Did You Choose the Right School?

Your first days at a new school can be a window into the year ahead.  From airport arrival to help transitioning into the school and community,  how your school treats you right from the start speaks volumes about the experience to follow. Which of the following describes your arrival?

Scenario 1. You knew you were off to a terrific start when the Director met you at the airport, escorting you to a waiting apartment replete with fresh linens, a few staples, plus a bottle of chilled wine. City tours, sampling local cuisine and organized shopping trips are just some of the things your school did to welcome arriving teachers. You’re looking forward to meeting your students and colleagues. You had a good feeling about this school when you signed the contract!

Scenario 2. You found yourself (and your luggage) left standing at the arrival gate. You called the school and no one answered. Hours later you took an unmarked taxi to an unknown hotel, hoping beyond hope that you’d still  be alive the next morning. You began to think that maybe coming here wasn’t such a wise idea. This thought was confirmed when you had to find your own apartment in a community you knew nothing about. Worse yet, no one seems to even have time to show you to your classroom! Yikes!

Tell us about your experience / Name your school (optional)
International Educators keeping each other informed is what ISR is about!

  • How did your expectations compare with the reality of coming to your new school?
  • Did the school and admin support you and your colleagues in settling into the community and school? Did you feel welcomed?
  • Did you ever have that funny feeling about working for this school and wish you’d listened to your instincts?
  • Are you just thrilled and pleased as punch to be embarking on a whole new international teaching adventure?
  • Do you agree that the first few days at a new school are very reflective of how the school will treat you later on?

(based & reprinted from an earlier ISR article)

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10 thoughts on “Did You Choose the Right School?

  1. school 1: Did a horrible job on the first impression but each year they got better with each new group. They learned from their mistakes.

    school 2: Did a great job. Surveyed the new staff and got comments like “best first day at a school” only to have a new head, who had complimented what was done, then got rid of all that had made that intro day so good. They got it right then ruined it.


  2. I don’t know!

    Scenario 3:-

    We read as much as we could, no recent reviews here but after speaking to the Superintendent back and forth we took the leap of faith and came to this small school in S. Asia.

    Jump forward to our arrival in the heat of the night. the leadership at the airport with drivers, refreshments and a nice drive to our furnished house and car.

    It was overwhelming and hot and although we were warmly received and nothing was too much trouble I did get a really funny feeling from the Superintendent who was also present. I dismissed those feelings as my own exhaustion after the travel and possibly even hers.

    Almost every box has been checked in our first couple weeks. Most people are super nice and helpful and most important our principals are professional, engaged, knowledgeable – there for us. It’s not excessive, it seems sincere.

    We saw this blog post earlier and did not consider sharing my experience so far UNTIL this weekend when a few new teachers gathered. The subject of how odd the Superintendent is came up. I was so RELIEVED to hear that it is not just me. Everyone has been feeling it. Words were used like haughty, dismissive, unapproachable, ice-queen, awkward, introvert. RELIEF, but it was brief. Someone in the group has already heard speculation that our two principals are leaving at the end of this school year because of length of time here and retirement. I worry what it will be like in year #2 if they do leave and she remains. If this is the case my bubble is bursting.

    Suggestion, a check-in here mid-way through the year. Now is too soon to tell.


  3. After signing my contract, things were rocky with new regulations and requirements for China, but the school definitely made up for it. My family and I were picked up with a school bus at the airport and my son was given a gift that he cherishes. We were taken to an upscale hotel for a couple of nights and days of lavish meals and swims in the pool. It was near the school and our apartment so we were able to snoop a little. We peaked into our apartment to see if it matched the photos. It did. We went onto the school grounds and my son had a go on all three playgrounds. We have had two wonderfully supported weeks of orientation, including bus trips to supermarkets and IKEA, and training and preparation. I am very excited and optimistic about tomorrow, when school starts.


  4. I’m really happy with the school that I signed up with. There were some hiccups here and there, but there were some cultural and some expectations from previous experiences. Ex. I had to take a cab from the airport to the apartment to meet an HR person who just gave me the keys and left. However, being with new teachers for one week, new and old teachers for one week in meetings and team building activity, starting with students, and needing to leave in the middle of classes to go and wait for internet installment (which did not happen that day – administrators being empathetic and understanding of the situation as well as not being able to attend the party with parents) and visa appointments on the first or the second week with full support and understanding, I’m so glad I chose this school. I feel that the administrators try really hard to keep a positive environment and collaboration and my colleagues are also extremely supportive.

    This school had no reviews and still have no reviews on this website. So, I had to make a decision without any information about the school besides what was given to me at the presentation.


  5. It was an absolute nightmare. The accommodations were grubby, not so much as a shower rod, in a filthy area with strange men lurking about. When I told the school I didn’t feel safe, they ignored me. I ignored so many red flags, and it was an expensive life lesson. Sometimes complete lack of information about a school is just as telling as any review. No wonder the contract held a confidentiality clause. Glad I had a rental car to get myself back to the airport. Bye Felicia!


  6. I arrived in a third world country in the middle of the night and there was no-one to meet me. I had to get a local taxi to take me to a hotel the driver recommended and get the hotel to call the school the next day. Sure they were apologetic but the principal is crazy and not even qualified to run a kindergarten and the school a dive,. I am just waiting for my first pay check then hasta la vista. I was certainly lied to when recruited and feel angry and cheated but already have another job option.


  7. Spent the night in a hotel. No one at airport on arrival. I was afraid I was in for a bad year ahead. The next day the director came for me, paid the hotel bill, apologized profusely for the mix up and took me to lunch and then to my apartment. My first impressions proved wrong and so far I’m very glad I’m here


  8. I failed to believe the reviews on ISR and went anyway. This was some years back. What a mistake. I thought this stuff only happened to other people. Surprise! Since I made that mistake I now read and pay attention to what other teachers have to say about a school.

    I’m at a good school now and will stay here for some time. The school I hated was in Guatemala. The school I’m at now is in Thailand. I think a lot of how what makes a school culture has a lot to do with the cultural setting in which it exists. Too much graft and bribery in Guatemala. Rich locals pushing their weight around and the timid administration raising the grades of under achieving spoiled kids. Well….that’s all in the past.


    1. Me too! I worked in Guatemala and it took me a very long time to get over the severe abuse. I read the reviews and because it was so bad, I did not believe it. I got there, and it was a nightmare.

      I am now so, so happy where I am. I am Central Asia and I am not looking back. I plan to stay for the long run.


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