More Director Talk About ISR

Last week we listened in as school heads discussed ISR. Here’s more from that 2007 conversation, when the topic turned to seeking revenge for potentially being ‘hurt’ by negative reviews:

“Many teachers obviously support the notion of an anonymous forum whereby institutions and individuals are slandered and criticized. Being fair minded and rational there would surely be no objection to Heads circulating information (about teachers) along the lines of “don’t touch with a barge pole”, prior to recruitment fairs…”

“In fact, anonymous, vicious rumors do hurt us personally, however much we try to dismiss them…”

“My Lancastrian soul tells me to fire and let loose the legal dogs of war on both the teacher concerned (one who wrote a negative review) and the ISR site. Then again, my inclination is akin to Shakespeare’s where the legal profession is concerned: “First, let’s kill all the lawyers”, firstly because they will ultimately not be our salvation in this area – and secondly because, well, they are lawyers…”

—–comments from original article—–

This web site has been a constant concern for many of us and it is well known among the International Teaching Community

….what is certain (after a negative school review) is that there will follow dozens more entries to International Schools Review trashing the school and the head and talking of petty and despotic behavior, of the suppression of free speech, of vindictiveness, and their agony aunt, Dr. Spilchuk, will blazon this as yet another example of how we run our schools as private fiefdoms.

….aren’t we at risk of being just a tad hypocritical? (As directors, we have) strong demands for confidential references (i.e. unseen by the candidates) to be brutally honest (i.e. dish the dirt as the director sees it).  Isn’t that what the ISR reviews are doing, with the exception that we get to know what’s been written about us?

Suppression is rarely an effective response to criticism…

Our lives might be easier if the ISR site did not exist, and if we did not have some disaffected teachers who have a very jaundiced view of our schools and ourselves. But it does, and we do. We have to learn to live with reality, and to react in a way that demonstrates the inaccuracy of the vitriol posted. We also have to trust the good sense of the people we hope will come to work in our schools.

None of us know what drove him/her to write what they did. Definitely, we should look at all the details. And more importantly look at the root cause of the teacher’s behavior…is this simply one bad teacher or is there some kind of problem in the school system that is going to produce more disgruntled teachers?

We have all met teachers who openly lie in a negative way about a school, but in my experience there has always been a good reason (whether acceptable or not).

(We’ve) been examining this website situation for a while and I suspect each of us shares the concern….there can’t be a single head who has not, in pushing their school forward, made enemies. In the end, we can anticipate derogatory garbage about each of us to be posted for public consumption.  I guess we get paid to have the skin of a rhino, but, despite their hides, rhinos are endangered species.

I had the immediate instant reaction (to a negative review) to take revenge!  However, I did take some time to think about it and rather than take direct action I asked some staff to look at the comments and decide what they would do. Some staff posted supportive comments and the issue did fade away….

I believe it is in a school’s best interest to ensure staff know about these sites (such as ISR), look at comments about their own school (if there are any), and make their own posts. The majority of comments currently posted are negative, so it is in our interest to encourage more balanced contributions. We ignore this site at our peril and maybe they could be useful to us.

I think the response to incidents (of poor reviews) does need to be quite measured and does need to take into account the possibility that the comment has some truth and that you need to have at look at what caused it (god forbid).

The issue is much broader than occasionally defamatory teachers on a scurrilous website.  At the heart of this issue is a need for a shared set of professional ethics for international educators.

Do we fight each case (of negative reviews) to the death… thereby chancing assault from our respective communities as silencers of dissent?

….I would try to be alert to the grain of truth sometimes hidden in such messages (of negative reviews). Reflection never hurts, I believe….

If people choose not to go to a school because of an opinion they read on a website, first they have not likely done their homework on the school and second, do we really want them working for us? Not me.

Until today, I had never actually read any of the comments on the International Schools Review website. I have interviewed candidates that have mentioned they were concerned about things they read on the site…. If most of the negative reviews are written with the same venomous, ranting style that I read today, I might question the teacher, especially a seasoned one, that takes it to heart. It seems akin to trusting someone who thinks the National Enquirer gives the real story. Of course, when the day comes that my name and school are slandered there, I may be little less calm and rational about it.

I would take no contractual action against anyone for anything written on International Schools Review since any action would be hard to defend because of anonymity on the site; and since not continuing with a “contractual agreement” with a specific teacher without proof of misbehavior is very hard to defend to the faculty at large.

….I would try to disable the International Schools Review by flooding it with positive write ups…everyday by numerous people.  However, what I have found is that International Schools Review is very selective about what they post…they don’t post all positive comments but they do post negative ones. Interesting!

…. an anonymous contribution does not equate to publicly ‘trashing’ the school and its leaders.

We are giving credence to International School Review.com whenever we even acknowledge its existence because of an anonymous contribution to ISR.  My suggestion is to ignore the comments….

Can we limit US Constitutionally guaranteed free speech in our contract clauses (without) damaging the reputation of the school?

The issue of this “organization” and the vile information that is posted anonymously is a major concern for some of us. I only hope that there is something that we are able to do to stop this from happening but I am not very confident that it can be done. It may be that we should gather some of our supportive teachers, pay for their membership, and have them write very positive “reviews” of our schools to balance those that are less than complimentary. This may be an expense that we don’t want but….Although this may be seen as a “back door” effort and would need to be conducted on the Q.T. and done gradually it would be much easier than bringing more light to this group of rather nasty and mean spirited people. I also think that any public battle would be just what they want, free publicity. Their defense would be simple—the big bad school administrators are, once again, being mean to the poor defenseless teachers….

Add YOUR Comments Below


Listen in as heads of international schools discussed the ISR site in 2007.

This web site has been a constant concern for many of us and it is well known among the

international teaching community.

….what is certain (After a negative school review) is that there will follow dozens more entries to International Schools Review trashing the school and the head and talking of petty and despotic behavior, of the suppression of free speech, of vindictiveness, and their agony aunt, Dr Spilchuk, will blazon this as yet another example of how we run our schools as private fiefdoms.

….aren’t we at risk of being just a tad hypocritical? (As directors, we have) strong demands for confidential references (i.e. unseen by the candidates) to be brutally honest (i.e, dish the dirt as the director sees it).  Isn’t that what the ISR reviews are doing, with the exception that we get to know what’s been written about us?

Suppression is rarely an effective response to criticism…

Our lives might be easier if the ISR site did not exist, and if we did not have some

disaffected teachers who have a very jaundiced view of our schools and ourselves. But it

does, and we do. We have to learn to live with reality, and to react in a way that demonstrates the inaccuracy of the vitriol posted. We also have to trust the good sense of the people we hope will come to work in our schools.

None of us know what drove him/her to write what they did. Definitely, we should look at all the details. And more importantly look at the root cause of the teacher’s behavior…is this simply one bad teacher or is there some kind of problem in the school system that is going to produce more disgruntled teachers?

We have all met teachers who openly lie in a negative way about a school, but in my experience there has always been a good reason (whether acceptable or not).

(We’ve) been examining this website situation for a while and I suspect each of us shares the concern….there can’t be a single head who has not, in pushing their school forward, made enemies. In the end, we can anticipate derogatory garbage about each of us to be posted for public consumption.  I guess we get paid to have the skin of a rhino, but, despite their hides, rhinos are endangered species.

I had the immediate instant reaction (to a negative review) to take revenge!  However, I did take some time to think about it and rather than take direct action I asked some staff to look at the comments and decide what they would do. Some staff posted supportive comments and the issue did fade away….

I believe it is in a school’s best interest to ensure staff know about these sites (such as ISR), look at comments about their own school (if there are any), and make their own posts. The majority of comments currently posted are negative, so it is in our interest to encourage more balanced contributions. We ignore this site at our peril and maybe they could be useful to us.

I think the response to incidents (of poor reviews) does need to be quite measured and does need to take into account the possibility that the comment has some truth and that you need to have at look at what caused it (god forbid).

The issue is much broader than occasionally defamatory teachers on a scurrilous website.

At the heart of this issue is a need for a shared set of professional ethics for international

educators.

Do we fight each case (of a negative reviews) to the death… thereby chancing assault from our respective communities as silencers of dissent?

….I would try to be alert to the grain of truth sometimes hidden in such messages (of negative reviews). Reflection never hurts, I believe….

If people choose not to go to a school because of an opinion they read on a website, first

they have not likely done their homework on the school and second, do we really want

them working for us? Not me.

Until today, I had never actually read any of the comments on the International Schools

Review website. I have interviewed candidates that have mentioned they were

concerned about things they read on the site…. If most of the negative reviews are

written with the same venomous, ranting style that I read today, I might question the

teacher, especially a seasoned one, that takes it to heart. It seems akin to trusting someone

who thinks the National Enquirer gives the real story. Of course, when the day comes that

my name and school are slandered there, I may be little less calm and rational about it

I would take no contractual action against anyone for anything written on International

Schools Review since any action would be hard to defend because of anonymity on the site; and since not continuing with a “contractual agreement” with a specific teacher without proof of misbehavior is very hard to defend to the faculty at large.

….I would try to disable the International Schools Review by flooding it with positive

write ups…everyday by numerous people. However, what I have found is that International

Schools Review is very selective about what they post…they don’t post all positive comments but they do post negative ones. Interesting!

…. an anonymous contribution does not equate to publicly ‘trashing’ the school and its leaders.

We are giving credence to the International School Review whenever we even acknowledge its existence because of an anonymous contribution to ISR.  My suggestion is to ignore the comments….

Can we limit (US Constitutionally guaranteed) free speech in our contract clauses (without) damaging the reputation of the school?

The issue of this “organization” and the vile information that is posted anonymously is a

major concern for some of us. I only hope that there is something that we are able to do to

stop this from happening but I am not very confident that it can be done. It may be that we

should gather some of our supportive teachers, pay for their membership, and have them

write very positive “reviews” of our schools to balance those that are less than complimentary. This may be an expense that we don’t want but….Although this may be seen as a “back door” effort and would need to be conducted on the Q.T. and done gradually it would be much easier than bringing more light to this group of rather nasty and mean spirited people. I also think that any public battle would be just what they want, free publicity. Their defense would be simple—the big bad school administrators are, once again, being mean to the poor defenseless teachers….

48 Responses to More Director Talk About ISR

  1. ShutThemDown says:

    Domhuaille states it well and those are the very reasons these institutions require closing. Their motive is profit and not education. No amount of tinkering around the edges, ever produced quality education. Looking forward to the next century, most of what is delivered today under the guise of education will be obsolete anyway, so the best way to pull together and implement what the research tells us is to shut down these for profit schools. Then governments will move with the urgency and haste needed to benefit their citizenry.

    Like

  2. Domhuaille MacMathghamhna says:

    ISR exists because there is an unmet and growing need for informed and open discussion about worldwide schools who may or may not be transparent, respect basic employee protections and obligations and treat their staff with dignity and respect. It was never intended to be a debating club or a forum for bitching about schools that may no longer suffer from the lacunae originally indicated. I am not at all surprised by the negativism often displayed by both staff AND Administration/owners on this website. After more than 40 years in Education and corporate life, it has become crystal clear that those who are employed by organisations, whether educational or corporate,governmental or NGO, etc. and those who employ and manage them have generated an atmosphere of competitive confrontation inside these organisations. This is a direct result of the combative nature of business and education, especially in international schools that survive on parents’ willingness to spend large sums for private education.
    We have forgotten that we are all human,with human failings. This syndicalism and siege attitude has existed since the industrial revolution in the corporate world and since unions first supported staff in the educational world (early 1920’s).
    If anyone wants to see what education should have become, read Dr.Dewey’s famous essay “Democracy and Education,” written in 1916 but still unrealized today. He criticized the ¨industrial model¨of education (mass learning,regimentation and bells, pre-determined curricula, top down leadership, fear discipline, etc.)
    This dichotomy of human values and the dehumanizing industrial profit motive is still a conflict that rages in every aspect of modern life, including in education and the work world. ISR is an essential outlet for genuine and sincere teacher (and administrator) concerns however, until we get past the conflict and negativism and begin to listen to each others’ concerns and aspirations, we will be forever stuck in the vicious circle of blame,shame and rancour that has plagued education since schools first existed.

    Like

  3. ShutThemDown says:

    The long and short of it is that most international schools and administrators don’t give a pig’s ear about the kids they serve. Most need to be shut down and taken over by local authorities who must be accountable. They are in it for the money. I like what is happening in the UAE. In a few years, most international schools will be closed and the carpetbaggers sent packing, with their bags on flying Aladdin carpets, from whence they’ve come.

    Like

  4. Pamela Gallagher says:

    Several administrators descibe the comments on ISR as “nasty and mean spirited……” all the while suggesting to secretly recruit teachers to right a “flood” of positive comments designed to counteract the negative situations described by teachers……How honorable is that? Doesn’t this only give credence to the so called negative comments? Would you want to work for an administrator who thinks up this kind of forced testimony? I think the administrator comments mostly are reflecting desparate people whose “kingdoms” are coming under public scrutiny.

    Like

  5. Don says:

    What a shame that many administrators feel that their staff are mental midgets, whiners and vicious slanderers when they post a less than glowing review on the ISR website. This reflects an attitude that troublemakers (ie: those teachers who have the nerve to think for themselves and objectively offer positive criticism) should be blackballed for their independently dangerous thinking. If we as teachers didn’t care about the wellbeing and future success oif the school and its kids, we wouldn’t bother writing reviews. There is no possibility of objective and open dialogue on the ISR website beacuse, like the Democrats and Republicans in the US, neither party are listening to the other and both are isolated and out of contact with their constituents. this is also true, for the most part, with administrators, who all too often take an us versus them attitude. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction in human relations and this holds true for schools as well.
    Criticisms of schools aren’t made to destroy the school but to highlight lacunae and wasteful efforts to hide the truth. Until real professionals are hired to manage international schools, ISR will continue to be the only reflection, albeit flawed, of the International School scene teachers can rely on.

    Like

  6. tvwatcher says:

    As a long time participant in the forums sections of ISR, the pay-to-play review section, and more recently, the blog forum, one thing rings true to me. If an administrative type bothers/feels compeled to weigh in, either he is completely full of shit, or he is trying to turn a school around. The long shot of it is, all voices are relevant, but an adim type trying to refute the claims of chaos, dismal conditions, and just flat-out bogus-ness of a school without teacher back up is working for a place that unequivocally needs to be avoided. The ironic, catch-22 of it all is that the adim, and the teachers, of the numerous good schools out here don’t normally bother with ISR’s offerings…so take from that what you will. But really, can you imagine the head of a good school taking time to engage in the National Inquire voice of these blogs?

    Like

  7. Rob says:

    We have no union among international schools. ISR is the closest thing we have to balance the scales in a small way. Stateside, I had taught in a unionized state. But one year I went to another state and taught where there was no union. It was frightening to see the power that our principal had. Fortunately he happened to be a decent fellow. Without union protection we are absolutely at the mercy of various administrators no matter how great of teachers we are.

    Like

  8. Don says:

    When I was seeking employment overseas, I followed a strict regimen of verification, objective reviewing, frank research and personalized contacts with current and former employees of the target schools as follows:

    1) I would read ISR reviews, highlighting both positive and negative criticisms.
    2) I would review the schools’websites and note issues I’d want to discuss such as class-sizes, mission statements, high tunrover etc.(easy to find on their emnployment pages usually)
    3) Make a call to the Director (not HR )and if possible do a phone interview, if not e-mail them using a list of questions I needed clarification about.
    4) Call a former or current staffmember (the name was obtained from their staff directory or from HR) and have a frank talk about the school,the parents, etc. If the school wouldn’t provide contacts, I knew something was wrong.
    5) Speak to my recruiter about the school but this wasn’t always as transparent as I’d like.
    6) Verify the school’s reputation, when possible by talking to my government contacts in the Education ministry or Department.
    7) Check with my colleagues in the local universities who usually had contacts in host country institutions of higher education.
    8) Go to a FAIR and meet the schools’ reps., where possible ,or at least hold a phone or Skype interview with them. Any promises made during these discussions were followed up by an e-mail confirming the information, either on my part or theirs. This was useful when they sent me an offer, allowing me to verify that everything was written down and signed.

    There are probably other things one can do as well but despite all of these precautions I found that promises (even contractual ones) were not always respected and their attitude was one of indifference and disinterest in remediating the oversight.
    It is very much caveat emptor (beware the buyer) in International education and it appears that many administrators have risen to their levels of incompetence overseas, once they’ve been forced to leave their home countries.

    Like

    • Giproc says:

      Now THIS is a thorough background check Don. Kudos.

      My question is whether any employer backed out of an agreement once they realized you were doing so much research? For the better of course if they’re hiding something, but I’m just wondering what reactions you’ve had to this exhaustive approach.

      Like

      • Don says:

        Giproc,
        About 10% of the potential atrget schools dropped me like a hot potatoe when I started asking questions and doing my research. They obviously had something to hide and didn’t appreciate the Nortrh American inquisitiveness I showed. Another 10% were polite but wary, wondering where I’d heard and learnt so much about them and why I was asking all these questions. My stock reply was that I was making a minimum 2 year commitment and wanted to be comfortable with it so doing my homework was absolutely essential. The majority welcomed my questions and seemed to answer more or less frankly. I would always try and spêak with the incumbent before accepting an offer…never at school but at their home number. One time I though I was speaking with the person in the job I was applying for but it ended up being the VP who had been told to field my questions. I found this out when the actual incumbent sent me a private e-mail and warned me off the school (needless to say).
        Most schools welcome teachers who do their homework and come prepared. If they don’t then you already have a serious problem.

        Like

  9. Michelle says:

    “Many teachers obviously support the notion of an anonymous forum whereby institutions and individuals are slandered and criticized. Being fair minded and rational there would surely be no objection to Heads circulating information (about teachers) along the lines of “don’t touch with a barge pole”, prior to recruitment fairs…””

    Don’t directors already do this? Get on someone in power’s bad side and they can easily prevent you from getting another job…even if you are an excellent and professional teacher!

    Like

    • Giproc says:

      This isn’t even a question Michelle, it’s a known fact that I’ve seen proven at least a half dozen times in the past few years. In one instance a good friend of mind decided to get out of international teaching entirely and become a sheriff, stating “I’d rather get shot straight in the head trying to prevent crime than in the back by a director whose only mission is to prevent more damage to his shoddy reputation.” Another young, dynamic and highly-skilled teacher lost.

      There will always be rogue directors like a few who’ve commented above who have no other recourse but to use the threat of bad references to maintain control that their paltry skills, poor leadership and questionable ethics can’t.

      Touch wood I currently have a fine director. I think I’ll go give him a hug.

      Like

  10. reesa says:

    gee. I guess the same logic would suggest that “behind every poor teacher review, there is great potential that there is a problem that might have to be considered”……?

    Like

  11. Anonymous says:

    Directors must assume the teachers they might hire are not very intelligent. When looking at international schools one should consider that there are teachers who love their situations and those who don’t. Too many perfect reviews are just as much a red flag as those that have lots of terrible ones. To be honest when reviewing a school that has bad reviews those reviews might (or might not) put that school lower on the list but as stated, behind every disgruntled employee who write a bad review, there is great potential that there is a problem that might have to be considered…

    Like

    • Anon says:

      I am sorry Anonymous, but your comments direct you to think that moral relativism plays a part in these discusions.

      If a director lies to a teacher at a recruiting fair, why would you expect that teacher to be happy in that school? Would that person be expected just to ‘suck it up’? How major an infraction of lying does the teacher need to take in stride? Who decides that? The simple answer is: directors, don’t be cowards and sugar coat your situation by lying about conditions. It justs hurts you and your school in the end as the person will find out, sometimes within hours of arriving. I have heard of people just getting right back on the next flight or just taking a holiday.

      Like

  12. wishful thinking says:

    I am having a great experience at the school where I work with the students and the community as a whole, but it has been less than ethical in its contract agreement. Since I have worked here the school has renigged on thousands of dollars of wages promised at the job fair. It promises prospective teacher things that never happen to get them to the school. The director has done things in his treatment of employees that would definitely get him fired and sued in the US. And those of us who work here have one option if we want to move on to a good international school, stick it out and pray we get a good reference from a director who is cynical, mean spirited and is almost universally loathed. I need to know for my next school the other side of the story than the one I get at the job fair. Where else can I get that kind of information that, for example, the school does not honor its contracts, housing is not what was promised,that the director is abusive. DEAR DIRECTORS, treat people with respect and honor your contracts. Most teachers in general do not feel empathy when bad teachers are axed (it’s been proven that most people feel validated when slackers are punished)and you can see on ISR that when these bad teachers go after directors, staff rally behind the directors. Also. directors can respond to these disgruntled employees directly on ISR. THE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL SYSTEM IS A BUYER BEWARE SYSTEM FOR TEACHERS. WITHOUT ISR WE HAVE NO MEANS OF KNOWING WHAT WE MIGHT BE GETTING INTO OTHER THAN WHAT WE ARE SHOWN AT THE JOB FAIRS.

    Like

  13. Don says:

    I am amazed and disconcerted by the reaction of many directors to ISR. Yes, many reviews are overly critical and some are downright rancourous BUT the vast majority are fair and attempt to give a balanced picture of what is occuring at the school. The problem lies in the limited purview that these writers have. Many schools are far more complex and changing constantly so it is impossible to give an perfectly clear and thransparent review of a school on such a limited venue.
    As a Director, I would want to know what is raising teachers’ ire and disrupting their wellbeing. If it fatuous and simply negativism, then it can be addressed as such. However if it is grounded in a real problem or issue, then as a Director I am obliged, both professionally and ethically, to try and remediate the issue. I have met teachers who are always whining and complaining about the least imagined or real lacunae but 95% of the time, when teachers complain, there is something behind theat complaint that merits attention.
    After 43 years in education and business, I can testify that far too many administrators overseas (and at home) lack the skills (both people and professional)to lead schools in a positive direction and that many overseas administrators would never succeed in business environments, nor in most school boards.
    That is why they are so uniformly threatened by what ISR does…it shows that the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes!!!

    Like

  14. School Counselor says:

    For those of us who are new to the international school scene, this site offers a wealth of information and insight. Just like reading reviews of ANYTHING, be it a new camera or a hotel, I read all I can to make my own mind up…trying to find the balance point in all the reviews. I’ve found precious little on the internet other than ISR for frank reviews of schools and only so much can be learned from combing an individual school’s website…so where else can a newbie turn for information?

    Like

  15. Jude says:

    Teachers go to a school outside of the USA for a great experience [plus obtain a Master’s Degree] then return to the USA for the rest of their teaching careers. Most of the Directors [at International Schools] that I have come in contact with will never return to work at an USA school. Is this because their conduct would not be acceptable in the USA?

    Like

  16. Giproc says:

    Let’s forget for a moment the obvious flame throwing and equally-questionable buddy rebuttals. In the broad middle ground of ISR are some serious attempts to express honest opinions and experiences, good and bad.

    In that light, it’s comforting to see many directors are accepting constructive criticism as an opportunity to improve. It’s also disheartening to see some directors living in pertetual denial while trying to squash ISR with their condescending, holier-than-thou attitides towards teachers and their facts.

    Does the one quoted director think it is ethical to search for dirt incognito from unauthorized silent references who may have minimal experience with a prospect and their own bones to pick? Do a few others think ISR will be more balanced by flooding it with coerced (and even paid!) positive feedback? A little maturity is in order, don’t you think? Lest we forget, directors should lead by example.

    Let’s face it, many directors or boards sell false bills of goods and should be called out for it on this site until they change their ways. If criticized directors want to see nothing but praise, perhaps they should take a few courses in Human Relations, Etiquette, Contract Law, and in some cases, 21st century Education. They should honor contracts as written, present themselves and their schools honestly to prospects and treat ALL employees equally rather than favor their chosen few.

    I know, I know, Mr./Ms Director. You’ve worked long and hard to get where you are. But so have we! You need to be held accountable for your actions, as are we. If you don’t like ISR, just go back to your Directors’ Clubs where you can feel safe making as many claims as you want to protect your reputation.

    Show me an international director who will risk his own job in order to protect honest, hard-working, quality teachers from the frequent abuse of evil boards, entitled parents or self-serving colleagues. That director is worthy of endless praise. As for the rest, perhaps a career change is overdue?

    Like

  17. robert says:

    I think ISR is an excellent source and also a great way to be reflective. As a teacher and administrator I have met numerous unethical for-profit schools and adminstrators. Adminstrators should be the ones carrying the banner of ethics and responsibility to the schools they serve. This mercenary type of administrator has no place in the 21st century or any century for that matter.

    Like

    • Michelle says:

      Robert – You’re saying your are an administrator? Well, I’m saying that from your comments above, I believe I would be very proud to work for you.

      You are SO right — Administrators SHOULD be the ones carrying the banner of ethics and responsibility. If not directors, who?

      Thank YOU for being one of the (I’m sure)respected and openly communicative administrators that every teacher would love to work for.

      Like

    • Michelle says:

      Robert – You’re saying you are an administrator? Well, I’m saying that from your comments above, I believe I would be very proud to work for you.

      You are SO right — Administrators SHOULD be the ones carrying the banner of ethics and responsibility. If not directors, who?

      Thank YOU for being one of the (I’m sure) respected and openly communicative administrators that every teacher would love to work for.

      Like

  18. Pedro Xi says:

    My school’s administrators were all too aware of the effect of ISR reviews on the school’s reputation. When ISR was ‘discovered’ by the staff, a post almost immediately went up and all fingers pointed to a particular staff member. This got back to the Director who accused the person of writing it, and most of the staff seemed to agree that it ‘sounded like him’. The real author is very smug because no one even considered a woman could have written it. She is happy too that the staff member has since left, which may have been her intention in writing the review.

    Now people who work there are wary of posting and only those who leave are going to post – so you aren’t going to get many positives as the happy people tend to stay.

    Like

  19. Amy says:

    Reviews on here are guidance towards questioning at your interview to see if you are a good fit. I LOVE this website!! It has a lot of negative BS that you need to drudge through, but most of the negative BS guides my questions at interviews to fit my own personal needs. I think it is pretty easy to gauge personal issues with a school rather than professional ones on here.

    Like

  20. someone says:

    This past year my school had an unusual amount of postings. What basically happened is we got a new head and all the “old guard” who had been kept and coddled by the old head got upset at the changes that were being instituted, as well as their power being taken away, contracts not re-signed, etc. Thus started the ISR posting binge that left us with 5 or 6 postings for one year. Someone would post something totally outrageous slamming the new head. Someone would come back to defend, and on the game went. I would like to think that I work with professional, educated people, but one of the posts (and we haven’t figured out who did it) was OVER THE TOP in terms of blame and immaturity in voice. I sort of agree with the heads on the point that some positive posts don’t make it (ISR thinks the head or their supporters are coming to spin some PR) yet totally outrageous claims by staff (do you even get proof the person worked there?) can and are put up without question. Trust me, it is obvious when the PR machine starts, and those posts are transparent. The negative ones aren’t always so. I suggest ISR look at the other blog for ways to change the review. If you had a survey type system where outside of the comments, we could have our whole school anonymously rate the school, wouldn’t that be a better indication if a school is rated well or not?

    Like

  21. how curious says:

    I would like to point out that not all comments are negative. Some school get wonderful reviews. Some schools have mixed reviews with negative comments balanced by rebuttals. Some schools are horribly criticized. It appears that this is a pretty accurate description of the international school system; it has good and bad schools. I have seen some really bad schools and truly awful directors, just like in public schools and there needs to be a source that allows people to express these views. People who wish to remove all forms of criticism remind of petty dictators.

    Like

  22. Bow Wow says:

    Has the perception and usefulness of ISR changed in the 3 years since these comments were made by these heads of international schools? I would reply by saying “who cares?”
    I need to get “a view” on what a school is like before I commit myself and my family to a school and all its consequences.Knowing what some teachers “inside” feel like working for a particular school is invaluable. I want to know these things rather than being solely blasted by administrative propaganda, and then finding myself on s**tstreet because the truth that the school was be “the pits” was hushed up by the Heads. At least I can weigh up the comments and decide for myself. Teachers that genuinely comment online do us all a favour and I take my hat off to them. For too long admin has had all the cards their way. This is one of the few bastions where we, as potential candidates,can get a look-in before we commit ourselves. If “they” don’t like,tough.

    Like

  23. C Ly says:

    I feel the site is a extremely good way to find out about a school that you have no knowledge of. However I have worked at two schools with poor reviews and I thought both were good schools. Both have weaknesses and strengths, but the reviews were extremely one sided. So I advise against taking the reviews as gospel and to do further homework.

    Like

    • harveysnan says:

      I can’t believe any professional looking for a new post would take only negative reviews from ISR as evidence on which to base a decision. We are well aware that everything written has bias, negative reviews as well as school prospectus’ and would surely consider all the available evidence and respective authors. Everyone has their point of view and all are helpful to hear, it isn’t difficult to spot the difference between a personal tirade and the more objective contribution of an ill used professional. It takes a modicum of effort to write a review on here, so those who do it usually feel quite strongly – it is taken as read by international teachers that no review on here is an indicator of an ok or better school, so directors of schools not mentioned, can sleep peacefully. I, for one, would be interested to read some positive reviews, as, there are different positives for different people and this would be a good forum for helping to match round pegs with round holes and square likewise. ‘We’ also take into account the dates on which the reviews were submitted – the numerous bad ones on Luanda are getting quite old, indicating something must have changed – otherwise people would still be adding to them.
      All in all, I would suggest that directors who are concerned they have a high number of negative reviews, need to get reflective and be absolutely sure with all conscience that the bad things that happen really are ‘someone else’s fault’ before they decide not to change anything.

      ISR IS the balance – directors have confidential references where they can fairly or unfairly annihilate a teacher’s career – ISR is the only forum teachers have – credit us with the professional discretion to use the site objectively please.

      Like

      • Giproc says:

        I second your last paragraph Harvey. Well said.

        Like

      • ha ha ha says:

        Think about your statement: “All in all, I would suggest that directors who are concerned they have a high number of negative reviews, need to get reflective and be absolutely sure with all conscience that the bad things that happen really are ‘someone else’s fault’ before they decide not to change anything.”

        The problem is that the bad directors have NO conscience. Where is the director, on part of ISR –the forum, the blog, the reviews–who openly acknowledges offering a teacher one thing, getting her to sign, then providing a whole other reality when the feet hit the ground. Where is the director defending his promising a 5th grade spot, only to eventually force the teacher into pre-k? Where is the director defending offers of “spacious, roomy, nearby accommodations” only to house new-hires in crappy, cramped ghetto style flats far from the school? [Any directors ever defended themselves with, “Sorry, policy change after you signed your contract”?] Are you, collectively as international school admin, denying this ever happens? You admin, have you ever promised singles private accommodations, then upon arrival insisted those singles share? Say what you will about disgruntled teachers, but don’t discount the unscrupulous heads of school out there who have no intentions other than to deceive; granted, those SOBs probably don’t spend much time on ISR…

        Like

  24. D Mo says:

    How powerful would it be if admin showed up at your next faculty meeting and advised every teacher to post a review of the school? The school would have an incredible number of reviews that would ultimately balance out any bitter, negative teachers. Readers of ISR would get the balanced, honest view they’re looking for. It would be a grand gesture on the admin’s part and would make the school put their money where their mouth is, so to speak – being willing to see exactly what the teachers think about the school.

    Like

    • Giproc says:

      I’m sorry, but I can’t agree even though I think the idea is great. From my experience, asking for reviews from current staff is probably the least honest you will find.

      Local hires often say almost anything positive to protect their jobs (since local schools often pay far less, offer less PD, fewer benefits, etc.) Most foreign hires understand the importance of good references and will toe the line during the contract to that end. The truth only comes out once they’re relocated. Sad, but this has been the case at all 6 international schools where I’ve worked.

      How many teachers are hired after the potential new director finds out that those teachers were critical of their former school and/or stood up to demand equitable conditions that may differ from the director’s mandate? Thought so.

      Don’t believe me? Check out self assessments and final reports for accreditation. Most are candy-coated compared to the daily staff room talk. Rarely do administrators know how the faculty truly feels Asking them to make “honest” appraisals just won’t work unless a school is blessed with a transparent, honest administration and the faculty is willing to help the school despite the ominous repercussions for their careers.

      Like

      • D Mo says:

        I don’t think you get how a large sample of data takes outliers into account and gives you a better picture. What’s the most reviews that a school has on ISR? 15? 20? If one hundred or two hundred people from a school submit anonymous surveys, you will get your share of honesty, flattery, and bitterness. More data equals better picture – at least compared to the current system of mud throwing here.

        Like

        • Doug says:

          Unfortunately humans are more motivated to act when angry than when happy or complacent. Only when those who have positive experiences produced an abundance of balanced reviews could any data be reliable. As it stands human nature will always skew the data towards the negative.

          Like

        • Giproc says:

          I agree D Mo that the ISR sampling is not nearly enough, and certainly not sufficient from which to make decisions.

          But just as ISR reviews tend to be negative, I would wager that reviews by current employees would tend to be overwhelmingly positive but not necessarily more truthful.

          Regardless, peoples’ opinions of schools and directors are not that important since they vary greatly depending on one’s needs and experiences. What I try to extract from the reviews is hard-cold, verifiable facts. The reviews provide many questions that we can (hopefully) have answered during interviews before committing to a school.

          Like

  25. Tony Cole says:

    I dont know if it is intentional, but I was amused to see that the blog theme (the way it looks) is called “contempt” See the bottom of the page. Does this have any bearing on what was said above by those heads of schools?

    As to whether the site is simply full of scurrilous untruths, I can’t judge. The only school that I was personally involved with, that attracted an enormous number of highly critical comments on ISR was Luanda International School and the attacking ones were, sadly, all too true. The situation there has changed radically with a new director, but sadly no one there has felt it necessary to post positive comments to let the world know it has improved.

    Somehow, teachers should be encouraged to report it here when a school changes from bad to good, as often happens with a change of leadership, as was the case with LIS. Balance is all.

    Like

  26. Patricio Gonzalez says:

    Negative comments should not be disregarded. Behind a negative review there is always something going on. Ignore criticism is what people who think they are always right do. The only way to let us be heard and warn others is a web page like ISR. Keep doing the good job!

    Like

    • reesa says:

      the problem is that often “behind a negative review” there is indeed something going on but it doesn’t necessarily reflect the school, staff, community or administrators. There are many teachers wandering around the globe in search of ‘greener grass’. They write the exact same negative review about every school they leave–especially targeting administrators for all of their woes. Until ISR can find a way to create a forum where teachers can have their ‘perceptions’ directly challenged and all must be accountable for their words, the martyrs will continue to dominate and others will be forced to listen to their personal vindictive rants which might actually be an indication that what is going on is that the more important focus on student learning is taking a back seat to dysfunctional adult neediness.

      Like

      • Giproc says:

        Here we go with the martyrdom line again. Can’t you just accept that employees at some international schools get stiffed frequently?

        All teachers are asking for is fairness, conditions that match the sales pitch and professional leadership.

        With all due respect, you must be living on Fantasy Island to believe that full accountability is attainable on EITHER side. Don’t forget that the deck is firmly tilted to the directors and schools. THEY do the hiring, they also control 95% of all information coming in or going out of a school. The other 5% is ISR. How much more slanted would you like it?

        I know countless employees who have received poor references that have absolutely nothing to do with their excellent performance throughout their contracts, rather it was sheer director vindictiveness for any of number of petty claims.

        I will agree with you however that academics frequently take the back seat. But you failed to mention that this often starts from above from boards with different agendas, entitled parents who don’t give a damn about the quality of education as long as their children get 4.0 GPAs and directors with zero human resource skills.

        Case in point. At my current post, 5 out of 6 new foreign hires from last year will be leaving at the end of their 2 year contracts. The other left after the 1st year. All 6 cite disillusionment after the school was over-sold by the director during interviews and their responsibilities and workloads were modified radically after arrival. NONE will be writing bad reports on ISR, but I guarantee you that when they leave they will be branded as non team players, or too weak to cope, or lazy, or too set in their old ways, etc., etc., etc. All of these labels couldn’t be further from the truth, but how else is the director going to explain the mass exodus?

        I don’t like slamming anyone anonymously, likewise I like to be treated honestly and receive a reference that relates to my performance rather than whether the director likes me or not. Goes both ways, but it’s normally the teacher who loses.

        Like

      • Michelle says:

        And by speaking of “wandering around the globe in search of greener grass” are you implying that only teachers have this ‘going on’, reesa? Is it not true that directors are also in this category? How many directors have been found to have been fired from US/UK/Canadian schools? How many have not accurately provided their educational background and are dismissed by international schools for lack of credentials?

        And, reesa, you seriously cannot believe your own words that some teachers write the “exact same negative review about EVERY school they leave”….really? So very little respect for the professionalism of your colleagues? Ouch.

        I believe teachers would be more than happy to add their name to reviews, and therefore be “accountable for their words/reviews” ….just as soon as directors stop their own “vindictive rants” about candidates behind the closed doors and social-hour conversations and their own administrator chatrooms. Why can’t a potentially negative review be a jumping off spot for people to openly discuss problems that may appear on campus, rather than open-season on blackballing teachers who may (yes, it IS possible, reesa) have honest, true, legitimate concerns?

        And speaking of placing the “focus on student learning” wouldn’t you agree that ALL staff at a school need to put their ‘dysfunctional adult neediness’ behind them and work together to make a school great? What’s more dysfunctional that some of the personal vendettas that directors force on a teacher (sometimes with a family) who has offered criticism and/or suggestions for making a school better?

        Don’t Directors also tend to consider themselves ‘martyrs’, subject to the horrible, vindictive, dishonest, and untrustworthy bad-ole teachers and ISR?

        For directors and teachers of international schools, nothing should take a “back seat” to guiding a school and its students toward personal greatness. Open dialogue and constructive criticism can play a part in doing just that.

        But, of course, you, reesa, really believe that ALL negative reviews stem from teachers who “write the exact same negative review about every school they leave–especially targeting administrators for all of their woes.” Boo hoo for the poor innocent administrators….sob sob.

        I don’t think you’ll get much sympathy for them, though… “Adults” talk, they discuss, and they, together, come up with a plan to make a school truly great. Wouldn’t you agree?

        Like

        • reesa says:

          I would agree. However, I began by responding to the original statement that ‘behind a negative review there is always something going on.” I happen to disagree with that statement. No, I do not live on “fantasy island” and have been a product of, and a participant in International education for four decades. I know that when teachers have left their old identities and lives behind and are in the midst of culture shock, as well as adjusting to a new educational environment, they are far more likely to find fault with their situation–one that they can forget they created for themselves. Sometimes when a move has not lived up to their expectations, they (we) feel particularly vulnerable and frustrated and that can translate into misdirected or exaggerated anger at others. We are, however, volunteers for this lifestyle. We intentionally choose, if not all of our experiences, the risk that inherently comes with the unknown.

          What seems overlooked in these reviews is that our students do NOT create their situations. Students are moved from school to school, culture to culture, language to language and they did not sign the contract–they are not getting paid to do so. Kids are not always aware that the administrators are less than stellar, they do not know that promises made have been broken–honestly they don’t care. They only know the frame of mind of the person who has contact with them in class on a daily basis and when that relationship or quality is lacking, they suffer. To be fair and transparent, ISR could include a report card for teachers. Who would bear the brunt of the responsibility then? I imagine the ‘boo hoos from the poor innocent’ teachers would be heard loud and clear. and rightly so, because an anonymous site where any student could say anything-whether substantiated, accurate or not, would hardly tell the whole story. Would all be willing to have their best abilities and intentions judged in public? and of course it would need to remain anonymous so that the student didn’t face retaliation (perhaps an “F” for the semester or being blackballed from NHS)

          Those teachers who repeat their postings over and over do exist. I have been in 11 International schools and the world is a lot smaller than people think. I actually didn’t write that ALL negative reviews stem from those teachers, only that not ALL reviews have some truth behind them.

          Like

          • Michelle says:

            I have to completely disagree with your comment, “Kids are not always aware that the administrators are less than stellar, they do not know that promises made have been broken–honestly they don’t care.”

            In my experience with my own children (which I have moved from ‘school to school, culture to culture, language to language’) and my many students over the years, is this: Students are DIRECTLY aware and DO CARE when directors/
            schools falsely make promises to teacher recruits: i.e. that materials are available for classrooms, that computers are up-to-date, that programs are well established and in place, and that teachers /staff/admin are working together to make a great school. To imply that young people “don’t care” is to grossly underestimate their personal and family interest in getting a quality education. So little regard for the intelligence of young people and their paying families, your customers?

            The few complaints I’ve personally had with schools (only 1, really), stemming from my more than 2 decades of international teaching, were regarding being lied to about provided materials, and other problems/lies about how the job was presented at the recruitment fair, including safety in the community and severe housing problems which affected my family.

            Yes, students DO realize when heads of schools are lackadaisical, unqualified, and disinterested in the students and activities of the school, OR if they are poor business managers. Of course! When a director promises programs and doesn’t deliver, or hires unqualified personnel, or never learns the names of leaders in the student body, or can’t give a welcome speech that qualifies as professional public speaking, or any number of other ways, YES YES YES students are quite aware of poor leadership in the administration. It doesn’t then take a grouchy or grumbling teacher in front of the class to remind students that they are in a sub-par educational situation. Students are certainly not residents of “fantasy island” either.

            My “frame of mind” has never translated into disparaging talk against the school to which I’ve signed on. You know, it is a quote from a director which states that “negative reviews have some truth behind them.” But you make the sweeping statement that “not ALL reviews have some truth behind them.” I wonder if all the back-office talk amongst directors would claim total and complete truth while stating their poor opinions and blackballing of teachers.

            Your idea of schools/ students being able to rate teachers is a good one. But, sadly, you’re behind the times in that RateMyProfessor and RateMyTeacher have already been in action for years. Don’t you think that ISS and all the other recruitment agencies already do this in their own way? Instead of publicly discussing their concerns over a teacher, they resort to working on the QT (as one head said): “It may be that we should gather some of our supportive teachers, pay for their membership, and have them write very positive “reviews” of our schools to balance those that are less than complimentary.” Who’s responsible for this awkward ‘tip of the balance’? The site is called International Schools Review, after all. If you want to rate a teacher’s performance, have at it. Just don’t think that ISR is going to take up the banner on that one. The goal of ISR seems to be to give us international educators a better view of what we might be getting into by signing a contract. How can you argue with that?

            And, by the way, EVERYone in international education (including students) thinks, as you say, “the world is a lot smaller than people think.” ALL of us have “left old identities and lives behind and are in the midst of culture shock, adjusting to a new educational environment”. Why would you think that teachers are the only ones affected by this? And why would this translate automatically into being disgruntled and potentially writing untoward negative reviews about things that are not true?

            ISR is giving us teachers a HUGE peek into the reality of working for each international school. Yes, I have the intelligence and introspection to know that a review which is scathing might, just might, be a disgruntled employee. But I also know that directors like to write glowing reviews of an otherwise poorly reviewed school to tip the balance their way.

            Thankfully, ISR knows that being professionals in international education, we can figure out a clearer picture of a school before going there. I just don’t know what I would have done without ISR. It’s saved me and my family from grief on more than one occasion!

            Like

          • Giproc says:

            From Reesa “We are, however, volunteers for this lifestyle. We intentionally choose, if not all of our experiences, the risk that inherently comes with the unknown.”

            To Reesa: Yes we are volunteers, and much of the excitement comes from the “unknown.” But we don’t volunteer to be lied to. That’s not risk, that’s fraud!! If a school or a director is found to have misrepresented something from Day One, shouldn’t fellow teachers be warned to be extra careful?

            The risks are precisely why sites such as ISR must exist. Many of us, especially when towing a family, perform due diligence by checking with as many sources as possible. The primary source usually is the director during interview. I don’t expect the director to spend hours explaining every possible issue, but when asked a specific question they should be forthright. Many are not. In short, the director may have caused a problem that falls far outside the realm of “risk of the unknown” because it was anything but unknown by the director.

            New countries always present challenges and that’s great. But one thing that must be predictable is the school and its safety net. In many places it becomes everything to a teacher: salary, social life, education provider for children and a chapter for your career. When a school lies from the get-go or makes radical changes mid-stream, I think teachers have every right to blast those responsible.

            While we try to concentrate on the students, sometimes that’s impossible. For instance, my wife was contracted to teach five grade groups. Fine, five preps and a couple of committees are near par for the course. One week after arrival that was raised to nine and then at the beginning of the second year to 12. Apart from the fact I rarely see my wife awake when she’s not doing preps, reports or grading, the students are suffering because no teacher can plan 12 different quality lessons as well as 5. Nor do our own children have any quality time with Mom. These all leave a lasting negative impression that has absolutely nothing to do with from where we came, what we miss or what we might find unacceptable in a foreign country. It’s about being abused at the school with absolutely no recourse other than risk your career by breaking contract over a situation that was not the teacher’s fault, nor predictable, nor a risk that we volunteer for.

            Like

          • ha ha, reesa says:

            The funny thing is, Reesa, you’ve just spelled out your own gross incompetence as an administrator. Go back to whatever rock you crawled out from those “four decades” ago in your home country and see how that works. Your utter lack of respect for teachers is appalling, and I can only imagine you work for some arm-pit, for-profit school where you spend the vast majority of your time telling your masters/owners how great the school is, collecting your pay check.

            Like

            • reesa says:

              nice try. not an administrator, never have been and certainly don’t live under a rock. I have taught in US public schools, private boarding schools and international schools. sad that a life of experiences can only be discarded as worthless input instead of an alternative perspective to the whining childish voices. I have a great deal of respect for those mature teachers who can be open and to a viewpoint that might differ from their own and are capable to discuss it without the tedious knee-jerk proclamation that one must be an administrator aka the enemy from some for- profit school. How pathetic and paranoid is that?

              Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s