The 1st Few Weeks @ a New School OR With a Change of Director/Admin

The new academic year is under way. Some of our colleagues are new to their schools and others are returning to the same school, but with a new director/admin at the helm. How you’re treated the first few weeks at your new school or by a new director/admin will set the tone for the academic year to come. Here are two scenarios for new teachers to consider. Which category describes your experience?

Outstanding Experience: You were no doubt greeted at the airport, then wined, dined and shown the local sights and school campus over the following days. With support, you quickly began to know the “ropes” and started to feel at-home with your new living arrangement and classroom. Most importantly, you’re well on your way to forming relationships with colleagues, students and parents—those little, school-sponsored socials are real ice-breakers. Relocating has been exciting, exhilarating!

Poor Experience: When your new school tells you to go find a house and “We’ll see you the first day of school,” you know you’ve made a mistake. Some of our colleagues are sadly discovering that what they were promised at interviews has yet to materialize and probably never will. Starting the year with the feeling you’ve been taken advantage of by a smooth talker is an awful feeling, especially when your career is at stake, your family is miserable, and you’ve signed on for two lo-o-ong years…

Returning teachers who find a new director and/or administrator in place will find the occasion one for celebration or mourning. We all know a school’s character and overall atmosphere is strongly affected by the people running the show. Schools with great reviews can suddenly go “south” when new leaders take charge; while the opposite can also certainly be true when a focused leader takes the helm of a poor school.

ISR hopes the first weeks as a new teacher OR your first experiences with a new administration at your current school are rewarding and the prelude to an excellent year of international teaching. While those first days of reception to a new school or admin are fresh and foremost in your minds, we encourage you to share your experiences  and first impressions with colleagues who can benefit from your candid comments.

Want to discuss this topic with other international educators? Scroll down to comment.

13 thoughts on “The 1st Few Weeks @ a New School OR With a Change of Director/Admin

  1. I agree that the initial reception isn’t necessary an indication of things to come. The best reception I experienced (in Guangzhou with three nights in the city’s best hotel) was at the worst school I worked for…


  2. Forgotten at the airport….unable to get hold of anyone due to it being Ramadan…..standing alone for 6 hours with no water and nowhere to even sit down let alone have a cup of coffee…..being taken to a cockroach infested apartment…..w!alking in to a school where the managers changed every month or 6 weeks………bad bad bad


  3. The school that really helped me acclimate and get settled turned out to be the worst school I have worked at. The director, “a good ol’ boy” was literally an ignorant fool. But he held all the aces and we all had to follow his wishes. The school that was worst at the hosting and wining and dining turned out to be the best to work for. So, just goes to tell you that first impressions are not always what they seem to be.

    But I agree schools have a responsibility to help new arrivals get settled. When they do it means teachers can focus on getting ready for the first day of school and on teaching rather than on getting the internet hooked up at home and buying a cell phone, dishes and pots and pans, all in a language the probably don’t speak.


  4. Outstanding Experience: The director picked me up at the airport and took me to my new home. At the house were the director’s wife and family. They’d stocked the fridge, made the beds, and welcomed me with a light lunch. Over the next ten days- prior to the beginning of in-service stuff- the director took me out to dinner, invited me to use his pool whenever I wanted, took me to the school, showed me around the neighborhood and introduced me to the local shop and restaurant owners (my new home was his old home), and had a staff party. A day didn’t go by when he didn’t check in and make sure everything was okay and ask if I needed anything, or had any questions. Needless to say my work experience was just as positive.

    Poor Experience: The school’s director did pick me up, but was an hour late. She took my (then) wife and I to our apartment. A horrific s**t hole. Waiting there was the owner of the apartment. We had to sign the lease and pay a deposit and rent before we were even allowed to bring our bags in. This was after 24 hours of flying, no sleep, and no idea what was going on. The director then said, “there’s a market up that road,” accompanied by a vague wave of her hand, “the principal will be contacting you shortly.” That was it. We’d arrived three weeks early, and never heard a word from anyone at the school for the next two weeks. Totally on our own in every way. We didn’t even know what part of the city we were living in. The school was run the same way.


  5. Outstanding welcome! We were met at the airport (after arriving with a huge group) and have had someone with us or checking in on us each day since arrival. Many activities were planned, with a focus in securing housing. After learning that the returning faculty (helpers) volunteered for the daily duties, it meant even more that they would give up their time freely.
    Admin has been great–Met new elementary principal right away, and the scheduling/goals for the new year were clearly explained. In a private school in South Beach (Florida) last year, I worked under the worst admin I have ever had, so there is little that could be done that would be worse than what I have already gone through:).
    I do not require/desire a lot of hand-holding, so the freedom to discover the area on my own has been wonderful. All in all, the first bit of time here has been great. I did not come here expecting it to be an “easy” teaching experience or living experience, so I understand that I am far more accepting of ‘hiccups’ than others might be. But, in my experiences in the U.S. and abroad, I can safely say that I have already met some great people and am looking forward to the year. Good luck to all!


  6. Admin totally makes or breaks the reputation of a school. Admin should keep in mind: happy teachers equal happy students, happy students equal happy parents.

    Admin, make sure your teachers’ voices are heard. Don’t be a pushover by the parents.


  7. Super welcoming. Everything first rate. Lots of opportunity to mix and meet teachers during fun activities. Our kids have been included and welcomed as well. Trailing spouse is also well looked after. Cheers to Uplands!


  8. While everything went well in settling in as I was met at the airport, found an apartment and got everything else done. I’m currently dealing with a micro-managing director who micro-manages everything I do! Everything has to be their way, and they never like the options I’ve chosen based on my years of experience doing my job. I find myself more and more frustrated.

    Great way to start a 2 year contract a new school!


  9. I arrived in Riyadh, KSA at 6 p.m. during the month of Ramadan and no one was there to greet me. No one was there period, as 6 p.m. is when the fast is broken. Things went predictably downhill from there. I’d had all kinds of experiences in various countries, including a 5 hour delay in Beijing which caused me to arrive at my destination at 3 a.m. in the morning, but someone still met me at the airport. This was a first-and last for me-I’ve thrown in the towel on international teaching.


  10. Clifford School in Guangzhou, bilingual high school, was definitely the outstanding. Met at airport, checked into my apartment, get pictures taken, cell phone, open bank account, done. Medical check, done done done.


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