Highlighted Articles

Top 10 reasons why attending an international school recruitment fair is super fun!

January 15, 2023


So many teachers that attend international school recruitment fairs say that they are stressful and a pain. Others say that they are like meat markets. With many directors walking around and potentially sleeping in the next room to you, it is indeed hard to get a good night’s sleep while staying at the hosting hotel of the recruitment fair.  Nervous and sleep-deprived candidates…not fun.

On the other hand, there is a group of international school teachers that enjoy attending the fairs. Yes, that’s right. They look forward to and actually have a great time there.

So, what are the top 10 reasons why attending an international school recruitment fair is super fun? Maybe you can relate to some of these!

#1 – Getting to network with other international school teachers.

Sometimes it is all who you know at the fairs. It is fun chatting with and getting to know some of the other candidates at the fair. Networking with as many teachers as you can surely help you to get your foot in the door. Maybe you will meet somebody who has the right connection and can introduce you to some of your top schools.

#2 – Getting inspired by others to move to countries you never even thought you would go to.

A few years back, at the UNI fair, there was a panel of veteran international school teachers telling their stories of working abroad and answering questions from the audience. Almost all of them had worked in a country that they hadn’t really seriously considered during their job search. All of them said that they were so happy to have taken that chance because they all had such wonderful experiences. You might say that being in the international school community is all about taking chances and risks about living in foreign lands. It is exciting to hear from other international school teachers about their experiences in countries you don’t know about and haven’t visited.

#3 – It is like Christmas morning when you go and check your “mailbox” folder in the candidates’ room.

The candidates’ room. So many nerves and so many folders!  It is easy to get butterflies in your stomach as you enter the room. As you get closer and closer to the tables with the ‘mailbox’ folders, you get more and more excited and nervous. You find the row of folders that start with the first letter of your last name. Opening your folder and seeing one note from a school is cool enough, but seeing notes from three, four or even more schools in your folder, now that is a good feeling. Checking your folder becomes an addiction during the fair, as you find yourself checking it multiple times throughout the day.

#4 – Pretending you are interested in a school by going to their informational session.

Even if you know a school does not have a position for you to interview for, it is fun to just go to their informational session anyway. Sure, the other people in the session might be actually interviewing with the school later on at the fair, but do not let that get you down. There might be a position for you down the road at this school, so keep a positive attitude and sit back and enjoy learning about a school that you might work at in the future!  It is fun to fantasize and pretend about these potential future schools for you.

#5 – Getting surprised, in a good way, that a school you are interested in actually has a position for you!

Thinking you know all the available positions at the schools attending the fair is a first-timers mistake. Anything can happen at the fair and things change fast. It is guaranteed that there will be last-minute vacancies that come up for many schools. So, make sure you check the master list of vacancies (if that is what your recruitment fair has) or take a close look at the posters behind each school at the round-robin sessions because there might just be a vacancy for you that pops up last minute.

#6 – Having intense dreams each night while you sleep, dreaming about what could be.

Yes, it is hard to get a good night’s sleep during the recruitment fair. But, the dreams you have are intense and exciting. Having a dream about your top choice can be just what you need to help you make the best decision. You might even have a great dream about another school you are interested in, moving it closer to the top of your list. It is true though that you cannot choose the schools or countries you dream about when you go to sleep at the fair. So, if you do have a dream about a school/country, it might be your subconscious telling you which school to seriously consider signing a contract with.

#7 – Making some pros and cons lists about the schools you are interested in.

You need to know you are making the right choice at the fair; if you are lucky enough to get multiple offers in which you are interested. When you make a pros and cons list of each of the schools you are considering, you get to think about your future life there. Fantasizing about you living with the school’s salary and benefits is what all international school teachers like to think and talk about. Additionally, you will be writing down the pros and cons of life working at that school itself, your actual job. The pros in that list could truly be the changes you have been looking for in your next school.

#8 – Getting to wear your dressy interview clothes.

Most teachers only get to wear their interview clothes once every 3-6 years. During the years while working at your current international school, there is typically not an appropriate time to wear them. Well, it is true that at some British international schools, you need to wear a suit and tie during parent conferences, etc. Maybe you are lucky enough to live in a country where you can easily and cheaply get some new interview clothes made for you at the local fabric market. How nice to show up at the recruitment fair with a custom-designed suit made specifically just for you. Nice interview clothes that you feel good in are important. You will be at your best (at the fair) when you are wearing clothes that make you feel comfortable and help you be yourself.

#9 – Enjoying the host city of the recruitment fair (who doesn’t want to go for a long weekend to Boston, London, Bangkok, etc.?)

It is true, you do not have that much free time to enjoy the host city of the recruitment fair. Most of your time is spent in your hotel room researching cities, countries, and schools. It is good though to take some time to get away from the fair. Get out of the recruitment fair hotel and explore the city a bit! Each recruitment fair is hosted in a cool city that most people would actually plan vacations at, so get out and have a nice dinner or take a walk around some cool neighborhoods. Maybe you have some family or friends that live there that you can hang out with as well. It is nice to have a good friend or family member there so that you have somebody to talk to about all the happenings at the fair that day.

#10 – Signing a contract on the first day of the fair and just enjoying the rest of your time at the fair.

Yes, these candidates exist. They interviewed with a number of schools before the recruitment fair even started. Once at the fair, they have that final interview and sign the contract shortly after, sometimes on the first day of the fair. Signing a contract with a school that you are seriously interested on the first day of the recruitment fair is a dream come true for most candidates. It definitely gets a load off your chest. You can just sit back and enjoy the rest of the fair and your time at the hotel and in the host city. It is still good to hang out around the fair though so that you can continue networking. You might just meet some people that have worked at the school you just signed a contract with, and they can give you all the insider information about your new school (hopefully mostly good things!).

This top 10 list was submitted to us by a guest author and International School Community member. All guest authors to the ISC blog get one free year of premium membership to our website. Email us if you have a top 10 list idea and would like it to be highlighted on our blog!

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Highlighted Articles

International School Recruitment Season: In-Person Recruitment Fairs are Back!

October 17, 2022


Recruitment season for international schools and for international school teachers has definitely changed over recent years (mostly because of the pandemic).

Long ago, getting a teaching position at an international school almost exclusively happened at various recruitment fairs across the globe (London, Bangkok, Boston, San Francisco, Iowa, etc.). At least 20 years ago that was surely the case.

During the pandemic, recruitment fairs were canceled and almost all new hires were done so via the internet. Now it seems in-person recruitment fairs are back. Will they still play an important role during the international school recruitment process?

You can’t deny that increasingly teachers are getting hired via telephone and/or Skype. In fact, if you were hired at an international school in the past 2-8 years, a high percentage of you were probably hired via Skype which resulted in you and your new school not having a face-to-face meeting in person.

Recruitment fairs, like Search Associates, are back to providing in-person fairs to attend, but more importantly, they provide a large database of teaching vacancies. If you are a registered candidate with Search Associates, you will have unlimited access to those vacancies. Even though you may be signed up to attend one of their fairs come January/February, they often encourage you to contact schools directly and try to arrange an (online) interview or at least a pre-interview before the fair. If you are lucky, you will get offered a position via this Skype interview which will in turn cancel your trip to the recruitment fair (saving you time and money).

Having access to a constantly updated list of job vacancies is definitely a valuable tool in your search for a teaching position. You can also look at the school’s own website (via their employment page), but it is possible those lists aren’t as updated as much or worse don’t even exist. One bit of advice for international schools is to create a useful, updated, and informative employment page on their website!

To repeat, we (the teachers) strongly request that international schools make sure their list of vacancies is consistently updated with the latest information (on their website, on a recruitment fair website, etc). There is nothing worse than preparing a unique cover letter, carefully adjusting your CV content, and a writing personal email message all for not. We understand that vacancies can take a long time to fill as some schools’ interview processes can take a long time. But if the school indeed has secured somebody for a position, it is their responsibility to update their list of vacancies accordingly.

There are many reasons why Skype is becoming more and more used during the international school recruitment process. One reason is that it is cheaper for both parties involved. No paying for the recruitment fair fees, no paying for hotel reservations, and no paying for all flights involved. Another reason that Skype is being more used is that it saves time, a lot of time in some cases. When interviewing candidates from all over the world, it is a hassle to take off a long weekend or miss a whole week of work just to attend a fair. A third reason Skype is being used more is that it indeed still gives the school and the candidate a good idea of each other’s personality and demeanor.  The ultimate goal for both parties involved is to find the “best fit”.

In the end, there really isn’t a clear answer though to which is better: going to a recruitment fair or just using Skype. At this point, it is still recommended to use a combination of the two. Utilizing both covers all your bases; giving the candidate the best chance in securing a position.

This article was submitted anonymously by an ISC member.

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: Harrow Haikou International School (Haikou, Hainan, China)

July 18, 2022


The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries to which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

One of our members, who works at the Harrow Haikou International School (Haikou, Hainan, China), described the way she gets to work as follows:

The road to Harrow Haikou International School in China

Haikou is the capital city of the smallest province in China, Hainan island. It is located in the South of China and has a comfortable tropical wet and dry climate. Haikou is also known as the “Coconut City”, displaying its charm with lots of little cafes and restaurants, lush green parks and vibrant life. With the sea on three sides, beaches, seaside resorts, wetlands and tropical wildlife, the city is the main port of Hainan.

“Harrow Haikou” school is a pertinent project for the Hainan government as they transform Haikou into an international education hub. The school is in the Jiandong New area, a major zone in Hainan Free Trade Port with new infrastructure in high-speed development. This area will be home to a new international trading hub for energy, shipping, commodities and financial instruments.

Harrow Teachers can rent apartments at the Kaiwei compound close to the school and a 6-km-long beach.

The teachers could also choose to live in the city, making their travel much longer yet more accessible to shopping malls, entertainment venues, bars and dining options.

I live in Kaiwei because it is convenient to commute to school. We have a little store here, and Guilinyang village with fruit & vegetables market is not so far away. There’s a children’s playground, a swimming pool and a beautiful golf course with walking paths around it.

As you get closer to school, it becomes less developed. The school is surrounded by a protected forest area which is quite pretty.

Many teachers who live in Kaiwei purchase an e-bike for the morning ride to school, which would take no longer than 7-8 minutes. Walking from Kaiwei to school or the local beach would take approximately 15-20 minutes. Three school buses take staff from different parts of the city to school and back, and one stops at Kaiwei.

In the morning, I wake up to this view, overlooking the city street from one side and the quad within the compound from the other.

I generally leave between 7:10 and 7:20 am to arrive at school before 7:30 am.

The traffic is usually smooth, with just a few vehicles and no rush. I feel safe as I use bike lanes. Only in case of heavy rain, it is more convenient for me to take the school bus. In the school’s underground parking, I can charge my e-bike for just 0,30 RMB, which will last me a week.

I love my morning e-bike ride to school because I can get there quickly, feeling the refreshing breeze and enjoying the beautiful greenery on the way.

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by an ISC member, Aleksandra Grbic. She is currently the Head of Music and Performance at Harrow Haikou International School. Aleksandra has been working in international schools for 15 years in Thailand, the UAE and China. You can find her on Linkedin.

What to know more about what it is like to visit and live in China?  Out of a total of 216 international schools that we have listed in China, 151 have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of them:

Access International Academy (Ningbo) (48 total comments)
Beanstalk International Bilingual School (Beijing) (59 total Comments)
Beijing BISS International School (79 total Comments)
Beijing International Bilingual Academy (118 total Comments)
Changchun American International School (157 total comments)
Concordia International School (Shanghai) (180 total Comments)
Guangdong Country Garden School (71 total Comments)
International School of Nanshan Shenzhen (88 total Comments)

So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn one year free of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

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Highlighted Articles

Six Ways to Impress at an International School Recruitment Fair

November 30, 2017


2017 is coming to a close, which means it’s that time of year to start considering your next possible career moves. Are you ready to explore the opportunities? If so what do you do next? One of the best ways to get an idea of what’s out there is by attending an international educator’s recruitment fair.

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Explore CRS are running our annual Fairs again in Shanghai and Abu Dhabi early next year. These are conducted over the course of 3 days each where we invite hundreds of candidates to meet with elite schools from across wider Asia and The Middle East. These events provide both schools and educators a chance to connect with each other and seek new opportunities on both sides to build faculty staff and careers. We also invite attending schools to run professional development workshops. These will be on a variety of topics and provide a unique opportunity for the schools to showcase their establishment and core mission/values to interested candidates.

We like to ensure that our events maintain a collegial and social atmosphere without too stressful or competitive an environment. It’s our aim to make the Fairs a pleasant and friendly experience for everyone involved without the highly pressured tone that can sometimes be felt at other recruitment events. With this in mind, we will usually select around 25 schools to attend per Fair, so we can still offer a variety of options to candidates.

We also hold a candidate and recruiter mixer after the first day of the Fair. This is a relaxed and informal drinks and canapés evening, courtesy of Explore CRS so attendees can relax and network after a busy and exciting day.

So how does an educator stand out amongst the crowd at the Fair when they’re trying to find the next job of their dreams?

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6 ways to impress at an international education recruitment fair

• Research the schools who are attending – check out who’s coming in advance and do your homework. As well as qualifications and experience, schools are looking for candidates that want to embrace their school culture and values. If you have read up beforehand and feel you would be a great fit – let that show.

• Don’t be afraid to approach the schools and sell yourself – it may seem intimidating, but this is a jobs fair. If you want to get noticed – you need to push yourself and put your best foot forward. There’s an allotted time within which to make a great impression and ensure you get yourself an interview.

• Have plenty of copies of your CV ready to hand – you will need to hand a lot of these out so make sure they are organized and easily accessible whilst moving from stand to stand.

• Make time to speak to fellow candidates as well as the recruiting schools – there will be hundreds of other educators there all in the same boat as you. They may be able to share useful information with you. Which school is worth talking to? Which ones didn’t seem to be as worthwhile?

• Get your pitch prepared – the open session when you are trying to talk to potential schools is busy and there are a lot of other people also trying to get an interview lined up. Make sure you don’t waste any time when its your turn in front of the recruiters. Its your moment to win them over!

• Dress the part – it may seem obvious, but this is your chance to make a great first impression. Make sure you are professionally turned out to present yourself in the best possible light.

recruitment fair

At Explore CRS we recruit international teachers and provide consultancy services to the international school sector, with a particular focus on the wider Asia region. Based in Shanghai, we know what operating in this sector means for daily life and work.

Our primary concern is ensuring we provide an honest and efficient service to bring the right people together. It is important to us to understand a schools’ vision and a teaching candidates’ career goals. It’s our job to bring these two elements together and find the right fit.

If you are interested in progressing your international teaching career, then we would be delighted to help you take the next steps towards your new role. Please contact us at info@explorecrs.com or visit www.explorecrs.com for more information.

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Comment Topic Highlight

Has Your International School Appraised Their Teachers This School Year?

May 13, 2017


Schools say they are going to do them, but for some reason they just don’t get done for one reason or another. It maybe that it is truly an impossible task to complete in one school year, to appraise all staff members.
appraisal

Even when the administrators divide and conquer (to appraise all the many staff members), it still often times doesn’t get done. Sometimes they start off in August-October with a few goal making meetings, but often that is as far as it goes for that school year.

This begs the question, are appraisals really necessary? I guess there are pros and cons to doing appraisals, maybe all pros. But if the appraisal is not done so in an effective manner or is perceived as an unauthentic experience, it seems like it will not be so meaningful for both parties.

appraisal

It is possible to just go on with your jobs and through casual drop-ins make informal appraisals. It’s possible that if you are not really doing your job very well, most staff members know…including the administration.

It is also nice when staff members just organically make their own professional goals though and work towards achieving them for that school year; inviting their administration and other staff to observe certain lessons or to even get involved.

It’s certain that some international schools have indeed figured it out, doing appraisals from start to completion every year. But for many, maybe those with a high administration turn over, it is still a long-term goal to get a formal appraisal system underway and working effectively for everyone involved.

This article was submitted by guest author and International School Community member.

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of appraisals, so you can stay the most informed as possible. “There are 51 comments (premium access only) that have the word appraisal in them, and a total of 144 comments in our comment topic called – “Details about the current teacher appraisal process.”  Here are a few of those 144 comments related to appraisals about various schools from around the world:”

Our veteran international school teachers have submitted a total of 144 comments in this comment topic (May 2017).  Here are a few that have been submitted:

“Primary teachers are observed by newly-appointed Heads of Department that have little to no experience” – Wycombe Abbey International School (Changzhou, China)78 Total Comments

“The school has worked with Pam Harper over the last year to define student learning and align teaching to it. The model that has been adopted, the Teaching for Learning Index, serves as the framework for professional learning and appraisal.” – NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand)176 Comments

“Teachers are observed, given a print of the evaluation and a brief feedback meeting. No data is formally collected/recorded.” – Canadian International School (Tokyo) (Tokyo, Japan)93 Total Comments

“In a year and a half of teaching here, I have only had one formal classroom observation. The principal gave me an excellent evaluation and apparently hasn’t felt the need to return!” – Misr American College (Cairo, Egypt)53 Comments

“They have a system called Responsibility for Learning which is tailored to the situation. New teachers go through a pre-determined portfolio process supporting professional standards. Returning teachers are given options as to how to best support their own growth. Administrative visitations are ongoing and both formal and informal.” – American School of Dubai (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)84 Comments

“Teachers are observed twice in an academic year. At the end of the year, the results of these observations are then combined with evaluations from the senior Thai admin (who never see you teach). The score is then tabulated and you are given a bonus based on this score. Teachers can see the results of the observations but are not allowed to see the evaluations from the Thai admin.” – Assumption College (Bangkok, Thailand)21 Comments

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Traveling Around

Traveling Around: Ukraine (The life of an international school teacher is good!)

January 26, 2017


Traveling Around: Ukraine

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Can you relate?

• Listening to the local radio stations in our rental car and laughing at the unbelievably rapid speed of the disclaimers at the end of each advertisement.
• Getting a Thai massage in the best rated massage place in Kiev, good price too!
• Eating at a Georgian restaurant (delicious food!) and enjoying watching the Ukrainian tables next to us and how they (very often) toast to each other so that they can drink for alcohol.
• Staying at probably one of the nicer hotels in the city. The pool/spa was in the basement of the hotel and was decorated like a tropical tiki-style holiday.

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• Visiting one of the main markets in Kiev and getting crazy high prices from the stall workers, tourist prices, though in the end scoring a huge jar of local honey for only like five Euros.
• Spending the night eating at a really posh restaurant in Kiev and trying out some very unusual teas and very unique appetizers and entrees; very good quality food in Ukraine!
• Driving around the city center in our rental car and actually doing it without any issues, so many people (even locals) warned us that the driving in Kiev was dreadful and dangerous. Not the case for us.
• Trying to talk in English with the locals and encountering many confusing conversations and misunderstandings. Though both parties kept a positive and friendly, fun-loving attitude in the process.
• Going from eastern orthodox church to eastern orthodox church to eastern orthodox church to eastern orthodox church to eastern orthodox church, well those are the most ornate and beautiful buildings here. Though to be honest the other buildings have pretty amazing architecture and design as well.
• Scoring some really cool local beauty products for really cheap prices at a very nice organic grocery store in the city.
• Making an outing to find the statue of the motherland. Man, this HUGE statue is so cool. I think all cities should have something like this. I was in awe of it.
• Watching the local Ukrainians take groups pictures of their family and friends and finding it hard to find one where even one person was smiling in the picture.

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• Loving our tour of the city and then on the last day finding a really cool part of the city where there was a new development of houses, but the houses were style to look like how they looked long ago. Very cool, want to go back and see more of that part of the city.
• Making it a point to visit the local, famous chocolate shop in the center of the city. The locals loved this place! Roshen. But I actually also loved another chocolate shop called Lviv Handmade Chocolate. Now that stuff was delicious!

Currently we have 105 international schools listed in Eastern Europe on International School Community. 54 of them have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of those schools:

Albanian International School (Tirana, Albania)19 Comments
International School of Azerbaijan (Baku, Azerbaijan)39 Comments
QSI International School of Sarajevo (Sarajevo, Bosnia)18 Comments
Anglo American School of Sofia (Sofia, Bulgaria)28 Comments
American International School of Zagreb (Zagreb, Croatia)29 Comments
International School of Brno (Brno, Czech Republic)25 Comments
International School of Estonia (Tallinn, Estonia)22 Comments
Britannica International School Budapest (Budapest, Hungary)19 Comments
International School of Latvia (Riga, Latvia)33 Comments
American School of Warsaw (Warsaw, Poland)82 Comments
Wroclaw International School (Wroclaw, Poland)46 Comments
Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia)66 Comments
International School of Belgrade (Belgrade, Serbia)34 Comments
Pechersk School International (Kyiv, Ukraine)122 Comments

If you are on a trip right now, away from your host country, write to us at admin@internationalschoolcommunity.com with your “Can you relate?” traveling experiences.  Tell us where you are traveling in the world, what you are seeing and how you are coping with any culture shock.  Once your Traveling Around experience is posted on our blog, International School Community will give you 6 free months of premium membership!

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Top 10 Lists

8 Helpful Reminders on How to Find Success at an International School Recruitment Fair

December 9, 2016


If you are job-searching this school year, then going to a recruitment fair is definitely on your mind. To keep your mind set on the right path both before and during the fairs, here are 8 helpful reminders on how to find success at an international school recruitment fair:

recruitment fair

1. Keep an open mind – when attending the Fair you will be meeting many different schools at once. Whilst it’s always helpful to have an idea of what you are seeking, it also doesn’t hurt to remain open-minded to options you hadn’t previously considered.

2. Go to the PD Workshops – the feedback we have received from past attendees has been that the PD workshops are well worth attending. It’s a great opportunity to understand better the curriculum, culture and expectations of your potential new school and to connect with other teachers.

3. Get involved – it’s also your chance to shine! You can make sure you get noticed and stand out from the crowd by actively participating in the workshops. It helps to demonstrate your teaching skills.

recruitment fair

4. Prepare some key questions – before the interview stage you will get your chance to meet and greet with various schools and make an initial introduction. You don’t necessarily always have the luxury of time at the Fairs so make sure you have done your research and go ready to maximize your allotted slot.

5. Network – there should be time to mingle and get to know the other teachers, sponsors and schools. The day needs to be broken up a bit from just interview after interview and it helps to make connections in a slightly more relaxed setting sometimes.

6. Shop Around – it makes sense to talk to as many schools as possible to get a good idea of what’s available.

recruitment fair

7. Be Yourself – Give the schools a chance to see who you really are. Honesty is after all, the best policy. You are far more likely to end up in the right school environment and in a positive new role where you can flourish if transparency is respected and championed from the start.

8. Relax – and smile! The Fairs are quite intensive in terms of the amount of interviewing that can take place over those 3 days. A smile can go a long way in contributing to a pleasant Fair environment for everyone.

To learn more about what to expect from the Fairs environment, check out these past attendee experiences.

recruitment fairThis article was submitted to us by Explore CRS.

The team at Explore CRS facilitates a number of different programs to help applicants find teaching opportunities in wider Asia. In addition to posting current vacancies and providing consultation services, they also organize recruitment fairs that match candidates with recruiters actively looking for talent for their schools. Applicants will be interviewed on-site, and at last year’s fair over two-thirds of all attending candidates were offered positions. An added benefit of attending the Fairs is an opportunity to take part in our Professional Development workshops, after which all attendees can receive certification.

They have two upcoming recruitment fairs in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai that you may want to check out if you have considered teaching abroad. The dates are as follows:

Shanghai
January 13th – 15th, 2017

Abu Dhabi
January 19th – 21st, 2017

You can learn more about their recruitment fairs here and see what Explore CRS can offer you in your education or recruitment pursuits.

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Great Resource

The International School Recruitment Fair Toolkit

January 8, 2016


The recruitment fair season has started!

International School Community is the place to gather information and ease your mind.

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Over the past five years, we have amassed a vast array of informative materials for everything to do with recruitment fairs.

The following is a list of all of our materials and statistics to help you stay well-informed:

Hate recruitment fairs, some say they are fun!
Top 10 reasons why attending an international school recruitment fair is super fun!

Think Search and ISS are your only options?
A New Kind of Recruitment Fair for International Schools in Asia

Got multiple job offers to consider?
• 
Comparing the Schools and Comments
• 12 Tips for Selecting an International School

Think living overseas is easy?
Ten Commandments of Relocating Overseas

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Get a glimpse of what your new journey to work will be like.
The Journey to School

Want to stay one step ahead against the other candidates?
9 Lessons Learned Regarding International School Hiring Fairs

The survey says!
• On average, how many interviews do you go to at an international school recruitment fair?
• Which international school recruitment fair have you had the most success at?

Why not get firsthand information from veteran international school teacher blogs?
• Three Job Fairs, Three Jobs: An International Teacher Hiring Saga
• Which international school job fairs do you recommend and the job fair circus!
Are you ready? The international school recruitment fair season is a few weeks away! (A Search Associates fair experience)

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A director who thinks recruitment fairs are a thing of the past.
“From the Principal’s Office” (A principal working in Sudan)

Now if you didn’t get a job after attending an international school recruitment fair, take a look at the results of our recent survey of our members.

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Almost 40% of people survey said that they got their last job via Skype interviewing; that is basically double the number of people who got hired at a recruitment fair.

Skype is truly the future of getting a job at international schools!

Good luck recruiting this year, everyone. May you get the job of your dreams! And may the schools find the best fit for the positions they have!

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: Western International School of Shanghai

October 7, 2015


The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries to which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

One of our members, who worked at the Western International School of Shanghai (China), described his way to work there as follows:

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Shanghai, the East’s equivalent of New York. The city runs 24/7, nightlife is rampant, traffic induces headaches, and glamour seems to be always in the spotlight. That is usually the thrill behind the city’s most vibrant areas such as the French Concession and the Bund. All of which is exciting to your common expat. That of course is if you are an expat living around these areas.

Most international schools in Shanghai exist around the peripheral suburbs of the city and for many new teachers entering the school they are given an interesting choice. One can either live near the school in bang-for-your-buck valued houses usually in areas with relatively limited entertainment or live in the downtown where the action is. As you probably can insinuate on your own, it is usually the young single people who trade-off for the longer commute and smaller apartments in order to have a larger selection of nearby restaurants, bars, and social gatherings.

I on the other hand belong to the group that lives in compounds near the school I work at, Western International School of Shanghai. Now this area is not as boring as I may have indicated as it has become a bit of a development zone for the never-ending expansion of Shanghai. Part of the reason being that the area we are in, Qingpu, is the location of several of the well-known international schools in Shanghai, and developers are aiming at them as their audience. In the last 2 years I have seen a great Italian restaurant open up down the street, a whole new nightlife commercial area has come about by Jinfeng Road, and a few imported grocery stores have popped up. We might not have the adrenaline of downtown, but at least we are being well fed!

From my home the school is less than a 10-minute bus ride (or in my case a 10-minute e-bike ride) away. Having two school-aged children, this location is a solid choice for housing, given its lower monthly rent (compared to apartments downtown), spacious and safe environment where kids can play with their friends without constant supervision, and most importantly the ability to wake up later on schoolday mornings. A perk that I don’t take for granted and often poke fun at one of my young colleagues in the math department about.

My school day usually starts off with a 5am wake-up, which at times means a quick morning bike ride to get the blood flowing and other times it gives the opportunity to check e-mails and get some quiet time before the start of another busy day.

At about 6:30, which is the same time most of my downtown colleagues start walking out of their apartments toward their bus pick-up points, I wake up the kiddos, throw them in the shower and take a shower myself. Cereal for the kids, bacon & eggs for daddy and walk outside at about 7:40. If weather permits we hop on the e-bike and off to school we go.

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On the way to school we pass by the well-known “corner store”, the one right outside the compound gates. After a quick right turn the scooter takes is into the already buzzing Ming Zhu road. On weekdays the traffic is usually busy, drivers tend to ignore most traffic rules, e-bikes go in all sorts of direction without much concern for red lights or other vehicles. It sometimes feels like a game of chicken while driving. Experience has taught me that it is best to adopt the local culture and go with the flow.

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Within the first kilometer we pass by a building that houses the strange combination of a dodgy KTV on its second floor with a wet market on its first floor. The road nearby this building gets extremely busy resulting in traffic jams almost daily, thanks to cars making illegal U-turns without signaling or other scooters pulling a left or right without looking in their rearview mirrors. Sometimes I question myself on whether it was the safest idea to get my own scooter. But at least the ride to work gets my blood pumping enough where I consider skipping my morning coffee.

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Beyond this madness, the road gets a bit less congested. Crossing the Huqingping highway can also be intimidating to many but the traffic light is mostly followed there. In this area there are several newly opened compounds with real estate agents already standing outside with their signs advertising apartments for rent or sale. I always find it curious just how desperate they are to sell leases. I wonder how many houses are actually occupied.

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Once we passed these compounds we see the friendly faces of the security guards greeting us at the main gate of the school. The entire journey from door to door takes less than 10 minutes for us living nearby the school, while others may spend as much as 50-60 minutes on the faculty bus coming to work day after day. Either way, we all end up at the school we love, doing the work we enjoy!

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author and International School Community member: Denes Tilistyak. Check our his HighFour competition website here.

What to know more about the many international schools in Shanghai?  Check out our blog article called – Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Shanghai, China.

So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn six free months of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

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Comment Topic Highlight

Which technologies are available at your international school and how are the staff using/not using them?

September 13, 2015


Sometimes it feels like we are working in an international school with the worst technology available. Looking around, teachers only see laptop computers and iPads that are so out-dated that their battery life is almost non-existent. These schools might also have interactive white boards that are not so “interactive” anymore, and staff just use them as overhead projectors instead.

Some international schools even have teachers that are scared of technology. They think they can’t or don’t need to use it; depending on staff they work with to “take-over” when a certain technology is needed for a lesson.

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It is not fun being de-motivated by technology that depresses you, confuses you or just plain doesn’t work.

On the flip side, many of us are working at international schools that are well-resourced in the latest technologies.  Everywhere a teacher looks, there are new technologies popping up around the school. Maybe there’s a teacher down the hallway is using a new App and having success, thus inspiring and prompting the other teachers to quickly get that app on their device as well. Exciting times!

These “technology-friendly” schools typically have an inspiring group of ICT teaching professionals on hand that are making sure the technologies are being used (and used effectively for that matter). The ICT teachers educate the students AND the teachers on how to use these technologies in an educational setting. Furthermore, they also collaborate and team-teach classes with classroom teachers during lessons that integrate use of technology.

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Cool technology is great in schools, but there’s a downside. If the technology is not literally in your classroom all the time, often it is not being used to its full potential (meaning the impact it can have on the students’ learning).  Having all technologies available in EVERY teacher’s room is just not a reality in most (all?) international schools.

But, there are dream stories that do happen. I heard a real story about a private international school situated in the mountains in Switzerland. This school wished to have some new computers, and surprisingly, one of the parents came to school the next day bringing with her many Mac computers (you can assume they were the latest version as well). There were enough new computers for all the students at the school (the school’s population wasn’t that large by the way).  Now that’s a nifty 1:1 programme that the school just adopted!

Not at international schools are so lucky though, and their teachers are left with years-old technologies to use with their students with little to no hope of a plan to upgrade everything (I mean it costs thousands of $$$ for schools to even try and stay up-to-date!).

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It is also a time-consuming job to keep a school updated with new technology.  There needs to be a clever person in charge and one that has a master plan on how to fund and organize a school’s technology resources. The big question then is which international schools have just gone through an overhaul of their technologies and which ones are currently at a stand still?

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to figuring out what technology an international school has and how they use it, so you can stay the most informed as possible. It is called: “Describe the technologies available at the school and how people are/are not using them.

Our veteran international school teachers have submitted a total of 75 comments in this comment topic (Sept. 2015).  Here are a few that have been submitted:

“Teachers are provided with a MacBook and iPad for professional use. Elementary classrooms are stocked with a wide variety of technology: 1:1 iPads, Apple TV, Promethean boards with surround sound, iPad stands, projector…” – Singapore American School (Singapore, Singapore) – 17 Comments

“The technologies available are reasonably good. Most classrooms have projectors and some even have the interactive white boards. Teachers usually have a computer in their classroom to work on and laptops can be borrowed by staff to use at home if absolutely necessary. The IT department has a full computer suit with reasonably modern computers and printer etc. but you would have to ask permission if this could be used for any other lesson than ICT.” – Wesgreen International Private School (Sharjah, United Arab Emirates) – 23 Comments

“2015-16 – Currently overhauling IT department and school IT infrastructure to support high-speed internet across the campus. Has a computer lab with 25 computers available for students. Teachers are provided desktop computers for classroom use.” –American Pacific International School (Chang Mai, Thailand) – 18 Comments

“The school has site-wide high-speed broadband (20mb) with a really hardworking tech support team. All teachers are required to operate in a blended learning environment with Moodle. This has been introduced over the last two years as part of the board’s new KICS 2020 strategy to integrate C21 approaches to learning. There is a full time EdTech integration coordinator who supports us all as we build our Moodle classes.” – Khartoum International Community School (Khartoum, Sudan) – 65 Comments

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand)

February 9, 2015


The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers, when looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries to which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

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One of our members, who works at the NIST International School (Bangkok, Thailand) described her way to work as follows:

DSC_9540In February, it isn’t so hot in the morning. Still though, you might still be wearing shorts as you walk to work.

Not many people are out on the street that the school is on just yet, but there are some people getting things prepared for the day. There are a number of hotels nearby so there are taxis and their drivers waiting next to their cars. If the taxi isn’t moving around though, this typically means that the taxi guy is off-duty.  Off-duty can only take you somewhere without the meter on, meaning you will have to bargain the price.

There are motor scooter darting through the narrow street as well, so make sure you look both ways before crossing the street to the other side.

Actually, you should always watch what is going around you wheel walking on this street because the pavement can be uneven. There can also be some mysterious smells and puddles on the ground that you would do best to avoid.

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There are some secret entrances that you can get a glimpse at if you walk a bit slower and take a peek. Who knows what really inside those areas though. These areas, guarded only by light metal doors, don’t looks like much as you can see what looks like a bunch of nothing and garbage all over the ground.

You can see many of the locals preparing their food carts. Actually, a number of NIST students go to these stands to get their lunch for the day. Great business opportunity for the locals.

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And I think they are quite happy for the business from the NIST staff and students because you can see many smiles on locals’ faces, even in such early hours of the morning.  I guess the smells of good Thai food is better than the random smell of the rotten garbage just down the street before the food cart area.

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There are many beautiful colors in the Thai design to look at as well. Even the gates to some of the apartment buildings are quite nice to look at and appreciated.

As you get closer and closer to NIST, you can see that many of the locally hired people are all busy, getting ready for the rush of students that are to come. There are many locally hired folks that work at NIST to help each day run smoothly!

The entrance to NIST is a long walkway, ending in a beautifully designed mosaic. The NIST campus is one to be proud off. It is quite welcoming and you can feel the excitement from the staff and kids, all wanting to have a great day!

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Currently, we have 49 international schools listed in Bangkok on our website.  22 of them have had comments submitted on them by our members. Check out which ones here by using our school search feature and ticking the box ‘schools with comments’.  NIST International School is a popular school profile page on our website.  It has 65 total comments on it.  It also has 3 members that either currently work there or have worked there in the past.

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So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn 6 free months of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

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Highlighted Articles

A New Kind of Recruitment Fair for International Schools in Asia

November 12, 2014


The internet and Skype may have transformed the recruitment process in recent years, but technology has yet to come up with a satisfactory replacement for a face-to-face meeting. Recruitment fairs therefore remain key events on the calendar and with tens of thousands of international educators across the Asia region looking for new positions each year, fairs held in Shanghai and Abu Dhabi are convenient locations for a wide variety of schools and candidates.

Job-Fair-Woman-Interview-Career-NetworkThis is the third year that CRS Education has run their recruitment fair events and they have received extremely positive feedback from both recruiting schools and job seekers. This year they are running their fair in Shanghai from January 16th to the 18th and the Abu Dhabi event from the 22nd to the 24th, and will host over 50 individual international schools and school groups from throughout East, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

A key differentiator to other recruitment events is that PD workshops are scheduled into the event framework. Delivered by recruiting schools in 1 ½ hour sessions, they allow candidates attending to spend time with school leaders outside of an interview, gain an understanding of the educational thinking in a prospective school, network with other attendees and, of course, learn something new! CRS firmly advocates that consideration of professional and personal growth opportunities are key factors for candidates to take into account through their job search process.

The international school community across the Asia region has grown enormously over the past decade, although it remains a community and any connections made can bear fruit in both the short and long term. The fairs regional emphasis will allow interested candidates to focus their job searches, and with the huge number of international schools and educators now based Asia, an event that allows greater movement between East / SE Asia and the Middle East will provide welcome support for some of the thousands of teachers in Asia looking to relocate in 2015.

CPSCRS Education is based in Shanghai and will run their events at the Hongqiao Hilton on January 16th – 18th, and the Yas Island Rotana in Abu Dhabi on the 22nd to the 24th. For more information please contact info@crs-edu.com.

Written by: Vanessa Cumbers
Submitted by: CRS Education

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Top 10 Lists

Top 10 Character Traits of a Seasoned International School Teacher

October 9, 2014


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!

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What type of teacher does it take to move around so much, to venture out and work at a variety of international schools in various countries all over the world? These SISTs most likely possess (and sometimes need to have) the following traits:

1. Tolerance

Living in diversity and uniqueness is what SISTs love!  They are open to different cultures and the different ways that those cultures do things.  Doing basic things in the sometimes crazy and annoying way of your new home country can be frustrating, but SISTs take it all in stride.  They understand that things are going to be different from their last country and from their home country.  They accept these differences and try their best to welcome them and react to them appropriately.  SISTs interact with the locals positively and have a good awareness of their ways of doing things.

2. Flexible

Experienced international school teachers know they can’t just walk into their new school and teach exactly how they have taught in their previous schools.  Even if they use the same curriculum and have a majority of teachers from their home country, each international school is different and does things in their own way.  SISTs are able to adapt their teaching to fit the new school’s way of teaching, adding new things slowly when appropriate.  To help make the transition an easier one, SISTs ask the right questions at their interview and gather all the information they can about the school itself.  Knowing things ahead of time is smart as it prepares you better for the changes you experience.  When sudden changes occur, being flexible is the key to happiness at your new school.

3. Decisive

As international school teachers get more seasoned, they know better what they want in a school.  They also know better where they are in their lives and which locations/cities in the world that will help them achieve their life goals. Knowing better which international schools to consider in a job search is beneficial not only to the school but also to the candidate themselves.  SISTs are decisive and make the right decision for themselves, even if the decisions are tough ones to make.  Making the right choice equals to a happier life living abroad.

4. Honesty

When job searching, seasoned international school teachers tell the truth about their current life-situation and their previous teaching experience.  Schools need to know as much as they can about the candidate before they decide to hire them. Likewise, veteran teachers seek out as much as they can about the school.  The goal always is to find the best fit.  The school wants the best fit for their vacancy and school, and international school teachers want the best fit for their life and career.  They are honest with themselves and follow their instincts. Even if a new job opportunity is in their dream country and city to live in, if it is not a good fit, the SISTs will choose to decline if offered a contract.

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5. Adaptable

Moving around and getting the chance to live in a foreign country is truly exciting for an international school teacher. In one country you are riding your bike to work, in another country you might be taking the school bus.  SISTs can more easily adapt to these changes in routine in their new location.  When they first arrive, it is an exciting time of learning all the ins and outs of your new host country. The culture will have some things that SISTs are used to, but the culture is definitely going to have things that are new to them…and not all these new things will be easy to handle.  When SISTs encounter these culture shock moments, they know better how to respond and react. They are not immune to culture shock, but they know better how to deal with it.

6. Curious

After teaching in a number of countries, SISTs stay curious to everything that surrounds them.  They take time to learn as much as they can about the local language. They also seek about restaurants where they can try new types of food, even food that they wouldn’t normally eat in their previous countries.  SISTs know that they best way to get to know the locals is to get out and make some local friends.  They ask these new friends a multitude of questions to gather as much information about this foreign culture. It is easy to start making assumptions about a whole culture after talking with one or two of the locals, but SISTs know better and continue their curiosity about certain topic areas as the months/years progress in their new location.

7. Independence

Well it is true that you will be on your own when you move abroad. As much as your new school and your new school friends help you, much of the time spent will be on your own.  It is pretty daunting knowing that when you leave your new home, there is a super foreign world awaiting you.  SISTs though love that feeling and go out to explore every day that they get.  They will walk to a new area of the city on their own.  They also don’t shy away from interacting with the locals (at the nearby market for example); starting to make new connections in the community (even if they don’t know the local language that well). SISTs don’t necessarily need the help of another person when they venture out to start-up a bank account, call the phone company to get internet installed in their apartment, or go to the local police department to register themselves. SISTs know that they need to have some alone time as well.  They are comfortable having a night on their own either at a restaurant down the street or at their own apartment to watch a movie.

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8. Resilience

Things can get rough at times when teaching abroad.  Your new school can give you many headaches.  The new administration you need to work with or the new teachers you need to collaborate can, at times, not be the most ideal situation.  Your new city can also bring you down some days.  Not knowing how much things really cost and stupidly spending your money is not fun.  Having a negative interaction with a local on the street is also tough to handle.  The more you live abroad though, the more you can easily understand and cope with these troubling experiences.  SISTs know it is not always going to be perfect in their new city and at their new school.  They have been at a number of international schools in similar situations already and can bounce back faster.

9. Persistence

Getting the job of your dreams doesn’t happen straight away for most people. Securing a job at a top international school is a difficult one, even for SISTs.  SISTs know that it is all about luck and timing.  They also know that they must be persistent to get the job of their dreams.  If it doesn’t work out one year, they you try again next year.  SISTs know that things change every year.  One year the school is not able to hire people with certain passports, the next year they can.  Being persistent is what helps SISTs be seasoned.  Having this character trait also helps their new school.  SISTs might try and help guide a new direction for the school with little success (maybe that was one of the reasons they were hired).  Even if the school staff doesn’t respond well to this new change, they don’t give up easily.  SISTs know better how international schools function and can stay focused on their target.  They have the skills to keep on doing their thing even if others are slowing them down.

10. Happy go lucky

SISTs gotta have this trait because you never truly know what to expect when working in a foreign country at an international school.  They don’t let little things get them down.  Of course there are going to be bumps in the road. But if you spent all your time stressing out about everything, then you are going to miss out on many things.  SISTs strive to be happy-go-lucky when these bumps occur.  They are able to see better the bigger picture and can focus more on the positives (like their really high salary, the yummy restaurant down the street, their own family, their next vacation, etc.).  Also,  no one likes to hang around stressed-out and negative people that much!

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This top 10 list was submitted to us by a guest author and International School Community member.

All guest authors to our blog get up to one year of free premium membership to our website.  Email us if you are interested in becoming one of the next guest authors on our blog.

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: Rasami (Thai-British) International School in Bangkok, Thailand

June 18, 2014


The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers, when looking for jobs at schools and cities/countries to which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

One of our members, who works at the Rasami (Thai-British) International School, in Bangkok, Thailand, described his way to work as follows:

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I open my front door to the sound of a disparate chorus of tropical birds and the waning night time sounds of cicadas and bullfrogs. Bangkok is one of the hottest and busiest metropolises on the planet and by 7am it is already nearly 30 degrees Celsius and my shirt is sticking to my back before I have walked downstairs, past the spirit house that is a feature of almost every building in Thailand, with its strong sweet scent of burning incense sticks and onto the soi (narrow side street) below. The traffic congestion on the soi is considerable, though it never reaches the proportions of the average Bangkok street as one end leads into an army base through which only authorised vehicles may pass. Fortunately working at RBIS entitles me to one of these passes for the princely sum of 200 Baht (about GBP4) per year. I don’t drive the 300 metres to school though! If the morning is cool enough I elect to walk, but on particularly sultry mornings I take a motor-cycle taxi which costs 10 Baht. The journey may be short but it is not uneventful.

The morning aroma emanating from the Bougainvillea and Frangipani is a delightful treat for the nostrils and its heady perfume more than compensates for the less appealing stench of the Bangkok sewage system which competes for nasal attention. The vivid colours of the flowers against the almost ubiquitous azure blue sky, relax my eyes and help to mentally prepare me for the impending day’s teaching. There is no pavement (sidewalk) on the soi, so one can never entirely drift off as the need to avoid military vehicles, taxis and scurrying motorcycles as well as the cars of our parents hurrying to drop their offspring at school before going on the lucrative employment that enables them to send their children to an international school.

When I arrive at the school, I greet the School Director – a former army officer, who is always present to greet staff and children – with a wai, a prayer like gesture which he cheerfully returns, before entering the compact campus and commencing the days teaching.

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Currently, we have 38 international schools listed in Bangkok on our website.  19 of them have had comments submitted on them by our members. Check out which ones here by using our school search feature.

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So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn 6 free months of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

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Traveling Around

Traveling Around: Cairo, Egypt (The life of an international school teacher is good!)

May 29, 2014


Traveling Around: Cairo, Egypt

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Can you relate?

• Getting off the plane and seeing the armed security forces casually strolling around the airport with machine guns hanging off their arms.
• Going to the Egyptian Museum and walking past tanks and armored vehicles ready to deal with any major problems.  There is heightened security leading up to the elections but the armed forces are subtle and seeing them is reassuring.  Very strange though seeing military checkpoints with umbrellas protecting the soldiers from the sun.
• Finally seeing Tutankhamen’s treasures including his Death Mask after 39 years of wanting to go and see it, including canceling a previous planned trip as it coincided with the weekend the last revolution occurred.
• Then, walking in his tomb and seeing his mummified corpse (and ‘negotiating’ with the guard to take photographs, even though cameras and pictures not allowed).
• No queues, no waiting anywhere.  Before the revolution it would have taken 30 minutes at each of the four tombs in Valley of the Kings before you could even enter and then it would be full of people.  I was in Tutankhamen’s tomb with just my mini tour group (total of three) we had the place to ourselves…
• The Pyramids and the Sphinx!!!
• Bargaining with the vendors whilst the Nile River Cruise ship goes through the lock (they throw their product onto the deck and if you want it you throw your money down to them) – best fun ever!!
• Finding out that snacks are really cheap at roadside stalls
• Encountering insane Cairo traffic – lanes are just a suggestion and horns are to tell a story – one hour just to drive around the roundabout at Tahir Square – cars were doing u-turns in the middle of the traffic – against the flow – just to escape…
• Shopping!!! Dealing with the vendors can be so much fun if you smile at them and have a laugh…
• Walking around the corner and seeing the immense statues of Rameses II at Abu Simbel (after a 3am start and a 3 and a half hour road convoy)
• Watching an artisan make papyrus and then seeing another use hieroglyphics to personalise it for you
• Seeing an Egyptian Muslim man propose to his girlfriend on the Nile Dinner Cruise – so beautiful
• Seeing an Egyptian wedding (different couple obviously :)) get married by the pool at the hotel you are staying and then watching the fireworks when they leave the party
• Experiencing all the different temples at different times of the day so the light reflects differently
• Mummified crocodiles!
• Meeting two amazing boys from Barbados to travel around Upper Egypt with (we became known as Two Cokes and a Sprite as that reflected the drinks we always ordered for dinner but it was also a cute description of the three of us)
• Being taken out to dinner by your guide (not included in the tour package) as an extra so you can taste ‘real’ Egyptian food at a restaurant that happened to be across the road from the Sphinx so we were entertained by the Light show as well…
• Experiencing the incredible hospitality of the local people (my tour guide and tour company owner really made sure that I was having the tour of my dreams).
• Realising that Egypt is currently a safe place to visit regardless what the media says – it is cheap to visit now (weather is best Jan – April) and the people appreciate you visiting as they are doing it tough since the revolutions…
• Independently kickstarting the Egyptian economy with all the shopping I did (seriously heavy bags (plural) on the way home!)
• New friends in Egypt and because of Egypt!

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Currently we have 23 international schools listed in Cairo, Egypt on International School Community.  Here are a few of the them that have had comments submitted on them:

Cairo American College (27 Comments)
• Cairo British School (30 Comments)
• Cairo English School (17 Comments)
• Ecole Oasis Internationale (17 Comments)
• El Alsson British and American International School (20 Comments)
• Hayah International Academy (19 Comments)
• Misr American College (37 Comments)
• The International Schools of Choueifat in Egypt (22 Comments)

This Can you Relate article was submitted by an International School Community member who is Australian and currently works in the UAE.

If you are on a trip right now, away from your host country, write to us at admin@internationalschoolcommunity.com with your “Can you relate?” traveling experiences.  Tell us where you are traveling in the world, what you are seeing and how you are coping with any culture shock.  Once your Traveling Around experience is posted on our blog, International School Community will give 6 free months of premium membership!

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: Al Hada International School in Taif, Saudi Arabia

April 9, 2014


The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers, when looking for jobs at schools and cities/countries to which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

One of our members, who works at the Al Hada International School, in Taif, Saudi Arabia, described her way to work as follows:

The Walk to School
Before the newness of my morning routine fades away into complacency, I thought it wise to describe how I spend 15 minutes every morning during the school week.

The walk starts off by getting ready to leave my apartment (Bldg 23, room 102a). I throw on the abaya, swing my book laden day pack on my back, drape my catch-all satchel with my all important water bottle, small notebook where I scribble Arabic words and phrases, ID, working pens and an English-Arabic dictionary over my shoulder, and gather my fist full of keys.

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Instead of using the elevator, I opt to take the stairs close to my door and down a flight and leave the building. Once outside I walk by white plastic plates that have been left out with cat food to feed the 101 some odd stray cats by the building. I spy a cat or two sleeping in the brush or gnawing on discarded chicken bones. Outside of the female restricted apartment zone, I turn left and head up the hill.

This is a pleasant walk because of the scenery and views along the way. I come to very tall bushes and walk on the sidewalk. I came to very tall bushes with white and pink flowers. These bushes were prevalent in the bay area along Foothill Expressway and 280. The name of the bush escapes me now (bougenvilla) but seeing them here brings comfort in the form of familiarity and bringing back fond memories of living in the Bay area.

The bushes border the Arabic school for boys. If my timing is off, I walk past the school when the boys are being dropped off around 7:05 AM. The left side of the hill I walk up is mainly vegetation consisting of eucalyptus and scrub brush. This is a very dry & arid climate so unless something gets watered all is very brown and barren. As a whole compound does have nice landscaping although some places are unkempt.

Past the boy’s school, there is a row of trees lining the sidewalk and here are some pine trees. Also from this spot is a nice vista overlooking the hospital, the entrance with a working fountain and in the background there is a high rocky ridge that has some buildings together in a cluster.

roses-of-taifAfter the row of trees I uses the cross walk to access the stairs that cut up the hill to the school and a mosque. This hill is rather steep and the 85 steps leading to the top gets the heart racing. This area is also a pleasant one because of the many trees and some flowering bushes. On some occasions coming back from school when it is prayer time, I sit on the steps to admire the setting sun against rocky and hilly landscape while the chanting of the prayers emanate from the mosque. There have been afternoons when the sun is blood-red and there is a yellowish hue in the sky.

The top of the steps lead to the mosque and a parking area. Many times I have seen groups of men sitting under a tree in the parking lot in the midst of a picnic. Mind you this is around 700 AM. I cross the parking lot and then a road and arrive at the gate to the school.

The peace and quiet of the walk to school is just what I need before I turn into, Miss – the teacher.

Currently, we have 33 international school listed in Saudi Arabia on our website.  16 of them have had comments submitted on them by our members.  Check out which ones here by using our school search feature and ticking the box ‘schools with comments’.

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So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn 6 free months of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

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Surveys

New Survey: What is the main way that you get to work at your current international school?

March 25, 2014


A new survey has arrived!

Topic:  What is the main way that you get to work at your current international school?

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It is so important; your journey to work.  It shouldn’t be one that is dreadful, and it shouldn’t be one that is long and difficult.  You don’t want to be spending the majority of your day on a bus or waiting for a bus, for example.

Many times an international school teacher will have to forego the ‘luxury’ of having their own car to get to work (e.g. like many Americans).  You need a car in the USA because many cities don’t have the best public transport to use, or it is just not so normalized to use public transport to get to work.

So if you don’t have a car while living abroad, how do you get to work?  I would say that it can very from city to city and from country to country, and of course, it depends on where you are living in those cities.

In China, you might be living in the same building as a bunch of other teachers at your school.  Many times the schools will hire a school coach to come and pick you up each morning at that building and then take you home after school (good reason to not stay so late at school!  When the bus leaves, you leave!).  It is nice to have your transport all arranged for you.  If you are late (because of the bus), it is not your fault!   On the other hand, you might have some things to complete that morning, so a late bus definitely not the best way to start the day.  Another possible downside of using a school coach bus is that you will most likely have to travel with your coworkers every day; you might say that there are both pros and cons about that situation.

Maybe you live in Western Europe or Scandinavia and find yourself in a community of bikers.  If you don’t live too far away from the school, a ride to work on your bike could be just the thing to get your brain/body going in the morning!  Not so good though to ride your bike to work if you live in a place with cold/rainy weather or if you often carry a big bag to work.

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If you are in some less-developed countries, you just might have a car as your mode of transport to work.  Driving a car in those countries just might be the only way that you can get to work (as public transport is unreliable or non-existent).  If you are lucky (or not, depending on your perspective), you might even be able to hire a driver!  We all know that driving in other countries can be tricky and even dangerous in some places, so better have a local do the driving for you!

Sure there are pluses and minuses to the environment and to the community you are living in based on the way people (you) get to work.  You will have to make the best choice for yourself when considering teaching jobs at a variety of international schools that are in different locations in the world.  The question then boils down to what do you want as your preferred way to get to work every day.

Please take a moment and share your comments and experiences about the topic of getting work while working at an international school.

Also, go ahead and vote What is the main way that you get to work at your current international school?  Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today!  You can check out the latest voting results here.

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Highlighted Year for Int’l Schools

International schools that were founded in 1949 (Taiwan, Yokohama, Geneva & more)

February 27, 2014


Random year for international schools around the world: 1949

There is much history in the international teaching community.  We have international schools with founding dates of 1838 and 1850 and we also have many, many international schools with founding dates in the 21st century.  The numbers of new international schools are increasing for sure.

Utilizing the database of the 1611 (25 February, 2014) international schools currently listed on International School Community, we found 7 international schools that were founded in 1949.  Here are a few of those schools that also have had comments and information submitted on them on our website (excerpts about their founding are taken from the schools’ websites)

Taipei American School (Taiwan, China) – 11 Comments

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“Our school has a rich history. Taipei American School first opened its doors to eight students on September 26, 1949 in the basement of a seminary. The civil war between Chinese Communists and Nationalists caused many missionaries and business people to flee mainland China for Taiwan. This influx caused the school to grow rapidly and forced it to move to a new facility as enrollment reached 120 by 1951.”

American School of Asuncion (Asuncion, Paraguay) – 58 Comments

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“Asa did not have school buildings when it started, instead, teachers went  to students’ homes to teach them. In 1949, most U.S. children were doing the us Calvert correspondance courses supervised by their parents. Later on, students started to meet at the YMCA.”

Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia) – 18 Comments

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“The Anglo-American School of Moscow, founded in 1949, is an independent, coeducational day school in northwest Moscow that offers an international educational program from Pre-Kindergarten (4-year-olds) through Grade 12. The Anglo-American School is chartered by the American, British, and Canadian Embassies in Moscow through the aegis of a School Board.”

Nishimachi International School (Tokyo, Japan) – 7 Comments

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“Nishimachi International School was established in 1949 by the late Tane Matsukata on the family property in the Azabu area of Tokyo. She had recently returned to Japan after seventeen years in the U.S., where she received her education and spent the war years.

Check out the rest of the international schools listed on International School Community and check out their histories as well!  We have over 1610 international schools that have profile pages on our website.

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Blogs of International Teachers

Blogs of international school teachers: “Living in Laymans’ Terms” (An international school teacher at American International School of Kuwait)

February 9, 2014


Are you inspired to start up a blog about your adventures living abroad?

Our 35th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Living in Laymans’ Terms”  Check out the blog entries of this international school educator who currently works at American International School of Kuwait (29 Total Comments on our website) in Hawalli.

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A few entries that we would like to highlight:

It’s Cold Weather Again

“Last time I wrote about how nice the weather was. That was after it rained. I don’t think I did a good job of sharing how crazy the rain was. Now it’s cold (it’s been in the high 30s and low 40s a couple mornings when I’ve gone running!)…”

It is all about perspective when living in a different country. What one person thinks is cold, another person might think it is not THAT cold!

It is good to know that in the Middle East, the weather can get a bit chilly in the winter. Many people might just think it is hot all year round.

Luckily, we have a comment topic in the City Information section of all school profile pages that is about weather.  It is called – “Describe the city’s weather at different times of the year.”  We currently have 140 separate comments (about a number of international schools) in that comment topic on our website.

Siblings in Kuwait – Spring Break 2013

“One of the deals we are giving our 5 siblings is a trip (once) to visit us. Abby is here for the semester subbing and Andrew came to visit for his Spring Break! Shannon was studying abroad in Barcelona so they met up in Kuwait. It was a memorable week for all! (see Shannon’s post for proof)

There was a little miscommunication ..Shannon arrived on Friday, March 22nd and Andrew arrived 24 hours later. Luckily we like Shannon so it worked out just fine…”

What a great idea!

I always say…if you got a friend or family member living abroad somewhere, it would be a SHAME not to go visit them and that country!

Not all family members are able though to have the free time to go on a trip to visit you.  Many also are not able to afford it either.  So, how nice to pay for their trip for them! (that is if they can get the time off of work to come visit you.)

Want to work for an international school in Hawalli like this blogger?  Currently, we have 5 international schools listed in this city on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

• American Creativity Academy (Hawalli, Kuwait) – 31 Comments
• American International School of Kuwait (Hawalli, Kuwait) – 29 Comments
• Kuwait National English School (Hawalli, Kuwait) – 12 Comments
• Universal American School (Hawalli, Kuwait) – 22 Comments

If you are an international school teacher and would like your blog highlighted on International School Community contact us here.

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Information for Members

ISCommunity Blog Series Highlight: 9 Lessons Learned Regarding International School Hiring Fairs

January 11, 2014


January: RECRUITMENT FAIR SEASON STARTS!


• Stressing out about the upcoming international school recruitment fair that you are going to this year?
• Want to get all the “head’s up” you can get?
• Want a review of all the basics so that you can be the most prepared as possible?

Take some time then to read this 9-part series on our blog:

9 Lessons Learned Regarding International School Hiring Fairs

1. “Bad interviews are good things” – 

2. “Energy is eternal delight” – so its opposite is….?” – 

3. “Interview questions make the interviewer.” – 

4. “Being yourself is better, come what may, than trying to be someone else.” – 

5. “Check your ego at the door.”  – 

6. “Remember to research.” – 

7. “Benefits, preps, class sizes, and student mix.” – PART 1  / PART 2 

8. “Courtesy is cool, good will is good stuff.” – 

9. “Remember to check yourself in the mirror before you leave your hotel room for the day’s interviews.” – 

Best regards,
Admin staff at International School Community

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Video Highlight

Video Highlight: Internationale Schule Frankfurt-Rhein-Main (An international school in Frankfurt)

December 15, 2013


There are a few international schools to work at in Frankfurt!  How do these schools stand out from each other?

Internationale Schule Frankfur-Rhein-Main (11 Total Comments and Information)

I love how that American kid loves the swimming pool at ISF the best.  Not every international school has its own swimming pool, as we all know too well (teachers in non-purpose built international schools).

Boy this videos looks like it was filmed in the early 80s!

It mentions that they are owned by SABIS. According to their website, they have schools in 15 countries on 4 continents.

I would like to know more about how they place new students based on their knowledge level.  Does that mean that they don’t necessarily place kids with their age-level peers?

Sounds like the curriculum is very rigid. Every lesson of every day appears to be planned out for the teachers. I like how they write the objective of the lesson on the board, good strategy for EAL students.

Academic monitoring system examinations, I would like to know more about what those look like and what the students think of them. How cool that the parents can monitor their kid’s progress on the internet!  I wonder how many parents check that out each week though

Currently on www.internationalschoolcommunity.com we have 39 international schools listed in Germany with 4 of them being in the city of Frankfurt.  Here are a just a few of them (The number of comments and information that have been submitted for each school is listed to the right of the link):

• Frankfurt International School & Wiesbaden (8 Comments)

• Internationale Schule Frankfurt-Rhein-Main (11 Comments)

• Metropolitan School Frankfurt (10 Comments)

• Strothoff International School (27 Comments)

If you know about what it is like working at one of these international schools in Frankfurt, log-on today and submit your own comments and information.  For every 10 comments you submit, you will receive 1 month of premium access to International School Community for free!

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Discussion Topics

The new seasoned international school teachers have arrived at your school…and they won’t stop complaining!

November 6, 2013


https://4.bp.blogspot.com/_khdFP9RCQSw/TS92L09rhjI/AAAAAAAAAMs/C4D4KbCKVN4/s1600/Bla+Bla+Bla.jpgEvery year, they come streaming in, fresh, bright faces, full of potential and wonder! They bring with them the hope of change, growth and new ideas.

Then they open their mouths and the dreaded phrase comes out, maybe at lunch or during a casual conversation, the phrase that immediately fills you with dread because you know what´s coming next, ¨well, at my last international school…¨

New Teachers.

I was one of them. Twice. And I know myself being 100% at fault for being that person, that teacher who constantly compared and contrasted this international school to that international school, this city to that city, these benefits to those, etc…

I´m surprised I was able to make friends at my new school with how much I droned on about my last school in Singapore! How anybody could stomach sitting with me at lunch, I don´t know!

When I was asked to guest write this article this was the first idea that popped into my head. Maybe it´s because school has only been in session a little over 6 weeks and I’m still hearing the harping voices of new teachers about their last international schools and cities. I understand that these people were hired for a reason, they´re bringing experiences, wealth of knowledge and resources from their previous schools to help our school. But there has got to be a better way with which they decide to share this information!

DC WASHINGTON SWITCH

Here are top 10 annoying things New Teachers say (though it is partial to my current international school, I´m sure some people can relate!)

At my last school…

1. We got paid more and had better benefits

Well that´s too bad, maybe you should have inquired more into the package here!

2. The students were more respectful and not as loud.

Maybe it´s time to brush up on your behavior management skills and routines!

3. All the parents and children spoke English

You´re a teacher, it´s your job to teach the children English, as for the parents, figure it out, I´m sure there is a treasure trove of translators at your school!

4.  We were a Mac school and all the teachers got Ipads. Plus, the facilities were great

I wonder if people actually research into where they get their new jobs or where they are moving to?

5. Lunch is so gross and oily

Can´t really complain about a free lunch with unlimited salad, fruit and yogurt.

6. Everyone was friends and did everything together.

That´s because you probably worked together for two or more years and built that friendship, friendships aren´t built in a week during orientation. If you want to be more social, take initiative and plan something!

In my last city/country…

7.  It wasn´t such a long commute to get to the school

Buy a car or moto then, or maybe even try biking to school!

8. We had Health Care Benefits and the doctors all spoke English.

Hey, so do we….and it´s FREE! As for the language, maybe try learning it!

9. This city is so dirty and smelly.

Where else can you live that has a beach, city and mountain within a 10 mile radius?

10.  Everyone spoke English.

Then why would you ever move to a non-English speaking country?

While we all hold our last international schools and previous placements (most of the time!) in a higher light and we try to hold on to those fond memories and experiences, New Teachers need to remember that things mustn’t have been all peaches and cream at their last school or placement, there had to have been reasons why they decided to leave, there had to be reasons why they chose to move to their new school/country…and those are the things that we ALL need to focus on.

This article was submitted by guest author and International School Community member: Tessa McGovern.

(Originally hailing from Connecticut, but a true New England-er through and through, I was born to two fun loving Irish folks who instilled the love of culture, tradition and travel at ripe young age. I spent the majority of my childhood traveling back and forth between the US and  Ireland/England, visiting family and thus began my life abroad.  After graduating from Springfield College (Massachusetts) and with a bit of luck, a colleague recommended a job in Singapore, which in turn started my International Teaching Career. After a few years in Singapore, it was time to head somewhat closer to home and I landed a job at the American School of Barcelona, teaching 4th and 5th Grade, where I´m currently at.  Food, traveling, reading, family/friends and football (Gaelic) are the few things I can´t live without!)

Have a discussion topic you’d like to share on the IS_Community blog? Want to earn free premium membership to our website? Contact us here if you’d like to become one of our next guest authors.

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Recently Updated School Profiles

Recently Updated School Profiles #20: International School Florence, Anglo American School of Sofia & Saint Andrews International High School

October 23, 2013


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Members of International School Community have written some new and informative comments on the following schools:

17 Oct    International School Florence (10 new comments)  Florence, Italy:

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One of the new comments in the City Information section: “You can definitely find store workers that don’t know very much English. I just went to a nearby pasticerria and the guy didn’t know how to even say tomato. But most people are very kind and will definitely know some English to communicate with you at a basic level…”

 

10 Oct    Anglo American School of Sofia (14 new comments)   Sofia, Bulgaria:

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One of the new comments in the School Information section: “The class size ranges from 12-20. There are generally 2 classes at each grade level. Each class has its own teaching assistant who also acts as a bus monitor…”

 

06 Oct    Saint Andrews International High School (18 new comments)  Blantyre, Malawi:

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One of the new comments in the Benefits Information section: “13 salaries plus gratuity paid in local currency, no official link to dollar or pound. 30% tax. Salary depend on pay scale, one nudge up every year…”

Check out the rest of the last 40 international school profile pages that have been recently updated on International School Community here.

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Member Spotlights

International School Community Member Spotlight #28: Denes Tilistyak (An international school educator currently working at Western International School of Shanghai)

October 1, 2013


Every 1-2 months International School Community will highlight one of our members in our Member Spotlight feature.  This month we interviewed Denes Tilistyak:

  Denes Tilistyak and sonsTell us about your background.  Where are you from?

I was born, grew up, and graduated from college (BA in Mathematics and English Language and Literature) in Hungary. During my third year of college I found a flyer by the college entrance showing “Teach in New York” and I immediately got interested. As a result, I got in touch with AAECA (Austrian American Educational Cooperation Association) that was recruiting teachers to the Big Apple from all over Europe. I traveled to Vienna for an interview and, after I was accepted, for a weekend workshop. From then on it all worked out quite smoothly and just about a month after being handed my college diploma I found myself on a plane heading for New York City. After the initial chaos in NYC I was placed in Walton High School to teach 9th-10th grade Mathematics. After one year I was reassigned to teach at Bronx High School for Law and Community Service and remained there for the following two years. During this time I met and married a Filipina and then we decided to move to the Philippines.

After teaching three years in the NYC public school system I got a position as Secondary Mathematics teacher at Cebu International School. There I got familiar with international teaching and the IB Diploma Programme. After my initial two-year contract with CIS I moved on to teach Upper School Mathematics at Xiamen International School in China, where I taught in both the Middle Years Programme (MYP) and the Diploma Programme (DP). During my 2nd and 3rd year at XIS I was appointed the Head of the Mathematics Department and for my final two years I held the position of the Diploma Programme coordinator as well as Pamoja Education’s Site-Based Coordinator.

After my five years in Xiamen I recently moved to Shanghai to continue teaching Secondary Mathematics at Western International School of Shanghai (WISS).

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

My first international school experience was in the Philippines, in Cebu city at Cebu International School. Through them I got introduced to International Baccalaureate’s Diploma Programme and became a DP Mathematics teacher, teaching Mathematical Studies SL and Mathematics SL. From here on living the life of an international school teacher came naturally and I very much enjoy what I do.

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.

In SY2006-2008 I worked in Cebu International School. After teaching three years in the NYC public school system this place felt like paradise to me. The students were attentive, kind, and genuinely fun to work with. Being in a small school such as CIS helped me make friends and rediscover what teaching was really all about. Being part of a small but genuinely kind and helpful community was an amazing way to start working in Asia, so far from my roots.

In SY2008-2013 I worked at Xiamen International School. After my first year at XIS I gained the respect of both the Upper School principal, Dr. David Freeman, and the Headmaster, John Godwin, who entrusted me with the position of the Head of the Mathematics Department. I held this position for two years before I was given the opportunity to be the Diploma Programme Coordinator for SY2011-2013. During these five years at XIS I also became MYP Mathematics Moderator and DP Mathematics Examiner, as well as Site-Based Coordinator for Pamoja Education. As the school is about a 40-minute bus ride from the island, where most faculty and families live, I started to regularly cycle to school to the point when it became routine to pedal to and from work every day.

Now, in SY2013-14, I am at Western International School of Shanghai (WISS) as a secondary Mathematics teacher and I immensely enjoy the start of this new chapter in my life in this fantastic school with such an amazing staff. Although the school is only a 5-minute bus ride from my home now, keeping my passion for cycling will be much easier as there are plenty expat cyclists who organize regular rides around Shanghai.

Describe your latest cultural encounter (or reverse cultural encounter) in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.

Having “cultural encounters” in China is really a daily experience. Moving around the city and observing the local customs and habits really became natural by now, after having spent five years in China. One of the many habits of the Chinese that still put a smile on my face is to see them walk backwards as a form of exercise in the pajamas. This morning as I ventured out for my morning jog, I discovered a running track nearby my home. (We just moved to Shanghai a few days ago and I’m still discovering my area.) On the track, at 6am, I found at least 15 people of all ages walking backwards in their pajamas to perform their (I guess regular) morning exercise. Yes, I smiled.

What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?

Having a non-teaching spouse and two school-aged boys my very first criterion is whether the school accepts two children as dependents. Once that’s given I check the school’s location, the programs they offer (which is crucial for me being an experienced MYP/DP teacher), and the salary and benefits. The size of school becomes important only when seriously considering an offer simply because I have experience with both large and smaller size schools.

In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?

Living life full of energy.

Thanks Denes!

If you are a member of International School Community and would like to be our next member spotlight, contact us here.  If we choose to highlight you, you will get a coupon code to receive 6 months free of premium access to our website!

Want to work for an international school in the China like Denes?  Currently, we have 22 international schools listed in Shanghai on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

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Blogs of International Teachers

Blogs of international school teachers: “Before the Mountains” (An international school STUDENT teacher at an international school in Asia)

June 12, 2013


Are you inspired to start up a blog about your adventures living abroad?

Our 31st blog that we would like to highlight is called “Before the Mountains”.  It is written by a student teacher doing their practicum at a British international school!  Check out the blog entries of this international school STUDENT teacher who currently is working at an international school in asia.

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A Day in the Life of the International School Teacher

“For the first 2 months of my practical, I taught in a third grade classroom of 14 wonderful students. Yes, class sizes are incredibly small compared to U.S. standards, and every class has a full-time teacher’s assistant as well. Mine was amazing! You might be beginning to think this was a walk in the park for me, but let me introduce you to my students. I had 11 boys and 3 girls…tables already turned against me, so to speak. Only 3 of my students came from homes where English is their first language. Six of my students were still receiving daily support for English language learning. Two others received special educational support. Then, we can talk about cultural background: 4 East Asian students, 4 South Asian students, 1 European student, 2 Americans, 2 bi-cultural students, and one Canadian…”

So nice to have a small class size, but as this blogger points out, that does not necessarily mean everything is a piece of cake.  It is nice though to have a full time adult aide in your classroom to help. Even better if you get lucky enough to have one of the better ones that work at the school!

It is important to remember that it is pretty much guaranteed that you will have some English Language Learners in your classroom if you plan on teaching at an international school.  This blogger is absolutely correct in saying that it will be an every day task for the teacher to help make the curriculum accessible to these students.  Having an aide help you make all those visuals, that you may like to use, is also quite helpful!

On a side note, we also have an article on our blog about international school teachers’ dependence on IKEA when living abroad.  Check out the article here.

“On some days I was dealing with who said what bad word to whom in Korean while I was trying to make a lesson have enough visual aids to support a child who needed it. At other times, I answered countless “What does ____ mean?” questions during a lesson on whatever that I thought would be pretty straightforward. I often contemplated moving students around the room to deal with behavioral issues, but at every possible arrangement, I had to think, “How is this going to affect that student?” Usually a move of any kind would disrupt the very delicate balance I managed to hold onto. Even though the idea of a small classroom sounds nice, I think there actually needed to be more “balance” kids in the mix. There were new challenges every day of this first half of the placement, but the kids were amazing to work with. I learned that teaching is no easy task. It can make even the toughest person weak in the knees and so incredibly aware of his/her inadequacy…”

Not only do you have students whom do not speak English as their first/home language, it is true that you will also most likely have other issues in your classroom (e.g. students with learning plans, students with behavioral issues, etc.).  The key to a successful international school is to think hard about what their view of being an inclusive school is and how it looks like at their school.  Having systems and support in place before the students arrive is the ideal situation to strive for.  Also, providing teachers with the necessary PD is important so that they can be the most up to date with using some best practice teaching strategies (ones that you would utilize at an inclusive school.

Want to work for an international school in Asia like this blogger is currently doing their student teaching?  Currently, we have the following number of international schools profile pages listed in Asian regions of the world on International School Community:

East Asia: 207

SE Asia: 201

Asia: 113

If you are an international school teacher and would like your blog highlighted on International School Community contact us here.

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Video Highlight

Video Highlight: American Creativity Academy (An international school in Hawalli, Kuwait)

May 28, 2013


There are many international schools to work at in Kuwait!  How do these schools stand out from each other?

American Creativity Academy (in Hawalli)

We put two videos in this video highlight, as the concept for these videos was part of a project that the students at this school were given…we imagine. (A third one can be found here.)

It is a great idea; a challenge project for IB/High School students to create a marketing video for the school.  There is not really a more appropriate stakeholder at the school to make a project like this.  The students’ perspective about the school they are attending is probably one to listen to with regards to thinking about school identity and school improvement.

The kids look a bit nervous in the videos!

The sports fields look on the newer side.  You can see the shadow cast over that one place for soccer as it most likely gets very hot during the day when students would be playing there.

The lovely blue colour of the sides of the buildings seems to make it stand out, in good way.

How nice that they have a canteen in the auditorium/multi-purpose room.  Not all international schools have that!

The ending of one of those videos is very funny with some students helping another student slide down the hall.

Did not see many of the other teachers and students of this school of 2650 students…they must have filmed after school hours.

Currently on www.internationalschoolcommunity.com we have 19 international schools listed in Kuwait with 5 of them being in the city of Hawalli.  Here are a just a few of them (The number of comments and information that have been submitted for each school is listed to the right of the link to each school.):

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If you know about what it is like working at one of these international schools in Kuwait, log-on today and submit your own comments and information.  For every 10 comments you submit, you will receive 1 month of premium access to International School Community for free!

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New Teacher Orientation Must-Haves

New Teacher Orientation Must-Haves at International Schools: Resource person with a contact number and email address

April 26, 2013


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 #9: Resource person with a contact number and email address

imagesThere is so much going on for international school teachers in their first days, weeks and even months after starting at their new school.  There is just as much going on for you before you arrive at your new host country.  Being that there is so much to think about, one of the most important things that international schools can do for their new hires is set-up so that they have a resource person.  New teachers actually need to have a contact person from the moment they get offered their contract (e.g. when they are still in their home country or their current placement).  There are so many things going on in the new teacher’s mind, and that person needs somebody to talk to and ask questions to as the time gets closer and closer for his/her big move.

I remember getting the chance to talk over the phone (now it would be done via Skype I’m sure) with a contact person a few months before I moved.  The contact person was another teacher at the school who had worked there a year already.  In turn, it was fresh in her mind all the things that a new teacher would want to know about.  I had my list of ‘new teacher’ questions ready to ask her.  She was very real and forthcoming with her answers and it made me that much more comfortable, at the time, in my preparation for the big move which was in 2-3 months.  Sure I got some information and answers from the director who hired me, but it is many times much better to get a different perspective on things.  Also, there are some questions that you just might not ask a director (potentially your immediate supervisor). Once I got to the school, that initial ‘resource’ person then coordinated some new teacher orientation activities for me and the rest of the new teachers.  But then, that was it.  Also, I found out later that this contact person wasn’t actually getting paid any extra to do this; contacting and helping out the new teachers.  A year later, they changed that and made sure to give an appropriate stipend for the teacher/s that take on this role.TESOL_crop_opt

Other international schools have this initial contact person, but then that teacher turns into an official mentor. The mentor’s role is definitely to be the contact person for this new teacher.  Some mentorship programmes at international schools are quite helpful, others not so much.  Sometimes there isn’t a good match between the mentor and the new teacher.  That new teacher just might find a better, more compatible mentor in one of the teachers in their immediate team at the school.  It is nice though to have another contact person, an official one, if the other teacher isn’t available. Basically anyone can be a mentor at a new school.  Just because someone is your official mentor doesn’t mean that another teacher could turn into that role for you if you don’t think the first one is the best fit for you.

Not all international schools are that organized though with regards to assigning contact people to new staff.  It could be that the school doesn’t even have a mentor programme.  But the problems could also be related to an existing, ineffective mentor programme.  For example, there is nothing worse than when you email your ‘resource’ and then that contact person never gets back to you.  Maybe the person is just ignoring their ‘resource’ job or maybe the school just gave you the wrong email address (for example some teachers might not use their work email address very often or at all during the summer holiday).  Either way, when you don’t have communication with your new school during these pre-move months, then you can easily start to get a bit anxious and nervous about whether you are preparing the best way you can.  Some new teachers might even get “cold-feet” and call the whole thing off; it can happen!  The main point is though: to keep the new teacher as comfortable and as most informed as possible!

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So, does your international school assign a resource person with a contact number and email address to their newly hired teachers?  Please share your experiences!

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Surveys

Survey results are in: On average, how many interviews do you go to at an international school recruitment fair?

March 10, 2013


The survey results are in, and it seems as if most visitors and members of International School Community who voted have had 1-2 interviews when they attend international school recruitment fairs.

Screen Shot 2013-03-10 at 9.58.51 AM

Going to one to two interviews at an international school recruitment fair can probably mean one of four things:

• You probably don’t have very much experience teaching in general and teaching at international schools and are finding it hard to get schools’ attention.
• You have a lot of experience, but you are now very specific on where exactly that you would like to move to next in the world.
• You have a lot of experience, and you are very specific about which top international school that you would like to work at next in your career.
• Or there is a lot of competition this year which means there might be many other candidates vying for the same position vacancy.

Additionally, you just might not be up for going to five, six, seven interviews.  More interview can equal to more stress for you at the fair.  On the other hand, if you are very desirable to international schools at the fair and are open to where you would like to go, the more interviews you secure the better the odds that you will get some job offers!

There are many factors to consider when deciding on which international school at which to work.  Figuring out how and where an international school recruits can prove to be helpful information to know; just so that you are prepared and can make the necessary and appropriate plans.  Luckily on International School Community, we have a School Information section in the comments and information part of each school’s profile page that discusses this very topic.

• Describe their hiring policies. Which recruiting fairs do they go to? How do they typically hire (e.g. face-to-face interview, Skype, etc.)? Are there any hiring restrictions mandated by the country?

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Taken from the Dhahran Ahliyya Schools (60 Total Comments) school profile page.

There have been many comments and information submitted in this topic on numerous school profiles on our website.

One International School Community member said about working at Misr American College (37 Comments): “M.A.C. attends the Cambridge job fair in Boston which is hosted by Search Associates and they have also attended the Dubai fair. I have seen their ads on TIEonline as well. They will also do skype interviewing. They employ a variety of ways to get their teachers. I was able to bring my spouse when I signed on with them and they helped get his residency. Not sure if they are still doing this though.”

Another member said about working at Seoul International School (69 Comments): “They use Search & ISS and do a lot of recruiting in Canada (all of the heads of the school are Canadian). Last year the HS principal did a lot of interviewing via Skype.”

Another member submitted a comment about working at Colegio Granadino Manizales (43 Comments): “I was hired at the recruiting fair in Kingston, Ontario, As far as I know, they also attend the Iowa fair and some teachers are hired via Skype.”

If you are currently a premium member of International School Community, please take a moment to share what you know by submitting some comments and information about how your international school recruits and what recruitment fairs that they go to each year. You can start by logging on here.

Stay tuned for our next survey topic which is to come out in a few days time.

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Highlighted Year for Int’l Schools

International schools that were founded in 1945 (San Jose, Cairo, Athens & more)

December 14, 2012


Random year for international schools around the world: 1945

There is much history in the international teaching community.  We have international schools with founding dates of 1838 and 1854 and we also have many, many international schools with founding dates in the 21st century.  The numbers are increasing for sure.

Utilizing the database of the 1328 (14 December, 2012) international schools currently listed on International School Community, we found 7 international schools that were founded in 1945.  Here are a few of those schools that also have had comments and information submitted on them on our website (excepts about their founding are taken from the schools’ websites)

Lincoln School (San Jose) (18 Comments)  (San Jose, Costa Rica)

Screen Shot 2012-12-14 at 11.29.33 PM“In 1945, a group of visionary Costa Rican parents and US immigrants founded Lincoln School to provide a bicultural and bilingual education for their children. Lincoln is a non-profit, private educational institution offering programs from Preschool to 12th grade. It is governed by an elected Board of Directors, where parents are encouraged to participate actively.”

American School of Guatemala (Colegio Americano) (0 Comments) (Guatemala City, Guatemala)

Screen Shot 2012-12-14 at 11.35.37 PM“The School was founded in 1945 by a small group of parents who wished to provide their children with a bilingual, coeducational, quality education. Legal statutes were drawn up embodying the founding principles and establishing a framework for an enduring institution. Under these original statutes, a board of directors was elected by members of the American School Association. In addition to establishing a governing board, the statutes clearly outlined the non-profit, non-denominational, non-political character of the school and established a sound basis for decision making. The statutes also made provision for a separation of board and administrative functions.

The first classes were held on June 10, 1945, in a large family home in zone 9. Thirty four students were enrolled in grades Kindergarten through five. By the end of the first school year, there were 75 students and 12 teachers.”

Cairo American College (19 Comments)  (Cairo, Egypt)

Screen Shot 2012-12-14 at 11.33.54 PM“In the fall of 1945, fifty students enrolled in grades one though eight at The Cairo School for American Children and began attending classes in a rented, three-story, vine covered villa located at 36 Road 7 in Maadi. Fourteen high school students were admitted at the beginning of second academic year when the high school curriculum was added.”

American Community Schools Athens (3 Comments)  (Athens, Greece)

Screen Shot 2012-12-14 at 11.35.42 PM“In 1946, the British Army School was established in several homes in the Glyfada area to educate the children of British military personnel who were stationed in Greece at the close of the Second World War. The history of ACS begins here; for shortly after its inauguration, the school began to admit British and American civilians. In 1949, many more American children arrived in Greece, and a high school was opened for them in Kolonaki. Also established was an elementary school , in Psychico, which was later moved to a facility in Filothei. The British Army School had metamorphosed into the Anglo-American school.”

American School of Paris (8 Comments) (Paris, France)

Screen Shot 2012-12-14 at 11.37.26 PM“Americans in post-war Paris ask Ms. Edward Bell, whose husband was a Director of Missions for the Northern Baptist Conference, to come to France and open an American school in the American Church on the Quai d’Orsay. Founders include the American Embassy, Guaranty Trust, the Morgan Bank and the American Express Company.”

The Newman School MA (4 Comments) (Boston, United States)

Screen Shot 2012-12-14 at 11.48.58 PM“The Newman School was founded as Newman Preparatory School in 1945, the centennial of Cardinal John Henry Newman‘s conversion to Catholicism, by Dr. J. Harry Lynch and a group of Catholic laymen, for the purpose of providing college preparation to veterans returning from service to their country in World War II. Over the years, “Newman Prep” evolved into a co-educational, diploma-granting program, and eventually began to accept younger students into the ninth grade. During the 1960s, the school operated The Newman School for Boys as a separate four-year (grades nine through twelve) and then six-year (grades seven through twelve) college preparatory school. Walter J. Egan was head of the School for Boys during most of its existence. ”

Check out the rest of the international schools listed on International School Community and check out their histories as well!  We have over 1328 international schools that have profile pages on our website.

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Recently Updated School Profiles

Recently Updated School Profiles #18: Kodaikanal International School, Future-Harvard International Kindergarten, & American School of Ulaanbaatar

October 16, 2012


Members of International School Community have written some new and informative comments on the following schools:



16 Oct  Kodaikanal International School (8 new comments)      Kodaikanal, India:

One of the new comments in the school information section: “As KIS is a residential school you could be assigned duties and responsibilities, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, in addition to the area of your primary focus. All Professional Staff (Teachers) are expected to chaperone/supervise; 3 evening student activities per semester, 1 camping weekend at Poondi campsite, a week-long field trip during field trip week…”

14 Oct  Future-Harvard International Kindergarten (9 new comments)      Dalian, China:

One of the new comments in the benefits information section: “Regular teachers get 8000 RMB a month (one year contract), team leaders get 18000 RMB a month (two year contracts)…”

13 Oct  American School of Ulaanbaatar  (8 new comments)      Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia:

One of the new comments in the school information section: “Age restriction is 50 years old basically, the Mongolian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is reluctant to issue a work permit to teachers who are over the age of 55. Most short listed candidates will be contacted by telephone and email. The school prefers to interview candidates with teaching certification from Ontario. New teachers usually start around 20 August. 2 year contracts are offered…”

Check out the rest of the last 40 international school profile pages that have been recently updated on International School Community here.

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Hiring Policies at Int’l Schools

Comments and information about hiring policies on International School Community #6: Saigon South Int’l School, Amer. School of the Hague & Changchun Amer. Int’l School

September 12, 2012


Comments and information about hiring policies on International School Community:

Every week members are leaving information and comments about the hiring policies at international schools around the world.  Which ones go to the Search Associates Recruitment Fairs?  Which ones hold interviews over Skype?  Which ones have hiring restrictions imposed on them by the host country?  All important questions to think about when job searching, but where to find the answers to those questions?

Sometimes it is hard to keep track of which international schools go to which recruitment fairs and which interview style and tactic each international school employs.  At International School Community, we want to make the search for information about hiring policies easier for international school teachers. In the school section of each international school profile page on our website, there is a section specific to the school’s hiring policies.  The topic is: “Describe their hiring policies. Which recruiting fairs do they go to? How do they typically hire (e.g. face-to-face interview, Skype, etc.)? Are there any hiring restrictions mandated by the country?”

Here are 3 out of the numerous comments and information related to the hiring policies of international schools that have been posted on our website:

Saigon South International School (18 Comments)

Comment about their hiring policies: “It is varied how this school hires. They hire via the job fairs, online websites, school websites, and word of mouth is big. There is an age restriction (?) and if you are HIV positive.”

American School of the Hague (15 Comments)

Comment about their hiring policies: “I interviewed with them back in 2011 at the Search fair in Boston. I met with Richard. He was really approachable and personable. I quite enjoyed chatted with him. We knew some people in common as well, so that helped to make more connections in our conversations. The timing wasn’t right though for me to get the position vacancy…too bad. Age limit for hiring is 65 years old as retiring at 65 is mandatory.”

Changchun American International School (1 Comment)

Comment about their hiring policies: “There is an age limit for hiring and it is 60 years old. Interviews are via Skype mostly. Candidates should have at least a BA and a teaching qualification. Ideally you would have at least 2 years of int\’l school teaching experience. The school does prefer teachers that are already in Asia or have had teaching experience in Asia. They do like to hire teaching couples as well.”

Check out the more than 200 comments and information about the hiring policies of numerous international schools at www.internationalschoolcommunity.com.

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Highlighted Year for Int’l Schools

International schools that were founded in 1990 (Caracas, Jakarta, Cairo & Berlin)

August 18, 2012


Random year for international schools around the world: 1990

There is much history in the international teaching community.  We have international schools with founding dates of 1838 and 1854 and we also have many, many international schools with founding dates in the 21st century.  The numbers are increasing for sure.

Utilizing the database of the 1264 (18 August, 2012) international schools currently listed on International School Community, we found 22 international schools that were founded in 1990.  Here are a few of those schools that also have had comments and information submitted on them on our website (excepts about their founding are taken from the schools’ websites)

International Christian School (Caracas) (5 Comments) (Caracas, Venezuela)

“It was founded in 1990 as Academia Cristiana Internacional de Caracas. The school provides preschool (3 year old) through 12th Grade and is accredited by both Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and Association of Christian Schools International. ICS Caracas is a part of the Network of International Christian Schools.”

North Jakarta International School (20 Comments)  (Jakarta, Indonesia)

“NJIS, previously known as North Jakarta International School, is an independent, co-educational international school. It was founded in 1990 and is fully accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Schools of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). NJIS is also a member of the East Asia Regional Council of Overseas Schools (EARCOS).”

Berlin Brandenburg International School (10 Comments) (Berlin, Germany)

“The International School Berlin-Potsdam (ISBP) was founded on 2 October 1990 and located in an eastern area of Potsdam in a large, rented villa on the Heiligensee waterfront. In September 1994, the school opened a second facility in a recently renovated villa down the street for its growing upper school.  On 1 June 2002 the school announced that it was changing its name to Berlin Brandenburg International School (BBIS) as of 1 September 2002. This change recognizes the fact that the school is no longer in Potsdam, that it is grateful for the strong support of the State of Brandenburg, and that it serves students and families in a large geographical area very well known both inside and outside Germany.”

American International School in Egypt (13 Comments)  (Cairo, Egypt)

“The American International School in Egypt has been one of Egypt’s leading schools since it opened its doors to its first 240 students in 1990.  Today, AIS Egypt has two campuses, with a combined student population of over 2000 students.”

American International School of Mozambique (11 Comments)  (Maputo, Mozambique)

“The American International School of Mozambique, founded in 1990, is an independent, coeducational day school offering an American-style educational program in English from PK through grade 12. The school year begins in mid-August and ends in mid-June. The School is governed by a 7-member Board of Directors, 6 of whom are elected by the AISM Association and one appointed by the U.S. Ambassador.”


The English Modern School (Doha) (7 Comments)
  (Doha, Qatar)

“Founded in 1986 as an independent and private educational institute, Stafford is a coeducational, international school. It follows the British curriculum which prepares the students for the London University IGCSE and Advanced (A/S, A/L) Level examinations. High performance in these British exams qualifies students for entry into British and other foreign universities. The curriculum is stringent and comprises a broad and balanced range of subjects.”

Check out the rest of the international schools listed on International School Community and check out their histories as well!  We have over 1264 international schools that have profile pages on our website.

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9 Lessons Learned Regarding Intl School Hiring Fairs

The Wonderful World of International School Hiring Fairs: Lesson #9 – “Remember to check yourself in the mirror before you leave your hotel room for the day’s interviews.”

June 29, 2012


“Nine Lessons Learned” taken from The Wonderful World of International School Hiring Fairs article by Clay Burell’s blog Beyond School.

9. “Remember to check yourself in the mirror before you leave your hotel room for the day’s interviews.

“I can’t believe I forgot my belt. At least my fly wasn’t down.”

The first fair that I ever went to, I didn’t even own a suit.  I had to get one from a department store a couple of weeks before.  I remember not even knowing what the “rules of wearing a suit” were at the time.  I ended up getting advice from the “suit expert” at the store; when and when not to button the 3rd button, which tie colours were best “suited” for interviewing, etc.  I felt a bit silly when I wore this suit at the time of the fair, but I ended up getting 4 offers, so maybe my new clothes were having the right effect.  I only had two sets of shirts and ties (using the same suit), so I hope that none of the schools noticed being that many teachers have multiple interviews with the same school over the 2-3 days of the fair.

Do schools really notice then what the candidates are wearing?  Seems a bit silly when you are trying to show your “real” self, when most of us teachers aren’t wearing suits at our schools (well at a British international school you might be) or in our personal lives.  But as the rules go at international school recruitment fairs, most believe that wearing a suit is a must.  Unfortunately then, you must actually have one already or have to buy one, and if you live in the United States…suits aren’t necessarily cheap.  If you currently live in a country where getting clothes personally made for you is relatively inexpensive (e.g. China), then I suppose you might as well get 2-3 of them!  Still though, you are only wearing the suits most likely for 2-3 days at the fair and then not wearing them again for another 2-3 years!  Seems a bit of a waste to spend the money and not use the clothes more often.

So, you have your suit now and you arrive at the fair.  As you unpack your “formal” clothes, make sure to note whether there are wrinkles or not.  If you have flown to the fair on an airplane and have put your suit in your checked luggage, then you most likely will have to do a bit of ironing before you head out to do any interviews.  If you are staying in a hotel room that is hosting the fair, then you are in luck because it is most likely a 4-5 star hotel and the rooms will have ironing equipment in them. Ironing under stress though can prove to be difficult, so iron with caution otherwise you might give yourself a burn which could ruin your hand-shaking hand.  Also, make sure you try on your new clothes before you arrive at the fair.  I remember having a roommate (one that the fair set me up to share a room with) and him just realizing in our hotel room that the shirt he brought was like 2-3 sizes too big for him (and extremely wrinkled as well).  He asked for my opinion, and I was astonded how over-sized it was! He ended up getting a job in Switzerland at that fair, so apparently the school didn’t notice or care.

But, you never know which schools will care at the fair.  So, it is good to remember the phrase that everyone knows: Always make a good first impression.  And besides your clothes, there are other things to check in the mirror before you leave your hotel room which well help you in your goal to make a good first impression.  Maybe there is something in your teeth, so brush your teeth really well.  Maybe there is something on your face like an eyelash, so check your face really up close.  Maybe there is something in your nose, check up there too!  There is nothing worse then having something on your face (that usually isn’t there) showing up and having your interviewer noticing it and your seemingly ignoring it!  Hopefully they will just tell you straight away and you both can redirect your focus on the interview again without any more distractions.  As a kind gesture to your fellow candidates, why don’t we all help each other to avoid these things when we see each other in the elevator?  Better to have another candidate let you know about something on your face or clothes than the director of a school you would like to work at.

I think there are a wide range of dress styles though when I look at the other candidates at international school recruitment fairs.  I guess it is like a bell curve I suppose.  There are a few teachers that are really dressed up, almost too much so.  And then there are a few teachers that are dressed-down a bit and should’ve put a little more effort into their clothes and style choices.  And finally there is the majority of candidates, who are just in the middle somewhere.

So, what is your plan at the fair with regarding to the goal of making a good first impression?  Share what clothes you prefer to wear at the fair or routines you typically use to check yourself.  Also, have you ever had an embarrassing moment when you forgot to check yourself in the mirror?

There are over 5327 submitted information and comments about over 1232 international schools around the world on International School Community.  Each international school has its own profile page, and on each school profile page there are four sections: School, Benefits, City and Travel.  Members of internationalschoolcommunity.com are able to read about and submit their own comments and information in those four sections, all in a very easy to read and organized manner.  It is a great way to get a better glimpse into what could be your future life as you venture out into the world to work at your next international school! It is also a great resource at your disposal as you interview with different international schools when job hunting.

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Member Spotlights

International School Community Member Spotlight #14: Carol Craig (An international teacher currently working in Nairobi, Kenya)

June 27, 2012


Every 1-2 months International School Community will highlight one of our members in our Member Spotlight feature.  This month we interviewed Carol Craig:

Tell us about your background.  Where are you from?

I started teaching when I was forty and realized after about 6 years working in RI and CT that if I wanted to make enough money to save anything I would have to go overseas to do it.  I also found that teachers in the U.S. were ill-treated in their school districts and that kids and parents were running the show in education stateside.  I had come out of sales and engineering fields where I was accustomed to being respected in my fields.  I started teaching math and science to educate young people about climate change and other important factors about the world around them.  I have lived all over the U.S. and always loved adventure, so I was a perfect candidate for being an overseas teacher.

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

I heard about a job fair coming to Boston and decided to see what it was all about and low and behold, I got hired at my #1 choice in the Caribbean and off I went the next year.

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.

I have worked at a school in Port of Spain, Trinidad ( International School of Port of Spain) and then in Cairo at an all Egyptian school called Misr American College and now we are in Nairobi (Aga Khan Academy Mombasa).

All of the schools have been wonderful and fun.  Each of them had their own unique reasons for being such. For instance, I am a scuba diver and living on a Caribbean island allowed me to dive occasionally.  I have been to Grenada 3 times and to Tobago many times since I first started coming here.  I also met my husband while at this post and we just celebrated our third anniversary.  He is a local island man and has now shared many new and exciting adventures with me as a trailing spouse of an overseas teacher.  We spent an exciting two years in Egypt and even lived through the uprising/revolution there.  During our stay there we traveled all over Egypt taking a Nile River cruise, climbing Mt. Sinai and diving in the Red Sea, just to name a few of the adventures.  There were so many places to visit that we never went anywhere else during our time there.  We still have some spots that we did not get to, but when the contract ended, we came home to Trinidad for one year while he worked and I wrote a book.  Now we are in Kenya for a new adventure.  I had done summer volunteer work for four years in a row here when I first started teaching, so I have had experience with this part of the world.  There is still so much to see and do; it is a great country to live in.

Describe your latest cultural encounter in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.

The cultural encounter that put a smile on my face was when I discovered a new roadside produce stand and I filled my canvas bag with an assortment of lovely fruits and vegetables which would have cost around $20US back home, but was only around $2.50 ~ Yea!

What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?

I look for a school that has a reasonable student/teacher ratio, I look at information on the standard of living based on salary, I look to see if housing is included, I read other teacher’s opinions about the school through websites like this (I do take comments with a grain of salt as more complainers tend to post vs. contented employees), I ask other overseas teachers what they know about a school I may be applying to.  I also talk to my director if he/she is someone who has worked the circuit.  I go to a myriad of websites to see what the new location is like economically, politically, and what there is to do from a sightseeing standpoint.  I ask a lot of questions during an interview regarding the teaching venue, the curriculum, the technology that is available and the extra-curricular expectations.  Is there medical insurance and also adequate medical facilities available?  What are some of the other benefits that I can expect?  Will there be an orientation and someone available to help us get settled into life at the new location?  What are the travel arrangements and also what visa requirements are there?  There is a lot to ask when getting ready to move overseas.

In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?

Exciting adventure of a lifetime!

Thanks Carol!  If you are a member of International School Community and would like to be our next member spotlight, contact us here.  If we choose to highlight you, you will get a coupon code to receive 6 months free of premium access to our website!

Want to teach at an international school in Kenya like Carol?  Currently, we have 9 international schools listed in Kenya on International School Community:

Aga Khan Academy Mombasa
St. Austin’s Academy Nairobi
Braeburn Mombasa International School
Oshwal Academy
Brookhouse International School
The Banda School
International School of Kenya
Pembroke House
Greensteds International School

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Video Highlight

Video Highlight: KIS International School (Bangkok, Thailand)

June 17, 2012


There are so many international schools in Bangkok.  Which ones are good places for international school teachers to work at?  How does the international teaching community view the international schools there?

KIS International School (Bangkok)

The school building looks quite big.  Also, there is a large outdoor swimming pool and a climbing wall.

The outdoor playgrounds appear to have tarps installed on the trees to aid in shading the heat from the sun.

Looks like the students enjoy playing soccer as most students at international schools do during their play time.

The school has the students wearing uniforms appropriate to the tropical climate of the country.

Every shot of a classroom makes it seem as if there is much learning space allotted for the students. It is nice to have a lot of space for students to explore and not be so distracted by others in the room.

The indoor shot of the atrium looks impressive and definitely creates a welcoming feeling as you walk along the hallways of the school.

I noticed a shot of an exercise room on campus.  I still haven’t had the chance to work at an international school that had one of these.  Would be nice to have access to a gym on campus!

Wow their special celebration days look to be quite the spectacular!  There is a great open space outside on the field to hold these types of big events.

There have been 39 comments and information submitted on this international school on our website.  Want to know more about what life is like as a teacher at this international school?  Take a look a their profile page on our website – KIS International School (Bangkok) (39 Comments)

Additionally, you can check out the school’s website here and their employment page here.

Currently on www.internationalschoolcommunity.com we have 24 international schools listed in the city of Bangkok.  The number of comments and information that have been submitted for each school is listed to the right the link to each school.  Here are a just a few of them:

Bangkok Patana School (14 Comments)
Harrow International School (Bangkok) (10 Comments)
International School Bangkok (16 Comments)
St. Stephen’s International School (Bangkok) (8 Comments)
Hampton International School (13 Comments)
Thai-Chinese Int’l School Bangkok (7 Comments)
Berkeley International School (Bangkok) (8 Comments)

If you know about what it is like working at one of these international schools in Bangkok, log-on today and submit your own comments and information.  If you submit more than 30 comments and information, then you can get 1 year of premium access to International School Community for free!

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New Teacher Orientation Must-Haves

New Teacher Orientation Must-Haves at International Schools #2: A Pick-up from the Airport from Administration

June 10, 2012


In this blog series we 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 of your start at your new school, in your new host country.

Must-have #2: A pick-up from the airport from administration

airport

New international school teachers to a school probably have experienced one of these three different ways of being picked up (or not be picked up):

• The administrator’s driver comes to pick you up, and the driver doesn’t speak English very well. There are moments in the long car ride to your apartment when you start to feel insecure.  You also start to second-guess everything that was discussed with you during the interview and during your email communication with the administration.  You arrive at your apartment complex (or what you hope is your apartment complex) and the driver doesn’t know where to bring you as they weren’t told which apartment you were staying in and don’t have the keys.  Luckily, two other staff members just so happen to be in the lobby when you arrive and were able to help you sort everything out and get you into your apartment.  You could’ve been more stressed-out with this situation, but you were so jet-lagged that it fortunately didn’t phase you too much.

• No administrator, no staff member, not even a driver comes to pick you up.  Even after discussing your arrival flight details via email, nobody shows up at the airport.  You are carting your 3+ bags around the arrivals-lounge looking for somebody with your name on a sign or something.  After looking around for 30 minutes or so (trying to keep your eyes open based on the fact that you just got off of a long, red-eye flight), you decide to use your credit card (you don’t have local currency yet or a mobile with a local sim card in it) to make a few calls.  Nobody answers their phone and you decide to go to the airport information desk.  They suggest a hotel to stay at and you take a taxi to get to the hotel (which cost you a lot of money!).  Finally, you get in contact with the school via email once you get the wifi working in your hotel room.  Luckily, the school ends up paying for the phone calls, the taxis and the three nights you stayed in the hotel, but it would have been less stressful for sure if somebody would’ve been there to pick you up and bring you to your apartment in the first place.

• The director himself comes to pick you up and is waiting clearly in the arrivals lounge as you walk out from baggage claim. You know who to look for because he is the one who has interviewed you and hired you in person.  He even brings along another one of the new teachers so that you can already have a person to contact.  Using his own car, he drives you to your apartment (that the school has helped you organize through another teacher at the school).  The director has the keys to let you in.  In the apartment he gives you a free mobile to use with a SIM card (a phone from a teacher that just left the previous school year) so that you can immediately start to be in contact with everyone just in case any emergencies arise.  After making sure that you are comfortable and ok in your new apartment, he drops off a bag of “starter” groceries for you which includes some basic necessities.  A nice touch to a wonderful, less stressful way to be picked-up from the airport when you first arrive.

airport

To start things off right, it might be the most ideal if the person who hired you picks you up from the airport when you first arrive. Starting off on the right note is very important for an international school teacher, especially when you are bound to experience a bit of culture shock.  One way to start off in the right way is how you get picked-up/arrive at the airport.  Not having to worry about lugging your 3+ bags around trying to find a taxi can really lessen the stress and nervousness you might already be feeling, being that you have just relocated yourself to a potentially very different part of the world.  Not having to worry about where you are going to stay your first night and how you are going to get there can also have a calming effect to your already tense feeling about this big move your have decided to make for yourself.

So, how were you picked-up at the airport when you first arrived?  Please share your experiences!

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9 Lessons Learned Regarding Intl School Hiring Fairs

The Wonderful World of International School Hiring Fairs: Lesson #8 – “Courtesy is cool, good will is good stuff.”

May 27, 2012


“Nine Lessons Learned” taken from The Wonderful World of International School Hiring Fairs article by Clay Burell’s blog Beyond School.

8. “Courtesy is cool, good will is good stuff.”

“When it came down to thinking I’d be choosing between two very attractive schools, I told one of them how I hoped that saying ‘no’ this time, if the decision went that way, wouldn’t close the door to a ‘yes’ next time in years to come. The gentlemanly answer of the man I said this to was so winsome, I don’t know what to say, other than that it made me want to work in this man’s school even more. The answer was no less impressive for its simplicity, which was, simply, ‘Your saying no to us will offend us no more than we’d want to offend you if we said no to you. It’s the nature of the beast, and we understand that, so no doors will close at all.’”

As an international school teacher you definitely don’t want to intentionally close any doors that might lead to other opportunities in the future.  I guess what happens at a fair, especially as of late, most international school teachers aren’t getting that many offers at a recruitment fair.  The power is still in the hands of the international schools.  Not like six years ago when the power was more in the hands of the international school teacher candidate (when we would get multiple offers at a fair).  So, when there are few international schools giving you an offer at a recruitment fair, it hurts to do it, but one of the offers (or both offers in some cases) you might have to say ‘no’ to.  It does feel a bit weird to do that.  I mean you most likely spent 1-3 interviews with a certain international school at the fair; taking up their (and your) precious time.  Certainly you were interested in that position, the benefits and the idea of possibly working at the school.  You are told to be open minded at the fair and go to interviews at schools in countries that you thought you would never consider; ‘they might be diamonds in the rough’ as they say.  But, ultimately it is all about timing.  Maybe an international school that peaked your interest at the fair is not the right international school for you to work at, at this time in your life.

I remember interviewing with one international school at a recruitment fair, a school in a country that I wasn’t really considering (though I had heard some good things about it).  I had the first interview and they peaked my interest.  I actually was trying my hardest to ‘prove’ that I was the right person for the position vacancy; after all it is nice to be wanted at a recruitment fair…even if it is for a position that might not be the best fit for you.  Actually, I didn’t have a second interview with this international school.  They waited one day and the next day they put an offer of contract in my folder.  I contacted them and set up a time to meet and discuss the contract details (and a little more discussion about the position).  I honestly didn’t know what my answer was going to be (though maybe deep down I did know).  I literally had the pen in my hand and the contract in front of me, but I had to tell them ‘no.’  I am pretty sure I used the words ‘I just don’t think it is the best fit for me at this point in my life.’  At this fair, I actually only had one offer too, so I was saying ‘no’ to all my opportunities to accept another job for the following school year at this fair.  My plan was to just stay for another year in my current position.  I don’t think I burned any bridges though with this school; no doors were closed.  I actually interviewed with another international school later in May and took that job instead, a school that was a better fit for me at that time in my life.  Later on after moving to my new city and country, I actually bought a ticket to go visit the city that I almost moved to.  I wanted to go visit that city and country for the first time, but I also secretly wanted to see what my life could’ve been like if I would have accepted that one job that was offered to me at the recruitment back in February.  I actually really liked the city and the people there, also the architecture.  It is possible that I would have very much enjoyed my life in that city, but I’m glad that I decided to decline that offer to live there.  I would have accepted that job, then I wouldn’t be where I am now…which is the city of my dreams to live in.

At recruitment fairs, you do need to think on the spot and make quick decisions.  International schools also have to make rather quick decisions as well.  I like when Clay Burrel wrote when he said that he also doesn’t want to offend teachers that he has to say ‘no’ to.  It is indeed a two-way street; we are both looking for the right fit at that specific moment in time.  If they treat a candidate poorly, that candidate will for sure not want to interview with that school in the future.  Additionally, that person will spread the word of that international school’s behavior at recruitment fairs.  When the word gets around, the other potential candidates might just might also pass on interviewing with that international school.

I guess the key idea is that both international schools and yourself should just act with respect and cordiality at all times at the recruitment fairs and everything should be just fine with no doors being closed on anybody.

There are over 4850 submitted information and comments about over 1209 international schools around the world on International School Community.  Each international school has its own profile page, and on each school profile page there are four sections: School, Benefits, City and Travel.  Members of internationalschoolcommunity.com are able to read about and submit their own comments and information in those four sections, all in a very easy to read and organized manner.  It is a great way to get a better glimpse into what could be your future life as you venture out into the world to work at your next international school! It is also a great resource at your disposal as you interview with different international schools when job hunting.

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Video Highlight

Video Highlight: Living in Dubai and its International Schools

May 17, 2012


There are so many international schools in Dubai.  Which ones are good places for international school teachers to work at?  How does the parent community view the international schools there?

We stumbled upon a great resource at Move One.  Their website has a wealth of information about the ins and outs of moving abroad to a variety of cities around the world.  They have many videos explaining what the international school situation is like in cities like Prague, Kiev, Budapest, etc.

Check out their video about Dubai’s international schools.Here is what Moveoneinc.com had to say in general about expats that are moving to Dubai and the current schooling situation:

“The city of Dubai is fully aware of the number of expats and their children that move there every year. As so many families have moved there a plethora of International Schools following different curriculum’s and teaching styles have opened to cater to all the different nationalities. There is so much choice in fact it can sometimes be difficult to decide which school your child or children should attend. to send your children to. The government tries to control this by ranking the schools in different categories giving parents some guidance. Many parents also choose to listen to other expats recommendations. All schools have beautiful top notch facilities and qualified staff – so no matter which school is chosen one can rest assured that a good education is being received.”

Their website has

Currently on www.internationalschoolcommunity.com we have  international school listed in the city of Dubai. The number of comments and information that have been submitted for each school is listed to the right the link to each school.  Here are a just a few of them:

Raffles International School (South) (9 Comments)
Horizon School Dubai (16 Comments)
Uptown Primary School (Mirdif) (10 Comments)
Al Mizhar American Academy (10 Comments)
Dubai International Academy (10 Comments)
Universal American School in Dubai (9 Comments)
Deira International School (9 Comments)

If you know about what it is like working at one of these international schools in Dubai, log-on today and submit your own comments and information.  If you submit more than 30 comments and information, then you can get 1 year of premium access to International School Community for free!

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Hiring Policies at Int’l Schools

Comments and information about hiring policies on International School Community #4: Shanghai American School – Puxi, Riverstone Int’l School, & TED Istanbul College

April 25, 2012


Comments and information about hiring policies on International School Community:

Every week members are leaving information and comments about the hiring policies at international schools around the world.  Which ones go to the Search Associates Recruitment Fairs?  Which ones hold interviews over Skype?  Which ones have hiring restrictions imposed on them by the host country?  All important questions to think about when job searching, but where to find the answers to those questions?

Sometimes it is hard to keep track of which international schools go to which recruitment fairs and which interview style and tactic each international school employs.  At International School Community, we want to make the search for information about hiring policies easier for international school teachers. In the school section of each international school profile page on our website, there is a section specific to the school’s hiring policies.  The topic is: “Describe their hiring policies. Which recruiting fairs do they go to? How do they typically hire (e.g. face-to-face interview, Skype, etc.)? Are there any hiring restrictions mandated by the country?”

Here are 3 out of the numerous comments and information related to the hiring policies of international schools that have been posted on our website:

Riverstone International School (13 Comments)

Comment about their hiring policies: “Riverstone International School typically advertises on websites such as the National Association of Independent Schools (nais.org), Pacific Northwest Association of Schools (pnais.org), International Baccalaureate Organization (ibo.org), and its school wesbite (riverstoneschool.org).”

TED Istanbul College (13 Comments)


Comment about their hiring policies: “60 years old is the age limit. The ministry of labor prohibit foreigners from obtaining work permit after the age of 65. Ministery of Education requires BA Diploma & Transcript & Teaching Certificate in related branch. Except Foreign Languages subjects curriculum is in Turkish for children.”

Shanghai American School – Puxi (12 Comments)

Comment about their hiring policies: “Each teacher is eligible for 1 authorized dependent. 65 is the maximum age for hiring, the age restriction. A requirement for hiring is a teacher degree and certifications with a minimum of 2 years teaching experience.”

Check out the more than 160 comments and information about the hiring policies of numerous international schools at www.internationalschoolcommunity.com.

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Overview of an Int’l School

Overview of an int’l school #5 – Rainbow international School in Seoul

April 24, 2012


How great that each international school is unique!

In this overview of an international school, by the Asian, we would like to highlight Rainbow International School (Seoul).

“Eshraf Saglam, Founder of Rainbow school

Rainbow school is an international school established by Mr. Eshraf Saglam, a Turkish educationist in Seoul promoting multiculturalism and international diversity. With 260 students from 29 countries and 42 teachers from 6 countries the school is truly international and a role model for other schools to emulate. (www.rischool.co).

The School’s logo has 4 colours signifying the four major principles the management believes in.
1. Tolerance (green colour) : With a truly international student body and teachers from various countries, tolerance is one of the corner stones of School’s philosophy.
2. Integrity (Blue) : The blue colour in the school’s logo signifies integrity which they promote through various means.
3. Diversity (Red) :  The school promotes and upholds diversity.
4. Success (orange) : With all the above mentioned qualities , the school leads students on the path of success.

School Facilities

The school has an amazing learning management system which is entirely online.  Every student, teacher and parent is provided a login into the system.  In the system they have everything from attendance of the student, to homework assigned to them, grades, reading assignments, quizzes and so on. Also teachers give grades to students on every assignment along with remarks.

Every teacher maintains a blog where they upload everyday’s activity along with the homework which students can simply download from the blog.

The management system is quite extensive as it allows parents to see what grades their child has and why is he getting those grades. It allows teachers to gauge the grasping capability of the students, it also allows the teachers to check if parents are logging into the system and keeping a tab on their kid or not.

They have a comprehensive online library where books have been categorized for children of every grade. Also, parents can buy textbooks as well from the online library. The computer rooms have been equipped with latest high speed computers with latest software programs.

Each classroom has an active board, wireless active slate for teachers and individual remote controls for children so that they can answer questions sitting in their seats. Text books are provided as E-books so that children can access then anytime, anywhere at home for in-depth understanding and option of flexible learning. In addition to learning management system, online library the management has various other additional tools.

Students from grade 5 to grade 8 are provided with Ipad2 to introduce them to a variety of online programs and software purchased by the school. Widescreen monitors have been installed in each hallway for announcements and photo display.

School Programs

With just 1:5 student, teacher ratio which is lower than most international schools around the World the school aims to provide personal attention to each and every student.
With the learning management system they can dynamically gauge the performance of the students, and with the monthly PTA meetings communicate to the parents about the progress of their child.
Rainbow has a D.E.A.R – Drop Everything And Read Program where everyone from teachers, administrators to students leave everything and just read for 20 minutes during the day.
Also, they have home visits to check if children have a congenial atmosphere at home.

Various activities are planned by the school for every week and for every quarter. The School participates in various International Olympiads happening across the World from US to Istanbul, Korea etc.  The students have won accolades for their projects and at times have been the youngest to participate in such events.
In addition, the school boasts of a small indoor gym and a play area for kids on the terrace.

Future Plans

With accreditations like WASC already under its belt the School has started developing its own curriculum that lays emphasis on not just building fundamentals of science, technology and language but also inculcate basic human moral and ethical values that are universal which will eventually make them conscientious global citizens of the World.  The school plans to extend classes till high school as the children don’t want to shift to any other school after grade 8.

Overall, a school for the future.”

Currently there are 12 international schools listed in Seoul on International School Community. Some schools that have had comments and information submitted on them are:

Asia Pacific International School (8 Comments)
Seoul Foreign School (12 Comments)
Seoul International School (32 Comments)
Dulwich College Seoul (10 Comments)
• Branksome Hall Asia (8 Comments)

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9 Lessons Learned Regarding Intl School Hiring Fairs

The Wonderful World of International School Hiring Fairs: Lesson #7 (Part 2) – “Benefits, preps, class sizes, and student mix.”

April 14, 2012


“Nine Lessons Learned” taken from The Wonderful World of International School Hiring Fairs article by Clay Burell’s blog Beyond School.

7. “Benefits, preps, class sizes, and student mix.” (Part 2)

“When it came down to thinking I’d be choosing between two very attractive schools, I told one of them how I hoped that saying ‘no’ this time, if the decision went that way, wouldn’t close the door to a ‘yes’ next time in years to come. The gentlemanly answer of the man I said this to was so winsome, I don’t know what to say, other than that it made me want to work in this man’s school even more. The answer was no less impressive for its simplicity, which was, simply, ‘Your saying no to us will offend us no more than we’d want to offend you if we said no to you. It’s the nature of the beast, and we understand that, so no doors will close at all.’”

It is all about luck and timing.

When luck and timing are both in alignment, then the offers start coming in for you.  However, those offers are still ones that you need to sit back and closely look at before saying ‘yes’ to an administrator at an international school recruitment fair.  The immediate and complete understanding is difficult with regards to these important considerations: benefits, prep times, class sizes, and the student mix.  You might not entirely understand the ramifications of these factors until you actually get there.  This dilemma is one that makes going to these recruitment fairs a bit stressful at times.

Benefits
There are too many to list really. Just to name a few: housing and housing allowance, average monthly salary after taxes, flight allowance, moving allowance, settling-in allowance, free local language classes, gratuities and bonuses, transportation, saving potential, etc.  If you ask any international school teacher, the one that they list as the most important will most likely always be different.  They all are important to an international school teacher working in a foreign country.  Which benefits though are you willing to be flexible on, that is the question.  You need to know that ahead of time if you plan on making your decision to sign a contract within 24 hours of receiving an offer.

Prep time
It is hard to know what that would be like at an international school that you haven’t worked at yet.  It would be great to be able to contact a teacher that either works there now or has worked there in the past (you can easily do just that on International School Community) to know exactly what the prep times are and whether they are enough or not enough.  Surely having sufficient prep time is important.  Make sure to ask about it and make sure that the school gives you an honest response.  I know one friend that works at an international school where there is very limited prep time which results in this person having to work a total of 70 hours a week!

Class sizes
Having 20 students on your own isn’t that bad.  Having 20 students in your class with a full time teaching assistant is even better.  Having 14 students or less in your class might be too small actually.  However, having 30+ students in your class on your own or even with a teaching assistant might prove to be a deal breaker when it comes to working at international schools.  I actually haven’t known this to be the case in the international schools I know about, but it probably does exist in some schools.  Make sure to get a clear idea about class sizes during your interview, and how they may or may not change in the near future for many international schools are either expanding or losing students these days; most schools seems to be in flux all the time.

Student mix
It is important for some international school teachers, for some it is not so important.  Is an international school really an international school when over 80% of the student population is from the host country?  The answer to that question might be found here.  Either way, it is up to your preference.  Working with a student population as diverse as Vienna International School (12 Comments submitted on this school on our website) that has a student population that represents over 100 different nationalities could be very rewarding and inspiring in which to work.  Working at Ibn Khuldoon National School (12 comments submitted on this school on our website) which has a student population of mostly local host country students might also be very rewarding and inspiring to work at.  Each school can have its own pros and cons about their student populations.  Sometimes it depends on the ethos of the school; how the students think and behave and interact with the teachers, the other students, their parents, and the community.

Potentially burning bridges and closing doors
If all these benefits and other factors don’t seem to match up for you at this point in your international school career, then the answer you will most likely give to the international school administrator is ‘no.’  The reason that it should be ‘no’ is because all indicators then are pointing to an international school that is not the best fit for you at this time in your life.  Hopefully, like Burell explains, this ‘no’ answer won’t be burning any bridges for a potential good/better fit in the future.  I would imagine that most international schools would respond in the same way as the one he interviewed with at the recruitment fair.  For it is true to say that international schools are looking for candidates that are the best fit for them and ‘their situation’ too.

There are over 4200 submitted information and comments about over 1175 international schools around the world on International School Community.  Each international school has its own profile page, and on each school profile page there are four sections: School, Benefits, City and Travel.  Members of internationalschoolcommunity.com are able to read about and submit their own comments and information in those four sections, all in a very easy to read and organized manner.  It is a great way to get a better glimpse into what could be your future life as you venture out into the world to work at your next international school! It is also a great resource at your disposal as you interview with different international schools when job hunting.

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Surveys

Survey results are in: Which international school recruitment fair have you had the most success at?

March 25, 2012


The survey results are in, and it seems as if most visitors and members of International School Community have had the most success at the Search Associates international school teacher recruitment fairs.  The survey does show though, that most international school teacher recruitment fairs are providing at least some success for teachers.  With the exception of the Queens fair, the other recruitment fairs seem to be ones to consider going to.  Maybe we will do this survey again in 2013 and see if we get similar results.

There are many reasons why international school teachers decide or not decide to go to a specific recruitment fair, and one of those reasons is to save money.  Even though the international school teacher lifestyle affords us many opportunities and enough salary to travel and to travel often, traveling is still not that cheap.  The price of the flight and the hotel, plus the cost of the recruitment fair itself and also going out to eat each day can add up pretty quickly.  Soon, you are spending 1000s of USD for a 3-4 day “vacation” to a city in the world where you may or may not even score a job that you want.  For this reason, I suppose that is why not many of our visitors have neven been to the Queens fair to have success at it; it is in Canada which is not really close to many of the places where people are working at international schools.  It is a good fair to go though if you are already living in Canada.

What will the future hold though for the chance to interview face-to-face at international school teacher recruitment fairs?  I got my last job completely from over Skype.  I am thinking that is the way to go, and I know that many other international school teachers agree.  To be honest though, I did attend a Search Associates fair a few months before I got offered a different job completely from interviewing over Skype.  I did get offered a job at the Search fair, but I declined it.  I did though make a “vacation” out of the trip to Boston (spending some time with friends in NYC), so all was not lost.

So, what recruitment fairs will be the most successful ones for international school teachers in 2013?  Maybe Search Associates will continue to keep the lead. Maybe more teachers will be hired over Skype and the trend for online interviewing will take over the need to even attend a fair at all.

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Highlighted Year for Int’l Schools

International schools that were founded in 1970 (Salalah, Nairobi, Monterrey, San Jose and Brussels)

March 24, 2012


Random year for international schools around the world: 1970

There is much history in the international teaching community.  We have international schools with founding dates of 1838 and 1854 and we also have many, many international schools with founding dates in the 21st century.  The numbers are increasing for sure (currently at just over 6000).  The prediction is that there will be more than 10,000 international schools in the coming decade.

Utilizing the database of the 1151 (24 March, 2012) international schools currently listed on International School Community, we found  international schools that were founded in 1947 (excepts about their founding are taken from the schools’ websites):

St. Austin’s Academy (Nairobi, Kenya)

St Austins Academy was founded in 1970 by Academic Services Limited as part of a programme to establish centres of academic excellence in Kenya. Founded by the first African Director of Education following independence, the Academy was a deliberate attempt to break the segregated educational systems of the day and offer a truly integrated programme.  The original vision has been extended so as to provide a values-based programme for the complex, international world into which our students are entering.”

Colegio Ingles Monterrey  (Monterrey, Mexico)

“Founded in 1970 in response to the need for a top quality co-educational school in Monterrey, Mexico, Colegio Ingles offers international students from Preschool through grade 9 a challenging academic bilingual program. The curriculum is similar to that in U.S. private schools, instruction is mainly in English, and our faculty uses U.S. textbooks and supporting teaching material. Colegio Inglés is licensed by the Mexican Ministry of Education in Nuevo Leon and an active member of ASOMEX.”

American International School of Costa Rica  (San Jose, Costa Rica)

“The American International School of Costa Rica (formerly the Costa Rica Academy) is a private, coeducational day school which offers an educational program from preschool through grade 12 for students of all nationalities. Founded in 1970, the school year comprises 2 semesters extending approximately from August 16 to December 17 and from January 17 to June 10.”

The British School of Brussels  (Brussels, Belgium)

“A questionnaire sent by the Brussels British Community Association (BBCA) established a possible 68 families who were interested in sending their children to the school. A well-attended six months later meeting identified over a hundred potential students. The BBCA founded an investigative group chaired by Sir Dick Pantlin — it reported back on the 27th of January 1969, and the British School of Brussels was born.

The School opened its doors on the 15th September 1970 with 213 pupils aged 5-13 and 16 teaching staff including the Headmaster. Our Tervuren campus was officially opened on 9th December 1970 by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.

Since then, the School has gone from strength to strength and now caters for 1200 students from the ages of one to eighteen, with an average of between sixty and seventy nationalities on roll at any given time.”

British School of Salalah  (Salalah, Oman)

“There has been a British School in Salalah, Oman since 1970. It was founded by John Edwards MBE who ran the school with his wife Terry, until he retired in 2000.

It was originally based in a small hut on the beach near Al Husn palace on a Taylor- Woodrow site. It moved to a villa in Salalah town in 1977 and then on to its present site in 1980.”

Check out the rest of the international schools listed on International School Community and learn about their histories as well!  We have over 1151 international schools that have profile pages on our website.

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9 Lessons Learned Regarding Intl School Hiring Fairs

The Wonderful World of International School Hiring Fairs: Lesson #7 – “Benefits, preps, class sizes, and student mix.”

March 10, 2012


“Nine Lessons Learned” taken from The Wonderful World of International School Hiring Fairs article by Clay Burell’s blog Beyond School.

7. “Benefits, preps, class sizes, and student mix.”

“You don’t offer a flight home after the first year? You don’t cover dependents? 70% of your student population is Korean? You laugh off the notion that four preps is too much for new (or old) teachers?”

If you are thinking of these questions to yourself, the interview you are in just might not be going well for you.  Having to possibly alter your expectations of your next job experience is not fun!  As a good rule of thumb, remember to always to stay true to what you know is the best fit for you and be aware or warning signs and red flags indicating to pass on this international school. Even if it means to pass up that opportunity to live in France or Hong Kong (or wherever you most desire to live).

Student population:

If you know that you prefer to work at an international school that has a very international student population, then accepting a job at an international school that has 70% of the student population being Korean might not be a good fit for you to work at.  But always remember that each international school is different.  They all have their own unique situations and what seems unacceptable to you at your current school might not be so unbearable at your next international school.  You might find that you like just the opposite of what you were originally looking for or hoping to have be different.

Workload:
Are there certain things (or lack of certain things) really deal breakers?  Would your life be just too dreadful if you now had four duties instead of the two you have now?  I suppose you might be able to easily adapt to having four duties, incorporating a new routine to how you organize your day and when you plan your lessons.  However, if many teachers are staying at school until 18h or later to plan their lessons (possibly because of their large class size, their four duties throughout the week and the after-school activity that they are required to do), then getting the right information about the reality of that school is very important.  Fortunately, it is usually appropriate for you to address these concerns to your interviewer.  Unfortunately, you might not get the ‘full picture’ in their response.  Luckily, there is a website like International School Community now where you can contact people that have worked at (or currently work at) that school to get a second answer to your concerns and questions about the workload for teachers at international schools from all over the world.

Example comment about workload
Flight allowance:
My first international school experience was at a school that didn’t have a flight allowance.  In turn, I didn’t think anything of paying for my own flight home and always found some money to do just that because of my salary and living situation.  Though I had heard about flight allowances existing at other international schools, I didn’t think my lack of a flight allowance wasn’t so bad.  My second international school experience was at a school that had an annual flight allowance.  I thought that was great and a nice change (especially being that it was farther away from my home on record). Unfortunately, it was at a school that was going through some financial problems and getting that flight allowance was definitely a headache.  Sometimes we would would have to wait many months until we got reimbursed for our flights.  My third international school experience is at a school that gives a flight allowance every two years for the first six years that you are working there.  And getting your flight reimbursed is no issue at all; you basically get reimbursed the same day or the next business day.  I wish the flight allowance would be every year, but I am appreciative that I am getting one at least every two years. Remember to ask your interviewer how their international school deals with flight allowances (or why they don’t offer one).  Get the specifics as best you can!  There is a topic in the School Section on every school profile page on International School Community that specifically deals with flight allowances.


Example comments about flight allowance

So many things to think about and so many things to ask about when interviewing to work at an international school.  If you get a job offer, make sure you ask them for a grace period before you have to give them your final decision.  During this grace period, I always do a ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ list for all the schools that I am considering to work at. If a school has many ‘pros’ (good ratio between prep time to teaching periods) and only a few ‘cons’ (no flight allowance), then I just might consider it.  It also might be a good idea to make a list of your non-negotiables on hand as well so that they don’t slip your mind as your brain starts to only think about the high salary that they may be offering you!  When you meet with the school that final time (before signing the contract), hopefully you will have had the chance to do your research on the school and have gotten answers to all your questions and concerns so that you can comfortably and gracefully accept or decline their offer.
There are over 3400 of submitted information and comments about 1000s of international schools around the world on International School Community.  Each international school has its own profile page, and on each school profile page there are four sections: School, Benefits, City and Travel.  Members of internationalschoolcommunity.com are able to read about and submit their own comments and information in those four sections, all in a very easy to read and organized manner.  It is a great way to get a better glimpse into what could be your future life as you venture out into the world to work at your next international school! It is also a great resource at your disposal as you interview with different international schools when job hunting.
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Great Resource

Great resource: ISAT – International Schools Association of Thailand

February 22, 2012


If you dream is to work at an international school in Thailand, the ISAT website can be a great resource for you.

About ISAT

The International Schools Association of Thailand was established in 1994. Its principal purpose is to act as a link between international schools which are members of ISAT on the one hand and the Ministry of Education, in particular the Office of the Private Education Commission, on the other.

During the past year, ISAT has been extensively involved with the Department of Export Promotion in the joint marketing of international education both in Thailand and overseas.

The issues of new education legislation and educational reforms have also featured high on the agenda over the past year. ISAT has lent its support to this process through assistance in in-service training by arranging placement for Thai teachers and administrators in international schools where they are able to observe modern approaches to teaching and learning first hand.

In addition to disseminating information to its members on educational issues both at home and overseas, its regular meetings provide a forum for discussion, debate and the exchange of views and information. The organization of in-service training courses, particularly in the fields of cross-cultural management and Thai language teaching, also features highly on the list of ISAT’s priorities.

The promotion of Thai language and culture in international schools and support for charitable causes are other major aims of the Association as is support for culture and sporting links between international schools in Thailand and abroad and between international schools and Thai educational institutions.

Laws and Regulations about living in Thailand

List of Schools on their website

Currently on International School Community we have 34 international school listed in Thailand.  Many of those school profile pages have comments and information that have been submitted on them by our members.  Check out some of them here:

International School Eastern Seaboard (ISE) (7 Comments)
St. Stephen’s International School (Khao Yai) (12 Comments)
British International School (BIS) Phuket (8 Comments)
Phuket International Academy (3 Comments)
Chaing Mai International School (5 Comments)
Prem Tinsulanonda International School (9 Comments)
Bangkok Patana School (14 Comments)
Bromsgrove International School (7 Comments)
International School Bangkok (7 Comments)
Thai-Chinese Int’l School Bangkok (7 Comments)
St. Stephen’s International School (Bangkok) (8 Comments)
New Sathorn International School (5 Comments)
KIS International School (Bangkok) (4 Comments)

If you currently work at one of these international schools in Thailand, become a member today and submit some comments and information of your own!

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Video Highlight

Video Highlight: Living in Shanghai and its International Schools

February 19, 2012


There are so many international schools in Shanghai.  Which ones are good places for international school teachers to work at?  How does the parent community view the international schools there.

We stumbled upon a great resource at Move One.  Their website has a wealth of information about the ins and outs of moving abroad to a variety of cities around the world.  They have many videos explaining what the international school situation is like in cities like Prague, Kiev, Budapest, etc.

Check out their video about Shanghai’s international schools.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEGFeb5l–0]

Here is what Moveoneinc.com had to say in general about expats that are moving to China and the current schooling situation:

“In the past few years, a number of local Chinese schools have opened up to expat children and some expats without education allowances are giving it a go. Although these are remarkably cheaper than private schools and give children the opportunity to become immersed in the Chinese language and culture, most expats still opt to send their children to international schools.

China’s larger cities, such as Shanghai, Beijing or Guangzhou, offer a diverse range of international schools based on the International Baccalaureate programs, the American curriculum as well as the English National curriculum. These have a very high reputation and offer first-rate facilities, advanced teaching technology and equipment, internationally experienced teachers, low student/teacher ratios, and a wide variety of extracurricular activities.”

Their website has many more videos about life in Shanghai.  The numerous topics covered are: medical clinics, what to do in case of an emergency, housing, kids activities, Chinese language, expat shopping, and more…

Currently on www.internationalschoolcommunity.com we have 18 international school listed in the city of Shanghai. The number of comments and information that have been submitted for each school is listed to the right the link to each school.

British International School Shanghai – Puxi ( 0 Comments)

British International School Shanghai – Pudong ( 0 Comments)

British International School Shanghai – Nanxiang ( 0 Comments)

Concordia International School (Shanghai) ( 15 Comments)

Dulwich College Shanghai ( 7 Comments)

Fudan International School ( 1 Comments)

Livingston American School Shanghai ( 0 Comments)

Shanghai American School – Puxi ( 0 Comments)

Shanghai American School – Pudong ( 0 Comments)

Shanghai Community Int’l School ( 10 Comments)

Singapore International School (Shanghai) ( 5 Comments)

Shanghai United International School ( 0 Comments)

Shanghai Rego International School ( 72 Comments)

Western International School of Shanghai ( 27 Comments)

YK Pao School, Shanghai ( 0 Comments)

Rainbow Bridge International School ( 11 Comments)

Yew Chung International School (Shanghai) ( 0 Comments)

Lycée Français de Shanghai ( 0 Comments)

If you know about what it is like working at one of these international schools in Shanghai, log-on today and submit your own comments and information.  If you submit more than 30 comments and information, then you can get 1 year of premium access to International School Community for free!

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Highlighted Articles

Highlighted article: Mumbai’s new genre international schools

January 30, 2012


We found an interesting article around the international school community in the city of Mumbai.  It discusses the business side of the international school, the big business sometimes international schools can be to a community.  We have read before that the future of international schools are ones that are actually For-Profit ones.  Why is that a fact for the future of international schools?

Why might there be a resurgence of international schools in a community?  It could be very much related to the new upwardly mobile middle class in a society like as in the case of Mumbai.

Another issue with a resurgence of international schools is finding highly qualified teachers to work at them.  Hiring international teachers can be a big business as well with sometimes many international schools fighting over to get first pick at finding suitable candidates.

Currently there are 9 international schools in Mumbai India on International School Community.  They are: American School of Bombay, RBK International Academy, Dhirubhai Ambani International School, B.D.Somani International School, Oberoi International School , Podar International School, École Mondiale World School, NES International School (Mulund) and Singapore International School (Mumbai).  Overall, we have 39 international schools listed in India.

According to the article, Dhirubhai Ambani International School is the first of this new genre of international school.

Highlights from the article:

Although globally famous as resurgent India’s commercial capital, synonymous with Bollywood, the stock exchange, premier corporates and fashion houses, perhaps because of prohibitive real estate prices, the island city of Mumbai (pop. 13 million) is less than renowned for quality education institutions, particularly its schools. The city’s handful of vintage high profile schools such as Cathedral & John Connon (estb.1860), St. Mary’s (estb.1540), Campion (estb.1943) etc have reigned as Mumbai’s most difficult-to-access secondaries for half a century. Now somewhat belatedly, the city of gold’s school education scenario is about to experience a radical makeover.

During the past four years India’s commercial and entertainment capital has witnessed the promotion of over 35 new genre international schools. Launched with massive budgets ranging from Rs.10-50 crore, Mumbai’s latter-day five-star schools which offer fully-wired campuses bristling with hi-tech equipment and teaching aids, expat headmasters and affiliation with highly reputed offshore examination boards, are beginning to eclipse the city’s vintage secondaries as the first choice of the new upwardly mobile middle class.

The city’s first new genre international school the Dhirubhai Ambani International School, promoted by Nita Ambani (wife of Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries (annual sales revenue: Rs.110,886 crore) admitted its first batch of students in 2003. Since then on average in this city of fast-track private enterprise, ten new genre international schools have been promoted every year, dizzy real estate prices and land scarcity notwithstanding.

Indeed, somewhat belatedly some of Mumbai’s most well-known business families the Goenkas, Podars, Somanis, and Ajmeras as well as other private entrepreneurs have hopped aboard the school education bandwagon. Among them: the Podar World School (estb.2004) and B.D Somani International School (estb.2006). Next year, two high profile international schools the Aditya Birla Group promoted New Era School (Cambridge) in South Bombay and Oberoi International School in Goregaon are scheduled to admit their first batches, and in 2009, industrialist and page 3 celebrity Yash Birla intends to open the doors of the Sunanda Birla International School on South Bombay’s plush Napean Sea Road. According to the state government’s directorate of education in Mumbai, over 90 proposals for inaugurating new schools have been submitted in the past two years (2005-2007) and are pending clearance.

Coterminously with the boom in international schools, India’s commercial capital, which is receptive to new ideas including education philosophies, is also witnessing the promotion of alternative schools which abhor conventional school education practices crowded classrooms, uniforms, competitive exams, and authoritarian, omniscient teachers. Started by four parents disillusioned with conventional schools, the Tridha School (estb. 2001) subscribes to the alternative education philosophy developed by Rudolf Steiner, the late 19th century Austrian philosopher and educator. Steiner schools aka Waldorf schools, focus on educating and developing the whole child, not just her intellect. In consonance with the Waldorf system, Tridha provides its students a stress-free environment striving for a balance between academics, arts and crafts, music, dance and environment awareness. Tridha is one of three Waldorf schools in India (the other two are in Hyderabad) with an enrollment of 233 students who pay annual tuition fees ranging from Rs.29,000-33,000.

While Mumbai’s international schools are perceived as rendering valuable service by offering students much sought after international certifications, all’s not well with them. Most admit to being confronted with severe shortages of high-quality teachers, a pre-requisite of delivering the globally-reputed syllabuses and curriculums of the CIE, UK and IBO, Geneva. Given their academic rigour and broad-based life skills content, these international curriculums mandate stringent in-service teacher training and continuous skills upgradation programmes. Therefore recruiting, motivating and retaining best teachers has become a top priority of Mumbai’s five-star school managements. And it’s hardly a secret that most of them have signed up recruitment firms and headhunters to poach, purloin and entice the best teachers from schools across the country with unprecedented pay packages, including housing and other perks.

“There’s a drought of quality teachers globally and a severe shortage of new blood in the teaching profession. Therefore international schools are experiencing considerable difficulty in recruiting and retaining high quality teachers. Indian teachers trained in India’s new international schools are now being offered jobs abroad and tend to jump ship as soon as opportunity knocks. Therefore the attrition rate in five-star schools is very high. The only option for them is to hire expat teachers, but the government is creating hurdles to importing them. This is to India’s disadvantage,” says Capt. Raj Mohindra.

If you would like to read the whole article, check it out here:

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Surveys

New Survey: What international school recruitment fair have you had the most success at?

January 5, 2012


A new survey has arrived!  Topic:  What international school recruitment fair have you had the most success at?

 

Do some international school recruitment fairs have too many international schools for the candidates that attend? (I have never seen an interview/round robin session look like this one…in the 3 different teacher recruitment fairs that I have been to.)

Do you find more success with your interviews the more lavish the hotel that is hosting the recruitment fair?

Do you do well in the round robin session set-up that each recruitment fair does just a bit different from each other?

Do you do well in certain hotel rooms in certain cities that certain recruitment fair hold their fairs at?

Of course we are joking a bit on all those questions, but International School Community is curious to see which recruitment fair international school teachers are finding the most success at.  We might be able to see some patterns emerge and help future fair goers when they are deciding which one to go to (or not to go to).  You can find a list of all the international school recruitment fairs for 2011-12 on the TIEonline website here.

So, what international school recruitment fair have you had the most success at??  Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today!  You can check out the latest voting results here.

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Video Highlight

Video highlight: St. Stephen’s International School (Bangkok, Thailand)

January 2, 2012


St. Stephen’s International School (Bangkok)

How great to start off each day with the flag ceremony and the Thai National Anthem!

Being that the majority of their students are Thai, they have a strong focus on honoring and respecting Thai and Asian cultural values.

It looks like they also have a focus on having the students learn by doing, including doing a lot of learning outside of the classroom.

Another apparent focus is to provide their students opportunities to be active in community service experiences that help out less fortunate children.

Using the school search feature on our website, there are 31 international schools listed in Thailand.  19 of those schools are in Bangkok and 13 of them are teaching the UK curriculum.

Check out St. Stephen’s International School (Bangkok)’s school profile page on International School Community here.

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Great Link

Are you ready? The international school recruitment fair season is a few weeks away! (A Search Associates fair experience)

December 22, 2011


Highlighted firsthand-account of what it was like for this international school teacher at a Search Associates recruitment fair in San Francisco:

“Many people have asked my process of applying to teach overseas and so I will share my experiences, typical or not.  The first step, of course, was research.  Finding out what the schools that interested me considered a priority revealed that they are different in their own region.  Carefully reading the different mission statements not only showed priorities, but also gave me direction in my cover letters which needed to be outstanding.  Some schools stressed academic achievement, others developing the whole child but almost all emphasized a global perspective.  Mediocrity was not a part of any, it was super high expectations the whole way.

Each cover letter that I sent was specifically targeted with carefully chosen words that reflected my interpretation of the schools’ intent.  I connected my skills to what they required, my educational philosophy to theirs and used as many “teacher words” as I could.  The format was strictly old school business formal with the date written as day, month and year rather than the western style of month, day, year.  My first attempt to cut and paste resulted in an incomplete sentence and the wrong date being sent to a prospective employer so I decided to recreate each one.  Yes, that took a lot of time.  Yes, it was worth it.

International resumes are referred to as CV’s; Curriculum Vitae.  Many things are different from American resumes, including a recent photo, just a simple head shot, and both your age and marital status, believe it or not.  Think full disclosure.

I signed with a recruiter, Search Associates, to access their data banks of detailed information of teacher packages and recommendations, as well as the semi-security of a having an informed professional to ask questions and anticipate any possible problems.  The fee was $200 and the school has to pay the recruiter a larger fee, I believe it is $1200.  It was worth it.  This also gave me an invitation to the Search Associates International Teaching Fair in California this past February.  More about the teaching fair in another post – it was an experience, that’s for sure.

Reading the school’s websites was crucial to understanding exactly how to apply.  Some wanted a cover letter and cv, some had an online application form, others would only review applicants through one of the recruiters.  No matter what the route, I put effort into making each sentence, each question answered, the best possible.  High level schools are looking for teachers with high level skills and an incorrect subject-verb agreement or misspelled word will definitely stand out – negatively.

Part of my process was my notebook.  I kept track of each letter, each response and tons of printed information of the schools I had applied, in addition to a chart comparing things like salary, contract length, etc.  Without it, I would have been lost and confused.

Remember timing.  International school are actively hiring January through March.  Are you ready?”

Check out the over 100 comments and information about international schools and their hiring policies and other recruitment fair information about a variety of international schools on International School Community’s website.

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Highlighted Articles

Highlighted article: International schools in Mumbai are effected by new regulation.

December 11, 2011


Are the costs of sending your children to an international school too much for families in the middle class?  Are their too high in general for everyone?  A new regulation in Mumbai is effecting international schools there as it has been applied to all schools in the area: to limit schools in how much they can hike up their schools fees.  Currently there are 8 international schools listed in Mumbai on International School Community.

“The Maharashtra Educational Institutions (Regulation of Collection of Fee) Act, 2011, looming on the horizon of international schools has left managements in a tizzy.

International schools in Mumbai complain that its implementation will pose a challenge to maintenance of state-of-the-art infrastructure and high standards of education, if they are allowed only a 15% hike in fee — as has been laid down by the Act.

“The regulation should consider all perspectives like the huge gap between international schools and other schools due to the quality of education and teacher training, affiliation fees and salaries. So, it is not fair to keep the same bar for both,” argued V Balasubramanium, director, NES International School, Mulund.

Parents, though, are grinning from ear to ear, as the middle-class will now have easy access to affordable, good quality education.

Schools are mulling over ways to cut corners to skim through the problem. Kalpana Patel, principal of the Savitridevi Hariram Agarwal International School, Kandivli, elaborated, “The new regulation will put more pressure on schools. We will have to cut and squeeze our expenses for activities like sports day and annual day.”

The biggest task, after the Act is enforced, will be convincing parents to loosen their purse strings. Vandana Lulla, director-principal of the Podar International School, said, “If the parents-teachers association grants permission, schools can hike fees. Schools should be transparent in giving reasons for such a hike. Schools need to work out a plan.”

Manjusha Nabar, whose son studies at the Gundecha Academy, Kandivli, says the regulation will stop schools from charging exorbitant fees, allowing parents from middle income group to also dream big for their children.

Raju Tirmallee, another parent from Dombivli, said several parents have had to take a loan to pay for school fees. “The regulation should bring capitation fees under control.”

Taken from the Daily News & Analysis website.

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9 Lessons Learned Regarding Intl School Hiring Fairs

Lesson 4 at International School Hiring Fairs: “Being yourself is better, come what may, than trying to be someone else.”

December 5, 2011


“Think about it. Not only does pretending to be what you’re not cheat your interviewer – it also cheats you. Show your true colors now, so you’ll know whether it’ll be okay to show them over the length of your contract.

I love the fact that, at my second interview with the two interviewers for the school I chose, Singapore American School, I replied to a question by saying something to the effect of, “There’s no denying that people’s first impression of me is often, ‘Damn, Burell, you’re too intense!’ But after a while they see the rest of me, and realize I’m also mellow in my own way.” “Damn” is a soft enough word these days – and I certainly don’t toss out higher-level potty words like rhymes-with-fit or ends-many-limericks-about-Nantucket or leads-to-supposedly-eternal-damnation in professional company – and I wondered about the wisdom of the utterance after it escaped my mouth (and this was in like the middle of the second hour of the interview), but somehow the fact that the offer was still made left me feeling even happier than otherwise about accepting it when it came in hour three.”

Is it really that difficult to just be yourself, and just for a moment, maybe pretend that you are a better version of who you really? The thing about admitting your own true colors is that you might have to admit some of the things, that you yourself, might find questionable, or that society deems one thing or another.  Even worse is when you realize mid-interview that you are indeed not the “best fit” as you had hoped you would be…for that international school you have been wanting to work at…in the city you really had been wanting to live in.

hiring fairs

The famous psychiatrist Carl Jung operates with something called archetypes. Two of those archetypes are known as the Shadow and the Persona. The Persona is the way we want the world to see us at our very best, the peak of our personality, but always with a mask that protects the ego, and paints an uneven picture of the person we are. The Shadow is the exact opposite. This is, according to Jung, the essence of us. The Shadow contains all our traits, the good and the bad, the flattering and unflattering, but it is our true personality. With age comes sagacity, and we start to know more about who we are, and as years pass we learn to accept ourselves, flaws and all. We learn to deal with our shortcomings, and learn to see beyond what we aren’t and what we are. The human being is of a complex size, we contain so many different traits, and as we get older we learn, and become better to deal with what is giving and what we achieve, what we learn and the wisdom we obtain.

The thing about job interviews is that we only want people to see us at our very best, or to put in a more accurate sense: what we think they want! We somehow create an illusion, that’s inevitably going to burst, it might turn out for the better, but it could as easy turn out for the worse. Honesty is the best policy, especially in the international teaching world. We so desperately want to be everything a job applicant is looking for, when in the end, all that weighs the most, probably is our personality. Our own true personality and how that matches up with the administration and staff at a school.

“Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose, and then where are you?” is a quote by comedienne Fanny Brice. When you create illusions or pose in a manner that is untrue to yourself, can you really expect to be liked or hired for the person you are. What sets us apart, and makes us different, is in the end what makes us unique, and when it comes to a job interview, it is the way we should be judged.

So is it really so difficult to just be yourself? If you let go of some kind of perfect perception of yourself, and just act natural, it really isn’t. Of course it takes years to accept yourself and to fully come into your own, but you will find that it somehow feels better in your own skin, when you are simply just yourself.  And maybe, just maybe you will make one of the hardest and scariest decisions you will make in your life (accepting a job at an international school in a location of the world you have never been to; and not knowing anybody there) a bit easier on your mind knowing that you have done your best to show your true self at the interview.

“Nine Lessons Learned” taken from The Wonderful World of International School Hiring Fairs article by Clay Burell’s blog Beyond School.

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Highlighted Articles

Highlighted article: Which international school job fairs do you recommend and the job fair circus!

November 26, 2011


In these two blog entries by Greg Clinton, he discusses the topic of the international school job fairs.  He is currently working in the international school community at American Embassy School, New Delhi.

Parts of the two entries we’d like to highlight:

Job Fairs: Which One Do You Recommend?

“The international school community is known for relatively high change-over rates in faculty, compared to schools that are rooted in a particular community “back home”.

The most traditional way to get a job overseas is The Job Fair.  ”Are you going to the job fairs?” is a question we will all hear and ask more often as the end of the calendar year approaches.  But job fairs are expensive to attend and some candidates have to travel thousands of miles, without the guarantee that it will net them a new job.  More and more interviews are being conducted over Skype and more connections are being made through online services such as TIE Online’s resume service and databases like the NAIS candidate pools.

Question for administrators:  Is it necessary to meet a candidate face-to-face, or can hiring be done effectively over Skype?  Also, which job fairs do you prefer, and why?”

As we write this blog entry, some of the staff at International School Community have friends that have already informed us that they have received and accepted offers to work at their next international school.  No job fairs were involved, just Skype and over the phone.  Also, in a few of the situations, the power of the people you know in the international school community has helped.  You work with a director at one international school in Europe and then that director moves to a school in South America.  Four years down the road, you find yourself being offered a job at the director’s new school.

It is important to remember not to burn any bridges as you never know what the future may hold in terms of which school you find yourself working at next in your life.  Many international school teachers are indeed getting hired more and more over Skype.  It just might be the way of the future of getting hired at international schools.  Sometimes though it is a bit of fun to go to an international school job fair anyways as you never know what you might find there and who you might interview with at those things.  I remember seeing somebody in the elevator at a Search fair and then nine months later seeing them at the same IB conference.  We remembered each other just in that brief moment in the elevator!

The job fair that most teachers prefer is the one that cost the least money probably.  They all seem to be doing relatively the same format anyways.  One key factor though is knowing which international schools go to which job fairs.  No good going to one fair when the schools you are most looking at are not going to that fair that year.

International Job Circus

“Hiring fairs are where most teachers looking for international teaching jobs line up new positions.  Some schools and administrators have been looking elsewhere for their hiring needs, including websites and online databases of candidate information.  The International Educator, a “newspaper”/resume bank, is one such stalwart company offering an alternative to job fairs.  There are some other upstart websites that charge schools an exorbitant fee to see candidate info, but they won’t last long.  Really, it’s all about being face to face.

There are three main institutions that provide the most complete job search settings: Search Associates, International Schools Services, and the University of Northern Iowa.  They have their strengths and weaknesses, but they offer a comparable experience.

I attended the Search Associates fair in Bangkok not long ago.  It took place in a swank hotel that I couldn’t afford, but I enjoyed wearing my new suit, drinking coffee in the lobby and pretending.  There are two things I love about the fair experience, and two things I think are not so great.

Things I love:

Everybody’s there.  It’s like a gigantic, international school orgy.  The schmooze is thick, and the glad-handing is non-stop, but come on!  It’s exciting, you get to meet new people (I personally know two couples who have met at job fairs and gotten married the next year – perhaps Search and ISS should start a teacher match-making service?  Something to consider!) and you get to play the hunter or the hunted.  Right now, if you’re a decent candidate without a criminal record and no facial tattoos, you are probably one of the hunted.  But there are lean years and fat years for teachers.  Anyway, there you are, in the ballroom, surrounded by potential bosses all trying to be as nice and smart as possible.  You might run into old friends, or you might impress a superintendent and make a contact for later.  It’s an extrovert’s dream.

Note passing.  Not only are we auditioning for roles as school teachers, but we get to re-live our school days by passing secret love letters in the little bins.  What joy when you receive a note saying “I’d LOVE to sit down and chat with you…  I’m in room 275.”  What heartache when your bin is empty!  It’s all so deliciously human.  Composing your own notes is equally fun and tense.  What tone do I use?  Do I want to come across as playful?  Professional?  Smart?  Serious?  Do I just let my feelings flow: I’m in love with your school and want to spend the rest of my life with it?  Your school completes me?  You had me at “2 bedroom apartment”?  Or do I hold back, play hard to get?

Things I don’t love:

Being in a stranger’s bedroom.  I don’t see a logistical way around this problem, but it’s one of the creepiest parts of the hiring process.  Have you ever walked into an interview only to be faced with a pile of dirty clothes or someone’s underwear sticking out of a suitcase, or just a rumpled, used bed?  It’s distracting, unsettling.  Who was in that bed last night?  I don’t really want to be thinking about it, thank you very much.  I suppose the lesson is: administrators beware: your hotel room is a direct reflection of you.  In other words, arrange your most important interviews over coffee at the restaurant or something.

The cost.  This is why more and more candidates are turning to the Interwebs.  Search Associates charges something like $600 just to register as a candidate. [Correction: $200 for fair registration, includes one hiring fair.  Thanks, Jim.]  You’ll have to fly yourself there and back, and the hotels are usually up-scale.  A teacher could easily spend a month’s salary or more to attend a fair, and have no guarantee of landing a new position.  Schools spend tons to jet their administrators around, and then they pay sizable finders fees to the agencies.  Again, I’m not sure I see an easy solution.”

It is a bit weird to be going into a stranger’s bedroom at a hotel.  A person can’t get that comfortable in a hotel room I guess.  One question: have international schools been using their bedrooms for interviews since the inception of the international school job fair?  Seems like there might be a better option.  What other industries hold job fairs at hotels?

Indeed there are many things to love and hate about the fairs.  Thanks to the Wandering Academic for your excellent insight into the international school job fairs!

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9 Lessons Learned Regarding Intl School Hiring Fairs

Lesson 3 at International School Hiring Fairs: “Interview questions make the interviewer.”

November 6, 2011


“Nine Lessons Learned” taken from The Wonderful World of International School Hiring Fairs article by Clay Burell’s blog Beyond School.

1. “Interview questions make the interviewer.”

“By the end of the first of my four days of interviewing, it struck me how different interviews are based on the questions asked (and not asked) by the interviewer. Some of them seemed as stilted and scripted as the worst end-of-chapter questions from the worst textbooks (redundant?). They felt less like interviews than exercises in checking off the questions boxes. It wasn’t quite “schooliness,” so can we call it “interviewiness”?

The best interviews, on the other hand, were more free-flowing and responsive, characterized by give-and-take expansiveness as one party or the other heard something no script could predict.”

There are reasons that international schools use a list of questions to ask their interviewees.  On the other hand there are reasons that interviewers don’t use a list of questions.  Is one way better than the other, I am not for sure.  I was just talking with another international school teacher today and she was saying that using a list of questions can help you compare the different candidates equally and that it helps you determine better if that candidate is meeting or not meeting the criteria you have set out to find.  I can see how that can be beneficial, especially if there is a group of people interviewing the person versus just one administrator doing the interview.  However, I must admit I myself much prefer to to have more of a “give-and-take” where the school is asking you questions to further what you were just talking about and to naturally move to the next topic of discussion organically and naturally.

International schools though only have a limited amount of time during the actual interview session with the different candidates at the recruitment fair.  Because the candidate before inevitably goes longer than he/she should of and because the interviewers themselves sometime need a break between their back to back interviews, the time you actually get to talk with the school is so limited.  It doesn’t work well if they are only asking those few specific questions and seeing you sometimes squander to figure out an answer; that just might waste everyone’s time.  And when you do state your answer, that the time you have to talk is so limited because they need to get through to the rest of the questions instead of thoroughly listening to you.

Sometimes schools hold 15-minute initial interviews at international school teacher recruitment fairs to help them find out who their final short list of candidates to interview are.  Most of the main interviews last around 30 minutes.  Some people think that with using the list of questions idea is that maybe that it is not exactly showing who that person is as a teacher, it is more about how fast that they can think on their feet.   Also, I suppose if you are asking the same questions over and over again you might forget if you had asked that question already as I’m sure the interviews themselves tend to blur a bit.  Finally, given the time constraint on you when you only have a limited amount of time to let the school know the things you want them to know.  Sometimes an interview using “the list” doesn’t allow for you to show you teaching portfolio or whatever real things that related to your real teaching and teaching experiences.

Always remember though, at international school teacher recruitment fairs, you are also interviewing the school.  You have your list of questions as well I suppose.  Sometimes you don’t get the chance to have them all answered; though some of them might have been answered during the beginning part of your interview anyway.  Don’t forget that you have a say during this stressful time at the fair.  It is easy sometimes to get caught up with the idea that you want to like all schools that you are interviewing with and to have the schools like you back.  However, deep down, that is most likely not the case.  If the interview process of one school is giving you an impression of being stilted and scripted, it is possible that means you indeed might not be a good match for that school as you would need to be directly working with these people eventually.

It is important to note though that most schools are not using a list of questions during the sign-up/round robin sessions which is usually only 2-3 minutes maximum of interaction…and that might be stretching it.  Another question I have is if the international schools really think about the different set of questions for the type of position they are looking to fill.  Additionally, are they using this same list when they are interview people over Skype, telephone, in person at their school, etc…

List or no list, definitely try your best to be well aware of how the administrators are using it or the style they are implementing to replace it.

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Video Highlight

Video highlight: Introduction to PTIS International School (Chiang Mai, Thailand)

November 1, 2011


PTIS International School (Chiang Mai, Thailand)

The location of the school looks quite serene, so green and clean-looking.  The area with the bike rider going along on a nearby path looks amazing.  Having a school around so much nature can be quite inspiring we would imagine.

Definitely looks like an inviting campus. The Olympic sized swimming pool is probably well appreciate by the students, parents and staff.

The cooking staff looks like they would cook up some great meals. Yum!  I wonder if the teachers eat for free.

On their website it appears as if they have a professional sports academies in tennis, cricket, golf and football.  Not all schools are offering that!

Check out their profile page on International School Community here.

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Hiring Policies at Int’l Schools

Comments and information about hiring policies on International School Community #1 (Singapore, Kuwait & Beijing)

October 29, 2011


A new blog topic on International School Community: Comments and information about hiring policies

Every week members are leaving information and comments about the hiring policies at international schools around the world.  Which ones go to the Search Associates Recruitment Fairs?  Which ones hold interviews over Skype?  Which ones have hiring restrictions imposed on them by the host country?  All important questions to think about when job searching, but where to find the answers to those questions?

Sometimes it is hard to keep track of which international schools go to which recruitment fairs and which international schools employ which interview style and tactic.  At International School Community, we want to make the search for information about hiring policies easier for international school teachers. In the school section of each international school profile page on our website, there is a section specific to the school’s hiring policies.  The topic is: “Describe their hiring policies. Which recruiting fairs do they go to? How do they typically hire (e.g. face-to-face interview, Skype, etc.)? Are there any hiring restrictions mandated by the country?”

Here are 3 out of the many comments and information related to the hiring policies of international schools that have been posted on our website:

Western Academy Beijing

“Go to SEARCH fairs in Bangkok, London and Boston. Also other fairs in New York, San Francisco and Toronto Some people hired after SKYPE interviews – often people who have been recommended.”

American Bilingual School

“If the candidate is not present in Kuwait, the interview will take place via phone. Standard questions related your experience and suitability for the position will be covered. In addition, you will be asked about your age, your marital status, your state of health, and height/weight. Such questions are customary for overseas positions. All successful applicants will be required to email or send a 3 minute DVD of himself/herself delivering a sample lesson within their subject area.”

International School Singapore

“I interviewed with this school last March. It was over Skype with the elementary principal. She was very nice. The interview was professional, but also a bit informal which is what I prefer, a more casual conversation about my teaching experience and the school. I actually was emailed again to have a 2nd interview. After the 2nd interview I was told that they were going to go with a local hire. She told me that they have hired expat in the past that have been surprised (not prepared) to handle the high cost of living in Singapore vs. the salary and benefits of the school.”

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Highlighted Year for Int’l Schools

International schools that were founded in 1974 (The Netherlands, Spain and Indonesia)

October 22, 2011


Random year for international schools around the world: 1974

Utilizing the database of the 923 international schools currently listed on International School Community, we found 3 international schools that were founded in 1974 (excepts about their founding are taken from the schools’ websites):

International Secondary School Eindhoven (Eindhoven, The Netherlands)

“The secondary or high school section opened its doors in September 1974. Initially, it only offered the London based General Certificate of Education (GCE) curriculum. In 1982, the pre-university International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum was introduced as a follow on to the GCE programme. At the present time, the school´s curriculum is based on the IB Middle Years and IB Diploma Programmes.”

American School Valencia  (Valencia, Spain)

“In 1974, the company Ford España, S.A. was established in Valencia, and many American and British families came over to create and develop the company. Within a short time, it became evident that schooling for the children of these families was needed and thus the Angloamerican School of Valencia in the town of Rocafort was created.  An increasing number of children from Valencia enrolled in the school, so that when the foreign families returned to their countries of origin, these Spanish families wanted to continue educating their children in a bilingual school. Los Monasterios was selected as the site, and the Spanish-English bilingual school, Colegio Hispano Norteamericano was built in 1980.  The name was changed to American School of Valencia to reflect the fact that our language of instruction, except in Spanish subjects, is English. Beginning with only 27 students, we now have 750 students from nursery to grade 12.”

International School Bogor (Bogor, Indonesia)

“The establishment of the Bogor Expatriate School was from a direct response and needs of expatriate families living in Bogor.  Our friend and mentor Mrs. Mahdi consulted Dr. Syarief Thayeb, the Minister of Education for advice and assistance.   Accordingly the Yayasan Bogor Expatriate School was established by notarial deed. In May 1974 Mr. L. Shepler, the director of industrial relations for the Good Year Company, formed a committee of expatriate parents to examine the various possibility to provide primary education in Bogor for the international community.  At the time, expatriate children living in Bogor, attended embassy schools in Jakarta, a drive of 1 to 2 hours for pre-school to grade 6 students over a road considered to be extremely dangerous.  In order to eliminate this daily travel,  Good Year Company spearheaded the effort to establish an expatriate school.  The many difficulties faced by this enterprising group were overcome and due to their determination, the Bogor Expatriate School was founded on June 15, 1974 in a converted house on Jalan Pangrango 15.”

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9 Lessons Learned Regarding Intl School Hiring Fairs

Lesson #2 at International School Hiring Fairs: ‘Energy is eternal delight’ – so its opposite is…?

October 8, 2011


“Energy is eternal delight” – so its opposite is….?

“(h/t to William Blake who, though dead, deserves eternal credit for the eternally delightful maxim.) If, like mine, your own heart seems to pump more espresso than blood, then it may be important to consider the energy coming from those interviewing you.

I’m not saying interviewers need to be manic or anything; I’m just saying a lack of excitement, of a sort of buoyancy – of even a decorously restrained intensity – when discussing educational vision while courting for a temporary professional marriage may be, well, a screaming red flag.

Granted, the interviewers are stuck in their hotel rooms interviewing candidate after candidate for many more straight hours than the candidates themselves, but still – we’re all teachers, current or past, so we should be pretty good at keeping our energy level up whenever a professional client enters the room, be it classroom or hotel room. The short version? Beware the droopy interviewer, and put a gold star by the inspired/inspiring one. You are, after all, bound to be sitting in many more meetings with them if you sign the contract to work with them. If they’re sleepy, chances are you’ll be a sleepy worker with them. But if they’re exciting – in a way that rings true (and we all have what Hemingway calls a “shock-proof sh!t-detector,” don’t we, to distinguish real from fake excitement, yes?) – then consider fishing your pocket for that ring, and dropping to your knees on the spot.”

It is true, there is nothing like going into somebody’s hotel room to do an interview.  Seems quite strange now that we are thinking about more.  The recruiters seemingly are stuck in their hotel room for the whole day almost, for sure they will lose some of their energy.  However, there are things administrators could do to help the situation.  They can bring some things to make the hotel room appear cozier (e.g. more school logos, lcd projector displaying slide show of their school’s pictures, etc.).  They can change the format of the interview to be less formal and more of a discussion between friends (e.g. offering a nice herbal tea, etc.).  They can also just take a walk around the hotel (inside and outside), talking with the candidate as they go.  I know that last one seems a little outside the box, but really, if international schools that recruit at these recruitment fairs (which are normally held in hotels) think outside the box a little…things just might improve for everyone involved.

We have all had interviews in one of those hotel rooms where the interviewers seem disorganized, unaware really of who is sitting in front of them at the moment.  Some interviewers due indeed look rather confused and out-of-sorts, in a state of mind that doesn’t allow for excitement about their school to come beaming through.  But as Clay Burell is saying, none of these things should matter if that person is truly excited about their school.  It should indeed be quite clear to the candidate whether the administrators enjoy working at their school.  If they don’t appear to be, then it just might be a “red flag” to stay away from that school.

But let’s not forget that there are different cultural norms among all the different kinds of international schools out there.  Some British international schools are a little “stricter” than other international schools.  Some tend to conduct themselves in a more serious straight-faced manner.  That manner might just come across as that person is bored, with a lackluster vision of the school at which they are working.  However, the opposite might just be the case, as they are just putting on a formal show of decorum and professionalism that is more commonly found at a British international school setting.  That school, once you get there, might be a very fun place to work at.  The people there, though a bit formal at meetings and in other functions, might just be exciting and fun to be around in more informal settings.

Overall though, we suggest that you do observe how engaged your interviewer is at international school recruitment fairs.  It could be telling of your future if you get offered a contract and end up working at that school.

“Nine lessons learned” taken from The Wonderful World of International School Hiring Fairs article by Clay Burell’s blog Beyond School.



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Salaries at Int’l Schools

Comments and information about salaries on International School Community #1 (Hong Kong, Shanghai & Seoul)

October 1, 2011


A new blog topic on International School Community: Comments and information about salaries at international schools.

Every week members are leaving information and comments on the salaries that teachers are making at international schools around the world.  Which ones pay more?  Which ones do you have to pay very high taxes?  Which ones offer tax-free salaries?  All important questions to think about when job searching, but where to find the answers to those questions?

Why do schools keep their salary information so secret?  Even at international school job fairs, you don’t really get to see the exact amount of your yearly and monthly salary until you see the contract paperwork.  Even then sometimes you don’t know what will be your exact take-home pay each month.  At International School Community, we want to make the search for salaries easier for international school teachers. In the benefits section of the school profile page, there is a section specifically for salaries.  The topic is: “Average monthly salary after taxes and in what currency (explain taxation situation). How often do you get paid throughout the year?”

Here are 3 out of the many comments and information related to salaries that have been posted on our website:

Seoul International School

“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.”

Western Int’l School of Shanghai

“Net salary for someone with over 10 yrs exp is currently 24000 rmb. Not bad in rmb but doesn’t convert very well! Payment is monthly.”

American International School (Hong Kong)

“Taxes are low in Hong Kong and there is no sales tax. Teachers must pay for housing, though, and that is quite expensive, unless you want to live outside the city and/or in substandard accommodation. I was able to live comfortably and travel when I wanted to, but I was not able to save anything.”

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9 Lessons Learned Regarding Intl School Hiring Fairs

Lesson #1 at International School Hiring Fairs: Bad interviews are good things

September 6, 2011


Bad interviews are good things

interviews“No matter the reputation of the school, the people sitting across from you in the hotel room asking you questions in that school’s name are a stronger indicator of how it would feel to work at that school. I talked to English department heads whose questions – and my answers – made it clear to both of us that we would, or would not, make a happy marriage. There was an unsurprising correlation between this marital element and the offering or non-offering of a position at each school. Schools touting themselves as “21st century schools” and banging their laptop program drums – and during interviews with which I expected flower petals to descend from on high – on an occasion or two turned out to instead voice sentiments belonging to, um, people who’d obviously never experienced the literacy magic that happens after a few months writing and conversing behind the wheel of a blog. No rose-petals there – instead, many mental leaves of wet cabbage fell, probably, in both our imaginations. Marriage for the next two years? We think not. Thank goodness for the bad interview, and for the “We’re sorry we cannot offer you a job at this time.” No apology necessary, really – good luck.”

How wonderful.  This idea behind feeling good about bad interviews is perfect.  Sometimes we get caught up in all the hoopla at recruitment fairs.  We see teacher after teacher getting job offers and then there’s you, not getting ANY offers.  We have all been there I’m sure.  The worst is when you are in the elevators with the people talking so excitingly about their latest job offers and new contracts they are going to sign the next morning.  Like we have said before, it is all about luck and timing.  And now, there is a new addition to our quote about job hunting…if you are the right match for each other, it will be glaringly apparent.  If you are the right fit for each other, then you are the right fit.  It is truly like finding a partner or a spouse in life – you need to be at the right time and at the right place in each others’ lives for things to work out, and you must have some chemistry between each other.

We have all left interviews thinking “Oh, I really would like to have the opportunity to work at this school” knowing deep down that the person didn’t think you were the best fit and knowing even deeper down that you also didn’t think you were the best fit.  Sometimes you just want to get affirmation that you are a “good catch” at the international school recruitment fairs (UNI Overseas Placement Fair, Search Associates, International School Services, CIS, etc.) and you want to get job offers from everyone.  Some teachers are told to accept and go to all offers to interview.  If you do just that, you many times find yourself in hotel rooms with some administrator who is not speaking the same language as you.  They are talking and going through their speech about their school, but you are just thinking this is not the person I want to be working with, it is not the school I want to be working at and this is not the country that I want to be living in.  At the end of one of our bad interview experiences, the school asked “so what do you think?” and the person responded “I’m sorry, I just don’t think we are a good fit to work together.”  They sat there with shocked looks on their faces!  Sometimes you just need to be blunt, to get your point across because some schools may not even realize they have also just experienced a bad interview.

interviewsTraits and signs that a bad interview is taking place at an international school recruitment fair:

  • The administrator is saying to their counterpart “So, who was this person again?”
  • They are only talking about the good benefits package and how great it is to live and work there.
  • The director is sitting in a corner of the hotel room going through a mess of paperwork on the bed while the principal is interviewing you.
  • The people interviewing you are literally arguing how you are not a good fit. (e.g. “We usually only hire people from the UK.” “We are looking to hire someone locally for the position.”)
  • The administrators are not even asking you questions about teaching only about if they can find a way to hire you that would be in agreement with the laws of the host country (or ways to get around it).
  • The interviewers are coming across as far superior than you and can’t stop talking about their school as if it was a top-tier international school, when indeed they are truly not!
  • The person interviewing you doesn’t even physically work at the school you would be working at and they are only talking about how great the company is that owns the school.

“Nine lessons learned” taken from The Wonderful World of International School Hiring Fairs article by Clay Burell’s blog Beyond School.

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Great Resource

Great resource: Want to work at an international school in Thailand?

September 4, 2011


International Schools for Bangkok and Thailand

Wow!  There are many international schools in Thailand.  Actually, a high number of visits to International School Community each month are from Thailand.  So, it is no surprise that there are many people wanting information about the international schools there.

The website has a great map of all the international schools in Thailand.


It also has all the international schools listed in a table which shows which curriculum each school has, the city it is in, the level of education they provide to students and main language of instruction.

Other highlights from this page:

“We are often asked for ‘foreign schools’ in Bangkok and Thailand. None of the international schools in Bangkok and Thailand is really a ‘foreign school’ since they are all accredited by the Ministry of Education in Thailand, a legal process that eventually makes them Thai schools. International schools use a foreign curriculum, as opposed to the national Thai curriculum, from the United States, United Kingdom, Singapore, Switzerland, Germany, Australia etc.”

“An international school is loosely defined as a school that promotes international education, either by adopting an international curriculum such as that of the International Baccalaureate or Cambridge International Examinations, or by following a national curriculum different from that of the country the school is located in. These schools cater mainly to students who are not nationals of the host country, such as the children of the staff of international businesses, international organizations, foreign embassies, missions, or missionary programs. Many local students attend these schools to learn the language of the international school and to obtain qualifications for employment or higher education in a foreign country”

So, who wants to work in Thailand???

Check out the international schools listed in Thailand on International School Community.

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Highlighted Year for Int’l Schools

International schools that were founded in 1978 (Mauritania, Egypt, Kuwait, etc.)

July 31, 2011


Random year for international schools around the world: 1978

Utilizing the database of the 840 international schools currently listed on International School Community, we found  schools that were founded in 1978 (excepts about their founding are taken from the schools’ websites):

The American International School of Nouakchott (Nouakchott, Mauritania)

“The founding of the school in 1978 was very much an effort of the American and international community, and its strengths corresponded with the talents and the generous volunteer spirit of the community. The school was initially in one wing of the Grayzel house. There were two classrooms and an atrium with a garden. Initially instruction was from the Calvert Correspondence course.”

Lycee International School of Los Angeles (Los Angeles, United States of America)

“The school opened in a small house in Van Nuys with only seven students. Some 30 years later, the school has grown to five campuses with more than 900 students and has earned an enviable reputation with its placement of graduates in French universities, grandes écoles and within the American university system.

Of the original 1978 founders, two are still on the Board of Trustees. Others have joined the Board which now renews itself regularly. By combining those who have been Trustees for years with new Trustees bringing a fresh perspective, the Board is prepared to meet the 21st century with both maturity and vigor.”

New Cairo British International School (Cairo, Egypt)

British School of Kuwait (Safat, Kuwait)

“The British School of Kuwait (BSK) traces its origins to 1978 when Vera and Sadiq Al-Mutawa established a small kindergarten which became known as The Sunshine School. Steady growth took place through the 1980s and, having recovered from the ravages of the invasion of 1990, by 1992 the School accommodated 550 kindergarten and primary students. The decision having been made to serve the community at both Primary and Secondary levels, a move to the present site in Salwa took place and in September 1992, newly-named, The British School of Kuwait opened to 900 students.”

Vienna International School (Vienna, Austria)

“The Vienna International School was founded in September 1978 to serve the children of the United Nations and diplomatic community in Vienna. It is also open to children of the international business community and of Austrian families. Over 100 nationalities are represented among its 1,400 children.”

Acs International School – Hillingdon Campus (Hillingdon, England)

The main house: The handsome and substantially built mansion was originally constructed in white brick and stone in the classical style, between 1854 and 1858, by P.C. Hardwick for Sir Charles Mills, an international banker from one of the most affluent City families of the 19th century.”

International School São Lourenço (Almacil, Portugal)

Sotogrande International School (Cadiz, Spain)

“The school was opened in Cortijo Paniagua with just 11 pupils and very soon developed into a successful and popular primary school. The school was governed by a Board of Governors who retained close links to Sotogrande SA, the company that owns the prestigious Sotogrande estate and provided premises for the original school. By 1990 the school had a roll of 250 pupils and included a high quality secondary school offering UK O-level and A-level courses. For twenty years the school grew steadily and established itself as a leading British-style school in Spain.”

Fairview International School (Kuala, Lumpur)

American School of Douala (Douala, Cameroon)

” Founded in 1978, the American School of Douala (ASD) is an independent coeducational, non-sectarian school, which provides an English language educational program from pre-school through tenth grade.”

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Great Link

Are students from one culture group “taking-over” certain international schools?

June 3, 2011


I found an article related to this very topic here.

It is about how there are many international schools in Riyadh in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that have very high populations of Filipino students.

Is it true that in most places in the world, where there are international schools, that there is many times a “dominant” culture group at each school?  I know that when people talk about many schools in China, one of the first questions out of people’s mouths is “Do you have a lot of Korean students?”  It seems like there is a high number of Korean families living here in China that want to send their children to international schools to learn in English.  Normally that wouldn’t be a problem, but it seems to be creating one for the owners/school boards.  They even go as far as to limit the number of Korean students that they will allow in each classroom!  It seems a bit of a touchy subject I think.  Many international schools strive to have equal amounts of all their culture groups, not have one culture group ever dominate the school.  But, that is not always possible in a specific city in the world.

So, what about other areas of the world?  Are there students from one culture group “taking-over” certain international schools?

International School Community would like to encourage its members to comment on this topic, especially providing some insight about how things are in the schools that they know about.

I can honestly say that I did not realize that in Riyadh there was a huge population of Filipino students.  Because of the high population of this specific culture group, according to the article, there seem to be a lot of people involved in decision-making based on this dominant group.  The schools there are hiring specialized trainers to help the teachers that are working in those schools.  The schools are also having to deal a lot with the national government of the home country to that group.

The article also highlights how there is definitely a demand for teacher specializing in giving professional development in-service sessions to teachers at international schools.  International School Community would like to talk more about this topic in a future entry on our blog, so stay tuned!

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Highlighted Articles

Making Life Easier for International Schools During Recruiting Season

January 23, 2023


Recruiting the best possible international school staff is always a challenge.  Once you have top international educators, you really want to make sure you keep them!

In such a competitive market during international school recruitment season, it is important to stand out in a crowd. You also want to be seen and known to be the international school or group of international schools that look after its people. 

Employee benefits have been slow to come to the international school sector, but it is becoming a well-established tool that has already been used successfully by a number of international schools to attract and retain their staff.

It is important to look at how an occupational international retirement and savings plan can be a simple and effective method to provide a meaningful benefit to your staff; be they local, expatriate, short-term or career-focused.

Over the years there have been bad experiences in this growing sector with international teachers being sold inappropriate individual products that are too rigid in requirements, have expensive investment options and are opaque in their fees.  However, the desire to save is an important objective. It is vital that international educators make the most of working overseas from a career perspective, but also for financial benefit.

By providing an occupational plan, you can offer a simple and easy way to save as well as tailor it to your requirements.  So what does that mean?  The rules can be customised for international school management. The options allow you to: 

·   Decide who can join the plan

·   Provide an employer contribution but have different percentages for different categories of staff, to reward loyalty and seniority.

·   Provide a “signing on/contract completion” bonus.

·   Ensure employees finish their first contract or serve an amount of time before they receive the rights to any employer contribution/bonus value. 

·   Limit access to any employer contributions until they leave employment or retire, so they have a meaningful benefit when they leave.

·   Allow employees to make additional savings safely and easily via payroll at no extra cost.   This can be used for short to medium-term goals such as house purchase, marriage, education or hardship.

·   Allow local employees an easy and cheap way to save in international currency.

The good news is that the costs are simple and transparent and they can be paid by the international school, the employee or shared.

Easy to Administer

We know how busy international school boards and admin are.  Therefore Sovereign will use its expertise to learn what you want to achieve and build the plan to suit your requirements.  We’ll do all the heavy lifting, so you don’t have to.

·   We’ll deliver a co-branded employee booklet tailored to your membership

·   Deliver launch presentations to engage the population

·   Provide institutional class funds by Vanguard, Fidelity, iShares/Blackrock that are ESG focused where possible.

·   Provide a secure portal, so the members can self-serve thereby reducing traffic to HR

·   The good news is that HR only has to upload basic new joiner information.  Our system will automatically engage the employee.  HR will also need to upload a contribution file and send one lump sum payment at the frequency agreed.

·   Members and HR can view and export their information.

So as you can see: simple, effective and secure.  Check out the International Schools case study: International Solutions – The Sovereign Group

Why not act now and get the process started by contacting (Mrs) Jo Smeed on jsmeed@sovereigngroup.com

Jo Smeed has spent 25 years providing international retirement & savings schemes to employers of all sizes, locations and sectors and brings her expertise and experience to deliver the optimum solution.

The Sovereign Group is a global company with over 20 offices around the world. 

This is a sponsored article submitted to ISC via Sovereign Group.

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Highlighted Articles

ICT for Learner Autonomy at International Schools

January 8, 2023


Are you looking to increase learner autonomy in your English language classroom? Integrating technology, specifically ICT (Information and Communication Technology), may be the way to go.

Studies have shown that when students have access to ICT in the learning environment, they have more control over their own learning process. They are able to monitor their progress, identify their learning needs, and construct their own knowledge based on the information available. This can lead to a more positive approach toward learning and increased efficiency in the learning environment.

Here are a few more examples of using ICT to enhance learner autonomy:

  1. Online language learning platforms: There are many websites and apps, such as Duolingo, Babbel, and Rosetta Stone, that offer interactive language-learning activities, such as vocabulary drills, grammar exercises, and listening comprehension practice. These resources allow students to work at their own pace and track their progress.
  2. Virtual language exchange programs: Tandem, HelloTalk, and ConversationExchange are platforms that match students with native speakers of the language they are learning, allowing them to practice speaking and listening skills through live conversations. This can be a great way for students to take control of their own language learning and engage in authentic communication.
  3. Collaborative document editing: Tools like Google Docs allow students to work on writing projects together in real time, regardless of their physical location. This allows for peer editing and feedback, as well as the opportunity for students to take on different roles and responsibilities within the group.
  4. Podcasts and video lectures: Students can use their own devices to access recorded lectures or podcasts on a variety of language learning topics. YouTube and iTunes are both great sources for language learning podcasts and video lectures, such as The English We Speak and BBC Learning English. This gives students the freedom to review the material at their own pace and revisit specific sections as needed.

However, it’s important to note that many students may not be familiar with using ICT resources for language learning. That’s why it’s important for teachers to provide orienting activities, such as introductions to the ICT tools and instructional objectives, to guide students through the learning process and reduce anxiety.

It’s also crucial that the use of ICT is relevant to the students’ needs and interests. Both teachers and students must be willing to adopt new roles and use technology appropriately in order to truly benefit from technology-based learning activities.

In conclusion, incorporating ICT into your language learning curriculum can be a great way to increase learner autonomy. Just make sure to provide the necessary support and structure to ensure a smooth and effective learning experience.

This article was submitted by Ayoub Chaouch, a teacher with 6 years of experience in teaching English, history, and geography at primary and secondary education levels.

He is currently working at Shenzhen Chenghan Experimental School in Shenzhen, China as a Secondary Education High School Geography and History Teacher and Middle School English and Language Arts Teacher. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Management at Keele University.

His skills include lesson planning, facilitating engaging classroom discussions, helping students improve their language skills, and evaluating student progress through assessments. He is skilled at guiding and counseling students with academic problems or special academic interests. You can reach him at ayoub.chaouch@live.com

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Ten Commandments of Relocating Overseas

Ten Commandments of Relocating Overseas #5: Strengthen and Maintain your Enthusiasm

January 1, 2023


Look for ways to strengthen and maintain your enthusiasm.

We all have been there before; alone in your new apartment, not wanting to go out onto the street to the nearby market, not wanting to be confronted with a bunch of people that are speaking a language you don’t understand, feeling tired all the time and wanting to sleep through your whole weekend, etc.

It takes some mental toughness to get your spirits up again, to grasp at a tiny bit of enthusiasm when you are knee-deep in culture shock emotions. If this is your third international school, you might have said to yourself, “this time it is going to be different. I am going to accept people’s offers of invitation to go out around the town. I am going to be more positive and active during the first 3-6 months after I arrive.”

Sometimes it feels like every other new teacher at your school is full of enthusiasm and you are the only one not feeling that way. However, it is true that all new teachers go through this tough stage of culture shock, which is trying to stay positive about your situation and keeping an upbeat attitude about the host country and culture.

Ways to increase and maintain your enthusiasm:

• Invite some of the new teachers out for a drink at a bar in town, for a walk around the nearby park, for some dinner over at your new apartment, etc..

• Join a meetup.com group in your host city. There are many groups on that website from all over the world. Sometimes it is good to just get away from your work colleagues and meet some other expats in other industries.

• Start up a blog about all your new experiences living abroad. Keeping your friends and family up to date with all your new experiences can be quite motivating, and your friends and family look forward to your new entries and enjoy hearing about all your adventures.

• Make sure you have some of your favorite TV programs to watch on your computer. We have all experienced in at least one of the host cities we’ve lived in the long wait time that there can be when getting internet installed in your new apartment. Having some TV programs or favorite movies to watch in the meantime can definitely keep your enthusiasm from dipping too low.

• Make sure you don’t pass up your first travel opportunity on the school calendar. Looking online for flights to new destinations can really boost your enthusiasm for the expat life that you have chosen for yourself. If you are not feeling like traveling, just start asking the other teachers at your school where they might be going. Once you hear where they are going, you will for sure want to get on the bandwagon and get your trip planned as well.

• Before you move, make sure to pack some of your favorite home country food products. When you have a day that you are feeling down, you can get one of these products out for dinner. Having some familiar foods can really make you feel back on track. It might just be too much of a shock to your system to only be eating the host country’s cuisine.

Does anybody have any more good ideas for keeping up your enthusiasm? There are many more for sure. Just try and keep in mind the reason that you decided to take on this new challenge and change in your life. The life of an expat is indeed quite nice, but it is not full of wonderful moments all the time. International school teachers need to be prepared to handle these tough situations we experience every once in a while when our enthusiasm for this lifestyle temporarily dims.

This article was submitted anonymously by an ISC member.

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Information for Members

“Schools with Comments” search feature update (45869+ comments on over 1209 schools)

December 18, 2022


Our school profile search feature is one reason that makes International School Community unique. The search feature allows our members to search for the international schools that best fit their specific criteria.

This fast and easy-to-use search feature also helps international school teachers find the school profile pages on our website that have some useful comments and information on them.  You can easily see how many comments have been submitted on each school profile page by looking to the right of each school listed on the Schools List page.

The “Schools with Comments” tick box feature is at the bottom of our school profile search box (see the above picture).  If you only want to see school profiles that have comments on them in your search results, tick this box!  Then on the search results page, you will only see the schools that have comments. Genius!

Example: First we selected East Asia in the Region drop-down menu.  Then we selected China in the Country drop-down menu.  Finally, we selected Shanghai in the City drop-down menu.  But instead of getting ALL the school profile pages for schools in Shanghai, we put a tick next to the ‘schools with comments’ part before we pressed the Search button.

Here are the results of this search:

As of 18 December 2022, 27 schools in Shanghai have had comments and information submitted on their school profile pages.

Log-on right now to our website and start your searches using our ‘schools with comments’ feature (which is available to all members).

Currently, we have 1209 schools that have had comments and information submitted on them. That’s over half of the 2258 schools that we have listed on our website!

It is also important to note that there are over 45869 individual comments and information that have been submitted on our website.  All of these comments mean more informed teachers in our international school community!  We encourage all international school community members to share what they know by submitting comments on the international schools they currently work at or have worked at in the past. Why not become a Mayor of a school for unlimited free premium membership? Become a Mayor today!

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Information for Members

ISC Helps You to Compare the Salaries at 810+ International Schools

December 11, 2022


A survey that we did a few years ago made it clear which information international school teachers want to find out about when recruiting, and that is Salary Details.

What if you are only considering working in Shanghai? Or maybe you are only interested in working in Germany and are flexible about the city in which you would live. It would be invaluable information if you could access details about the salaries of all the international schools in that area of the world. Once you are able to take a look at the different salary details of a number of international schools, it could help you make a better decision on whether to accept an offer or not or which school you should put most of your focus on.

Compare School Salaries page: A unique feature on International School Community

Currently, we have over 1592 individual comments about international school salaries that have been submitted on our website (December 2022).  The specific comments and information about salaries have been submitted on 814 different international schools (December 2022).

The topic related to salaries (that members have left comments on) is on the Benefits tab which can be found on each school profile page.  The comment topic is called “Average monthly salary after taxes and in what currency (explain taxation situation). How often do you get paid throughout the year?”  Members are encouraged to leave informative details on a typical teacher’s monthly take-home salary at that school.

When you first visit the School Salaries page (premium membership access is needed), you will find that all the international schools (that have comments about salaries on their profile pages) are listed in alphabetical order. You can browse through all the schools there. But if you want to just view the schools from a specific region, country, or city in the world, then make sure to use the filter button on the right.  The filter feature allows you to filter the schools listed here and narrow down the list. You can more quickly find the specific schools at which you are most interested in checking out.

For example, let’s say you are only interested in working at an international school in Central/Eastern Europe.  Just click on the Select Region tab and select Central/Eastern Europe. After that, press the green Search button, and Voilà…only the schools matching your criteria show (currently 66 comments from 35 different international schools).


To see the exact salary comments, just click on the school. Here are some examples:

You could say that international schools like to keep their exact salary details secret.  Rarely do you find specific information about take-home salary on their websites.  Even on other websites where international schools display their vacancies, specific salary details are sometimes hard to find.  In turn, our Compare School Salaries page is quite special, useful, and unique!

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Information for Members

Top 27 International Schools With the Most Comments on ISC

December 4, 2022


Now there are 1209+ international schools that have had comments/reviews submitted on them on our website (up almost 100 schools from one year ago)!

Once schools have over 70 submitted comments, then it is very likely that you will be able to see how a specific comment topic has changed (or not changed) over time; with all the comments being date stamped.

Western International School of Shanghai  (566 total comments)

If there is more than one comment in a specific comment topic, the more recent comments either add on, compliment or amend the previous comments.

Some of our schools that have many submitted comments will sometimes have over 15 comments in one comment topic!

Copenhagen International School (414 total comments)

Just click on the “Show all” link to see the complete history of comments in this comment topic.

So let’s get to it, which schools are in the top 27? This list comes from December 2022 with a sample comment for each school.

Here we go:

27. Green School Bali

(Sibang, Indonesia) – 168 Comments
“As time has gone by the new airport has gotten better and better. Lots of eating options, good duty-free, loads of places to sit. Departing is fairly straightforward. Check-in, customs (who don’t care about your liquids as long as they’re not large), immigration, th…”

26. Changchun American International School

(Changchun, China) – 168 Comments
“Apartments are furnished by landlords so it can vary – but generally pretty basic. School gave me a metro card and a SIM card and phone til I sorted out my own…”

25. International School Saigon Pearl

(Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) – 169 Comments
“The airport can be very busy. The staff don’t always speak English and facilities are a bit limited for a major international airport to be honest. Best to get there early if you are departing…”

24. International School of Tanganyika

(Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) – 171 Comments
“The IT infrastructure has improved significantly but is still not without its challenges. Internet speed is reasonably fast, much much better than it used to be. All teachers are provided with a Macbook. At secondary, there are 4 computer labs. The science department has 25 m…”

23. Concordia International School (Shanghai)

(Shanghai, China) – 180 Comments
“The ‘common language spoken in the hallways’ depends on the grade level. Students who are only 3 or 4 might not have a lot of English. As the students get older, they are quite skilled in English…”

22. American School of Barcelona

(Barcelona, Spain) – 180 Comments
“The turnover rate is getting a bit higher because the cost of living in Spain is getting higher and higher and salaries are staying the same. Economically it is difficult in Spain right now. That being said Barcelona is a fantastic city to live in and no one wants to leave…”

21. The International School of Dakar

(Dakar, Senegal) – 181 Comments
“Very low turnover this year but we had a large turnover the previous year. Teachers tend to stay 3-4 years but some have stayed much longer…”

20. Canadian International School (Hong Kong)

(Hong Kong, China) – 185 Comments
“CDNIS is an IB World School, implementing PYP, MYP, and DP. In a recent report by the IB governing body, CDNIS must make major administrative and governing reforms in the next year…”

19. Lahore American School

(Lahore, Pakistan) – 193 Comments
“1/2 of the teachers are from North America and 1/2 from Pakistan, a few from UK…”

18. American School of Dubai

(Dubai, UAE) – 197 Comments
“Lately a number of teachers are heading to places like Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. They report great experiences! Oman remains the number one travel option, however, as it is right next door (door to door to Muscat is around the five hour mark) and has lots of great outdoor…”

17. Shanghai American School (Pudong)

(Shanghai, China) – 198 Comments
“There’s a new teacher coordinator who has been a great point of contact for new hires. Induction otherwise is done by partner teachers and departments. China has a lot of stuff to figure out once you get here, and there’s not enough time to help everyone with everything…”

16. Cairo American College

(Cairo, Egypt) – 199 Comments
“The subway costs 2 Egyptian pounds per ride. Taxis vary since you might have to haggle. Many people at the school use a regular driver. The one I use charges less than 200 Egyptian pounds for a trip to the airport, which is about an hour away…”

15. Ghandi Memorial International School

(Jakarta, Indonesia) – 203 Comments
“Bahasa Indonesia is the official language, with English spoken in major cities and tourist areas…”

14. Tsinghua International School (Beijing)

(Beijing, China) – 209 Comments
“There is a new airport going in south of Beijing to relieve the traffic at the main airport…”

13. Khartoum International Community School

(Khartoum, Sudan) – 213 Comments
“Teachers stay because they feel appreciated, their voices are heard, and they get to make a difference. Teachers leave because it’s not…”

12. Oeiras International School

(Lisbon, Portugal) – 220 Comments
“Back in the re-accreditation mode again with the self-study this year. The visit will be a joint visit next year with IB, ECIS, and NEASC…”

11. Keystone Academy

(Beijing, China) – 227 Comments
“Very near school is Pinnacle plaza with Jenny Wang grocery. This is also good for eating out. Newer and busier is Shine hills. Everything is here including a good cinema. Just open behind the school is a new plaza with a cinema and Sam’s Club and a food street, Starbucks, etc…”

10. Seoul Foreign School

(Seoul, South Korea) – 231 Comments
“Tutoring through the school is available if it is not your student. The school takes a portion leaving you with about $20 for 30 minutes of tutoring. Coaching stipends from $350-900 and lifeguarding at the school pool can bring in 25-45 dollars an hour.”

9. Tarsus American College

(Mersin, Turkey) – 283 Comments
“Down to two weeks of holiday in January. No other breaks and we’ve been told that in addition to losing our fall and spring breaks for intensive staff development other PD will be held on weekends…”

8. American International School (Vietnam)

(Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) – 303 Comments
“Now, it is extensive as it has not been done at all. Atlas Rubicon full steam ahead…”

7. Stamford American International School

(Singapore, Singapore) – 307 Comments
“The school is in the northeast corner of Singapore with very easy access to the city center. Staff can choose their own accommodation location based on their financial and lifestyle preferences. Most teachers live 2-3 MRT (underground) stations away. Public transport is excellent…”

Bangkok, Thailand

6. NIST International School 

(Bangkok, Thailand) – 311 Comments
“With the start of construction on the street the school is located on, the entire schedule has shifted to a later start. Elementary students begin at 8:00 and secondary students at 8:30. So far the response has been overwhelmingly positive…”

5. Singapore American School

(Singapore) – 327 Comments
“Transport options are good. The taxi queue right outside of arrivals can be long at times, but the system works well to get people moving as fast as possible…”

4. Good Shephard International School

(Ooty, India) – 410 Comments
“Presently they are having their Trinity College London Music Examinations. This is an option but they try to maintain high grades although most students only take Initial to Grade 1 due to restrictions of the admin to practice music…”

3. Copenhagen International School 

(Copenhagen, Denmark) – 414 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…”

2. KIS International School

(Bangkok, Thailand) – 440 Comments
“Using a mobile is now so cheap that many teachers do not have a landline. The Satellite TV provider is dreadful, neither their offerings nor their boxes have changed in 20 years. If you want to watch sport most teachers just go to the pub…”

1. Western International School of Shanghai 

(Shanghai, China) – 566 Comments
“Airport is okay. It’s clean and easy to navigate. Immigration can take a long time to get through at peak times during the year but it’s okay. They have water fountains, which as a frequent traveler I really appreciate…”

You can see the rest of the Top 40 school profile pages with the most comments here on our website.

Keep the schools that you work at now (or have worked at in the past) updated with new comments. Want to share what you know and get unlimited free premium access to our website? Become a Mayor today!

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12 Tips for Selecting an Int'l School

Selecting an International School: Tip #3: Is the School Vision Consistent?

November 27, 2022


What reasons do parents think about when selecting a school for their children when they move abroad? Are they similar reasons why teachers choose to work at a school abroad as well?  Many international school teachers are in teaching couples that have children.  There are also international school teachers that are married to a local and have children too.  So, how do you choose the right international school for your children to attend?  This blog series will discuss the Tips for Selecting an International School.

Tip #3 – Vision: What is the vision of the school? Is it consistent with the actual operation of the school?

What is the vision that is expressed by the school head or officials? Can anyone attest to whether it is consistent with the actual operation of the school?

Whether you are a potential parent or teacher at an international school, it is important for you to inquire about the Vision of the school.  You might ask yourself “what is this notion called Vision” all about and why would it be a concern?  As long as the school is safe and orderly, isn’t that enough?

Vision is the core of the functionality of the school.  Many international schools are privately owned and operated as a business with a mission and vision, often that of the owners.  Other schools might be government entities or faith-based, both of which will likely have specific purposes for existence.  Nonetheless, the vision for a school should be clearly articulated and a driving force for all decisions within the school.  Furthermore, the vision should be one that is shared with a wide array of stakeholders from teachers and students to parents and community members.  It also should be revisited each year or two for refining.

Strong, effective vision statements are often succinct and able to be implanted throughout the decision-making process.  A common current vision theme might include the concept of “preparing global learners for the 21st century” which can sound appealing to teachers and parents assessing international schools.   Don’t we want our students/children to be prepared for the workforce and the competitive market?

Let’s take a look inside the school’s operation as we examine the concept of 21st-century global readiness.  Some easy-to-identify indicators of the use of the Vision for the school might include:

1.     Clearly stated on the school website
2.     Visible at the school
3.     Included in school marketing materials
4.     Articulated by school leaders in interviews and meetings

However, the true power of the Vision is embedded in decision-making and is generally harder for a parent or new hire to identify.  The following questions (and many more) can reveal if the Vision indeed drives the inner workings of the school:

1.     Do enrollment and hiring practices support diversity?
2.     How has the curriculum expanded to prepare students for a global future?
3.     How is technology financed and integrated into the curriculum and daily operations of the school?
4.     Do the instructional strategies reflect on teamwork, critical thinking, and problem-solving for students and faculty?
5.     Are multiple languages spoken at the school?
6.     Are teachers trained to use best practices in their instruction?
7.     Are there global partnerships for teachers and students to engage in international discussions, projects, and exchanges?
8.     Is there a sense of shared leadership that enables teachers and students to have leadership roles and develop leadership skills?
9.     How does the school’s budget reflect a commitment to preparing 21st-century global learners?
10.  What achievement expectations do the leaders have for learners?

From that limited list of thoughts, one can recognize that future parents and teachers need to be creative in their inquiry process.  Otherwise, the Vision might be more of “the blind leading the blind.”

This article was submitted by guest author: Mary Anne Hipp (contact her here – mahipp@suddenlink.net or visit her Blogspot – http://mahipp.blogspot.com/)

Using the unique ISC Comment Search feature on International School Community we found 469 comments that have the keyword Vision in them. Here are just a few of them:

If you are an international school teacher currently working abroad, log in to ISC today and submit your comment regarding your school’s realization of its vision!

Additionally, make sure to join www.internationalschoolcommunity.com as you are able to check out our over 950 members.  Many of our current members have listed they work at over 200 international schools around the world. Feel free to send these members a message with your questions about an international school’s vision statement and whether it is consistent with the actual operation of the school.

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Highlighted Articles

The Earth Prize: a sustainability, project-based learning opportunity for secondary students and teachers worldwide

November 20, 2022


I am a big believer in bottom-up education policymaking. Despite the long work hours, the low remuneration, the lack of resources, and the innumerable other challenges teachers face worldwide, what happens in the classroom – how teachers bring policy to life within their classrooms and how they choose to teach – has a profound effect not just on pupils’ learning but also on educational structures.

I have also heard and seen, again and again, how environmental education is relegated to a secondary role at best, outright ignored at worst, in most education systems across the globe.

However, there is no question about the need for it. Our world is undergoing dramatic and potentially irreversible environmental changes and our youth is demanding action and tangible steps toward sustainability more than ever. So what do we need in order to bring environmental education to the core of educational curricula and into classrooms across the world?

It is clear to me from my experience interviewing teachers for my master’s thesis a few years ago that teachers’ actions are defined by personal drive and access to the right educational tools. Now, I do not think there is much anyone can do about teachers’ personal commitment to raise awareness about sustainability among their pupils. However, there are loads to be done to provide them with the right teaching resources!

The Earth Prize, an annual, global, $200,000 environmental sustainability competition for students between the ages of 13 and 19 that rewards the best ideas to solve environmental problems, is one of such resource.

Apart from very appealing prizes ($100,000 for the winning team to be split between team members and their school or $10,000 for one teacher selected as the Educator of the Year), The Earth Prize provides students and teachers with exclusive learning materials covering key environmental sustainability topics and featuring young entrepreneurs who came up with revolutionary environmental solutions when they were only teenagers.

Last year, I had the chance to collaborate in the creation of these unique learning materials. They include 17 powerful short videos created with the help of university professors and a film production company based in the UK, and accompanying written chapters with up-to-date, easy-to-digest, and interactive information on the key topics of each video. They are available on-demand for all registered competition participants, including for team supervisors and teachers to watch and use in their own classes. You can have a sneak peek here: https://www.theearthprize.org/learning-content.

In its first-ever edition, The Earth Prize attracted over 500 schools in 114 countries and territories, from some of the most prestigious institutions in Switzerland and the UK to schools in UNRWA refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon.

The Earth Prize is not just a competition; it is a great platform for teenagers to bring their ideas to the table and make them a reality, and the ultimate project-based learning tool for teachers interested in weaving environmental sustainability into their classrooms.

Interested secondary teachers and students can register for the competition on The Earth Prize website until November 30th: www.theearthprize.org. Teams will then have until January 31st to submit their ideas.

To read more about The Earth Prize competition, please visit: www.theearthprize.org/schools

To watch the competition’s trailer: www.theearthprize.org/trailer

Diana Conde Moure is the Head of Communications and Operations at The Earth Foundation, the nonprofit organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, behind The Earth Prize competition. Diana is an alumna of United World College Costa Rica and holds a master’s degree in Comparative International Education from the University of Oslo, Norway. Her experience includes working and volunteering for numerous organizations in the nonprofit, government, and academic sectors. Passionate about education, Diana brings her knowledge and expertise in the field to help The Earth Foundation in its strategic development.

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: United Nations International School (Hanoi)

November 13, 2022


The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries to which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

One of our members, who works at the United Nations International School (Hanoi), described the way she gets to work as follows:

The road to United Nations International School (Hanoi) in Vietnam

Hanoi is a growing city, with over five million people in its metropolitan area, where most of its habitants move around using motorbikes. Currently, the government is developing its metro system, but only one of its lines is operating. This, plus the fact that finding parking spaces for cars (in addition to their higher prices), makes it difficult for most people to buy one. Therefore, bikes are the preferred method of transportation in the country.

Vo Chi Con Street, near UNIS Hanoi.

When I first moved to Hanoi I was TERRIFIED of motorcycles: driving them, riding on the back of them, having them around me. I came here thinking I would be able to move around in taxis. Boy was I in for a surprise! Yes, you can take taxis to go to most places, as long as you are not in a crunch of time.

Then, going to work (or anywhere where you need to be at a specific time) would be preferable if it is done using a motorbike, which will allow you to move around on your own time, without having to wait for a low number of taxis available in most, if not all, areas of the city. When it rains, it is even worse! I have had to postpone my activities for an hour or two just because I couldn’t get a taxi to pick me up.

Very quickly, I realized that what others had said about the need of getting a bike here, was completely true. I had to leave my fear of bikes behind and learn how to drive one! Now, I go to work daily on my 50CC bike and use taxis for everything else. 

I live a little bit less than 3 km away from school, in an expat area called Tay Ho. My school is also in the same neighborhood so it only takes me around 8 minutes to get to work in the mornings and back home in the afternoons. Traffic at those times is fine (7:30 am and 4 pm). When I have to stay in meetings until 5 pm, then I run into rush hour and that is VERY hectic! Fortunately, my drive is so short and I use a major/wide street, so traffic doesn’t really add to my commute on those days. It just feels busier as the number of vehicles on the road significantly increases.

Here you can see a video of the outside of my building. Hanoi has areas that are more developed than what most people think.

155595-linebreak

This Journey to School article was submitted to us by an ISC member.

What to know more about what it is like to visit and live in Vietnam?  Out of a total of 36 international schools that we have listed in Vietnam, 26 have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of them:

American International School Vietnam (AISVN) (298 total comments)
ABC International School (Vietnam) (28 total Comments)
Concordia International School Hanoi (38 total Comments)
International School Ho Chi Minh City (93 total Comments)
Hoi An International School (43 total comments)
International School Saigon Pearl (154 total Comments)
Singapore International School (Saigon South) (55 total Comments)
United Nations International School (Hanoi) (121 total Comments)

So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn one year free of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

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12 Tips for Selecting an Int'l School

Selecting an International School Tip #2: Is the School Conveniently Located?

October 30, 2022


What reasons do parents think about when selecting a school for their children when they move abroad? Are they similar reasons why teachers choose to work at a school abroad as well?  Many international school teachers are in teaching couples that have children.  There are also international school teachers that are married to a local and have children too.  So, how do you choose the right international school for your children to attend?  This blog series will discuss the Tips for Selecting an International School.

Tip #2: Is the School Conveniently Located?

The American School of London (see above picture) and the United Nations International School in New York City are conveniently located, but not all international schools are in the same situation.  Some international schools are built way outside of the city center, far away, especially if you plan on living in the city center.  Sometimes your journey to work might be around one hour, one-way; an important thing to know before you decide on signing a contract to work at an international school.

If you don’t mind living in a 3rd ring suburb, maybe it wouldn’t be such a big of an issue that your school is so far away from the city center.  However, if you like to enjoy city life and prefer to live there as well, then it might not be the best fit to work at an international school that is not centrally located.

If you are a teacher with children that attend the school, living closer to school also might be a positive thing.  Maybe if you have children, you wouldn’t mind working at a school that is way out in the suburbs because that is always where you would prefer to live anyway.

Before signing a contract, an international school teacher definitely needs to evaluate their current situation and what their living-situation needs are.  Make sure to ask the right questions at the interview about how your current situation and needs match with the location of the school and where you would most likely be living in relation to that school.

If you had a choice, what would be the preferred way for you to and from work every day?  Would you rather ride your bike, take a bus, take the school bus, ride on a train, walk, drive your car, take a taxi, or a combination of 2-3 types of transportation?  What amount of time is an acceptable journey length: 10-15 minutes, 15-30 minutes, 45 minutes, or over one hour? The ISC blog has a series called The Journey to School which highlights a number of journeys to schools from around the world. Check it out to get a first-hand account of what the journeys are like.

One colleague friend of mine worked at a school that was more than a one-hour journey from their apartment.  Most of the teachers there were taken to and from the school on one of the school’s buses “for teachers.”  One positive thing this teacher took away from that experience was that many teachers were forced to not work so long at the school.  Because of the fact that the school bus for teachers left at a specific time, you had to get on that bus…otherwise you would be stuck at school with limited options to get home!  Sometimes teachers do need to stay long at school to get work completed, but often teachers don’t really need to stay for hours and hours.  If you are forced to end your workday at a certain time, you would be surprised how much of your work gets done during that time constraint.

Another colleague friend of mine lives in the city center and their school is very conveniently located in relation to the city center.  Many teachers at this school also live where this teacher lives, and the journey from home to school is around 12-15 minutes by train and 20-25 minutes by bike.  Many of the teachers at this school are quite pleased that they at least have the option of living in the city center and also have a relatively easy commute to work.  There are also many options to get to work based on the needs and situation of each teacher.  It is nice when there are many transportation options available to meet the needs of a diverse staff.

We have had 1710 comments and information (30 October 2022) submitted about this very topic on a number of international schools on International School Community’s website.  For example on the Kaohsiung American School‘s profile page there have been four comments submitted so far:

On the Misr American College school profile page, we have two rather informative comments about the school’s location:

On the American Embassy School New Delhi school profile page, we have useful details about the school’s location:

If you are an international school teacher currently working abroad, please share your comments about if your school is conveniently or NOT conveniently located.

Additionally, make sure to join www.internationalschoolcommunity.com as you are able to check out our over 24000 members.  Many of our current members have listed they work at over 2000 international schools around the world. Feel free to send these members a message with your questions about where most teachers are living in relation to the school and the city center.

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12 Tips for Selecting an Int'l School

Selecting an International School Tip #1: Local vs. International School Systems

September 25, 2022


What reasons do parents think about when selecting a school for their children when they move abroad? Are they similar reasons why teachers choose to work at a school abroad as well?  Many international school teachers are in teaching couples that have children.  There are also international school teachers that are married to a local and have children too.  So, how do you choose the right international school for your children to attend?  This blog series will discuss the Tips for Selecting an International School.

Tip #1: Have you fully weighed the advantages and disadvantages of placing your child in an international school in (insert country name here)? It is difficult to go back and forth to the (insert local country) system and it will affect high- er education choices.

As it is a real option for most international school teachers, it is important to think about whether you are going to send your children to a local school versus the international school at which you work.

We all know international school teachers typically get free tuition for their children, but not all international schools offer this benefit.  Furthermore, some international schools might make the teacher actually pay for a certain percentage of the tuition cost, sometimes up to 50% or more.  With 2-3 children, that could all add up to make your benefits package not that attractive!  Other international schools offer free tuition, but don’t actually guarantee a spot for your child which might result in waiting 1-2 years.  The schools that do this are seeing more of the monetary benefit of getting more ‘paying’ students in the school versus ‘non-paying’ students.

In my opinion, it is to the international school’s benefit to have their teachers’ children attend the school.  Many international schools only have a small percentage of students in the class that are native-level speakers of English.  When the number of native speakers is low, then the level of English and proficiency of the students can be low as well.  In general, non-native speakers of English need native speaker role models in the class to help them achieve high proficiency in English. At least that was the case at one of my previous international schools in the Mediterranean where the student population was 45% from the host country.

Some international school teachers are married to a local from the host country.  When that is the case, many times the family will send their children to the local schools, so that the children can learn fully in the local language.  Knowing the local language like a native speaker will definitely be an important factor in that child’s future if the family’s plan is to stay in the host country forever (or a really long time). Sending your children to a local school is typically the cheaper option if you are in a situation where the international school you work at wants to have you pay a certain percentage.

Sometimes the choice to have their children attend a local school is a choice the family is making for themselves, or it is a choice that is made because of the difficulty with getting a spot for enrollment in the international school.  It is important to note that most international schools though do make sure to have a spot for teachers’ children if they are foreign hires. Otherwise, it would be most difficult to get any teaching couples (with dependents) to sign a contract! But for international school teachers with a local spouse, like in some areas of the world (e.g. Western Europe), getting a spot might prove to be more challenging as the international school will state that the children have a viable option to attend a local school.

If you are an international school teacher with children, please share your comments about ‘Weighing the advantages and disadvantages of local and international school systems.’ on your school’s profile page.

Additionally, make sure to join www.internationalschoolcommunity.com as you are able to check out our almost 25000 members.  Many of our current members have listed they are ‘married with dependents’ on their profile pages.  Feel free to send these members a message with your questions about what life is like as an international school teacher with children.

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Comment Topic Highlight

Back to School Initiatives and New Demands: Welcoming or Stressful?

September 18, 2022


Every school year, a school always goes through some new changes or simply experiences new things that the staff is now required to do or complete. The changes could be related to the school’s curriculum, some new professional development based on new initiatives, new building procedures (like fire drills), new mandatory training (like child protection), etc.

For many things (like ones actually dictated by the host country), they are mandatory and the admin simply just needs to fit those required things into their yearly meeting schedule.  Combine those required things with the other things and initiatives that a school wants to do, it can make for a sometimes stressful school year for the staff (and admin!). Furthermore, balancing these new things with your normal planning work and actually teaching students can prove to be very challenging.

So what are some of these new initiatives that international schools are focusing on in recent years?

A number of international schools are having their staff work with the Managebac program. There are 97+ comments related to Managebac on our website.

It’s also fairly certain that your school is now or will very soon be going through an accreditation. ISC has 525+ total comments related to school accreditation on 351 international schools at the moment.

With regards to curriculum, it appears that a number of schools are doing training with the Common Core curriculum. There are 45 comments that are about the different schools taking on this in recent years.

There are also 49 comments on IB training.  200 comments on different workshops going on in 149+ international schools.

And the list goes on…

What is a possible plan then for balancing all of these newly added things so that staff and admin don’t get too overwhelmed?  As one ISC member wrote about working at United Nations International School (Vietnam), “the [needs to be a] conscious adoption of a “less is more” ethos.”

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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 1007 comments (Sept. 2022) that have been submitted by our veteran international school teachers in one of the 68 comment topics called – “Recent things that the school has taken on (i.e. new curriculum, specific professional development, etc.).”

Here are a few of those submitted comments:

“The use of Kagan cooperative structures is the focus for this year. The entire faculty had 2 days of training before the commencement of the school year with another session upcoming later in the year. The goal being student engagement. Most of the faculty have been receptive and are already using the structures in their classrooms…” – Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea) – 231 Total Comments

“The school just finished a multi-year curriculum initiative designed to put the entire Pre-K through 12th-grade curriculum documents onto Rubicon Atlas. The school seems to focus most on literacy in the Lower School, innovation and design in the Middle School, and IB/AP in the Upper School. School-wide, there is a focus on Differentiated Instruction, but this takes different forms in different divisions. There is a new Head of School coming in for the 2018-2019 school year…” – American School of Paris (Paris, France) – 68 Comments

“The administration said they care more about kids learning English and Maths rather than any other subjects. What makes the school unique, seems independent of what they are pursuing; bring more local students no matter what their academic level is…” – Changchun American International School (Changchun, China) – 168 Total Comments

“Professional development this year has included IBDP two-day Category 3 in-school workshops on the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge. All staff also completed a Stewards of Children online course and a one-day first aid and CPR course…” – Tsukuba International School (Tsukuba, Japan) – 58 Comments

“The school has offered, over the past two years, very little in terms of professional development. There has been talk of a curriculum change to the Cambridge Primary Curriculum for September 2018…” – Cambridge School Doha (Doha, Qatar) – 85 Comments

“The school is just setting up a Professional Learning Centre to improve instruction and practice at the school first. The school has designated professional learning time on Friday afternoons and encourages professional development…” –  YK Pao School (Shanghai, China) – 61 Comments

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Highlighted Articles

Going home for the summer: No one cares about your international life!

June 27, 2022


I always hope that somebody will care every year I go home, but every year most of them don’t. (Ha ha!)

It is not because they really don’t care though, it is mostly because they just don’t fully understand or connect to the international/expat life you are living.  When visiting family and friends in my home country, very rarely do the conversations relate to my life living abroad.  Hardly do we even talk about the amazing trips that I have been on the past year! (Oh, the things I have seen!)  It is hard to talk about your trips without giving an impression of bragging though.

International school teachers indeed live a life that is a foreign world to our old friends, so different from where we were born and raised.  Additionally, so many people in this world still just stay living close to where they were raised.  When I look at my home-country friends and relatives, most are living in the same city they grew up in or in the city just next to that one. (Side note: Why do we feel the need to escape our hometowns?)

And of course, quite a large percentage of people in the United States are without a passport (is that true for the Americans YOU know??).  Being that these friends and family that you know maybe haven’t had so much experience living abroad or even traveling abroad, you would think that would make them even more interested in your international life…but that isn’t always the case.

I guess when you go home, you spend most of your time just reminiscing about the good times of the past, of when you used to live there maybe. Most of the conversations you have also are just normal ones, talking about day-to-day things (e.g. the weather, etc.).

Sometimes your friends and family dominate the conversation with updates from their life, which of course you are curious about as well.  You want to get the lowdown on their lives being that you are only there visiting with them for typically such a short time.  I mean they haven’t seen you in a while as well, and they are excited to see you and catch you up on their lives.

Though it is truly so nice to go back home and catch up with everyone, little do your friends and family realize or understand the reverse culture shock you may be experiencing when you go back home, even if it is the 8th time you have come home in 10 years (let’s say) that you’ve been abroad.

International school teachers live a dual life basically.  The fact is…that we live most of the year in our host country; eating our host country food, hanging out with our host country friends, being surrounded by a foreign language and culture, living in our host country apartment, using and thinking in a foreign currency, etc.  When you visit your home country, you really want to tell people in your host country about those things!  Some will listen though when it comes up naturally in the conversation, but it is usually a fleeting moment…not giving you enough time to share as much as you would like.

This article is not meant to make fun of or hate on our home country friends and family, but it is meant to express our feelings about how an expat teacher might feel and how they might think in their head as they go home for the summer. When you are living abroad for so long, it is so nice (and important) to see and catch up with your family and old friends.

How do you feel when you go home to your host country? Are you able to have conversations with your friends and family about your life living abroad?

This article was submitted anonymously by an ISC member.

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Traveling Around

Traveling Around: Sicily (The life of an international school teacher is good!)

June 6, 2022


Traveling Around: Sicily

Can you relate?

  • entering a local deli shop by chance and being in awe of all the delicious food!
  • getting an Airbnb right in a small harbor where the locals are doing their daily fishing.
  • planning this trip with some international school teacher friends that you met at a conference many years ago.
  • learning about the history of the island when you run into some ancient ruins.
  • resisting the urge to buy things from the local market when you see that your partner is purchasing a number of things.
  • Imagining what life would be like living in Sicily as you walk down cute and quaint narrow streets.
  • running into huge packs of high school aged children all over the city and not understanding why they aren’t in school!
  • succumbing to the urge and getting at least one delicious gelato a day.
  • taking a detour two times during the trip and stopping at some remote, local beaches to just lay down and relax (some of us taking a dip as well).
  • walking around the beautiful nature and being curious about all of the local wildflowers.
  • going all the way up to Mount Etna and being amazed at the fact you are standing so close to an erupting volcano!
  • ringing a doorbell of a closed store that sells honey only for the bell to be answered by the owner who then lets you in (the honey was delicious!)!
  • loving the city life as you people-watch in downtown Catania.
  • stopping the car to get out and buy four peaches from a local produce seller selling produce out of their truck.
  • driving around and being scared because of the way the locals drive. It was like the driving rules there were merely suggestions.
  • visiting a touristy town but realizing how amazing it was, especially the views of the sea.
  • eating at a different restaurant every night and totally enjoying every meal and experience.
  • running into a local wedding that was just ending and watching firsthand all of the traditions of their culture.

Currently, we have 39 international schools listed in Italy on International School Community. 21 of them have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of those schools:

The Bilingual School of Monza29 Comments
International School Florence34 Comments
American Overseas School of Rome40 Comments
Bilingual European School of Milan79 Comments
St. Stephens School Rome29 Comments
Westminster International School29 Comments

If you are on a trip right now, away from your host country, write to us here with your “Can you relate?” traveling experiences.  Tell us where you are traveling in the world, what you are seeing, and how you are coping with any culture shock.  Once your Traveling Around experience is posted on our blog, International School Community will give you 6 free months of premium membership!

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Comment Topic Highlight

Why Are People Staying at or Leaving Your International School?

May 23, 2022


If you work at an international school, you know that your decision to stay or leave has already been decided by now. Teachers most likely have already decided whether they will stay for another year or two at their current school or move on back home or to another international school.  

At some international schools, 1/4 or 1/3 of their current teachers decide to let their school know that they will be moving on at the end of the school year. Though it is not the case necessarily at other international schools that have a lot of local hires (not necessarily on foreign-hired contracts). Those with lots of local hires generally tend to have teachers that want to stay there for longer periods of time because they have more ties to the local country (e.g. they are married to a local, etc.).

Regardless of the personal situation of the teacher, another big factor that guides a teacher’s decision to stay or leave is the school itself. For example, the school might be losing student numbers as of late. Fewer students mean less demand for all the teachers on the current staff roster, meaning some need to go whether they like it or not. Maybe even the school has decided to alter or eliminate the staff children benefit (to have them attend the school for free). And the list goes on…

There are of course even other factors that come into play that affect this big decision that a number of teachers need to make each year. One of these factors is that the school has decided to move in a direction that doesn’t match your teaching philosophy anymore. Staying at a school that doesn’t match you and your teaching style can be a serious concern leading you to search for other positions in a school that better suit you.

The biggest factor to stay or leave might just boil down to money, plain and simple. If the school isn’t meeting your needs financially anymore, there are many more that probably will.

So the question for you is why are YOU going to stay or leave your current school? It might be one of these reasons listed above or a combination of these and even other reasons.

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of staying or leaving, so you can stay the most informed as possible. There are a total of 477 comments (May 2022) that have been submitted by our veteran international school teachers in one of 67 comment topics called – “In general, why are people staying at or leaving this school?”

Here are a few of those submitted comments:

“People are staying because they are mostly not getting a better job anywhere else and people are leaving because of the rude behavior, less salary, false promises, promotion of wrong candidate, lack of resources and overloaded routine.” – Indus International School (Pune) (Pune, India) – 43 Total Comments

“Staying because the campus is nice, supply and PD budgets are generous, students are overall courteous and engaged, and because Berlin rocks. Leaving because salaries are too low, and some departments are more disorganized than others.” – Berlin Brandenburg International School (Berlin, Germany) – 87 Comments

“Staying: Turnover is low. In my opinion, people are staying because the school climate is generally very positive – it is a happy place to work. The school has generally got its act together (curriculum, policies, etc) very well so there are structures in place to make teaching positive. It is a vibrant, stimulating place to work. Japan is a lovely place to live. Leaving: The cliche is single females find it harder to date in Tokyo and that could be a reason to leave. The school’s pay is OK and the school’s reputation is good and growing but the pay is not as great as some other big-name schools. People leave as they get the experience and then are drawn to the lure of $$. This is especially the case of teachers in their late 40’s looking for a pension.” – Tokyo International School (Tokyo, Japan) – 140 Total Comments

“People stay a long time because the pay and benefits are great, the city is very livable, the cost of living is low and the classes are not too large.” – Anglo-American School of St. Petersburg (St. Petersburg, Russia) – 38 Comments

“The overall package is hard to beat and the staff is not overworked. Combined with minimal classroom management requirements due to small class sizes, DISK really is a great place to work.” – Doshisha International School Kyoto (Kyoto, Japan) – 140 Comments

“If you survive your first year most teachers stay on. The first year is a challenge, especially if you are late arriving (a common issue because of how long it takes to get a visa).” – Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (Beijing, China) – 193 Comments

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Comparing the Schools and Comments

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Kuwait

May 9, 2022


Around the world, there are countries (like Kuwait) 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.

Kuwait

Currently, we have 26 schools listed in Kuwait on International School Community.

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

American International School Kuwait (74 Total Comments)
Cambridge English School Mangaf (41 Total Comments)
Ajial Bilingual School (27 Total Comments)
Al Bayan Bilingual School (30 Total Comments)
American Creativity Academy (31 Total Comments)
American School of Kuwait (51 Total Comments)
Dasman Bilingual School (24 Total Comments)
The Universal American School (22 Total Comments)

Amount of Money Left to be Saved

“Teachers can save 15% of their salary on average and you could definitely support a non-teaching spouse on this salary…” – The Universal American School

“Saving money here is doable if you are conservative. Many staff tutor which almost doubles their income. I know of many staff that tutor enough for their travel and cost of living so they bank near all of their salary. As a single provider with a family tutoring would be a must to save…” – American Creativity Academy

“I can save around 1000 to 1500 USD each month. Kuwait can be an expensive country, but because the dinar is strong (it’s the strongest currency in the world), it doesn’t fluctuate much at all when compared with the dollar…” – Al Bayan Bilingual School

School Campus

“The school is in a new state-of-the art purpose-built building; with a multi-level cinema with a capacity of 80 seats, 2 floors theater of 400 seats, 2 swimming pools, 4 science labs, 4 computer labs, 2 basketball courts, 4 libraries & a 3 cafeterias…” – Ajial Bilingual School

“The school is now in a new building with new equipment and furniture, rooftop playground for seniors and two play areas for Early Years providing climbing equipment, bicycles and imaginative play area…” – Cambridge English School Mangaf

“The school relocated from Surra to its present location in Salmiya, Kuwait City in 1995. The campus, sheltered by a brick wall from the wind and weather, has middle and high school buildings that open onto an interior court in the Arabic style and three elementary buildings that surround an open play area. A 1200 seat auditorium, an indoor gymnasium and a sheltered outdoor gymnasium form another part of the complex. The roof of these structures holds a third story soccer field and running track…” – American International School Kuwait

Housing Information

“Staff housing has very basic furnishing. Nice places though. Need to pay the caretaker 5KWD a month for services. No utilities to pay…” – American International School Kuwait

“Shared accommodation for teachers or a housing allowance. Management have single accommodation. Utilities paid for except gas which is very cheap. There is internet but poor connection so most teachers provide their own…” – Cambridge English School Mangaf

“Foreign hires get single furnished apartments that are well-equipped and very nice…” – Ajial Bilingual School

Benefits for Teachers with Children

“Shameful that an expatriate would have to pay 50% for their child to attend a school where they would be the only non Arab and only English speaker. That 50% means you would still pay about 6000 US…” – American Creativity Academy

“One dependent’s tuition is paid for each contracted teacher…” – American School of Kuwait

“Your first child gets free tuition and the 2nd gets 50% off…” – Dasman Bilingual School

Are the Expectations High of Teaching Staff?

“Teachers without IB experience may find their workload higher than usual until they adjust. Teachers are usually expected to participate in and/or lead extra curricular activities, one day per week…” – American International School Kuwait

“Most staff are there for the money and don’t have high expectations. They arrive as late as possible and leave on the dot…” – Cambridge English School Mangaf

“When I worked there, core subject secondary teachers taught an average of four 45-minute periods per day, with occasional subbing duties. All teachers were required to supervise one after-school extra curricular club or activity for six weeks per year…” –Ajial Bilingual School

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

If you work at an international school in Kuwait, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited free premium membership!

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Top 10 Lists

11 International Schools that have a Supportive Environment

May 2, 2022


When there is a supportive environment at a school, then everyone thrives.

But times can get stressful and things can change at the last minute in schools which can cause teachers and other stakeholders to seek help and support.

If there is a supportive environment at a school, then these stakeholders are likely to lend a helping hand to others in need.

There are many stressors at an international school: new students starting all of the time (some that are even new to English), endless meetings (sometimes not so useful for everyone), workload, having to reply to concerning parent emails, etc.

During the COVID19 pandemics, all stakeholders at the school really needed help and support to cope with all of the changes (sometimes very last minute!) to how your school runs their day and teaches their students.

But luckily, there are some international schools out there that have quite nice and supportive environments for their students, teachers, staff, and parents.

So which international schools then have these supportive environments for their stakeholders? Can you guess which countries/schools around the world would make for the best supportive conditions?

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 166 comments that had the keyword “supportive” in them. Here are 11 of them:

Vietnam

“The school meets my expectations due to on-time and competitive salary / benefits; broad range of Cambridge curriculum, excellent facilities, supportive administration, involved and supportive parents, mostly cooperative colleagues, excellent IT support, fresh and free Vietnamese lunches and incredible students…” – VinSchool The Harmony (18 total comments)

China

“The school has been supportive during the pandemic. During the height, when many teachers we outside of china, the school often let us know that our jobs were safe, which was much appreciated…” – Keystone Academy (189 total comments)

Italy

“For starters administration is awesome. The head of school and principals are supportive and empathetic. Now that the epidemic is ebbing we are starting to have community-building events such as happy hours…” – American Overseas School of Rome (40 total comments)

Argentina

“Appraisals are held by the HoD which are usually very supportive and motivates teachers to improve and develop further their teaching practices…” – St Georges College (27 total comments)

Turkey

“Very well established IGCSE Cambridge school with lots of international teachers. Few students are Turkish. Others are foreigners. Even though students represent many different countries including England, Venezuela, and Korea, they are mostly from Middle Eastern countries. Very supportive staff. No hierarchy at all. You feel real like working in USA or Canada. As long as you treat your students as your King and be loyal to them and master IGCSE you d be doing great there…” – Istanbul International School (15 total comments)

Barbados

“The workload is very manageable due to small class sizes and supportive leadership. There are hardly ever stressful times…” – The Codrington School (International School of Barbados) (111 total comments)

Thailand

“There is a probationary observation after about 3 months then a mixture of formal observations and drop-ins by senior and middle managers. The system is generally positive and supportive…” – Lanna International School (LIST) (55 total comments)

Czechia

“There are sufficient staff children that the school is very flexible and supportive to working parent needs. For example, there is a shuttle bus across the various sites, so if a staff member works at one campus with children at another, the children are transported for free on the shuttle bus…” – Prague British International School (65 total comments)

Bahamas

“If you are active, there is a wonderful community of open water swimmers, bikers, and runners, etc. to connect with. There’s also the annual Conchman triathlon that takes place every November that is a great event to train for and participate in. It really brings the community together and everyone is very supportive. Great for the kids, too. There are other events to look forward to as well, including the annual Bernie Butler’s swim race and beach party in August…” – Lucaya International School (30 total comments)

United Arab Emirates

“The Headteacher is always approachable and will back you and support you. My department was amazing, a great group of people. Very supportive. There is a community feel around the school…” – Ajman Academy (44 total comments)

United Kingdom

“Excellent, caring, supportive teachers who truly understand their students and how they learn best! Lots of wealth & mostly traditional families but it is growing more diverse…” – American School of London (49 total comments)

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Discussion Topics

The State of the Job Market for International Schools in 2022

April 10, 2022


In this article, ISC would like to highlight some of your recent thoughts and experiences getting jobs at international schools in 2022. It is April, so we are getting closer to the end of the hiring season. If you don’t have a position secured, you might be feeling a bit nervous about your prospects.

The landscape for getting an international school teaching position has certainly changed in the last 10 years. And if one thinks about 20 years ago, some people might have the perspective that the power of the international school job market was definitely in the hands of a teacher. The most experienced international teachers would remember these days of glory.

Surely, there are multiple factors that come into play for both the international school and the teacher that affect their decision-making processes. It can be a very rocky past to bring the teacher and the school together in harmony.

A lot of frustration and maybe even confusion can occur for both stakeholders from when a vacant position becomes available to when it is filled. The lack of clarity about what is happening during that process is the most frustrating part, especially for the teacher candidates.

We asked five seasoned international school teachers their thoughts on some or all of the following questions:

• Who has more of the power right now: schools or teachers? and why do you think this?
• How easy was it for you to find your last international school teaching placement? Please explain.
• What advice would you give to a recruiting teacher still looking for a job at an international school in April?
• Does having connections at an international school help and/or having lots of relevant teaching experience help in your job search? Please explain.

Thoughts from an international school teacher currently working in SE Asia.

I don’t like the word power.

So much depends on the candidate’s experience and capabilities, and also on the type of school. Most people are chasing the dream of a beautiful location, great school community, and high salary. Those schools can pick and choose. Other good schools with less budget in more challenging locations find it harder to recruit.

People who have too high expectations, mediocre references, and poorly constructed applications find it harder to recruit. People should be more intelligent about how they use social media and represent themselves. Not many schools are looking for people with self-serving agendas!

Thoughts from an international school teacher currently working in Central Europe.

I was recruiting this year and I signed a contract before the winter break in December. I had a shortlist of schools around the world that I was interested in working at and nearly all of them posted a position between September and December that fit my qualifications. (After I accepted the job, even more positions were posted.)

I was really happy that I had a lot of great places to even apply to, this time around. I had read online in some forums and groups that some people felt there “weren’t a lot of jobs this year” comparatively speaking, but it’s always a game of how many positions are open that are a match for your skills and qualifications. Each year is different.

I would say that a history of working at great schools, and connections/excellent references always help add something to an already great resume.

Thoughts from an international school teacher currently working in Vietnam.

As a maths teacher with PGCE and QTS but no maths degree I normally find I have to wait a while for the market to swing in my favour, normally April or May. This year has been different. I updated my details on teach horizons and 3 schools interviewed me in the first week. 2 made me an offer and the third said I would get a second interview. I took one of the first two and I’m off to Thailand in the summer. All done and dusted before the end of Feb. Very early for me so I guess the power is with the teacher

Thoughts from an international school teacher currently working in Taiwan.

I think for who has the power, it really depends on the individual schools and teachers. I applied to many schools via different platforms this season and had many interviews. It wasn’t easy but I ended up with 2 solid offers from good schools. I accepted in November and that is very early compared to what I have been used to. If one has a solid network of people someone at a school you’re interested in, then that can certainly give you a leg up. For me this time around, I believe it was my subject (economics) and my experience that helped me get interviews and offers. I think if teachers are still looking now, they should be persistent as people drop out of contracts and some very good schools are still looking now.

Thoughts from an international school teacher currently working in Oceania.

How easy? It wasn’t. While I did secure an appointment in May of 2020 for an August start, on the first day of school, the corporation announced our school was closing permanently by 31 December. I had a six-month unemployed period trying to find another posting.

Connections? Vital, especially given my age and experience level (both high). It appears that most heads/hiring officials don’t bother to read introductory letters where I explicitly explain I come with my own health cover and the school doesn’t have to pay for it. I know some schools that are forcing highly experienced teachers out to cut their HR costs.

Issues: Aside from the obvious of a slow return to anything resembling normal, I have had school heads tell me to my face that a certain country has a mandatory retirement age… and while partially true, as a legal resident of that country, I know that mandatory age is only applicable to government workers, not to non-government entities.

These statements were submitted anonymously by ISC members.

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Information for Members

The Unique ISC Compare Schools Page: Which International School Will Win??!

March 27, 2022


It has been a couple of years since we launched this unique ISC premium feature, the Compare Schools page!

Our members are always looking to compare one international school to another. Using the 43464+ comments that our ISC Mayors have also helped to submit, we are excited to have an ISC page where you can compare two international schools based on eight pre-selected comment topics. Maybe the results will help you make the important decision of signing a contract with one of them!

So, here is how it works. When you select two schools from the drop-down menus, you will be able to compare the following eight comment topics:

  1. Salaries
  2. Savings
  3. Housing
  4. Retirement
  5. Professional Development
  6. Health
  7. Workload
  8. Staff Morale

Additionally, once you have selected two of the listed schools (here is an example), you can see a point score that each school received for each of the 8 comment topics.  The total score for each school is also displayed, clearly showing the “winner” with the most points.

Of course, the score is based on teacher-submitted comments/reviews, therefore it is subjective. But having in mind that multiple teachers are submitting comments, we believe that this unique ISC page reflects the realistic situation at a specific school.

At the moment, we have 145+ schools available to be compared. We usually add a new school to the list every two weeks or so. If your school is already listed, please have a look at each displayed comment and assigned score. If you would like us to improve some of the comments or scores, write to us here.

However, if your school is not listed yet, we need your help to get it added! Please write to us by contacting us via our Help and Support page with the details for each section and your suggested score for each comment topic. Or just submit some new comments on your school profile page and we will add your school to our Compare Schools page.

Thank you in advance for your feedback and support in making this feature the best it can be. It is truly a unique feature to help people gather information and analyze it so that they can make the best decisions for themselves when working in the international school community.

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The Journey to School

The Journey to School: American International School of Budapest (Budapest, Hungary)

March 20, 2022


The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries at which they have never been.  So let’s share what we know!

One of our members, who works at the American International School of Budapest (Budapest, Hungary), described the way she gets to work as follows:

The road to American International School of Budapest in Hungary

My journey to school each morning starts downtown in the heart of Budapest. Before it was united in 1873, Budapest used to be two smaller towns, Buda and Pest, separated by the Danube river. Buda is the hilly more residential side to the west while Pest is the flatter, more touristy downtown to the east. Being a city person myself, there was no doubt that when I got a job at the American International School of Budapest, I would choose to live on the Pest side. One thing that was a tick in the “PRO” column for me in choosing to move to Budapest was that there is a great public transportation network that not only covered the entire city but could bring me all the way to the front gate of the school. (I did not want to get a car!) For the first half school year, I did take public transportation every morning and that took me just over an hour each way. I had to change two times though (tram + tram + bus), so that was not ideal. By the second semester, I had found myself a carpool saving me a significant amount of time each morning, but the need to get back home after school in a timely manner following various meetings and activities convinced me to finally buy a car in year two.

Of course, not everyone chooses to live so far from school. Many families live in the village of Nagykovácsi where our school is located and they are able to live in houses with big backyards and enjoy a commute that is under five minutes. Some even walk or bike to school. Other teachers choose to live on the Buda side but not quite so close to school. One popular area is near Széll Kálmán tér (circled on the map) which is a transportation hub making it easy to get to both school and the Pest side. Because the Buda side is very hilly, many of the apartments on this side offer lovely views.

Back to the journey . . .

This is the street where I live. I generally leave between 7:00 and 7:10 am. The drive takes about 30 minutes, and during that time, I catch up on podcast episodes.

One of the benefits of having to cross the river to get to school is getting to see this view every morning. It never gets old!

Here are some of the buildings I see along the way to school each day.

As you get closer to school, it becomes less developed. The school is surrounded by a protected forest area which is quite pretty.

On the final approach to school, you can see the campus off to the left. It really is a sight to see. All of this open area to the left here was recently purchased by AISB ensuring that a future development doesn’t come close to the school.

Finally, here is the entrance to the upper building of the school where the middle and high schools are located. (The elementary building is at the bottom of the hill and connected by a bridge.) I usually arrive around 7:40 a.m. Teachers have to be at school by 8:00 a.m., so this gives me a little bit of quiet time in my room before the day starts.

The drive home takes about 45 minutes on a good day. On a bad day it can be closer to an hour (occasionally more). Still, after eight years, I’ve never been convinced to move closer to school.

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This Journey to School article was submitted to us by an ISC member, Lindsay Manzella. Lindsay has been working in international schools since 2010. You can find out more at her blog The Present Perfect or on Twitter @MsMTeachesELLs .

What to know more what it is like to visit and live in Hungary?  Out of a total of 6 international schools we have listed in Hungary, 4 have had comments submitted on them. Here they are:

American International School of Budapest (81 total comments)
Britannica International School Budapest (67 total Comments)
British International School Budapest (12 total Comments)
Greater Grace International School (7 total Comments)

So what is your journey to the international school you work at?  Earn one year free of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.  Email us here if you are interested.

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Information for Members

Is Getting to Work Dread or Joy: 23 Journeys to International Schools Around the World

March 13, 2022


The journey to work is indeed an important one.  The journey though is not so clear for international school teachers when they are looking for jobs at schools in cities/countries to which they have never been.

On the ISC blog, we have a blog category called The Journey to School. It discusses the ins and outs of how international school teachers get to work/school in many countries around the world.

Nobody wants a horrible journey to work. Long journeys can really waste away your day (if your journey is one hour each way, for example). In some schools you need to use public transport, other schools you need your own car. It is possible that some teachers actually can take the school bus along with the students at their school. Usually, that is free, so that can be nice. Also, it can stop teachers from working long hours as you need to be ready to go home when the school bus leaves!

In some countries and at certain international schools, your journey can be one that has very nice things to look at. How wonderful to have some beautiful scenery to look at as you get your mind ready for a day of work. On the other hand, it can be that teachers at some international schools are just going on a highway with views of boring high-rise apartment buildings with very little nature to look at.

Another way to get to work is to ride your bike or just walk. For teachers who’d like to get a bit of exercise in their daily routine, this can be quite a good setup!

We currently have 23 journeys listed in The Journey to School blog category. We have listed them all here:

On the way to International School Basel

International School Basel
Tarsus American College
Cheongna Dalton School
Jerudong International School
American Embassy School New Delhi
International School of Brussels

On the way to Anglo American School of Sofia

Anglo American School of Sofia
Xian Hi-Tech International School
Singapore American School
Leysin American School
American International School in Egypt
Ruamrudee International School Bangkok
Western International School of Shanghai
Chatsworth International School (Singapore)

On the way to Dulwich College Suzhou

Dulwich College Suzhou
Hong Kong International School
NIST International School
International School of Tanganyika
Copenhagen International School

On the way to The Bermuda High School for Girls

The Bermuda High School for Girls
Rasami (Thai-British) International School
American School Taichung
Al Hada International School

So what is your journey to the international school you work at? Earn one year free of premium membership to our website if you participate in this blog series – ‘The Journey to School’.

All you need to do is take a few pictures of what you see or do on your way to school and then write a description of your journey. ISC members will appreciate you sharing what you know as it gives an excellent insight (for prospective teachers) into what it might be like to go to work at your school each day.

Email us here if you are interested.

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Traveling Around

Traveling Around: Småland, Sweden (The life of an international school teacher is good!)

March 6, 2022


Traveling Around: Småland, Sweden

Can you relate?

  • getting a private tour of a crazy Swedish man’s small moose park. The moose were so big and cute!
  • staying at two different Swedish hotels (here’s one in Kalmar) that offered not only breakfast but also dinner as included in the price of the room.
  • taking the trains to get around from city to city, and splurging by buying the First Class ticket for some more comfort.
  • going to a local restaurant and being the only guests in it. It is hard to do, but you can be surprised by some tasty food!
  • finding a unique Italian restaurant run by actual Italians (in a Swedish city of around 50000 people) and being treated to such a wonderfully authentic Italian meal.
  • stepping into a small butcher’s shop and buying unique locally-made products like jams and crackers.
  • driving around to find a castle that is also a hotel and realizing we should’ve stayed there instead!
  • traveling to a water tower that also doubled as an echo chamber. I wouldn’t have believed it until we got there. It was super amazing!
  • driving by a huge outlet area and agreeing to stop and check it out. We bought some discounted clothes!
  • driving off the beaten path a number of times on very dirt, bumpy roads. Super exciting and fun!
  • taking in the view of the beautiful nature. Even though it was winter and very cold, the sunny days still made the views so wonderful.
  • getting a bit of a snowstorm one night and waking up to everything covered in snow.
  • stopping by the local mall for some shopping. We bought a pot of a Swedish knockoff of le Creuset.
  • having the easiest pick up of a rental car….EVER!
  • wondering why we went traveling for a week in small-town Sweden only to realize that it was super relaxed and cozy…just want needed.
  • taking the free pass from the hotel to the local “spa/pool” and then seeing that it was overrun by small children!
  • stopping by the IKEA museum and learning about the amazing history of this iconic store.

Currently, we have 14 international schools listed in Sweden on International School Community. 7 of them have had comments submitted on them. Here are a few of those schools:

Bladins International School of Malmo33 Comments
International School of Almhult141 Comments
International School of Helsingborg28 Comments
International School of the Gothenburg Region6 Comments
Stockholm International School11 Comments

If you are on a trip right now, away from your host country, write to us here with your “Can you relate?” traveling experiences.  Tell us where you are traveling in the world, what you are seeing and how you are coping with any culture shock.  Once your Traveling Around experience is posted on our blog, International School Community will give you 6 free months of premium membership!

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Information for Members

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

February 27, 2022


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

28 members International School of Kuala Lumpur
27 members – Copenhagen International School
25 members – International School Manila
24 members – MEF International School Istanbul
23 members – Western International School of Shanghai
21 members – Fairview International School
21 members – Brent International School Manila

21 members – Seoul Foreign School
21 membersAmerican International School (Vietnam)
21 members – American School Foundation of Mexico City
20 membersInternational School Dhaka
20 members – International School of Tanganyika
19 members – Jakarta Intercultural School
19 members – Seoul International School
19 members – Graded School Sao Paulo
18 members – Shanghai United International School (Hongqiao)

18 members – Shanghai Community International School
18 members – American School of Barcelona
18 membersAga Khan Academy Mombasa
17 members – Nazarbayev Intellectual School of Astana
17 members – Qatar Academy (Doha)
17 members – International School Panama
17 membersPathways World School
17 membersInternational School of Phnom Penh (ISPP)
17 members – American International School of Johannesburg
17 members – International School Bangkok
17 membersGood Shepherd International School
17 members – Singapore American School

17 membersAmerican International School Dhaka
16 members – United Nations International School (Vietnam)
16 members – Cairo American College
16 membersSuzhou Singapore International School
16 membersWestern Academy of Beijing
16 members NIST International School
16 membersAnglo-American School of Moscow

15 membersCanadian International School (Singapore)
15 membersAmerican School of Kuwait
15 membersChadwick International School – Songdo
15 members – American School of Bombay

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/they 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 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 16 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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Discussion Topics

Some Very Concerning Issues at 12 International Schools

February 20, 2022


International School Community is full of thousands of useful, informative comments,43153 comments (20 Feb. 2022) to be exact.

Members are recommended to keep their comments objective on our website, and sometimes they need to share how it really is working at their international school.

Back in 2015, we put out the top 12 most controversial comments in this article. However, we scoured our database of comments now in 2022, and we found 12 new comments that stood out to us as being some of the most concerning.

12. Housing Issues

“Document everything in your assigned apartment. Housing seems to be a major issue and both the director and the principals seem to think it’s adequate (which of course, as their housing is way higher quality than teacher housing). When things break or don’t work, it usually takes a long time to have them repaired. Patience is key here…” – International Community School of Abidjan82 Total Comments

11. Concerns About Getting Your Full Benefits

“Faculty are wondering if the ‘flights home’ portion of our contracts will be honoured, and that only USD 1,000 will be given as of this date. Financial issues have continued…”American International School Vietnam (AISVN)264 Total Comments

10. Child Protection Firings

“There have been 3 child protection firings in the last 5 years, yet no new trainings or reporting procedures for teachers (just new documents created). There was a massive firing done over COVID when teachers couldn’t get back to school. Most of us believe the compassionate thing to do would have been to keep people on as long as they were supporting students or curriculum. The majority of administrators are leaving this year. Not a controversy, but it’s unusual. The candidates recruited for the Head of School position included 2 white men and one BIPOC man who currently only had experience as a principal. It was a huge controversy that 1 of the white men had overseen a child-protection scandal at his last school and that he was being presented as a top 3 option to us by the board. Luckily, they selected the white male who had head of school experience and no child protection scandal, but it has been a lingering issue for the staff…” – Shanghai American School (Pudong)197 Total Comments

9. People Resigning Because of Covid Restrictions

“Covid related issues – teachers resigning as they wanted to be able to see families outside of China. Not too much the school could have done…” – Utahloy International School Guangzhou70 Total Comments

8. Not Getting Accredited

“The school hopes to become CIS accredited this academic year. The previous attempt at CIS accreditation was unsuccessful due to issues with the management structure of the school and the frequent changes in Head Master…” – The English School (Bogota)67 Total Comments

7. Problems with Changing the Contract After Signing

“The teaching contract is a bit of a touchy subject-be sure to KNOW and see which contract is passed from HR to Foreign expert bureau when you are taken to complete your visa-mention any anomalies that you may notice. Some people had issues with the terms that had changed on the contract itself AFTER signing-but really, it was nothing of consequence unless you are a ship jumper…” – Guangzhou Huamei International School65 Total Comments

6. No Raises on Teacher Salaries

“No raise last year and I believe no raise this year as well…. Makes you wonder if the school is having some issues…” – Seoul Foreign School220 Total Comments

5. School Climate Survey

“A recent school climate survey was administered to the staff. It was supposed to be useful and anonymous. One issue that arose immediately, was that in order to complete the survey, staff had to log into Microsoft Forms, which automatically attached name and email address to every response. Second, the majority of the questions, written by a staff member, were too broad to provide any useable data from which to develop a plan of action to address them. Even with the lack of confidentiality, a number of staff added specific and direct comments about the state of affairs, and one shocking statistic was that approximately 40% of the staff had considered leaving at some point in the year. In the final weeks of school, Board members met with staff who were leaving this year, in part, to determine their reasons for leaving. It would seem that this would be a pointless effort at that point because nothing had been done during the year to address staff morale issues…” – Oeiras International School214 Total Comments

4. Tech Issues

“Sadly, technology is a bit of a joke. From one day to the next, and depending on where your classroom is located, you might have great wi-fi … or none at all. If you had been part of the last day of school this year, you’d know the issues we face. It was a joke; videos wouldn’t play or they were super laggy, people couldn’t hear on Zoom, etc. It felt like all of the crying, heartfelt “Goodbye!” moments were nothing but faces and voices on your Zoom screen, trying to get anything to work…” – Concordia International School Hanoi32 Total Comments

3. New Teacher Orientation Concerns

“The induction program for new teachers remains a challenge area for the school. The administration is aware of the issue, however, it seems to be cultural ingrained…” – Santiago College74 Total Comments

2. Unqualified Teachers & LGBT Teachers Getting Fired

“The majority of teachers at this school are Georgian and do not have a background in education (no formal schooling in education and no teacher qualifications). This school is absolutely not LGBT-friendly for staff or students. Teachers are explicitly told not to discuss LGBT issues in the classroom and staff are reminded regularly that the school will not support such discussions and that staff have been fired for being members of the LGBT community.” – European School Tbilisi54 Total Comments

1. Toxic Positivity

“My first impression of the school was that it was warm, welcoming, and compassionate. I thought I would truly matter as an employee – I was eager to find a school with a family-like atmosphere that I could make home. The family-like atmosphere is a total illusion. Employees are expendable. HR put out a health survey to prepare for Covid-19. Anyone (local staff and teaching assistants) seen as expendable that marked that they were at a higher risk of Covid on that survey was fired at the end of the school year. The motto for the year was “We Are One.” The irony was not lost on the foreign staff with this. Generally, the moment you have a differing opinion, an issue, or a criticism, you are treated like garbage. This school is the epitome of the term “toxic positivity…” – School of the Nations (Brasilia)41 Total Comments

If you have a concerning story at your international school that you would like to share, 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!

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Discussion Topics

Why Aren’t Seasoned International School Teachers Getting Hired?

February 6, 2022


There seem to be a lot of teaching vacancies being posted at 1000s of international schools this recruiting season. These positions are in many countries around the world (although MANY of them are in China it would appear this year).

But even if there are 1000s positions available and (most likely) 100s of those in positions that you can apply for, it seems to be quite difficult to get an interview, and even if you get that, getting hired is another big hurdle!

It is understandable that a teacher just starting out in their international school career is not getting called in for an interview, but why are many seasoned international school teachers not even getting the school’s attention?

Let’s say there is a teacher looking for a new position for the coming school year. This person has worked at three different top-tier international schools averaging around six years at each one. This person has also received glowing reviews from their supervisors, and they are looking for another international school of a similar curriculum and similar status in the international school community. But after applying to a select few, and after even having one interview at one of them already, this person is not moving forward to the next rounds of the interview process.

It can be really frustrating for this person. Why is this happening? Why aren’t these highly sought-after experienced teachers finding it easier to get the attention and support of these international schools?

Back 15 years ago, it seemed that the power was truly in the international school teacher’s hand. Sure there was still competition, but you could get many interviews at the recruitment fairs and also get multiple offers to consider. 

Today, it is a different story for sure. There could be 100s of applicants applying for just one position. One teacher at an international school in Zurich said 400-500 people applied for just one position! The power is surely back in the hands of the international school as the candidates simply outnumber the number of positions available. This situation is definitely the case at the top-tier international schools in desirable locations. It is unclear if that is also the case at lesser-known international schools in less desirable locations.

Getting a job at a good international school or at any school really is always all about being at the right place at the right time. It is all about luck and timing. Sometimes, it isn’t even really about how your CV looks or what you said in your cover letter. With international schools getting 100s of CVs for one position, there sometimes just isn’t time to read that many cover letters.

So how can you get noticed? How can you increase your luck so that you are at the right place and the right time? Some say having a connection at the international school can help, and maybe for some, it does help. But with a lot of strict interviewing guidelines that many international schools have adopted, having a connection to the school does not always get you noticed or to the top of an admin’s list of people to interview. The position also might be just filled internally in the end or filled locally for that matter. A nightmare situation for a recruiting international school teacher.

The key is just to keep your hopes up knowing that the right position will present itself to you when the timing is right. Do your research, fill out everything the school requires for an application, and stay in touch with the right people at the school. Keep in mind that if they don’t have any new news to share with you, that is why they are not getting back to you or they are just not that into you.

This article was submitted anonymously by an ISC member.

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Comment Topic Highlight

Teacher well-being and high staff morale at int’l schools: How to get there.

January 16, 2022


We all want to work at an international school that is a positive working experience and where there is high staff morale.

High staff morale means that you are happy to go to work, all your basic needs are met (e.g. you have good benefits and you get paid well and on time), and you are excited to work together with other staff members, the admin, the students, and the parents.

But keeping a high staff morale at an international school is not as easy as one might think. There are many factors that can affect this. And with ever-changing staff and students, the strategy needs to be ongoing.

Internationals schools can create a harmonious state of well-being by putting time and effort (and probably money) towards a number of different areas. Some of these areas being: sending out care packages when times are rough (e.g. remote teaching), giving Happy Teacher’s Appreciation Day notes/gifts, providing free (really nice) lunches and opportunities to relax with friends and colleagues, offering a well-organized onboarding process, etc.

But it is not just the admin that has the responsibility to do these things to promote a harmonious state of well-being, the other stakeholders can also play an important role in this effort.

Some international schools have a Sunshine Committee that provides a number of positive things to staff and also hosts events/parties throughout the school year. Even parents can offer different things to promote high staff morale like holding teacher appreciation buffet lunches on special days.

Each international school is on its own journey with creating a harmonious state of well-being amongst its staff. Before taking a job at an international school, it might be a good idea to find a way to ask about the current state of staff morale, why it is that way, and what is the school doing to address this topic.

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Luckily, International School Community has a comment topic on our school profile pages related to this topic of staff morale and well-being. In this comment topic, our members can share what their experience has been working at various international schools around the world. There are a total of 510 comments (January 2022) that have been submitted by our veteran international school teachers on this specific comment topic (one out of the 68 in total) called – “What does the school do to create a harmonious state of well-being and high morale amongst its staff?”

Here are a few of those submitted comments:

“Morale is good at the school currently even though we have had a roller coaster of both face-to-face and online learning due to the rise and fall of Covid. Teachers have been given shared planning time and we meet weekly on Wednesdays (early dismissal for students) as a staff to work on both professional development and other school/staff priorities…” – The American School of Kinshasa (Kinshasa, Congo (DRC)) – 84 Total Comments

“The school tries to place an emphasis on a work and life balance. It is trying to promote a healthy working community. With almost all the staff living on campus, this is very much needed as there can be a working all the time feeling and that you are always at work. The Christmas holidays is a welcome break after a long semester…” – Keystone Academy (Beijing, China) – 143 Comments

“The staff has pretty high morale, and that is shown again and again at the end of the year climate survey. The middle school tends to be known as the happiest division. The school has been working to increase wellbeing by adding wellness options (fitness, culture, fun activities) at each PD day, allowing mid-day workouts in the school gym, mental health days in addition to sick days, and a surprise Thanksgiving bonus this year…” – American International School of Budapest (Budapest, Hungary) – 73 Total Comments

“There is a wellbeing committee that is allowed to host wellbeing days. But this feels artificial when we aren’t structurally creating an environment where wellbeing is sustainable. Teachers with more than 5 preps (sometimes multiple preps in the same class), teachers who have obligatory after school contacts year-round, teachers who are chided for taking mental health days, not hiring enough teachers to support the programs, and acquiescing to demanding parents to change courses/grades/teachers. Not the conditions for wellbeing…” – Shanghai American School (Pudong) (Shanghai, China) – 197 Comments

“Last year they provided a masseuse and a free one hour massage to all staff who wanted it. They also gave Christmas ornaments to teachers and presents to kids. There are staff BBQs, pool parties, trivia nights, and more…” – Schutz American School (Alexandria, Egypt) – 61 Comments

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Information for Members

ISC now has over 2230 international school profiles listed

December 29, 2021


At International School Community, we now have over 2230 international school profiles listed on our website!

The last 5 schools to be added:

International School Palermo (Palermo, Italy)
Montgomery International School Brussels (Brussels, Belgium)
The Ostrava International School (TOIS) (Ostrava, Czech Republic)
The Aga Khan School (Dhaka) (Dhaka, Bangladesh)
Vittoria International School (Turin, Italy)

The top 5 schools with the most members:

American International School in Egypt (Main Campus)
(New Cairo City, Egypt) – 30 Members
International School of Kuala Lumpur 
(Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) – 29 Members
Copenhagen International School 
(Copenhagen, Denmark) – 27 Members
International School Manila
(Manila, Philippines) – 25 Members
MEF International School Istanbul
(Istanbul, Turkey) – 23 Members

The top 6 most viewed schools:

Jeddah Knowledge International School
(Jeddah, Saudi Arabia) – 202983 views
Al Hada International School
(Taif, Saudi Arabia) – 171363 views
International School of Chile (Nido de Aguilas)
(Santiago, Chile) – 81737 views
British International School Moscow
(Moscow, Russia) – 71509 Views
The Universal American School
Salwa, Kuwait –55548 views

The last 5 schools to have something written on their wall:

Berda Claude International School
(Phuket, Thailand) – 44 Comments
Montgomery International School Brussels
(Brussels, Belgium) – 0 Comments
American School of Marrakesh
(Marrakesh, Morocco) – 29 Comments
UWC East Africa (Moshi)
(Moshi, Tanzania) – 1 Comments
Wockhardt Global School
(Aurangabad, India) – 22 Comments

But check them all out yourself!  Get answers to your questions about the international schools you are interested in by clicking on the geographic region of your choice.  It’s a great way to learn about different international schools around the world and gather information!

International School Community has the following 2230 international schools listed on our website (last updated on 29 December, 2021)

Results: (185) Countries, (831) Cities, (2230) Schools, 
(42543) Comments

Asia (219)

Caribbean (39)

Central America (45)

Central/Eastern Europe (121)

East Asia (328)

Middle East (304)

North Africa (68)

North America (110)

Oceania (31)

SE Asia (343)

South America (102)

Sub-Saharan Africa (181)

Western Europe (339)

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Save Money Anywhere

Save $$$ at International Schools ANYWHERE: Tip #4 (Extravagant Vacations)

December 19, 2021


As a career international teacher, I am happy to continue this series on Save $$$ ANYWHERE! Last month we introduced the avoiding large purchases topic as a way for international teachers to save $$.

Helpful Hint #4: Extravagant Vacations

The final savings destroyer is extravagant vacations.

Now, these are far less common because of the COVID global pandemic, but revenge vacations are starting to emerge. We all need vacations, they are good for us physically, mentally, and emotionally. There is however a wide range on what international teachers can spend on a vacation.

A family of 4 can spend anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000 USD on a vacation. Following the Silk Road, exploring Japan tip to tip, and cruising the Galapagos Islands are memorable once-in-a-lifetime vacations. They will make your Facebook account look great, and will make you the envy of all your friends back home in the snow, but is it worth it? The answer to that is a personal choice. For some, those vacations are why we became international teachers in the first place, so the answer for them is YES – It is worth it!

As a super-saver, I’ve done all those vacations without breaking my savings pledge. I’ve backpacked the Silk Road with our 3-year old boy, I’ve hitchhiked across rural Japan, and used local ferries to ping pong around the Galapagos Islands. We got some strange looks, got lost more times than I can remember, and made great friends along the way.

When borders re-open, and travel begins again for you in your host country, look at your bank account and see how much you saved on not going on vacations last year during the big lockdown.

Finding a vacation that provides you the necessary physical and mental recharge is important, just make sure it doesn’t drain your bank account and put you in a financially vulnerable position. International school enrollment is down globally because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and schools are looking at any way to get financial relief. Having a good nest egg to carry you for 6 months can offer a lot of comfort in these unstable times. 

Stay tuned next month for Tip #5 on Save $$$ ANYWHERE!

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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Information for Members

19653 Total Comments in All the School Profile “School Information” Sections

December 12, 2021


As all International School Community members know, each of the 2225+ school profile pages on our website has four comments sections: School Information, Benefits Information, City Information and Travel Information.  Our members are encouraged to submit comments on one or all of these sections if they currently work at an international school or have worked at one in the past.

The school information page on Seoul Foreign School’s profile page. (216 total comments)

It is important that we all share what we know so that we can in turn help other teachers make a more informed decision before they sign any contract! *Additionally, for every 10 comments you submit (which are anonymous by the way), you will automatically get one free month of premium membership added to your account!  The more comments you leave, the more free membership you get!

So, what are the recent statistics about the School Information sections on all the school profile pages?  The current total number of submitted comments in the School Information section is 19653 (out of a total of 42453+ comments).

There are 24 subtopics in the School Information section on each school profile page.  Check out each one of these subtopics below and find out the total number of comments in that specific sub-topic and an example comment that has been submitted there.

• Describe the different aspects of the school building and the school grounds. Also, describe the surrounding area around the campus. (1838 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The school is set in 3 separate building, one being a 5 minute walk and the other across the road. Crossing the road is quite a safety hazard with the kindergarten class due to taxis over taking them whilst they are on the crossing and the local police not doing anything to monitor this. There is no proper play area and students are taken to local parks for lunch breaks, which is difficult when having to share with babies. No proper gym areas make p.e quite difficult.” – Canadian International School (Tokyo) (Tokyo, Japan) – 93 Comments

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• What types of accreditation does this school have? When is the accreditation up for renewal? Any religious affiliations? (1381 Total Comments)

Example comment: “It is a non-religiously affiliated school owned by a Christian affiliated college and operated on that campus. It is WASC accredited, but is not accredited by the Korean authorities and seems to be a limbo in regards to its local status.” –Global Prodigy Academy (Jeonju, South Korea) – 68 Comments

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• Recent things that the school has taken on (i.e. new curriculum, specific professional development, etc.). (943 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The school is discussing becoming IB and has implemented Teacher’s College Readers and Writer’s Workshop as well as whole language learning in the primary schools. Secondary schools do MAPS-based action plans to show and monitor student improvement and compare them to US students.” – American School of Torreon (Torreon, Mexico) – 64 Comments

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• Describe their hiring policies. Which recruiting fairs do they go to? How do they typically hire (e.g. face-to-face interview, Skype, etc.)? Are there any hiring restrictions mandated by the country? (1716 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Last year they were NOT hiring people with non-EU passports. Some positions that they had last year were local hires, even if the candidates weren’t the strongest of the CVs that they received. Most of this though is out of the school’s control and more the new/changing laws regarding hiring foreigners into the country.” – Southbank International School (London, United Kingdom) – 15 Comments

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• Describe school’s location in relation to the city center and to the teacher’s housing. How do staff get to school before and after school? (1644 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The school is located near one of the hub stations in Tokyo, with easy access by several trains and subways. The school also has two school bus routes. The school will help the teachers find housing if necessary, but it does not itself provide housing. A transportation allowance is provided to cover the transportation cost from home to school and back.” – New International School of Japan (Tokyo, Japan) – 30 Comments

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• Are the expectations high of teaching staff? Are there extra curricular responsibilities? Describe workload details. (970 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Expectations are high but the atmosphere is supportive. Staff are expected to undertake duties on a rota bais before and after school, at break times and lunch times. Staff are expected to run one extra curricular activity for one term per year. There is a decent amount of non-contact time at around 20% of timetable.” – Rasami (Thai-British) International School (Bangkok, Thailand) – 75 Comments

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• Average class size for primary and secondary. Describe any aide support. (1010 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Class sizes are very small. In the primary, they are normally a combination of two grade levels (i.e. Grades 1 and 2 together) and about 16 kids with a teaching assistant. In secondary class size is smaller and can range from four to twelve per grade level.” – Hiroshima International School (Hiroshima, Japan) – 64 Comments

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• Describe the language abilities of students at this school and what is the “common language spoken in the hallways”? Is there one dominant cultural group? (1364 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The Thao Dien (Primary) campus in the expat area has students from about 20 countries. The TT Campus, Primary, Middle School and Secondary is mainly Vietnamese. Korean is the next largest student group. Very few students from Western Countries. Has a large EAL population.” – Australian International School HCMC (Vietnam) (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam) – 19 Comments

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• Describe what kinds of teachers work here (local vs. expat, nationality, qualifications [or lack thereof], etc.) and staff turnover rate. (1417 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Primarily expat teachers, without any one nationality dominating things. When I left in 2011 there were teachers from Australia, Canada, US, UK, South Africa, Belgium, and Tanzania just within my department. Some teachers stay 7 to 10 years or more, while others just 2 to 4 years, as in most international schools.” – International School of Tanganyika  (Dar es salaam, Tanzania) – 171 Comments

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• What types of budgets do classroom teachers/departments get? (614 Total Comments)

Example comment: “budgets have been steadily dropping. Ownership slyly changed the school from a not for profit school to a for profit school, without notifying parents of the change.” – Makuhari International School (Tokyo, Japan) – 22 Comments

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• PARENTS ONLY – General comments from parents of students that go to this school (312 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The mastery system is open to the interpretation of each teacher, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.” – QSI International School of Dongguan (Dongguan, China) – 64 Comments

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• What types of sports programs and activities does the school offer? (803 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The school offers a wide variety of after school activities which are run by teachers. There is no extra pay for this. Teachers can choose which activity they would like to lead.” – International School of Koje (Geoje, South Korea) – 47 Comments

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• Name some special things about this school that makes it unique. (802 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The school has an excellent music program that frequently presents music and drama to the local community and other schools. Students in the diploma program seek out ways to serve the community needs.” – Oeiras International School (Lisbon, Portugal) – 214 Comments

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• In general, describe the demeanor of the students. (707 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The students are generally great, however there are no entrance exams or behavior requirements. The owners Tehmine and Stephan want to make as much money as possible. There definitely are no requirements to enter this school.” – Surabaya European School (Surabaya, Indonesia) – 20 Comments

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• Has the school met your expectations once you started working there? (430 Total Comments)

Example comment: “I’ve really enjoyed working at the school. I have always been able to approach admin if I needed to.” – The Codrington School (Int’l School of Barbados) (St. John, Barbados) – 83 Comments

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• What does the school do to create a harmonious state of well-being and high morale amongst its staff? (502 Total Comments)

Example comment: “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.” – Anglo-American School of Moscow (Moscow, Russia) – 69 Comments

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• Describe the technologies available at the school and how people are/are not using them. (584 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Each teacher has a PC (windows only. The printer server won’t talk to macs) and a smart board. However, the smart boards are not all hooked up or working so it’s a very expensive video screen. Slow internet. Nothing Google, youtube, or Facebook works in China.” – Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (Beijing, China) – 182 Comments

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• Details about the current teacher appraisal process. (368 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Get on your principal’s good side and you are fine. If they do not like you you will immediately get put on a corrective plan and ushered out. Just flatter the admin and you will be fine.” – Abu Dhabi International Private School (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) – 43 Comments

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• Is the student population declining, staying the same or increasing? Give details why. (562 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The number of students has increased. There is a waitlist for Year 6 now.” – UCSI International School Subang Jaya (Subang Jaya, Malaysia) – 11 Comments

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• How have certain things improved since you started working there? (294 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The one more important thing that changed for the positive, in around 2011-12, was the school initiated an 8000 RMB per year, per teacher, PD allowance. Before that there wasn’t an allowance. There was though PD for the DP teachers before that.” – Yew Chung International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China) – 53 Comments

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• How is this school different or the same when compared to schools in your home country? (226 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Well one thing that my school had in the United States was a coordinator for reading in the Primary school. I feel that CIS would benefit from having one of those. We need somebody to coordinate how the primary school teaches reading and someone to coordinate resources. Also, someone to help us have a clearer stop and sequence across the grade levels.” – Copenhagen International School (Copenhagen, Denmark) – 407 Comments

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• What controversies have been happening lately? Please be objective. (372 Total Comments)

Example comment: “The school hires foreign teachers but sometimes it is difficult for the teachers to integrate into the school. It is really a combination of moving to Chile and assimilating as a foreigner as well as the schools lack of support to receive foreign teachers. The administration has recognized this problem and is working to help future hires.” – Santiago College (Santiago, Chile) – 74 Comments

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• What insider information would you give to a teacher considering working at this school? (535 Total Comments)

Example comment: “Remember state school teachers are paid twice as much for half the work. All the locals are on waiting lists for Govt. schools but they are years (centuries) long.” – International School of Paphos (Paphos, Cyprus) – 123 Comments

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• How much curriculum development work are you expected to do? (Atlas Rubicon, Toddle, etc.) (343 Total Comments)

Example comment: “A curriculum coordinator offers huge levels of support for this. During the current year, this load is heavy because of where we are in the accreditation cycle. High School has used Rubicon for a while. Lower School is just starting to use Rubicon.” – American School of Marrakesh  (Marrakesh, Morocco) – 29 Comments

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How did this school handle the COVID-19 situation? (14 Total Comments)

Example comment: “I was very impressed with ISHRs response to covid. No reductions in salary or positions cut, although some departing members of staff were not replaced. The school gave teachers the autonomy to work from home, although other schools in Germany asked staff to be on site. They checked in regularly to see how we were doing outside of school. I would go as far as saying it was probably one of the best responses in the international school world. We all got to keep our jobs, work from home when we felt like we needed to, and were treated with compassion…” – International School Hannover Region (Hannover, Germany) – 42 Comments

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Discussion Topics

How Have International Schools Been Doing During the COVID 19 Pandemic?

December 5, 2021


Nobody was fully prepared to deal with the lockdowns international schools have been experiencing.

Some international schools experienced teaching from home, doing remote learning. And though many international schools are back to in-person learning at the moment (with or without masks), others are still in the throws of remote teaching!

It has been hard on all stakeholders, and it continues to be hard on the international school community. Most of us are subjected to the rules and regulations of our host country, which can be comforting and also stressful. And international schools must make plans to follow these (sometimes ever-changing) rules.

We all want to do our part to get this pandemic over and done with. But the reality is that it has been very stressful constantly making changes to how we teach. And even if an international school teacher is getting into the groove with their current setup, there is always a sense that a new change is coming soon.

Adding to the stress and anxiety, the truth is that some international school teachers haven’t been back to their home in over two years because they have not been allowed to leave their host country!

How then have international schools made these decisions to teach during the COVID 19 pandemic? How have they made their decisions to teach in a safe way, and how were those decisions perceived and experienced by the staff?

Luckily, ISC was designed to help international school teachers find the information they are looking for. We have a comment topic called, “How did this school handle the COVID-19 situation?” and here are 11 comments that have been submitted in this section:

China (Beijing)

“The school went above and beyond on the covid-19 situation in helping families, setting up robust online learning. Some teachers took advantage of this, so things have tightened up a bit. Online learning has greatly been minimised due to extreme government caution but everyone is still masked and subjected to frequent test requests / inspections etc. Travel is severely hampered and is totally unpredictable…” – Western Academy of Beijing (76 total comments)

Vietnam

“The school did a great job following the government’s guidelines…” – International School Saigon Pearl (103 total comments)

Thailand (Nonthaburi)

“Terribly. They furloughed most of the teacher assistants and cafeteria workers. They fired someone very last minute, claiming low enrollment when she had already signed a contract for the following year…” – Ruamrudee International School (Ratchapruek) (45 total comments)

China (Shanghai)

“Not well. When 40%+ of the faculty was trapped outside china (along with much of the families) the school furloughed/fired a huge chunk of them even though all of us who weren’t furloughed/fired eventually got back in. The school then hired replacements for the classrooms. It was clear that the people that were fired were people the administrators wanted to get rid of (i.e. tougher personalities). It felt like the school used COVID, instead of normal improvement plan processes, to part ways with people. This left many individuals stuck in countries that weren’t their home with no job and no income – it was devastating to many. Most of us wish they would have kept everyone on at reduced pay for 1 year (supposedly we had the money to do so) with knowing that they would need to make reductions the following year. It would have been compassionate to give everyone time to figure out what they needed to do…” – Shanghai American School (Pudong) (197 total comments)

Thailand (Chiang Mai)

“COVID has had a huge impact on the school, its managers, teachers, parents and students. Parents and teachers have been critical of some of the things the school has done but generally, everyone accepts these are intolerably difficult and unique times and that management does not have a crystal ball and is generally reacting well to the latest whims of government policy…” – Lanna International School (LIST) (55 total comments)

Poland

“In March of 2020, the school followed government guidelines and transitioned to remote learning mostly synchronously. This was initially meant to last for a few weeks, but in the end, we never returned to school. Our spring break was shortened so that we could end the year early, and this was generally appreciated. With a rigorous testing/masking/distancing regimen in place (and a general ban on parents entering the building), we were able to return to in-person classes for the entirety of the 2020/21 school year. There were always a handful of students who attended in a hybrid mode, and small categories of students were occasionally excluded and moved to virtual mode for short periods of time depending on testing results. Graduation was held in drive-in mode on campus for the classes of 2020 and 2021, which was an excellent concession. The protocols continue to be followed this year (though hybrid students are generally not accommodated for except in extraordinary circumstances) and things feel as close to “normal” as one could hope for…” – American School of Warsaw (167 total comments)

China (Shekou)

“Brilliantly. Paid for flights and quarantine costs for all employees stuck outside of China. Will do the same for the next summer break as well…” – Shekou International School (109 total comments)

Japan

“We were very lucky to have only 1 month of online/remote learning in which the Head of Tech Integration was able to set up the online program for teachers, students, and parents…” – Hope International Academy Okinawav (76 total comments)

Thailand (Phuket)

“Really really badly although the CEO is convinced otherwise. During the last lockdown, staff was close to breaking point (and still are). Laurent and his minions decided the stick approach was best so forced staff to work from campus and remove lunches, remove the ability for staff to buy their own, and remove coffee. Then they decided that it was a good time to do appraisals, observations and hand out personal criticisms. You honestly couldn’t make this shXX up. Every single one of his remaining decent staff members is now looking elsewhere. He has fundamentally damaged the core of the school-his staff and does not appear to see this as a problem. In 18 months this school has gone from ‘has potential ‘ to ‘RUN’…” – Berda Claude International School (39 total comments)

China (Macao)

“The school has an online learning plan when it is necessary to implement. Macau has been a very safe place to live and work during COVID but with that safety comes very limited movement. Getting into Macau is very difficult and when you are here it is basically impossible to leave. This has made life very hard for expats…” – The School of the Nations (Macao) (28 total comments)

China (Suzhou)

“China, and especially Suzhou, is lucky to have been open most of the time during COVD-19! SSIS was forced to have a delayed start to the school year this year by the local government due to COVID-19 which has affected the calendar a bit by shortening staff vacations…” – Suzhou Singapore International School (147 total comments)

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Comparing the Schools and Comments

Comparing the Schools and Comments: Working in Morocco

November 21, 2021


Around the world, there are countries (like Morocco) 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.

Morocco

Currently, we have 10 schools listed in Morocco on International School Community.

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

American School Fes (18 Total Comments)
American School of Marrakesh (29 Total Comments)
American School of Tangier (10 Total Comments)
British International School of Casablanca (37 Total Comments)
Casablanca American School (39 Total Comments)
George Washington Academy (108 Total Comments)
Rabat American School (16 Total Comments)

Amount of Money Left to be Saved

“Single teachers can save up to $15000 a year and teaching couples up to $30000. The saving potential is high…” – Rabat American School

“Easily saved about $10,000 without living particularly frugally. The cost of living is generally quite low…” – American School of Marrakesh

“With a working couple, you can easily save one salary. That said a family of four would have to watch their budget as costs of things such as car hire can add heavily to expenditure…” – British International School of Casablanca

School Campus

“Nice open feeling to central campus areas. Able to take class outside and read a book under a tree. Limited facilities – no pool, etc…” – Casablanca American School

“A quiet area by the ocean, walking distance to a tennis club and a few local places to eat and shop. The school has two cars you can borrow to run errands, but the cars are manual only (fyi)…” – George Washington Academy

“Next to the campus there are many trees and low rise residential, shops and restaurants nearby…” – Rabat American School

Housing Information

“Housing is provided in an apartment complex. Utilities within reason included. Apartments have basic furnishings and wifi. There is a cable TV package or something similar, but few channels in English…” – American School of Marrakesh

“Furnished housing is provided. The school also pays for your utilities…” – American School of Tangier

“Accommodation is provided in a modern golf complex. Bills are to be paid by the teachers…” – British International School of Casablanca

Benefits for Teachers with Children

“If two parents are working for the school then the kid gets in free but if one parent is working for the school there is a fee that would need to be paid…” – George Washington Academy

“Free tuition for two children; half tuition for additional children…” – American School of Marrakesh

“Free child places. It is possible to hire a nanny for around 4000 MAD a month if needs be…” – British International School of Casablanca

Are the Expectations High of Teaching Staff?

“Having come from one of the big high pressure schools, I can honestly say the workload is not hard. Classload is light with only 2 or 3 classes per day, and extra curriculuar are optional and paid. The work day ends at 3:45 and only the new teachers with limited experience consider the workload “tough”. I’m home every day by 4 to cook dinner for my family, that is something I have never been able to do before in my professional career, and I think that is a real blessing of GWA…” – George Washington Academy

“In addition to teaching duties, you are expected to run one extra curricular activity and participate in one school committee. For most grades, there is a reasonable amount of prep time (entitled to 4 periods, but most people have at least 8 per week, some even more). You are also required to do 1-2 duties per week…” –American School of Marrakesh

“The expectations are high but not over demanding. Timetables are no different to other international schools although the day is long. Clubs are taken by staff, currently once a week…” –British International School of Casablanca

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

If you work at an international school in Morocco, share what you know. Consider becoming a Mayor for unlimited free premium membership!

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Save Money Anywhere

Save $$$ at International Schools ANYWHERE: Tip #3

November 11, 2021


As a career international teacher, I am happy to continue this series on Save $$$ ANYWHERE! Last month we introduced the housing package topic as a way for international teachers to save $$.

Helpful Hint #3: Avoid Large Purchases

As an expatriate teacher, I have never needed a car, even though many of my colleagues have one. It’s a great luxury, but also a great expense when you consider gas, insurance, maintenance, license plate, and the loss in resale value. Uber is available in just about all counties now, and if a car is really necessary, a short-term rental can be obtained economically.

Avoiding the big purchases will make for better savings and fewer inconveniences when it comes time to move to the next assignment. Anyone who had to move without a shipping allowance understands the pain of letting go of your expensive cappuccino machine for pennies on the dollar.

Never own anything you can’t walk away from in 20 minutes. When the COVID-19 pandemic first came, and many teachers were locked out of their work country, saying goodbye to everything was very real. Teachers lost baby photos, family heirlooms, and all their personal belongings. One friend of mine who got locked out of China told me, “All my stuff wasn’t worth anything anyway”, and moved on happily. Others are still fighting with schools and governments to get back what was lost.

Having some creature comforts are important, especially with lockdowns and quarantine. Just be aware that having a new 80’ Smart TV is great, but you’ll never get back the money you invested. Avoiding large purchases can help you reach your savings goals.

Stay tuned next month for Tip #4 on Save $$$ ANYWHERE!

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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Highlighted Articles

11 International Schools that are Close to Nature

October 25, 2021


Many of us international school educators would ideally like to teach abroad and also have close access to nature.

Escaping into a forest or a big green park can often reset our minds and bring our stress levels down to manageable levels.

Some international schools are already directly in nature. Maybe they are in a forest or right next to a water source, or maybe they are just in a city center that has a number of very green parks.

But not all international schools are in cities that have easy and quick access to nature.

Some cities do have a few trees lining the streets and also a few small parks scattered around, but often the number of buildings outnumber these two things. And if you look closely, there can even be a layer of dust/dirt on the leaves making the green look more like a brownish color!

Even if there is not a lot of nature in the city center itself, it is still important to note that it can be worth it if you can find some nature close by via public transport or car.

Having access to a number of day trip options that go into nature can really be a selling point to working in a certain city and country.

Nature is important to many of us international educators, so it is necessary to ask around and do your research before making a decision to relocate.

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 235 comments that had the keyword “Nature” in them. Here are 11 of them:

Thailand

“The school is quite far from the center of Chiang Mai but it is possible to find nice places to eat and plenty of local shops and markets a short car or scooter ride away. The plus side is that you have total peace and are surrounded by lush green making it a wonderfully relaxed place to live and explore. Staff are given apartments on the school grounds with the option to live off-campus for those who wish it.” – Prem Tinsulanonda International School (55 total comments)

United Arab Emirates

“Single people enjoy their lives here. There are many other expats to date. There are a lot of things to do during the day and night here. There is a good coupon book that some people use. The book is huge so that means there is much to do. With regards to nature, there is actually a lot of living things in the desert. In our garden, there are many kinds of critters!” – American Community School of Abu Dhabi (30 total comments)

Malaysia

“There isn’t much to do in Putrajaya apart from nature walks and the lake activities. KL has lots to offer but lacks the excitement of other SE Asian destinations. It’s great for families though and has a charm of its own.” – Nexus International School – Malaysia (94 total comments)

Germany

“I would say there is a lot of nature here in Hamburg. There is water everywhere basically. There are many parks in the city as well. Just no mountains.” – International School of Hamburg (55 total comments)

Costa Rica

“Anywhere you around in the city, you will be able to see beautiful mountains. The sun is typically shining as well making all the views of the trees and flowers so lovely. And if the nature in the city isn’t enough, then you are not too far away from more nature in other cities around the country.” – American International School of Costa Rica (12 total comments)

France

“There is so much night life here, if that is your scene. There is also a lot of nature here too with so many parks around the city. On a sunny, warm day, Paris just looks sooooo beautiful! Last night I saw two gay men holding hands while walk down the sidewalk, and then around the Seine, I saw a group of gay bears meeting up for a mini party/gathering. Seems like Paris is really gay friendly.” – International School of Paris (24 total comments)

Norway

“However it’s the best place for nature and getting out of the city in no time.” – Norlights International School Oslo (122 total comments)

Ukraine

“It is possible to find any kind of activities you want here. There is a lot of nightlife, but also easy access to large parks and nature. Buying or renting a car will allow opportunities to get out into the country and really experience nature, if desired.” – Qsi – Kyiv International School (36 total comments)

Japan

“There are so many temples/shrines to see here. Many of them are going up the nearby mountainside. There is such beautiful nature there with amazing trees everywhere. In the spring, it is awesome and in the fall it can be very gorgeous.” – Kyoto International School (65 total comments)

Oman

“There isn’t that much nature in the city of Muscat itself, but you don’t have to do too far to see some green. There are palm trees that are dotted around the area, like near to the Grand Mosque. There are even areas of beautiful green grass and flowers like near to the Corniche Mutrah. But most of Muscat is desert-like. Just flat and sandy!” – American International School of Muscat (34 total comments)

Colombia

“School is built on a large hillside with beautiful views of the city. It is surrounded by a sort of nature preserve so it’s very green all around. The buildings are old and cannot be rebuilt due to building restrictions but they do their best to keep them repaired best they can.” – Colegio Nueva Granada (60 total comments)

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Save Money Anywhere

Save $$$ at International Schools ANYWHERE: Tip #2

September 29, 2021


As a career international teacher, I am happy to continue this series on Save $$$ ANYWHERE! Last week we introduced the 70% target for savings as an international teacher.

Helpful Hint #2: Housing Package

When moving to a new country for a new teaching assignment, there is always a transition period. Culture shock is real and different for everyone. Some teachers can hit the ground running, some take a few weeks or months, and some break contract and never transition. Moving is hard, and international schools understand that a proper induction program can make-or-break a new teacher. The first impulse when arriving is to surround yourself with “comfort stuff”.

When relocating to a new country, housing is one of the most important factors in accepting an assignment. Some schools offer a housing allowance, others offer discounted housing, and some offer fully furnished, and fully subsidized housing. These details are important and often glazed over during the recruitment phase. Asking lots of questions is important to understanding the full cost of relocation.

A colleague of mine was looking for a new school during the COVID-19 pandemic, and he asked the school for a larger housing allowance, as he did the research and found out the allowance would only support a studio apartment. Living in a studio was unacceptable for him, so he asked for a housing allowance that would pay for a 1 bedroom. The answer was a harsh “NO – the terms of the contract are non-negotiable”. My friend smiled at me and said, “Wow I guess the reports on this school were true, no wonder they are struggling to find teachers”. Doing your homework and due diligence can uncover many red flags, and set you nicely up to reach your savings goals.

International teachers generally only stay at an International School for an average of 2.4 years. The money that you spend on your relocation, you will almost never get back. This is a sunk cost, and understanding what you are moving into can help increase your savings, and speed up your acclimatization to your new home.

Stay tuned next month for Tip #3 on Save $$$ ANYWHERE!

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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Highlighted Articles

How Northfields International School simplified textbook distribution with eBooks.com

September 14, 2021


Key points

  • New service makes it easy to acquire e-textbooks and issue them to students.
  • Find and issue e-texts to your class in a few minutes.
  • You only pay for ebooks that are actually accessed by a student. (No leftovers.)

How it works

The goal of all international schools is to give students the best chance of success. Whether your students are studying for the IGCSE, the International Baccalaureate or following another curriculum, getting the right textbooks into their hands is critical. Traditionally there is a lot of administration and overhead involved in sorting out appropriate books for students. Before purchasing textbooks:

  • You need to determine student numbers accurately
  • Then submit a bulk order request to a book distributor
  • Then wait days or weeks for the books to be shipped and delivered, particularly during the current pandemic
  • If better textbooks or new editions become available, you’ll have to submit another order and wait all over again.

eBooks.com has developed a service that simplifies the distribution of ebooks to international school students. Once you’ve set up an account, you can choose from millions of titles and get the relevant text into the hands of your students within minutes. The flexibility of the system ensures that you always buy the correct number of ebooks for your students and you’ll only get charged when a student accesses the ebook for the first time. So there’s no guesswork as to numbers; no wastage.

Helen Keetarut, the Librarian from Northfields International School has said:

“At Northfields International School we have children from Nursery right through to Year 13, and we are a busy school with lots of book requirements. eBooks.com has been a fantastic supplier for us mainly due to their amazing customer service and friendly helpful staff. We have queries from students and teachers alike and Ebooks.com is always on hand to help. We recently started using their Ebook course management, which has made ordering and allocating books much easier and efficient. This was explained to us in our own private training session. Well done eBooks.com for your great team and thank you for all your support.”

Using this simple interface, you can just choose the book(s) for the course and then upload a spreadsheet of your students’ email addresses. We’ll handle the rest.

Here’s how the Ebook Course Management platform simplifies your life:

  • Allows students to access content with just their email address or a unique fulfillment URL.
  • You’ll have open access to the entire eBooks.com catalog to choose from.
  • Multiple administrators or teachers per course.
  • Multiple groups per course, allowing you to split students into cohorts.
  • Multiple levels of authorized access to the system.
  • Students own their ebooks forever.
  • We’ll bill monthly, based on the number of students that have accessed their ebook for the first time.

If you’re interested in learning more, just register your interest, or contact us directly at ecm@ebooks.com. Wherever you’re based, we’re happy to organise a demo of the system.

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Save Money Anywhere

Save $$$ at International Schools ANYWHERE: Tip #1

August 30, 2021


As a career international teacher, I have had to learn the hard way about international school finances and savings. As an established teaching nomad, I have made the conscious choice of forgoing my national teachers’ pension and accepting the reality that when retirement comes, I will be fully responsible.

Having worked in 4 schools, on 4 different continents, I have learned that work contracts never tell you enough about the real cost of living. Many international teachers find it hard to save money, as the cost of an expat-lifestyle can be more costly than our home country.

It is possible to save ANYWHERE, but it does require a plan and some helpful hints from teachers that have worked in the international teaching circuit for a number of years.

Helpful Hint #1: Save 70% of your Salary (Anywhere)!!!!

In every country, I have always saved at least 70% of my salary.

For countries around the Indian subcontinent of South Asia, that is very easy because of an exceptionally low cost of living. I managed to save 97% of my salary simply by eating locally, avoiding restaurants that never agreed with my gastrointestinal tract, and only succumbing to the $9 bag of Doritos on super special occasions. 

While working in China, the online food applications were a lifesaver, as the food was at your door faster than you could walk to the grocery store. A little help from locals with a basic understanding of Chinese was needed, but after the learning curve was mastered, the savings were exponential.

Many of my colleagues would shop exclusively at the expat grocery store and spend more on one meal than I would for an entire week. The high cost of expat food is justified in the name of organic, natural, GMO-free food, that was grown with the same soil and water as everything else. Yes, you can buy the $5 green pepper if it makes you feel better and safer, but that security is mostly an illusion. In China, you can easily spend half your salary on food and daily living. Starbucks can be delivered to your school, but the local apps are just as good and less than half the price.

Anywhere you live, saving 70% of your salary is not only possible but easy to achieve.

Stay tuned next month for Part 2 on Save $$$ ANYWHERE!

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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Member Spotlights

Member Spotlight #41: Jess Gosling (An international teacher working in Taiwan)

August 16, 2021


Every so often International School Community is looking to highlight one of our members in our Member Spotlight blog category.  This month we interviewed Jess Gosling:

Tell us about your background.  Where are you from?

Hi, my name is Jess Gosling and I’ve been living and working abroad for more than 10 years. I am from England, originally born in the South-East. I moved to the North of England when I started university and I consider the North-East my home. Travel has always interested me and my first overseas trip backpacking was when I was just 16, with a best friend. We took the ferry from Wales and toured Ireland staying with relatives. I didn’t think this was especially unusual at the time, but now I realise this was pretty adventurous! My next trip abroad was at 19. I saved for a year to pay for a five-month trip around South East Asia. I meticulously planned it, reading the Lonely Planet from cover to cover. Once in Thailand, I loved almost every moment. I was crushed when it came to the end of the trip. I have always been interested in other cultures, and feel most connected and alive when abroad.

However, I returned to the UK to study for a degree in History and Race and Ethnic Studies. During the degree, I spent one semester in California and travelled in Central and South America. After completing the degree, I worked again for a year to save to fund beginning my first overseas job in Japan. I knew I would need money for the first weeks and furnishing a new home. I was very keen to see what teaching would be like. I joined a programme that offered teachers with degrees the opportunity to become Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs). There was nothing ‘assisting’ in the role. In reality, I planned, created resources, and taught independently. I taught in fourteen local primary schools throughout Niigata, a city with almost no expats. This placement was fascinating, a city nestled between mountains and a beach. In the evening, after work, I’d go for a swim in the sea. At the weekends I’d drive through the surrounding mountains.

After a year in Niigata, I transferred to an area just outside Tokyo where I worked in ten primary schools. There was a fantastic expat community here and I made friends for life! The work was fun but exhausting. I knew I loved teaching, especially in the younger years. Living in Japan was eye-opening and a first taste of living outside of the UK. Working in local Primary schools was rewarding and interesting, but I felt that I didn’t know enough about my profession to do it justice. Hence, I decided to return to the UK to train to become a qualified teacher and move abroad again.

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

I decided to return home to qualify to teach, through the Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) route. Before beginning the PGCE, I worked as a teaching assistant within Year 2 and Reception classes in a state-maintained school, which was a brilliant experience. I was able to observe teachers closely and I learnt a lot about classroom management. I completed the PGCE and worked two further years in the UK and gained QTS. After a total of three and a half years at home, I married and moved with my teacher husband to Egypt for our first experience teaching abroad in international schools. Whilst in Egypt, I experienced the H1N1 panic (akin to the pandemic we experience now) and resulting school closures, in addition to the Arab Revolution, it certainly was a baptism of fire!

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.

My first school was Cairo English School. It was a great place to work. I worked in Foundation Stage, which was the largest intake of the school, with 16 classes in Nursery and Reception! However, although it was a huge cohort, it felt like a community and the staff were close. The second school I worked at was in Vietnam, the ABC International School. This school was smaller, with approximately three classes per year group, on separate campuses for infants and juniors. One Headteacher I worked for there made it his mission to have ‘fun’ experience days for the children, which included a circus day and on Chinese New Year, dragons and performers came to the playground. He was such a lively spirit, I remember seeing him trying to outdo the children waiting for their bus by standing on one leg. It’s lovely to see management with a sense of fun and interacting with children on their level. In Taipei, I have loved working within Reception. We have developed our activities to be hands-on and experiential. We developed language through the five senses, which included bringing in animals.

Describe your latest cultural encounter (or reverse cultural encounter) in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.

The Taiwanese take hiking very seriously. They are always fully kitted out with walking sticks, expensive sporting wear, and large hats. I usually meet them just wearing shorts and a tee-shirt, sunscreen too if I remember it. When our paths meet (literally) they are always exceptionally friendly and it’s nice to get a greeting, often with an excellent English accent! Out and about in Taipei city, this never happens.

What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?

This is a great question and one I discuss in-depth in my book. A good management team is very important to me, representative of gender and diversity. This team should listen to their staff and take on suggestions and feedback. They should not be afraid to share their power and celebrate their staff’s strengths. Then, I would look at the school ethos and how they work in practice. I like schools that work on developing the whole child and have a family feel. Furthermore, I love when schools embrace becoming ‘eco’ schools with gardens and working within the local and wider community. Then, I would consider the environment in which I would live. At this age and stage of my life, I would like to live near other families, so my daughter can have a social life close by outside of school. These priorities are very different from when I first started teaching. Then, my focus was on location.

In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?

Exciting, interesting, mind-opening experience.

teacher

Thanks, Jess!

Jess Gosling is an international teacher who has recently authored, ‘Becoming a Successful International Teacher: A Step-by-Step Concise Guide to International Teaching’. She can be contacted via her website and regularly tweets at JessGosling2.

If you are a member of International School Community and would like to be our next member spotlight, contact us here.  After we highlight you, you will receive one year free of premium access to our website!

Interested in comparing the schools and comments in Egypt. Check out our blog post here.

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