Since we started our website back in February 2011, we have had a total of 35 member spotlight articles highlighted on our blog. Thanks to all 35 members who have participated so far!
Learning more about our fellow international school teachers can be very enlightening, inspiring and also quite interesting!
Who were the 35 members that have been our members spotlights so far you ask? Well they haven’t all been teachers, some have held other positions either in a school setting or in a field of eduction with also a connection to international schools. Others had prior experience working in international schools. Here is the breakdown of what job titles they have:
International School Teachers: 25
Staff Development Coordinator: 1
International school directors: 4
Curriculum coordinator: 1
Veteran international school teacher: 1
International School Consultant: 1
Members of an international school board of directors: 1
There are 6 parts to the questionnaire that all member spotlights fill out:
• Tell us about your background. Where are you from?
• How did you get started in the international teaching community?
• Which international schools have you worked at? Please share some aspects of the schools that made them unique and fun places in which to work.
• Describe your latest cultural encounter (or reverse cultural encounter) in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.
• What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?
• In exactly five words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?
It is pretty amazing the amount of experience and useful information that our member spotlights have provided in their answers to these six parts.
So, how did all of our members answer this part of the questionnaire: In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?
• Living life full of energy
• Culturally enriching, questioning true internationalism.
• Beautiful, soul satisfying, enriching, enlightening and delightful.
• Eye-opening, educational, humbling, challenging, fulfilling.
• Successfully making a positive difference!
• truly rewarding challenging and capability enhancing.
• Discovery. Rewarding. Engaging. Relationships. Awesome.
• Opportunity for growth, an eye opener.
• Exciting, inspiring, educating, challenging and fulfilling.
• Adventure, culture, education, difference, satisfaction.
• Open-minded, Professional, Dedicated, Discovery, Fun
• Transforming, Exciting, Challenging, Embracing, Engaging
• Make the best of it.
• Challenging, enriching, frustrating, reflective, confirming
• Exciting adventure of a lifetime!
• Fantastic Educational Humbling Expanding Gratifying
• The job of a lifetime.
• Challenging, invigorating, demanding, breathtaking , fun!
• Hard work, but immensely rewarding.
• Stimulating, unpredictable, addictive, inspiring, challenging.
• Fascinating, exciting, lucrative, wide-ranging and addictive!
• Eye opening, cultural, well paid, opportunity, life changing.
• Exciting, interesting, enlightening, educational and unique.
• 1. Rewarding 2. Different 3. Adventurous 4. Dynamic 5. Unpredictable
• Full of variety, rewarding, challenging.
• Rewarding, eye-opening, fun, flexible, and ADDICTIVE
• The opportunity of a lifetime.
• Lifelong learning at its finest!
• Rejuvenating, Creative, Innovative, Culturally Rich
• The novelty never wears off!
• Exhilarating, Challenging, Adventurous, Broadening, Inspiring
• Enriching, adventurous, challenging, rewarding, limitless.
• Exciting, fun, new friends, challenges!
These 35 members have a wealth of knowledge about working at a number of international schools. Maybe you have worked at an international school that they have worked at as well?! Here are just a few of the schools that they either currently work at now or have worked at in the past:
• Cebu International School – 7 Comments
• Xiamen International School (Xiamen, China) – 25 Comments
• Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 222 Comments
• Benjamin Franklin Int’l School (Barcelona, Spain) – 66 Comments
• Universal American School in Dubai (Dubai, United Arab Emirates) – 17 Comments
• Thai-Chinese Int’l School Bangkok – 21 Comments
• American International School in Egypt – 62 Comments
• International School of Tanganyika – 145 Comments
• Mahatma Gandhi International School – 3 Comments
• British Early Years Centre (Bangkok, Thailand) – 10 Comments
• American School Madrid (Madrid, Spain) – 54 Comments
• Frankfurt International School & Wiesbaden (Frankfurt, Germany) – 13 Comments
• Albanian International School (Tirana, Albania) – 19 Comments
• British International School Moscow (Moscow, Russia) – 11 Comments
• Stamford American International School (Singapore, Singapore) – 47 Comments
Thanks again to everyone who has participated in the Member Spotlight feature on our blog so far.
If you are a member of International School Community and would like to be our next member spotlight, contact us here at editor @ internationalschoolcommunity.com. All highlighted members receive 1 free year of premium access to our website!continue reading
“Morale and attitude are fundamentals to success.”
― Bud Wilkinson
A school can be a complicated place. There aren’t many jobs where you surround yourself with hundreds of children every day!
But like any other place of “business”, a school needs to have a think about how they will keep their staff feeling good about where they work and how they are doing their job. We all know that teaching can, at times, be quite stressful on the teachers.
When you are feeling good about your workplace and job performance, everyone benefits; namely the students, but also your colleagues and bosses. But when teachers are stressed out and with a low morale about working at their school, typically nobody benefits.
You can, of course, be with high spirits on your own doing. But it is important to feel valued by the whole school community as that plays a factor as well. Feeling like you are part of a team can help you stay positive and optimistic at your school.
What, then, do international schools do to make sure their staff is feeling valued?
International School Community is full of thousands of useful and informative comments…16780 (24 Apr. 2016) to be exact. We scoured our database of comments, and we found nine that stood out to us as being some of the coolest ways to show appreciation and boost staff morale.
9. Khartoum International Community School (Khartoum, Sudan) – 65 Total Comments
“The school administration does a lot to make life easy for expats. They have put systems in place that make it very easy to live here and feel looked after. Along with the board they also put on big social events for teachers and staff at least once a semester (start of year / xmas party / end of year etc). There is a social committee as well which has organised coffee afternoons, Nile boat trips, picnics and so on. Truth to say the morale in the Senior Section has dipped in recent years but many of those who were not happy have now left so we are all hoping that things will now improve. Morale across the rest of the school is great.”
8. Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 202 Total Comments
“Welcome back brunch and lots of staff socials. Set up a Social Committee to feedback ideas to Director on all aspects of school. Director regularly thanks and acknowledges staff through e-mail and meetings. There have been 3 cases of surprise bonus’ paid to all staff as a thanks.”
7. Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 282 Total Comments
“One way to create some “social capital” at our school year this was to have a whole-staff scavenger hunt the first day back. It was VERY well received, and everyone had a great time. There were like 30 teams of 5-6 people and we all went around the city to collect items and/or take pictures of certain things, all for various amounts of points. Super fun! It was all organized by teachers actually.”
6. Yew Chung International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China) – 27 Total Comments
“There is a social committee at this school and they arrange different activities for the teachers. Like one night could be bowling or everyone meet at a bar. The group tries to do something every month. A lot of people participate. There was also a karaoke night and laser tag.”
5. Kampala International School (Kampala, Uganda) – 50 Total Comments
“At the beginning of each school year, we go to a resort for an overnight training and social. There is a PD during the day, evening there is dinner and a band. The next more there is breakfast and maybe go for a swim in the pool. There has been training in from people abroad. Last year, it was somebody with pivotal education, Darryll.”
4. American School of Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain) – 157 Total Comments
“There was a social committee in place for a couple of years, but it was a volunteer position and the demands of it weren’t worth the time anymore. There is an HR person in place now who has set up a wine tasting and other events for staff. The staff tends to socialize quite a bit outside of school, even with kids! The school puts on holiday parties and festive lunches around holidays, though not extravagant, most of the food-drinks are free.”
3. Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia) – 66 Total Comments
“The school has a health and wellness program where a lot of teachers connect and exercise together. Also, the PTO regularly hosts cocktail events after school. Plus there are scheduled tours and cultural events.”
2. Hiroshima International School (Hiroshima, Japan) – 64 Total Comments
“Christmas and end of year staff parties. It is also traditional to bring “omiyage” gifts (cookies and other small snacks) from teachers who have attended a conference or tournament elsewhere in Japan.”
1. KIS International School (Bangkok) (Bangkok, Thailand) – 70 Total Comments
“There are a lot of teacher and admin getaways as well as plenty of room for professional development. The management goes out of its way to answer questions before issues come up, and western holidays are recognized with food and decorations from home.”
If you would like to share what your school does to create a high staff morale, log in to International School Community and submit your comments. For every 10 submitted comments, you will get one month of free premium membership added to your account!continue reading
Around the world, there are cities 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.
Some cities though have MANY international schools! When that is the case, how do the comments about each school compare to each other?
Our new blog series will look at comparing some of these comments, all coming from international schools in the same city.
Currently, we have 25 schools listed in Shanghai on International School Community.
Schools with the most submitted comments:
Yew Chung International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China) – 50 Comments
Shanghai Community International School (Shanghai, China) – 33 Comments
Shanghai American School – Puxi (Shanghai, China) – 18 Comments
Concordia International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China) – 37 Comments
British International School Shanghai – Puxi (Shanghai, China) – 25 Comments
Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 146 Comments
“You can expect to make 16000 RMB a month after taxes.” – Singapore International School (Shanghai)
“Base pay for teachers with 3 or more yrs of experience is between $32,000 and $39,000 (tax-free). Entry level is a little bit lower at $26,000-$32,000.” – Shanghai Community International School
“I would say that teachers NET is around 21000 – this must be dependent on teaching experience etc” – Shanghai United International School
“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.” – Western International School of Shanghai
“Teachers need to have at least two years of teaching experience in order to be considered.” – Concordia International School (Shanghai)
“WISS starts recruiting early but is very fair to its teachers. Those who “may” leave have their position advertised and only have to make a final decision when someone has been found as a replacement.” – Western International School of Shanghai
“They rely a lot on hiring people who are recommended by current employees. You still go through the interview process, etc. My initial contact to the school was through a connection I had to somebody already working here.” – Yew Chung International School (Shanghai)
“They attend Search Associates in January. They advertise in TES and through Teachanywhere.com. They interview in person or via Skype.” – British International School Shanghai – Pudong
Recent things the school has taken on
“A few years ago, the school decided it was important to do open houses (like other international schools in Shanghai) and that added a lot more work for the teachers. But hopefully they discontinued that this year.” – Yew Chung International School (Shanghai)
“The school is now implementing ‘high performance learning’ initiative which is being implemented across all the Nord Anglia Schools” – British International School Shanghai – Puxi
“There were many accomplishments from staff and students. It is amazing how many different areas were top notch: Sports, drama department, music program, Chinese language and much more.” – Shanghai Community International School
“Furnished 2-bedroom for single & married teachers, not sure about families. Furnished means basic furnishings including TV, sofa, dining table & chairs, beds & bedding, bath linens, kitchen appliances, & basic cooking utensils & dishes. After one year, staff can opt to take housing allowance instead of school housing. Most people are satisfied with housing overall, although sometimes it takes several “reminders” for repairs or service requests in school apts. Utility costs vary but are fairly cheap. My average for electricity, gas, & water is 100-200 RMB per month. Internet is 1,400 RMB per year. Mobile phone depends on plan/amount of data.” – Yew Chung International School (Shanghai)
“Housing is provided by WISS for the 1st year. Teachers can decide for themselves for subsequent years whether they want to stay in the provided accommodation or find their own place.” – Western International School of Shanghai
“Hosing allowance provided but most staff pay a bit more out of their own pocket to live in more desirable areas Staff can chose to stay in school housing” – British International School Shanghai – Puxi
(These are just 4 of the 65 different comments topics that on each school profile page on our website.)
If you work at an international school in Shanghai, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited premium membership!continue reading
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 #13: Learning how to get reimbursed and meeting the business office staff
It takes so much money to move yourself from one place to another. Now add in the fact that you are shipping boxes and whatnot half way across the world, and the cost just gets higher and higher. Many times, international school teachers need to pay for these shipping costs upfront. Hopefully you are getting an relocation allowance (not all international school offer this though) as there are also many other things that you will need to pay for upfront (e.g. the flight, extra baggage, visa costs, etc.). It is a tough time financially, that’s for sure.
When you finally get to your new school in your new country, you almost want to make a beeline to the business office to immediately get some of your money back! It is not that easy though at a number of international schools. Helping new teachers get reimbursed should be as easy as pie, but at For-profit schools (for example), it can take a loooong time and much paperwork to get your money back.
There are two ways to get reimbursed at an international school: the easy way and the hard way.
The easy way of course is the preferred way. You go in, hand in a receipt/reimbursement form, and then you either get paid right there in the local currency (e.g. cash) or they make a bank transfer that is made to your local bank account and you either receive that money that same day or the next day. You might say that the goal of all international schools should be to make sure that getting money back to its teachers is as easy and as quick as possible.
To also make things easy, the dream would be that somebody would take you to the business office and introduce you to all the important people in the business office, all within the first week at work. Word of advice: go in with a huge smile on your face and your hand extended out to shake everyone’s hand, also remember to say many thank yous and make some friendly conversation to get to know the staff more personally. Because every month or so, of your first (and second, third, etc.) year, you will be walking into that business office wanting some money or some assistance with a number of financial issues, and you will need to have a good relationship with these guys. So make sure that somebody is there during your orientation to get you started on the right foot with the business staff.
The hard way to get reimbursed is every international school teacher’s worst nightmare. You don’t want to be worrying about getting money back from your new international school (or even worrying about getting your salary paid on time!). It is stressful that’s for sure. Also, it can distract you from doing your job at times. In some countries though, it is not the school’s fault that makes getting reimbursed a difficult task. The country itself can have certain laws and regulations that make the reimbursement process a difficult one for expats. It can be very confusing to some new teachers, so how nice if there is straight-away somebody that will “show you the ropes” during new teacher orientation.
The business staff play a huge part in the wellbeing and staff morale of an international school. Knowing the business staffs’ names and getting introduced to them as soon as you start working there can really have a positive effect to your experience starting at your new school. Also, make sure to take a few notes during your orientation week/days about how to get reimbursed for things the correct way at your school.
Luckily on International School Community we have a new comment topic that specifically addresses this issue of getting reimbursed. It is called: What is the process of getting reimbursed for things?
We have 2 comments so far in this topic on our website since it is so new:
American International School of Lusaka –
“Pretty basic. Show receipts, get paid. Flights can be a bit of a hassle in terms of dealing with the business office and its interpretation of “cheapest, most direct.”
Western International School of Shanghai –
“All receipts must be kept and submitted with a filled out form to the director who then signs and returns them to the finance office. From the day of leaving the forms at the director’s office it might take 4-6 weeks to see any money back.”
If you currently work at an international school or have worked at one in the recent past, share the information and details about getting things reimbursed. You can find easy access to all international schools on our Schools List page.
So, does your international school have an easy, confusing, or difficult way of getting reimbursed for things? Please share your experiences!continue 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