Survey Results: What If You Got a Better Offer?

what-would-you-d0-poll-smallBased on the data from our survey, What If You Got a Better Offer?, it’s safe to say there’s a profound message to be gleaned. We’ll leave that part to you and you’ll get your chance to comment. Here’s the results: 

Scenario #1: You signed a contract at a Fair & later got a “dream” school offer
Results: Of the 1000+ educators who responded to this scenario, 57% said they would break a contract they signed at a Recruiting Fair if their “dream” school later made them an offer. 45% percent of this group said they would wait to have the “dream” school contract in hand before notifying the other school they were breaking contract.

Scenario #2: You verbally accepted a position & later got a “dream” school offer
Results: 873 educators responded to this scenario. 89% of this group said they would accept an offer from their “dream” school even though they had already verbally accepted a position at a Recruiting Fair (contract forthcoming). Of this group, 63.5% said they would wait to have a “dream” school contract in hand before telling the other school they were no longer interested.

Clearly, the majority of survey respondents were ready and willing to do what was most beneficial for them, which was to accept a position at their “dream” school with little or no regard for the school that originally offered them a position. There’s obviously a message here for schools, recruiters and candidates. Based on your overseas experience, what’s your interpretation of this data as it pertains to the changing perspective of international education?

Click here for original survey & teachers’ comments

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Director’s Despicable Recruiting Agenda

A Deceitful Director Attempts to Keep a Key Teacher From Leaving His School

“Dear ISR, Would you be willing to throw my situation out to your readers so I could get some advice directly from colleagues? I’ll bet there’s other teachers in the same predicament who could use some advice, or at least support. Here’s what’s going on:

lier47434528bigAt a recruiting fair I had several interviews and I was offered a position at a school I was really excited about. To come to the point, the school that offered me the job later reneged by email, all based on what they called a very poor reference from one of my “past” schools. To make a long story short, I had no way to know which school would say bad things about me. I’ve never had this problem in the past.

I suspected my current director was behind this. I’ve never exactly trusted the guy since he gave me a lot of grief for going to the recruiting fair in the first place. So I had a friend in my home country call my school and pose as the head of a school. He asked to speak to the director in regards to my “interview”. To my utter horror, the director painted me as a complete slacker, a non-participant and someone the parents and students would be happy to see go. Can anyone get lower than this guy?

Oddly enough, before I left to attend the recruiting fair the director gave me a contract and said, “Go to the fair and if you don’t find anything better, sign the contract and stay.” So, how bad of a teacher could I be? This guy is just a big, two-faced liar!

I cannot stand being here. The sight of this director sickens me!! I’m definitely not going to stay here and work for this jerk. Since I can’t get a job with this school on my resume, I’m thinking I’ll leave at Christmas vacation and not return. I’m not a vindictive person but in this case it will feel very good to leave them in the lurch and it will be a big lurch at that!! I do plenty around here. Once I’m gone I can focus on finding a new position at another fair and just leave this place off my resume. I feel for the kids but I need to take care of me now.

I would be very thankful for any advice on how to shake this lousy director. I’m totally just screaming inside and counting the minutes until I’m on the plane and out of here. I’ve said nothing to anyone at the school about what’s going on. They suspect nothing. Once I have a new position I’ll write a review and expose this director for who he really is. Thanks ISR for all you do. I hope you post this.”

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Dr. Spilchuk, ISR Online TeacherConsultant / Say No! To Admin Bullying Behavior!

Dear Dr. Spilchuk,
Have you any suggestions for a civil case against a person/principal from the U.S. and who lies to the director to get a teacher fired?? Any way a letter, that would scare the pants off this principal, be written? or is it the same old story, “teachers just take it.” Is liability for emotional insult and injury to another person’s employment now one of those things no body can do anything about? Read more….

(Need assistance?   Contact Dr. Spilchuk for help with International School related issues)

Misdirected Directors

watercooler4219380International School Directors have been known to say some of the damndest things. Many of ISR’s 6500+ School Reviews are replete with absurd, abusive, & racist expressions International School Heads have slung at their faculties. Back home, such comments would have cost them their jobs & most likely their future in education. Overseas, however, where they make the rules, it’s a different story.

Here’s a sample of the startling comments teachers report hearing from the mouths of those entrusted with guiding our international institutions of learning & the future of our careers:

The Director General was quoted as saying…I’m interested in hiring interns, Filipinos & Indians because they are cheap & will do as they are told.

The director’s response to teachers & support staff when they provided input to expand & improve the academic plan…No! Those students are far too low to receive any help.

A teacher in D.R. Congo in the process of adopting a Congolese orphan asked the director if she could enroll the boy in the school...I don’t want any poor Black kids in my school!

The Principal’s words to my friend whom he fired…I am not obliged to tell you a reason.

Even though Ms. W was fired by her previous employer (an investigation found she conspired to boost test scores), our school hired her, saying…We didn’t think it was anything significant.

Her (the director’s) proclaimed ‘vision’ for the school…Simple. It’s my way or the highway.

Any teachers who complain are overtly bullied & told…You will never teach again.

The director told us who he likes to hire...I like younger, cheaper teachers – not necessarily good teachers.

He does not visit classrooms & in regards to his faculty said…
I do not know their qualifications, nor even who they are.

Fortunately, there ARE consequences for these comments! You can avoid these Schools & Directors by reading Reviews on ISR. We recommend you play it safe this recruiting season & learn from those who have gone before you. There’s NO need to leave your career to chance.

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International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed
is what ISR is All About!

China School Inquisition

blame7816329finalDear ISR, After just a few weeks into the school year someone has posted  a nasty review of my school on ISR. Actually it’s not really all that bad. I  would say it’s pretty spot on.

To come to the point, the board chair showed up at school on Monday with two attorneys and launched an all-out inquisition to find out who wrote the review. They were calling us into the director’s office one-at-a-time and interrogating us, claiming they know who wrote the review.  It’s obvious they don’t have a clue but they’re aggressive and convincing, leaving some staff in tears.

The director, who is the board chair’s lap dog, says he has a good friend at ISR who will tell  him who wrote the review. Could this be true? I would like to hear from ISR: Is this possible?

ISR Reply: Even if your Director planted his brother on our staff he could not find out who wrote the Review. Our anonymous submission forms are set up to protect an author’s identity. They are 100% anonymous. The only person who knows who wrote a particular Review is the author him/herself.

So far they haven’t formally accused anyone of posting the review. Who knows what they will  try next! I see from reading reviews that other teachers have been through this ugly scenario. One reviewer said their admin was on a witch hunt to flush out whoever dared to write a negative review. It would be reassuring and morale boosting for us at the school to learn about other teachers’ experiences in this arena and how they dealt with it as a faculty. Any support or help through this situation would be very much appreciated.

Sincerely, (name withheld)

School Daze in China

Dear ISR, I just moved to China and have to tell you that this is my very first experience out of Australia and I’m in over my head. I came here expecting one thing and got another. Nothing is as the director said it would be at the conference. I feel super deceived and don’t know what to do.

My apartment is small and in a not-so-good part of town. No one around me speaks a word of English and they stare at me as if I were from another planet. Actually, I’m starting to feel like I am from another planet. The food is strange, the air stinks, my eyes hurt and I already know this isn’t going to be good for my allergies.

The director painted a picture of a garden spot–this is a hell hole. Now what? I’m sure my experience is not unique. I wish I had discovered your web site before I took this job. Has anyone at ISR been in this position? I could use some advice!

Guilty Until Proven Innocent – by Dorje Gurung

dorje-medium“On May 2 they paraded me, in handcuffs, in front of five different prosecutors  in different rooms at the Public Prosecution office. I don’t know what the first four prosecutors and the guy taking me around exchanged between them – everything  was in Arabic. But, with the fifth one, they provided an English interpreter on my insistence. Otherwise it would have been Hindi or Urdu.

“The second trip to the Public Prosecution office on Sunday, May 5, I faced a prosecutor who spoke English. Again we had the same exchanges I had had the previous visit but with one important difference. I would have to produce witnesses in court to prove my innocence, he informed me. In other words, I was guilty unless I proved myself innocent.” Read more

My Experience at International School Lusaka

 ISR received the following comments from the teacher involved in this incident

(9-25-2014) “I’m happy to report that the matter between myself and ISL “The International School of Lusaka, Zambia” has been settled privately.”

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My Experience at International School Lusaka

zambia

“…..To my utter disbelief, I saw that the government had first rejected my work permit application on June 12, 2012. I was NEVER notified of this, and, in fact, Mr. Bowen lied to me all fall term saying I needed to be patient until it was approved. Then there were notes that my work permit was rejected again in July, and a third time in August. Again, ISL never notified me of this. Instead, they brought my family and myself to Zambia in August with FULL knowledge that I would be unable to work…. beyond belief.”

Dear Dr. Spilchuk,
I am writing to inform you of the atrocious treatment my children and I received from the International School of Lusaka, Zambia (hereafter “ISL”), and most specifically by Mr. Phil Bowen, Acting Head of School during the 2012-13 school year. ISL violated my contract and to this day has refused to pay severance as per contract. I would ask that you warn others.  Read More

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Schools that Throw Teachers Under the School Bus

schoolbus1685625You assume that when you’re teaching in a foreign country, your school will take some responsibility for your well-being. We believe most schools will. But, history shows some schools will throw you under the school bus for the “good of the organization.” As despicable as it sounds, there are International Schools and Directors who will sacrifice your well-being to placate wealthy parents and protect the school image they’ve worked so hard to create.

Recently, at Qatar Academy, Qatar, Dorje Gurung (science teacher) was misquoted by a group of twelve-year olds. Based on Dorje’s account of the incident, it appears the school, headed by Eric Sands, threw him under the school bus when he was accused of insulting Islam and thereafter jailed for ten days.

From the Dorje Gurung Blog:
  The (third) meeting with the Director (Eric Sands) was held on Sunday, April 21. Both the Director and the Principal (Mike Hitchman) were there. The Director started the meeting by asking me if I had anything to say. I realized then that whatever I said would make very little difference to the decision he appeared to have already made. So I said, “No.” The Director told me I was dismissed. Furthermore, he told me, I would lose out on five-month equivalent of salary-cum-benefits. I was a little disappointed, not for being dismissed, but for losing the money. I asked if he could do anything about the monies, adding how I had been counting on them. He couldn’t.

Dorje’s story is not unique. On June 13, 2007, the middle school principal at Al-Bayan Bilingual School, Kuwait (under the direction of Dr. Brian McCauly) was on her way home to spend the summer months with family. At airport immigration, however, Kuwaiti officials detained her, enforcing a travel ban placed on her by the wealthy parent of a student. By court order she had been banned from leaving the country. The powerful Kuwaiti man who had initiated the travel ban later threatened he would “destroy” her, all because she had sent his son to in-school suspension for fighting on campus. To this parent, an in-school suspension and Guantanamo Bay were one and the same. On her own in Kuwait with no one to turn to, she contacted ISR’s Dr. Spilchuk who, with the full support of ISR, came to her aid and helped her secure safe passage out of Kuwait.

You might be tempted to say, These incidents are just isolated cases. The truth is they are not! A teacher who worked in Guatemala shared the following story with ISR:

  I was teaching in Guatemala when an unfortunate incident took place. I had turned my back to write on the white-board when a middle school boy took advantage of the moment to crawl under the table with scissors in hand, stabbing another student in the leg. I was later called into the office to meet with the director and the boy’s dad (a very prominent military man and big-wig). The first question out of the director’s mouth was, “What is it about you that incites children in your class to act this way?” Needless to say this conversation was the beginning of the end for me at this school.

A teacher who worked in Thailand relates a similar story of betrayal by his School Director:

I was told that I would “take the fall” if anything came of a particular incident…. I had pointed my finger at a 3rd grade boy, saying in a stern voice to stop what he was doing (tapping & poking another student). The child began to cry. When the classroom teacher came to pick up her class, she noticed the boy’s red eyes and asked me, “What has he been up to now!?”
  This 3rd grade teacher reported that I had traumatized the child. I requested a Korean translator (The school had a large Korean student body) so the child could relate exactly what had happened. The director refused the request saying he wanted to keep this “hush, hush” from the Korean community. He also told the me that if anything came of it, I would be fired.
  As it turned out, the boy related the entire event to his mother who came to school to set the record straight about this misunderstanding. The director later told me I was lucky to have kept my job.

It appears we have the makings of a problem when you put wealthy parents with clout together with a school Director bent on keeping them happy at any cost to their faculty. That’s not to say all schools and Directors will sacrifice teachers for the “good” of the organization. Many will stand up for you when you’re in the right, and ease the blow when you’re in the wrong. They run the place like an institution of learning and not a country club for spoiled children. As we see it, a PhD does not make a leader–Leading is about character, vision and integrity, respect and a sense of right and wrong. These things can’t be taught in a course. Some people have it. Others not so much.

When you go overseas to teach you’re immersing yourself in a culture with rules, customs, procedures, expectations and a legal system beyond the scope of your immediate understanding. It’s easy to lull yourself into thinking you’re safe and sound when you’re not. It’s important to know who you are working for and if you can count on them. ISR hosts many reviews from teachers that say their Director/Principal always sides with the parents and the kids. We encourage you to share your experiences with colleagues. If you are comfortable in naming the School and Director feel free to do so. The two teachers in our example of Guatemala and Thailand asked their names and the school names to be removed.

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Let’s Talk: Legal Matters

hammerIt can be stressful here at ISR when a school or attorney threatens us. Usually they express outrage over a poor Review or a critical Comment and want it removed. These schools would like us to prune Reviews to represent their school as they think they should be seen rather than as Reviewed by their teachers on ISR.

Some excerpts from recent mail:

We consider this as an abuse from an unethical few teachers. And you as professionals, we expect you to take action towards these reviews, or at least remove their posts. Otherwise, unfortunately we have to take a legal action towards the owners of the web site.

If all libellous comments are not removed within 31 days of this notice, or libels are repeated in the future, legal action will be taken in the US, UK and Malaysia, and substantial compensation will be sought.

What has been posted on your web site is a pack of lies by people who failed to do their jobs and were let go during the two month probation period. Also please note, that what’s written under Director Report is personal slander and libel. If you don’t remove the post immediately you will hear from the school lawyer. (see blog for more letters)

You will be receiving a letter shortly from our attorney.

I hope you will see the wisdom of this request as if not I am authorised to begin legal proceedings against your company as we consider you to have been complicit in this libel. If the material is deleted we will consider the matter closed.

I formally request that all comments that are personally related to myself (and totally inaccurate) are removed before I decide to take legal action. I await your confirmation of removal of the slanderous / libelous comments…

We should add that in light of the nature of the violating content and your refusal to cooperate the damages could be substaintial….You should take legal advice if you are in any doubt abut the seriousness of this matter. Please confirm if you have instructed lawyers and, if so, ask them to confirm they are authorized to accept proceedings on your behalf.

Of course, we take these letters seriously. Still, we’re waiting for someone to call and lavishly praise ISR for the outstanding reviews we host of  their school and leadership.

ISR would like to confirm that when you join ISR you become a member of a global network of International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed. ISR does NOT remove Reviews. Although at times it would be an easy way out, we will not allow overbearing individuals to force ISR into hiding the stark truth of poor schools and/or leadership, as reported by teachers in the field.

An ISR member sums up the situation succinctly: “If these directors only worried about why so many people leave their schools and address the problems, rather than blaming others, they might actually begin to solve some problems and improve their schools in the process.”

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136 Countries Where U.S. Teachers Have Their Human Rights Violated

gary_sanford by Gary Sanford

More than 7,000 U.S. citizens teach in 195 schools in 136 countries. Many, if not most, of these schools are accredited by U.S. accrediting agencies, private organizations that are legitimized by the U.S. Department of Education and receive financial assistance from the Department of State’s Office of Overseas Schools.

I taught abroad for 13 years in four different countries and I can testify that teachers are treated in ways that would not be tolerated in stateside schools: Administrators routinely bully and lie to teachers, fire teachers without due process, violate contracts, withhold salaries, and engage in many forms of discrimination. Obviously, my experiences alone cannot adequately support my claims; however, I have crossed paths with many teachers in the milieu of international education and I can say…..read more

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Are International School Directors Above the Law?

constitution19624112From the ISR Forum: “I find it difficult to understand how Americans who head International schools think they have the right to ignore American laws. I guess it’s just because they can!

“Our new Director states in job ads that he is looking for teachers under a certain age. Bingo, age discrimination! There is no retirement age here and the school’s former Director hired qualified teachers and did not care about age. There is a fairly large exodus happening at the end of this year which suits our new Director just fine. Now he can hire all the ‘little Miss Sunshines’ he wants who will bow and scrape and worship his ‘vision’.

“This year I tried to form a Teachers’ Association. Over sixty teachers and staff members signed up, but our new Director is trying to shut us down. He can barely contain his resentment and arrogance even though the American Constitution gives us the right to convene as stated in the Bill of Rights. He wants me to produce ‘data’ for the Talent Committee to submit to the Action Committee which is made up of administrators who get the final vote on whether or not a TA will be allowed. Ridiculous! In the US he would certainly be facing a law suit.

“I don’t understand how an American, one who heads an “American School” with students from the US embassy, is able to completely put aside US law, leaving us all vulnerable to his whims. I was toldcriminal that an American who breaks US constitutional law is subject to legal proceedings in the US, even though his actions took place on foreign soil. I’m not saying I am going to start a law suit, but I would like very much to hear from International educators on the topic of International Teachers’ Associations and teachers’ rights.”

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What’s It Really Like to Live Here?

What’s It Really Like to Live In The Middle East

mosque Whether you hope to explore the ancient city of Petra or rock the night life of Tel Aviv, we’d love to hear what you have to say about living in The Middle East.

Do YOU have comments & insights to share  with colleagues regarding the pleasures & challenges of life in The Middle East? Please do! International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed is what ISR is ALL about!

Share your thoughts with colleagues:
• What is the BEST & the WORST of living in The MIddle East?
• Do you recommend living in The M.E. or are you counting the days?

What’s It Really Like to Live in The Middle East?
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See all the continents included in the
What’s it Really like to Live Here Series
Asia / Africa / the Americas / Europe / Middle East

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Turmoil in The Islamic World

..Massive protests cause turmoil for expat teachers
..throughout Islamic world:

“Fury over an anti-Islam film spread across the Muslim world last week. At least four people — all protesters — were killed and dozens were wounded in the demonstrations in more than 20 countries from the Middle East to Southeast Asia. Most were peaceful but they turned violent in several nations, presenting challenges for the leaders who came to power in the Arab Spring.

Protesters set fire to the American School adjacent to the embassy compound and prevented firefighters from approaching it. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the school in Tunis was badly damaged and is now ‘unusable.”

How are you, your family and school administration faring in these troubling times? Is your school sending teachers home or out of the country? How are local people, such as your home neighbors, reacting to you as a foreigner? What changes have become necessary for additional security? Is there some way we, your colleagues, can help? Please add your comments below.

Telling Your School Goodbye

Breaking the news that you’re planning on going recruiting should elicit supportive responses from your school admin. Most likely they’ll wish you luck and ask which schools or locations you’ve set your sights on, effective Directors are happy to help you in any way they can. Many schools even provide paid leave-days specifically for recruiting.

Moving on should be smooth sailing, but some of our colleagues have discovered not all schools are supportive. In fact, there are schools that go so far as to forbid teachers from taking days off, paid or unpaid, to attend recruiting fairs. These same schools often refuse to provide letters of reference for departing staff. An ISR member recently advised on the rough ‘break away’ from such a school:

If the school “forbid” me to attend a fair, I would have to put my foot down and confront this ridiculous policy. You won’t get paid for a week, but at least you’ll give your future and your dreams the best possible shot. Plus (and this may be the best benefit), you will pave the way for co-workers in the future to have the basic right of attending a fair. So tell your current school, “I need this week off without pay, because I’m going to a recruiting fair. Thanks for your understanding.” Just hope they are not completely insane and fire you, but who wants to live their life in that world, anyway?

Recruiting can and should be exciting and rewarding, filled with anticipation of new possibilities and adventures to come! Have YOU told your school you’re planning to go recruiting this season? What was their reaction? To share your experiences or seek advice, we invite you to take advantage of our Telling Your School Goodbye Blog.

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The Art of International School Management

Our previous blog, Safe, Sound & Far Away is focused on schools that use threats and intimidation to discourage staff from posting to the ISR web site. While this tactic apparently works in the short run, once safely out of the country, teachers clearly spread the word about these suppressive institutions.

Obviously not all schools see ISR as a threat. Among the many informative postings to this Blog, one that caught our attention closes with this comment from the director of The International School of Macao: “Issuing gag orders is not a solution. The best solution is to create a culture and community where feedback is sought and handled in more constructive ways. This is what we are working towards.”

This statement resonates harmoniously here at ISR. We’d like to share the complete posting from the Director of the Macao School and ask for your comments. We’re certain many of us will be standing in line at the next recruiting fair for a chance to work in this environment!

Howie says:
June 28, 2012
“As a school, we have taken a different approach to ISR. Considering that many prospective teachers are going to use ISR to check up on the school, I believe most schools monitor (or should monitor) the posts therein. ISR gives a perspective of a school. Multiple perspectives are needed in order to effectively gauge the culture of a school. We encourage all prospective candidates to contact as many people on staff as they want. When they want to know about the cost of living in Macau, we point them to a staff survey that lists differing perspectives.
At the end of each year, I forward the latest 2 reviews to all of the staff who are leaving and ask them to consider giving their own review–this includes staff whose contracts we have chosen not to renew.
This year someone wrote a scathing review accusing me of being a bully. What do you do? I chose to expose it to all of the staff. Why? I wanted staff to be aware of it for a few reasons:
1. Bullying behaviour has no place in a school. I gave explicit permission for any staff member to confront any bullying behaviour they saw in me or in anyone else on staff.
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2. I hoped that the person would come forward so we could find some reconciliation. Clearly this person was hurt.
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3. Remind staff of appropriate channels for feedback and concerns. If they couldn’t come to me then there were many others safe channels.
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4. Avoid the gossip mill. Hiding things only makes it worse. ISR is here to stay.

Do these concepts coincide with the reality at your school? If not, is there a way to introduce this approach to running a school for YOUR school’s management team? We’re certain many schools see ISR as a constructive tool as opposed to a threat and sounding board for “disgruntled” teachers. We encourage directors and teachers to weigh in on this topic.

How Do I Get Outta Here?

ISR is receiving disturbing reports from teachers moving on to new schools at the end of this academic year. The word is, some teachers are receiving little, if any, guidance or support with the processes required to correctly and legally exit their current school and host country.

Teachers are reporting the following:

  • Information on school checkout policies is incomplete or non-existent, making it difficult, if not impossible, to complete the required procedures and receive final pay checks.
  • How to legally exit the country permanently has not been discussed at some schools, leaving teachers afraid they will encounter problems and/or detainment at the airport.
  • Information on how to make final payments to utility companies and/or landlords to assure no residual problems has not been covered.
  • Details on how to receive reimbursement for airfare and shipping of personal goods has not been shared with leaving staff.

What we’re hearing at ISR is some schools “wined and dined” teachers on their way in, but are now giving those same teachers the cold shoulder as they depart for new horizons. Left to one’s own devices in a foreign country, exiting safely and legally can be a daunting experience.

If you’re in this predicament and need advice, you’ll want to post your questions on the ISR,  How Do I Get Outta Here? Blog. Chances are another ISR reader has been at your school or lived in your host country and can offer advice. If you had a memorable experience departing a particular school in the past, you may want to share with colleagues so we can all avoid the same experience in the future.

Canceling a Contract After Signing – Where do you stand?

Here’s the scenario: You’ve attended, at great expense, an international teaching job fair. On the last day of the recruiting fair you sign on with your 3rd-choice school. You’re not enthused about this job, but realistically know it’s definitely a world better than no job at all. As you head home you feel an odd mix of relief and reluctance–you are glad you’ve found your next international teaching position, but still would have greatly preferred schools #1 or #2. You try to think positively and make plans for the upcoming move.

Then, a few weeks pass and you’re emailed an offer from your 1st-choice school–your dream position and salary in a super desirable school and location! Yeah! But….uh, oh. Hold on a moment…..You’re confused. What should you do?

Comments from International Educators indicate there are two, distinct camps of thought on this dilemma:

Camp #1 is exemplified by this comment: “It’s a question of character. I have principles, and I respect those who do. I make choices in life based on those. You have to decide if your word is your bond.”

Camp #2 is exemplified by this comment: “Character is just an excuse people use for sticking with a bad decision. SMART people change their mind when confronted with better options. What people do in business isn’t always the same thing they would do personally.”

Which camp do YOU stand in? And, why?

I Don’t Want to Go Back!

Dear ISR, I’m teaching abroad for the first time. I love my job, good admin, good peers, great classes. I like the city and the country. But….I was feeling homesick the last few weeks overseas and had this overwhelming sense of how much I wanted to be back ‘home’ as I was getting on the U.S.-bound plane.

Now I’m back in the old hometown for vacation and I realize just how incredibly homesick I’ve been. I’ll be in the States for two more weeks and am not looking forward to going back overseas.

This would be a different discussion if I were subject to some of the abuse it seems is out there, but I live in a nice place. I’ve got a good job with good people. My wife and I took this job because we wanted to live in a different environment and explore. But I think we’ve just learned that where we left from to go overseas is where we wanted to be all along.

We’re one semester into a two-year contract. How much of this is part of the normal “first time living/working abroad” learning curve? How have you all dealt with homesickness?

Where Will Your Conscience Let You Work?

Teaching overseas is certainly the experience of a lifetime. But, if that experience conflicts with your personal values it can turn out to be far more than you bargained for. ISR recently received a review for an International School in Myanmar (aka Burma), a country known for its human rights abuses. Here is an excerpt from that review:

“Perhaps what has been most disturbing for me has been the troubled conscience I live with since I arrived almost two months ago. It is well-known that there are over 2000 political prisoners in Burma’s jails, to whom the Red Cross has been denied access. The Burmese government has been carrying out ethnic cleansing campaigns involving systematic rape, looting, the use of forced labor and deployment of child soldiers against minority peoples…Over 90% of the children at our school are Burmese and probably over half of them are children or grandchildren of military personnel who have been destroying the country and oppressing the people of Burma for the past half century…..”

In response to this review, another teacher at the school posted with a very different point of view. Here is an excerpt:

“Part of being a teacher is educating your students so they can go on to do great things with their lives. Whoever their family happens to be should not influence how good a teacher you are to the student. If it does, you may want to think about a new career….”

Obviously, the teacher with the conscience-conflict should have done his/her homework before accepting the job. With that being said, what are your feelings on working in a country that abuses its people? What personal criteria do you have concerning where you will, and will not accept a teaching position?