all 68 comment topics.

• Make sure to check on your school’s Wall and occasionally post updates about their school (any big changes to the school that are happening, good tips to know about, recent events at the schools, etc.)

• Make sure that your school has the most updated and correct information (e.g. basic info, links, Facebook page, Youtube video, etc.) on the Overview and Social Media tabs.

• Submit job vacancies that are currently available at your school.

Here are just a few of the almost 700+ schools that have or have had a Mayor on our website:

Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 547 Comments

NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 304 Comments

Tarsus American College (Mersin, Turkey) – 278 Comments

Canadian International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China) – 168 Comments

American School Foundation of Monterrey (Monterrey, Mexico) – 129 Comments

Concordia International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China) – 180 Comments

Yongsan International School of Seoul (Seoul, South Korea) – 145 Comments

Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 414 Comments

Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea) – 223 Comments

American International School Dhaka (Dhaka, Bangladesh) – 130 Comments

International School of Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – 135 Comments

Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (Beijing, China) – 193 Comments

Hong Kong International School (Hong Kong, China) – 157 Comments

The more Mayors that we have on our website means the more our members will be informed; as there will be more up-to-date information on the schools they want to know about!

Become the Mayor of an international school that you work at today!

Screenshot 2015-10-20 18.23.34

Please note that being the Mayor of a school is anonymous and that all comments and job vacancies submitted on our website are also done so anonymously. Posting on the school profile page wall though is not anonymous.

continue reading