Gone Fishin’

No matter how much you love your profession, taking time away is essential for a healthy work-life balance. During the next 3 weeks the staff at ISR staff will be doing just that.

As an ISR member, the only difference you’ll notice is the addition of new weekly Discussion Topics has been put on hold. New School Reviews will post daily & we’ll be fielding emails, albeit a little slower than usual.

In the meantime, there’s plenty of great Discussion Topics just waiting for your participation!

Home for the Summer: Revelations

Don’t get the wrong idea! I do love being home for the summer. Thing is, during these last few years in international teaching I seem to have fallen out of orbit with just about everyone I know back home, that is, except for my retired parents. Friends get married, buy houses, have kids, celebrate birthdays and holidays, adopt a pet or two, and pursue corporate careers. Time and distance away take a toll on any relationship.

To some extent, I sense that friends and siblings wonder if maybe I’ve adopted International Education as a way to postpone “getting serious” about life. Mortgages, car payments, outrageous insurance premiums, tight schedules, drudgingly boring routines and the stress everyone seems to be experiencing fit well into what I consider the “getting serious” category. So, to answer that postponement question, I would say avoidance wasn’t my main intention but is certainly one of the many perks of International Education. Yes, I am planning to make a career of this!

I also notice a bit of disconnect when we are together. I talk about adventures at Angkor Wat, Buddhist temples in Thailand, and things like scuba diving the tropical waters of Sri Lanka. After all, that’s been my life these past years. On the other hand, the trials and tribulations of climbing the corporate ladder, or tales of jumping through hoop after endless hoop to get a house refinanced is not of much interest to me. Still, I listen, just as they listen to me, because we do care about each other.

So where does this leave us? Bottom line: I have a history with those back home which runs deeper than the verbiage we use to relate our daily experiences. It’s our inner substance, that unspeakable something that brought us together in the first place that counts. That has not changed. And with that in mind, we’re continuing to make new memories on a tried-and-trusted foundation. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye again, I know.

ISR asks: Do YOU have experiences or revelations to Share about YOUR summer at home?

Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

ISR Summer Reading List

ISR Discussion Boards are a must-read for any International Teacher’s summer reading list. Jam packed with Articles & in-depth community discussions on retirement, ageism, admin problems, LGBTQ issues, scams, the single life, non-teaching spouses, medical concerns, breaking Contracts, and a whole lot more, ISR Discussion Boards keep YOU in the know.

Neatly organized and indexed in an easy-to-use format, 100s of Articles on topics of interest to International Educators are yours for a mouse click. Looking for something super specific? The extensive Search feature should bring it up.

Last, but not least, every Article is accompanied by tons of additional information from International Educators contributing personal experiences and knowledge to the topic.

What are you waiting for? Visit the ISR Discussion Boards!

Your Director Doesn’t Know ANYone at ISR

International Schools Review occasionally receives emails from teachers asking if their school Director really has a ‘friend’ at ISR, a ‘friend’ who will reveal the identity of the person who wrote a negative School Review.

Fact: Your School Director does not know ANYONE at ISR

For starters, claiming to have a ‘contact at ISR’ is a hollow bluff. Secondly, all School Reviews on ISR come to us through our anonymous Review form. We don’t know the source of any given Review. Nor do we care to know! When we say your anonymity is guaranteed, we mean it!

Administrators and school owners, however, have gone so far as to not only claim they have a ‘friend’ at ISR, but to actually bring in an attorney whose job it is to extract a ‘confession’ from suspect teachers. Fortunately, no matter what a school Admin or attorney may claim, unless information in a Review points directly to themselves as the author, an author’s identity is completely anonymous. That being said, it does go without saying that using a school computer or the school’s WIFI to compose a School Review is certainly not advisable in protecting one’s anonymity.

ISR encourages schools to respond to any Review they find objectionable. Their reply and/or rebuttal is then attached to the conclusion of the designated Review. Teachers tell us they find ISR a safe place to have an open dialogue with their school. Confronted with one or more poor Reviews, some schools welcome that information as a basis for making positive changes. There’s lots to be gained by ALL parties when schools and teachers work together for the greater good.

Conversely, from excerpts of a letter sent to ISR, below, a site Member shows us what can happen when communication falls short:

Dear ISR, Your readers should know what’s going on here at Seoul International School. Last week, in reaction to some not-so-good reviews that appeared on ISR, our Director, Michael Colaianni, sent out a memo saying he has involved the “Cyber Police” in an investigation into possible cyber crimes against SIS. He says they will be teaming up with “US Authorities” to find the source of these posts and feel confident they can find and prosecute the people who wrote the reviews….

Have you ever heard of such a thing as the “Cyber Police?” Why would US authorities team up with Korean Police in a matter that concerns a school in Korea? I don’t know what to think!


It takes courage to contribute a School Review to ISR when the school in question has a history of trying to ferret out and punish Review writers. For this very reason, some teachers wait until they are well away from their school before composing their Review. International Schools Review is ALL About International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed!

Rest Assured:
Your Director does not know anyone at ISR.
ISR is unable to identify the author of any Review.

Something to add? Comments? Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

Fragile Friendships & Fitting in @ a New School

There’s just no way around it. Budding relationships at International Schools are fragile. Just when you think everything’s going smoothly & you’re starting to fit in, you’re not. For example: You chime in at a faculty meeting early in the school year with a suggestion that slightly contradicts a popular faculty member & … Wham! The overly sensitive individual takes offense & suddenly you’re on the outs with their entire group of friends.

The first few months at a new school will set the stage for the years that follow. Tread with care! Back home we have long-time friends, family & a well-established life. Be that as it may, an International School in a foreign land is essentially your ‘mother ship.’ It’s where we work, make friends, socialize, get invites to social events & seek support. It’s worthwhile to make your start at a new International School a good one.

Coming into a new school you don’t know who’s who. You don’t know if the teacher you’ve been chatting with & getting to know while on lunch duty harbors prejudices against local teachers. You don’t know who’s a gossip, a tattle tale, or considers themselves the eyes & ears of admin or influential parents. And conversely, you, too, are not everyone’s cup of tea.

ISR asks: How do YOU go about establishing life at a new-to-you International School? How much do you reveal the real you in order to build relationships, professional & personal, while also protecting yourself from vulnerability to retaliation should things go seriously south?

Something to add? Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

USA: The High Costs of Returning Home

Without insurance, both health and car, entering the US short- or long-term could spell financial suicide.

Count yourself lucky if your school provides health insurance that includes the United States. For those of us WITHOUT such broad coverage, even a short visit home could spell financial disaster if medical attention becomes necessary.

On the bright side, short-term policies are available at what could be argued ‘reasonable prices.’ Don’t be surprised, however, if you don’t qualify for the lowest premiums. Insurance companies set prices based on the odds of whether or not they’ll have to pay claims. Because you’ve been out of the country, there’s no paper trail to attest to your current state of health. Nothing personal. it’s just that you’re a bigger gamble so you’ll pay more.

Short-term policies do have a big disadvantage: They expire every six months. Should a health issue occur during any 6-month period, that issue is eligible to be classified as ‘pre-existing’ and not covered in an ensuing 6-month policy. For educators planning to stay a while, a short-term policy may not be the best choice.

A COBRA policy may be what you need if planning a long-term stay, such as moving back permanently. Named such, no doubt for its stinging high price, a COBRA policy lets you extend an expiring policy for a set period of time. Be aware: Insurance companies know you will no longer be overseas where medical costs are reasonable, but rather in the US where prices are often 10 times that of many other countries. The monthly premium will reflect this. Ouch!! A COBRA policy can be useful until you find a suitable long-term policy.

Not to rub salt into the wound, but you’re also going to need transportation. America is not known for its transit systems. You could risk it and drive without car insurance, but if you end up in an accident of your making and someone is hurt, an ambulance chaser will litigate you into financial ruin. If you’re an American returning from overseas and cancelled an existing policy some years ago, you’ll be placed in the “lapse in coverage” category. For all the insurer knows, you’ve been driving without insurance. You’re high risk now and the price reflects it.

Leaving the United States is easy. Coming back in is a different story. Factor two kids and a spouse into the equation and …. well, you see the problem! ISR asks: What has your experience been with visiting the US or moving home in terms of insurance? What advice would you give newbies?

Something to Add? Please Scroll Down to Participate in this ISR Discussion

Should I Be Scared to Teach in the USA?

Moving to the United States will be my first International School experience. That is, if I go through with it. I’ve visited countries that border on my country, but a move to America will put me further away than I’ve ever been from my home of record, France.

There is an attitude in the USA that scares me and is the reason I’m writing. I have been following USA news and starting to question, Is America the place for me? Random and targeted mass shootings, constant inflation, banned school books, hate crimes and angry anti-vaxxers have me more than just a little concerned. Is it just sensationalist news and isolated incidences I’m reading about, or is it really as bad as it looks?

I’ve already applied to French International Schools in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, New Orléans, Los Angeles, Detroit, Indianapolis and Philadelphia. I have positive replies so far from 3 of them.

San Francisco and New Orléans are at the top of my list. Texas is not on my list and Chicago should be off because these places look gun crazy and far too conservative, along with most of middle America. Los Angeles looks good.

I would love to hear from teachers for whom living and teaching in America was/is an International Experience, and from Americans with insights to share. Should I take the USA off my list altogether at this time?

Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

Conscience Telling You to Stay or Go?

When unforeseen events collide with your core beliefs, then what?

Every country in the world is in some way, shape or form, abusing human rights. Some to a greater extent, some lesser, some hardly at all. At what point does your conscience dictate that being part of your host country is simply wrong for you?

On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. At the time of this writing, innocent citizens are being displaced and murdered. Entire cities are being destroyed. Russian citizens protesting this atrocity are jailed, even tortured. Putin’s current invasion of Ukraine is an extreme example of Human Rights violations.

If you’re currently in a Russian-based International School and conflicted about aiding a regime that violates your core beliefs, Do you pack up and leave? After all, we are educating the children of the privileged class, i.e. kids whose parents are potentially profiting from and supporting the invasion. Alternatively, however, you may be motivated to stay. Why?

Think of it this way: Each of us has the attention of the children of the elite class for hours each day. Herein lies the opportunity to instill seeds of humanity and compassionate thinking, which, when nurtured through years of a Western-style education, may blossom forth and positively influence decision making in the future, for the better of their community and the broader world in general.

Leaving may be what’s best best for you. Staying could mean potentially changing the course of history in a positive way. ISR asks: How do YOU personally feel about staying or going when your host country’s actions collide with your core beliefs?

Overseas Landlords: Deposits & Refunds Lost

Landlords come in all manner of beings. Some are honest; others, connivers poised to extract every last penny from unsuspecting renters like you. Today, our focus is on renting overseas and the landlords who own the properties.

If you’ve already rented an abode in a foreign land, you know it can be a unique experience. For the uninitiated, the myriad of ways overseas landlords can legally extract every last penny of your security deposit, and more, much more, may come as a surprise.

Overseas, it’s typical for renters to be responsible for 100% of all repairs required during their stay. Should a corroded old water heater finally go cold, it’s the tenant’s responsibility! Heater or AC on the fritz? Leaky sink? Drippy ceiling? Front door lock sticking? Refrigerator too warm? It’s all on the tenant’s dime. Unfair? Yes! But legal. In exchange for a ‘roof over your head,’ you could find yourself paying to assume the landlord’s ‘roof’ repair and further headaches.

When it’s time to move out is when things can get really interesting. Legislation in many parts of world permit landlords to summarily charge for an entire interior repaint, whether it’s needed or not. In addition, any and all items a landlord deems in need of repair or replacement can and will be charged to the security deposit, this, right down to an 8-year-old worn out toilet seat. Forget about getting reimbursed for any personal item ruined or lost due to a faulty rental component. It’ll never happen.

As opposed to a local person, when you move out, you’re gone, leaving little to no chance you’ll seek legal assistance in getting back what’s rightfully yours. With this in mind, be sure to do a thorough inspection of the property, inside and out. Leave no stone unturned. Don’t assume anything. The rules you play by at home don’t count here. ISR suggests you add an addendum to the rental Contract stating the landlord will be responsible for all repairs and you will not charged for a repainting. Having date-marked photos showing the condition of everything within the property when you moved in are helpful with exit negotiations.

Schools know local rental laws. They also know landlords can play tough. Any school that leaves you on your own to rent a house or apartment in a foreign country, in a foreign language, is likely to be a school that would not hesitate to throw you under the bus in other circumstances, too. Before signing on with an International School, find out if they provide housing. If not, will they co-sign a rental Contract, pay the deposit, assume responsibilities for repairs? Essentially, will they go to bat for you?

ISR asks: What has YOUR experience been renting overseas? What tips do you have for teachers new to the experience?

Comments? Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

Caught in the Shanghai Lockdown w/ Children

Shanghai, China

If you’re unaware of the recent, draconian COVID-preventative measures taken by the government of China, allow us to bring you up to speed:

In late March, 2022, the Chinese government imposed a severe lockdown on the entire city of Shanghai, an area of over 26 million residents. Going far beyond anything experienced in the U.S. or European Union, the Shanghai lockdown demands all 26 million residents stay in their homes, 24/7. This has been in effect going on 5 weeks.

Faced with outrage from citizens, Chinese health officials held to their position, reporting they will continue to separate COVID-positive babies and children from their parents. The impact on a child, especially an English-speaking, Western-born child forcibly separated from their parents and taken to a Chinese detention hospital will be profound. To compound the trauma, visitation at these facilities is prohibited unless the parent also tests COVID-positive, in which case they can remain with their child. (See Google search results for more details.)

Shanghai is home to upwards of 40 International Schools, making it home to hundreds of expat educators and their children. China, overall, hosts 600 International Schools. What’s to prevent this brand of quarantine from spreading? Communist Party officials have already announced plans to move people from their homes in Pingwang, to Zhejiang Province for no less than a week while they sanitize the city. In Beicai, residents were told to move to temporary accommodations. The relocation order requires entry doors to remain unlocked and closet doors open.

ISR asks: If you are an educator living/teaching in China and accompanied by your children, how do you cope with this situation? Why haven’t you packed up and left?

Comments? Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

Contracts vs Circumstances

At what point do circumstances override Contracts? Who & what should determine the circumstances under which teachers can break Contract, consequence-free?

In the aftermath of 9/11, for example, the American Embassy in Pakistan was among the first to pack up & leave, essentially telling American teachers to fend for themselves. Some International Schools in the region, however, insisted teachers continue working throughout the worldwide threat. International Teachers were expected to simply cope with the circumstances, or plan/finance their escape on their own, while also dealing with the serious long-term aftermath of breaking Contract.

Can schools legitimately expect teachers to stay through a currency collapse rendering salaries worthless? How about a civil war? Growing anti-Western sentiment? An invasion from a neighboring country? Think about an extended COVID lockdown like the one currently taking place in Shanghai, China where a stint in a detention center is imminent should you test positive during one of the almost daily COVID tests. See ISR Member Forum for more on Shanghai lockdown. Does anyone seriously believe a teacher should sacrifice physical, mental or financial well-being out of commitment to a two-year teaching Contract?

ISR believes International Schools must have a detailed plan in place outlining crisis policies & procedures, including a clearly delineated explanation of under what circumstance it is acceptable for teachers to leave, consequence-free. Recruiting agencies would do well to require a copy of this document from every one of their member schools. Ask to see this document while recruiting! As we all know, stuff happens!

ISR asks: When circumstances change for the worse, who & what should determine the point at which YOU can leave, consequence-free?

Comments? Something to add?
Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

Toxic School Avoidance

More than ever before, the success of your career as an International Educator hinges on thoroughly vetting any & all International Schools you may be considering for a career move.

In this age of corporate chain schools & entrepreneurs looking to cash in on the business of International Education, we as educators need to stick together. Knowledge is power & Sharing that knowledge in an ISR School Review can help us ALL find the great schools & avoid the Toxic ones.

ISR Members comment:

“I think a big part of what makes so many International Schools toxic work environments is that many administrators simply don’t have the qualifications or did not receive the vetting and/or training they would have had back in the US or UK.

For example: a PE teacher being suddenly promoted to Head of School simply doesn’t happen at home. Too many International Schools are run by people who are not suited or qualified for their posts, and these people have a weird kind of absolute power, without union checks or inspections.

Consequently, we have poor leaders who then similarly promote their friends or others they feel will help solidify their power and snuff out dissent. And the cycle continues. In the toxic environments I have seen, I don’t even think the leaders realized how different their management methods were from what they should or could be. Let’s not forget how dependent we all are on receiving positive references from each post, and that most schools require us to give up our job before we have secured a new one if we want to move on.”

“ISR is needed more than ever in a pandemic economic climate or sadly, war-torn. Let’s stop belittling people’s experience as negative or whinging and just plain accept that there are many practices that are unacceptable and unchallenged on our circuit.

In every other profession on our home soil, we are allowed to freely post experiences. Being far away from home, not in a union and unfamiliar with local legal practices means we are extremely vulnerable. Let’s begin to challenge and fight back a lot more and use our right to speak out, just like the rest of the workforce!”

“In my opinion it goes with the territory. International Schools are the equivalent of the Wild West, where management can act as they please with little recourse. One of the very few places we can find a little accountability for toxic management is ISR and that’s why we need to help those who request information on any schools we have details on.

Ready to Review your School? Click here
Membership not required to post a School Review.

Comments? Have something to add?
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China Visa Rude Awakening

Considering China for a Career Move?
An ISR Member Recounts Their Failed Ordeal

“I was interviewed and offered a job in November, 2021. I’m based in the UK. I was interviewed via Skype. I really liked the director and was looking forward to joining the school.

The paperwork process began and 3 months later I had all the necessary document legalizations from the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCOD) and the Chinese Embassy, as well as a new police certificate. I spent hundreds of pounds travelling back and forth to London, invested lots of time and energy, and also lost pay for the days I took off work to attend legalization appointments.

A week prior to receiving the Chinese legalizations, I came across the required steps for entering China after receiving a work visa. The school had not informed me of these steps – they had only outlined the steps to get the visa. After visa approval, there would be a number of hurdles to overcome.

At the time of research, there were no direct flights to China from the UK. Direct flights leaving Europe were £1700-£4000 one way at the time. Indirect flights from the UK involved 1 or 2 transit stops. Indirect flights would not have been an issue until I understood the Health Declaration Certificate (HDC) required in order to receive an approval to fly. The flight allowance was 6000RMB (£719 / $943US).

Obtaining the HDC would involve receiving negative PCR and antibody COVID tests from medics approved by the Chinese Embassy in the UK. There are very few on the list and the test costs around £300. If someone has had Covid, there are extra PCR and chest X-ray tests to undergo at least 4 weeks before your flight at a cost of around £400. Add to this the need to do the PCR tests again in any transit city at that country’s Chinese-approved facility and these medical check costs could end up being well over £1000, especially if I’d had to stay in a transit city to attend an appointment or await results, etc. This is after already paying the legalizations and visa costs (£600+).

Having had Covid I was starting to worry that these upfront costs were unaffordable, given that I’d also learnt I needed to pay the 14-day hotel quarantine on arrival and later request a refund. I was also concerned that I might not be able to avoid a reinfection within 90 days of the flight as it is very hard to avoid in the UK, especially in schools.

I raised my concerns with the school and they immediately offered to buy the flight and possibly pay the quarantine on arrival. When I shared the details of the possible costs and my concerns about paying all of them upfront with the risk of being refused entry into China (I’ve heard this has happened to some), they said they would get back to me with the level of financial risk I might expect. Instead, they came back to me saying that since I had had Covid, the PU letter needed to apply for the visa would likely be rejected. They then reneged on the job offer as they now thought I would be unable to enter China (or so they said).

If I couldn’t get into China after recovering from Covid, why hadn’t they told me that having had Covid was a deal breaker when I interviewed in November? If people who recover from Covid can’t get into China, why does the Chinese Embassy require an extra medical step for these people?

To be fair, the school did refund the cost of the legalizations but not the travel and all the other costs incurred. This is something, I guess.

This is a message for anyone thinking about interviewing who is NOT already based in China: I would advise you to check the steps to entry carefully on your country’s Chinese Embassy website and decide how much effort you’re willing to expend and how much cash you’re willing to risk in the event you can’t get into the country.”

ISR asks: How does your experience compare with the author’s?
Advice? Comments? Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion Topic

Diversity & Inclusion Update

In 2013, ISR became aware of the Next Frontier Foundation, a non-profit organization with an admirable and worthy Mission Statement:

“We promote and protect the interests of children who learn in different ways or at different rates.  We do this by supporting schools in all aspects of their journey towards inclusion.”

Today, almost ten years since inception, the Next Frontier Inclusion website displays a Not Secure warning, which we hope in no way metaphorically reflects the current state of Diversity and Inclusion in International Schools…

Although Next Frontier Inclusion may not have become all that was hoped for, International Schools Services (ISS) has become instrumental in promoting Diversity and Inclusion through their Diversity Collaborative:

The Diversity Collaborative (DC) is committed to creating and sustaining a more diverse, inclusive, equitable, and just international school community through our focus on leadership.

Here is a sample of recent Diversity Collaborative offerings:

  • Building Inclusive Learning With Brave and Brilliant Books
  • Anti racism Plan
  • Teaching for Black Lives
  • Transgender Inclusion Policies for International Schools
  • 5 Reasons Why Your School Needs a Transgender Inclusion Policy
  • Practical Strategies for Inclusion: Everyday Equity

International Schools Services Diversity Collaborative welcomes new members. Additionally, there are many organizations with which International Schools, faculty and staff can become involved in support of expanding Diversity and Inclusion in their Schools:

ISR asks: Does your school have Diversity and Inclusions goals that have been achieved? What future goals does your school have and how are they working to achieve them?

Comments? Please Scroll Down to Participate

Teaching Admin Kids

Great experience or total nightmare?

Teaching Admin kids who are strong students, great athletes or talented artists is wonderful! And even better when you’re able to build a positive relationship to support their learning and growth.

It’s tougher when Admin kids have challenges or need support. Tough conversations with Admin about their kids’ struggles can build better professional relationships, but can also lead to a nightmare of a workplace if Admin won’t accept that their children are less than perfect. Walking on eggshells to ‘keep the boss happy,’ while trying not to disservice the child, is not easy.

Most Admin kids know they’re in an awkward situation. Teachers report to their parents about them while at the same time their teachers have to answer to their parents. Every once in awhile you get that excessively entitled kid who’ll play the My mom’s your boss! card. The parent is usually on the same page.

ISR Members Comment:

So far I’ve been lucky. I’ve taught the admin’s kids, but they were mostly well-behaved and academically ok. At my first school, however, admin always tried to make excuses instead of apologies for their two kids’ awful and disrespectful behavior. I was never their teacher. The admin didn’t go as far as to pressure the teachers to treat them differently, but it was very annoying and uncomfortable for their teachers, to say the least.

Almost all the admin and teacher kids I’ve taught have been a delight. I can only think of one who had any issues. He wasn’t a bad student – just very quiet and terrified of his dad who was a terrible admin and kind of an ass to everyone, staff and students alike. I might have brought it up with the guy if I felt like he was responsive to any criticism at all, but nope...

It depends on the admin. In my experience they’ve almost always been great. I’ve only once ever seen a nightmare case, and I thankfully wasn’t involved. Considering what happened, I was really surprised that it didn’t end up on this site. Close to the most unprofessional behaviour I’ve ever seen!

ISR asks: Have YOU personally navigated teaching Admin kids? What do YOU do when you see an Admin kid really struggling emotionally and their ‘chin up’ parent has low or no EQ? SHARE some stories so we can all learn.

Comments? Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

Topic & text by LastToKnow & transplanted from ISR Member FORUM.
Teacher’s Comments from ISR Member FORUM.

Aggressive-Student Policy

March, 2022, Pines Lakes Elementary School, Florida: Police were called on campus after a 5-year-old boy reportedly attacked his classroom teacher. The incident started when two children, ages 4 & 5, began throwing things & knocking over chairs.

Once separated, with help from facility members, the classroom teacher escorted the 5-year-old student to a time-out room where he reportedly threw his body weight against her, causing her to fall & hit her head. Losing consciousness, she was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Pines Lakes Elementary soon thereafter released a statement stressing: Safety of staff & students is a top priority. The injured teacher says, Their actions did not show that.

International Schools, by comparison, report far fewer incidences of student-on-student violence &/or aggression directed towards teachers than do public schools. Yet, violence happens & often without a clear-cut policy for how to deal with it. An ISR Member tells us:


I am a teacher at a Tier-1 school where admin is reluctant to create a “policy” for violent behavior, student-to-student or student-to-teacher. Unfortunately, I have seen an uptick in dysregulated children. Teachers feel unsupported and have to tolerate being hit, kicked, etc. We recently raised this issue in a meeting with our HOS and received a reluctant response. Again, this is a reputable, high-profile school!


Is it fear of losing a well-paying customer, or fear of retaliatory measures from an influential parent that cowers some International Schools into hesitancy in enacting a violent-behavior policy? More than a few School Reviews hosted on ISR go so far as to say: The inmates are running the asylum.

Some years ago ISR documented a situation in which the parent of a high school student, sent to time-out for fighting, used his influence to invalidate the exit Visa of the teacher who dared to reprimand his over-indulged teenage son. Not aware of the situation, the teacher was detained at Immigration & prevented from leaving the country. The boy’s father equated a simple time out with putting his son in the Abu Ghraib prison! Weeks later the teacher managed to exit the country, never to return.

ISR asks: Does YOUR International School have documented consequences for violent, aggressive behavior? If so, ISR asks you to Share the details of that policy in an effort to help schools with no policy create one of their own. No one deserves to be hit, kicked, or detained for doing their job.

Comments? Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

Discrediting Teachers & Lashing Out

If you receive our Newsletter &/or frequent ISR, you know International Schools Review is all about providing a safe space for International Educators to anonymously keep each other in the loop about schools around the world.

ISR’s mantra, International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed, sometimes involves sharing information that’s not of a positive nature. This can often motivate various school Admin or their appointed “attorney” to contact & even threaten ISR.

The tone of such communications is usually aggressive, making it perfectly clear why teachers are dissatisfied, choose to stay anonymous & are motivated to Share their grievances, thus warning colleagues before accepting a Contract at such a school.

Refusing to recognize any degree of credibility in the Comments of the professionals they interviewed & hired, some admin go so far as to conduct witch hunts in an attempt to ferret out the author of negative Comments. More than just a few ISR School Reviews document teachers being called in & interrogated by a school attorney. Some admin claim they know who wrote the objectionable Review & offer leniency in exchange for a confession.

ISR recently received a letter typical of letters we receive from admin who take the stance an author of a negative School Review is merely a dissenter who failed to fall in line. Lashing out at ISR & attempting to discredit the author/s of Comments considered objectionable solves nothing, & may help substantiate the Comments in question. For example:


“To the Team at ISR,

I have been recently acquainted with a review of the school that I work at (The xxxx School). In the review that I read, the school and two of the administrators (who were named) were subject to a very nasty rendering of things conducted at the school. Judging by the way it was written and the subject matter, I know exactly who wrote the review. I was the anonymous writer’s head of department.

Though I was not mentioned, the review is offensive beyond measure. The review is ridiculous and literally outright lies from top to bottom. So I’m wondering, is this what your website is about, giving a platform to sub-standard educators who have emotional voids they are misguidedly trying to fill or simply for individuals to slander institutions?

The reason I ask is because this is all I can see on your website. Additionally, if one, or an institution wanted to reply, they would need to pay $30 [sic] for the privilege to do so. So your value to the world of international school teaching is what exactly?” (ISR Note: It does not cost to post Reviews to ISR. And, the non-member section has numerous links to do so.)


When dialogue isn’t immediately possible, negative School Reviews stand as a warning to other educators. If issues get resolved, succeeding Reviews may say so & it is quite common to see progress made using ISR as a basis of communication. But not always. Schools with a stack of poor Reviews still exist.

There’s a wide variety of schools out there. It’s always wise to research & learn from educators who have first-hand experience at a school you are considering. ISR, with its thousands of Members is here to help YOU find the right school.

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Pechersk School International & ISR Stand w/ Ukraine! YOU Can Help…

The following from Pechersk School Intern’l, Kiev, Ukraine:

Stand With Ukraine!

The current news has impacted all of us and most of all our dear friends and colleagues in Ukraine.

We ask you to take immediate action and join Pechersk School International (PSI-Kiev, Ukraine) in supporting our wonderful country. Ukraine is a country of strong, courageous and vibrant people, who are standing together to defend their homeland from this unprovoked attack.

There are many ways to support Ukraine and its citizens. Please visit the following website page to access the list of actions you can take.

Are YOU Tier-1 IB-School Ready?

There’s no shortage of outstanding schools that are neither IB, nor tier-1. The question, however, for those of us aspiring to a tier-1 IB school is: What does it take to land a position in such a school?

Here’s how ISR Members see it:

Generally, the rule is you can move up a tier or over from one region to a more desirable region with each successful 2-year Contract. So, if you start with a third-tier (Contract 1), you’re looking at a floater third-tier in a better region. Your second time (Contract 2) would be a second-tier IS. Next, Contract 3 is a floater, and a first-tier IS in Contract 4. So that’s about 6 years in IE.

“I think the fundamental premise is to have deeper pedagogical content knowledge which means you can guide all students successfully, both in terms of every day learning as well as steering them through complex assessments, projects and extended essays. 3-5 years is a good time span to experiment and refine teaching/learning strategies.

“Three to five years seems about right. The rest of your CV needs to tick other boxes as well, and of course there are always exceptions where someone got into a top-tier school with less IB experience. So, don’t hesitate to apply already. And of course there are top-tier school that don’t do IB.”

It depends on how you define top-tier. I got a teaching position at a top-tier IB school with 2 years of IBDP experience. However, I would not describe that school as a top-tier school even though I have seen it appear regularly on numerous ISR top-tier school lists [in the ISR Member Forum.] I did go on to teach in what I would classify a solid top-tier school after 5 years of teaching IBDP.”

What can also help is having international experience in the same region or a similar type of country in terms of level of development. A tier-1 school in Senegal might prefer experience in a similar(‘ish) African country rather than in Western Europe, since some countries are not for everyone.

Good News for Less Experienced Educators

Under certain circumstances, COVID-related Visa restrictions are working in favor of lesser experienced educators. Take China, for example: If you’re currently in China at a tier-2 or tier-3 school, now could be the right time to make a move to a tier-1 IB school. The mere fact you are in-country with a Visa in hand can put you ahead of a more qualified candidate not yet in-country and for whom Visa acquisition restrictions may be a detriment to their candidacy.

YOU may be more IB tier-1 School Ready than previously thought.

Something to add?
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The Word on Virtual Recruiting Fairs

We can’t help but wonder: Would virtual Recruiting Fairs have replaced in-person recruiting, or even done so by as much as 20%, if it had not been for COVID-19?

Other than keeping recruiting companies from joining the list of COVID causalities, what, if anything about virtual recruiting, is advantageous for these companies? Reduced fees for schools & candidates certainly aren’t good for a bottom line, while at the same time expenses associated with creating & maintaining a digital venue can be substantial.

Teachers & Admin commenting on ISR sum it up like this:

I see virtual recruiting fairs becoming an end-of-season catch-all for schools & teachers still looking. It could work well for last minute vacancies. Other than that, I’m not a fan.

I am seeing a ton of schools [on *** recruiting site] I have never, ever heard of ….”

That’s a whole lotta lousy schools .… [reduced fees & no travel expenses cleared the way for schools previously unable to participate.]”

As a recruiter I hate online fairs because unreliable technology & video conversations always feel even more awkward. But, I have also always hated in-person fairs because I don’t like taking so much time out of my schedule & staying at a hotel. There is def a benefit of someone actually sitting across from you so you do get a better sense of what they are really like…..”

“In-person fairs will still happen in the future because recruiters believe the in-person experience gives them a better sense of the candidate & also because it’s an efficient way to interview many candidates in-person in a short amount of time — it’s what I’ve heard recruiters say & I do agree. I also get a better sense of the admin when I have an in-person interview. Having a bunch of interviews in 2 days & possibly walking away with a job at the end is better than weeks of searching, emailing & Skype-interviews across time zones. The in-person preference is also part of the reason why some schools fly in the final two or three candidate for an interview.

Of course there are positive aspects to virtual recruiting fairs for both schools & candidates. However, we’ve yet to hear teachers or admins mention any that go beyond monetary savings & convenience. When COVID fades into history, will virtual Recruiting Fairs go with it?

If YOU were asked to sum up your experience with virtual recruiting fairs in one or two succinct paragraphs, what would that statement read like?

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