Archive

Posts Tagged ‘blog’

Our Blog has moved! The new and improved International School Community website and blog has arrived!

Screen Shot 2013-03-01 at 6.43.45 PM

The International School Community blog has moved! Check out our new blog and its updated design here.

No more blog entries will be posted here.  Click here to be redirected to our new and improved blog!

We have also added many new features to our website.  Go and explore to check them out yourself.

Advertisements

Highlighted article: What blogging steals from travel

After checking out the article on the Matador website, it made me wonder a bit about traveling and our traveling routines (and habits).

Are we traveling just to take pictures, the “best pictures ever”? One friend told me one time, “I don’t take pictures when I travel. I would rather enjoy the moment instead.”

Are we traveling just to take a “cool” photo that I am going to post on Facebook to “show-off” all my friends?

And like the author of the Matador article, is he just traveling to write a blog entry?

What are the rules of traveling then?  What are the things you “must do” and what are the things you are doing that are not on that list and that possibly take away from the things on that list?

Some people say that one “must do” on the list is to eat the local food.  Others say that you “must” interact with the locals as much as you can (see the video highlight of Rick Steves on our blog).  I have friends who are over 40 and still make it a point to stay at hostels so that they can “rough” it and thus being more “in tune” to the host country more and being able to interact with the other travelers there that also want to be more “in tune.”  That is a “must do” for them.

Some people just travel to see and be on the beach.  Relaxing every day at the hotel possibly at an all inclusive resort.  Are those people getting out of traveling like they “should” or are their separate trips abroad that are just for relaxing and “getting away”?

And then there is the Amazing Race show.  Who doesn’t like the Amazing Race show?  It is like all our dreams coming true (with regards to traveling and exploring the world).  But time and time again I meet people who say that sure these teams are traveling the world, but they aren’t really interacting with the host country people and culture at all.  The teams are not in the cities long enough to really see what the culture is all about.  They are not able to be “present” to fully take in where they are and what they are experiencing.  I am not for sure I agree.  I really feel like there is definitely something the teams are getting out of their traveling.  It may not be the same experience as if you are traveling somewhere for 3 weeks and having a home stay at a local family’s house, but sure it is another form a traveling that could possibly be just as rewarding.

“I went to Paris and saw the Eiffel Tower. I wasn’t too impressed.”  If you are working at an international school in Europe, you might have said to your other international school teacher friends, “After traveling to many cities in Europe, they are all starting to look the same.”  Some times traveling naturally gets to this point.  Not that you stay at this point and never go back, but I think when you travel as much as international school teachers do, it is bound to happen at some point.  Because when you travel too much, sometimes the “routines” that you experience when traveling have a similar feeling to each other.  Check into the hotel.  Go into the famous church there.  Look at the Eiffel Tower.  Eat out at restaurants every night.  Go to the Starbucks!  It just might just start all appearing to be the same trip.

I used to have a blog.  It was about all my trips.  I started it originally about my experiences living abroad after moving to my first international school, but my interest in it soon waned as I found myself being less and less “excited” about my day to day experiences living in the host country.  The blog turned into a travel blog basically as I ended up posting entries about my travels. I remember thinking…well I have to edit all my photos.  And then after editing, I have to write insightful things about those photos and publish them (the best ones) on my blog.  My friends and family actually really liked my blog.  They loved reading my entries and looking at my photos.  My aunt even printed out all the blog entries that were on the blog and put them into an album.  She gave the album of my blog entries to my mother as a present!

BUT….I had to stop.  I really started to dread it.  Did I take it out on my traveling and stop enjoying my trips to the fullest?  Probably not that much, but it might have affected my travels.  I can’t image actually writing the blog every day of your trip (like how the Matador author might be doing) and then having the pressure to write insightful entries and publish an entry each day for a blog.  For sure that might take away a bit from his traveling experience and being “present” on his trip.

I think that every one travels for their own reasons.  Somebody’s reasons for traveling might not be exactly the same as the next person’s reasons.  Most people in the “real world” aren’t actually able to travel as much as we do (international school educators) and surely we shouldn’t take that fact for granted.  Maybe a good idea is to make one or two traveling goals before you embark on your trip.  “I’m going to try and interact more with the host country people.”  “I am going to try more of the local cuisine when I choose which restaurants that I eat at.”

Blogs of international school teachers: “dkceci” at Yokohama International School in Japan

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

Our 16th blog that we would like to highlight is called “kdceci.”  Check out the blog entries of this international school teacher who has worked at Yokohama International School.

A few entries that we would like to highlight:

One Week After

“One week ago, we were at school. A normal Friday. Ceci was dressed in her yellow PE uniform because it’s PE day. On Friday afternoon, we had our usual get together with all of the 5th graders. We’re on the road to Exhibition, a culminating project of the PYP where students intensely study something of interest. This year, the kids have chosen their passion and are exploring an issue related to that passion. It’s been really fun, but we’re on a tight schedule. On Friday, we were reflecting on the week’s work and stressing the schedule we need to keep to finish this on time.

The students broke into groups in all 3 of our classrooms. I wandered around, listening to their conversations. The students were animated, hanging out with friends, sharing their passions and their proud moments from the week. And then 2:47. The classroom started shaking. I was standing near a group of girls who immediately got under a table. Usually, earthquakes stop within seconds, but this didn’t. It was rocking us like babies in a rocker, and it wasn’t stopping.

I squished under the table with the girls. My co-teacher continued to stand up. I’m not sure how he did it. I couldn’t move. I put my arm over one of the girls and tried to comfort them all. A few were hysterical. It kept shaking. Over the loudspeaker, the high school principal in his dry, calming voice told us what was happening (earthquake). A few times he said, “it’s now safe to get out,” and then 1/2 second later, “No, back under the desks, the ground is still shaking.” During a time like that, you needed someone to speak your thoughts, and hats off to Mr. Stanworth who did.”

I can’t imagine how I would frightening this experience would have been.  I do know that I would have done the same as this international school teacher and just try to comfort as many students as I could.  I guess it is something that maybe one forgets about when deciding which international schools to interview with and where you would most like to live next in the world; the natural disasters that typically occur in that area.  I guess you can’t predict those though, whether they would happen when you are living there or not.  Thanks for sharing your story with us.

Teaching and Discovery

“It’s been a while, but time for a blog. We’re back to school again, and it’s almost as if we never left. Great group of kids again. The students always amaze me with their energy and joie de vivre. It would be hard to go back to students who don’t find school so amusing.”

Going back to an international school after a summer off is always an interesting experience.  If you are starting your second year, you might be surprised about the feeling of “home” as you leave the host country airport back to your apartment.  It is interesting how quickly your host country and school become familiar and give you that sense of belonging.

“Ceci is now in 4th grade. Hard to believe. After a difficult year last year–clashes with the teaching style–she seems relaxed. She says they haven’t been doing much and feels relieved. However, then she’ll mention the things they have done in class, and it’s like secret learning. I like that. For example, they’ve been working on estimating in measurement. They were talking about how far it might be to the train station, and everyone was making guesses. Then, the teacher said, well, let’s find out, and he took off. Ceci said she didn’t know where he went, and they all looked out the window, and he was heading to the train station. So, like little ducks, they followed him. Learning through doing… I like that.

I’m trying to do more of that in my class. My students have been building things lately. After giving them the chance to play with plastic tiles for Math, they now want to make elaborate domino structures and buildings any chance they get. We also played around with the concept of displacement the other day, and they built boats made from aluminum foil. On their own, they came up with the idea of surface area and reinforcing sides and balancing weight. Really amazing.”

I like getting inspired by other international school teachers.  How great for international school teachers too that have their children attending the school.  Sometimes you get an insight into another teacher’s classroom that you wouldn’t have necessarily; and then you get to learn about or be reminded of some great teaching techniques that you can then use in your own classroom!

Check out the Yokohama international School profile page on International School Community.  Currently, there are 22 international schools listed in Tokyo area on our website, with all 4 of them being schools that teach the PYP curriculum.

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: International Christian School teachers

What a great idea!

How wonderful if all schools had a separate page on their website listing all the personal blogs of its teachers!  Check out their website here.


Hong Kong

We would like to highlight a few of the entries on a couple of these blogs.

This international school teacher’s insight about moving back to your home country after teaching and living in Hong Kong is something we can all relate to:



“I think I wouldn’t be completely honest if I said I was happy to be moving back to Canada. There are many things I am looking forward to about going back, foremost among them, being closer to our family, but there are many things I am going to really miss about Hong Kong, especially my job.  In early June I included an article in one of my posts that I wrote in 2005 about what I will miss about Hong Kong.  I’ve learned there is a lot more to a place than you can read about in a book, or see in a television documentary. For the entire six years I lived in Hong Kong I was constantly learning new things about the city I didn’t know before.”

This international school teaching couple’s experience working with Chinese students (as compared to students from the USA) is quite intriguing:

“How do Chinese middle school students differ from US middle school students? You tell an American student that they can sit “anywhere” in the classroom and at least 60% of the students immediately drop to the floor.  They sit on pillows, lie under tables, and tuck into back corners.  Some sit on top of things too – perching on counters, desks, and begging to sit on the teacher’s spinning chair at the front of the room.

You tell a Chinese student that they can sit “anywhere” in the classroom and 30% of the move with tepid enthusiasm to sit near a friend while the rest of them stay where they are.  Those that move take seats… in another desk.  2-3 students may choose to sit on the classroom couch, but nobody takes to the floor unless required to do so by me.

A student of mine explained it to me on Friday by saying that Chinese kids are taught from an early age to fear uncleanliness and germs.  Even as young children many of them play in seats at tables, rather than in groups on the floor.  Therefore, it’s engrained in them from the start to avoid the floor if at all possible.”

If you know of any other great, insightful international school blogs out there or if you have one of your own that you would like for us to highlight, send us an email at editor@internationalschoolcommunity.com.

Blogs of international school teachers: SirSolo

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

Our 15th blog that we would like to highlight is called “SirSolo.”  Check out the blog entries of this international school teacher who has worked at British International School Shanghai.

A few entries that we would like to highlight:

New Year, new role…building the team

“Following our wonderful Christmas break in India, it was great to get back and see our colleagues at BISS; and especially the Humanities team, who I am excited to now be leading.  Although, I cannot believe how cold Shanghai has become!

Our first day back was a training day and was well structured and enjoyable; following a warm welcome back from Sir Terry, the secondary and primary staff split to follow separate training schedules. Our day (secondary) was focused on Formative Assessment and was extremely interactive and practical.”

International schools are sometimes in a pickle trying to organize good, useful, purposeful, effective, etc. professional development on the few days back after winter break.  I have worked at international schools when they have had somebody booked months in advance (for the after winter break PD days) and then to find out kind of last minute that the person couldn’t come any more.  Not just every trainer wants to (or is able to) lead their PD sessions in exotic locations around the world I imagine, but the ones that do…are indeed in very high demand (e.g. Virginia Rojas, Ron Ritchhart, etc.)!

Cutting Ties…

“I was recently contacted by my previous employer, an International School in Vietnam, who politely asked me to close down the Edmodo groups I had set up whilst at the school. In particular they wanted me to close a group I had set up named ‘Social Connections’ that was created to allow students (and staff) to remain in touch after moving on…as so often happens on the international circuit. They stated that new school policy dictated that any contact with students must cease when you leave.

The group set up meant that teachers didn’t have those awkward moments when saying goodbye to tearful students whereby they would normally be forced to say: “sorry no, you can’t be my Facebook friend or have my email”. Instead they’d simply say, “Keep in touch, see you on Edmodo!” The communications we exchanged about their reasons for me closing the group were all valid and I fully agreed but it did get me thinking about some interesting questions and ethical dilemmas teachers could find themselves in…”

Each international school is different and has their own rules about how they would like their school to be run.  It is important we share their differences with each other, thanks SirSolo!

Check out the British International School Shanghai profile page on International School Community.  Currently, there are 17 international schools listed in Shanghai on our website, with all 7 of them being schools that teach the U.K. curriculum.

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: The Miles Abroad. Chapter 1 Dhaka

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

Our 15th blog that we would like to highlight is called “The Miles Abroad. Chapter 1 Dhaka.”  Check out the blog entries of this international school teacher who has worked at International School Dhaka.

A few entries that we would like to highlight:

A few photos
“Here’s a collection of photos we took the other day, on the roof of our apartment block. If you consider the size of our apartment and that there are two like that on each floor, it’ll give a real idea of the size of the space up there. There’s a few ISD families in this block, with young children; we’re figuring it’d be great to meet up for brunch on the roof during weekends.”

Where shall we go?
“I know we’ve only just arrived, but it’s time to start thinking about where to go on holiday.  We’ve a week in October, a month at Christmas, and two weeks at Easter.  So many places are relatively close, so we’re spoilt for choice.  Only problem is it costs about $200 in exit taxes per person.

So, for example, we got an email about a $115 round trip flight to Bangkok before the end of October, but we’re talking more than $1200 for the whole family to visit for a week/9 days.  That’s a hell of a lot of money and we’re trying to save and work on the debt situation.  Bummer.  And it looks like it’s w a a a a a y more expensive at Christmas time, so doesn’t look that feasible either.

What else can we do?  Well, apparently Nepal would be relatively easy to get to, and much cheaper.  Also, Kolkatta, although you fly there, you can also take a bus (11 hours – is this a good idea with two kids?) or the train (also 11 hours, but more doable)  In fact, the train idea looks great, since it costs, apparently, $20 each.  I expect there may well be some exit taxes involved too, but nowhere near as much as flying.

An alternative would be to travel around Bangladesh.  Winter time is the best time to travel here, since the country is much drier then.  One option would be take a boat trip around the Sundarbans for a few days.  Another would be to visit Cox’s Bazar. Here’s a photo, and some info.  Sounds like a fantastic place.”

First impressions
“Speaking of that, that’s the main issue right now.  Not speaking the language means it’s impossible to really argue with someone, and also not knowing the local values.  As foreigners we’ll always pay over the odds for things, that’s fine, but I don’t like being taken advantage of.  However, there’s a rickshaw driver named Jalal who hangs around outside, with another guy Rashed, both of whom speak English.  Jalal’s is great and he’s pretty much adopted this building as it’s mostly ISD people living here.  He’s helped Chris (PE teacher, lives upstairs, has a 2-year old son whose name I can’t spell but it sounds like kie-er) to do some shopping, driven him about, bargained for him.  That’s great, exactly what we need, someone who’ll honestly and sincerely help without taking advantage of us.  He and Rashed took us to the school on Saturday so we could use the pool, he helped us get to our restaurant that evening by getting the motorized rickshaw and arguing with the driver about the price (of course I didn’t understand what he said but it was spattered with English words like ‘schoolteacher’ and I’m guessing he was saying “Come on man, don’t take the p”@” we’re not talking rich foreigner’s here they’re just teachers)  Anyway, he told us how much to pay for the ride (100 taka, which is about 66p) and made sure the driver knew where we were going.”

Check out the International School Dhaka profile page on International School Community.  Currently, there are 5 international schools listed in Bangladesh on our website, with all 5 of them being in Dhaka.

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: Tim Woods (Preparing Tomorrow’s Leaders)

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

Our 11th blog that we would like to highlight is called “Tim Woods.”  This international educator has much experience in the international school community, having worked at international schools in Canada, Costa Rica, Bahrain, Eng­land and Bel­gium.  Check out the blog entries of this international school teacher who is now working at Overseas Family School Singapore in Singapore.

Entries we would like to highlight:

Around the World in 80 Seconds

“My wife and I were recently grounded by ash from Iceland’s infa­mous vol­cano. The name of that beast, Eyjaf­jal­la­jokull (sounds like “AY-yah-fyah-lah-YOH-kuul”  if you’re brave) is much fun­nier than the real­ity of it, I assure you. In our case, what should have been a short 2-hour flight from Helsinki to Brus­sels turned out to be 4 days of pac­ing in a cold air­port and then a 47-hour com­bi­na­tion of fer­ries, buses, taxis, trams and trains.


I men­tion this only so you can under­stand why it is I appre­ci­ate this clip so much: the feel­ing of traveling, with­out hav­ing to actu­ally leave my din­ing room. Perfect.  If you liked this, you might also enjoy Sin­ga­pore and Back in 5 Min­utes.”

This photo journey idea is a another great idea!  We all can relate to the traveling experience of going back and forth, back and forth to our home country.  The feeling going back and then the different feeling of returning to your host country.  Sometimes the journey goes smoothly, sometimes not!  A journey of 4 days sounds like a nightmare indeed!

Guarantee the career you want

“Your job is not per­fect. Me nei­ther. We have hid­den gifts you and I.  First instinct, espe­cially in the heady days of early Jan­u­ary, is to re-evaluate and con­sider mas­sive life changes.  Have we in fact missed our call­ing? In a word: yes. But it’s an eas­ier fix than you might think.

Have you ever heard the expres­sion: “When you’re doing what you really love, it doesn’t feel like a job?” Do you know why this is true? It’s because when you’re doing what you really love you prob­a­bly aren’t at work. Day jobs are some­times less-than-totally ful­fill­ing. They don’t nor­mally appre­ci­ate or hon­our our full great­ness. They nor­mally can’t. (Because that’s not their job). They are not designed with us in mind, but rather with our clients in mind. But their imper­fec­tion doesn’t mean they are wrong for us. We accept their imper­fec­tions as they accept ours. And that’s not bad.

Non-jobs are an anti­dote to less-than-completely-fulfilling careers. They offer a ful­fill­ing ‘third place’. A place, that is not our job and not our home-life, where we grow in the ways we crave.”

Yes, international school teachers are very keen to find the perfect job at the perfect international school at the perfect school so that they can feel a sense of meeting their goals with their career.  If any of those things are not perfect, then you are more prone to thinking you have a job instead of a career at that school.  Then it is true coming hiring season it just might be time to re-evaluate.

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