COVID Collateral

by ISR Guest Author

Over the past few months I’ve noticed a decline in the caliber of writing gracing more than just a few ISR reviews — I’d call it a more agitated, aggressive approach, accompanied by a weaker command of written language. I hadn’t found this to be true, previously.

My theory is that this temporary literary decline is a reflection of a transition currently taking place in the international teaching community. I call it COVID Collateral. Bear with me:

When COVID was in full swing, international schools were finding it next to impossible to fill vacancies from a greatly diminished pool of experienced, qualified candidates who could/would travel to their school. As such, this situation presented an unprecedented opportunity for applicants who otherwise would not have been considered by top-tier schools. Or, tier-2 and/or -3 schools, for that matter.

Of course, every rose has its thorns and along with this unique opportunity for those less-than-qualified came the potential to be subjected to severe, extended lockdowns along with repetitive COVID screenings; this, in countries with unsophisticated medical standards and less democratic governments.

My school, out of necessity, took on some questionably-qualified teachers. I’ve come to fully appreciate why recruiters and most schools require candidates to have a minimum of 2 years teaching experience, a 4-year degree and a teaching credential.

The COVID crisis is today more or less in the rearview mirror. The pool of qualified, experienced educators is back to normal. My school is not renewing the contracts of most COVID ’emergency hires.’ The level of resentment is high. I’m guessing this is happening across the board in international schools around the globe.

It’s my opinion these educators should be grateful for the otherwise unavailable, unique experience they were afforded, knowing they can return when more qualified. The experience will hold some real weight on a resume.

To my point: I believe the recent dip in the level of writing currently populating some ISR reviews is the work of lesser qualified, COVID crisis ’emergency hires’ expressing their dissatisfaction with non contract renewal. This too shall pass. Call it COVID Collateral.

Has anyone else notice this dip in writing competency? What are your thoughts on this topic?

Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

15 thoughts on “COVID Collateral

  1. The original poster of the article perfectly summarises the toxic attitude of leadership at lower tier international schools. I have seen a vast increase of broken, overworked and bullied teachers at the end of their tethers due to post-COVID toxic management.

    After many years working in the international sector, I suspect this post to be written by a young and ambitious leader at a Tier 3/4 school self-marketing itself as Tier 1. Top schools appoint carefully and develop staff, but the OP is playing the classic blame game and even saying they were lucky to have worked at their school and should be grateful for the experience!


  2. To the OP point however….. I think you’re seeing a signal in the noise that just might not be there. You could probably also make the same point in general about international school teacher quality. There’s always been ebb and flow, good times, bad times, this country, that country. Is it also possible that the more experience you get, the less qualified everyone else becomes?


  3. The author of the article appears to be very pompous, ignorant and hypocritical. Case in point, the article is full of grammatical errors; poor word choice, and poor syntax. Moreover, she or he needs to examine the posh secondary schools in the US. Many high school teachers hold advanced degrees but are not certified. Makes me wonder if the author could explain how to conduct a Socratic Seminar or the Harkness Method in the classroom— or anything meaningful at all. I can only guess “ drill and kill” type wrote the article.


    1. Laurel (I don’t know whether your a guy or a girl… But I do know the Laurel and Hardy Comic Strip).. are you really that sweet cotton candy?? The author is a rationalist and has broken to fine detail a complex/ complicated progression of events and his take on that. Whether his thesis is right or wrong can be debated. That would be showcase your brilliance. But, what you are doing is merely throwing some mud.

      Maybe you are one of those cotton-candy hires..? Also, I’ve seen you comment too often on ISR..


  4. Let’s hope your school isn’t in China. In China, a non-renewal of contract is akin to a dismissal and should have the necessary paperwork gained through lesson observations/appraisals that shows that the school has done due diligence in helping the teacher to improve through goal-setting, etc.

    Furthermore, your post does come off a smidge pretentious. I agree with a previous commenter that many schools used COVID as an excuse/reason to slash salaries and benefits which has left a sour taste in the mouth of many a teacher, qualified or otherwise.


  5. While I can agree with much of the content of this post, I find it pretentious and tone-deaf. Don’t complain about the push-back that will follow.


  6. This is high on the list of insufferable discussion board posts. The decline of writing, here on ISR, is the product of unqualified teachers? Big me a break. Obviously, you haven’t spent much time in schools. How many teachers do you know who read and write well, especially abroad? Most teachers I meet are far more interested in traveling and going to restaurants and playing video games. Their hearts aren’t into reading and writing. A teaching license does nothing to improve that impression (In fact, it probably does the opposite).

    Pre-Covid, schools weren’t brimming with talent. Some emergency hires may be undeserving of their positions, but I can think of at least four in my present school who were improvements on the “qualified” teachers they replaced and continue to outperform their more qualified colleagues. The obvious credentialism of your post can’t be supported. It breeds the very arrogance and complacency that is at the core of the decline of institution of education.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. That’s an admin or admin wanna-be post if I’ve ever seen one. Should be GRATEFUL to work at a 3rd tier school (or any school)? Are you kidding me? (And in my experience, there’s no one a 3rd tier school will pass over; I once applied to an opening via email and received a contract by return email. Went in the trash, obviously.) To continue…my guess is this drop in quality you’re discussing isn’t about the writing quality; it’s about the content. Schools that used COVID as an excuse to rewrite contracts, double-up on teaching load/duties, decrease benefits and people are calling it out on ISR. But, sure–be grateful you had a job. That’s corporate employer speak and complete _____ (insert expletive of choice). I also strongly suspect this is ISR just click-baiting to get people to respond… and I fell for it.


  8. What an arrogant set of assumptions and generalisations!

    My tiny international school recruited three new staff in 2021 (the school only employs about 20 staff) because two teacher/leaders were retiring due to their ages (mid-60’s), and the third left to take up a promotion elsewhere. This was just part of stochastic turnover. After 18 months, all three new employees have proven their excellence for the team, and during their recruitment process they were part of a strong pool. As life moves on, the best you can do in your local is welcome new recruits, help them settle in, and allow the school to evolve to their strengths, and consider ‘letting go’ of initiatives where the previous expertise has vanished.

    If schools lost staff during COVID, they possibly also lost students as international businesses were impacted.

    People who post on ISR are (a) willing and able to afford the annual membership (b) have time comment reflectively about their situation – possibly only after they leave, and have safely taken up new posts, and (c) feel they have something original to add to existing posts about their schools.


  9. This is an interesting take on things. I have noticed a flux in poorly written comments. It makes sense that backpackers and underqualified teachers are now writing below par reviews as they prepare to leave their schools unwillingly. Once this little episode passes we should see an uptick in quality of writing. In any case, the fact that some of these reviews are reporting poor treatment makes me take note.


    1. Give me a break! “Backpackers and under qualified teachers’? Tell me who died and left you in charge of the moral high ground. Some of the best teachers I’ve ever worked with have been “unqualified”; some of the worst, over-qualified. This contributor needs their logic button switched on and their social media button switched off please!


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