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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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,
Mariana

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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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Are YOU Tier-1 IB-School Ready?

There’s no shortage of outstanding schools that are neither IB, nor tier-1. The question, however, for those of us aspiring to a tier-1 IB school is: What does it take to land a position in such a school?

Here’s how ISR Members see it:


Generally, the rule is you can move up a tier or over from one region to a more desirable region with each successful 2-year Contract. So, if you start with a third-tier (Contract 1), you’re looking at a floater third-tier in a better region. Your second time (Contract 2) would be a second-tier IS. Next, Contract 3 is a floater, and a first-tier IS in Contract 4. So that’s about 6 years in IE.

“I think the fundamental premise is to have deeper pedagogical content knowledge which means you can guide all students successfully, both in terms of every day learning as well as steering them through complex assessments, projects and extended essays. 3-5 years is a good time span to experiment and refine teaching/learning strategies.

“Three to five years seems about right. The rest of your CV needs to tick other boxes as well, and of course there are always exceptions where someone got into a top-tier school with less IB experience. So, don’t hesitate to apply already. And of course there are top-tier school that don’t do IB.”

It depends on how you define top-tier. I got a teaching position at a top-tier IB school with 2 years of IBDP experience. However, I would not describe that school as a top-tier school even though I have seen it appear regularly on numerous ISR top-tier school lists [in the ISR Member Forum.] I did go on to teach in what I would classify a solid top-tier school after 5 years of teaching IBDP.”

What can also help is having international experience in the same region or a similar type of country in terms of level of development. A tier-1 school in Senegal might prefer experience in a similar(‘ish) African country rather than in Western Europe, since some countries are not for everyone.


Good News for Less Experienced Educators

Under certain circumstances, COVID-related Visa restrictions are working in favor of lesser experienced educators. Take China, for example: If you’re currently in China at a tier-2 or tier-3 school, now could be the right time to make a move to a tier-1 IB school. The mere fact you are in-country with a Visa in hand can put you ahead of a more qualified candidate not yet in-country and for whom Visa acquisition restrictions may be a detriment to their candidacy.

YOU may be more IB tier-1 School Ready than previously thought.

Something to add?
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The Word on Virtual Recruiting Fairs

We can’t help but wonder: Would virtual Recruiting Fairs have replaced in-person recruiting, or even done so by as much as 20%, if it had not been for COVID-19?

Other than keeping recruiting companies from joining the list of COVID causalities, what, if anything about virtual recruiting, is advantageous for these companies? Reduced fees for schools & candidates certainly aren’t good for a bottom line, while at the same time expenses associated with creating & maintaining a digital venue can be substantial.

Teachers & Admin commenting on ISR sum it up like this:

I see virtual recruiting fairs becoming an end-of-season catch-all for schools & teachers still looking. It could work well for last minute vacancies. Other than that, I’m not a fan.

I am seeing a ton of schools [on *** recruiting site] I have never, ever heard of ….”

That’s a whole lotta lousy schools .… [reduced fees & no travel expenses cleared the way for schools previously unable to participate.]”

As a recruiter I hate online fairs because unreliable technology & video conversations always feel even more awkward. But, I have also always hated in-person fairs because I don’t like taking so much time out of my schedule & staying at a hotel. There is def a benefit of someone actually sitting across from you so you do get a better sense of what they are really like…..”

“In-person fairs will still happen in the future because recruiters believe the in-person experience gives them a better sense of the candidate & also because it’s an efficient way to interview many candidates in-person in a short amount of time — it’s what I’ve heard recruiters say & I do agree. I also get a better sense of the admin when I have an in-person interview. Having a bunch of interviews in 2 days & possibly walking away with a job at the end is better than weeks of searching, emailing & Skype-interviews across time zones. The in-person preference is also part of the reason why some schools fly in the final two or three candidate for an interview.

Of course there are positive aspects to virtual recruiting fairs for both schools & candidates. However, we’ve yet to hear teachers or admins mention any that go beyond monetary savings & convenience. When COVID fades into history, will virtual Recruiting Fairs go with it?

If YOU were asked to sum up your experience with virtual recruiting fairs in one or two succinct paragraphs, what would that statement read like?

Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

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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Could Age & Experience Be Disqualifying You?

This recruiting season, International Schools appear to be favoring young, less experienced teachers over not just aging educators (for whom it’s always been difficult to land a teaching position), but over experienced educators in general. WHY?

It’s now common knowledge COVID continues to take a financial toll on most all International Schools. Enrollment is down & remains uncertain. To survive, schools are cutting costs. This should explain why this recruiting season less experienced educators appear to have an advantage. It’s been said, “You can hire two newbies for the price of one seasoned educator.” Tough times & compromises go hand-in-hand.

Over the past 18 years ISR has visited the topic of discriminatory hiring practices in International Schools, from racism to ageism to sexual identity. This recruiting season, unlike any before, we’re learning seasoned educators, normally in demand, are sending out scores of resumes yet not receiving so much as a nibble. Where does this leave the rest of us?

Comments? Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

Anyone else getting concerned…?

Adapted from ISR Member FORUM

An ISR Member Writes:

Is it too early to start panicking? ‘Cause I’m kinda starting to feel a little panicky. A few nibbles so far, but no bites.

What ISR Members are Saying:

The interviews I have had were for Tier 2/3 schools in Thailand, Ukraine, Mozambique and Bolivia but I have blanketed the planet with my resume so I’m surprised at the lack of interest. One job offer from Thailand but at a wage that just covers my expenses.

Crickets. — I’ve also had the experience of seeing some of these schools I’ve applied to keep posting and re-posting their vacancy ads. I’M RIGHT HERE, PEOPLE…

You are not alone. I am also feeling worried, concerned, frustrated, disappointed.

I thought we were strong candidates – teaching couple, IB experience, international experience, etc. – and we’re at almost 30 applications out. A couple of one-way interviews, one zoom interview, which was refreshing, and a few friendly rejections. But mostly silence.

Same feelings going on in our household, too. We keep holding on to those well-wishers’ words of “it’s still early”, but yeah – definitely beginning to get a bit nervous. 

Omg, I’m also trying not to panic. 18 years teaching, 14 overseas, 9 in the PYP, and no one even wants to TALK with me! Is it that I’m not married? Is it so, so, so important to be married??!?

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Recruiting Scams to Rob You Blind

Caught up in the excitement of thinking you’re about to land an International Teaching position can cause even the most astute of us to cast caution to the wind. Scammers who prey on unsuspecting recruiting candidates are aware of this and use it to their advantage.

Recruiting through a reputable agency doesn’t guarantee you’ll love everything about your new school. It does, however, assure you won’t be the target of an elaborate scheme to steal your money.

A school that asks YOU for money is a sure sign you’re being scammed:

The process this ‘school’ uses to ‘hook’ unsuspecting international teachers and grab their money is: 1) gather information, 2) make a bogus offer to the teacher, and 3) ask for money for two months’ rent for an apartment at their location.

ISR recommends: Avoid schools that want you to send your passport and money under the guise they are getting your work Visa and/or apartment. Avoid schools that request money to arrange and send you air tickets. Avoid schools without a web presence and physical address you can verify on Google maps.

“Thank you to a fellow teacher who visited the school’s address and found NO school. It’s a good thing there is always someone out there who is looking after others.

A Classic Scam

Here’s how it goes: A thief purchases a URL (web address) easily mistaken for that of a well-known school. The next step is to clone the real school’s website onto the imposter site and wait to snare unsuspecting educators who apply for advertised jobs. Always do your due diligence no matter how legitimate a job offer may seem.

If you’re going it alone this recruiting season, keep your guard up. If your intuition tells you something isn’t right, it probably isn’t. If you’re feeling the least bit suspicious, post questions about a suspect school at the ISR Member Forum: Has anyone worked at ‘such and such’ a school?’ Word gets around fast in the International Teaching Community so someone is sure to know the bottom line. Don’t take chances with your safety and your career!

International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed
is What International Schools Review is All About!

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What to Make of Schools with Few Reviews

Most International Schools reviewed on ISR have scores of current & historic Reviews, while some other schools are meagerly represented by old, outdated Reviews. Why are there no current Reviews of some popular schools?

One scenario could be teachers are simply not posting Reviews of these schools. This is possible but not probable. A more likely scenario would be a gag-order has been incorporated into teachers’ Contracts, or maybe the school has taken to threatening teachers with legal proceedings should they be identified as writing an ISR School Review. If you are new to International Education, this may sound far-fetched. But beware…It is not!

Witch-hunts led by school-appointed attorneys are nothing new in response to an honest, yet negative School Review. Much like an inquisition, teachers are called in one at a time, interrogated & offered a degree of leniency if they ‘confess’ to being the author. Of course, this isn’t always the case but it is a possibility as commented upon in a number of school Reviews.

The following 4 ISR Discussion Topics from previous years take an in-depth look at why Reviews stop posting. ISR invites you to join these conversations:


Why Reviews Suddenly Stop

Hello ISR, I am checking out a school in Kuwait and I see that the last posting year was 2011. Am I missing something or is this really the last entry you have about this school? Read more…


Do NO Reviews Mean It’s Okay to Go?

A school I worked at didn’t have reviews because the admin were SO powerful, teachers were scared to post their views. We would all talk about the lack of ISR reviews and about how we should have the guts to do something to let prospective teachers know the truth.  Read more…


Gag Order: Silence Isn’t Golden at Our School

He, (the director) stressed that our school supports freedom of speech. And yes, the school encourages teachers to speak the truth, but NO! … not on ISR!! … which he claimed is nothing more than a pack of lies from disgruntled losers. Read more…


Suspiciously Silent

I couldn’t find a review of a school in Myanmar that has been around awhile. When I interviewed, I should have followed my instincts that something was off with the principal. The teacher who was leaving emailed me to warn me about the place and the admin but I thought it was sour grapes. It was and still is, the most dysfunctional and unpleasant school I have ever encountered, in so many ways. Read more…


Help Me Find a Top-Tier School

To my knowledge, there is no agreed upon criteria for what constitutes a Top-Tier School. I imagine if my current school were 180 degrees different than how it is right now, it would stand as a symbol of Top-Tier-ness. At this point in my career, I unfortunately know all too well what a Top-Tier School is NOT...

Obviously, there’s more to a Top-Tier School than meeting teachers’ basic needs. Getting paid on time and receiving administrative protection from parents of overindulged brats who blame their child’s academic failures on everyone but themselves, should be a given. Diversity, standardized tests, accreditation, professional development, facilities, materials and much, much more certainly belong on a Top-Tier checklist. However, when teachers’ basic needs are not met, as in my current situation, it’s hard to prioritize much else.

Experience naturally influences each of our perception of what makes a Top-Tier School. And even if there were an agreed upon list, it would no doubt be skewed priority-wise in regards to what’s most important to each individual. In my current situation, my priority this recruiting season is finding a School that does not abuse their teachers, as evidenced by ISR Reviews. Everything else should then fall into place, moving down a list of priorities.

Your Tier-2 School may well be another person’s Tier-1. Do you have a short/long list of priorities? What indicators tell you a school is a GO? What sets off alarm bells? I could use some help this recruiting season separating the real Top-Tier Schools from those masquerading as such. I do not want to be fooled again!

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Countries w/ Expected Teacher Exodus, 2022

An ISR Member Writes:

We have all heard about the potential Chinese teacher exodus due to closed borders, changing laws and many other changes. However, I’m expecting other countries will also have something similar. From my best understanding, the following may happen:

(1) Large teacher exodus from Singapore due to being stuck on a small island for 18 months. Of course – they will have no trouble getting people applying but I’m expecting a large turnover this year.

(2) Large turnovers in Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. I’m actually expecting many of these schools to have no trouble getting teachers, but high quality staff with international experience will be in shorter supply.

What do your tea leaf readings tell you to expect next year?


ISR Members Respond:

You might see an exodus of experienced older teachers from the UAE. International schools have been squeezing staff dry in terms of pay, contact time, extra-curriculars, inspections, etc. Even the younger, cheaper teachers are beginning to see it’s not worth the hassle here.

“I know some people are cutting their losses (or at least willing to) and plan on leaving China + SE Asia, entirely. People coming from better schools that I’m in touch with are even talking about taking a ‘year off.’ If you have enough savings and need to get back to family after 2+ full years stuck in a dystopia, why not?

“Expect an exodus from the 3 American schools in India. All have huge drops in enrollment as multinational corporations pull families out of the country, embassies and consulates doing the same.”

In Taiwan staff can return to my school after 2 weeks quarantine plus one week self management, effectively 3 weeks. This puts people off knowing that they will be stuck here for all but summer holidays.

You can already see the exodus from Vietnam in job postings. The government cancels your visa if you leave the country. Ho Chi Minh City is just now coming out of a total, military-enforced lockdown. Most schools are telling staff if they take holiday they won’t get back in. Some have not seen family in two years. The lockdown was brutal.

Note: The preceding is transplanted from the Member Forum where ISR Members will find 36 informative entries on this interesting topic. See Countries with Expected Teacher Exodus 2020. Go to Member Forum

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Vaccines, Masks, Social Distancing & Quarantines: How Your School Stacks Up

From the ISR Member Forum:

by voyager » Tue Aug 24, 2021
…..I’m definitely scouring reviews and FB groups to see how each school managed the vaccine access and safety measures for staff because that is the main reason I left my previous gig. Being denied a vaccine during the height of the pandemic, under lockdown all evening, high infection and death rates in the community but we were also required to teach in person with 300+ people a day really soured me on things this year.

by voyager » Thu Aug 26, 2021 11:06 am
…..yes I caught COVID at work in December 2020 as we were working in person during massive surges. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one but it gives me pause and when I recruit again this year I will be asking about vaccine access and safety measures going forward. Hoping to find something good but honestly I am not sure that the international teaching scene is going to be the same anymore. Who knows!

If you’ve been on the circuit for any length of time, it comes as no surprise some schools put profits before the health and safety of students, teachers, and parents. Regrettably, in the age of COVID, this makes choosing the right school more consequence-charged than ever before.

In April of 2020, during the early days of COVID, ISR hosted a Discussion Board dedicated to revealing how schools were coping with the virus. Over 185 teachers supplied information about their schools. Many schools were caught off guard and failed miserably.

Much has changed in the last 18 months. Hopefully schools reported to be slow to react, or that did not react at all, to the crisis now have a viable system in place to keep everyone safe. However, voyager‘s Comments (above) from the ISR Member Forum tell a different story.

Please scroll down, Name YOUR school and tell colleagues about Current COVID safe measures (or lack thereof) at your school. ISR will put a backlink to this Discussion Board on the Schools Review page of each school mentioned here, ensuring everyone gets ALL the information they need to make safe, sound decisions.

Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

Name YOUR school. Tell us about what is currently being done to provide a safe working environment in this age of COVID:

Get the MAX From Your ISR Membership

If you’re not already taking advantage of the ISR Member Forum, you’re missing out on an important feature of your ISR Membership! Here’s why:

The ISR Member Forum is Unhampered & Unrestricted

  • ASK questions about anything & everything related to International Schools &/or Administrators. Receive replies that come from colleagues with firsthand, up-to-date answers. Best of all, you can stay anonymous!
  • SEARCH through thousands of recent posts on topics that other websites prohibit. Schools are named, so are admins. The Member Forum adds another dimension to the comprehensive School Reviews section of ISR.
  • JOIN a thread already underway or initiate one of your own. Here you’ll find more information you need to make important career decisions.

Don’t miss out on Info you may later wish you knew about!

Trending Now on the ISR Member Forum:

(partial list)

Best International Schools in Germany
Shanghai or Singapore for savings
International School Manila
Where in the Middle East?
Future of International Schools in China?
More jobs now than this time last year
BCIS Phuket Thailand (Berda Claude)
What are ISS and Schrole doing differently to one another?
Best Recruiting Agencies & Covid related recruiting: Any Ideas?
Recent info on JIS
QSI Ashgabat
International School of Bucharest or British School of Bucharest?
Mumbai Schools
GEMs World Academy, Singapore
HCMC Schools
Schools in Mexico
SISB Singapore International School of Bangkok
Brussels Schools
MEF Izmir

Get the MAX From Your ISR Membership!

Visit the ISR Member FORUM

Agreements: Contractual & Otherwise

It’s probably safe to say most teachers believe the majority of International Schools have every intention of honoring their contractual agreements, as well as noncontractual/verbal promises. If this was not the case, no one would leave home.

But what of schools whose Contracts turn out to be worth little more than the paper they’re written on? Legal recourse is expensive, and shady schools know few teachers have the financial resources to follow through. Additionally, many developing countries have extremely weak labor laws, giving the school the upper hand in almost all instances. Yes, teachers have successfully sued their schools, but who wants to find themselves in this unenviable position?

Sometimes, even before leaving home for a new school, subtleties in emails between you and your new Director or HR department send up a red flag signaling a possible lack of commitment to promises both contractual and verbal. Is this a glimpse into what is to come? Do you listen to your gut feelings, break Contract and conclude you fortunately dodged a bullet? Or, do you go on to fulfill your Contract and take your chances? It’s a tough decision.

A recent, real life situation facing an ISR Member:

I accepted and signed a Contract a few months ago. At the time I queried certain aspects of that Contract and received assurance that the school is flexible and accommodating where possible and does its best for the staff.

Now some changes have become evident and it seems that, precisely in the key areas I asked about, there is not so much flexibility at all. At the moment there is intransigence and this is being blamed on having already put in place certain arrangements which I had raised concerns and doubts about at recruiting time. Had my concerns been taken into account, those arrangements would not have been made and the current situation would have an easy solution.

I feel like this is a ‘Big Red Flag.’ Maybe I will feel differently in a day or two but right now I feel as though travelling across the globe to work for a company which promises one thing and delivers another, which ignores concerns raised, would be a huge mistake, particularly in Covid times when moving on or moving out might not be so easy.

If I back out now, I will feel very bad about it. On the other hand, if I get there and find this is typical behavior, I will feel bad for not having heeded warning signs before travelling and may be, or will be, stuck there.

ISR hosts a great many School Reviews written by teachers at schools that have failed to honor their Contracts and their word. From contractual agreements like housing, health insurance, travel, and shipping, to noncontractual promises like specific classroom supplies to support your program, the COVID crisis has made a very convenient scapegoat for both written and verbal promises clearly not met. Now, more than ever, it’s important to consider carefully before accepting a position at a school with ISR Reviews pointing to a history of Contract discrepancies.

The bottom line: Contractual and noncontractual agreements are only worth the integrity of the school behind them. Stay safe! Research, research, and more research is the key to a successful career in International Education.

Comments? Please scroll down to participate in this ISR Discussion

Who ARE Some of These Directors?

In a perfect world, all International Schools would be created with the admirable intent to provide a top-quality education for children of expats and host-country nationals, alike. If, however, you’ve been on the circuit for any length of time, you know this is not always the case. Created with an eye on pure profit, some International Schools are not what they have been deviously crafted to look like.

Ask any veteran of a purely for-profit school to relate the experience of teaching under a school owner hellbent on extracting every last penny from the business, and you’ll understand why teachers post some extremely negative School Reviews on ISR. Education and a purely-for-profit motive do not mix.

The question is: Who directs these so-called schools? Who among us is a sell-out? To complete the façade needed to look like an International School, a greedy school owner may install in the leadership position an individual from the West with some impressive letters following his/her name, a helmsman, so to speak, who steers the ship to profitability strictly following the captain’s orders. Some teachers may prefer to refer to this person as the ‘henchman.’

Dedicated educational leaders have found themselves tricked into these positions. As such, all they can do is the best they can to protect teachers and students. On the other hand, and to their discredit, some School Directors seem to delight in rough-riding their teachers in exchange for a hefty salary. They are obviously not educators at heart. And they are certainly complicit in the charade.

ISR asks: Why are some school Directors, specifically those who’ve been identified multiple times on ISR as someone complicit in robbing teachers of integrity and students of education, exempt from the same rigorous scrutiny as teachers? How is it that some Directors, who with a litany of poor Reviews, are still able to move from school to school to school so easily? Should recruiting agencies require schools to demonstrate their Director meets certain academic standards along with a favorable work history before being allowed to recruit teachers?

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Teachers Most In Demand

Math and science teachers appear to be the most in demand teachers at Recruiting Fairs. Every school needs at least one or more, so it’s not uncommon at Recruiting Fairs to hear teachers of these disciplines sharing the news of the many interviews they have lined up. 

The good news for those of us who teach in the liberal arts is we, too, are in demand. If you didn’t already know, many countries require International Schools to hire expats who hold an actual degree in the subject they’re hired to teach.  In other words, an art teacher is required to not only hold a teaching credential but also at least a bachelor’s degree in the subject designated on their Contract. This measure is meant to protect host-country teachers who could otherwise fill the position, as in this instance, without an art degree.

An ISR member tells us that when she was in college, family and friends asked, “What in the world will you do with a music degree?” Was everyone in for a surprise! With so few teachers having majored in music, she found herself in high demand among International Schools required to hire subject-degreed teachers. Twenty years and six schools later she’s in even higher demand. She believes the trend in universities towards technical-oriented majors has created a shortage of teachers to fill liberal arts positions.

Teachers of core subjects may do well targeting large and small schools alike. For liberal arts teachers, keep in mind that larger schools offer extensive curriculums. If you’re a librarian or philosophy teacher, for example, your chances of landing a job in a small school are not as great as your technical-credentialed colleagues. In a larger school with an extensive array of classes your specialty will be in demand. Schools ARE looking for you. It’s just a matter of letting them know you’re available.

No matter what you teach, it’s all about finding the right school. There may be a higher demand for teachers of some subjects because every school must have at least one or more or them, but for the right school, we’re all in demand.

ISR invites you to Share recruiting experiences relating to the subject you teach

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A Brief History of Recruiting & the Future of COVID-Driven Virtual Fairs

Back in the day, if you wanted to quickly get your resume into the hands of a school Director in a far off land, fax was the only way to go. In 1989, faxing my 2-page resume from a school in Thailand to a school I hoped would hire me in South America cost a hefty $45 U.S in long distance phone charges. And that’s only because I got lucky and the document “transmitted” successfully on the first try over decaying old phone lines suffering from the usual heat and humidity of Thailand. Faxing could get frustrating and expensive, and very quickly!

Fortunately, that’s all changed. Whomever got the idea to use email and “Skype” to successfully land an International Teaching position is unknown, but as early as 2007 teachers were sharing news of successful virtual recruiting experiences on the ISR Forum. The trend was catching on! After all, it was virtually free (pun intended) as compared to fax and/or in-person Recruiting Fairs.

Recruiters, realizing hordes of teachers were landing jobs without them, began organizing virtual Recruiting Fairs to take the place of their high-priced, in-person venues. Their efforts, however, came years after schools and educators had been going it alone on “Skype” and other platforms. Were the agencies too late? It appeared that way.

Then came COVID. Large gatherings in close quarters were off-limits and without a doubt the global pandemic helped increase the popularity of online recruiting. As such, schools and teachers who had relied on in-person recruiting at the large agency-sponsored Fairs were now forced to rely on technology. Naturally they turned to online Fairs organized by the same agencies sponsoring the brick-and-mortar venues they had once attended.

ISR asks: Did COVID put Recruiting agencies at the right place, at the right time to make a success of their virtual recruiting platforms? Will the current popularity of virtual Recruiting Fairs fade along with COVID, or are they the trend of the future? How do you see the future of going it alone on “Skype” and other venues if brick-and-mortar venues become extinct?

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Beyond School Reviews

Sometimes you need unique information about a school or administrator that you’re not finding in the comprehensive School Reviews section of ISR. No worries! For just such situations, ISR offers a Member Only Forum that’s just a click away.

Ask detailed School-Review type questions & get replies from Educators in the know, join a candid conversation about the good, the bad & the ugly of a school on your radar, search through 100s of current topics of interest to International Educators, name & praise or name & shame, the ISR Member Forum is an important part of your ISR Membership.

When you need information outside the scope of the tens of thousands of School Reviews hosted on ISR, look beyond to the ISR Member Forum for information you need to make the best career decisions for YOU.

Don’t leave your career to chance.