Have the Golden Years of International Teaching Come to an End?

After years of listening to my friends reminisce about their amazing experiences teaching in China, Pakistan, Romania, and even Burma, I decided to take the plunge. I quit my solid union teaching job on the West Coast and went international. I was looking forward to both an adventure and a career.

An adventure it was — a career it was NOT! The school I ended up at was nothing like what my friends had talked about. To the contrary, it was strictly a for-profit entity masquerading as a school. I can’t speak for all schools and I hope the school I landed at is the exception to the rule. But, unfortunately, I think not.

In the States I had expected and held my students to high levels of performance and accountability. Overseas, in the international teaching “business,” those same expectations were now punishable offenses. For example: When a kid felt they were not being spoon-fed, or if they were called out for academic dishonesty, they ran to their parents. Their parents in turn went directly to the school owner and lodged a complaint. As a result of this “chain of command” which functioned outside internal channels, we, the teachers, amounted to little more than grade farms.

The secondary principal literally sent out an email to teachers that read, and I quote:

“As you commit to meet the needs of all learners, and work at developing positive rapport with your students, be assured that your employment remains secure.”

Imagine if this memo were sent out in a U.S. school district: Your job is secure if you keep students and parents happy. Not if they pass the AP exam. Not if they are actually learning! It all boiled down to keeping the dollars flowing IN and the 4.0 grades flowing OUT.

After subjecting myself to abuse, manipulation, lies, and backstabbing I finally left, and I did so just like the teacher who composed the ISR Article, Slipping Out Early w/ My Possessions & My Sanity. I literally packed as much as I could carry and boarded a flight the next morning. I left with my dignity and my professional integrity intact. 

The entire experience has left me with several lingering questions: Is the title “International School” so loosely used these days that any private, overseas school can add “international” to their name and charge parents preposterous amounts of money? Are Western teachers nothing more than the props needed to sell an image? At my school I was nothing more than imported labor… 

I truly wonder if the golden years of international teaching that my friends reminisce about are over. Has the dream of living and teaching in exotic places around the world been destroyed by greedy, for-profit school owners who see white-faced international educators as nothing more than commodities in a money-making venture? Has the lure of foreign adventure that motivated so many educators to leave a promising career at home come to an end? I wonder…


(name withheld)

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58 Responses to Have the Golden Years of International Teaching Come to an End?

  1. modi says:

    Maybe you are wrong, the business is there to make money, so serve them well, keep the business happy, have fun lessons and enjoy yourself, the kids will still learn if you are a good teacher.
    I just returned from 7 years doing that in china.
    Hope this helps


  2. JREWING says:

    Wow!!! I am beginning to ask the very same question. When I read the reviews here on ISR (and I read them with great intensity) I begin to see a repeating pattern of schools hiring administrators who have neither any administration experience or international experience. It seems that lying is rampant amongst administrators and real teaching is no longer valued. There is also an alarming rise in schools started and run by people who are not teachers and know nothing about pedagogy.


  3. Jennifer says:

    When you say golden years what time period were you thinking? Didnt know. Post 9/11 or 1990s or 1970s/80s? I think the dollar was a lot stronger in 90s and early 2000s. I think in the middle east more of those for profit etc. stuff goes on. Probably China too.


  4. Anonymous says:

    “Leaving a promising career” in teaching? In the US? IMHO, that does not exist. Education is difficult and underappreciated everywhere, and many of the issues you experienced most definitely occur in affluent public schools in the US.
    I agree that it is a disappointment to work at these for-profit international schools, but would add that education everywhere is often a huge disappointment, as well.


  5. I enjoyed reading this. I think it honestly depends on your research and expectations. We have 3 children and are about to go to Cambodia from Canada. It is a Canadian curriculum school, along with only certified teachers.

    While the “business” schools definitely exist, there is also a wonderful amount of amazing opportunity. You really have to do your research.


    • Jean Gurr says:

      REALLY? I went to a Canadian certified school and YES I did my homework ! It is still a Canadian Certified school and shamefully my Province certifies them despite what I reported to them as a qualified and experienced Canadian certified principal…my former staff tell me the rats are still there ( I had 3 major bouts of rodent-related infection) and the same “for profit” behavior (meaning standards/course completion) still exists-the difference-their numbers have dropped-and they have been through 5 Principals since 2016 !


    • I hope you have better luck in the future with choosing schools. I have definitely experienced the business style of school, but have been lucky with International IB/AP Schools so far.


    • Anonymous says:

      After 20 years of teaching overseas (and counting), I endorse this comment. Research is crucial,cword of mouth, as well as going with a reputable recruiting agency are all important. For every disappointing international school out there, there is one that meets or even exceeds expectations.


  6. Chris S. says:

    I understand how this type of experience could leave a very bad taste in your mouth regarding International teaching. However, as a public school teacher with 12 years experience in both secondary and elementary, there was much in your post that I have seen experienced in public schools in the United States. Expectations of enabling and spoon feeding students – the norm. Lack of academic integrity low academic ability and giving grades for breathing – also the norm. Backstabbing and non-supportive administrators – absolutely. Placating parents and students – all the time.

    Truthfully, if you were able to be at a public school where the administrators supported your expectations of academic integrity at high performance, count yourself a very lucky individual. This past year, I aim to do the same thing working at a public school in the US . I started the year expecting integrity and setting high performance standards. Within a month and a half I was told buying administrator, I was expecting too much of my students. In addition, all levels of behavior were accepted without consequence. For example I have a student walk out of my room multiple times
    without permission, for which he was written up. The assistant principal chose to do nothing and when I finally complained about this he sent him to in school suspension for my class only for two days and then told him to go to another classroom and stay out of trouble.

    As someone said in another post below, you can find these problems in international schools, however this is becoming a global issue in education. Especially the expectation of low performance and high grades.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s all about researching your school in advance, which admittedly can be very hard to do – but it’s so necessary so you don’t end up having a crap time like the author did.


  8. Max Power says:

    Why are my comments endlessly “awaiting moderation” while newer comments are approved?


  9. My husband and I have taught in international schools since 1997 with only occasional forays back to the States. We have noticed significant changes since we began, mostly with regards to pay and perks. The salaries are lower and the benefit packages less desirable. There is also greater competition for jobs, but we credit some of that to our age since we are approaching retirement and are viewed as “expensive.”

    As for attitudes, they have remained the same. Some international schools are clearly for profit and accept any child who breathes, with the clear understanding that teachers will make the children happy and “adjust” grades accordingly. But this is true in the States as well. I actually had a vice-principal at a private school in Georgia tell me my priority as a secondary teacher was to ensure the happiness of my students and not hold unrealistic expectations that would invite parental criticism. In other words, I was not to give homework or maintain high standards.

    My husband and I just accept that there are good schools and bad schools and the ones that are worth working at are those with a sound administration that respects teachers and the work they do, sets firm guidelines for student behavior and performance, and will not kowtow to unreasonable parents and board members.


  10. Anonymous says:

    No, they have not come to an end, but the scene is a minefield. Best of luck with your second foray.


  11. Benji says:

    That was my experience in Kuwait as well. Quite eye opening. It’s quite a bit better here in China. Not perfect, but better. You sell your soul when you go to the Gulf States.


  12. Anonymous says:

    I am a British Teacher working in the UAE. I Read your article with interest. You have put into words things I have thinking about for quite a few years. Here in the UAE we are just glorified babysitters. I work in an ‘Internation’ high school. Students expect top grades for little work. If your face doesn’t fit parents complain to the head/owner of the school and you are told to be ‘gentle’ ‘give leeway’ … Then your contract is not renewed. Our saving grace is that the IGCSE syllabus is externally marked we cannot boost the grades. The fact that they have been spoon fed should get them through.
    A very disillusioned English Teacher.


  13. Franny says:

    There are so many international schools out there that if I don’t like it, I just move on fast. I have been in three schools this year…Africa, Egypt and now Armenia, a great way to see the world. Many are not too fussy about references or credentials.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anonymous says:

      I am shocked in china they like to refuse letters of reference even if you finished the contract to force you to stay or ruin your career. I have been applying with reputable places but they all want the reference. How have you been able to get around the request for one?


    • I’ve run into the same problem here in China! They tell me it’s a “school policy.” The current employer will only provide a reference if an interested school submits a direct, personal request. What to do after everyone goes home for the summer? I don’t know, but I think it’s very unprofessional!


    • Franny says:

      By leaving short term schools off referees and talking a good talk at the interview. Foreign recruiters are not that savvy! Also pick locations where they don’t have hoards of people applying. I don’t have a full teaching credential just ESL and a degree and this is my second career. C’mon guys get with it.


    • Chris S says:

      Were the schools you worked at truly International schools or just ESL schools with International in the title? In my experience, most truly good international schools want some kind of a reference from your prior employer and you have to have teaching credentials (certificate and/or teaching degree). Lastly, very few people are applying for the job, that sometimes can be a warning sign not a thing to look for in your employer.

      And don’t be rude-we all have different experiences and are learning from each other!


    • mysterC says:

      you were able to get work in the middle of the year? how, may i ask?


    • Anonymous says:

      Africa is a continent! Egypt is in Africa!


  14. Joe C says:

    Hmmm…. I’d take some of what was said in the article with a grain of salt. Yes, there are many for profit schools and such, but with the memo example, I didn’t read it as pass all students. I also think teachers who come particularly for the USA tend to have higher expectations without doing their homework on the school(s). Some schools are better than others. That is why seasoned expat teachers refer to schools in ‘tiers’. Don’t want to be disappointed, do your homework. If school out and out lied, leave. Easy to do.


  15. Steve Kay says:

    I have been teaching internationally for 27 years. I think there are two things to distinguish here. The golden years of teaching in an international school are over, as many have said, good ones are now few and far between most are for profit run by individuals with little knowledge of schools and education which only guarantees one frustration after another. The golden years of an international teaching lifestyle are still alive and well. I have and still met the most interesting colleagues and made the best of friends and travelled everywhere I could have dreamt and saved loads of money. Though the golden years of high salaries are largely gone. I also think it is important to distinguish the tier level of the school to answer this question. A tier 1 school is more likely to give you a golden experience going down from there a schools quality falls fast and furious as would the golden experience.


  16. Abby Wood says:

    You experience is the norm. It’s been this way for a number of years now, particularly in the Middle East.
    The only way to deal with it is to come for a short time and try to save as much of the pathetic package as possible. In other words if you can’t beat them join then. There really is no point in fighting this. And try not to take it out on management; they too come with the best of intentions but their hands are tied.
    It really is very sad.


  17. DAVID HARRIS says:

    I think the racist charge, with regard to Saudis, is valid in that, having worked there for three years, I found the nationals are as diverse in character as they are in any culture. There are lovely, humane individuals and there are those who support the religious extremes and the tribal hierarchical structures that demean those beneath them. I try to not lump a whole group into one pot (even though, in some cases, it seems almost too easy to do so).


  18. Ally says:

    Good and bad schools exist everywhere. There is no perfect school or administration just as there are no perfect colleagues. You make the best of every situation and try and enjoy each unique experience while remembering we are there to teach!


  19. mbkirova says:

    Let’s be honest – culture in more oil wealth countries is going to be the most the challenging, but these schools almost always pay the most. It really takes a naive person not to know this, or expect it to be otherwise. If you are attracted to big money in the middle east or elsewhere, know that you will pay by sacrificing your academic integrity. I know folks who have made that choice because they get luxury accommodation, full perks with travel and allowances, come out with serious savings and can even afford servants. The job will suck, but if you made this deal with the devil you have no right to squawk. None. I had a job like this in Turkey many years ago (though not such big pay as not an oil country) and when it was final grading time, all foreign faculty were asked to leave the room so the stinky-rich discipline problem/plagiarizing kids could be passed right through. We didn’t stay, and I seriously thought I’d never teach again. Fast forward to an oil-rich Caucasian country, with wonderful and supportive faculty and admin, until it got to the very top. Many a foreign Dean or Provost hoofed it, realizing change was impossible, due to the political and social connections of the founder. Moreover, oil wealth can crash, and affect your salary severely. That got rid of any remaining foreign fac. Today I am over 60, and countries like this would not hire me anyway, but with a small pension I am able to choose much lower paying schools in developing countries where the positions with be rewarding, even if savings low. I did not think this was rocket science, but due to some silly comments above I felt it necessary to state.


    • Max Power says:

      I agree with most of this, except for the “no right to squawk” / “you made this deal with the devil” trope.

      If you’re honest about your principles, get hired, and then are pressured to compromise them, then you have a legitimate gripe. Part of the “bait and switch” often includes promises of academic integrity, administrative support, etc.


  20. ashleycollinscouchois@protonmail.com says:

    As an International School Teacher and as an Educational Consultant who has worked around the world, I can tell you that the ‘Golden Years’ are over in most places around the world. Yes, there will be a few reputable schools which provide valid, legal contracts which they honor, support students and staff to grow and develop, etc. These are very hard to obtain places in because they are so few and turn-over is low. Most ‘international schools’ are not reputable anymore. You can not count on the word International in the name of a school meaning that the school is a true international school either. The word international is used by true international schools, as well as, fake international schools (no attempt to be a real school – money generator only by having international teachers), local schools which have at least a few international teachers, and the new quasi-international/local combination schools in which schools must meet both the needs and regulations of local schools and international school requirements – making this a loss for the international school requirements as local requirements are pushed as the government can close the school down if not met. You cannot count on the fact that a school has been established in conjunction with a top school from the US, UK, Europe or Australia either as the school will have a majority stakeholder from the country it is in (if not being completely owned by the local and is using a ‘franchised’ name and logo) and management. Many schools profess their desire to be one of the top schools. but even if they bring in an Educational Consultant it is a useless exercise as it ends up being just for show and as soon as the consultant is gone… it reverts back to normal. The do publicity based on it and please parents with it, but management takes things back to normal. Do not count on accreditation either as most accreditation organizations have different levels such as membership in the organization which is different than having been accredited by the organization. Even if it is for accreditation, the organization’s standards may not be upheld as they all know the reality of international schools.

    You will find many (in reality most) ‘international schools’ with teachers in place who are not qualified and have little or no experience. I have even seen a school with an unqualified teacher who was making more than qualified teachers with years of experience just because she sucked up to the principal. Even looking at it strictly from a general pay scale, being an International School Teacher does not pay as well as it did before the economic crisis and with so much uncertainty around the world, this is unlikely to change anytime soon. It is all such a shame as there are so many qualified and inspired teachers who would love to have the international experience. My advice is to be wary of those who tell you only about how great the experience is and that the pay is high and accommodation is great. Maybe they have been lucky enough to find a great school, but odds are either they do not know how the Golden Age of International School Teaching really was and they are guessing that it is great for them or unconsciously they are convincing themselves how great their situation is.

    I caution teachers now who ask me about teaching abroad or switching countries if they are already abroad. There are so many things to ask and explore and so many red flags to look out for during your search. I am not saying give up on the dream of the ‘Golden Age of International Teaching’ being what you will experience. I am saying you need to find out all the facts that you can before you make your decision on where to try and be realistic about what the ‘Current Age of International Teaching’ is like as the two are very different. My career has been an adventure… some of it glorious and fulfilling… some of it horror stories.


  21. Anonymous says:

    The first overseas school I taught in was brilliant. My current school is less so but still overall a valuable experience – a far cry from what you describe. My next school I hold high hopes for but will be very different again as the culture will be very different. Overall I have had a very different experience in international teaching to you (an overall positive and supportive one). All I would like to add is, choose your school’s with great care – ask around, read the ISR, read between the lines in their mission and vision, read any public policies you can find, fine out about the culture you are considering moving into. There are still great schools all around the world but there are also plenty that are as you describe too. It becomes increasingly difficult to tell them apart.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Philofficer says:

    I’ve taught at 3 semi-international schools in the same large East Asian country. All of them have had abundant problems, but each of them has been a positive experience overall. The first school never took flight, and closed after 2 years. The second was a low budget program ($12,000/student) with minimal admin support, inadequate facilities—toilets that were seldom cleaned, for example, and I often had to spend $5-10 for my own supplies. Yet, our students were super, teachers and leadership made the most of things, and most of us had a pleasant experience. My current school is for-profit with IB K-12. The founder won’t take advice from anyone who isn’t richer than her, admits any student with a pulse, and fires principals who dare to discipline the children of her friends. Yet, our very diverse and dedicated teachers work and play together, support each other professionally and personally, and give our best to our students, who range from the bottom 1% to the top 1% (seriously). The pay is good and expenses are relatively low, so we get to travel and to save money without taking a second job, as many teachers back home must do. Our bureaucratic burden (useless paperwork) is relatively light, we don’t face weapons and violence from our students, and we can avoid the suburban nightmare of savings-sucking cars and time-depleting commutes; I walk to school in 8 minutes. International schools might be more adventure than most people want, but if I ever go back home, it won’t be by choice.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Annoymous says:

    I concur with the comments above about `for-profit` international schools, having spent (wasted?) four years of my life in three of them. If you love the teaching, these are not places for you, and any changes you make will not be sustained.

    However, one version of international schools our contributers have not considered, so far, are the state-subsidised English language schools in Europe, essentially to support the families of foreign workers at European universities/ businesses.

    Essentially, your students will have similar backgrounds to those in the state schools in your own country: a mix of mostly locals and with international backgrounds, SEN etc.

    You will be awarded the local wages, and will need to pay for your own accommodation.

    You will besically to valued for your ability to teach your subject in English, and therefore develop your students` multilingualism.

    Yet, you will be privileged to work in a country that is not your own, and with a mix of local and international teachers whose work conditions will be on par with your own. You may even have access to a union!

    Now in my second year at one of these schools, I can only see myself moving if I want a change of scene, not for reasons of relationships with admin, corruption or annoying interferance from parents.

    So maybe this is the `new` ideal international environment!


  24. Anonymous says:

    Sir / Madam
    Your experience is not an isolated case. You’re lucky about your experience in West Coast, but your observation fits correctly and equally related to national curriculum teaching, in many Asian schools. So this downtrodden trend in educational system prevails in every sector, because
    Few school’s managements are still different. Most popular and big institutions in India in the name of ‘Student friendly’ attitude they put the gun on the shoulder of the coordinator, and coordinator blames subject teachers. But nobody wants to make the students accountable, or teach them self management. Alarming situation! This will be our next generation, but I believe today’s school authorities and parents need to prepare themselves, for the day, when these teenager would hold them responsible for any failure in their lives
    They will not blame their teachers. Whatever they may think now. Wait and watch. Remember this is not a case only for international teaching. This is now a Global Issue.
    I am working under the same condition, but none is able to fire me till now (I don’t bother too). Apart from teaching in class, I personally enforce self management through activities.
    Do not listen people who loves talking at your back. If you know your subject well, you can relocate yourself anywhere. Most important, one needs to feel happy with ones work, if not, don’t drag.


  25. Anonymous says:

    I guess I’ve been lucky…

    20 years in international schools in 5 different countries. Only one dud and got out easily.

    A rich and rewarding career full of adventure and professional development opportunities.

    I have used Search Associates to find all of my job placements.

    Many, many thanks to Harry and Margaret Deelman of Search Associates.


  26. Anonymous says:

    I’ve just accepted a position in my sixth international school. Teaching internationally has become a professionally satisfying way of life for me. Three out of the five schools in which I taught were top-notch educational institutions – two of which paid exceptionally well, and the third gave me a comfortable lifestyle, and an incredible cultural experience. The other two schools had their challenges: heavy workload – this school was for-profit, but they paid for myPYP training; and the other had facility issues, which are being slowly corrected. Without a doubt, all five of my international teaching experiences were well worth it, both professionally and personally. The bottom line is this: With technology today, there are many ways to gather valuable information about prospective schools, so DO YOUR RESEARCH, and you won’t get burned.


  27. Patricia says:

    You have had a bad experience, there are still Schools out there with integrity but you have to do your research. I have taught in schools were ‘bums on seats’ to make money is the one and only aim and senior management use bullying tactics, to keep the parents happy. Education is changing and the children are being pushed to the bottom of priorities and money comes first.
    A rethink is required.


  28. omgarsenal says:

    In any country you work in there will be both superior and inferior international schools but the guiding principles I have seen overseas for far too many schools are:

    1) Accept unilingual students and hope they will learn English over their 4 years of ¨study,¨

    2) Appease the powerful people(parents, families etc.) because the school’s existence depends on it…and to hell with ethical or morally acceptable behaviour,

    3) The student is always right so kiss their collective posteriors,if you know what’s good for you,

    4) Major issues like abuse, poor classroom management, insufficient teaching resources etc. are ¨solved¨ by changiung the staff,

    5) Ensure that students generally pass the classes regardless of merit or effort,

    6) Say only ¨nice¨things about the students suring meetings with the parents and for heaven’s sake NEVER tell the flagrant truth,

    7) Don’t complain or question too much or your tenure will be tenuous.

    8) Mind your own business and stay out of local affairs with locals in the school…mistreatment, abuse, denegration and demeaning treatment….nothing to see here, move on or else.

    Happily these things happen in a minority of schools but they are far too common and far too liberally tolerated overseas….because there are no legal protections or unions for the peons.


  29. Nathaniel James Brown says:

    Just have a look at the reviews. Roughly 1/4 are decent and the rest either don’t pay enough, are horrible or both.

    The reality is that there are basically 4x as many schools as there used to be and a lot of them are not that good.

    If you go back to the “golden age” then there were only a few schools and a few jobs. Now there are a lot more jobs. I would say there are probably more good jobs than in the past BUT the problem is that there are now a lot of really bad jobs as well.

    Also, everyone has rose coloured glasses. The past was never as good as people remember. The people that hated it have already left and the people that enjoyed it are still in the scene so of cause they have good stories. They didn’t leave.


  30. Trav45 says:

    Face it, you didn’t do your homework. Proprietary schools are what they are, and that’s true whether they’re in Egypt or the US. While it’s generally true that the days of international financial largesse is mostly over, there are still many good/great schools out there. I’ve worked in a school I now call the hell-hole, but mostly I’ve been at good / excellent schools. The longer you’re on the circuit, the better you are at weeding out the dreck.


  31. Ken says:

    Go back to university or tech. school and get trained for another profession. Don’t expect the situation in international education to improve….it is only getting worse. Life is short….get out while you can


  32. 30 Years International says:

    Yes the golden age has been over since 2000. Now there is a glut of young teachers desperate to go overseas so the teacher supply is high and demand got lower. As a result of many large 1st world multinationals reducing expat staff, this left international schools seeking students. At the same time rich people in developing nation’s took “birth” tours of developed countries so their kids could be born citizens. Thus suddenly so many Indian, Chinese, etc. kids with USA passports. Those kids as “foreign passport holders” suddenly eligible to attend “international” schools in parents’ home country. Ah ha, new source of revenue. Now most “international” schools are full of locals. Different clientelle with different values. The perfect storm. Long gone are the days of teaching mostly embassy kids and kids with executive parents, now it is anyone who can pay school fees. Adapt or perish and make no mistake about it, this new group of parents pays for success and to be told their child is a brilliant star. Reports are glowing, growth language always used, and children never told “no”. Schools are competitive businesses. The parents’ culture is what prevails at the school and they do not share my Western values. This is they key difference between then and now. So I can either adapt or go home. Very simple. By the way, if you find a good school, STAY. The grass is NOT greener on the other side and good schools are hard to find now.

    Liked by 2 people

  33. DAVID HARRIS says:

    I had a wonderful (well, except for the last four) 20 years in international education. My last three years were for a proprietary school and that was the difference. I thought I had died and gone to teacher heaven (in Pakistan no less) after working in the public system in Canada. I was an administrator in my last post and I told the owner that I would not inflate grades or lie to parents about their child’s progress.

    You are correct in saying that the Golden Days are over. There has been an explosion of for-profit international schools and I have a strong sense that they cannot hold a candle to the schools aligned with the State Dept.

    Do your research, do not go to a for-profit school, don’t give up on international education. Stay as far away from Saudi schools as you can with the exception being the Aramco school.


    • Jean Gurr says:

      I am more disturbed by foreign Depts of Ed (in my case MB, CA) who knowingly continue to certify schools that do not meet accreditation standards. As a trained and certified Cdn principal I foolishly trusted and mistakenly expected standards that were not upheld…not in programming or physical building standards…I can understand foreign owners behaving dishonorably, but our own institutions supporting that and giving prospective Canadian teachers a false sense of security??


  34. Everyman says:

    I’m not sure this an international vs. domestic school issue. Private schools in the U.S. function much the same way as described above. It sounds like the OP worked in a public school (mentioned the union) before going international, so I wonder if that is part of the dissonance. Wherever there are parents paying $30,000/yr, there will be helicopter parents who believe that they pay for “results” (i.e. grades). In a domestic private school, I have never had a parent complain that my courses lacked rigor (and they did lack rigor), but I have had plenty of parents complain that a B+ would keep their kid from going to a good college.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Anthony says:

    I think the recent university scam that occurred in the US really gave me insight into some of the challenges of working overseas. International schools are a conduit to the best universities in ‘western countries’ around the world. Parents pay a lot of money and often feel that the grades are a service or product for which they pay. The quality of work in a school will depend on the quality of the leadership. Good administrators support good pedagogy and staff, and some simply twist in the wind of every parent complaint. I have worked in 4 intl. schools to this point. I had 3 amazing experiences before landing at my current school, which was a highly rated ‘top tier’ school. After watching my own child get bullied by ‘untouchable’ students, listening to my administrator use every petty complaint like a bully club against teachers, I couldn’t wait to get out. Honestly, I am ready to head back home. I wonder what it will be like teaching in the US though. Maybe we simply live in complex times.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Never Looked Back says:

    This is hauntingly familiar! I was totally unprepared for what I encountered at my first international teaching job. I went to an ISS job fair and was shown beautiful pictures of the school, told stories of the kids success, and amazed at all the universities they were accepted to. I packed my bags and joined the staff.
    It took a few years before the lies became clear. The kids were accepted to stunning universities, yes, but many washed out after one year. This was because they all had 4.0 GPA due to the teacher being punished for actually assessing accordingly. The school was for profit, the owner was cruel, and the parents/students manipulative. I know there are good schools like HKIS or International School of the Hague, but you have to put in your time and earn connections. I was unwilling to be a prisoner to a third world elite. After four years, I moved back home and have been working here, as a teacher, ever since. Let me tell you, my breakfast has never tasted so good!
    This is not a career, it is a time share and all you are is someone to fill a spot. Disgraceful

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Anonymous says:

    This is my eighth year in international education, and I’m currently in my third international school. According to my experience, your insights are accurate. My fiancée–also an international educator–and I are very burned out from this type of management style.


  38. Expat in Saudi says:

    Yes…and no. The days of the ONLY international schools around being tied to the embassy and offering service to the elite are gone. That died out during the 1990s when I started teaching overseas. But there are still a LOT of great schools out there. My questions are: . Did you just head out to the first international school that made you an offer? Did you do research? I have had friends do what you did – and didn’t ask me any questions about the schools they took positions at – despite me having knowledge of the country and school in is. I was shocked, shocked I say, when they did a runner after one year. Not really, but I would have advised friends to avoid that school entirely…had they asked. If your friends are not currently teaching overseas then they might not know abut a lot of more recent school

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aaron says:

      Expat in Saudi…Really are you kidding.. I taught at King Saud University in Saudi Arabia! What a joke it was similar to the other teachers here! Saudi Arabia is a land of barbarians who are always trying to convert you to Islam and trying to get you involved with their barbaric customs..
      How about being invited to a stoning of a women for adultery or being invited to a whipping of a women, because she dared to try to drive a car(I know women are now allowed to drive a car, but back in 2011 they werrn’t allowed to drive a car.)
      The director of the English department at King Saud would have weekly talks with teachers about the superiority of Islam over other religions.. A single male teacher couldn’t sit with a single female teacher in a restaurant unless they both lied and told the restaurant that they were married.. No alcohol anywhere a nation that closed stores in the malls 5 or 6 times a day so they could pray.. Your in line at the supermarket going through the checkout they tell you to come back after prayers.. This is a 4th, 5th or 6th century country masquerading as a 21st century country barbarians INC!!


    • mbkirova says:

      This post is racist/xenophobic. I would like to see it removed.


    • He's/She's not wrong says:

      Free Speech does not have to be speech you like.


    • NA says:

      Feel free to defend Saudi Arabia beheading 37 men, two of them juveniles, last week and why that’s not barbaric


    • AllyB says:

      Free speech and Saudi Arabia is barbaric. They execute innocent children! Why would anyone with integrity teach there!


    • RT says:

      Anyone who is willing to sacrifice morals and integrity to work in countries like Saudi Arabia deserve any problems that they run into. Vile place with cheating entitled students and inhuman practices! If you are American and get into trouble don’t rely on Trump to bail you out.


    • Phil says:

      I agree with you. Those of us who have worked at good International Schools (three good ones for me) maybe are too good at promoting the lifestyle without also talking about the dodgy schools that also exist in every city I have worked in.
      I always now stress this with my teaching friends who are considering the move as there is nothing worse than being stuck in a foreign country in a corrupt “International” school.
      We need to be honest about our schools as well. None of mine were perfect (neither were my schools back home), but all were good places to work and countries to live in.
      Good international schools definitely do exist, but nobody should expect to walk into those as your first time international experience as they are good due to getting the best staff – generally with proven international experience. Like in any career, start low (but not in a dodgy place) and work hard and get yourself into the good ones.


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