What’s It Really Like to Live in The Americas?

January 30, 2013

americas6842230What’s It Really Like to Live in the AMERICAS? expands  the conversation to the continents of the Americas. Do you live in North, Central or South AMERICA?

Do YOU have comments & insights to share with colleagues regarding the pleasures & challenges of life in the Americas? Please do! International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed is what ISR is ALL about!

• What is the BEST & the WORST of living in the AMERICAS?
• Do you recommend living in the AMERICAS or are you counting the days?

What’s It Really Like to Live in the AMERICAS? JOIN the Conversation HERE!

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See all the continents included in the
What’s it Really like to Live Here Series
Asia / Africa / The Americas /Europe / Middle East

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What’s It Really Like to Live in EUROPE?

January 24, 2013

europe_13741541What’s It Really Like to Live in EUROPE? expands the conversation to the European continent Do you have comments/insights/tips to share with colleagues regarding the pleasures & challenges of life in EUROPE? Please do! TELL us your thoughts: International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed is what ISR is ALL about!

What is the BEST & the WORST of living in EUROPE?
Do you recommend living in EUROPE or are you counting the days?

What’s It Really Like to Live in EUROPE? JOIN the Conversation HERE!

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See all the continents included in the
What’s it Really like to Live Here Series
Asia / Africa / the Americas / Europe /
Middle East

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What Is It Really Like to Live in Africa?

January 3, 2013

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You’ve done your research & picked a school or locale for the main focus of your recruiting efforts. But, WAIT! You’re not just recruiting for a job, but, more importantly, for the overseas adventure of a lifetime! We know you want your social/cultural immersion/home life to be equally as rewarding & fulfilling as your in-school life. After all, as international educators we go overseas for a life-enriching experience, don’t we?

If you live & teach in an African country, we hope you’ll share with colleagues–What is it really like to live in your area?

TELL us your thoughts:
• What is the BEST & the WORST of living in Africa?

• Do you Recommend living in Africa
OR are you counting  the days?

Have a QUESTION about lifestyle in the nations of the African continent? ASK them here! There’s no substitute for candid, first-hand information from teachers in the city where you, too, may soon be living & working!

International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed is what ISR is ALL about! In the upcoming weeks ISR will explore the lifestyle of Asia, Latin America & Europe.

Scroll down to JOIN the Conversation!

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See all the continents included in the
What’s it Really like to Live Here Series
Asia / Africa / the  Americas /Europe / Middle East

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The Art of Emailing School Directors

December 6, 2012

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Whether you plan to go it alone or attend a recruiting fair, there is an Art to composing emails in response to advertised international teaching positions. When it comes to promoting yourself via email, we think you’ll find the following Tips particularly helpful for “getting your foot in the door.” Posted to the ISR by an anonymous Director, the following emailing-insights are sure to benefit candidates and Directors alike:

Make the Subject Line of Your Email Useful: No one needs another email titled “Job Vacancy” or “Application.”  I already have 75 of each in my email folder, and it doesn’t motivate me to go back for a second look at any of them when I know it’ll take me forever to find the one I’m interested in. Put your name and desired position in the Subject line. At least then I’ll be able to find you when I realize I actually do need a math teacher after all.

Properly Name Your Credentials: Name them the way they’re written on the official document you were given. If you claim to have a “teaching certificate from the University of Pennsylvania,” I know you’re wrong. US Universities do not grant teaching certificates. Which means I have to decide whether you’re just being inaccurate (you did the courses at UPenn, and then the state of PA issued a certificate) or you’re making it up.

List Subjects You’re Qualified and/or Certified to Teach: It bothers me when candidates put down a laundry list. It’s not about what you personally feel capable of teaching, it’s what you’re officially recognized as qualified to teach. If you feel you can teach more, put it in your personal statement. That way we don’t get to the interview or even further along, and later find out it was all a waste of time because the country I’m in won’t issue a work Visa unless you have a legal credential.

Avoid Fluff and Filler:  Fluff and inflation bother me no end. When someone has a position for 1 or 2 years and they have 10-12 bullet point accomplishments, I get bored and move on when most of their “accomplishments” are just regular job duties. I know you taught classes, gave tests, met with parents and attended staff meetings. Those are not accomplishments.

Compose an Excellent Cover Letter: Give me a well-written cover letter, specific to my school. Don’t write a generic cover letter and then slip my school name and country name into a few blank spots–make it really specific to my school. I will love it if I can tell you did your homework, you checked out our website thoroughly, know our mission statement, noticed that we’re an EAL not an ESL school. You’ve possibly talked to some people who have worked here (feel free to name them). Show me you know some relevant bits about the country and culture, and do all this not by quoting the mission statement (trust me, I already know it), but by crafting a letter which incorporates key words and concepts and by stating clearly, directly, how your personal ethos and experience match up with my school’s ethos and direction.

Tell Me What Positions You’re Applying for:  Don’t tell me you want position x, y, z, p or q, because that just tells me you want a job above all costs. You’ll appear too desperate, even though it might be true. Pick one or two positions and stick to them. If I like your letter, but for some reason you can’t have the position you named, and your letter gave the impression that you might be flexible, I’ll contact you and ask if you’d be willing to consider a different post.

If  There’s Anything Out of the Ordinary, Discuss it Now: You have a spouse who isn’t a teacher? Explain what he/she will be doing while you’re teaching. What are your expectations? Most countries have some sort of limitations in terms of trailing spouses, so I need to know at the start if what your spouse is after will match up with my country’s reality.

Scroll down  to comment on this topic / add tips of your own


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


The Art of International School Management

July 5, 2012

Our previous blog, Safe, Sound & Far Away is focused on schools that use threats and intimidation to discourage staff from posting to the ISR web site. While this tactic apparently works in the short run, once safely out of the country, teachers clearly spread the word about these suppressive institutions.

Obviously not all schools see ISR as a threat. Among the many informative postings to this Blog, one that caught our attention closes with this comment from the director of The International School of Macao: “Issuing gag orders is not a solution. The best solution is to create a culture and community where feedback is sought and handled in more constructive ways. This is what we are working towards.”

This statement resonates harmoniously here at ISR. We’d like to share the complete posting from the Director of the Macao School and ask for your comments. We’re certain many of us will be standing in line at the next recruiting fair for a chance to work in this environment!

Howie says:
June 28, 2012
“As a school, we have taken a different approach to ISR. Considering that many prospective teachers are going to use ISR to check up on the school, I believe most schools monitor (or should monitor) the posts therein. ISR gives a perspective of a school. Multiple perspectives are needed in order to effectively gauge the culture of a school. We encourage all prospective candidates to contact as many people on staff as they want. When they want to know about the cost of living in Macau, we point them to a staff survey that lists differing perspectives.
At the end of each year, I forward the latest 2 reviews to all of the staff who are leaving and ask them to consider giving their own review–this includes staff whose contracts we have chosen not to renew.
This year someone wrote a scathing review accusing me of being a bully. What do you do? I chose to expose it to all of the staff. Why? I wanted staff to be aware of it for a few reasons:
1. Bullying behaviour has no place in a school. I gave explicit permission for any staff member to confront any bullying behaviour they saw in me or in anyone else on staff.
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2. I hoped that the person would come forward so we could find some reconciliation. Clearly this person was hurt.
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3. Remind staff of appropriate channels for feedback and concerns. If they couldn’t come to me then there were many others safe channels.
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4. Avoid the gossip mill. Hiding things only makes it worse. ISR is here to stay.

Do these concepts coincide with the reality at your school? If not, is there a way to introduce this approach to running a school for YOUR school’s management team? We’re certain many schools see ISR as a constructive tool as opposed to a threat and sounding board for “disgruntled” teachers. We encourage directors and teachers to weigh in on this topic.


You’re Under Arrest!

June 21, 2012

“Dear ISR, I’m about to embark on my first international teaching assignment and I’ve noticed lately on the news there’s a fair amount of overseas travelers who get arrested for one reason or another. My family is starting to obsess on the dangers of living outside the U.S. and the possibility of getting entangled with local authorities. Has anyone at ISR had any experience with this? I think my family, and myself for that matter, would feel a whole lot better hearing from teachers who spent some solid time overseas and can offer advice.

“From what I’ve read on ISR it looks like some schools cannot be depended on. Geez, in one situation the director actually departed for summer vacation and left this poor teacher to fend for herself against serious allegations. But really, what clout would the director of an “American” school have with local authorities anyway? I did read about another situation where an influential parent was able to get a teacher (who was arrested for driving with an expired international license) out of jail.

One reason I’m especially nervous about all this is because my new school is telling me  to come on a tourist visa and they’ll get me a work visa once I’m there. Is this normal? Can  I be arrested for working without a work visa? As you can see, I can use some advice!”