China Visa Gamble

Good news: One hundred fifty teachers and more than 60 schools with multiple available positions have so far registered for the upcoming Shanghai Virtual Recruiting Fair. The odds of landing a teaching position in China are looking strong! Bad news: The odds for Obtaining a Visa for China at the current stage of the pandemic are not looking good.

Issued by the Chinese Foreign Affairs Office, the first step in the China Visa process is to obtain a PU letter, essentially an invitation to apply for a Visa. Companies apply for the letter in the name of their foreign employees. Individuals and agents cannot. With a PU letter in hand, Visa candidates visit the nearest Chinese Consulate/Embassy in their home country to complete the process. Herein lies the problem.

With the pandemic muddling up the works, many Chinese Consulates/Embassies are closed until further notice, or simply refusing to process Visas at this time. An ISR member reports that an open Chinese consulate refused to process her Visa, even though she had a PU letter. Teachers waiting for a PU letter have not been guaranteed a date of issuance. The word is it could be June before Visa processing resumes, with the most likely applicant to receive a Visa being a single teacher or teaching couple. A trailing spouse and/or dependent children could be denied.

The odds of landing a teaching position in China look like a slam-dunk. The odds of entering the country to assume that position, even with an invitation letter, look like a gamble. It’s a waiting game and one that strongly suggests teaching candidates have a viable plan “B” ready to roll should August come around with China still on lockdown.

Comments? Questions? Please scroll to participate in this ISR Discussion

Ghosted

It was as if the school had literally fallen off the face of the earth. After 2 interviews at the Fair & an ongoing exchange of emails during the next few weeks, the school Director who’d led me to believe I was on the verge of being hired, suddenly & without warning, disappeared from my radar. I never heard from him again. Texts, emails & 3 phone calls were not answered. He had ghosted me!

Call it “ranting” if you choose, but soon thereafter I submitted a School Review outlining my negative recruiting experience with this Director. He can wear my Review as a badge of dishonor for the rest of his career. Thank you ISR for giving teachers a voice & holding Administrators who treat us like commodities, accountable.

As it turns out, ghosting is not uncommon in the International School arena. Although a poor business practice at best, I can almost understand not responding to every single resume/cover letter submitted for consideration. To lead a teacher on, get their hopes up & then disappear is, however, without conscience, manners or morals. Imagine passing up another offer only to be ghosted by your first choice! Do schools realize they are playing with our lives? Our careers? Maybe some just don’t care…

I read an amusing comment by a teacher on the ISR Forum who reports that after a few weeks of being ghosted he sent an effusive email thanking the school for the job offer, telling them he’s excited & looking forward to meeting everyone at the start of the school year! He goes on to say, “It’s funny how this elicited a response! Although not professional, neither is ghosting.”

Have many International Educators experienced ghosting in this unprecedent recruiting season? I reported my experience to the recruiter & could sense the manufactured tone of concern. Has COVID pushed ethics & etiquette out the door to become merely a handy excuse? Beyond posting Reviews of these irresponsible Directors, how can teachers avoid being ghosted, or what can they constructively do about it?

Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

Director-Made, Overly Positive School Review Site?

ISR recently received the newsletter of a school review website that openly claims on their login page to have “a better idea,” further insinuating ISR is merely a collection of disgruntled teachers doing not much more than “venting.” ISR can’t help wonder if this is the school-director organized website we were told was in the making some time ago.

Back to the newsletter… Upon opening the forwarded newsletter, we were struck by its glaring colors adorned with party popper confetti. It appears the message they are sending is: Teaching overseas is a party and don’t you worry about the rest of it!

In any case, the design, better suited for napkins at a kid’s birthday, served to introduce an uninspired article about “11 schools with hard working teachers and students.” Among the group included were schools in the UAE, Philippines, Uruguay, Zanzibar and Thailand, each accompanied by a quote from a teacher saying how “absolutely great the students are,” plus a link to more “great” comments.

We won’t dispute these teachers have a wonderful classroom of kids. However, and this is a big however, when you’re contemplating relocating to a foreign country, with little to no laws in place to protect you from your employer, there’s more to consider than simply how the kids behave in a few classrooms across the globe.

Beyond the atmosphere YOU create in your classroom, there’s a whole world of scenarios related to living and teaching internationally that will impact your personal security and career future. ISR’s School Reviews remove the rose-colored lenses and party poppers and unmask schools that withhold salaries, switch Contract terms, substitute poor housing for that promised, fail to reimburse travel and/or shipping allowances, renege on health insurance, cancel Contracts with little to no notice, fail to stop bullying, discriminate against minorities and otherwise engage in dishonest and unethical practices. Any website that considers telling the truth a form of “venting” is a website YOU might want to avoid.

There’s a lot of positives at every school and ISR’s School Reviews delve into them. The question is: Do the positives outweigh the negatives and can you live with the negatives? Overlooking the negatives could be detrimental to your career and personal safety. It’s always wise to consult various sources when considering an International School for a career move. It’s irresponsible when websites fail to reveal the reality of life at these schools. Then again, a site created by directors and/or supporting schools by advertising job openings, could have a “narrow” viewpoint with an potentially dangerous agenda. Is this really “a better idea”?

Sycophants, Brown-Nosers & Snitches

Full of compliments, wheedling for information & eager to use you for their own end, sycophants, brown- nosers & a snitches have one thing in common: They’re not your friend, & given the chance, can prove quite detrimental to your emotional & professional well-being at your current school & beyond.

The aforementioned species of teacher is easily spotted. They compliment admin no end at faculty meetings. They pump you for information when they just happen to run into you in the hall. They have their noses where they don’t belong. They’re the self-appointed eyes & ears of admin, reporting all they see/hear back to their “master.” Members of this species may even enjoy favored teacher status, chumming around with their Director or Principal who have been known to send them out on “spy missions” like so many minions. Sadly, instances of this are well documented in ISR School Reviews.

My last school had its share of sycophants, brown-nosers & snitches who hung out with the Director. A member of this group unfortunately had it in for an outstanding teacher & filled the Director’s ear with gossip & half-truths. Sadly, the Director encouraged & rewarded the ‘snitch.’ Soon the situation led to a conference where differences of opinion quickly escalated into an ugly situation. The targeted teacher was soon thereafter drummed out of the school.

The question is: How do YOU deal with sycophants, brown-nosers & snitches? If they are supported by a weak, suspicious administrator it can be a particularly delicate situation. Short of isolating yourself in your classroom, how do YOU rise above this situation?

Please scroll down to participate in this Conversation

Pros & Cons of a Home ‘Back Home’

Owning a home ‘back home’ comes with some major Pros & Cons for International Educators. A big Pro of home ownership, and I think you’ll agree, is you have a place to retreat to in an unforeseen crisis such as Covid-19 putting a sudden end to your job. On the other hand, a huge Con for home ownership is the question of ‘How do you take care of the place and protect your investment when you’re 1000s of miles away?’

If you are planning to own a home from overseas, the Con side — a mortgage, potential troublesome tenants, regular maintenance and upkeep, annual taxes and insurance, emergency repairs — needs to be balanced against the Pro side — potential rental income, property value appreciation, a home to park yourself during the summer, a place to call home in the event of an emergency.

If a mortgage and other house-related bills are dependent on your teaching position and/or tenants, you may want to think twice. The headaches may not be worth the benefits of long-distance home ownership. However, if you’re financially solvent, home ownership could be the way to go, provided you have trustworthy people to oversee your property in your absence. Teachers report making more in rental income as compared to their salary.

ISR asks: Do you own a home that you maintain from a distance? Has it been a positive experience? What advice do you have for other International Educators considering owning a home ‘back home?’

Please scroll down to participate in this Discussion Board

Your CV/Résumé Beyond Words

How many pages should a résumé/CV be? What about a cover letter? Should a résumé be 1 page and the cover letter 2? Or is it the reverse? And what about references? Do references belong on a separate sheet or do you even include them? All of this may be worth considering but none of it will make or break the deal because ultimately, you need to stand out, and today more than ever! Here’s how…

Competition is stiff this Recruiting season. As a result of Covid, borders have closed and the market appears flooded with teachers who would have otherwise returned to their positions. All things being equal, your résumé and cover letter are YOUR first and best opportunity to display unique capabilities and that special something that makes YOU the best candidate for the job. After all, teaching requires creativity. Show them you have it!

An internet search quickly yields hundreds of clever, catchy résumé and cover letter designs. It’s good to know what’s out there and what the competition is up to, but adopting the flavor-of-the-month, hook, line and sinker, could cast you to the bottom of the pool along with the rest of the copy cats. More importantly, how unique can you appear within the confines of someone else’s creation?

We’re all unique in our own special way and it’s that incomparability that makes us attractive to recruiters. Take chances and don’t be afraid to get creative with your résumé and cover letter. Let your personality leap off the page! Color a little outside the lines. When recruiters see what makes you unique beyond words and format, it’s obvious why you’re a great teacher and the perfect candidate for the job.

ISR asks: How do YOU tweak your résumé with an infusion of creativity?

Please scroll down to participate

The New American President’s Effect on International Education

On January 20th, a new American President, Joe Biden, was inaugurated into office. America’s relationship with the world is about to change. In YOUR opinion, will the hand-off of power in America help or hinder the average Western International educator’s image in the eyes of host country nationals? Take our short Survey.

As an International Educator, I believe the new American president will:

Please scroll down to tell us why you chose your Answer

Are you White enough?

by Alexander Charles Gardner-McTaggart (Alex McTaggart)

In many international schools, remuneration is based on where you come from. For example, Ex-pat hires, recruited abroad get the full deal. Ex-pat hires recruited locally get a lesser deal. Local hires, get an even lesser deal and unless you can ‘fit’ the field, you get no deal at all. Writing this now, I still find it difficult, as none of it makes any sense. Worse than that, it is stupid, ignorant, deeply divisive, and unjust. Yet, as most readers will recognize, this is the non-collegial reality that we call international schools’ teaching. 

When you walk into one of the ‘good’ international schools – the ones that can ask the higher fees – you will be greeted by a happy registrar who walks around a school campus of superlatives: theatre, pool, sports-fields, cosy student areas etc. The staff are helpful and friendly, educated and purposeful and for the most part, white and Anglo European. 

When you teach at one of these schools you walk into a world where payment is appropriate, working hours are decent, and benefits are the defining measure of its prestige as a school. Particularly if you are white and Anglo European. 

When you learn at one of these schools, you hear all the words, write them down, and repeat them when asked. They are about fairness, justice and making the world a better place. When you think about internationalism, you understand that being international, well-paid, and just, is about being White and Anglo European. 

When you sit down to think about it, none of it makes any sense, except in the most cynical and caustic manner. How can leadership of schools set up for a multicultural international reality officially condone, encourage and reward openly racist policies of recruitment, and fail so badly to address issues of criticality in thinking? We are all led to believe these issues are what they specialize in, and not what they fail in. When you research this phenomenon as I do, the truth ends up being clear, unjust, and entirely predictable. 

For most of its history, the field of international schools has been a small one, where the romanticism of the word ‘international’ became an alternative way to educate children of internationally mobile parents, and expats of various descriptions. In the grander scheme of ‘educational’ things, the field is mostly irrelevant. After all, research aims to find truth and generate knowledge so that the world we live in can be a better one. This is the purpose of knowledge and knowing, not having to repeat the same old errors and failures over and over like Sisyphus, but building on what works, improving what might, and avoiding what doesn’t. International schools tend to be quite clear that their international remit validates their approach to ‘making the world a better place’, to coin an International Baccalaureate (IB) adage. They have always been ‘alright thank you very much’, in that they have plenty of money, well-paid staff, and cohorts of students who come from comfortable backgrounds. 

Since 2001 the international school’s sector has expanded from 1 million students to nearly 6 million worldwide with now 500,000 staff – and growing. For perspective, England has around 475,000 teachers. What was once a small field is now nation-sized and remains small in one way only: in knowledge. Added to this, the diffused, and distanced nature of these thousands of institutions means that finding truth is expensive, arduous and mostly what researchers might call, ‘snapshot’ in nature. That means that there is little data available on the human reality of these schools and plenty on the ‘do good’ nature of their curricula, teaching, and outlook. The research has been skewed in this way, and it is understandable, as state education over the last 40 years has witnessed a dismal decline towards PISA stats, teach to test, and underfunding. For many, international schools represent a new hope where pedagogy is progressive, and teachers are valued. 

Finding knowledge is not a cut and dried matter. If you survey a thousand teachers and admin, you will find truth of a certain kind. It is the kind that policy makers tend to like, because you can put it on a graph, or chart, present it in a board meeting and talk about trends and averages. My search for truth is different. I look for lived reality, the stories, ideas, dreams, and experiences of those in education. This kind of knowledge is of the type that policy makers tend not to like because it shows what life is really like for those who live it. Not for those who live above it, aside from it, or distanced from it.

For this project, and over the course of two years I was connected with six of the most influential international school directors in the world in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. My objective was to understand their truth, see the world as they saw it, and allow them to express themselves and present their vision as they saw fit. Having collected this data through unstructured interview, observation and questionnaire I made sure they reviewed the data, and the findings just to be absolutely certain they were being represented accurately. With this done, I applied theory of the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu alongside the more general work from the field of educational leadership. This is called a theoretical triangulation, and lessens the impact of my personal interpretation, putting the focus on the social theory. 

What I found was that these leaders were very powerful, with freedoms and responsibilities that go far beyond what a national school leader may expect. This is good for policy makers, good for people who agree, good for those ‘on board’, and potentially disastrous for those who think differently: or are different. Welcome to the staffing reality of an international school. However, I found these people were unequivocal in their understanding of internationalism and global mindedness as the core aspect defining leadership in international schools. They drew enormous strength from their biographies of white, Anglo upbringings: service, hard work, merit, deep belief, and most of all, their values. This is what made them distinct. This is what made them successful. 

Time for a bit of light sociology. Bourdieu tells us from a social perspective that humans (agents) create ‘fields’ wherein they work. International school leaders exist in just such a field. Bourdieu posits that the more successful you are in a field, the more power you will gain, and the higher you will climb in that field. The schools I researched and the teachers in them are positioned at the top of the field, and if Bourdieu is to be believed, they play an instrumental part in defining what it is to be a successful international educator. The sociologist makes it clear that being successful is a direct result of how well the agent fits the field. That means that if your field is defined by whiteness, and stories of it, then you will be successful in it if you align with it. Conversely, if you do not fit the field, then you will experience something called ‘symbolic violence’. This means the field will reject you, and you will remain unsuccessful in it until such time as you either change or leave. 

Teachers cannot change their skin colour, nor can they change their past. Teachers are agents of transformative change, shapers of futures, and representatives of our planet to the young. 

My research found that the most senior leaders and policy makers of international schools lead the field without any open awareness of, or willingness to change the whiteness status quo they inherit. They live and embody a powerful and deeply ‘international’ reality through the lens of whiteness. These are the people, who by their own admission, shape and form the field of international schools. Despite this, they develop, monitor and sign-off on policy that privileges white, Western teachers and makes it difficult for the rest. In this way, these sites of transformation are sky-bound Elysiums where the teaching of emancipation and fairness is available to the white Western candidate who has the ‘right’ teaching qualification, the ‘right’ experience, and the ‘right’ degree. 

It is a curious situation. International schools are prepared to spend the lion’s share of their considerable budget on their white, Anglo-European staff. They retain them with expensive salaries, accommodation, repatriations, insurance, and the rest. By doing so, they actively define the field, and enact ‘symbolic violence’ to those unable to take part because they didn’t grow up in California or Berkshire or Melbourne, didn’t go to a tier one university, and didn’t train in ‘the West’. Are international schools (and by this I mean their directors and owners) really saying that some teachers are not as valuable and their contribution is worth less because they are not white Anglo-European? After all, they should know because as the name on the tin suggests, these schools are diverse spaces. It is stranger still that these schools which build their identity on values of multiculturalism and internationalism are unable to invest ‘the lions share’ of their budgets in teachers from non-white Anglo-Europeans. As if this were not enough, the question remains, why can’t international schools pay people the same money for the same job? (Some may, many don’t). Why is payment often due to local or expat status? What is this nonsense that keeps the illusion of a post-colonial advantage alive in the 21st Century? Not in some tobacco-chewing, gun-toting, white supremacist training camp, but in multicultural international schools. 

The reason is to do with something called ‘The International Gaze’. Where once internationalism was implicitly connected to sophistication, knowledge and even fraternity and solidarity, it is now much-changed, and refers more to material advantage. It is this tantalising ‘International’ advantage that these schools sell. The customers are the burgeoning upper-middle classes around the world and particularly in the global South. ‘The Gaze’ is a term that refers to how a person reacts under the eyes of a more powerful other: a patient to a doctor, a woman to a man, the colonised to the coloniser. It denotes the reaction to this power and corresponding appropriative/pandering behaviour that the gazed upon employ. The international gaze as applied by the parent-customer demands what it perceives to be advantage. It just so happens that this is, and remains, white Anglo-Europeanism. So, as this analysis shows, international schools, far from being nodal points of multiculturalism are in fact more likely to manifest as replicators of The International Gaze, not because they necessarily want to (and I am extending plenty of goodwill and ‘benefit of the doubt’ here), but because their market-orientation requires it of them. 

So, where now? What can we do as international educators? How can we change an entrenched system of injustice and bias that cloaks itself in a magic mantle of ‘making the world a better place’? How can this be possible when we model yesterday’s and today’s inequities in the very schools that seek to educate our future influencers and decision makers? What kind of systems will they put in place when it is their turn to lead? The ones we told them about, or the ones they saw us working in and profiting from? We are international educators after all, it is in our blood to seek positive change for sustainable futures. This is the question international schools need to ask themselves. What is internationalism? Is it a shared, collective representation of the diversity and difference of our world, brought together in peace and hope? Or is it defined by a privileged few, enacted by them, experienced by them, and even taught by them – by their rules and on their terms? 

Comments? Please Scroll to Participate


This article also appears in Educational Digest International. It is based on the following:
Gardner–McTaggart,
 A., 2020b. Washing the world in whiteness; International schools’ policy. Journal of Educational Administration and History, p. online first

About the author: Alexander Charles Gardner-McTaggart (Alex McTaggart) is lecturer in Educational Leadership at the School of Environment Education and Development (SEED), of the University of Manchester where he is program director of the MA Educational Leadership in Practice. He is co-convenor of the Comparative and International Education Special Interest Group of the British Educational Research Association (BERA). His work is located in the critical paradigm and seeks to uncover truth and power in international education and educational leadership. Alex lives between Manchester and his family home in the Austrian alps.

Bibliography

Bourdieu, P., 1984. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Cambridge(MA): Harvard University Press.
Gardner-McTaggart, A., 2016. International elite, or global citizens? Equity, distinction and power: the International Baccalaureate and the rise of the South. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 14(1), pp. 1-29.
GardnerMcTaggart, A., 2018d. Birds of a Feather: Senior International Baccalaureate International Schools Leadership in Service. Journal of Research in International Education.
GardnerMcTaggart, A., 2018g. The promise of advantage. Englishness in IB international schools. Perspectives: Policiy and Practice in Higher Education, 22(4), pp. 109-114.
GardnerMcTaggart, A., 2019. International Baccalaureate Senior Leadership and Christianity. Globalisation Societies and Education, 17(4), pp. 458-573.
GardnerMcTaggart, A., 2020b. Washing the world in whiteness; International schools’ policy. Journal of Educational Administration and History, p. online first.
Gardner-McTaggart, A., 2020. Educational leadership and global crises; reimagining planetary futures through social practice. International Journal of Leadership in Education.
Gunter, H., 2013. Knowledge production and theory development: The case of educational administration. Cardiff, s.n.
IBO, 2020. Mission. [Online] Available at: http://www.ibo.org/about-the-ib/mission/
ISC, 2020. ISC research. [Online] Available at: http://www.iscresearch.com [Accessed 28 December 2017].
Sahlberg, P., 2006. Education Reform for Raising Economic Competitiveness. Journal of Educational Change, 7(4), p. 59–287.


Important Updates: Name Your School & Comment on Their Response to Covid-19

Caught by surprise with little to no disaster preparedness procedures in place, scores of International Schools succumbed to the onset of the Covid crisis with little more than a knee-jerk reaction. Conversely, many schools proved well prepared for just such an emergency, with an already established and well rehearsed virtual teaching platform in place, along with well thought out emergency procedures and policies. Some of us were very lucky to find ourselves at such a school!

The question is: How are individual schools currently dealing with the pandemic (as compared to when the crisis first struck)? This is the information we all need in order to make informed recruiting decisions during this unprecedented season.

For example: A school initially reported by teachers to have started out on shaky ground in the face of the crisis may have later developed a viable plan beneficial to both students and teachers. Or, a school that initially attempted to keep all staff on board may have eventually buckled under financial pressures due to decreased enrollment, forcing the dismissal of staff and possibly a failure to honor Contracts. Additionally, a school in locations with Covid-related Visa restrictions may no longer be able to guarantee entry to their host country.

There is no end to current, Covid-related scenarios that could affect the lives and careers of International Educators. If YOU have up-to-date info to Share on the Covid-related status of your school, we encourage participation in our endeavor to provide ISR Members and site visitors with the information needed to make informed career decisions during this recruiting season unlike any other.

To participate: Please click below to visit our original Article. Scroll (or use control F on your keyboard) to find already posted information about your school. Then click the REPLY link following the comments and enter your updated information. Comments are date-stamped so readers will know which are the latest comments. Your post will be made anonymously, as always.

A Wireless Happy Holiday

Even though we can’t be home with family & friends this Holiday Season, you CAN spend quality time with loved ones through the magic of streaming. That’s our plan at ISR.
From ISR to You & Yours, we wish you a happy, healthy, wonderful Holiday & a heart-warming wireless trip Home!

Stressed Out School Leaders?

ISR has received the following commentary from a concerned Member in regards to an article appearing on The International Educator (TIE) website, New Survey Reveals Worrying Levels of Stress Among International School Leaders:

Normally I refrain from participation in online (or in-person) leadership discussions. I find them needlessly pedantic and self-serving even during the best of times. During this current crisis, I have attempted to seek guidance several times through online “leadership” portals, only to be either ignored or rebuffed for a wide variety of reasons.

After trying for this long and through this many avenues I reach the same conclusion that teachers reach when leaving their profession (which as we all know, they are doing in record numbers), which is that nobody knows what to do. The adults in the room have deserted us and are waiting for those who remain to simply fix the situation so they can return and tell us what we have done wrong. I am reminded of the quote by Roosevelt about “the man in the arena” (gendered speech not withstanding of course). 

This crisis has exposed the worst of our profession. Principals and Heads of School deserting their charges and their post when they were needed most. Those same “leaders” then demanding teachers return in-person to expose themselves to pestilence and disease while sitting safely removed from their schools or within the safe confines of their offices. To then read these same leaders tell us all about how much stress they are experiencing is beyond appalling. How difficult it must be to collect a large paycheck, written in the diseased blood of teachers, students, and families! How much more could they possibly take, these poor heads and principals?

I am continually shocked and appalled at the tone-deaf and out of touch missives written by those who are entrusted with our most sacred charges. The lives of children and workers who have no choice but to weather this pandemic and carry on are deemed less important than the vacation homes and retirement accounts of the over-paid and under-worked administrators who couldn’t be bothered to stay in the countries that employ them. Our industry, built upon the assumption that foreigners can somehow educate better than locals, has been exposed as the predatory and transient thing that it truly is. 

If I seem angry it is because I am. Working where I have worked, doing what I love with the people that I respect, has never been accorded the same level of consideration that other heads and principals have had. How many times have those of us working in “low tier” schools been told that we are lesser than, our students and teachers lesser than, simply because of their nationalities and the color of their passports? Blame then my naiveté for thinking that, during a time of worldwide crisis, we could somehow dismiss this damaging notion that those on top deserve life and luxury more than those on bottom.

The United States Marine Corps has a concept enshrined in every ceremony and circumstance: the lowest rank is the first to eat, followed in turn by the second lowest, all the way to the highest rank. It is this organization, distributing benefits in order from most-needy to least, that has become (and remains) the world’s most highly regarded fighting force. What would international schools look like if they embraced this ethos? 

In closing I want those who have remained with me this long to think about one thing and one thing only: When this pandemic hit, when our families and loved ones were dying unable to speak to us except though a tablet device, when our students and teachers cried out for leadership, where were you? Did you stand with these people that you claim to lead, or did you slink off cowardly into oblivion? I beg you all, ask this question of your leadership. If they cannot answer in the moral affirmative, they are not leaders at all.

Sincerely,
a Concerned Educator

Comments? Please Scroll Down to Participate in this Discussion

Survey: 2020 Holiday Travel

How will YOU celebrate the 2020 Winter Holidays? Do you have travel plans or will you Shelter in place? Hands down, the most sensible, and possibly least appealing choice is to just stay put and maybe even self-quarantine.

Consider the following: Flying home to the United States and parts of Europe for the holiday, where the virus continues to rage, may be like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. Traversing crowded airports in these countries could later prove fatal not only to the traveler, but also family and friends and later to colleagues and students upon a return to the host country.

As International Educators and emissaries from our home countries, we have the responsibility to not only teach responsible behaviors, but to embody what we teach. Still, there are educators among us with the… “It won’t happen here attitude,” who will ignore the warnings and put themselves and others in harm’s way. Our guess is they are few and far between.

What’s YOUR plan for the Winter Holiday?


Comments? Please Scroll Down to Participate in this Discussion Topic

How Do You Get to School?

Whether by Guagua, moto, metro, pedal power, foot power, school bus, beyoglu, habal, or behind the wheel of your own car, getting to school can be, and usually is, a cultural experience in and of itself.

How do YOU get to school in the morning?

An ISR member in Thailand tells us:

“I drive to school in my 18-year-old, not so dependable Mazda I got from an English guy moving back home. Time permitting, I take the back roads and avoid the ever-present morning police trap on the main artery. It’s about a 40-minute commute. We’re talking expansive rice paddies, Buddhist temples, swaying palms and oxen in the fields. The road to school is an adventure, and even more so the couple of times the old Mazda pooped out.

An ISR Member in Pakistan says:

The same taxi driver picks me up every morning and drops me off in the afternoons. Even from the back seat the 30-minute morning commute is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. As if traffic wasn’t intense enough, a couple of camels in the road along with the occasional water buffalo and the endless rickshaws, the commute gives you the feeling you’re in a real life video game. especially since there are no lane lines on the roads here.

An ISR Member in the Dominican Republic checks in:

It all depends on the weather, you know, and how much stuff I have to carry. On nice days I try to walk. I see the same smiling shopkeepers and neighbors along the way. I feel like a part of the neighborhood and often stop in at a small coffee shop for a espresso and breakfast. On rainy days I grab a Guagua.

How do YOU get to school in the morning?

Please scroll down to Participate

Thank You from ISR





On this day of giving thanks, as always, we are thankful for YOUR support throughout the year.

Teachers Keeping Each Other Informed
is what International Schools Review is all about!

Thanks to YOU, it’s ALL Possible

Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday!

School Mission Statements: Fact, Fantasy or Promo?

A look behind the façade of well-crafted, lofty verbiage reveals most school Mission Statements are composed of unquantifiable promises, often nothing more than well worded promos intended to lure paying customers.

In 2011, ISR visited the topic of International Schools’ Mission Statements and asked teachers to comment on their school’s statement. Did the school live up to their Mission Statement? Here’s some excerpts from that Article:

…………………………………..

 “Eventually we came up with something that made us sound great. Only problem was…we were none of those things. It was a great piece of advertising and it helped the school sell itself to unsuspecting parents.

…………………………………..

I challenge anyone to find a school where the majority of staff can come to consensus on just what is a “global citizen.”

…………………………………….

“It should’ve just said: The school’s aim is make as much money as possible, to promise the world yet never deliver, to exploit staff, to provide students with crappy facilities and to forever function well below its potential”

…………………………………….

ln our experience, there’s a direct correlation between schools with reach for the moon Mission Statements and varying degrees of chaos. From parents and students calling all the shots and regular grade fixing, to an admin who could care less if goals are met, typical pie-in-the-sky Mission Statements offer no direction, organization nor measurable goals and lead to schools adrift like a ship without a rudder.

Fortunately, not all Mission Statements fit into the above category. Here’s a solid Mission Statement with quantifiable, measurable goals as shared by an ISR member.

ABC Academy challenges its students to academic excellence through the medium of a college preparatory curriculum and U.S. academic standards, with instruction in English language. ABC Academy values community service and responsible global citizenship and promotes the integral development of each student within a multicultural setting.

ISR asks: What’s changed since our first look at International School Mission Statements almost 10 years ago? With schools popping up across the globe, is competition encouraging a focus on measurable goals and a record of meeting those goals? Or have over-the-top, unmeasurable and unobtainable promises, solely designed to steer clients away from the competition, becoming the norm? What’s the situation at YOUR school?

Please scroll down to participate in this Discussion

Baking a Cake at Altitude & Other Unexpected Challenges of Living Overseas

Life overseas has its challenges. For most of us, developing useful language skills, making quality relationships with colleagues, and managing to acclimate to the daily maze of cultural issues may top the list. But, what of the little, unexpected challenges that tend to sneak up on us when least expected?

A completely unprecedented challenge came my way mere days after setting up my new house in Nepal, my first international teaching locale. I’m a baker by hobby and so set out to bake a double-layer chocolate cake for our director’s surprise birthday party. I soon discovered baking from scratch in Kathmandu’s high altitude would require a substantial readjustment to almost everything I took for granted about baking back home; and for that matter, Kathmandu would force me to reevaluate most every thing I took for granted about my life.

In case you’re interested, Kathmandu’s altitude means food cooks slower so temperatures and/or bake times must be increased …. but, by how much is really the question. Liquids evaporate faster at altitude so flour, sugar, milk and water require adjustment to prevent a too moist, dry or gummy batter. And finally, gases expand more at altitude making dough rise quite fast. It was easy to see: A new approach to baking was in order! It had been years since I pulled an utter flop out of the oven, and this cake most definitely was a flop, both literally and figuratively.

Most of what we take for granted back home and see as mundane and simple can take on an entirely new character overseas, especially when we try to accomplish a task as if we were back home. Reflecting on my early days in Kathmandu, I consider learning to bake at altitude an analogy of my time here. That’s because everything in Kathmandu is, like life, “at altitude” in one way or another.

ISR asks: What unexpected, challenges have YOU encountered and surmounted in YOUR life overseas?

Please scroll down to Share

Teachers’ Impressions of Search October Fair

“Schools did not seem to be hiring or interviewing. Search emails stated that we needed to check the site and respond quickly. Schools were not under the same requirement…”

My feeling is that this is honestly too early and my spouse and I will likely have better luck at the January Fair. At least that’s what I’m telling myself...”

“Had 3 interview offers but none in locations I wanted. I submitted interview requests but have not heard anything. Seems like a bit of a waste of time & $$ for me…”

These excerpts are from threads on the ISR Member FORUM. Use the login button below to sign into ISR. Then return to this tab and use the highlighted links to go directly to individual threads.

What You Need to Know about Recruiting in the Age of Covid

If you’re contemplating or planning on recruiting during these unprecedented times, you’re probably searching for answers to some pressing questions:

    • Is it worth recruiting this season?
    • Should I stay put in my current position for job security?
    • Do virtual Recruiting Fairs hold a candle to the real thing?
    • Is the job market glutted with teachers who lost their jobs to Covid? 
    • Are schools hiring or being super picky because jobs are at a premium?

As a Community of International Educators, we collectively have answers to these questions, and MORE. ISR invites YOU to take a minute and share YOUR experiences and insights regarding today’s recruiting climate. Together we can piece together the information each of us needs to make informed career decisions in the age of Covid-19.

International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed
is what International Schools Review is All About!

Please scroll down to Share your experiences & insights

Adaptive Schools – Collaboration or Something Else?

I had started my fourth year at an international school in SE Asia. For the previous 3 years, I had deferred leadership of the Secondary School committee to an aspiring administrator we’ll call ‘Bryan.’ The first committee meeting commenced…

For more than an hour ‘Bryan’ explained, in great detail, his version of the 7 Norms of Collaboration, the cornerstone of Adaptive Schools. When I pointed out that leadership of the committee should rotate between individuals within the department, he replied that he  alone was the one who would set the agenda, because, as he put it, he had to “promote student learning.”

The Principal, new to the school, gave ‘Bryan’ authority over the entire Secondary School committee for the next 4 meetings, where he talked for hour upon hour about these Norms, and how this was going to become the basis for the entire school year.

What are the 7 Norms of Collaboration that fall under the umbrella of Adaptive Schools? And why do they require so many hours of explanation?

  • The 7 Norms of Collaboration
    1. Pausing before responding to others.
    2. Paraphrase what other people say to promote understanding.
    3. Ask questions to figure out what people are thinking.
    4. Put ideas on the table.
    5. Use data to create shared understandings.
    6. Pay attention to what you say, how it is perceived, and what others say.
    7. Assume that the intentions of other people are positive.

Are these not skills normal adults are expected to have? Listening, paying attention to others, asking questions…..why do educators need a framework for these things? Moreover, why are multi-day seminars and/or hours and hours used to discuss this dreck?

I understand needing programs related to curriculum or classroom management or other kinds of best practices. But this is nothing but behavior modification. It is based on the assumption teachers can’t hack it as professionals, and need to be told what to do and how to think, talk and act. It is also based upon the idea that behavioral modification will usher in a better era. This is the thinking of cults, not the open inquiry that true education requires.

Some may say, “Just go along to get along and stop making waves. Don’t take any of this too seriously.  It’s all just small requests.”  As for me, it’s not a small thing if you are treated like you’re incapable of functioning in a group. Also, consider it will suck the life out of you and hurt you as being a source of strength in the classroom, and in your life. Life is too short to be treated like a dorky automaton!

I welcome any defense of Adaptive Schools and/or the 7 Norms of Collaboration and I accept any criticism of the views expressed here. Open discussion is welcomed because that kind of discussion is almost impossible in a school environment where one is forced to toe the line with Adaptive Schools.

(Note: The views expressed in this Article are those of the guest author and not necessarily the views of ISR.)

Please scroll down to participate in this Discussion