ISR Private Messaging for Questions You Shouldn’t Ask at an Interview

February 15, 2018

private messaging iconYou’ve read the school Reviews. You’ve done your homework. Things look good…except for one lingering, personal concern about the school on your radar.

You could ask the school director at the conclusion of your interview, but questions of a very personal nature might taint a director’s otherwise positive opinion of you. Likewise, it’s probably not wise to confide in the school-appointed teacher who’s been selected to field candidates’ questions by email. After all, he/she was chosen for a ‘reason.’

When you don’t want to reveal more about yourself than you should, ISR’s Private Messaging Feature is the perfect alternativeHere’s a chance to connect with teachers who may have the answers, while maintaining complete anonymity.

Here’s How it Works: Log in as usual to the Member Area. Proceed to the Member Forum. Create an anonymous user name “on the fly” and introduce your topic. As other teachers join in you’ll see the option to Private message each individual. Click the PM icon and send a private message. That’s all there is to starting a secure, behind-the-scene conversation that only the two of you can see, all while remaining anonymous.

The ISR Member Forum with PM hosts thousands of topics covering any and all aspects of International Teaching. LGBTQ concerns, personal medical/medication needs, dating, being of color, and, of course, candid discussions about specific schools are just some of the topicas already in progress. You may be able to jump straight into Private Messaging with individuals already sharing information on topics of interest to you. GO to the ISR Member Forum


Note: ISR hosts two distinctly different Forums:

1.) The Open Forum:  The Open Forum is located in the non-member area of ISR. It does not support Private Messaging, posting on certain topics or sharing school Review information.

2.) The Member Forum with PM:  The Member Forum with Private Messaging is located within the Member area of ISR. It was specifically created so teachers could ask and share information on any and all topics in a secure environment. GO to the ISR Member Forum

Don’t Leave Your Career to Chance. International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed is what International Schools Review is All About!

GO to the ISR Member Forum




Penalties for Schools that Breach Contract

January 25, 2018

International Schools have long been known to breach teachers’ Contracts with no consequences for having done such. Fact is, it’s teachers who suffer should they stand up for what was promised, yet not received.

Schools located in countries with “loose” labor laws are well aware their Contracts  are minimally enforceable in their home land, if at all.  Offering you the “moon” at a Recruiting Fair, even in writing, is no guarantee.

Schools that withhold salaries, switch Contract terms, substitute poor housing for that promised, fail to reimburse travel and/or shipping allowances, renege on health insurance and engage in other dishonest practices are schools in beach of Contract! Yet, there is no accountability.

The majority of educators have financial responsibilities that follow them overseas. Schools know this and can feel confident most of us will tolerate a major breach of Contract because it’s just not financially possible for us to walk out. We’re essentially trapped!

ISR proposes Recruiting Agencies initiate a Contract Review Department. Penalties for schools that breach their Contracts should result in reimbursement to teachers for all costs associated with attending a Recruiting Fair, flights home, shipping of personal items, and an additional substantial compensation paid to the now-unemployed educator. As it stands, teachers have been required to reimburse schools for recruiting costs, and much more, should they break Contract for any reason.

ISR strongly believes:  It’s time International Educators receive assurance Contracts will be honored, and compensation if they are not.

Consider contacting your favorite Recruiting Agency and posing this idea.

Let us know how it goes.

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Questionable Professional Behavior

November 9, 2017

Dear ISR, A topic I have yet to see addressed on ISR is that of questionable professional behavior. In my experience, some lower-tier international schools allow teachers to behave with impunity. One such school in Myanmar is notorious for the negative behavior of its teachers. They get drunk in public, cuss and diss each other and the locals, and in general show a complete lack of cultural sensitivity.

The staff (from the school in question) talk about the deranged behavior of one of their teachers who screams and yells at colleagues in front of students. Recently, a respected math teacher at this school was physically assaulted by another male teacher who was jealous and clearly has psychiatric issues.

The rest of us (living in this close community of schools) cannot believe how teachers from our neighboring school conduct themselves in public, nor that the 2 individuals with extreme behaviors are still teaching with, apparently, no repercussions!

Offences such as drunkenness, belligerence, blatant cultural insensitivity and/or aggressive behavior toward staff and teachers should result in instant firing. How far do/should directors allow teachers to go in breaking codes of professional behavior? And, what can colleagues do, apart from quitting, such toxic places?

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Excused Absences Galore

October 26, 2017

..School’s well under way here in South America (I’ll leave out the name of my school) and in the few months I’ve been here we’ve had four activity days that kept kids out of class. Worse yet, kids regularly come and go with admin passes to participate in this event, that rehearsal, an important soccer practice, and even a hamster race (yes, you read correctly…science, I’m told). The list of reasons for kids to miss class just keeps on going. It’s clear I’m working at an entertainment center for the children of a privileged class, where education takes a back seat to fun.

..The latest incident which brings me to write to ISR is in regards to canceling my unit math exam due to an unplanned soccer match. Here’s what happened: A rival team challenged our school to a Friday afternoon soccer match at the last minute. The word went out Thursday afternoon over the intranet. I had been preparing my class for a big exam which I then had to postpone until Monday. When Monday rolled around it seemed unfair to have them walk into class “cold” and take the exam. So, we spent that class session reviewing and took the exam on Tuesday. This put us two days behind the scheduled curriculum.

..The teacher in the room next to mine told me last year they her called into the Counselor’s office to meet with the parent of a student who was failing her class. She knew the boy was failing because he had missed too many days of class, even though they were excused absences. It really jolted this teacher when she was accused of being a bad teacher and told that she had better get busy and see that this boy did well in her class. When she pointed out that he had missed an excessive amount of classes, she was told his failure was because she’s a boring teacher. How do you deal with this? She confided in me that she ultimately gave the kid a “B” grade to protect her job, but later the parent complained that her son would have earned an “A” if she had been a better teacher.

..My plan is to teach to the best of my ability, give these kids what they really earn and be done with it. I will either establish myself as a teaching professional and be accepted as such or will gladly leave when asked to. Has anyone experienced a school like this one?



Teaching Candidate in Hijab Claims Discrimination by Kuwaiti School

October 19, 2017
Fouzia Khatun on Instagram

..When Fouzia Khatun applied to teach at the English Playgroup, Kuwait, she thought wearing a hijab and sharing common religious beliefs would help her to be a good fit for the job. To her complete dismay, she later received an email from Caroline Brooks of the HR department, saying her employment depended on a willingness to remove her hijab while teaching: “…parents do not want their children taught by covered teachers, this is an English school.” 

..On her Instagram page Fouzia displays the email from Caroline Brooks. The school denies the allegations, saying Caroline Brooks was not in their employ. Later, however, they changed their statement reporting, Caroline Brooks has been “disciplined.” The school asserts that Fouzia’s application for employment was not accepted due to her use of social media and that action has been taken against her for “slanderous comments.”

..…The English Playgroup issued the following statement:
“The English Playgroup and Primary Schools employ qualified teachers from all nationalities, religions and backgrounds who serve students as excellent and caring teachers. Allegations of discrimination against hijab-wearing staff are untrue. Our schools proudly employ many hijab wearing teachers and administrators across our schools. The allegations against the school have been disseminated by an unsuccessful overseas job applicant who was refused employment because of inappropriate behavior as illustrated on her social media platform. The opinions expressed by a new employee in the HR department are against company policy and necessary disciplinary action has been taken.”

..Fouzia is quoted as saying that her Instagram page was private before this incident, so a claim of “inappropriate behavior” on social media is unfounded. The English Playgroup later released photos on Instagram of teachers wearing a hijab while on the job. Fouzia is suing the English playgroup.

..ISR Asks: Is this an isolated incident? Was it simply a mistake on the part of an HR employee? To your knowledge, do Muslim women experience this type of discrimination in Kuwait and other Islamic countries when applying for jobs in Western-oriented schools and companies?

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Community Service w/ a Hidden Agenda

October 12, 2017

..During my interview the director/owner proudly emphasized the broad scope of Community Service activities in which his school was involved. He wore his comments like a badge of honor & wanted to know, “Was I on board with the program?”  I was in!

..As the school year progressed it became painfully obvious that he had little interest in helping the community. Instead, he abused & exploited the Community Service program, using it as a means to get free publicity. This was evidenced by the fact he regularly showed up to Community Service events & took credit for what the students/teachers were doing, all the while selling his “great” school to the local press covering the event.

..As teachers, we raised all the funds needed for our Community Service projects. We also kept records on an on-line calendar as well as on a huge paper calendar located in the front office in plain view of anyone coming through the door (good PR). I’m convinced the director’s secretary was the one calling the press & maybe even bribing them to cover our events. Example: 10/2 @ 3:30 pm, “Mr D’s group to Valley View Orphanage with toys.

..I could have lived with this situation, but then something happened. In September, the entire faculty worked endlessly to organize an all-school fundraiser. There was music & food (supplied by parents),  activity booths for kids (created, financed & managed by teachers), raffle tickets & a silent auction (of  items donated by parents). We raised many, many thousands of dollars.

..Did any of that money go to fund our Community Service organizations, the orphanage, the old age home, animal rescue, etc.?  NO! Every cent went to new uniforms for the soccer team, replanting the field, sprucing up the bleaches & constructing two concession stands. This was not what we had been told during the planning stages. The director was “sorry we misunderstood.” So, what’s next — new office furniture?

..Needless to say I feel quite conflicted. I want to help the community & introduce my students to the concept of giving back. I feel good about doing so. But at the same time the school owner has an ulterior motive & it’s not based on giving — it’s based on teachers & students “volunteering” their time/energy so the owner can advance the financial worth of his “school.”  This last stunt with all the money going to the soccer field was the final blow for me. I now see this director as a slimy trickster.

..Question is, now what? I feel like I’m being abused & there are months & months left in the school year, not to mention the 2nd year of my contract? Anyone dealt with this situation before? I’m so disgusted I’m tempted to leave!

Tempted to Remove a School from YOUR Resume?

October 5, 2017

Resumes are marketing tools, not legal documents and nothing says you’re obligated to list every job you’ve ever had. YOU get to decide what to include and what to leave out. But be prepared:  Gaps in your teaching history may require an explanation. Good reasons, for example, range from taking a volunteer position to spending time back home caring for an aging parent.

3 Good Reasons to Leave a School OFF Your Resume

..1)  You suspect the school Director may say something “unflattering” and/or untrue about you to a perspective employer. This is especially valid if you left on sour terms.

..2)  The school’s poor reputation may be detrimental to your career. Such schools may be characterized as “diploma mills” that guarantee top grades/university placement to parents who can meet stiff monetary requirements for their kids’ tuition. Spend too many years at such a school (where you’re considered not much more than a servant to overindulged, rich kids) and you may have trouble finding a position at an authentically “good” school.

..3)  The teaching position was for 1-year or less, or you broke contract and left early. Short stints at International Schools can draw negative attention from prospective employers. You may have had sincere, valid reasons to leave early but employers can be quick to pass judgment.

Leaving some of your teaching history OFF your resume is a personal choice and something you’ll need to consider carefully for reasons quite obvious. ISR asks:  Did you ever take a school off your resume? How did it work out for you? What’s your advice to teachers considering dropping a school from their resume?

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