Teaching Lord Fauntleroy

November 29, 2012

We International Educators teach at thousands of schools across seven continents. We teach in every imaginable climate, in urban and rural settings, and in societies that range from predictably stable to utterly chaotic. Yet there is one detail that unites pretty much all of us no matter our tier, continent or subject area: We teach rich kids.

Some of us teach the top 25% of our host country’s socio-economic ladder. Some of us teach the top 1%. Some of us teach a slice of the global elite so exclusive their parents think nothing of flying to PTA meetings in their private Lear jets or gifting Rolex watches to faculty at the end of the year.

Even when a student’s family income wouldn’t turn a head back home in our own country, the family money is still many times what it would be for the majority of Chinese…or Bangladeshis or Indians or Africans. You get the picture.

Wealth facilitates a great deal of what we do, from the tuition money that keeps our schools running to the budgets that fund our departments to the salaries that put food on our tables and pay off our school debts–if you went to university in the US that is. Endowments give many international schools the freedom to make improvements to their facilities that would take significantly more time and paperwork in many state systems.

At the same time, affluent student populations present considerations we would be less likely to encounter in a state system back home. Students from affluent families may come to the classroom with unrealistic notions of how the world works and how it should serve them. They might be lulled into academic disengagement because they know, or have been told, their future is assured for them no matter the effort they put forth.

In this season of giving (and getting), let’s trade ideas on the perils and perks of being teachers and administrators of the affluent. The following questions strike me as important to tackle:

  How can we best realize the IB’s  goal of fostering “the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world” if our students are only interacting with a small percentage of that world?

  How can we teach for social justice when the true sacrifice required to achieve it would be unpalatable if not unthinkable to many members of the elite?

•  How can we teach socio-economic awareness across the curriculum?

•  How can service learning projects be meaningful, life-changing experiences instead of token charity work?

  How can administrators deal with particularly powerful parents?

  How can we instruct students and families that money, perhaps more than at any moment in the history of the planet, needs to be a force for creating good rather than a badge for advertising status?

Weigh in on this topic. Scroll down to post


Speaking About Bullying

November 1, 2012

 Crisis in the International Classroom

Bullying is a deservingly hot topic right now. It is not just physical aggression such as a kick or a surreptitious pinch. It is also behavior such as purposeful exclusion and saying hateful words to others. Bullying behavior is not just direct meanness, but also indirect meanness, such as when a child or group of children tells everyone not to play or interact with one child. Bullying is also destroying a child’s reputation and likeability via the Internet, know as cyber bullying.

 In a Bullying Questionnaire (Dr. Dan Olweus), 524,000 American elementary, middle, and high school students responded, anonymously. Nearly 20% of elementary school students reported they had been targets of bullying behavior at least two or three times during the past month and in that same study, between 5% and 10% of elementary school students admitted to bullying others two to three times in the past month.

It is especially alarming to learn how little we teachers know about bullying that occurs among the students we teach. In a Canadian study, researchers observed behavior on the playground and in classrooms, and recorded an incident of bullying behavior on average of every seven minutes. Adults intervened in only 4% of these incidents. Even more amazing is the fact that when they observed classrooms, researchers noted that adults intervened in only 14% of the incidents that happened when they were present, while 71% of these same adults reported that they “nearly always” intervened in bullying incidents.

ISR would like to start the Bullying Conversation here. Does your school have a policy in place to deal with Bullying, including Cyber-Bullying? Do parents and administrators get involved with identifying and stopping those who bully at your school? Have you found techniques that work in your classroom and/or the social areas of school (hallways, cafeteria, playground) to prevent bullying? Do you, as a teacher, see an increase in Bullying amongst international students?

Weigh-in now with your thoughts on Bullying in International Schools: Scroll to read/post comments


Host National Principal Vs Foreign Hire — Is One Better Suited for the Position?

August 30, 2012

Dear Dr. Spilchuk / ISR On Line Consultant

The issue of the principal being a host national as opposed to foreigner is a big debate here. As I am the only educator on the School Board, I battle sometimes about prioritizing the schools needs. As a result, I have been requested to write an analysis of the qualities of a successful international school, mainly the characteristics of a successful international school principal. I tend to stress the need for a native English speaker and a qualified foreigner in that position; solely because we haven’t found a host national who fulfills the leadership role properly AND speaks competent English

I’d like to know what qualities are the most valuable in a principal: e.g. nationality, language silks, educational background, good relations with the teachers, academic knowledge leadership skills, competing skills,  social networking, business skills, administration skills, etc. If you can give me  a prioritized list or general description, I would really appreciate it…Click HERE to read complete statement & Dr. Spilchuk’s response.

Scroll down to share your opinion on this topic.


Just4Parents

July 19, 2012

For those of us who are international educators with children, picking a school can be less about our career needs & much more about the package that best meets our children’s educational, emotional & social needs while in lands far from home & family support.

As parents, we want to know which schools are academically solid? What art/music/drama/extra-curricular/counseling programs are considered outstanding? What team sports can my children play? Which schools offer a top-notch education? Is the school population diverse–will my child make friends & be accepted? These are pertinent questions for international parents of students. The big question is, where do you find the answers?

Our newest ISR Blog, Just4Parents, was created specifically with YOUR need-to-know in mind. If you’re looking for a place with open discussions on specific schools, or a focus on more broad-reaching concerns to international parents of students, ISR encourages you to take advantage of the Just4Parents Blog. As expat parents we want to pave the way for our children with wise decisions. After all, our children are our most precious resource!


How Do I Get Outta Here?

May 17, 2012

ISR is receiving disturbing reports from teachers moving on to new schools at the end of this academic year. The word is, some teachers are receiving little, if any, guidance or support with the processes required to correctly and legally exit their current school and host country.

Teachers are reporting the following:

  • Information on school checkout policies is incomplete or non-existent, making it difficult, if not impossible, to complete the required procedures and receive final pay checks.
  • How to legally exit the country permanently has not been discussed at some schools, leaving teachers afraid they will encounter problems and/or detainment at the airport.
  • Information on how to make final payments to utility companies and/or landlords to assure no residual problems has not been covered.
  • Details on how to receive reimbursement for airfare and shipping of personal goods has not been shared with leaving staff.

What we’re hearing at ISR is some schools “wined and dined” teachers on their way in, but are now giving those same teachers the cold shoulder as they depart for new horizons. Left to one’s own devices in a foreign country, exiting safely and legally can be a daunting experience.

If you’re in this predicament and need advice, you’ll want to post your questions on the ISR,  How Do I Get Outta Here? Blog. Chances are another ISR reader has been at your school or lived in your host country and can offer advice. If you had a memorable experience departing a particular school in the past, you may want to share with colleagues so we can all avoid the same experience in the future.


Going Home to Stay

March 15, 2012

With the school year coming to a conclusion, some of us are anticipating moving home for more than just the summer recess. This transition can be both exciting and most certainly, daunting. There’s so much to consider and so many tasks to accomplish. It’s just like staring over! Fortunately, advice and comradery is not far away.

Claudia: “For me, coming home was a brand new adventure, and it’s amazing how even though family tell you how much they want you back, they have all moved on with their own busy routines that don’t include you. Even my parents! My husband and I found out about gatherings and outings we used to be included in well after the fact and we felt like outcasts. It was a weird time.”

Russ: “None of my friends really wanted to hear about my trip, or see pictures and they REALLY got tired when I kept bringing up stories and situations about how another culture solves the problem so easily. This is especially true of other teachers who don’t want to hear how great my students were, or how much easier things were.”

Edmond: “We’ve been out long enough. We have money in the bank, seen a good chunk of the world and are thinking of trying life Stateside again. It just feels like time to go home. We find we miss the football games, seasonal celebrations and the myriad of family gatherings. If we do go home and find it’s not as wonderful as we are imagining we can always go back out again. This might be easier said than done.”

ISR invites you to participate in our GOING HOME Blog to share experiences and concerns, ask questions and offer advice on this very important topic.


Still On the Fence About Teaching Internationally?

March 1, 2012

Are you considering going international & not quite sure the overseas life style is for you? You are not alone. A States-side teacher recently wrote to say: “I live in the U.S. & have a pretty great life. I have a stable teaching job that pays well with good benefits. I like the area where I currently live & am blessed with great friends. HOWEVER, I keep getting this pull in my gut towards travel & adventure. I want to see places & meet new people, explore exotic cultures, eat weird foods, be thoroughly challenged…”

f these comments resonate harmoniously in your psyche, you’re no doubt looking for some answers to help you get off that fence. Good news! Our States-side teacher posed 5 insightful questions, the answers to which are certain to help you decide which side of the fence is the right side for you. ISR invites experienced international teachers to lend a helping hand & shed some light on the following questions:

1. If you could go back in time, would you teach internationally or stay at home?
2. Are you financially better off teaching internationally?
3. Has it been easy to make friends or has it been lonely away from home?
4. What have been your favorite countries and/or schools?
5. What are the best things about teaching internationally? What are the worst?