I was Happy Until I found ISR

“I recently accepted a post at a school and start in August. I’m beginning to sell house, car, everything. But now, two weeks later, I am really worried…I just discovered ISR! Ouch! There’s one bad review after another about “my” new school! I wish I knew whether these reviews were teachers just letting off steam after a bad day, or if I should be seriously concerned. I am giving up my whole life here at home for this post abroad. Now I’m just not sure what to do. I was happy until I found your web site! Now? Any suggestions on what to do next?”

83 Responses to I was Happy Until I found ISR

  1. DaMutt says:

    Take ISR with a dose of salt. There are some clear “bitchy” comments, with people grinding their proverbial axes, and others that are so obviously planted it’s ridiculous. The problem with this site is that it is open – ie, with a few bucks you can join, with nobody checking who you are or why you are joining. Ergo, quality control in ISR is non existent. Perhaps if ISR actually took more responsibility for what gets posted? But hey, won’t hold my breath for that one…

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  2. Been There says:

    How did you get this position? If it was with a recruiting agency, you will pay a fee for a cancelled contract. However, if you are worried, cancelling now in Feb. allows the school to find another teacher and you another school. I was in a school that ended up having several negative reviews on ISR; the situation was horrible there. So, I tend to give you a word of caution.

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  3. stillgotthefeeling says:

    Yea, another thing is that teachers’ morals and standards are suppose to be high to teach and model to someone’s child. I know I would want this from my child’s teacher.

    The problem is many of you international administrators, recruiters, directors, school owners, etc don’t have the skills, moral, and standards to set and lead, because it is just a business for you and you are too weak and spineless to stand up to immorality. When I first started teaching over 20 years ago, administrators who set the tone, had come up through the ranks of years of teaching. This is why many good and real teachers have problems with administrators and vice versa. Many good teachers are, sadly, out of work for this reason. This is simply for the most part an international business, like the typical get rich quick schemes. Everyone knows it and feel powerless to it, even though it greatly affects the future of the world. I am not saying all administrators, recruiters, directors, and owners, are this way. It is just that if you don’t have the skills and experience, at least have the morals and humility to learn from good teachers you want to hire and make money off of!

    I am sorry to sidetrack off of the main blog. I just couldn’t resist the feeling as an old diehard.

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  4. Michele says:

    I have worked overseas for many years now, in both pleasant and challenging situations. I have not noticed that one can “generalize” about overseas teachers as it seems pretty much the same as home–some are really top notch, some are in the middle, and some are just killing time. Likewise for administration. And, in both cases, both parties put their best foot forward when at the job interview. I am willing to bet the largest reason for the legitimate complaints on ISR (and most of them are legitimate) have to do with an expectation being set up for the teacher, then not met by the school. Now, if the workload is reasonable and the salary and benefits are good, I am willing to put up with a bit of “let-down” or “discrepancy” in what I was told during an interview and what actually manifests in the job setting. But if enough discrepancies are present, and the overall situation becomes one where I feel I am not doing a GOOD JOB…well, I feel I have a justified complaint, no? This is going to vary from person to person (and is reflected in what you read on ISR). What bugs me might not bug you, moreover, it might take a lot more to bug one of us to the point of complaining or FEELING like we are not able to do our best. In the end, I make my decision to go after considering ISR. I have been in a very similar situation, GREAT interview, then read a set of negative reviews after signing on, decided to go anyway, and the school turned out to be even WORSE than the reviews–so you stick it out, do your best, and move on. I renegotiated the contract from two years to one…it never hurts to ask, sometimes when it is not an ideal match, both parties will see it that way and there is nothing that says you have to “tough it out” for the contract period. Oh, and I ALSO keep my car, put it on “vacation rate” insurance and drive it when I am home (much cheaper than renting!), and I rent out my flat while I live overseas and stay with friends and family when I come home in the summers. You do not have to make permanent decisions….I say go for it, living overseas is a great adventure, YOU may fit in just fine at this school, and at any point in time you are exactly where you are meant to be for both your personal and professional development, regardless of the “circumstances”🙂

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  5. Anonymous says:

    All I know is I worked for and loved being at a school that has been horribly bad mouthed on this site so nothing is for certain. I realize things may change, some people could have had genuinely very bad experiences at a school and it should be considered but know that it isn’t always the situation.

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  6. TPL says:

    Everyone has some points to make. Generally speaking be careful with proprietary institutions (more of which are beginning to be deceptive with their status) The safest and sanest are the schools in the capital cities which have a healthy mix of nationalities. Needless to say the better schools pay well, recruit carefully, are more stable, but demand more. They are also harder to get hired in.

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  7. JMS says:

    Over 20 years teaching in 7 countries, some are great, some are not. Remember that this will be your FIRST international school. It doesn’t have to be your only or your last. Think of it as an adventure!

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  8. J-D; says:

    You need to contact current employees at the school who are in similar positions to yours. You might even be able to get such info from the schools website. Good luck.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    If I had been able to access a site like this before I went to one post, I’d never, ever have taken the job. In the fall of the year before I went there, the school went ballistic, the parents group firing the Board and electing another Board, only the first Board refused to give up power and there ended up two Boards running the school and taking each other to court. In December no one was paid, and all the expat in year two of contract put in for resignation. They ran the Sup out of town and the Elementary Principal and High School Principal came recuiting, hiring 21 people. The only expats who stayed were 4 couples in the first year of a two year contract.

    But…..the new Superientendent ended up being the best man I’ve ever worked for, the school was great, we never saw even the barest hint of the trouble of the previous year. School was wonderfully supportive during some challenging times (evac of expats one year the second day of school, a military coup, and Sept 11).

    You might try providing more information here now that you have a bunch of folks interested and see if you can get a different perspective.

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  10. ceegee says:

    i’m curious why people accept posts in very iffy locations and at iffy schools.

    regardless, research is key; deep, deep deep research, and contact with current teachers a must before taking a post…not just one or two teachers, but a few random…married, single, teams, young, old…

    parent posts on expat websites, the state department website, recruiter insider information, and any other information you can gather through youtube (schools often record events and activities from theatrical performances to graduations), the web, word of mouth and common sense.

    ISR seems to be mostly a sounding board, but not all voices are telling lies. even european schools have their share of poor administration, unhappy faculty and the added stress of living in a very expensive location. high taxes, cost of living and wealthy local nationals who treat teachers like servants. it can happen everywhere and anywhere. research is KEY…and behaving like a professional no matter what. word gets around and then your career is at stake depending on your actions and behavior.

    try comparing international education to american inner-city schools; which would you rather experience?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Yea Ceegee, but we all know that there’s only so much research you can do on a school. I am not saying don’t do the research and come up with what you can. I am just saying, realistically, from a distance, there is always a lot you can’t find out about these schools. Look at a lot of these posts. A lot of people here deceive themselves and don’t want to be honest and straight forward about schools, as though it makes them weak to do so.

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      • green bean says:

        I would agree, for all the research you can do, it is still a crap shoot. Sometimes it’s not your fault if you end up in a bad spot. Sometimes a place can turn out better than expected for a whole variety of reasons.

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  11. Sarah says:

    I would first contact the school immediately and question them about this new information that you have found out. Get to the bottom of the issues – if it is a reputable school then they should be completely open with you about the problems and what they are (or should be) doing to ensure improvement.

    If the answers you get are unsatisfactory or the school is not willing to discuss the issues with you then bailing might be the option you want to take. The school may agree with you on this (after all it is better to lose you now than 1 month into term).

    If this happens, then there should be plenty of other suitable jobs for you that you can start applying to – the recruitment season is still in full swing.

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    • green bean says:

      You will taint yourself in the eyes of your next boss if you mention ISR or let it be known at all that you have second thoughts as a result of this website. And you will look a bit of a fool if you reveal that you found this information AFTER accepting the offer. The time to find out was before.

      Just because the recruitment season is still in swing for others doesn’t mean that it is for you. When word gets out that you backed out of a contract, you will have closed the doors of the top tier schools to your future. See it through and try the best you can to make good, or give up on teaching at a good school. A school that will keep its word and treat you with integrity will not tolerate a teacher who does not expect the same of themselves.

      Maybe it is not as bad there as you fear. Be open to that, too.

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  12. Mr W. says:

    There have been some interesting, incorrect and inflammatory comments made regarding your worries but it really comes down to a few main factors.

    1) Research – Ask today if you can for multiple e-mails of current and past staff. E-mail them in group mail asking for their opinions of the school. Reference the ISR reviews and ask them to comment.

    2) Money/Need – How badly do you need this job? If you are really…REALLY worried about the situation and the above step of e-mailing turns up some “bad dirt” then can you afford not to go? You will have to weigh up the costs of it. Remember that it will be two years (if that’s the contract length) of your life but it will be two years international teaching experience and a fulfilled contract that will help you get a better position on the future.

    3) You – Although I think Beentheredonethat has a absolutely insulting and HEY LOOK AT ME I AM INTERESTING AND EDGY wannabe thing going, he somewhat makes a point. You will be leaving your home country and moving abroad. The rules/life/experiences you are used to and expect will no longer apply. My guess is that you are on your way to China or the Middle East (could be wrong) as these two locals have the most positions available. They also have a majority of for profit privately owned schools . No matter what, at these schools the bottom line is the most important thing and if a director or principal don’t follow the corporate line they will be gone. I’ve seen it first hand at one of my schools, three primary & secondary principals and three directors in one year. Yes one year. That makes it incredibly difficult for the staff and not everyone is cut out for that type of teaching life. Living abroad means taking chances and if you are willing to do that with an open mind and positive attitude then I say take the chance and go for it.

    You don’t need big balls and of course you can whine and take offense to things but you have to ready for challenges and changes that you will not be able to control. Often the negative reviews that you read are from those that are not able to adapt or are simply unwilling to. That said, do get the e-mails of current and former staff and find out that they have to say.

    Good Luck.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Two years at a bad school means nothing professionally to me, and negative reviews can also be honesty.

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    • Anonymous says:

      I would second (third or fourth, I’ve lost count) getting emails or better still, seeing if you could skype other teachers now at the school.

      Someone I did not know found me and asked me about the conditions of my job, which is available and posted. I can’t wait to leave in some senses, but I will not say a negative thing in writing that can be traced back to me while I am still here, to someone I don’t know. I would NOT reference ISR to the teachers at the school but I WOULD ask about the issues in the reviews that concern you. And if anyone is willing to skype, they will be able to see who you are and not have to put anything in writing that could create problems for themselves. ESPECIALLY if they are writing to you on a work email. Just bear this in mind.

      A smart teacher who knows something negative about your future position that you SHOULD know WON’T put it in writing if they are staying themselves.

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  13. merri says:

    Like you, I totally disengaged from my belongings (except for renting out my house since the market was too terrible to sell it) and with cat in hand, left for my first overseas job when I was nearly 60. Just 3 months later, the school closed and I was expelled from the country. I ended up in a good school and actually had 6 months off for the first time in my adult life! There are no guarantees that all will go as you imagine. It may mean finding out more about yourself and the world than you ever thought possible. You can survive anything, my dear fellow teacher, if you keep your wits about you. I say go for it.

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  14. away from home says:

    What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Most overseas jobs don’t have unions and many schools are “for profit” as opposed to schools in the States and Canada. That means that if you have to work on your day off-you have to, if you have to cram as many kids into your already crowded classroom, you have to. If you don’t get paid for your sick time, or injured time, well, no one to complain to. If part of your salary is held back in case you leave prematurely, or if the conditions are unsanitary etc. too bad. The good side is that you will have realized that the grass is not always greener on the other side, and you will personally know from experience.
    I don’t think that ISR is just a place to grind an ax. I went on here to find out, and I did and I went here to warn others.
    Good luck.

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  15. Anonymous says:

    I am an example of someone who jumped into the ocean without feeling the temperature of the water. I left my home, husband, family and career to end up in the most difficult situation anyone could imagine. In the end, four years later in the same school, I lost EVERYTHING in the United States BUT I gained a much better person and beyond. This took a tremendous amount of hard, hard, hard work but it was all worth it. My point is, no matter what the situation is and no matter what “they” say about the school you choose, just do it and I am sure in the end, it will all work out for the best. There are no mistakes in life just lessons. If in your heart you questioned the thought about stopping one life to do another you would never applied for the position in the first place. Be positive. International teaching, in all schools, and all administration, there are many rough spots, take it or leave it. But you will find your way and comfort zone.
    Good Luck.

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  16. Kristine says:

    I had a similar feeling last July. I accepted a job and then started reading very bad ISR reviews. Now, I’m 6 months in and I’m having a very nice experience and I’m at a school in a fairly unstable country…think Revolution! The admin are mostly supportive and really, I can just teach again. After 20 years of teaching in the US, it’s nice to know MY worth and MY student’s worth isn’t completely based on a single shot test score anymore. I have 20 grade 1 students and a full time teaching assistant. I have technology, books and supplies. Yes, there are a few pitfalls, but at the moment they are are so minor it’s hardly worth a complaint. I have a feeling, as previously mentioned that ISR is a site mostly for employees to “grind and ax.” I would also search for teacher blogs and as mentioned try to get a hold of current teachers.

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  17. vancouverite says:

    Hello, I read your post and some of the others. I don’t really know your position but it sounds like you have burned some bridges.
    I posted in this site about the truth of the school I am teaching in. I have lots of experience and want to share/beware. There are some real benefits to the year I will have spent here. I was able to do some traveling which I wouldn’t have otherwise done, met some people I would otherwise not have met. The job is brutally difficult and what I posted was all true. Many teachers are not returning. I think that when one is very traumatized one tends to reach for some help, when one is happy they don’t need that help.
    Good luck!

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  18. expatmanuk says:

    Where is the school? Can anyone help objectively? My last international school was pretty dodgy when I joined it, got MUCH better under new management, then went completely down the pan under new ownership – things change!

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  19. rdjgrcc says:

    The variety and quality of advice you got – some of which was hilarious – gives you more of an idea of your soon-to-be colleagues than the actual places you’ll be teaching at. They’re all over the map, as you can see.

    Keep your head, enjoy your students, respect the country, be quick to laugh and slow to anger, and you’ll be fine. My family and I lived abroad for 13 years, 6 as an ESL teacher, and I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.

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    • Don't Look Back says:

      We have twice sold houses and cars and have loved not having to worry about hurricanes, snow storms etc. Well worth the peace of mind. Of course, in our case we never plan on going back to either of the areas we previously lived.

      Our first school/housing in Egypt was a little dodgy, but we still found much to enjoy and used it as a stepping stone. Do your research and take your chances.

      Like

  20. anon says:

    Please consider:
    Take a two year leave of absence from your school. Rent out your house (property managers generally take 10%). Rent it furnished and only put the most precious items in storage (in your own garage). Keep your car in the garage as well. We were overseas for over ten years….the car ran fine each summer and saved us thousands of dollars as compared to others who rented a car each year for the summer (storage insurance is about $35.00 per month). Don’t withdraw your retirement from the school district!
    Have a safety net and then run out across the world and enjoy!

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  21. Anonymous says:

    Take some vacation time and go visit the school. Then you will know for sure. That is an easy solution.
    Don’t sell your house. Rent it out. Why would you want to sell it?

    Like

  22. Annon. says:

    I just came back from a stint in Cairo….yes some schools are great but I wish someone had told me about what the school I was going to was really like. Leaving there is hard to begin with, have a not so great school and you will be counting the minutes. I had wished I had signed with CAC.

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  23. Anonymous says:

    Well, I live and teach in Egypt now, not at CAC, and I’m fine, having a lovely time, in fact, at work and in my personal life as well. I have gaps in my resume, and I’m fine. Salaries in China are most certainly not low for international school teachers. I made (and saved) more in China than in the other six countries I taught in. I guess you can always find people who have opposite views on this site. I suppose these things vary according to perspective and personal experience.

    Like

    • hypatia says:

      I’m a 60+ old gal working in Egypt at the present time. The schools here are pretty careful about closing early or entirely up if there is going to be a situation at the square.

      Prepare to give yourself a half year to acclimate to the school and culture. You will eventually find a balance and acceptance of the uniqueness of the country.

      As another poster already mentioned, contracts do not apply to the schools, but they do like to hold you to yours. What I find most frustrating is the clause that makes you not teach a year before going to another school in Egypt. There are those who have fulfilled their contracts and would like to move to another school in Cairo, but feel hamstrung by a clause that is not really enforceable.

      Good luck!

      Like

      • MaadiTeacher says:

        Not sure what is up with you “contract,” but I know of a number of people here in Cairo, especially in this last year, who have moved between schools and they didn’t wait a year. They just started up at another school in the fall after finishing at the one school in June. I think someone is feeding you a line.

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      • liz says:

        Just ignore the clause. If your contract is up and you have not been fired the clause is not valid -you no longer work for them! it is not valid. it can’t be enforced because it’s not legal- anywhere in the world-International laws support this.

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  24. Refugee says:

    Agree with Gilkes. If there are multiple bad reviews, play it safe and stay at home until something better comes up. My partner and I agreed to a job last spring. A month later we found some damning non-ISR reviews (try googling ‘reviews [school name]’). We talked it over, making many of the same points on this thread (maybe just some axe-grinding, etc) and as each day passed, we were more and more accepting of our fate (so what if it’s a little tough? We’ve worked in worse schools, surely!).

    Hindsight is always 20/20. We should have sent our regrets in the spring and renewed our job hunting efforts. Instead we wound up pulling a Christmas runner — never a good thing for the CV and devestatingly expensive!

    Disagree with Roberto. CV gaps do matter. Some years back I was evacuated from a war zone along with all the other foreign staff. Legit reasoning for a contract ending in January, yes? No. No matter how many times I explained the situation, recruiters only saw ‘an incomplete contract.’

    Much easier to wait for the right job than run away from the wrong one.

    Like

  25. Tortosa says:

    The school that I am at has pretty negative reviews, but they are way off the mark. It is a great work environment and I amquite enjoying it. Get a property manager if you are tied to your house…we have a house and five apartments that for the first two years we tried without a PM and managing them from abroad was difficult. Make sure your pay covers you mortgage in case you are with out a renter, or try to sell. In this market however, you might not get what you want out of it.

    Although beenthere says what he/she says in a (maybe for some) harsh way, it is pretty close to what’s on. This can be a crazy life, or a great one depending on the glasses you wear.
    Take a chance, be strong and prepared for the worst you can imagine and you’ll probably be just fine.

    Like

    • ceegee says:

      wow! you’re quite the landlord! five apartments and a house!? no wonder you need a PM. the enormous new england mortgage on our house can’t be covered by the teacher salary, so have to cut and run from the house obligation. i know the market is terrible, but no guaranteed sign of immediate improvement. besides, we’re not from the area and don’t have family to anchor us, so keeping the house is just a long term liability if we get shafted by renters.

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  26. roberto says:

    Gaps in CV s don´t matter anymore. What is most important is having successful teaching experiences. The whole point of teaching abroad is having amazing experiences. If that is not happening, get out of there.

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  27. I don’t think you should worry. I’m in your position the only difference being that I read my new school’s information before Iwent to the job fair. that nearly put me off going for an interview with them but I’m so glad I did. the head sounded totally the opposite to the way she was described on ISR and the package seemed fine. I’m moving in august so I really hope I haven’t made the wrong decision but honestly when you look at the ISR reviews, you have to try hard to find one positive one! like me you’ve made a decision so we just need to be positive and hope for the best. I really think a lot of reviews are written by bitter teachers… hopefully i’m right🙂 good luck!

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  28. Zorn says:

    Well you will probably get some trouble and also have some fun. I worked in one of the looniest middle east countries for years and it was great most of the time. Got shot at, saw some awful things but also did stuff which was a brilliant laugh.

    Go for it, don’t sell your house now this can be done after you find out if you want to stay. Remember, the usual 90 day clause at the beginning of the contract is a two-way thing and you can leave within that time with a plane ticket paid for by the school.

    Go for it and relax, you will more than likely make it a great success!

    Like

  29. cut and run, but make sure you have a job to go to. What you dont want is a gap in your CV, that haunts you.

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  30. roberto says:

    Missionaries, mercenaries or misfits… If you are not going to a western european country you are pretty much vulnerable to the whims of a unethical, idiotic and cowardly administrators and their scumbag owners. If you are anywhere else, buyer beware and prepare yourself to do a midnight runner at the drop of a hat. Recruitment agencies are in it for the money and money only. You can have a great experience in the worst place. The point is…be ready and prepared at all times. Usually they treat you ok the 1st few months. Save your first few month´s salary and keep your head down til you figure out the scene. Always have a plan B and C and even D.

    Like

    • Trav45 says:

      Oh, there’s no bias there at all! I have yet to work in a European country (can’t see the point), but have been at some excellent schools.

      Like

  31. shannon says:

    I can quickly say- tough it out for one semester- look for a job in another country and ask for a good reference. Try to find something else in the short term- Korea- is always looking and you dance around a bit to find a semi-decent position- Russia- interesting- low pay but holidays accessible to Europe- Vietnam- has some good paying opportunities- poor country but decent pay and a beach too. Organize yourself for the next intake to another international school perhaps or just tough it out for a year. I did this and hated it.

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  32. Been there.... says:

    I know of some one who rented out her apartment, reserving one room to use as storage, as storage was very expensive in her country. This enabled her to work in China where the salaries are not that high. It has worked for her.

    The point I was making was stated in my first sentence, and that is simply not to leave yourself without an “out” however it is handled, especially as this seems to be the poster’s first experience overseas.

    I know of another situation where a group of Canadian teachers sold houses etc., only to arrive in the country (Saudi Arabia) to find the hiring company had gone out of business and their contracts cancelled. Finally, recently I worked with a teacher who was teaching happily in Egypt and we all know what happened there. Her bank account and a year’s salary (the money was in an international bank) was frozen under some provision covering “acts of war and terrorism”.

    This is not meant to scare anyone off. I’ve never had any of these things happen. Again, the point is “**** happens” and it would be wise to realize that once you leave your own country you are subject to the laws and conditions of that country-not you own-and plan accordingly.

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    • CJC says:

      Keeping a car at any price, insurance or not, is insane. The value of a car depriciates so rapidly and they are so abundant it makes no sense to keep one, especially if you are going to be away for any length of time.

      Like

      • Been there.... says:

        Cars are so abundant? Sorry, but they don’t grow on trees. A new car cost at least $15,000. For $16/mo. I keep storage insurance on mine while away which locks in my rates and protects against a tree falling on it, etc. When I am returning to the States, I just call my insurance via Skype (for free) from overseas, then once home spend an hour or two at DMV getting my plates back, $37 for an inspection and voila, I’m off!

        My car is 10 years old, but only has 68,000 miles on it,looks fine and runs fine. It has long since been paid for, and gets me where I want to go, so who gives a damn about “depreciating value” when it costs me next to nothing to keep?

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      • overseascanadian says:

        Keeping a car at home is definitely worth it. The cost of renting and the time and arrangements needed to rent make owning a car all worthwhile. I can’t imagine how we did it our first few years overseas, but our Camry has paid for itself over and over again.

        Like

  33. Stratty says:

    1) Don’t panic! Some of the best schools out there have got bad reviews because someone has had a bad time for their own reasons, and provided a bitter write-up!

    2) Don’t sell up. Whatever the reviews are like, you’re stepping into the unknown. Don’t burn bridges.

    Like

  34. rainguy says:

    We are to sign today in Egypt and have mixed reviews and feelings. We’ll rent our house out, our two children will take the cars…a little scared and leary.

    Like

    • Susan says:

      You’re going to Egypt – now – where the army and police are going haywire and new protests have begun?

      I REALLY hope you’re not going to Cairo. I work with lots of Egyptians they won’t even go back right now. PLEASE consider this before you leave!

      Like

      • MaadiTeacher says:

        I live here in Cairo in the southern suburb of Maadi. There are issues downtown, but most expats in Maadi are fine. Is everything perfect, no. Are there robberies, yes, but they have mainly been for big bucks (a armored vehicle delivering cash for ATMs at Carrefour, a HSBC bank in New Cairo, a silver store late in the evening, etc.). But when I lived in California, the robbery and murder rates were astronomical compared to here. Nowhere is perfect, but the community here is very supportive and as long as you take reasonable precautions you will be fine.

        Watching all the tiresome news channels who only want to report on death and mayhem to push their ratings is a waste of time. I find the unabated construction due to lax regulation right now to be a more annoying thing.

        The “anniversary” of the starting of the revolution on Jan. 25th brought no issues. The soccer riot in Port Said was about more than just bad soccer fans, but that is something that will have to be dealt with at a government level. And again, all events erupting from that debacle were at Tahrir Square. Cairo covers an area of about 175 square miles with over 20 million people. Most of the problems are related to an area in Cairo that is spanned by about 2-4 city blocks radiating from Tahrir Square.

        Was the revolution a bit scary, yes. But the amazing thing you DON’T hear about was how all the local people came together to protect neighborhoods with 24 hour patrols. I never felt unsafe during those long weeks.

        So, my comment for this person is “Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.” Go with an open mind and if you open your heart to the country and its people you will probably end up with some pretty good memories even if you have a hard time at the job and have to hang in for a few years before moving on.

        Like

        • Anonymous says:

          Thank you Thank you thankl you Maadi teacher … at last somebody on the ground who knows what they are talking about rather than quoting anonymous friends of friends who knew somebody who may have lived in Egypt 25 years ago and didnt like it

          Like

    • exteacher in egypt says:

      Egypt. I worked there for two years. Unless you go to CAC, you must be prepared that you will be treated like a paid servant. Any disappointed student will go straight to the owner, who will not lend you a sympathetic ear.
      Some teachers manage to control their classes; with a friendly, mutual respect, partnership in class attitude you are condemned.
      Schools are notorious for respecting signed contracts.

      Like

      • exteacher in egypt says:

        Erratum
        Obviously should read “NOT respecting signed contracts.

        Like

      • CJC says:

        I lived in Maadi and worked at another school that was 100% Egyptian students. I was treated VERY well and everything was fine. I loved my job there. I also was there through the revolution and felt totally safe. I was never treated poorly by police or army personnel who are on every corner. I think some of the comments in this blog are outrageous.
        I would go back today. I am proud of how well my students worked in my class although some of my expat colleagues had major problems with their management. I think it is extremely important to be in control, strict even, at the beginning until you get their respect and then you can loosen your rules and classroom structure. I worked with many Egyptian teachers, all of whom were excellent and knowledgeable. I don’t know if you were CAC, expat teacher in egypt, but if that was your only experience, perhaps you should only talk about the experience YOU had. I think CAC is like being in the US embassy and doesn’t provide near as authentic an experience as if you are in a true Egyptian school. It costs a LOT of money for students to attend that school and therefore has only the very wealthy in attendance. I was in a professional Egyptian school where the ethics were terrific and the parents were hard working, not embassy employees.

        Like

    • Anonymous says:

      May I ask what school you have signed with?

      Like

    • Trav45 says:

      CAC is not the only good school in Egypt. I worked there for 5 years (NOT at CAC, I might add) and it was a decent school. It had its issues, but was fine overall. having said that, my first school there I now call The Hell-Hole. If it’s MES, you’ll be fine.

      Like

  35. Been there.... says:

    Even if you were not alarmed by comments on this site, it is not a good idea to burn your bridges in your home country for many reasons (I was actually offered a job in Homs, Syria two years ago!).

    I definitely would not sell my house (can you rent it?) unless you had plans to do so already. As to the car, a new car is expensive to purchase. I left mine with storage insurance ( a minimal monthly fee) at a relative’s house and have had my things in storage since. The first time I went overseas, I did not know about storage insurance for the car and cancelled it altogether which caused all kinds of problems. Insurance companies don’t tell you about the storage insurance, but it allows you to keep your coverage and good record for a minimal fee. Laws vary from state to state, so look into it.

    As to your worries about the school, there really is no way of knowing for sure if it will be for you or not, so I suggest giving it a try as long as you leave yourself an out. Only, if your research turns up something totally unacceptable would I cancel the job.

    I have taken jobs where the reputation was uniformly bad. In one case, I worked at the school for two years, even though it was difficult. My bank account thanked me, and I really enjoyed the work the first year, although the second was hell. In another case, it was almost as awful as predicted, and I left after 3 months.

    Like

    • ceegee says:

      the notion of being a long distance landlord to a house that you may not want or need to return to in the USA is a frighteningly litigious or financially scary spot to be in.

      unless your tenants are capable of caring for your property as well as you do and they don’t miss monthly payments that would cost you money (will your salary overseas be able to support those financial gaffes back home?), i say sell.

      if you are in this for just two years, and you know you’re going back to the same location and economy you left, then, yes, rent the house and hope you don’t have crummy tenants who won’t stiff you or cost you extra money in household repairs upon returning to the house. or, heaven forbid, cost you eviction and attorney fees.

      as for storage, will the monthly payments you make exceed the value of the furniture and “stuff” you are storing? leave precious treasures and sentimental items with family, but the rest can be lent to friends or sold.

      it all depends on your plans in the future, are you in the international education business for the long haul or for a short stint? those decisions you make are based on whether to store and rent, or sell it all and consider your return to the US a fresh start with a new outlook and lease on life with money in the bank for a new place to live. who knows? you may not want all that stuff and furniture you left behind…

      Like

      • LL teacher says:

        I do this (rent the home I bought) but I always had intentions of renting it after I left the area (it is a college town, I did not want to lose more time paying rent while in graduate school myself). I had always planned to manage it myself but then the Great Recession came and I could not find work anywhere within reasonable (or unreasonable) driving distance. I eventually had a rental agency take care of it. It’s been an immense load off my mind, knock on wood that my good luck with tenants continues, but that is a gamble for any landlord. I do feel better knowing that the property is building equity even if Zillow says it’s underwater (they GROSSLY underestimate my rental incomes and using any investment property formulas, the place ISN’T underwater). Rental can be done. Like anything else, it requires forethought and willingness to do your homework.

        Like

    • World traveller says:

      This was the best advice, along with another positive helpful post above. Always have a Plan B, take care of your possessions that you may need when you come back (being homeless, essentially when you come back is no fun). I chose a good renter and rented my home furnished. Hire a property manager to look after it for you, well worth the monthly fee! Ask yourself if you can afford to bail once you are there, and can you afford a poor recommendation or non at all? One intelligent poster a year or two ago said that she two months into her posting knew it was not going to work, asked for a professional review and letter of recommendation (with a clever excuse I don’t recall) and then left over the Christmas break. What you will find is that our mentally and politically and culturally and legally cossetted lives in the US do not hold water in other cultures and leave us unprepared. Good luck with your future!

      Like

  36. Beentheredonethat says:

    Thank you anonymous for clanging the warning bell. I am disappointed at the lack-luster recruits we regularly get overseas these days. They seem like run-away junkies of the buy-and-ditch cheap crap they buy from overseas and escapees from sub-prime mortgages gone bad. But I am more disappointed in the so-called recruitment agencies who routinely sponsor individuals who are running from broken marriages, financial problems, addictions of all types, general disillusionment in society and mental illness. To be fair these candidates use modern technology to to hide their past transgressions like pedophiles seeking employment in kindergartens.

    Mental illness is the 800 pound guerrilla sitting in the room of overseas education.Most of those who write vehemently to ISR seem out of touch and shouldn’t have gone overseas in the first place. Drunkards, laggards and idiots of all types run to overseas education as if it were the foreign legion of failed educators, I am not saying that everyone seeking employment overseas is whack-o, just many of them. They come to us, those who have been overseas for many years, with unrealistic expectations of fair play, democracy and everything being right under god. It is seemingly derived from too many evenings watching National Geographic or god knows what on the Disney Channel, Animal Planet, Oprah, and cable television in general.

    They have bills, they have marital problems, they don’t like their mother in law…god knows what posses some of these people to take on a tough job only a few have been trained for in the school of hard knocks. No one is born to be an international educator and there are programs for interns that can break these newbies in. I am just sick of these rejects from national systems who think because they come from industrialized societies they can cut the mustard overseas.

    This is no place for those who are less than sure of themselves, and who aren´t prepared for the adversity (times ten) that they are going to encounter abroad. These ninnies who think that the world is all like they so neatly imagine in their Walter-Mitty-Minds are complete nutters and make our live unbearable. Get real wanna-be educators, Except for the major international schools in the majority of European and developed countries, this is like the wild wild west out here. The crap that major recruitment agencies espouse is to get your money. Read the fine print! There are no refunds.

    Stay home please. Let the buyer beware.

    Like

    • roberto says:

      I am more suprised at horrible administrators.

      Like

    • Anonymous says:

      Wow, you have issues and are why this website can be questionable at times. I believe that everyone has the right to speak his/her mind but with respect. Looking at the inflammatory language used in your posts, I hope you are honest and sharing with this information when you apply to a school because for most of us working internationally, we don’t wish to have to work with individuals like you. I can take whiny much easier than someone who is extremely negative. The way that you refer to your educational colleagues who are seeking employment overseas is quite disturbing. You really don’t help to give our profession credibility or validity with those who doubt.

      Like

    • Anonymous says:

      I shudder to think about the sub-standard, bottom tier schools you must be working at. But add to your list the directors and principals who forget about any standards of dealing decently with the people who work at the schools. It would be great if they stayed at home too.

      Like

    • lightstays says:

      Though I was a bit put off by your rather coarse original post, Beenthere, it does seem that “Drunkards, laggards and idiots of all types run to overseas education as if it were the foreign legion of failed educators.”

      I thought my MA training program was populated by useless layabouts, but I’m appalled by the level of professional shoddiness I’ve seen at Latin American i-schools.

      Like

    • OverseasFor13Years says:

      Beentheredonethat seems to have adopted Fight Club’s guiding principles as his own.

      Like

  37. ceegee says:

    In which country is the school located, may I ask? Is it somewhere politically dangerous? Oppressively hot and humid? Cold and remote? A truly developing country without a decent support network for an expat community? Is it a brand new school without a solid foundation in place? A religious institution? How many kids attend and are they truly international or are they locals wanting to learn English?

    “Beentheredonethat” has no knowledge of where the school is located, so I wonder why so nasty? Without details, no one can offer their expertise or experience to what the next step should be if it’s truly a horrible situation.

    However, I encourage you to contact teachers who are there directly and QUICKLY and do as much research online (should have done that thoroughly before signing a contract) as possible about the community school through parents of at all possible, and through the recruiter who could honestly tell you if you needed to worry about the post. If the teachers do not get back to you, or if your director seems to abandon your request for more information, or if the information online is anemic, I would go with your gut, whatever that may be. Only you know what you are capable of handling.

    Like

  38. Anonymous says:

    Some of the posts are really true. Take heed.

    Like

  39. Beentheredonethat says:

    Go into it expecting the worst and be grateful for whatever good you may find. If you don’t have the balls, stay home as this is a dodgy business and those of us fighting the good fight can’t hold your hand when things inevitably go south in some of these wanna be schools. There are all kinds out here and this is a messy business.

    Whiny types who are cosseted back home and can’t manage without a hundred channels on cable TV and a hand-holding administrator are not welcome. You create a triage-type of situation for the rest of us real overseas educators where we might just have to let you expire so the rest of us can get on with a job that only a few can do.

    Reach between you legs to make sure you have what it takes before you get into this business. We have been flooded the last twenty years with faint hearted nay-Sayers who spend so much time bitching and moaning there is little chance anyone can actually improve these schools, most of which are awful and in need of educators with a strong stomach and a bit of a spine to sort them out.

    “Oh poor me, I sold all my cheap Chinese junk only to find out life overseas is less than what my little heart desires” Wake up.

    Please, Spare me. Stay home.

    Like

    • M says:

      I don’t think your response is appropriate. This person is allowed to ask questions. It makes me wonder how you treat your own students when they ask questions you may think are “stupid.” And telling this person to reach between their legs is really sexist. Very poor answer.

      Like

      • Been there.... says:

        I agree.

        Like

        • cravevsworld says:

          I agree with your statement above… sure it’s “harsh.” But it’s true. I imagine you’re an amazing teacher because you don’t candy coat the truth to your students. “Beenthere” wasn’t mocking the question, he/she was just delivering an opinion, take it or leave.

          I always tell people the most offensive thing in this world is taking offense.

          I feel bad for this teacher who is worried going into a new job, but perhaps they should have done their homework. Take a chance, you never know what can happen. I wish him/her all the best with this next journey. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

          Like

          • Anonymous says:

            Beenthere was very much, in an facile and oblique way, mocking the OP. Could we please re-read?

            It appalls me that this dark corner of the teaching profession seems to be full of people whose mindset would really be better fit for some overseas branch of the military. If I am to believe Beenthere, that the real teachers are the ones who suck it up and can somehow, magically, do “a job that only few can do” under presumably sub-standard or unethical conditions, then I would have to wonder if these so-called real teachers are part of the problem, not the solution.

            Like

          • Chinuk says:

            What an odd thing to say ( “..the most offensive thing in the world is taking offense”). People take offense at something when something inspires a passionate reaction, and I think it is not bad to be passionate about things. I’m offended by racism, by injustice, and by cruelty. That’s because I’m passionate about equality, justice, and the need to be humane to each other. Not taking offense, ever, would be indicative, not of a positive “live-and-let-live” philosophy but of a “don’t-give-a-rat’s-a**” attitude. Here’s to people who take justifiable offense! And yes, I found the vulgar references to male anatomy as being somehow necessary to being a successful international educator as ridiculously inappropriate and offensive. Just me though. I’m passionate about treating both genders with respect, and no, I don’t have the “balls” for the job!

            Like

            • Anonymous says:

              I really appreciate your comments. Also, I do not like that so many posters refer to people who may be telling the truth about schools as whiners.

              Like

    • Anonymous says:

      There are lots of good schools internationally. Our family has been at 3 in almost 15 years and we will be going to a 4th this next summer, so the comment that “most of which are awful” if not true. Looking for a job internationally requires homework in advance, but it is not your message, it is the way in which you delivered it. We have put up with people who talk like you in education along with those who are “whiny” for too long. It is not about sugar coating it, it is about being respectful to those you interact with. Your comment was much more rude than the original posters question whiny. You can work with the whiny, it is harder to work with the rude.

      Like

    • CJC says:

      This is a rather harsh response to someone who has legitimate concerns…In response to Anonymous: I often find exactly what I expect to find…go to the school and keep an open mind. Remember that you will not be in the United States and things will be different. Some of the things will be less comfortable but some of the experiences will be be AMAZING. I just finished a post in Egypt and even living there though the revolution was an incredible experience. I loved my time there including a robbery and a few other negative things…the awesome experience was worth all of it! You will have the greatest life as an expat teacher. Just be ready to not be reactive, and to accept the new and wonderful life you are about to embark on.
      I often see negative responses on ISR but it is the disgruntled whiners who, for some reason, take the time to bother to post their often fabricated situation… I use this site as one of many ways to get a feel for the new school. I look at housing, standard of living and visa experiences…the rest I can take care of myself. I work hard, do a great job in my classroom and really don’t need to worry about what the director is doing. I am much closer to my principal and the teachers in my immediate area of the school. I make it a habit of posting my positive experiences and do not dwell on the negative when I post on this site. It is a great resource…just take it with a grain of salt.

      Like

    • lightstays says:

      Beenthere was very much, in an facile and oblique way, mocking the OP. Could we please re-read?

      It appalls me that this dark corner of the teaching profession seems to be full of people whose mindset would really be better fit for some overseas branch of the military. If I am to believe Beenthere, that the real teachers are the ones who suck it up and can somehow, magically, do “a job that only few can do” under presumably sub-standard or unethical conditions, then I would have to wonder if these so-called real teachers are part of the problem, not the solution.

      Like

    • Appalled says:

      This post should be removed. It is inappropriate on many levels. Scary to think that this person works with children.

      Like

  40. C. Garvey says:

    I think ISR has become a place where people (many inexperienced or just unrealistic about expectations overseas) vent, which is a shame because the bad outweighs the good on the site. Take it worth a grain of salt. Immediately get in touch with the teachers at your new school and email them questions and your concerns. Your director ought to be able support you in this because it’s important to keep morale high. I’m doing the same thing; picking up stakes and following a dream, so you meed to be confident in your decision.

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      When evaluating the things written about a school it is useful to consider a few things. Are there multiple entries complaining about a school? There’s no guarantee that they are all from different teachers but it puts the odds in the favor that the comments are experienced by many members of the faculty not just one. Do the comments list specific examples of events or actions rather than just someone venting about a director’s, principal’s personality?

      Like

  41. Anonymous says:

    OK the first thing is what are they saying about the school? Is it really that bad? Are they complaining about the management or the fact that the school doesnt pay their staff or that it isnt an international school ( or all three and more)? Have a look at the scores that they give the schools for the things that are less governed by whether or not you like the owner, the Head, the fact it may be a profit making organisation

    If these are high but the running of the school scores are low then it may well be that teachers are grinding that ax once again on this site, but remember there is sometimes no smoke without fire so…

    Dont just look at this site there are loads of teachers out to get a school because their personal circumstances didnt fit their expectations. Go onto the TES overseas forum and ask some questions there, ask the school to speak to former teachers or to current staff ( ask for emails rather than be given them), contact the embassy in the country you are going to and ask them for advice.

    Finally if you want speak to a recruitment agency and see hwat they know about the school…especially if they have been responsible for appointing you there. Regardless of what peoiple on this site say the last thing that they will want is to have to replace you two weeks after you arrive because you dont like what you see. Teachanywhere.com . Capita Education and TIC are three UK based compnies that may well help you

    Search for forums for the area and see whether parents are complaining too.

    And finally think long and hard about why you accepted the post in the first place. You will hear lots of people after me telling you to bale because the schools would screw you over themselves and that a contract isnt worth the paper it is written on until you get paid, but these teachers are often not the best people to take advice from

    If you have family, then think twice again and speak to them about your concerns once your reasearch has been done and speak to the school and let them know of your concenrs. In the end they may make the decision for you by suggesting if you are not sure then it is possibly not for you.

    Generally your gut instinct is the right one

    Like

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