Philippines School Information Exchange

typhoon12116309Many International Educators are searching for information on the status of colleagues who were teaching in the Philippines when typhoon Yolanda hit. Additionally, teachers who have been recruited to teach in the Philippines in the upcoming school year have questions about the future of their  schools.

Focusing on the possible loss of a job is certainly trivial when compared to the magnitude of the catastrophic events that took place in the Philippines. ISR in no manner means to diminish in any way the tragedy that took place, however, for teachers whose livelihood is their job, this is a topic that merits attention.

To ask questions and share information with colleagues on all topics related to the Philippines Typhoon incident,  please scroll down to post.

Click here to visit web site of
International School Manilla, Philippines,
and contribute to their relief efforts

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Do Meaningless Mission Statements = Poor Schools?

To our way of thinking, a school’s mission statement should contain measurable goals. After all, if you cannot measure progress towards a set of goals, there’s no way to prove whether or not they are being met. Schools with the poorest reviews on the ISR web site seem to expound the most lofty, unmeasurable goals. Read these actual International School mission statements, for example:

  • The Mission of ___ School is to provide high quality holistic education in an inspiring learning environment that maximizes the potential of each individual to become a responsible global citizen.
  • The American International School of ___ prepares its students to be responsible global citizens and inspires in each a passion for knowledge and lifelong learning. We are a nurturing and diverse community that instills respect for self and others, develops the whole child, and strives for academic excellence.
  • The goal of The ___ School is to liberate the joy of learning within every child and nurture them as citizens of the world. We believe that global education is the key to continued success.

What, if anything above, is quantifiable or measurable? Are goals being met? Maybe, or maybe not. Who really knows? And maybe no one in administration really cares! In fact, the reviews of these schools tell the real story beyond the mission statement.

In contrast to the statements above, here is a mission statement from a school with many strong, outstanding reviews:

  • ABC Academy challenges its students to academic excellence through the medium of a college preparatory curriculum and U.S. academic standards, with instruction in English language. ABC Academy values community service and responsible global citizenship and promotes the integral development of each student within a multicultural setting.

What has your experience been with school mission statements? With the ever growing number of “for profit” schools springing up, a school’s mission statement could be a good indicator of what you may be signing up for!

Turn Your Idea into a New ISR Web Site Feature!

It’s the continued support  of the International Teaching community that makes ISR possible & helps the ISR web site continually evolve into an ever more useful recruiting tool.

Do YOU have something in mind that would make a strong addition to the ISR web site? We hope you’ll take a few minutes to share your idea with us and we invite you to post your ideas anonymously on this blog. If you prefer, you can contact us directly with the option to include your email address. Teachers Keeping Each Other Informed is what International Schools Review is All About. Your support is much appreciated.

More on The Sticky Situation of Classroom Discipline.

How can we help difficult students become cooperative class members?

We recently invited the ISR community to share their impressions of classroom discipline  in international schools. Here’s a synopsis of what teachers had to say:

• Powerful parents and school board members have influence far  beyond what many of us have experienced prior to teaching overseas.

• Job-ending results for disciplining the “wrong” child may be the outcome for an International Educator’s earnest efforts. See article

Several techniques to help difficult students become cooperative class member have been suggested: Handing a yellow card to a student, much as they do in professional soccer matches, works for some educators. Emphasizing a child’s positive attributes in order to begin a conversation with parents about their child’s poor behavior, is another.

Specifically, what techniques work for you that the rest of us can benefit from knowing about? Do you have a difficult situation and need advice? This is the place to ask for it.

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!

My Strangest Interview

Interviewing for an international teaching position can have both strange and comical moments.  Although recruiting conferences can be serious business, there’s always room for the unexpected.  In My Strangest Interview, teachers relate “memorable” interview experiences.  Have something to add?

Interviewing with a school in Japan several years ago… I was single… after 45 minutes of intense questions the guy gets up to get a drink while I’m in the middle of an answer.  I finish and as he walks back he says, “Do you like Asian women?”  I have no idea what to say so I umm and ahh for a second and then say “I find them attractive.”  He practically yells out, “Then you’re gonna love Japan!”  He then tells me that although married he wished he had the opportunity to dabble.

I was interviewing for a job in the Philippines.  The interviewer came late, smelling of cigarettes. We sit down for a talk.  He asked a question and then leans in real dramatically for the answer.  He did this over and over.  Freaked me out.  I also was grabbed by some men from Saudi Arabia at a job fair.  They told me they had the perfect job for me: 5th grade Math and Science. But I teach History and English,  I said.  “You will be perfect”.  Will I like the job?  “No no, you will hate it, the kids are horrible”.  Will I be able to meet many Saudis and have a social life?  “No no, the Saudis hate foreigners.  But there are many nurses in Riyadh. They are from the Philippines. We can hook you up.”  Strangely enough, I didn’t take the job. Continue reading

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.

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.