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: email@example.com
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
“Why don’t you want to leave this international school and try another one?”
“Well, the students here are the best.”
“But there are good/nice students everywhere, right?”
Maybe you have had this conversation before with a “seasoned international school teacher“, but then you decided to move on to a new international school to test out this hypothesis.
Are there indeed good/nice international school students everywhere?
You might just find yourself missing the students at your previous international school.
So, how can students at an international school be so different?
Many people are quick to say that students at international schools are snobby and stuck-up (because supposedly they are coming from wealthy families). Though this might be true for many international schools, but it is often not always the case.
There are some international schools where the students are more like zombies; they will sit in your class and not make too much noise. These zombie students will answer the questions you ask them, but they won’t discuss the questions very much and give strong opinions.
There are also international schools where the kids appear to be in charge. These outgoing, borderline rude kids maybe have been influenced more so by the host-country culture of how their students behave in the local schools.
Of course, there are also international schools that have very well-behaved kids, overall. The question is then how did they become these kind and considerate kids?
What then determines the demeanor or behavior of the students at international schools? Is it something that is out of the control of the teachers and administration, and an already established culture of the school? Or is it something that the teachers and administration carefully plan and articulate to the students over a series of years (maybe even from the founding of the school)?
Another theory is that it is possible that the students’ behavior is directly linked to the behavior of the teachers and how they interact with the other teachers/administration and the students themselves.
Let’s not forget the parents as well! It is clear that they play a role in this. But with so many parents from potentially numerous countries around the world, it is unclear how the parents, as a whole, could play a direct role in the demeanor of the students at school.
Some schools try different behavor programs to help the behavior of their students. After searching ‘Responsive Classroom‘ using our Comment Search feature (premium membership access needed), we found 6 comments on 4 different international schools. After searching ‘Learner Profile‘, we found another 6 comments on 5 different international schools.
Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of new things added at a school. Our members can share what current international schools are doing in this topic. There are a total of 528 comments (March. 2019) that have been submitted by our veteran international school teachers in one of the 66 comment topics called – “In general, describe the demeanor of the students.”
Here are a few of those submitted comments:
“They are very sweet, respectful, and their families instill educational values. Some of the cultural differences do create problems, but this is something to get used to as in any international school…” –
Shanghai American School (Pudong) (Shanghai, China) – 64 Total Comments
“The students at school are nice kids. Very friendly. Very Chinese. There are some cultural hurdles that expats new to teaching Chinese kids encounter like the general passivity in class. It takes adjustments to figure out how to teach effectively. They are, outside the classroom, very chatty, noisy, and sometimes spoiled…” – Nanwai King’s College School Wuxi (Wuxi, China) – 38 Comments
“The student population is majority South Korean, which can cause problems. They tend to speak Korean and teachers and other students are left out of the conversations. The Korean students often times will only hang out with other Korean kids…” – Hanova International School (Xi’an) (Xi’an, China) – 73 Total Comments
“Students are generally polite and respectful. The main student academic issues tend to revolve around organization (or lack thereof). A bigger concern is usually student stress brought on by lack of sleep and being overly focused on grades…” – Washington International School (Tregaron Campus) (Washington D.C., USA) – 31 Comments
“Most students are at the school to get a good education in order to go to university programs in Europe or North America. They are willing to work to achieve this goal. Of course, as with everywhere, there is a percentage of students who what think they deserve good marks because of who they are…” – United World College of Costa Rica (San Jose, Costa Rica) – 108 Commentscontinue reading
A new survey has arrived!
Topic: How is your experience using your health insurance and medical benefits?
It is not fun worrying about your health when you live abroad, as medical systems can vary from country to country in their efficiency, price and quality.
Some cities have only local hospitals on offer; meaning ones that are staffed by locals and that serve mostly locals. It is not uncommon for these hospitals to have a staff with poor English or any foreign language fluency. It might be necessary for you to find, or in a best case scenario – for your school to provide someone who can accompany you at the hospital to serve as an interpreter. The quality of these hospitals isn’t necessarily poor, as one may suggest, but not knowing the local culture of “how things work” in a local hospital can indeed be quite nerve-wracking.
Other locations have more expat-oriented medical facilities and/or special-health insurance plans for foreigners. These types of hospitals can put expats at ease in how they are served. They have foreign-hired doctors on hand that can speak their language. Expat-oriented hospitals typically also have all the different types of medicine and prescriptions that you may need while living abroad. In less developed areas (ones that have lower employment desirability), you are in luck if you have access to these types of expat-oriented medical facilities.
It is all fine and dandy to have super accessible and well-resourced hospitals in your host country, but let’s not forget out the health insurance benefits package that you are receiving through your school. It is clear that your medical insurance coverage can vary from school to school in their efficiency, price and quality as well. In one international school, they give you amazing health coverage with everything covered (including health insurance for you around the world), no co-payments, with most dental needs included. In the next school, you find yourself very limited to what you can do with your benefits. A less desirable health insurance package might not include dental or cover you during your travels around the world or back in your home country.
Your health insurance benefits package should always be talked about and maybe even negotiated with your international school before you sign the contract.
Because things are so different for each of us at international schools across the world, take a moment to go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today!
If you are interested, you can check out the latest voting results here.
We actually have a comment topic related this to this issue. It is called: Health insurance and medical benefits. Describe your experiences using these benefits and going to the local hospitals.
Right now there are over 598 individual comments (about 100s of different international schools) in this comment topic on our website. Here are a few of them:
“The insurance is pretty good. At hospitals that accept it, you pay approximately $13 U.S. for the visit, treatments and prescriptions. The difficulty is not with the insurance, but the hit and miss quality of care available in town.” – Liwa International School (Dubai, United Arab Emirates) – 23 Comments
“You can get travelers and accident insurance from your bank here, like at Nordea. It is really cheap and it gives you health insurance coverage anywhere in the world! It is important to know about this option because now the Danish CPR health social health care card doesn’t cover you anymore in Europe, well for non-Danish people with a CPR card.” – Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 244 Comments
“Macau offers free health care coverage to all residents and all who hold work permits. This kicks in after about 3 months of living in Macau. The school helps facilitate private insurance until the government insurance starts up.” – The School of the Nations (Macao, China) – 20 Comments
“Health insurance is not the best. It only covers emergencies and specialist doctors, not a General Practitioner. I have been to the doctor here, and it was a good experience. Doctors were efficient and I got taken care of pretty quickly. I would advise asking people who have lived here a while, who to go to though.” – The Codrington School (Int’l School of Barbados) (St. John, Barbados) – 70 Commentscontinue reading
What reasons do parents think about when selecting a school for their children when they move abroad? Are they similar reasons for why teachers choose to work at an international school abroad as well? There are many different kinds of international schools and they are all in different situations. How important is finding out about how well the international school deals with disciplinary problems? It could be beneficial to ask these types of questions at your interview, before you make any big decisions to move or choose an international school at which to work. So, how do you choose the right international school for your children to attend or for you to work at? In this blog series, we will discuss the Tips for Selecting an International School.
Tip #9 – Does the school properly deal with disciplinary problems? Some international schools, unfortunately, are lax on discipline, and problem children and their disruptive behavior can adversely affect other children’s learning.
Parents and teachers have so many considerations to ponder when selecting an international school! Naturally, questions abound regarding the academics, the co-curricular and extra-curricular offerings, class size, accreditation, teacher quality, and the list goes on. So what about discipline?
Discipline is an essential element for children to experience school success. Without it, there is a compromised climate for learning that can eventually resemble chaos. No one wants their child to learn in that type of environment. Usually questions regarding school discipline policies and procedures can be answered by a school administrator or by reviewing the international school’s handbook and/or website. In most cases, parents and teachers will find the procedures school personnel follow and the resulting consequences for a litany of offenses. How well that is implemented will partially determine the effectiveness of discipline in that international school.
As schools create Mission statements that often include phrases like “preparing students for the 21st century” or “meaningful roles in society”…suggesting the inter-personal development of the student in addition to the academic excellence every parent and teacher expects, but they also need to ask for explanations of how that is accomplished in that international school setting.
This level of questioning brings us to a more complete cycle for discipline. The procedures discussed earlier are “partially effective” because they represent control from the outside in. Rules are written, procedures are outlined, and consequences are administered with varying levels of fidelity and consistency. That is the tricky part of traditional discipline programs—they can include judgment and some cases just are not as clear as others.
Given those facts, schools can expand their focus on discipline to include inner disciplinary development. This might be brought about through special Character Education programs that can be implemented or in the case of a religious school, certainly through a spiritual lens. This is what I call value-added discipline. It is transformational compared to traditional rules and consequences that are based on outside controls. International schools can function at a highly effective level when both approaches are in place. From this combined approach, children are doing several things that are life-changing:
• They are examining their own actions and taking responsibility.
• They discuss situations with a teacher, mentor, or adviser.
• They learn how to change/manage their own behavior.
• They develop a deeper appreciation and respect for others and their surroundings.
• They develop problem-solving strategies that transfer well for a lifetime.
• They come to know their own personalities and can work effectively with people they encounter.
Effective value-added discipline programs depend greatly on an investment in each child by a responsible adult, consistent mentoring, and positive connections between family and school. The rewards are beyond measure, however. When parents happen to discover this holistic approach to discipline, seize the opportunity! It is a jewel that shines for a lifetime.
This article was submitted by guest author and International School Community member: Mary Anne Hipp (contact her here – firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her Blogspot – http://mahipp.blogspot.com/)
On our website we have a related topic in the School Information section of each school profile page that discusses the issue of the students’ demeanor at each school. It is called “In general, describe the demeanor of the students.” Our members have submitted over 70 comments and information in this topic on a number of different international schools listed on our website. Here are just a few of the comments and information submitted in this topic:
“ISD is a primary school, with children ages 3-12. The school’s buddy program pairs the older children with the younger ones, so that the pre-k and kindergarten classes become very comfortable with the big kids. Since most of the children are expats, they are very friendly to newcomers and take changes (such as new students arriving and students leaving) in stride…”
– International School of Dublin (8 Comments)
“Whereas it cannot be described as a school for the gifted, DAS does have an exceptionally large number of gifted students. Whereas students with negative attitudes are definitely there – as everywhere – expat teachers regularly remark about their enjoyment of the teaching-learning process at DAS because of the eagerness of most of the students to learning…”
– Dhahran Ahliyya Schools (60 Comments)
“The students are students. Just like anywhere else you have some who are there to learn and some who are not. You have some that you have a rapport with and some you do not. In general these are funny kids who like to tease and like to get to know you as a person and as a teacher. And just like any kids, in the beginning they will test you to see what you are made of. Stay strong, don’t let them see you sweat and you will be fine…”
– Colegio Granadino Manizales (43 Comments)
“Pretty good for the most part, although overall respect and tradition of bowing was going out the window. Some cheating on homework and other areas. Very humorous and fun to teach, save for a few small groups who needed to be expelled for cheating, threatening teachers to try to change a grade, setting fires in the bathrooms, smoking, swearing, skipping school, hiding in the wedding hall to sleep, going over to the dark gym to snog and make out, sneaking in beer during school events, stealing school property…etc. Most of these violations were done by a small group of boys and girls who must have had special status with the school or principal…”
– Indianhead International School (14 Comments)
“They are pretty rich and spoiled, mostly. Their priorities include shopping, partying and traveling. Studying might be next, but most students don’t stay for more than one or two years. The students I enjoyed the most were either in the dorm I was responsible for or on yearbook staff (which was also my responsibility)…”
– TASIS The American School in Switzerland (29 Comments)
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