Survey Results: Overseas for 20+Years Prevails

September 28, 2017
 …Our recent Survey (How Long Do International Educators Stay Overseas?) reveals that the majority of Educators who go International, stay International and do so for the greater part of their careers, if not for their entire careers.
 …Over 700 International Educators took our Survey. More than 400 report they’ve been living and teaching abroad for 7+ years. The 20+ years overseas group tops the Survey chart, making up 16% of the total responses. This is followed closely by educators falling into the 11-19 year groups.
A logical sequel to these results is to look into what motivates so many educators to go overseas and stay there. Could it be that educators go abroad because jobs are scarce in their own countries; and when jobs do become available their years of overseas teaching are not recognized?  ISR hypothesizes: Teachers go abroad for adventure and stay when they discover they have more freedom in the classroom,  minimal discipline problems, and a far higher standard of living/savings than in their own countries. Do you agree?
If you are in the 7-or-more years overseas categories, we invite you to Share what motivated you to go International and what later inspired you to stay overseas.
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How Long Do Intern’l Educators Stay Overseas?

September 21, 2017

The majority of international educators go overseas with the idea that they’ll check out international education, spend a year or so in some exotic location and then return home. Not surprisingly, 2 years turns into 3, then 4 and before you know it, it’s 8 years and counting!

Take our Survey to see how many years International Educators stay overseas. Clicking the “View Results” link at the bottom of the Survey will display up-to-the-minute results.

Take our Short Survey

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Duped & Ready to Walk

August 31, 2017

A couple of weeks  into every academic year I begin seeing a sprinkling of School Reviews that claim a slick school director duped the reviewer into accepting a job at their lousy school. My reaction to such comments has always been the same: stick it out, stop whining. YOU signed the contract. I couldn’t imagine that any school would be half as bad as what these teachers were describing…

Well, the tables have turned and I stand corrected. I now find that I am the victim of severe duping by a fast-talking director at a school not reviewed on ISR.

Everything here is contrary to what I saw (on the school’s website) and was told during my online interview. There’s no disciplinary support with known disruptive kids, and believe me, there’s plenty of real “prizes” at this school. There are no classroom supplies — not even pencils. The internet connection is so sketchy it might as well be shut down. There is no AC in the classrooms — it’s like a sauna in my room. Textbooks are all photo copied from one purchased edition. Software is boot-legged and glitches to a standstill constantly. To top it off, the director has proven himself to be an egocentric, buffoon who lacks any semblance to an educator.

I might be able to bite the bullet and put up with everything wrong with this place, but the crowning assault on my sanity is that the majority of students are local kids with poor, to non-existent, English skills. Try teaching high school Literature to a classroom of students who can barely muster enough English to ask to use the restroom, let alone read and discuss a story by Edgar Alan Poe. It’s like a bad joke.

The job was advertised online and not through a recruiting fair. So, if I walk out and don’t put this job on my resume, what might be the long term consequences, if any, of doing so? Also, what is the best way to bail? Should I give the school notice that I plan to leave ASAP or send them an email once I’m safely away and out of the country? I’m leaning towards the ‘wait until I’m safely away’ idea…

To those of you who have suffered the disastrous consequences of being mislead by a slick website and/or a fast-talking director, please accept my sincere apologies for having doubted you and thereafter posted such to the ISR Forum or Blog. Once I’m out of here, I’ll post a lengthy review of this place on ISR. Any advice would really comfort and reassure me at this time.


Duped big time

Did You Choose the Right School?

August 23, 2017

Your first days at a new school can be a window into the year ahead.  From airport arrival to help transitioning into the school and community,  how your school treats you right from the start speaks volumes about the experience to follow. Which of the following describes your arrival?

Scenario 1. You knew you were off to a terrific start when the Director met you at the airport, escorting you to a waiting apartment replete with fresh linens, a few staples, plus a bottle of chilled wine. City tours, sampling local cuisine and organized shopping trips are just some of the things your school did to welcome arriving teachers. You’re looking forward to meeting your students and colleagues. You had a good feeling about this school when you signed the contract!

Scenario 2. You found yourself (and your luggage) left standing at the arrival gate. You called the school and no one answered. Hours later you took an unmarked taxi to an unknown hotel, hoping beyond hope that you’d still  be alive the next morning. You began to think that maybe coming here wasn’t such a wise idea. This thought was confirmed when you had to find your own apartment in a community you knew nothing about. Worse yet, no one seems to even have time to show you to your classroom! Yikes!

Tell us about your experience / Name your school (optional)
International Educators keeping each other informed is what ISR is about!

  • How did your expectations compare with the reality of coming to your new school?
  • Did the school and admin support you and your colleagues in settling into the community and school? Did you feel welcomed?
  • Did you ever have that funny feeling about working for this school and wish you’d listened to your instincts?
  • Are you just thrilled and pleased as punch to be embarking on a whole new international teaching adventure?
  • Do you agree that the first few days at a new school are very reflective of how the school will treat you later on?

(based & reprinted from an earlier ISR article)

Please scroll down to participate in this Discussion.
We ask that you stick to the topic and not review your school.
If you wish to write a Review, click here.

Is This Really a Career Anymore?

April 6, 2017

..Looking around on Search Associates and TIE Online, I’ve noticed something: salaries and benefits in this industry are going WAY down, everywhere…and fast! Is this because the pool of applicants is rising? Or, is it because the number of schools is increasing?

I read recently that the number of international schools worldwide will double in the next 12 years. I’m not an Economist, but I had thought that supply-and-demand would benefit a teacher’s financial perspective since the pool of teachers would shrink relative to the overall demand of schools.

But now I’m wondering:  Because there are more schools, could this mean just the opposite — the larger supply of schools means an increase in competition among them, and as a result, they have to lower tuition fees and provide a more comprehensive service. This inevitably affects teachers who have to work harder for less money, as a lower profit-margin will certainly come out of salaries.

Schools can pay lower salaries as long as they have ‘X’ amount of well-qualified, ‘marketable’ staff who will ‘carry’ the lower-paid, less-qualified staff. For example, you see many more schools employing P. E. teachers from the Philippines, and Math teachers from India. These teachers may work for half of what Western teachers would earn. Many of these lower-paid teachers are great teachers, of course, yet they do not appear on the website of the American or British schools they work in. Who IS shown as staff on the web sites? The Western-certified teachers their PR marketers can flaunt, especially to Asian/new money markets.

In addition, salaries have gone down in the last 15 years. On Search, for example, there’s a school in Bahrain advertising for a ‘certified Native English speaker to teach math.’ The pay? $12,000 USD a year, not even minimum wage in some US states.

Is International Teaching turning the way of other mass-produced services and goods?  Are we becoming just a cog in the wheel? Are we a service that’s in demand, or simply like another disposable component in an ever cheaper cell phone? What will International Teaching be in twenty years when the market is squeezed further and technology takes a bigger market share? You may wonder: Is International Teaching still a wise career choice?

Any thoughts? Anybody else notice this trend?
(ISR Note: This post was adopted from the ISR Open Forum)

A Parent/Board Member Speaks Out on For-Profit Schools!

May 16, 2013

legal_matters44019925Dear ISR,
I read with interest your recent article about legal threats made by schools and their attorneys against ISR. Apparently, reviews considered critical of schools, or the people who run them, have the potential to hurt some feelings. From my perspective as an executive in a multinational corporation (currently living in Asia), I recognize this knee-jerk reaction. A loud threat from attorneys is the way of business everywhere in the world.

  I had a brief experience working as a substitute board member for the international school in which our daughters are enrolled. A sitting member became ill, had to leave the country for treatment, and I was invited to step in for the remainder of the school year. In my time there I saw that this school was in all ways focused on the financial advantages of “providing an education.” In many ways, they ran a much tighter ship than my boss at my corporate job. This experience opened my eyes as to the disparity between the sense of caring found in public schools back home and the hard line profit motive found in private schools. This was a startling realization for me. Schools and teachers carry an aura of hope to save/help the world; but the reality is, this private school, and I would imagine others, was purely a money-making endeavor.

  I believe international teachers need to keep this financial focus in mind when applying to teach at private schools. Owners most certainly see you as a commodity and your value for XYZ School may be simply to provide one small cog in the wheel that drives the school. Yes, you may be a superb teacher with a heart full of life-enriching talent and knowledge to share with your students and administrators. But, more importantly to the school, you are a Western face in front of the classroom, a promotional tool to get more wealthy local and expat parents to enroll their children. It may be hard to accept that you’re just not that special to these school owners and your opinions and suggestions, however well intended and enriching, may not be welcomed. That is simply the truth of operating a business focused on profits.

  During my time as board member, conflicts arose when a teacher (and his division) pushed for sweeping changes to align the school more with the American education system. Although the school follows American accreditation requirements and the school is considered an “American International” school, these costly changes were never approved and ultimately, the teacher was drummed out of the school in an ugly manner for his efforts. I, too, found that I was seen as a nuisance in calling for fairness when dealing with this teacher and his frustration over the situation. I could see that he was trying to implement his leadership skills to guide the school in becoming the best “American” school possible.

  I have a new-found appreciation for my children’s teachers and coaches. When faced with a strictly for-profit motive, these teachers consistently carry out their duties, act like enthusiastic professionals and deliver a top-notch education. I salute their dedication and commitment in the face of what must be, at times, a miserable experience. The reviews I have read of this school on ISR mirror what I saw happening as a temporary board member.

  That being said, I applaud the communication and advice shared on ISR. Teachers take care of each other by writing reviews to laud good schools and administrators, and warn about others. Parents like myself search the reviews to find where good people are directing quality schools, where teachers are treated fairly and with respect. That’s where I want MY children to go!

Just remember, it’s business as usual no matter what country you work in.

(name withheld by request)

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Has the Boat Already Sailed?

April 4, 2013

downgrade_29328839From the ISR Forum: “I’m only too aware of the economics of my own country and that the quality of life for us as a family of four is being sapped. This is probably the underlying reason for looking at overseas schools.

“However, after recently reading several ISR Blogs, I am concerned that the lifestyle and package of international teachers is on the decline. Many posts comment on the great packages they used to receive compared to the packages on offer now. Many posts are commenting on the increasingly high cost of living without an equitable increase in wages.

“Whilst I know we’ll never be millionaires, the opportunity to offer our kids a quality education coupled with a life overseas is definitely forefront in our minds. I am concerned, however, that once we leave the benefits of the ‘teachers pension’ and remove ourselves from UK teaching circles, we probably won’t be able to return.

“Will the future of International teachers be at least as viable as it is now? Do you think the boat has sailed? Should we weather the storm at home and forget the possibility of a better life? We’d love to hear some thoughts on this topic.”

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The 1st Few Weeks @ a New School OR With a Change of Director/Admin

August 23, 2012

The new academic year is under way. Some of our colleagues are new to their schools and others are returning to the same school, but with a new director/admin at the helm. How you’re treated the first few weeks at your new school or by a new director/admin will set the tone for the academic year to come. Here are two scenarios for new teachers to consider. Which category describes your experience?

Outstanding Experience: You were no doubt greeted at the airport, then wined, dined and shown the local sights and school campus over the following days. With support, you quickly began to know the “ropes” and started to feel at-home with your new living arrangement and classroom. Most importantly, you’re well on your way to forming relationships with colleagues, students and parents—those little, school-sponsored socials are real ice-breakers. Relocating has been exciting, exhilarating!

Poor Experience: When your new school tells you to go find a house and “We’ll see you the first day of school,” you know you’ve made a mistake. Some of our colleagues are sadly discovering that what they were promised at interviews has yet to materialize and probably never will. Starting the year with the feeling you’ve been taken advantage of by a smooth talker is an awful feeling, especially when your career is at stake, your family is miserable, and you’ve signed on for two lo-o-ong years…

Returning teachers who find a new director and/or administrator in place will find the occasion one for celebration or mourning. We all know a school’s character and overall atmosphere is strongly affected by the people running the show. Schools with great reviews can suddenly go “south” when new leaders take charge; while the opposite can also certainly be true when a focused leader takes the helm of a poor school.

ISR hopes the first weeks as a new teacher OR your first experiences with a new administration at your current school are rewarding and the prelude to an excellent year of international teaching. While those first days of reception to a new school or admin are fresh and foremost in your minds, we encourage you to share your experiences  and first impressions with colleagues who can benefit from your candid comments.

Want to discuss this topic with other international educators? Scroll down to comment.

Grade Fixing – Fact or Fiction?

October 27, 2011

Report cards for the first reporting period of the academic year recently went home for parent review. The question is, were these grades a true reflection of student progress? A number of teachers have reported they were directly or subtly made to understand that “every student will do well.”

A teacher recently wrote ISR to say that after a student achieved 4 ‘Ds’ on a series of exams, she was instructed to alter her method of grading and count each ‘D’ as two points. On a scale of 1-10, the four ‘Ds’ added up to eight or 80%, which equaled a report card grade of ‘B.’

Another teacher reports that he gave his student a ‘C’ on the report card and later noticed the grade had been changed to an ‘A’. When he questioned the director he was told, “This is an honor student, and to help you save face we raised the grade to what this student would have earned if you were a better teacher.”

Altering kids’ grades to keep the paying customers (aka: parents) happy is certainly the exception and not the norm. But the practice may be far more prevalent than previously assumed. ISR recently received a letter from a teacher outlining how his school expected teachers to alter the grades of a few students on a special list, “the wealthy and/or powerful client list.” This teacher felt belittled and betrayed, but also extremely concerned for these same students naively applying, and being accepted to Western universities.

Have you personally been asked to alter grades? What’s your school’s policy? In the end, teachers may experience a conflict of conscience in the short-term, but ultimately it’s the students who suffer from this deception. Exposing schools that encourage grade fixing on ISR reviews is one step toward curbing this practice. What are YOUR thoughts and experiences with grade fixing?

Working in International Schools – a Good Career Move?

July 13, 2011

I am considering leaving a well paid 9-5 office job (in which I can also travel and work abroad) to retrain as a teacher, all with the intention of working in international schools as a career.

I was excited at the prospect until I came across the ISR web site and found extremely bad reviews for almost every school featured, usually relating to bad management, bullying of staff, corruption, poor pay and unfair dismissals.

I can assume that most people on this site are international teachers and I would therefore love to hear your opinions on the career in general. Is it a worthwhile career? Have you regretted your decision? What would you do if you were me?

Also, is it easy to find a good school or is it pot luck? Would you want to do it long term or only for a few years?

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Many thanks!

What makes an International School a Tier-1 School?

April 28, 2011

National universities have long been ranked according to a system known as Tiers. Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and Columbia in the US, and Cambridge, Oxford and Imperial College in the UK appear on the list of Tier-1 institutes. Inclusion on this prestigious list is subject to a clear set of specific criteria.

With no similar system for rating international schools, overseas educators appear to have adopted the concept of Tiers, creating their own comparative system based on salary, first-hand experience, and the impressions/comments of colleagues working at other schools. Academic quality does not appear to be part of the equation for what makes an international school a Tier-1 school.

The idea that an international school would be considered a Tier-1 school, based merely on high salaries and glowing benefit packages seems questionable. While we agree it’s important to be remunerated for your talents, a pocket full of cash is no substitute for a host  of other important attributes that should be considered for a top rating.

With the intent to reach a consensus on what qualities constitute a Tier-1, Tier-2, or Tier-3 international school, we invite you to contribute to this topic.

Outstanding Moments in International Teaching!

April 14, 2011

When a student’s love of knowledge and learning blooms right before your eyes, you know you’ve made a real difference in a child’s future. Adhering to a curriculum is the standard expected of us all, but quality teaching goes beyond the simple transfer of knowledge and extends far into the realm of helping students become all they can be. I’m sure most teachers in international schools have had their own Outstanding Moments in International Teaching.

For me, a peak moment took place years ago while working in Eastern Europe. I had been teaching my middle school music classes Christmas and Chanukah songs in preparation for our winter musical. I noticed two 8th grade girls who always loved to sing were now sitting tight-lipped, refusing to sing the Chanukah songs. After class I motioned them to come see me and I quickly learned they would not sing Chanukah songs because they “hated Jews.” Why did they hate Jews? “Because our parents told us Jews are bad people.”

I had a good rapport with these girls and they were two of my favorite students. Hoping to show them the fallacy of their parent-influenced thinking I explained that I’m a Jew and asked, “Don’t we get along just fine?” They looked at each other, and then one turned to me and said,”Too bad. We used to like you!” Out the door they went. I was stunned. What sort of Pandora’s box had I opened?

At our next rehearsal they sat silently during the Chanukah songs while I respected their right to do so. At the close of class I again motioned for them to come see me. I asked what experience they had with Jews that led them to adopt their parents’ thinking? I learned neither had a Jewish friend and didn’t associate with the Israeli kids at school because they thought them to be ‘pushy’. I offered the idea that maybe it was just this particular group of kids that was pushy and not all Jews. Was I pushy, my wife or kids? I named some other Jewish students I knew to be on the shy side. I could see I had slipped a sliver of doubt into their strong convictions.

The next rehearsal they again sat silently during the Chanukah songs and once more I motioned them to my desk. With much trepidation I asked if they were simply ‘puppets’ that thought exactly as their parents told them to think. “Shouldn’t you be your own person and make up your mind for yourself?” I asked. “If your mother hates ice cream does this mean you do, too? Wouldn’t it be better to have your own experiences with people and things and then decide for yourself? Can you take the actions of a few and say everyone acts that way?” They looked shocked and walked off to lunch. I wondered if this would be my last day teaching at this school.

To my complete delight, both girls were enthusiastically singing the Chanukah songs at our next rehearsal. After class they came up to see me and said, “You’re right. We have no experience with Jews to make us hate them.” I used that opportunity to extend this idea to other issues in their young lives, and I could see the idea of tolerance and open-mindedness bloom right then and there in these two young girls.

I share this experience with ISR readers to open the topic of memorable moments in international teaching for your comment. What moments in the classroom or as a coach or as an administrator have reaffirmed your love of teaching? What lessons have brought a joy of learning and of life to the realization of your students? What have been your Outstanding Moments in International Teaching?

Our Family Is Not So Happy!

March 23, 2011

After years of working toward our goal, we’ve finally accepted a job at a small IB school in China. Both my husband and I are so very excited! We’ve talked to a lot of staff at the school–we think it’ll be a great experience and a substantial foot in the door toward international teaching careers.

Our family is, well….not so happy! Not so happy to the point we are constantly told we’re making a huge mistake, that we’re tearing apart our families, wrong and childish for not settling down and popping out grandchildren. They’re mystified as to why we’d leave our country at all, “the greatest country in the world!”

So, experienced overseas teachers, how do you deal with everyone telling you what you’re doing is a horrible, life-destroying mistake? Do your families come visit to cheer you on, or do they continue to insist you’re ruining your and their lives? How do you deal or cope? It’s becoming increasingly hard to feel excited and happy about our decision when every family member around is telling us we’re doing it all wrong.

I’m the original author of  this blog post, and I just wanted to thank everyone so much for sharing their own stories and their thoughts and support. My husband and I read over each post together. It’s so heartening to hear from so many people.
That doesn’t change our families opinions, of course. They’re still going to dislike what we’re doing, but in the end, we’re the ones who have to get up every morning and live with the choices we’ve made, not them.

Thank you all so much. We’ll keep reading anything anyone has to add, because it’s just wonderful to hear so many encouraging stories. Thank you, thank you.

What Defines Us as International Educators?

March 9, 2011

My interest in what constitutes an “International School Teacher” was sparked by a  discussion with colleagues in my international school staff room. We couldn’t agree if there was something “special” or “different” about us. We had all left our home country for some reason, and some of us did not want to, or could not return home. In one respect some of us were trapped in international teaching, moving from one school to another.

Some teachers thought that just teaching in an International School was enough to be an international educator. I have worked with colleagues who clearly were, and some who were clearly not “international educators”.

But what is it that makes us “international?” Why do we leave the security of our home country and move to a similar job in a different country, sometimes half-a-world away? Is it a chance to live and work in another environment, a chance to learn another language, better pay and conditions, smaller class sizes, easier discipline, or something else? Why are we not content to stay at home, and why are we often treated with suspicion by colleagues back home?

After 10 years overseas, I returned home for an interview in a UK school, and was asked why, if conditions were so good, did I want to return? Also, I was seen as out of touch with recent developments and advised to retrain!

I would welcome any comments from international teachers, especially if you have a definition of an international educator or, like me, have found it difficult to adapt back home, and have left to go abroad again.

Schools Can Change

October 21, 2010

Is your heart set on teaching at a particular international school but poor reviews have put you off? Despair not!

Most international teachers agree that schools assume an atmosphere and ambiance reflective of the leadership qualities of the man or woman at the top. Schools can change,  and usually do as a result of a quality director. A change at the top can make all the difference.

If reviews of your selected school were poor the last time you went recruiting, check again. Schools can evolve into quality institutions or dissolve into disrepute. Change is not always  for the better—be sure to do your homework and gather all the information you can about a school before making a decision.

School leaders come and go, with change and improvement the usual result. How have you experienced changes that take place as the result of an incoming director? Share your experience

Us and Them – A Redneck Muslim Teacher’s Perspective on Racism in International Schools

September 8, 2010

This article is part of an earlier Blog. We feature it here for your comment.

Let me begin by stating that I am a full-blooded Texan with redneck roots (not to say that I’m proud of that latter part of the description).  Despite that, I am a convert to Islam and fairly observant in my faith.  Outwardly, this is apparent in my groomed beard and head-covering in addition to the combination of my first name, which is Arabic, with my last name, which is from England.

I entered into teaching to make a contribution to my community. My first administrator in Texas public schools was African-American and, ironically, about the most bigoted person you can imagine. He had once made a comment that a district initiative, one that  people were grumbling about, was “Like Islam, out to get you.” He also had numerous grievances leveled against him with the union from other minorities and women.

I entered into teaching in international schools in the Middle East in hopes that I might work in a quality institution where I assumed employees and students would be more open to diversity. To some extent this has proven true. But generally I have found that, perhaps more than the host culture, expatriot parents at schools in the Middle East are racist, n0uveau-riche elitists whose extreme distaste for the places in which they live lead them to live lives in a bubble where they move compound, to work/school, to mega-mall, to compound. When they have to engage with locals or non-Western expats outside of these contexts, one never hears an end to the complaints. I actually heard a colleague in Qatar describe her shady Indian repair man as “having a very foreign look.” When I replied, “Aren’t 75% of us here foreigners?” she said with a look and tone that could freeze mercury, “You know what I mean.”

The fact of the matter is, despite mission statements that hope to “draw upon our diverse community” and “honor our status as guests in the host culture,” many expat parents want more from an American or British school than a quality education; they want to preserve the bubble, exemplified in many schools’ celebration of traditional Western holidays to the neglect or total avoidance of local ones important to their significant national student populations. My experience as a White American Muslim is that I represent an intrusion into that bubble. I read a post which commented about having every comment and action scrutinized. That is what has happened to me.

I have been accused of denying the holocaust, despite being proud of my grandfather that was at Normandy and a great-great grandfather who was an Orthodox Jew. I have been accused of promoting my faith in the classroom, despite  another group of teachers taking a field trip to a visiting sea-faring missionary organization aboard the Duolos. Parents with a McCarthy-style paranoia complained about a comment in my International Relations class that China is no longer a purely communist country. And finally, I was fired with 6 weeks left in the school year for discussing both Western and Muslim radicalism in my Middle Eastern studies class, a discussion which offended the daughter of a senior military officer in the Iraq war, and was given the rest of my package through August on condition that I did not attempt to contact parents or students for support (because there were many who did express their support).

I have often heard and read on this site a great many complaints about Middle Eastern schools and host cultures. I too am disgusted by the racism one sees from Arabs, all the more so because I am a coreligionist with most of them. Nevertheless, I think those of us living in this situation should use it as an opportunity to reflect upon our own cultural biases. Racism is intolerable anywhere from anyone. But how often have I heard my American and Canadian colleagues refer to a male domestic servant as a house-boy, a term which is reminiscent of derogatory names for house slaves? How often have I seen expats criticize legitimate but different cultural practices in East Asia, Africa, and the Middle East? Why are they living in these places if they find these differences so intolerable?

Bigotry is rampant in international schools, even in monocultural ones, like the one where I currently teach in Egypt. I think it comes with the views predominant in affluent, particularly newly affluent, families. I remember when I saw my second African-American teacher in an international school setting (the first was introduced to a school in Saudi Arabia) my me, at a conference in China. That this sticks out is noteworthy. My experience indicates that it is likely due to discrimination in hiring practices, but my African-American colleague in Saudi suggested that many African-Americans (and probably Latinos) desire to work within their communities to help these groups cope with the problems that prevent them from accessing the American dream.

What I do know, is that bigotry is an issue. I have seen it; my colleagues have seen it. Still, it exists everywhere, as evident from my experience in the States. Ethnic, religious, and other minorities must often make tough choices. We should not see ourselves victims but as ambassadors. If people don’t wish to give you the chance to make a difference, find people who will; there always are.

Was It a Wise Decision to Come to This School?

August 20, 2010

The first days at a new school can be a window into the exciting year ahead.  From airport arrival to help transitioning into the school and community,  how your school treats you right from the start speaks volumes about the experience to follow. Which of the following describes your arrival?

Scenario 1 You knew you were off to a terrific start when the Director met you at the airport, escorting you to a waiting apartment replete with fresh linens, a few staples, plus a bottle of chilled wine. City tours, sampling local cuisine and organized family shopping trips are just some of the things your school did to welcome arriving teachers. You’re looking forward to meeting your students and colleagues. You always had a good feeling about this school!

Scenario 2 You found yourself (and your luggage) left standing at the arrival gate. Hours later you took an unmarked taxi to an unknown hotel, hoping beyond hope that you’d still  be alive the next morning. You began to think that maybe coming here wasn’t such a wise idea. This thought was confirmed when you had to find your own apartment, on foot, in a community you knew nothing about. Worse yet, no one seems to even have time to show you to your classroom! Yikes!

Tell us about your experience
International Educators keeping each other informed is what ISR is about!

  • How did your expectations compare with the reality of coming to your new school?
  • Did the school and admin support you and your colleagues in settling into the community and school? Did you feel welcomed?
  • Did you ever have that funny feeling about working for this school and wish you’d listened to your instincts?
  • Are you just thrilled and pleased as punch to be embarking on a whole new international teaching adventure?
  • Do you agree that the first few days at a new school are very reflective of how the school will treat you later on?

More on The Sticky Situation of Classroom Discipline.

August 12, 2010

How can we help difficult students become cooperative class members?

We recently invited the ISR community to share their impressions of classroom discipline  in international schools. Here’s a synopsis of what teachers had to say:

• Powerful parents and school board members have influence far  beyond what many of us have experienced prior to teaching overseas.

• Job-ending results for disciplining the “wrong” child may be the outcome for an International Educator’s earnest efforts. See article

Several techniques to help difficult students become cooperative class member have been suggested: Handing a yellow card to a student, much as they do in professional soccer matches, works for some educators. Emphasizing a child’s positive attributes in order to begin a conversation with parents about their child’s poor behavior, is another.

Specifically, what techniques work for you that the rest of us can benefit from knowing about? Do you have a difficult situation and need advice? This is the place to ask for it.

The Sticky Situation of Classroom Discipline

August 6, 2010

Right from the start, it’s ideal to establish classroom policies and expectations with students and their families. As educators, we all expect that if we catch a student cheating or plagiarizing, there will be consequences. A drunk or drugged student  at a school-sponsored function? A child bullying or hitting another? There is no question consequences should follow, and with strong support from admin.

For International Educators, however, enforcing rules, expectations, and consequences  may result in a very different experience than back home. School boards, administrative school owners, influential parents and wealthy students may wield far more power and control over discipline than most Western educators have experienced in their careers.

Simply assigning a “time out” to an unruly primary child may cost you your job. Dare to fail  a student’s work because he/she plagiarized straight from the Internet and you could find yourself facing the Board of Directors to explain why you think little so-and-so could ever do such a thing, followed by “if you were a better teacher he wouldn’t need to copy…..”

Sometimes our tried-and-true discipline procedures are completely out of sync with our new culture and community, especially when students and parents may look at us as just another nanny or driver in a long line of servants.

We invite the ISR community to share their impressions  of classroom discipline in international schools. With the new academic year about to get under way, now is the time to support each other in this, often delicate, area.

Also See: More on the Sticky Situation of Classroom Discipline —  How can we help difficult students become cooperative class members?

A Perfect International School?

June 9, 2010

Many reviews on the ISR web site paint schools as Shangri-la for international teachers, while other reviews reflect the hue of a living hell. What makes an international school great? Is it a supportive administration, attentive students, a feeling of being valued as a staff member, enthusiastic parents, great facilities and  materials, colorful location, low cost of living, or is it an essential synergistic combination? If you could create an international school from scratch, or overhaul your current school, what qualities and characteristics would make it an outstanding school?