Telling Your School Goodbye

Breaking the news that you’re planning on going recruiting should elicit supportive responses from your school admin. Most likely they’ll wish you luck and ask which schools or locations you’ve set your sights on, effective Directors are happy to help you in any way they can. Many schools even provide paid leave-days specifically for recruiting.

Moving on should be smooth sailing, but some of our colleagues have discovered not all schools are supportive. In fact, there are schools that go so far as to forbid teachers from taking days off, paid or unpaid, to attend recruiting fairs. These same schools often refuse to provide letters of reference for departing staff. An ISR member recently advised on the rough ‘break away’ from such a school:

If the school “forbid” me to attend a fair, I would have to put my foot down and confront this ridiculous policy. You won’t get paid for a week, but at least you’ll give your future and your dreams the best possible shot. Plus (and this may be the best benefit), you will pave the way for co-workers in the future to have the basic right of attending a fair. So tell your current school, “I need this week off without pay, because I’m going to a recruiting fair. Thanks for your understanding.” Just hope they are not completely insane and fire you, but who wants to live their life in that world, anyway?

Recruiting can and should be exciting and rewarding, filled with anticipation of new possibilities and adventures to come! Have YOU told your school you’re planning to go recruiting this season? What was their reaction? To share your experiences or seek advice, we invite you to take advantage of our Telling Your School Goodbye Blog.

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17 thoughts on “Telling Your School Goodbye

  1. use frequent flyer miles to book your air tix to the fair. If you get a job before hand, for a small fee, you can get your miles back, ie cancel your ticket, something you cannot do if you buy a cheap fair, which are non refundable. Just some advice.
    I am heading to UNI from Burma and would not be able to do it without this trick, saved us 4000$


  2. I recently left a school in Qatar (reviewed many times here at ISR). The Head of School couldn’t be bothered to write references so we were told to write our own.

    Attending job fairs was permitted as unpaid leave but once you gave notice you were not renewing your contract (or the school was not renewing it) then you were out in the cold and could expect a frosty and sometimes unpleasant year ahead.

    If your accommodation then developed problems or you needed the help of admin/management you would be out of luck.

    To add insult this school tried to get staff to state their intentions in December despite the February deadline in the contract and it was clear management used the early job fairs to decide who to replace at as cheaper salary.


  3. Many times a negative or positive experience in relation to leaving a school comes down to whether you are working for a for profit school or for a not for profit school. This is compounded by the quality of director you have. I worked at a for profit school where the director was a despot and dictator. He had no regard for staff or the students. To him the staff and students were there to make a profit for the school so that he could maximize his bonuses. To give you an example of his character he tried to forbid teachers from living off campus. There was no contractual obligation to live on campus although housing was provided, in many cases it was substandard in quality so people wanted to find something suitable for themselves and their families and to avoid being called upon at any time of the day or night to do “a job” for the school. When it came time for leaving teachers to find new employment the director “allowed” people to attend recruitment fairs provided it was unpaid leave. I was surprised that he didn’t charge them for substitute teachers that were needed but then I and the other remaining teachers found out that our preparation time had been taken away from us so that we could cover our colleagues classes while they were away seeking future employment. If at all possible I’ll never work in a for profit school again. Market forces don’t belong in certain service orientated industries because eventually they take away quality service in the drive to maximize profits, education is one, health is another.


    1. Why does a school have to pay a teacher to attend a job fair? Schools don’t owe anyone anything when it comes to leaving campus for personal business.
      Try working for a company and see if they will pay you to look for another job at job fairs. Ain’t gonna happen.
      People who complain about their school not paying them for attending job fairs need to get over it. Welcome to the working world.


    2. I wouldn’t expect to be paid to attend a job fair but I would expect to be able to attend one unpaid. That doesn’t always happen. In some schools planning the next job can cause you problems with management/admin. Too many schools treat staff as disposable commodities rather than valued resources.


  4. I worked at my last school for 4 years and watched them as they supported teachers each year to go to job fairs. They give 5 paid days off specifically for attending job fairs. Other costs we bear but that’s okay with me. I was thankful when it was my turn just to get the 5 paid days off and a supportive letter of reference that they completed immediately for me through Search Associates. This was in China.


  5. The best thing to do is to look for a job during the school year online. If you can get a job then your problems are over. You can’t allow a director to control your life. Living in fear won’t change a situation. The thing to do is take control and be the boss of who you are and where you are going.


  6. Teachers are really quite vulnerable. If one is teaching at a school that has difficulty attracting teachers due to country, country’s political situation, etc. the school admin may make it difficult for teachers to leave.

    The person who posted above that they would just leave and go to a fair anyhow must not need a good reference from their current boss to get another job. Knowing how my director works (and it is a small school so there is no one else in the chain of command) she would be vindictive and give a poor reference if I declared I was going to the job fair no matter.

    Guess it is about knowing your school and your situation. There are great schools out there that are supportive and then there are some nightmare schools.

    Luckily a lot of schools will hire with SKYPE interviews. Usually your first tier schools need face to face interviews but there are other schools out there.


  7. It is interesting….as school says a teacher can’t go to a fair or is upset that a teacher goes to a fair yet that school will go to a fair to interview and hire teachers. Where is the logic in that?? If teachers can’t go to fairs, how will schools hire the majority of their teachers?????


  8. My school actually pays a portion of recruiting expenses starting your fifth year. Cooperation is one thing, but to many people this sound like an actual invitation to leave. That may not be far from the truth.

    Part of the reason is that schools that are competent and confident want some new blood now and then. The American model, in which teachers are rewarded for staying at the same job until they burn out or go numb, is not where they want to go.

    But there is also some merit to the thought that a good international teacher is often adventurous and comfortable with risk, so why fight it? The qualities that bring a teacher to a new school are the same qualities that will take them away one day.


  9. My previous international school said I could go on unpaid leave if I applied for it, in order to attend a job fair. However, things were compounded at the time as the school started paying teachers on a pro rata of days worked that month. This made it even more difficult as the fair was in January, meaning that everyday I spent at the fair was costing me 400 dollars due to Christmas holidays and only 14 work days in the month. Unfortunately, bearing the cost of spending more than two days at a fair was too hard, when flights and accommodation started adding up also, so I proceeded to explain this to the schools I interviewed with who were all deeply surprised at my schools stance on this. It was shocking and created a huge financial burden to myself. Luckily I secured a job at an amazing school, one that was not for profit and is very open and supportive of its teachers. I will never work at another for profit school ever again as they are fuelled by the bottom line, profit, in my experience.

    Upon arriving back late at night ready to commence work the next day, there was an announcement later that month that 3 paid personal days were now being granted from August 2012, for which, upon pleading my case to the school, I was informed, I wouldn’t be entitled to.

    Its horrible that schools create such difficult circumstances for teachers to pursue their careers.


  10. I think my current director is glad to hear I am leaving. It’s not that I’m a poor teacher or trouble maker, it’s just that we have completely different ideas on how to run a school. I was hired by the previous director. The new director and I have tolerated each other for the past year, and I think even developed a healthy respect for each other. His ideas are “old school” and he doesn’t agree with kids being up and out of their seats. “Learning takes place seated and concentrating” is his motto. It’s been interesting.

    I know he would not have hired me had he interviewed me, and I know for certain I would not have taken a job working for this director. All in all it has been an experience for both of us.

    We do get paid days off for recruiting which is a big help, considering I’ve got air fare, hotel and recruiting conference fees to pay. I’m really happy he’s going to support me in finding a new job. I’ve already got a great letter from him outlining my good qualities. I do feel very bad for anyone at a school that makes attending a recruiting fair a difficult proposition. There are directors that hold petty grudges against anyone they don’t see eye-to-eye with. I’m lucky this guy isn’t one of them.


  11. We’ve already told our principal that we have to go looking for other possibilities. She was sad but supportive and sent in the confidential Search references immediately. We’re still not sure if we will go, because we want a top tier school and that just may not happen. Waiting game now…


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