MOOCs for Professional Development

August 29, 2013

learning6874555We just discovered MOOCs and are excited to pass on what we’ve learned to our ISR readers! Massive Open Online Courses, known as MOOCs, are usually free and support worldwide interactive participation. Along with traditional course materials such as lectures and visual tools, MOOCs provide interactive forums that build online communities of students and instructors. We were delighted to learn MOOCs are often sponsored by some prestigious universities. Read More

On the popular Canvas Network, MOOCs run the gamut from American Counter-Terrorism Law to topics of particular interest to International Educators. Here’s some courses we thought ISR readers may want to pursue:

• Teaching Diverse Students Online

• X-Word Grammar: The Simple Sentence

• Task-based Language Teaching with Digital Tools

• Risk Management in Higher Education: Student Issues

• Learning Beyond Letter Grades

.• Digital tools for the K-12 educator

• Statistics in Education for Mere Mortals

• Ethics and Values in a Multicultural World

The Canvas Network is just one of a handful of MOOCs popping up. Edx features courses from Berkley, Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Udacity and Coursera are other online networks well worth a look. You may need to spring for a $40 – $60 text book, but that’s it.

If you’ve been wondering how to advance your career from overseas, or just looking for a way to pass those long weekends at the “outpost”, here’s your answer.

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School Daze in China

August 29, 2013

Dear ISR, I just moved to China and have to tell you that this is my very first experience out of Australia and I’m in over my head. I came here expecting one thing and got another. Nothing is as the director said it would be at the conference. I feel super deceived and don’t know what to do.

My apartment is small and in a not-so-good part of town. No one around me speaks a word of English and they stare at me as if I were from another planet. Actually, I’m starting to feel like I am from another planet. The food is strange, the air stinks, my eyes hurt and I already know this isn’t going to be good for my allergies.

The director painted a picture of a garden spot–this is a hell hole. Now what? I’m sure my experience is not unique. I wish I had discovered your web site before I took this job. Has anyone at ISR been in this position? I could use some advice!

The Fatal Faux Pas

August 22, 2013


  by Michelle / ISR Columnist

Universal consensus has it that our world is rapidly becoming smaller and smaller with communication and news now available to everyone, everywhere at every single moment of our lives. But for international teachers, new locales and near continuous worldwide travel sets us up for some truly susceptible and embarrassing moments where it might take days for the blushing to stop. Here’s one such story:

The school year was about to begin at this, my second international school. A few days earlier the board arranged a PR event (with newspaper photographers and reporters) to introduce new students and their families to the community, while also spotlighting the new faculty. All of us new teachers joined the families on stage to present our brightest and most eager smiles for the photographers before the social activities to follow.

As everyone was getting situated on stage I noticed a child who looked to be about a second grade student hidden behind the adults. Gently but firmly I ushered this child toward the front of the group, thinking that surely the parents and this shy child would want to be included in the photo. I looked up, smiled and said to the parents standing nearby, “Your little girl is so lovely. I’m sure you’d want her to be in front, yes?” My comment was met with deadpan stares and silence as the photographer continued his clicking racket without pause. The child moved forward and looked up at me with gorgeous eyes and a slow, easy smile.

Once the photographers were finished we left the stage, back to the front rows of the gathering to listen to the congratulatory speeches as another teacher leaned forward to hiss in my ear, “That is a boy. His family is Sikh. The covering over his hair is part of their religion.” Oh. My. God. At that point I wanted to melt into my seat, hoping desperately for a nearby hole to crawl into.

His long hair, gathered into a topknot and enclosed with a small elasticized bonnet, along with those long, wickedly beautiful eyelashes had completely fooled me. For days I remained embarrassed, thinking my colleagues must be positive I’d just fallen off the cultural turnip-truck. It was a rocky start to a new country, a new school, and new set of colleagues.

Whether it’s awkward social situations, miscommunications in the local language, or a world of other hurts large and small, we’ve all experienced the occasional embarrassing situation. Stay in touch with your colleagues around the world to compare notes on how to keep yourself out of fatal faux pas disasters, here on ISR!

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Censorship in U.S. Schools?

August 15, 2013

nomorewar3310920bigDuring the past weeks ISR has featured articles focused on schools that don’t stand up for teachers who are confronted by wealthy/powerful parents and/or over–privileged children. Of the many teachers who commented on this topic via our ISR Blogs, most were in agreement that living and teaching in the Middle East could leave one open to unforeseen problems due to cultural differences. See: Schools That Throw Teachers Under the Bus and Guilty Until Proven Innocent.

To our surprise, it looks like the United States school system, at least in Washington state, has engaged in censorship that resonates loudly of the modus operandi so many international educators find objectionable about the Middle East.  Mary McNeil, a music teacher in the Seattle school system, asked students to create lyrics for a song. The last few lines of the song go: We are children of love…We are the children of the world… We don’t want war anymore. It was this last line of the song that the school principal wanted removed from the song.

Interestingly, the line in question was actually contributed by one of her students. To Mary’s credit, rather than compromise her principles for the principal, she resigned her position to the dismay of parents and students alike.

One could argue that teachers should leave their political views at home. As educators, however, are we not charged with teaching children to use their intellect rather than brawn? What could be more in line with the philosophy of education than singing We don’t want war anymore? We invite you to comment on this topic. We should add that this event took place some ten years ago, but the fact that it did take place is reason to give pause.

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Guilty Until Proven Innocent – by Dorje Gurung

August 8, 2013

dorje-medium“On May 2 they paraded me, in handcuffs, in front of five different prosecutors  in different rooms at the Public Prosecution office. I don’t know what the first four prosecutors and the guy taking me around exchanged between them – everything  was in Arabic. But, with the fifth one, they provided an English interpreter on my insistence. Otherwise it would have been Hindi or Urdu.

“The second trip to the Public Prosecution office on Sunday, May 5, I faced a prosecutor who spoke English. Again we had the same exchanges I had had the previous visit but with one important difference. I would have to produce witnesses in court to prove my innocence, he informed me. In other words, I was guilty unless I proved myself innocent.” Read more

The ISR Newsletter Archive

August 1, 2013

knowledge41985625Continuing our efforts to evolve ISR into an ever more valuable tool for researching International Schools and Administration, we have created a Newsletter Archive and have thus far indexed two years of ISR Newsletters. Now ISR readers can view Newsletters sequentially, along with the ability to flip back and forth between Newsletters and other site features. Whether you’re doing research, staying abreast of cutting-edge topics or catching up on Newsletters you may have missed, we think you’ll agree– the Newsletter Archive is a beneficial addition to the ISR web site. Take a test drive!