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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Information for Members

The 40 Most Viewed Schools on International School Community

June 21, 2020


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
(3404 views)

“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
(2979 views)

“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
(3656 views)

“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
(3030 views)

“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
(3265 views)

“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
(3000 views)

“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
(3487 views)

“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
(3282 views)

“Short term disability benefit. Worldwide health insurance coverage.”

Concordia International School (Shanghai) (180 total comments) Shanghai, China
(2763 views)

“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
(2384 views)

“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
(2074 views)

“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
(2315 views)

“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
(2216 views)

“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
(2018 views)

“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.

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Top 10 Lists

Nine Reasons How International Schools Create a High Morale Amongst its Staff

April 24, 2016


“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.

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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.”

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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!

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Member Spotlights

International School Community Member Spotlight #33: Tchialian Hong (A former student at an international school in Greece)

September 1, 2015


Every so often International School Community will highlight one of our members in our Member Spotlight feature.  This month we interviewed Tchialian Hong:

DSCN0579Tell us about your background.  Where are you from?

I was born to a Greek mother and a Chinese father. Greece and China: Two cultures both with ancient civilizations dating back, since today, at least 2,000 years.    

Which international schools have you attended?  Please share some aspects of the schools that made them unique and fun places in which to attend.

As a boy, I went to a Chinese primary school-which was in Malaysia, and later an international school in Athens, Greece. By the age of 16, I was fluent in Mandarin (standard Chinese language: Also known as: pu tong hua), Greek, English and Bahasa Malaysian (which is the language that the natives of Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia speak). After graduating from high school, I studied at London University. During that time, I spent a lot of time reading other subjects, aside from engineering: thus became well-grounded in Engineering, Medicine, English Literature and Common Law.

I returned to Malaysia after graduating from London University. I had found my time, when I was studying in Tasis Hellenic International School, very productive – much more so than even London University. The student to teacher ratio was very small: very few students per teacher – which means subjects were explained very clearly – compared to local schools in Asian countries such as Malaysia. I found that with such a learning environment, all I had to do was “put in the hours” or rather finish the homework for the day, every day; and would be certain to score high results in my examinations as well as the final grades.

On this note: Another plus for international schools was that the final grades were calculated; not only on examination results, but also on attendance, homework, coursework, and small tests. This means: EVERY ounce of my effort in my studies……COUNTED. It was really encouraging. I scored A’s for all subjects: including Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography, History, English Language, English Literature, Mathematics and Computer Programming. Later, when I studied at London University, I used my studies-foundation at the international school to expand on my knowledge.

I also learnt how to teach: I was offered a camp counsellor’s position in Camp Vacamas, New Jersey, U.S.A. In the beginning, all the campers yawned at me, but not at other counsellors. I later learnt, in subsequent teaching stints, in Malaysia: where I taught Chinese children, Indian children AND the local native children from Malaysia, Indonesia, and Myanmar: that “yawning” was a sign that I was very explicit in explaining lessons, and very specific: The children were actually realizing concepts, learning material which I was teaching. Today, I chat with children more than teach-much like international school teachers did when I was a teenager. You see, aside from school material, children want to know politics, philosophy-especially philosophy. Philosophy shapes souls. Empowers it.

Describe your latest cultural encounter (or reverse cultural encounter) in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.

Cultural shock: Asian kids do not behave like European kids. They can be very nasty, as in: disrespect, crude. If you admonish them, even verbally, their parents threaten you. Most of them leave school and get pregnant before they are of-age. The secret is: sometimes a teacher in Asia has to act like he is not smart. And say: God Bless-Asians are very superstitious.

What makes some international schools unique and special?

International Schools are special because of the philosophy and the politics: At least the one I went to – Tasis Hellenic International School. Ideas and principles are raised from “the four corners of the Earth.” There are students from the four corners of the Earth, that’s why it is called an international school. ANYTHING and EVERYTHING is discussed. Advice is sought, until, like a sword that is tempered by repeated hammering, heating and cooling, A FOUNDATION IS ESTABLISHED! 

In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?

Diverse, empowering, encouraging, defining, happy. (God bless everybody!)

Thanks Tchialian Hong!

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 1 year free of premium access to our website!

Want to work for an international school and teach in Greece or Cyprus?  Currently, we have 8 international schools listed in both Greece and Cyprus on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

• American International School of Cyprus (17 comments)
• International School of Paphos (51 comments)
• American Community Schools Athens (3 comments)

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Comparing the Schools and Comments

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Bangkok, Thailand

April 16, 2015


Around the world, there are cities that have more than one international school. Many times there is an American school, a British School, and an international school that uses an international curriculum.

Some cities, though, have MANY international schools!  When that is the case, how do the comments about each school compare to each other?

This blog series looks at comparing some of these comments, all coming from international schools in the same city.

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Bangkok, Thailand

Currently, we have 49 schools listed in Bangkok on International School Community.

Schools with the most submitted comments:
Bangkok Patana School (Bangkok, Thailand)17 Comments
Concordian International School (Bangkok, Thailand)23 Comments
KIS International School (Bangkok) (Bangkok, Thailand)61 Comments
NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand)65 Comments
Ruamrudee International School Bangkok (Bangkok, Thailand)21 Comments
Wells International School (Thailand) (Bangkok, Thailand)18 Comments

Recent things they have taken on
“In 2012 the school implemented the Literacy by Design program for K3 – Grade 4, and the IB Diploma Programme in 2013. It also began scheduling more consistent weekly professional development meetings in 2013, including WASC focus and home group sessions, and grade-level meetings. As of 2012, it joined EARCOS and now regularly sends its staff to the annual conferences.” – Wells International School (Thailand)

“The ELD team just attended the ELLSA conference in Bangkok.” – Ruamrudee International School Bangkok

“In 2014 the school will be launching the Professional Development Hub, which is intended to be a central location for teachers in the Southeast Asian region to receive professional development.” – NIST International School

“The school is well-known for IB standards as quite a few of the teachers are IB Examiners and moderators. The Head of School is also on the Board of the IBO worldwide. Currently they are participating in a pilot study for the MYP.” – KIS International School (Bangkok)

Expectations of staff
“Teachers are assigned a maximum of 25 contact periods (45 minutes each) per week, while department heads have a maximum of 20. Minimum expectations include curriculum mapping on Atlas, and personal daily or weekly lesson plans that are attached to the maps. Weekly professional development is mandatory. Staff are encouraged, though not required, to take on extra-curricular classes or activities.” – Wells International School (Thailand)

“Expectations are high but lots of support.” – Concordian International School

“(Sorry, as admin it’s hard for me to comment, but teachers seem to work hard, but get non-contact time).” – KIS International School (Bangkok)

“High expectations, but with exceptional support and resources. Teachers are expected to participate in 2 extra curricular activities each year, which is quite manageable.” – NIST International School

Kinds of teachers that work there
“Approximately 30% of staff are from the United States, while the rest are a mix of over a dozen nationalities. While the school will hire inexperienced teachers in special circumstances, prospective hires should expect to be turned away if they don’t have a degree in education (or their subject areas at the secondary level) and a few years of experience. Nearly 70% of the teaching staff has master’s degrees.” – Wells International School (Thailand)

“Most teachers are from USA (there around 180 in total). A few are from the UK and Thailand.” – Ruamrudee International School Bangkok

“All teaching staff are fully qualified. Most are British, with some Australians, South Africans and Filipina. turnover is high. Last year 40% left. Most leave due to the lowish salary rather than because they are unhappy with the school.” – Rasami (Thai-British) International School

Housing
“Ruamrudee does have a housing allowance – B20,000, but it is part of the actual salary, so it’s taxed at 30%. So, effectively, the allowance is B14,000 – enough for a small local house/apartment.” – Ruamrudee International School Bangkok

“There is a housing allowance which is sufficient to rent a small studio. There is no extra for married teachers.” – Rasami (Thai-British) International School

“Around 40000 Baht a month for singles and 60000 Baht for teaching couples.” – NIST International School

“Small housing allowance.” – KIS International School (Bangkok)

(These are just 4 of the 65 different comments topics that on each school profile page on our website.)

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If you work at an international school in Bangkok, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited premium membership!

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