“Taking a year on” is what principal Nichole Schmidt called the time away from her international school position in the article “Taking a Year.” Schmidt, with her husband and sons, packed up to travel around parts of Africa for a ten-month adventure. Isn’t it more inspiring “to take a year on” than needing to take a year off?
What about retirement? In “The Power of Time Off,” Stefan Sagmeister shares his scheduled year off every seven years to work on projects he is unable to pursue during his regular year. Sagmeister breaks down a worker’s lifetime into nearly 25 years of learning, 40 years of working, and for those lucky enough to live to the age of 65, 15 years of retirement. Why wait for retirement?
What follows are a few opportunities available to U.S. citizens to take a year on while staying abroad.
Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching: U.S. American primary and secondary teachers interested in making a move to overseas schools, but not ready to commit to an initial 2-year contract can apply for short term (2-6 weeks) or semester-length programs (3-6 months). As part of the program, teachers can pursue individual projects, conduct research, take courses for professional development and actively share their experiences with local teachers in schools, teacher training colleges, government ministries, and educational NGOs. To review eligibility criteria: https://exchanges.state.gov/us/program/fulbright-distinguished-awards-teaching-us-teachers.
Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Program is a year-long professional development opportunity open to primary and secondary school teachers interested in developing skills to prepare students for a competitive global economy.
For those trained to teach English language learners, the U.S. Department of State sponsors the English Language Fellowship and Specialist Programs. This role advertises a new challenge or a life-changing career move for TESOL trained teachers to teach in new contexts and gain unique international experience. https://elprograms.org
Peace Corps Response positions are open to U.S. Citizens with significant professional experience, not just former Peace Corp Volunteers. Positions vary from 6 to12 months, may have a language requirement, and include position titles such as educational specialists, special education advisors, deaf education specialists, environmental education teacher trainer, health facilitator, literacy coordinator, e-learning specialist, math education or science instructor, primary education curriculum and design specialist, and more. Visit for more information: https://www.peacecorps.gov/volunteer/response-openingshttps://www.peacecorps.gov/volunteer/response-openings/.
I took a “year on “working as a TEFL Teacher with Fulbright Taiwan. To learn about this opportunity, visit here.
A few months into my year on, I have to say I do miss some things: the academic calendar, full salary, and benefits, connecting with fellow international educators, and the bonds that come from working with students in the classroom.
What I am gaining this year is an opportunity to provide teacher training to local teachers and frequent travel opportunities as I give workshops at various schools in Taiwan. While not working, I have had the chance to pursue other interests, such as writing more as I spend less time grading.
While the opportunities shared may be limited to U.S. Citizens, what opportunities are out there to other nationalities?
Sagmeister, Stefan. “The Power of Time Off.” TED, www.ted.com/talks/stefan_sagmeister_the_power_of_time_off#t-206460.
“Taking a Year.” Taking a Year | The International Educator (TIE Online), www.tieonline.com/article/2375/taking-a-year.
This article was submitted by ISC member Ellen Johnston. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact here her. Check our her other submitted article on the ISC blog here – The Journey to School: Tarsus American College (Turkey),continue reading
Our blog gets hundreds of views every day. One time we had over 2200 views in one day!
ISC writes and publishes many of the articles on our blog, but we also have a growing number of member-submitted articles. These articles are submitted by people new to international teaching, seasoned international school educators, and those people that have retired from international education. Member-submitted articles come from parents, authors, directors, teachers, students, companies, etc.
Since 2011, the ISC blog has been viewed over 250,000 times! But which blog articles were the ones that our readers wanted to check out and read the most? We’ll start with #10 and move down to the most popular article on our blog.
“So interesting, our top 40 school profiles with the most views page. It’s like, which school is the most popular amongst our 13K+ 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…”
“Not all teachers decide to move abroad because they have a sense for adventure. It is because they need to save some money to pay off their debts; which we all know is something hard to accomplish as a teacher back in your home country…”
“One of the best things about being an international school teacher is that we have the ability to travel, sometimes much more than if we were teaching in our home country. *Some items in this list are meant to be “tongue-in-cheek” and making fun of our “first world people problems” that we sometimes experience while traveling around the world. Of course we love this ability to travel and appreciate every minute of it…”
“The full salary is paid in RMB. The school adds an extra 500 RMB towards utility bills. The yearly pay is divided into 12 months. For newcomers, their first pay is in September 20th, although school starts early August. This is clearly stated in the contract but those new teachers coming in need to be aware of this that they won’t see money until September…”
“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…”
“Yes, it is November and many international school teachers are already thinking about the next school year (18-19). Actually, many of these teachers started recruiting back in September or August! It is necessary to recruit this early because international schools seem to be hiring earlier and earlier every year. Additionally, the international school recruitment fairs are also requiring candidates to have already applied to attend their fairs by now; by November you are most likely too late to apply to attend one (especially the ones in Bangkok)…”
“The school’s workload is average. We certainly hear of neighboring (similar caliber) schools who expect a lot more out of their teaching staff. In addition to a normal teaching day, teachers also are expected to lead 2 after school activities (running 10 weeks long each) per year. Coaching satisfies this requirement. This is standard for international schools in Malaysia, as the government requires schools to offer ASAs. Some teachers work…”
“The 2 campuses are in the west side and east side of the city. The west side, Lakeside, is on the MRT line that will go into the city centre. The east coast campus, Tanjong Katong, you need to take a bus to the MRT which will then go into the city. The bus will also take you into downtown within about half an hour to 40 mins depending on where you live. Most…”
“Many international school teachers don’t think enough about retirement. And that’s understandable. The whole concept can seem confusing. Andrew Hallam, however, says it isn’t. He says that those who fail to plan are planning to fail. That could mean eating dog food instead of gourmet, during your golden years…”
“A seasoned international school teacher (SIST) has worked at 3+ international schools in more than three parts of the world (or more). They know the ins and outs of international schools. They now have many old friends (from international schools that they’ve worked at) that have since moved on and now live in all parts of the world. Many teachers say that they originally meant to be abroad for only 2-3 years, but once you get into the international school community, it is easy to get hooked…”
Keep checking out our blog every week. We typically post a new article every 3-6 days. If you are interested in submitting an article to our blog as a guest author, email us at editor @ internationalschoolcommunity.com . All guest authors receive between 6-12 months of free premium membership to our website!continue reading
It’s never to early to think about your retirement plan. As many of you know, we have a wealth of information on the International School Community website. There are now over 17500 reviews and comments submitted on over 900+ international school across the globe. We’re certain to reach 20000 by the end of this year! A number of schools have reached the 100 comments milestone (with a few even going over 200 comments!). Check out this blog article regarding the most-commented schools on our website from July 2016.
A number of our members are curious about their future, especially if their future is to become a “seasoned international school teacher“. Part of our future is planning for retirement. Many of us have unfortunately stopped contributing to the retirement plans we were paying into before we moved abroad.
In turn, we now are hoping that international schools will help us do the saving. But not all international schools are a great help in this area; the truth is that some have non-existent retirement plan options for their teachers.
There are a few though that are leading the way in terms of helping you save something for when retire. Using our unique Comment Search feature (premium membership access only), we found 203 comments that have the keyword “retirement”. After scouring through these comments, we would like to share nine of them that highlight some schools that appear to have some excellent retirement benefits.
1. Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea)
“SFS is a treasure amongst international schools. It is not spoken of as much as other “top” Asian international schools–this is what keeps it special. This school has allowed me to grow professionally and in my faith, has set me up with a hefty retirement for my future and plush savings for the present. The amount of on site training, college certificates, and international conferences I have been allotted to participate in haa been fully funded by the school. The package retains teachers and the demand of hard work keeps the professional teachers here for the long haul. It is a living, learning, and growing community with lots of busyness and potential to never become stagnate.”
2. American School Foundation of Monterrey (Monterrey, Mexico)
“There are 2 things:
1. Mexico has a “social security” plan and you pay into that so you pay in for your years, leave, and you can come back when you are 65 to collect.
2. The school has a 13% matching program that you can collect 1 or 2 times a year based on your choosing. This is the retirement plan but it is up to you to do move the money somewhere.”
3. International School of Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
“We get paid monthly but receive July’s salary in June also. Salary is paid in RM with up to 40% at a fixed USD rate. Tax is around 21-23 % depending on salary. Average for 8 yrs experience (max entry point) and an advanced degree would be appx 5000 USD after tax and deductions (this includes travel and housing allowance) Additionally 11% is previously deducted for retirement fund with an extra 17% added by the employer. On same criteria this would be 1500 USD per month into a retirement plan.”
4. American School in Japan (Tokyo, Japan)
“The school provides a retirement plan and contributes 5.27% of base salary in each of the first two years, 11.57% in year three, and increasing each year up to a maximum of 16.82%. The school does not participate in US or Japanese social security. The retirement age at ASIJ is 65 years old.”
5. Escola Americana do Campinas (Campinas, Brazil)
“Retirement plan is 8% school contribution a month. School pays 8% of salary to local savings plan for employee.”
6. United Nations International School (Vietnam) (Hanoi, Vietnam)
“In lieu of a school-established retirement plan, the school currently reserves an annual salary supplement of fifteen percent (15%) of the annual base salary and disburses the total amount of this annual salary supplement to the expatriate professional staff member upon termination of employment with UNIS. Alternatively, this supplement may be paid to the employee on an annual basis.”
7. Hong Kong Academy (Hong Kong)
“With a reasonable mix of some travel and eating out it is possible for a single teacher to comfortably save anywhere from 8,000-12,000 US$ per year not including the 10% +10% of base salary matching retirement plan.”
8. American School of the Hague (The Hague, The Netherlands)
“The school offers a retirement plan which is open to all employees on a voluntary basis. ASH offers two different plans: Nationale Nederlanden (pre-tax) and ECIS. ASH contributes 8% of the pensionable salary to the plan. Participation in the ECIS scheme on a pre-tax basis is only possible if one has vested and contributed regularly at another school before coming to the Netherlands. The teacher may make additional pre-tax pension contributions based on his/her age, ranging between 0.2% and 26% of the pensionable salary for employees. The pensionable salary is the gross annual salary minus about â‚¬ 12,500 (on a full-time basis).”
9. Seoul International School (Seoul, South Korea)
“I have 14 years experience and my Masters. I earn about $1,500 per month in Won (about $400 of that is taken out of my paycheck for a retirement plan which is matched by school which I have access to at the end of the school year), and then another $2,000 in US dollars which is sent to my US account every month. I pay no taxes. The school takes care of it. I am paid 12 times a year although we get the summer pay all at once, in May.”
Of course there are many more schools that have attractive retirement plans for their teachers, but the nine schools we’ve highlighted here sure do seem nice! It all depends on what stage you are at in your career and how old you are, regarding how attractive a retirement plan would be to you. But we suppose that any retirement plan option is better then none at all!
Please share what you know about the retirement plans of the international schools you’ve worked at. Login to our website today and submit some comments here!continue reading
Many international school teachers don’t think enough about retirement. And that’s understandable. The whole concept can seem confusing. Andrew Hallam, however, says it isn’t. He says that those who fail to plan are planning to fail. That could mean eating dog food instead of gourmet, during your golden years.
So, what are the top 10 tips for international school teachers to build a solid retirement?
If you can’t save at least this amount, and you’re not just “experiencing” international teaching for a year or two, then go home or find another school. Otherwise, you might be eating dog food when you retire.
At private international schools abroad, you won’t be contributing to Social Security (for Americans) or its foreign equivalents. Nor are you contributing to a defined benefit pension plan, offering guaranteed income for life. Don’t glibly suggest that Social Security or your home country equivalent won’t be around when you retire. In one form or another, it will.
No, you don’t need to work at a top-tier school to save these amounts. Meet Andreas Clesle. He saves $20,000 a year teaching in Myanmar.
#2 – Work at a school that doesn’t FORCE YOU to invest in an offshore pension. How can you tell? Ask this one question: Can I pull my money out, at any time, without penalty? If the answer is no, find another school. These are usually expensive, inflexible products. They cost so much in hidden fees, that the only person they make rich is the joker who’s selling the product. Unfortunately, many international school administrators haven’t caught on to the racket. When their recruitment pools start drying up, perhaps they’ll start asking why.
#3 – Pay off your student loans, car loans and credit card debts before investing. Then, invest at the beginning of every month. Those that invest while carrying credit card debt are categorically insane. They’re paying interest of 18 percent per year (or more) and expecting to make 9 percent per year in the stock market. Enough said.
#4 – Buy low-cost index funds. Avoid buying actively managed funds. Active funds are pricey.
The Alexander Beard Group is a favorite among financially illiterate administrators. The firm sells actively managed funds. But Jeri Hurd, at the Western Academy of Beijing, is one of the smart teachers who refused to invest. Including the company’s platform costs and actively managed fees, investors pay more than 3 percent per year. So if global stocks make 6 percent, investors will be giving away 50 percent of their profits to the firm. If global stocks average 3 percent in a given year, investors will give 100 percent of their profits to the firm. If you think bonuses, paid by your school, can offset this leakage, think again.
#5 – Don’t let anyone convince you to trade currencies. Trading currencies is not investing. It’s speculating. The only person who makes money, long-term, will be the broker or the bank. And they’ll be making their money from you—not for you. Here, I describe a woman at my former school. Her bank decided to trade currencies on her behalf. It’s a very foolish move indeed.
#6 – Diversify your assets. This means buying a variety of low-cost funds (preferably indexes) allowing exposure to a multitude of different markets: your home country stock market, international stocks, and a bond market product for added stability.
#7 – Don’t base investment decisions on economic outlooks or predictions. Most of them prove to be wrong. The average person listens to forecasts. Often, it’s their broker’s. But consider this. U.S. stocks averaged more than 9 percent per year from 1994-2014. According to Dalbar, the average investor in U.S. stocks made about 5 percent a year during the same time period. Why? The biggest culprit is behavior. They listened to their gut, and to investment speculators. Remember what Warren Buffett says: “Stock market forecasters exist to make fortune tellers look good.”
#8 – Share your annual savings goal with your friends. Studies show that if you want to succeed, write down your goals and track your progress. If you don’t want to save enough for retirement, keep it all to yourself and ignore your expenses.
#9 – Write down what you spend each month. By writing down your spending, you’ll simply spend less.
#10 – Remember that you aren’t on a holiday. You’re working overseas. And your future is in your hands.
This top 10 list was submitted to us by a guest author Andrew Hallam. He is the author of The Global Expatriate’s Guide To Investing. He’s a columnist for AssetBuilder and for The Globe and Mail. He’s also the author of the international bestseller, Millionaire Teacher. He taught at Singapore American School from 2003-2014.
Check out the pension plan details of 100s of international schools on our website. Currently, we have 336 comments that have been submitted on the comment topic “Pension plan details” on our school profile pages. Here are just a few of them:
“There are 2 things: 1. Mexico has a “social security” plan and you pay into that so you pay in for your years, leave, and you can come back when you are 65 to collect. 2. The school has a 13% matching program that you can collect 1 or 2 times a year based on your choosing. This is the retirement plan but it is up to you to do move the money somewhere.” – American School Foundation of Monterrey (Monterrey, Mexico) – 34 Comments
“For certain nationalities, the required contributions for staff member and school into the Employee Provident fund are locked in until the age of 60 so people leave without this money and no hope for ever retrieving it.” – Kodaikanal International School (Kodaikanal, India) – 53 Comments
“The school provides no pension, but 9% is deducted from the monthly paycheck to pay into IPS, which is sort of like Social Security. If a teacher retires in Paraguay, he or she will receive money through IPS. So for the most part, saving for retirement is in the hands of the foreign hires; they must have the discipline to do it themselves.” – American School of Asuncion (Asuncion, Paraguay) – 58 Commentscontinue reading
Our 37th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Cliff Jumping: Risk-taking and New Beginnings” Check out the blog entries of this retired international school teacher that currently is back living in her home country (United States).
A few entries that we would like to highlight:
“I’ve slowly dealt with the red tape of health insurance, car purchase, phone decisions, computer, internet, cable, condo painting/remodel/furnishing, and getting my household shipment through the delays of NY homeland security exams, Mpls. customs, and condo association regulations. Each step has been fraught with exasperation. Why am I so thin-skinned, so impatient? How could I deal with daily power rationing, hideous traffic, and oppressive heat in India, and not be able to accept the processes I must go through here more easily? I feel as though I’ve been in a time warp for 40 years, and I don’t know how to do things in this new age. I’ve lost my confidence…”
Are you a veteran international school teacher thinking about retiring soon? We have a very popular article on our blog that discusses this issue. An International School Community member shares her experiences about working for 30+ years in international schools and what her plan is for her retirement. It is called ‘Where do international teachers go when they retire and what do they do?‘. Check it out here.
We also have a few other articles on our blog related to this topic of going back to your home country and feeling a bit of reverse culture shock:
• Culture Shock and Misplaced Normal (An int’l school teacher’s experience in Tanzania)
• Going home for the holidays: No one cares about your international life
• The summer vacation dilemma: To go home or to not go home…that is the question!
“I have had the privilege of enjoying a 40-year career in the most exciting and satisfying field there could be: international education. It’s a vocation that young and old should consider, whether at the beginning of their working years, midway through as a ‘reset’, or after retirement. If you’re already a teacher and you’re bored, worried about getting ahead financially, tired of overcrowded classrooms, or wanting to see the world, this is for you. Take a leave of absence or sabbatical, or attend a recruiting fair, and take a job at an overseas school with an American or western curriculum. You’ll earn more money, experience more adventures, and probably never look back. If you’re young and unsure of your direction, love working with kids, feel curious about other cultures, and want to make a difference, this is also for you. And if you’ve already got a pension, going overseas could be icing on the cake. Or if you can’t find a job– get your teaching certification, and head on out…”
If you don’t already have a pension and want to know more about what pension plans are like at other international schools, take a moment to check out one of our 40 comment topics on the school profile pages in the Benefits Information section. It is called: Pension plan details. Right now there are 320 comments in this comment topic. Here are just a few:
“No pension plan, hopefully the school will address this issue in the future. (Although the school gives a bonus of one monthly pay for every year served at the school after 3 years and this may be considered retirement, but technically it isn’t.)” – Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 54 Comments
“The school provides no pension, but 9% is deducted from the monthly paycheck to pay into IPS, which is sort of like Social Security. If a teacher retires in Paraguay, he or she will receive money through IPS. So for the most part, saving for retirement is in the hands of the foreign hires; they must have the discipline to do it themselves.” – American School of Asuncion (Asuncion, Paraguay) – 58 Comments
“There is a pension plan that is in accordance to the labor law. For every year you work you are to receive 12 days pay. After your 6th year you will get 24 days pay. (roughly 2 weeks pay for the first 5 years and a month for every year after 5). Now for clarification: Your pension (called indemnity) is to be paid at the end of service at your highest pay, according to the labor law. However, the school does not follow this and will pay it to you yearly when you return in September. This seems like a good plan until you realize after 5 years how much money you lose out on.” – American Creativity Academy (Hawalli, Kuwait) – 31 Comments