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Blogs of international school teachers: “Consider the Ordinary” (An educator at The American School of Tampico)

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

Our 28th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Consider the Ordinary”  Check out the blog entries of this international school educator who currently works at The American School of Tampico (10 Total Comments on our website.) in Mexico.

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A few entries that we would like to highlight:

the American School of Tampico—my new home in mexico!

“Here is my beautiful school!!!!:) It sits on over 33 acres of land…Here is my classroom from the outside(the one with the circle window)…Here are pictures from the outside and inside of the classroom…Here are the lovely stairs up to my class (before these there are 2 other flights! haha)…”

It would be awesome if all international school teachers took as many photos of their campus to share with everyone.  It is important and very helpful to know exactly what the school looks like before you sign the contract to work there. Thanks for sharing pictures of the The American School of Tampico campus!

mi apartemento en Tampico

“My apartment is wonderful! The school provides it and they were so helpful, already had telephone hooked up, a little food and drinks in the fridge, and everything we needed set up!:) I’m so glad I’m here…Here is my roomies room- Her name is Robyn. We met her and her mom (Melissa) tonight..so far seems great!…There are 2 bedrooms (with AC) with bathrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchen, a large study room, a laundry room, and another room with bathroom that is in the back of the place—it’s all soooo big!!!…”

What a nervous situation…arriving at a new, foreign country and finally seeing the apartment that you will be living in.  Luckily for this educator, it turned out really well.  It is definitely a relief after having seen your new place, and then get started with making it your new “home”.   Also, meeting your new roommate can also be a bit nerve-wracking.  But you never know, the person just might turn out to a really good friend of yours.  What a nice surprise too when you take notice of the nice, big size of your new apartment.  Sometimes international school teachers get lucky when they are living in a city where their benefits package or salary affords them the opportunity to live a bigger apartment than what they are used to.

a day/night at the beach…

“I went to the beach for the first time last Saturday here in Tampico! It was great. I stuck my toes in and waded up to my ankles, but didn’t swim yet. The foreign staff from school went for a birthday barbeque for Michael—he’s our librarian. There was great food, a campfire, fun people, and sand, water, and sun—-all in all it was a beautiful day and a fun time:)…”

It is great to take in all the new places that you can go to in your new city, especially if your new city is on the coast of an ocean so that you can enjoy its beaches.  Some international school teachers are very luckily indeed!  It is also important to say yes to any opportunities to go out with the school staff.  Being open to exploring the city and to get to know the staff better are two important things to try and accomplish your first few months working at your new school.

Want to work for an international school in the Mexico like this blogger?  Currently, we have 23 international schools listed in the Mexico on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

American School Foundation of Guadalajara (15 Comments)
American School Foundation of Mexico City (35 Comments)
The Peterson Schools (Cuajimalpa Campus) (11 Comments)
Colegio Atid (17 Comments)
American School Foundation of Monterrey (16 Comments)
• Instituto San Roberto (15 Comments)
American School of Durango (12 Comments)
Colegio Inglés A.C. (Torreon) (12 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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Blogs of international school teachers: “Finding Bliss and Balance in Barcelona”

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

Our 27th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Finding Bliss and Balance in Barcelona”  Check out the blog entries of this international school educator who currently works at American School of Barcelona (91 Total Comments on our website.) in Spain.

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A few entries that we would like to highlight:

Decisions…

“Living abroad has presented challenges in my life that I didn’t know could exist. Still, almost weekly, I have to learn new things about how to live within a new culture and a new system. Routine things, like going to the dentist or getting your hair cut, present new experiences and ask me to adapt to new ways of doing things. Another big challenge lately has come about because of a bike accident Dave had on a rainy night in October.…”

We actually have an article that we have written about the topic of getting a haircut in another country.  You can read the full article here.  A haircut is one thing, but when a big accident occurs while you are living in another country, that can be quite a different, more intense experience.  It is never a good feeling when you are hurt and in need of hospital care and then there being a big language and cultural barrier potentially creating problems and stress.  My experience though in foreign hospitals has all been quite positive.  Many people might be surprised to know that the majority of your experiences in foreign hospitals are actually better than they would be in your home country!

A Surprise Christmas in January

“The incessant ringing caused Dave to do something quite uncharacteristic of himself in the mornings; he exited the warm bed and ran through the frigid hallway to answer the doorbell. From my sleepy stupor I inferred by the muffled Spanish being spoken through our intercom that it was in fact the correos (mail), but that she needed to deliver a package to us instead of just needing to be let in the building to reach everyone’s mailboxes. Again, Dave did something uncharacteristic of himself in the mornings: he threw on his glasses and clothes in a snap. I heard the rapid footsteps of the mail carrier make her way up 4 flights of steps and knock on our door. Dave accepted the package, “Gracias….”

Kind of a strange feeling when you get a buzz on your intercom (when living in a foreign country) and you are not expecting anyone.  Then when the voice starts talking to you in the local language, things can get a bit confusing and quick!  Soon enough you figure out who the person could potentially be and make a connection to the thing you were actually expecting to receive via delivery/the postal carrier.  More often than not, the postal worker does their best to give great service and to try to communicate with you with the least confusion.  But once they arrive at your door, there is not much that is really needed to be said; when you most likely just need to sign your name on some sheet of paper.

Our Stay-cation

“I will have to admit that when we originally decided on a “stacation” I wasn’t stoked as I am always eager to leave the bustle of the city and explore the beauty that the Spanish countryside has to offer. Nevertheless, after a little guidebook research and recommendations from friends at work, we managed to plan a packed week full of eating, drinking, music, and sightseeing in Barcelona. We also snuck in a quick jaunt to Cadaques, which turned out to be the highlight of my vacation…”

We always think about where we (international school teachers) are going to go next.  Actually, many of us feel uneasy when our next trip isn’t planned yet.  No trip to look forward to can be an uneasy feeling!  We do sometimes forget that staying in your host city (or nearby your host city) can actually be an attractive alternative to flying somewhere via a plane.

Want to work for  an international school in the Spain like this blogger?  Currently, we have 25 international schools listed in the Spain on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

Benjamin Franklin Int’l School (13 Comments)
American School Madrid (7 Comments)
American School Valencia (7 Comments)
El Plantio International School Valencia (4 Comments)
Sotogrande International School (6 Comments)
King’s College – The British School of Madrid (3 Comments)

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

Blogs of international school teachers: “A Leaf Around the World”

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

Our 26th blog that we would like to highlight is called “A Leaf Around The World”  Check out the wealth of information in the blog entries of this international school educator who currently works at Yokohama International School in Japan.

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A few entries that we would like to highlight:

How to be an explorer – Day 1

“I have been reading this book called ‘How to Be an Explorer of the World’. It’s basically a guidebook/ reminder of my creative thinking, whenever I feel like, I turn the pages and roll in. Last night, I came across the exploration #4 which is a very simple practice. During your walk to your work/school,etc. you pick up 30 things. A collection of 30 random things… I decided that I will pick one object everyday and will record my findings and thoughts here. It will take a month and in the end I will try to create an artwork with my findings. It is a challenge for me to break away from my daily routine of speed walking to the train station while I am nibbling over  my so called breakfast consisting a piece of  toasted bread with cheese, paying attention to nothing but the road that leads me to my destination. A nice challenge though, one that will make me look at things rather than seeing them passing by…”

What a great idea!  I think every one should have a go at this if they are living in a foreign country.  Sometimes we can walk down a street many times in a foreign city and not notice certain things, even things such as a store.  If we can remember to take a look around ourselves while living abroad, it could only help us to better understand our current situation and aide you in making new connections with regards to your life living in your host country.

Recycling in Japan

“If you are living in Japan, you make a big commitment to recycle. The moment that you register with your neighbourhood ward, you are given an A4 paper of how to separate your rubbish. There are certain days for certain garbage and you need to tie them up as shown in the picture and moreover you need to wash your plastic garbage before you put it out in front of your door…”

I love the topic of recycling in other countries. Each one does it slightly different.  Sometimes it takes awhile to get into the swing of things when trying to recycle things from your home after you have just moved to a new country.  If you are living in Shanghai, there isn’t really a city recycling programme.  But that doesn’t mean people in Shanghai don’t recycle.  There are always people with big bags going to and looking inside of garbage cans in Shanghai.  They are the recyclers.  Actually, they look at their recycling other people’s garbage as their job, according to an article I read on the That’s Shanghai website.

My Morning Walk in Yutenji

“Every morning, I walk to the train station in Yutenji. On my way to the station I meet the same people everyday, the little old lady neighbour who sweeps her front door, the young woman on her fancy bike with a trendy green backpack, the father and daughter walking down to Nakameguro, the big old neighbourhood watchman sitting on a bench in Yutenji park which is the smallest park ever with its own rules and regulations written on a sign in both Japanese and English. The most interesting thing every morning for me, is the board that hangs on the wall of a very old house with weekly messages from a wise neighbour. Everyday when I walk down that road, I stop, read the message and think about it on my way to the station…”

Your journey to work is an important one. Going to work in a car is a bit different than going to work by bike or walking.  You can see and interact with more people when walking to work.  You can get some exercise biking to work.  It is important to research how teachers get to work at international schools you are intersted in working at; will it be a good match with the preferred way you like to get to work?

If you are also interested in starting your career in the international school community, feel free to check out the 1300+ international schools that are listed on International School Community here. Also, don’t forget to check out our latest submitted comments and information about these schools.  We have over 6000+ submitted comments and information as of this blog entry!

Want to work for  an international school in the Japan like this blogger?  Currently, we have 37 international schools listed in the Japan on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

American School in Japan (19 Comments)
Seisen International School (22 Comments)
St. Mary’s International School (14 Comments)
Kyoto International School (9 Comments)
Horizon Japan International School (9 Comments)
Canadian Academy (Kobe) (10 Comments)
Hiroshima International School (17 Comments)
• Gunma Kokusai Academy (8 Comments)

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

Blogs of international school teachers: “From USA to KSA” (The Life of an International School Educator in Saudi Arabia)

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

Our 25th blog that we would like to highlight is called “From USA to KSA”  Check out the wealth of information in the blog entries of this international school educator who currently works at an international school in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

A few entries that we would like to highlight:

Things You Should Know Before Moving to Saudi Arabia

“Saudi Arabia is both mysterious and unique in many ways. A trip to the kingdom can be both challenging and adventurous at the same time. Getting used to a new culture, language, and country can also be the way to test ones patience. Saudi Arabia is no exception. Below is some useful information for anyone preparing to visit or move here either alone or with family.  The work week, Prayer times, Ramadan, Value of time, women aren’t permitted to drive, etc…”

Every country has its list of “things you should know before moving to that country.”  It is good to get a “head’s up,” so that your culture shock reaction to it when you get there is minimized!

Trip to Taif Mountains!

“After reading about the horror stories of Riyadh zoo we wanted to see how bad was Taif zoo. To our surprise it was no way close to the Riyadh zoo. Things were not how they should have been but the animals had bigger cages. The lion did look malnourished but in much better shape than the one in Riyadh. The lion and the bear also had open areas to walk freely. But along with all the usual we also saw a few animals that really surprised us. Actually, we couldn’t stop laughing! I’ll let y’all decide for yourselves…”

Zoos in other countries are quite the interesting experience. How VERY interesting that the zoo in Riyadh has American pets on offer. Check out the American dog and Ameircan cat exhibit pictures on this blog entry!

Andrea’s Holiday Experiences Around the World!

“I have lived in several countries (Spain, the US of course,Taiwan, Kazakhstan and now Saudi Arabia) but never for more than one year. The first holiday that I ever “missed” was the 4th of July. In Kazakhstan I celebrated this patriotic holiday at the American Embassy. It felt so American with green grass and hamburgers fresh from the grill. It was oddly entertaining and enjoyable. Yet, I knew the whole time that we were not in America, so it felt kind of strange celebrating our independance-in another country…”

It is important to have an open mind to participating in the celebrations and holidays in the host country, but it is also important to remember and celebrate the ones from your home country too. Celebrating your own holidays abroad can potentially bring new meaning and even more fun memories to you.

If you are also interested in starting your career in the international school community, feel free to check out the 1300+ international schools that are listed on International School Community here. Also, don’t forget to check out our latest submitted comments and information about these schools.  We have over 6000+ submitted comments and information as of this blog entry!

Want to work for  an international school in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia like this blogger?  Currently, we have 20 international schools listed in the Qatar on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

Jeddah Knowledge International School (26 Comments)
American International School Riyadh (11 Comments)
King Faisal School (Riyadh) (8 Comments)
Rowad Alkhaleej International School (Dammam) (8 Comments)
Al-Oruba International Schools (8 Comments)
International Programs School (Al Khobar) (13 Comments)
International Schools Group (14 Comments)
Dhahran Ahliyya Schools (23 Comments)

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

Blogs of international school teachers: “All you need to know about teaching overseas.”

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

Our 23rd blog that we would like to highlight is called “All you need to know about teaching overseas.”  Check out the wealth of information in the blog entries of this international school teacher who has worked at an international school in Thailand.

A few entries that we would like to highlight:

5 Things I Love About Living in Thailand

“What do you love about the place where you live? Here are 5 things about living in Thailand that I love. I couldn’t possibly choose which of these would make it as my number one favourite thing, but these are definitely the top 5!

I love having a pool
I went down to the pool in my apartment building today after work and swam for a while. When I got back to my apartment, it struck me that having my own pool (okay, I do share it with the other people in my building but I am usually in it by myself) is one of the things I love about living here in Thailand…”

It is important to sit back and think about why you took this job in the first place.  Surely there are things to celebrate about your current placement.  This blogger celebrates the housing perks that one might have like a pool, the lovely local cuisine, the wonderful shopping experience of bargaining, the coolness of your encounters with the local people,  etc.

What Your Procrastination is Costing You!

“I’m currently looking at the TES Jobs website in another window, and I’ve discovered that there are 229 international schools advertising jobs there this week.  I’ve looked at several adverts and many of these schools are advertising more than one teaching vacancy.  What are you waiting for? Check out the TES Jobs website today…”

To get a job at an international school, many times you have to be on the ball and very proactive. Checking out all the vacancy websites is just one of the many things a prospective international school teacher needs to do.  Sometimes it can get obsessive, checking those websites every day…sometimes 3-4 times a day!  The TES website is mostly great in finding jobs at British international schools.

One concern for teachers moving overseas is…

“Teachers who are looking to move overseas may be concerned about pension contributions. There are a number of solutions, and the solution will depend on your personal situation.

One thing that you can consider is an overseas teacher pension. They are available through a number of companies and most international schools will have a contact with one or two…”

Finding an international school with a pension plan is not as easy as you may think. In fact, many international schools don’t offer this benefit or if they do, it is quite complicated to join and/or keep that money when you leave. Ideally, many international school teachers would be thinking about their futures via a pension plan, the reality is sometimes your pension plan (that just basically happens automatically when you are teaching in your home country) is put on hold while you are teaching abroad.   

If you are also interested in starting your career in the international school community, feel free to check out the 1290+ international schools that are listed on International School Community here. Also, don’t forget to check out our latest submitted comments and information about these schools.  We have over 6000+ submitted comments and information as of this blog entry!

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

Blogs of international school teachers: “Dan and Jillians International Teaching Adventures.”

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

Our 22nd blog that we would like to highlight is called “Dan and Jillian’s International Teaching Adventures”  Check out the blog entries of this international school teaching couple who are currently working at Al Batinah International School (9 Comments).

A few entries that we would like to highlight:

Semper Try

“Suddenly it sounds all too apropos—with such a small teaching staff, everyone needs to fill in to make the school day run smoothly. Certainly our principal sold the job this way and these last few days before school begins have been an exercise in filling in every last gap in the timetable with people ready and willing to take on new things. The second grade teacher (who’s from Pawtucket, Rhode Island!) will also teach grade 6-7 math and the P.E. teacher will dabble a bit in middle school science. Flexibility becomes our greatest virtue…”

Working at a small international school with a small group of teachers would definitely be an interesting experience.  It is much appreciated when administration tries their best at the interview to give you a head’s up about what life as a teacher is really like at their school.  At a small international school you indeed really would have to help “fill in the gaps” to help get teachers to teach all the classes on offer at the school!  Using the School Profile Search feature on the homepage of International School Community’s website, we found that there are currently 513 international schools (out of 1273) that have a student population of 300 or less…that’s is almost half of our schools listed!

Location, Location, Location

“Since we’d been at the school everyday since we arrived, Jillian and I decided that yesterday would be a break—though this didn’t stop her from spending several hours planning her reading curriculum, but at least she was doing it on the couch. I, on the other hand, did nothing of the kind. After putting up nominal resistance, I succumbed to the temptation to begin reading The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, part three of Stieg Larsson’s awesomely escapist crime trilogy. Just what I need to be doing right now.

In the afternoon we headed out for a drive and our first real look at Sohar. We’d driven around a few times previous, but it was always within a short distance of our house. Yesterday we headed down towards the fish market and the old Sohar Fort and turned south and just started driving. Sohar is incredibly spread out, so even after driving along the coast for a good 45 minutes, we had only just reached the Sohar Gate, the entrance to town…”

It is so important to get yourself out and about the first few weeks of school, especially when working at an international school.  Going out and appreciating your host city and taking in all that it has to offer is a great idea!

New Frontiers

“Less than an hour later during lunch, our principal walked into the teachers’ lounge and informed Jillian and I, plus another teaching couple, that to obtain our much-needed resident card, we’d need to leave the country and re-enter on a new working visa. Ummm, huh? Oh, and it would be best if that happened today. Thanks.

So after the closing bell we were headed for Dubai, or more exactly, the border station between Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Waiting in line in Oman only to be told we needed to exit the country and come back in. Yeah, we got that. Then standing in the hot sun, waiting for our UAE visitor’s visas. Of the thirty days we were allotted, we used approximately three minutes. U-turn, then back across into Oman and literally sprinting into the building ahead of a group coming off a tour bus to beat them to the window. And finally, an official stamp certifying our working status.
I’ll never forget my first trip to the United Arab Emirates. No matter how hard I try…”

It is unfortunate, but this situation is not so uncommon for many international school teachers.  It is really hard getting the whole residency and visa paperwork to work out as you would have hoped it would work out.  We all know though that it doesn’t always work out perfectly.  I guess as international school teachers we needed to be flexible and aware that we might have to leave the country at some point and re-enter to get your new working visa validated.

If you are also interested in starting your career in the international school community, feel free to check out the 1273+ international schools that are listed on International School Community here. Also, don’t forget to check out our latest submitted comments and information about these schools.

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

Blogs of international school teachers: “Art Teach Travel.”

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

Our 21st blog that we would like to highlight is called “Art Teach Travel”  Check out the blog entries of this school teacher who has lived and worked in the United States for many years teaching art.  She has aspirations to join the international school community in the very near future.  She has written some great insight related to the different kinds of international school recruitment fairs currently on offer to people looking for a job at an international school.

A few entries that we would like to highlight:

ISS (International Schools Services)

“Since 1955, International Schools Services (ISS) has been dedicated to providing international students access to a premier Western education. It is difficult for ISS to give me data regarding how many art positions are available each year because, unlike UNI, they have continual, year-round recruitment fairs at various locations around the world. Currently, ISS has five recruitment conferences scheduled in 2012-13 to include Philadelphia; Nice, France; Atlanta; Bangkok and San Francisco. There will be more posted as dates are confirmed.

In 2010, a variety of schools, in countries such as China, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Switzerland, UAE and Vietnam, needed art teachers but each year the represented schools and countries are varied. There is no way to predict how many schools from how many countries will need art teachers each year. When I recently inquired there were 11 positions most recently available…”

I think about this too. For most teachers looking for a job at an international school, in any given year, always must take a gamble.  The gamble is just how this blogger described: you never know what vacancies are going to be available the year you decide to look for a job abroad (and in the city or country you most want to work in).  Some more experienced teachers in the international school community do tend to wait until the right job comes up (usually found out through their extensive network of international educator colleagues) and then they decide to leave their current school.  However, there are a number of teachers that don’t have that luxury and they take a big chance that the perfect job will present itself the year they decide to look. Going to the recruitment fair is fun though really.  If you are luckily, you have many interviews to consider at the fair.  I think I went to about seven interviews at the last recruitment fair that I attended.  They say to even go to the ones that you are pretty sure you are not interested in…because “you never know.”  Also, it is quite interesting to learn more about the many different international schools around the world and what they are doing and have to offer.

It is good to check how many positions are available on the recruitment fair’s website before you get to the fair, but it is also good to know that things can change very quickly.  The vacancies listed on their website can change….a lot, so be prepared as you are walking around during the first round robin session and checking out their vacancies posters. Though on the other hand, if you have contacted a school beforehand and they have shown interest in you about a vacancy, still go up to the table and get the latest update (if you don’t see the vacancy listed on the poster), as you never know what has happened and the position might indeed be available again in a day, a week, etc…

Should I stay or should I go? (Part 1 of 3)

“So now, years later, I’m asking the same question: Should I stay or should I go? This time, I’m talking about my job, the Dallas art scene, my home in Texas and my country. I’ve been exploring how to combine my love of teaching with my love of adventure and travel. Teaching art in an international school may be my way to do that.

Although there are many educational placement companies, I have narrowed my search down to three: UNI (University of Northern Iowa), ISS (International Schools Services) and SA (Search Associates). Although I’ve never taught internationally, I have read many others’  personal accounts through various forum blogs…”

Waiting for the right time to enter the international school community can take awhile for some people.  Taking the risk of leaving your current job in your home country, leaving your friends and family, and then ultimately leaving your home country itself is quite the challenge.  I remember my teacher friends being ready years before me.  I had many things that I had to deal with first, and it took me six years (after I first started teaching with my teaching license) until my life was ready to finally go to a recruitment fair.  I don’t remember thinking that staying (in my current job and home country) really was option anymore…once I had finally made my decision to teach abroad.  Luckily, things worked out well and I got the job of my dreams at the first recruitment fair that I had ever been to, with no prior international school teaching experience.  I think the “power” was definitely in the candidate’s favor back then!

Now I am currently at my third international school, and I still ask the questions to myself “Should I stay or should I go?” Even though most contracts are for two years, it is always good to stay a little bit after that initial contract and sometimes there is a nice financial incentive to stay longer too!  Your school in your home country probably wouldn’t be offering you any bonuses to stay with them!  One of the many perks teaching at international schools versus teaching in your home country.

If you are also interested in starting your career in the international school community, feel free to check out the 1245+ international schools that are listed on International School Community here. Also, don’t forget to check out our latest submitted comments and information about these schools.

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

Blogs of international school teachers: “Tech Transformation”

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

Our 20th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Tech Transformation.”  Check out the blog entries of this international school teacher who has lived and worked abroad for many years, 24 of which have been at international schools in Europe and Asia so far.

A few entries that we would like to highlight:

Having a Reputation

“Some international schools have a great reputation – everyone on the international school circuit has heard of them and would love to work there.  Some of these schools never even have to go to a job fair to recruit new teachers – teachers are applying to them in droves and by this time in the school year they have already chosen the teachers they want for the next school year.  Recently some friends of mine who applied to one of the top schools in Asia told me that there had been over 3,000 applicants for the 50 new jobs that were being created as their school opens a new campus.  Clearly schools such as these are in the favourable position of being able to recruit the very best teachers from around the world.

Today I’ve been thinking about what gives those schools a good reputation?  Obviously it’s because their teachers are out there promoting all the good things about the school, it’s because they are known for giving their teachers fantastic opportunities for professional development, it’s because the schools are progressive and seen as being “cutting edge”, it’s because the salary and benefits package is extremely attractive, it’s because teachers feel valued and it’s because all students, regardless of ability, seem to thrive and do well there.”

“Top tier”, “A, B, C, D schools”, “That is one For-profit”, etc. We all have heard these phrases (and more) as international school educators talk about international schools, especially about international schools you are considering to work at.  I suppose it might be true that the “top” international schools don’t even go to the recruitment fairs, but I do believe a lot of them do.  The ones that don’t might indeed have a really good reputation.  They might be getting so many applicants applying to them without them even looking.  I have overheard though from one administrator at one of these “top tier” schools that they are thinking that they do need to “show up” at a fair every now and again so that the “good name” of the school will still be in everyone’s mind.  Thus it could be to the international school’s benefit to stay visible to stay “top tier.”

And this blogger has hit it on the T, the reasons she gives for the good reputation are correct.  Why don’t all international schools strive to be all of those things?  I know the teachers there would want that to be there goal as well.  And I think that is what she is getting at….it is not just the international school that should strive for this, but the teachers as well.  I bet it is most because of the teachers at an international schools that have helped the school to get its good reputation.  So, the key word then for this to happen is: inspiration.  Inspire yourself and your coworkers and maybe your current international school will soon be in that “top tier” list if it isn’t there already.  Sometimes it is a fight to achieve this high reputation, and probably also a challenge (albeit an exciting and motivating challenge) to keep your school in the top.

Experience -v- Quality

“When I started in international education, in the late 80s and early 90s, there were a small number of “top” international schools that were developing the IBO programmes that are used by many international and private schools around the world today.  In general these schools could take their pick of candidates – they received hundreds of applicants each year and often one of the requirements for working in these schools was that the candidates had to have a minimum of 2 years of experience of working in international education.  And to get that first experience in international education, they had to have worked for a minimum of 2 years in their home country too.  Therefore in general any teacher who was offered a job at these schools would have had a minimum of 4 years of experience, and often many more in a variety of international schools.”

I don’t know if this is always true, but it definitely plays a big factor in the consideration of your application.  Networking plays a factor into getting placed at a top tier school as well (knowing someone who knows someone).  Also luck and timing play a factor (being available for a late hire in June versus in February during the recruiting season.  And finally it is so important that you are the right “fit” for the position at this “top” international school.  I have heard many times that if you are just simply the right fit, then these other “requirements” (e.g. two years of experience working in international schools) for the position generally can be pushed aside. 

Many international school teachers new to this community don’t have experience with the PYP curriculum.  Consequently there a number of these teachers wanting to work at one of the many international schools using the PYP.  Many established PYP schools are saying to these candidates at recruitment fairs that they look for a minimum of two years of PYP experience to be considered.  Should these teachers give up then on their dream to work at a PYP international school?  Certainly not.  I have a friend who tried for 2-3 years trying to land a job at a PYP school (without previous PYP experience).  Finally, they got an interview at a top international school in Europe.  Even though there were other candidates with PYP experience interviewing for the position, my friend got hired instead.  There were definitely other factors coming into play versus just saying no to a candidate that didn’t have the “required” two years of PYP experience.  You never know what might happen when you apply at an international school that’s for sure!

Check out the 1230+ international schools that are listed on International School Community here and check out what teachers are saying about the “top” or “not top” international school they currently work at or have worked at in the past.

Check out our latest submitted comments and information about these schools here.

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

Blogs of international school teachers: “Cindy Vine”

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

Our 19th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Cindy Vine”  Check out the blog entries of this international school teacher who have lived and worked in nine different countries in her life so far.  She currently is working at International School Moshi (Moshi).

A few entries that we would like to highlight:

Teachers who get hit by the travel bug

“There is a category of teacher called Tourist Teachers.  These are teachers who only take up a job in an international school because they want to travel that country and have a base to come back to.  They tend to only stay a year or two, and then they move on to their next adventure.  Then you get another group of international teachers who enjoy soaking up the culture of different peoples and even though they travel and explore, they enjoy being immersed in the culture so they stay longer.”

Sometimes I feel like traveling is the number one goal of international school teachers, well at least for the teachers just starting out in the International School Community. Some of the more veteran teachers at an international school tend to not travel as much as the newbies.  The longer you stay at an international school, the less likely you will be traveling during your many holidays.  That is not true for everyone, but that is the trend that I have seen at the current and past international schools that I’ve worked at.  Sometimes it is all about the location and the experience living in that location.  I have noticed that the vast majority of people that move to a city in this world, move there because they intended to move there at some point in their life.  People like us tend to dedicate our lives to a language for example (let’s say Spanish).  A typical place for that type of a person to end up living (even if it is just for a short time) is a country that speaks that language that they have been studying for many years (Spanish).  Many international school teachers do take risks though and accept positions in countries that they know nothing about; they definitely didn’t study about the language there and know very little about the culture there either.  That doesn’t stop the travel bug in them though, exploring a land you know nothing about can be quite exciting for an international school teacher.  We like to travel to the unusual places in the world.  International school teachers are risk-takers and like the exploring of places a typical tourist wouldn’t normally travel to.  Sometimes the travel bug is so intense that staying at home during one, even just one, of their holidays is just not an option.

A visit to a Tanzanian Hospital

All I can say is that I am pleased I wasn’t seriously ill or dying.  If I was I would have died trying to open a file.

My appointment with the visiting dermatologist from the UK was at 10am.  I was told to open a file first.  Nobody actually explained the process of opening a file to me, and believe you me, there is a process!  At 8.30am I stood in a queue that moved forward painfully slowly as there are always people who join the queue from the side, and always join it in front of you.  After fifteen minutes the queue dissolved and expanded sideways into a mass of people all pushing and shoving to get to the front.  After elbowing my way to the front after what seemed to be an unusually long time of jostling, I was told to go to the next window.  Another queue just as wide as it was deep.  Have I ever mentioned how I hate waiting?  And I couldn’t even read my Kindle because I had to stand the whole time and try and keep my place by using my elbows to keep out those trying to push in.  Luckily, I perfected the skill of elbowing during numerous train trips to Shanghai when I lived in China.

When I finally got to the front of the second queue, I was told to go back to the first queue.  I nearly burst into tears.  My chest started closing and I could feel a panic attack developing.  By this time it was 10.15.  I had been queueing for an hour and forty-five minutes and had achieved nothing.  Like a sheep I joined the next queue, in my heart knowing it was a waste of time.  If I didn’t have this strange growth jutting out of me I would have left.  A kind nurse in another queue asked me if I had a piece of pink paper.  Of course I didn’t!  Why would I have a piece of pink paper?  Apparently, they only help people with a pink paper.  You have to first get a piece of pink paper from the department you are visiting, in my case, the dermatology department.  Nobody had thought to tell me this.  Two hours of my life wasted.  I hate that.

The nurse called someone to take me to dermatology, two car parks and three buildings away.

Now clutching the piece of pink paper, I once again joined the queue.  Some people who had been queueing almost as long as me took pity and let me go to the front and push my piece of pink paper through the little window.  I saw why the whole process took so long.  No computers in sight, everything written by hand.  Painstakingly.  Cindy was written down as Cinci.  At that stage I was beyond caring.  It was already 11am.  I had been there since 8.30am.  After handing in my paper I was told to sit down and wait.  At last I could read my Kindle.  After fifteen minutes I decided it might be a good idea to try and find out what happens next.  I once again rejoined the queue at the second window where it appeared you had to pay.  Of course, being a foreigner I knew I would get charged a lot more than the locals.  Another nurse who had been in the queue at 8.30am came into the waiting area.  “Oh Mama you are still here!  I have been and gone, been and gone and am already bringing in a new patient!”  My smile was a little sickly.  It was 11.20am.”

Going to hospitals in other countries (even if they are “expat” hospitals with mostly English-speaking doctors) can be quite the experience.  I for one have had relatively very good experiences going to hospitals in the countries that I have lived in.  We have to remember too that many hospitals in the USA also have their problems; they are definitely not perfect places to visit either.  I have said many times that it is very important that there is at least an option to be able to speak in English to your physician.  I have had though one doctor say to me that I should speak in the XXXX language to him instead of English. Even though the doctor could speak English he preferred to continue our appointment in his language. Luckily I knew the language, but it is quite difficult to talk about your personal health in a second language, that for sure. Because of all this (including the language and cultural barrier) going to the hospital in a foreign country can be very stressful at times.

Check out the international schools that are listed in Tanzania on International School Community.

Currently, there are 9 international schools listed on our website, with 5 of them being schools that have had information and comments submitted on them.  Check out the submitted comments about these schools here.

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

Blogs of international school teachers: “Gary and Sally: About international teaching”

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

Our 18th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Gary and Sally: About international teaching”  Check out the blog entries of these international school teachers who have worked in both Dubai and Almaty (including even a few other cities around the world).

A few entries that we would like to highlight:

International schools – “The circuit”

In the world of international education there are many teachers who are “on the circuit”. It is in fact a very small community and the chances are that you will know someone who has been to a specific school, once you have been in one or two schools overseas. Don’t be surprised after some years if you walk into a staffroom in a different school, and country, and you meet someone you worked with in another school.

School reputations are developed among the teachers through word of mouth, staff at a good school will be very positive and upbeat, staff at a school with issues will not be so positive. You have to learn to read between the lines – sometimes what is left unsaid is more important than what is said – in the similar way that recruiters are careful to give you the good side.

When you attend a job fair, one of the best things you can do is talk to other candidates in the recruiting lounge, over a coffee etc, and ask about the international schools in their country, and also their current school. For example you can find out if there is a stable staff or a regular high turnover – things that most recruiters are unlikely to pass on. In some cases there are one or two international schools in the country, so it is worth asking – in other countries there are numerous schools. Word of mouth and the reactions and knowledge of people “on the ground” is very important – as they are not only able to tell you about the school, but also the general lifestyle, cost of living, social opportunities, potential for saving etc etc.

Other teachers are your best resource, in my opinion, for honest information about schools. Of course there will be some teachers who will be unhappy in a school (not because of the school, but because of themselves) and will be negative, but these are easy to spot, so you can usually discount their vitriol against a school and its administration.  Most people will give you a balanced view of the school, point out some of the negatives and things that need to be addressed, but will also be honest about the positives in the school as well. One sign of a good school is one which will put current teachers in touch with you (after you sign the contract :) ) so that you can ask them direct questions about the school.

A recent development I have noticed in the last few years is that some teachers encourage colleagues from a previous school to come to a school where they are, this has many benefits, for the school and the people coming in –

* they do not have to recruit the teacher through Search or CIS,
* the school is trusting the staff they have to bring in tried and tested staff who they rate,
* the people being employed usually do not have to attend a job fair,
* and they have the safety of mind that their friends have checked out the country and school for them.”

The international school community is indeed quite small.  With a prediction of there being over 10,000 international schools in the next decade (there are just around 6,000 right now) the community of teachers might be just getting a little bit larger.  I think there are many factors that determine the school’s reputation in the community.  Word of mouth is definitely one of those ways.  I think the benefits that the school offers sometimes is related to the school’s reputation as well (i.e. Shanghai American School in Shanghai).  I wonder how fast reputations change about a school or if they change even at all.  If you are new to the international school community, then you might not necessarily know the current reputation of the international school you are interviewing with at the fair.  You can get some information from the internet and certain websites, but now we have International School Community.  On our website, you can go to the school’s profile page that you are interested in and contact a member that either currently works at that school or has worked at that school in the past.  You can easily get a first hand account of the reputation from a current or former teacher at that international school.

Living overseas

Having left your own safe environment suddenly you no longer have control (which as teachers we enjoy) over your world. As soon as you step out into the outside world in whatever country, you can be faced with

  • street signs and scripts you cannot read (eg in Asia, Middle East etc)
  • language you do not understand
  • how to get the simplest thing done (fix a tap leak, AC problem)
  • who to ask for help

It is similar to a new born chick who has just left the nest – since you lack confidence in your new surroundings you start out by going on small excursions, but then as you get more confident you go on further trips away from ‘the nest’.”

This entry made me laugh out loud a bit.  It is true I suppose that teachers prefer to have “control” in their classrooms.  How ironic then that international school teachers put themselves in a situation where they for sure don’t have control.  Living in another country is certainly you letting go of the control and safety of your home country and culture.  But that is what makes this career choice really exciting; you never know what to expect and what you will experience next.  How frustrating though to not be able to read street and road signs, I can relate to that.  Additionally, not being able to understand that local language really makes you use all your other senses more in how to interpret body language and to gather meaning from body positioning, gestures and context.  At this point I am so use to being on a train or plane where everyone around me is speaking a different language than me that it is strange now (and quite over-stimulating) to be on a plane in the United States where I understand all the many conversations going on around my seat.

What to expect at a job fair

“During the afternoon, the school will have interviews in their hotel rooms – it is all a bit surreal, but the recruiters carry out the interviews in their rooms (this is normal procedure!) At the end of this day the schools will then look at the candidates they have interviewed (and if you are one of them) then they will either invite you for a second interview – the next day – or drop a note in your folder to say that they no longer wish to continue seeing you. In some cases – and this has happened to us – some schools will show a lot of interest in you at interview, and be very enthusiastic, but then not inform you either way. It is quite depressing when this happens, but most schools are professional and will let you down easy instead of just ignoring you.

There is often the “shmoosh” – an informal drink in the evening with recruiters and candidates. I feel it is very important to go to this and network – with other candidates as well as recruiters. It can give you the chance to ask a few informal questions of recruiters of a school you are contemplating, and you might even meet a candidate from that school, or who has worked there.

Day 2 : This is the callback day – the recruiters will hopefully have narrowed the field and you will still be in the running. If you are lucky, you will have a second interview. After a second interview one of two things will happen, either the school will offer you the position or they will say that they will get back to you later. If they say the second thing, ask them to give you a definite date. If you are offered a contract, then you sign a preliminary document which is a legally binding agreement to inform the fair organisers that you have accepted a position. Later, when the recruiters return to their schools and countries, they will send you the proper contract to sign.

I describe a job fair as “an emotional roller coaster” as you go from the depths of despair to the heights of elation, usually in the space of a few minutes.

It is a bit surreal to have job interviews in hotel rooms, but the international school community has been doing it so long at recruitment fairs that now it is normalized.  Do the administrators actually sleep in those rooms though?  That I’m not so sure of.  The folder at an international school recruitment fair: it is the most looked at mailbox of your life.  Be prepared though to hardly get anything at some fairs.  It all depends on your past experience, but also is related to who has the “power” that year: the international schools or the candidates.  You know I have been to three recruitment fairs and have never gone to the informal drink event at the end of the first day.  Never thought it was something I was interested in going to.  What does everyone think of this event?

Check out the international schools that are listed in Almaty and Dubai on International School Community.

Currently, there are 25 international schools listed in the Dubai area on our website, with 13 of them being schools that have had information and comments submitted on them.  Check out the submitted comments about these schools here.

Currently, there are 5 international schools listed in the Almaty area on our website, with 3 of them being schools that have had information and comments submitted on them.  Check out the submitted comments about these schools here.

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