Now that you and your “better half” have landed your first overseas teaching positions, how do you tell your kids the family is moving to a foreign country? For middle-school/high-school aged kids in particular, the news could be traumatic. Join this conversation on the International Schools Review Forum. Registration is FREE and open to all!
I grew up in International Schools around the world and sat in classes with the children of ambassadors, nephews of dictators, the grandchildren of rebel leaders. From the age of 10, I traveled with my International Teacher parents to locations in the world that most American children couldn’t find on a map. My classmates were the cream of the international crop and I, by association, was given the opportunity to dwell in their gilded world. At the end of the day though, they were rich and spoiled and I was just the kid of the hired help, fine to play with, but not to make life-long connection with.
After years of living the jet-set life and coming home to a house with a housekeeper, driver and gardener, it was a rude awakening for me to return to America after graduation. I had nowhere near the finances to live as I once had and the other students couldn’t relate to my life in any way. I still, to this day, have conversations with new acquaintances where I can watch the person I am speaking to realize that we have no common ground to stand on. Being a third-culture individual can be a lonely life at times, even once you’re back on home turf.
Now, 15 years later, I’m a teacher with kids of my own. My husband, also a teacher, floated the idea recently of trying International Teaching. Our area in the mid-West U.S. is constantly experiencing budget cuts and layoffs and he thinks the move would be good for us economically. I’m concerned that by taking our daughters to an International School, I could be setting them up for the same future solitary lifestyle. The benefits are clear (better pay, better education, travel, exposure to new cultures) but I worry that the lifestyle of an International Educator could have long-lasting negative effects on our children’s lives.
Maybe some ISR readers have direct experience with this and would share their advice with me? Thanks ISR. Keep up the great work!!
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In August of 2013, ISR published an Article titled, How Supportive of Special Needs Students is Your School? In this Article we included a list that names The Next Frontier Inclusion Foundation‘s 50 charter-member schools. Next Frontier Inclusion, in their own words, is a “non-profit organization that supports international schools in becoming more inclusive of students with special educational needs and exceptional talents.” Since 2013, The Next Frontier Inclusion has attracted scores more member-schools and been instrumental in helping schools world-wide in the area of inclusion.
Yesterday, new comments appeared on the Blog accompanying the above mentioned article. The comments were written by a parent seeking advice on an inclusive placement for his 10-year old child. Included in his remarks the parent tells how the American International School Jeddah (a charter member of Next Frontier Inclusion) rejected his child’s enrollment application due to “‘mild motor’ issues that require the aid of a nanny as a safety factor in the restroom.” We don’t know the entire story, but these comments troubled us and gave pause for thought.
Here is a copy of the parent’s comments:
“Dear Sir, I am in Jeddah. My child is 10 years old…he has mild motor difficulty that makes him need little assistance at the toilet for safety…he is mentally fine…he passed his grade 3 in Massarat school…a very good school for inclusion, very helpful and understanding…but unfortunately they haven’t boy section (for older students)…so I looked for international school…all schools with boy section rejected my child for his toilet-issue…needs a nanny for support at the toilet, only for his safety…so I looked for international mixed boys and girls to accept the attendance of a female nanny…
This school was the American International school in Jeddah…they unfortunately rejected us as well saying that he should be totally independent…how this could be said from a school with inclusion???
I wrote to you, hopefully you can help me…because we couldn’t find a decent school for my near normal child…hasn’t he the right to be in a decent place?? To study, to play, to mingle and to be accepted????
Thanks for your time…but I think the American International school in Jeddah doesn’t deserve to be in that list of schools with inclusion…”
In 2013, comments posted to this very same ISR Blog reflect a similar reality expressed in the parent’s comments posted in 2016 (above). Here’s a few examples of 2013 comments:
“I have yet to see an international school with an appropriate and acceptable Special Needs program.”
“I’ve worked at 7 international schools and none of them had the least bit of services for special needs. In fact, the school did not identify these kids to us and left us on our own to figure out who was who.”
“New director seems bent on filling seats regardless of student needs and school’s ability to provide appropriate (or any) service.”
“I worked at a school in Khao Yai, Thailand and was asked to work there as a Special Educator. It was interesting, once I started identifying students in the program as possible Sped Kids, I was told my contract would not be renewed…Oh yes this was after they got their certification first…”
With no intention of belittling the work of the The Next Frontier Inclusion Foundation or pointing a finger at American International School Jeddah, our question is: Are some International Schools simply masquerading as being “Inclusive” as a means to adding a more humanistic, caring mask to an otherwise purely profit-motivated operation? ISR School Reviews relate many incidences of International Schools flaunting the PYP, MYP, AP, IB, Best Practices, etc. as a means of attracting clients, but without completely subscribing to or meeting the requirements of the programs. Could the same be true of Inclusion?
…When choosing a school for your next career move, it’s well worth the effort to research potential long-term effects a location may have on your health. Whether it’s air quality issues, the very real potential to contract malaria in areas that don’t practice vector control, heavy-metal poisoning from bathing in/consuming lead-tainted water, pesticide-laden produce, or exposure to spit on the sidewalk, the lack of environmental consciousness in both developed and developing nations can have serious, long-term effects on your health. And, of course, the resulting problems are especially potent in children, pets, and those with compromised immune systems.
…Tainted water or the potential to become mosquito bitten will keep very few of us from accepting an overseas teaching position. But the air we breathe, the tainted food that’s the only food available, streets littered with garbage and its attending vermin, are most definitely causes for concern and reconsideration. Air pollution, such as seen in China and even Los Angeles, has been positively linked to higher instances of asthma, respiratory complications, skin problems and some forms of cancer. And we all know the problems associated with lead plumbing and mercury found on produce.
…ISR recommends researching more than just a school and the local tourist sights. We’re all concerned about our health and each have a different threshold for what’s considered an acceptable/tolerable environmental situation. Air quality index, pesticide regulations, water quality standards, sanitary practices and pollution levels may be more than just potential inconveniences for some —- they could have major, long-term health consequences for both you and your family.
We invite you to use this Blog to ask questions and share information on the health concerns associated with living in locations around the world.
Finding yourself overseas, cut off from meds and treatments you need is an emergency best avoided. So…If you live with a chronic health condition requiring periodic medical care and/or daily medication, do take the time to research medical procedures and medications available in what may soon become your new host country.
Diabetes, hyper-tension, high cholesterol and a host of other nagging yet common conditions are readily treated in most corners of the globe. If, however, you’re living with a less common condition that could be outside the expertise of the medical community at your destination, you’re advised to research whether the treatments you require will be available.
If it is specialty meds you require, bring a hefty supply with you overseas and do this even if the drug is available at your destination. It’s not uncommon for supplies to become exhausted in some locales and shipping networks can and do break down. Don’t count on having your prescription mailed to you, either. Customs duties can be ridiculously absorbent and the time your meds spend in customs may be long….too long!
On a similar note, a member writes: When I returned to the States from the African continent last Christmas, I soon discovered I had contracted a nasty tropical disease. Feeling worse by the minute and dealing with a wide range of ugly effects, I was not able to get it treated in my North American city of 650,000 inhabitants as it was, obviously, an uncommon disease in this part of the world. Fortunately I had brought meds back with me at the suggestion of our school nurse who advised all teachers to bring a supply ‘just in case.’ Lesson learned: Don’t take anything for granted! Lack of available care and/or medicine can happen anyplace in the world.
This brings us to the topic of health Insurance. Normally, schools purchase what is known as “group insurance.” This means that one or two members of the group with a costly pre-existing conditions can and do cause the overall price for the group to soar. Health issues can be a deterrent when schools consider teachers for employment. If you do have a pre-existing health issue, thoroughly read the school’s health insurance policy to be sure your condition is covered. Don’t take anything for granted, or the word of anyone telling you…”I think it’s covered.” ISR Reviews attest to teachers who found themselves overseas with a costly condition not covered by their school’s health Insurance policy. As always, we recommend research and the sharing of information and experiences. International Teachers Keeping Each Other Informed is what ISR is All About!
We invite you to post questions and comments concerning
medical issues as they relate to the International Teaching experience.
Just days ago, ISR received a letter from The Next Frontier Inclusion (NFI). We’re delighted to learn NFI is committed to supporting Special Needs Students in International Schools. This is the first such organization of its kind of which we are aware. A copy of the letter from Gill & Ochan Powell of NFI is posted below.
You’ll notice the letter includes a list of schools already affiliated with NFI & it looks like they’re off to a strong start. Of course, we all know there can be a huge chasm between word & deed, & for International Educators seeking positions at new schools, it may be useful to know to what extent individual schools actually do support Special Needs Students.
Reviews on ISR reveal scenarios in which Special Needs Students are tossed into the mainstream student population & potentially left to sink or swim. Without question, this approach drastically impacts everyone, students, families, teachers, admin & classmates, alike. Surprisingly, some schools consider this sink or swim “method” their full commitment to services for Special Needs Students.
Also to be considered are cultures that keep Special Needs Students in the background & out of sight as if they are a source of embarrassment. How Special Needs Programs would function in these societies should be of concern to International Educators, as schools may simply pay lip service to Special Needs Programs as a means to collect exorbitant fees from unsuspecting parents.
Of course, there are many schools earnestly implementing programs to meet the needs of Special Needs Students. But before considering an International school for your child or your International teaching career, everyone should be aware of the extent to which Special Needs Students are supported at that school. Is this a sink or swim school, or a supportive environment in which to grow & develop as a teacher &/or a student?
To help identify schools committed to the unique requirements of Special Needs Students, we invite ISR readers to share their knowledge about the dedication to Special Needs Programs made by schools on the Next Frontier Inclusion list, below. If you have experience with a school not on the list, please also feel free to inform colleagues on that particular school.
Together we can identify & support the schools truly helping Special Needs Students.
We hope the school year has started well for you. From a reading of the “roll call” on AISHnet and Headnet, it would seem that international schools are flourishing, with many seeing record levels of enrollment and expansion.
The purpose of this news release is to keep you abreast of some of the developments in The Next Frontier Inclusion, Thinking Collaborative, EAF Staff Development Center and some new publications that may be of interest. Please feel free to share this newsletter and any of the attachments.
The Next Frontier Inclusion (NFI) is a non-profit organization that supports international schools in becoming more inclusive of students with special educational needs and exceptional talents. NFI membership is now over fifty international schools and growing. We are a collaborative group that meets periodically to share knowledge and experience with respect to inclusive education. Please visit our web site: Next Frontier Inclusion
The following schools have joined NFI:
American Int’l School of Dhaka
American Int’l School of Jeddah
American Int’l School of Johannesburg
American Int’l School of Rotterdam
American Int’l School of Vienna
American School of Brazzaville
American School of Chennai
American School of Dubai
American School of The Hague
American School of Yaounde
Anglo-American School Moscow
Bangalore Int’l School
Beacon Hill School, Hong Kong
Beijing City Int’l School
Berlin Brandenburg Int’l School
Bonn Int’l School
Casablanca American School
Colegio Gran Bretana
Concordia Int’l School Shanghai
Concordian Int’l School, Bangkok
Copenhagen Int’l School
Ecole Nouvelle Suisse de la Romande
Hong Kong Academy
Int’l Community School Addis Ababa
Int’l Community School, Amman
Int’l Community School, London
Int’l School of Ho Chi Minh City
Int’l School Basel
Int’l School of Bangkok
Int’l School of Beijing
Int’l School of Berne
Int’l School of Brussels
Int’l School of Dhaka
Int’l School of Havana
Int’l School of Kenya
Int’l School of Kuala Lumpur
Int’l School of Manila
Int’l School of Tanganyika
Int’l School of Zurich
Jakarta Int’l School
Kongsberg Int’l School
Metropolitan School of Panama
Nagoya Int’l School
Nanjing Int’l School
Phuket Int’l Academy Day School
Singapore American School
SJI Int’l School, Singapore
UNIS New York
Yokohama Int’l School
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