What’s On YOUR Mind?

April 27, 2017


..We’re doing something different this week. Something we’ve never done before and that should be of real benefit to our readers. We’ve created a space on this page and invite YOU, our readers, to use that space to initiate and participate in discussions YOU introduce.

Here’s how we envision this working:

The 1st person to visit this page will kick things off by initiating a topic they wish to discuss. Anyone may respond by clicking Reply, just below the entry. More than one person can respond to a topic.

Anyone may start an entirely new topic. To do so scroll to the bottom of this page, add your question and/or statement in the Leave a Reply box and click the Post Comment button. This new topic will appear just below the previous topic of discussion.

To recap, click Reply, just below a topic, to add to that discussion.
To start a new topic, scroll down to the Leave a Reply box < Post Comment button.

For example: Someone interested in discussing the effects of ‘currency devaluation’ on International Educators would initiate the topic by posting a question and/or statement using the Leave a Reply box < Post Comment button, found at the bottom of this page.  Colleagues could then chime in by clicking Reply, just below the posted question or statement.

..What the results of this experiment will be is anyone’s guess. We envision a series of topics, community discussions and the opportunity to share ideas/opinions, and to further benefit from each others’ knowledge and experiences. Thank you for your participation!

Please scroll down to participate


What’s YOUR Real Reason for Going Overseas?

April 20, 2017

..If asked by family and friends why I teach overseas, I usually respond with something short and simple along the lines of, Oh, I love to travel. Or, I want to see more of the world. I’m convinced it’s best to stick to answers that resonates well in my loved ones’ world — travel, adventure — keep it simple.

..If the conversation dictates, I’ll take my ‘stock’ answer one step further and talk about how life overseas is slower, how people take time for each other. If my listener is still interested I’ll go on to talk about how there are less rules/regulations overseas, which makes life feel far less regimented and a lot less stressful. My longer answer to the question, Why do you live overseas? is usually well accepted because everyone wants a less complicated life with more benefits.

..I avoid going into my more personal, deeper reasons for living overseas. I’m afraid that if I open up to my loved ones, they won’t get it. And when people don’t understand where you’re coming from, they often reject you and see you as somehow different from them. I don’t want to alienate friends and family so I stick to what rings true in their world.

..Because I’m interested to hear from other educators about their more personal reasons for going overseas, I’m going to share with you my well-guarded reason for living overseas, one I don’t ordinarily share with those close to me. As international teachers, I know you’ll understand me, even if you don’t have the same exact motives as I do for living overseas.

..So, here goes…Beyond all the logical benefits of overseas living, I became hooked on living in developing nations because they make me feel alive in a way I never experienced living in the States. Not to sound morbid, but the fact that death feels so much closer and more real here makes me appreciate my life and live it more fully. Back in America there’s a perpetrated, false sense of immortality that caused me to waste life on insignificant things that don’t matter. Overseas I’m free from this illusion.

..On a basic level, walk into any open-air market abroad and you’ll see chickens and small animals pulled out of cages, their necks slit, and then sold ‘fresh’ to shoppers. Pigs and livestock are slaughtered in the open and served in nearby restaurants. Death is not hidden, disguised in glossy packages in brightly lit supermarkets. Americans have divorced themselves from the concept of death in every way possible, further enforcing the false sense of ‘this is forever’ and reducing life to obsessing over trivialities, what other cultures would consider minor annoyances.

..While living in Guatemala in the mid-90’s I had my first life transforming experience based on death. At the corner of my street two policemen had been shot to death by a man who’d stolen a truck. Two bodies lay in the dirt by the side of the road, face up, uncovered, waiting for family to identify them. It startled me that the bodies weren’t covered, yet no one seemed concerned death was staring them in the face. The thing that most deeply impacted me was that at least 50 people,  including lots of children, were standing around the crime scene. Most were drinking beer from the nearby market, socializing, catching up with neighbors, and in general enjoying themselves as if they were at a social event. I’d never seen anything like this but it made me understand why the Guatemalans were so full of life and music and took every opportunity to enjoy themselves. Death was very real to them — they weren’t in denial!

..That bloody scene mere meters from my front door, helped me further understand what I’d seen previously in a cemetery during a national holiday. Hundreds of family and friends gathered at the grave sites of their ‘dearly departed’  to barbecue, drink, listen to music, dance and in general, party down with their deceased loved ones. Imagine the results of playing music and dancing on a grave site in Los Angeles!

..Guatemala is only one of many cultures that don’t deny death, thus making life more meaningful, rich and full. Tibetan monks, for example, actually go to the extreme of meditating amidst corpses being prepared for what is known as a Sky Burial (performed by hacking bodies into pieces and laying them out for vultures). They do this to instill in themselves a deep, intrinsic acceptance that life is only temporary. The message is obvious — live fully NOW!

..These days, when I spend any length of time back in America I feel myself slowly slipping into the Western world’s denial of death and soon I’m caught up in the same dulling nonsense that occupies the minds of most Westerners. That’s when I know it’s time to leave again and start living my life to its fullest.

..I would love to hear what motivates other international teachers to leave home and stay overseas. If the spirit moves you and you’d like to share, please do!

Note: This commentary was submitted to ISR for publication by an ISR member who wishes to remain anonymous. 

 

 


Admin w/ Fake Credentials

April 13, 2017

..If you’ve ever suspected your School Director or Principal hadn’t actually earned the degrees and credentials prominently displayed on their office wall, you’re not alone. When journalism students at Pittsburgh High School (Kansas, USA) decided to look into the background of their new Head of School, Amy Robertson, their suspicions proved legitimate. Miss Robertson, who had spent the past 19 years involved in International Education in the UAE, joined Pittsburgh High School in early 2017.

.. The journalism class began investigation into Miss Robertson by looking at her advanced degrees and credentials. Her Master’s degree and PhD were both from Corllins University. The students soon learned, however, that Corllins is a school characterized by many critics as strictly a diploma mill — a place where you buy advanced degrees. The school board thereafter asked Miss Robinson to produce transcripts to substantiate her undergraduate degree from a well-known American university. She was unable to do so. She did state that Corllins University lost its accreditation after she had graduated. Miss Robertson resigned the $93,000-a-year position, stating it was “in the best interest of the district.”

..Fortunately for International Educators, as far back as 2012, teachers working under Amy Robertson at Dubai American Scientific School had their own concerns and shared them with International Schools Review Members. Fourteen ISR Reviews of Dubai American Scientific School make references to Amy Robertson and include links to news articles covering Miss Robertson’s problems with the Dubai Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), which said she was not authorized to head the school. All educational permits associated with Dubai American Scientific School were later suspended. The school had failed inspection every year from 2008 to 2012 and was closed in September of 2013.

See the following links for articles related to the incident

The Kansas City Star:
http://www.kansascity.com/news/local/article142682464.html

ABC News:
 http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/principal-resigns-student-reporters-raise-concerns-46594320

CNBC:
http://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/06/these-high-school-journalists-uncovered-a-principals-resume-lie.html

..Amy Robertson’s case is not unique. International Schools Review hosts more than just a few Reviews in which teachers, based on their personal experience with administrators, question the authenticity of an individual’s degrees and credentials. Of course, school administrators are human and surely not everyone will agree with their decisions; but when an admin has a full alphabet of acronyms following their name but does not, nor cannot, display insight into curriculum, best practices, current trends in education and/or basic organizational/management skills, one can only wonder about the authenticity of their degrees. Trust your intuition!

..When in doubt, follow the lead of the journalism students at Pittsburgh High School and research, research, research! Then Share your findings with colleagues here on International Schools Review. International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed is what International Schools Review is ALL about!

Comments? Please scroll down to Post

 

 


Is This Really a Career Anymore?

April 6, 2017

..Looking around on Search Associates and TIE Online, I’ve noticed something: salaries and benefits in this industry are going WAY down, everywhere…and fast! Is this because the pool of applicants is rising? Or, is it because the number of schools is increasing?

I read recently that the number of international schools worldwide will double in the next 12 years. I’m not an Economist, but I had thought that supply-and-demand would benefit a teacher’s financial perspective since the pool of teachers would shrink relative to the overall demand of schools.

But now I’m wondering:  Because there are more schools, could this mean just the opposite — the larger supply of schools means an increase in competition among them, and as a result, they have to lower tuition fees and provide a more comprehensive service. This inevitably affects teachers who have to work harder for less money, as a lower profit-margin will certainly come out of salaries.

Schools can pay lower salaries as long as they have ‘X’ amount of well-qualified, ‘marketable’ staff who will ‘carry’ the lower-paid, less-qualified staff. For example, you see many more schools employing P. E. teachers from the Philippines, and Math teachers from India. These teachers may work for half of what Western teachers would earn. Many of these lower-paid teachers are great teachers, of course, yet they do not appear on the website of the American or British schools they work in. Who IS shown as staff on the web sites? The Western-certified teachers their PR marketers can flaunt, especially to Asian/new money markets.

In addition, salaries have gone down in the last 15 years. On Search, for example, there’s a school in Bahrain advertising for a ‘certified Native English speaker to teach math.’ The pay? $12,000 USD a year, not even minimum wage in some US states.

Is International Teaching turning the way of other mass-produced services and goods?  Are we becoming just a cog in the wheel? Are we a service that’s in demand, or simply like another disposable component in an ever cheaper cell phone? What will International Teaching be in twenty years when the market is squeezed further and technology takes a bigger market share? You may wonder: Is International Teaching still a wise career choice?

Any thoughts? Anybody else notice this trend?
(ISR Note: This post was adopted from the ISR Open Forum)


Professional Boundaries: Should teachers befriend students on Facebook?

March 30, 2017

A Letter to ISR:

Dear ISR,  I’ve noticed that some teachers think it’s “cool” to befriend students on Facebook and post social pics and personal messages online. I think there should be boundaries between a teacher’s personal life and how much private information they allow students to access. I’ve seen some teachers posting pics of themselves with students at parties and in restaurants, and of course, students post social pics with their teachers.

Apart from being unprofessional, I feel it creates jealousy and a perception of ‘favored treatment’ among other students. Some teachers use this to manipulate their students and gain popularity through being overly friendly. Many professionals regard communicating with students on personal social media websites as inappropriate.

It would be interesting to know teachers’ opinion on this topic: How many schools have a policy on social media posting? Does your school monitor such activities?

Regards,
(name withheld)

Please Scroll Down to Participate in the Conversation


One Lying Director…

March 23, 2017

..If things don’t go well between a teacher and a school director, historically we’ve seen directors who’ve used their position to destroy the teacher’s International Teaching career. Of course, there are two sides to every story, but when recruiting agencies automatically choose to consider only one side of the disagreement, that of the bigger-of-the-two paying-customers, it’s always to the teacher’s detriment.

..International Schools Review is the result of just such an incident. A teacher had a misunderstanding with his director. The director told his own version of the ‘truth’ and had the teacher blackballed. Letters of protest and explanation from the teacher were met by the recruiting agency’s standard phrase: “We weren’t there to witness the events which took place.” Translation? Your word isn’t worth a damn! Teacher’s response? We need a site to inform and support teachers. Translation? Welcome to International Educators keeping each other informed at International Schools Review!

..Today, fourteen years since the inception of ISR, we still find isolated cases of teachers being blackballed, based on a vindictive director’s claims. Here’s a case in point:

from the ISR Forum

  Hello All, Our first international job landed us working for a terrible director and the relationship between us ended badly (as in we really did not like each other). When we tried to sign up with Search she outright lied about us, saying something to the extent that we were let go before the end of our contract for “conduct unbecoming of a teacher.” Based on her feedback, Search denied our application. From this same school we have SEVERAL outstanding peer and parent references.

Since that time we’ve had two other positions, completed contracts, and have great references from our administrators. So, we tried to apply to Search once again, only to be told that because of what this first woman said they can NEVER take us on as candidates.

I am upset that the words of one lying director can outweigh the multitude of positive words of other administrators. This seems wildly unfair!

Is our only recourse to go with ISS? Have you heard of a situation such as ours, and what did people do? Cheers and thanks for any feedback

..Beyond helping International Educators make the right choice of schools, ISR helps Recruiters to know what’s going on at various schools, and to realize that some schools and school leaders are literally a menace to educators’ careers.  We have witnessed, since the inception of ISR, that when a conflict arises Recruiters are now more likely to take a fair and unbiased approach to reaching a resolution.

..Some people just aren’t cut out to be International Educators; but, when a vindictive director uses their position to punish Educators with whom they’ve had a disagreement, there’s a problem. Fortunately, teachers in such a position have taken it upon themselves to Share their experiences on ISR so others can avoid making the same errors. Don’t let a school director be a menace to YOUR career, or that of colleagues!

..Comments? Please scroll down

 


Telling the Kids

March 16, 2017

Now that you and your “better half” have landed your first overseas teaching positions, how do you tell your kids the family is moving to a foreign country? For middle-school/high-school aged kids in particular, the news could be traumatic. Join this conversation on the International Schools Review Forum. Registration is FREE and open to all!