It is on all international school teachers’ minds. How am I helping to contribute to my future now (for when I retire/stop working) as a current teacher in the international school community?
Not that everything is all worry-free if you just stayed teaching and earning money in your home country, but living and teaching abroad can sound pretty risky to some people (maybe even many people).
If you are working at an international school that has an amazingly high salary with equally amazing benefits, then that is one story. Even if this type of school doesn’t actually offer a nice retirement plan benefit, you still have the opportunity to save a lot of money.
But if you are working at an international school and receiving a salary that helps you ‘just get by’ along with very average benefits (for example, there is not a retirement plan benefit that is on offer to you), then international school educators need to consider if the experience working at this type of international school is a good fit for their future plans.
Does an international school that doesn’t offer a retirement or pension plan benefit immediately equate to being a bad decision for your future? Not necessarily. If you are only planning on staying there for one to two years, then it shouldn’t make that big of a difference. If you receiving a high salary along with paid housing, not having an established pension plan benefit shouldn’t make that big of a difference because your savings potential is high. Hopefully, you have a laser-focused investment plan for all of that money saved.
But for those of us that are not so smart with money and don’t have the expertise to manage our own savings/retirement plan, it can definitely not bit a good fit to accept a teaching job at a school that doesn’t offer retirement plan benefits.
We did a keyword search on our Comment Search feature and found a number of comments related to international schools that don’t offer a retirement or pension plan benefit.
Amman Baccalaureate School (16) Total comments
“No retirement plan right now is on offer as a benefit.”
Canadian International School (Tokyo) (93) Total comments
“No retirement plan for teachers.”
International School Ho Chi Minh City (93) Total comments
“Unfortunately there is no retirement plan.”
Zhuhai International School (121) Total comments
“There are no pension plans from the school (included in the contract) although if you wished to establish one the office staff would be able to assist you in establishing one.”
Varee Chiang Mai International School (117) Total comments
“There is no pension provision, but an end-of-contract gratuity is awarded in lieu.”
Stamford American International School (307) Total comments
“There is no pension, but this means you can invest your money as you see fit. There is a 15% allowance that is paid monthly with your salary. This is “in lieu of CPF” which is paid for Singaporeans and PR.”
On the more positive side, we had a quick search for this key phrase “matching” (30 comments) hoping to find comments related to international schools that match the pension plan contribution of the teachers.
Here are a few of those comments:
American International School Vienna (81) Total comments
“Under the newest contract, teachers now have 10% matching for retirement fund commencing at first year. Certainly better if you’re there short-term, though perhaps not if you’d plan to stay 30 years.”
Hong Kong International School (151) Total comments
“I spend a lot of money here because I love to do eat out a lot, travel, and there are many things to do in the city. With that being said, I save about 1,300 USD a month, not counting the school severance/matching scheme which is another 1,300 USD.”
Cairo American College (196) Total comments
“The pay continues to be good. There is now a higher matching for retirement. The cost of living is still very inexpensive in Egypt.”
All international schools have something good about them. Some might say there are wonderful things that each international school has about them.
It’s a fact: schools are for kids. Schools put teachers in them that enjoy working with those kids. Because of that fact, of course there are going to be things that the school can enjoy and celebrate; mostly because you can safely assume the teachers are doing their best to provide a wonderful educational environment for the kids.
But all too often, many teachers, administration, parents, etc. get sidetracked and those wonderful things get a bit clouded and invisible to them. There are many, many factors that affect these stakeholders which help them get sidetracked: poorly planned or too many meetings, upset parents, anything to do with money (PD money, classroom budget, etc.), areas of the school campus that need improvement, missing or not fully functioning technology, etc.
Getting into the trap of just focusing on these negative things (some that are out of your control anyway), might make you forget all the wonderful things that you could be celebrating instead, or even creating new wonderful things to celebrate for that matter.
After searching the keyword “wonderful” on our Comment Search page, we found 45 comments about 34 international schools that one or more of our members thought was wonderful! Here are just a few of them:
“The school has a wonderful multistory building with fully equipped Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Computer Science laboratories. There is a gymnasium and multi cuisine food court as well. The auditorium of the school is excellent with a seating capacity of around 800.” – Gandhi Memorial International School (Jakarta, Indonesia) – 6 Comments
“Most (but not all) teachers who come to the school have little or no IB experience so this is very much where they have a chance to ‘cut their teeth’ in the IB programmes. Most leave at the end of three years as they receive a wonderful bonus package and with three years IB experience they are able to command far greater salary packages from bigger schools.” – Zhuhai International School (Zhuhai, China) – 65 Comments
“Extra-curricular opportunities abound. There are traditional activities like football (soccer), Frisbee, swimming, volleyball, and a school musical. Activities that support our mission and vision are popular: theme weeks (regions of the world, Women’s week, LGBT week), conflict transformation seminars, service projects. But students and staff also propose activities of interest to them. In the past year, we have offered a meditation group, Russian, photography, Feria Verde, and a host of others I can’t keep track of. These offer a very wonderful opportunity to be with the students.” – United World College of Costa Rica (San Jose, Costa Rica) – 18 Comments
“The students are wonderful to work with. They are respectful, kind, hard-working, and smart.” – Yangon International School (Yangon, Myanmar) – 50 Comments
“I literally think these are the best students to have on the planet. I can’t think of a country where the student caliber is any higher. wonderful and attentive students who perform well. Require work to get them to think outside of the box and problem solve.” – Seoul Foreign School (Seoul, South Korea) – 106 Comments
What is wonderful about your international school? Login to our website and share what you know!continue reading
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 Xian Hi-Tech International School (Xian, China), described his way to work there as follows:
The road to XHIS…….
This is going to sound terribly stereotypical but one of the many reasons I love living in Shaanxi province is the potatoes! Now can you guess where I come from? I will tell you later. My journey to work each day is a very short one, but my journey to Xi’an has been a long one. I hope you enjoy reading about it.
My name is Brian Lalor and I am in my third year at Xi’an Hi-Tech International School, in Shaanxi province in China. We are a two programme IB world school and are working towards offering three of the four excellent IB programmes. Our school is small at present with only 270 students but we are at capacity and have an exciting move to a new purpose-built campus coming up in August 2017.
Each morning I get up and travel about four minutes to school! I know, the shortest ever commute, right? Our school is situated in residential area and all of our teachers’ apartments are located around the school. We are about 30 minutes from the city center in the southern suburbs. I ride my bicycle to school each day, that is why my journey is so short.
On my journey to school I pass through the morning market. Here local vendors sell fruit, vegetables, nuts and breads for very reasonable prices. One of the wonderful advantages to living in Xi’an is the potential to save money. It is much easier to live here when compared to other big cities such as Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong. Our school pays for our apartment, flights, international health insurance and gives us a monthly allowance for living overseas. Before coming to Xi’an I worked in Ha Noi for nine years, and in Jakarta before that. Each city has its own advantages and disadvantages. The main disadvantages living in Xi’an are the standard of healthcare and the bad pollution in Winter.
Some of the wonders Xi’an has to offer are as follows. We are literally just a short 25-minute car ride to the beautiful Qin Ling Mountains which provides us with a great way to escape the heat in summer and some lovely snowy landscapes in winter. Another highly attractive feature unique to this city, is its amazing millenary history, with archaeological sites found literally in every part of town, with the city wall being one of its main attractions. And who hasn’t heard of the world-famous “Terra Cota Warriors”. Xi’an was once the ancient capital of China so as you can imagine there are lots to see in and around the community.
If you have not guessed it I am born and bread Irish. Oh those lovely potatoes! The food here is incredible and you could literally have a potato dish, every day of the week. Some noodles are even made out of potato here!
This Journey to School article was submitted to us by guest author and International School Community member.
What to know more what it is like to visit and live in China? Out of a total of 165 international schools there are 110 that have had comments submitted on them. Here are just a few:
Beijing BISS International School (Beijing, China) – 36 Comments
Beijing City International School (Beijing, China) – 31 Comments
Beijing International Bilingual Academy (Beijing, China) – 35 Comments
International School of Beijing (Beijing, China) – 25 Comments
Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (Beijing, China) – 95 Comments
Western Academy Beijing (Beijing, China) – 43 Comments
Changchun American International School (Changchun, China) – 50 Comments
QSI International School of Dongguan (Dongguan, China) – 64 Comments
Guangdong Country Garden School (Foshan, China) – 48 Comments
Guangzhou Huamei International School (Guangzhou, China) – 48 Comments
Harbin No. 9 High School International Division (Songbei Campus) (Harbin, China) – 45 Comments
American International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China) – 24 Comments
Canadian International School (Hong Kong) (Hong Kong, China) – 69 Comments
Creative Secondary School (Hong Kong, China) – 39 Comments
Hong Kong Academy (Hong Kong, China) – 34 Comments
Hong Kong International School (Hong Kong, China) – 104 Comments
Canadian International School Kunshan (Kunshan, China) – 28 Comments
Kang Chiao International School (Kunshan, China) – 41 Comments
Access International Academy (Ningbo) (Ningbo, China) – 48 Comments
British International School Shanghai – Puxi (Shanghai, China) – 35 Comments
Concordia International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China) – 86 Comments
Shanghai American School – Puxi (Shanghai, China) – 39 Comments
Shanghai Community International School (Shanghai, China) – 33 Comments
Shanghai Rego International School (CLOSED) (Shanghai, China) – 74 Comments
Shanghai United International School (Shanghai, China) – 40 Comments
Western International School of Shanghai (Shanghai, China) – 204 Comments
Yew Chung International School (Shanghai) (Shanghai, China) – 27 Comments
Buena Vista Concordia International School (Shenzhen, China) – 39 Comments
International School of Nanshan Shenzhen (Shenzhen, China) – 26 Comments
QSI International School of Shekou (Shenzhen, China) – 20 Comments
Suzhou Singapore International School (Suzhou, China) – 47 Comments
Wellington College International Tianjin (Tianjin, China) – 54 Comments
EtonHouse International Schools, Wuxi (Wuxi, China) – 49 Comments
Xian Hi-Tech International School (Xian, China) – 54 Comments
Zhuhai International School (Zhuhai, China) – 59 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.continue reading
In this blog series we will talk about the ins and outs of an excellent new teacher orientation programme at an international school. A new teacher orientation programme can really play a very important part to the start at your new school, in your new host country. What are all the must-haves then? Check out our blog series here to read all about the ones that we have discussed so far. m
Must-have #12: A tour of your new campus
Before you even interview with an international school, a perspective teacher is definitely scouring the school’s website for pictures of the campus (among other things as well!). During the interview you even take some time to ask some questions about the campus and its facilities. The school might even have a neat video that some of their students made, showing off each part of the campus. After the interview you still want to know more and can’t wait to actually see the campus in person; as we all know too well, pictures can at times be deceiving.
So you finally arrive in your new city and country. Hopefully the director picked you up from the airport and personally dropped you off at your new apartment. You get settled-in as much as you can in the first few days and then it is time to go to your new school for the first time.
A few questions though, how do you even get to your new school? Maybe somebody in the business office comes to your apartment complex to drive you to your new school (how nice is that?!?). Maybe you are with a small group of other new teachers (who also live in the same apartment building) and you get directions on how to use public transport to get to the school campus. You might even be greeted by a staff member in person at some predetermined location in the city and then you and a group of other new teachers take a walk to the school.
Finally you are at your new school! After the initial shock on seeing the campus for the first time and getting introduced to tons of important people at the school, you take a deep breath and get ready to really see the campus.
It is typically one of the first things that you do as a new teachers, get a tour around the whole campus and grounds. Who is doing that? It could be the director himself/herself that leads the tour; nice to have the person who hired you to be the one to do that. It might also be your immediate boss who does the tour, or it might be a staff member who has been ‘elected’ to be the official welcomer of the new teachers (I put elected in quotes because sometimes this staff member is just volunteering their time and not always getting paid!).
With your jet-lagged eyes, it is finally time to take everything in of your new school. Is it well-manicured or old and falling apart? It is easy to quickly judge things as you going around to the different areas of the campus (maybe they are skipping over some parts to not scare you too much!). It is hard not to compare everything to your last school. If luck is on your side, most things at your new school will be way better than your previous one!
Then the tour is over and live goes on. Soon the new campus becomes very familiar to you and thus you feel super comfortable again and can get yourself into the swing of things as you start your teaching. Could it be that a nice school campus tour gets you starting off on the right foot for your first year there?
Luckily on International School Community we have a comment topic that specifically addresses the issue of the school campus. It is called: Describe the different aspects of the school building and the school grounds. Also, describe the surrounding area around the campus.
We have had a total of 606 separate comments in this topic about a number of international schools on our website. Here are just a few:
Zhuhai International School –
“The school campus is really interesting and different. It’s in a building, originally built as a hotel, on a nature reserve island, 15 minutes north of the outskirts of Zhuhai city. The pluses: It’s got fabulous outdoor/natural resources – huge outdoor playing areas, a track, an enormous banyan tree, plenty of space, and good-sized classrooms. The minuses: no gym or large meeting space indoors, 3, soon to be 4 floors with only stairs. But if you like a laid back, open environment, surrounded by nature, you’ll love this campus.”
Buena Vista Concordia International School –
“Beautiful, purpose-built school in the Buena Vista area of Bao’an. All buildings in the residential/commercial area utilize an American Southwest theme with brown and orange being the main color scheme. School has full indoor gymnasium, outdoor soccer pitch and track, space for art and music, as well as four large lab areas.”
American School of Guatemala (Colegio Americano)
“Large campus, park-like setting with beautiful tropical landscaping. K-12 so each section has a different are (Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle, High School). Located in a high-end area of Guatemala City (still lots of traffic) but on campus you would never know you’re in the middle of a city.”
So, does your international school give a tour of the campus straight away to all the new hires? Please share your experiences!continue reading
v2011.04 – 9 August, 2011:
Back to school! If you are new teacher at an international school this year, right now is the most exciting time. You are now officially in the honeymoon phase of your culture shock. Enjoy it. Many times for new teachers there is a nice BBQ at the director’s house, catered lunches during workshop days, a nice tour around the city, etc. If you are lucky, there is a nice group of new teachers at your school this year. Why, you ask? The other new teachers that start at your new school at the same time as you will typically become some of your best friends that you will make there. It is because you guys will be sharing the same experiences as you explore your new city, new country and new school together at the same time. So, new teachers enjoy your first few months! Take everything in stride and appreciate every minute. Try and say “yes” to all the invitations you will receive from other teachers in their attempt to make new friends with you.
· International schools that were founded in 1978 (Mauritania, Egypt, Kuwait, etc.)
“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…”
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“It has some great insight into how important the first few weeks are for new teachers during their orientation days to their new city and new school. There is also much information to be …”
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“Candidates should note that most foreign-hire teachers live near the main campus in Chofu, a suburban environment one hour west of downtown Tokyo by train…”
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“Some international school teachers tend to experience different levels of culture shock and can pass though the stages quite quickly, but I still think for those people that you need to give yourself six full months to decide…”
· Stafford International School (3 new comments)
(Colombo, Sri Lanka)
“Religious activities are promoted with weekly assemblies by each group and the celebration of festivals in which all participate…”
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“The apartment that I got was complete unfurnished. I had to buy everything for it. Luckily, you can use the relocation allowance to help you buy furniture and what not (which is around USD 2000)…”
· Greengates School (British Int’l School) (5 new comments)
(Mexico City, Mexico)
“The PTA is very strong. International Day Fair is the most interesting event that you will see. High School graduation is very respected with Ambassadors as guest speakers …”
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“The school has around 11 teachers and they are from Guatemalan and the United States…”
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“This well-resourced school has a purpose-built centrally air- conditioned buildings and classrooms, specialist teaching rooms including…”
Back in July we celebrated our 100th member on International School Community! We are definitely on our way to our goal of having 200 members by the end of the year. Please refer your international school teacher friends to join our community.
Officially, we also have 66 likes on Facebook and on Twitter we have 119 followers. How exciting!