Working in an international school can be very rewarding. It can also come with its own unique combination of stresses and strains. When we let these types of stressors go unacknowledged and fester, this can affect our well-being at work, and even our health.
On top of the usual challenges schools face, like dealing with challenging student behavior, stressors of an international school career may also include:
Of course, working conditions and staff training vary depending on what stage the school is at and what systems and culture do and do not exist in a school environment.
Irrespective of the differences, it’s becoming more and more common for staff working in international schools to practice mindfulness-based tools for stress management. Some invest in such training for personal use, and it then also benefits their work. Others have the good fortune of having administrators who are open to investing some of their staff-training budget in upskilling their staff in stress management strategies.
The most cost-effective stress management strategy I’ve come across for working with international school counsellors, teachers, SLT, and support staff is a mindfulness-based stress management technique called EFT Tapping. EFT Tapping is sometimes just referred to as Tapping, or EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques. Not to be confused with the other EFT, Emotionally Focused Therapy, which is a talk therapy).
There is a range of applications for coaching school staff and students in schools using EFT Tapping. One is for reducing staff stress and overwhelm, which aids with communicating more constructively, problem-solving, and teaching in a more collaborative manner. I’ve also found EFT Tapping valuable when coaching students in international schools for school-related stress. It’s great for fear of failing their exams, study motivation or concentration problems, study procrastination problems, missing deadlines, panic attacks in tests or exams, fear of going on stage for school plays, and more.
Tapping helps regulate the nervous system and reduces our cortisol levels when we think about an upcoming event or a goal we want to achieve. For students, that may be an upcoming test, exam, tournament, or school play. For teachers, that may be an upcoming parent-teacher conference, report writing period, meeting with a difficult parent or colleague, or lesson with a difficult class.
When we tap, it neutralizes the stress response in our body so that we can go into the meeting, class, exam, or another event in a more grounded and balanced emotional and physiological state.
Isn’t that what we all want?
This article was submitted by Eleni Vardaki, an Educational Consultant for international schools with 22 years of experience as a student and a teacher/administrator working in international schools. Eleni works as an independent service provider for international schools that value well-being and mindfulness-based stress management practices. She is also a qualified EFT Practitioner who uses EFT Tapping for goals, stress management, and anxiety to coach students and adults who want to work with her 1-to-1. You can reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Information on the science behind EFT Tapping and school applications (all levels): https://elenivardaki.com/tapping-in-schools-summit/
A hands-on introduction to EFT Tapping for newbies: https://elenivardaki.com/eft-for-stress/continue reading
Moving to another city is always a stressful thing. Stress can make us forget even the essential necessities that we need to settle down. Here’s a useful to-do list for all the newcomers:
1. Get your local ID and tax number
Getting or updating your documents is something to be made a top priority, as this can prevent you from doing many things on this list, such as opening a bank account or access the local healthcare.
2. Choose your doctor/dentist
Secure your health first. In countries where the public healthcare is available, you need to pick a personal doctor to whom you will be going first when something’s wrong with your health. Ask your colleagues at work to recommend a good dentist who wouldn’t rip you off.
3. Pick a bank
This is so much fun for some people, like myself. I love comparing conditions and benefits that banks are offering, but it is also of great importance. Check if the bank is offering all the services that you need, and what are their conditions on transferring the money back to your home country. Believe me, you want to do your research before you sign a bunch of papers without reading the “fine print”. Nobody wants to go through all that administration twice.
4. Find the best ways to commute
Ask around what are the common ways that people commute in your new city. What is the availability of the public transportation? In some cities bicycles and taxies are more popular than dated trams or busses that are circulating around. Use the Internet routing tools such as Google Maps to find the best way to get to work, gym or your favorite green market.
5. Pick your favorite grocery store
We are spending a too big chunk of our lifetime shopping for groceries to waste it in some dump hole that looks like warehouse. Surely, from time to time it is worth going to these places to get a good deal on some products, but you want to be enjoying your shopping at a nice place. Try it, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
6. Get the new clothing and furniture
Moving to a new place is an excellent excuse to get rid of the clothes and the furniture that you always secretly hated. If your new city has IKEA or H&M, that’s great, but try to find out where locals are buying their clothes and furniture. Buying at those stores will make you immerse yourself in the local way of life.
7. Choose a hairdresser
Everyone needs a hairdresser. Ok, almost everyone. There are still the ones and twos of people whose hair trimmer skills are good enough for a self-haircut. But everyone else needs a professional to do it. Since the prices of their services can vary significantly, investigate before you are sorry.
8. Involve in learning the local language
Going to these classes is a good way to meet other expats and expand your circle of friends. Plus, it makes your everyday life much easier. In case that you already know the local language, I suggest you involve in learning a new language or a craft, or join a cause or a club, (e.g. a drama club, pet rescue centre).
9. Ask people about the cheaper ways to get stuff
Flea markets, thrift stores, used bicycle auctions, local bidding websites can save you some money that you can use for a day trip around the city or going to that amusement park that everyone is talking about.
10. And don’t forget to find your asylum
Find a special place where you can get yourself on a date time-to-time. It can be a restaurant, a café, a park or just a bench in your neighborhood. But having that one spot that you love is really important to have, wherever in the world you are.
This top 10 list was submitted to us by a guest author and International School Community member.
All guest authors to our blog get six months of free premium membership to our website. Email us if you are interested in becoming one of the next guest authors on our blog.
Are you inspired to start up a blog about your adventures living abroad?
Check out the experiences of another teacher from the moment they signed the contract to what they are writing about after a few years working abroad.
Our 5th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Love International Living.“ Similar to our last highlighted blog, it has some great insight into how important the first few weeks are for new teachers during their orientation days to their new city and new school. There is also much information to be learned what life is really like working at Chadwick International School – Songdo.
Entries we would like to highlight:
“On the 29th we begin we our Korean language classes. So far I can only say “hello” and “thank you” so I’m really looking forward to getting more communication help. We’re told the Korean character system is super logical and easy to understand, so we’ll hopefully be able to read Korean soon.”
New Songdo Exists!:
“Chadwick (International School) has been incredible. Our president and our headmaster along with many other staffers picked us up from the airport, handed us a wad of money and took us home, to a high-rise called Well County. There are three phases of the development so far and we live in the newest–the 300s. Our internet phone and cable was already set up and the school is working out all kinds of incredible deals on internet and iphones and anything else we can imagine.”
“Usually, when you move to a new school, you have two weeks before school begins. Often the first week is local culture and city orientation while the second week is work at school. That’s great for a couple days, but by day three, you want to check out the school and get into your room and start setting up.”