Discussion Topics

Are international schools more likely to hire teaching couples?

February 14, 2021


Most of us have been in the situation while job hunting for a position at an international school when the topic of our relationship status comes up. Of course, it is none of their business and a very strange thing to ask at a job interview. But in the world of international schools, it is quite common to ask this and important information to know from the school’s perspective. 

International schools have this idea that teaching couples are the ideal hiring choice as they try to fill their vacancies. It is like a 2-for-1 deal. It is a dream for an international school to find a teaching couple that consists of two top-notch teachers with lots of experience. The general observation though is that the school often hires one top-notch partner first who is a really good fit for a certain position, and then finds a vacant position for the spouse who might not truly be their first choice for that role. 

Regardless of finding the perfect fit for those positions, teaching couples are supposed to be more stable. They can support each other better when adapting to a new country and culture. No international school likes it when a teacher arrives and within the first few months can’t handle their new situation which leads to their prompt resignation, or even a no-show. If a teacher is already living with someone familiar, this person will automatically have the feeling of home which will lessen the sometimes harsh effects of culture shock making it more manageable for them to settle in. Also, when partners go through some of the negative parts (and positive ones) of culture shock together, these experiences become nice bonding moments. With those shared experiences, teaching couples potentially could indeed be more stable.

Another reason international schools like to hire teaching couples is that it is cheaper when they are handing out the housing allowances. Usually, the housing allowance is a bit more for teaching couples, but it is definitely less than two single teacher housing allowances combined. But if teaching couples want, they can even get a smaller apartment that is cheaper and could save the difference (not available in every school). In turn, teaching couples can often save more money than single teachers. They can even save one partner’s whole salary in some situations in certain countries. If one can keep saving more money, teaching couples may stay longer at that school.

The truth is, though, that not all teaching couples have these same positive experiences and advantages. Moving abroad as a couple can be just as unpredictable as going as a single teacher. Imagine a teaching couple that has moved from a spacious apartment and now has to live together in close quarters. This situation can create not-seen-before tensions. Additionally, maybe you are a new couple and haven’t experienced living together for that long. Add on culture shock and adapting to a new work environment and that can be a recipe for disaster.

If a teaching couple hasn’t worked together in the same school before, then the couple could find it challenging to establish the balance of work and life as their life and community become part of the work. This gets even trickier when maybe their children are being taught at the same school! It could also really get on the teaching couples’ nerves being together all the time, every day. However, odds are that this is not so challenging because many teaching couples don’t really see each other that much especially if the teachers are teaching at different grades or departments.

And there can be also downsides for the international schools themselves when they hire teaching couples. For one, it is often a difficult task to fill two vacant positions using a teaching couple. Then when a teaching couple leaves, it can be quite the challenge to easily find their replacements (like another, similar teaching couple). Many teaching couples are often on the market longer because of this quest to find the perfect match. Of course, both parties can be flexible, but this flexibility can lead to a less than perfect fit. It is recommended for a teaching couple to address these expectations early in their job-seeking process.

If an international school is going through some tough financial times and needs to let some staff go, it can get complicated when they have to sift through the staff while also thinking about whether they are part of a “package” or not.

Certain international schools are now specifically stating that they prefer single teachers to hiring teaching couples. So a single teacher just needs to find the right school for themselves, and also have a bit of luck and good timing on their side. It’s a pity when an international school has interviewed a single teacher and has told them they are a really good fit and then just before handing out their contract, they respond that they have given the position to a teaching couple. This situation has happened so many times to single jobseekers and has created this sense of “I need to be in a teaching couple to get hired at an international school”. However, this idea is simply not the case for all international schools. The reality is that at one school teaching couples are favored and single teachers can actually be more desirable at a different one.

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Top 10 Lists

11 International Schools that have Hardworking Teachers and Students

January 31, 2021


Schools thrive when there are hardworking students in them.

It is a dream to have students at your school that are hardworking and who focus on their learning when they come to school.

But do all international schools have hardworking students?

Most likely not. There are over 10000 international schools throughout the world, so there are bound to be some differences.

There are some international schools that have very privileged students in them, and they often don’t prioritize completing their classwork or even on their learning in general.

Can having effective teachers play a factor in achieving a high level of hardworking students in the school? Surely that is important as well. If the teachers are disengaged, then that is often demotivating for the students.

But, of course, there are many international schools that have amazingly hardworking students. These students are focused on their learning and are typically supported by their involved parents. The schools probably also have top-notch teachers and an engaging way of teaching their curriculum.

So which international schools then have these hardworking students?

Luckily, ISC was designed to help international school teachers find the information they are looking for. Using the Comment Search feature (premium membership needed), we found 36 comments that had the keyword “hardworking” in them. Here are 11 of them:

China

“Kids are hardworking in general. Mostly well behaved and friendly, especially welcoming to new students.” – Western International School of Shanghai (481 total comments)

Zanzibar

“Positive, hardworking, driven, and respectful of adults.” – International School of Zanzibar (57 total comments)

Thailand

“The kids are wonderful. Adorable, very loving and inclusive. Mainly hardworking and keen to learn. We have a couple of challenged learners but our counsellor is fantastic at supporting their teachers and indeed the whole community in understanding their challenges.” – KIS International School (Bangkok) (355 total comments)

South Korea

“The school really is a great place to grow as a professional. There are many opportunities to develop new skills just by learning from other colleagues. The biggest comparison would be the student body – students at SFS are motivated, hardworking, involved, and love learning! It is a dream!” – Seoul Foreign School (176 total comments)

United Arab Emirates

“Respectful, conscientious, hardworking, courteous.” – American School of Dubai (167 total comments)

Myanmar

“The students are wonderful to work with. They are respectful, kind, hardworking, and smart.” – Yangon International School (81 total comments)

India

“Some stay for the great education for their own kids, and the opportunity to impact upon other students who by and large are hardworking and cooperative.” – Hebron School (35 total comments)

Tanzania

“The staff is great. There’s a good sense of communities. Students are generally well-behaved and hardworking. Parents are supportive.” – International School of Tanganyika (171 total comments)

China

“The students are hardly ever disciplined at the school, but thankfully that is not an issue most of the time as the students are very well behaved and hardworking by default.” – Beijing National Day School (81 total comments)

Uruguay

“My students were fantastic! Hardworking and well behaved. I loved every minute of my time at the school.” – Uruguayan American School (32 total comments)

Philippines

“Happy, hardworking, driven, excited about learning.” – International School Manila (96 total comments)

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Information for Members

Become the ‘Mayor’ of Your School and Get Unlimited Free Premium Membership!

December 14, 2020


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!

Mayor Responsibilities:

• Submit at least 3-6 new comments on your school every 1-2 months (on the 66 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 66 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 their 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) – 481 Comments

NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 298 Comments

Tarsus American College (Mersin, Turkey) – 222 Comments

Canadian International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China) – 155 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) – 140 Comments

Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 387 Comments

Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea) – 172 Comments

American International School Dhaka (Dhaka, Bangladesh) – 113 Comments

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

Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (Beijing, China) – 176 Comments

Hong Kong International School (Hong Kong, China) – 148 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 a school you work at (or have worked 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.

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Information for Members

Top 40 International Schools with the Most ISC Members (UPDATE)

December 6, 2020


How many times have you applied to a school wishing that you knew somebody that worked there?

Knowing somebody and getting the ‘inside scoop’ on an international school could definitely help you in your quest to set up an interview there.

At International School Community, we made that search for ‘informed people’ even easier with our Top 40 Schools with the Most Members page.

Currently, our top 40 international schools with the most members are (6 December 2020):

30 members – American International School in Egypt

24 members – Copenhagen International School
24 members – Western International School of Shanghai
22 members International School of Kuala Lumpur
22 members – International School Manila
21 members – MEF International School Istanbul
19 members – International School of Tanganyika
19 members – Jakarta Intercultural School

19 members – Seoul Foreign School
19 members – Seoul International School
18 members – Fairview International School
18 members – Brent International School Manila
17 members – Graded School Sao Paulo
17 members – Shanghai United International School (Hongqiao)
16 members – American School Foundation of Mexico City

17 members – International School Bangkok
17 members – Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Astana
17 members – Shanghai Community International School
16 members – American School of Barcelona
16 membersGood Shepherd International School
16 members – Cairo American College
16 members – American International School of Johannesburg
16 members – United Nations International School (Vietnam)
16 membersInternational School Dhaka

16 members – Qatar Academy (Doha)
15 members – Istanbul International Community School
15 members – Singapore American School
15 members NIST International School
15 membersAmerican International School Dhaka
15 membersSuzhou Singapore International School
15 members – American School of Dubai
14 membersInternational School of Phnom Penh (ISPP)
14 members – KIS International School (Bangkok)

14 members – Yokohama International School
14 members – Hong Kong International School
14 members – International School Panama
14 members – International School Beijing
14 membersWestern Academy of Beijing
14 membersAmerican International School (Vietnam)
14 members – Shanghai American School – Pudong

With 100-200 new members joining each month, this list will continue to grow and grow; with even more members showing up as potential people to network with.

It is simple to network on our website: just click on a member and then click on the ‘Contact this member’ button (premium member feature).  Then write him/her a message.  When your message is sent, the other member will get an email alert letting them know that they have a new message waiting for them on our website (so, hopefully he/she will get back to you in a timely manner!). Numerous International School Community members have already taken advantage of this unique feature on our website!

international schools

As far as we know, International School Community is the one of the only websites where you can quickly and easily network with real people at a specific international school.  Meaning, if you want to get in touch with somebody from Suzhou Singapore International School in China and you are currently a premium member of International School Community, you now have 15 members that you can contact on our website that either work there now or have worked there in the past.  Get the answers to your questions; now that is easy networking!

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News Reports about your Host Country

COVID 19 Update: What is the Current Situation and Well-being of Staff like at 4 International Schools?

November 30, 2020


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.

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