“Disgruntled Teacher” Propaganda Disproved

   When ISR asked International Educators what they would do if given the opportunity to break their current Contract, consequence-free, our projected figure for contract breakers was somewhere in the range of 10%, maximum. However, 46% of 683 Survey respondents said they would be on the next flight out. Wow! That’s not what we expected!

Survey results: Consequence-Free Early Departure

Certainly, no school is perfect and we all have to accept a certain amount of dissatisfaction to make things work. However, a desire to bail on their current school by such a high number of those surveyed is extremely alarming, but does make it abundantly clear that negative School Reviews are written by far more than just a few disgruntled teachers,”a derogatory term some admin use in an attempt to belittle authors of negative Reviews.

Frequent deal breakers mentioned by so-called “disgruntled teachers” include:

Overbearing, micro-managing admin who bow to parents’ demands
Unqualified colleagues (admin favorites) in positions of authority
Parents that expect top grades & admin makes sure they get them
Students with strong sense of entitlement & lack of discipline/motivation
Admin offers little to no support. Kids running the show
Procedures reek of an overall distrust of the teaching staff
Low pay, poor housing, demanding hours, worthless benefits package

ISR Asks:  How is it that so many teachers have ended up at unbearably lousy schools when the Reviews of such schools clearly spell out major problems ahead? ISR concludes it may be because uninitiated educators buy into the “disgruntled teacher” propaganda, ignoring the words of their colleagues already teaching in these schools. Coming from the West, teachers new to International Education may find some School Reviews simply hard to fathom.

Don’t allow yourself to become a statistic. RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH & then RESEARCH SOME MORE! There are plenty of good schools out there, as evidenced by the fact that over 50% of our Survey respondents plan to complete their Contracts and maybe even renew. Our goal at ISR is to help YOU to find a school that’s right for YOU.

International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed
is what International Schools Review is All About!


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27 thoughts on ““Disgruntled Teacher” Propaganda Disproved

  1. The problem’s not with the survey itself, but with the subject group and methodology. If teachers who sign up to ISR are more likely to be unhappy and more likely to want to move, then the answers will reflect that. Also, people tend to complain publicly but not praise publicly, which will again be reflected in the survey. You have also used a ‘closed group’ – i.e. people who have signed up to ISR – so you cannot use this survey to reflect opinion as a whole. It would be like getting a group of redneck farmers together in Tennessee, and deduce that there is 100% support for Donald Trump across the US based on their responses.

    Also, I do have to question the professionalism at times of some reviewers. Leaving a bad review might make you feel better in the short term, but what about the colleagues you leave behind, some of whom might be trying to improve things? You’re dumping your workload on them, making it more difficult to recruit, and at the same time denigrating your own work experience. Not to mention the effect that all this will have on the kids you leave behind.

    And finally – having been at schools where teachers have done a runner, by and large they were all teachers who we wanted to do a runner. So, in my experience, no damage done!


  2. Been international teaching for decades and see a growth of schools that are labelled international when they are clearly businesses even with the weight of a known brand in education. The local politicians/businessmen and the lackeys they employ to run these franchises started to populate the international teaching landscape about a decade ago. Many first tier schools still offer good contracts but with more teachers trying the international experience it means plenty of competition. Most developing countries with lower life expectancy than developed countries, where experienced staff come from, are not willing to offer visa’s to older experiences teacher. My yardstick of qualitative indicators, other than the reviews on ISR: how old is the school, how many jobs is the school looking to recruit each year because high turnover means trouble with school admin, school board, parents or contracts. It has often been observed that multinational student body is better than all local student body. High fees often mean wealthy parents and entitled kids who have adult staff to boss around at home and treat teachers like they treat their home staff. I worked at a school with multinational students and a very low turnover of staff, great package, excellent support but eventually everyone leaves, for example due to age or wanting another assignment or lack of opportunities. Issues shuffle around that list in the article that pretty much covers the things teachers complain about on the quiet. Cronyism between misogynist administrators is pretty much standard in the bad and good schools.


  3. I guess your stats are wrong. If a teacher is disgruntled, they are
    a) more likely to join ISR and
    b) more likely to participate in a survey.

    There is a fab book, called Everybody Lies about how no surveys are perfect. This is a great example of it.

    For the record: I am a member of ISR, but in no way unhappy. Which is one of the reasons I didn’t participate in the survey – why bother?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. But you’re a member of ISR, aren’t you? Though you claim that you’re not unhappy. I joined ISR, but I’m not disgruntled. You sound politically correct.


    2. I am so happy, in fact, I am not even going to argue with your implications that there is something wrong with being and feeling politically correct. Just a happy duck quack quack here.

      Still highly recommend “Everybody Lies” book.


    3. Political Correctness is what has lead to 21st century cancel culture. Speak your mind for the benefit of others, that’s what makes ISR an awesome platform.


  4. I would love to hear teachers compare their intl experiences to US public schools. The general reasons cited are similar, but details are different. Pay (but rarely benefits). Kids (but disruptive more than entitled). Parents (but cited less often). High stakes tests (rarely mentioned here).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I left international teaching and returned to teaching in U.S. Public schools. I love my job state side! Of course it has downfalls and struggles but teaching in a developing country at a 100% for profit school helped me have a whole new perspective on education in general. I no longer live in fear of a student complaining to a weak and worthless Director that he/her earned a C in my class and I am to blame, resulting in possible discipline or termination from the for profit school.
      I would rather teach rude students instead of entitled ones. At least for the kids I teach now, they know that an education is their ticket to a better life. In SE Asia, they knew that they would wash out of UCLA or Stanford (because they did not deserve to be there in the first place) and would just return home and live a life style of drinking, partying, and leeching off their families wealth.
      Here, in the states, I can say that at least for a few young men and women, I make a daily difference. Over in the international circuit, I was just a pulse with a passport who baby sat the 1%.
      My breakfast has never tasted so good since I came home.

      Also, I don’t worry about Dengue Fever, Malaria, or Rabies. I don’t regret my teaching abroad as it made me a better person but I would never recommend anyone do it long term. Unless you are a sycophant who becomes one of those weak and worthless members of admin, you are dooming your future by being nothing more than a yes man.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Indeed, I had the same experience in the Middle East/Gulf Region. It’s not school; it’s not about education. It’s simply a business (not necessarily for profit; more for reputation, image). The rich Arab kids are entitled and act as if they’d bought you. And, of course, they know we Westerners come for the lucrative salary, so we’re disposable items to them. You fall out of favour (esp with a kid from an influential family), you’re out! You’re forced to become a sycophant, if you want to keep your job. Worse are the headmasters, who unashamedly suck up to the owners of the school, But, of course, they have an unbelievably good salary to protect!


    3. Strange that you seem to imply that all international schools are for profit… they are not, and there is a large difference between those that are and those that are not. Also, in every market I’ve worked in (four different continents), the for profit schools have drawn the least competitive kids, meaning they may pretend that they are from rich families and they don’t need to listen to you, but that is likely a front. They know that the most academically competitive kids from the most successful families are at a different school, the one that has a test to get into and that often has a waiting list.

      Liked by 1 person

    4. In simple economic terms, if a school charges a fee for tuition it is a for profit school. Even if it is making normal economic profit it is in a competitive market and will try to cut costs whenever possible. All private schools are the same with the bottom line. They pay, often useless, admin high salaries to justify expenses.


  5. Also some serious bullying by local staff to international staff. This happened to me and the staff member got away with it and lied as well, jealousy is rife from these bullies because their salaries are alot less and causes resentment.


  6. I did a brief stint at a school in Cairo.. I found that the teachers were very professional and hard working. However many were being beaten down by poor admin. I quizzed teachers at the other schools and found that their experience aligned with mine. I mused about the possible reasons for this phenomena and came to the conclusion ; the reason Head Teachers and admin took up positions which would not lead to career building , good remuneration and promotion was clear , Dubious manag e m e nt experience and qualifications meant management would not hold an equivilant position back home . One Primary Principal was run out of her school in London by the parents because she caused a flight of 15 staff members. She left UK, and got a job in Cairo where the same situation occurred. A simple Google search revealed all. I was surprised that the employers did not conduct a simple search, themselves. It would have saved them a lot of grief.


  7. Ever consider that some teachers actually deserve to be moved on? Every student actually deserves a great teacher. The research on the impact of an ineffective teacher on student learning is clear. You talk about deal breakers for teachers – when it comes to bad teachers, there are deal breakers for schools too. My teaching colleague is useless, I am glad he is on his way out.


  8. I think this post and many of the responses are kind of proving the “disgruntled teacher” meme. While I was in one bad school–which I now call the hell-hole–and, yes, the nature of international schools is changing, that’s true of home country schools, too. There is not enough money in the world to make me teach in a public school back home these days. There are FANTASTIC schools out there–I’m currently in one that I love–with good packages. But the world it was–there are many more people willing to teach overseas so there is more competition and, certainly, a burgeoning of for-profits. Just do your due diligence and if they won’t let you contact current staff, move on!


  9. I’m a second generation IS educator having attended international schools myself for my K-12 education. Things are very different now. Teaching at one of the original, non-profit, Tier 1 schools I grew up in has become a pipe dream. All the schools I’ve taught at, bar one, have been for-profit. Over the eight years of my teaching career, my salary has declined steadily, and the benefits packages have been whittled down to the bare bones. I am making less now than I did in my first posting in terms of the dollar amount, which means with inflation it is even lower. I have come to see toxic school cultures with bullying administrators as the norm. I love my job but I can’t continue to sacrifice my health and sanity to do it. I am currently making an exit plan to move on to a different career. My current school does not have any ISR reviews but this will change once I leave.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. This makes perfect sense, sadly. Add to the mix the goalposts constantly being moved due to the increasing amount of new grads wanting to see the world. It’s not pretty.


  10. There are a lot of substandard schools! Period.
    I have been teaching for 35 years and 31 of those have been outside my home country.
    I have chosen well, for various complex reasons not to go into here, but everywhere there have always been sub-standard places as alternatives to where I am and in some cases I have arrived after a crisis or left before one.
    Top of my list of suffering victims are the younger teachers in the profession who are curious, ready for international experience, but not discerning. They will suffer as their salaries do not stretch and their expectations are crushed. Recruiters can be dishonest as the younger members of staff can be offered lower salaries or quite often really substandard accommodation. I think this website can do a lot to help them, posts are often very useful. The only post I ever cut and ran from was when I was 23. My first.
    I use such random stuff as train and bus timetables, restaurant menus, parking fees and so on to do my research. My most recent posting allowed me access to my predecessor, always a good sign.

    Secondly, if you stay out there long enough you come up against the bad eggs who are passed around. I personally know of 4 out there at the moment in senior positions. One of them I suspect of sending in self praise. Again, ISR can help. I would say always look at Director reports.
    We could all help by posting more. I have not posted recently because I have been happy. Maybe we should do more in that respect.


    1. Well, let’s not pretend it’s only bad admin who get passed around. I’ve seen some bad teachers passed around, too.


  11. It couldn’t be more clear that there are overarching problems across the board and that “international education” as we knew it is, largely, just not a thing anymore. This site and teachers will eventually have to acknowledge that what was once a viable career choice is now a joke. Move on. Have the dignity to call a spade a spade.


  12. There are a few other considerations:
    – new teachers needing a position to “break into the IE circuit”;
    – experienced teachers used to a level of order not getting that in their current position;
    – changes in management or profit motivation;
    – those who cannot adapt to a culture but want things “to be like they are at home”;
    – maybe knowing it’s not a good school but honoring their word.

    There are probably others. For example teachers who might be in permanent positions and who don’t need or have a contract to play out.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I often wonder what would happen at my school if we went on strike. Would admin listen to our demands or reform their misdeeds or would they simply fire all of us and call ISS to recruit a bunch of new graduates to replace us?
    I used to think that my role was of value to the school. That is until the Spanish teacher left mid year and was replaced with a Physics teacher from Taiwan who did not speak a word of Spanish. Just showed that we are nothing more than a pulse with a passport. I felt more valued when I worked at Star Bucks in college. Shameful.


  14. Our new Director in Yangon has turned me into a statistic. I used to enjoy it here. However, right before October break, the secondary principal told 90% of the returning faculty that we would not be invited back next year. Can you imagine that? Mid way through October we are being kicked to the curb. Now we have to frantically search for work. Oh, and the admin team is refusing to write any letters of rec.
    I am going home, state side, where there are laws and it is no longer a mine field of weak men and women in positions of power. Hell, some members of admin here don’t even have the credentials to fulfill their respective roles. And I know, people are going to comment and tell me that schools in the states are just as bad. However, at least back home, no weak leader will be in control of my security. I won’t have to worry about selling possessions. And more importantly, no parents can facebook message the secondary principal and get a teacher fired. The whole institution of international teaching is on a downhill slide and it’s all in the name of profit over people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, the same exact thing happened at my former school in Guangzhou this last year! Someone mismanaged funding and so all the foreign (translate: expensive) teachers were let go the day before Christmas/Winter break. New hires were chiefly college graduates without teaching or travel experience. Their packages were decidedly less appealing than what we had received: reduced salary (by 30%), reduced housing and move-in allowance, reduced flight reimbursement, no promise of PD, etc. Just a reminder that private education is a BUSINESS.


    2. sorry for your experience but there are lots of good schools out there. even schools stateside aren’t immune to parent influence!


  15. I was in the odd situation of actually wanting to stay – even in a bad situation with management – because the positive classroom experience offset a lot of the bad feelings outside it. Age restrictions hit twice, from the government wanting to purge older teachers, and from management wanting to hire cheaper, inexperienced staff.


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