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….
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