International School Community Newsletter v2013.02 – 2 February, 2013

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International School Community Newsletter v2013.02 – 2 February, 2013
Check out our latest newsletter here – http://eepurl.com/uQFA9

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We now have over 7000 comments and information on International School Community: Membership Promotion of 20% off all subscriptions!

International School Community is celebrating the over 7000 comments and information which have now been posted on our website!  Currently, we are at 7068!

Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 6.57.00 PMInternational School Community’s website launched back in February 2011.  When our first newsletter came out in May 2011, we only had 71 posted comments and information.  Lately, during the past 3-4 months, we have been getting between 100-400 new comments and information submitted each month.  We hope this trend continues!  The more members we have, the more people we have sharing what they know about life working at international schools.

To celebrate, all members can use the coupon code, 7000COMMENTS, to get 20% off of their next premium membership subscription.

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As a premium member, you can search our vast collection of international school profile pages to find that specific international school you want to know about. You can also search our member profiles and send a private message to a member to get firsthand information about a school that member has worked at.

All premium members also have unlimited access to view all the comments and information that have been submitted so far on our school profile pages.  Being that the focus of our website is to serve the international school teaching community by providing real and useful information about international schools, we have specifically organized our website to promote our members to leave comments and information that are useful for everyone.  The comments are specifically designed to talk about what an international school teacher would want to know.  International School Community really wants to take writing comments and sharing information about international schools to the next level.  Log-on now to check out who our current members are and the latest comments and information submitted about international schools from all over the world!

International School Community Member Spotlight #21: Eugenia Papadaki (An int’l school director currently working at The Bilingual School of Monza)

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

Screen Shot 2013-01-27 at 1.59.40 PMTell us about your background.  Where are you from?

I am from Greece, have carried out all my higher education studies in England where I gained a BA in Foreign Modern Languages, an MA in Applied Linguistics and a PGCE (Post graduate certificate in Education) from the Institute of Education, London. I have taught in many educational settings in both the UK and in Italy. I have brought up both of my daughters trilingually from birth, who, now as young adults, speak several languages and who have been my inspiration for founding a Bilingual International school here in Italy 17 years ago.

How did you get started in the international teaching community?

My first experience was at the International School of Milan.

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.

ISM: the diversity of languages spoken by the pupil population.

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

I have always been in an administrative position, but if I were to look for a job in an international school for me professional development opportunities and career advancement together with a collaborative learning environment and a real sense of community spirit would be the things that I will be looking for in a school.

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

Opportunity for growth, an eye opener.

Thanks Eugenia!

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 Italy like Papadaki?  Currently, we have 30 international schools listed in the Italy on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

American School of Milan (13 Comments)
Sir James Henderson School (7 Comments)
Bilingual European School of Milan (16 Comments)
The Bilingual School of Monza (8 Comments)
International School of Trieste (9 Comments)
Ambrit-Rome International School (7 Comments)
International School of Bologna (8 Comments)
International School in Genoa (10 Comments)
The English International School of Padua (12 Comments)

Discussion Topic: Standing at the check-out counter can get uncomfortable!!!

How much do you need to say when you are going through the check-out line?  Not much usually. Just get your items through the scanner, swipe your credit card, bag your goods up in a reusable bag that you brought and then you get on your way.

Screen Shot 2013-01-29 at 8.51.08 PMIt is not always that easy though.  Every once and awhile you get a cashier that decides to have a chat with you.  If you don’t know the local language so well, then situations like this can become a challenge for you.  Sure you know the word for “receipt” and “thanks”, but when the cashier strays from those simple words, things can get a little bit uncomfortable.  How embarrassing when you can’t understand what is going on?  How even MORE embarrassing it is when there are many people (locals) standing in line waiting for their turn and rolling their eyes at you?

Even if you do know the local language, it is not always an easy thing to speak up in public.  One colleague of mine just mentioned to me that even after 20 some years of living and working in her host country, she specifically plans the right time to go to her local bakery.  She prefers to go during a time when there are less people there; when they are not so busy.  Even know she is highly proficient in the local language, she is still uncomfortable at times yelling out her order when everyone around maybe judging her on her pronunciation, etc.  It is not always fun to let all the locals know that you are not from their country/not a native speaker.  Whether the other people in the bakery even care or notice, this is a very common feeling to have when living abroad.

Unfortunately you can’t live you life in your host country trying to avoid all linguistic encounters with the locals.  You must eventually go through a check-out line and you will eventually have a cashier trying to tell you things.
One time a cashier confused me by asking me whether I would like to charge more on my debit card so that I could get cash back by him.  That situation definitely threw me off-guard as not many cashiers are outwardly offering that service to their customers. I would guess that is more customer initiated.  Another time a cashier was trying to give me shopping tips; if I would buy three of one of the items I was purchasing, then I was to get a small discount.  Adding a bit of public service help to me, the woman just leaving the check-out counter told me in English that the discount wasn’t that amazing.6337012304_3f3f9f685d_z

Not all linguistic encounters with the cashier (while living abroad) though end up in embarrassment for you.  Some situations might end up being quite funny.  They might be quite memorable for you and a good experience; giving you a good story to share with your other expat friends.  One time in Spain, I was checking-out at a grocery store.  As the cashier was ringing up the items I was going to purchase, she motioned towards a one liter bottle of Fanta.  I thought she was trying to get me to buy it.  In turn, I told her no.  But the cashier kept on trying to give the bottle of Fanta to me.  Finally, I realized that she was trying to just give it to me for free as it was a special promotion (it was a new flavor of Fanta…pineapple!).  I told her “OH, es libre!”  Of course, some people around me and the cashier laughed a bit at me. The word libre does me free, but it is the word free that you would use like when you unlock a cage of a zoo animal and letting them be free. I should have used the word gratis.

This comical situation is what happens all to often to expats.  You are in a situation that you weren’t prepared for ahead of time.  Because of the unpreparedness, you get nervous.  And because you are nervous, your brain does not think too clearly to either try and understand what was being said to you or get the words that you know in the local language out in the correct manner.  It is all part of living abroad I guess.  How boring and monotonous to go through a check out line in your own home country, when you can go through multiple check-out lines in your host country and experience the unexpected?

If you have a culture-related story to share about your experience living abroad, send us a message here and we will see about getting your story as a guest author on our International School Community blog!

Recently Updated School Profiles #19: Dhahran Ahliyya Schools, Al Ghanim Bilingual School and Mef Int’l School Istanbul

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

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21 Jan  Dhahran Ahliyya Schools (36 new comments)      Dammam, Saudi Arabia:

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One of the new comments in the school information section: “DAS does have high expectations of its teaching staff. The school is working hard to make the shift to a dual language program and it expects the teachers to participate fully in its efforts. Most of these efforts take place during school hours although, like in good schools everywhere, teachers do take work home to prepare lessons and grade papers. Most teachers have preparation time for approximately one-third to one-half of their time in school. Some of that time is taken up by meetings in the department and everyone has a few assignments of yard duty per week…”

20 Jan  Al Ghanim Bilingual School (15 new comments)      Salwa, Kuwait:

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One of the new comments in the benefits information section: “Although I recommend staying away from this school, if you are even considering working there, make sure that you get the following before making a final decision: 1. A copy of the contract. 2. A copy of the staff manual. If it’s the same staff manual that I received, you’ll find a list of things teachers should not do and the consequences including the number of days pay that will be lost. 3. Your assignment and schedule in writing. (There were teachers who were told that they would be doing one thing, and when they arrived they were told that they would be doing something else.) …”

14 Jan  Mef Int’l School Istanbul (27 new comments)      Istanbul, Turkey:

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One of the new comments in the benefits information section: “A flight every 2 years and at end of contract. 600 USD shipping at beginning and end of contract. Receipts at beginning but not needed when leaving. Free breakfast, lunch and snack…”

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

New Survey: On average, how many interviews do you go to at a recruitment fair?

A new survey has arrived!

Topic:  On average, how many interviews do you go to at a recruitment fair?

Screen Shot 2013-01-20 at 5.19.24 PMIs this the year when the power comes back into the candidate’s favor?  If so, you may be looking at a nice number of secured interviews at the recruitment fair you go to this year!

Around seven to ten years ago it really seemed like a different story; there were many positions available and not enough candidates to fill the positions. With the power more on the candidate’s side, you might feel like you are very much in demand at the fair.

As of late, it seems like the international schools at the fair are very much in control.  They have a number of candidates to choose from, and most likely quality candidates at that.  More quality candidates competing with you to secure interviews might mean less interviews for you to attend.

Putting the topic of who’s has the power aside, if you are a top candidate with a lot of domestic and international school teaching experience, you might still be looking at going to seven-plus interviews at certain fairs.  On the other hand if you are just starting out in teaching and in the international school community, you possibly might be looking at only securing a few.

As experienced international school teacher veterans know, it is not so cut and dry like that.  There are too many factors at which to look.  It all depends too on “luck and timing.”  Anyone who is a quality teacher and a good fit for the school will most likely get short-listed disregarding your lack of experience.LucovichJobFairInterview-Cropped

Some teachers, however, go to the fair with a plan.  That plan is to seek out only a small handful of schools.  If they are unsuccessful at securing an interview at those schools, then that is it for them.  It is a bit stressful to attend a fair and have your hopes dashed as you find the two schools that you were most interested in is not interested in you “at this time”, the vacancy has gone away or it has already been filled. Unfortunately, in this circumstance, you potentially will end up not going to any interviews.

Other teachers are very open to where they would like to go.  For those teachers, they might indeed end up securing more interviews.  Typically, they do say that you should be open-minded to attend an interview even if the school is not the one you are necessarily looking at or even if it is not in a location you were originally considering.   It is a fine line though between being ‘open-minded’ and potentially just wasting your time and the school’s time.  Because of the electric feeling in the air, sometimes you get caught up in all of the excitement at the fair that it is just fun to go to all interviews that are presented to you. You never know what will happen and smart networking is always a good thing!

So, on average, how many interviews do you go to at a recruitment fair?  Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today!  You can check out the latest voting results here.

From the staff at International School Community.

Survey results are in: Which international school teacher conference do you prefer to go to?

The survey results are in, and it seems as if most visitors and members of International School Community who voted have had the most success at IB conferences.

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IB conferences/workshops can prove to be a very motivating and enlightening experience.  Isn’t that what going to conferences is all about?  Most people might say that teaching is viewed as a career, and with careers comes professionalism.  Many international school teachers aspire to be the best professionals in the field.  The IB (PYP and MYP too) teachers definitely have similar aspirations as well; to learn more and more about the new ways of thinking and teaching using inquiry.  They are also looking to learn more about how to make their students’ thinking visible.

But like many workshops that you may attend at international school teaching conferences, the benefit of the workshop you attend greatly depends on the instructor that you get.  It can also be said that the success of your workshop depends on the people that attend it as well.  So many different factors come into play, but when all of them line up correctly, you are most likely in for an enlightening experience.  Those types of workshops can really inspire you throughout the rest of the conference and stay with you when you return back to work.

In terms of staff development benefits, the IBO requires that the teachers working in approved/accredited schools get on going PD in the IB philosophy and latest strategies on how best to instruct students in their inquiry programme. Instead of using your own PD monies to attend IB workshops, very often the school will take the costs involved out of their own monies.

There are many factors to consider when deciding on which international school at which to work.  Knowing about the professional development allowance (or lack there of) can prove to be helpful information to know; just to see what you can expect in terms of you getting the opportunity to attend workshops and conferences while you work there.  Luckily on International School Community, we have a Benefits Information section in the comments and information part of each school’s profile page that discusses this very topic.

• Professional development allowance details.

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Taken from International Community School Addis Ababa (35 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 Mef Int’l School Istanbul: “IBO certified IBDP and PYP training provided. Outside speakers such as Virginia Rojas brought in to provide in house PD.”

Another member said about working at Western International School of Shanghai: “Most teachers don’t get any out of school PD their first year of contract. Depends on the needs of the school.”

Another member submitted a comment about working at American School of Barcelona: “The PD amount is 390 Euros a year. You can roll over this amount for 3 years. But the reality some people get more, it is not so clear cut on who gets what amount and who gets to go to what PD opportunity.”

If you are currently a member of International School Community, please take a moment to share what you know by submitting some comments and information about the PD allowances at your international school. You can start by logging on here.

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

Selecting an international school: Tip #7 – Does the school feature a curriculum that is consistent with your future plans?

What reasons do parents think about when selecting a school for their children when they move abroad? Are they similar reasons for why teachers choose to work at a school abroad as well?  There are many different kinds of international schools and they are all in different situations.  How important is finding out about if the school features a curriculum that is consistent with your future career plans?  It could be beneficial to ask these types of questions at your interview, before you make any big decisions to move or choose a school to work at.  So, how do you choose the right international school for your children to attend or for you to work at?  In this blog series we will discuss the Tips for Selecting an International School.

Tip #7 – Does the school feature a curriculum that is consistent with your future plans?

indexInternational schools teach in many different curricula.  Some of the most common are the UK, USA, Canada, IPC, PYP, MYP, and IB curricula. Which curriculum is one that is consistent with your future plans?  Are you comfortable just continuing teaching in the same one curriculum that you have been teaching in your whole teaching career or do you have aspirations to teach and to gain experience in a different curriculum?

Most of us international school teachers start off in a school that teaches in the same curriculum as your home country.  After all, your home country curriculum is what you have the most experience teaching in, and it is also probably the one in which you are the most comfortable.  Also, if you work at a school that teaches your home country curriculum, then you will most likely be teaching alongside others who are just like you (which could make you feel “more at home” while living abroad).

There are definitely international school teachers out there that seek out new experiences though and would be risk takers and seek out to try and work at an international school that teaches in a curriculum of which they are not familiar.  It definitely broadens your skills in teaching once you start having experiences teaching in different curricula.  You may find that your personal teaching philosophy also starts to get modified or solidified even more.  You definitely have more “tools” in your teaching “toolbox.” Not only does teaching in the new curriculum change you, it is the people that you interact with at that new school (who might be from a different country and teaching background than you) that influence how you teach your lessons as well.

imagesIt is nice to have a couple of different experiences noted on your CV that refer to the different curricula in which you have taught.  It is not only good for you so that you grow professionally, but it is also potentially good when job hunting.  Only a few cities in the world have more than 20 international schools in them (Beijing, Shanghai, Bangkok, etc…) and can offer many different kinds of curricula.

Most cities though only have a handful of international schools (Paris, Chang Mai, Buenos Aires, etc…), mean limited choices for different curricula.  If you are interested in working in a specific city in the world and there are only three international schools in that city, then you can for sure “better your chances” of getting a job there if you have previous experience teaching the curriculum at two or all three of those schools.  It is not a given though that you will automatically get an interview/the job there of course (if you have experience in that curriculum), but it most definitely might put you on their radar.

With the international schools that teach the IB curriculum, some people say that it is getting increasingly difficult to get a job at these schools if you don’t have previous IB experience.  You might have PYP, MYP, and IB as part of your plans in your future teaching career, but many schools are not even considering candidates without previous experience.  There definitely have been candidates though who “got their break” and landed a job at an IB school without previous experience in the curriculum.  Those candidates say that some directors tell them that if you are a good teacher, then it does not matter one bit if you don’t have previous IB experience.  If you are a good teacher in one curriculum, then typically that would mean you are a good teacher in another one (with proper training and PD of course to help you along the way). So, if you are trying to secure a job at an international school that teaches a curriculum that you have no experience in, don’t just give up and not send them your cover letter and CV.  You never know truly who they are specifically looking for and of course they aren’t just considering candidates that have previous experience in the curriculum.  It might just be that they are not getting enough “ideal” candidates and are already considering candidates without previous curriculum experience.

Screen Shot 2013-01-16 at 8.26.11 PMOn our website we have a School Profile Search feature that allows you to search for the schools that teach the curriculum that you are looking for in your next job.  You can search by choosing the following curricula: UK, USA, Canada, IPC, PYP, MYP, and IB.  We also have an “other” option to search schools that teach a curriculum that is not one of those eight choices.  When searching our 1340 international schools (updates on 16 January 2013), we have found the following results regarding curricula:

• There are 435 international schools that teach the USA curriculum.
• There are 413 international schools that teach the UK curriculum.
• There are 57 international schools that teach the IPC curriculum.
• There are 306 international schools that teach the PYP curriculum.
• There are 237 international schools that teach the MYP curriculum
• There are 472 international schools that teach the IB curriculum
• There are 29 international schools that teach the Canada curriculum
• There are 647 international schools that teach the “Other/Host Country” curriculum

If you are an International School Community member, log on today and submit your own search for the curriculum that is consistent with your future plans!

If you are not a member yet, make sure to join www.internationalschoolcommunity.com and become a part of our over 1600 members.  Many of our current members have listed that they have worked at over 200 international schools around the world, schools that teach all 8 of the curriculum search criteria. Feel free to send these members a message with your questions and get firsthand information about what it is like teaching in the curriculum at their international school.

Video Highlight: Yew Chung International School of Beijing

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

Yew Chung International School of Beijing

The school campus seems to be next to some beautiful parks.

An interesting concept of the use of c0-prinicpals, one being an expat and one being a Chinese National.

They also provide the same for the classrooms apparently, by having co-teachers there are well (well at least in the primary school section).  How great to teach in two languages side by side!  It would be interesting to see more videos of what that might actually look like in a classroom lesson.

The school also has what seems to be an extensive music programme, giving the students opportunities to try out a variety of instruments at a young age.

It is important that an international school value and affirm the local language of the country they are in.  It would seem as if Yew Chung International School of Beijing is doing just that by including an extensive Mandarin Chinese programme.

Overall the campus facilities look quite nice!

Currently on www.internationalschoolcommunity.com we have 131 international schools listed in China with 30 of them being in the city of Beijing.  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:

Beijing City International School (31 Comments)
International School of Beijing (15 Comments)
Western Academy Beijing (30 Comments)
Harrow International School (Beijing) (8 Comments)
Tsinghua International School (Beijing) (36 Comments)
Beijing International Bilingual Academy (11 Comments)
Beijing National Day School (12 Comments)

If you know about what it is like working at one of these international schools in Beijing, 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!

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.