July 19, 2012

For those of us who are international educators with children, picking a school can be less about our career needs & much more about the package that best meets our children’s educational, emotional & social needs while in lands far from home & family support.

As parents, we want to know which schools are academically solid? What art/music/drama/extra-curricular/counseling programs are considered outstanding? What team sports can my children play? Which schools offer a top-notch education? Is the school population diverse–will my child make friends & be accepted? These are pertinent questions for international parents of students. The big question is, where do you find the answers?

Our newest ISR Blog, Just4Parents, was created specifically with YOUR need-to-know in mind. If you’re looking for a place with open discussions on specific schools, or a focus on more broad-reaching concerns to international parents of students, ISR encourages you to take advantage of the Just4Parents Blog. As expat parents we want to pave the way for our children with wise decisions. After all, our children are our most precious resource!

What Teachers & Directors Are Saying

July 12, 2012

It’s not often we toot our own horn but lately we’ve been receiving some very encouraging compliments about ISR and it feels like it’s time to just let her rip.

Most of all we’re proud to be of service to the international teaching community and wish to thank our readers and members. After all, it’s your words that populate our pages and credit should be given where credit is due. So when we say we’re tooting our horn, we’re really tooting for YOU!!!

Over the years we’ve survived some strong opposition. But thanks to our supporters, both teachers and school directors, the ISR Blog & Forum have become well-frequented meeting places for international educators to freely share ideas on pertinent topics. Our flagship School Reviews section now hosts over 7000 reviews of international schools, with most schools having multiple reviews, giving teachers ample information to make an informed career move.

We’d like to share with you why we’re feeling so encouraged. Here’s a few comments we recently received. They’re the result of your postings to the web site:

ISR clearly provides an invaluable service for teachers by warning them about dangerous, threatening & frankly criminal circumstances into which they might blunder.
There are so many international schools that are “for profit” now. Teachers need to be careful. This web site is invaluable for that.
I am a school Director and I love this site. I encourage my newer teachers to check it out. It is highly informative!
Let the chips fall where they may. ISR is the only tool I am aware of that provides teachers with this kind of important information.
I like ISR and refer to it often. I like to know something more about the school a prospective teacher is coming from, and if I was job seeking I would read ALL reviews with an eager eye.
 I truly enjoy your site. The reviews provide a nice school snapshot and I’ve gained so much information from the Forum and Blog section.
If it hadn’t been for the reviews on ISR I would have accepted the job and simultaneously committed career suicide! Thanks ISR for what you do.
As you can see, the staff at ISR have much to feel good about. We’ve come a long way and plan to continue evolving into an ever more useful tool for the International Teaching Community.
Teachers Keeping Each Other Informed is
what ISR is All About!

The Art of International School Management

July 5, 2012

Our previous blog, Safe, Sound & Far Away is focused on schools that use threats and intimidation to discourage staff from posting to the ISR web site. While this tactic apparently works in the short run, once safely out of the country, teachers clearly spread the word about these suppressive institutions.

Obviously not all schools see ISR as a threat. Among the many informative postings to this Blog, one that caught our attention closes with this comment from the director of The International School of Macao: “Issuing gag orders is not a solution. The best solution is to create a culture and community where feedback is sought and handled in more constructive ways. This is what we are working towards.”

This statement resonates harmoniously here at ISR. We’d like to share the complete posting from the Director of the Macao School and ask for your comments. We’re certain many of us will be standing in line at the next recruiting fair for a chance to work in this environment!

Howie says:
June 28, 2012
“As a school, we have taken a different approach to ISR. Considering that many prospective teachers are going to use ISR to check up on the school, I believe most schools monitor (or should monitor) the posts therein. ISR gives a perspective of a school. Multiple perspectives are needed in order to effectively gauge the culture of a school. We encourage all prospective candidates to contact as many people on staff as they want. When they want to know about the cost of living in Macau, we point them to a staff survey that lists differing perspectives.
At the end of each year, I forward the latest 2 reviews to all of the staff who are leaving and ask them to consider giving their own review–this includes staff whose contracts we have chosen not to renew.
This year someone wrote a scathing review accusing me of being a bully. What do you do? I chose to expose it to all of the staff. Why? I wanted staff to be aware of it for a few reasons:
1. Bullying behaviour has no place in a school. I gave explicit permission for any staff member to confront any bullying behaviour they saw in me or in anyone else on staff.
2. I hoped that the person would come forward so we could find some reconciliation. Clearly this person was hurt.
3. Remind staff of appropriate channels for feedback and concerns. If they couldn’t come to me then there were many others safe channels.
4. Avoid the gossip mill. Hiding things only makes it worse. ISR is here to stay.

Do these concepts coincide with the reality at your school? If not, is there a way to introduce this approach to running a school for YOUR school’s management team? We’re certain many schools see ISR as a constructive tool as opposed to a threat and sounding board for “disgruntled” teachers. We encourage directors and teachers to weigh in on this topic.