Directors Who Badmouth Teachers

December 31, 2009

Badmouthing can take many forms and what is not said about you to a prospective school can be just as detrimental as a negative comment. Speaking in a flat, dull tone or making remarks that hint at a less than stellar performance can paint a negative picture of you. “I’d rather not comment” could be the most damaging obstacle to your chances of landing a new teaching position. You can do something to stop a badmouther.  Read Complete Article

International Teachers Are Not Educational Revolutionaries!

December 18, 2009

Our ten years teaching overseas have been wonderful and enriching. My wife and I have had the pleasure to met warm, interesting people, visit exciting, exotic locales and enjoy our years in Turkey, Poland and the Bahamas.

While our experiences have been overwhelmingly positive, one negative aspect regularly surfaces that pertains to a mistake foreign-hire teachers frequently make, and often without even realizing they are making it. This mistake can make such a strong impact on host country nationals that your tenure may depend on how you approach this sensitive topic.

As a teacher with extensive experience in Canadian classrooms, I am always motivated to share my knowledge and practices with local-hire teachers in my new host-country school. In many cases these teachers are receptive to my alternative teaching suggestions and methodologies. For the most part, local teachers are thrilled to learn from their foreign colleagues.

The owners or directors of the schools, however, did not always share the same enthusiasm. More than once I heard the concern stated that foreign hires may be overstepping their roles when they begin suggesting changes to local school practices, curriculum, discipline and methodology.

Local educators and owners of local schools are sensitive to foreign criticism of their educational system. Most of these people graduated from the very school system the foreign hire has determined is inadequate and in need of major overhaul. While a foreigner’s observations reflect their pride in the North American system, other countries are equally proud of their local educational systems.

A common topic of discussion among foreign staff was, for example, How the Turkish educational system could/should be improved. Finding considerable consensus among themselves, the foreign staff would lobby to make the local school more “North American”. Their progressive and endless suggestions were often received by those in authority with a polite smile, and then discretely buried, almost immediately.

It’s easy to understand the disregard for our wonderful suggestions. As a one-time Canadian school administrator, I knew that if a few Turkish teachers on my Canadian staff suggested we utilize Turkish discipline techniques and a more rote learning style curriculum, I would be insulted. Just who do they think they are?

Suffice it to say, foreign teachers are hired to teach. They are not hired to restructure or reorganize the local educational community or be critical of local practices and curriculum. Foreign hires are temporary guest teachers who will soon move on to another adventure.

In the meantime, try not to offend your host country by attempting to change it drastically during your two-year contract! An international teacher is a good-will ambassador, not an educational revolutionary!

Rating The Recruiting Fairs 2009 /2010

December 9, 2009

If  you recently attended a recruiting fair, here’s an opportunity to share your experience with colleagues and to read how other teachers felt about the same event. We’ll be inviting the agencies that sponsor recruiting fairs to view this section of the ISR web site. So, in addition to….  Go to complete article

Can You Afford to Take This Job?

December 9, 2009

The Answer May be NO

I just returned from Spain and I’m still spinning from sticker shock. Okay, I can live with high prices, but the global decline in the value of the US dollar, along with the resulting poor exchange rate, meant goods and services in Spain were costing me 50% more than the already pricey sticker-price.

The exchange rate last week was $1.50 US to €1.00 Euro. This bumped an €8 burger up to $12 and a €70 hotel room up to $105.00. Get the picture? A coke and burger at McDonalds came to $10.50. Ouch! For a short trip to visit friends I could deal with the expense. The idea of living and teaching in Western Europe, however, didn’t make financial sense. Unless, of course, I was paid in Euros and at a figure I could live with.

Who’s to blame for the sinking US dollar? I’ll avoid that topic but will say schools that capitalize on the situation at their teachers’ expense are without conscience. Such schools require parents to pay tuitions in Euros, (a strong currency) while teachers’ contracts specify a salary based on the weakening US dollar. As the dollar becomes worth less and less against the Euro, these schools are spending fewer Euros to purchase the dollars needed to meet teachers’ salaries. This means bigger profits. Of course, teachers are suffering while school owners get rich. Remember, teachers need to purchase local currency with their dollars and their dollar is buying less of it.

The Euro is not the only currency rising against the dollar. In some parts of the world the dollar buys 50% less of the local currency than it did a year ago. Imagine your salary staying the same but your rent doubling along with food and gas; all because it takes more dollars to buy the local currency. Exchange rates have a profound impact on International Educators and failure to research the economic realities of a particular location can and will have devastating consequences on your financial well-being.

If direction and momentum are reliable indicators, the forecast for the future of the US dollar is poor. In January of ’09 it took $1.28 to purchase €1.00 Euro. By December of ‘09 it took $1.51. This may not seem like a big increase but consider that in January ‘09, $1000 bought €781, by December the same $1000 bought only €662. A more startling way to view the change is to see that the cost to buy €781 rose from $1000 to $1179.68. At one time the dollar was stronger than the Euro, but that’s just a sinking memory, now.

For Americans at home in the United States, the weakening of the dollar is having a very positive effect. As the dollar becomes worth less it makes our goods cheaper overseas. Cheaper goods mean stronger exports and stronger exports equal more jobs. Does the US government want to see the devaluating trend reversed? Probably not! So keep your eyes open, do the research and make sure you can afford to accept a job offer that comes your way.