What Expats Must Endure

Chasing our Dream School!!

August 9, 2021


As international teachers, we all left our home country for a reason. The motivations to become an international teacher are varied. Some of us wanted the adventure of seeing the world before its gone.

Others fell in love with a foreigner, started a family, and became an “international” teacher in name only. Others had so much personal debt, that if we worked in our home country, we might be debt-free before we retired. Or maybe we just wanted to be respected in our profession, and we wanted to live in a place where it was still safe for our kids to play ball games on the street in front of our houses. The motivations for international teaching are varied, but all of us are in some way or another. We are not just chasing our dream school, we’re searching for our new home.

           We have all sat down with a recruiter or a Head of School, and listened to their sales pitch on why their school is “THE DREAM SCHOOL”. Unfortunately, 9 times out of 10, it ends up being an illusion. As an international teacher we must endure a lot; we pick up our lives, move two countries over, and settle in for a few years before repeating the cycle. Upon each new recruiting cycle, we hope that we have gained enough experience to finally get into the coveted Tier 1 international school, and that will be our “DREAM SCHOOL”.

           But what do we and our families have to endure along the way? Over my last 10 years of international teaching, I experienced a school that hired and fired six principals in six months. Upon landing in that new country, Principal #7 informed us that all our contracts would have to be renegotiated. Our passports were then taken for “processing” and escorted to our new school compound and prevented from leaving for 13 weeks…”for our own safety”. The school was subsequently banned from ISS and Search Associates, had a 100% turnover of teachers two years in a row, but still received its full IB certification. After everything we had endured, we were escorted to the airport, given a large bundle of cash, and told to not bother applying for jobs in this country again. We took our bag of silver, shook our heads, and left happily.

            International teaching is a balance between precarity and privilege. We accept the unknown and unstable working environment for the promise of a salary and lifestyle we could never have in our home country. When we are young and single, this is a great deal. But as we grow older, and have families, we start to look for more stability. Any international teacher who watched their once happy and thriving child leave a school they love, and then come home crying every day from their new school, understands the guilt and sadness it causes.

            Recruiters and Heads of School are playing a finite game. Their focus is on hiring for this year and getting the best teacher they can into the classroom for this year. Most international teachers only last 2 years in a school anyway, so the “right fit” turns into the “right-now fit”.  As an international teacher, what I have endured is nothing compared to what my family has endured. As I complete another contract and listen to another sales pitch, I am not chasing my DREAM SCHOOL, I’m searching for a home. I’m searching for a school that understands, if you take care of my family, I’ll renew my contract (time and time again). I’m searching for a school that understands, there are no such things as a dream school. We are searching for a school that aligns with our values, prioritizes family, and treats us like a member of the community, and not just a 2-year rental. That is my “DREAM SCHOOL”.

This article was submitted by an ISC member and veteran international school teacher. If you are interested in being a guest author on our blog, please contact us here.

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Top 10 Lists

11 International Schools that have a Good Work-Life Balance

May 2, 2021


Nobody wants to be worked to the bone. And then not have any time to enjoy life outside of work.

Many of us left our home countries to escape being worked too much at our home country schools.

Teachers want to do their best and have time, inspiration and encouragement to do just that.

Just like the schools located in your home country, there is also a wide range of work-life balance situations at international schools.

Sometimes the work-life balance is affected by the norms of the host country’s laws and culture. Other times it is more influenced by the school itself and its admin.

But luckily, there are some international schools out there striving to have the best possible work-life balance for their teachers. As they say, teachers are more able to keep their focus and do their best if they are not so stressed at work.

So which international schools then have some good work-life balance conditions? Can you guess which countries/schools around the world would make for the best conditions for a good work-life balance?

Luckily, ISC was designed to help international school teachers find the information they are looking for. Using the Comment Search feature (premium membership needed), we found 30 comments that had the keyword “Life balance” in them. Here are 11 of them:

Sudan

“There is a good work-life balance at the school. Teachers are required to lead an after school activity (1 hour/8 weeks) each semester…” – Khartoum American School (44 total comments)

Thailand

“Expectations are high and teachers work hard. There is very reasonable non-contact time and staff gets paid if they do extracurricular activities. The workload is not excessive and there is a good work/life balance…” – Lanna International School (LIST) (18 total comments)

Germany

“The expectation of quality is very high, but this is reflected in giving ample prep-time. One can also request a “retreat” morning/afternoon/day if you would like to spend some extra time planning with a team. I find this to be one of the best places for work/life balance, without sacrificing quality…” – International School Hannover Region (38 total comments)

Jordan

“Reasons to stay:
– Amman is pretty easy to live in – most things are available in stores
– The staff is a lot of fun and friendly and enjoyable to work and play with
– Jordan has a lot of amazing things to see and do, especially if you enjoy an outdoor life
– The school program is strong but the expectations on staff are realistic
– The school values a healthy work-life balance, there is not a workaholic mentality here…” – American Community School (Amman) (55 total comments)

Norway

“It is a great place to work at and the work-life balance is good too…” – Norlights International School Oslo (122 total comments)

Qatar

“In general people stay because they feel supported, welcome and have a good quality of work/life balance…” – The English Modern School (Doha) (99 total comments)

Vietnam

“There are pros and cons but I think it depends on what you value. If you want a good work-life balance you can find that here. You don’t need to bring work home with you once you are established. The school also has great kids and the lack of structure means you have a lot of creative freedom…” – The Canadian International School Vietnam (147 total comments)

Taiwan

“KAS is the best international school in Kaohsiung as far as school resources, work/life balance, collegiality among staff, pay, vacation time, and students who work hard. As of yet, it is not the best in Taiwan (those would probably be TAS or TES in Taipei), but it’s working towards it…” – Kaohsiung American School (43 total comments)

Ivory Coast

“There is a good work-life balance at the school. Teachers are required to lead an after school activity 2 out of 3 trimesters…” – International Community School of Abidjan (68 total comments)

Denmark

“There are many couples at our school, mainly young couples that are actively having children. There are so many staff having children each year! It is a great place to have children because of the long maternity and paternity leave, etc. What I’m trying to say is that if you are a couple and want to work at our school, it is a great match because couples really enjoy their work/life balance here…” – Copenhagen International School (391 total comments)

Philippines

“There is a lot of work, but everyone can maintain their work-life balance. The school is supportive of on-campus wellness activities before and after school…” – International School Manila (110 total comments)

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Photo Contests

Photo Contest: Best Photo of You in Front of your School Campus

April 11, 2021


Many of us are back teaching on our school campus after many, many months (years?) of teaching remotely.

For many of us, we are quite happy to be back on campus. Most students are also very happy that they can see their friends again and their teachers. Let’s not forget the parents as well, as it was a big challenge to work at home and also help their kids do their lessons.

Our school buildings play a very important part of the whole school community. It brings us all together to learn under one building/campus.

It is also very interesting to check out the different kinds of international school buildings around the world. Some of very modern and new and others might be housed in old buildings that have been repurposed.

At ISC, we are really curious to see where our members are working (and what their buildings look like) as we move back to teaching on campus. The next time you go to work this coming week, take a picture with your smartphone of you in front of your school building. We’ll have a vote and then chose the top 3 photos that are the most interesting to win the photo contest prizes!

So, what is your best of you in front of your school building/campus? Submit your photo to us and enter our photo contest! All participants receive free premium membership to our website!

Photo contest topic:
Best Photo of You in Front of your School Campus

The PRIZES:
1st prize: 2 YEARS FREE of premium membership
2nd prize: 1 YEAR FREE of premium membership
3rd prize: 6 MONTHS FREE of premium membership

(Those submissions that are not in the top three will receive 1 free week of premium membership just for participating.)

Send your photo to editor @ internationalschoolcommunity.com. Please remember to:

• Write your name and email address
• Attach your picture and write a short description about it
• Enter these words in your subject: International School Community Photo Contest Entry: Best Photo of You in Front of your School Campus

or

Tweet the photo and mention our profile @IS_Community to make sure we will see it. If you are on Instagram, tag us when you post the photo and/or use the official hashtag #iscommunityphoto

(Deadline to submit your photo: Saturday, 24 April, 2021. Maximum one photo entry per contestant.) Winners will be connected/announced by 1 May, 2021 and that is also when all participants will receive their free premium membership prizes.

Check out our previous Photo Contests here.

Photo credits: Pixabay

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Information for Members

Top 40 International Schools with the Most ISC Members (UPDATE)

December 6, 2020


How many times have you applied to a school wishing that you knew somebody that worked there?

Knowing somebody and getting the ‘inside scoop’ on an international school could definitely help you in your quest to set up an interview there.

At International School Community, we made that search for ‘informed people’ even easier with our Top 40 Schools with the Most Members page.

Currently, our top 40 international schools with the most members are (6 December 2020):

30 members – American International School in Egypt

24 members – Copenhagen International School
24 members – Western International School of Shanghai
22 members International School of Kuala Lumpur
22 members – International School Manila
21 members – MEF International School Istanbul
19 members – International School of Tanganyika
19 members – Jakarta Intercultural School

19 members – Seoul Foreign School
19 members – Seoul International School
18 members – Fairview International School
18 members – Brent International School Manila
17 members – Graded School Sao Paulo
17 members – Shanghai United International School (Hongqiao)
16 members – American School Foundation of Mexico City

17 members – International School Bangkok
17 members – Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Astana
17 members – Shanghai Community International School
16 members – American School of Barcelona
16 membersGood Shepherd International School
16 members – Cairo American College
16 members – American International School of Johannesburg
16 members – United Nations International School (Vietnam)
16 membersInternational School Dhaka

16 members – Qatar Academy (Doha)
15 members – Istanbul International Community School
15 members – Singapore American School
15 members NIST International School
15 membersAmerican International School Dhaka
15 membersSuzhou Singapore International School
15 members – American School of Dubai
14 membersInternational School of Phnom Penh (ISPP)
14 members – KIS International School (Bangkok)

14 members – Yokohama International School
14 members – Hong Kong International School
14 members – International School Panama
14 members – International School Beijing
14 membersWestern Academy of Beijing
14 membersAmerican International School (Vietnam)
14 members – Shanghai American School – Pudong

With 100-200 new members joining each month, this list will continue to grow and grow; with even more members showing up as potential people to network with.

It is simple to network on our website: just click on a member and then click on the ‘Contact this member’ button (premium member feature).  Then write him/her a message.  When your message is sent, the other member will get an email alert letting them know that they have a new message waiting for them on our website (so, hopefully he/she will get back to you in a timely manner!). Numerous International School Community members have already taken advantage of this unique feature on our website!

international schools

As far as we know, International School Community is the one of the only websites where you can quickly and easily network with real people at a specific international school.  Meaning, if you want to get in touch with somebody from Suzhou Singapore International School in China and you are currently a premium member of International School Community, you now have 15 members that you can contact on our website that either work there now or have worked there in the past.  Get the answers to your questions; now that is easy networking!

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Information for Members

Black Friday Promo: 30% off Premium Subscriptions!

November 24, 2020


It is a time of celebration for International School Community as we now soooo close in having 20000 members on our website….and it is Black Friday!

To celebrate our almost 19900+ members and Black Friday, all members can get 30% off of all premium membership subscriptions from 25 Nov – 30 Nov, 2020 (ending 23:59 PST on 30 Nov, 2020).

The 30% off coupon code is: BLKFRI30P

Even if you are a member with Premium Membership already right now, you can still add more premium membership during this Black Friday promotion. Just login to our website and go to the Manage Subscription page, choose the membership option that you’d like and then enter this coupon code (BLKFRI30P)Next click on the Make a Payment button to pay either with your PayPal account or without logging in to PayPal and just paying with your credit card.

Once you have premium membership access, please take this time to submit some comments on the schools you know about on our website. For every 10 comments you submit, your account will automatically be updated with one free month of premium membership. There is no limit, too. So if you submit 40 comments, then you will get four months of premium membership added to your account for free!

International School Community’s website launched back in February 2011.  When our first newsletter came out in May 2011, we only had 49 members!  On average, we have been getting over 300-400 people signing up to become new members each month.  We hope this trend continues!  The more members we have, the more people you have to network with.

International School Community’s goal is to be the largest online community for international school educators.  Our website provides a useful, informative and celebratory environment for networking with other international school teachers and learning about different international schools around the world.

We created a website that would highlight the ins and outs of working at international schools (the benefits, the school itself, the city and travel information, etc.).

Another major goal for this website is to provide experienced teachers the platform to share what they know so that prospective and seasoned international school teachers can make more informed decisions as they venture out to a new international school.  Making connections and gathering information about international schools in our community has never been easier!  Whether you are looking to make new friends, network with other international school teachers or learn more about the wonderful world of teaching at international schools, International School Community is the place to be.

We want members to provide real information that is specific; information that is related to all the different topics we need to know about before signing a contract. International School Community offers up-to-date information in a highly organized, easy-to-use manner.

You can search our vast collection of international school profile pages to find that specific international school you want to know about. You can also search our member profiles and be able to find a contact to send a private message to so that you can get firsthand information about a school that member has worked at.

We also offer a vast amount of information and links related to the world of teaching at international schools and education in general via our blog.

While the focus of the site is to serve the international school teaching community by providing real and useful information about international schools, we have specifically organized our website to promote our members to leave comments and information that are useful for everyone.  Enjoy being an active member on our website!

We strive to have the largest collection of resources and services for the international teaching community.  International School Community really wants to take writing reviews and comments about international schools to the next level.

Here are what some of our current members are saying about International School Community:

“It’s really useful…it’s a really good way to find out practical info about schools when you’re looking for jobs. If you are interested in particular schools, you can just contact any member from that school to find out insider info! It’s also good if you just want to find out what life is like for teachers in other cities! Really unique idea!” (An international teacher in China)

“International School Community is a great resource for international school teachers. Whether you are doing research for a new job, or just connecting with other teachers, this site is has a plethora of great information. I especially love that this site has a positive feel to it, rather than a place for teachers to vent. I really recommend registering to be a part of this great idea.” (An international teacher in South Korea)

“You have an amazingly wonderful website and seeing these comments is extremely helpful to me.” (A teacher looking to teach abroad at international schools)

“I am very impressed for a website to take the time to do this. You have a great resource that I certainly could have used when I first set off overseas teaching in 1998!! The site works well and it is nice to get a good background on almost every school I’d wish to work in. You are doing a fantastic job with your website, keep it up!” (A veteran international school teacher)

“I truly love being an international educator and researching and comparing schools, as well as discovering great schools that aren’t as well-known. I am grateful for ISC having a platform that makes it all so easy.” (Another veteran international school teacher)

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