Comparing the Schools and Comments

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Guatemala

June 28, 2020


Around the world, there are countries (like Guatemala) that have more than one international school. Many times there is an American school, a British School, and an international school that uses an international curriculum.

The big question always is…how do the comments about each school compare to each other?

This blog series looks at comparing some of these comments, all coming from international schools in the same country.

Guatemala

Currently, we have 8 schools listed in Guatemala on International School Community.

6 of these schools have had comments submitted on them. Here are some that have the most submitted comments:

American School of Guatemala (47 Total Comments)
Antigua International School Guatemala (14 Total Comments)
Colegio Interamericano de Guatemala (124 Total Comments)
Han Al American School (11 Total Comments)
The American International School of Guatemala (Colegio Maya) (75 Total Comments)

Amount of Money Left to be Saved

“If you are very frugal or share an apartment you can save money. If you have debt or loans to make payments on, you will likely not save any…” – The American International School of Guatemala (Colegio Maya)

“After you have been there a couple of years you get extra bonuses which help with saving money. Most teachers save between 5 and 10k…” – Colegio Interamericano de Guatemala

“Because my experience was minimal at the time I made $1,500 a month. I was able to save $500 a month…” – Antigua International School Guatemala

School Campus

“Building is old but in working order. Reparations are done in a timely manner. Pre-K classrooms are recently renovated, plans to renovate all classrooms in the future. Class sizes are standard. Teachers are mostly from North America…” – American School of Guatemala

“The school campus is basically small, but cozy too. There are four buildings where classes are held…” – Han Al American School

“The school is located on the outskirts of Guatemala City. The campus is on a steep site that goes uphill from the carpark at the bottom to the elementary school at the top. There is a lovely nature-scape play area, primarily for use by the elementary school, at the top of the campus. There are also plans in place for a new “Innovation Hub”, which will then allow the school to relocate Middle School classrooms and provide more space for project-based learning…” – The American International School of Guatemala (Colegio Maya)

Housing Information

“There was no housing allowance provided by the school…” – Antigua International School Guatemala

“$300/month housing allowance…” – Han Al American School

“The school provides gorgeous apartments which are usually 2 bedrooms 2 bath got a single teacher. The apartment standard is high with many teachers commenting on how great their place is…” – Colegio Interamericano de Guatemala

Pension Plan Details

“Your first year, the school will match a measly 2% of your salary. Your second year, 3%. This continues to a maximum of 5%. Plan is through Raymond James…” – The American International School of Guatemala (Colegio Maya)

“No pension provided, teachers are expected to save from their salary and use the gratuity at the end which is one money salary per year worked…” – Colegio Interamericano de Guatemala

Are the Expectations High of Teaching Staff?

“As a bi-lingual school, foreign staff members in elementary/early childhood have a large amount of planning because their Guatemalan counterparts teach for approx. 1/3 of the day. Some of this time is spent in mandatory meetings, some is self-directed planning time. Middle and high school teachers have more than adequate planning time…” – American School of Guatemala

“The staff had to have a club each term. It could be an academic, sport or art club…” – Antigua International School Guatemala

“Extra curricular responsibilities are minimal especially when comparing with other schools. MS teachers and HS teachers don’t really do extra-curricular, and the ones who do seem to always be the same few individuals taking on that responsibility…” – Colegio Interamericano de Guatemala

(These are just 5 of the 66 different comments topics that are on each school profile page on our website.)

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New Teacher Orientation Must-Haves

New Teacher Orientation Must-Haves at International Schools: A sit-down with an admin to go over each part of your contract

April 24, 2015


In this blog series we will talk about the ins and outs of an excellent new teacher orientation programme at an international school.  A new teacher orientation programme can really play a very important part to the start at your new school, in your new host country.  What are all the must-haves then?  Check out our blog series here to read all about the ones that we have discussed so far.

Must-have #14: A sit-down with an admin to go over each part of your contract

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Contract details can be easily overlooked. They are not overlooked because you are not interested in them (because of course you want to know ALL the details when you are in the initial stages after being offered a contract), but because there are too many fine details to fully understand everything you see.

Contracts can also be easily misunderstood. Maybe you already “read” the contract, but it would be safe to say that you would not completely understand everything you “read”.  International school teaching contracts definitely contain parts that are using language you may not be familiar with. If it contains parts that are specific to the rules/laws of the host country, then it is very possible that you might not be so familiar with that jargon in terms of what a certain part is really trying to say.

Another reason that contract details could be easily overlooked is that you also might be looking at the contract with rose-colored glasses; meaning you are just focused on the more positive aspects of the contract instead of the parts that might actually give you cause for concern.

There might even be additional things that are NOT on your contract that you are entitled to. For example, in Denmark you are entitled to take off a certain number of days to be with your children, but it might not necessarily be spelled-out for you in the contract. Good idea to ask around or have an admin tell you about these entitlements straight away during new teacher orientation.

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So, if an admin did sit you down and went through your contract sometime during the new-teacher orientation, it would be nice if they went over the follow parts:

Duties and responsibilities – Making it clear what you need to do is exactly what all new teachers want to know. Sounds simple, but they can be easily forgotten to be explicitly explained to you. Admin might think the duties and responsibilities that you will have will be implied or learned about by talking with your colleagues.  Of course, if that is the case, new teachers often find themselves just learning about these things last-minute!  Also, it is good to know up front what is required of you so that you don’t feel obligated to do the extra things an admin might ask of you.

School year and work day – It is important to know how many work days that you in the year; well you can look at the school calendar for that.  But what about what is required of you for each day of the week?  Maybe you need to arrive 30 minutes before school starts and 30 minutes after school ends.  Some days you might be required to stay longer for meetings, which days are those?  Are the meetings optional? Some international schools are doing that now.  All important details to know before you get caught not following those rules.

Workload – How nice to sit down with somebody who can give you an honest picture about how much you will be expected to work. How many reports will you need to write each year and how often will they be sent out to parents?  Even more important is how do the reports look like?  Writing multiple reports in a year definitely increases your workload.  The admin could also give you an honest picture of how much the other teachers are putting in extra hours.

Other parts of the contract you would most likely want to discuss with your admin are salary, retirement, housing benefitssettling-in allowance, insurance, curriculum duties, etc.

So, does your international school set up a time for your to thoroughly discuss each part of your contract?  Please share your experiences!

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Luckily on International School Community we have a new comment topic that specifically addresses this issue of getting reimbursed.  It is called: Details about the teaching contract. What important things should prospective teachers know about?

We have 23 comments so far in this topic on our website since it is so new. Here are just a couple of those comments:

“Read your contract carefully. do not sign an unsigned contract. contracts signed by the teachers have been changed and then signed by the owner. If you have issues with the owner his first and only reaction is to tell you to take him to court where he will happily drag the case out to cost you a lot of money.” – 
Makuhari International School (Tokyo, Japan)23 Comments

“They reserve the right to interpret, change, manipulate dates, avoid transparency when dealing with staff regarding their contracts. A teacher that recently left at the start of the year discovered there were several things in the contract that actually conflicted with Japanese labor law. Fortunately for them, they consulted with an attorney and were able to avoid paying a one month penalty for leaving on short notice. By the way they left because they lost several thousands of dollars due to mistakes the school made regarding visas that they were unwilling to rectify.” – Seisen International School (Tokyo, Japan)51 Comments

If you currently work at an international school or have worked at one in the recent past, share the information and details about the contract that you have at your school. You can find easy access to all international schools on our Schools List page.

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We also have a useful Comment Search page. Using a keyword search of ‘Contract‘, we found 160 comments.  Here are a few comments from those results:

“This has changed a LOT. Flight in and out at the end of contract. No mid-contract flights. No settling-in allowance; it is a repayable loan. Lunch is free.” – Phuket International Academy (Phuket, Thailand)43 Comments

“The school will help with negotiating a contract if you don’t read Spanish. Your apartment will either come with a phone or you’ll use your cell phone. Cell service is cheap, usually less than $15 US a month, data plans cost more. Be careful with smart phones because they are easily stolen.” – The American International School of Guatemala (Colegio Maya) (Guatemala City, Guatemala)40 Comments

“Airfare for initial contract to Panama and departing flight for end of contract(typical initial contract 2 years). When renewing contract “home leave” flight per yearly renewal as well as renewal bonus. You can also ask for the funds from your annual ticket so you can use towards the “summer” travel you wish.  Settling in money of $1000 (all), moving allowance between $500 (single) and $750 (dependents/family). When leaving said to also get some “departing” relocation money, your “retirement fund” of 1.5% annual salary school sets aside for you per Panama Law, and money for your airfare if wishing to buy your own ticket.” – International School Panama (Panama City, Panama)38 Comments

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Surveys

New Survey: How many people are leaving your international school at the end of this school year?

March 8, 2015


A new survey has arrived!

Topic:  How many people are leaving your international school at the end of this school year?

Screenshot 2015-03-08 21.57.33It is always a mix of emotions when you or your colleagues are leaving the school. Change is good, but change can be hard.  It is not the best feeling in the world to find out one of your closest colleagues is leaving. On the flip side, you might be elated to hear that a certain annoying colleagues is leaving as well!

There are many reasons why teachers leave their current international school. Maybe they have come to the conclusion that the benefits are just too low for the lifestyle that they want to live.  If you are worrying too much about money, it might be time to move on to another international school.

Teachers also might be leaving because the international school that they are at is going in a direction that does not make sense for their career anymore. A new director might have started this year and is making too many changes to the school that you just don’t agree with.

There are many, many more reasons teachers decide to leave.

International schools know that teachers come and go for a variety of reasons, but it’s true that they don’t want too many people leaving at once.  It could give a bad reputation to the school, having so many staff leaving at once.  It could also cost the school a fair amount of money trying to recruit and replace the teachers who are leaving. If you need to recruit for so many people, it is also possible that the school won’t find that many quality candidates.

But, many international schools go through cycles of low and high turnover rates.  It is pretty normal.  The best international schools just know how to deal with those cycles in the best ways.

Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today on How many people are leaving your international school at the end of this school year?

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: Describe what kinds of teachers work here (local vs. expat, nationality, qualifications [or lack there of], etc.) and staff turnover rate.

Right now there are over 670 individual comments (about 100s of different international schools) in this comment topic on our website.  Here are a few of them:

“Spanish teachers are Guatemalan, most other teachers are from North America. Turnover varies with most renewing their contract at least once. Large percentage of teachers have a masters and there are local opportunities to work towards a masters at a reduced cost.” – The American International School of Guatemala (Colegio Maya) (Guatemala City, Guatemala)– 40 Comments

“All teaching staff are fully qualified. Most are British, with some Australians, South Africans and Filipina. turnover is high. Last year 40% left. Most leave due to the lowish salary rather than because they are unhappy with the school.” – Rasami (Thai-British) International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 17 Comments

“There seem to be a lot of Australian, Canadian, British and American teachers. A few New Zealanders, too. In all grades up to Grade 2 there are local assistants in each class. From talking to the teachers here, there is a turnover of staff, but it’s not huge. People seem to be pretty happy with the school.” – NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 65 Comments

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