Should I Stay or Should I Go?

September 7, 2017

We’re mere weeks into the 2017-2018 school year and some International Schools are already pressuring teachers to declare their intentions for the 2018-2019 school year: Will you be staying or leaving next year?”  Not too many years ago it was the trend for schools to wait until after the winter holidays before asking teachers to declare their intentions. Why the change?

One obvious reason is that the big Fairs continue to move their venues closer towards the start of each school year. ISS, Search, ECIS and the lot of them seem to be in competition to hold the first Fair of the recruiting season. We note a total of 5 Fairs (one of which is a Leadership Fair) spanning October through December of 2017. Clearly, not all school will be attending these Fairs.

Other than teacher recruitment, what would motivate International Schools to push for a stay/go commitment so early in the school year? Could it be to separate-out faculty for preferential treatment? It’s well known some schools only offer professional development opportunities or leadership positions to teachers planning on extending for at least another year. Using ‘commitment’ information for dubious purposes, veiled by claims it’s needed for recruiting purposes, is highly unethical in our opinion.

Most teachers report that when forced into an early decision, they will choose to leave if there is the slightest doubt in their mind about returning for another year. To punish those ‘on the fence’ who would prefer to leave their options open, some schools have announced a substantial financial penalty and/or have threatened to blackball teachers who indicate they will renew their Contract but later change their plans.

Which of the following best describes your school’s stay/go commitment deadline?

Take our Survey & let’s compare:


References That Can End Your Career

August 3, 2017

School Directors like to criticize International Schools Review for providing a place where International Educators anonymously share information on Schools and administrators. Yet, these same Directors feel justified in writing confidential Letters of References about teachers and even discussing teachers secretly by telephone and/or at Recruiting Fairs.

..There’s a huge difference between these types of reviewing. When a teacher shares their thoughts on a school and/or its admin with other ISR members, the Director has the opportunity to read what has been said and respond in writing. However, in the case of confidential references in writing or in person, teachers have no knowledge of what is said about them, let alone by whom. It’s all done behind their back and someone with an ax to grind can destroy an educator’s career!

..An ISR member tells us he and his wife asked their school principal to send a Letter of Reference to a school they were considering for a career move. Being “cheap and lazy,” the principal eventually handed the letter over in a sealed envelope and told the couple to mail it themselves. Not trusting the principal, known to be a back-stabber, the couple opened the letter — the picture it painted was of the couple as lazy, back-sliders, incapable of performing their duties. Upon confronting the principal it came out that her intention was to keep them at the school since she “depends on their expertise.” The couple left the school and later exposed this administrator on ISR.

..Certainly there are two sides to every story and just as there are poor International Schools, there are poor-performing International Teachers. In any case, ISR believes Teachers have the right to know what is being said about them and to respond. Any leader of an educational institution lacking the fortitude and substance to look a teacher in the eye and say to them what they would otherwise write behind their back is, in our opinion, not qualified to lead and should resign.

..If you’ve ever wondered why you were turned down for jobs you thought were ‘in the bag,’ it could be there’s a negative Letter of Reference lurking in your dossier, dead-ending your career.

..How do you determine who wrote the crummy letter so you can remove that person from your references? The ISR Member Area is a good place to start your investigation because often School Reviews include information on a Director’s history of writing poor Letters of Reference, or refusing to write any letters at all. If you suspect foul play to be keeping you from landing a new position, do the research and “tidy” up your recruiting package.

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Can Recruiting Candidates Trust School Web Sites?

July 27, 2017

Are school web sites honest personifications of the International Schools they represent? As a recruiting candidate, should you blindly believe what you see and read? More than a handful of educators have discovered that school web sites can be nothing more than carefully crafted propaganda whose sole purpose is to disguise the truth and lure in the unsuspecting. With more and more get-rich entrepreneurs jumping into the International School “business,” it’s obvious there’s no limit to what some school owners will do to lure teachers and students to their “schools.”

What You See May NOT Be What You Get!

Here’s some examples on ISR of how intentionally deceptive school web sites have tricked teachers into accepting a position at schools from which they would otherwise RUN:

In her Review, a teacher reveals that her school’s ultra-professional looking web site is hosting a bird’s-eye, panoramic view of what they want you to believe is their campus. However, in reality, the school only rents a floor in one of the many building at an impressive university campus. All grade levels are crammed onto this one floor. She reports that it’s complete chaos.

A Physical Education teacher whose passion is teaching swimming, water polo, etc., discovered upon arrival at his school that what he saw as an Olympic-size swimming pool was nothing more than blue paint on the ground. It was later explained to him that this “web rendering” is the proposed site and size of a future installation. The school was “sorry” he misunderstood.

A high school English Literature teacher, desiring a truly international teaching experience, tells us she was tricked into accepting a positon at a local school where most of the kids spoke/read/ wrote poor, if any, English at all. To create an international school image, she says the school used the children of the international teaching staff as models on their web site and furthered the deception by stating their students hold passports from 32 countries around the world. The teacher explains in her Review that the reality is the majority of these 32 countries are represented by local kids with dual citizenship, who have never been outside the country in which the school is located. This English Literature teacher broke contract soon after arrival.

..These examples and more Reviews on ISR illustrate how International Schools may stoop to deceptive digital practices to lure in unsuspecting educators. These reviews are sent to ISR by teachers tricked into circumstances they would otherwise avoid and serve as a heads-up warning. International Schools Review strongly suggests you do not allow yourself to be tricked by a school’s slick digital presentation. Use ALL sources available to you to verify that “what you see and read is what you get.”

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The Last Slice of Information

July 6, 2017

..Still have a nagging concern about a specific International School? ISR highly recommends you take full advantage of the ISR Member Forum. It is, of course, included with your membership, yet often overlooked as a valuable resource.

Located inside the ISR Member Area that’s packed with 11,000+ in-depth School Reviews, the ISR Member Forum stands alone as an adjunct venue for ISR Members who may still have unique questions in regards to a specific International School.

Don’t leave your career to chance. Click HERE to visit the ISR Member Forum for that last slice of vital information you need to make an informed decision.

Surprising Survey Results

June 22, 2017

Considering the quantity of School Reviews, both good and bad, that fill the pages of International Schools Review, our recent survey  What’s Your Next Step?  — produced some unanticipated results.

Of the 357 Educators who took our survey, a  full 80% of International Educators are staying in the game. Of the remaining respondents, just 5.3% said they will be breaking Contract.

It’s this number that surprised us. At ISR, we anticipated more Educators could be breaking Contract due to the increase in School Reviews from teachers obviously completely disgusted with their schools.

ISR Asks:

*  Is the fact 20% of International Educators are dropping out, some “unannounced” to their schools as of yet, an indication that job openings will be popping up in the near future? Is now the time to contact schools directly or are sudden vacancies just prior to the new school year a red light?

* Are International Educators willing to stick out truly awful schools, as reviewed on ISR, in order to keep the door open for a future opportunity to recruit for a better school?

*  Are International Educators willing to put up with the abuses outlined in some School Reviews simply for the opportunity to live overseas?

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Should Have, Would Have, Wish I Had

May 25, 2017

Hindsight may be 20/20, but why learn the hard way when you can KNOW before you go?

With recruiting season basically over, those of us who haven’t yet landed a position for the upcoming school year are feeling a bit desperate and maybe a little more than willing to take a chance on a school with not-so-good Reviews.

“I wish I knew about International Schools Review before I took this job” is a recurring theme running through many ISR Reviews. There’s also ISR teacher-members who had read poor Reviews of a school, went anyway, and later commented that they should have heeded the Reviews but didn’t because they refused to accept that any school could be so bad.

Here’s some excerpts from recent Reviews posted by teachers who didn’t know about ISR before they accepted a position, and from those who chose to ignore the warnings of teachers already at the school:

A school in Cyprus
I honestly wish I had read the reviews prior to accepting a teaching job here. Believe me, these reviews are spot on concerning accuracy!

A school in the UAE
This is a miserable place to work. I wished I had looked at the reviews before I set foot in this school…

A school in Oman
Now that I know the reality of working here, I wish I had taken the reviews written on ISR more seriously…

A school in Vietnam
After joining this website, I feel compelled to warn people that I have been at four international schools that touted ‘high ideals and rigor with a strong commitment to students and faculty.’ Oh, how I wish I had found this website years ago! So much stress and heartache could have been avoided…

A school in Malaysia
The school has a notorious reputation of teachers and principals leaving in a short period of working. I wish I had known this fact before signing…

A school in China
I am writing this because these are things I wish I had known before going to work for this school. I hope that it helps people assess whether or not this is the right place for them…

Should Have, Would Have, Wish I Had sentiments are a thing of the past with ISR.

International Teachers Keeping Each Other Informed
is what International Schools is All About!

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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)