When Do You Know It’s Time to Move On?

No one ever said an International School teaching position is a forever job. Quite to the contrary, it’s understood International Educators move around the globe experiencing different cultures and bringing that experience to their next school. There are, however, motivating factors to Move On. Oftentimes, sooner rather than later. For example:

  • Some schools withdraw foreign-hire benefits from teachers who stay longer than a few years. “Overstayers” essentially go from foreign-hire to local-hire status overnight. Housing allowance, health insurance and flights home disappear from the Contract. Time to Move On?
  • Some countries levy hefty taxes on teachers who stay past a set deadline. The start date of this tax burden will, for most teachers, dictate a Moving On date. Of course, you could stay on if 40% lobbed off your check is acceptable. Time to Move On?
  • Aging out of the ability to obtain a work Visa often motivates older teachers to Move On and experience different locations while they still qualify for a Visa.
  • COVID, and how admin dealt with the situation, changed many educators’ outlook on their school. A “perfect fit” suddenly turned into a desire to Move On.

It’s been said, “International schools are great…until they are not.” Disenchantment can come in many forms and strike within weeks, months, or even years after arrival. There can be many reasons to Move On beyond those mentioned here. ISR asks: When do YOU know it’s time to Move On?

Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion Topic

23 thoughts on “When Do You Know It’s Time to Move On?

  1. If I start to think negatively about people I have hired I question whether I have been at a school too long.

    Not one off thoughts in meetings or when being told stupid stuff staff have done,.but that negativity where you see someone and just have negative thoughts towards them automatically.

    That is when I start to move.

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  2. I knew it was time to go when, after four years of loyal service, the HOS gave my plush apartment to a kid fresh off the boat. The positive is I now have two pensions and a hefty social security. He actually did me a favor.

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  3. Personal experience: When you see your school start outsourcing more and more of the roles to external companies, it’s time to look elsewhere. The security guards and maintenance staff haven’t changed but are suddenly employed by an entity separate from the school? Red flag. Some of the new teachers are contracted through an external agency rather than hired directly? Redder flag. Your school is cutting corners and your you-know-what is next.

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  4. When you see that there are more chiefs than indians running the show. One principal for elementary (now called Primary, why?) with three assistant principals for the differenat age groups (early childhood, grade 1-3 and grade 4, 5). Unfortunately for me, locked out of visas for many countries and not enough saved up for retirement.

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    1. Yes, that’s true. Had to leave this year for age reasons. Imposed by the country, not the school.

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  5. When the school announces your salary is reduced by 30% as you are “lucky” to have a job during the Covid crisis despite working 10-12 hour days online………

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  6. When changes happen which are not for the better. Poor mangers, blind leading the bling, mass exodus, lack of care for staff, transparent bullying, nepotism. I could go on, enough said…I’m off!

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  7. When the country you work in closes the airport for arrivals. Actually it’s worse than that, when they country you work in will allow its citizens to go on holiday to your original country for the summer but will not allow residents to fly home to see their family.

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    1. The government handling of covid, freedom of movement issue and being denied access to a vaccine and vaccine passport for the host country helped make my decision. It’s too bad. I really like the job and location a lot but we can’t fathom being second class citizens with limited freedoms for another year 😦

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    2. I am guessing you are referring to China. Very anti foreigner policies during Covid. Chinese citizens can go in and out, even if they are not residents, but not foreign residents. I was never able to return home to get my things when I got trapped outside of the country. The CPC only wants foreigners who further their interests, and teachers do not.

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  8. Trust your instinct. When you find yourself part of a spiritless, demoralized and exhausted staff that is just trying to get an insane school year across the finish line, being “lead” by an “administrative” “team” of dysfunctional people who are disconnected from and disinterested in both people and what actually happens in classrooms, then it’s time to go. The paycheque is NOT worth it.

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  9. Key clues (all of which have happened to me): 1- the admin who hired you is leaving [why are they leaving? they typically know more than you do]; or 1a- principal retires, “checks out” early letting the foxes rule the roost; 2- the school offers a renewal at lower salary; 3- local owner is clearly taking over, cutting costs; 4- scandal! school head disappears suddenly, leaving chaos [in this case maybe I should have been more patient and stayed, as my son suffered from the move]

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    1. All of those points except #2 (actually got a raise) applied last summer, and it was clear from investigating other options that my best option was to stay. Ultimately, there has been a lot of chaos in the past year, but now, we seem to be turning things around. So, no regrets on my decision. That said, if I get accepted into a PhD program next year, I will leave.

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  10. At my last school I knew it was time to move on when the director appointed his wife to the position of school principal. She had been a teacher for some years but suddenly she went from 3rd grade to principal. She couldn’t lead a shopping trip to trip Wal Mart let alone a school. The level of ineptness was staggering. Things began to go from good to bad to terrible. I think the director saw it but what could he do, demote her?

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  11. Its easy, your contract is not renewed , you move on. That is the best way, no regrets if new school not as good as old school because you had no choice, happens all the time, its part of international teaching.

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    1. Problem with that though is that when the school is asked ‘would their contract have been renewed’ the answer should be ‘no’ – and for some schools that’s a red flag. Not sure I’d be happy to work with someone who went from school to school, with their contract not being renewed every time.

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