Master List of Tier-1 Schools?

November 27, 2014

masterlist35995405Does 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 see new schools added and also how previous ratings may differ today in 2014. The ISR Forum also has an interesting Tier discussion in progress that you’ll want to check in on.

What Makes an International School a Tier-1 School?

ISR FORUM Tier discussion


The International Educators’ Bill of Rights – Protection we ALL deserve

November 20, 2014

handshake-small-mid  In the excitement of the upcoming recruiting season, as a newbie or seasoned veteran, remember that your first priority to yourself & your career should be to find out exactly what a school is asking you to commit to. Can this International School be counted on to treat their teaching staff honorably? Do they historically follow moral & legal rules of contractual engagement? Are they honest in their obligations to teachers & in compliance with their nations’ laws? While most International Schools are true to their word we can see on ISR that not all schools would be able to answer “Yes” to these questions.

Schools that withhold salaries, switch contract terms, substitute poor housing for promised housing, fail to reimburse visa, travel &/or shipping allowances, renege on health insurance & engage in other dishonest practices are not acceptable schools to work at by any stretch of the imagination. The International Educators’ Bill of Rights was created through the input of hundreds of educators working around the world who experienced just such abuses.

What would it take for a recruiting agency to bar a dishonorable school from their recruiting venue? Although we can verify that through the years a handful of schools have been banned from recruiting, based on ISR School Reviews there remains more than just a few schools that deserve to be sanctioned. And yet we find them listed to recruit at major venues this season.

Until the time recruiting agencies accept full responsibility for bringing abusive schools into compliance or banning them altogether, ISR recommends recruiting candidates consult the International Educators’ Bill of Rights as a yardstick by which to measure a school’s commitment to their teaching staff.

Why take chances with your personal well-being & your career? Before accepting an overseas teaching position ask the school Director if his/her school endorses basic rights for teachers as outlined in the International Educators’ Bill of Rights. You’ll be glad you did!

handshake-drbarbClick here to read International Educators’ Bill of Rights  
Click here to download/print International Educators’ Bill of Rights


Schools In Dangerous Locales

November 13, 2014

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    In response to our previous article, What Would it Take?, ISR asked international educators to weigh-in on the topic of salary packages attractive enough to get you to overcome your resistance to work in a country previously on your ‘no-go, no-way, no-how’ list of places to work.

     Signing on to a school in a local that doesn’t meet your criteria for language, geographical location, political and social outlook is one thing. But when rampant crime and the potential to get hurt are a very real possibility, that’s an entirely new ball game

     Of course we all have a different tolerance for dangerous situations and some people seem to thrive on danger. One thing I’ve noticed for certain is that school directors seem to have the highest tolerance for such situations and can even make light of them, especially when they are trying to sell me on their school.

     Lets stay safe and help each other avoid unforeseen dangerous situations. We’ve started a list of Crime Ridden Locations and encourage you to add locations and personal experiences. International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed is what ISR is All About!

We’ve started off the conversation with excerpts from ISR  School Reviews, Forum and Blog posts from ISR members and site visitors:  We invite your comments:

Venezuela

It’s not safe to go out after dark, and during the day most people keep their phones hidden and carry “rob money” just in case. 

My friends have been robbed in so many different parts of the city at any hour of the day.

When I walk outside, or when I take the bus or even when I take a taxi, I am always alert. I know who is behind me at all times and constantly taking precautions no matter what I am doing.

A young college student in my guarded condo complex was robbed at gunpoint at the bus stop right outside our gate.

I was only robbed once and it was only for some small change. I consider myself lucky.

I worked there for years and left because I knew too many people who had been shot, kidnapped, or had their homes robbed at gunpoint. No one is safe there anywhere, especially not if you’re a Gringo!

My wife was mugged and I was nearly gunned down just outside of our flat. And we lived in a rather posh area.

Bratislava

I was robbed twice in 4 months! If you go there you will regret it.

Philippines

I had two people pull a gun on me, and one was just outside a mall. So it is dangerous enough, and even more so if you were actually involved with drugs.

D. R. Congo

They broke in and tied up the teacher. Then they ram shackled the house and took everything of value. She wasn’t hurt and her maid found her still on the floor with her hands and feet bound with rope.

Ecuador

When my husband left the bank the teller must have had accomplices waiting outside because at the first traffic light he was approached by two men with guns. He had no choice but to let him in. They had him drive to a secluded area and tied him up in the back seat. Then they used the car to rob two houses. They left him tied up in the back seat of the car and fled. This sort of crime is not uncommon here.

Guatemala

About half the expats I know have been mugged/held up at gunpoint/pick-pocketed etc. But the number of ways in which your personal freedom is curtailed in societies like these gets old

When they can’t get ring off your finger they will cut off the finger. These robberies happened on the city busses. Don’t wear jewelry and if you do, make sure you can get it off.

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What Would it Take?

November 6, 2014

calculator6923345There’s more than a few places in this world where many of us would not be willing to live & teach. I had my reasons for wanting to avoid Pakistan, but the salary/package was so attractive I could hardly say YES fast enough. I loved Pakistan & my bank account literally grew exponentially. The Congo wasn’t on the top of my list, either, but the package was so absolutely alluring I couldn’t say NO, and again, I banked a ton of moohla & got in some outstanding travel adventures.

When I did finally land a job at my top-pick school, I took a 60% pay cut for the “privilege” of working there. It wasn’t long before I started to feel I was being taken advantage of, especially since the cost of living was far, far from cheap. I went from banking thousands a month to putting away a measly few hundred, if I was lucky. As a trade-off, I had completely derailed my progress towards financial security.

While money isn’t my top priority, it’s an important factor considering international teachers have no pension plans like teachers I know back home. So, while I want to see the world & live internationally, I do need to continue planning for the future.

Would I go back to Pakistan today? How about Kuwait, Liberia, or Egypt? From the comfort of my desk I will say NO. But, sitting across from a recruiter & in the excitement of the moment, bolstered by the promise of a great salary? I have the feeling I would say YES!

I think it’s fair to say we all have a figure in our head of what constitutes a great salary. Of the places in the world where you would not be willing to live & teach, what sort of salary/package would it take to get you to change YOUR mind?

Name your place & package: