Survey Results: What If You Got a Better Offer?

what-would-you-d0-poll-smallBased on the data from our survey, What If You Got a Better Offer?, it’s safe to say there’s a profound message to be gleaned. We’ll leave that part to you and you’ll get your chance to comment. Here’s the results: 

Scenario #1: You signed a contract at a Fair & later got a “dream” school offer
Results: Of the 1000+ educators who responded to this scenario, 57% said they would break a contract they signed at a Recruiting Fair if their “dream” school later made them an offer. 45% percent of this group said they would wait to have the “dream” school contract in hand before notifying the other school they were breaking contract.

Scenario #2: You verbally accepted a position & later got a “dream” school offer
Results: 873 educators responded to this scenario. 89% of this group said they would accept an offer from their “dream” school even though they had already verbally accepted a position at a Recruiting Fair (contract forthcoming). Of this group, 63.5% said they would wait to have a “dream” school contract in hand before telling the other school they were no longer interested.

Clearly, the majority of survey respondents were ready and willing to do what was most beneficial for them, which was to accept a position at their “dream” school with little or no regard for the school that originally offered them a position. There’s obviously a message here for schools, recruiters and candidates. Based on your overseas experience, what’s your interpretation of this data as it pertains to the changing perspective of international education?

Click here for original survey & teachers’ comments

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14 thoughts on “Survey Results: What If You Got a Better Offer?

  1. The results of this survey are very disturbing. The questions is not whether a school has done you wrong or not, it simply asks if you would be willing to break your word, both written or verbal, to take what you considered to be a better position at another school. Ethically, you cannot justify this by any stretch. My word is never dependent on what another party, whether it be a person or school might do. If your word is worth nothing, then nothing about you is worth anything, the same is true for institutions but that was not the question here. The assumption is that the school you are breaking your word to has done absolutely nothing amiss, you simply have found something you think will be better for you. Breaking your word is never better for you in the long run. You are saying “I cannot be trusted” . To be blacklisted by schools for doing this is to be expected and deserved. It is sad that some members of our profession could even consider this much less have those in a majority. Yes Patrick, the survey does indicate an ethically challenged majority of people who replied to this survey, there is just no getting around it.


  2. Hello all,
    I’m thankful that this site brought up this issue and the teachers that responded.
    A special thanks to as well as agreement with traveler first.
    Although I have not had experienced poor behavior towards me by school admin, but I know many teacher friends who have experienced it.
    I did have a contract for one year at a school that started out well, but ended very badly due to an inept owner operator whose sole purpose was financial gain.
    I had plently of documentation to substantiate this claim. I informed prospective teachers (those who asked) as well as recruiting companies who advertised for this school. Unfortunately, the recruiting companies did not “pull” their ads, even after many emails with proof.
    Alas, we must all be aware that some school, admin staff, recruiters, and even teachers just want to make money.
    Wishing you the best for this year!


  3. To make it even worse, when a teacher does break even a verbal agreement/ contract, the school can and will black list them. Add to that, if you want to work at another school in the same country, they can prevent you from getting that other job legally if they won’t write a letter of non-objection. They make you give them a ridiculously long notice, like 60 or 90 days, and what new school would be willing to wait that long when they need someone now? You end up losing the new opportunity and are stuck. The schools have the deck stacked in their favor and the teacher has no leverage. I have become this way after being screwed over repeatedly. Each and every time, I have taken the “high road” and behaved ethically by sticking to my agreements, but it has gotten me nowhere. No matter how well you do your job and how good a person you are, it will mean nothing to the school administrator when they hang you out to dry. That is why I no longer care for the ethics and will look out for myself. Those teachers here that criticize me for this have probably never been in my shoes or had their lives turned upside down because of some businessman’s whim decision. I still try to give them the benefit of the doubt and be professional, but I also leave my options open and protect myself.


  4. I hope those that would break contract to accept a position at their dream school have the courage to tell their dream school what they are doing. And if not, why not? And if your school would still hire you then they are certainly not in my definition of a “dream” school.
    In reading some of the posts that are so negative…what in the world are you doing accepting a position at the type of schools you describe?


  5. Clearly the feeling is that it is now OK to renege on promises and people appear to feel their “word” means nothing. Sad but I think that sites like this one have encouraged a view to build up that all school administrators are immoral, not to be trusted and therefore it’s OK to treat them badly before they do the same to you. Look what you guys have done. . . . . .shame on you.


    1. Ian,

      I do not think that teachers here are saying it is OK to reneg on promises and that our word means nothing. In fact, I think it is quite the opposite. What I am trying to say is that it is not OK to do these things, but after the way administrators have changed the game by removing humanity, emotion and the consequences to a good teacher’s career when they break their word to us, it has blown up in their faces and this is the result. Most of them have no compunction about breaking their word to us, so we must consider this in our decisions. Not to do so would be masochistic. In fact, my word means more to me than almost anything else, so I expect the same from an admin, but haven’t had much luck in that. I also completely disagree with your opinion that sites like these have encouraged the view of admins as immoral. The admins themselves have done so by their actions. These sites have only helped spread the word to other teachers to give them a head’s up so they can be prepared for such an eventuality and know what to expect from certain individuals who do mistreat teachers regularly. The rightly get a reputation for their actions and it helps us to know to stay away from people like them. Lastly, this has nothing to do with telling people that admins cannot be trusted, or that it’s OK to mistreat them before they do the same to you. In most cases, admins cannot be trusted for the very simple reason that their decisions are motivated by doing what is best for them or the school’s owners. Not necessarily what is best for you or the students. So common sense tells us not to have too much trust in them anyway. In addition, most of us, because we are moral and ethical people, do not make our decisions with the goal of screwing the school or admin over, but to protect ourselves, our career, future and often times our families we have taken with us at great personal and financial risk.. The one time I made a verbal & contractual agreement, then was offered a better job, I went to the admin of the first school and spoke to him about it. I explained my side and reasons, and he was good enough to understand. I felt badly about it and I would have probably stuck to my original obligation if he had objected, but who knows? Had the other school been so much better than the first, why should I take a job where I would be unhappy? It would do no good for my students or colleagues either to work with me in that state of mind and their educational experience would have been effected negatively. Instead, they can just hire the candidate who was next in line much of the time. That may not be possible every time, but it is rare that you would put an admin or school in a major bind by doing this. In such cases, you do your best to give notice so they have time to replace you and have a smooth transition.


  6. My two cents? This is a reflection of the way in which schools and administrators treat and deal with teachers today. 10 years ago, I would have expected the opposite, but having experienced the ways in which education and admin has changed in recent years, I am not surprised. Back then a Principal would help you become a better teacher and develop you into what they considered to be a great teacher with the goal of keeping you for a long time. Principals were people with many years of experience in classroom teaching, empathetic to their teacher’s struggles with workload & stress and had morals & ethics that cared about their teacher’s well-being. You also had a much larger number of well-run, ethical schools that were more about the quality of education than profit.

    Today it is the opposite in all but a few remaining schools. This is why it has become so hard to get a good job. These days administrators are looking for what they think is the perfect teacher for their school. Their term for it is “a good fit”. If you do get hired, you can no longer expect them to be so strongly committed to developing you as a teacher. They will instead replace you as soon as someone they think is better comes along. If you show even the slightest of difficulties in fitting in within that 90 day period, they will let you go with no consideration to how it affects your life or career. The desire to keep a teacher for the long term is long gone now. It’s just much easier for them to replace us and they no longer see us as people. We are only a means to and end.

    Gone also are the experienced administrators that understand the classroom environment. They have been replaced by narrow-minded, power-hungry Principals that have the minimum required 4 years of teaching experience and then took the certification course & test to be an administrator. They then feel that they know how to do the job better than the teachers under them, with far more experience. I had a Principal that had taught humanities courses for 4 years telling me that he knew more than me about teaching IB Physics and I had more than three times as many years in the classroom as him. Rather than support me and help me get any addition professional development, he harassed me on a weekly basis, wrote negative observation reports and made excuses for the poorly-behaved students that were athletes he coached. While I was trying to do the best job I could, he was laying the groundwork and creating a paper trail to justify getting rid of me.

    Finally, now the majority of schools are all about profit. Some will care little for the fact that the quality of education goes into the toilet when you pack 30 students, half with discipline problems, into a single classroom, nor will they back the teacher when they take action with those students. Especially if you commit the cardinal sin of giving one of these students a failing grade for lack of work. Inevitably, it is those students whose parents will immediately, somehow find the time to come to the school (they were too busy to come when you asked them to for a meeting about their child’s behavior and failing test scores), then threaten to take the kid out of the school and go to another if the school follows through on the action. Admin backs down to keep the money and you look like an idiot. Then the behavior problems continue or get worse.

    So why in the world would a decent, self-respecting educator want to commit to a school when they would not do the same for us? If they would so readily dismiss us when it benefits them, why should we not do the same? In the end, it comes down to protecting your well-being and sanity. As educators, we go abroad to make our lives better, not worse and to have great experiences. So if that dream job comes along TAKE IT. It’s what you have worked so hard to get and you deserve it. Nevermind the whole being ethical and living up to your obligations. While I agree with the sentiment and try my best to do this as well, if you get stuck at a dead end school, hating your life, what good does that do you, the school or your students? You will only end up resenting them and you will not do your best in the classroom, because your heart won’t be in it. They will not get the best possible education from you like this. It’s better for everyone if you avid ending up like that in the first place.


  7. International education is far more a business than a philanthropic adventure. There are very few protections for the teacher either from the recruitment agencies or the schools. One of my former schools, a 2nd-tier, docked our salaries for attending job fairs, made job references a political issue (always ask just after you’ve done something special) and were difficult to settle monetarily with leaving teachers. We always felt unsure at job fairs where our old school could mix with potentially new ones. Regardless of who is to blame, administrators or boards of directors, unethical policies and procedures rarely start with the teacher. Many schools make int’l teaching more stressful that it needs to be. Teachers react to the established climate. More teachers should make decisions based on their personal needs. Oh, and Letters of Recomendation are sooo outdated. Previous administrators often disappear without a trace and teachers are left without documentation. Skype with the new director from your classroom and in turn ask to see the site of your new posting.


    1. “International education is far more a business than a philanthropic adventure.”
      When I sign a contract with, say, a plumber, I expect that he will install the sink; he expects I’ll pay him.
      If I sign a contract with a BMW salesman, I expect to get the BMW and he expects money.
      Neither my plumber nor the car dealership is a “philanthropic adventure.”
      Society – and business – works best when people are true to their word. Societies in which people lie and cheat either require a dictator to function or fall into chaos.

      In ancient Sparta cheating, lying teachers may have been the norm. Perhaps international education is simply the new Sparta.


  8. One would have hoped that integrity would be part of what is in one’s best interest. Respecting contracts, keeping one’s a word… These do not seem to be valued by today’s international “educators.”
    And what kind of school is it that hires a person who is incapable of keeping his word?
    Pity the kids.


    1. As the above commenter JPeg pointed out, teachers are reacting to the climate established by international schools. There is no union protection for teachers, so schools can manipulate, violate and even negate contracts however they see fit. It happens every day, and Search Associates and other companies still invite these schools back to job fairs. There are also plenty of schools that ARE ethical, which I think is reflected in the analysis that teachers have “dream” schools where they’re wliling to do whatever it takes to get hired at. Teachers need to look out for themselves, because no one else is going to.


  9. I must say the results are a bit startling but I have to admit don’t really come as a surprise. It appears enough teachers have been screwed around by these “for profit” organizations that they’ve come to realize international schools in general must now be treated like, and approached, as if there were corporations making bottle tops or engaged in other for profit only endeavors

    There are many documented cases on ISR and other sites that tell of how teachers were offered a position at a fair and gave notice to their current employer that they would be leaving. Then, months later they are told by their new school….”sorry, we have discovered that we don’t have enough students returning next semester to keep you position open. Being left high and dry with out a job and possibly a house to return to in their home countries, these teachers are literally screwed. Think about teaching couple with kids in this situation. It has happened and continues to happen.

    It’s really sad because it wasn’t always this way but so many “business” people have realized a profitable market exists for international education and have entered the field with profits as the main goal. Every business has to show a profit and no one can be expected to enter any business venture without showing a profit. But when educators are treated as cogs in a money making machine the word soon spreads, as it apparently has through the international teaching community.

    Maybe the recruiting agencies should start guaranteeing the contracts presented at these fairs and witness and document verbal offer. In other words, if they are going to let schools recruit through their venues they should guarantee to teachers the validity of the contract and verbal offers and show their faith in the schools they let in. Otherwise it’s just a crap shoot and it looks like teachers have realized this.


    1. I agree with you 100%. I don’t think the survey results indicate that teachers are ethically challenged; rather, they have wised up to the way the game is really played. Schools misrepresent all the time, and often treat the particulars of contracts as disposable. If they don’t feel bound by them, why should hires?

      I know people to whom precisely the situation you describe has happened – offer given, plans made, offer reneged. One of the cases involved a highly “reputable” institution. It’s the Wild West out there.


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