Best Schools for Professional Development

pd48724094In terms of Professional Development, ISR’s School Reviews reveal there are two extremes to what international schools offer their faculty.

Schools with a focus on Professional Development often offer fully paid trips to 3-day conferences that include keynote speakers, classes, workshops and social/networking activities that round out the event and unite international teachers.  Some PD-oriented schools pay for flights to the venue, reimburse for accommodations, and offer an additional per diem for meals.  We’ve heard of schools that also offer grants to attend courses around the world during the summer months and allow teachers to pick and choose which program would benefit them most. Other schools pay for teachers to pursue a Masters or Doctoral degree. Regardless, it appears that most schools offering excellent PD include the details in the signed contract or handbook of benefits.

Of course, the opposite extreme and utter lack of PD opportunities is found at some international schools. These schools won’t even grant you time off from teaching to attend a workshop or conference on your own dime.  Such schools actually discourage teachers from advancing their knowledge and skills.  Worse yet are schools that dangle the promise of opportunities for PD at interview time but refuse to include them in the contractual agreement. You can guess what happens next.

Keeping with our mantra of Teachers Keeping Each Other Informed, we’d like to invite you to share your experiences regarding Professional Development at your school. We encourage you to include the name of your school in an effort to help as all find the best PD opportunities available.

Consider these questions:

– Does your school provide opportunities for Professional Development? If so, what “strings” are attached, if any?

– Does your school keep its word and follow through on what was originally offered and contracted regarding Professional Development? Were PD promises that were made at interview time fulfilled?

– Apart from Professional Development, what does your school do to keep teachers current and up-to-date with advances in educational thought  (IB and AP classes, for example)?

– In your opinion, does the inclusion of contractually-offered Professional Development appear to be increasing or decreasing?

We hope you’ll join in the discussion and Share your experiences with schools that do, and do not, offer international teachers Professional Development.

25 Responses to Best Schools for Professional Development

  1. klteacher says:

    I work at TISKL in Kuala Lumpur, and the PD provision is excellent. With regards to external CPD opportunities, all teachers have the chance to attend conferences (eg. Vietnam Tech Conference, Google Summits, etc), go to ‘Teacher Meet’ professional-sharing sessions involving nearby schools, and undertake online and face-to-face training from the exam board as necessary. (When I say “all teachers have the chance…”, that doesn’t mean that all teachers go to all events, but it means we all have equal access and exposure. Decisions about who should attend what are made transparently and fairly). In-house, there is a programme of sharing and up-skilling based around the principles of the Quantum Learning system.

    I have have more effective and impactful CPD in the 5 years I have been at this school than in the rest of my preceding 19 years put together!


  2. Mike says:

    I am very fortunate that I work at a school in the Netherlands, a very special school. PD opportunities abound … more even than were offered at interview. I have been on 2 trips out of the country, and 5 online course as well as in-house PD too … all this in my first year! The school/Dutch education system will support you with your fees when doing a Masters course (distance learning) as well .. so that is on the cards. Educationally, pedagogically, the school is very forward-thinking and encouraging of new and creative teaching ideas that enrich the learning experiences for the students!! I know, right …? Sounds to good to be true … yet it all is!


  3. Anonymous says:

    I’m at Haileybury International School Tianjin right now and was promised PD in the interview process. When I arrived I soon found out that PD was mandatory one hour a week however it is not PD at all. Instead it is a very disorganized and pointless meeting that is disrespectful of teacher time. Do not be fooled by the promises in interviews, make sure you check with other teachers or ask more detailed questions.


  4. Wogsalg boy says:

    The international School of the Bahamas offers excellent PD, if you are married to the Principal or a close friend of said.


  5. Anonymous says:

    ACS Abu Dhabi has great PD. Each teacher gets a set amount per year but I have never been refused when I ask to go to a conference out of country or to do an online course.


  6. Anonymous says:

    PD at my current school in Peru is excellent. They allocate a whopping budget towards it. I have had more opportunities here than anywhere else I’ve worked.


  7. 2013Calendar says:

    The American School in Japan, Tokyo provides many opportunities for PD. I think it does offer some funding for courses or conferences, but last year discouraged people requesting money to travel to conferences especially during the teaching year. It starts the year off with two days of intense all faculty workshops that are with highly paid educational experts. After school starts the impetus of the PD completely evaporates and the school is on to the next latest “thing.” Teachers are expected to put time in over the summer to read books for this PD session and think of ways to incorporate the information into their instructional program But teachers are so cynical about the constant fads, they just go through the motions. It was announced that financial assistance is available for coursework, but it’s not clear how to access money or who to contact. There is no time given for in-house professional development of technology skills or other things that I have seen offered in much smaller schools. In addition to the supposed “school wide” PD, each division has its own areas of focus and expectations. There is the expectation that teachers should serve on several committees, so teachers are extremely busy. Professional and collaboration time days are offered every few weeks in which teachers have a full afternoon, but they often can’t devote that time to any professional development because they are so busy in committee meetings. I’ve heard that some divisions prohibit teachers from working individually during this time and little to no time is provided for departmental meetings or curriculum development either. I think if you know how to work the system you can further yourself, but most teachers struggle to keep up with the scattered demands in a top-down system. A system which provided $1000 per annum for individuals has been done away with. Likewise a fantastic teacher-led and run instructional strategy group, which provided opportunities for teacher-to-teacher collaboration and observation has been done away with.


  8. Jim says:

    I work at Berlin Brandenburg International School and I have to say I have had great PD opportunities in the last 12 months: one an MYP course abroad and two excellent inhouse courses: Brief Solutions Focused Therapy and the ESL in The Mainstream Trainers course. This is one of our schools strengths as courses are recommended to you by management.


  9. Anonymouse says:

    Not an international SCHOOL, but an international teacher EMPLOYER, CfBT (Brunei) are somewhere in the middle when it comes to provision of CPD. If you wish to undertake a Masters, DELTA or ICELT, they will contribute significantly towards the costs involved. You are not entitled to an time off work, however, to complete assignments or study. Nor are you offered the opportunity to attend conferences other than the BELTA (Brunei Eng Lang Teachers Assoc) conference that happens biennially, and you have to pay your own conference fees. Beyond these offerings, though, CPD opportunities are not really much cop…and don’t look to the school you’re posted to for meaningful PD either.


    • Anonymous says:

      Just to confirm with the post above, as someone who currently works for CFBT Brunei and doing a Masters, they have contributed nothing to it, even though I was told they would on interview. I brought this up with the manager and was told I would be given 1000BND (the course costs 16000 USD) if I completed an article which they would publish and they would own the rights to. NO THANKS!!!


  10. At Riffa Views International School in Bahrain you get $1000 a year (you can bank it for 2 years so you have $2000 for expensive or far away things). It can be used during the year or in the summer on workshops, conferences, masters and doctoral programs etc. The money can be used to pay conference registration fees, flights, hotels (up to $165 a night), food (up to $60 a day), cabs to and from the conference, and professional resources like books or magazine subscriptions. You pay the money up front and then the school reimburses you for all of it (kind of a slow process, takes about 3-4 weeks). It’s a pretty good policy, I’ve been to some really great conferences and some of my friends have had a decent chunk of their Masters programs paid for.

    Occasionally they also offer free PD at school like Teaching ESL in the Mainstream Classroom courses or Skype PD workshops. They also offer to pay for workshop registration fees if it’s something that they really want you to be trained in, for example 2 years ago they paid for a group of us to go to Dubai to a workshop without using our PD money because it was something that they wanted to us all to know and be trained to teach.


  11. Bob Bieniek says:

    I teach at Concordia International School Shanghai and feel we have a great professional development package. Up front each teachers gets a bit over $1600 to spend annually on PD. This is in addition to $100 for classroom supplies that can be used for apps. The school is very generous about granting days to attend conferences, workshops, etc. You are also allowed to link two years together: For example, may teachers have attended Columbia’s Readers and Writers Workshop over the summer and were able to cover a week in NYC with their two year allotment. PD is supposed to be aligned with school goals, but self improvement is always considered a goal.


  12. Anonymous says:

    GNIS China has a ridiculous PD, mandatory policy. It’s off campus PD offer is best stated as non-existant unless you are part of the in crowd.


  13. Brian says:

    Colleagues, please name your schools (and include the time frame when you had your experience). The hiring season is coming up and your information may be useful for those who are seeking new positions. But without the name of the school, this will just be a rant thread and of little to no value.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Joe Scmo says:

    Most schools I have worked at offer a personal PD fund (500-1000), plus school sponsored PD and departmental PD. Another school paid for the majority of my Masters degree.


  15. second time around says:

    I’ve been back in the States for some years now so I won’t name my schools since I’m sure things have changed. But, about 7 or 8 years ago two of my schools did everything they could to help us advance our careers through professional development. They flew us to conference and paid for everything except the hotel. In the summer months they sprang for course fees, including travel expenses. I have the feeling those days may be over based on what I read in the ISR reviews. I’ve been teaching in the States and PD is offered big time at my current job. Of course it’s mandatory to complete so many hours of PD to keep my credential current. When I was overseas, the PD hours I accumulated were accepted by California when it came time to renew my credential.


  16. PRKL says:

    I have worked internationally and the problem always has been lack of PD courses in English locally. They are too cheap to pay the days off to go places where there are some courses in English. I am back in the US teaching and I have to say that the lack of PD is the one thing that made me feel stifled as a teacher the two years I was living abroad. I didn’t grow AT ALL and it is the biggest reason I came back.


    • Flightless says:

      I hear you!! Have been teaching internationally for 3yrs now, and am mindful that I have learned NOTHING useful that I can take forward with me into my next role. It’s frustrating, and I feel a bit disillusioned… I wouldn’t mind so much if I had even had the opportunity to use here the full skill set that I arrived with, but I don’t. I teach at the baseline of my knowledge and ability most of the time 😦


  17. I AM BOG says:

    Our school falls into the ‘utter lack of’. It’s a great school in many other ways, but this is not one of them. We have pro-ds, but they are generally weak, don’t have any follow through and lack the expertise to really deliver them effectively. Everyone is usually in the school pool by 1pm – pro-d over.


    • Anonymous says:

      Please read the purpose of this thread. It is to help colleagues gain information about which specific schools are good…and bad. Its not the place for a rant if you don’t identify the school as its not helping anyone!


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