Beyond the School Gates

December 12, 2019

“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

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  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

December 5, 2019

   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?

October 24, 2019

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?

October 17, 2019

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!

October 10, 2019

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

September 26, 2019

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!

August 29, 2019

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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