Beyond the School Gates

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – Anthony Bourdain


  If you frequent our Discussion Boards, you’re well aware our recent Survey revealed that nearly 50% of 650 surveyed teachers would break Contract if they could do so, consequence-free.

If you are ready to take the next flight out, it may help to know that seasoned International Educators will sometimes accept positions at poorly reviewed schools solely for the opportunity to experience a culture and country of great interest to them. It’s a bold move, but it is done all the time. If you’re unhappy with your current school situation, take pause. ISR encourages you to look outside the school gates to all your host country has to offer.

No one says it’s easy to rise above a school when everything about it flies in your face. Your objective, however, for going overseas was far more than to just be part of a school — you could have done that without leaving home. It’s YOUR choice:  You can wallow in the dissatisfaction of being at a lousy school and let negative feelings destroy the incredible overseas adventure you’ve worked so hard to earn, or…you can just let it be and do like seasoned International Educators and focus on, and savor, all that’s happening outside those school gates.

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12 thoughts on “Beyond the School Gates

  1. I am a proud high school graduate from an international school in Ecuador. Now I am at my second posting as a teacher. I hate when people make absolute generalizations because it just isn’t reality. All things have their pros and cons. Please don’t be afraid to try on a positive mindset!


  2. I have had the most amazing 20+ years in international education. I have always worked for not for profit schools and I have had the most amazing journey, literally and figuratively. Some schools were not great but the opportunities I had for travel, meeting the most amazing people, some of whom have become my closest friends in the world have made every moment worthwhile. One cannot say international schools are a joke. I have worked in some very poor countries but have gained a wealth of experience. Yes, go outside the gates of school, no matter what the school is like. Make the most of the time outside those school gates. Try to find 3 things a day that you’re grateful for inside the school. International education should also not be about earning the biggest salary you can. It’s about getting richer in life experience. Complete a contract. I have found that the years fly by. I will never regret any job I’ve done, but as I said, I have only taught in not for profit schools. ISR is a good guide but if you want that life in a country you’ve dreamed of, you need to go outside the gates. I’m in the twilight of my career and wish I could still go and teach in so many countries. “Oh the places you’ll go and the people you’ll meet” A loose quote from Dr Seuss.


  3. I have always tried to find something outside of school to do, because as we all know teachers tend to talk about (or moan about) school constantly. Meeting people who have no connections with school can lead to amazing experiences and you can make really good friends.
    Try new things, keep an open mind, be positive. be kind and good things will come back to you.


  4. I was in this exact situation in Guatemala. The school was so aggravating that I could hardly keep from screaming. Between the students, parents and the admin it was a living nightmare. It was my first overseas experience and the first time in my life I was treated like a servant by people who thought self worth was based on how much money you make. Three months in I realized it was useless to try and change anything and decided to just let it all go. I enjoyed Guatemala immensely and the travel opportunities. I tolerated the school and did my best to impart knowledge to my students. The sad part was that of the kids that graduated and went on to fancy colleges in the States, about 95 percent of them failed out in their first semester. They came back to Guatemala and went to colleges where their parents could buy their grades for them.


  5. My wife and I met years ago at a toilet of a school in Myanmar. We worked there for a few more years before moving back to Canada. Now, we are both educators again back home. While we hated every minute of being faculty at that school. We took every opportunity to travel SE Asia, enjoy the adventure lifestyle, and learn about other cultures. Neither of us regret that decision to move abroad. It also gave us an appreciation for the little things that many people in the west totally take for granted like running water, no Dengue Fever, temperate climate, and solid government among many many others.

    International school’s are a joke, I’ve worked at 3 in the course of my career and ALL of them were just enriching the top at the cost of the teachers. And I’m sure that someone will reply to this and say “My school is amazing and you’re just bitter” and to that I will simply reply to “enjoy it while it lasts” because eventually, any school that charges a fee for it’s services will cuts costs to boost profits. It’s just simple economics.

    ISR is valuable in exposing poor school’s while still encouraging educators to take a leap of faith and give it a shot. Hell, I met my wife abroad and I’d do it all over again simply for the adventure and experiences of a life time!


    1. It sounds like you’ve only had experience with for-profit schools which are generally not truly international. These days they probably make up the majority of “international” schools but there are great schools out there and it is simply incorrect to say that “international schools are a joke.”


    2. Not all international schools are a joke and I hate seeing them dismissed in a totally unfair generalisation. I taught in four excellent schools. I may have been lucky, I may have done my homework well, but the schools were good educationally, were ethical and worked with integrity for the majority of the time. Of course there were problems from time to time as there are in any organisation, but nothing systemic. I do think the proliferation of international schools has led to the opening of a lot of for profit schools that are not good for students or teachers, but the good ones are still there.


    3. I’m sorry you didn’t have the chance to work at a quality school. Keep progressing, though! One day you’ll realize what grocer’s apostrophes are and be able to present yourself as a credible educator worthy of a good placement!


    4. You sure a mean person Chuck. I guess the message of falling in love and enjoying the adventure fell on deaf ears. I would hate to be one of your students if YOU are what is being passed off as a credible educator. How cruel


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