Should Have, Would Have, Wish I Had

Hindsight may be 20/20, but why learn the hard way when you can KNOW before you go?

With recruiting season basically over, those of us who haven’t yet landed a position for the upcoming school year are feeling a bit desperate and maybe a little more than willing to take a chance on a school with not-so-good Reviews.

“I wish I knew about International Schools Review before I took this job” is a recurring theme running through many ISR Reviews. There’s also ISR teacher-members who had read poor Reviews of a school, went anyway, and later commented that they should have heeded the Reviews but didn’t because they refused to accept that any school could be so bad.

Here’s some excerpts from recent Reviews posted by teachers who didn’t know about ISR before they accepted a position, and from those who chose to ignore the warnings of teachers already at the school:

A school in Cyprus
I honestly wish I had read the reviews prior to accepting a teaching job here. Believe me, these reviews are spot on concerning accuracy!

A school in the UAE
This is a miserable place to work. I wished I had looked at the reviews before I set foot in this school…

A school in Oman
Now that I know the reality of working here, I wish I had taken the reviews written on ISR more seriously…

A school in Vietnam
After joining this website, I feel compelled to warn people that I have been at four international schools that touted ‘high ideals and rigor with a strong commitment to students and faculty.’ Oh, how I wish I had found this website years ago! So much stress and heartache could have been avoided…

A school in Malaysia
The school has a notorious reputation of teachers and principals leaving in a short period of working. I wish I had known this fact before signing…

A school in China
I am writing this because these are things I wish I had known before going to work for this school. I hope that it helps people assess whether or not this is the right place for them…

Should Have, Would Have, Wish I Had sentiments are a thing of the past with ISR.

International Teachers Keeping Each Other Informed
is what International Schools is All About!

Comments? Please scroll down to participate

10 thoughts on “Should Have, Would Have, Wish I Had

  1. Best advice and reminder: “No job is better than a bad job and references, whether we like it or not, do follow us.” The downside to this forum is that it is “public” and allows for schools, boards, administrators or “happy” teachers to post rebuttals. This blurs the picture and can be confusing, resulting in some of us making poor choices. Administrators and search consultants have their own review network. The difference is that it is highly confidential, by word of mouth where we have no opportunity to defend or provide a rebuttal. Even at job fairs the heads of schools meet candidates and if they see that the candidate is coming from a school where they have an administrative peer or former staff working they phone them for character and work references (whether those people are on the resume list of references or not) . Read the reviews here, do thorough background checks and keep your nose clean, It is that simple. The 6 degrees of separation helps (and does harm). This is the reality.


  2. I worked for 1 year (broke my contract at the end of the 1st year, but did not run away), for ADEC, which was a horrible experience (however it is not an International School, so is not reviewed here), 2 years at one school listed that is reviewed on ISR and am currently fulfilling a 5 month contract (am the 3rd teacher in my position this year), at another- And believe me, every single thing written in review of both of these schools is 100% true. While both these schools have been physically bearable to me for a number of reasons, I understand and back anyone who has just packed their bags and left in the night. I am older, very-very experienced and don’t frazzle very easily. I am also very introverted, so the gossip and backstabbing that seems to be an international school culture does not effect my day to day dealings or personal life as I make a point to develop my friendships outside from the people I work with.
    The one school after completing my 2 years contract, completely reneged on my gratuity and airfare as well as holding my last month’s pay (watch out for this in many-MANY schools IF you resign or give notice) and the one I am at now is just completely horrible from the housing to the absence of academic and personal professionalism.
    Both schools had many-many “teachers who had no academic teaching background and the school I am in now actually recruits non-teaching professionals (all you need is a bachelors degree), for both teaching and administrative positions- admitting they follow the school’s methods better as they do not have any academic notions. I was hired because I was available immediately (I am in between contacts).
    Take the reviews here seriously. Yes- people tend to write reviews when they are angry and tend not to write reviews for the better schools- but that doesn’t mean they are not valid. I read the horrible reviews for the 2 schools I have been in and go, yep, yep, yep. Been there, done that- And the school I will be starting in in August has some negatives, but as a whole has not been slammed over and over and over again. AND the school has given me contact Email addresses for current teachers where the one school I worked with ignored my 2 requests for teacher contacts… But, we live and learn. If a review says a school will mess with your pay, they will. If a review says the housing is bad, it is. If a review says management is based, lies and plays favorites it does…


    1. Good insights. Also as an experienced teacher, I would agree with your comments. There is no smoke without fire. Not all administrators like or communicate with one another. I walked out of one job after a horrible incident and was immediately hired at a better school where I am currently. I was honest about what happened at the previous school and my new principal knew of school’s reputation and despised the principal there. On the international circuit, some administrators are horrified by the antics of some of the bad and unqualified ones.


  3. My advice is to go through the contract in detail. Confirm whether the final salary is gross or net – don’t assume it is tax-free because it is overseas. Check exactly what the terms relating to housing mean and ask for photos of the assigned housing. I have had colleagues turn up to jobs and be stuck in appalling housing and unable to move. Check the job description and beware of any contract that states that the school has the right to re-assign or move you into another position as it sees fit. One teacher I know was dumped into teaching an AP course in a subject he had never taught but wanted to keep the job and did it – short changing the students. Contact a current teacher at the school who is remaining. I was put in touch with my predecessor when I accepted a job. He was leaving and warned me of all sorts of unpleasantness that I assumed to be sour grapes. Boy… was I ever wrong – most of it turned out to be true and it was the worst job I ever had. Again no review on ISR.


  4. A few years ago, I attended a hiring fair in late January, and decided to walk away without a job. It was a major eye-opener, and it took considerable courage, but was the best possible decision. May arrived, and I was panic-stricken and stressed, but by the end of the month, I had landed my dream job. My advice is to “hang in there”, be patient, and wait for the last minute postings in good schools . . . and pay attention to the posts on this sight.


  5. I have often found ISR to be the only objective source of info. However best to check through your colleague network, if you can, to get the latest information. The probkem with landing at a bad school is it can screw your career up as you need references from your current job to get the next job. Best to NOT accept a job than to get a bad job and damage your career. You can be an outstanding teacher and all it takes is saying “No sex” to a corrupt director, a principal that disappears without a trace due to the bad school thereby leaving you without a reference, etc. Be very careful because internationally no job is better than a bad job.


    1. This is so true. I was left with no choice but to exit from a job after one year because the director became very unpleasant after I refused his advances. He was an unattractive old American single male whose Asian wife had dumped him several years earlier and bored on non-stop about conspiracy theories and was a heavy drinker. I could not stand another year of personal attacks on my professionalism and being put down in front of the male colleagues he then favored. I also knew he would screw up my reference anyway, so no point in staying and suffering. Because this was in Myanmar, there was no comeback at all. Sadly, this school was not reviewed on ISR although to be fair, I did get negative vibes during the Skype interview but put it down to the interview format…..silly me.


  6. Please read all the reviews very carefully, and take them seriously.My position now is at Guangdong Country Garden School in Foshan,Shunde, Guangdong,PRC.I encourage you to read the reviews on this school, and 99% are completely true.


  7. Thanks for posting these responses. One has to be very careful taking overseas postings as there are many issues that do not get attended to and No working Visa after all the promises is the big one! That makes you illegal in the country and you can be asked to leave at very short notice. Even if they let you in with a visitors visa that does not entitle you to work. Some schools have very bad reputations with the issuing authorities and you will never get the correct visa. Mea Culpa friends


    1. Catherine blackmore is absolutely correct. My 3rd posting in UAE had such a bad relationship with the authorities that they were allotted few work visas and the admin disfavored Americans and kept all new Americans waiting months for work visa, while all other nationalities flew through the process. It was awful and I had no idea this was even possible until it happened to me! If your school can’t even get you the most basic work requirement it has no business hiring at all and contract is null and void.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.