Tag Archives: International Schools Review

Yes. No. Maybe.

Yoyo.

You say yes, I say no
You say stop and I say go, go, go, oh no
You say goodbye and I say hello

Have lyrics ever been so perfect for job seeking? In the last week, I turned down an opportunity from an interested school administrator. And then, I was keeping my fingers and toes crossed for another posted opportunity, and today they said goodbye. Back and forth, like a yoyo and this rollercoaster has just started chugging down the tracks. Prepare your hearts, my friends, for battle. The scar tissue is beginning to thicken. People sometimes ask me, “Anita, where do you want to go?” Are you kidding? Once you choose this path, there is just no telling where you will end up. You have to embrace this great unknown as a blessing and cast it off to the universe to decide.

The world is a big place and there are many schools in it! These schools are filled with people: administrators, teachers, support staff, students and their families. What are they like? What is the facility like? What is the principal’s reputation like? It’s nerve-wracking when you try to imagine. How do you know what it’s like if you’ve never been there and don’t know anyone who ever has?

Obviously, the first place you go to find out information is the school website. Most reputable schools have beautiful sites with tons of information and photographs for you to look through. These colorful, well designed sites make schools look fantastic with pictures of happy students, computer labs, fun and activities, but what do the teachers really think?

On the International Schools Review (ISR) website you will quickly see their tagline, “International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed”. This website hosts an online community of educators and administrators that provide personal, anonymous opinions about many schools in the world.

The ISR website has much to offer that is free, but they also offer a $29/annual membership which allows further inquiry into the approximately 160 schools that have been reviewed. The website is free to browse until you want to post comments or look up specific school reviews. The fee is well worth it when you are researching various schools around the world.

On the home page of the ISR website is a tab called, “Forums”. These open forums are offered by ISR and they have great information. Simply by reading what others have posted you can learn a lot. When you click the Forums tab you will see two open forums. One is free; one is not. When you click the free, non-member forum, and after reading and agreeing to the Terms of Conduct and Posting Rules, you will see two FREE forums that you may read:

  • Questions About International Schools Services (ISS) and Search Associates (SA) to Anything and Everything About International Teaching
  • Ask Recruiting Questions, Share Information. What’s on Your Mind?

Both of these FREE forums have valuable information. In 2012-13, when I was searching for my first international teaching job, I read almost every entry, in both forums, from 2010-2013! This took months to do! I am currently reading all entries from 2015 and 2016.

The advantage of paying the $29 membership fee is that you are allowed to look up specific schools and read reviews. Approximately 160 schools are listed. Furthermore, you can also look up Director and Principal Reports. Even if you cannot find reviews on the specific school you are looking for, you can read and educate yourself about the city and the country that a potential school is in. Not only do people comment about a specific schools and administrators, they comment on how currency works, VISAs, taxes, cost of living expenses, recruiting job fairs and everything you can imagine!

One very important thing to consider is that many reviewers have been angry about something or someone at their school when they’ve written. There are often many more negative reviews than positive. Although this is important to take note of, it is also important to understand that when things are going well, people usually don’t write. People, in general, like to complain.

Another important tab on the ISR website is the Articles/Info tab. This will lead you to the International Teachers’ Bill of Rights. This is good to review before signing any contracts.

What are you curious about? Who else has used the ISR website?

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It’s All Good

Spirits lifted.

I wish it weren’t so, but there are days that drift by when I don’t notice anything in particular that will fill my sails with wind. My Dad entered hospice care two weeks before school ended in May; it’s been a difficult summer for my family. This week I went back to in-service at my school and, truthfully, I was not emotionally ready to give up my summer, even though this summer has not been one of excitement or much happiness. Although it is great to see my colleagues, it’s been hard to get back in the swing of things. By the end of the week, however, I started noticing little things that caused my heart to skip and smile. It was a pleasant surprise to get four quiet shout-outs all within a few days of each other.

I try my best to daily practice these things: Always have integrity. Always work hard. Always be thankful. Always look for the silver lining. If I practice these things over and over, I’ve found that things usually work out.

Becoming a blogger has been a wonderful experience in many ways, but my favorite way is the online community that is forming around me. Blogging is making me more vocal. It is helping me to be brave. It is holding me accountable. The community of people who are willing to help each other and share encouraging words is the best part. It’s so easy to make someone feel good by simply “liking” their blog post. It’s affirming and encouraging and I love to receive those little nods of approval. WordPress sends me a notice every time someone “likes” or begins to “follow” my blog. Links to other’s blogs are included with these notifications and it is fun to check out who liked what I wrote. As of this writing, I have 75 followers and 24 Twitter followers; this equals 99! (Who will be number 100?) This is so encouraging to me! Thank you so much everyone. I feel connected to you.

Because of blogging, I want to share four little examples of how I was encouraged this week:

1

I received an email from the NAEA (National Art Educators Association) congratulating me that my proposal called Blogging in the Art Classroom, had been accepted for inclusion for the 2013 NAEA National Convention in Fort Worth, Texas! I was told that they received a record number of highly competitive presentation proposals this year and they accepted just over 1,000 of them! Without giving it all away, I will tell you that last spring I developed an art project for my high school students that required them to make a blog and keep it for fourteen days. It involved photography and poetry and was met by enthusiasm from both the students and my school. If you are a teacher planning on attending the Fort Worth NAEA convention, please sign up for my session!!!

2

When I went to the WDS 2012 conference in Portland this past June, one of my roomies at the Hostelling International Northwest Portland Hostel was a young woman, unbelievably who attended high school just across town from where I currently live in Dallas. She now lives in Germany, however. She’s involved in the arts, teaches yoga and is about to embark on a new adventure with her husband. We became quick friends and shared our blogs with one another. She read my post a few weeks ago about my Dad and felt my charcoal drawings would compliment an article she was writing for her blog. She asked my permission to use these drawings and I happily agreed. You can read her post called “On The Farm” here where her beautiful poetry and my drawings are featured.

3

Quillan and Angela found my blog article, En Plein Air in the Plain Air and marked the “like” symbol at the bottom of my post. When I was notified of their “like”, I went to their “pun intended” blog, Toemail and found their blog to be hilariously about toes. “. . . making the world a better place, one foot at a time” reads their tagline. This creative team accepts pictures of feet and toes to post on their site and there are many wonderful examples sent in from people all over the world. I decided to submit some photos of my own feet from several years ago after I underwent foot surgery. After they received my submissions, and with my permission, they chose to post my photos and a link to my blog on their blog! You must click on this link and look at these photos of my feet! They’re funny, if I do say so myself! Paying it forward is the name of the game in blogging and in doing so the world becomes a little bit smaller and community grows.

4

Last night, about 8 pm, I received a phone call from a new teacher friend in Taiwan! Originally she read my post about ISR (International Schools Review), found my email address on my blog and wrote me. Unbelievably, my new friend is from Texas (like me) but now teaches internationally and we’ve been emailing back and forth, sharing our life experiences and encouraging one another. I’m so happy that I wrote that blog post because by doing so I’ve made a new friend. We’re critiquing each other’s resumes as we head into the international hiring season this fall and we’re practicing talking on Skype. Although we met online, I can’t wait to meet her on land one of these days.

Have you ever thought about blogging? The way it was explained to me was that once you determine your unique interest and curiosity, the entire world is a captive audience. That’s big, my friend. By sharing yourself and your interests, you will benefit others simply by being YOU. You have so much value. What the world needs now is YOU. Consider it. I’m glad I did.

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Same as it ever was (Part 3 of 3)

Once in a lifetime.

Reminiscing about David Byrne and the Talking Heads brings back a torrential downpour of pleasant memories. These musical-memories connect significantly to a transition time in my life: graduating from college, getting married and moving out of state. In the mid-1980’s, my then-husband and I moved from Missouri to Texas to begin a new life. Recently graduated from college, we were psyched to land our first jobs and start down our career path, which for me meant beginning the climb up the corporate ladder. My imaginative dreams were centered on my new marriage, my new job, buying our first new car, buying our first home and eventually becoming parents. My mind couldn’t fully wrap around all these new, upcoming changes, but I was excited and hopeful about my future.

None of these dreams turned out exactly the way I thought they would. I could have never predicted the end results of my hopes and expectations. More than once I awoke, seemingly from a deep sleep, and thought, as Bryne’s lyrics read, “My God! What have I done?” There’s no way that we can fully predict what our lives will be, even with all the research we do and all the well wishes and prayers from friends and family. But life is wonderfully mysterious and I wouldn’t trade in any of my experiences, both the good ones and the bad ones, for they’ve brought me to where I am today. Life is full of transitions and I find that I am still excited and hopeful about my future as I seriously consider moving overseas.

And You May Find Yourself Living In A Shotgun Shack

And You May Find Yourself In Another Part Of The World

And You May Find Yourself Behind The Wheel Of A Large Automobile

And You May Find Yourself In A Beautiful House, With A Beautiful Wife

And You May Ask Yourself-Well…How Did I Get Here?

This rendition of The Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime”, is recorded by Robert Luis:

When I went to Europe for the first time in 2006 I remember thinking, “I belong here. This feels like home. Surely I was born here and my parents adopted me into the USA and just have never told me!” How did I get here (USA)? “This is not my beautiful house,” as the song goes. But my mother assures me that I wasn’t adopted and that I am truly American! I often feel like a foreigner in my own country. I long to live a slower, more observant, less cluttered lifestyle. Every minute of every day is a “once in a lifetime” possibility. The next time I ask myself, “My God! What have I done?” I want to honestly and peacefully answer the question in a way that shows love, bravery, courage and trust.

Part 3 of 3: SA (Search Associates)

This article concludes with my research about the international educational recruitment company, Search Associates (SA). In my previous two posts I explained what I have found out about UNI (University of Northern Iowa) and ISS (International Schools Services).  SA has been in existence for more than 21 years. Not only have they helped teachers find positions in international schools around the world, they also place administrators and interns. Their current website boasts that in 2011 they set a record by helping 2,198 candidates secure positions abroad.

SA works with more than 600 schools, compared to ISS who works with about 150 schools. SA feels confident they are the best educational recruitment company because of the personal attention they give to both candidates and schools. For instance, once I completed my online application and SA had received recommendations from my administrators, my file was considered “active” and I was assigned a Senior Associate who will personally assist me throughout the entire search process. I was given her email and phone number so that I can reach her at all times. Additionally, because my file is active, I receive a daily log of SA represented schools that are currently seeking teachers and administrators. Since my file became active in March 2012, I’ve been tracking how many art positions have been posted. I’m delighted to report that there have been 23 art teaching positions listed to date, and this is really late in the hiring season! Keep in mind that most positions for the 2012-13 school year have already been placed.

Although my file is considered active, my online profile will not be made known to seeking schools until I pay my membership dues. Once I pay $200, I will have access to SA for three years and interested schools can review my credentials. I will have access to job openings, salaries and benefits and I will be able to contact schools directly through the database upon notification of an opening in one of my listed preferences. Interested schools will be able to email me directly, set up interviews or ask for additional information. The first SA educational recruitment fair is free and each additional fair is $50, although all job fairs are by invitation only. Both candidates and schools that are fully registered may request invitations. In comparison, ISS charges $290 for all fairs in a season. Search Associates offers 13 annual job fairs worldwide between November and June. These fairs allow candidates and schools to have face-to-face interviews to determine if there is a mutual interest and a good “fit” between the school and candidate. In addition, Search Associates keeps their fairs small in order to provide maximum support for candidates and schools.

There are many more educational recruitment companies, but I’ve limited my search to these three: UNI, ISS and SA. In my last post I described the wonderful resource, International Schools Review (ISR) which allows open dialogue, through a forum, on a host of subjects centered around teaching internationally. On this website you will find many opinions about the differences of these companies. Some people prefer one company over another for a host of reasons. Many international educators never attend a fair at all. After paying their application fee, they contact the seeking schools directly and are accustomed to interviewing over Skype.

In the ISR article called, “How Do International Educators See Their Careers?” Bill says, “I left as soon as I got my BEd and never looked back. Best decision I could have ever made. I was looking to explore the world, learn about new cultures and languages, work in schools that value teachers and provide a stimulating work environment. Next year, will be my 4th international school and my 12th year overseas. Sometimes I think about going back for a couple of years but I really do enjoy this life too much to do so.”

Is teaching internationally a once in a lifetime opportunity? I think it may be. I’d be interested in what once in a lifetime opportunities you’ve been given.

Thanks for reading!

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50 ways to leave your lover (Part 2 of 3)

Get myself free.

From my point of view, the title of this 1975 Paul Simon song could also be 50 Ways to Leave Your Home, Your Family, Your Country, Your Job or Life As You Know It.

As my mentor to all-things-adventure, Chris Guillebeau said in his recent post titled, How To Go Everywhere, “We often feel paralyzed by choice and make no choice. But the thing is, no choice is a choice. If you’re not doing something about it, you’re doing something about it. So if you too want to travel and you’re trying to make a choice, just choose. If you want to go somewhere, what’s stopping you? That’s right, nothing.”

You just slip out the back, Jack

Make a new plan, Stan

You don’t need to be coy, Roy

Just get yourself free

Hop on the bus, Gus

You don’t need to discuss much

Just drop off the key, Lee

And get yourself free

This rendition is by Matteo Grondini.

I can remember the first time I heard Paul Simon’s voice. It was at my 3rd grade friend’s house in Merriam, Kansas. Kathy had 3 older siblings, one of whom was in college and his hair was just like Art Garfunkle’s. Not only was he handsome, but he drove a VW bug! From that day forward I paid attention to Simon and Garfunkle. Simon’s lyrics have come to mind many times over my lifetime as either my friends or I were wrestling with how to get out of a bad relationship. One can easily apply Simon’s lyrical advise to all kinds of other situations as well. Continuing from last week’s post, which refers to The Clash’s song, Should I Stay or Should I Go?, this week I will present an option on how to go and get yourself free.

Just go.

So how does one go about getting themselves free? I have been thinking about moving overseas for about five years. For starters, I’ll need to either sell or rent out my home that I still owe a mortgage on. From the expert advise of others who have moved overseas, I’m still left in a query; some say it’s great to have a place to move back to in the USA, others say, “Sell!” and be released of the burden of worry. Furthermore, I’ll need to sell my car and rid myself of accumulated material possessions. As an artist, I have artwork, books galore and art supplies that will have to be reckoned with. This is a daunting task as it has taken me my adult lifetime to accumulate these items. Do I get a storage unit (climate controlled I’m told…) or do I choose a POD? These answers will come to me over time I feel certain, but ultimately, I’ll just have to choose.

Part 2 of 3: ISS (International Schools Services)

Since 1955, International Schools Services (ISS) has been dedicated to providing international students access to a premier Western education. It is difficult for ISS to give me data regarding how many art positions are available each year because, unlike UNI, they have continual, year-round recruitment fairs at various locations around the world. Currently, ISS has five recruitment conferences scheduled in 2012-13 to include Philadelphia; Nice, France; Atlanta; Bangkok and San Francisco. There will be more posted as dates are confirmed.

In 2010, a variety of schools, in countries such as China, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Switzerland, UAE and Vietnam, needed art teachers but each year the represented schools and countries are varied. There is no way to predict how many schools from how many countries will need art teachers each year. When I recently inquired there were 11 positions most recently available.

ISS also manages and/or owns 16 schools. Not only does ISS staff their own schools but they assist other schools in staffing theirs as well. An ISS representative told me that their recruitment fairs are somewhat selfish, as they try to get the best candidates for their own schools. ISS is deeply rooted in the international education community and there are many educators that have been placed by ISS.

A fee of $185 is required to participate in two recruiting seasons (Sept-Aug). It is strongly recommended for interested educators not to establish membership until they are ready to pursue an international teaching position.

When I asked ISS why their recruiting fair is “the best”, I was given this response:

“The dynamics of a recruiting conference have always included the anticipation of discovering the opportunities present and meeting those who can best describe their schools, their communities, and the positions available. The IRC [International Recruiting Conference] presents a tremendous learning experience and orientation to the overseas recruitment process, where one can learn from those currently working overseas and speak with the heads of international schools from all over the world. School administrators offer video and slide presentations so that candidates may picture the communities they may choose to join. These sessions also offer the opportunity for Q&A during small group settings. [Additionally,] International school heads participate on regional panels to discuss the realities of life and work in each of the five major continental areas. Candidates are encouraged to attend these sessions. In the candidate lounge, computer assistance is provided – with a bank of computers allowing email access. A copier is also provided. Regional guides and other print resources are provided for review, as well as brochures supplied by the schools in attendance.”

After applying, being approved and paying the registration fee, the best way to determine which ISS fair is best for you to attend is to see which schools registered for the fairs and which ones have positions that suit you. Most candidates attend the fair that is closest to their hometown.

An invaluable piece of advise was recently offered to me by a new friend who currently teaches art overseas. She suggested I join the organization International Schools Review (ISR).

This $29/year website membership is maintained by teachers, of all subjects, from all countries, who currently teach around the world. This amazing website boasts having over 5,000 reviews of international schools written by international teachers available to its members. This means if you decide to work with ISS, for example, and you “see” a teacher listing, let’s say, in Berlin, Germany, you can look up this school on International Schools Review and read many different teachers’ opinions about the school, the administration and the community. Additionally a Forum exists, where teacher-members can read about a variety of subjects. Members can also start new conversations, asking specific questions to these seasoned teachers.

A featured question in April 2012 was this:

How Do International Educators See Their Careers?

Teachers teaching all over the world, with a plethora of experiences answered. Three of the responses were:

Anonymous said:

“I’ve basically done my career already in NZ, so at age 50 decided to ‘retire’ and enjoy my love of traveling combined with teaching. It was a good idea! Highly recommend it.”

Loving Life said:

“My son completed first grade at home and has lived in five different countries, learned parts of five languages with 8 years of Chinese. He won the EARCOS Global Citizenship award last year, along with a $500 grant for a project he is involved with in an orphanage in Cambodia. He will graduate in a month with the IB diploma. I could never have done this as a single parent in the States. Moving overseas was the best decision I made. I hear my sister talk about teaching in the States and I feel so fortunate, even when things get difficult overseas. It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure.”

One day at a time says:

“Teaching overseas and being part of the world has been very rewarding and eye opening. My own children have truly been brought up as world citizens and have learned much more than they would have from textbooks. Their lives aren’t about being proud Americans but about being proud world citizens.”

So there you have it. Already it’s a hard decision between UNI and ISS and next week I’ll be reviewing Search Associates. Do I pay all three application fees? Do I go to UNI and chance the weather? Do I go to a recruitment fair or just take my chance interviewing with Skype? Lots of decisions and when it’s time, I’ll just choose.

Do you have any experience working in a foreign country?

Thanks for reading.

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