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

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

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

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

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

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

• Professional development allowance details.

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Taken from International Community School Addis Ababa (35 Total Comments) school profile page.

There have been many comments and information submitted in this topic on numerous school profiles on our website.

One International School Community member said about working at Mef Int’l School Istanbul: “IBO certified IBDP and PYP training provided. Outside speakers such as Virginia Rojas brought in to provide in house PD.”

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

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

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

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

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New Survey: Which international school teacher conference do you prefer to go to?

A new survey has arrived!

Topic:  Which international school teacher conference do you prefer to go to?

Most international schools will offer some benefits to their teachers.  If you are lucky, your school will offer a benefit that gives you a set amount of money each year to use on a professional development event of your choice.  Many of those international schools will also let you now roll-over your unused PD money into the following year, up to three years worth in total if you need to.  Knowing that going to and attending an international school teacher conference can be quite expensive (e.g. registration costs, flight, hotel, meals, taxi rides, etc.), it is good to know that your school will either pay for you to go to them (all expenses paid) or that you can use your own PD money to go to them (hopefully all expenses paid as well).

If you have the money and the school you work at is open to where you use your PD money, the question then is…where should you go?   There are a nice handful of conferences that international school teachers can go to (EARCOS, ECIS, AASSA, MAIS, AISA, IB, etc.).  They also pretty much offer the same style of conference: a variety of guest speakers show up to inspire the attendees somehow (professionals in education or in topics related to education), and then there are different workshops led by international school teachers themselves (sharing a new strategy, research, best-practice techniques, etc.).  Is there one of these conferences that is better than the others?  We are not for sure.  Mostly teachers just go to the one that is closest to their school.

One thing that does seem for sure is that it seems as if the numbers of attendees at international school conferences is lower than normal as of late (e.g. the ECIS Conference in Nice this year).  There are also less companies signed up to be exhibitors as well.  Some participants at ECIS this year were saying that just a few years back there were 1000s more attendees that showed up.  They also were surmising that because there are so many international school teacher conferences nowadays, there just isn’t enough time and money for all the exhibitors to go to them…and the same goes for the teachers and administrators.

Did you know that some international schools (mostly for-profit ones) will grant you the money to attend a PD event (if it directly relates to the benefit of the school) only if you plan on staying for another two years?  If you decide to leave the school before that two-year deadline, then you must pay back all the money that you used to go to that PD event!  Hopefully there aren’t too many international schools out there that do that to their teachers still.  It is so important that international school teachers are treated as professionals in the field of education.  As professionals, we need to stay up-to-date with current trends and practices, as well as what current research is saying about how to be an effective teacher.  Additionally, it is vitally important for international school teachers to be at these events so that they can network with others that also work in the international school community. Networking can maybe lead to a future job at another international school for you, but it also can help you do the things you need to do in your current placement.  Why do the job by yourself when there are most likely other international school teachers that also need to do that same job?  Two heads are better than one, no?  Then you can share the load and work together on different projects that are of interest to both of you.

So, which international school teacher conference do you prefer to go to?  Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today!  You can check out the latest voting results here.

From the staff at International School Community.

Survey results are in: How many more years do you expect to keep teaching abroad at international schools?

The survey results are in, and it seems as if most visitors and members of International School Community who voted expect to keep working abroad at international schools for at least 1-3 more years.

For many of us, I suppose teaching abroad at international schools is a temporary circumstance in our lives.  Some of us have international school colleagues that move abroad to teach, and after their one and only international school posting, they are now living and happily working back in their home countries. Sure, there is a chance of them moving abroad again, but it likely to not happen again.  Many people look for stability in their lives, and many people ultimately find that stability back in their home countries.

For other international school educators, when they start working at international schools, they can’t seem to get enough of this life.  Working at international schools and moving from country to country can be very addictive.  10 total people out of 23 voted that they will be working at international schools 7-10 more years and even maybe for forever!  The salaries/benefits, work conditions and standard of life must be quite attractive for these people. If things are going well and you are not having to worry about money, why not choose to stay working at international schools?  It is nice to not have to worry about paying for housing or any utilities for example.  It is also maybe nice to not have to clean your house or wash your clothes as you may be able to hire a house keeper to do those things for you in your current position.  These people might have met their partner while living in their host country and now have decided to stay abroad for the long term!

Then there are the teachers that have made the all-important (and possibly difficult) decision to make this year their last one (3 people in our survey have said that this is what their future holds for them).  To say goodbye to the international school teaching world is sometimes not an easy decision to make.  Livin’ the ‘good life’ will soon be ending for you, and you may not ultimately want things to end.  Also, the anticipation of reverse culture shock is not necessarily welcomed with open arms.  Cringe!

On the other hand, your current situation might just be a very bad fit for you, enough of a bad fit that you have decided to not take the risk of working at another international school.  A very negative experience at one international school might have you come to the realization that this life really just is not a good fit for you.

Moving back home has it pros and cons, and one must look at them carefully.  One reason to not move back to many of the states in the United States is that the job market for teachers is not so good right now.  There are many, many teachers applying for one position still right now.  Hopefully as the U.S. economy improves, more money for staffing and for school districts in general will become available which may lead to more jobs for prospective teachers.  I think the same thing is happening at many international schools right now.  Many international schools are looking for and actually finding more families with children to attend their school.  More students typically means a higher need for more staffing.  How nice would it be if the power was back in the candidate’s hand at the recruitment fairs; more options and opportunities for us!

There are many factors to consider when deciding to stay abroad or move back home.  Knowing about what kinds of teachers work at an international school and the average staff turnover rate can prove to be helpful information to know; just to see what others are doing who maybe from the same country and situation as you.  Luckily on International School Community, we have a School Information section in the comments and information part of each school’s profile page that discusses this very topic.

• Describe what kinds of teachers work here (local vs. expat, nationality, qualifications [or lack there of], etc.) and staff turnover rate.

There have been many comments and information submitted in this topic on numerous school profiles on our website.

One International School Community member said about working at Khartoum International Community School: “You will find a range of teachers from New Zealand to Canada, via UK, Egypt, Palestine, South Africa, Australia, France and more. Most teachers are expat hire. Local hire teachers are well qualified. The school is still only 7 years old so turnover rate is hard to reflect on. It ranges from 1-7 years at current time.”

Another member said about working at Tsinghua International School (Beijing): “Can’t really comment too much on this as things may have changed. When I was there lots of staff were from North America, but what could be called “old Chinese hands.” They’d lived in China a long time. Other staff were Chinese with American passports. All were great, but at the time, not many were what you’d think of as north American trained teachers. Very high turnover when I was there.”

Another member submitted a comment about working at Colegio Granadino Manizales: “The school has both Colombian and expat teachers. All of the expat teachers are North American and all are qualified teachers. The Colombian teachers are also well certified. There is not a high turnover rate at the school. Many expat teachers, though young, stay three or four years and some have been at the school much longer.”

So how many more years do you expect to keep teaching abroad at international schools? Please share what your plans are!

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

New Survey: How many more years do you expect to keep teaching abroad at international schools?

A new survey has arrived!

Topic:  How many more years do you expect to keep teaching abroad at international schools?

Now is the time of the school year already when you need to decide whether you are going to move on or not.  Maybe you are planning to stay for another year or two, maybe three or four years.  Maybe this is your last year and you are already planning on heading on to new adventures working at another international school.  Maybe, just maybe, this is your last year teaching abroad.  Due to foreseen or unforeseen circumstances, your time working at international schools is either over or temporarily put on hiatus.

It is difficult to predict the future of your life and your career, especially when you are an international school teacher.  One moment you are saying to people that you are going to stay a minimum of four years at your new school that you just moved to, a few months later you find yourself telling people this might be your last year.  One moment things are going really well at your new job and you are learning tons and growing as a teacher, yet another moment there are things happening that are telling you it is not truly a good fit for you anymore.

You might find yourself falling in love with your host city, making you want to stay longer.  You also might be finding yourself second-guessing whether you see yourself in your host city long term; there are other expat teachers at your school that have made your host city their home, but that future does not seem to be a reality in your life.

Us international school teachers go through many emotions while working abroad.  We use these emotions as indicators on whether we should continue on in our current post or not.  Unfortunately, all these emotions can sometimes be confusing to interpret.  We also get influenced by the other expat teachers that we are working with.  How long are they staying?  What are the reasons they have for deciding to stay or to move on?

Many prospective teachers are very keen to know the staff turnover rate at an international school.  Even though turn over is actually quite common at international schools, there might be a correlation between an overly high turnover rate and your fate at that school if you indeed sign a contract to work with them.  It is important to remember though that everyone is different and can have very different experiences working at the same school.  Ask around though; contact people who currently work there or have worked there in the past on International School Community.  The more information your know, the better indicators you will get about a school’s turnover rate and reasons teachers move away from that school.  Could your current international school be the last one you work at?

But when is it all over for you, this wonderful time that we enjoy working abroad at international schools? For many of us, there is eventually a time when something is telling you it is over.  It is definitely a challenge to continue on for years and years as an international school teacher.  Could we really work at six, seven, eight different international schools in our teaching career?  Even though we love the challenge of living abroad in a foreign land and experiencing a new culture firsthand, to continue in this lifestyle choice could have it limits.

So, how many more years do you expect to keep teaching abroad at international schools?  Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today!  You can check out the latest voting results here.

Survey results are in: Where are you spending your ‘extra’ money while teaching abroad?

The survey results are in, and it seems as if most visitors and members of International School Community who voted are spending their ‘Extra’ money on traveling, clothes and food.

I guess it comes as no surprise that international school teachers are traveling a lot.  If we have the time and means to do it, then we often take advantage of this time in our lives (because it might not last for ever!).  We love the fact that we are getting more time for holidays throughout the school year (than maybe you would be getting in your home country).  Some international schools are also celebrating up to three countries’ national holidays!  Being that many of us don’t have family living where we are currently living in the world, there is sometimes no good reason to stick around our host city during our vacation time.  When holiday time comes around, we are all asking each other “Where are you traveling to?”

At one point in my international school teaching career, I was traveling so much that I was averaging 12 new countries a year!  New countries!  And I was at a placement with the lowest salary of my teaching career.  I guess then it all depends on your location in the world and how well that city’s airport is connected to other cities in the world.  Sometimes the cost of living in the city can play a factor as well to how much money you have left over for traveling.  If you pay rent in your current placement, having a roommate too can help you put more of your earnings towards traveling instead of a higher monthly rent that you would be paying if you were living by yourself.

There are many factors to consider.  Knowing about all this information about traveling before you sign a contract can quite important then…that is if traveling is one of your top priorities while living abroad.  Luckily on International School Community, we have a Travel Section in the comments and information part of each school’s profile that discusses this very topic.  There are four topics in this section:

• Sample travel airfares from host city airport to destinations nearby.

• Describe proximity of major airport hubs to the city center and give sample taxi, train, subway and/or bus fares to get there.

• Popular travel websites to buy plane tickets or tours that are popular for expats living in the city and/or country.

• Places to travel to outside the city by bus or train.

There have been many comments and information submitted in the Travel Section on numerous school profiles on our website.

One International School Community member said about working at American School of Barcelona: “It is easy to get to almost every European city from Barcelona for a decent price. You do have to shop around and it is better to book ahead. A flight from Barcelona to the east coast of the USA at Christmas costs around 500-900 Euros.”

Another member said about working at American School of Asuncion: “It is very difficult to travel on a regular weekend, since Asuncion is basically in the middle of nowhere, and flights to the closest cool cities (Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro) are expensive. It is also becoming more and more pricey with the Visas required for Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. They range from $60-140.”

Another member submitted a comment about the traveling opportunities while working at Kodaikanal International School: “KIS is fortunate in having a fully staffed Travel Office to coordinate student, staff and community travel. Our travel partner ‘Around the World Travel’ is an India-wide agency with decades of experience in providing national and international travel options to and from KIS.”

We also have other comments and information topics in the City Section of the school profile pages that are related to clothing and food.  One of these topics covers the best places in your host city to find good deals on clothing and other shopping.  We all can benefit from hearing about places that are good to go to versus spending time and energy going to ones that aren’t so good in our host city.

For those international school teachers that put going out to eat a lot as a top priority while living abroad, there are also topics that discuss the best places in the city to go out to eat.  We even have a topic that is about restaurants that appeal to the expat community living in that host city (we all want a little ‘familiar’ food every now and then!).

Some of us spend our ‘extra’ money buying imported goods.  Typically the food sold in the local expat grocery store is at a very high price, prices you would never pay if you were living in your home country.  But because of the ‘extra’ money that many international school teachers have while living abroad, we can afford buying these products. Well we can often buy these high-priced products, but maybe not live on these products!

So what are ou spending your ‘extra’ money on while living abroad?  With the appeal of being able to travel to most places in the world and being able to go out to eat more often, it is indeed difficult to save your ‘extra’ money at times.  According to the survey results though, there are some international school teachers that are saving their money.  Some schools actually force you to save in a way, when they transfer part of your salary into your home country bank account while they transfer another part into your local bank account.  Typically you can live on the money transferred into your local account, letting you save the money in your home country bank account very easily and make is ‘less accessible’ to spend too!

To save or not to save…that is the question!

New Survey: Where are you spending your “extra” money while teaching abroad?

A new survey has arrived!

Topic:  Where are you spending your “extra” money while teaching abroad?

You tell your old teacher-friends from your home country about it.  It is the one thing you can boast about as it is not so common probably in your home country: A teacher having “extra” money.  International school teachers really do have an opportunity (in most placements) to be making “extra” money, some placements more than others.

Because you typically don’t need to have a car and sometimes don’t need to pay for your rent (among many other things that take a big cut out of your paycheck each month), international school teachers have some discretionary income for sure.  In some international schools, the percentage of your income that is discretionary can be over 50%!

Most teachers I know specifically go into the International School Community to make money.  Many of us have a good opportunity to make this extra money and then are able to do what we really would like to do with our lives.  Now this could mean many things to different people, thus our survey question.

Do you like to spend your extra money on traveling, new clothes (or getting them make for you) and going out to eat all the time?

Or maybe you are teaching abroad to increase the money in you savings account in your home country?

Are there any international school teachers out there donating their extra earnings?

On www.internationalschoolcommunity.com, each school profile page has a topic under the City section that is specifically about the places you can go and spend your extra money.  It is called:

Places, markets and stores where you can find really good deals.


Copenhagen International School

We have another topic on each school profile page under the Travel section that is specifically about how much traveling costs in that city in the world.  It is called:

Sample travel airfares from host city airport to destinations nearby.


American School of Barcelona

Finally, if you are into saving money while teaching abroad at international schools, we have a topic in our Benefits section on each school profile page about saving potential. It is called:

Average amount of money that is left to be saved

American School of Asuncion

There have been 100s of comments and information already submitted in these topics on numerous school profile pages on our website.  Log-on today to check out the latest comments related to how teachers are spending their “extra” money while teaching abroad.  If you currently work at or have worked at an international school, please also log-on and share what you know about how you and your colleagues spend their extra money.

So, Where are you spending your “extra” money while teaching abroad?  Go to the homepage of International School Community and submit your vote today!  You can check out the latest voting results here.

Survey results are in – How many countries have you traveled to so far this year? (in 2011)

The survey results are in, and it seems as if most visitors and members of International School Community have been to 1-3 countries in 2011.  We were thinking that people would have traveled to more countries as a typical international school teacher travels many times throughout the year, especially during winter and summer holidays.  Maybe we will do this survey again at the end of 2012 and see if we get similar results.

There are many reasons though why international school teachers decide not to travel so much, and one of those reasons is to save money.  Even though the international school teacher lifestyle affords us many opportunities and enough salary to travel and to travel often, traveling is still not that cheap.  The price of the flight and the hotel, plus the cost of going out to eat 2-3 times a day can add up pretty quick and soon you are spending 500-600 USD for a 4-6 day vacation to a city in Europe (for example).

In the near future International School Community will have new member profile pages, and you will be able to make a map of where you have traveled to in the world.  You will also be able to state where you will be traveling to next.  One way international school teachers get inspired to travel is by hearing about the travels of their colleagues.  Sometimes you get good ideas on where you might want to travel to next.  So, stay tuned for when we update our website in 2012.

Related to traveling…a great traveling website that we have subscribed to is the matadornetwork.com website.

We have highlighted entries from their website in these blog entries of ours:

Highlighted article: 6 countries that aren’t really countries!

Three Job Fairs, Three Jobs: An International Teacher Hiring Saga

Great link – 10 Steps to Becoming Fluent in a Language in 6 Months or Less

So, what countries are we going to travel to in 2012?  For many of us, the options are endless really.  Go on safari in Africa?  Go see the pyramids in Egypt?  Spend a week on a beach in Thailand?  Ah, the life of international school educators!  If you are an international school teacher and keep a blog about your travels, contact us at admin@internationalschoolcommunity.com and we will highlight it on our website.  We will also give you a coupon code to receive one extra free month of premium membership to our website.