Category Archives: Ettie Zilber

Changing tack… slightly

Hello all,


Greetings from Poland and Lithuania…


I am sure that most of you are relaxing – hopefully with family and friends, perhaps on a beach, climbing a mountain, cycling or sitting with a book near a pool.  I hope you are getting a chance to read all those books that were piled up on your night table for the last 10 months.  I know the syndrome.  During the school year, we all have the best intentions to read the latest bestseller, for personal or professional edification, but after the second sentence… hmmmmmm…… we find the book on the floor next to the bed when we wake up in the morning.  Sound familiar?


So, right now, I would like to take advantage of your relaxed state and free time to introduce you to my latest research: Catalysts for a Career in International Schools.  This was a labor of love. I truly enjoyed receiving and reading almost 100 narratives from educators like yourselves. Categorizing the stories was very tedious, but in the end, I found 8 categories, which describe YOU.



I hope you enjoy reading the stories and the findings as much as I had writing it.

And… I would LOVE to hear your comments.

Keep enjoying your holiday


The Pleasures & the Pitfalls of Raising (and Teaching) children in your own international school

Blog 5

I have so often heard the comments, “I could never take my children overseas; I couldn’t do that to them,” or “ my partner/spouse and I want to start a family so we are leaving the international school to return ‘home’”.  Well, all I can say is, ‘what a pity!’  What a pity for these families, who, perhaps do not realize the many advantages of living overseas and raising their children as Third Culture Kids within the school family, and …what a pity for our international schools, when we cannot access or acquire the skills of many of these quality educators.

Therefore, my motivation to research this particular family paradigm was both altruistic and selfish.  Altruistic, because I wanted others to enjoy much of the pleasure I observed among staff who had their children in their school and my own personal experience having my children here, too. I have observed the wonderful family atmosphere at schools which have many staff children on roll. Selfish, because, as a school Director, I wanted to grow the pool of skilled and professional candidates for my schools.

Being a pioneer in this field of research, I was able to coin my own moniker for these children of educators who are studying in the same school – EdKids. (how exciting!)

So, I would love to expand on the themes from my research (see blog 4) one at a time.  I would love to hear from you on each category. Let me hear how you view these observations and commentaries.  Have you had similar experiences? Different experiences? What would you recommend can be done to improve the positives?

Theme 1:  The practical and economic benefits

The practical benefits of family members working and studying in the same school include the seemingly obvious fact that parents and children have the same weekly and yearly timetable, calendar, and holidays. Educator families have similar holidays, similar community events, and common relationships. The daily morning schedule, breakfast, family commute to and from work/school make daily life do-able.   As one educator said, ‘it simplifies life’.

The advantage of free tuition for dependents was a great benefit. Since many believe that the quality of private and independent school education is higher than in public schools, sending one’s child to a private school would not be a financially viable option ‘back home’.  The economic advantages are numerous, as well.  While salaries are all over the spectrum from low to high, educators quickly learn that it is NOT the salary which is ultimately the important variable.  Rather it is the potential for disposable income or savings.  Since many schools also offer travel, health, housing, utilities, professional development allowances,  much of the salary can be relegated to savings each month – or exciting travel or purchase opportunities.

Add to that, a double income of a teaching couple, plus the income tax exclusions (for U.S. citizens).  The final equation is that educators may be able to live a more financially dignified lifestyle overseas than back home.  And, with financial stability, comes a certain level of calm, or, at least lessening of anxiety.  You can imagine how this plays into the equation of raising your children.

Love to hear your thoughts!  Ettie    [email protected]

Let me know how I  can support your students, parents, staff and Board



Zilber, E. (2005). International school Educators and their Children.  JRIE., vol. 4 (1), 5-11.

Zilber, E. (2009).  Third Culture Kids: Children of International School Educators, John Catt., Ltd.

Taking your children on your international school journey has many BENEFITS for all members of the family!

Blog 4

For those of you who are already experienced international school educators, you probably have mental lists of your observations.  Maybe your observations focus on your own children, and maybe they focus on the children of your colleagues and friends inside your schools.

For those readers who might be wondering, might be concerned, might be titillated, might be afraid or might be dreaming of such a family venture … keep reading.  I think all of you will enjoy the results of some research.

A number of years ago, I was in a premier position to receive numerous narratives from educators about the advantages of raising children inside the international school where the parent/s work.  Conducting presentations at various international school conferences, such as ECIS, TRI-Association, Earcos, MAIS and AAIE, I had captive audiences, who were more than happy to share their observations, opinions and perspectives. I also presented to my own staff members in schools in China, Spain, Guatemala and the USA, thus, gleaning additional data.

Mind you, I did not only survey educators who had THEIR OWN kids in the school.  Many of the respondents did not have their own children in the school; rather, they were responding to their experiences working with the children of their colleagues, who are the parents/colleagues of their own students.   If this sounds circuitous – it is!! This is one of the characteristics of this paradigm – it is complicated!!  But, nevertheless, there are huge benefits to all members of the family, when children are enrolled in the school in which their parents are employed.

I was able to divide the narrative responses into 6 themes:

(a) practical benefits,

(b) social integration,

(c) facility of communication and contact,

(d) awareness, familiarity, and understanding of school and students,

(e) strong family bonds and interrelatedness, and

(f) educators as parent role models.

Well, now that you have the 6-point infrastructure, I would love to hear your observations that correspond to these categories.  Let loose and tell your personal or professional stories.  Perhaps you have an observation that does not fit ‘neatly’ into one of the 6 above.  I would love to hear about it.

Stay tuned to hear more in the next blog post.  I hope I can use some of your narratives to embellish the benefits of this extraordinary family odyssey.

Ciao!   Ettie

Raising your own children in the international school in which you work – What’s so great about it?

Well, as I promised, we are going to delve into the nitty-gritty of the research outcomes. What are the great advantages, or benefits, of having your kids with you at school?  When I asked this question at dozens of workshops, seminars, lectures, research surveys or Graduate courses, – both with my own staff or with those coming to participate from innumerable international schools – I heard so many positive and grateful reflections. Their comments made for very long list.

Actually, I often used this information when I interviewed candidates with children for positions at one of my schools (in Spain, Guatemala, China and USA). I helped many of them understand and realize the value of this parental, personal, & professional experience. (No, I did not sugar-coat it, because I also revealed some of the challenges – stay tuned).

So, let’s see:  for those of you who have your own children in tow throughout this international foray – what would YOU say were the positives?  Perhaps you should make your own list before I give it all away in this blog post.  I would love to read your list.  It could be so much more worthwhile comparing the entries in your list, with those of hundreds of your colleagues.

Maybe, you should send out the link to this blog to your international school colleagues who also have children with them. I bet they have items which are similar to yours – and some may have differences.  Another great resource would be to ask your school counselors.  They have excellent insights into the experience – far beyond the individual educator or administrator, because they see, hear and deal with many of the families ‘behind the scenes.’

Perhaps you have friends “back home” who may have their own child in the private, charter or public/independent school in which they work – ask them, too. (it would be fascinating to compare the ‘home country’ experience to the ‘expatriate’ experience.)

I love reading your comments and promise to respond to them as I have in the past.

Keep reflecting and keep enjoying the positives of your international school experience – where you are.  Remember, the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence/ocean/continent/world.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Ettie Zilber

[email protected]

And, of course – Happy New Year. I wish for peace and normalcy throughout the world.

“EdKids” in the international school community: Who cares?

For your holiday reading pleasure…

How cool to be the author of a new moniker, describing a unique group in our international school community – “EdKids.” An “EdKid” is a child of an educator who works in the same school as their child attends. While there are similarities with kids who are educated in their parents’ schools ‘back home,’ there are many paradigms which are unique to families which are ‘overseas.’   In many of my published articles, I refer to international schools, international school educators, EdKids, Cross-Cultural Kids and Third Culture Kids. I so enjoyed listening to and reading narratives from EdKids, their parent-educators, colleagues of the parent-educators, administrators and counselors during my research, writing and publications.

But, why are we even talking (writing) about EdKids? Typically, they might not even add up to 5% of the student population. As my dissertation advisor kept demanding: “Who cares?  Why is this worth talking about – or researching?”  Well, perhaps many of you, my readers and colleagues,  should care. Whether you thought about it before this blog – or not, whether, you are single or partnered, whether you have children of your own, contemplating having children, or are teaching EdKids – or any other permutation or degree of separation, maybe you should care.  I hope reading this blog will help clarify a number of issues,  answer your questions and develop a greater sense of understanding.

So where do YOU fit in?  Maybe you are:

  • A current or adult EdKid
  • A friend/classmate of EdKids
  • A current or former international educator-parent
  • An educator in the international school,  interfacing with the children of their colleagues
  • A counselor who works with EdKids and all the others who interact with them
  • A non-educator parent in the international school community
  • An administrator, who recruits, hires, orients and supervises these parent-educators and their children
  • An administrator who may have EdKids of your own
  • A board member who may have children enrolled in the school
  • A recruiting agent who promotes careers in international schools and wishes to augment your pool of qualified educators
  • A potential educators/candidates who is considering a job overseas AND/OR…
  • A current international educator who is considering starting a family (as mentioned in my previous blog post)Did I leave anyone out?  In which category/ies do YOU belong? Please write and tell me your insights.

    So now that the point has been hammered in – we probably should all ‘care’ about the EdKid experience. And, now, you may be thinking impatiently, “Ok, ok, Ettie…. Tell me something I don’t already know. Stop teasing me and start telling me more about this unique family paradigm and school experience.”

    Stay tuned, folks.  There’s lots more to come. My research has identified many absolutely positive aspects of this experience, yet also a number of, shall we say, ‘challenging’ aspects of this paradigm.  And, once I begin to describe some of the scenarios, you will probably say “sure, I knew that” or “of course, I observed/experienced that” or “really?  I can’t believe that actually happens.”

    In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy your holidays, with time away from the intense demands of your jobs, time to visit and celebrate with your friends and family who may live far away, … and have time to read, reflect and respond.  I would love to hear your thoughts.

    Happy Holidays.
    Ettie Zilber
    [email protected]
    ZedEd Consultancy

Should I raise my own children internationally… or settle down?

Title: Should I raise my own children internationally… or settle down?

I have heard this question stated in many forms by both veteran international school educators and those who never worked overseas as educators.

Educators seek out positions overseas for a variety of reasons* (more on the catalysts for this move in a later blog) and often go as singles or couples with no children.  At some point during their career and migrations, they partner-up and/or wish to have children.  When the conversation about ‘starting a family’ floats across the kitchen table (or the bedroom), the discussion then switches to, ‘should we go home and … settle down?’

Other educators have taken their families overseas for a short experience, and when it morphs into a decision about a longer time frame, also begin to question the impact on their children.

I have also met educators stateside, who, after hearing about the world of international education, are intrigued by our lifestyle living and working overseas. When I tried to encourage them to consider a similar career move and lifestyle change, the response often is “oh, I couldn’t do that to my children.” They were paralyzed by the fear of the perceived ‘harm’ they would do to their children.  “We’ll think about it after the youngest goes off to college” or “  …  after we retire.”

Indeed, these concerns were the prime reason for my research**, as an international educator—both to answer the questions in my own head and heart – and to help others who question this lifestyle-career decision.  We all want to know the potential effects on our children.

Responses from readers helped me realized that my subsequent book*** touched on a sensitive and necessary topic. The responses were often emotional, as complete strangers described their personal experiences and expressed their thanks for identifying, analyzing and addressing so many of their own issues – as children growing up as EdKids or adults who are raising EdKids while on their international journeys. Most indicated that they were rarely able to discuss the issues openly in the past.  They told me how cathartic it was to ‘hear’ the voices of the children-students, the parent-educators and the counselors. Some administrators wrote to tell me that they are using the book for new teacher orientation and staff development.  Wow!  I was flattered, humbled and pleased that it has been so helpful.

No, this is not a pitch to sell more books, as I will be writing excerpts from the book in this blog. I truly believe that learning more about this topic will help international school administrators, counselors, parent-educators, colleagues, students, Board members and other community members better understand the dynamics of the educator-family unit. Thus, they will be able to enjoy the pleasures, identify and learn to avoid the pitfalls, reduce the angst and improve relationships, communications, well-being and quality of life/work for all members of the community.

In fact, I would like to use this blog as a platform for your comments, observations and experiences.  Please write to me as a parent-educator, an administrator, a counselor in an international school and/or a educator-child of educators (yes, 30% typically become educators themselves).  I’d love to hear your ‘voices.’

Dr. Zilber is available for seminars and training on a variety of topics. She enjoys receiving comments from readers and colleagues in international schools. Contact her at [email protected]


*Zilber, E. (2015). The Catalysts for a Career in International Schools. Unpublished Independent Research. InterEd, p. 29

**Zilber, E.   (2005): Perceptions of children of International School Educators: An Exploratory Study of Third Culture Kids. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA.

*** Zilber, E.  (2009). Third Culture Kids: Children of International School Educators.  UK: John Catt.

**** Zilber, E., (2005): International school educators and their children: Implications for educator/parents, colleagues and schools, in Journal of Research on International Education, 4, (1), pp5-22.