I have been teaching in international schools for the last seven years (which is when I started teaching, so technically, I have always taught in international schools). First in Munich, Germany, and now in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (this is my second year here). I absolutely love living internationally. I love being able to truly experience daily life and culture in a foriegn country. I love meeting people from a different country every day. I love working with such wonderful and wordly students. And, of course, I love the travel opportunities.
However, there is one huge disadvantage to teaching abroad: no real network or collaboration of colleagues outside of the individual school you work in. You see, many international schools are so isolated that they are a world unto themselves. Many of the struggles I have expressed on this blog trying to get teachers on board with tech integration is because these teachers have been international for years. They are not exposed to the constant professional development available in the States, or to the regulations and expectations for use of technology in the classroom like you may find in your home country. And, of course, we have no “district” or “region” to connect with – we are on our own. Occasionally schools in the same city may collaborate, but so far I haven’t seen that happen. What this means is that we often end up teaching in isolation. Especially specialist teachers, like myself, that are the only teacher for their subject at that particular age group (for example, I am the only IT teacher in the middle school).
So, I was thinking the other day, now that we have all these amazing web 2.0 tools at our fingertips, and everything is free and easy, why don’t some of the interested international school teachers start collaborating? You never know who you will be working with (or for!) in the future, so we can all start making some connections now. Maybe this exists already, and please let me know if it does – I want to join! If not, I had 2 concrete ideas (focused on middle school technology, because that’s my subject and grade level, but there’s no reason to stop there) to start with:
1. A common blog (this one) where we can share ideas, experiences and resources among ourselves, but more importantly with the teachers we work with. I know it can be a challenge to get teachers on board with technology projects, but imagine if you had a website with stories of different projects, how they started, what they looked like when they were finished, and how they were implemented. What an amazing resource!
2. A common wiki where we can post links and resources to support those various projects. A place to link all of the projects we have done. A place for all international school teachers to share their work with technology in the classroom. Can you imagine how much easier it would be to transition to a new school if you knew this resource was always available?
If you are interested, or know anyone, anywhere, who might be interested, please let me know. I am imagining my transition to my next job with these resources in hand and I am in awe of the limitless possibilities if we all work together!
Looking forward to working with you!