Compromise: The Key to Success Overseas

March 31, 2016

alter-avoid-accept-116651054In this brief article composed expressly for ISR, I hope to offer some timely advice that should be of help to teachers deterred from teaching overseas due to the many negative reviews found on ISR. Likewise, my words may be of assistance to teachers already overseas and dissatisfied with their current situation.

To begin, let me say that I am fairly certain most of us began our teaching careers in the public schools of the Western world. Funded 100% by tax payer money, these schools are free to focus their energies completely on education with no need to compromise their ideals to raise money needed to pay salaries. Private overseas schools by contrast, to survive, be they For-Profit or Non-Profit, raise funds through tuition and are therefore forced to walk the line between being both a profitable business and a School.  If you are going overseas or teaching in a private institution in your home country, you would do well to accept the fact that when you cross a business with a school there are going to be practices that fly in the face of what a true educationalist would consider best practices.

Accepting a student half-way through the school year who speaks little English can be par for the course in a tuition-funded school. You may even be expected to “move” this student on with a better than passing grade. An administration that refuses to discipline unruly students may also be the norm in a private school where a gossipy parent who feels their child has been unduly singled out has the power to organize parents to leave the school. Mixing business with education has its undeniable draw backs. In any business it’s important to cater to the customers. The question is, at what point does such catering conflict with your own sense of ethics as a Western trained educator?

I’m not suggesting I agree with much of what I have seen go on in International Schools. As a school director I have had to compromise some of my ideals for the continued existence of a school and the continued opportunity to serve students, teachers and parents to the best of my abilities under the circumstances. Where I draw the line is when I see a school owner reaping bountiful financial rewards and neglecting to fund the necessities of the school. I don’t expect any school owner to sacrifice their well-being or that of their family for a school – philanthropists are few and far between. When I found myself a pawn in a host national’s plan to get rich at the expense of children’s educations, I made every effort to get everything I felt the students needed. I was later “released from duty” and immediately posted the truth about this school as I knew it to be – or better stated, how the situation exceeded what I was willing to compromise.

We each have a threshold for what we can and cannot accept. One thing is for certain though, when you immerse yourself in an overseas culture and tuitions are needed to fund a school, some form of compromise will have to be made on your part. The same will hold true in a private school in your own country. I highly recommend teachers read between the lines of ISR reviews with an eye to deciphering what sort of compromise on the part of the author could have made the situation a better experience. If the compromises needed to succeed at the institution are within your realm of acceptance, this could be a school for you. If not, and you consider yourself a pure educationalist, you may never be happy in an overseas school.

Comments Anyone?

Recruiting Survey Results – Your Help Requested

March 24, 2016

round-up-resultsOur 2016 Recruiting Survey revealed that just 13% teachers who took our Survey were successful in securing a teaching position through a Recruiting Fair. Of the total respondents, 9% attended a Fair but were unsuccessful in landing a position. We’ll leave it to you to draw your own conclusion.

On a positive note, 44% of Survey respondents reported finding an International Teaching position without attending a Recruiting Fair. Of the remaining respondents, 20% did not recruit this season and the rest were unable to find a position on their own. These results are similar to those found in our 2015 Survey in which 46% of respondents reported finding a job without attending a Fair.

Comparing the 2015/2016 results to our 2013 Survey, we see a significant difference. In 2013, just 30% of participants reported finding a job outside of a Recruiting Fair. Based on the current increase of 50% in this category for both 2015/2016, is it safe to say there has been a trend away from Recruiting Fairs and a growing reliance on tech-type venues by both schools and educators?

The following Comments were posted to our 2016 Recruiting Survey:

We have been recruiting for 5 primary posts and 2 secondary posts at a central Asian international school. We do our advertising via free ESL boards and by word of mouth.

Since the advent of Skype we’ve found Job Fairs to be a complete waste of our time and money.

This year we received a very large number of on line teacher qualified applications from the UK, far more applications than experienced in previous years. We were able to complete our recruiting in a campaign of some 5 weeks this year…as opposed to an 8-week campaign last year.

Of course tech venues will never take the place of the huge social extravaganza that underlies Recruiting Fairs. For school directors, Recruiting Fairs are an opportunity to travel to far off lands, stay in first-class hotels and hob-knob with other school directors at their school’s expense. It’s not exactly an all-expense-paid vacation, but very close, in our estimation. However, for teachers who must bear the brunt of their own recruiting expenses and possibly take unpaid time away from their current employment, Recruiting Fairs are….well, not quite the same as they are for school Directors.

As veterans of the Fairs, your colleagues at International Schools Review are encouraged to see an increasing reliance on technology in regards to the recruiting process. After all, with so many schools professing to offer their students the latest in technology, it should follow that they would opt to take advantage of it themselves. Will Recruiting Fairs go the way of snail mail? That still remains to be seen.

If you are one of the many educators who avoided the Fairs and used technology to find an International Teaching position, please scroll down and share with your colleagues what you learned from the experience. What venue did you use? How did you initially find and contact schools? What preparations and tips do you have for an online interview?

Please scroll down to Post

Recruiting Season Round-Up

March 17, 2016

job108632087x200Did you recruit for a new position this recruiting season? If so, how did it go? Did you attend a fair or go for it on your own? Did you land a new job or come up empty-handed? ISR invites you to take our 6-question Yes/No Survey & share your story.

Much can be extrapolated from Survey results. Among other things, the results of our Survey should tell us about the state of recruiting fairs as compared to the ever more popular tech-type venues such as Skype or the networking possibilities that work for so many international educators already in the international scene.

Survey results are tallied in real-time so you can see how other teachers fared. With a title like Recruiting Season Round-Up, don’t let this Article be confused with “cattle calls” of the past. We want to know your story!

Please Scroll Down to Comment

Breaking Contract for an Offer You Really Want

March 10, 2016

contract107782763greyMore than one school has hired teachers at a recruiting fair, only to later discover their staffing needs changed between the time of the fair and the start of the school year. As a result, these schools broke contract with some or all of their newly contracted teachers, leaving these educators unemployed and without compensation. International Schools Review shows such unfortunate events do happen. Fortunately, not often!

A current post to the ISR Open Forum outlines the exact opposite scene in which  a teacher signed a contract, received a signing bonus, and is now considering breaking contract for a “better” offer.

Some, but not many,  International Educators feel recruiting is an “every man for himself” affair. They consider it okay to continue looking for something better even after signing a contract.  At the other extreme the majority belief is that just because schools have dropped teachers prior to the start of an academic year, it doesn’t make it right for teachers to break recruiting-fair contracts without extenuating circumstance. Here’s an excerpt from the ISR Forum post that sparked this discussion. You be the judge:

Pluke » Sat Mar 05, 2016 1:43 amI was wondering what the possible ramifications might be if I took the European position after already signing a contract for another school for next year? From what I read of the contract and had a lawyer friend read I would just forfeit the bonus. I realize people do this all the time. I do not like to go back on contracts or my word in general but life is short so what would be the best move?

Here’s a sampling of reactions to the post:

Wrldtrvlr123 » Sat Mar 05, 2016 3:20 am…Worst case, jilted school raises a fuss, it gets back to your preferred school, they withdraw their offer and you are left with nothing. Or possibly something in between where there is some rancor but you still end up with the better job/school.

Clio » Sat Mar 05, 2016 9:23 am…Grab what you can now because you could be dead soon? …Lie because you don’t have the guts to be honest? Do you permit students the same sort of latitude?

PsyGuy » Sat Mar 05, 2016 3:52 am…I would wait until the EU IS actually has an appointment or offer for you. Then you have to look at the connections between you, the agency and the ISs and then determine your level of risk. If there are a lot of connections and you have a low tolerance for going bust, then you might have to sigh, and wait until next time. If they were impressed with you once you are likely marketable again. If there are few or no connections or you are a maximizer then you go for it, and hope you have enough karma in the cosmic bank of luck.

Shadowjack » Sun Mar 06, 2016 9:19 am…if you take a job, to me, you take a job. You have given your word, especially when a signing bonus has already been paid. If you wanted a “better” school in Europe, you should have said no. End of story. And keeping the money IS stealing. You can try to use logic and rationalize all you want, but taking money to do something and then NOT doing it and not paying it back is theft, pure and simple.

What’s your stance on this topic?  Scroll down to post

School-Issued Gag Orders

March 3, 2016

If you’re not familiar with Gag Orders, here’s how they work: Let’s assume a  company wants to prevent its employees from sharing valuable company secrets with competitors. To do so, a Gag Order can be written into the contract of employment. As such, this clause would prevent an employee from sharing product development information and innovative discoveries with other companies that would benefit from such knowledge, but without the means involved to make such discoveries on their own. Gag Orders can also be used to silence people who want to speak the truth about real-life situations. When used in this manner they become a means of suppression and censorship.

It should come as no surprise that Gag Orders have worked their way into the world of International Teaching, something ISR finds completely contradictory to the spirit of education. A director recently wrote ISR to say “by contract his teachers agree to not speak negatively about their school during the term of their employment.” ISR was asked by this director to remove a Review suspected to have been written by a currently employed teacher. Of course we did not.

We note that many International School Mission Statements expound on the lofty ideal of creating “global citizens, future world leaders, active thinkers, achievers, doers, contributors,” et cetera. Interestingly, the very schools that proudly display these goals on the walls of their administrative offices will often squelch any such “thinking and doing” activity among the individuals hired and entrusted with the responsibility of creating these “future leaders.” ISR calls this hypocritical.

The reality may well be that some “International Schools” are solely businesses masquerading as educational institutions. Based on some of the Reviews posted about these “International Schools” on International Schools Review, it is understandable why some would want to include a Gag Order in their contracts. Fortunately, educators are willing to risk the consequences of breaking such an Order and will post to ISR in an effort to warn colleagues about what lies hidden behind a contractual clause designed to mislead well-meaning educators.

Have you ever been confronted with a Gag Order? Would you accept a teaching position at a school that included a Gag Order in their contract? What is your take on on this topic?

Please scroll down to comment