What’s Everyone Doing this Summer Vacation?

June 30, 2011

For me, the absolute greatest part of teaching and living overseas is the travel opportunities. From my current school it’s a quick, inexpensive, flight to just about anyplace in Europe.

Amid protests and guilt trips laid on me by family back home, I decided to travel this summer. My brother and his wife took over my house in the States years ago so returning “home” leaves me crashing on the couch or in the spare bedroom. An entire summer is just too long for everyone.

My first stop is Prague, I’ve rented a car and aside from the cost of gasoline I’m having the time of my life. I have a tent and a camp stove and plan to spend just one or two nights a week in hotels. I’m meeting people on summer holiday in camp grounds and really getting a feel for the people and places I’ve visited so far. I have no definite plans, just a map and lots of time.

I’m curious what other international teachers are doing this summer. I’m hoping ISR will post this letter so I can hear from other teachers traveling on summer break.

Thanks very much and have a great summer, Phil. / Tell us what YOU’re doing this summer


Why Did Tashkent Ulugbek International School Close?

June 23, 2011

The School Claims Uzbekistan’s Bureaucratic Obstacles were Too Great. Teachers Tell a Different Story. This Could Happen to ANYONE!

What the School Says:

We declare suspension of our educational services for safety and security reasons.

The Tashkent Ulugbek International School was founded in 1995 by the SilmEducational Corporation (%60) in cooperation with the Department of Diplomatic Services of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan (%40) and so far it has provided educational services that fully meet international standards. Our school is a regular member of ECIS (European Council of International Schools) as well as CIS (Council of International Schools) and it caters for students from twenty-four different nationalities from preschool through Year 12. Our school employs a fully international teaching staff selected from among qualified and experienced teachers from various countries such as Turkey, Uzbekistan, the UK, Canada, Australia, South Africa, the USA and India. Nonetheless, due to reasons which will be listed below, our corporation has had to discontinue all its educational services in Uzbekistan from 1 January 2011, without any purposeful bad intentions or meaning any harm to anyone.

1-    According to the current laws in Uzbekistan, shopping and making / receiving salary payments in a foreign currency are not permissible. Therefore, parents pay the school fees in Uzbek Sum and The National Bank of Uzbekistan is supposed to convert the amount that is needed for the salary payments of the school’s foreign staff and the money should officially be transferred in US Dollars to the related country. Ever since our school was founded in 1995, we have experienced serious delays and difficulties in converting and transferring our foreign teachers’ salaries; the final transaction we received was for the salaries of March 2009, which means our salaries have not been transferred for twenty-one months up until now, even though the money is available in our school’s Uzbek Sum bank account. When we contact the relevant bank, the answer we always get is “We are short of USD Dollars”. During this period we strived to maintain our educational services without delays and interruptions even though we were experiencing serious financial difficulties. It has financially become impossible to sustain the school as we strongly believe, with the help of our past experiences and observations, that these obscurities which are created by the current financial system will remain the same in the future as well; moreover the relevant authorities have always failed to provide any kind of assistance to us.

2-    As we have recently been hearing, foreign investors in the country are suffering from increasing negative attitude and ill-treatment such as numerous anti-terror teams’ assaults and inspections to ordinary business corporations (workers and staff of these corporations have been accused of possessing forbidden publications in their offices, which were in fact placed in secret by the above mentioned units prior to or during the inspections), difficulties that these people experienced in defending themselves, threatening the defense lawyers and forcing them to quit, unlawful imprisonment of some foreign staff and threatening of their families. Our corporation believes that our institutions are very much likely to be subject to similar pressures and we do have serious concerns about the safety and security of our services and staff alike.

3-    Bureaucratic obstacles in procedures such as permissions, customs clearance, transportation and payments that we had to deal with while importing educational materials; textbooks, laboratory equipment, computers etc.

Difficulties and bureaucratic procedures that we endured when we had to renew our work license due to the changes that took place in the educational system.

4-    It has become impossible to manage the risks that came along with the increasing problems and difficulties in the arrangements of our expatriate staff’s visa, registration, accommodation, flight tickets, health services and salary transfers. Although shopping and making payments in a foreign currency in the country are not permissible, we were directed to make payments in US Dollars for visas, registrations, rent of accommodations and some health services, which made these services impossible to receive.

5-    We have finally had to decide to suspend our educational services as we have serious concerns that unjust and unlawful ill-treatment, which a few other private educational institutions were subject to during their inspections (e.g. the language teaching centres faced accusation of extremism in December 2010), is very much likely to be directed against our schools as well.

We apologize for the inconvenience all this might have caused.

What the Teachers Say:
“The Turkish administration and staff fled ‘en masse’ at the end of December, without telling anyone beforehand (including the expat teachers). They notified the expatriate staff on Jan 6th, by sending them a poorly worded e-mail saying that our contracts had been abolished and if you were out of the country not to return and if you were in the country to leave. After promising to pay the teacher’s severance pay for January, they then reneged and refused to pay the teachers who were stranded here and who had no choice but to find a way to salvage their jobs…” Read reviews of this incident

BLOG this incident. Share your thoughts on the actions of the administration, teachers and ministry of education. Has anything similar that you know of taken place at other schools?


School Salaries Revealed

June 16, 2011

International schools often advertise that they offer a “competitive salary” or pay “on par with other international schools.” We’ve all seen the ads. Actual figures are rarely posted, and this is often because the salary scale (if there even is one) is so low it’s laughable and no experienced teacher would ever take it.

Recruiting fairs also tend to keep pay scales secret, often right up until the night before interviews begin. I remember anxiously awaiting my hot-off-the-press salary and benefits information for schools attending a fair slated to begin early the next morning. Why it took until 11pm the night before interviews made no sense…or maybe it did for schools paying so poorly that they’d prefer to keep it a secret!

To help resolve the problem of concealed pay scales, ISR has added a Salary Range field to our 16-point evaluation rubric that accompanies each school review. Beginning today, all new reviews will display this Salary Range entry:

Yearly salary range for teachers in US dollars

We value your opinions and ideas- ISR invites YOU
to Blog this topic


Going International with Special Needs Children

June 9, 2011

Submitted and written by ISR member:

Going International with a special needs child can make it tough to find a good school match, but it is well worth the search on the front-end because the consequences of having a poor match of schools can be devastating for your child.

Some schools flat-out state that teachers with kids who have any kind of learning differences or special needs, Need NOT Apply! This can be the danger of having an existing IEP and assuming it will be addressed in a competent manner.

Many  “need not apply” schools insist they are keeping a ‘high standard of education’ when in reality the teachers simply do not have a strong background in differentiated learning. The longer some educators have been teachers overseas, I have seen them hide behind the old fashioned instructional/traditional insistence that kids who learn differently are not capable of achieving great things when they have multiple strategies/assessments in their corners. Don’t be fooled. The best practice schools can manage a highly competitive IB or AP HS program and still maintain high expectations for kids with learning disabilities.

The state department uses some wonderful consultants through Families in Global Transitions. They are familiar with strong international academic support programs. You want to scour websites and read philosophies carefully. You need to ask extensive questions of existing staff because often those schools have experienced a turnover in academic support services.

Listen for that attitude of “all kids can learn and our job is to have have high expectations for them.” With the right environment, the small class sizes can be miraculous. In the wrong setting, when you add the transition stress and often the language differences, as well as your own adjustment and starting new jobs, settling in, and the dynamic of living in a fish bowl with your colleagues, it is hard to be the parent advocate the kids deserve.

With that said, however, the researches also say that the kind of lifestyle that opens up a kid’s mind and stretches their understanding of the world can also open up brain neurons they never knew they had.

We invite you to participate in this discussion, share information, ask questions and provide support.

Do feel free to list resources and the names of schools with comprehensive special needs programs. But school bashing is strictly prohibited and any such posts will be removed and the poster blocked.


Internet Pirates Extorting Thousands $$ from International Teaching Candidates

June 2, 2011

“Over the past several months, the International School of Stavanger, Norway has been challenged with a new and unpleasant phenomenon — being taken “virtual hostage” by internet pirates. We have learned some things along the way that may be of use to other school administrators, but equally importantly to international teaching candidates. “

“We do not seek sympathy by sharing the story, but rather seek to alert other schools and candidates. Schools may wish to consider how they will react if the same thing happens. The bad news for schools is while we are all vulnerable, there are few safeguards. But the good news for candidates is that by picking up some tips from what we have learned, they can potentially protect themselves from falling into the same trap.”  Here’s how candidates and schools can learn from our experience —

 by Dr. Linda M. Duevel,
Director/ International School of Stavanger, Norway

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