Write a Review…or Else!

unhappy-at-computer51853762  It appears that in an effort to attract teaching candidates, at least one International School has opted to demand Reviews from their teaching staff. Over these past weeks of recruiting season, ISR has received 3 emails from teachers reporting they were denied Letters of Reference until they posted a glowingly positive Review of their school and locale. With a little detective work you can spot such an extorted Review. Here’s how:

Let’s say the first 16 Reviews paint a picture of low pay, micro-management, despicable housing, unruly students, lack of supplies (as in, one photo copier for the entire school), non-existent professional development, no admin support, and a slow-as-molasses Internet connection. In stark contrast, Reviews 17-19 portray the School as the best thing that could ever happened to your teaching career and advises you to jump at the chance to teach there!! These last few Reviews would certainly be suspect to such extortion, wouldn’t you agree?

Likewise, when a known hot-spot danger zone is reviewed as a lovely city w/ plenty to do, or I always feel safe here (when just last month there were kidnappings of Westerners) and yet the evaluation rubric displays a 9/10 for Security, it should make you wonder if the poster never leaves the school compound or if their Letter of Reference is being held hostage by an unscrupulous school.

Exercising common sense and due diligence go a long way when reading Reviews on ISR. We choose to believe the majority of International Schools are forthright educational institutions with the best interests of students, parents and teachers in mind. But keep in mind, it’s those few landmines out there, both schools and locales, that you surely want to avoid. If a school suddenly sounds too good to be true, proceed with caution!

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15 Responses to Write a Review…or Else!

  1. Yes they can sign up their own accounts but if you carefully look at the site you can see a Director or someone who owns the school respond to the review and deny everything in it. I know teachers who are still not willing to write a bad review even after they have left because they are afraid of being falsely accused of writing it or afraid that they will get very bad comments if inquiries are made about them even years later. There are schools on the circuit who have been conning teachers for years and still it is not widely known to new applicants. Please consider ISR a list or something else that alerts new teachers to schools who are nothing short of horrible to everyone except those who crawl and say nothing about the place. The list could be crafted in such a fashion that it only states ”be careful” of these school. Make your i
    nquiries if you can. It is not always possible as many HR officers do not answers your questions and refer them to the Director who still does not answer them or states such things as” Will be explained personally to you on arrival” or HR will explain Going around in circles is no fun.

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  2. S says:

    Schools can sign up for their own ISR account and write their own reviews. Why force teachers to do it when sooner or later it will come out?

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Please do us a favor and flag schools that you suspect of doing this.

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  4. Joe C says:

    I personally think that if the school is known to coerce teachers into writing positive reviews, then it is up to the editors who KNOW this is the case to mark these reviews rather than letting the chance come that some not so astute potential teacher might think they are reading about a place that is paradise rather than the truth. After all, isn’t this a forum for HONEST reviews?

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  5. Anonymous says:

    The reviews on ISR are a good place to start in getting a feel for a school (being aware, as earlier posts mentioned, of the to-good-to-be-true or begruntled employee ones). If I’m thinking of signing on with a school, another red flag for me is whether or not the admin will let me speak with current teachers. These email exchanges can often give a much clearer picture of the actual situation.

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  6. Johnny says:

    If I was forced to write a review I would do something along the lines of this:

    I’m so happy I chose to work at this school. Being at one of the top schools in the area is a plus too. Forced to choose between this school and another well known school I would chose the school I am currently at. To work here is a joy and I am glad I chose to work here. Do you want to work at a great school? This is the place for you.

    *I figure most teachers are smart enough to figure out the hidden message* ^_^

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  7. Anonymous says:

    I would suggest removing “old” reviews. But I’m not sure how old.
    One country where I taught has 2 schools who have had changes admin. One school was a terrible place to work, but this has totally turned around; the other school has gone completely in the opposite direction. Reading favourable reviews from a number of years ago is not very useful and could result in a teacher signing with a terrible school.

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    • No surprise here says:

      Yes, as I said in earlier comments below, you need to keep your eyes open and research. Have you noticed that the reviews all have dates showing what periods they cover. There should be no problem knowing an old one from a newer one. I like being able to read the history of a school. Any board that would keep a lousy director on for many years is to be avoided. Just my two cents.

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  8. I am afraid there is more than a few. International Teachers who have taught in several overseas locations could name many in each place. The shame of this I think is the glowing picture that is painted by many recruiters to attract teachers to leave their home location. One way I check out the situation is to look at a school I have left and then the next year look at their website and when I calculate that 80-90% of the staff are new there is the evidence.

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  9. patrickmurtha says:

    Indeed, there is nothing surprising about this at all. People say that the business world is unethical, and parts of it undoubtedly are. But I have worked in both business and “education,” and the skulduggery I have seen in the educational world (especially internationally) beggars anything that I have seen in the conventional business world. (it would also be fair to say that international education is just another business, and a pretty unscrupulous one at that.)

    I doubt whether unprincipled administrators will be put off their worst practices by anything that appears in print ANYWHERE, here at the ISR or elsewhere. Their low ethics are frequently only matched by their low intelligence.

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  10. No surprise here says:

    Thanks for the heads-up ISR.

    It is just so obvious that some of the reviews on ISR have been extracted from teachers in trade for something like a letter of reference.

    Also, I love it when teachers post a review and in it they actually point out a review they believe is from admin or forced out of a teacher.

    It’s so obvious when admin thinks they are posting and getting over on us. I’m glad you finally made mention of this practice. Teachers writing under pressure seem to be able to tip us off by the tone of the letter, which of course only a native English speaker could pick up on. There are subtle clues there. And Admin….we’ll they are not teachers and there are clues in their writing that they are admin and not teachers. It’s like an attorney reporting on a car accident and pretending to report it from the perspective of the mechanic that will fix the car…the “attorney” in the guy comes out in his reporting and we all know he is not really a mechanic.

    I have the feeling this blog will send a message to corrupt admin that everyone is on to their game. It’s easy to spot the many, many, outstanding reviews that actually come from teachers. Oh….I just love it when I read that there is a never ending array of fun things to do in Oman. Really? Maybe the poster is talking about counting grains of sand. It just takes a minute to verify loads of comments in the reviews and then make a final judgement call as to the validity of suspect review.

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  11. Anonymous says:

    hmmm…don’t know if this the best way to handle this. views of peoples’ schools & their locale can vary from admin to admin & as the years go by and things change. relying on people reading this to discern this bias is seemingly a difficult prospect, being far away from it all. somehow those reviews need be scrubbed or the integrity of this site can be called into question. of course I am not sure how you could do this without tipping off admin that the game is up…kind of a sad state to see what people will do for a good review, teachers & schools, screwing people on down the line, perpetuating that behavior that is the bane of international schools…

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    • mlesurf says:

      I applaud ISR for not removing reviews, ever.

      Reviews that are written under duress shout out beware more than any other kind. As I see it ISR is a place for people to share their opinions, no one is an expert on what will work for someone else. We can only talk about our experiences and in this way try to better prepare each other for what is coming.

      Admin can change between signing and showing up at a school and this could change everything. Every move is a leap into the unknown, bring it on.

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      • Anonymous says:

        tell me again how a coerced false review is “free speech” and worthy of protection?…”leap into the unknown.” really? don’t people read reviews to get a better idea of the place in question? why even read a review if “the unknown” so desirable? your logic escapes me.

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