Slipping Out Early w/ My Possessions & My Sanity

Pulling off a late-night runner with a whole lotta personal possessions is not for the faint of heart. In fact, at one point I had concluded it would be impossible to sneak myself and my possessions out of the country without attracting the suspicion of admin, nosey parents and/or sycophant teachers. But then, I just knew I had to go home, no matter what, and I wasn’t willing to leave anything I cared about behind.

The last teacher who ran had second thoughts — that was her mistake. In an effort to act responsibly she decided to inform admin she would not be returning after summer. She ended up in a world of hurt, poor girl! Within days she was fired, had her visa revoked and found that the lock had been changed on her apartment door (they did, surprisingly, return her passport). Another teacher making an unannounced early departure was detained at passport control. Someone at the school had gotten wind of his plan early on and a powerful parent had the connections to block his exit. Witnessing those 2 fiascos convinced me to keep my early escape plan completely secret.

You may think I’m a sneak, a coward, a loser and a whole host of expletives. But, I have my reasons to leave, not the least of which is the touchy, feely director. Get my drift? Feel free to judge me. Go ahead. Until you’ve been in my shoes you have no idea what it’s like to have your boss creeping you out in a country where you have no rights nor recourse. Me, myself, and my stuff ALL had to leave! My sanity required it!

That’s when I decided to kick it into high gear and have a yard sale. I like to think of my sale as “hiding in plain sight.” I sold off furniture, books, kitchen crap, and everything of no real sentimental value. Yup, a few people may have been suspicious, but everyone bought into the idea I was simply getting ready to replace my Western-style furnishings with fun, ethnic stuff I would buy during my summer travels.

With a successful yard sale (and some cash) under my belt, I began to send friends/family back home small boxes of my treasured, personal items. I was careful to use a shipping company far from school. You never know who knows who in these expat communities and the last thing I needed was for the gossip chain to foil my escape.

Early, on a Monday morning, with a few over-stuffed suitcases in hand, I flew out. I had made my reservation online and avoided using a local travel agent who could, in some way, know someone at the school. Looking down from high above the clouds, on my way home to loved ones and new adventures, my sighs of relief could be heard throughout the entire plane, I’m sure.

If you’re feeling trapped at one of these so-called “international schools,” you already know recruiters aren’t willing to do anything for you, or are not equipped to do so. If you can’t take it any longer at an abusive school, for whatever reason, don’t be a prisoner to your possessions or to the idea you have a responsibility to stick it out. You don’t. You have no responsibility to a school and/or administrator that abuses teachers and fails to honor the letter of its contract. It’s your life.

Sincerely,

A teacher who should have done this earlier

 

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92 Responses to Slipping Out Early w/ My Possessions & My Sanity

  1. Anonymous says:

    I would only break contract/resign/run in a few very specific circumstances – if the safety/security situation became untenable, if the school broke contract such as failing to pay or failing to pay on time repeatedly, or adding unreasonable workloads contrary to the JD or contract, or if I was subject to bullying/harassment/violence by admin/other faculty and the school would not respond fairly. Other than that it is usually just a case of soldiering through what, 18 months? Yes, there are awful schools and terrible administrators and sometimes all the research you can do can’t save you from those situations but it is in reality less than 2 years of your life. I know some folks who have broken contract with one school because they have been given an offer at a dream school but I think those are rare.

    Like

    • Good health is important says:

      I totally agree with the list that you have, and I would add for health reasons as well. I was in a particular country and kept on getting infections every month due to the particular climate and other minor health problems that affected my body, which made it difficult to teach.

      Like

  2. Saba says:

    It’s a rogue sector for sure.

    Like

  3. Paul Williams says:

    Ive done two runners in 20 years. The first one was semi mutual but I was still not prepared to hand the school my passport for their, apparent, cancellation of visa. On the last day I was handed a letter saying I had breached contract and owed them £11,000 so even on the plane I was scared as there was a fault and we had to taxi back to the stand so I was expecting the worst but I did get out and this had no effects on my career as I stated on subsequent applications that I had left due to Gulf War 2.
    Second school was just a joke; I was semi management with no remit working for a chav woman in a relationship with the principal.
    I hated it so much that I just got up on Monday morning, sent a text to say I was ill, received a reply saying I must e mail my sickness in the usual way and though, forget it! So, I went to the airport and flew home…simple!

    Like

  4. RStevenG says:

    Incredible to read through the comments here. As a veteran educator who has been through hell numerous times in 6 different countries, I have often wondered why a grad student somewhere wouldn’t entertain a masters thesis on the state of international education and the realities of teaching abroad. I would love to see true statistics compiled (I may just do such a thing online) of job satisfaction in international teaching. Yes, I know there are those very few diamonds out there, but the is a huge multitude of international schools being run by people who have no business being involved in education. Many are there only to make money, expand their egos and image in their country and many are directly or indirectly involved with community and government corruption of some sort. Teachers are thrown into these crucibles and tend to be ground up and tossed aside. The personal experiences can be incredibly traumatic (yes, I have several stories) and create short and long-term damage to careers and personal financial security.
    In addition, there are parasitic and mutualistic organizations that have grown like huge tumors within international education – SEARCH being one of them. They are in it for money and ego gratification and therefore will never truly represent the educator over the institution. This international system also allows absolutely horrible teachers to find niches where they can be sycophants to corrupt or incompetent administrators and Boards. One post here nought up the fact there is no/are no agencies that guard the health of school environments and protect educators. There are many forms curricular propaganda that cover the range of quality and standards and help schools portray themselves as “quality” and all sorts of tricks are used to entice educators to come work at the school only to find the reality completely different once in place.

    Those who attack or disparage teachers who ‘jump ship’ should be cautious in passing judgment without knowing the actual context. There are horror stories and truly traumatic situations experienced by thousands of professional educators working internationally. I know that after the last 16+ years teaching abroad and leading a couple of schools, I would NOT recommend this as a career move for a young educator. Everywhere I have been the kids were great, it was the adult community that regularly disappointed and let me down.

    Liked by 3 people

    • mbkirova says:

      I have had to bail on a few international schools and even a ‘university’, though never needed to pull a midnight runner. Have never had a problem getting another job. Usually in interviews you will be asked ‘have you ever had a problem with a student’ and this is the time when it is perfectly justifiable to slip in something about lack of discipline in the school overall’ such as when I had a hefty 19 year old threw a chair at me, or a 17 year old put the trash can over the door to fall on my head (both of these incidents happened in Turkey). You can also add that you take academic integrity seriously and what is the likelihood of disciplinary follow-though if a student is caught red-handed. A decent school will be likely to chuckle, and the interview will go in your favor, showing you have ‘experience’.

      Like

    • Saba Nizami says:

      I was badly bullied by Search- they charged me the fees and gave me no help with my placement. When I found a local school in my home country using my own network, they demanded to know where I was working and WHY I DIDN’T INFORM THEM ABOUT IT! Like bro, I am a bonded slave who needs to report my whereabouts to someone!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Julie Henderson says:

      As someone looking to embark on teaching internationally I’m now a really worried…especially the control these people seem to have over teachers, not only in the school but in the community. I think that these particular schools need to be named and a brief description of the issue…the person may remain anonymous. Can we have a posting board of sorts set up on the good and bad experiences at particular schools for the unsuspecting coming through now?? Thank You all. Julie

      Like

  5. Anonymous says:

    I truly commend this runner. There comes a point where you must put your physical life, safety and mental health as priorities in an international school sphere that has……..

    – No system of checks and balances for corrupt admin boards.
    – No system of checks on for-profit recruitment agencies who favour directors and admin boards over poor teachers.
    – No regulatory body for thousands of global international schools that are popping up like weeds.

    The UN, NATO, WHO etc were all created due to a need to regulate very important things in life such as human rights, economic trade and health. Sure, “systems” like WASC, CIS and IB exist but only for curricular aspects. What about the actual “meat and potatoes” of education – the people and humanity itself? Where are the organisations that should do data analysis on these types of issues that plague the international school sphere? Data to show how much people run..why they run…the difficulties that teachers, students, parents, admin face?

    If no one else is going to protect, support, help you in a legal way in a context of illegalities…then it is up to you, and you alone, to get out of the hole. I cannot wait for the day when someone brilliant comes along and starts working towards creating an international system of checks and balances on the thousands of international schools.

    The international school sphere should now be looked at and be made accountable to the rights of teachers – the very people who are shaping the young of the world. I get disgusted that teachers become the victims under the well-heeled boots of corrupt admin and boards. It’s like stepping and kicking the doctors who run to save your lives. Teachers are as every bit the professionals who protect and nurture the future of our world (our children). For those who berate this teacher who decided to make a good and wise decision to put his / her life to safety first…..shame on you for becoming part of the disgusting international school system. One day, you will face that same type of fear where you will do the exact same thing.

    When it comes to a “dog-eat-dog” world (which is the international school sphere now), you have to do what it takes to survive. Put yourself first.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. TC says:

    I think it is interesting that teachers have to flee but admin can do a crap job and get fired and get a HUGE severance package because they want to get rid of them. Teachers take so much horrible abuse and when we want to leave we get even more abused by admin or whomever is incharge (owner). I have worked at schools in SE Asia and the Middle East where absolutely awful directors were forced out but not before they got a big pay day. Wish I could be fired by being a crappy teacher and make more money in the payout than most teachers make in 5 years. Admin who work internationally are usually pretty bad but get big ole pay days for being quite terrible but teachers just get abuse and crap salaries.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. brad says:

    Search Associates is often referred to as part of the problem. In actual fact, Search Associates IS THE PROBLEM. The whole business model works to exploit teachers. I’ve a number of good teachers who were screwed over by “Search Schools” who renege on health care, pay, housing and on and on. These are good people who have taught for years and some have been single mothers. EVERY TIME, Search Associates has sided with the school and the teacher becomes “blacklisted.” Search Associates is a disgrace and embarrassment to the education industry. These people should be locked up.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Will Riker says:

      Search Associates IS the problem. My “senior associate” was completely useless. When I’d email asking for help or suggestions or even a contact they would just say that they couldn’t be bothered. My associate was John Ritter in Bangkok and I communicated with him only a handful of times. Whenever I’d email him, his extremely rude and bossy wife Susan Ritter would reply. I wanted his help with connections or putting in a good word. Instead I’d get a reply from his wife, who is not listed on Search Associates, telling me that John was too busy to reply himself. I’m sorry, if that’s the case what the hell am I paying him for?
      Bottom line, Search is worthless and only interested in getting that sweet sweet $$$ from teachers. In the end, I got a new job myself by contacting schools directly without using search. Sadly, when Susan and John Ritter found out that I’d landed a job without then they used some little known Search Associates policy to ban me from the platform. Made me sick.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ken says:

        Don’t be worried about John Ritter or anyone else at Search. It is a money making operation where they are in it with the school administrators. The teachers are the commodities, most of whom are happy to be such. Most teachers are willing to put up with the crap in order to land a job.
        Search tried to threaten me after I left a job fair with 3 offers, refusing to commit to any of them in the time frame they forced on me.
        I landed my last 2 gigs through networking online…..great jobs too.
        I think this is happening more often now. Don’t forget though that school directors love to get away for a few weeks and lounge in a 5 star hotel, so recruitment businesses will likely continue to try to fleece teachers.
        Put up with it or seek an alternative.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Will Riker says:

          I did seek an alternative, I left international teaching. I can genuinely make a difference state side and while the pay may not be the same, I am not living in fear of manipulative school’s or powerful parents. I refuse to be nothing but a pulse with a passport working at a grade farm. The profession of international teaching has changed. Many new hires are not teachers, they are tourists pretending to be teachers. Good riddance

          Liked by 1 person

    • Saba Nizami says:

      They’re rogues

      Like

  8. NA says:

    Really? You want praise for breaking contract and sneaking out of the country? You’ve just made 100 other people more likely to do this and administrators suspect the same of all of us. Don’t spread the shame. I, for one, don’t praise you.

    Like

    • brad says:

      NA,

      you’re a moron and a naive one at that.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hard Truth says:

      NA, you’re a tool. This person is courageous for sharing their experience. Trolls like you working at “international schools” are a major part of the problem. The profession is broken, teachers are at-will employees in a country that has different if any labor laws. Whatever school you’re working at, stay there and never leave

      Liked by 1 person

    • Umut Karzai says:

      NA, Your a fool and a tool.. How much are your masters at your school paying you to go online and kiss their asses.. You are a fool to think your school waon’t do similar things to you, if you cross them the wrong way grow upp one day!!

      Like

    • Anonymous says:

      You said it yourself : “You’ve just made 100 other people more likely to do this and administrators suspect all of us”.

      This means that there IS a problem of people running and that there IS a climate of suspicion that exists amongst administrators. The question you should be asking is “If it does exist, then why?”. Are YOU not troubled by that?

      Like

      • B says:

        This is such a complex topic, because not only is it REAL, but affects everyone differently. I ran from my first school. It was with ADEC (OK, not a true international, located in the UAE and Western teachers were treated HORRIBLY!!!). I then went to Qatar (2 years in a crazy school with a NUMBER of runners, but I was OK), then Iraq (also for the most part OK), and then Aktau, Kazakhstan.

        Now, Aktau, while the abuse was not school related, I had the grave misfortune after 18 months, of getting sick and wound up being hospitalized for 11 days for something that should have been a one time doctor’s appointment. Not only did I receive completely inadequate and negligent treatment, in filthy surroundings, winding up in a wheelchair because I could barely walk or breath (heart rate out of whack, fluid in my lunges), but when I asked the school for help (I needed someone at this point to get me to my apartment, help me pack and get me to the airport), The very young, self-centered, always right and inexperienced principal told me to go online, find and hire someone. Fortunately a school employee in the office who was fluent in both English and Kazakh helped me out AND she barely knew me. Without her I don’t know what would have happened to me.

        So, let’s be real about these schools. With many of them, we are ON OUR OWN as soon as something goes wrong, or we for some reason piss them off. I could have DIED and the school KNEW the medical services were not up to snuff- dirty, unsanitary many services common elsewhere, non-existent. They KNEW how sick I was… and told me to find help online.

        That’s the reality of some of these schools.

        Like

    • Jenny Casares says:

      Agreed. While I think it was a necessary action, I feel that posting this story is irresponsible.

      Like

  9. Ken says:

    At the end of my first year there, I snuck out of Amman (a great city in a great country) due to the corrupt admin. at Amman International Baccalaureate School. Payroll made a mistake and gave me twice the summer salary I was supposed to get. I took home only things I knew I absolutely needed (I learned how to live simply already). I managed to keep the whole thing secret. When I got home I emailed the director with a short message explaining a personal emergency prohibited me from returning. I received threatening replies, so I “let them have it”, and told them I would expose them to the world with ISR evaluations, open letters on websites and newspapers, etc. They left me alone after that. I did OK financially due to the overpayment. I never included that year in my CV.
    Don’t be one of those fools who thinks you owe loyalty to any of these schools. It will be a one sided loyalty you can be sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. AC says:

    I could not agree with you more! I have had to do this myself and it takes a lot of guts and effort, but it is much better than staying and remaining miserable or worse. The key is to keep it secret! It is not being unprofessional when they have already broken the contract or worse.

    Like

  11. L says:

    I was chastised by SA and top people connected to their site for leaving a very bad chaotic school in Jeddah…At the time, there were zero school reviews for that school on any sites. Honestly, even if I had stayed, they would have done damage to my career and sanity. The trouble is that there are so many school heads, owners and even fellow teachers who sell their souls to climb the ladder at both non-profit top schools and low tier for profit schools. There are no checks and balances within ECIS and SA to help protect teachers from bullying and blacklisting by staff who are overcompensating for their own inadequacies. I still have nightmares about some such colleagues and admin who went on to work for top intl. schools even tho they were grossly incompetent and basically sociopaths.

    Liked by 1 person

    • sheljapan says:

      This is too true. There are some good schools out there and very good and fair administrators. But there are some serious bullies who threaten and lie and cheat their way to the top. They come in and then just destroy a school, blacklist teachers, and agencies are NOT doing ANYTHING ABOUT THEM. A school needs good teachers, but teachers need to be supported against incompetent leaders and agencies who are blindly supporting only school leadership!

      Like

      • Anon says:

        Of course there are both good teachers and good administrators … and bad but I have also worked with some nasty, vindicitve and incompetent teachers who have no place in a classroom.

        Like

  12. Anonymously says:

    Ha, been there, done that.

    I told myself that the minute this school fined me as they threatened all teachers, I would be done.

    Told school I was going to open a new bank account and needed my passport. Left in the middle of the night and didn’t relax until out of UAE airspace.

    I never looked back but should have stayed for one more paycheck.

    Like

  13. Anonymous says:

    Very interesting comments and thoughts about breaking contracts. A lot of us in the teaching profession loathe to consider breaking contracts but at the end of the day your future sanity matters.
    A comment on ‘entitled idiots’ unfortunately rings true as I have witnessed this on several occasions.
    Please, please when taking up a teaching position in counties where you are earning a massive salary compared to local staff be mindful of your behaviour and attitude.
    Anyhow that’s not why I am posting, I like the idea of a ‘garage sale’ but what I prefer to do is purchase any household items from charity shops, car boots etc. If I need to run I can put my more personal stuff in one suitcase and just go. Plus if the administration staff come to check your flat, ie travelling for Easter break, it looks like your returning so no alarm bells go off!
    Stay safe all, it’s a complicated job in a world that needs teachers.

    Like

    • Anonymous says:

      I am currently an admin at a school that is bottom 3rd tier. This is the first year during the life of the school where there haven’t been between 2-5 runners a year. I blame no one who runs or has run over the time I have been here or at any time. I can see, for each one, the reasons were decent and or the challenges at work/life were so extreme they felt they had to run. I have supported some who have left in a variety of ways as at the end of the day we are all human.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Anonymous says:

        It is nice to know that there is still an admin out there who sees the humanity in terribly dire situations. Maybe that is what is missing: Understanding admin with insight to the difficulties that teachers face. It just takes a matter of putting oneself in another’s shoes.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Michelle Massey says:

    I know exactly how you feel. Once you’re there, it’s like the employers can do EXACTLY what they want and you’re helpless to do anything.
    I recently had a run-in with management over a severe financial misconduct, not mine, I hasten to add. You would have thought I had been instrumental in orchestrating the whole act.
    My family and I were given 72 hours to ‘leave the island!’ We had cats, cars, deposits – you name it. If it hadn’t been for 2 wonderful colleagues, English too, we’d never have done it.
    Now they’re in the same boat, only there’s no one else brave enough to help them.
    You can’t make these sorts of things up and no matter how much research you do, it never reveals the full picture.
    My advice, go with your gut; try to keep some money in reserve so that you can leave if you have to, and don’t ever feel guilty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • B says:

      Michelle Massey- I hear you loud and clear. IF you rent a car in the UAE (which thousands of Expats do), the car rental company can take money straight out of your bank account without your permission, so if they feel a need to add fees or increase your rental fee, you have tickets or for whatever reason, they just hit your account. I saw in my account at one point a HUGE discrepancy and the bank filled me in. I apparently had numerous speeding tickets (that I was never alerted about as speed is checked by radar and you are not contacted), and the penalties were just removed from my account. After that I would immediately- and I mean at the stroke of midnight on payday, go to the bank’s ATM and wait for my pay deposit to register, then take out an amount in cash and then send EVERY PENNY HOME!). A

      As you stated, I also always had a stash of $3000 in cash, just in case. I needed it in the UAE. Fortunately my other 3 countries not so much. BUT- I still had an emergency fund stashed.

      Like

  15. Kicker says:

    As a former school Director I used to dread the Monday after payday! That was the day that I was often a teacher down. Or over Christmas when they had time to go unnoticed. These runs were well planned but they were usually to better paid jobs elsewhere. I never drew attention to these broken contracts when a reference request arrived but it was obvious that we only gave 2 year contracts and if they left shorter than that something was up. One “runner” gave me my only bad review on ISR when I had given him a good reference despite his breaking contract…thanks mate!
    With references I think it is despicable that when you do fight it out and finish your contract but refuse an offer to renew as I did your reference is so bad that it makes you wonder why you bothered to stay in the first place. My advice is if you are unhappy before you run find a new school on your old references, not naming your present school and just go. Your new school will be your new reference and you can forget your bad experience.

    Like

  16. Anonymous says:

    I was at an I,S. in Turkey for two years and in that time out of a staff of 42 we had 16 runners! This included the Director, HOD Humanities, English, IT and others. Thankfully there were a number of long term teachers who saw the funny side of this and that made all the difference. The kids were taught well and were not disadvantaged. Many fled because of housing issues, parental abuse, etc. Despite all this I had two very enjoyable years there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbkirova says:

      Thank you, this is hilarious! Best to be cheery about it. Turkiye not for the faint hearted. I had some extremely bad experiences there, especially with vicious (even violent) students, and no support at all from admin.

      Like

  17. mbkirova says:

    I have an experience similar to that of Running Man. This was in Iraqi Kurdistan, and the Director was a Kurdish Communist, government appointed, who had no regard at all for western teaching methods, or the fact that the school was partially Vatican-funded and had many folks working there as a charity mission. We called him Dr Evil. He insisted we stick to an entirely unsuitable textbook that was getting the kids nowhere, and discussion based classed were wholly discouraged. All three of us ‘westerners’, including an Arab with a PhD from Leeds along with its humor, accent and teaching methods, bolted after the first term. but fortunately Dr Evil was happy with this and even provided our flights home. He just wanted us gone. Happy end to that one, just felt sorry for the students we had to leave in his hands.

    Like

  18. Jean Gurr says:

    I did my homework and with a local Manitoba recruiter who made $$$ (and still is) promoting a Manitoba curriculum school in Bangladesh fully knowing the issues I would face! and when I reported the unhealthy(rats in the school bldg) and professionally compromising situations (marks/course completions) to them and to the Manitoba Department of Education I was ignored/patronized! When I was cheated $$$ I was told there was nothing they could do…if you cannot trust your Canadian agencies-who can you trust? What happened to me has been repeated several times since I left ‘early’ in 2017…they are on their 6th Principal since 2015 (I was one) and too many teachers leaving to count ! Take care they are advertising on Education Canada right now !!

    Like

  19. Will Riker says:

    This is so relieving to read! I too, was in this position in December. A student levied misconduct allegations against me, a student that I did not even teach. It turned out that a faculty member had weaponized her in an act of revenge against me (audio recording of them talking was leaked). Non the less, the US Embassy advised me to leave the country after it became evident the Director was only looking out for sweet sweet $$$ and ISS/Search does not care at all about teachers once you are hired.
    I packed up as much stuff as I could carry and caught a red eye back to the states. I’ll never teach abroad again. The profession may have had its golden years in the last few decades but now it’s all about $$$ and growth. Many school’s will hire you with a pulse and a passport.
    For anyone who judges you, they clearly have never been faced with a true fight or flight situation!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Patricia says:

    Is this post just here to be provocative? There’s no place to seriously discuss doing a runner, especially boastful and self-satisfied. If you’re smart you don’t go to a country that takes your passport and where you can’t get a consulate or the police to intervene. Get real. It’s nothing to brag about.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anthony Ladd says:

      Pretty judgemental. Did you read the part about being sexually harassed in a country where women have no rights? You never really know about a school until you get there and there are situations where flight is the only option, not fight. I don’t see bragging here as much as a good admonition that one does not have to put up with abuse. I have some people run for the wrong reasons, but there are times when it is the lesser of evils.

      Liked by 2 people

    • 120% Canadian says:

      It sounds all fine and dandy in theory not to take the post unless there is a consulate (or police). However, these posts all have consulates and police and you are not going to the consulate or police because you have a colleague that is trying to sabatoge your work, or because you have 30 hours of marking that is due in 48 hours (your weekend) now are you? You have to suck it up until you figure out if you can hang in there until the end, or if you can find another school.

      These are just two examples of craziness and there are many variations of the crazy every single day. Unless you know where you are going because you have worked there before, and unless you can find a bunch of reviews about a place, you will always be going in thinking positive and hoping for the best. Working in a toxic demoralizing environment causes depression – running is about saving what is left of your self confidence before you are so defeated that you can no longer leave.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Will Riker says:

      You have clearly never been in a true “fight or flight” situation. When you are in a school that treats teachers like nothing more than imported labor, you owe the nothing. Also, if a powerful parent can pull strings at the airport they can pull strings with other authorities.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Honesty says:

      And you are one of those, who really has no idea of what is going on in the real world. Get a reality check!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh behave yourself. I believe in this case bragging rights are appropriate. Where’s your sense of daring do? Mind you, it’s a bit daft to go somewhere that sounds that dodgy. However, even someone as cynical as me can be hoodwinked by the promise of a new adventure. You have to admit though, all that cloak and dagger…yard sale…hiding in plain sight. Brilliant! It’s quite funny really. Is running man going to be the next James Bond?

      Liked by 1 person

    • John says:

      Lots of people do not realise (and cannot realise) how powerful schools and directors are until they get to the school.
      This is a very useful article, but that I’ve had to do that yet but knowledge is power.

      Liked by 1 person

    • john feegel says:

      Sorry Patricia. I DISAGREE.

      Like

      • Anonymous says:

        She might have been lucky enough to work in better quality schools or is a better school at the moment and has forgotten the challenges of her first overseas assignment in a less than stellar school. Some places do NOT post the reality of their situation and grab your passport upon arrival and none of that is told prior to arriving in country. Also, heaps of new to overseas teachers have to trod through their first contract in difficult schools to get a leg up in international education. They have to often trod through the bile of that first dim experience to be considered for a better quality school after they are done. That is a very real reality. Think of it, if American, of trodding through a Title 1 school in the worst neighbourhood to be able to say you have experience when you apply for the quality charter or private school in a better area. Best schools do not hire teachers without many years of experience and with a large number of those years being teaching overseas. This woman who wrote this article took a chance, signed on with a school, and it was awful. Happens. I quite enjoyed reading her escape plan and her feelings upon being far away from the nightmare.

        Liked by 2 people

        • B says:

          100% correct!!!!! I left my first school in the UAE after 7 months. The salary was stupendous and everyone I knew could not believe that I could not stand it JUST for the paycheck- But, you live and you learn. There is no price high enough for misery.

          Like

    • Anonymous says:

      I feel that you are simplistic in the way that you look at things. There are amazing countries out there with all the systems in place and human rights are respected – but still, there will be factors that would provoke people to run. There are corrupt countries who hold passports, charged with human rights abuses – but still, some would remain because they found happiness and peace in their context in their own ways. Running is a symptom of one’s personal threshold based on values: What can I take or not? What are my boundaries? You can’t argue how one feels if there is a threat to their life. Have you ever been in that situation? Count yourself lucky. Maybe you need to empathise, put yourself in one’s shoes before writing such a callous remark as that.

      Like

  21. sheljapan says:

    I understand there are some nightmare situations out there but I had previously only just started to hear the odd comment or two about Search Associates.
    They seem to have become too powerful for their own good and from a lot of teachers that have moved through schools I’ve been at – they don’t come through for the teachers.
    Glad to see other agencies entering the market.

    Like

  22. 120% Canadian says:

    If there is one thing that I’ve learned about working in different environments overseas it is that I have become stronger in tolerating the worst situations. Having a degree in psychology helps – you can see the humor in it and you chalk things up to the craziness of being an expat. It is true – you have to be cut out for a lot of crap.

    Part of it is people being ignorant of better systems and this is why we are here – to help them pioneer something that works. However, this becomes challenging to deal with over time. To keep showing up. What is hardest is the toxic personalities we have to endure. They are killer – these are the teachers who are unemployable at home. Jealous, insecure beaches (usually women) who go out of their way to be nasty. I wish I started writing a book about it a long time ago – truth is so much more interesting than the fiction that people make up. Arriving as a Canadian who thinks of all races, religions and cultures equally, I have learned that we are all not equal at all. Especially when it comes to how people treat each other and treat their environment. With ignorance. Truthfully, working at home has become boring and I have learned that I love the crazy and all the challenges that come with it. But there are contracts you are so glad to see the end of and it makes it all the sweeter when you can leave quietly pulling a runner in the night. Imagining their faces in the morning when they must scramble to find coverage and the chaos that ensues. Realizing their stupidity in how you were treated by them and that you are no longer there to take their crap

    Like

  23. CFDrake says:

    Well done on yr escape…have you told readers where you were? That’s the only way we can really learn from this, like the contributor from Guatemala whose post is great as we know where the problems are. Did you say? Can’t you say?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anonymous says:

      We left a school in Baltimore County back in the day; run by right wing Christians. We left some lovely friends behind BUT-survival is paramount. I would rather set fire to my legs than work in the international school system again. Cash cows masquerading as “schools” for the most part. Funny now but (and everything before BUT is…….) an altogether horrendous experience. I’m a gas engineer now-happy times are here again.

      Like

  24. Wesley says:

    I agree, without names and details it sounds like a fantasy to me. I’ve been teaching internationally for more than thirty years, ten schools on four continents. I have never heard a story like this. Give us the details and make it real.

    Like

  25. J says:

    I totally get this post. I should have left my current school after my first year, as many other of my colleagues did. But, I was determined to fulfill my contract. Now I can’t get reliable references (which I absolutely deserve) and my director has the reputation of phoning anyone he knows to torpedo your future prospects. He had my Search Associate take my references down. He had another colleague of mine, also totally deserving of excellent references, removed from Search. How does a director have that much power?????

    I’d like to add to the above comments that not only are you not in your own country, you have to make an effort to find out the labor laws of the country in which you work. The school, of course, would prefer you were in the dark.

    My question to any of the people who have found themselves in the difficult position of deciding to breaking contract is how do you then find your next job? Do you explain you broke contract? Do you wipe that school from your resume (as I’m expecting to do)? Where do you get your references????

    Liked by 1 person

    • TCK says:

      I am so sorry that you are a victim of Search Associates that only listens to employees and never the candidates. I was once told by a recruiter that I had sparkling references on the database besides one, and he suggested asking the associate to remove it from my profile, because it was probably preventing me from getting more opportunities. I asked my first associate and she said no because it gives the recruiters a balanced view of me as a teacher. Since then, I have transferred my profile to another associate who also did not remove this reference despite the fact that it’s been over 15 years ago.

      I have been in a couple of challenging schools where I had to break the contract, because of being treated as a second class citizen. To respect the school’s needs, I have informed them early in the year so that they can find a teacher for the following school year. I gave various reasons that were not blaming the school. One was for health reasons and the other was for the situation in the school that had not been ideal for me as a teacher.

      When I applied to the next jobs, I never told the interviewers that I broke the contract. However, when they asked why I was leaving after a year, I told them the same reasons I told the school. The two schools that hired me after I left never asked me about me leaving the school after a year, and they were only interested in my teaching experiences. I didn’t remove the school from my resume, but I didn’t talk much about it. I have used my old references, which didn’t work for search associate. So, I got interviews from other sites.

      I hope this helps, because I know how challenging it is when you are in a difficult place.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Cathy Drew says:

        Why did continue to use Search Ass? My experience with them was unsatisfactory. As someone who responded earlier, they have gotten too big to be “Good”. I used them once and went back to ISS which is a whole different experience. They are an extremely friendly and supportive group
        .

        Like

        • TCK says:

          I actually didn’t continue with Search. I was not with them for over 10 years, because I did not want that one reference to prevent me from getting jobs that I was looking for. However, I figured if I changed associates and ask the new person to delete all my references that were old- over 10 years old, I thought it might work. It didn’t, so I haven’t gone back.

          Like

  26. She Ross says:

    This is really unnecessary drama. We all need to do research before taking a job. It’s important rtant to understand the culture of the country ABD the culture of the school to make an informed decision.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. omgarsenal says:

    Nobody should or can judge anyone who breaks contract. That is one of the many reasons ISR exists, to help avoid bad decisions and the consequences of working at a poor school by helping its members do their due diligence. We ALL know of a colleague or friend who had an experience like the writer above and we all know that ISR’s statement of intent is to protect overseas teachers and even administrators. Until there is an effective international union of educators to protect us from the abuse such cheats, bullies and criminals who ¨run¨ so-called ¨international¨schools,impose on us, then we have to protect ourselves from these predators in whatever way we can.

    Liked by 3 people

  28. Anon says:

    Breaking contract and running is pretty unprofessional. School years are short. However, don’t go to unaccredited school in dicey locations and find a job through an agency. Choose schools that provide furnished apartments then if you have to leave, it is only with a couple of bags. Apart from bad schools, there are teachers out there with mental health issues who wouldn’t last long anywhere.and over react to anything and anyone. Some folks are not cut out for being overseas.

    Like

    • omgarsenal says:

      Anonymouse….what is ¨pretty¨unprofessional is the behaviour of schools, accredited or not, member of an agency or not, who treat people like dirt. It is really judgemental to claim that some of the people who broke contract suffer from mental health issues and to judge them by saying they wouldn’t last long anywhere. I can see you’re really courageous by hiding behind your anonymousey avatar. Have you ever been in a desperate situation overseas and thought about breaking contract? I can bet you haven’t!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Anonrat! says:

        See you are also “anonymouse” Fact: Some teachers don’t do their homework before going to a school and behave like entitled idiots when they get there – we all know people like this. And yes, some do suffer mental health issues and have no business being overseas!

        Like

        • omgarsenal says:

          Anonrat,,,,,I guess you didn’t see my photo and my avatar name? Too many teachers don’t do their due diligence but there are FAR too many unhealthy schools who take advantage of staff stranded in their country. You are justifying ill-treatment, the school admin. or owners ignoring a contractual obligation, the school potentially ruining a teacher’s career, the fact that a tiny percentage of teachers have some issue with their mental health (often caused by the stress of admin. abusing them) and feel it appropriate to call some ¨entitled idiots¨ makes you a judgemental hypocrite.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Lindsay says:

            Wow… bet you have done loads of runners. Hope no school is unlucky enough to hire you with such a negative attitude.

            Like

            • omgarsenal says:

              W0W Lindsay…bet you’re a judgemental hypocrite and maybe have done many runners like you arrogantly pretend others have!
              I hope no school has the misfortune of taking on your self-righteous and judgemental attitude, they’ll soon regret their hiring decision.

              Like

    • Stay Overseas says:

      Are you saying she should tolerate sexual harassment ? Are you cut out for that?

      Like

      • Rosie Lee says:

        For goodness sake.. all countries have laws about sexual harassment depending on its definition. Why should anyone have to leave. Report it to admin and deal with it. I worked for a creep was Mexican/British and the first time he got in my space I threatened to report him in a loud voice in front of witnesses. No more problem!

        Like

        • B says:

          Everyone- If you haven’t been through it, you have no base to comment or give advice. Countries may have laws on the books, but in reality we are all strangers in strange lands when we go overseas and all the research in the world cannot smoke out what lies ahead in these jobs, or how laws are followed. I’ve been in 4 different schools and countries, consider myself a pro at blending in/keeping my head down- but an abusive situation is an abusive situation. At my first school ALL western teachers were resented, screamed at and openly blamed IN FRONT OF THEIR CLASSES for whatever the students did or didn’t do. I saw a teacher SPIT ON by a principal right in the hallway in front of teachers and students… How does one research something like that?
          Listen- If you are MISERABLE and in an intolerable situation GET THE HELL OUT!!! No money is worth it…I found another job the following year (ran from an ADEC school which was a government school), being honest. Honesty worked because one of the principals in the school had also worked in the UAE for ADEC and knew what I had been up against.

          Liked by 1 person

        • ExpatRat says:

          What is “said” about labor laws and sexual harassment in some countries, is very often a far cry from the reality of the situation.
          Do some reading and you will find what happens to women who report sexual (or any) harassment in some countries.
          In 26 years of international teaching, I have had to do a runner once. 90% teachers left over Christmas holidays, the only time we were in possession of our passports and able to leave the country with an exit visa from the employer. I hated doing that to my students but had no choice.
          Most embassies and consulates will not step in over labor issues
          I have personally seen teachers get charged with ridiculous things and thrown in jail when they tried to do the responsible thing and inform the employers.
          Sometimes you just have to accept that the employer (or agent) only has one loyalty and that’s to his own pocket. You rate very far down on their list of priorities, so you have to look out for yourself. With no family and close friends (usually) in a foreign country, it’s easy to find yourself up the creek with no paddle.
          I’m not saying it’s god to run just for anything, but if your safety, mental or physical health, or person is threatened in any way… Haul it out of there!
          You can do as much research beforehand as possible, but there will always be things you will only find out once you’re there.
          To the original poster, I enjoyed reading your post and I’m happy you made it out safely.

          Liked by 2 people

  29. Anonymous says:

    Great story! But come on people! Without country or school or names this is toothless. Put these guys on notice. Call them out.
    Ahhh. I see Guatemala. Perfect. I should have know and read with my glasses.. guatemala…stay clear.

    Like

  30. Umut Karzai says:

    I ran from King Saud University.. I was making a very good salary, but having to take orders from unqualified so called teachers who had mail order degrees from schools I’d never heard of.. A Somali, so called English teacher, who told me I had to teach English the way he wanted me to was the last straw. I hold a Masters in Education and a TEFL certification plus 21 years of teaching experience and a 28 year old Somali with a mail order Tefl, is telling, me how to teach.. So one night I just called for a taxi and left with my bank account emptied of over 30,000 plus dollars.. Once the plane was aloft I felt like I had escaped a prison.. Especially having to witness how women are treated in that NUT HOUSE of a so called country..

    The administration sent me numerous e mails saying they would sue me in court in my country I ignored them and eventually they stopped sending the e mails. I escaped with my sanity intact and a larger bank account. I’d tell everyone to avoid Saudi Arabia and King Saud University in particular. Barbarians from the DARK AGES!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Running Man says:

    I had been planning my runner from a school in Guatemala. I had sold just about everything I owned. On the last day of school during the farewell breakfast the director announced that every American teacher should consider themselves fired. Can you imagine how difficult it must have been for teachers with a house full of furniture, and a car.

    Back in the States a teacher from the school tried to collect unemployment. Since the school claimed they were an American corporation they would be held to the same rules as if they were located in the States.. The claim was denied because the school claimed the teacher had quit. When the teacher later produced the letter of termination the school was forced to pay out of pocket. All 13 of us collected unemployment on the school’s dime. What goes around comes around and the school got just what it deserved.

    From the director on down, the school was as corrupt and unjust as could be. Nice of them to fire us and ensure we all had an income until the next recruiting season.

    Liked by 2 people

  32. B says:

    I made it till March in my 1st international teaching job in the UAE. I was however, with ADEC, not a for profit international school. While the salary was outstanding (just shy of $6,000.00 USD a month tax free), the abuse was just not bearable. The day I saw the principle “spit” on another English teacher, I knew I was done. Thus- I judge no one. As the author stated, until YOU are treated this way you have NO IDEA!!!

    That was 7 years ago. Since, I have worked in 3 other true international schools and while they all had their own crazy going on, absolutely NOTHING has compared to the horror show I was involved in with ADEC in the UAE (girls High School, Western Region).

    Teaching overseas is NOT an adventure, as the recruiters like to say. Its a job far away from family, friends, loved ones and often from everything familiar. Some will thrive and some will not, so- Chose your school and country CAREFULLY!!! 2 years- Even 1 year can be a very-VERY long time.

    Also, be aware in some countries you will need permission FROM your employer to leave the country (I didn’t know this until I was physically IN Qatar).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Franny says:

      Well said. There are too many entitled teachers who think they are God’s gift to teaching and they use their postings as a way to backpack round the world. It is not an “adventure” it is a profession that requires dedication and hardwork not to mention professional standards. If you are want to run away with your tail between your legs, at least give notice first and behave like an adult.

      Like

      • Anon says:

        You say that teachers have to be “professionals” and give notice. How about the “professionalism” applies for admin that sexually harasses a teacher? What do you have to say about that? What “professional” steps should the board take? Is there a board to take up such sensitive, complex issues? In the world of laws, sexual harassment cases would go to trial. Since there is no regulatory or legal body to look at these corrupt offenders, then shall we leave it up to them to be “professional” in the way they handle it?

        Liked by 1 person

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