Librarians, the unsung heroes of international schools?

The international school librarian might not be at the forefront of your mind when you think about international schools dealing with a global pandemic. This time has revealed numerous ways in which librarians play a critical role in supporting the entire school community, beyond offering a quiet space for your reading pleasure. Read on to find out about the unique ways in which librarians are supporting schools and families in the time of COVID-19.

International school libraries during Covid-19.

adorable-blur-bookcase-books-261895While schools closed around the globe, many international school libraries amped up their roles as information providers. Instead of existing in a physical space they shifted to being a key point for sharing information and supporting the transition over to distance learning. Many schools worked on researching and providing learning resources to students. This is no easy task. School libraries have to consider issues such as access to technology, legal implications of sourcing books online (for example e-books & audiobooks) and physical issues of acquiring & returning books, to name just a few.

There are a lot of resources available online that offer guidance for school libraries on dealing with this anxious time, such as issues of health and safety and finding ways to continue to share information in less traditional ways.

How do libraries impact student learning?

School librarians bring communities together.

Under Covid-19 they have provided community under challenging conditions. Even when the physical space has been closed they have taken it online enabling families at a distance to still feel connected to the school community. Librarians are also cheerleaders of finding joy through literacy and became a big source of offering socio-emotional support.  Library associations in the UK and the US have been offering webinars to librarians in ways to support the community during Covid-19.

little-girl-taking-online-classes-4261800You can all imagine the chaos when suddenly schools closed and the way information was consumed changes in the blink of an eye. Librarians, trained in managing information systems, are the ones that stepped up to all the technical questions arising, especially providing a structured and organized catalogue of resources. Many schools turned to their libraries to find online resources. School Library Association in the UK set up a Covid community project, a scheme supporting library staff to continue offering their resources even when they are furloughed. They state on their website: “whatever your area of passion – a lesson plan for looking at the Holocaust, a how to video for using Sway, a book list of books that contain maps, best books to read aloud to year 5 – if it works in your school library someone else will appreciate it!”  

School librarians bridge gaps in access to information

School librarians offer technical support and expertise to teachers so that they can better support students. During Covid-19 as the role of technology plays a bigger part so does the liaison between librarian and teachers.  According to the American Association of School Librarians empower teachers’ skills in digital context: “85% answer questions about technology tools. 66% participate with teachers in professional learning and 33% train teachers how to locate and evaluate digital content.” 
One thing that has definitely arisen during this time is the awareness of equality and access to information. Librarians are the first to know that not all is made equal, and work tirelessly to bridge the gap. Librarians were first to notice challenges in access to information. Being a key part of responding to the shift in remote teaching they are likely to take on a key position in the move to a blended learning approach in the future.

Services provided by international school libraries during Covid-19

photo-of-boy-video-calling-with-a-woman-4145197Many librarians adopted a rigorous approach to online learning, sourcing resources for distance learning and ensuring families have access to online library accounts plus the technology to do so. This included finding companies online that would offer services to families, many of times looking for free options to ensure access for all. They also scoured the web so they could provide resource lists of online reading and other creative activities.

One of the schools we partner with, Berlin Brandenburg International School, are taking various methods within their library during Covid-19. Their library remained open to support children of key workers and they also adopted changes such as formulating drop off book services.

A number of publishers  have given temporary access to ebook collections. E-books have proved very popular during this time, but not without their limitations. Many schools libraries are working on their online catalogue of books making e-books available to all members, this meant some licensing issues to overcome and others challenges, such as the cost of budgeting and the language options available in e-books. Having a catalogue of available books online is only one part of school libraries at this time, ensuring support for families by offering creative ideas is another part of the role. Some schools set up weekly reading challenges, creative writing and sharing their stories with each other, finding videos and read-alouds online.

yellow-and-black-caution-wet-floor-sign-4515086How to organize a school library post Covid-19

As international schools are opening around the world, will libraries continue as usual? The answer is probably no. To start with, like other aspects of reopening international schools which we wrote about previously, the space needs to be prepared in line with preventative methods, like social distancing and sanitizing. Here is what some international school libraries are doing…

School library book returns & quarantine

In terms of dealing with books that were checked out and unable to be returned we heard of different solutions from international schools around the world. One school librarian commented on a Facebook post on the matter that they are not allowing books to go out at all at this time. Another librarian mentioned: “We are going to ask people to return the books and sanitize them. I have decided not to allow books to go out during summer. Summer reading lists are all based on free online libraries. Much simpler”. Others mentioned students and teachers return books by depositing them in crates outside the library.

Many libraries are dealing with book returns by quarantining the books, after it is speculated that the virus can remain on books for 72hrs, but less for paper covers. A librarian stated: “We are back to regular school now, but being cautious and have been quarantining books for 3 days. Official advice is 24 hours and then wipe with sanitizer but we were concerned about moisture and paper causing books to get mouldy”

Many schools are taking precautions to reduce the spread of the virus by encouraging students to use hand sanitiser and wash their hands. Some of the spaces have signs for this and some offer guidance face to face. Of course, social distancing is also in use the spaces are to be reworked to ensure plenty of space between students.

What is your experience of international school libraries during Covid-19? We would love to hear your stories. Feel free to share with us at editor@teacherhorizons.com 

Are you looking for an international school librarian vacancy?  Sign up to our Teacherhorizons community  and discover hundreds of new opportunities around the globe!

Written by Alexandra Plummer

How to prepare for a one-way video interview.

 

young-ethnic-woman-trying-to-work-at-home-with-active-4474040One-way video interviews are a relatively new way to gain insight into a potential candidate’s fit for a role in an international school.  At first glance they appear to be incredibly nerve-wracking. The candidate can’t see the interviewer so it can feel very daunting but with some familiarity and preparation, it can be learned. Let’s face it, one way interviews are probably here to stay, especially with more movement towards online learning, it’s definitely worth learning the ropes. At Teacherhorizons we have had a few candidates and schools with experience with one-way video interviews. Read on for our preparatory tips and a very honest first hand account! 

What is a one-way video interview? 

A one-way video interview is where questions are presented to you from the interviewer via video or text. You then record your responses to the questions and the interviewer or HR manager reviews your answers at a different time. 

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Image from WePow which our school group in China use to recruit international teachers

Why do international schools offer one-way video interviews as part of their
recruitment? 

According to an experienced international teacher of ours they shared the following: “They’re a useful way to get an initial impression of a candidate that goes beyond what is shared on a CV. Video interviews are an appropriate way to winnow a large field of candidates down to an initial long list for closer consideration.”  Which isn’t surprising right now as schools are reducing the amount of candidates flying out for face to face interviews.  It’s a good way to avoid wasting time for both parties while gaining that all important first impression!

Honest feedback from international teachers regarding one-way video interviews.

We value transparency at Teacherhorizons so we want to share with you experiences across the spectrum from positive to negative.  Perhaps the most daunting parts of one way interviews are the fact that you are unable to see the interviewer and you have a strict time limit to answer. One of our advisers, who has had her own experience being interviewed stated: “It was actually not as bad as I thought it was going to be! I don’t remember the questions offhand, but they were pretty predictable and the timed component forces you to be concise and succinct. It was probably easier than facing their panel in real time further down the line.” 

Teacherhorizons works closely with school group YCEF in Hong Kong & mainland China. Our adviser went through the process of the interview platform they use, so they were able to pass on the experiences to the candidates.   The school group uses the WePow platform and they have an extensive list of advice on “rocking your interview” on their site.

An adviser of ours shared that the school doesn’t expect the interviewee to be perfectly rehearsed: they just want to gauge the candidates passion and suitability for the role. It’s not all positive feedback though and one candidate shared: From my perspective, they run counter to the intention of an interview, which is to get to know the individual. There’s just so much that can be learned from the interaction between school leaders and candidates that doesn’t show up in a video interview. Body language, pauses, spontaneous moments of ‘connection’ that only happen when you’re having a conversation in real time – all those are lost in video interviews.” 

happy-ethnic-woman-sitting-at-table-with-laptop-3769021Top tips from international teachers on one-way video interviews.

While they may feel awkward, with preparation you can ace your one way interview! Thank you to one of our teachers for giving us a wonderfully detailed account packed with advice for preparing for the one-way video interview: 

Check your environment. 

First I’ll set up my interview space. I place the laptop so that it’s filming me at eye level. I make sure I’m in good light, with a window or lamp either behind or to the side of the laptop (never have a window behind you – backlighting is bad). I angle my chair so that I’ve got my back to a blank wall, and I might have some houseplants in the background. This last point may seem common sense, but it bears repeating: I make sure the view doesn’t show details of my home life – dirty dishes or laundry, unmade beds, etc. 

Anticipate the questions and topics. 

In preparation for video interviews, I try to anticipate the questions and topics I would expect to come up, depending on the position, just as I would for in-person interviews. I’ll write a few key points on post-it notes or in a notebook to have close at hand. These usually match up with points I’ve made in my application letter, or they’ll reference educational thought leaders who shape what I do in schools.

Use a process and repeat it. 

Once the video portal reveals a question and the countdown begins, I jot a couple of key words to help me remember the question later, and I make a quick bullet-point outline for my response. I repeat this process for every question in the interview.  

notes-on-board-3782226Use post-it notes. 

I’ll put those post-it notes around my screen so that I can refer to them throughout the interview while maintaining ‘eye contact’ with the camera. For example, the post might mention Marzano’s instructional strategies, or describing how Hattie or Rosenshine influence my teaching – I  can then reference them to cover as broad a spectrum as possible of the things that define my own educational practice.

Record the process for next time. 

After the interview, I type every question into a document so that I have a record of questions asked, with reference to the school and positions associated with them. I’ll also include my responses so that I can refine them in preparation for future interviews. Then I take off my coat and tie, breathe deeply, and try to relax.

What kind of questions should international teachers expect in a one-way video interview? 

Some of our candidates kindly shared the questions they were asked. This is not an exhaustive list nor does it mean you will get these exact questions, instead please use it as a general guide for preparation and support.

Tell us about yourself.

What aspects of your subject do you find particularly interesting and how do you incorporate this into your lessons?

Can you describe a lesson that you might teach?

Do you think that all students can learn a language and why?

How do you make a positive learning environment? 

What inspired you to apply for the current role?

What is your vision as *insert role ?

What is your long term plan? 

Logistics & timing. 

A couple of  teachers shared that after the interview questions they were asked to provide two minutes of additional information: “with each question we were provided three minutes’ worth of time to reply with one minute prep time in between”. Another candidate shared: “There might be an awkward part at the end where it asks you to leave additional comments too!”  The time might differ depending on the interviewing system used and the school’s preference.  One candidate got the opportunity to check their audio/video and undergo some practice questions first, but it’s uncertain if this is true across the board.

To wrap up: try taking some deep breaths & remember what makes you passionate about teaching— and if you can’t remember glance at those post-it notes! Big thanks to our teachers and advisers for sharing their experiences with such clarity and detail!

What’s your experience with one-way video interviews?  Reach out to us at editor@teacherhorizons.com with your stories. While you’re at it you can join the Teacherhorizons community today and be one step closer to your next international teaching job! 

 

Written by Alexandra Plummer

Building an International Teach First Ambassador Community!

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We are excited to announce that Teacherhorizons and Teach First are collaborating to develop a network of Teach First ambassadors who are interested or involved in teaching overseas. Join this network if you are a Teach First ambassador

Why build this community?

We believe that building this network will benefit Teach First ambassadors all over the world, by:

  • Strengthening connections between international ambassadors and enabling discussions about countries, schools, curricula and developments in international teaching practice.
  • Enabling ambassadors looking to move abroad from the UK, to learn more about international teaching and ask questions in a safe and trustworthy environment.
  • Providing help and support for ambassadors looking to transition between international schools or even back to the UK; a process that can be challenging in many ways.

Watch this video to hear about the network from Alex, the CEO of Teacherhorizons. 

Why Teach First and Teacherhorizons?

Teacherhorizons is a platform that helps adventurous teachers to explore the world of international education and access all the best teaching opportunities overseas. This platform was founded by Teach First ambassadors, has many ambassadors in the team and helps hundreds of ambassadors find roles overseas. Alongside Teach First, we are aiming to build a community of like minded, talented teachers who can share their experiences and learn from one another. 

Not already signed up to Teacherhorizons? Make your free profile here.

Teach First has developed a community of over 10,000 ambassadors since their launch in 2002, and Teacherhorizons has a network of over 250,000 teachers. Our collaboration will have a huge impact on both communities who already share so much in common. In terms of location, the second biggest cluster of Teach First ambassadors, after those based in London, is those who have moved into international teaching. Many of these ambassadors have transferred their learned skills and their understanding of diversity and cultural awareness overseas, to make a difference in an international context. We want to develop a forum which will allow these inspirational teachers to share their experiences and convey the expertise they have gained through their international career; to support each other with challenges, help each other progress, and inspire each other to have even more of an impact around the world. 

Why do we need you, and how to get involved.

We would like to involve as many teachers as possible in the development of this community and ask you to get involved whether you want to learn or have something to share. Please register your interest by completing this 60 second form. One of the many things we would like to offer are webinars where teachers can come together to discuss different aspects of teaching abroad. We need your vision and your ideas about what these could focus on. Some examples so far are ‘learn about the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum’ or ‘adapting your CV for international teaching’ or ‘how to choose the right international school’. If you tell us what you want, we can endeavour to make it happen. The deadline for completing the sign up form is 17th July.

Meet some ambassadors already involved in the network. 

AAnisha, London, 2012: “I taught Spanish in Yorkshire before joining Teacherhorizons in 2014 as part of the operations team. This community will be a great way for ambassadors like me to connect, share initiatives and experiences, and pass on advice. As part of this community I could use my recruitment experience to offer advice for candidates taking their first steps into international teaching; a general overview of the sector, what to look out for when accepting your first contract, etc. I could also offer my thoughts on the moral battle that many ambassadors have when considering international teaching vs the Teach First mission!”

Meet more of the Teacherhorizons team

 

pasted image 0-2Jeff, Wales, 2017: “I came across Teacherhorizons when searching for jobs and advice online. When I saw it was started by a Teach First ambassador I felt reassured that they would be able to help. Before I knew it, I had interviews lined up and have managed to land a job teaching science in an international school in Vietnam! Building an international community of Teach First ambassadors would be invaluable. Ambassadors are doing amazing work all around the world and therefore being better connected would enable us to share opportunities to learn, develop our skills as teachers, support schools and continue tackling education inequality beyond the UK. I haven’t started my international adventure yet so I would be listening and learning as opposed to offering advice, but after my first year of teaching in Vietnam I could reflect on and share some of the lessons I’ve learned. I would be interested in chatting to other ambassadors about how to continue to have an impact on education inequality when working in an international setting, as this is important to me.”

 

Laura, London, 2008: “After Teach First I moved to teach internationally and registered as a candidate on Teacherhorizons. I loved the company and actually became an international adviser for TH in 2017. I am still in contact with many of my cohort and it is great to see the different paths they have taken since Teach First. This new platform will enable us to expand our network and make connections with other cohorts to find out what they are up to as well. Teach First ambassadors are resilient, creative and flexible and these qualities are exactly the kind of qualities that make excellent international educators, so we need a platform to enable more of us to take the leap! I could contribute to our community by sharing personal experiences of moving abroad with a young family, as I have three children! I could also share my experience of learning the IB curriculum; something I think has made me a much better teacher.”

 

pasted image 0-5Steve, London, 2014: “After 3 years at my Teach First school, Teacherhorizons supported me in accepting an IBDP psychology role at the Koç School in Turkey. For me, moving to an international school required a large shift in my approach to teaching as the challenges I faced were quite different from before. This network will be very helpful for sharing advice and knowledge about best practice in an international context. Like many Teach First ambassadors working abroad, I plan to one day return to teaching in the same type of schools that we started out in. The network can help to remind us of the Teach First vision and the reasons why we started teaching in the first place. As part of this community, I could give some advice on things like Project-Based learning (PBL), inquiry-based learning, the IB learner profile, use of devices in class, ATLs and even CAS, for teachers who are new to the IB. In return, I would like to learn more about strategies such as Epistemic Inquiry, ways of scaffolding discussions, integrating TOK into subject lessons and many more things!”

Fancy joining Anisha, Jeff, Laura and Steve as part of the international ambassadors network? Register your interest by completing this quick form before the end of term which is 17th July.

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Written by Tiffany Kibblewhite, Teacherhorizons Blog Manager and Recruitment Adviser.

Learn about our school screening process!

A transparent & unique school screening process. 

Are you curious about how we choose the schools we work with? As an international teacher you want to know that the school you are applying for is legitimate. As a school you want to know you are part of a reputable and personable platform full of the best candidates.

We work with the best international schools and teachers around the world and in the order to ensure this, we have a rigorous but personal screening process. This process enables us to match our qualified international teachers with the best options for their international teaching career. With transparency being the backbone of Teacherhorizons values, we are sharing our step by step account of how we not only pick great schools, but build valuable and personable relationships with them, too. Read on for the process of how Teacherhorizons screens their schools. 

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Our School Services Manager Laura, visiting the British School of Kuwait.

What does it mean to screen a school?

In short, it means that we check that the schools are suitable places for our qualified international school teachers to work in. We are lucky that we have hundreds of schools contacting us to be part of our platform, but it also means we have the responsibility to ensure they are of the highest quality. Whilst we have a 3 step process, there is more to it than this. Teacherhorizons CEO, Alex Reynolds, sums up our attitude to the screening process well:

Teacherhorizons

Alex, CEO of Teacherhorizons tells us about the screening process

Our CEO Alex Reynolds speaks about the importance of screening schools:

“At Teacherhorizons, we are committed to working with schools that practice ethical and safer recruitment practices. We spend a great deal of time getting to understand the schools that we represent and checking that they are good places to work for our teachers. We do this by forming personal relationships with the Headteachers and recruitment teams so that we can share as much information as possible with prospective teachers looking to apply for our roles. We are proud to be visiting almost a hundred schools every year and this has added a new dimension to our level of understanding of the schools we represent. With our wealth of knowledge, we aim to provide a very simple, transparent and personalised service for our teachers” 

250 school requests to join Teacherhorizons in just over 6 months!

We are incredibly grateful for the requests that we get from schools wanting to build a profile page with Teacherhorizons. From September alone we have already had up to 250 schools requesting to join Teacherhorizons. Our first step is assigning the school with an advisor, this way they have a continuous point of reference and can build a personal relationship throughout their journey to becoming part of Teacherhorizons.

What are the three levels of screening that Teacherhorizons uses? 

 We have consolidated the process into  3 levels, but our relationship with the school, of course, extends beyond this. 

Levels:

  1. Admin screen
  2. Online screen
  3. Skype screen

Level 1: Admin screen.

Our admin screening is just an initial screen to ensure that schools are International Schools and can move ahead to getting a school profile page.  We do a quick screen to check they are an international school by looking online that they have an international curriculum & international staff faculty.  We check the person we are liaising with to ensure that they have a professional school email address.  It’s the operations team that does the pre-screening and ensures they have a profile page and then matches them with a lead recruitment adviser. 

Level 2 : Online screen.

Once they are matched with an advisor, they can do a deeper dive into the details of the school.  There are essentials that need to be covered which include, google searches and reviews of the school, what other recruitment sites they are part of etc. 

Accreditation is important for an international school and often they are listed on their website. Some examples of accreditations and endorsements are as follows: 

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International School of The Hague shows their accreditation and endorsements at the bottom of their homepage as shown here.

 

 

  • Council of International Schools (CIS)
  • Council of British International Schools (COBIS)
  • New England Association of Schools and colleges (NEASC)
  • International Baccalaureate. (IB)
  • Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA) 

 

 

 

 

 

We also look at how the school is perceived.  We can look at reviews for this by Google Search of forums and teacher reviews. We tend to explore if the school is featured on or part of other recruitment companies. The website of the international school tells us more information about them, we can look at how up to date they are and if they display recent news and events. We are also able to get a bit of an insight into the facilities that they have, looking out for any images of the campus and area. We then look into contacts. Have we previously had contact with the school? Do we have teachers currently at the school? Do we have teachers who have worked there before? The online screening process already provides us with a solid overview of the potential teacherhorizons school but there is a crucial link missing—connection! 

Level 3: Skype.

Once we have completed the online screening part our adviser requests a call with the school. This is for us to find out more about the school and also to learn about their recruitment desires and needs. As we want to be careful about the schools we work with we really want to find out more about them and it builds a more personal connection, too. Any questions or queries that came up in level 1 & 2 can be asked here. Some example questions we ask our schools are:

  • How many positions are you likely to have this year and how long do staff stay at your school on average?
  • What is the school’s culture like?
  • What do you think the school’s greatest strengths are?

Relationship building in a connected world.

An example of our linkedIn profile where we showcase our Happy Teachers and Share information about our schools.

An example of our linkedIn profile where we showcase our Happy Teachers and Share information about our schools.

 

It is no denying the power of being connected on social media. As both schools and teachers heavily use and value social media representation we make sure that during the process we start to follow our schools on social media and their head teachers on linkedIn. This way we can stay even more connected, and even share their accomplishments and highlights on our blog and our social media accounts. This is all part of building fully rounded relationships with our schools that last beyond the initial screening process and allow us to delve further into their missions, values and interactions.

 

 

We visit schools all over the world!  

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Going beyond a solely online process we are proud of our real life element in the school screening process. Our school visits are an integral part of the school screening process. This year we had a big drive for school visits. With a collective aim to visit 50 schools we actually ended up nearly doubling this! Our visits took us to UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Cambodia, China, Portugal, Italy, Kenya, Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Netherlands, Vietnam, Bali and Malaysia.

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Maggie visiting Utahloy International School Guangzhou

 What happens on a school visit?

We pack a lot into our visits! First we tour the facilities of the school. During the tour we can gain an overall sense of what it is like to work there, from how we are greeted on arrival to how we witness the teachers and students in a classroom environment. We love meeting the head teachers of our schools, especially as we would have chatted with them online and it is great to put a face to the name. Being face to face is also a useful environment to speak about any challenges the school is experiencing. Upon return to Teacherhorizons any necessary information is passed on to the team and potential candidates. This level of communication and transparency promotes a great attitude across the board.

You can read about some of our past school visits here.

Make your Teacherhorizons profile today to join the best schools and teachers around the globe.

Written by Alexandra Plummer

Gaining extra income during Covid-19: advice from an accredited coach

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A school closed during Covid-19

 

Has the Covid-19 situation left you a little struck for cash? Or has it prompted you to reflect on your career? Covid has bought about change for everyone and many of us left in a time of transition. Transitions can be tough, but luckily we have our accredited coach, Eldon here to support you in finding some direction for either changing course or getting a a bit of extra income in this challenging time. Eldon positively points out that as an international school teacher you have a wealth of transferable skills at your fingertips.

What are the transferable skills of International teachers? 

Eldon, former head of a leading international school, coach and motivational speaker shares his wisdom and helps us ask the right questions, to guide teachers in transition to better form where their next steps could take them. We are grateful for Eldon’s insight and positivity in a time that can be quite fear inducing. Read on for his sage advice:

“Have you ever thought about the amazing range of skills you gain being an international school teacher? Coming straight to your mind you will be thinking: adaptability, flexibility, coping with change and unexpected experiences. Did I tell you about the time we were deported from one country (with three small kids in tow) or the time we were paid in counterfeit USDs? Interesting stories but for another time! This life of an international school teacher is never dull!

Your teaching skills could earn you extra money. 

“You could even supplement your teaching income or even replace it. Wouldn’t that be something worth thinking about? Who would have ever predicted COVID-19 and the incredible repercussions that this has had across the international school world. Well let me share with you a positive outcome from all of this:

How to see opportunities over obstacles

I am currently working with one international school that has been sadly affected by the challenges of our current situation. They are in the unfortunate position of having some fabulous teachers but not enough kids, so less classes needed, hence less teachers needed. The sad thing of course is no-one saw this coming and so no contingency planning could have helped. So what to do? How can we help these teachers through a period of change and uncertainty?

I am working with some temporarily displaced teachers helping them see opportunities when mostly they can only see obstacles. What can your teaching skills and experience do to help you find work or extra income in the short term? Some ideas that might be swimming through your mind are coaching, training, consulting or setting up your own business. This is to name but a few of the many options you as an international school teacher could explore. The good thing is that any of these things could be added to any teacher’s life bringing in potential extra income and opportunities at any time. So let’s explore these in a little more detail.

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International school teachers coaching in transitions.

4 ways to find extra income as an International school teacher during Covid-19. 

1. Coaching as an International school teacher

It takes many forms but in its essence coaching is simply a form of development in which an experienced person, called a coach, who supports a learner or client in achieving a specific personal or professional goal by providing training and guidance. Could you do that? Of course you could! Think about the wide range of strategies and skills you currently use in the classroom. Questioning, building trusted relationships, problem solving and solution finding, goal setting, reflection and analysis—the list goes on. All these skills are transferable and work super well in the coaching space. 

2. Training as an International school teacher

You have become an expert in many areas – your curriculum specialization, with a particular age group or even delivering an inspiring approach to teaching. I’ll give you an example -I have a Masters in Gifted and Talented Education. I have worked for years in the field, designing curriculum to challenge and extend learners and even short training programs for teachers on Higher Order Thinking Skills, Critical and Creative Thinking and the like. Teachers in other international schools would love to learn how to work with these kids. Teachers in other international schools would love to know what you know. They’d love to learn from you about how they could bring these special skills into their own classroom. So what’s stopping you? What are you very good at? Could you write and share a training program on that? Of course you could!

3. Consulting as an International school teacher

Many international schools develop innovative programs for their students. Future Problem Solving, Environmental Projects, Art Exhibitions and there are loads more. What have you helped your own school develop? Has it been a winner? Others schools and other international teachers would like to learn from you. Developing a consultancy model where you guide others through the tried and tested process you helped develop can be a very rewarding place to go. What do you know? What IP have you helped develop? How could you help other schools replicate the amazing work you are already doing? Could you see yourself as a consultant? 

4. Setting up a business an International school teacher

Haven’t we all dreamed of this? Being our own boss and following a passion project? Doing something we have always dreamed of doing? Well now you can! Think about it, we all have special skills or interests that others would be keen to buy from us. What’s your passion? Do you love making jewelry? Do you have a special skill for writing a CV? How about team building games? Or teaching drama or singing or public speaking or anything! What’s your passion?  It’s actually easier than you think. What could you do for you?

There is no doubt that we all love the lifestyle that international teaching gives us. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you had an added insurance policy of sorts to bring in additional income for when you needed it or for even when you didn’t but wanted to plan for your future? Take the time to dream! Teaching reaches far beyond the classroom!” 

Advice by Eldon Pascoe.

Thank you Eldon, for taking the time to shift some mindsets and get us on the track to think about opportunities this time can bring for international school teachers!

 

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Eldon coaching International school teachers

Eldon’s Bio

Eldon is the former head of a leading international school, an accredited coach, a motivational speaker and respected professional learning provider. He has a Bachelor in Education and a Master of Education. His work in international educational organizations has taken him around the world. Eldon has a breadth of experience in facilitating cutting edge learning and coaching programs. He is a strong advocate for improvement in educational service provision and has led change and development in Europe, Asia, South America and the United Kingdom. Eldon’s commitment to improving teaching and learning outcomes has come from his extensive work in developing cultures of excellence in international education.

 

 

 

Are you a teacher in transition right now? We would love to hear from you! Please reach out to us at editor@teacherhorizons.com

Let us support you find your next position, Sign up to Teacherhorizons now! 

Written by Alexandra Plummer

Re-opening international schools – a behind the scenes account.

More schools continue to reopen around the world. While we are coming to terms with social distancing becoming the ‘new normal’, what does it really take when re-opening international schools?

We are seeing more schools in Europe begin to re-open. Schools are prioritising health and safety precautions and student and staff wellbeing.  Beyond this, they are really excited for students and teachers being united, again.  The British School Netherlands opened their junior school to half capacity on the 11th May. The government allowed re-openings for primary levels from that date and BSN worked towards ensuring students and staff safety and wellbeing were considered. On their website they stated that:  “While we are all duly cautious about reopening of the school campuses, staff and students are also excited and happy to see each other again. This will be the longest time in the students’ school careers that they have not seen their teachers. The face to face interaction has been greatly missed.”

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British International School Ljubljana staff ready to welcome back their students!

We also have a first hand account from principal Paul Walton, British International School, Ljubljana.  On Monday 18th May, they re-opened their premises, welcoming students back into the building.  Paul shares with us the detailed procedures and measures taken to re-open an international school post lockdown: 

It takes a team and a strategy. 

“Following a carefully planned ‘staggered start’ of cohorts and a comprehensive reopening guide shared through our school website, this was a very exciting time for the whole community.  Leading the programme to integrate learners back to school has been a highly coordinated and synchronised challenge involving a range of stakeholders and a host of significant decisions.

Slovenia, having declared the end of the epidemic last week, is reopening its borders and slowly relaxing restrictions throughout the country.  Following these measures, we organised an extensive list of advice, informative links and guidance for everyone to adhere to.  With safety as our number one priority, the Senior Leadership Team coordinated the return of students with teachers transitioning from high-quality blended learning opportunities back into their familiar classroom timetables.  

As part of the Orbital Education Group, we are able to collaborate with other school leaders, from Qatar to Shanghai, to share best practice, use their experiences, advice and support as we meticulously reconfigure our learning spaces and procedures to ensure a safe, successful and seamless move from using the popular blended learning environment to compliment further by adding a physical classroom setting for the students to enjoy.”

Check-ins & support for all involved.

“Moving back from online learning included a range of ‘check-ins’ with staff through emails, phone calls and apps to allow video conferencing to discuss wellbeing, working arrangements and to support our colleagues.  Additionally, the school has offered a range of healthy eating tips, exercises, as well as virtual social events during this time to help our staff.

Our students have been busy this week and it’s been fantastic to hear things such as “It’s good to socialise again”, “I’ve missed my teacher and friends” and “I’m so happy to be back, it’s exciting to return”.  Being back in the school environment is essential for their wellbeing as this has given them opportunities to build relationships, play games with others and interact with each other.”  

A rigorous health & safety protocol.

“To ensure everyone’s safety on site, a full review and assessment of the school was completed a week before the official re-opening. This includes a deep clean, room layouts reconfigured to meet health and safety expectations and wide-ranging hygiene provision for everyone.  These measures were checked again over the weekend and prior to the arrival of our students.  Our challenges included the physical change to the learning environment at school, as this now featured a range of visible measures for safety that could have potentially dampened the spirits of our younger students upon their return.  

With parents and teachers modelling the correct cleansing of hands, physical distancing and wearing masks, this was a fantastic addition to embed prevention routines and share good practice across our community.   We also planned accordingly to reduce larger gatherings e.g. assemblies, large group activities and events to ensure the safety of the students.  There has been significant pastoral care, support and welfare offered to our students during this time of blended learning.  Whilst retaining the best of online learning provision, the addition of their normal routines in the school compliments very well to facilitate opportunities to help, reassure and listen to them through this changeover.  This is an incredible area of strength that we are especially proud of as a school due to the positive and respectful relationships between the staff and students.”

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British International School Ljubljana are excited to welcome back their juniors. The kids are happy to be back together and playing outside.

Being reunited at last! 

“Our first morning back began with teachers greeting the children as they arrived at school full of energy and liveliness.  They were extremely happy to be back to see their teachers and were visibly excited to greet their peers after the past couple of months apart.

The students then moved into classrooms and followed the guidance for the number of students in the room, desk spacing, and cough and hand hygiene to ensure that everyone was as safe as possible.  The attitude of the students was exemplary as they harmoniously accommodated the new changes with hygiene and distancing in a calm and composed manner.  Once lessons started, it was very much back to ‘normal’ with everybody enjoying a rich variety of learning experiences and stimulating interactions with all those around them.

Photographs of the lessons during the day captured the positive mood amongst the students as they enjoyed being back in their classrooms, out exercising with our PE team and even participating in some outdoor learning in our Woodland area on site.  The late-afternoon sunshine was out overlooking our students during their activities, bringing to an end a perfect first day back to school for everyone involved.

As the students left, I felt a huge pride in working with such a dedicated and committed team of staff who have gone above and beyond expectations during this unprecedented time.   We look forward to a successful term ahead with a warm optimism and pleasure of working with our students again at school.”

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British School Netherlands re-opened their younger years classes on the 11th of may.

Thanks so much to Paul for the detailed account of what it takes to re-open an international school. It’s clear that substantial precaution has been taken while still creating a supportive learning environment and celebrating the return for students, teachers and parents. It’s great to see the community and strength observed in international schools during this challenging time. Karren van Zoest, Headteacher at BSN, further adds to Paul Walton’s sentiment well:  Schools are the very embodiment of people being together and yet we have managed to be together – apart.  As we now begin the journey towards being together once again, I know that we do so with an even stronger one-school bond.” 

 

 

 

Are you a teacher who has recently transitioned back to school? We would love to hear from you! Please reach out to us at editor@teacherhorizons.com 

Let us support you in the journey towards your dream job, Sign up to Teacherhorizons now! 

Written by Alexandra Plummer

A revolution in waiting? International education post Covid-19.

According to UNICEF  “ Some 1.5 billion students — close to 90% of all primary, secondary and tertiary learners in the world — are no longer able to physically go to school”  That’s a considerable hit to business as normal. This global pause has enabled us to reflect and explore the ways the Covid-19 crisis can be used to fuel change and harness the opportunity to revolutionise international education as we know it. 

Our adviser, Jo put it aptly when she stated: “I think school communities will take a serious look at the current western education model and reconsider what we teach, how we teach it and where we teach it, and, most importantly, why we teach it. The closures will have given educators and families a chance to reflect on what is important and this might lead to some well-overdue reforms in education.”  Forget going ‘back to normal’ —let’s use this opportunity to really evaluate current school systems and structures. This prompts the crucial question: what will a ‘new normal’ in international education look like? 

The New Normal: Let’s Build Back Better! 

year-13-students-back-to-school

One of our partner schools Dulwich College, Beijing have recently welcomed yr 13 Students back to school. They have been incredible during the crisis, demonstrating a great sense of community and support. Welcome back!

We are hearing it everywhere, this notion of a ‘new normal’. It’s time to start envisaging a future we desire and putting it into action! There are several areas within international education that the Covid-19 crisis has thrown up to the surface: notably issues of access, wellbeing and technology. We can choose to view these, even the shortcomings, as areas of opportunity in shaping international education. 

Sometimes all the structures of schooling can mask the heart of the matter in education. This pandemic has stripped away the protocols as we know it and we have seen innovative methods of teaching and learning appear.  As Weforum note: “All the red tape that keeps things away is gone” and now we are left with what really matters. We are also left with a very clearer view of what works and doesn’t. 

“Build Back Better” is a concept used in disaster recovery, rooted in the notion that disaster can trigger resilience and through policy and action societies can be rebuilt even better than before. The notion fits well in our current Covid landscape. The concept of Build Back Better can help us imagine ways we can do things differently moving forward.  There are several possible areas where we can ‘build back better’ in international education, but we are going to focus on technology, access & inequality.

Build Back Better: Harnessing the power of digitalization in international education. 

Shanghai Community International School connecting digitally.

Shanghai Community International School. During the pandemic they utilised ‘blended learning’. Their teachers in Italy, Turkey, Australia, and Canada teach live lessons along with their teachers on-site in Shanghai.

Covid-19 certainly brought technology to the forefront of education. It highlighted the potential of using online learning even in a post-covid world, it accentuated issues in equality when it comes to internet connectivity and it also brought home the power of stepping “offline” and embracing experiential learning. 

The importance of digital literacy 

We can expect to see online learning continue once schools open. Many schools have already stated that they will utilise online platforms even when face-to-face classes resume. World wide internet use and connectivity is here to stay in education and will continue to grow.  If schools are in agreement with WeForum’s latest article that it is  “indispensable… for our populations to be digitally literate to function and progress in a world in which social distancing, greater digitalization of services and more digitally-centered communications may increasingly become the norm”  then it requires building a rigorous online pedagogy for teachers and the opportunity for learners to have the access to build their literacy skills.  In a survey conducted by UNICEF, “most parents said that their children had learned to use new technologies better in order to follow the school curriculum online. One in every two parents believes that the development and presentation of teaching materials on television and the internet should continue even after this crisis.”

Technology to be used to supplement teaching not replace teachers.  

While we embrace the use of technology it is no replacement for teachers themselves. As virtual classrooms have highlighted, teachers are the ones putting in the work and communicating with their students, the digital element is just a tool.  The World Economic Forum recently wrote an article on educational changes post Covid-19, stating:  “quickly realizing that remote learning is just a baby step experiment in the long journey to offering online education that has been conceived as such, which includes effective student engagement tools and teacher training.”  This is an exciting aspect of realising the ways digital education can support the delivery of quality programs in international schools. As mentioned in our earlier article on  changes to international education, teachers are building in professional development elements to ensure they can implement online learning pedgagogy into their work. 

Limitations in access and issues of equality 

As well as technology being a main-stay in international schools, it has also really highlighted issues of equality and accessibility. It has become evident that depending on the individual’s situation some people will be better equipped with internet connectivity and/or access to learning materials than others. This is to be addressed by schools and policies that are adopting an increased roll out of digitalization in the future. “We may also see inequality drive different technology uses, with wealthier communities using more demanding technologies (virtual and mixed reality, telepresence) while poorer ones turn to tools with lower infrastructure demands (asynchronous video, audio, images and text).”  This divide is to be acknowledged and worked with, ensuring that the method yields similar learning opportunities despite the differences. 

Access to technology is only one aspect of inequality in the digital divide, also highlighted within international schools is students who have different needs that may have been neglected in the transition over to purely digital learning. As Education International succinctly expresses: “School closures tend to reinforce inequalities and, although use of digital means in some countries may help during this period, they will often be of less value to disadvantaged, special needs and other students requiring substantial personal attention, thereby increasing the digital divide” 

The flip-side of the digital divide: Inclusivity

While it has evidently increased the divide in terms of access, and has meant extra support needed for some individuals, a flip side of this has also been reported. Some students have found the new environment excel’s their learning experience, as recorded in a recent Cambridge International blog post:  “Home schooling for some children may have provided an environment that really plays to their strengths. One parent of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder spoke positively about the gains made learning at home: “My son is less tired by not having to think of all the extras like finding rooms, packing bags, following a timetable, rushing lunch, etc. He is enjoying the way work is set now as home is quieter and calmer for him.” This demonstrates the opportunity to re-evaluate traditional teaching structures. Some parents noticed how their children worked well when they could move around the room or that using headphones supported their concentration.  Inclusivity calls for less traditional ways of educating, perhaps starting with the most simple of approaches like changing the classroom set up.

Build Back Better: A change to well-being for students, teachers and parents 

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A viral post of cute story where a school in China got creative with social distancing but making social distancing hats. Kudos!

The pandemic has revolutionized a human element to international education. As touched upoin earlier, redtape and school administration can sometimes undermine the real learning at hand. The pandemic has highlighted the “above and beyond” mentality that teachers so commonly demonstrate, it’s put a spotlight on the great stress teachers are so often put under, it has accentuated the role of schools, care-givers and parents in the learner’s journey and has highlighted the importance of unique, individualised and human centred learning.  Fitting into rigid structures and becoming a statistic suddenly seems undeniably counter intuitive. So how can we start to utilise some of our individualised focus back into a school system? 

Innovation, creativity & community support. 

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The Green School, Bali already pioneers of experiential learning have their very own innovation hub! We expect to see other schools following suit post pandemic.

The shanker institute recently wrote an article outlining opportunities for schools after Coronavirus: It’s now clear that without their teachers’ care and support it’s hard for many young people to stay well and focused. Being well, we’ll appreciate, isn’t an alternative to being successful. It’s an essential precondition for achievement, especially among our most vulnerable children.” As well as support, innovation, creativity and community support have shown to be key elements in successful learning. Wellbeing has began to look less like classroom yoga class and more like stepping off digital devices, getting outside, creating something and supporting the wider community.  Schools and initiatives that have done well during this unprecedented time all have one thing in common—community.  Wellbeing is undeniably entangled with having a good sense of community. While an individualised approach to teaching and learning is needed, support and connectedness is paramount to success.

We have heard plenty of stories and seen plenty of pictures of the creative and experiential ways of learning over these months.  Many schools were already adopting  more experimental learning—heads up The Green school, Bali! We now imagine more to be following suit in pioneering progressive and non-traditional methods, as fundamentals to living sustainably have been highlighted during the pandemic.

What other aspects of International schooling, do you think, need a reform? We would love to hear your point of view, please reach out at editor@teacherhorizons.com 

Looking to be part of the exciting changes in the future of International education Sign up to Teacherhorizons today- your next job is waiting for you!

Written by Alexandra Plummer

Covid-19: Changes in International Education

We have all witnessed the vast changes that the Coronavirus global pandemic has had across all aspects our lives. In the international education sector the impact is likely to shape the future of international education as we know it.

We’ve observed changes that we expect are likely to stick around post pandemic. While each point could be a blog post in and of itself ( subscribe to our international teaching blog to get the latest!) they serve to cover the general observations from those in the International education sector: drawing on insights from our team, teachers, leaders and recruiters. Of course, things continue to change almost daily so please take them as considerations rather than set in stone. Curious about the ways the international teaching sector has been impacted by Covid-19? Read on…

International teacher recruitment moves online

helloquence-5fNmWej4tAA-unsplashAs lockdown continues around the world, the “new normal” is starting to emerge.  Many schools are anxious about having recruitment on hold and eager to get back to recruitment, this has prompted shift to online recruitment. For us at Teacherhorizons all our recruitment is and has always been done online. We can feel confident that, while we are under the same uncertainty as others under this pandemic, we can offer a smooth process and transition for teachers.  Our Director of Operations, Emily says it best: “Teacherhorizons is and always has been an online community. This means that we are experts in offering recruitment opportunities for teachers and schools online rather than relying on face to face events and interviews. Our team are specialists in offering advice and guidance on how to find and secure the best teaching job for you!”

As teachers move over to online recruitment, schools and other recruiters will be moving online, too.  Interviews online are likely to be more prominent. Rowan Bell, Senior HR Director from Wellington College China via Cobis stated: “We’ve seen a downturn in numbers of applications but have still been able to move forward with interviews and offers”.  Joining Teacherhorizons processes, St George’s British International School in Rome is also shifting over to the internet as a way to meet candidates as Eva Lamorgese at Cobis, wrote about.  Video conferences in the stages of recruitment is perhaps the new normal. At Teacherhorizons we are working to support our candidates in preparing for video interviews and have a wealth of information on the process including how to write a great CV for your next international teaching job. 

While the pandemic  has naturally caused a dip in candidate numbers, schools are coming up with ways to continue with as little impact as possible. As Cobis stated “ many schools are likely to promote staff retention or hire more local staff.” this notion was also echoed in a recent chat amongst head teachers on the Association for the advancement of International education . However, not all international schools will go this route. For many, it’s a case of seeing how things unfold.

International Education as we know it is changing.

Online teaching is here to stay

annie-spratt-4-4WPFLVhAY-unsplashPerhaps the most obvious change we have all witnessed is the move to online teaching. As schools start to shift back to face-to-face and reopen their buildings, it is becoming increasingly apparent that this doesn’t mean online teaching will become obsolete. Quite the contrary, some schools anticipate that it will be become a mainstay: “Teachers should anticipate teaching part of the school year online. This would include the expectation of having a portion of the classes synchronous.” according to International School Dakar.

Our Director of Operations, Emily stated: “I  have heard from some schools that have created their own online platforms to support online teaching and learning during COVID-19. They decide to create their own platforms instead of using ones that already exist, e.g. Zoom, as they are planning to continue to teach online and offer long-distance learning courses to students all over the world post-COVID. These schools were predicting a large decrease in student numbers due to the pandemic so this offers them another arm of income to support their teachers and keep the school open and operating.”

On a bigger picture level, the use of online work and learning is likely to be a mainstay across many sectors, international education included.  In a recent article touching on distance learning by Fast Company they said: “it is hard to say what our world will be like once we are allowed to go back to our offices and schools, but I very much doubt everything will return to the way it was before the pandemic. Distance learning, done right, has advantages that are hard to deny. This leads me to believe that both companies and schools will land somewhere in between where we were before the pandemic and what we are living with while sheltering in place.”

Are we facing an international education reform?

There’s nothing like a global pandemic to highlight what needs fixing and amending. Many of us are thinking about how we wish to navigate moving forward. School heads and leaders are thinking about the trajectory of international education, begging the question “what can our intended future be?”  One of our advisors, Jo, beautifully summarises this thinking: “I think school communities will take a serious look at the current western education model and reconsider what we teach, how we teach it and where we teach it, and, most importantly, why we teach it. The closures will have given educators and families a chance to reflect on what is important and this might lead to some well-overdue reforms in education. People don’t seem to want it to ‘go back to normal’, but to use this opportunity to really evaluate school systems and structures.”

Changes to school structures and systems

More experiential learning to be used

simon-ray-7h4ladPzhn0-unsplashExperiential learning has become more common play since the pandemic. The value of it perhaps increased while parents start to navigate and find creative ways to engage their children in learning activities. There has been a wealth of advice on how to help students learn in a non-traditional schooling environment, for example UNICEF created a helpful list.  The value of experiential learning is now more widely witnessed and schools are discussing how to make this more commonplace once schools start up. Part of experiential learning is the student at the center of learning process and discussions on how to create an environment of self-sufficient learners, even amongst younger years is being discussed. This was a topic of focus on a recent discussion on the Association of the Advancement of International Education. The AAIE have enabled their videos of Head of School Conversations on Covid related topics, available for free.

Administration and Access

While schools may start to reopen it’s not likely that the entire school year will return to business as normal. Teachers will have to take on a higher level of flexibility and responsibility. They may have to teach more classes than before, the calendar might change including their days and hours and the academic year dates and holidays may well see some changes, too. School reopening means thorough considerations in health and safety. Cleaning companies, temperature checks etc…what will this mean in the future? How long will social distancing happen? How will schools adapt to a distance style learning environment? These questions are mostly unanswered at this time but continue to be discussed amongst school leaders.

The pandemic has also highlighted key differences in access to learning. Some teachers are planning to do summer schools for those that haven’t had the same access. Some teachers are taking extra courses in special needs education. Stay tuned for a blog post covering Special Needs Education and Covid-19.

Changes to teacher movement around the world

This one is a little harder to predict or monitor. Teachers are still applying for jobs. Many are wanting to continue on and go ahead with their relocation or back to their host country as soon as they can. It appears that schools are not in shortage of teachers, despite a dip in candidates across recruitment platforms and schools. Some teachers might choose to stay home but some are using this time to plan their next steps.  A ‘life is too short attitude’  has fuelled movement for those looking for the next adventure. A candidate recently told one of our advisors that while they were actually planning on returning back to their home country, US, but since the pandemic they actually decided to extend their contract in China for another two years, instead.

Quarantining teachers on arrival back to school

The subject of quarantining for international teachers must be addressed on a case by case basis. Some schools will require that teachers quarantine upon returning to the country but it will depend on the government policies of each particular country and as this changes all the time we are unable to provide an exhaustive list. ISD said that “Staff who are outside of Senegal may be quarantined upon returning to Dakar based on the Senegalese government regulations.” same follows suit for many other countries and their international schools.

Professional Development

In a recent video conference for  head teachers and leaders of international schools around the world, there was a lot of mention of schools requiring that their teachers focus their PD on online teaching. For some schools this is a mandatory requirement, and some are expected to undergo it in the summer holidays before schools start to reopen. International School Dakar in Senegal stated the following: “Teachers will be required to participate in professional development activities during the summer related to online teaching. The specific activities will be determined by the teacher in conversation with their supervisor.  The school will cover the cost of the professional development.
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We will keep building on these observations. Stay tuned for future blogs that can delve deeper into these points, as there is a lot to be said and shared!

If you wish to share your point of views with us, please reach out at editor@teacherhorizons.com

Looking to be part of the exciting changes in the future of International education, sign up to teacherhorizons today- your next job is waiting for you.

Written by Alexandra Plummer

5 ways schools are preparing to reopen

We have been closely following international school closures and the creative ways students, teachers and parents have been adjusting to Covid-19 around the world. Now we are starting to see the next shift—the reopening phase! But, what will post lock-down school reopening look like?

k-mitch-hodge-VVqDTBCK5pY-unsplashAcross the globe schools closed in order to contain the Covid-19 pandemic spreading with approx. 182 country-wide school closures. These closures impacted around 90% of the globe’s student population, according to UNESCO.  See an interesting visual that shows the evolution on schools closing through the start of the pandemic to now. 

While many schools remain closed we are seeing some start to reopen, especially in China where some have been closed since January. To stay informed with the reopening of schools globally, ISC Research keep an up-to-date record of school closures around the world by country which you can view, here. 

Our partner schools in China are starting to reopen.

Yew Chung Education Foundation is a network of international kindergartens, schools, and colleges that provide quality education to over 10,000 students, spanning from infancy to tertiary, across 20 locations in Hong Kong and Mainland China. YCIS Chongqing posted on their linkedIn recently that they have reopened and are “buzzing about it”.  They reopened year 4 to Year 13 on the 20th April and after the May Day holiday the primary years will follow suit. They are excited and sound optimistic about the reopening and being in a shared learning environment again, with precautions taken, of course!

How do schools prepare to reopen after Covid-19? 

Of course re-opening schools is a nerve-racking time and it isn’t going to just go back to as it was. Schools have been taking the preparations very seriously. According to BASIS International Schools with their locations in Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Park Lane Harbour, they have: “undergone extensive cleaning, testing, and drills to ensure a safe reopening this week. Teachers and staff have been tested, all school grounds disinfected, temperature check stations placed, and new procedures practiced. The health and safety of our school communities is of the utmost importance and all of our campuses are prepared for a healthy reopening.” 

UNESCO’s Stefania Giannini, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education said the following: “the decision to reopen schools is one of the most sensitive subjects on political agendas today and depends on the evolution of the pandemic and each national context. The priority must be to safeguard the health and well-being of students, and to build trust.”  These are some ways we see schools preparing for reopening:

kseniia-ilinykh-yvt-SSxzgLI-unsplash1. Schools reopen in stages

From some of the schools we have seen reopening, they have been doing so in phases, starting with bringing older students in first. Some schools have started with teachers going into schools beforehand to learn the new protocols. According to an Upworthy article,  a teacher from a school in China shared: ” The first week, April 13th, all teachers were called back to learn the new protocols in place while continuing online learning. The 2nd week, grades 4-8 were called back, and today is the 3rd week with K-3 joining us. Having the kids come back in stages allowed us to practice protocols without full traffic in the building.”

2. Deep cleaning in schools

Schools have been undertaking deep-cleaning while they have been closed. They have also been purchasing gear for precautionary measures like tents, temperature sensors, and hand-sanatizers. Accordinging to YCIS in Beijing they started planning all the logistics to ensure students return to a safe environment. They shared on their website that: “In addition to the gathering of all necessary products and equipment, the department has also been disinfecting school premises daily with a plan to intensify the process closer to the reopening of schools. Once school resumes Miss Wang reassured us that “We will ensure that public areas are disinfected every two hours, such as doorways, floor mats, doorknobs, banisters, etc., and keep records. We will also ensure that the temperature of the school staff is monitored twice a day and recorded.”,  all administered by a certified company.

3. School temperature booths and masks

Yew Chung International School of Beijing said that “After school reopens, we will devote more manpower to check everyone’ temperature when coming in and out of the campus at the gate, so as to ensure that every student’s temperature is monitored and recorded.”  It’s likely to be mandatory for masks to be worn in most schools around the world, too.

4. Social distancing in schools

A school in Hangzhou, got creative and made adorable social distancing hats!  They had students design and make their own gates that measure over 3 feet to unsure practical safety precautions, keeping them away from their peers. They stated: “The hats all have two wing-like flaps, though kids added their own creative flourishes.  Some made their long flaps out of colorful cardboard tubes, others out of balloons. Some crafty kids decorated their flaps with birds, leaves and rainbows. One added a crown atop the cap covering his head, while another added googly eyes to his bright red creation.”   It’s all part of helping students learn about social distancing—super cute and educational!

5. School solidarity and trust

Times like these really unite schools, teachers, students and parents together in solidarity. Some parents have been donating sanitizers and masks to schools while some have even been sewing and making their own masks to share.  School reopening isn’t going to be so simple though, and as Ms Giannini at UNESCO stated: “We must work together to make our education systems more resilient and better prepared for the current paradigm shift as well as to face possible crisis in the future.”

glen-carrie-9w0J-XVx8vU-unsplashWhat about schools that are still closed?

While many schools continue to remain closed, we have seen some morale boosting and optimistic ways to deal with the Pandemic’s interruption to learning as we know it.  Dulwich College Puxi, Shanghai have been sending packages to their young learners still at home. According to their website they recently stated: “Thank you, Dulwich parents! It was lovely to see so many happy little faces from across our community this week as our DUCKS students received their Care Packages from their teachers in Shanghai. These courier packs contain learning resources to support our online programmes, and help students to document and capture their development and progress. This week, we have sent more care packs with special deliveries to support our upcoming enrichment projects which include building bird feeders to attract and feed neighbourhood birds that have flocked in for Spring time! We can’t wait to see your creations!” 

A recent article has also gone viral about a school in the US, shows a principal of Poplar Springs High School in Graceville, Florida, celebrating graduation remotely by lining a school driveway with photos of the students to celebrate them.

Got a story about your school reopening you wish to share with us? reach out at editor@teacherhorizons.com.  We look forward to hearing from you!

 

Written by Alexandra Plummer

Books to read during COVID-19.

In this time of isolation reading a book can be a welcomed companion. Reading has the power to support us during these uncertain times either as a means to learning a new skill, as a way to escape to a far away land or to build creativity and beyond. Whatever they offer you, let’s celebrate them together, apart. 

Teacherhorizons Celebrates World Book and Copyright Day

23rd April was UNESCO World Book & Copyright day. I asked the Teacherhorizons team: “what are you reading during lock down?” The results are an eclectic mix of both fiction and non-fiction. We really enjoyed sharing these with each other and getting a little insight into each others worlds. We hope they inspire you and offer you some encouragement to pick up a book! 

jaredd-craig-HH4WBGNyltc-unsplashOur teams share their top books to read:

Our advisor, Tiffany, has picked the following books that are bringing her comfort in uncertain times:

‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ by Rachel Joyce

I just finished reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ by Rachel Joyce, which I loved. It was really easy reading, and made me laugh and cry! It’s very moving, and makes you really think about how the people you meet have an effect on your life going forward, even if you don’t realise. Also makes you ponder growing old (which scared me to be honest!)

Thinking Fast and Slow, By Daniel Kahneman

Also one I have been reading for a while on and off is Thinking Fast and Slow, By Daniel Kahneman. It’s a really interesting read, and is amazing if you are interested in psychology or understanding the way people work. It does take a bit of concentration so don’t read it til the kids are in bed, but it’s really fun, with lots of examples, riddles, illusions etc to try out on yourself and other people. Makes for interesting dinner party chats! 

Emily, our Operations Manager recommended the following:

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I am currently reading this book and it is brilliant. A real page turned that explores American society and social constructs around race, privilege and a mothers bond and love. It is easy to get sucked in too and helps pass a spare hour or two! 

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

A hugely touching and emotional book about a young man’s fight with his mental illness. It is moving, funny and really puts life into perspective. During a time like this our mental health is really being tested and reading something that is so brutally honest is refreshing! 

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

This series of books got me into reading when I was a young teenager. I hated reading and couldn’t engage in any books until my cousin introduced me to Noughts and Crosses. Things quickly changed and I read the whole series in a matter of weeks and due to this the series seems to hold a sense of nostalgia and comfort for me so I revisit the books often and when I need a bit of comfort. 

Curry Easy by Madhur Jaffrey

we are a family that needs no excuse for a celebration and every occasion revolves around the food that we will all be sharing together. Curry Easy is a beautiful cookbook full of delicious Indian recipes that are authentic but not overly complicated. We often hold curry nights where each family member will prepare and bring a different Indian dish and we will have a huge curry feast. During this time we are obviously not able to do this but I am still enjoying the time I have to explore new recipes and spend lots of time in the kitchen. 

gaelle-marcel-L8SNwGUNqbU-unsplashOur advisor, Katy tells us of the following books and why they mean so much to her:

His Dark Materials  by Philip Pullman 

Just started re-reading the Northern Lights – made even better by the fact that I have read it before, seen it on stage in London and recently watched the BBC adaptation of the first book. I am now able to adapt my imagination where the stage/tv productions did it better and keep the bits where I prefer how my imagination has portrayed the characters and scenery. In all adaptations the Golden Monkey strikes fear into my heart!

Emma by Jane Austen

My favourite Jane Austen book – every time I read it I realise how cleverly it is written and characterised and how terribly misguided Emma was. I wrote essays about this at university and it has remained one of my all-time favourites. I have my Dad’s copy here with me, with all his annotations in the margin as he also studied it at varsity

Anything by Terry Pratchett

My go-to books to laugh out loud. Recommended years ago by a dear teacher friend in Zimbabwe. Currently reading Good Omens by Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Yes, I like to read more than one book at a time!

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

This will be the next one I read – it was recommended by somebody on my creative writing course a few years ago. I read it at the time and now, in these very weird times I think I will re-read it – definitely a way to take oneself  away from reality

The Stuff of Thought by Steven Pinker

This is a tough one that has been on the go for some time as it requires time to read – cannot be read on the diagonal (as they say here in Portugal) and was recommended to me by a child psychologist who lives on a dairy farm in Ixopo, Kwazulu Natal.

 

kourosh-qaffari-RrhhzitYizg-unsplashShaun shared the following as his ‘go to’ books:

Lord of the Rings: the fellowship of the ring by JRR Tolkien.

After loving the films, and being a big fantasy and sci-fi reader i’m not quite sure how I missed reading Lord of the rings, but now we are all isolating, it seemed like a great time to get stuck into it. It’s clear why it is such a highly regarded book series as Tolkiens writing style is so interesting and enthralling, and I can ‘nerd-out’ about all the differences between the book and the film!

Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch

I was recommended this book by a couple of close friends who are always keen to speak about the bigger things in life when we meet up. Whether you believe in god or not, the discussions that happen throughout the book provide some really interesting ideas about how to deal with life without being a self-help book.

1984 by George Orwell

I read this first when I was younger and have regularly revisited it. It really ignited a love of history/politics/literature and sci-fi. While the book is most known for the authoritarian/totalitarian dictatorship led by ‘big brother’, the main characters that you follow throughout the story are really interesting and well developed, so maybe something anyone could get into.
olesia-buyar-ZD03qVhBJZg-unsplashAnisha, a recent mum, is reading some classic kids books like The Hungry Caterpillar, Not Now Bernard and There’s a Monster in Your Book for the 1000th time. She still found time to share her trusty old favourites

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Such a comforting and positive read especially in times of uncertainty.

The power of vulnerability by Brene Brown

I love her and this book in particular! I cheated and listened to her audiobook – her tone is soothing and relatable.

Natives by Akala

I love his music and poetry so thought I’d give this a try and it didn’t disappoint! Enthralling and educational

Prashad by Kaushy Patel.

Being away from home, I particularly miss all the home cooking but this book holds the key to recreating all the deliciousness.

Further recommendations from the team:

Our advisor, Caroline, also a busy mum, says she has no time to read but a long list. She shared this one with us: ‘The Montessori Toddler’ by Simone Davies. Roz, an advocate for reading just one book at a time, is reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari.

Despite the distance, this was a way for us to really feel a sense of community and connectedness. What ways are you connecting with people right now? We would also love to know what you are reading!

Don’t let this uncertain time stop you from doing what you love, sign up to be part of our incredible community of international teachers. 

 

 

Written by Alexandra Plummer