Would You Sacrifice Your Overseas Career?

An international teacher silenced and harassed by a corrupt administration recently wrote  Dr. Spilchuk (ISR on line teacher advisor) asking for advice: “Should I stand up for my academic principles, possibly destroying any future hope of securing another overseas teaching position, or curb my comments and quietly move on to hopefully a better school at the end of the academic year?” (ISR has been asked to keep the specific situation confidential.)

………………………………………Dr. Spilchuk’s Advice
Dear In-a-Quandary,
The one thing I have learned over time is that standing on principle, while feeling good at the time, can be painful in the long run. There are always those of us who must stand on a principle or things will never change. However, my advice to you is to let this one go and look after your best interest instead. I have been in this country several times over the  years so am very aware of the situation. You will not change it by making a stand here. What you may do is limit your possibilities for doing a whole lot of good for a whole lot of children in the future if this school chooses to pursue blackballing you. You must decide: Is it worth standing on principle for this one situation or is it better to maintain your potential to educate so many children in the future? I feel for you…not an easy choice. I have stood on principle many times….but I have also made the second choice.

Best and keep me posted,
Barbara

In some situations schools have the upper hand as they can wield the axe over our careers and current financial well-being. Add family into the mix and taking on a school can can have far-reaching consequences. Many teachers have successfully sued their schools for breach of contract, and won. But when it comes to a conflict of ethics in a country that universally squelches free speech there is nothing to be won and no protection to be found. You’re on your own.

Have you been in this or a similar situation? How did you make it through? ISR invites you to weigh in on this topic.

52 Responses to Would You Sacrifice Your Overseas Career?

  1. Anonymous says:

    I recently called a director out on what I thought was a very dishonest act, misquoting a student in an International publication. The director put in several of his own words into the quotation to make the student sound more articulate. It was not a good idea and it only caused me stress and pain to reveal that I was aware of this fact. I knew the student was misquoted because I was the teacher who handed the director the material for publication. I have moved on in hopes that I will be in an environment where there is more honesty and transparency. I knew fully well this school operated on a policy of silencing teachers. I would advise never to “out” a dishonest admin. In my experience with two proprietary schools, money and the reputation of the school and those who run it trump any sense of honesty and integrity. Teachers in places like this are seen as easily replaceable. The school will preach honesty and caring, but their actions are what reveal the truth.

  2. Pak Liam says:

    Just to highlight the other side to this coin, many new teachers to schools want to ‘change the world’ often to their preferred methods, not necessarily what is best for the students or the school.

    Obviously this does not apply to all posters here, but just saying that it does apply sometimes.

  3. Suze says:

    As a young teacher who first went overseas some 20 years ago, I had an experience that changed my view of my percieved “problems” after witnessing a distraught woman, clutching her dead toddler, and begging for money so that she could bury him. After that experience, I realized my “problems” weren’t really that problematic any more. Sure, I have my idealized version of how education should be, how grading should be, etc. but guess what–so does everyone else. Some of the smaller “international” schools are local businesses, selling a product for profit. Their “vision” is obviously very different than my own, but I can still achieve my goal–to go into my classroom with my passion for learning and pass that on to my students. The rest is just semantics, as long as no one’s health and safety is compromised. I guess you could say that with age has come the wisdom to be able to accept these “problems” more as inconveniences and to realize my vision of educational perfection may or may not mesh with my new school, but generally I cannot move in and change the culture of the school, nor is it my place to. I can respectfully offer suggestions…but I can’t force change. If I don’t feel the culture of the school is right for me, I move on when my contract is finished. We can call it achieving a zen-like state of teaching. ; )

    • Wizard says:

      Well said, Suze. Reading this blog with great interest for weeks now has caused me to re-evaluate my own behavior throughout the last 20 years as well in several different schools, one of which I left at end of contract because of filthy dirty politics. I do not regret having never gone up against an administrator but rather made suggestions for reform, (mostly not heard/accepted), and tried to do the right thing in my own corner, then seeking a new environment when contract is up if the situation is unacceptable. Administrators are not Buddha’s brother as much as we would like for them to be! Leaving a school with a cheerful record is important. Administrators talk with each other in the small world of recruiting overseas teachers. They talk with each other about how they experienced you as a teacher; not what you believe in and the mistakes they themselves make! Some things are worth dying for; you have to decide how important your situation is in the grand scheme of international education and your own professional life. It has always amazed me that out of 6 schools I’ve worked in, only one chief administrator has used the suggestion of a teacher ‘think-tank’, as one administrator did, on a teacher voluntary basis and rolling membership. This administrator was willing to hear it all and act on many ideas teachers came up with, not all of course, but it made him look good too. Needless to say this school has an open and vibrant environment for teachers and students and teachers feel more ownership in what goes on at all levels. It is not a perfect school but it raised my own expectations about how a school can be run. Just think of the hundreds of years of experience an administrator is sitting on top of with a staff of 50 or more teachers. Why not use that for everyone’s benefit, including his own reputation and effectiveness.

  4. Ser says:

    Re: Gloria Webster’s comment about administrators..the good ones stay home in the USA

    I have often found that the truly incompetent ones stay home. Basically, there are good and bad teachers and administrators everywhere you go. Also, not every state in the USA has teacher’s unions.

  5. Bee says:

    Sometimes there are no black and white choices such as keeping your head down vs “standing on principle” and losing your career. Sometimes no matter what you do the culture of the school situation makes any choice the wrong one because you are simply in a bad situation or snake pit. Move an inch in any direction, or even stand still and you will be bitten. Sadly, this has happened to me at a comple of lower tier international schools. Also I tried to get help and advice from this post and was slapped on the wrist a little and told I had “perceived certain issues” at more than 1 school and therefore the problem must be mine. I know I did a pretty good job at all my posts and dealt with far more than most professionals would deal with. Not to mention, I was not the only decent educator who was having the same “perceived issues”. Mobbing and severe emotional abuse was the problem at my most recent school. Embezzlement of my pension and sexual harassment was the issue at the school before that. There was nothing I had done wrong to deserve either of these situations and at both schools the problems persisted after I left. I suffer from PSTD and have nightmares and flash-backs about my previous school. However, I still loved teaching at both schools and had a very good experience with the kids and developing the curriculum despite all the road blocks. I now am faced with being black listed for who knows how long. I am going to teach ESL if all works out instead, however, it is not my passion and it is not as satisfactory.

  6. Anonymous says:

    What about a principal/school head that is constantly bringing prostitutes home, has a “Thai wife”, now is “dating” a local teacher he supervises yet the board of directors looks the other way? He is well known in several of the international search agencies and one has to guess that his colleagues ( mostly male) know of his activities yet he will get another job doing the same thing. In Canada/US he would be fired for any of these actions…or would he? 25 years experience and he is doing this now. As a colleague I have not resource and his teachers seem vulnerable to this too. What screening do the search agencies do on moral issues

  7. Anonymous says:

    I’m with this teacher 100%. I worked for Taleem-Edison Learning in a senior boys’ school in Abu Dhabi, headed by a totally incompetent Emirati principal. I contacted an expat language consultant at ADEC (Abu Dhabi Education Council) asking for advice only to be hauled in front of my supervisor and told I was fired for ’embarrassing’ TEL, even though my supervisor had offered no help when I asked her. The so-called ‘providers’ are only interested in holding on to their lucrative contracts. Too many of them have no human resources expertise and even less understanding of how school improvement should be implemented. I have first hand knowledge of the same situation with other providers, such as CBIT and SSAT. People working for those companies are demoralised, frustrated and just waiting to get out. Incidentally, I have over 20 years’ experience as a principal, and 15 years as a teacher.

    • Been there, gone now says:

      I agree totally with both of these posts. Nobody’s health and/or happiness is worth working with some of these dictatorial people. I kept asking myself, when faced with similar situations, ‘would they be hired in their/my home country?’ And the answer is always a firm ‘NO’. Now that I am back in my home country teaching with caring and considerate people who do have pastoral care experience and know how, I am offered the help I need, if that arises.
      Sometimes, the benefits of teaching overseas are not actually as worthwhile as they seem. I am happy to have to spend more to travel, happy to pay my own health insurance and more than happy to pay more tax because I am happy, more healthy as well as loving the job I am doing.

  8. Gina says:

    If you are dealing with a principal and have significant documentation of being harassed and are feeling that it is so unbearable that you are going to resign anyway-go to the director. Let the director know that you have been harassed for however long and that you can provide him/her with documentation if requested. If you have a decent director…this will put some pressure on him/her to look into the situation. I was harassed by a female principal while teaching in an int’l school in Saigon. Other teachers had been harassed, but I was targeted by this principal. I kept asking veteran teachers at what point should I go to the director. They kept telling me that she was my principal and this is how things tend to be in int’l schools. I tried to bring it up to the director by asking for a mediator in the meetings I had to have with the principal since I felt so uncomfortable. He did not grant my request and that weekend, I decided I was going to resign(this was Oct of my 2nd year), and tell the director I was being harassed. At that point, I had nothing to lose! The day I told the director I was resigning due to the principal’s harassment, was the same day I told off the principal and told her that I would NEVER be meeting with her again as she had been harassing me and in the states I would have filed charges of harassment against her. It was so empowering! I agreed to stay until the end of the school year for the sake of my students. The director asked me for documentation and I gave him 8 pages and told him I could give him more upon request. He started investigating the allegations of harassment and teachers started coming out of the woodwork to meet with the director and let him know about all the harassment that had been occurring. The principal was fired or as the director put it in a letter to staff “retiring from our school”. I went home after that school year to heal my heart from the experience. I feel like a much stronger person but wish I had gotten out of there sooner! Your happiness is the most important thing whether you choose to stand up for yourself or just walk away from the situation. Harassment is harmful to your health!

  9. I'd rather not say says:

    I did sacrifice my career to stand up for my principles. The head of school did something, even though I was released from my contract- not fired and the next year I got not one hit through the hiring group I had worked with before.
    I have a new job and don’t regret doing the right thing,but a year of no work was awful. Was it worth it? I don’t know. I couldn’t go against my values- mine was an educational issue, but there was a price.
    Does it mean I won’t and can’t work with that hiring company again? I guess it does.
    I had to live my own conscience and even if the students didn’t know, I couldn’t teach students to do the right thing, if I didn’t.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with you “I’d rather not say.”. At the end of the day it is you that has to live with you. Whenever I am in a situation where I must compromise my integrity two things happen. A) I say right away I’m not doing it, and I don’t do it. Or B) I go along, but eventually, usually a few months at the most, my true feelings about it come out anyway. I know not everyone is the same. What I have found in teaching by observing my colleagues as well as myself is administrators know who is weak-minded and who isn’t. They tend to leave the people with a strong and honorable character alone, and tend to respect (not necessarily agree with but respect) the people who will do the right thing. Deep down inside we all know the what right thing is, administrators included, and administrators know who they can get to compromise their beliefs and who they cannot.

      Many administrators are morally bankrupt, and teachers who allow themselves to be bullied are also morally bankrupt. Just look at the title of this thread. “Would you sacrifice your overseas career?”. I think it speaks to the real question, “can you forgo your self-respect for the duration of a career?”

      In my career as a teacher, I have found that the teachers who make daily choices from a fear space are involved in dysfunctional marriages, and dysfuntional situations with their children. How many international couples are created because one just married a person to perpetuate this lifestyle, as it is easier to find an international gig as a teaching couple than a single? So what came first, the chicken or the egg.

      Abuse is abuse and if you allow it in one arena of your life, it is evident in all arenas of your life. How many years/schools are you going to be a “guest” in other schools, countries, and terms, and when will you start being a “host” to yourself. And truthfully the word guest is a misnomer as the word “servant” is far more fitting, from the comments I’m reading here.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I have lived and worked in several international schools in various countries. I have found the United States public schools where I had to forget most of my principles. I believe in academic excellence, students should accept responsibility for their behavior, and I do not believe in equal outcomes. Thus, I was not wanted in most American schools, but I have
    found a home with international schools.

    The saving grace of the United States is that it is a big country with a large number of schools. Thus, you can get away from being black listed. However, I have been surprised of how small the international academic community is at this time. I constantly meet the same teachers and administrators at various international meetings, workshops, and recruiting
    conferences. They all do talk to each other about teachers. Also, teachers you work with today may be a member of a hiring team at a school that you have applied. I suggest that you stay at the school and follow their procedures and policies.

    When you speak to any staff member, only say positive things about the school. Do not socialize with any other staff member after school. If you do not know already, it is always surprising the colleagues that will run to the administration with your negative statements. Before the end of the year, ask parents of students to write recommendation letters for you. After keeping your head low for a period of time, you may want to ask the administrator for a recommendation letter. Do not follow up. If the administrator does not write a letter or writes a neutral one, you know for sure the administrator will hurt you. Your goal is to keep your current
    administrator from black balling you with other recruiters and recruiting organizations like ISS, UNI, etc.

    Finally, there is a possibility that you are not the only person in the world with the “correct” educational principles.

    I hope you find the school that meets your needs.

  11. Aardy Willow says:

    Being an over-seas teacher is the greatest experience you can have in education but it is a mine-field out here, no kidding! You can’t really know what you are getting into until you get there no matter how much you try to do your homework … there usually isn’t time or enough contacts once you get to a fair and get offers to find out all you need to know. So we are a bunch of major risk-takers-kind-of-people or we wouldn’t be doing this. Learn from the nasty experiences and let it make you a better educator/person, stay calm and centered in who you are and what you know to be right, and wait it out. If you have a trusted recruiting associate, talk to them for several reasons … first of all to give you good advice about how to handle the current situation but also it will prepare your recruiter to support you in the next job hunt. At the same time you are making the recruiting agency aware of that school even if they are a paying member of the recruiting association, the associate will subtly raise a caution when another teacher asks for advice hopefully. My experience is that they can be very helpful. Remember that whether you like it or not basically it is an all-boys club on the international circuit so you will definitely have to pay if you don’t stay calm, cool, and silent at least until you are solidly somewhere else, a little wiser, making a great contribution to a new school. There are definitely more great international schools and administrators than bad ones so take heart. Don’t let the rotten apple spoil the barrel!

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree that internationals school teachers are risk-takers, as most take teaching jobs blind with very little knowledge of the practices the schools follow. This takes great courage. Ive also seen this courage turn into cowardice as the same risk-taker takes no risk in bettering the school in which they are teaching. Said risk takers become very fearful of the administration and are fearful that their careers will be ruined if they stand up against unethical practice.

      What I have found in my experience is that teachers in the overseas circuit tend to have a desperate mentality where they feel they are not in control of their destiny or happiness. That happines and control hinges upon the opinion of an administrator and in order to keep that opinion favorable the teacher must sacrifice what they stand for (if they are not completely beaten down and still stand for something). The only recourse the international teacher has is a dream of escaping to a school that will make them happy, or fulfill their destiny. In most cases the teacher just escapes and is in a situation same or worse then the one they left. This is a very desperate mentality expecting others to be responsible for your physical and mental well-being. It also explains why many international school teachers are subject to abuse by administrators as many handle the abusive situation by not handling it and then fleeing.

      In the United States schools I have taught in I found that teachers tend to complete whole careers in one school, and teachers affect change because they will be there for the duration. If there are unethical practices taking place the are channels the teacher can go to voice their opinion and there are protections in place for those teachers. Not every school is unionized but at the very least there are laws in place.

      A person here references PS. That is a very good analogy, of what happens when abused teachers who are afraid to say and do the right thing, allow abuse to continue. But in the US the law will get you, eventually, if you are a coward who by saying nothing perpetuates abuse out of fear of losing your job, or the kick backs mean more to you than the health and well-being of of yourself or others.

      Internationally or stateside, I always aim to leave a place ethically better than I entered it for the people who come after me, and as a teacher, that is a principle I live by, and teach by. I want my students to go out into the world with a strong moral compass and stand for their beliefs, and I lead by example. Anything short of that is teaching my students to sell their soul and selling my own in the process.

  12. Gloria Webster says:

    Certainly most Administrators working at schools overseas are incompetent – or they would still be in the USA.
    Most teachers at overseas schools are inexperienced or retirees.
    Seldom do you find a good USA teacher [5 – 10 years experience] willing to leave his/her job and move overseas.
    Too often USA teachers at overseas schools want to compare their situation to “things back home”. It is important to remember you are a guest in a foreign country – no comments on politics or religion.
    Sometime teachers use “my principles” as a crutch because they don’t have the ability to adjust to teaching in a foreign country.
    Enjoy your stay and be sure to take the Master’s Program offered by USA Universities at your school [everyone taking the course gets A’s or B’s]. How phoney is this?

    • Shash says:

      Good Heavens Gloria Webster! How many international schools have you been in to make such sweeping statements! I am a veteran overseas teacher and have met the most awesome people both teachers and administrators along with some real jerks. Wouldn’t trade even one experience bad or good. How many USA teachers have you talked to recently that are delighted with their jobs and administrators?! I totally agree with you though about realizing you are a guest in someone else’s country and being respectful and appreciative even if you don’t agree with everything going on. So important!

    • Lanthanoi says:

      I am an NBCT who left the U.S. after 5 years of teaching to teach internationally. I’m in my 3rd year now and I have to say that I completely disagree with your generalizations. I will say that the best and worst teachers (and admin) I’ve worked with were in international schools. Back in the States, it seems that most are just mediocre.

      For what it’s worth, I have had nothing but “exceeds expectations” reviews both in the States and internationally and have received overwhelmingly positive reviews from peers, parents, and pupils. Furthermore, I have quantifiable evidence that my teaching is highly effective.

      • Anonymous says:

        with all due respect, your words struck me as paradoxical.

        “I will say that the best and worst teachers (and admin) I’ve worked with were in international schools. Back in the States, it seems that most are just mediocre.”. Is this NOT a generalization?

        So in the states, according to your statements, you are a “mediocre teacher” even with your quantifiable evidence that your teaching is highly effective, your “exceeds expectations” reviews, and your NBCTstatus. I say this based on your generalization of teachers in the states.

        There is no doubt in my mind that you are an excellent teacher, and I am aware of the very difficult process in order to achieve NBCT status. My issue is the generalization you made when counteracting a generalization. I do ask though, as 99 percent of all school districts offer very nice incentives to teachers who achieved NBCT status, why after getting it, did you choose to go overseas to teach? Most I know get it because they have a vested interest in improving education in The U. S.

    • RL says:

      I usually do not reply to blog statements – just read and process the information written. However, one general statement made above was offensive to me as a business degreed professional and a professional educator who elected to leave the US and teach internationally. ** 5 yrs teaching internaltionally and 10 yrs in Texas – w/ 18 yrs in management. I am neither inexperienced OR retired. However, I could be retired if i chose to be!

      In both careers I have always had exceptional evaluations from very respected excecutives and administrators.

      I left a good teaching position in Texas – not because I had to, but because I chose to.

      Words need to be chosen carefully – maybe some, or even many, have other reasons to ‘teach internationally’.. BUT ‘seldom ‘ seems not to be the proper word for a generalized statement to some of us as teachers and or other professionals.

      RL

  13. R says:

    I was slandered in front of colleagues. I stood my ground, threatened to sue, and ‘won’ a retraction in writing. My contract was not renewed, I doubt I’ll get a reference….and I don’t care, I’d do the same thing again because it was the right thing to do. The more times we hide behind issues relating to self interest and ‘I can’t make a difference’ the more we will find idiots and bullies in charge of us.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I would say that if its making you unhappy and would be a drain on your mental well being then leave it alone and either quit or stay.Teaching overseas often excacerbates these problems.Im not sure if you have family or friends supporting you there? Principles are great if you can afford them!!!

  15. Helen says:

    I am currently in this position and have opted to finish my contract and quietly go. I find that it will be more effective for me to only speak when I’m spoken to and be truthful when I do. When I return home I will not be recomending the school to anyone.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I am currently in what I call an “unbearable” situation and my health is suffering substantially. I was well aware that taking on two new curriculums in a third world country was going to be a challenge, but the principal painted such a “picturesque” vision of what I would experience that I looked forward to meeting people and travelling. After 3 months, I can barely breathe and I feel like I am constantly treading water. I get about 4 hours sleep a night, have constant headaches, am at school until 7pm then work at home until midnight…I can’t keep up with the reports, the 5 classes of lesson planning, the assessments, the extra curricular activities, the curriculum planning…the list goes on and on. On top of that I have a dept head that has berated me, been rude to me and has told me to basically figure out things myself and that the world does not revolve around “me”. OMG, I am just trying to figure things out! I no longer feel I can go to her with any questions. The teachers are too busy to help, and I’ve had “0” social life or been able to travel anywhere besides the local supermarket. I have been told by many people that if I go to the principal he will make my life a living hell and blackball my future career. I honestly feel like I have nowhere to go. The main thing for me is that I have to look out for myself and do what’s right for me at this point, but I just don’t know what that is! I am unsure whether I even like the IB system or whether I will do any international teaching again! Like many people on this forum have experienced, I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. One side of my conscience tells me to GET OUT NOW (or at least at Xmas holiday and never come back). The other side says to hang in there for at least a year (my contract is 2 yrs) and then not return. That’s what the last teacher did and I hear he has gone back to his old job. My Dept Head also put him down and said horrible things about him, but now I know why he left! There isn’t a day that goes by where I just want to QUIT; I have never hated a job so much in my life. If you were me, what would you do?

    • Helen says:

      Your health and happiness is worth more than this. You will get a job in the future and this will all be a bad memory. Unless the school is one of the best and well established, no one will bother! There are plenty of jobs out there and you will find another. When we are in another country it does all seem worse. However doing a runner is not the answer, the students suffer and no one wants that. If I was you I would stay the one year and look at alternative social things to do. You could find something more positve.

    • Been there, gone now says:

      You poor soul….. organise things now so that you don’t return after the Xmas holidays. Get a job NOW in the country of your choice. NOTHING NOTHING is worth this.
      Some HOD, Directors, school owners need a wake up call about some of the conditions they place their staff under.

    • Scott Riedel says:

      I was in a similar situation. Go home! Learn what lessons you can from the experience so that maybe you can look back on it and laugh someday!

    • Anonymous says:

      I am in a similar predicament and handed in a letter of resignation that would take effect at the end of the first year of my contract. I emailed the director over the semester holiday. When I returned, they wound up terminating me although they are trying to make it seem like i resigned effective this January. I am now fighting for my compensation. I have been overseas 17 years and decided that I would not stand for the constant harassment of my administrator. I am being punished for my happiness and giving them as much notice as possible to find a suitable replacement for next year.

      I am now in discussions with ISR to have an article published about my situation.

      Best of luck!

  17. Andy says:

    I have been in the similar type of situation recently and was basically told make a fuss and get a bad reference, go quietly and get a good one. Despite ones beliefs, morals and principles when you have a family you have to grin and bear it. Word does get around about these schools, the international school circuit is not huge.

  18. Anonymous says:

    You are a guest in their country. Like, live with it, or be gone. That simple. The nail that stands up the highest gets hammered down the hardest.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah
      I am in the same position. Get yourself a new job lined up and get good references from them……..then stick the boot in with ISR so we can all avoid em!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Anonymous says:

        I would like to add to my previous message above….
        as 2nd time around said in the US or UK we have unions to deal with these dunder heads but also we have things like(OH MY GOD!!!!!!) O.F.S.T.E.D. which stop lightweights and fakers from getting into postions of responsibility in the first place. Out in the wide world (wild west?) of international private education we have no such thing and have to rely on our senses to work out if we are dealing with decent folk. Look after yourself but inform prospective teachers of the situation. That way the school will find it more diffucult to recruit and a momentum will build up that may see the admin out the door!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. Anonymous says:

    I know the feeling. I took 12 months off, with the blessing of the owner and Principal, and had a chat to the owner who asked me how to improve things in the School. I gave her a short list of what I thought needed ‘tweaking’. This list made it to the Principal, who, when I contacted her to let her know my return dates, indicated that NO, she had my signed resignation form in front of her and that she had informed all other Principals in the city NOT to employ this trouble maker…. So much for confidential. Happy to say the P was ‘sacked’ after the owners found out that she had bluffed her way into the position and had done none of the Policy/document writing in the 3 years she was there! Good luck to anyone working under this Welsh B***h.

  20. m says:

    The owner of the school I worked at discriminated based on skin color. This resulted in very poor treatment of a friend. She cut her contract short and I chose not to renew my contract, though the school was great, teachers excellent and kids awesome. That was a personal choice about what I could live with and what I couldn’t. If anyone asked why I was leaving I was honest and explained what happened to my friend and that it ran against what I believed in.
    Others also felt strongly about her treatment, but chose not to take action. In my opinion, it’s an individual’s choice how they deal with a situation like this.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Wow. In light of the recent events at PennState, I find this blog interesting. Many of the bloggers here sound like unabashed advocates of the kind of behavior PS is guilty of…I found a lot of this in International education. Fear, cowardice, greed, survival and plain selfinterest prevail in international education. Both administrators and teachers seem to lose their moral compass for a vareity of reasons. Myself included BTW.

    • trav45 says:

      How can you say that when there is absolutely NO context here? No one is advocating being silent in cases of child abuse. But this it all too typical of ISR–to imply there are egregious wrongs and take an adversarial us vs. them stance.
      There ARE a lot of self-interested teachers everywhere, so despite high sounding language about principles, I’d want to know exactly what principles are being compromised before automatically assuming the school is in the wrong.
      Also, having gutted out a year in a school I call the hell hole, where teachers were treated like garbage, and students ran the place, I know that it is sometimes to one’s advantage to just hunker down, bite the bullet and survive for a year until one can move on. Had students’ been endangered in anyway, one would take a stand. But if it’s just one’s own self-interest, and there are considerations for another 20 years or more in a career to consider, then there is absolutely nothing wrong in looking out for one’s own interests.

    • Helen says:

      Comparing my comments to Paedaphilia…I have a moral compass and have made sure that I spoke when needed to. Live in a country where there are NO workers rights and fewer Human Rights and let’s see how moralistic you are. This is why ISR exists to make sure that people are well aware of their rights in certain schools etc before they go! I wish I had of known about it before I went to the school I did! Again, that comment was disgusting!

  22. Anonymous says:

    I was amidst sectarian violence and instability in the Arabian Gulf. My colleagues and I were silenced as faculty and students were rounded up and taken away. This teaching position was the best I ever had and resigning was painful. I could no longer live in a country where innocent people are raped, tortured, and murdered. Their cries for human rights, equal opportunity and freedom of speech have not been globally heard. And now I am a stranger where I was born. Where next? Somewhere over the rainbow!

  23. Domhuaille says:

    When I was working as a college counselor in a US school in Mexico, the elementary psychologist found out ab out a child who was potentially being abused by her father. The principal knew about the accusation b ut because the child was ¨known¨ to have a rather fertile imagination (what grade 3 kid doesn’t?) he chose to ignore the situation. When I heard about it at a student services meeting I suggested the entire SS committee meet with the DG, ADG and the principal to discuss what to do. Expecting to have some positive outcome, I was blindsided by the administration’s uniformly ostrich-like solution. they claimed that the local child protection services were useless, that the father, a lawyer would and could sue the school and that the child was a known fabricator. I pointed out that failing to report this accusation to the proper authorities was not only legally irresponsible but morally and ethically unconscionable. I was told that the matter was now ¨dealt with¨ and less than 2 weeks later the child was expelled from the school. this was their solution. I spoke to the local child protection authorities and was given a cock and bull story about it being the school’s responsibility to verify and report child abuse, not mine! The ADG found out I had reported the incident and advised me to ¨let sleeping dogs lie¨ and that they had things under control.
    To this day, our failure to protect that child haunts me. This was a battle I couldn’t win on my own but if the school had not been PR conscious but more interested in protecting their children, we’d have been able to do something one way or the other.

    • Anonymous says:

      Protecting the innocent – can be haunting. I chose to stand up for a teenager that was kicked out of his campus for ‘fighting’ a gang of black ‘athletes’. He was sent into an ‘alternative school’ classroom. I knew him well, and the racially charged environment against him. Since he was one of a handful of white students on a military base’s secondary campus, it was inevitable that no one would take his side.

      Fortunately it was the last trimester of the school year, and I tried to take care of him, and let him know that not all of the USA was as screwed up as that.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Context? Situation? Details? Worthwhile online conversations tends to arise from substantive prompts.

    • trav45 says:

      Exactly! It’s impossible to give any kind of meaningful response without knowing specifics. if it’s just a matter of a broken contract, it’s now worth destroying a career over.

      • following the rules says:

        Context, rules, and details are unfortunately seldom used on this forum to frame a reasonable conversation. Nice to hear a reply that hasn’t jumped on the ‘lynch ’em’ mind frame–often taking what could be an interesting conversation to an ‘us vs them’ frenzy with those on a more middle path being inevitably accused of being Admin. or worse yet a spouse. Why is it so often assumed that a teacher couldn’t feel strongly that context and details still have a valuable place in any discussion?

  25. 2nd time around says:

    You can’t win when it comes to dealing with an overseas director that dislikes your opinions and ideas. You’re out of your arena, on foreign soil, and essentially subject to the whims of the person in charge. Back in the States or the UK these buffoons would find them selves up against a union rep. Overseas they rule the roost.

    I experienced just such an episode in Africa. I spoke up and tried to challenge this travesty to education masquerading as a school director and was blackballed for it. He went on to the ISS fair where he spent two week enjoying himself on the schools dime and replaced my position. Sad thing was the board blindly defended this man out of some blind sense of responsibility to support the man at the top.

    It’s unfortunate some real misfits waggle their way into positions of authority in international schools, then take glee in wielding their power over well qualified professionals who are trying to make things better — but seen as a threat.

    My advise is keep quiet and then post to ISR to warn others of this school and “leader”.

    Good luck – I’ve been there and it’s a hard place to be.

  26. robert says:

    Write your embassy, ISR, your collegues, everthing you can and don´t worry about career. Any administrator worth a damn already knows the crappy countries and crappy schools. Tell your story, stand up and dont be a Penn State adminstrator!!! Fight back. But also follow Beentheredonethat´s advice and be smart. But don´t go against your ethics. I have also been there and done that.

    • trav45 says:

      How can you say that when you don’t know the circumstances? That is so irresponsible. It it is an instance that puts students at risk, absolutely. But if it is just a case of a crappy school, and you kick up the kind of fuss you’re talking about–writing the embassy, etc.–you can kiss your career international career good-bye. Directors may understand, but they are going to be incredibly wary of a teacher who writes embassies and goes public with complaints.

  27. Beentheredonethat says:

    *Keep your head down, pick your battles and survive.
    *Each time a situation arises ask yourself, “Is this the hill I want to die on?”
    *Duck and weave.
    *Chip away.

    • trav45 says:

      Excellent advice!

    • rachelbirder says:

      Previous responses are SO true. At first tried to 1. do what I was told, 2. Stand up for myself when accused of doing what I was told. Lesson: Ignore all official instructions, ask the other teachers. Say nothing, apologize when accused, keep backup jobs on file

    • yvonne says:

      Reading all these posts brings back fond memories of teaching in Kuwait. I did not work at an international school and essentially had no protection or back up. I learned to duck and cover. I sacraficed my career overseas. Read about it in my newly released book “Suitcase Filled with Nails: Lessons Learned from Teaching Art in Kuwait.” Yvonne

      • Anonymous says:

        Hi I downloaded your book on Kindle!! Thanks. I appreciate the insight. Do you have any insight or can you direct me to insight in transitioning from The U.S. to South East Asia?

        I guess the rule of thumb is to remain true to yourself and I don’t see how people can work in an environment where they are not valued as a person.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yvonne! Would love to read that book…it’s Sheila in Kuwait!

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