The Sticky Situation of Classroom Discipline

Right from the start, it’s ideal to establish classroom policies and expectations with students and their families. As educators, we all expect that if we catch a student cheating or plagiarizing, there will be consequences. A drunk or drugged student  at a school-sponsored function? A child bullying or hitting another? There is no question consequences should follow, and with strong support from admin.

For International Educators, however, enforcing rules, expectations, and consequences  may result in a very different experience than back home. School boards, administrative school owners, influential parents and wealthy students may wield far more power and control over discipline than most Western educators have experienced in their careers.

Simply assigning a “time out” to an unruly primary child may cost you your job. Dare to fail  a student’s work because he/she plagiarized straight from the Internet and you could find yourself facing the Board of Directors to explain why you think little so-and-so could ever do such a thing, followed by “if you were a better teacher he wouldn’t need to copy…..”

Sometimes our tried-and-true discipline procedures are completely out of sync with our new culture and community, especially when students and parents may look at us as just another nanny or driver in a long line of servants.

We invite the ISR community to share their impressions  of classroom discipline in international schools. With the new academic year about to get under way, now is the time to support each other in this, often delicate, area.

Also See: More on the Sticky Situation of Classroom Discipline —  How can we help difficult students become cooperative class members?

From Agony to Ecstasy

August can usher in a period of dynamic lifestyle changes and major transitions for International Educators. A new country, new culture, new colleagues, new students, an unfamiliar campus and admin, new schedules, new challenges and new expectations top the list of what lies ahead—whew! It may all seem completely overwhelming and agonizing.

Add to all this “newness” the feelings associated with leaving behind friends, family, established jobs and lifestyles and you could experience some unexpected emotional turmoil, even a few serious chinks in your self-confidence and potentially some lonely times outside the school environment.

So, tell us, ISR readers: What advice and tips can you share with International Educators relocating overseas, perhaps for the first time? How do you advise acclimating to a new school environment and local community? How do you keep yourself strong, positive and emotionally healthy as you head to work as a stranger in a strange land?

For some, going from Agony to Ecstasy may require no more than experienced International Educators sharing experiences and wise words of advice. Thank you, ISR readers, for offering the helping hand a fellow colleague may be looking for!

The Future of International Schools Review. You Decide.

Thank you, ISR members!

Through your support, International Schools Review has grown into a global network of International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed. Entirely member supported, ISR provides educators a place to share the inside word on their international school experience.

Now we’re looking to you to help make ISR even better and are soliciting your ideas, comments and suggestions. From new site features, to ideas about new topics for the  school evaluation rubric, we appreciate your participation.

Thanks for your support! Have a wonderful summer! Add your Ideas below

A Perfect International School?

Many reviews on the ISR web site paint schools as Shangri-la for international teachers, while other reviews reflect the hue of a living hell. What makes an international school great? Is it a supportive administration, attentive students, a feeling of being valued as a staff member, enthusiastic parents, great facilities and  materials, colorful location, low cost of living, or is it an essential synergistic combination? If you could create an international school from scratch, or overhaul your current school, what qualities and characteristics would make it an outstanding school?

End of Contract Surprises

Transplanted from the ISR Forum

I was just told I don’t get return airfare of my home of record. Last year, some teachers got it, others didn’t. There is a very unclear, selective policy happening here! Honestly though, I’m not surprised. BLECH!!! Anybody else getting some last minute surprises???

I was promised there’d be a job for me by my principal who said he cleared it with the superintendent. On Monday I found out the other principal had promised it to someone else who is reportedly writing lesson plans already. I love those mornings when you wake up and find yourself in the center of a mine field…

My school hit me with these surprising details for foreign teachers who will be departing: The salaries for June-July-August months will be paid on regular salary days. So I’m leaving with the school still owing me two salary payments. If they chose to default, what then!? Nice, huh?

Giving Back to Your Host Community

I’m new to international teaching and will be moving to Africa this fall. I’ve always been involved in giving back to my community and most recently have worked as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, library literacy programs, and sponsored runs for charity/ environmental issues.

One of my motivations for moving overseas is to contribute to the world community, but being new to the international scene, I’m not really sure how to start. The director’s already told me about some school and community projects–they sound fine, but I know there’s so many more creative and innovative ways to get involved assisting my broader host community. Any advise/ideas would be much appreciated!

Home for the Summer – How will Friends and Family Respond to Tales of Overseas Adventures?

Last time I was home, my friends and family hardly showed any interest in conversations about climbing ancient pyramids, exploring temples in Cambodia or eating from push-carts in the streets of Bangkok. I’ve been overseas for a few years now and my daily life is far different from the folks back home. I don’t want to alienate the people closest to me and so  I’m thinking to make this homecoming a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” scenario. Any experiences  or advice to share?

What To Take and What to Leave Behind?

Of course, the answer depends on where you’re going. But for the perfect  “must take” list, some International Educators recommend bringing ear plugs for noisy sleeping environments, enough reading material for a year, US postage stamps so people traveling to the States can mail things for you, extra passport photos and a good map. With many of us getting ready to make an international move, and some for the very first time, what could be more timely than this Blog to discuss things to bring and things to leave behind?

Nervous About Your First Time?

Transplanted from the ISR forum
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The contract’s signed. You’ve resigned your State-side teaching position. There’s still loads to do in preparation for leaving, when suddenly….reality hits. “What am I doing?”  Leaving family and friends for a far distant land can be a scary proposition. Is it normal to feel apprehensive and even overwhelmed? Do these feelings occur in seasoned overseas educators? ISR invites you to share your first time experience with colleagues preparing for their first time.

Can You Negotiate a Higher Salary?

Transplanted from the ISR forum
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Forum poster – Is a salary offer a take-it or leave-it proposition?  I want to come back to the school with a number at least 5k higher.  Will schools shut the door if you just ask for it? Other benefits seem fine.
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Reply – if you’re looking to wheel and deal with a for-profit school for a higher salary or extra benefits, don’t be surprised if, after you’ve signed on the dotted line, they nickle and dime you to death and perhaps aren’t so willing to approve your request for a PD trip or new materials for your classroom.  So maybe your negotiation skills would be better served to meet the educational needs of your students rather than your pocketbook.  Just a thought.
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Forum poster – If you think that I am going sacrifice my own fiscal well-being so that the school can save money, you are naive.  I am not a missionary and I am not interested in working to enrich the owners of a school.  I am a professional, who can help students learn with experience and expertise. I will participate in a fair exchange: my knowledge and work  for money.  I’m going to get paid every single dime I am in a position to earn…
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What’s your opinion and feelings on this topic?

Medical Tourism for International Educators

No matter how finely tuned your body might be, how young, toned, athletic and healthy you are, your body is still a machine that moves you through your work day and around the world on your teaching and travel adventures. There is likely some medical or cosmetic procedure out there that you want or need to be your best self, professionally and personally. Who wouldn’t like their teeth to be a little whiter, their chins fewer in number, or the pain in their shoulder or knee to permanently go away?

As an international educator, aren’t you fortunate! Living the life of a teacher abroad puts you in the perfect spot to take advantage of the latest trends in medical and cosmetic/plastic services and quality after-care. Over 40 countries are marketing their medical services and attracting international patients to Medical Tourism (a.k.a. Medical Travel or Health Tourism). The foremost and major benefits of Medical Tourism may be the huge reduction in cost of treatments, reasonable and brief waiting periods for appointments, and quality service followed by superlative convalesce assistance and care. The Health Tourism marketplace includes spa and wellness treatments for those who seek alternative treatments such as acupuncture and aroma therapy, biofeedback and hypnosis, massage therapy, music therapy, and ayurvedic care.

Medical Tourism includes medical and dental procedures of every possibility. Consider the availability of such procedures as: cosmetic and plastic surgery, joint replacements/resurfacing/repair, spine fusion, liver/kidney/bone marrow transplants, LASIK or cataract eye surgery, heart procedures (bypass, valve replacement, angiography, stenting), cancer treatments, weight loss surgery, hernia repair, laparoscopic gallbladder removal, diabetes treatment, vasectomy reversal, invitro fertilization, stem cell therapy, and dental care such as veneers, restoration, implants, crowns, and root canals.

A comparison of costs shows that medical and cosmetic care abroad is healthy for your wallet as well. For example, compare the cost of a knee replacement in the U.S. at up to $50,000 to the $10,000 you are estimated to spend in India. Or, angioplasty, at up to $57,000 in the U.S. compared to $9,000 in Thailand. How about comparing a face-lift in the U.S., up to $15,000, to the $8,000 it would cost in Mexico. Similar cost effective treatments, in everything from teeth whitening to liposuction, can be found in a country near to where you are teaching. Popular packages of care such as dental care in Ecuador or Guatemala, total hip or knee replacement in Costa Rica, or gastric bypass in Mexico can be found online. Wellness care is so affordable so as to be possible on a yearly basis, out-of-pocket.

Medical facilitators can be found to assist with language/culture barriers, transfer of medical information, and can provide the convenience of one-stop shopping for the person who requires their services.

There is, of course, thorough homework to be done if you are considering Medical Tourism for yourself or for a loved one. However, you’re right at the forefront of availability while being a teacher abroad. Aren’t you fortunate!

Take care and stay well!

From Public School Teacher to International Educator

How do you make the transition from classroom teacher in Wichita to international educator in Doha and beyond?  A public school teacher from the US recently wrote ISR:

“I ‘m a veteran (19th year) elementary, public school teacher interested in international teaching.  I would very much appreciate some feedback on what qualities are advantageous to having a successful experience as an international teacher.  What helped to make your experiences successful….?”

If you’ve made the transition from public education to international teaching and have experiences to share with teachers entertaining the idea of taking the leap, we invite you to add your comments.

Going International with Pets

Departing Romania with my big black cat, a customs agent stuck his finger in the cage, gave George Clooney a pat and commented on his huge size. Arriving in Pakistan was just about the same scenario. Were the hours and money I spent to procure George’s travel papers a waste of time? My hunch was that if I didn’t have the correct documents someone would surely have asked to see them.

Traveling with pets is not always so easy.  lf you’re unfortunate enough to be a transit passenger in England and your connecting flight is delayed for some hours, you could find your pet quarantined for up to 6 months.  Also, consider that a long trip in the hold of an airplane could be devastating, if not life threatening for your pet. Lack of food and water and the threat of trauma are dangers to consider. Some international schools won’t hire teachers with four-legged pets while certain cultures view domestic animals quite differently than we do in the West. Your pet may not be welcome.

Going international with pets presents unique situations and problems. ISR invites pet owners to use our Going International with Pets Blog to share information, experiences and anecdotes with other pet owners traveling internationally with their pets.

We thought you may also find useful information in this video.

Teachers of Color Overseas

International Schools teach diversity but are minority teachers well-accepted  in the International teaching arena? Do non-Caucasians find it more difficult to enter the profession? Are minority teachers treated differently by parents and students? It has been reported that some schools are just looking for a “white” face to sell the image of an American education.  The following excerpts are from ISR readers:

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“I am an African-American female interested in teaching abroad. I am also in an interracial marriage to a non-teaching spouse who will be coming with me. We are hoping administrators can look beyond my race and focus on my credentials.”

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“I have experience in China & Japan–many people in these countries are terribly racist. I have a mixed-race child and people haven’t always been kind to her.”

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“Here in Kuwait people literally point at you when you are overweight, black or in any way look different from them.”

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“As a Mexican-American I felt I was overlooked for the position, and not because of my qualifications.”

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This Discussion Board is closed to comments. Please see Teachers of Color Overseas – What’s Changed  to participate in this topic. 

Letters of Reference – How Does Your School Treat Them?

Please do not use this blog to evaluate a school. We ask that you stick to the topic.

letter-of-reference2233586 Not all schools treat letters of reference the same. One would think that after two years of dedicated service to school and community a simply request for a short letter expounding on your teaching talents would be readily forthcoming. At many schools  this is the norm. At others, the norm is to use the coveted letter of reference as a tool to coerce and bully staff.  Our featured article related to this blog offers tips about asking for and receiving your letter of reference. Have a look at this article and then retun and blog your comments. Go to Article

International Teaching – A Word of Warning

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by Hugh Mitchell, The Netherlands

First, let me say that I have been teaching internationally since 1979. I have had some great experiences and made friends with wonderful people – both teachers and students. I have worked in schools, technical education and universities in seven different countries in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, including the Gulf. It’s a great life and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

As a member of International Schools Review, however, and from personal observations, I am aware that teachers, particularly those sampling the international scene for the first time, are exposed to a variety of risks. It’s great that there are adventurous teachers who are curious to expand their horizons, but considerably less good that there are people out there who are willing to exploit them and expose them to physical and psychological dangers.

I cannot stress enough the need to research your destination thoroughly – both the country and the institution. Some countries are notorious for political and financial instability and you should avoid them like the plague. If a school is offering a chauffeur-driven car, common sense tells you this is not normal for a starting teacher. The real function of the ‘chauffeur’ is probably to act as bodyguard, without whom you would be in peril in your neighbourhood.Treat long contracts with suspicion – they may indicate that the institution has trouble keeping staff, and is seeking to solve this by imposing penalties on those who want to leave early. Never ignore a negative write-up on the web. Recruiters will tell you that it was written by a “disgruntled” teacher who was out-of-step with everybody, but this is not always the case. Somebody has gone to considerable trouble to write it, usually out of a sense of responsibility to others. Use your judgment. Similarly, if there are ten negative reports on a school and one full of glowing praise, it is not hard to spot which one has been placed by a management stooge.

Now a word about agencies. There are some very good ones which take the trouble to find out about applicants and place them in an appropriate location. These agencies routinely refuse further co-operation with schools about which there have been negative reports from previous clients. However, there are others whose moral integrity is nowhere near as high. Their operatives, many of whom appear to be young and inexperienced, send details of vacancies to a computer-generated list of job-seekers, irrespective of suitability. They routinely fail to answer questions which potential teachers are justified in asking. Of course, these operatives sit in an office with computer and telephone and would never dream of even visiting the locations to which they consign others. The agencies for which they work seem to have no sense of responsibility and no interest in job-seekers beyond the cash that they generate. To my mind, these agencies are as guilty as the rogue employers whom they are happy to represent.

In conclusion, teaching internationally can be a rewarding experience. You may find yourself in a fascinating location or a place where you can make a lot of money quickly (seldom both together). Since the establishment of MA programs in international education, the career structure is much better than it used to be. Most institutions have a moral commitment to their students and their staff, and may be relied upon to play fair. A small minority are cynical and exploitative, hoping merely to trap a teacher for a minimum of a few months. Exercise your judgment and your common sense. Look out for warning signs and drop the job like a hot potato if you find them. Above all, do your research thoroughly. Check the institution’s website and everything else you can find. You will need to be adventurous, open and flexible. You will also need to be a bit street-wise. Good luck!

Best and Worst School Benefit Packages

READ THIS FIRST!!!

Please do not evaluate schools or directors on this blog or pose questions that solicit such responses. We ask that you stick to the topic of school benefits packages.

Please do not hijack & change the topic of this blog by asking questions that do not pertain to the topic. We have numerous other blogs and ask that you choose a blog where you question is a good fit. To ask questions about your personal suitability for employment please use our forum.

Comments outside the scope of this blog or that evaluate schools will be removed.

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The realization that you can’t dine out because your school salary is too small in relation to the local economy can be, at best, depressing—even more so if you’re putting in long hot days in overcrowded classrooms with no air conditioning or wifi and seriously lacking adequate teaching materials. On the other hand, many international educators live like royalty, perhaps enjoying a maid, a nanny or cook, a driver, finely furnished housing, comprehensive health insurance, a complimentary car and strong savings and travel potential. Yes, many such schools do still exist in today’s worldwide economic downturn. All you have to do is find them!

Few schools, however, advertise their pay package, and recruiting venues usually release participating schools’ benefit information mere hours prior to the event. Many an international teaching candidate has dropped a school from their prospect list at the last minute, realizing a dip into savings would be needed just to make ends meet at the particular school.

Which schools offer international educators the opportunity to live in the style to which we would all like to become accustomed? Which schools will keep you just above the poverty level? The Best & Worst of International School Packages Blog is the place for International Educators to share and compare information on what potential schools realistically have to offer.

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