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You may not agree with everyone’s perspective on every topic, but that’s a good thing. Broadening our horizons makes us all better educators. You’re invited to participate in a sometimes controversial, new topic every week.

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Here’s where you’ll find up-to-the-minute info about schools & Admin, straight from teachers currently at the school. Start your own thread, browse thousands in progress. No topic is off limits … Almost.

Trending Topics

Moments of Awakening

by ISR Guest Author

If you’ve ever had a moment of sudden inspiration, insight, or comprehension, you experienced what is commonly referred to as a moment of awakening. For me, such moments are far more frequent overseas as compared to ‘back home’ where life was mostly on auto pilot. There’s a lot to be said for the newness of everything when you go international.

Early in my overseas career a very memorable moment of awakening didn’t actually occur on foreign soil. Rather, it took place during my first trip home following 2 straight years in Thailand. For whatever reason, ‘back home’ just no longer felt like home. Friends and family were there but it felt like I no longer belonged. I was homesick for Thailand. Something in me had profoundly changed during those first 2 years overseas.

A memorable moment I’ll always remember struck in Kinshasa, DR Congo. While slowly navigating down a rutted road with the AC struggling against a hot, humid, rainy morning, I noted the many pedestrians headed for work with umbrellas overhead, pant legs rolled up and shoes safely guarded in plastic bags. The dirt shoulder of the road had turned into a muddy quagmire. That’s when it hit me how truly fortunate I was in so many ways. I let a lot of ‘stuff’ go that day.

There’s been other unforgettable moments of awareness for me along the path of international education, but now it’s your turn. I’d love to know what profound, self-realization moments other international educators have had living and teaching in far off lands. This should be enlightening.


ISR Guest Author

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How Are School Directors Chosen?

Article by a guest Author:

Early in my overseas teaching career I made a bad choice of schools. That was before I knew about ISR. To date, I’ve taught at 5 International Schools, and counting. My first school was horrible, a ‘crap hole’ as one of my colleagues most aptly described it. The director’s mind-boggling incompetence and that of his principal was staggering. They almost drove me to leave international education right from the start.

Fortunately, my subsequent schools had outstanding leadership. Thank you ISR! At one school, the soon-to-be-leaving director, in conjunction with the board, actually flew in the top 2 contenders for the position (not on the same dates). Both of them spent time being interviewed by alternating, small groups of teachers. We later voted. We all felt valued.

I depend on ISR to read and research the history of a director I could potentially end up working for. A couple of bad reviews out of many and I’m okay with it. Twenty or so reviews with 95% of them not so good, and I give the school a pass.

My question: There’s a lot of good leadership out there. I know that first-hand. That said, if a particular director has scads of ISR reviews that paint them as practicing a top-down, dictatorial, ‘my way or the highway‘ abusive style of management, how is it they seem to easily move around from school to school?

What comes to mind is this: Some schools must be looking for a person to administer the agenda of the financially invested stakeholders, or an individual stakeholder and/or owner. To put it bluntly, are some schools using ISR reviews to find a director who will suppress dissension in the ranks, maximize profits and keep parents placated? I hope not! Is it possible they just don’t know about ISR?

Anonymous Guest Author

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For-Profit vs Non-Profit Schools

It may be an International educator’s automatic response that a non-profit school is a better career choice than one classified as for-profit. Does teaching at a non-profit assure a better overall experience? What happens when for-profits masquerade as non-profits? Deciding which type of school is best for YOU may prove things are not always what they seem.

Let’s define terms: A non-profit organization is defined as an entity that exists for charitable purposes, usually a group based on a common interest. Embassy parents, creating a school for the sole purpose of providing an education for their expat children, falls into this category. After salaries and expenses are paid, all remaining monies go back into the school. In most countries these entities do not pay taxes. Creating an overseas school with a tax home in the US, for example, would qualify for tax exemption. Non-profits are often seen as the ‘good guys.’

For-profit organizations are classified as being operated with the goal of showing a profit. They serve their customers by selling a product or service. The owner earns an income from the profits and may also pay shareholder investors from these profits. These entities are not tax exempt.

On the surface, the difference between a for-profit and a non-profit school appears to boil down to shareholders pocketing the money a non-profit would otherwise invest into bettering the school.

A close look, however, reveals a blurred line between for-profit and non-profit schools. Non-profits with a tax base in the US are required to make their tax returns public, for example. A review of these documents often reveals huge salaries and/or bonuses paid to owners, directors, principals, advisors, board members, and other ‘positions’ easily assigned (at least on paper) to family members or investors. No money is left over to better a school ‘masquerading’ as a non-profit, and there may also be no interest in developing the professional/personal interests of its hired staff.

On the other hand, many for-profit schools, operated by owners with a community consciousness, clearly outshine some non-profits. Many such school owners are not only satisfied to make a fair profit, but also glean satisfaction and pride from offering a top quality educational product to parents and students. They include fair salaries and benefits packages for teachers. ISR hosts Reviews of such school.

There’s more to a name than vernacular would have you believe. Don’t be misled by titles. As always, ISR encourages you to Research, Research, Research!

ISR asks: What has YOUR experience been with both for-profit and non-profit schools?

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China: Covid Lock-downs & Mental Health

by Anonymous International Teacher / ISR Guest Writer

On the 26th of March 2020, China instigated significantly restricted travel Visas for both exiting and entering the country. As of November, 2022, there is still no specific date set for the free flow of people into and out of the country.

As such, there has been a strong emphasis on educators’ inability to leave the country, but that is not the end of it. With the experience of living through some of the world’s most draconian lock-downs (known as ‘dynamic Covid’) in the world, what is not as clearly understood is the wide variability in people’s personal experiences in China during lock-down.

I personally know of people who have been teaching in-person safely and with the continued ability to travel around China. In contrast, there are examples where friends have had trouble getting essentials such as adequate food. This may have been due to having weak links to ‘group buying,’ common during major city lock-downs. Or, it may be due, in part, to a lack of Chinese language skills and/or little to no support from the school.

Something that I think has often been misunderstood is the chronic trauma and grief suffered by some fellow educators in China that still follows them to this day. Not being able to leave your home for months at a time can lead to major problems with social isolation. The students are also in the same boat, so our ability to look after our students was also mixed.

Administrators from outside countries, I also believe, paint teachers from China with a very broad brush stroke as “damaged goods” or have the attitude of “we went through the same in _XYZ_ country and survived, so we don’t understand your trauma as being that big of a deal.”

What would you like administrators to know about YOUR experience when they interview teachers who have been in China during Covid times? How was mental health addressed for staff in YOUR school while working in a city that experienced prolonged lock-downs? Do you feel that there is a discrimination, for or against, those educators who come from posts in China?

Comments? Please scroll to participate in this ISR Discussion

Sizing Up a New Job: the Pros, Cons and Unknowns

by Matthew Sullivan / ISR Guest Writer

How would you respond when the unknowns of your international post turn out to be significant challenges? International living extracts you from your comfort zone, distances you from family and friends, adds stress to your relationships and piles burdens on your dependents that you may never have acknowledged when you were idly dreaming of escape.

Often we romanticize about a new job rather than conduct research in a dispassionate way. Prospective international educators seeking an escape from homeland humdrum can easily delude themselves by imagining that their current troubles will disappear abroad. The human mind sadly can will itself into a doom loop of negativity, anxiety and depression when the environment around it doesn’t match expectations. But whatever attitudinal baggage you bring to your new destination will be unpacked and on display straightaway unless you travel light and divest yourself of habits that led to your unhappiness or restlessness at home.

Making a simple list of pros, cons and unknowns when sizing up a new job seems sensible, but few applicants take the trouble to do this systematically. The unknowns are always scarier risks than the cons because they cannot be measured. When you take that leap into the unknown by accepting a job abroad and signing a contract, you need to accept that you are running significant risks for yourself and your family. Many of these risks are incalculable before you start the job, and it is human nature to warm to the perceived rewards rather than to assess coolly the real dangers when busy dreaming of pastures new.

Depending on your mindset, these unexpected outcomes of a new job abroad can lead to varying degrees of panic or patience; anger or maturity; weakness or resilience; whinging or acceptance; frustration or wisdom. In the end, however, all learning can be good learning and one’s character can grow and flourish, even in seemingly adverse conditions.

During my 37 years in international education, I experienced many unknowns, rewards, sacrifices and opportunities to grow, learn and develop my character. Looking back, I have few regrets, but also few illusions!

What kinds of risks are acceptable to YOU when making significant career decisions? What do YOU aim to learn from pursuing an international career? In what ways would you like to grow as a person during your professional life?

Matthew Sullivan (recently retired international educator)

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Are International Schools Monotone?

Dear ISR,
I would like to know if other educators are in the same position as me. I’ll explain:

Over the past two recruiting seasons I, an American, have come to realize my slight accent stands between me and an international teaching position. Even though no recruiter has come out and said they don’t hire American teachers with ‘foreign’ accents, no matter how slight that accent may be, I’ve concluded discrimination is in fit form in the arena of international teacher recruiting.

I have evidence: After the school year for which I recently recruited got underway I visited the websites of schools that had interviewed me. Reviewing the pages introducing the new teaching staff, accompanied by their educational background and achievements, it is plainly evident that noticeably less qualified applicants are in the position I had recruited to teach. My slight ‘foreign’ accent aside, no one is a good fit for every school, but not to be a fit for any school? What else am I left to conclude?

I hold a Masters in English Literature and a K-12 teaching credential from the University of California, Los Angeles. I’ve taught IB English Literature and Theory of Knowledge in the LA City School District going on 5 years. In Los Angeles, a culturally diverse melting pot, my accent is of no consequence. Apparently international schools are, shall we say, monotone.

I would be most appreciative if I could get some feedback on this topic of concern to me and certainly many other educators.

Best wishes,

Comments? Please Scroll to participate in this ISR Discussion

Be an ISR Guest Writer

ISR is inviting all International Educators to ‘Guest Author’ an ISR Discussion Topic. Have an observation, a complaint, a concern or theory on teaching abroad that you’d like to bring to others’ attention? Your topic is entirely up to YOU and can be as personal or far-reaching as you’d like. This is the place to highlight your voice, be heard and instigate a worldwide discussion based on your thoughts and writing!

If you’re not familiar with ISR Discussion Topics, here’s an Example. Notice, more than 114 ISR readers commented on and enhanced this Guest Author’s view point!

A few simple Guidelines:

To get started, compose a short synopsis (2-3 sentences) about your Discussion Topic. Send it to: Of course, not all Discussions will fit our ISR format but we will let you know right away if you should proceed to submit your complete Article for publication. ISR hopes to continue this feature, so some submitted Topics may be used, with your permission, in future ISR publications. More than one submission may be submitted per person, each with a separate synopsis, please.

Completed Article submissions should be 350 words or less — short and to the point.

Address only a single point of concern/interest per Article submission, please.

Choose to remain anonymous or opt to have your name appear with your Article’s publication.

As a small thank you for your published Article, you’ll receive a fresh one-year membership to ISR, or an extension to your existing membership.

We look forward to YOUR participation!

How Do YOU Read ISR?

There’s more to reading ISR’s School Reviews than just what’s on the page. Oftentimes, what’s between the lines speaks louder than words. Here are some things to consider this recruiting season while reading School Reviews:

  • Look for a ‘common thread’ running through the Reviews for a specific school. Is there a near- or complete consensus on certain topics? When different educators mention aspects, both positive and negative, a picture should begin to immerge.
  • A stand-alone, superbly glowing Review, refuting all previous negative Reviews, may certainly arouse suspicion. Who wrote this Review? It could, of course, simply be a teacher having an uniquely positive experience, one that’s 180 degrees opposite that of all other reviewers, or….
  • Schools displaying strictly out-of-date Reviews could be a red flag. ISR has it on good authority that some schools have instituted a contractual clause preventing teachers from writing Reviews. The ISR Member Forum is the place to get the up-to-date information you’re searching for.
  • Multiple Reviews, alternating between positive and negative comments could be a difference of opinion or an Admin doing ‘damage control.’ Deciding which point-of-view to believe can be difficult. Tone of voice and the perspective from which each author is writing, should lend a clue. And again: The ISR Member Forum is the place to get the factual information you’re searching for.
  • A series of Reviews with a negative slant, followed by more recent, glowingly positive Reviews, may be the reflection of a new school Director. Check the top, right-hand corner of the Review page to see the succession of Admin for each school. The Admin Index is where to research the history of Directors at both their current and previous schools.
  • Reviews too-good-to-be-true are probably just that, a fabrication, especially when all 9s and 10s appear on the Rubric Evaluation. Common sense and a bit of research are in order.
  • A majority of favorable Reviews with a smattering of negative Reviews could signal a great school with one or two teachers not enjoying the experience. It could also signal a campaign being staged by teachers in the Admin’s inner circle. Read between the lines. Ask questions on the ISR Member Forum !

Each of us experience situations in our own way. Specific conditions and/or an overall school climate prompting a positive-leaning Review by one teacher could trigger a negative Review from a colleague. Be your own detective. Read between the lines, and as always, ISR recommends research, research, research!

ISR Asks: How do YOU read ISR School Reviews?
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Still in Russia?

Russian invasion of Ukraine

February 24, 2022, Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine. As early as January, embassies had begun recommending their citizens leave Ukraine immediately. Fortunately, many did leave, motivated by the fact Russian troops were amassing on the border. International Educators in Russia, however, stayed put for the most part, some by choice and others as a result of the insistence of their schools.

Flights from Russia to the US, EU and Canada are now non-existent as Russian commercial aircraft and private jets are completely banned from the airspace of these countries. With growing tension between the US and Moscow, as well as Moscow and US allies, it’s anyone’s guess what Putin, an ex-KGB agent who threatens nuclear war, will do next. Detention in a Russian prison may not be off the table.

Beyond personal safety, ISR believes the conscientious thing to do would be to leave Russia. In other words, vote with your feet. Continuing to live and teach in a country waging unprovoked war, murder, and geopolitical piracy on the civilians of its autonomous neighbor could be construed as a silent vote of support.

ISR asks:

If YOU were teaching in Ukraine, did you evacuate before February 24th? If YOU stayed past that date, was it your own choice or your school’s requirement? Please tell us about YOUR evacuation experience.

If YOU were in Russia on or after February 24th, have you since departed? Please Share that experience. If you are still in Russia, why are YOU still there?

Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

The Trade-Off for an Overseas Experience

There’s plenty to love about living in far off distant lands. So much so, in exchange for that experience many of us will tolerate a not-so-great workplace — as evidenced by ISR School Reviews.

Don’t get me wrong. There are truly outstanding International Schools around the globe. Those of us enjoying both our school and the experience of living overseas are hopefully in the majority. Be sure to Share your experience at such schools with the rest of us. Review Your School

That said, no school meets everyone’s expectations. Some things you just have to live with. In extreme cases, toughing out aspects of employment that may otherwise be a deal breaker, is the trade some of us make in exchange for the privilege of an International lifestyle.

We each have a different threshold for what we can live with at a school not entirely to our liking. What bothers one educator may be of no consequence to another. In most cases we can simply ignore most scenarios. Not getting what you’re promised contractually, feeling abused, underappreciated, and fodder for overly entitled parents and students will make a situation intolerable for most all of us. That trade off isn’t worth it. Teachers run.

ISR asks: In your own, personal situation, are you enduring a negative workplace environment in exchange for the privilege of living overseas? If so, what is the trade-off? What is it at the heart of the overseas experience that makes the trade-off worthwhile to YOU?

Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

Detained in Rwanda, Seeking Your Support

The following is from Rhonda Isley:

I know this is a long post. However, it is vital to gain Mark’s freedom. A full reading is appreciated. To be clear, this is an issue with the International School Kigali (ISK) administration and Board for choosing not to do what is right. The issue is NOT with the Rwandan authorities. The Rwandan authorities have been respectful and have treated Mark extremely well.

For the past 7 months my husband, Mark Isley, has been detained in Rwanda, accused by ISK of a criminal act. In the words of ISK: 

“….your malicious act of massively deleting teaching materials, student work, college prep students’ letters of recommendation and other documents necessary for university acceptance; by so doing, you not only frustrated efforts of seamlessly undertaking the handover process to another contractor, but also jeopardized the future of your students vis-d.-vis their academic future.” 

Mark was accused of this crime on November 10, 2021 but continued to work at ISK thru January 31, 2022. The school administration never questioned Mark about missing files.

On March 1, charges were filed against Mark. He was later sentenced to 3 years in prison with 2 years suspended and a 2,000 USD fine. Fortunately, results of his trial in August determined there was no evidence of harm to students or their futures in any way and the civil suit suing him for 10,000 USD related to this was dropped. However, Mark still faces another 2-3 years of detainment while navigating the judicial system to address the deletion of files issue. The evidence shows Mark did not access any files on the day in question, however, he did use his email account.

For context

  • November 9, 2021 Mark was fired by ISK without cause 
  • November 15, 2021 Mark was rehired by ISK and worked until January 31, 2022 
  • February 4, 2022 Mark filed a labor dispute case against ISK with the Inspector General’s office 
  • March 1, 2022 Inspector General determined Mark had a valid case and moved it forward to the Labor Court
  • March 1, 2022 charges were filed against Mark indicating he committed the unlawful act on November 10, 2021. The files in question date back to 2019 and constituted old homework assignments submitted by students via Google Classroom. There were no files relating to letters of recommendation or other documents necessary for university acceptance, no students’ future was jeopardized and Mark met with his replacement teacher prior to his departure to ensure a smooth handover. Any college recommendations that were written were submitted as requested to universities
  • July 31, 2022 at midnight, a civil suit was filed against Mark suing him for 10,000 USD. 
  • August 1, 2022 (8:00 am) Mark’s criminal trial took place in which the civil suit charges were allowed to be presented as part of the case.
  • August 29 Mark was sentenced to 3 years in prison with 2 years suspended and a 2,000 USD fine 
  • August 29 the civil suit suing Mark for 10,000 USD was dismissed due to no evidence indicating students were harmed in any way

Points raised by Mark’s attorneys during the criminal proceedings on Monday, August 1 were as follows:

1. If Mark committed this act on November 10, why did ISK rehire him on November 15 and why did ISK never question Mark about any missing documents while he was employed prior to filing criminal charges 4 months later?

2. What evidence is there of malicious intent? Mark was rehired Nov 15, performed his duties without incident or complaint from ISK and was never informed there was a problem stemming from Nov 10. The first communication Mark received was on March 1 indicating there was a problem with files. 

3. There were no files deleted. All files in question were stored on the ISK server, on the student resource platform, on the College Board website and shared with students. The evidence provided was a simple spreadsheet. 

4. RIB investigation indicated there was no evidence on Mark’s personal laptop that he had accessed the files in question on November 10.

5. The spreadsheet presented as evidence did not show any documents relating to teaching materials or college letters of reference that would jeopardize a student’s future.

6. There was no evidence, or any students identified, as being harmed by the deletion of any files. On the contrary, there is evidence Mark submitted recommendations when asked and all students who applied for university received acceptances.

7. There was no evidence of “frustrated handover” of any responsibilities.

8. On November 10, 2021 other administrators had access to Mark’s email account creating a situation in which other people had access to all documents in question.

9. The timing of criminal charges being filed in March, coinciding with notification from the Labor Inspector General certifying the labor dispute case Mark had filed in early February against ISK, would be moving forward in the judicial system seemed too coincidental.

My thoughts in response to the verdict:

We were quite surprised at the verdict as again:

  • no evidence of malice was presented
  • no evidence of student harm was presented
  • no evidence that the documents in question had anything to do with student college applications or recommendations
  • no evidence that Mark’s laptop accessed the documents in question
  • no acknowledgment that the documents in question, in fact, were never missing as all documents are automatically stored in 4 places: 1. on the school server 2. with individual students in their Google Drives 3. on the school learning management system, Google Classroom 4. on the College Board AP website

Mark is being detained in Rwanda with no opportunity to work in order to support himself. As a 65-year-old man with no health insurance and no family in the country to support his medical needs we are seeking a timely resolution to this process. It is our belief the charges filed by ISK are false charges being used as an intimidation and retribution tactic against Mark because he filed a labor dispute case against ISK. 

Any support that can be provided, on behalf of Mark, is appreciated. Our goal is to have Mark return to the US to regain his health, rebuild his professional reputation, spend time with his 8-month-old grandson and reconnect with family. We are simply bewildered that a 65-year-old career educator with no history of claims against him would be sent to prison by a school for a crime so unsubstantiated.

Mark’s life remains in limbo, with no opportunity to work, no healthcare, nowhere to go, no one there for him, except a lawyer, to take his side. While he navigates the next 2-3 years, we hope your support can help gain his freedom with the charges dropped. 

Mark and I ask for your support:

  1. Contact the International School of Rwanda ( to ask:
  • Why are they trying to send one of their teachers to prison in a foreign country without clear evidence of a crime when they have the ability to support Mark in his appeal to have the case dismissed?
  • How does ISK  justify sending a teacher to prison for harming students and their futures when a judge has already determined there was no harm to students, or their futures and there is no evidence of wrongdoing?
  1. Contact your international educator colleagues to raise their awareness level of how teachers are treated at this school in case they are considering recruiting at this school

As educators, we believe it is imperative to look out for each other as moving to a new school and new country requires a huge leap of faith and trust. We must all demand of ourselves, and our administrative colleagues, respect for ethical treatment so we can continue to enjoy the wonderful professional, and personal, opportunities of our international lives.

Please contact me directly ( if you have any questions as we want you to feel confident when asked to support a cause. 

Comments? Please scroll down

Do You Have to “Like” Kids?

Voila! You’ve earned a teaching credential, landed a position in an International School and fulfilled your dream of exploring the world! Waitbut…what if you don’t really “like” kids as much as you “love” the idea of a life and career of worldwide adventures?

To be clear, there’s a huge difference between not “liking” kids and detesting them. Anyone who detests children obviously has no business in the teaching profession. Not “liking” but caring about kids, on the other hand, may simply denote someone who doesn’t choose to spend their free-time with kids, but is qualified, capable and motivated to teach them.

It would be naïve to think everyone who enters the teaching profession does so with the singular motive to “serve children.” Is there a difference between entering the profession, one perceived as altruistic, with the expectation it will meet one’s financial needs as compared to entering the profession as a means to explore the world?

ISR Asks: Is something inherently wrong with becoming an International educator if the underlying motivation is to travel and live overseas? Does the deeper adventure motivation make a teacher any less qualified to teach? Does it make an International teacher any less effective in the classroom if they really don’t “like” children?

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My School’s Disgusting Grading System

“As I was informed the first week at my new school, the grading policy forbids teachers giving anything less than 70% on all homework and/or tests.

Any student who earns 69%, or less, on a test or homework assignment is given 70% and the given an opportunity to improve that grade. Test takeovers are administered after school, on my time. Makeup assignments should be turned in no later than two weeks from the original due date. Good luck!

In and of itself this isn’t a bad system. However, I have high school kids who submit homework with nothing more than their name, date and the assignment title at the top of a blank page. Since they turned something in I’m required to mark it 70%.

The make-up versions of blank page submissions has so far consisted of a couple of worthless paragraphs. The students then argue they deserve a higher grade on the make-up since it’s an improvement over their first attempt. The school actually supports this idiocy.

The students’ perspective on test results is equally ‘creative.’ A student who, in real life, deserved 47% on the original attempt, and 60% on the retake, argued she improved by 13%, making her combined grade for the test 83% (the mandatory 70% + 13%). I told her to take it up with the school Director. I’ve yet to hear back.

How I plan to survive this experience is beyond me. Yes, I read the Reviews. One of them spoke to this situation and I ignored it, thinking …. in what universe does this stuff take place? Now I know! Has anyone out there had a similar experience? Any suggestions for me?”

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Keeping Credentials Current & Safe

Earning a preliminary teaching credential in your home country and then later, prior to its expiration, satisfying the requirements to turn the certificate into a permanent credential poses a distinct challenge. This is especially true if you’re living and teaching in a country different from the one where you earned the credential.

Back in ‘the day’ (before Internet), it was sometimes impossible to meet your credential renewal requirements from a foreign land. To complicate matters, even if you could submit documents by a courier service such as DHL, communication took place only over land-line phones and/or FAX, an expensive, time-consuming proposition, at best. Spending a school year back home, enrolled in the classes needed to satisfy renewal requirements, was not uncommon.

Thank goodness the internet came along and changed all that. However, a problem today, and a serious one, is: How can you know which online schools are legitimate and which ones are scams?

‘Schools’ promising to satisfy your issuing agency’s renewal requirements are not always what they appear to be. Some are not recognized by credentialing bodies as being legitimate, although they, of course, claim to be. Some are purely bogus money-making schemes. Others are really only selling credits and offer little in the way of actual courses.

ISR asks: How do YOU ferret out the legitimate online entities that actually offer a way to satisfy your state/country’s credential renewal requirements with legitimate comprehensive courses of benefit to you? What has YOUR personal experience been? Any recommendations?

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International Education in the Face of Climate Change

Whatever you believe to be the cause for Climate Change, be it the result of fossil fuels that add excessive levels of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, or simply the natural evolution of the planet, the fact remains, the earth IS getting warmer. And faster than ever before.

Extreme weather events such as hurricanes, floods, fires, droughts and excessive temperatures currently have a direct impact on 70% of all economic sectors, worldwide. One in four businesses around the globe is affected. Climate Change is wreaking havoc on transportation and infrastructure, often halting supply chains for raw materials, parts and product distribution.

It’s clear, Climate Change can and does have an immediate affect on International Schools, and ultimately, our careers. As industries succumb to extreme weather events, parents pull children out of expensive, private, overseas schools, the consequences of which are fast becoming not a question of “if” but of “when.”

In the headlines, natural disasters are more prevalent than ever. If not already, it’s just a matter of time until parents require schools to provide a viable natural disaster preparedness plan, a plan that takes into account all types of events and includes the equipment to carry out the plan.

ISR asks: What’s YOUR take on the affect of Climate Change on International Education? What is YOUR school doing to insure its longevity and student safety in the face of potential natural disasters?

Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

Should I Be Scared to Teach in the USA?

Moving to the United States will be my first International School experience. That is, if I go through with it. I’ve visited countries that border on my country, but a move to America will put me further away than I’ve ever been from my home of record, France.

There is an attitude in the USA that scares me and is the reason I’m writing. I have been following USA news and starting to question, Is America the place for me? Random and targeted mass shootings, constant inflation, banned school books, hate crimes and angry anti-vaxxers have me more than just a little concerned. Is it just sensationalist news and isolated incidences I’m reading about, or is it really as bad as it looks?

I’ve already applied to French International Schools in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, New Orléans, Los Angeles, Detroit, Indianapolis and Philadelphia. I have positive replies so far from 3 of them.

San Francisco and New Orléans are at the top of my list. Texas is not on my list and Chicago should be off because these places look gun crazy and far too conservative, along with most of middle America. Los Angeles looks good.

I would love to hear from teachers for whom living and teaching in America was/is an International Experience, and from Americans with insights to share. Should I take the USA off my list altogether at this time?

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Teaching Admin Kids

Great experience or total nightmare?

Teaching Admin kids who are strong students, great athletes or talented artists is wonderful! And even better when you’re able to build a positive relationship to support their learning and growth.

It’s tougher when Admin kids have challenges or need support. Tough conversations with Admin about their kids’ struggles can build better professional relationships, but can also lead to a nightmare of a workplace if Admin won’t accept that their children are less than perfect. Walking on eggshells to ‘keep the boss happy,’ while trying not to disservice the child, is not easy.

Most Admin kids know they’re in an awkward situation. Teachers report to their parents about them while at the same time their teachers have to answer to their parents. Every once in awhile you get that excessively entitled kid who’ll play the My mom’s your boss! card. The parent is usually on the same page.

ISR Members Comment:

So far I’ve been lucky. I’ve taught the admin’s kids, but they were mostly well-behaved and academically ok. At my first school, however, admin always tried to make excuses instead of apologies for their two kids’ awful and disrespectful behavior. I was never their teacher. The admin didn’t go as far as to pressure the teachers to treat them differently, but it was very annoying and uncomfortable for their teachers, to say the least.

Almost all the admin and teacher kids I’ve taught have been a delight. I can only think of one who had any issues. He wasn’t a bad student – just very quiet and terrified of his dad who was a terrible admin and kind of an ass to everyone, staff and students alike. I might have brought it up with the guy if I felt like he was responsive to any criticism at all, but nope...

It depends on the admin. In my experience they’ve almost always been great. I’ve only once ever seen a nightmare case, and I thankfully wasn’t involved. Considering what happened, I was really surprised that it didn’t end up on this site. Close to the most unprofessional behaviour I’ve ever seen!

ISR asks: Have YOU personally navigated teaching Admin kids? What do YOU do when you see an Admin kid really struggling emotionally and their ‘chin up’ parent has low or no EQ? SHARE some stories so we can all learn.

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Topic & text by LastToKnow & transplanted from ISR Member FORUM.
Teacher’s Comments from ISR Member FORUM.

Could Book Banning Spread to International Schools?

U.S.A. in the Book Banning Spotlight

In Virginia, a mother is petitioning the Board of Education to remove Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Beloved, from the A.P. English curriculum. She insists that revealing the horrors of slavery is upsetting and not appropriate for young adults.

In Kansas, a school district removed 29 books from its curriculum, claiming they contain material that might make students feel guilt simply because of their race (white) or sex (male). Award winners like Confessions of Nat Turner head the list of banned books, as does The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.

In Texas, a school district informed teachers that if they include a book on the Holocaust, they must also provide a book with an “opposing” view. In December of 2021, Texas state representative Matt Krause further pushed for the banning of 850 books.

In South Carolina, Governor Henry McMaster threatened to send police to seize offensive books. And possibly even arrest school librarians who have not yet removed banned books from shelves.

Banned Books share one thing in common — almost all have received universally recognized awards from respected literary organizations. For example: the Newberry Medal, Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award for Young People, American Library Association Best Young Adults Books, Barnes & Noble – Top 10 Best Books for Teens, and the California Book Award.

What’s being banned? Here’s an example:

Laurie Halse Anderson, whose books for young people have been challenged on numerous occasions, articulates the situation: By attacking these books, by attacking the authors, by attacking the subject matter, what they are doing is removing the possibility for conversation. You are laying the groundwork for increased bullying, disrespect, violence and attacks.

Advocates of book banning claim they are ‘protecting children.’ Fact is, it’s really about hiding the truth and rewriting a history of which the parents of students, grandparents and great-grandparents are the authors. It’s about discrimination, politics, conservatism, race, gender and anti-intellectualism. At a recent public school board meeting, a strong advocate for banning a specific book admitted he had not read the book.

Could book banning spread to International Schools offering a U.S. curriculum? It may seem unlikely, but so did the level at which parents, activists, school boards and lawmakers in America are currently challenging outstanding Young Adult and Children’s literature. What are your thoughts?

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Qualified vs. Suitable

Being Qualified for an International School teaching position & being Suitable for that position are two very different things. It takes both to land a teaching job overseas.

It’s safe to say 100% of International Teaching candidates are academically Qualified to teach in their subject area (i.e. a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, a subject-focused credential & experience in the classroom). Teachers in the Qualified column are pretty much on a level playing field.

This leaves Suitability as the deciding factor for employment, which starts with first impressions and becomes ever more apparent as an interview proceeds.

The Suitability Factor

Overall Character: What is the overall feeling (the “vibe) between you & the interviewer, relaxed or tense? Does the conversation flow easily? Is silence uncomfortable? Is there a sense of collegiality? Will you fit into the school culture? Will you be easy to work with?

Flexibility: Are you rigid/opinionated or open to new ideas? How do you accept constructive criticism? (A subtle way for interviewers to test the water is make comments about how to improve your resume.)

Socially: Teaching in an International School is unlike Mon-Fri in a public school where teachers have an established life with friends & family. Fitting in socially with colleagues, in & out of school, is important in an International School setting. Your perceived success in this arena is again a judgement call based on a short encounter with a recruiter.

Suitability … in the end boils down to an interviewer’s gut feeling about YOU. Candidates with advanced degrees backed by years of experience sometimes complain they were passed over for someone less qualified. This is the Suitability factor in play, the final decider on who gets the Contract.

Can you raise your Suitability level? Yes, simply by being yourself! That way, if you’re passed over for a position, you’ll know it simply wasn’t meant to be. Pretending you’re someone you’re not & later finding yourself in an intolerable position could be devastating. (i.e. feigning a religious bent.)

There’s a saying in the automobile business: “There’s someone for every seat.” If you‘re Qualified to teach overseas, it’s only a matter of time until you‘re offered a seat. You‘ll know when it clicks.

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