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
19 thoughts on “Directors Who Badmouth Teachers”
I would have a friend act as a director and call for a reference just to see how my previous director would react. This would help me adjust if I need to.
From experience of having been honest and trying to support something that teachers, parents and students wanted, as a Head of Department but the Head of school did not want. In retrospect I think it is better to suck it up and move on as soon as you can, don’t bail out of a contract unless you are seriously at risk just smile and move on at the end of the contract.
The Heads of schools talk amongst themselves. I’ve now missed a number of appointments because if the new school phones my old school and (I feel) the Head is giving me a bad rap (while never having seen me teach), but if they phoned the teachers I worked with or got references from parents then they would get a totally different perspective. Even from the previous Head who employed me the story would be different and while that person might be on a referee list it is always just as easy for a new school you want to work at, to phone your old school and ask. Of course they will know that your referee list will be people who are likely to be favourable.
I think being honest about a difference and what that was may help if you keep missing out on jobs and suspect that your prospects are being affected by some badmouthing from someone not on your list.
The teachers talk amongst themselves in international teaching circles so Heads of Schools that treat teachers unfairly get known as well.
I have found that if you are employed by a Head of school and then their is a change of management they tend to want to sweep out those people who can compare them to the past head. If that happens think about moving on at the same time and if you really like a Head of school see if there are opps for you at the Heads new school or ask that person to keep you in mind.
My wife and I taught at a small school in the middle east and left at the end of our contract on what we felt we positive terms. The headmaster had a policy of not writing reference letters but instead said anyone could always call him for a reference.
He unfortunately passed away shortly after we left the school but had posted a reference with SA. After not receiving offers at the next job fair we attended, a principal told us that one of the thins that made her hesitate was a less than flattering reference from the same person in both of our files. It seemed he had gotten the last word and all we could do was have the reference removed
Ahhh freedom of speech…what a wonderful two edged sword.But I was gutted once to find a referee whom I really trusted had ‘damned me with feint praise’ which I felt was unjustifiable and entirely inconsistent with every other shining reference I ever had. It seemed to me though at the job fair where there is so much competition, this one negative can turn the decision against you and I think this was the case for me, as the director who employed me actually revealed my referee wasn’t good.He gave me the job anyway and I am happy but
then I later found that this previous principal had done worse to others effectively stalling their careers. One DID send a lawyers letter, but it still holed her moves in teaching for a while.
I totally agree with the last post. However, I would have to say that I have actually seen more teachers than administrators with a “god complex”. It seems like the people that complain and badmouth are the ones that are constantly having problems at any school. I wonder why…
sure. It sits right next to the list of administrators who have “angered” teachers and been declared “undesirable.” This level of fear and paranoia is downright unhealthy. It is ironic that those who agree that it “pays to ask around” would be disturbed when someone else gets to do it. Directors have a responsibility to students and staff to keep a school free from dysfunction. no one likes working with anyone nursing a narcissistic “god complex”–whether it’s a teacher or an administrator–and I’ve met plenty of both. Bad mouthing is in poor taste and is unprofessional no matter who is doing it.
Is there a list of teacehrs who have “angered” direcotrs out there?
Is there some kind of database of absconders or “undesireables”?
Good advice Michelle. Satisfied parents make great referees especially as many are influential in important companies. Totally agree with you “Free Soon” about some nonentities who call themselves “directors” or “curriculum directors” in international schools and have a “God” complex in more senses of the word than one. I work for one who micromanages everything that competent and experienced teachers do, endlessly criticizes and plays favorites. He makes life so unpleasant, my first year in this school is also gonna be my last! He assures me that there are dozens of teachers queuing up to take my position! Good luck to ’em.
It is certainly true that directors, like the rest of the world, can be ridiculously petty and unreasonable in passing on negative comments to another prospective job supervisor. Making unprofessional comments about your personal life as you choose to live it, for example, can affect your prospects, and this IS truly unfair.
However, it is also true that any director who is ‘checking into your reference’ and takes to heart others’ comments about who you are outside of the school environment (i.e. they don’t like your dating choices) is NOT a boss you would probably be happy with. Sad, but true.
On a positive note, there are some wonderfully supportive and encouraging directors out there. I suggest we all develop the good and forget the negative. How? Here’s my list:
7 TIPS — How to Develop a Dynamic & Thorough Reference List
1. Get MANY references. At the first opportunity in your new job, indicate to personnel that you are interested in their opinions of your work. Even within the first few months of any new job you can start to ‘collect’ references. No one is harried yet (with end of the year stuff), and should understand that you are hoping to collect proof positive of your good work. This can be as simple as a handwritten note of appreciation from admin or a parent, thanking you for your efforts. Also, if you receive this thumbs-up, you can comfortably ask them later for a more formal letter of reference (on school or business letterhead). When you have a parent volunteer in your classroom, remember to thank them in a written note, too. Or, if an administrator visits your classroom and hangs out with smiles and compliments, be sure to write them a simple thank you for taking the time. They are people, too, and just might appreciate being noticed for taking their time to cheer you on. Give freely of what you’re hoping to get in return!
2. Keep every note from every person you receive which thanks you or illustrates your work and efforts! Take photos of great moments in your classroom: smiling children holding up their artwork, a class cheering when they raised their test scores, the community service work you organized with students and teachers, etc. A simple one-page montage of these photos show your work ‘in the moment’ and will make your references glow!
3. Let the administration know when to observe your excellent work. Send notes (days early, so they can schedule a time to come observe) to admin to come check out your students’ fine oral reports, high test score celebration, computer/art/music productions, etc. This not only highlights your work to the admin, but provides the students with an opportunity to show off their accomplishments to school admin who, in return, appreciate them as students and achievers (and paying clients-remember it’s still a business).
4. Consider ALL the people who can give you a good reference, not just the director. If you are charged with organizing a talent show, bake sale for school needs, community service project, holiday fair, don’t hesitate to include parents’ opinions and compliments as part of your references. In particular, the parents who chose to become members of a Board of Directors (or spouse of those) are usually very active in activities on campus. If they notice your work, become friends and/or compliment you on your efforts, ask them to become references for your work at the school. They will most certainly agree, and nothing beats a reference from a parent or two, or a board member for a glowing letter to highlight your quality work! Signed, President of the Board of Directors….who could resist such a reference?
5. Principals, vice principals, head librarians and school counselors are all potential writers of letters of reference. They may even be more qualified to be references than the usually super-busy directors. Many directors just don’t have the time to visit classrooms or to have a sit-down conversation with each teacher. Use what you’ve got and the connections you have to highlight your qualities as a teacher. Help them out with a request by listing what you feel should be included–this makes their job, to write a fantastic reference, easier and quicker.
6. Start early. I say this again: Even if you’re in the first year of your contract and love, love, love your school, it’s never too early to start accumulating letters of reference. Also, keep a record of all you do and those activities which you feel made you look good as a teacher. Don’t forget to volunteer for simple activities such as Social Committee Chairperson, which seems like it might not be interesting to a prospective school, but shows that you are a team player and care about working well with others. What’s not to like in a candidate about that?
7. Stay in touch with administrators who like and support your work. We all move around the world and at times, forget to ask for a letter of reference when the time was good. However, many recruiting organizations want to be able to actually talk with references. If doctor so-and-so has left your school and you’ve lost contact, you’ve basically lost that reference. But, if you’ve stayed in contact via occasional emails or Facebook, or even Christmas cards, you can feel good about contacting them yet again for a quick phone call of reference coming their way. Plus, you know how to reach them, and you’re not coming from years of no contact to ask them this favor. Keep in contact and keep a reference a friend. Remember to thank them for their time, and maybe you’ll even get a hint of how the phone call progressed and what your chances are for getting the job. After all, you’ve made them a friend, right?
Some of these overseas administrators have a serious “god complex.” They operate with impunity and seem to fail upwards, especially in more “developing” nations where corruption, fear and intimidation are just a normal way of doing business. Sometimes having an attorney sitting next to you, taking notes, is effective enough to end any hostility you may be facing. This is even truer when said school has faced (and lost) litigation in the past. It pays to ask around… 😉 Free Soon!
It seems as if some of you really think thatif you get a bad review it has something to do with your teaching. I have always gotten excellent reviews. My present director gave me an excellent letter of recommendation. My belief is that since we don’t get along personally(he likes to control his teachers’ personal lives)he is using that against me. I’d much prefer that he or any director be upfront and say, I don’t feel comfortable giving you a recommendation. Saying one thing to your face and another behind your back, that is the problem. Please excuse the errors, it’s sort of hard to type as I’m on a bus going through the mountains.
I completely agree. I haven’t asked my current director for a recommendation as he has never seen me interact with the students or teach. Rather he has relied entirely on the word of my principal who has supplied him, and the rest of the administrative staff, with gossip and personal feelings of dislike. As I am in my third year at this school, I was required to ask the principal for a letter of recommendation. While the letter was very supportive and positive, I am fairly certain that if called as a reference, she will contradict many things in the letter…. Any recommendations on how to deal with this? In the past, I have always gotten on well with supervisors and received glowing recommendations and reviews. I am honestly stumped as to how best to handle this current situation while I am recruiting.
I find it curious that ISR supports teachers in having a forum where they can say whatever they feel like saying, yet suggests that administrators who do the same should be threatened with a law suit. Certainly badmouthing in any context is not productive and unprofessional. But, making it impossible for administrators to provide meaningful feedback regarding their experience with a particular teacher isn’t a viable answer.
If we expect teachers to be able to read ISR and discriminate between spiteful comments and meaningful reviews, can’t we expect the same from administrators? Yes, there are petty people at every level and in every profession, but two wrongs don’t make a right. If administrators are providing petty commentary on your performance, take the high road.
yes but joe when we “bad mouth” administrators,we are not taking a job away from them, we are simply commenting on our experiences with them. I say, shame on any teacher or administrator who bad mouths anyone.
Administrators who are bitter about staff leaving and lacking in professional ethics are sadly not rare. I nearly had my career derailed by a bitter little man whose ‘whispering campaign’ ensured that I was jobless for nearly a year.This person has since done this to several other people.I was not certain until someone let something slip in a follow-up interview where I was turned down.And yes, a simple phone call from a lawyer put paid to that- something I wish I hadn’t had to do but one has to fight fire with fire.
JUnsure, you don’t need definitive proof to draw up a law suit– only to win it. But the law suit itself will shut someone up. You don’t need to get as far as court. The threat alone of a pending law suit, returning to the USA for a court date, again having the date moved, etc, represents so much inconvenience that it will likely make him shut up. You can win the battle without winning any law suit. Just file it.
How can you everbe sure if the director is talking badly about you. I recently interviewed for a position and was told that I fortunate my students were to have me. After the interview was over I was emailed by the new school’s director to be told that a better fit had been found. I feel as if he spoke with my present director and that derailed my job. How can I know for sure?
I had a person in power tell me once, “BE CAREFUL,we all talk to each other and share information.”
The reality is, this happens all the time and teachers should walk away from that kind of creepy controlling statement rather than drag a lawyer into the mix.
If a director is going to listen to a “flip flopper” in their recommendation for a teacher then one does NOT want to work in that environment. I think, in international teaching, there are plenty of jobs that suit many diffierent kinds of personalities.
The best way to stop the beast is non engagement…
I have to agree. You have to be responsible for your own happiness and success.
What I don’t understand is why bad performance shouldn’t be reported when a director is asked by a prospective school for a reference. If you are a screw-up, expect the director to report it when asked. If you were exceptional, that report will probably go out instead. If the director is angry that you left (and some get this way) s/he may be inclined to “blackball” you when a request for information is received, but you can prepare for that with advance information to the prospective employer. Contact with a previous employee of the school can let you know how the school handles “rejection.”
Paying for a lawyer to “silence” a director is really STUPID! If I were the director being gagged, I’d respond to a request for information by saying that “I am legally bound not to speak of this person to anyone considering his/her emloyment because my honest review may negatively effect his/her potential to pursue employment in his/her chosen field.” Yah, THAT would be better! Don’t know what the lawyer would cost for that, but I’m certain it would be far more than it would be worth!!!! It might even make a problematic director’s words carry MORE weight instead of less. Even if that director answered, “No comment!” there would be no positive result. Sue-happy people will do this anyway, but for the rest of you, please think before you spend your cash! If you are getting bad reviews by more than one director, spend the money on improving your skills so that there are no more bad reviews to be had. OR – better yet – find a new line of work. Teaching probably just isn’t for you!!!!!