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?

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Taipei American School, Stranger than Fiction

Taipei American School has issues to address: bloated administrative salaries and a Board that unilaterally gave their Head of School the power to expel students and fire teachers at will are among the questions for which large groups of parents are calling for immediate transparency.

According to a 2018 tax filing, TAS held close to US$120,000,000 in net assets at that time. The highest earner on payroll, Head of School Sharon Hennessy, reportedly took home US$768,000. Director of PE, Health and Sports, Ryan Mueller (brought onboard by Hennessy to fill the newly created position, with reportedly no experience in education), earned a whopping US$1,000,000 in total compensation in four years, and then abruptly left. Questions, anyone?

Beyond financial concerns, a school counselor, accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a student, abruptly left TAS to later be accused of sexual misconduct by two students at his next school. In a different incident, the rape of a minor by a 17 year-old student was settled out of court (the age of consent in Taiwan is 16), leaving TAS with more unanswered questions.

TAS appears to have all the trappings of a “who-done-it” movie. For an extensive, startling, behind-the-scenes look at life at TAS, GO to Tricky Taipei, a read well worth the time.

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Teachers, Students, Selfies & Social Media

It’s the last day of school and a high school student just asked you to pose with them for a selfie. Years ago you would have gladly leaned in and smiled for the camera. Today, maybe not! With teachers fired or disciplined for tweets and photos on social media becoming commonplace, it’s understandable why you might want to stay out of the “picture.”

Beyond selfies, it should go without saying that teachers ‘friending’ students on social media could be, and has been seen as inappropriate. Allowing students into your personal life is anything but professional. Imagine a last-day-of-school selfie appearing on a ‘friended’ student’s Facebook page with a caption you may never have imagined.

Do students who have already graduated fall into a different category? Hypothetically, taken by a classmate, the photo example shown below is of Mr. Y critiquing Mary’s creative writing assignment. After graduation, excited to share her multiple successes as a published author, Mary (not her real name) sends Mr. Y a ‘friend’ request.

Teacher tutoring high school girl with writing assignment

Recalling her school days in Mr. Y’s class, Mary posts this photo to Mr. Y’s Facebook page with a short “thank you” caption. Could a malicious parent or a student with a grudge, through recaptioning and Photoshop, turn this photo into something it is not, particularly since Mr. Y and Mary are social media friends? Keeping personal and professional interactions exclusive may be the best policy in all cases.

Public schools, for the most part, have rules in place for teacher/student social media relationships and selfies. Not all International Schools have done the same. ISR asks: Does your International School have selfie and social media rules in place? What do they entail? What are your personal feelings on the subject? Is it ever appropriate to ‘friend’ your students?

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China, a Bad Bet?

International Schools in China are dominating upcoming virtual Recruiting Fairs, practically outnumbering schools from all other countries, combined. Is this simply because China has more International Schools? Maybe not…

In the words of an ISR member:   China is becoming more belligerent. Teachers over there are included in the Communist Party’s massive database to say whether or not you’re a ‘good’ citizen. Scary. Arbitrary arrests without trial or reason are common. Do you think the UK or US would be bothered about a teacher, especially if the Chinese added some ‘sexual safeguarding’ concerns to their charge sheet? With a 99% conviction rate, a malicious parent with an issue against you could get you locked up, convicted of a sexual offence.

“This couldn’t happen to me” is an unrealistic attitude. International Educators on the circuit for some years are all too familiar with the case of Neil Bantleman, an International Educator in Indonesia who spent 5 years in an Indonesian prison after being falsely accused of sexual misconduct by a local, influential parent. EU, US and citizens of other countries are NOT exempt from what life may bring in a foreign country. Fact is, they may be seen as a prize to be paraded in front of the cameras.

China’s new “security” policies enacted in June, 2020 give unprecedented powers to the government. The US and UK, as a result, updated travel advisories. The State Department of the US has warned that Beijing is enacting a propaganda campaign to “falsely” accuse US citizens of “fomenting unrest in Hong Kong.”

Is one or more of the many International School in China soliciting for teachers on your radar? If so, ISR strongly encourages you read the attached Article. There may be more than just the Coronavirus causing International Educators to give China a pass.

US & UK warn travelers of risk of arbitrary arrest in China & Hong Kong

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Norwegian Data Protection Authority Calls Out IB / Survey


The Norwegian Data Authority (NDA) has concluded the method used by the IB to calculate students’ final grades in 2020 was not accurate. As such, the NDA has sent notification they intend to order a re-do of the awarding of grades. (See entire NDA statement)

If you missed ISR’s previous Newsletter, the controversy over the IB grading system erupted after the IB cancelled final exams and, instead, calculated final grades based on the following 3 criteria:  Historical data, Teacher-predicted final test score, and Coursework.

“Unfair, inaccurate and obscure” is how the Norwegian Data Authority described the IB scoring system. A brief look at the 3 components of the assessment system reveals subjectivity and room for error:

Historical Data:  Relying on the final test scores of students previously at a particular school as a means to predicting the performance of current and future students fails to take into account the abilities of the individual, and rewards poorer students while penalizing harder-working students. With college acceptance at top universities contingent on final grades, many students have had their college dreams shattered due to a lowering of expected grades.

Teacher-Predicted Grade:  Teacher bias, prejudice, and a shaded view of students whose behavior may be less than stellar can easily influence a  prediction.

Coursework:  Using coursework as a means to estimate final scores is not a problem for those students earning 100% on all assignments. The system fails to work for students with lesser coursework results who may still still score high on the final exam.

As with any controversy, there are two opposing camps regarding the IB’s actions.


Get over it:

Yes, getting a lower score than expected may mean students not getting into the university of choice. It won’t affect their careers, though.

 Sounds like pushy parents who are used to getting their way and not respecting their children’s limitations. They’ve probably prided themselves on years of inflated grades in their children’s report cards. Not everybody can get a special sticker.


An injustice has been done:

So its fine for a student who has worked for 4+ years to get into a university of their choice and to have their higher education plans scuttled by a large, for-profit organisation who couldn’t really care? The parents might disagree with you but what the hell, they’re just pushy, entitled, helicopter parents, right? While I agree it might not impact their careers as much as they think, who are you to pontificate on their futures?

While there are always complainers, tell me in what logical world it’s reasonable to base an individual student’s score on the school’s historical data? The IB, as it so often does, is being disingenuous and needs to own up to its inadequacy here and rectify the problem.

 

What’s YOUR position on the IB controversy?

Take our short Survey:  Should the IB be required to re-score all 2020 final grades?

 

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A Recipe for Disaster

With the spread of the Coronavirus far more severe than when distance learning was substituted for the dangers of classroom instruction, ISR can’t help but question the wisdom of International Schools summoning kids and teachers back to the classroom.

Are YOU ready to go back? Beyond some parents’ resistance to their kids wearing masks and a noted lack of social distancing internationally, there is much to take into account when deciding whether it’s wise to reunite with your students:

Can Your School Admin Answer the Following Questions?

• What happens if a teacher tests positive? Will they need to self isolate for 14 days. Is that time off covered? Will every student the teachers have been in contact with need to do the same?

• What happens if someone living in or working in the same home as a teacher (spouse, child, housekeeper) tests positive? Does that teacher need to take 14 days off to quarantine?

• If the need arises, how will the school find a substitute teacher willing to work in a classroom full of exposed, possibly infected students?

• What if a substitute teacher is diagnosed with COVID-19? Does each student in each class they were in have to quarantine and get tested? Who is going to pay for that?

• What if a student tests positive? Does every other student and teacher they have been around quarantine? Does every parent get notified who is infected and when? Or will schools just send “may have been in contact” emails all year long?

• What is this stress going to do to teachers? How does it affect their health and well-being? How does it affect their ability to teach? How does it affect the quality of education they provide? What are the long-term effects on students and teachers of consistently being stressed out?

• How will students and faculty be affected when the first teacher in their school dies from Covid-19? The first parent of a student who brought it home? The first child?

Just like politicians, an administrator may employ broad, sweeping statements to garner confidence, yet fail to demonstrate an executable plan for achieving the stated objective. Imagine an administrator telling parents that the safety of their children is a top priority, yet no emergency evacuation plan is in place. Telling students to “run for safety when a siren blows” is not a plan for safety and certainly won’t be helpful in a pandemic. Likewise, there is no substitute for a solid plan in the face of Covid-19. Hoping for the BEST and failing to prepare for probable eventualities is a surefire recipe for disaster. Can your school admin answer these important questions?

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I was an International Schools Recruiter – The Industry is Racist


For some time, I was a placement consultant at an American recruitment agency for international schools, mainly in China. The anti-Black racism that I was complicit in and benefited from while working there is something I’m ashamed of; more shameful would be not speaking out so that others can understand how this industry wo
rks from the inside, the practices that are commonplace, so that we can begin to dismantle it. The individuals I worked alongside were largely well-meaning white people. However, I hope to explain here the practices that made my former employer complicit in racism and discrimination, and by shining a light on the industry, I hope to encourage recruitment agencies to do better and work for change.

At my former employer, the majority of placement consultants were young twenty-somethings, mostly white. We each started out making a small salary that wasn’t enough to live on in our city, but were given a commission for every person we placed in a school. Once you had made a certain amount of money for the company, you were moved up a level as a placement consultant, which led you to make a higher commission.

Recruitment agencies are complicit participants in the racism in the teach-abroad industry, and it’s time to do something about it.


The company was paid a percentage of the salary of the hired teacher, which would motivate placement consultants to spend more time working with teachers who would make more money. We were actively encouraged
not to ‘waste our time’ working with candidates for whom it would be difficult to find a job. A principal position at a large international school in a major city would bring in more money for the company than a placement at an English-language training center, which are the types of schools where you could typically place Black candidates. Even there, Black candidates would be offered jobs less often than their white counterparts, and would make less money.

Schools are significantly more likely to hire white or light-skinned candidates. Many schools will reject any Black candidates they receive.

A quick detour to lay some groundwork on how we worked with each candidate:  first, we would receive their resume, which was randomly assigned to a placement consultant. Each individual consultant would review it and decide to either reach out to them or not. If we wanted to work with them, we would interview them and then send them some positions we felt they’d be qualified for. If they were interested we’d apply on their behalf by passing their information to the colleague who managed the relationship with that school, who would further vet the candidate by reviewing their information and then either passing them on to the school or deciding not to. We had agreements with all of the schools we worked with and they were able to specify what they were looking for in a candidate. They were allowed to tell us they would not consider Black candidates. They were also allowed to change their minds — if they told us they were no longer considering Black candidates, we would stop sending them.

Internally, we were made to refer to candidates as either Level 1 or Level 2. Level 1 candidates were white or light-skinned. Level 2 candidates were Black or Asian. In the recruitment system we used to track candidates and schools, each candidate had to be labeled as Level 1 or 2, and each school was labeled as either accepting Level 2 candidates or not accepting Level 2 candidates.

Often, the internal employees who managed relationships with the schools would impose a limit on sending Black or Asian candidates for a position. I would receive responses along the lines of, “Sorry, I’ve already sent a few Level 2 candidates for this one and want to send some Level 1s now.” It was treated as if all Black candidates were the same. The thought was that the schools would be displeased if we sent them too many Black candidates, no matter their qualifications, even if they would technically consider them. And so, in order to preserve the relationship with the school over the success of our candidates and the Black teachers we worked with, we did not. Within the company, we were gatekeepers, barring qualified candidates of any opportunity to interview with a school.

It was especially difficult for Black South Africans. Despite their status as native English language speakers (often bi- or tri-lingual), schools were heavily prejudiced against hiring them. One of my supervisors told me that if the person had a ‘tribal-sounding name’ they would be harder to place and we should consider not working with them, as it would be a ‘waste of time.’

Multiple times, I would have two South African applicants together — friends who had met at school, usually, and wanted to teach abroad. One would be white and the other, Black. They’d have the same qualifications and same amount of experience. The white teacher would typically be given an interview and an offer within 2–3 weeks. Her Black counterpart would be passed up time and again, either by those within our company or by the school itself.

I could typically place a white candidate at any level within a few weeks. There were many times I worked with Black candidates for months, sending them to every school who would consider them and some who would not, and raked in rejections in the dozens. Most of the time, I was able to ultimately place them, but it was often not for the salary or at the level they deserved. It usually took months and tenacity on the part of the candidate not to stop applying for jobs and interviewing. It was incredibly disheartening. Myself and many of my fellow placement consultants worked tirelessly to get our Black candidates hired, but were actively discouraged by management from spending this much time on a single candidate, especially on a Black candidate. We were often told to just cut ties. At the end of the day, our time affected the bottom line because of the commission-based model of the company.

Recruitment companies benefit directly from the racist hiring practices of these schools. Just before I quit my job, we were advised internally to no longer work with Black South Africans at all, as schools were rarely hiring them at that point. There was no attempt to push back at these hiring practices. Management was beholden to earnings and success. There was a focus on how we could save our own skin, how we could use our own time to make more money. There was no discussion about cutting ties with schools that racially discriminated throughout the entire time I was there.

Recruitment companies benefit directly from the racist hiring practices of these schools. They have no incentive to change, and have monetary incentive to institute racist practices of their own.

What comes next, I don’t know. Change needs to happen at many levels. But it can start with the individual, with hiring managers, placement consultants, and recruitment companies refusing to go along with and benefit from discriminatory practices. If you aren’t actively working against discrimination, you’re complicit in it. Your money is dirty. Your success has come at the expense of qualified Black teachers and administrators around the world who were not given a chance, of students who, year after year, learn only from white teachers, many of whom are less qualified than Black applicants who were passed up for the job. It’s time to stop turning a blind eye to the racism you perpetuate. It’s time to fight against it.

Note: I originally planned on writing and posting this with my name as well as the name of the company attached. I don’t think we’re in a place now nationally in the U.S. or globally to be hiding people’s bad deeds for the sake of their privacy and comfort. This being said, I could not open myself up to any potential legal action that my former employer could have taken against me by attaching either my name or their name to this. Further, while these practices are common at my particular former company, I’m certain they’re in place at others as well. No one should be off the hook. The focus shouldn’t be on one company: let’s focus on them all.

Sincerely,

Anonymous Ex-Recruiter

(This Article was condensed and reproduced with permission from the author, Anonymous Ex-Recruiter)

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A Moment of Silence


ISR condemns racial inequality in all its hideous forms. In solidarity with the protesters in America & around the globe, ISR is observing a Moment of Silence in support of the fight against inequality.

Take a deep breath. Join us. Get involved.

“Moment of Silence”: A period of silent introspection & contemplation. Like flying a flag at half-mast, a moment of silence is a gesture of respect for those who have recently died or in response to a tragic event of historical proportions.

Support the Fight Against Inequality:  Resources & Ways to Act

Could This Be Normal?

A month into the COVID pandemic, with still no concrete ‘start date’ for the upcoming academic year, I telephoned the principal at what was soon to be my new school in Italy. I was simply looking for a little reassurance before officially resigning my teaching job in the States.

The principal was sympathetic. She understood my predicament. At least that’s what I thought….until she told me in no uncertain terms:

“If you fail to show up for school when we decide to open, you will be responsible for all expenses associated with hiring you, plus penalties. On the other hand, if we decide we don’t need you due to reduced enrollment, your Contract can be nullified with no financial compensation. Of course, in this situation you owe us nothing….”

It was painfully obvious I wasn’t going to get the reassurance I was looking for. I did, however, get the information needed to make a firm, much-needed decision. Jeopardizing my health and financial security for an organization that obviously could not give a damn about me was not about to happen! My final words to the principal? ‘Find yourself another teacher….I’m out!’

I realize I’m one of the fortunate ones. At least I still have a job. What if I had resigned my position here in the States? Worse yet, what if I was already working at the school prior to the pandemic, only to find myself put in the position of becoming a disposable commodity?

My Questions: Is it normal for International Schools to take such a hard-line stance, especially right now? Who in their right mind would expect educators to put their future in limbo with no assurance they won’t be left high and dry? Can this school really collect their recruiting fees from me?

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Suing Our School Over Coronavirus Policy

In a knee jerk reaction to the Coronavirus, our school director unilaterally decided to change the dates of our spring break. Threatening us with loss of job, he ordered all teachers to stay in-country during the rescheduled vacation. The faculty is pissed!!

As a faculty we feel he should have at least had a plan in mind to help teachers obtain reimbursement for money already spent on travel plans – airfare / hotels, etc. He did not! I asked him why leaving the country would result in loss of job and was told it’s because we may face quarantine upon reentry, leaving the school short on teachers. As usual there was no concern for our needs, such as flying home to visit an aging parent.

Had Mr. School Director thought to organize a whole-school faculty meeting and present a valid reason for the date change he may have united us as a team working for a common cause.  Instead, he sent out an email to parents and teachers alike and then made himself unavailable.

There is no question we all need to act responsibly and do our part to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus. However, our director’s interest in changing the dates of our Spring break had nothing to do with public safety or stopping the spread of the virus. His sole focus was on the school’s profit margin. And… I have proof because I tracked him down and have the recording of our meeting to prove it. His attitude is quite revealing!

Our contracts clearly spell out vacation dates. That portion of our contracts has now been breached and the director refuses to address the issue or help us in any way.  As a faculty we have decided to seek legal representation in an effort to receive reimbursement for all lost monies. After all, his decision to suddenly change the dates of our spring break was based on a concern for profits with no regard to the teachers’ wellbeing of public safety.

I’d like to know how other schools have been treating their teachers during the Coronavirus pandemic. Surely the treatment we are receiving is not representative of international Schools as a group.

Thanks for all you do for International Teachers,
(name withheld on request)

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Beyond the School Gates

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – Anthony Bourdain

•••••

  If you frequent our Discussion Boards, you’re well aware our recent Survey revealed that nearly 50% of 650 surveyed teachers would break Contract if they could do so, consequence-free.

If you are ready to take the next flight out, it may help to know that seasoned International Educators will sometimes accept positions at poorly reviewed schools solely for the opportunity to experience a culture and country of great interest to them. It’s a bold move, but it is done all the time. If you’re unhappy with your current school situation, take pause. ISR encourages you to look outside the school gates to all your host country has to offer.

No one says it’s easy to rise above a school when everything about it flies in your face. Your objective, however, for going overseas was far more than to just be part of a school — you could have done that without leaving home. It’s YOUR choice:  You can wallow in the dissatisfaction of being at a lousy school and let negative feelings destroy the incredible overseas adventure you’ve worked so hard to earn, or…you can just let it be and do like seasoned International Educators and focus on, and savor, all that’s happening outside those school gates.

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“Disgruntled Teacher” Propaganda Disproved

   When ISR asked International Educators what they would do if given the opportunity to break their current Contract, consequence-free, our projected figure for contract breakers was somewhere in the range of 10%, maximum. However, 46% of 683 Survey respondents said they would be on the next flight out. Wow! That’s not what we expected!

Survey results: Consequence-Free Early Departure

Certainly, no school is perfect and we all have to accept a certain amount of dissatisfaction to make things work. However, a desire to bail on their current school by such a high number of those surveyed is extremely alarming, but does make it abundantly clear that negative School Reviews are written by far more than just a few disgruntled teachers,”a derogatory term some admin use in an attempt to belittle authors of negative Reviews.

Frequent deal breakers mentioned by so-called “disgruntled teachers” include:

Overbearing, micro-managing admin who bow to parents’ demands
Unqualified colleagues (admin favorites) in positions of authority
Parents that expect top grades & admin makes sure they get them
Students with strong sense of entitlement & lack of discipline/motivation
Admin offers little to no support. Kids running the show
Procedures reek of an overall distrust of the teaching staff
Low pay, poor housing, demanding hours, worthless benefits package

ISR Asks:  How is it that so many teachers have ended up at unbearably lousy schools when the Reviews of such schools clearly spell out major problems ahead? ISR concludes it may be because uninitiated educators buy into the “disgruntled teacher” propaganda, ignoring the words of their colleagues already teaching in these schools. Coming from the West, teachers new to International Education may find some School Reviews simply hard to fathom.

Don’t allow yourself to become a statistic. RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH & then RESEARCH SOME MORE! There are plenty of good schools out there, as evidenced by the fact that over 50% of our Survey respondents plan to complete their Contracts and maybe even renew. Our goal at ISR is to help YOU to find a school that’s right for YOU.

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

——-

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Is ‘No Housing’ a Deal Breaker?

Caught up in the excitement of an overseas job offer, educators may be willing to overlook the inherent expenses and disadvantages of accepting an International teaching position that does not include furnished housing in the deal.

Security deposits add up fast! Think: apartment, utilities and internet. Shopping for household items such as a bed, couches, lamps, tables, and all the small stuff we take for granted back home (can opener, knives, forks, etc.) is not cheap. Before you know it you spent a full month’s salary, or more!

Schools know full well the costs associated with setting up complete households from scratch. They also know the legal and financial problems that often arise when dealing with local landlords who refuse to return security deposits and/or refuse to maintain their properties. Schools that choose to place the entire housing burden on teachers new to a country are schools that ISR feels take advantage of unsuspecting educators. As such, this may be a very telling indicator of what, if any, support you can or cannot count on from your school in the future, both in the classroom and outside of school.

The situation is further compounded when schools only pay a 10-month housing allowance, forcing teachers to pay out-of-pocket for the summer months or move out of their apartments. Apparently such schools place profit over the well-being of teachers. Additionally, teachers preoccupied with finding a place to live are not in a position to give 100% to their students. Everyone loses, except the school, which, of course, profits.

Is a lack of school-supplied housing a deal breaker? ISR recommends that teachers carefully weigh the pros, and especially the cons, of accepting a Contract that does not include furnished housing, or at least a stipend to cover deposits, furnishings and a school-trusted agent to personally help you find an apartment. Getting picked up at the airport upon arrival into your new country, dropped off at a hotel and told, “We’ll see you the first day of school,” has prompted many an educator to take the next available flight out.

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Academic ‘Participation Trophies’ – Good or Bad?

Diane Tirado, an eighth-grade history teacher at Westgate K-8 School in Port St. Lucie, Florida, gave her students two weeks to complete an assignment. Students who failed to turn in any work received a zero in her grade book.

Diane, who had been teaching for 17 years prior to starting at Port St. Lucie in 2018, believes she was fired for refusing to comply with the school’s alleged policy of no grade lower than a 50%. Admin claims, however, that Diane was released from her duties for substandard performance.

A school spokesperson said the school’s grading policy does not prohibit a teacher from recording a zero for work not turned in. However, a document to the contrary, alleged to be taken from the school handbook, later surfaced:

 

Whether or not Diane was fired due to poor job performance or simply for refusing to comply with a No Zero policy is beyond the scope/focus of this Discussion Board. The incident, however, does illustrate two distinctly polarized philosophies…

Awarding kids credit for just showing up to class is an example of a trend known as the Participation Trophy. The premise claims that rewarding kids for participating on any level will boost their self-esteem and self-confidence. Those who support Participation Trophies believe zeros contribute to a “loser” stigma, while Participation Trophies allow kids the recognition needed to foster motivation to improve. Opponents of Participation Trophies maintain that giving credit for just showing up sends a message contrary to how the real world works, and furthermore unfavorably dishonors those students who do the honest work to earn grades.

ISR asks:  What’s YOUR take on Participation Trophies in regard to academic achievement? In your opinion, do Participation Trophies for simply occupying a classroom seat, foster self-esteem and future motivation? Or do they demotivate kids into doing little to no work? Showing up and participating in a 5-K run comes with a T-shirt and/or a Participation Trophy, and rightly so. Should sitting idle in a classroom, refusing to do any work at all, fall into the same category?

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Trashed!

Imagine this: You recently attended your first-ever International Teacher recruiting fair and walked away with a rather attractive Contract. But months later, after resigning your public-school teaching position, renting out your house and putting cars and furniture into storage….the phone rings. Your job offer has been withdrawn!

The voice on the other end of the line offers nothing more than a meager explanation such as insufficient enrollment, but no monetary compensation. Your life has been trashed! 

Incidents such as this are admittedly few and far between, but they do occur as evidenced by a smattering of alarming ISR School Reviews. The most recent such event can be read by logging onto ISR  and then returning to this page and clicking Here

As teachers, we unfortunately have little or no recourse when it comes to dealing with schools that treat us like disposable commodities. Few of us could afford to pursue legal compensation, and the schools know it! Do you have the resources to wage a lawsuit against a school in Malaysia when you’re physically in Wisconsin and unemployed?

Recruiters assert they provide a venue or conduit between schools and teachers and cannot be held responsible for unpredictable actions of their various school clients. That said, why are teachers blacklisted and held responsible by recruiters when they fail to live up to the terms of a Contract — even when an abusive school makes breaking that Contract necessary for self-preservation?

ISR asks: Why are there no safeguards in place to assure educators’ security? Why aren’t schools required to post a substantial bond with recruiting agencies (or a third-party agency) to assure teachers are compensated should a school renege on their Contract? ISR believes recruiters can and should put safeguards into place to ensure schools are held accountable when they trash the future for unsuspecting International Teaching candidates.

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Admin w/Phony Credentials

Ever get the feeling your school director, principal or another key figure at your International School lacks the credentials they claim to have earned? A group of students at a prestigious International School had that exact feeling about their incoming Head of School and set out to find the truth.

Quite possibly the impostor could have successfully flown under the radar, but his aggressive attitude and relentless obsession with severe consequences for minor school-rule infractions motivated students to look into his history.  They had had enough!

An exhaustive internet search finally revealed Mr. X was not who he claimed to be.  In fact, Mr. X was not even his real name! Having been fired from a school in Canada for falsified credentials, Mr. X was now masquerading as Mr. Y. Needless to say he was gone from his new International School in just a few days’ time.

If you have evidence that an administrator at your school does not hold the credentials required for his/her position, be aware of potential consequences. Proceed with caution! Openly demonstrating you know what he or she is hiding could be detrimental to your job. You never know who’s friends with whom. Plus, the Board may already know what’s going on and not even care and/or be hiding that information.

A prudent approach to exposing an impostor may be to alert Board members using an anonymous email address, or by dropping a physical letter into their home mailbox. Be wise and protect yourself from unscrupulous revenge seekers.

Enrolling in a couple of singing classes does not make a vocalist. Likewise, a principal training class or leadership workshop does not make a leader. As with every industry, the International School circuit has its fair share of upper management who DO have valid degrees/admin credentials but lack the true strength of character, vision and fairness to be leaders. So, before you jump to conclusions and stick your neck out, consider you may simply be dealing with pure incompetence.

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Rejecting a Job Offer Got Me Banned From Mexico!

Hello ISR, I have a unique situation I hope your readers can help me with:

In 2012, I applied to teach at a handful of international schools and accepted a position at a school in Mexico. When the school later contacted me, it was explained that I would have to book my own flight and upon arrival, arrange to find and rent my own apartment! That said, I backed out of the job.

 Had the details of the job been made clear in the beginning, I would have declined the Mexico offer right then and there. Some time later, I accepted a job at a school in the Middle East where everything was arranged in advance of my arrival.

At the time, I didn’t think much about turning down the school in Mexico. After all, I had no reason to give it another thought. That was, until I recently traveled to Mexico on vacation and was denied entry into the country!

Upon consulting with the Mexican embassy in the United States I learned I had been put on a blacklist of sorts, all due to rejecting the Mexico school offer. It seems so insane someone actually had the power to do this to me!

I just wanted to check in with ISR:  Have you heard of this happening to anyone else before? This would be helpful information.

I appreciate your time.
T.

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School Not as Described

Educators who rely solely on the word of an interviewer may soon find they committed to two years in a city hard-pressed to offer enough points of interest to even fill an afternoon stopover.

Alarm bells should clang if an interviewer makes statements such as:  “It’s the best kept secret.” Or, “It was once the Paris of the East.”

Sadly, there ARE school Directors who will say just about anything to lure unsuspecting educators to their poorly located schools, knowing full well that once they’re there it’s not so easy to leave.

What’s your options when you arrive at a new school, only to find things are 180 degrees out from how they were described? In other words, What do you do when you’ve fallen prey to a con man?

Possible solutions:

A) If you’re financially solvent and can afford to walk out, consider taking the next flight home. The financial consequences of such actions are something not many of us are able to absorb, so this option may be off the table.

B) Hang in there and collect a few paychecks. Then, jump ship at the first long vacation. This way, you’ll have a few bucks under your belt and no one will wonder why you’re headed to the airport with a couple of big suitcases in hand.

C) Do as many (most?) of us would do:  Suck it up and make the best of it. Walking out on a Contract could do irreparable damage to your career. But then again, it IS your life we’re talking about.

It’s your career. It’s your future. There should be consequences for Directors who deceive educators into accepting positions that are far different than represented. As it stands, deceiving people out of their money can be a punishable offense, yet there are no consequences for deceiving educators into spending years of their life in some hellhole of a location.

With the school year getting underway, we’re seeing some recent ISR School Reviews exposing Directors who purposely misled educators into a lousy location. If you find yourself in such a situation, ISR encourages you to submit a School Review to warn your colleagues.  International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed is What ISR is All About!   Send a School Review

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Do The Pluses Still Outweigh the Negatives?

I grew up in International Schools. Today, with a teaching credential and 3 years classroom experience under my belt, I’m preparing for my first ever International Teacher recruiting fair. I’m ready to get back overseas where life feels so much more authentic to me!

I recently discovered ISR and have been reading Reviews of schools I attended as a student (grades 4-12 in 4 different international schools). In my teen years I was well aware some stressful stuff was going on for the teachers, but not to the degree or magnitude of what I’m now seeing on ISR.

My question:  Do ISR readers who’re currently overseas think the positive aspects of living internationally as an educator outweigh the negatives, especially the really harsh stuff I’m reading on ISR?  Memories of life overseas are among my most treasured possessions and I’m willing to take the bad with the good….to a reasonable extent, that is!

Sincerely,
Grace

Survey:

 

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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.

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