Bait & Switch: When the Job Isn’t As Promised

I’m currently in what I call a classic bait & switch situation. I was hired to teach high-school chemistry/physics & was “reassigned” to middle-school math with a bunch of kids who should be studying basic arithmetic.

To rub salt into my wound, the school does not even have a chemistry lab! The promise of a chem/physics position was nothing more than an under-handed ploy to lure me (or simply any warm-bodied human being) to stand in front of a classroom. Now? I live for the weekends. I detest these spoiled rotten, poorly behaved middle-school kids (and their parents) who academically & emotionally belong in elementary school. More than anything, the admin disgusts me. Worse, I’m not the only one they did this to.

Okay….my contract gives admin the right to reassign me as needed, but this? This is not a reassignment — this is premeditated deception. Naturally my complaints fall on the deaf ears of my recruiter who tells me, “It’s only for two years.” LOL! He won’t be laughing, though, when he sees I’m also naming him in my school review.

I thought about leaving on a weekend & never coming back. It’s a nice fantasy, yes. But, how can I bail when I’m thousands of miles from home & dependent on my paycheck to pay off student loans, among other financial obligations?

That’s my story. Anyone else have the same experience? I could almost accept it if the school had a chem lab & not enough kids to fill the course. But this? No!!

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36 Responses to Bait & Switch: When the Job Isn’t As Promised

  1. Max Power says:

    I appreciate your dilemma. I’ve had plenty of situations where promises and expectations were not met, and I’ve come to accept that it’s hard to draw a bright line. Everyone’s threshold is different.

    Are you justified in leaving? I think so. These changes seem pretty drastic. Is leaving the best thing for you? Probably not, but I’m not you.

    Ultimately, you have to accept that the almost every employment situation is going to involve compromise. Expectations aren’t always met. Change is inevitable. You have to balance your willingness to be flexible with the school’s duty to be honest and forthright with you. Or to put it another way: your duty to “be a team player” with the school’s duty to be a team worth playing for.

    Where you draw the line is up to you.


  2. Chris says:

    This happened to me as a new teacher as well. I stayed one year, and then left for a school in China. Ever since I have insisted that the contract include what courses I will be teaching. In writing. Have never had any problems with B & S ever since.

    So, finish the year and be more careful next time. Explain to other recruiters what they did to you if they ask why you where there only one year. After you have your next job, remove this one from your resume and do not mention it again to interviewers. There are plenty of science teaching jobs all over the world.


  3. tallteacher111 says:

    After some serious problems, including fears of arrest and/or deportation, I broke my first contract after one year in Indonesia. While I had the blessings of and a great reference from my HOS, I still have to explain this anomaly on my resume to every single school that so much as looks my way. Most schools have understood and looked past this, but others have a zero policy of accepting teachers who have broken contract. If you must, I recommend you go and stay at another school for at least three years to balance it out a little. Good luck!


  4. Been there says:

    Another testament to the importance of what’s been said already: this year, a new school was started in Poland. The director recruited 22 foreign-hire teachers and attracted to the school 120 students.

    Those teachers arrived to find that, contrary to what the director had claimed, there was no science lab, no makerspace, and no resources to support such things. The building, reported to have been finished in June, was still under construction in August. Textbooks arrived just days before school started, and though teachers were told to prepare for Aero, the texts were all Cambridge curriculum. Salaries fell significantly short, contractual reimbursements never happened, and medical coverage was not provided as promised.

    We came to learn the director was stealing money from the school. With virtually no oversight from an inept board, he was free to steal most of it. He forged documents to keep the school running long enough to run his long game. We would come to learn through sources and victims across East Asia and Europe that he was in fact a professional con man with a standing rap sheet.

    By December, 120 students were left with no school, their parents scrambling to re-enroll them anyplace they could.

    The teachers are slowly recovering from the aftermath of the school’s closure, heartsick and impoverished from the experience. Most have been forced to return home.

    Like the board, we failed in our due diligence. The director had a respectable LinkedIn page, and a cursory Google search turned up nothing of concern. However, a bit more detective work, such as contacting his references (some of whom were fictitious), or digging into the second and third pages of Google results, would have revealed more about this man’s true character. But then, in the game of international education, we do not tend to dig deep. We trust that a recruiter is who he says he is. Certainly in my 13 years of teaching, I never imagined I’d one day work for a criminal.

    I come away from this experience a lifetime wiser. I present this story as a cautionary tale to teachers on the recruitment circuit: assume nothing, trust nothing. Take red flags seriously, and do not hesitate to jump ship if it appears to be sinking. Despite what your agent and others may tell you, you CAN secure another job down the road. Your family, finances, and sanity outweigh what ultimately will be a minor blemish on your CV.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Gerard O'Keeffe says:

    I am genuinely surprised that eyebrows are still being raised by bait and switch or myriad other dodgy dealings in International Schools. This has been the norm for these cash-cows masquerading as schools for quite a while now. But having said that, an international school is first and foremost a business, there for profit. Some businesses are run on ethical lines, most are not. Some are run by competent people with the necessary academic qualifications and experience most are run by people who bought a suit and a doctorate on the web. It’s a roll of the dice boys and girls.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Anonymous says:

    I had exactly the same experience-lies lies lies. So much was ‘promised’ and so little delivered. My position was for Head of School – there was no school to be head of! I had great sympathy towards my colleagues who had been told they were teaching this subject and ended up teaching completely different subjects in completely different phases – ie A level English teacher, teaching Year 3; Chemistry teacher teaching Maths; secondary teachers teaching year 3 – just totally unfair on them. No resources. All teachers told 1 ECA all doing at least 2 many 3. Location is the worst – we are the only Westerners around and everybody glares at you. The Westerners are definitely treated as second class citizens both in and out of school. It’s a very hard and extremely upsetting when you have been blatantly lied to. I left as I couldn’t stand the lack of morals from the ‘leadership’ – they definitely deserve quote marks. Check carefully and try to get everything in writing. Conversely there are some really good well established schools that have got staff wellbeing, morals and community spirit as a main priority. Be very careful with start up schools, if the start up team have no International experience.


  7. Sam says:

    I agree with Jan 17 with their 2 cents worth. You’re in this to teach kids. Surely middle schoolers are not ALL that bad. Mine are all spoiled, (if I assume your judgment on what spoiled is) and they are lovely. maybe I’m just lucky…come on now be fair. So they might be spoiled, so what, these are private schools. Big bucks. Rich families and guess what…rich kids….Its a job.. And it IS a business to the school. It’s a game almost…play it. Sounds like you’re a wee bit entitled there which just simply suggests you have poor values. If you think you’re too good to work there then roll the dice otherwise play it it out and go elsewhere. You live for the weekends…..So do I and I love my job…What would you like your students and parents to be like? You haven’t told us. Totally agree with the gaining of experience across areas and pushing for change next year. But it sounds like you don’t want to be there at all. Did I mention you’re in this game to teach kids? Be the educator you no doubt advertised yourself as.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Forrest says:

      So, teaching an area that you are not qualified to do is acceptable? At the moment I have a class of three olds. This is switch from teaching high school fir almost decades. You sound like the ,backpacker type. Little understanding that putting an untrained teacher around young is bad idea.


  8. Anonymous says:

    I am currently undergoing a similar problem in a German State International School. At my interview I asked what the language of communication was….and was told English. I asked if they encourage CPD opportunities ,which I knew was vital, not only for my CV, but to keep ahead of the forthcoming changes to the mathematics curriculum….none of these were true…….I feel like I have been duped despite asking the right questions…..Its a bit like BREXIT all over again! The school doesnt even have HOD’s or real schemes of work …….. But the students are amazing and the parents appreciative, so I have to be thankful and see my time out. It seems unfair, but the consequences of breaking contract will be worse…….

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Anonymous says:

    Give them all A’s, do nothing all day, and enjoy your time in-country. Forget about it….

    Liked by 1 person

  10. omgarsenal says:

    It all starts with doing your due diligence, getting a proper ,official and written contract, asking the right questions like;¨what happens if…..¨ and talking to current employees, even parents (clandestinely if necessary) before signing on. Many young and some experienced teachers don’t protect themselves properly before agreeing (verbally, like a skype interview?) to sign on. Whenever I signed an agreement, I reserved funds that would permit me to return to my home country should there be a serious problem at my new school. I also contacted my embassy (if there was one in my destination country) and asked them for a sound and efficient law firm, as well as asking them about help to leave the country in a hurry should I need to do so. This never occured in my case because my due diligence was sound but it could happen to anyone. éalkl of the iunformation you need can be found on the school’s website or using your resourcefulness to obtain what information and contacts you need. This forum (ISR) can be a great help in doing your due diligence as there are members who have been almost everywhere in the international teaching community and are eager to help others avoid the mistakes and traumas they were subjected to.
    I am not a big fan of doing a runner but if you feel it is the ONLY option (it almost never is), then plan well and ask fellow teachers on ISR and elsewhere, how to do it securely. I believe remaining at your current school to see out your contract is the better choice and learning from this experience is the wisest one. Good luck!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Anon says:

      Quite rightly said. Some people give teaching a bad name by doing runners when they find a higher paying job and should be named and shamed.


  11. Anonymous says:

    I find the tone of this discussion appalling for a group of educators, especially the original post. If the school lied to you and was dishonest, then make a decision. Leave if you want, but that comes with consequences. I know it is tough. Ten years ago I was sold something amazing in a school in the Far East, and on my first day I knew I had made a mistake. The lies and deceit compounded of the course of the year, but I finished the school year and moved on.

    The school won’t care about your bad review, and much less the recruiter. The problem with these reviews is way too many bitter, negative teachers use it as their own personal soap box.


    • Anon says:

      Yes, they do and make highly personalised libellous attacks out of pure spite and nastiness because they have failed. If it doesn’t work out, finish a year, shut your mouth and move on. Administrators always know who has posted negative reviews and actually share that information with others administrators.


  12. Anonymous says:

    This happens in reputable schools too! The same thing happened to myself and a colleague. I’ve stayed to finish the year but my colleague left at the start of September. The school have sent out an email to every international school they can find to bad mouth the colleague who left.


  13. Curious says:

    Had this happen in China, not just with the teaching position, but also with the school and city! Some disreputable schools will hire giving any promise, get you in country and manipulate you if they feel you are not prepared to stand up for yourself. Claims of unsuspected decreases in enrolment, visa issues, etc. etc. etc., BUT “Hey, guess what, your lucky day, here is another position that is available immediately.” Welcome to the fold.


  14. Ally says:

    Are you in China?
    There’s a legal firm in Shanghai, commissioned to defend foreigners in China from exploitations such as this. She has won many cases for my colleagues. However, be prepared for the legal fees.


  15. Phil says:

    Yep, this happened at my last school. Applied for and got a job as Chem teacher, turned up to a full Physics load (then some middle school Maths was added during the year) with NO Chem. (Might not seem like much, but I am not trained or experienced in A Level Physics!)
    Some schools call me a “science” teacher so that they can do this, but not this school!
    I liked the rest of the school and people and pushed hard to get some Chem in my second year, then was in a full Chem load after that. I stayed in that school for 10 years after that!
    I realised that they had stuffed up with their recruitment and it did take some strength on my part to get what I wanted, but it all worked out in the end.
    I felt duped at first, but got over it and fully enjoyed the rest of my time at the school.
    I partly agree with the “suck it up” comments, but in addition would suggest you push for change the next year like I did if you think it is worth staying. I did, and never regretted it.


  16. Anonymous says:

    The other commenters are being nice. In particular, the anonymous responder who said that you should reflect a bit on yourself has really hit the nail on the head.

    Let’s say the school did have a lab… wouldn’t these same kids you hate be in that lab? Then what would you do with these “spoiled rotten, poorly behaved middle-school kids (and their parents) who academically & emotionally belong in elementary school”?

    Let this be a lesson to you. The next time you interview, do what the rest of us professionals have done: speak to teachers at the prospective school; do your homework; do deep searches on the administrators, teachers and anything else you can find out about the school, country, etc.

    While you’re at the school, go to international workshops, take advantage of professional development seminars, etc. and start networking. I guarantee, if you bellyache, nothing good will come from this experience. Turn this into a positive experience. You went overseas to get a taste of other cultures. Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anonymous says:

      As someone who has surprise landed in a middle school classroom, I sympathize. with this teacher. If you are unfamiliar with middle schoolers it is a hellish experience. However, doing your best and trying to learn was advice I received, followed, and did indeed benefit from in future opportunities. Hang tough!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Wayne says:

      Really? You must rub salt in the wounds? Ok, you may be a little correct about looking on the bright side, but I wouldn’t call myself a professional for saying, nah, nah nah, you fell for it so suck it up. Is this how you respond to your students? Have a bit of empathy. Teaching in most Asian countries will test your metal. I’ve been screwed out of 20,000$ due to bad Chinese contract law and yes we know the new private schools are all suspect. So let’s try to be supportive of each other and not tell them your not in Kansas anymore.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Anonymous says:


      Liked by 1 person

    • Anonymous says:

      You smugly wax lyrical about how ” ..the rest of us professional have done”. your judgmental advice and “let this be a lesson to you ” is inconsiderate.My experience of international teaching is that often teachers are employed in brand new schools with no online history, in a countries where they and the teachers at the prospective school do not share the same language.


      • The truth is that it’s never going to be easy with lesser known schools. The Times Ed advertises better quality but it is always a leap of faith. Unless it’s a real mess, you can hack it for a while. If you can’t, keep mum and get out.


      • Anonymous says:

        Not sure why my post says anonymous? My name is Karen I am a teacher from NZ and have taught in 6 international schools; from the well established to the brand new.


  17. Umut Karzai says:

    Welcome, To International, so called education.. That is why I am now running my own online English school from a tropical location. I don’t have to deal with the usual deceptions of International so called, education and I’m my own boss.. I have 10 teachers working for me via Skype and I still teach a few classes myself. Good Luck, You’ll need it!!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Anonymous says:

    Breaking your contract will most certainly hurt your prospects for a future international job as this is a very small world in this game. While your new position might not be ideal for you personally, it does provide you with more experience in teaching across 2 sections and multiple subject. It also shows that you’re a team player when the school needs you. All.good things to help you get a better job when you finish your contract. I realize your upset over this issue and that is certainly understandable, but the way you talk about your students and parents should make you reflect a bit on yourself as well. Just my 2 cents.


    • dismasdolben says:

      Well what about a school like the terrible one in Egypt where I taught for four years that hired an AP biology teacher, but then forced to teach a physics class upon her arrival in-country? She didn’t know that curriculum, hadn’t been trained for it, and naturally couldn’t give a stellar performance, so the students complained to their parents, and the parents to the administrators, and she was let go for “incompetence”. Do you think THAT looks better on a CV than walking based on dishonest recruitment practices? By the way, this teacher HAD done “due diligence,” and had not been able to uncover the evidence that this particular fly-by-night “international school” is actually as bad as it is, because it had once been very good—being the oldest international school in Africa—until the Egyptian Revolutions turned into something more Arabic than American (and linguistically, too).


  19. Im working in Saudi Arabia where colleagues have been dupped on arrival by losing up to 10% of the promised pay from their Skype interview ; very much like this story. Is there a way to guard against this?


  20. Anonymous says:

    Welcome to the world of international education. Start looking for another job as you have learned how trustworthy your employer is!


  21. BillyO says:

    It depends where you are. You’ve given no info as to the country you are in.
    It’s not hard to bail out but in some countries you can end up in jail if you don’t plan it right.
    You sound like a youngish person so why not stick it out? Life isn’t fair but you could prove yourself and gain from the experience. Quitting is a last resort.


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