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Posts Tagged ‘interviewing’

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

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

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

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A few entries that we would like to highlight:

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

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

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

mi apartemento en Tampico

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

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

a day/night at the beach…

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

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

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

American School Foundation of Guadalajara (15 Comments)
American School Foundation of Mexico City (35 Comments)
The Peterson Schools (Cuajimalpa Campus) (11 Comments)
Colegio Atid (17 Comments)
American School Foundation of Monterrey (16 Comments)
• Instituto San Roberto (15 Comments)
American School of Durango (12 Comments)
Colegio Inglés A.C. (Torreon) (12 Comments)

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

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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.

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.

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.

Selecting an international school: Tip #6 – How well is the school linked to other international schools?

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 how well the school is linked to other international schools?  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 #6 – How well is the school linked to other international schools?

phoca_thumb_l_IMG_9309 Not all international schools are well-linked to other international schools.  Some international schools tend to just do things on their own.  The teachers at those schools typically don’t have much contact with teachers at other international schools.  Sometimes even in a huge city like Shanghai, were there are quite a few international schools, there are smaller schools that just seem to be doing things by themselves and on their own with minimal contact with other schools in the area. The teachers there can become quite content to be on their own and find themselves forgetting that they could be doing more collaboration with other international schools in their city.

These ‘less-connected’ schools could very well be for-profit schools.  Some for-profit international schools have strict or no allowances for teachers to network or attend conferences and workshops for international schools in their area.  Because the school doesn’t encourage this type of connection to the wider international school community, then the teachers there ‘loose touch’ a bit with how other schools are doing things or tackling similar problems.  It is easy to just get used to being isolated and to doing things on your own; forgetting how much collaborating with nearby international schools could be beneficial and important for your career.

Not all international school teachers would choose to work in a less-connected schools.  Many of us would not like to teach in isolation at an international schools that is not well-linked to the wider international school community.  We all know that networking and meeting more people in our international school community helps us learn more about what is going on at other schools; the current trends and best practices for working with third culture kids.  20080318_1191_01

Many international schools are quite well-connected and linked indeed.  These international schools usually do many things to make sure their school is well known in the local and wider international school community.  They might be providing generous PD funds to their teachers so that they can do and go to many events that can in turn help their staff and the school as a whole become more linked to other international schools.  Some schools well send their teachers to check out a specific programme in person at another international school.  Some of the best learning about teaching and running new programmes (or changing old ones) at your school can be had when you can get the opportunity to see how it looks in person at another international school that is already doing those things and having great success at them.  Does your international school promote this type of PD for their staff?

International schools in the same city can either ignore each other as separate entities, or they can create on-going PD moments between themselves and facilitate collaboration and sharing of skills and knowledge.  It takes the effort of administration, most likely, to get the ball rolling (and keep it rolling) so that international school teachers at each school get opportunities to meet, network and to get work together on common goals.  Do you have a good working relationship with the other international schools in your city?

Another way international schools can become well-linked is through the various sports leagues/organizations.  When schools participate and compete with other international schools in their region of the world, their teachers and students become better connected with each other.

International schools can also become linked and connected via the various accreditation organizations that school opt to become members of.  For example, an international school that is a member of the ECIS organization provides certain privileges and opportunities for its teachers.  Working at an international school that is not accredited can may limit their opportunities to become linked to each other.

If you are an International School Community member currently working abroad, please log-on today and submit your comments and information about your school and how it is linked (or perhaps not so well linked) to other international schools.

If you are not a member yet, make sure to join www.internationalschoolcommunity.com and become a part of our over 1400 members.  Many of our current members have listed that they work at over 200 international schools around the world. Feel free to send these members a message with your questions and get firsthand information about how well their school is linked to other international schools.

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

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

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

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A few entries that we would like to highlight:

How to be an explorer – Day 1

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

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

Recycling in Japan

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

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

My Morning Walk in Yutenji

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

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

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

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

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

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

International School Community Member Spotlight #19: Andrew Vivian (An veteran international teacher currently working at MV Education Services)

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

(This member spotlight is a continuation from an interview we did earlier which can be found here.)

From there, we spent a year in Guangzhou, China, at Utahloy International School, with Helen as Primary Principal and me as Head of Science. Guangzhou, despite the air quality, was a really nice place to live. We started off in an apartment in town, while we looked for a place big enough to hold our material possessions – for us, home is where we live, and we take our furniture and everything with us, so relocation costs are substantial. We ended up in a ground-floor apartment out of town, but only a cheap 30-minute taxi ride to “the action”. The shopping was the main attraction, particularly for Helen,

We were asked to come and work at a school in Jakarta, and relocated, because we wanted to continue teacher training and we love Indonesia. Things didn’t work out, and we decided to try our hands at consulting, because we have a lot of connections with Indonesian private schools and Helen is a well-established Primary Years Programme workshop leader for the IB. After a year and a half for Helen, and a year for me, we are keeping the wolf from the door. Helen does a lot of IB workshops around Asia, and is working with the management of a school in East Jakarta. I’ve done one workshop for the IB, a few in Jakarta and one in Beijing. My main work has been a couple of tours doing school inspections in Dubai. I’ve done some course writing and prepared some teaching materials for a couple of organisations. We have just finalised our working visas and our Indonesian company, and will, hopefully, be expanding our business soon.

Teaching internationally has been great for us. We’ve had a few heartbreaks, but, overall we have been able to save money, travel, and every day brings a new experience. We have been to most of the countries in Asia, and some amazing places in them. We speak Bahasa Indonesia, so, when we see something interesting, we can ask questions. One of our delights in Surabaya was just walking through the villages behind us, and talking to the locals.

We’ve had a lot of funny experiences, and no really dangerous ones. For example, we were on a boat up river in Kalimantan, after visiting the orang-utan sanctuary, when the boat broke down, 50 km from the port. We literally hitch-hiked with a passing fisherman. Enroute to Tibet, we stopped in Chengdu, in China. We caught a taxi to a restaurant recommended in a guide book. Half-way there, we realised that we didn’t have the hotel’s card, so we had no way of knowing where to go back to or how to communicate it to anyone. After dinner it took us two taxi rides and a 1km walk before we recognised a landmark.

International schools are funny places – some are excellent. Also, the “true” international schools now make up only a fraction of the places in which you can teach internationally and in tougher economic times, in Asia, at least, they have increasing numbers of local students anyway. Overall the positives tend to outweigh the negatives. Our philosophy is that we want to make a difference, so that working in host-country schools that offer IB programmes is our preference. Not everyone is comfortable in these sort of schools, but they are the places that give real insight into other cultures.

Many people like to teach overseas for the change in locale. That is a factor for us, but it is more about the sort of school we work in. For us, working in IB schools has been fabulous. We have been to most of the regional conferences over the past ten years and have met so many talented, committed people. We get to visit schools and help teachers do it better. In the process, we keep learning something new about education most days.

One thing I would recommend is to get everything in writing and even then, depending on which country you are in, it doesn’t matter any way if someone decides to be unpleasant. If you are prepared to “roll with the punches”, while sticking to your principles, then teaching internationally can be amongst the best things you can do in education.

In 5 words: adventure, culture, education, difference, satisfaction.

Make sure the check out Andrew’s website which tells more about the services he currently offers to international schools.

Thanks Andrew!

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 Guangzhou like Andrew?  Currently, we have 8 international schools listed in Guangzhou on International School Community. Here are a few that have had comments and information submitted on their profiles:

American International School of Guangzhou (12 Comments)
Guangzhou Nanhu International School (4 Comments)
Alcanta International College (6 Comments)
Guangzhou Huamei International School (5 Comments)
Clifford International School (8 Comments)
The Affiliated High School of SCNU (8 Comments)

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

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

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

A few entries that we would like to highlight:

Things You Should Know Before Moving to Saudi Arabia

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

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

Trip to Taif Mountains!

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

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

Andrea’s Holiday Experiences Around the World!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selecting an international school: Tip #5 – Does the school have a clear primary language of instruction?

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 kinds of international schools and they are all in different situations.  How important is finding out about a school’s clear primary language of instruction? 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?  Our new blog series will discuss the Tips for Selecting an International School.

Tip #5 – Does the school have a clear primary language of instruction?

In most international schools, the primary language of instruction is English (although there are French, German and other primary-language-focused schools), but it is best to confirm this (especially at the pre-school and kindergarten level).

A good question on a few levels and a good understanding of the layers surrounding language of instruction and how it is implemented within an international school context need exploring. On the surface, most prospective new teachers and parents would feel a strong measure of confidence just knowing that English is the primary mode of instruction, that the school uses a western country of origin in the name (British School of…, American School of…), and that the school has past some form of accreditation, which to a parent mostly means the school has been checked and measures up to a credible standard and English language would undoubtedly have played an important role in the process. All of the aforementioned in many cases would suffice most parents’ concerns.

However, in Thailand, for instance, a school is officially pronounced ‘international’ when it meets at least a 60% non-Thai student base. Unfortunately, many international school intake numbers reflect a much greater Thai national student roll. (Thailand is just one example; this goes for any ‘international’ school in any country where the bulk of the student body is made up of students from the country the school is in.) If this is the case, even though the primary language of instruction is English, students may find getting to know others who come from another primary language base quite challenging. Even within the classroom, when English is often the only language ‘allowed’, if the greater number come from a country other than an English-speaking one, much of the student conversation reverts back to the home language. Once out of the classroom, students automatically revert to their native tongue and an English-speaking student can easily be left out of friendship groups, study groups and other aspects of school, like team sports, may end up not being pursued even if it was a passionate option a student may have been involved in previously. Developing good peer groups with shared interests is absolutely vital for students moving to international schools, especially if the one they are moving to is their first.

Some schools have tried coming up with ‘English-speaking policies’ which could stipulate English as the only language spoken on campus.

  • Difficulty number 1: teachers become policemen; they endlessly are approaching students telling them to speak English only; much like trying to enforce a dress code whereby boys are to always have their shirts tucked in.
  • Difficulty number 2: students who continue to be caught not speaking English can begin to view this exercise as a way to annoy certain teachers (they love to watch some get all red-faced and look as if they are either going to implode or explode, or both), or it can become a way to show a measure of rebellion.

Students may even begin to view English punitively, negatively, as something they have to do which can mean a negative outlook on education as a whole impacting on concentration, learning and formative assessments. There is much empirically-based written about this and the debate rages on – to what extent should English language be promoted throughout a school. The Australian Government of Child Services advocates, as one example, home languages should be encouraged and actually help fortify classroom learning when the primary language is English. The difference is in the teacher’s ability to differentiate individual student needs.

Some international schools (selective ones) may try to defer this rationale by claiming they have strict admission criterion but if the student population numbers are home country lopsided the outcome is certainly going to follow, to some measure, what is stated above. It is just a natural way students will gravitate towards.

Some international schools (Shell or other gas and oil company owned schools) are non-selective as they are primary education facilitators for the children of their employees. Shell schools are primary curriculum based and so English language acquisition and delivery is almost seamless; young learners pick up language nuances almost effortlessly. However, this is not true for older students moving to English language based curricula. Some parents are so keen to have their children in an English-speaking school that they forget to take into consideration their children’s ages. I have personally interviewed Algerian parents who enrolled their almost 17 year old son in an international school using the national curriculum of England. The lad knew no English. His Arabic turned out to be good but his French was below average. Because of limitations the school could offer, he was only able to take GCSE Arabic and French lessons, and Maths, which he really struggled in. The fact that the language of curriculum delivery was English had almost no benefit in this case.

My advice, interview the school, ask about student ratio intake numbers and definitely ask for other parent contact information. Parents need to take into consideration their child’s needs by closely monitoring and analyzing their educational progress and language proficiency ability both in the home language and in English. Learning in English, like any language, has to be understood from a multi-layered perspective not from osmosis; physical presence does not equate to language proficiency and successful grade scores.

Teachers scoping out new international schools to work for would do well to get a clear picture about how English is used in the context of the international school in question. Sometimes this does not become clear until INSET before the next academic year begins but after all the effort made in moving and uprooting your family for an international school experience, it is worth making sure as many bases have been explored before signing not only for your own work satisfaction and professional development but for the sake of one’s family’s happiness and stability. An international school experience can be a beautiful thing but I have also met many others who would disagree and won’t touch it again with a 10 foot barge pole. It’s not a vacation, it’s an investment. Assignment: Does the school have a clear primary language of instruction?

This article was submitted by guest author and International School Community member:  Sheldon Smith (contact him here – shelaomily@yahoo.com or visit his BLOG at http://shelaomilyblog.wordpress.com/2012/10/)

On International School Community all school profile pages have a topic in the School Information section that specifically addresses the language ability of the students and the “common language” spoken in the hallways.  For example on the Uruguay American School’s profile page there have been 1 comment submitted so far on this topic:

If you are an international school community member currently working abroad, please log-on today and submit your comments and information about your school’s language policy and the language ability levels of your students.

If you are not a member yet, make sure to join www.internationalschoolcommunity.com and become a part of our over 1200 members.  Many of our current members have listed that they work at over 200 international schools around the world. Feel free to send these members a message with your questions about an international school’s accreditation status and get firsthand information about how the accreditation process is going for them.

Highlighted Article: An educator shares about his over 20 years of experience working at and with international schools (Part 1)

 An educator shares about his experiences working over 20 years in and with international schools (Part 1)

I began teaching a long time ago, in a brand new high school, 35km south east of Melbourne, Australia. I was trained as a Science and Mathematics teacher, but, over the years, I’ve taught just about everything except Art – it has really helped to give me an understanding of how young people learn. I worked in secondary schools around Melbourne for a while, and had a stint as a government curriculum consultant in my district.

A friend had induced my former wife and I to go on a group tour to Bali, the first time I had been overseas (like many, many Australians). We then visited the same friend when she went to work in Penang, and then I was fortunate to be part of a trip to Los Angeles and Brazil through Rotary.

My former spotted an advertisement in the paper for Hiroshima International School. I applied, and got the job as the teacher of 25 grade 6 to 10 students. At that time, the school was in the process of planning a move from a small warehouse in the inner suburbs to a new school further out. We had two small children, and lived in a house about 1km up the hill (and there are plenty of them in Japan) from the school.

Living in Japan was wonderful, and we had a lot of amazing experiences. We made friends with our neighbours, even though only one of them spoke English, and we spoke virtually no Japanese. Everyone we met was very friendly. We returned to Melbourne after one year and resumed a normal suburban existence.

My true international career began much later, when things weren’t going that well in my life. I went to an information night for a recruiting agent. It was mentioned that Bali International School needed an IT person, so I went home, adjusted my CV accordingly, and got the job. I worked with some very talented teachers in a small school, and met my wife, Helen, there. During my fourth year, things didn’t quite go to plan, and I found myself helping a friend establish a small school, which became an economic casualty of the Bali bombing. It was at B.I.S. that I first became involved with the International Baccalaureate, through the Middle Years Programme. I really liked it, because it was in line with what we had been doing in secondary schools back in Australia. Bali was a good place to live, and we all worked hard and partied hard.

Helen and I found jobs at Sekolah Ciputra, in Surabaya. I was running their new international program, out of Melbourne, with 12 students out of 90 in Grade 12. Helen was a classroom teacher, but, during the break, successfully applied for the position of Elementary Principal. By the end of the first year, I found myself as Secondary Principal. We were there for seven years, and turned it into an excellent 3-programme IB school. A major factor was the professional development that we did with our colleagues every week. It was very difficult at first, because we were foreigners who were really changing the paradigms, but we persevered and still keep in touch with many of our Indonesian colleagues.

The school was in a large estate on the western outskirts of the city, and we had a great lifestyle, Golf, on a fabulous course, was part of the contracts, and we often hacked our way around. We could go for bicycle ride out through the villages on the weekends and there was enough to do in the city to keep us occupied.

Stay tuned next month for the 2nd part of this article.  In the meantime, make sure the check out Andrew’s website which tells more about the services he currently offers to international schools.