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New Teacher Orientation Must-Haves at International Schools: A dinner outing with the director and administration

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 your 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 about the ones we have discussed so far.

Must-have #7: A dinner outing with the director and administration

IMG_0063-1In some cultures it is very much of a bonding moment between people when they share a meal together.  It is a time when you can really relax and have some nice conversations with each other.  Getting to know your director and other new teachers in this kind of setting will help you with future encounters with the director and also with your potential new good friends. Having a meal with your bosses can really start your relationship with them on the right track.

How nice is it when the administration treats you to a nice dinner out somewhere in your new town?  It really just sets the stage right to have a great start to your first year.  Sure it is not that important and of course it does not have anything to do with your job specifically, but it is nice to get some bonding time with the other new teachers as well as your new bosses. Also, there is the fact that you probably don’t have so much money when you first arrive to be going out to eat at a nice restaurant. Plus, you probably do not even know where the good restaurants are just yet anyway.

If there is not a dinner planned though for all the new teachers, it definitely feels like something is missing.  If there is a dinner planned, then there are a few scenarios that might happen.  Most often the admin plans a dinner out in the center of the city at a nice restaurant.  You can really take in your new “expat lifestyle” in this scenario!  If you have a director that is a little bit more personable, he/she might invite you over to have dinner at their house.  In this scenario, the director is really making an effort to show the new teachers that they are now “one of the family” on the staff at the school.

A less desirable scenario is when the dinner is just held at the school itself. Maybe the admin staff will get the cooking staff to make something special for everyone. Having the “dinner out” at the school is probably not making a very good impression on the new teachers, but depending on cooks, it could actually be quite nice.  Another way to not make the best impression is to have the dinner at some cheap restaurant (just across the street from the compound where all the teachers are living) with little planning involved on making the outing special in any way.

In either scenario, the conversations and experience had at the “dinner out” with the new staff will surely be ones that you remember.  A fun time is usually in store with a lot of laughter.  Take it all in because this dinner-out evening is just the beginning of your new and exciting expat life in your new host city.

Some members on our Facebook page have shared about eating out with their administration during the new teacher orientation week they experienced at their international school:

International School Geneva – Campus des Nations – “At IS Geneva there was barely an orientation week (just 2 half days) let alone any sort of dinner.”

International School Singapore (10 Comments) – “The head of school throws a BBQ dinner for the new teachers and one later for all staff to mingle with the new staff.”

Discovery College (Hong Kong) (5 Comments) – “We had a dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Also a drinks/appetizers with the larger ESF organization.”

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Not that you would ask about this topic at your interview or anything, but it might be important to ask the administrator who’s interviewing you the details of the new teachers orientation week.  You do want to know how they support new teachers to make a smooth transition.

On International School Community we have a number of principals and directors of international schools that are members. Currently, we have 20 Directors/Heads of School that have joined.  Some of the international schools they work at are:

The Bilingual School of Monza
• International Community School Addis Ababa
Olive Green International School
International School of Dusseldorf
ABC International School (Tokyo)
International School Groningen
Garden International School

Log-on today to check out the many comments and information submitted in this section topic!  Become the most informed you can be when it comes to finding out the benefits an international school offers to its new teachers.

So, does your international school include a dinner out with the director and administration as part of their new teacher orientation?  Please share your experiences!

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New Teacher Orientation Must-Haves at International Schools: A settling-in allowance given to you in cash (local currency)!

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 your start at your new school, in your new host country.

Must-have #6: A settling-in allowance given to you in cash (local currency)!

You just get off the airplane.  You have what seem to be a million bags with you. You are quite tired from your long flight journey to your new host country.  You are frantically looking for the person that said that they were going to pick you up from the airport.  You find them and they bring you to your new place that will be your home for the next few years.   So many things on your mind, so many things to worry about, and SO many things to buy!

Sure, you can prepare ahead of time and get some of the local currency at a bank in your home country before you get on the plane.  Sure, you can make it a point to visit an ATM at the host country airport or try and find a local bank near your new house that has an ATM.  But even then, you will have to use the money that you have in your home bank account and for many people, they might not have the finances to support starting up a completely new life and home.

How nice then if the international school that you will be working at gives you a settling-in allowance on your arrival to your new host country?! Getting cash in the local currency straight away is definitely a perk and a very nice benefit to look out for when searching for a new international school at which to work.

International School Community members have a wealth of information to share! Here are a few comments about their experience getting a settling-in allowance at an international school they have worked at:

“As soon as I got off the plane and claimed my baggage, I met the school principal at the arrivals gate, he introduced himself, and handed me an envelope with 1,500,000 won (roughly $1,500). Seriously, it was that quick.”  – An international school teacher at Seoul International School (68 Comments).

“Upon arriving at our apartment, we were given an envelope with some cash in it. This was our settling-in allowance. It was enough to go to a Walmart-type store and get all the basics you don’t bring with you but need right away. Cleaning supplies/trash can/kitchen utensils (beyond the basics). The school already provided all the basic furniture, bedding, and kitchen stuff (pots/plates/cutlery) but all of the odds and ends were purchased with that settling in allowance. It was great to have local currency right away…but it sure didn’t last very long!” – An international school teacher at Graded School Sao Paulo (16 Comments).

“They gave the first month’s salary in cash upon arrival.” – An international school teacher at GEMS American Academy (Abu Dhabi) (23 Comments).

“Upon arriving in Tokyo, the administration at our new school handed us an envelope fat with 300,000 yen. The previous schools we had worked at never gave us a cash settling in allowance in the local currency, so we were not only shocked, but a little perplexed as to why we needed so much cash. But as our first week in Japan wore on, we realized how valuable it was to receive our benefits in hand. First, it meant we didn’t have to bother with transferring our money into yen and losing some due to exchange costs. Second, as renowned as Japan is for its technological advances, it is still mired in the dark ages when it comes to paying with plastic. Virtually every transaction, no matter the cost, is completed in cash. Having yen in our pockets made it much easier to do small grocery shopping and even to make larger purchases at furniture and housewares stores. Finally, not having to spend your savings,turn in receipts and then wait for reimbursement is a great perk of receiving a local currency cash allowance. It made our transition into our new home smooth and a bit less stressful.” – An international school teacher at Seisen International School (22 Comments).

“I didn’t get a settling in allowance really (boo!) we did get given an extra baggage allowance which we received in local currency when we arrived so guess that is something?” – An international school teacher at Greengates School (British Int’l School) (5 Comments).

“The Canadian Academy has a decent size settling in allowance. Seems large at first, but was used up quite quickly, as Japan is VERY expensive. So perhaps not as good as it seems. (I think it was about equal to one paycheck….?)” – An international school teacher at Canadian Academy (Kobe) (10 Comments).

Getting at least some help monetarily during your first days in your new host country is very much welcomed by all international school teachers!  Though you typically go through your settling-in allowance very quickly, it is still nice have.  At many postings, you often don’t get your first paycheck until the end of the month that you start working.  There are way too many things to buy during those first few weeks, that it would be impossible to wait until you get your first paycheck!  Not to mention all the money you end up needlessly wasting when you buy certain items impulsively at one store (because it is near to your house), not knowing that the other store (down the block) sells that same item for half the price.  I’m sure that has happened to all of us at one time or another!

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In the Benefits Information section of the school profile page on our website, we have a topic related to the settling-in allowance: Detailed info about flight, shipping and settling-in allowances. Any other benefits (e.g. free lunches, etc.)?  There have been 100s of comments and information submitted in this topic on our website and many of them refer to the settling-in allowance you will get (or not get) working at that international school . Here are a few of those comments:

“You get one flight per two year contract. There is a 1500 USD appx. local settling allowance, and the school gives an interest free loan of one months salary to assist with settling costs. Shipping – be careful as if you are transitioning from another international post, you must use your home of record for quotations. Some people buy furniture, others rent furnished, some take out car loans, others buy 2nd hand cars. There are plenty of different options.” International School of Kuala Lumpur (55 Comments)

“At the end of your contract the school provides travel and transportation to home of record. Annual flight allowance (KIS pays up to Rs 12,000 / person once every term contract). Shipping allowance for staff on term contract upon joining and at the completion of service. Also there is a transportation allowance. Settling in allowance is given upon every term contract signed. Lunch / tea in our school cafeterias while the school is in session is provided to teachers.” Kodaikanal International School (25 Comments)

“VAIS paid for round trip airfare from the US to Hanoi and back to the US for school year 2011-2. For school year 2012-3, there’s a cap of $1,700. VAIS paid $500 settling in costs. For school year 2012-3, there’s no settling in allowances. There are no free lunches. Lunches cost $3.50.” Vietnam American International School (26 Comments)

Log-on today to check out the many comments and information submitted in this section topic!  Become the most informed you can be when it comes to finding out the benefits an international school offers to its new teachers.

So, does your international school offer a settling-in allowance?  Please share your experiences!

Comments and information about salaries on ISCommunity #7: Khartoum Int’l Community School, Int’l School of KL & Vietnam American Int’l School

Comments and information about salaries at international schools on International School Community.

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

Why do some international schools keep their specific salary information so secret?  Even at international school job fairs, you don’t really get to see the exact amount of your yearly and monthly salary until you see the contract paperwork.  Even then sometimes you don’t know what will be your exact take-home pay each month.  At International School Community, we want to make the search for salaries easier for international school teachers. In the benefits section of the school profile page, there is a section specifically for salaries.  The topic is: “Explain how salaries are decided (e.g. is there a pay schedule? extra step for masters degree? Annual pay raises? Bonuses?)

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

Khartoum International Community School (36 total comments)
“The school has a structured pay scale. Entry depends on qualifications or experience. Advanced degrees attract more money as does extensive experience. There are responsibility steps, particularly in Seniors. Every teacher receives a step each year and there are inflationary/cost of living adjustments annually. The school pays 1 year (2500 GBP pounds) and 2 year (6000 GBP pounds) resigning bonuses (very appealing to couples!).”

International School of Kuala Lumpur (28 total comments)
“There is a clear and structured pay scale. You enter it according to experience and qualifications, up to a maximum experience level. Within the school you receive an annual \’step\’ for every year of experience, plus there are usually small inflationary raises to the salary scale. Additionally stipends are paid for team leader responsibility. There are resigning bonuses after 4 years of employment.”



Vietnam American International School (26 total comments)

“I don’t know about all salaries. However, I don’t believe there salary increased with increased education, experience, or years of service. For example, there were no increases in salary between the first year of teaching at VAIS and the second year. Another example, one teacher with ten years of experience received the same salary as another teacher with only 2 years experience.”

Check out the other comments and information about these schools (and 1000s of others) on our website: www.internationalschoolcommunity.com

Comments and information about salaries on ISCommunity #6: Hong Kong Int’l School, Shanghai Community Int’l School & Guamani Private School

Comments and information about salaries at international schools on International School Community.

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

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

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

Shanghai Community Int’l School(52 total comments)
“Base pay for teachers with 3 or more yrs of experience is between $32,000 and $39,000 (tax-free). Entry level is a little bit lower at $26,000-$32,000.”

Hong Kong International School (40 total comments)
“We are paid in 100% HK$. We don’t get taxes taken out of our salary, we have to pay 16% one time a year (in two payment). Teachers must be prepared and save for those payments. 12 payments a year. On average teachers get 3-4K USD a month.”



Guamani Private School
(16 total comments)
“100% of the salary is in the USD. Social Security it taken out of your salary. Salary range is $1400 to $1650.”

Check out the other comments and information about these schools (and 1000s of others) on our website: www.internationalschoolcommunity.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selecting an international school: Tip #1 – Weighing the advantages and disadvantages of local and international school systems.

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?  Many international school teachers are in teaching couples that have children.  There are also international school teachers that are married to a local and have children too.  So, how do you choose the right international school for your children to attend?  Our new blog series will discuss the Tips for Selecting an International School.

Tip #1: Have you fully weighed the advantages and disadvantages of placing your child in an international school in (insert country name here)? It is difficult to go back and forth to the (insert local country) system and it will affect high- er education choices.

As it is a real option for most international school teachers, it is important to think about whether you are going to send your children to a local school versus the international school you work at.

We all know international school teachers typically get free tuition for their children, but not all international school offer this benefit.  Furthermore, some international schools might make the teacher actually pay for a certain percentage of the tuition cost, sometimes up to 50% or more.  With 2-3 children, that could all add up to make your benefits package not that attractive!  Other international schools offer free tuition, but don’t actually guarantee a spot for your child which might result in waiting 1-2 years.  The schools that do this are seeing more of the monetary benefit of getting more ‘paying’ students in the school versus ‘non-paying’ students.

In my opinion it is to the international school’s benefit to have their teachers’ children attend the school.  Many international schools only have a small percentage of students in the class that are native speakers of English.  When the number of native speakers is low, then the level of English and proficiency of the students tends to be low as well.  In general, non-native speakers of English needs native speaker role models in the class to help them achieve a high proficiency in English. At least that was the case at one of my previous international schools in the Mediterranean where the student population was 45% from the host country.

Some international school teachers are married to a local from the host country.  When that is the case, many times the family will send their children to the local schools, so that the children can learn fully in the local language.  Knowing the local language like a native speaker will definitely be a important factor in that child’s future if the family’s plan is to stay in the host country forever (or a really long time). Sending your children to a local school is typically the cheaper option if you are in a situation where the international school you work at wants to have you pay a certain percentage.

Sometimes the choice to have their children attend a local school is a choice the family is making for themselves, or it is a choice that is made because of the difficulty with getting a spot for enrollment in the international school.  It is important to note that most international schools though do make sure to have a spot for teachers’ children if they are foreign-hires. Otherwise it would be most difficult to get any teaching couples (with dependents) to sign a contract! But for international school teachers with a local spouse, like in some areas of the world (e.g. Western Europe), getting a spot might prove to be more challenging as the international school will state that the children have an viable option to attend a local school.

If you are an international school teacher with children, please share your comments about ‘Weighing the advantages and disadvantages of local and international school systems.’

Additionally, make sure to join www.internationalschoolcommunity.com as you are able to check out our almost 700 members.  Many of our current members have listed they are ‘married with dependents’ on their profile pages.  Feel free to send these members a message with your questions about what life is like as an international school teacher with children.

Comments and information about salaries on ISCommunity #5: Yongsan Int’l School of Seoul, Frankfurt Int’l School & The English Int’l School of Padua

Comments and information about salaries at international schools on International School Community

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

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

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


The English International School of Padua (12 total comments)
“Salary is paid on the last working day of each month. Salary is paid in Euro, whilst wage slips are in Sterling. Italian bank accounts are opened for the transfer of salaries. The school assists in this process at the start of the academic year.”


Yongsan International School of Seoul (10 total comments)
“No taxes are paid. You are paid in local currency. Teachers can expect to make around $2900 in USD each month.”


Frankfurt International School & Wiesbaden
(8 total comments)
“Reduced tax contributions for your first two years working in Germany. It is a monthly salary paid x 13 months after 2 years. Deductions to your salary are income tax/health insurance/Unemployment which is approx. 43% of your monthly salary.”

Check out the other comments and information about these schools on our website: www.internationalschoolcommunity.com