Would YOU Stay for the Children?

by ISR Guest Author

I didn’t think the situation at this school could get any worse. Until it did! Last week the director got up in my face to say parents of my HS math classes are unhappy with their kids’ grades. Ms. Y (principal) made it clear: I had better find a way to ensure this never happens again! Before I got a chance to explain it’s impossible to teach kids who refuse to learn, she turned and walked off.

At this so-called ‘school’ I’m just a cog in a money-making machine deceptively masquerading as an educational institution. For example, materials are severely limited, I was told to photocopy text books, and the internet is sketchy at best. Ms. Y will happily toss you, as the teacher, under the proverbial bus to appease the paying clients. Disciplinary support is nil. Worse yet, teachers are required to create and operate game and food booths at twice-yearly fundraisers. You can bet that money goes right into you-know-whose pocket!

I really hate it here. And I’m not the only one miserable. A few of us have talked about leaving to the airport some Saturday morning, never to return. These conversations boil down to 2 camps: 1) We should stay for the kids’ sake, or, 2) These kids could not give a single damn about much of anything, so why jeopardize our sanity for them? At this point I am firmly in group two.

The school year is heading towards an end and I’m not coming back after the break. So, why not just leave now? Any way you look at it I won’t be able to put this school on a resume. I’m not sure I would want to, even if I could.

I’m throwing this out there to see how other international educators weigh in on this topic. This is my third school. I’ve had it good up to now. And Yes, I have reviewed this hell-hole on ISR.

Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

22 thoughts on “Would YOU Stay for the Children?

  1. I worked briefly for an unspeakably vile school in Hanoi and made it up to Christmas. Other colleagues left after 4 weeks. The kids were obnoxious and many wanted special VIP treatment such as inflated grades, parents were entitled and dictatorial while the admin. .. mainly Brits and Vietnamese were the worse that I have encountered in a 25-year teaching career. Leaving was like starting life all over again with such a sense of relief, freedom, and a move to a much better school. Always do your research, make up your mind quickly, and remember it is not worth being miserable as it can destroy your passion for teaching.. Students don’t value you any more than demanding parents or a corrupt and rotten admin.


  2. Absolutely not! I’m currently at a school where the actions of a spineless admin incapable of standing to the board, the parent and even the students has made this past year a nightmare. I let them know that I would not be coming back next year and that they could go fuck themselves. Our responsibility to our children does have limits.


  3. It’s April so you can probably make it until the eoy. I think the principal of the respected international school has some very good points but if you only stay one year the respected school hr is probably going to screen you out before the principal even sees your application unless you teach a hard to fill area.


  4. Absolutely not! How could you possibly stay where you are being compromised mentally, emotionally and probably physically, eventually. It’s a hard pill but certainly one teachers need to swallow… you are replaceable.. to the school, to the parents and unfortunately to the kids too! These types of schools do not care about you, it’s so strange to expect such a self sacrifice.


    1. Someone once told me, “Never treat as a priority, someone who thinks of you only as an option”. Those words have served me many times in situations similar to the one described.


  5. As a School Principal of a well-respected international school, I can honestly say that if you left mid-year it would raise questions for me that wouldn’t be answered without an interview… but it’s highly unlikely you’d get to that stage.

    We all know there some very unscrupulous outfit’s masquerading as international schools, but that doesn’t give teachers the right to just walk out mid-year (unless they’re not paying your salary or other benefits, which is a completely different story of course). Not have the resources you expected doesn’t fall into the category of ‘acceptable reasons for leaving mid-year.

    For what it’s worth, my advice would be:

    – stick it out until the end of the year, but infirm your Principal you won’t be returning next year.

    – Put it on your CV/Resume, and put that it was a ‘one year contract’. Then put the reason for leaving (which should be at the bottom of every employment post) as ‘this was not the right fit for me personally or professionally, and was a complete contrast from my previous schools. I completed the academic year and therefore the contract but chose not to renew’.

    If you don’t include it, you’ll have a gap on your CV which raises alarm bells.

    You should also note that even though one of the posts on this thread says potential employers won’t contact your school, I can assure you that high quality professional international institutions WILL contact them… as part of Child Protection and Safeguarding searches.

    Please reply to this post if you want more guidance. I’ve been a school leader in international schools for over ten years and can give you honest guidance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As the principal of a highly respected international school, you can’t spell or punctuate very well.


    2. Thanks Harvey Brian for pointing that out. I’d actually posted an immediate response to my own statement, apologizing for the mistakes (the result of typing on my phone whilst not wearing my glasses), but the reply seems to have disappeared for some reason.

      However, it’s great to know that there are teachers out there who can use grammar and punctuation correctly, and who take the time to point out such errors in other people’s work. Especially when those same people have also taken the time to provide some meaningful support and guidance for the original poster and the issue at hand, rather than simply trying to undermine others who have done so.

      Oh… wait a minute…

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Stick it out for the rest of the year, not for the kids’ sake, for your own sake. Although the situation you’re going through isn’t right, you will be all the more stronger for going through it. Later in life you will see that you learned from it, grew in character, and grew in resilience. If you walk away now, tempting as it may seem, you may regret it later.

    Start looking for a new job for the next academic year now. It will give you something nice to focus on for the rest of your year. And don’t be afraid to put this position down on your CV. It’s ok if it didn’t work out at this school. Anyone worth their salt who will have the job of hiring new teachers at your next school will understand that not all schools are for everyone. And that’s all you need to say during interviews – it just wasn’t a good fit for me there. Don’t go bad-mouthing your last school during interviews as it’s unprofessional and they might think if it doesn’t work out with them that you’re the unprofessional type who has no problem badmouthing employers. Be diplomatic when you’re asked why you want to leave your school – could be something as simple as, “I want a new challenge” or, “I would like a higher salary”. Also say things like, “I’m grateful for the experience I have gained with my current employer, but I would like to gain new experiences elsewhere now.”

    I wish you the best!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You are kidding yourself if you believe that kids in affluent international schools are going to pine away for you if you leave. Believe me, they forget their teachers very quickly and move on to the next. Schools with high teacher turnover should have parents pressuring the admin. to find out why this is the case. Admin would fire you in a heartbeat if it suited them. You have to look out for what is best for you as life is too short to stay in a miserable work situation. Trust me, nobody is irreplaceable – especially in international schools.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. First off, Im sorry to hear you are experiencing this. You aren’t alone in this battle. I think it’s the norm in most places. Your sanity is thee most important thing here. The kids are not yours so do what is best for YOU.


  9. As for breaking contract in the middle of the term, I think of a couple things. One is that the OP mentions not using this school on their resume. I think that’s a mistake. Why not put it on your resume? You don’t have to use anyone as a reference from there. Are you afraid a potential school is going to cold call Podunk International and ask about you? Not happening. Maybe if you’re leaving in the middle of the first contract year you don’t put it on…. The second thing is what happens after you leave? Not to the kids, they are not your responsibility once you walk out the door. But to your coworkers. Who will have to cover for your absence? Is the school going to hire a long term sub? Or will they just fuck over your former colleagues with additional responsibilities? That is the only reason beyond money, my own children, and my resume that I would stay in a truly toxic environment. You could also stop caring. They might require your time, if they bought it, but you don’t have to give them anything more. Including your emotions.


  10. I once taught in a school in Germany that was so bad that I had to report it to the IBO for ordering teachers to inflate internal assessments according to a formula distributed by the head. That head manufactured a pretext to sack me, but she did not know that I had joined the German teachers’ union, at the behest of German colleagues who predicted the retaliation. I sued and eventually won a settlement for illegal termination under German law. I think that the teachers who left were acting FOR the students whose educations were being damaged by this fraudulent outfit.
    Make teacher retention an issue for these fly-by-night international schools by leaving; you’re actually helping the students by bailing–particularly if you do it in a group. I myseld deprived this awful German school of tuition fees by taking one of its students, whose family I had become close to, with me, as my legal ward, to my next international posting. He received a much better high school education in that new school than what he’d been getting in Germany.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Your only responsibility is to your family and you.

    The “stay for the kids” is emotional blackmail that has been used to coerce and control teachers (and parents) too long.

    If anyone ever told me you have to stay for the kids, I would tender my resignation immediately/go on sick leave.

    I am responsible for my childs safety and happiness and no one else’s child comes before mine. To believe otherwise is to believe the emotionally abusive control we have endured too long.


  12. If the student behavior is that bad than get the hell out! That applies to any school especially if you can afford to go. In many international schools the kids are great, just find one and dont leave!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. It is important for teachers to understand they are NOT the child’s family or the child’s parents. If conditions are that bad, then finish your contract and move on. There is no reason to stay “for the children” because the school will find another eager, fresh teacher to abuse the following year and truthfully students do not really care that deeply. The students will remember you fondly. You have a right to be treated like a human being, to be safe, and to not be taken advantage of.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the point of this article was to leave before the end of the school year if it is that bad. Most teachers would not want to do this to their students, but some schools make it really hard to even last that long.


  14. How about leaving for your mental and physical health benefit! the kids can manage very well but if your environment is sufficiently negative to incite you to consider leaving, then you have your answer.


  15. Not a chance. Majority of students I have taught are spoit, entitled, arrogant, etc. And so are ther parents, plenty of whom turn nasty if they do not get just what they want. I have never put my own kids in a school where I have worked even though that has caused financial losses.


  16. I worked at a school like that once. I somehow made it through my contract, but every month, we lost one or two foreign teachers, usually on pay day. The main reason I made it through is because here in China. you have to get a letter of release from one job before switching to another. That school would demand money for that if you broke contract, usually that month’s salary plus one more month, or else they wouldn’t provide that letter. It was illegal for to withhold it, but they could cancel your visa making it hard to fight them on it. So most of the teachers leaving the school were leaving China. I had just married my Chinese wife so I dealt with the BS and found a better job in China for the next school year.


  17. I initially thought, from reading the title, that you were referring to our own “children” — would be staying for our own children. NO WAY! There are international schools out there that really care about the students, and administrators that support their teachers. Find one of them!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.