Is Every Review on this Site Negative?

November 17, 2016

Many thousands of International Educators depend on ISR for the inside word on schools around the world. We’ve been following a thought-provoking discussion on the ISR Forum that’s focused on the abundance of negative School Reviews submitted to ISR. With recruiting season under way, we thought this conversation a timely topic to explore.

Forum excerpts:

ISR Member: I’ve been coming to this site for years to research schools. For the past 2 years (at least) there is not one school that sounds like it would be worth applying to or to send a child! Am I just imagining it? Or is international teaching not what it used to be?

ISR Member: My best guess would be a combination of two factors:  1. An explosion of international schools around the globe… you can imagine, a lot of these schools are set up as get-rich-quick schemes by people with no background in, or clue about education. So they genuinely are crappy places to work. 2. People are more likely to leave reviews when they’ve had a bad experience than a positive one. Human nature.

ISR Member: I’ve worked at five of the schools reviewed on ISR. The majority of the posts about those schools are accurate, or were accurate at the time they were written. The relatively few propaganda exercises are easily detected.

ISR Member: I think the paid side of site is actually quite positive. Many schools that I know of are aggrandized dumpsters.

..ISR Asks: What’s your take on this topic? Why are teachers posting so many poor Reviews of their schools? What’s the current state of International Teaching? Has it changed drastically? How do you pick a school that’s right for you?

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Should I Take My Kids Overseas (Like My Parents Did with Me)?

November 10, 2016


Dear ISR,

     I grew up in International Schools around the world and sat in classes with the children of ambassadors, nephews of dictators, the grandchildren of rebel leaders. From the age of 10, I traveled with my International Teacher parents to locations in the world that most American children couldn’t find on a map. My classmates were the cream of the international crop and I, by association, was given the opportunity to dwell in their gilded world.  At the end of the day though, they were rich and spoiled and I was just the kid of the hired help, fine to play with, but not to make life-long connection with.

After years of living the jet-set life and coming home to a house with a housekeeper, driver and gardener, it was a rude awakening for me to return to America after graduation. I had nowhere near the finances to live as I once had and the other students couldn’t relate to my life in any way. I still, to this day, have conversations with new acquaintances where I can watch the person I am speaking to realize that we have no common ground to stand on. Being a third-culture individual can be a lonely life at times, even once you’re back on home turf.

Now, 15 years later, I’m a teacher with kids of my own. My husband, also a teacher, floated the idea recently of trying International Teaching. Our area in the mid-West U.S. is constantly experiencing budget cuts and layoffs and he thinks the move would be good for us economically. I’m concerned that by taking our daughters to an International School, I could be setting them up for the same future solitary lifestyle. The benefits are clear (better pay, better education, travel, exposure to new cultures) but I worry that the lifestyle of an International Educator could have long-lasting negative effects on our children’s lives.

Maybe some ISR readers have direct experience with this and would share their advice with me? Thanks ISR. Keep up the great work!!

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Tier-Ranking International Schools

November 3, 2016

There is no master list, or even a universally agreed upon criteria, for Tier-ranking International Schools. Even if there were such a list under development, it’s doubtful teachers could reach a definitive consensus. Depending on personal priorities, the attributes of a Tier-1 school vary considerably from teacher to teacher, making it virtually impossible to set a standard by which all International Schools are measured.

Some educators focus on the size of the paycheck & benefits package as the main factors for assigning a Tier ranking. Other educators weigh in on curriculum, facilities & academic integrity. Still others, in pursuit of a Tier-1 experience, look for an admin that values teachers’ input. With so many individual priorities, a Tier-3 school for me may be a Tier-2, or even a Tier-1 school, for you.

Can a for-profit school ever be considered a Tier-1 school? What about a school made up of mostly host nationals? Are there Tier-1 schools in developing nations, or is the Tier-1 experience found only in fully developed locations?

With no agreed upon criteria to define Tier rankings, how do you interpret a Review in which the author says, “This is a Tier-3 school”? If you’ve been on the International circuit for any length of time, you probably have your own personal system of interpreting Tier ratings. But if you’re new to International education, these ratings hold little, if any, relationship to the realities of living & teaching abroad.

To help educators gain an understanding of the realities seasoned International educators are referring to when assigning a Tier-ranking to an school, ISR invites you to share your definition of a Tier 1, Tier 2 & Tier 3 International School.

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We ask that you not name Schools in this discussion.
Please use our Member Area to discuss & rank Schools.