Questionable Professional Behavior

Dear ISR, A topic I have yet to see addressed on ISR is that of questionable professional behavior. In my experience, some lower-tier international schools allow teachers to behave with impunity. One such school in Myanmar is notorious for the negative behavior of its teachers. They get drunk in public, cuss and diss each other and the locals, and in general show a complete lack of cultural sensitivity.

The staff (from the school in question) talk about the deranged behavior of one of their teachers who screams and yells at colleagues in front of students. Recently, a respected math teacher at this school was physically assaulted by another male teacher who was jealous and clearly has psychiatric issues.

The rest of us (living in this close community of schools) cannot believe how teachers from our neighboring school conduct themselves in public, nor that the 2 individuals with extreme behaviors are still teaching with, apparently, no repercussions!

Offences such as drunkenness, belligerence, blatant cultural insensitivity and/or aggressive behavior toward staff and teachers should result in instant firing. How far do/should directors allow teachers to go in breaking codes of professional behavior? And, what can colleagues do, apart from quitting, such toxic places?

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20 Responses to Questionable Professional Behavior

  1. Anonymous says:

    I work at a school where the teachers WERE let go for this kind of behavior, and the foreign faculty revolted and said it was unfair. I am not sure which is worse, an administration that is blind, or teachers who support poor behavior from their colleagues.


  2. Wesley says:

    Astounding words of reply here. I have been working overseas as an international teacher for over 30 years and almost all of the replies I see here are foreign to me. Where are you folks coming from? Obviously not the places I’ve lived and worked.


  3. Jack-the-lad says:

    I can think of three schools this behavior could apply to in Yangon. Having worked there for a couple of years, there are certain bars to avoid as they are full of drunken, rowdy, chain-smoking “teachers.” Two school hires old jackasses in their late 60s and older with flakey credentials and even more questionable behavior as to why they are in the country exploiting poverty-stricken young women.!


    • Katharine Black says:

      Jack-the-lad – I suggest that your ageist comments are highly inappropriate and extremely offensive to many. Perhaps you might consider an apology to all those excellent teachers in their 60s who are definitely not “jackasses”.


    • Anon says:

      If you are a female, you cannot possibly be unaware of male colleagues, usually older and unattractive, who are in certain poorer countries to exploit young women.


  4. Jeff Roland in Tapei says:

    What do you do when a newly hired deputy principal visits your classroom,and other teachers classrooms 2 and 3 times a day, during a lesson.He does this to most teachers at my school.He never smiles,or offers any feedback.We have many weak links as far as teachers go, and other teachers who are leaving in June.If , I say anything it will be only me seen complaining.Any suggestions,anyone?


    • Anon says:

      I would check what the policy says about ‘walk throughs’ and encourage all teachers to ask for formalized feedback. As a deputy principal, I undertake one informal observation a month and discuss feedback with each teacher and once a week, I roam through each class for a few minutes informally. Twice a year, I undertake formal evaluations in-depth. You could also request peers to observe one another and ask for informal feedback.


    • Emma White says:

      I think it really depends. I worked at a school where walkthroughs were extremely rare. It sounds nice, but when teachers were let go at the end of the contract, they had no idea why for. If I have faith in my administrator, I welcome as many walk throughs as possible. I have absolutely nothing to hide in my teaching, and the more walk throughs, the less likely that one chaotic or less-than-stellar moment is going to count against me.


  5. BP Rawlins says:

    Teaching and managing overseas for some thirty years in overseas schools, I have found patronising, abusive, and aggressively threatening behaviour (so-called “bullying”) to be the norm. Whether such moronic behaviour is “culturally insensitive” or not would appear irrelevant. Standards of what is professionally acceptable are actually quite widespread and standardised through teacher unions and national laws. The problem is that foreign schools are principally businesses pursuing a ‘bottom line’. They do not care about professional norms of behaviour, and tolerate the inverted snobs happy to humiliate the genuinely professional. The only possible courses of action once complaints are ignored are legal redress (always a risky lottery overseas) and leaving. At least we have ISR.


  6. Anon says:

    Avoid unaccredited schools and those that hire the “unhirable” countries like Myanmar and Cambodia attract some of the worst type of teachers who avoid background checks and sometimes have forged credentials.


  7. Anonymous says:

    Majority are liars bullied and education is bottom of the list


  8. Mary says:

    I was at a school in Kuwait that paid well and also paid extra $$ for teachers to run after-school clubs. There were hardly any clubs though because most of the teachers were off tutoring after school in people’s homes. It was no secret that teachers could almost double their salaries by tutoring and so they would tell the parents of their students that their child HAD to have after-school help. This would never have happened in the US! If a child is having trouble with a subject, it is the teacher’s responsibility to help them with their work, not farm them out to other teachers at the school who charge a lot of money for tutoring. When 75% of a 2nd Grade class need math tutoring that means the teacher is doing a poor job. It does NOT mean that all of these students need tutoring. It was a real con job.

    Of course, the grade-level teacher would recommend their own friends as the tutor and in return their friends would recommend them for tutoring jobs for the other classes. This practice was so unethical and the Kuwaiti parents were treated like cash cows. These tutors even joked about how much they could get out of the parents by telling the parents their child needed all these extra sessions. Shameful.


  9. Anonymous says:

    It is sad to say but international schools remind me of the Wild West. If a school tolerates poor teacher behavior the first thing to look at are the standards of behavior in the host country. I say this because you can’t fight local cultural values. However if the teacher behavior is truly illegal, immoral, etc. Personally I would inform school director in an email so I could prove I acted responsibly.
    I was at several schools with corrupt directors. The sad thing is they are still directing! Best advice is to steer clear and get away from the school after completing your contract. Of course if kids were being abused I would leave straight away.


  10. Helen says:

    Another school? Distance yourself in public and worry about your own school. Not your problem.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anon says:

      It is everyone’s problem as professional teachers because it puts students at risk and brings our profession into disrepute. At my school, teachers have to follow a code of conduct that involves behaving appropriately in public where we can be observed by parents and students. This is fair enough as teachers are supposed to be role models.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Anonymous says:

      And long as you are doing it at your school that is all that matters. Your language of ‘lower tier’ school that ‘allows’ this behaviour leads one to believe that maybe this post has an undertone of ‘lesser school, lesser people’. Do not put down other schools or teachers at the other schools, this is what leads to our profession being put into disrepute, be proactive and positive.


    • Red Rob says:

      My school is fine thank you. I object to imitation international schools that exploit students and bring international teaching into disrepute. Myanmar seems to have no educational standards or controls over who is allowed into the country disguised as a “teacher.”


  11. Anonymous says:

    You run into jerks every place. Even at the top tier schools. I worked at a school where the director referred to every nationality using one racial put down or another. A few drinks and he got boisterous and ugly. When I mentioned his after-drinking-a-few behavior to him denied it, saying I was overly sensitive. I lasted a year, broke contract and never looked back. At an interview he sold the school and himself very well. In real life….disgusting. You just never know what you’ll find. For me the best survival technique was to leave.


  12. Michael in China says:

    Not to defend these people, but if a school pays considerably less than a reasonable amount, does not do some kind of background checks, demonstrates that it is not a real school by its own behaviour, then naturally ‘characters’, for want fo a better word will be drawn to this school.


    • susan williams says:

      Hi Michael What I found is that the same can be applied to a school that pays considerably more… as money and power corrupt and such people will hang on to their ‘territory’ like cockcroches polluting the environment for all other inhabitants.


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