A Positive Side to Negative Reviews

Dear ISR. I have a unique way of looking at ISR School Reviews that I believe your readers will find interesting. I’ll explain in terms of a short history…

Some years ago, I interviewed for a secondary position in Ecuador. After telling me the job was mine, the interviewer, the school director, said he wanted me to know exactly what I would be committing to as far as living in Guayaquil, a port city where the school is located, is concerned. Words like ‘hot, humid, dirty, dusty, little cultural redemption, aggressive drivers, greasy food, not very friendly citizenry’ were among the adjectives that stuck out. Yet, I accepted the position.

Weeks into the school year I realized the director was spot on, but just partially. There was still plenty to enjoy about Guayaquil. In many respects it was better than described. And having been prepped for the worst, I had no rude awakenings. No let downs. No feelings of being deceived by a smooth talker telling me some BS like ‘it was once the Paris of South America.’ I hit the ground running and shrugged off what otherwise may have felt like a deal breaker and found a lifestyle that fit me perfectly.

I think of ISR School Reviews in much the same way I do the director of the school in Ecuador: They both tell it like it is! As an ISR Member, I’m privy to the inside story on schools and locations. If I accept a position, I go in eyes wide open. Surprises don’t taint the experience. I’m prepared for them and I deal with them. It’s when, as in past jobs, I’ve been deceived that countless hours are wasted wondering: Is it just me? Is what I think happening here actually the reality? Frustration and resentment soon follow.

I’ve relied on ISR for 11 years and counting. I accept there is no school with 100% positive reviews. I don’t, however, think negative reviews are a red flag that screams, Don’t go! In the same way the honesty of the director in Guayaquil helped afford me a great experience in Ecuador, I find that same positive aspect to negative Reviews. Knowing before you go can make ALL the difference in the world. It does for me!

All the best and thanks for the great service ISR provides,

(name withheld)

Comments? Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

5 thoughts on “A Positive Side to Negative Reviews

  1. Another good resource are current teachers. I have always asked for the contact information for the teacher I would be replacing and one or two others. If schools are reluctant to share, that’s a red flag to be considered. That information coupled with ISR has led me to great schools on two continents.


  2. All reviews of the schools I have worked with have also been pretty accurate with both the good and the bad. I personally like to know what barriers I will face before starting at a school so I can be mentally prepared. It was particularly important for my last school. The most disgruntled teachers were sold stories of candy and nuts by a recruiter and were ultimately disappointed. I on the other hand knew the problems and issues before getting there and took the school for what it was. My time there was mostly filled with positive experiences mixed with some negative ones (as is with all employers) . I think if the other teachers had a clearer picture of what they were signing on for they would have been happier or would have decided the obstacles working there were unacceptable to them.


  3. I agree that ISR provides a valuable service. Yes, many times people are more motivated to write negative reviews. I take both the very good and very bad with a large grain of salt. I will say, however, that I’ve noticed that schools that have several negative reviews and then suddenly largely positive ones are often a red flag. In my experience HR or leadership of the school have extremely positive reviews posted to offset the negative ones. A trend of negative reviews is something to pay attention to (again in my experience). Schools in China are especially touchy as schools start up quickly, aggressively and with a mandate to make a lot of money. So financially driven rather than mission driven. So do your homework, reach out and talk to others, use these reviews for what they are (a personal picture of someone’s experience) and make the best decision based on your tolerance for certain situations.


  4. All 3 schools that I’ve worked in abroad had reviews that were spot on, both good and bad, on ISR.

    I never apply to a school without checking their reviews first.


  5. I went to a school eyes wide open that had a less than positive review. I loved the school, made life-long friends, and realistically prepared myself for the less than perfect aspects of living in this (sometimes dirty), large, complicated city. I am returning to that city and community this coming year to hopefully teach until retirement. That is how much I love and have missed this country and its people. Warts and all. If we can get past our lofty expectations, get past others’ bad experiences, and set our sights instead on where we are the best fit for growth, learning, and for making a difference, we will find the perfect place to call “home.


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