ISR Private Messaging for Questions You Shouldn’t Ask at an Interview

February 15, 2018

private messaging iconYou’ve read the school Reviews. You’ve done your homework. Things look good…except for one lingering, personal concern about the school on your radar.

You could ask the school director at the conclusion of your interview, but questions of a very personal nature might taint a director’s otherwise positive opinion of you. Likewise, it’s probably not wise to confide in the school-appointed teacher who’s been selected to field candidates’ questions by email. After all, he/she was chosen for a ‘reason.’

When you don’t want to reveal more about yourself than you should, ISR’s Private Messaging Feature is the perfect alternativeHere’s a chance to connect with teachers who may have the answers, while maintaining complete anonymity.

Here’s How it Works: Log in as usual to the Member Area. Proceed to the Member Forum. Create an anonymous user name “on the fly” and introduce your topic. As other teachers join in you’ll see the option to Private message each individual. Click the PM icon and send a private message. That’s all there is to starting a secure, behind-the-scene conversation that only the two of you can see, all while remaining anonymous.

The ISR Member Forum with PM hosts thousands of topics covering any and all aspects of International Teaching. LGBTQ concerns, personal medical/medication needs, dating, being of color, and, of course, candid discussions about specific schools are just some of the topicas already in progress. You may be able to jump straight into Private Messaging with individuals already sharing information on topics of interest to you. GO to the ISR Member Forum


Note: ISR hosts two distinctly different Forums:

1.) The Open Forum:  The Open Forum is located in the non-member area of ISR. It does not support Private Messaging, posting on certain topics or sharing school Review information.

2.) The Member Forum with PM:  The Member Forum with Private Messaging is located within the Member area of ISR. It was specifically created so teachers could ask and share information on any and all topics in a secure environment. GO to the ISR Member Forum

Don’t Leave Your Career to Chance. International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed is what International Schools Review is All About!

GO to the ISR Member Forum




Recruiting-Fair ‘Speed-Dating’ Disasters: How to Avoid Them!

February 8, 2018

With just a precious few minutes to sell yourself to a school Director seated across a table, you take a seat, assume your most welcoming body language and introduce yourself. You’ve stood in line forty-five minutes for this chance to arrange a formal interview and you intend to make the most of it!

“What the !!*#?,” you say with a grimace as you learn the position you’ve been invited to recruit for is gone, awarded to another teacher even before the Fair began! With $2500 in travel, hotel and registration expenses, the only solace the Director has to offer is, “Sorry.” Apparently, you now realize, previous correspondences between you, the school AND your invitation to interview are meaningless…

No wonder teachers often refer to recruiting Fairs as ‘cattle calls.’ At a bare minimum this school should have propped up a white-board displaying closed and open positions. To add insult to injury, you’ve just wasted the better part of an hour that could have been spent approaching the recruiting tables of other schools.

Recruiting-fair ‘speed-dating’ has its disadvantageous, but YOU can avoid this and other disasters by taking steps to look out for #1. Here’s a few ideas that will help keep you safe:

1. Leave absolutely NOthing to chance! Arrive a day early and put notes in the boxes of each school that has invited you to sign up for an interview. Ask them to verify the position you are seeking is still open. You may even get them to give you an interview time without waiting in line. A simple “yes” or “no” with a time written across your note and dropped in your mailbox will do. If they can’t bother to do that, you don’t want to work for them, anyway. Right?

2. With or without an invitation to interview, don’t waste time in lines without their job openings displayed. While you’re killing time in lines that may lead nowhere, other schools are filling up their ‘dance cards’ without you even getting a chance to introduce yourself.

ISR Member suggestion: You might consider a small sign of your own — an 8” x 12” (or smaller) cardboard sign will do. Once in line, wave it around and look for a confirmation that your position is still open. If nothing else, you’ll get points for ingenuity and not waste precious time in dead-end lines.

3. Share your recruiting experience with other teachers and learn from their experiences. How a school conducts its recruiting procedures is usually an indication of what it will be like on the job. This sort of information is openly included in ISR School Reviews. You don’t need to have worked at a school to share what it’s like to recruit with them. International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed is what International Schools Review is All About!

 Share a School-Specific Recruiting Experience

(ISR Note: Our School Review submission form contains a numerical Rubric for teachers who have worked at a particular school.
To submit a Review of your recruiting experience, please rate all Rubric questions as a ‘1’ and describe your recruiting experience in the “Comments” section. We’ll remove your numerical entries before your recruiting Review goes live.)

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Jewish Educators in the Middle East

February 1, 2018

Long before the turmoil we’re witnessing today in the Middle East, I was offered a teaching position at the International School of Aleppo, Syria. As a history buff, I was totally on-board by the prospect of exploring the vibrant cultures and history of the region. But….What would life be like for a Jewish teacher living in Syria?

The recruiter was upfront with answers to my questions: I would be exposed to anti-Semitic remarks from students who use the term “Jew,” accompanied by derogatory expletives. I should keep my Jewish heritage secret. If I decided to travel to Israel, my stamped passports could bar me from re-entering Syria. Common sense and prudence said loud and clear: Don’t go!

Today, in my position (as Moderator of the ISR Forum), I was intrigued by this recent thread:

Anyone have experience with being Jewish in the ME?

Postby ap410 » Thu Jan 25, 2018 5:07 pm
I’m considering applying for positions at a few schools in the ME (Bahrain, UAE, and possibly Oman), but I’m concerned that since my children and I are Jewish, we could run into trouble, hostilities, etc. We’re not super religious, but my kids have a habit of singing the Dreidel song in December, and I don’t want them to feel like they have to hide their religion. Does anyone have experience with this in the ME? Thanks!

.My first reaction was, ‘Are you kidding!?’ My opportunity was pre-9/11. What could it be like today for a Jew teaching in the Middle East? International Schools do tend to promote diversity, tolerance, inclusion, equality and a host of Mission Statement ideals. But … as we all know, life can be quite different outside that supposed safe haven.

Here’s some positive and negative Forum Comments that illustrate the dilemma…

by reisgio » Mon Jan 29, 2018 9:12 pm  For goodness sake, don’t take your innocent Jewish children to the Middle East!… I wouldn’t be comfortable having my children basically hide their identities just so I could work somewhere exotic. What’s wrong with you?

by justlooking » Fri Jan 26, 2018 10:35 am This has not been my experience working in four international schools in the ME in Egypt, Oman, Morocco, and Dubai. All the schools were top tier with a very international student body. I found most people respect Judaism and Jews; it’s Israel that’s the problem. As long as you’re not espousing pro-Israeli sentiment, you’ll be left alone.

by Nomad68 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:54 pm I really would not recommend going to places like Saudi, Kuwait or Qatar even if you hid your Jewish identity. The anti-Jewish sentiments would shock you.

 by shadowjack » Fri Jan 26, 2018 7:45 pm 7 years in Saudi. Our Saudi friends had Jewish neighbours and didn’t care.” “Israel is not a good country.” They knew the difference between the two, that’s for sure….

 My purpose in calling attention to this topic is to hopefully encourage ISR Members to initiate a place where my Jewish brothers and sisters can turn to for first-hand information on what it’s really like for a Jewish International Educator to live and teach in the Middle East, a decision clearly not to be taken lightly.

Have an experience or information to share?

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Interviewing the Interviewer

January 18, 2018

.No school director will tell you their school is simply mediocre. This means it’s YOUR responsibility to come to a job interview with prepared questions that will take the conversation beyond a director’s memorized, stock statements.

Keep in mind that interviews are as much about YOU getting the information you need to make an informed career decision as it is about an administrator getting to know your qualifications.

You may fear appearing suspicious or rude, thinking that questions which reflect a hint of doubt/mistrust are sure to blow an interview for you. But, contrarily, Directors and Admin who communicate with ISR Members have stated that a candidate who asks no questions at all during an interview can appear to be either disinterested in the job, unprepared, or dull and/or unenthusiastic. What interviewer wants to hire that type of teacher for a school they represent?

Most interviews end with the interviewer saying, “Do you have any questions for me?” This signals your turn to interview the interviewer. Don’t be timid. It’s your life, your future, your career we’re talking about. We all know know there are schools simply in the market for a white face to complete their “international school facade.” You don’t want to be the next causality. Ask away!

Through the years ISR has compiled multiple lists of questions for teachers to ask at interviews. The questions were received from International Educators who later found out just what they should have asked at interviews. Even if you don’t use these exact questions, the topics they delve into will give you a good idea about the goings on at some would-be ‘international schools’ and what YOU want to be on the look for.

• Ask the Right Questions at Your Interview

• 10 Tough Questions You May or May Not Want to Ask

• 20 More Questions You May Want to Ask

The 3 Things YOU Absolutely Must Know Before Signing On

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Landmines that Can Blow an Interview

November 30, 2017

.The interviewer has been firing off one question after another. You’re doing great! Then comes the toughest question of all:  Do you have any questions for me?

..If you don’t have at least a few questions ready you’ll look unprepared, or even worse, not seriously interested in the position. Asking the wrong questions, however, can be more detrimental to your interview than asking no questions at all…

..What are wrong questions? Wrong questions are those proven to ‘blow’ an interview already going well. Avoid such landmine questions and you’ll put yourself that much closer to being offered a position.

ISR Recommends Avoiding These Landmine Questions:

..ME questions:  We all want to know about salary, vacations, health insurance, professional development, housing and all the benefits that come with the job. Keep in mind, though, your goal is to show the interviewer how you can benefit their school and not the other way around. If you’ve done your homework, most MEtype information can be found in recruiting materials, anyway. Don’t waste the interviewer’s time with questions purely focused on employee benefits until you’re closer to signing a Contract.

..Don’t get Personal:  You definitely want to establish a good connection between you and a school recruiter, but it’s not a good idea to ask personal questions that won’t fall into a public information category. For example, if you spot a college football ring on the interviewer’s finger and you’re a team fan, by all means start a conversation, but keep it light and superficial. Avoid personal questions about the interviewer’s family, ethnicity, etc. and save that conversation for the first faculty social get together.

..Yes/No Questions are a No/No:  Answers to questions that require a simple yes or no answer are usually found on a school’s web site. Stick to questions that require brief but sincere, informative dialogue. You want to establish a rapport with the director and stand out in their mind when making a final decision as to whom to hire.

..Don’t get stuck on one Topic:  Asking multiple, involved questions about one aspect of the school may cause the director to jump to the conclusion you are preoccupied or worried about something. Instead, ask questions about various facets related to teaching at the school and demonstrate an interest in several aspects of the job and/or the community.

..Avoid questions that arouse Suspicion:  Is there a medical/drug test? How do you handle poor performance? When, exactly, will you call my references? What is your in-school internet usage policy? Will you be monitoring my social media profile? Any chance to move into admin? How did I interview? These questions may arouse suspicions regarding your true motives and/or background, and can kick you out of the running as a candidate.

  Research a school before an interview to help you form insightful questions and show you’ve taken the time to learn about the organization. Demonstrate more than a superficial interest in the school and location to put you far ahead of the competition. Everyone loves someone who contributes. Asking the right questions will put you into that category of candidate!

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Teaching Candidate in Hijab Claims Discrimination by Kuwaiti School

October 19, 2017
Fouzia Khatun on Instagram

..When Fouzia Khatun applied to teach at the English Playgroup, Kuwait, she thought wearing a hijab and sharing common religious beliefs would help her to be a good fit for the job. To her complete dismay, she later received an email from Caroline Brooks of the HR department, saying her employment depended on a willingness to remove her hijab while teaching: “…parents do not want their children taught by covered teachers, this is an English school.” 

..On her Instagram page Fouzia displays the email from Caroline Brooks. The school denies the allegations, saying Caroline Brooks was not in their employ. Later, however, they changed their statement reporting, Caroline Brooks has been “disciplined.” The school asserts that Fouzia’s application for employment was not accepted due to her use of social media and that action has been taken against her for “slanderous comments.”

..…The English Playgroup issued the following statement:
“The English Playgroup and Primary Schools employ qualified teachers from all nationalities, religions and backgrounds who serve students as excellent and caring teachers. Allegations of discrimination against hijab-wearing staff are untrue. Our schools proudly employ many hijab wearing teachers and administrators across our schools. The allegations against the school have been disseminated by an unsuccessful overseas job applicant who was refused employment because of inappropriate behavior as illustrated on her social media platform. The opinions expressed by a new employee in the HR department are against company policy and necessary disciplinary action has been taken.”

..Fouzia is quoted as saying that her Instagram page was private before this incident, so a claim of “inappropriate behavior” on social media is unfounded. The English Playgroup later released photos on Instagram of teachers wearing a hijab while on the job. Fouzia is suing the English playgroup.

..ISR Asks: Is this an isolated incident? Was it simply a mistake on the part of an HR employee? To your knowledge, do Muslim women experience this type of discrimination in Kuwait and other Islamic countries when applying for jobs in Western-oriented schools and companies?

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Tempted to Remove a School from YOUR Resume?

October 5, 2017

Resumes are marketing tools, not legal documents and nothing says you’re obligated to list every job you’ve ever had. YOU get to decide what to include and what to leave out. But be prepared:  Gaps in your teaching history may require an explanation. Good reasons, for example, range from taking a volunteer position to spending time back home caring for an aging parent.

3 Good Reasons to Leave a School OFF Your Resume

..1)  You suspect the school Director may say something “unflattering” and/or untrue about you to a perspective employer. This is especially valid if you left on sour terms.

..2)  The school’s poor reputation may be detrimental to your career. Such schools may be characterized as “diploma mills” that guarantee top grades/university placement to parents who can meet stiff monetary requirements for their kids’ tuition. Spend too many years at such a school (where you’re considered not much more than a servant to overindulged, rich kids) and you may have trouble finding a position at an authentically “good” school.

..3)  The teaching position was for 1-year or less, or you broke contract and left early. Short stints at International Schools can draw negative attention from prospective employers. You may have had sincere, valid reasons to leave early but employers can be quick to pass judgment.

Leaving some of your teaching history OFF your resume is a personal choice and something you’ll need to consider carefully for reasons quite obvious. ISR asks:  Did you ever take a school off your resume? How did it work out for you? What’s your advice to teachers considering dropping a school from their resume?

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