It is a time of celebration for International School Community as we now have over 24000 members on our website!
To celebrate our 24000+ members, all members can get 25% off of all premium membership subscriptions from 1 – 7 October, 2022 (ending 23:59 PST on 7 Oct, 2022).
The 25% off coupon code is: OKT2225O
Even if you are a member with Premium Membership already right now, you can still add more premium membership during this promotion. Just login to our website and go to the Manage Subscription page, choose the membership option that you’d like and then enter this coupon code (OKT2225O). Next click on the Make a Payment button to pay either with your PayPal account or without logging in to PayPal and just paying with your credit card.
Once you have premium membership access, please take this time to submit some comments on the schools you know about on our website. For every 10 comments you submit, your account will automatically be updated with one free month of premium membership. There is no limit, too. So if you submit 40 comments, then you will get four months of premium membership added to your account for free!
International School Community’s website launched back in February 2011. When our first newsletter came out in May 2011, we only had 49 members! On average, we have been getting over 300-400 people signing up to become new members each month. We hope this trend continues! The more members we have, the more people you have to network with.
International School Community’s goal is to be the largest online community for international schools educators. Our website provides a useful, informative and celebratory environment for networking with other international school teachers and learning about different international schools around the world.
We created a website that would highlight the ins and outs of working at international schools (the benefits, the school itself, the city and travel information, etc.).
Another major goal of this website is to provide experienced teachers the platform to share what they know so that prospective and seasoned international school teachers can make more informed decisions as they venture out to a new international school. Making connections and gathering information about international schools in our community has never been easier! Whether you are looking to make new friends, network with other international school teachers or learn more about the wonderful world of teaching at international schools, International School Community is the place to be.
We want members to provide real information that is specific; information that is related to all the different topics we need to know about before signing a contract. International School Community offers up-to-date information in a highly organized, easy-to-use manner.
We also offer a vast amount of information and links related to the world of teaching at international schools and education in general via our blog.
You can search our vast collection of international school profile pages to find that specific international school you want to know about. You can also search our member profiles and be able to find a contact to send a private message to so that you can get firsthand information about a school that member has worked at.
While the focus of the site is to serve the international school teaching community by providing real and useful information about international schools, we have specifically organized our website to promote our members to leave comments and information that are useful for everyone. Enjoy being an active member of our website!
We strive to have the largest collection of resources and services for the international teaching community. International School Community really wants to take writing reviews and comments about international schools to the next level.
Here are what some of our current members are saying about International School Community:
“It’s really useful…it’s a really good way to find out practical info about schools when you’re looking for jobs. If you are interested in particular schools, you can just contact any member from that school to find out insider info! It’s also good if you just want to find out what life is like for teachers in other cities! Really unique idea!” (An international teacher in China)
“International School Community is a great resource for international school teachers. Whether you are doing research for a new job, or just connecting with other teachers, this site is has a plethora of great information. I especially love that this site has a positive feel to it, rather than a place for teachers to vent. I really recommend registering to be a part of this great idea.” (An international teacher in South Korea)
“You have an amazingly wonderful website and seeing these comments is extremely helpful to me.” (A teacher looking to teach abroad at international schools)
“I am very impressed for a website to take the time to do this. You have a great resource that I certainly could have used when I first set off overseas teaching in 1998!! The site works well and it is nice to get a good background on almost every school I’d wish to work in. You are doing a fantastic job with your website, keep it up!” (A veteran international school teacher)
“I truly love being an international educator and researching and comparing schools, as well as discovering great schools that aren’t as well-known. I am grateful for ISC having a platform that makes it all so easy.” (Another veteran international school teacher)continue reading
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.
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.”
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 Commentscontinue reading
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
“How many suitcases should I bring home???” thinks an international school teacher who is traveling home for summer vacation. Inside though this teacher knows what they will end up doing during their trip back home. Even though it might cost them in the end when they pay for the extra weight of one or more of their suitcases or when they pay the extra fee for an additional suitcase on the airline they are flying on. It’s a pity that many airlines are now only allowing one free suitcase for an economy ticket, even on international flights!
The allure of home products is too strong though. When living abroad as an expat, it is almost vitally important to have some things around you that are familiar in your home abroad. Sometimes I open up one of my kitchen cabinets and because of the many home products that I see, it could be me opening a cupboard in my old home in my home country. Surely the first and second year abroad you might do this, stocking your cupboards full of home products, but doing this in your third or fourth (or tenth or more) year…. is it time to “let go?”
I heard one international teacher say that after eight years of living abroad she now refuses to buy products at home when she can find the exact same thing or something comparable in her host country. That would most likely save her in the long run on baggage fees, even if the product is a little bit more expensive than in her home country. However, sometimes we just want to have our favorite brand that we were using all the time when we lived in our home country, even if we can find something exactly the same (minus the brand name that we have “grown to trust”) in our current country. This is the dilemma then, to buy or not to buy??!
This year I personally decided to only take one suitcase back home for the summer. Well if I am being completely honest, I still did bring a carry-on travel backpack…in the hopes that I could squeeze in a few more of my favorite things to take with me on my flight back home. It was very difficult to limit myself. The mantra that I kept repeating in my head “Can I get this where I live now?” If the answer was yes, I reluctantly didn’t buy it.
It is fun to shop in other countries. Exploring grocery stores in other countries is one of my most favorite things to do actually (though I find it equally enjoyable to shop in my old grocery stores at home, too)! You never know what you will find. Well actually you do end up seeing some products from your home country in foreign grocery stores, but countries obviously have many of their own products as well. As you try new products, you are bound to find new favorites.
Sometimes if you see products that look familiar, they have a different language on the packages. Some even try and display messages in English that seem a bit funny to you. I’m not for sure the Lays company would put the same phrase “best with cold drinks” on their United States packages…maybe though. Also, foreign countries have people with different tastes, so you might find potato chip flavors like Chili Chinese with Schezwan Sauce and Seaweed Pringles….probably wouldn’t be popular flavors in United States. One thing that is hard to find living abroad is proper potato or tortilla chips; that aisle in a United States grocery store is a long one with many different brands and options!
Another factor to consider when buying foreign products is when you are trying to read the ingredients; this is where many international school teachers draw the line. Many, many people nowadays need to know exactly each ingredient that is in a product. And when you have to do this in a second language (in which you likely only know a few words in total), you might find yourself being drawn to bring back more of your home country’s products. Knowing the ingredients is very important. Sometimes even on imported products in your host country, the country itself covers up the English ingredients list by putting a sticker over it listing the ingredients in the host language. It is can be frustrating for sure!
Interesting story….I just witnessed an international school teacher lug up three boxes of home country goods to her apartment. When I asked her where did she get these boxes, she said that she got them from somebody who works at the embassy of her home country. After living abroad for a while and meeting embassy workers, we maybe don’t all know one of the perks they get. They can order home country products in bulk and the embassy will ship them over to you. I guess this embassy worker had extra and enough to share with an international teacher friend! I didn’t see all the different kinds of products that were in the boxes, but I do know that I saw some boxes of Duncan Hines cake boxes from the USA! You might be able to find easy-to-bake cake mixes in your host country, but this just might be one of those products that are only available at grocery stores in the United States.
Go ahead…continue to go home and stock up on all your favorite things. However, don’t forget to keep your eye out in the local grocery stores where you are living. Try a few new things every 1-2 weeks. There are most likely some amazing products that you didn’t know about. Some things though you just might want to pass on, like whatever kind of meat this is in the display case and what ever kind of product that is on a certain shelf. Sometime the risk is too great on your wallet to try out new (and strange) products and foods!
If you are an international school teacher, please share what you stock up on when you return to your home country! How many suitcases do you bring home?
If you’d like to share your story and earn free premium membership to ISC, please send us a message here.continue reading
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.
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 Commentscontinue reading