Gag Order: Silence Isn’t Golden at Our School

At Monday’s faculty meeting our school director gave us his anticipated, well-worn pep talk on what a great school we have and how lucky we should feel to be here. He started off with the usual dribble we’ve come to expect from this “educational specialist” who doesn’t have a college education but money enough to own a “school.” Today’s discourse was, however, startlingly different.

He stressed that, our school supports freedom of speech. And yes, the school encourages teachers to speak the truth, but NO!… not on ISR…..which he claimed is nothing more than a pack of lies from disgruntled losers. He went on to warn us that teachers suspected of reviewing our wonderful bastion of learning on ISR would be fired and duly prosecuted to the full extent that the laws of the country provide. End of discussion!! He had imposed a gag order. My hunch was a new review of the school had been posted.

When I joined ISR some years ago I was perplexed why various schools had reviews no more recent than three or four years back. Why hadn’t more up-to-date reviews been posted? Did things suddenly get better? Unhappy teachers do tend to be more motivated to post reviews than contented teachers. After Friday’s faculty meeting I’m certain that when reviews of a school suddenly stop, it may be a sign something is wrong. Thirty-two reviews and then Nothing? I get it now!

I’m gearing up to go recruiting this recruiting season and leave this “school” behind. I’m tired of rich parents who negotiate top grades for their lazy kids. I’m tired of being considered another form of servant by students/parents and admin. Most of all, I don’t like compromising my sense of right and wrong for a paycheck. Will I be posting a review? You can bet I will, when I’m safely away.


Keeping quiet for now

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41 thoughts on “Gag Order: Silence Isn’t Golden at Our School

  1. It’s the same in the USA – don’t kid yourselves. I worked at a school in Indiana called Hoosier Academy; it’s an online virtual public school and honestly not a bad school. I enjoyed the experience but I quit for personal reasons. Since Indiana is an at-will employment state, I expected my prorated Summer salary. No such luck! It seems at-will only benefits the employer. Anyway, I threatened to post my experience on Google reviews and they actually had a lawyer contact me and threaten legal action if I did that. Like I said, it was a decent school and I liked the principal so I just let it go and went back overseas.

    Make no mistake though – “gag orders” happen everywhere.


  2. Generally i have noticed that there is politices in the school too.
    Sum group of teachers r hating the other group which is not good.


  3. Sorry to disappoint you, but ALL private international schools are corrupt in that parents pay big money to see their children find success. Some schools are just more corrupt than others. I’ve worked in schools in South America, the Middle East, and Western Europe. The most corrupt were in the Middle East. The least corrupt were in Western Europe. But all administrators I’ve experienced have not questioned passing grades, only failing grades. So look for a place with the best package and bite the bullet. Or get out of the trade.


  4. To those who like to kiss Middle Eastern asses, I taught for 4 years at King Saud University.. I also, taught 2 years in Dubai and one year in Oman. In each location whether in a school or in the University there was a lot of pressure to inflate grades I didn’t inflate the grades, but my bosses above me inflated the grades, even, if I opposed them doing, so. That is why I left Saudi Arabia. Don’t get me started on the students and the Saudi faculty trying to pressure you to convert to Islam..
    How about being invited by a faculty member as a so called invited guest to a stoning of a women for adultery I sidestepped my way out of that invitation.. In Dubai I kept to myself and only left after they began similar tactics in my second year there. Oman was almost as bad as Saudi, so I was only there really 8 months left on a midnight flight with no notice as they were turning the screws similar to Saudi..
    I’m now a teacher of IB in a Mexican international school I make less than half of what I made in the Middle East, but I never have to listen to Islamic, bullshit or be pushed into being a special guest at a stoning.. All of the Middle Eastern ass kissers and Islamic apologists here you don’t know what your talking about at all!! How about having to eat alone, because your single and the only way to go to a restaurant in Saudi or Oman is to lie and tell them that your married. In Dubai it was different, but still what a freak show in the Middle East. Having to eat alone, because you are single and G-d forbid a man should be seen alone with a single of age women.. Don’t get me started especially in Saudi and Oman about the lack of alcohol.. The Islamic world especially the Middle East is awash with ignorant religious 6th century fanatics who have no place in the modern world.
    By the way Little Miss Sunshine about your comment.. I agree with the president there are Shit hole countries for example Saudi Arabia, Oman, Dubai just to name 3.. I could name a few more!!


    1. Dubai is not a country- It is IN The UAE.
      I also worked in the Middle East for 5 years and my reply to you is- If you can’t take the heat… Or in other words, what did you expect? You are standing in judgement of lifestyle and beleif systems very different than your own- And while in their country as a guest, being paid in their currency.
      Yes- I ignored a lot while I worked there (UAE, Qatar & Iraq), but I’m not criticle. We are the first in the USA to scream “learn English” to people from other countries. How dare you go into other countries to work, by choice and expect them to live and believe like you.This is why we are known as “The Ugly Americans”.


    2. First of all, I hope you don’t teach English because you don’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re.” Secondly, I hope you are not American because people have enough reasons to hate us without your adding to the mix. Finally, just go home and stop giving whatever nationality you are a bad name.


  5. Gagging! I worked in a SLT team in a school for profit. Staff thought we didn’t know what we were doing well actually we did and were very successful. The owner a young 30 something whose father was also owner of other schools was a diabetic, so when he had a sugar low he was crude rude and abusive. Staff didn’t know this, we were not permitted to disagree with him and were sworn at at SLT meetings. The director who was on a huge salary of course made sure we did whatever he said, thus full circle, staff thinking and vocalising we were crap so much so that they wrote unfair comments on this very forum which has cost my family dearly.

    This particular school continues to go through SLT members like no tomorrow and it continues to bag SLT members. Teachers really need to think about what they are doing themselves before bagging others. Use some intelligent thinking and ask yourself is there more than what we see?


    1. that is what happens when their is no transparency, maybe if staff knew about the situation there would be more compassion.


  6. Hey Guys! The topic is gag orders and not Middle East schools . My last director imposed a gag order on us. The faculty banded together and between us posted 12 reviews. The director went ballistic and brought in a a lawyer to question us. He eventually gave up. All of us left at the end of the year and I later learned they were short teachers when school started. What goes around comes around.


  7. Why do people think it’s that different in the U.S.? I taught nine years in public high school in NY before I went overseas for nine — equal. I taught in Central America and in the Middle East. I had no more issues in CA or the ME than I had in a public school in the ME. Face it: Teachers are treated like crap everywhere in the world. I came back to the US to retire. I taught one year in Florida — I had the days until the end of school counted in October. I had more discipline problems in one hour in FL than I did in 9 years overseas. Overcrowded classrooms was the least of the problems. I couldn’t wait until June. I had the days counted in October.

    If we weren’t aged out, I would go overseas again in a heartbeat.


    1. PS- I’m 58, retired from the NYS schools system (where I worked in the hood with 40+ students per class), now for 8 years and not all countries age us out. I am currently at year 2 in Kazakhstan and am hoping to do 2 years in Egypt, then for real retire. If you want to work overseas there are countires who appreciate experience. In my current job, the last 6 English speaking expat hires were ALL older than me.


    2. Barbara, you are right. That was why I was very careful about what school I said “Yes” to. 🙂 I turned down schools with a majority local student population and held out for a truly international student body.

      As with anything, “caveat emptor” and do your homework!


  8. Research shows that most teachers inflate grades which is borne out by A level predictions. A level is mainly taught by senior teachers. Of course you can discount those that get the top grade.

    So if the headteachers and senior teachers have not achieved outstanding results for their students over a long period of time then why should one accept any constructive criticism from them.

    You should be able to judge others incompetence fairly quickly.


  9. I have always checked the performance of my own students in other subjects. This nearly always indicates the teachers following the direction of a new headteacher who is into inflating results. It tells you more about both the people close to you and the ones that are not.


  10. No/few reviews may indicate that there maybe historic and cultural problems at the school.

    I would consider the following:

    Whether past exam results are published on the schools website or ask for these during the interview process

    How the school’s inspection report compares to other schools in the locality

    The history and actual performance of the headteacher and other members of the school leadership team

    Most leaders are unlikely to match reasonable expectations and worse the minimum requirements.

    I have yet to be in the company of an outstanding leader or consultant. And if there was such a person then all schools would be outstanding.


  11. I think it’s a shame when schools do this as no school is perfect and what suits some might not suit another.
    My last school was very paper work heavy and demanded a lot from teachers time wise. I found a lot of the paper work they wanted doing pretty pointless and resented losing my evenings and weekends to do it. From my 1st year there to my last 4 years later I thought pay and conditions had got worse, however conditions were still better than in many schools in the same city and teachers coming directly from the UK would have still found things to be an improvement. I made all this clear in my review. It may have put some teachers off applying, I realise that but those teachers would not have been happy there anyway so in some ways I was doing the school a favour. Soon after my review was published someone in the school (someone corporate rather than a teacher responded with an unrealistically glowing review of the school. To any teacher it was clear a teacher had not written it due to the corporate, business like style of the writing, talking about the pay scale and appraisal system as if we worked in sales rather than teaching. If I had been a teacher considering this school that response to constructive criticism (which I’d also made at a school level) by lying and misinforming would have set alarm bells ringing.
    My current school was also reviewed on ISR. The review was far from perfect (but considering people tend to be more negative in their reviews) I knew that I was totally able to live with and be happy considering the short comings of the school mentioned in the review. The reviewer was unhappy about the level of academics of the school but coming from a high pressure environment I was more than happy to be in a school that seemed to have more of a focus on the all round welfare of students and not just academics. Unless schools are treating their staff unfairly, what one potential employee might find negative another might find a plus point. If a school doesn’t like what is being said they should use the ISR as feedback for development.


  12. What teacher candidates lack when dealing with for-profit or board managed schools, based on my overseas experiences, are the following;

    1) protection from predatory schools and administrators, other than having to resort to legal action in the country of residence or back home,

    2) A thorough and impartial list of schools that have been ranked on a number of core issues such as respect for teacher rights, adherence to the IRS charter, etc.

    3) Full support of their recruiters, if one was involved,

    4) Clear and binding contracts in the candidate’s mother tongue, backed up by the local ministry of education and the laws of their host country,

    5) Effective and powerful representation on the management of the school, as a minimum.

    6) A universal, impartial and mandatory mediation process if things so sour,

    I am sure there are other basics I’ve missed,


  13. I worked at a top tier school renown only a few years prior and sought after to work at. But, the reputation is only as good as the current practices, school culture owners and leaders. So be aware of those top schools who are riding on an old reputation that doesn’t exist. You need to know current responses about schools. I wish there were more people who wrote reviews.


  14. Schools are aware of the power of ISR. Last year, someone who had left our school wrote a poor review but they wrote it in the current tense and so it seemed like someone currently employed had wrote it. The person who wrote it had lots of friends at our school and was disgusted about what was happening and so thought they’d post about the current faculty experience. This led to a witch hunt at our school with current faculty and strong speculation about an individual who had not written the report. None of us had. It is good we have ISR. I only wish we could make a list of schools that break contracts and bully their staff. Work place bullying from admin causes long term stress and anxiety for those individuals and is abuse. We need to keep making reviews to ensure teachers know which administrators and schools have poor management and mostly, cruel management styles. There is more in international than at home where administrators are held to the fire, too.


    1. Schools can bully kids and parents too. And they do. Heads of School can flirt with moms. And they do. This is a form of bullying. Harassment. The mom feels trapped. Her child is there. Why make her feel like she’s in a bar. There’s no recourse. Only leaving. And sometimes there are few other option. In a school in LA, a private K-8 school on the Mulholland corridor the moms feel stuck bc it’s a specialized school. Bills itself as a global school. It’s not. It’s provincial. They brought on an HR person but she reports to the head of school. It’s a sham. He surrounds himself with lawyers. It’s very Forrest Gumpish. Horrendous #MeToo situation and the moms feel very stuck. They take to social media and these outlets for relief. The guy had complaints at his last school. A teacher said she fell on a hike. He said he helped her up. She said he took advantage of her vulnerability and slipped his hand up her hiking shorts. He later laughed about it at the current school to a mom he had sexually harassed. She has undisclosed autism. It’s disgusting what he gets away with. The unprofessional board disregards complaints. Says report it to HR. Which reports to him. It’s the only school in town that focuses on kids who are HG. Parents feel stuck and commiserate with each other. Some leave to schools on another continent. But stil suffer from symptoms of PTSD from being subjected for years to this mistreatment. Okay so now we are out. And healing. Thanks for reading.


  15. Unfortunately there are just so many badly run international schools that we will keep hearing about them. And thankfully there is ISR for us to fall back on. In the past 7 years I have turned down 2 job offers based on what I read here. If the reviewers consistantly say the same things- I tend to believe them.


  16. What do you expect, probably a school in a developing country, the middle east etc. You can’t expect anything else from these types of loser schools. They are run for profit only and really only have a slight connection to anything approaching a real education. Lets be honest probably one third of the International schools are legit schools the rest fall into various stages of money factories. Be careful what you say till your out and then give it to them full force. Schools like this one deserve to go out of business, but remember what P.T. Barnum said “There is a sucker born every minute”. That goes more forthe parents who send their children to these schools not teachers.


  17. Thank you for posting. You have reinforced my belief to never teach in a middle eastern country. I won’t even take a vacation in one.


    1. Christine………there ARE good schools in the Middle East and the experience is rewarding both financially and personally, so please don’t generalize. You just have to do your due diligence like you would anywhere else in the world of education. Basing your choices on a brief review on ISR is like choosing a husband based on their photo.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. There absolutely are good schools in the Middle East, and there are also bad ones. That is true for the whole world. Omgarsenal is absolutely correct when she says, in other words, do your homework. Christine, why not vacation in a middle eastern country, and see that perhaps that area has much to offer.


    3. Nonsense Myron……you’ve apparently never taught in the Middle East or have taught but have made a generalization from your limited experience.


    4. By the way, I taught 30 years in the usa– 20 at the university level as an assistant prof.. I have an Ed.D. in Education. Do you know what that is?
      Is this “limited experience?”


    5. The USA is not the Middle East Myron, and you may have an Ed.D but you didn’t learn to read properly in your 30 years in education. I’ll simplify my comments above, for you edification:

      1) You don’t seem to have taught in the Middle East or not for long because your generalization shows that?
      2) Your experience in the Middle East is limited, if you have taught there. I am not refering to your overall experience.
      3) You sound pompous and self-important,,,,,,take the time to understand what you read before making generalizations.


    6. I taught in a school in the Middle East for four years. While I had two parents harrass me about grades, the admin had my back on both cases. Generalizations are always bad. Always.


    7. I hear you, Carol, but saying anything is “always” is difficult to defend. I have also worked in 3 different Middle Eastern International Schools and each had its very own crazy going on. The fact that so many international schools are profit based sets the system up from the start to put academics and staff lower on the totem poll than profit. Its buriness. There is also a culture in many rich Middle Eastern, oil producing countries for a “wealth fare” mentality. The girls will marry young and the boys will get a free house from the government as soon as they marry. They will be given money from their government for each child born. They will pay little to nothing for “petro”, utilities, groceries, etc; because they are Nationals of said countries… The boys have not seen education being necessary in their families and will go into the military or police force after graduation. Few have sights on college or living differently than they have growing up. In western countries money begets top education and upward mobility. In contrast to the Middle East where money is a given at birth based on your citizenship and family status. Its a birthright. Education is just not valued the same.Nor is labor. Every employee is expendable and there are not strong labor laws in place to protect expat employees, be they teacher, aid, or nanny.. Just the way it is. Is it “always” way? Are “all” Middle Eastern Schools, hell-holes? Of course not, but is there a strong culture in place that perpetuates horrible school working conditions and treatment. Yes, there certainly is- There are many-many-many really bad schools in The Middle East.


    8. Expats, any expat, whether teacher, cashier, street sweeper, nanny or corporate employee is on the slave ladder and are slaves in these countries! The rung on the ladder where you are placed still is a slave whether you on the bottom or top and still seen as slave labour!, to be exploited when compared to locals!


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