Locked Out of China

When the lockdown went into effect, these International Educators, on holiday outside China, found their reentry had been blocked. After 3 months in an Airbnb, with only the clothes they packed for their trip, these educators are ready to call it quits:

 

 

“On March 28, the Chinese government closed its borders to foreigners, with an “exception” for travelers who hold very specific Visa types. Inexplicably, the “Z” Visa under which International Educators work does not appear on this “exception” list. With no projected end date to the entrance restriction, educators who left China during the New Year holiday now find themselves inadvertently locked out, indefinitely.

“My significant other and I are in this situation. We are still paying rent, house helpers and utility bills in China, but have no idea when we might be able to return. This is our third month in an Airbnb in a foreign country, with only the clothes we brought for our vacation. Our Chinese bank account is accessible through a credit card, but with no cash withdrawals and limits on charges.

“I’ve heard some negative sentiment from teachers who stayed in China. They’re saying that people who are locked out are “sitting around getting a fat paycheck.” I’ve read this on ISR Discussions Boards and expressed by teachers from our school. The truth is we are currently teaching online from out of country. As of now, our future is uncertain with schools beginning to reopen throughout China.

“We’ve decided to cut our losses and leave China. We are leaving our teaching Contracts and our apartment lease a year early, both potentially with financial penalties. I don’t know yet how we will manage to get our belongings out of China. I would like to know what other teachers locked out of China, and other countries if that is happening elsewhere, are doing to manage this situation.”

Comments? Have something to add to this Discussion?
Please scroll down to participate
Feel free to name your school

My Point of No Return

I’ve reached the point of no return. That is, I’ve reached the point where I’ve decided not to go back to my school after summer break.

My reason? I’ve had all I can tolerate of being used as a pawn in a high-priced diploma mill where white-faced teachers are strictly valued for our ability to complete the facade. I’m done being used by this business enterprise masquerading as an International School.

Okay….I could deal with the school scene if I had to. But, the final straw in my decision not to go back is the fact I cannot walk down the street without some ASS making a sexual comment, lewd gesture or “accidentally” bumping/rubbing into me. I must be some special sort of gullible to let a school director convince me I would love Egypt and this hell-hole of a school.

I did read all the reviews and seriously thought nothing could be as bad as portrayed on ISR. Some of the stuff sounded too far-fetched for me. I was wrong! My seething school review is now on ISR and truthfully, now that I’ve experienced the place first-hand I think some of the reviewers before me went too easy on the place. That’s my opinion.

So….now what? I’m in uncharted territory, living under my parents’ roof with no car, no job and soon without health insurance. I’m starting over at 31 years of age. My plan to stay 2 years in Egypt and then move on to new international schools has hit a roadblock.

For me, this episode in Egypt is just a blip on the radar or as you might say, a slight stumble out of the gate. Fortunately, I found “the job” without the help of a recruiter, so I’ll sign on with one of the big agencies and leave this school in Egypt off my resume.

That’s my story. Any advice anyone? Am I missing something here? I’m all ears!

Thanks in advance.
C.

Comments? Please scroll to participate in this Discussion Board

Will I Ever Work in an International School Again?

Dear ISR, Thank you for your enlightening article, Slipping Out Early w/ My Possessions & My Sanity. I’m about to run from a school in the ME & your article couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.

A special thanks to your members who contributed a ton of practical information. I feel ever more justified in bailing on this place & so much more confident I can pull it off. My exit plan is securely in place & I no longer feel all alone.

But I do have Questions: What do you think my chances are of getting another international teaching position after I walk out on this sad excuse for a school? Can I be black-balled permanently by this vindictive money grubbing director while he’s socializing in the back rooms of directors’ socials? Can I move past my current situation & still hope to have a honest, viable future in international teaching?

Our director is a known career destroyer. I suspect Search Associates for sure won’t be interested in me after they hear from him. What about ISS & other recruiting agencies that I’m not (yet) registered with? Can this director call them & add my name to a “do not hire” list? Does such a list exist?

The most important thing right now is that I’m just about out of here & my sanity can stay intact. I truly wish I’d known about ISR before accepting this “job.” Based on what teachers have written about the place I would have turned the offer down cold…if only I’d known! My mistake was in thinking recruiters actually vet these schools.

It’s still troubling to me that recruiters allow a school like this to hire at their Fairs. Surely they must read ISR. If so, maybe they’ll understand why I’m running. But I suppose it would be naive of me to think recruiters would stray too far from the policies of the “good ole’ boys’ club.”

Thank you ISR & thank you, members, for filling me in on what future I have in international teaching. I DO appreciate your insight!

Please scroll down to participate in this Discussion

Too Frazzled to Go Back

stress_127115303-word-press
..Hello ISR, I’ve noticed you post teachers’ letters from time to time and open them up for discussion. The situation I’m in is literally making me physically ill from stressing over what to do. I’m just frazzled at this point and could use some advice and support from other teachers. Maybe someone out there has been in the same situation? Here goes, I hope you post this:

..This past school year, I (a single woman in my early 30s) was teaching in the Middle East and can honestly say the place I’m in is disgusting beyond words. I do take care to cover up very well, yet I literally can’t walk 10 steps on the street without some jackass ogling me or making disgusting sounds. Men have even lewdly touched me in crowded situations. From the city to the the school, just the thought of the place sickens me.

..The final straw was when I turned to walk away from a little kiosk and glimpsed the driver of a parked taxi eyeing me with his hand down his pants — you can fill in the rest. The entire scene is repulsive and oppressive and I feel like I’m trapped inside a nightmare. The school is no gem either. I won’t go into it but it’s definitely a candidate for a seething ISR School Review.

..The point is, I hate my life at this school so much that I am seriously considering not returning after the summer. Actually, I don’t know if I can face another moment of it. When I left for the summer I took everything of any value with me. Any ideas, anyone? I really need some advice. Sincerely, Stressed to the Max

please scroll down to comment

Breaking Contract for an Offer You Really Want

contract107782763greyMore than one school has hired teachers at a recruiting fair, only to later discover their staffing needs changed between the time of the fair and the start of the school year. As a result, these schools broke contract with some or all of their newly contracted teachers, leaving these educators unemployed and without compensation. International Schools Review shows such unfortunate events do happen. Fortunately, not often!

A current post to the ISR Open Forum outlines the exact opposite scene in which  a teacher signed a contract, received a signing bonus, and is now considering breaking contract for a “better” offer.

Some, but not many,  International Educators feel recruiting is an “every man for himself” affair. They consider it okay to continue looking for something better even after signing a contract.  At the other extreme the majority belief is that just because schools have dropped teachers prior to the start of an academic year, it doesn’t make it right for teachers to break recruiting-fair contracts without extenuating circumstance. Here’s an excerpt from the ISR Forum post that sparked this discussion. You be the judge:

Pluke » Sat Mar 05, 2016 1:43 amI was wondering what the possible ramifications might be if I took the European position after already signing a contract for another school for next year? From what I read of the contract and had a lawyer friend read I would just forfeit the bonus. I realize people do this all the time. I do not like to go back on contracts or my word in general but life is short so what would be the best move?

Here’s a sampling of reactions to the post:

Wrldtrvlr123 » Sat Mar 05, 2016 3:20 am…Worst case, jilted school raises a fuss, it gets back to your preferred school, they withdraw their offer and you are left with nothing. Or possibly something in between where there is some rancor but you still end up with the better job/school.

Clio » Sat Mar 05, 2016 9:23 am…Grab what you can now because you could be dead soon? …Lie because you don’t have the guts to be honest? Do you permit students the same sort of latitude?

PsyGuy » Sat Mar 05, 2016 3:52 am…I would wait until the EU IS actually has an appointment or offer for you. Then you have to look at the connections between you, the agency and the ISs and then determine your level of risk. If there are a lot of connections and you have a low tolerance for going bust, then you might have to sigh, and wait until next time. If they were impressed with you once you are likely marketable again. If there are few or no connections or you are a maximizer then you go for it, and hope you have enough karma in the cosmic bank of luck.

Shadowjack » Sun Mar 06, 2016 9:19 am…if you take a job, to me, you take a job. You have given your word, especially when a signing bonus has already been paid. If you wanted a “better” school in Europe, you should have said no. End of story. And keeping the money IS stealing. You can try to use logic and rationalize all you want, but taking money to do something and then NOT doing it and not paying it back is theft, pure and simple.

What’s your stance on this topic?  Scroll down to post

No Contract? No Deal!

contract104860520final“Your word is your bond” has long been a favorite slogan among recruiting agencies. What this jargon means, however, to you as a recruiting candidate is this: You’re expected to accept a verbal-only offer of employment at a recruiting fair as if it were an actual signed contract & then stick, indefinitely, to your word. With your future up in the air you’re told to wait for an actual contract to materialize. Unfortunately, sometimes it never does.

Finding yourself jobless as a result of a broken recruiting promise, with no recourse, should not be an option. In the opinion of ISR, schools that participate in recruiting fairs without a prepared contract to offer are either too disorganized to work for, hiding something, at odds with their school board, or consider International Educators just another commodity required to ‘outfit’ an International School.

The world functions on formal contracts. Why should an International School be the exception? When financial institutions lend money, all parties guarantee their commitment to the terms of the deal with a signature – No contract? No Deal! The same is true of a job offer in the corporate world as each party affirms their agreement/commitment with signatures on a contract – No contract? No Deal! It follows then that based solely on a mere verbal promise of employment from a school located in a foreign country, NO rational International School recruiter should expect an educator to reject another solid opportunity/contract that may come their way while waiting for a promised contract that may never materialize. Yet international educators are often blackballed after waiting indefinitely for a verbal offer to become a signed contract & finally, in desperation, accepting a contract from a different school, one that is organized & prepared to offer them a real deal – Deal Done!

We don’t deny teachers have verbally agreed to job offers, only to continue looking for a “better” offer. Likewise, schools have made verbal commitments with the best of intentions & later encountered circumstances or a “better” candidate that led them to not honor their word. There can be extenuating circumstances & as such, if a school cannot offer a written contract at a recruiting fair, ISR believes a legally binding Letter of Intent should be issued with a financial penalty clearly stated if either party defaults. Put your money where your mouth is!

Enforcing a Letter of Intent & even a signed contract is difficult when the parties involved are located in different countries. That’s where the recruiting agencies come in. Based on their concern for the well-being of both the teachers & schools they “invite” to recruit through their venues, the agencies should accept responsibility for a pay-out if it becomes necessary due to default by either a teacher or school. As such, recruiters would act as an insurance company of sorts, keeping both schools & educators protected. Might some schools, directors & educators find themselves uninsurable based on past records? How recruiters choose to deal with schools or teachers after covering a default would be up to them & the fine details remain to be worked out. Until that time, our position is – No contract? No Deal!

What’s Your Take on this Topic?

BLINDSIDED!

Definition: to attack critically where a person is vulnerable

blindsided61972415

..Directors who blindside staff are far and away the most despicable sort of people to pollute the international teaching arena. If you’ve ever been blindsided by your school Director, you know just how devastating an attack can be. The modus operandi is to deliver the knock-out punch the day before a long school vacation, thus ruining their victims’ holiday while instilling a sense of insecurity, frustration and anger. Here’s some examples of blindsiding as excerpted from the ISR web site:

I had a sucker punch incident at a school in Thailand. The director left me feeling vulnerable and insecure, asking, “Are you happy here? You seem very negative sometimes. Many of the faculty don’t like you.”

I got a call into the office and was told several parents complained about ‘something’ I had done. The Director would not tell me what I was being accused of doing or which parents complained. He was very, very vague about what they were unhappy about. I left his office confused and angry.

It seems I’m not ‘warm and fuzzy’ enough for the parents at my school. My principal called me in and basically said it could be a potential deal breaker down the line if I don’t fix it.

He said, “I’m getting complaints about you from your colleagues who shall remain unnamed. They’re telling me you don’t make an effort to know them and cultivate their friendship. Some parents complain you are a bit distant.”

ISR wants to know why worthless comments of this type are sprung on teachers who, up to the moment of blindsiding, felt good about their contributions to the school. Do directors blindside teachers to keep them feeling insecure and thus make them yes-men to an inept administration? Is it an underhanded way to get teachers to work harder? Or is it merely an insecure “leader” keeping experienced educators off-balance so they won’t question an obvious inability to carry out their admin duties?

We all welcome the type of criticism from which we can grow as educators. Well intended criticism structured in a way that promotes positive growth is a good thing. But nebulous, vague, unfounded comments that cannot be qualified and intend only to wound, belittle and/or create anxiety have no place in any setting, least of all in an educational institution.

If you work for a blindsider, you have either experienced or witnessed the devastation that lies in their wake. What has your experience been with Directors who blindside educators? How did you deal with it? What advice do you have for teachers who have been blindsided?

Witch Hunt

interrogate89588486-wordpress
..Hello ISR – I am writing to relate to you an experience I had at my previous school which left me feeling ‘shell shocked.’ I’ve been long-gone from that snake pit for some time now and finally feel safe in sharing with you what amounted to an inquisition which left me feeling emotionally abused and violated. I’m certain there are teachers out there who had a similar such experience as mine. If you could provide a place where we could communicate and support each other that would be wonderful. Thanks for your kind consideration. Here’s what happened:

..On a Friday morning I was called into the main office during my prep period and asked to take a seat on the ‘visitors’ side of the director’s desk. After a brief exchange of small talk he turned his computer screen my way, and there, illuminated in all its glory, was a review of our school on ISR. I could hardly hold back a smile and somehow managed to look at him inquisitively as he let loose with accusations — “I know you wrote this….make this easy for both of us and confess.” Assuming a puzzled look with my head wagging subtlety back and forth, I replied with a deeply offended tone of voice, that it was not me who wrote the review. I knew who did and I was glad she did.

..The next person to enter was the school’s attorney. He threatened me with a civil suit for defamation and/or deportation or maybe something even worse. I stuck to my position of innocence. At lunch I learned from other teachers that some of them had been called into the office and given the same third-degree routine. The director was on a ‘witch hunt.’ By Monday, 3 new reviews were residing on ISR, each warning the international teaching world about this hellhole.

..Angered, the director called the entire faculty to an after-school meeting. More threats were hurled and we learned he had written a letter to ISR demanding the reviews be removed and the authors’ names revealed or a lawsuit would ensue against your web site. To his dismay, ISR posted the letter along with the reviews! It was a nasty piece of work, which only served to prove the reviews were fair representations of him and his school.

..Tuesday morning we were greeted with a memo telling us that one of the principals was good friends with an ISR staff member who would send him the names of the authors. The memo concluded with a statement telling us that if the authors turned themselves in all would be forgiven and they would simply need to request that ISR remove the reviews.

..Feeling paranoid, I wrote to you guys and asked if it was possible for the principal to get any names. I don’t know if you remember as this was some years ago. You assured me that when you say reviews are received anonymously, it means that even you don’t know who submitted them. I knew the principal was lying to us but it felt good to hear you say you have security measures in place to completely protect our anonymity. I spread the word to the faculty. It was clear to all of us — the director had nothing on anyone and was bluffing.

..Things quieted down and the school year progressed with no further incidents. But, as recruiting season approached, the majority of us decided not to extend our contract. The director then announced he would not be writing any letters of reference this year, nor would he return phone calls to any schools calling to inquire about those of us applying for positions. His excuse was it took up ‘precious time he could devote to managing the school.’ If you call toting around a cell phone on a golf course on mid-Wednesday morning ‘managing a school,’ then so be it.

..I have since found a position at a wonderful school where teachers are valued and supported. I couldn’t be happier here. I’m so glad I didn’t just up and leave international teaching. Still, to this day I carry with me the residual fallout of that awful experience. I find it hard to shake off. Being in a foreign country where I had no rights and was completely subject to the whims of someone I considered to be off-balance was a frightening experience, particularly since that person was accusing me of something that could land me in deep, deep, trouble.

..Based on reviews I read on ISR and the threatening letters you have posted from directors, I’m certain there are teachers out there who had similar such abusive experiences as mine. A place where we could communicate and support each other would be wonderful. Once again, thanks for your kind consideration. there are teachers out there who had similar such abusive experiences as mine. A place where we could communicate and support each other would be wonderful. Once again, thanks for your kind consideration.

Please scroll down to comment

We ask that you please not name schools here. You may mention the country of location.

We do encourage you to post a review of said school for the member-side of the web site.

Be sure to mention in your comments below that you will be positing a review. 

Members & non-Members can post reviews here

 

If I Only Knew Then What I know Now

Handsome young man in shirt and tie writing something in note pad and looking over shoulder while sitting at his working place

…..No one will dispute that “hindsight is 20/20.” As such, looking back on your International Teaching career (assuming you’re already teaching overseas), what important lessons have you learned through experience that you wish you knew about at the beginning of your career? To put it another way, if you had it do over again, what would you do differently?

…..From colleagues in the “newbie” stages of International Teaching to seasoned veterans with years of overseas experience, we’ve all had revaluations & experiences that led us to say, “Oh, if only I had known!” All of us can profit from lessons learned. We invite you take a few minutes to share with colleagues something you know today that you truly wish you knew earlier in your career. International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed is what ISR is All About!

When Should Breaking Contract Be Consequence-Free?

breakingcontract81919928Dear Dr. Spilchuk,  I’ve had to resign my contract at an international school due to an emergency situation at home. I was only able to give them very short notice, which upsets me, too, as I’m always so responsible. I will also try to help with the transition to another teacher by providing lesson plans for 1-2 weeks after I’m gone.

The admin at my school have been threatening me with blacklisting at Search Associates. I understand that I might need to pay a Search Associates penalty fee, and I can live with that. I can also live with being blacklisted by Search Associates. However, another person in admin has been saying things like I’ll be blacklisted from ALL organizations, ALL recruiters for international schools.

I won’t be looking for another job for a while as I have to help a family member at home anyways, but I don’t want to try to find something in a year and be blacklisted everywhere. Is this a real possibility? Is my worry justified?

Sincerely,
Worried Teacher

——————
Dear Worried Teacher,

You are correct. You may very well find yourself blackballed at Search and other agencies, depending on how your school responds.

Best of luck to you.

Barbara

——————————————-

ISR Asks:  Under what circumstances, if any, do you personally feel it’s acceptable for an International Teacher to break contract?

If you’ve ever been in a situation where you just can’t stand your school or location, you know it can be a depressing time in your life. But is this grounds to jump ship? It has been said, “life is what happens to us while we’re busy making plans.” In this vein, the best intended and most dedicated teacher may suddenly find themselves having to decide between family and career, as in the letter to Dr. Spilchuk  —  A real “catch 22” situation.

Certainly the majority of us would choose to return home for a family emergency; no matter what the professional consequences of our decision. Do you feel schools are justified in severely penalizing a teacher that chooses family over contractual responsibilities? If schools are truly in the business of “nurturing,” shouldn’t they extend equal support to those individuals doing the nurturing, in this case the teaching staff. Is there a double standard?

Asking for repayment of recruiting fees and other expenses associated with an international  school bringing a teacher into a country seems well within reason. But when a contract is broken under extenuating circumstance, is this reason to put a teacher out of the running for the remainder of their teaching career?

The overriding question is…..under what, if any, circumstances do you feel a teacher should be able to beak contract without sever consequences to their overseas career. And, if consequences are levied, what should those consequences be?

Where do you stand on this issue?

Personality Conflict with Director

sternwoman46763620What can you do if a new director seems to really dislike you? For example: You have a successful track record, but find yourself suddenly in a position in which you feel targeted/picked on for little things. It is plainly clear that she (the director) just really dislikes you on a personal level, to the point that other people have pointed it out to you. Ever had this experience?

It is her first year as a director. No unions overseas, of course. Colleagues keep advising tactics that would work great at home, where there are, you know, laws and procedures, but this woman just gets angry when I say anything in my defense. I’m starting to realize that she can just sack me with no repercussions.

Can anyone offer any advice/practicalities for this situation, or for coping emotionally in this situation? I’m lost. (This topic was transplanted from the ISR Forum)

Comments? Please scroll down to Post

What Would YOU Do? / Part 3

weighingoptions53759368The good news:  You’ve been working at a great school for the past two years & love everything about the experience. The kids & parents, housing, Director & Principal, facilities & resources, the benefits package, community & cultural opportunities ALL continue to exceed your expectations. You’re proud of your good choice of schools & have just committed to a third year. Yeah!

The bad news: Today you learned the Director has been dismissed by the Board & a new Director will be taking his place in the upcoming year. Uh oh! This incoming Director is covered in many ISR Reviews & the future under his “leadership” looks foul & grim. Now what?

What recourse do you have as a teacher? In the ISR spirit of Teachers Keeping Each Other Informed, when teachers discover that their unpopular Director will be moving on to a new school, they often post Director Reports to the future school’s Review page to warn prospective recruiting candidates about exactly who will be taking the place of current leadership.

While obviously you have little in the way of options if you’re teaching at a school that hired a new Director with poor Reviews, you CAN be instrumental in helping colleagues make an informed decision about what they may be getting into at a prospective school. Click to submit an Admin Report Card for your beloved or despicable Administrator.

What would you do if this suddenly became your reality? It may seem hardly worth jumping ship when, after all, you only signed on for one more school year. But, if you’re in this predicament, consider posting a School Review to let recruiting candidates know that things may be changing, for better or worse, at the school. Your colleagues will thank you!

Please Scroll to Comment

What Would YOU Do? / Part 2

lier3444945Here’s the scenario: You recruited at one of the big fairs and caught-up in the moment, accepted a contract without reading any of the ISR Reviews on the school or location. The director seemed honest and sincere, and you took her word for everything until….a couple of weeks into the school year it dawns on you that you’ve been seriously “duped’!

The following is a real situation facing one of our ISR Members. What would YOU do if this was suddenly your reality?

You’d have to be HERE to understand — I “teach” (I use the term lightly) grade 10/11 girls and yesterday NOTHING was accomplished. The noise and chaos is unbelievable by Western classroom standards, and the girls as a whole have NO INTEREST in learning, BUT I’m told “You WILL give them 99s on their report cards!”

They shriek, leave the room, ignore you, do each other’s hair, talk, yell over all your lessons. Yesterday I was TRYING to read them a chapter of MOBY DICK and the poor 3 who actually WANTED to hear it COULDN’T and say as you will — There was NOTHING I COULD DO to SHUT THEM UP! Call an administrator to be told “You are the problem. NOT the girls.” ? If you, YOU there, are NOT here, you have NO IDEA, so do NOT think you do!

What would YOU do? Consult other teachers? Continue doing the best you could and let the report card reflect the students’ lack of effort? Call parents for support? Catch a one-way flight out? Or accept your mistake and make the best of the situation for now? Join the Discussion

What Would YOU Do?

  Here’s a scenario that comes up this time of year, every year. An ISR Member would like to know what teachers would do.

  You accept a position at a recruiting fair in January even though you don’t think it’s the best job you could/should get. The money is good and you think it will help your international teaching career in the long run. But, since you’re not really wowed by the job, you keep your feelers out.

whattodo50179022  One day you get an email from a school you really like. They want to Skype interview you about a position. It has some administrative duties (yes!), it offers more money (yippee!), it’s known as a better all-around school, and in a better location for you and your family.

  You do understand the possible repercussions (blacklisting by the recruiting company) if you drop your other contract. Would you…

Interview only. It’s good for your ego and besides, you’re curious!

Interview and accept a contract. Damn the recruiters!

Decline interview. Ignore  the many benefits & accept your situation. “Your word is your bond”

Thanks for Playing….

Telling Your School Goodbye

Breaking the news that you’re planning on going recruiting should elicit supportive responses from your school admin. Most likely they’ll wish you luck and ask which schools or locations you’ve set your sights on, effective Directors are happy to help you in any way they can. Many schools even provide paid leave-days specifically for recruiting.

Moving on should be smooth sailing, but some of our colleagues have discovered not all schools are supportive. In fact, there are schools that go so far as to forbid teachers from taking days off, paid or unpaid, to attend recruiting fairs. These same schools often refuse to provide letters of reference for departing staff. An ISR member recently advised on the rough ‘break away’ from such a school:

If the school “forbid” me to attend a fair, I would have to put my foot down and confront this ridiculous policy. You won’t get paid for a week, but at least you’ll give your future and your dreams the best possible shot. Plus (and this may be the best benefit), you will pave the way for co-workers in the future to have the basic right of attending a fair. So tell your current school, “I need this week off without pay, because I’m going to a recruiting fair. Thanks for your understanding.” Just hope they are not completely insane and fire you, but who wants to live their life in that world, anyway?

Recruiting can and should be exciting and rewarding, filled with anticipation of new possibilities and adventures to come! Have YOU told your school you’re planning to go recruiting this season? What was their reaction? To share your experiences or seek advice, we invite you to take advantage of our Telling Your School Goodbye Blog.

Scroll down to post.

How Do I Get Outta Here?

ISR is receiving disturbing reports from teachers moving on to new schools at the end of this academic year. The word is, some teachers are receiving little, if any, guidance or support with the processes required to correctly and legally exit their current school and host country.

Teachers are reporting the following:

  • Information on school checkout policies is incomplete or non-existent, making it difficult, if not impossible, to complete the required procedures and receive final pay checks.
  • How to legally exit the country permanently has not been discussed at some schools, leaving teachers afraid they will encounter problems and/or detainment at the airport.
  • Information on how to make final payments to utility companies and/or landlords to assure no residual problems has not been covered.
  • Details on how to receive reimbursement for airfare and shipping of personal goods has not been shared with leaving staff.

What we’re hearing at ISR is some schools “wined and dined” teachers on their way in, but are now giving those same teachers the cold shoulder as they depart for new horizons. Left to one’s own devices in a foreign country, exiting safely and legally can be a daunting experience.

If you’re in this predicament and need advice, you’ll want to post your questions on the ISR,  How Do I Get Outta Here? Blog. Chances are another ISR reader has been at your school or lived in your host country and can offer advice. If you had a memorable experience departing a particular school in the past, you may want to share with colleagues so we can all avoid the same experience in the future.

Would You Stick It Out? Or Run?

When you find yourself in an intolerable school situation do you stick it out or run for your life? Opinions vary, with each side of the dilemma adamant about its position:

I’D RUN FOR IT: “There is no honor in suffering. The idea that working at a rotten school in a lousy country, educating a do-nothing population with no interest in academics will somehow make you a better teacher or a better person is pure malarkey! Suffering is suffering no matter how you cut it & the less time of your professional life you can spend doing it, the better. Some schools are so god-awful, shifty, & immoral, the most honorable thing to do is to call it a day & RUN!”

I’D STICK IT OUT: “I could have run away from the job, but I felt the experience would actually serve me well in the future & that as a professional I could learn from what was happening in the school. My colleagues thought that if I left without notice & the school could not find a replacement, the children’s education would ultimately suffer. As an educator first & foremost, I could not leave the students.”

HOW ABOUT YOU?

Canceling a Contract After Signing – Where do you stand?

Here’s the scenario: You’ve attended, at great expense, an international teaching job fair. On the last day of the recruiting fair you sign on with your 3rd-choice school. You’re not enthused about this job, but realistically know it’s definitely a world better than no job at all. As you head home you feel an odd mix of relief and reluctance–you are glad you’ve found your next international teaching position, but still would have greatly preferred schools #1 or #2. You try to think positively and make plans for the upcoming move.

Then, a few weeks pass and you’re emailed an offer from your 1st-choice school–your dream position and salary in a super desirable school and location! Yeah! But….uh, oh. Hold on a moment…..You’re confused. What should you do?

Comments from International Educators indicate there are two, distinct camps of thought on this dilemma:

Camp #1 is exemplified by this comment: “It’s a question of character. I have principles, and I respect those who do. I make choices in life based on those. You have to decide if your word is your bond.”

Camp #2 is exemplified by this comment: “Character is just an excuse people use for sticking with a bad decision. SMART people change their mind when confronted with better options. What people do in business isn’t always the same thing they would do personally.”

Which camp do YOU stand in? And, why?

I Don’t Want to Go Back!

Dear ISR, I’m teaching abroad for the first time. I love my job, good admin, good peers, great classes. I like the city and the country. But….I was feeling homesick the last few weeks overseas and had this overwhelming sense of how much I wanted to be back ‘home’ as I was getting on the U.S.-bound plane.

Now I’m back in the old hometown for vacation and I realize just how incredibly homesick I’ve been. I’ll be in the States for two more weeks and am not looking forward to going back overseas.

This would be a different discussion if I were subject to some of the abuse it seems is out there, but I live in a nice place. I’ve got a good job with good people. My wife and I took this job because we wanted to live in a different environment and explore. But I think we’ve just learned that where we left from to go overseas is where we wanted to be all along.

We’re one semester into a two-year contract. How much of this is part of the normal “first time living/working abroad” learning curve? How have you all dealt with homesickness?

Would You Sacrifice Your Overseas Career?

An international teacher silenced and harassed by a corrupt administration recently wrote  Dr. Spilchuk (ISR on line teacher advisor) asking for advice: “Should I stand up for my academic principles, possibly destroying any future hope of securing another overseas teaching position, or curb my comments and quietly move on to hopefully a better school at the end of the academic year?” (ISR has been asked to keep the specific situation confidential.)

………………………………………Dr. Spilchuk’s Advice
Dear In-a-Quandary,
The one thing I have learned over time is that standing on principle, while feeling good at the time, can be painful in the long run. There are always those of us who must stand on a principle or things will never change. However, my advice to you is to let this one go and look after your best interest instead. I have been in this country several times over the  years so am very aware of the situation. You will not change it by making a stand here. What you may do is limit your possibilities for doing a whole lot of good for a whole lot of children in the future if this school chooses to pursue blackballing you. You must decide: Is it worth standing on principle for this one situation or is it better to maintain your potential to educate so many children in the future? I feel for you…not an easy choice. I have stood on principle many times….but I have also made the second choice.

Best and keep me posted,
Barbara

In some situations schools have the upper hand as they can wield the axe over our careers and current financial well-being. Add family into the mix and taking on a school can can have far-reaching consequences. Many teachers have successfully sued their schools for breach of contract, and won. But when it comes to a conflict of ethics in a country that universally squelches free speech there is nothing to be won and no protection to be found. You’re on your own.

Have you been in this or a similar situation? How did you make it through? ISR invites you to weigh in on this topic.