Comment Topic Highlight

What is the dream Professional Development model at an international school?

October 4, 2019


We are lucky working at international schools. In comparison with working at public schools in some of our home countries (USA, for example), we are typically getting more opportunties to go on our own professional developement adventures, and very interesting and unique ones!

But it all depends on the international school you are working at, of course. Some international schools offer a fair amount of money to each teacher as a personal professional benefit for them. Other international schools don’t have a PD budget at all for teachers to access, and barely offer any in-house PD sessions for their staff.

Some teachers new to international schools can be in for a bit of a shock when your principal/coordinator offers to send you to Kenya or Malta for a required training that the school needs to have you complete (let’s say if your school was located in Eastern Europe). Can this be really true?

On the flip side, other international schools will offer that same or similar training to you in-house. Is one better than the other? Well, it is not so exciting to just stay at your current workplace to get that training. Although there might be some benefit to working with more of your current colleagues and possibly even will some teachers from nearby schools that have sent them to your school to get that training as well.

The debate is (or has it been decided now?) what is the best way to train their teachers and for the teachers to get the best professional development?

Some people say that ongoing professional development is the most effective, and one-off PD sessions and workshops are not the most effective.

But getting PD is not all about improving your teaching skills and learning better teaching strategies. It is also about networking. Getting to know teachers that have a similar role to you in a similar setting even can really be some of the best PD experiences. It is more what is happening in between sessions that can be quite inspiring and thought-provoking.

Not all PD needs to cost an amazing amount of money either. If you find a school that is doing something you are interested in at the moment, but doing it at a higher level than your current school, it can be some of the best PD to just go and do a planned/structured visit to that school. You might even find out about this school through some networking you may have done at a conference you once attended.

But it all comes down to money, really. Some international schools have a lot of it, and share it out as much as they can to support and train their teachers. Other international schools (and not just for-profit schools) would rather not spend that much money on PD for their teachers and ‘save’ it for other things.

If there isn’t a specific PD allowance benefit for each teacher and you need to apply to receive an allowance, then there are bound to be feelings of inequality. Some teachers will surely be getting their PD requests accepted more than other teachers, and that might be the sense people are having throughout the school (causing low staff morale for some). Maybe some favoritism comes into place, whether that is actually happening or not. One clear benefit of doing PD in this manner is that the school most likely will be spending less money.

If a school willing to let their teachers follow their own paths of learning, will the school only allow their teachers to get trained in things the school wants them to do, or will the school just shut off all opportunities for their teachers and make it basically impossible or really undesirable to even ask for some financial support in getting a PD experience?

Many teachers might agree that the dream school situation is that there would be a specific PD benefit in the teacher’s contract. It is their money to use for their own professional hopes and dreams as a teacher. It is likely that the teacher’s current school and students will benefit from that teacher’s PD experience, but even if it doesn’t directly have that effect, it will help that person grow as a teacher; and probably that teacher’s future school work places will benefit.

On ISC we have a comment topic related to this topic in the Benefits Information section on the school profile pages. It is called: “Professional development allowance details.” There have been 512 comments submitted in this comment topic on 100s of international schools from around the world. Here are just a few of them:

“Very good PD, in my opinion. At least one pertinent course per year (usually with IB). However, it is currently required that these be in-country.” – Qatar Academy (Sidra)

“Over the course of the academic year, the school funds a select number of teachers to attend Professional Development seminars by the International Baccalaureate.” – Aga Khan Academy Mombasa

“Teachers are not given a PD fund. If there is a PD that a teacher is interested in, he/she will have to apply for it at least a month ahead and wait for approval. Out of the 5 teachers that I know who applied for PD fund, only 1 was approved.” – SMIC Private School

“Great PD allowance. I believe it’s about $1200/year. As well, admin will help teachers find and enroll in opportunities nearby and a bit further out. I’d say it’s excellent.” – Shekou International School

How is the PD benefit at your international school? Please login to our website and share what you know!

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Surveys

New Survey: How much Professional Development money do you have to use this school year?

September 14, 2014


A new survey has arrived!

Topic:  How much Professional Development money do you have to use this school year?

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Working at international schools has its perks, that’s for sure.  One of those perks is getting an annual Professional Development allowance (well at most international schools). Public-school teaching back in your home country does have it moments of getting PD for its teachers, but typically that money is being decided on by somebody other than you!  At international schools, you are (mostly) in charge of your own personal PD monies and how you want to use that money. It is important to note that international schools do dictate some of the PD for their own teachers (e.g. for in-house PD), but the other PD money (the money that hopefully you are getting as part of your contract) is for you to use on your own PD theme and topic.

It is so important for our careers to keep learning new things in the field of education. Luckily there are numerous PD options for international school teachers. There is the annual ECIS conference (who’s going to Nice this year?).  Maybe you live in Asia and are planning on going to the annual EARCOS conference in Kota Kinabalu.  Some international schools are leading the way and hosting their own conferences like NIST International School. They recently have started their annual ELLSA Conference in Bangkok.

905866_320405608135805_7598251834492740465_oIf conferences aren’t looking the best this year, then there are still many other options for international schools teachers on which to use their personal PD allowance. The Creativity Workshop has been very popular this past year as well as the staple Teachers College Summer Institutes (Reading and Writing) in New York.

Wherever you end up going this year, you are bound to learn a few new things and get inspired for your return back to work.  You are also bound to run into some people who you know in the international school community; good times catching up with former colleagues.  Going to these conferences and workshops are also a great place to network and meet others teachers in your field.  It can be quite helpful having some new peers to contact when you want to get some feedback on something or learn more about a new technology that person is using for example.

The main problem though in getting to these workshops and conferences is money. Not only do you have to pay for the conference registration fee, you must also pay for your flight to get there and the hotel. Many times one year of PD money is not enough to get you to a conference every year.  Some teachers can save their PD money from one year and add it one to the next one (up to three years typically).  If you don’t have enough money to attend a certain workshop, then it doesn’t hurt to ask your boss if there might be any PD money around that you can use to help you pay for the rest of costs involved. Your administration might say no to you, but they also might say yes!  It’s worth a try.

All international schools handle their PD allowance differently, so let’s share about the international schools we know about.  Go ahead and vote on How much Professional Development money do you have to use this school year? Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today!  You can check out the latest voting results here.

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We actually have a comment topic related this to this issue. It is called: Professional development allowance details.

Right now there are over 180 individual comments (about 100s of different international schools) in this comment topic on our website.  Here are a few of them:

“In general, the school has a four-tiered approach: in-house PD, required external PD, goal related PD and personal professional support.
Upon school approval staff have access to a personal professional development sum that can be used annually or accrue for up to three years.” – 
Anglo American School of Sofia (Sofia, Bulgaria)28 Comments

“Professional development is a strong focus. Quality of in-house varies wildly as it does in every school. Lots of training for IB available and all IB teachers go on prep courses as soon as possible.” – Nexus International School (Putrajaya, Malaysia)44 Comments

“PDs are usually done in-house therefore there is no structured amount for PD per teacher. Principals are up to date regarding international and local PDs so when there is an appropriate PD some teachers are selected to attend. Teachers, on the other hand, can always search for possible and appropriate local/international PDs.” – Royal Tots Academy (Jakarta, Indonesia)35 Comments

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Surveys

Survey results are in: Which international school teacher conference do you prefer to go to?

January 19, 2013


The survey results are in, and it seems as if most visitors and members of International School Community who voted have had the most success at IB conferences.

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IB conferences/workshops can prove to be a very motivating and enlightening experience.  Isn’t that what going to conferences is all about?  Most people might say that teaching is viewed as a career, and with careers comes professionalism.  Many international school teachers aspire to be the best professionals in the field.  The IB (PYP and MYP too) teachers definitely have similar aspirations as well; to learn more and more about the new ways of thinking and teaching using inquiry.  They are also looking to learn more about how to make their students’ thinking visible.

But like many workshops that you may attend at international school teaching conferences, the benefit of the workshop you attend greatly depends on the instructor that you get.  It can also be said that the success of your workshop depends on the people that attend it as well.  So many different factors come into play, but when all of them line up correctly, you are most likely in for an enlightening experience.  Those types of workshops can really inspire you throughout the rest of the conference and stay with you when you return back to work.

In terms of staff development benefits, the IBO requires that the teachers working in approved/accredited schools get on going PD in the IB philosophy and latest strategies on how best to instruct students in their inquiry programme. Instead of using your own PD monies to attend IB workshops, very often the school will take the costs involved out of their own monies.

There are many factors to consider when deciding on which international school at which to work.  Knowing about the professional development allowance (or lack there of) can prove to be helpful information to know; just to see what you can expect in terms of you getting the opportunity to attend workshops and conferences while you work there.  Luckily on International School Community, we have a Benefits Information section in the comments and information part of each school’s profile page that discusses this very topic.

• Professional development allowance details.

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Taken from International Community School Addis Ababa (35 Total Comments) school profile page.

There have been many comments and information submitted in this topic on numerous school profiles on our website.

One International School Community member said about working at Mef Int’l School Istanbul: “IBO certified IBDP and PYP training provided. Outside speakers such as Virginia Rojas brought in to provide in house PD.”

Another member said about working at Western International School of Shanghai: “Most teachers don’t get any out of school PD their first year of contract. Depends on the needs of the school.”

Another member submitted a comment about working at American School of Barcelona: “The PD amount is 390 Euros a year. You can roll over this amount for 3 years. But the reality some people get more, it is not so clear cut on who gets what amount and who gets to go to what PD opportunity.”

If you are currently a member of International School Community, please take a moment to share what you know by submitting some comments and information about the PD allowances at your international school. You can start by logging on here.

Stay tuned for our next survey topic which is to come out in a few days time.

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