Master List of Tier-1 Schools?

September 29, 2013

Does a master list of Tier-1 International Schools actually exist? We tried to find one with no success. This may be because what one teacher finds desirable about a specific school may be of little interest to someone else, thus rendering such a list subjective at best. Take, for example, a school in South America considered to be Tier-1. If I transplanted this school to Switzerland, it would no doubt fall to a Tier-2 or lower in comparison to other schools in the region. For Tier ratings to be valid, an awful lot of variables need to be accounted for.

Here’s another example of the subjectivity of Tier ratings: A school in El Salvador paying $30K offers far better savings potential than a school in Germany paying $60K. This fact is based on the the cost of living in Germany being 3-4 times that of El Salvador. If saving money is a top concern of a teacher assigning a Tier rating to a Salvadorian school, Germany would be far down on their list no mater how cool it is to live in Berlin.

Housing, medical insurance, transport/shipping allowance, number of preps, class size, quality of facilities, safety & interesting things to do outside school are also important when rating a school. But as we’ve seen, because these points are not of equal importance to everyone considering the same school, one person’s Tier-1 assignment can easily become another’s Tier-2 or -3.

When accompanied by an explanation of why a specific Tier was assigned, the Tier-# suddenly becomes a useful piece in our recruiting decision-making puzzle. What Makes an International School a Tier-1 School? is an informative ISR Blog created for sharing school Tier ratings. An outstanding part of the Blog is that many teachers include an explanation for how they arrived at their rating. This Blog first appeared in 2011 and it will be interesting to show previous ratings may differ today in 2017. The ISR Forum also has an interesting Tier discussion in progress that you’ll want to check in on.

Go to What Makes an International School a Tier-1 School?


a Diary from the Recruiting Fair Front

September 26, 2013

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In this one-of-a-kind recruiting fair diary by an ISR reader and seasoned International Educator, “Shadowjack” gets up-front and personal relating his experiences at the 2013 Search (Bangkok) Recruiting Fair.

    From personal impressions and well-honed strategies, to insightful reflections and lessons learned, this author captures the emotional turbulence he and other candidates experience as they navigate towards an International teaching position. If you’re searching for information on how to prepare for an upcoming recruiting fair, this is as close as you’re going to get without sweating it out, literally, at the recruiting fair itself.

    So here we go! The plane has touched down at Dong Muang Airport in Bangkok and we’ll hit the ground running! After all, we have an 11-hour flight behind us and thousands of dollars already invested in our efforts to land a teaching position! Let the adventure begin!  Read more…

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Best Schools for Professional Development

September 19, 2013

pd48724094In terms of Professional Development, ISR’s School Reviews reveal there are two extremes to what international schools offer their faculty.

Schools with a focus on Professional Development often offer fully paid trips to 3-day conferences that include keynote speakers, classes, workshops and social/networking activities that round out the event and unite international teachers.  Some PD-oriented schools pay for flights to the venue, reimburse for accommodations, and offer an additional per diem for meals.  We’ve heard of schools that also offer grants to attend courses around the world during the summer months and allow teachers to pick and choose which program would benefit them most. Other schools pay for teachers to pursue a Masters or Doctoral degree. Regardless, it appears that most schools offering excellent PD include the details in the signed contract or handbook of benefits.

Of course, the opposite extreme and utter lack of PD opportunities is found at some international schools. These schools won’t even grant you time off from teaching to attend a workshop or conference on your own dime.  Such schools actually discourage teachers from advancing their knowledge and skills.  Worse yet are schools that dangle the promise of opportunities for PD at interview time but refuse to include them in the contractual agreement. You can guess what happens next.

Keeping with our mantra of Teachers Keeping Each Other Informed, we’d like to invite you to share your experiences regarding Professional Development at your school. We encourage you to include the name of your school in an effort to help as all find the best PD opportunities available.

Consider these questions:

– Does your school provide opportunities for Professional Development? If so, what “strings” are attached, if any?

– Does your school keep its word and follow through on what was originally offered and contracted regarding Professional Development? Were PD promises that were made at interview time fulfilled?

– Apart from Professional Development, what does your school do to keep teachers current and up-to-date with advances in educational thought  (IB and AP classes, for example)?

– In your opinion, does the inclusion of contractually-offered Professional Development appear to be increasing or decreasing?

We hope you’ll join in the discussion and Share your experiences with schools that do, and do not, offer international teachers Professional Development.


China School Inquisition

September 12, 2013

blame7816329finalDear ISR, After just a few weeks into the school year someone has posted  a nasty review of my school on ISR. Actually it’s not really all that bad. I  would say it’s pretty spot on.

To come to the point, the board chair showed up at school on Monday with two attorneys and launched an all-out inquisition to find out who wrote the review. They were calling us into the director’s office one-at-a-time and interrogating us, claiming they know who wrote the review.  It’s obvious they don’t have a clue but they’re aggressive and convincing, leaving some staff in tears.

The director, who is the board chair’s lap dog, says he has a good friend at ISR who will tell  him who wrote the review. Could this be true? I would like to hear from ISR: Is this possible?

ISR Reply: Even if your Director planted his brother on our staff he could not find out who wrote the Review. Our anonymous submission forms are set up to protect an author’s identity. They are 100% anonymous. The only person who knows who wrote a particular Review is the author him/herself.

So far they haven’t formally accused anyone of posting the review. Who knows what they will  try next! I see from reading reviews that other teachers have been through this ugly scenario. One reviewer said their admin was on a witch hunt to flush out whoever dared to write a negative review. It would be reassuring and morale boosting for us at the school to learn about other teachers’ experiences in this arena and how they dealt with it as a faculty. Any support or help through this situation would be very much appreciated.

Sincerely, (name withheld)


Does Teaching Overseas Help or Hurt Your Career?

September 5, 2013

career42987091With the current academic year underway, many international schools will soon be asking teachers to declare if they intend to stay for the upcoming 2014-15 school year, or plan to move on.

Moving on can mean staying in the international circuit and advancing to a new school, or returning home to teach. From my perspective of having experienced both, I would say continuing to move within the international circuit is far less taxing than formulating plans to return home. The biggest hurdle I experienced moving home was securing employment in a public school after a decade overseas.

A colleague from the UK once told me that working overseas was a distinct plus for them when they returned home. They said employers there liked to see the overseas experience on an applicant’s CV. I did not found this to be the case in the U.S. As a matter of fact, I think to American employers, overseas experience makes you look a bit “flaky” or could this just be American provincialism? When I hear the words, “I’d love to hear about your experiences in Africa, Saudi Arabia, Romania, etc.”, I know I can say good bye to that job.

If you’ve experienced moving home after years of teaching overseas, ISR invites you to Share how the overseas teaching experience impacted your domestic career: Was it positive or negative, or of no consequence in the eyes of a potential employer back home?

If you’re contemplating leaving the international circuit and returning home for the first time, we encourage you to visit this Blog and pose your own questions as they may apply to your individual situation. Learning from colleagues who have already made the move will be most beneficial.

Teachers Keeping Teachers Informed is what ISR is All About

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