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International School Community Member Spotlight #22: Laurence Myers (An int’l school teacher working at International School of Kuala Lumpur)

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

Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 8.44.30 PMTell us about your background.  Where are you from?
I am originally from Athens, Greece with a father from the US and a mother from Greece. I was born and raised in Athens, Greece and attended a small international school (TASIS Hellenic International School, now International School of Athens). I have been teaching for 19 years internationally and have loved every minute of it!  

How did you get started in the international teaching community?
For me teaching internationally was almost an extension of my life as a student. As I went to an international school as a child I found the cross-cultural connections at such schools to be right up my alley. Of course, as is often the case, my inspiration came from my teachers and professors, the most powerful of which was that of Kostas Gabriel who presently teaches in Chennai. He was an inspiration in believing in myself as a child and I found that, when deciding on a profession, this also provided me with an impetus to assist students in similar circumstances. I also had some good friends who showed me the way, most notably Ralph Barrett who presently teaches in Abu Dhabi. Following their footsteps, and my heart, I was able to fit right in when professional life came calling.  After a couple years of teaching internationally I was hooked. The job offers the perfect combination of discovery and self-reliance with the added dimension of dealing with simply wonderful kids!

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.
I began my teaching at the same school I attended as a child, TASIS Hellenic International School. It was, and still is, a small school with much character and a small but very dynamic student population. It was here, as I took my professional baby steps, that I learned that students are often waiting for an opportunity to see the world in different ways. I taught both social studies and physical education at TASIS.

Following TASIS, and a short stint back in the US to receive my M.A., I taught for five years at Colegio Nueva Granada in Bogota, Colombia. For me this was an eye-opening experience. Like the Greek community, Colombians are open and really want to know about you as a teacher. I found this connection fascinating and discussions with my students in economics and government endlessly rewarding. The country of Colombia too, which had a shady reputation at the time, was a simply beautiful place to be!  Despite the media and the difficult political situation the travel opportunities there were tremendous and I still find that, in so many ways, Colombia is home for me as well. I am also happy to be connected to Colombia through my wife, who has been by my side since those days at CNG. 🙂

My next stop, where I presently work, was the International School of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was here that my professional self was able to succeed in ways that I never imagined possible. ISKL’s professional development opportunities and the support that they offer their teaching staff allows for many teachers to become great leaders in their own right. Though the expectations are high, so too is the sense of professional community. Collaborative, supportive and engaging ISKL has given me the opportunity to broaden my understanding of teaching and learning. It is in Malaysia that my two daughters were born and so our connection to Kuala Lumpur will be life-long.

Describe your latest cultural encounter (or reverse cultural encounter) in your current placement, one that put a smile on your face.
In Malaysia it is customary to point with the thumb and not the index finger. As our daughters are quite young trying to get them to remember to point this way is sometimes difficult. Traditionally we point, as most do in the west, with our index fingers. At one point when we went to a restaurant our daughter was pointing at something and we were overly concerned about what that might say about our cultural empathy. We tried very hard to get her to change her finger and were embarrassed to fail miserably. When we went over to the table and sat down to talk about it our daughter told us to look at the next customer, a Malaysian woman, who had just walked in. Sure enough, she was indicating things to the staff using her index finger. My daughter was vindicated and I quieted down recognizing that customs often change as cultures diffuse. Where we are often overcompensating in order to fit into the local culture, the members of that same local culture might be happy to use western gestures and norms.

What are some important things that you look for when you are searching for a new position at an international school?
As I have matured in my teaching, and as my family situation has changed (ie. single to married to having children) so too has my outlook on what is important in a job. When I was younger, of course, my impression of travel opportunities and cultural experiences was primary, as well as the reputation of the school. Now that I am older with a family I suspect that my next teaching post will be a bit closer to home and one where our children can also have a positive learning experience. It should be a school that allows me personal and professional challenge but also provides children with a well-rounded educational experience.

Specific thoughts on a new position (when that happens):
Is it in a safe location?
Does the school promote whole-child philosophy?
Does the school’s administration support teaching initiatives?
What is the “personality” of the school and does it fit in with our own?
Does the school support an environment of caring for people and for the environment?

In exactly 5 words, how would you describe the international school teaching experience?
Discovery. Rewarding. Engaging. Relationships. Awesome.

Thanks Laurence!

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 Malaysia like Laurence?  Currently, we have 23 international schools listed in the Malaysia on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

Garden International School (19 Comments)
International School of Kuala Lumpur (55 Comments)
Nexus International School (18 Comments)
International School of Penang (Uplands) (9 Comments)
Dalat International School (6 Comments)
Mont Kiara International School Kuala Lumpur (8 Comments)

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 hiring policies on International School Community #7: Int’l School of KL, Escola Internacional de Alphaville & Guangdong Country Garden School

Comments and information about hiring policies on International School Community:

indexEvery week members are leaving information and comments about the hiring policies at international schools around the world.  Which ones go to the Search Associates Recruitment Fairs?  Which ones hold interviews over Skype?  Which ones have hiring restrictions imposed on them by the host country?  All important questions to think about when job searching, but where to find the answers to those questions?

Sometimes it is hard to keep track of which international schools go to which recruitment fairs and which interview style and tactic each international school employs.  At International School Community, we want to make the search for information about hiring policies easier for international school teachers. In the school section of each international school profile page on our website, there is a section specific to the school’s hiring policies.  The topic is: “Describe their hiring policies. Which recruiting fairs do they go to? How do they typically hire (e.g. face-to-face interview, Skype, etc.)? Are there any hiring restrictions mandated by the country?”

Here are 3 out of the numerous comments and information related to the hiring policies of international schools that have been posted on our website:

International School of Kuala Lumpur (65 Total Comments)

Screen Shot 2012-12-10 at 11.07.05 PMComment about their hiring policies: “You cannot be hired into Malaysia over the age of 60, though once hired, you can continue to work. The school attends a range of fairs, but also conducts Skype interviews. They are thorough in recruitment practices.”

Escola Internacional de Alphaville (13 Total Comments)

Screen Shot 2012-12-10 at 11.08.25 PMComment about their hiring policies: “Online Skype interviews are held with interested candidates. Selected candidates will start tenure with the school from January 15th. You need to be a native speaker of English with a teaching background with a minimum of one year’s experience to be eligible for a Brazilian work visa.”

Guangdong Country Garden School (17 Total Comments)

Screen Shot 2012-12-10 at 11.10.19 PMComment about their hiring policies: “Candidates need to send a cover letter expressing why they are interested in the position they are applying for. You should apply to this email address: bgyheather@126.com. They look for native speakers of English and must at least have a BA degree in the related field. Interviews are by phone or in person.”

Check out the more than 515 comments and information that have been submitted about the hiring policies on numerous international school profiles at www.internationalschoolcommunity.com.

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

International Teaching Predictions for 2012 #5: SE Asia

#5: International Schools in SE Asia

“We expect continued growth in Indonesia, Malaysia and even Vietnam as those emerging economies steadily prosper.  Salaries may seem very low in these countries but the cost of living is even lower so teachers who are flexible and open minded may find huge savings potential here along with a fascinating lifestyle.

Malaysia has invested in English / EFL Advisors and we have those jobs available. The pay and benefits packages are not as high as the Middle East but the cost of living is very, very low.   The Malaysia core subject reform has not taken off like the EFL section due to government policy changes so I don’t expect the core subject advisory jobs to materialise in any great number this year.

Based on our school visits, I can say that schools in the Far East and SE Asia tend to be more academically focussed on average, when compared to similar schools in the Middle East, North Africa and even Europe.  High educational attainment is an integral part of many cultures here and it’s reflected in attitudes towards schools, teachers and academics.  The combination of high quality educational focus and high economic growth in this part of the world must be hugely exciting for many teachers.”Taken from the “Teach the World with Teachanywhere” blog written by General Manager by Diane Jacoutot.




Bali Indonesia

Currently (as of 21 April, 2012), on www.internationalschoolcommunity.com, we have 156 international schools listed in this region of the world.  That makes the East Asia region rank #4 (out of 13) in terms of the regions of the world with the highest number of international schools listed on our website.  According to the article and to what we see happening in our community, there are many new international schools being founded each year in both regions.  For example out of the 165 international schools listed in SE Asia, 72 of them are less than 15 years old; that is a little bit less than half. The expat communities there seem to be growing and thus the need for more international schools is also growing, especially in areas like Thailand and Indonesia.

Out of the 11 countries that we have listed in the SE Asia region, the top four countries with the highest number of international schools listed on International School Community are the following:
1. Thailand (39 schools listed)
2. Indonesia (28 schools listed)
3. Malaysia (20 schools listed)
4. Vietnam (17 schools listed)

Some more facts about these SE Asian international schools:
• 42 teach the American Curriculum, 61 teach the U.K. curriculum and 7 teach the IPC curriculum.
• 72 are less than 15 years old, 61 are between 16 and 50 years old and 23 are more than 51 years old.
• 91 are For-profit schools and 65 are Non-profit schools.

The following schools in SE Asia have had comments and information submitted on them:
Hornbill School (Brunei) (6 Comments)
Logos International School (6 Comments)
Northbridge International School (9 Comments)
Garden International School (18 Comments)
International School of Kuala Lumpur (26 Comments)
Nexus International School (18 Comments)
International School of Myanmar (10 Comments)
International School Manila (32 Comments)
Singapore American School (11 Comments)
Bangkok Patana School (14 Comments)
International School Bangkok (16 Comments)
KIS International School (Bangkok) (39 Comments)
Hampton International School (13 Comments)
Concordian International School (15 Comments)
St. Stephen’s International School (Khao Yai) (12 Comments)
International School Saigon Pearl (12 Comments)
Global Jaya International School (11 Comments)
Canggu Community School (10 Comments)

There are many more!  Check out the rest of them here.Many of our members currently work at international schools in the SE Asia region:

Claire Dirk (Cambodia International Academy in Cambodia)
Steven Bentley (Vietnam American International School in Vietnam)
Shantel Seevaratnam (Dalat International School in Malaysia)
Christopher Fadera (Brent School Manila in Philippines)
Dawn Schlecht (International School of Myanmar in Myanmar)
Venkataraman Swaminathan (Bina Bangsa School in Indonesia)
Linda Belonje (KIS International School (Bangkok) in Thailand)
Ceri Thorns (Systems Little House in Vietnam)

There are many more! Check out the rest of them here. If you are interested in working at an international school in the SE Asia region that one of our members currently works at, feel free to send these members a private message with the questions and concerns you would like first-hand account answers too.

So, we will just have to wait and see then how the “International School Community” in SE Asia actually pans out for the year 2012.

Comments and information about salaries on International School Community #2 (Hangzhou Int’l School, American School of Bcn & Int’l School of KL)

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:

Hangzhou International School

“Salary is in RMB. Salary is around 38000 USD a year for a teacher with a masters and around 8 years of experience. There are no taxes, already paid for by the school.”

American School of Barcelona

“Our reps are in the process of renegotiation our salaries. It is a difficult time in Spain right now, so it is not likely we will get much of a raise. The board is focusing on a new building so staff salaries is low on their list. The are not willing to raise tuition so some teacher benefits might be going away to help pay for the new building.”

International School of Kuala Lumpur

“Pay is good, with a great retirement (EPF) program that can go up to 42% of salary (including both employer and employee amounts). Teachers are paid 10 times (August through June) but in June they also get their July salary.”

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

School profile highlights #10: Int’l School of Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai Rego Int’l School and Colegio Nueva Granada

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

International School of Kuala Lumpur (2 new comments) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 

New information or comment in the School section: “English is the primary language in the hallways. There are a number of EAL students, but are not the majority. The largest single cultural group is Korean (24%) but there is a cap of 25% per class year of any one particular cultural group, ensuring an international make up to the school community.”

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Colegio Nueva Granada (2 new comments) in Bogota, Colombia

 

New information or comment in the City section: “If you either speak or at least try to speak Spanish they will love you. It is a great city to learn the language and the people are very happy to speak to foreigners about their own countries, etc.”

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Shanghai Rego International School (6 new comments) in Shanghai, China

 

New information or comment in the Benefits section: “This year the school has given another option for housing. It’s a place called Royal Garden and everyone seems quite impressed with it! I’m still happy though with my own choice in the city but its good to have another option.”