Recruiting Annoyances Can Make Ya CRaZY!

January 27, 2016

annoyance2266059NO prospective nibbles so far …. One week after the interview and no news …. What if the school admin changes their mind? …. Schools in Sudan are not even contacting us …. My husband accidentally hit the Skype-camera button while only in his underwear!

Recruiting for International teaching positions is full of annoyances, replete with uncertainty and self-doubt that can throw even the most seasoned of us into an emotional tailspin. Are the emotional highs and lows worth it? Experienced international educators answer with a resounding YES, but going through it in isolation can be tough.

The ISR Recruiting Annoyances Blog was created specifically for sharing recruiting-related thoughts and experiences. Here’s an opportunity to “blow off a little steam” and offer fellow candidates feedback and support….and get some for yourself. Staying in tune with the progress, experiences and reactions of colleagues will help us ALL understand our individual situation and might even add some stress relief, as well!

…………..Recruiting Annoyances:

“So far, our job search has gotten us diddly squat. One ‘see ya at the fair,’ a couple of ‘your resume has been forwarded to so and so,’ and one outright rejection. In a way, I actually prefer the rejection; at least that means they’re communicating with us and our resumes haven’t just been thrown into a void. Any one else in this boat?”

“My nerves are frayed after signing a contract at the AASSA fair. I have not heard a word from anyone. People are coming to my house to buy my furniture; the realtor is listing my house, and no word. What if they change their mind? I am in a very difficult position if they do. Nothing seems to be easy, whether you get offered a job or not. Either way, we teachers seem to have to just wait, and wait, and wait. Any advice?”

“He accidentally clicked ‘camera’ and there he was in his underwear! We had our third Skype interview early this morning. Unfortunately, due to extreme time differences we needed to be up very early. My husband woke late and barely made it to the computer BUT during the interview he accidentally clicked the camera ON and there he was, sitting in his underwear!! The head of school and department head quickly excused themselves and said they would be contacting us again at a later date. Now what?”

We originally published this Article in 2013.

It will be interesting to compare teachers’ comments
from 2013 with those added in 2016.  

In what ways has the recruiting process evolved in the past 3 years?


De-Stressing @ Your New School

August 27, 2015

Lazy time. Man in hat in a hammock on a summer day

For most of us, coming in as a new teacher at an international school means we have a lot of adapting to do. Culture, language, food, climate, students, the parents of students, a new house/apartment, city and currency of monetary exchange are just a handful of what makes up the “foreign” environment that awaits us.

With so much energy focused on the actual move, how can you truly comprehend what you’re committing to? Here’s a short list of some changes to expect and suggestions from teachers who have been there/done that, and have some unique strategies for adapting to their new environment. (1st published 8/’11)

What’s New When We Change Schools?
Culture, language, food, climate, students, parents of students, your house/ apartment, the city, currency of exchange, your classroom, internet availability, administration, colleagues and committee work, school procedures, transportation, shopping, entertainment, medical care, bill paying, banking, and well… just about everything. Even your name may seem to change and sound new in terms of the local accent.

So, what de-stressing strategies work when all your familiar reference points are gone? Over the years I’ve stuck with 3 strategies that help me get a good start at a new school.

My Top 3 de-Stressing Strategies:
1. I get to know the school secretaries, the head of tech and the head of maintenance. I want them as allies. I even make some effort to get to “know them” before coming and try to bring some small gifts to sweeten the deal upon our first meeting. At one school, the tech guy desperately wanted US backpacks for his children. By bringing them along as a gift, I insured his gracious help with my many requests in the first weeks of school. I was nearly always put at the top of the list. Beyond just a colleague, he became a friend.

2. Make your apartment/house your home and refuge. I bring familiar things that make me feel at home. My music, a few pictures, books, a board game, special soap, and any other easily portable knickknack that makes me warm and fuzzy. I also bring a good supply of my favorite comfort foods. There’s nothing like a few favorite things from a known environment to help make the transition into the unknown a lot smoother. At the end of the school day you’ll want a welcoming home refuge from the crush of newness.

3. I’m careful not to be overzealous in volunteering for more committees and duties than I am comfortable with. At a new school, with my attentions being bounced around like a ping pong ball between school and personal needs, the last thing I want is more to focus my attention on. The temptation is to jump right in and make huge contributions to staff and school, but in the end if I take care of “number one” first I’m a lot more effective when it comes to contributing to the team.

Now it’s your turn. Many of us are starting off the new academic year at international schools that are new to us. What techniques work for you? Sharing our personal strategies is a great way to support each other and help make the upcoming academic year a success, in and out of school!


Let’s Talk: Legal Matters

May 2, 2013

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.”

We invite you to Scroll Down & Comment :


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

April 11, 2013

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

Scroll down to comment


Has the Boat Already Sailed?

April 4, 2013

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

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

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

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

Please scroll down to post


Is Teaching Abroad Right for ME as a New Teacher? by: Dr. Barbara Spilchuk, ISR On line Teacher Consultant

March 28, 2013

choice41516506Each year more and more university students are choosing to go abroad after they’ve finished their Education degree. Many come to me asking the question: “Is international teaching the right choice for me?” This is not a question I can easily answer for young people choosing to make their first teaching experience an international one. All I can do is tell the students to consider the following three questions:

Have you traveled abroad before? The answer to this question may seem unimportant; however, young teachers who have international experiences, even travel experiences with their families, have a greater understanding of the cultural differences they might experience when they go abroad. This greater understanding will set them up for a better chance of success in a country where the life experience is significantly different from what they are used to.

Are you LEAVING or GOING? The answer to this question is pretty critical. If a young teacher simply cannot find work in his/her own country, and s/he feels that an international teaching experience is the only option left to begin a teaching career, this is not the best reason for going abroad. Why do I say this? I say this because when you make a decision about your career, you should make the decision to GO to someplace, not LEAVE some place, for whatever reason. Every time I’ve made a decision to LEAVE some place, it has not been as productive for me as when I have made a decision to GO to a specific place. It is all in the mind-set. Let me explain:

If I am leaving some place for a reason that is not positive (i.e.: I cannot get a job, I’ve had an argument with my family or friend, I’m trying to escape an existing poor work situation), then my mind is not on the future….It is on the past because I have not reconciled myself with whatever the issue was that has prompted me to LEAVE. I have learned that it is better for me to be at peace with whatever situation is at ‘home’ before I decide to GO to a new place. This way my mind is fully situated in the future and I have a better chance of success with no regrets for my past. An exception to this rule is if    the situation ‘at home’ is a dangerous one that you need to remove yourself    from.

Do you have a specific place in mind where you would like to GO?  Have you done your homework on the host country’s people, customs, environment, politics? Not every international teaching location is good for every young teacher…or for every seasoned teacher, for that matter! Knowing something about the country you may be going to BEFORE you accept a contract can help you stay out of difficulty. Customs, traditions, religious beliefs, gender or racial issues or biases, economic demographics, attitude towards foreigners, health and safety issues, just to name a few considerations, should be explored BEFORE you sign a contract!

I shake my head when I get a letter from a young teacher that says s/he feels isolated or unwelcome within their community and they want to break contract. Did you check to see what the situation was in that community BEFORE you agreed to sign the contract? How did you check? Did you ask to speak to teachers already there? Did you talk to someone from your embassy? Did you research online? Did you read the ISR reviews of the school you would be going to BEFORE you signed your contract? Better yet, did you try to find a travel partner to go with? I always recommend that new international teachers go in pairs, either with their spouse or with another ‘newbie’. That way there is a built-in support system in the new location to help with the cultural and isolation transition.

There are so many things to consider when choosing International Education as your first choice when moving into your education career after completing university. I encourage you to think things over carefully and if you have questions or comments, just scroll down and post your thoughts. I’ll be keeping an eye on this Blog and will be more than happy to help you with your decision-making! 


What’s It Really Like to Live Here?

February 7, 2013

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?
Scroll down to JOIN the Conversation!

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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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What’s It Really Like to Live in The Americas?

January 30, 2013

americas6842230What’s It Really Like to Live in the AMERICAS? expands  the conversation to the continents of the Americas. Do you live in North, Central or South AMERICA?

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

• What is the BEST & the WORST of living in the AMERICAS?
• Do you recommend living in the AMERICAS or are you counting the days?

What’s It Really Like to Live in the AMERICAS? JOIN the Conversation HERE!

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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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What’s It Really Like to Live in EUROPE?

January 24, 2013

europe_13741541What’s It Really Like to Live in EUROPE? expands the conversation to the European continent Do you have comments/insights/tips to share with colleagues regarding the pleasures & challenges of life in EUROPE? Please do! TELL us your thoughts: International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed is what ISR is ALL about!

What is the BEST & the WORST of living in EUROPE?
Do you recommend living in EUROPE or are you counting the days?

What’s It Really Like to Live in EUROPE? JOIN the Conversation HERE!

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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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What Is It Really Like to Live in Africa?

January 3, 2013

africa5670469

You’ve done your research & picked a school or locale for the main focus of your recruiting efforts. But, WAIT! You’re not just recruiting for a job, but, more importantly, for the overseas adventure of a lifetime! We know you want your social/cultural immersion/home life to be equally as rewarding & fulfilling as your in-school life. After all, as international educators we go overseas for a life-enriching experience, don’t we?

If you live & teach in an African country, we hope you’ll share with colleagues–What is it really like to live in your area?

TELL us your thoughts:
• What is the BEST & the WORST of living in Africa?

• Do you Recommend living in Africa
OR are you counting  the days?

Have a QUESTION about lifestyle in the nations of the African continent? ASK them here! There’s no substitute for candid, first-hand information from teachers in the city where you, too, may soon be living & working!

International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed is what ISR is ALL about! In the upcoming weeks ISR will explore the lifestyle of Asia, Latin America & Europe.

Scroll down to JOIN the Conversation!

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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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The Art of Emailing School Directors

December 6, 2012

email_2_36777

Whether you plan to go it alone or attend a recruiting fair, there is an Art to composing emails in response to advertised international teaching positions. When it comes to promoting yourself via email, we think you’ll find the following Tips particularly helpful for “getting your foot in the door.” Posted to the ISR by an anonymous Director, the following emailing-insights are sure to benefit candidates and Directors alike:

Make the Subject Line of Your Email Useful: No one needs another email titled “Job Vacancy” or “Application.”  I already have 75 of each in my email folder, and it doesn’t motivate me to go back for a second look at any of them when I know it’ll take me forever to find the one I’m interested in. Put your name and desired position in the Subject line. At least then I’ll be able to find you when I realize I actually do need a math teacher after all.

Properly Name Your Credentials: Name them the way they’re written on the official document you were given. If you claim to have a “teaching certificate from the University of Pennsylvania,” I know you’re wrong. US Universities do not grant teaching certificates. Which means I have to decide whether you’re just being inaccurate (you did the courses at UPenn, and then the state of PA issued a certificate) or you’re making it up.

List Subjects You’re Qualified and/or Certified to Teach: It bothers me when candidates put down a laundry list. It’s not about what you personally feel capable of teaching, it’s what you’re officially recognized as qualified to teach. If you feel you can teach more, put it in your personal statement. That way we don’t get to the interview or even further along, and later find out it was all a waste of time because the country I’m in won’t issue a work Visa unless you have a legal credential.

Avoid Fluff and Filler:  Fluff and inflation bother me no end. When someone has a position for 1 or 2 years and they have 10-12 bullet point accomplishments, I get bored and move on when most of their “accomplishments” are just regular job duties. I know you taught classes, gave tests, met with parents and attended staff meetings. Those are not accomplishments.

Compose an Excellent Cover Letter: Give me a well-written cover letter, specific to my school. Don’t write a generic cover letter and then slip my school name and country name into a few blank spots–make it really specific to my school. I will love it if I can tell you did your homework, you checked out our website thoroughly, know our mission statement, noticed that we’re an EAL not an ESL school. You’ve possibly talked to some people who have worked here (feel free to name them). Show me you know some relevant bits about the country and culture, and do all this not by quoting the mission statement (trust me, I already know it), but by crafting a letter which incorporates key words and concepts and by stating clearly, directly, how your personal ethos and experience match up with my school’s ethos and direction.

Tell Me What Positions You’re Applying for:  Don’t tell me you want position x, y, z, p or q, because that just tells me you want a job above all costs. You’ll appear too desperate, even though it might be true. Pick one or two positions and stick to them. If I like your letter, but for some reason you can’t have the position you named, and your letter gave the impression that you might be flexible, I’ll contact you and ask if you’d be willing to consider a different post.

If  There’s Anything Out of the Ordinary, Discuss it Now: You have a spouse who isn’t a teacher? Explain what he/she will be doing while you’re teaching. What are your expectations? Most countries have some sort of limitations in terms of trailing spouses, so I need to know at the start if what your spouse is after will match up with my country’s reality.

Scroll down  to comment on this topic / add tips of your own


Teaching Lord Fauntleroy

November 29, 2012

We International Educators teach at thousands of schools across seven continents. We teach in every imaginable climate, in urban and rural settings, and in societies that range from predictably stable to utterly chaotic. Yet there is one detail that unites pretty much all of us no matter our tier, continent or subject area: We teach rich kids.

Some of us teach the top 25% of our host country’s socio-economic ladder. Some of us teach the top 1%. Some of us teach a slice of the global elite so exclusive their parents think nothing of flying to PTA meetings in their private Lear jets or gifting Rolex watches to faculty at the end of the year.

Even when a student’s family income wouldn’t turn a head back home in our own country, the family money is still many times what it would be for the majority of Chinese…or Bangladeshis or Indians or Africans. You get the picture.

Wealth facilitates a great deal of what we do, from the tuition money that keeps our schools running to the budgets that fund our departments to the salaries that put food on our tables and pay off our school debts–if you went to university in the US that is. Endowments give many international schools the freedom to make improvements to their facilities that would take significantly more time and paperwork in many state systems.

At the same time, affluent student populations present considerations we would be less likely to encounter in a state system back home. Students from affluent families may come to the classroom with unrealistic notions of how the world works and how it should serve them. They might be lulled into academic disengagement because they know, or have been told, their future is assured for them no matter the effort they put forth.

In this season of giving (and getting), let’s trade ideas on the perils and perks of being teachers and administrators of the affluent. The following questions strike me as important to tackle:

  How can we best realize the IB’s  goal of fostering “the intellectual, personal, emotional and social skills to live, learn and work in a rapidly globalizing world” if our students are only interacting with a small percentage of that world?

  How can we teach for social justice when the true sacrifice required to achieve it would be unpalatable if not unthinkable to many members of the elite?

•  How can we teach socio-economic awareness across the curriculum?

•  How can service learning projects be meaningful, life-changing experiences instead of token charity work?

  How can administrators deal with particularly powerful parents?

  How can we instruct students and families that money, perhaps more than at any moment in the history of the planet, needs to be a force for creating good rather than a badge for advertising status?

Weigh in on this topic. Scroll down to post


The Art of International School Management

July 5, 2012

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.
v
2. I hoped that the person would come forward so we could find some reconciliation. Clearly this person was hurt.
v
3. Remind staff of appropriate channels for feedback and concerns. If they couldn’t come to me then there were many others safe channels.
v
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.


You’re Under Arrest!

June 21, 2012

“Dear ISR, I’m about to embark on my first international teaching assignment and I’ve noticed lately on the news there’s a fair amount of overseas travelers who get arrested for one reason or another. My family is starting to obsess on the dangers of living outside the U.S. and the possibility of getting entangled with local authorities. Has anyone at ISR had any experience with this? I think my family, and myself for that matter, would feel a whole lot better hearing from teachers who spent some solid time overseas and can offer advice.

“From what I’ve read on ISR it looks like some schools cannot be depended on. Geez, in one situation the director actually departed for summer vacation and left this poor teacher to fend for herself against serious allegations. But really, what clout would the director of an “American” school have with local authorities anyway? I did read about another situation where an influential parent was able to get a teacher (who was arrested for driving with an expired international license) out of jail.

One reason I’m especially nervous about all this is because my new school is telling me  to come on a tourist visa and they’ll get me a work visa once I’m there. Is this normal? Can  I be arrested for working without a work visa? As you can see, I can use some advice!”


Just for FUN

June 14, 2012

The school year’s over! Let’s lighten things up for the summer months & step-back a bit from the more serious topics we usually tackle here at ISR…

An interesting topic, Just for FUN, recently appeared on the ISR Forum. Responses from participants caught our eye & aroused our curiosity, so just for fun we’ve decided to share this intriguing transplant from the Forum with the entire ISR audience:

It’s summer & I’m dreaming about traveling overseas. 
Just for FUN
, let’s talk about the following:
Best overseas food
Strangest overseas food you’ve tried
Best beer/spirits
Best festival/event
Best place you went for vacation overseas
Here’s how a few Teachers responded:
Mike
Best overseas food: Japan!
Strangest overseas food you’ve tried: raw Sea urchin
Best beer/spirits: Polish Beer tents on  warm spring day!
Best festival/event: Thaipusam festival in Kuala Lumpur
Best place you went for vacation while overseas: Kenya Safari
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PsyGuy
Best overseas food: Italy!
Strangest overseas food you’ve tried: Monkey Brains, China 
Best beer/spirits: Cold draft Tiger beer, hot South Asian day
Best festival/event: Full Moon, Thailand
Best place you went for vacation while overseas: Brazil
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Anon
Best overseas food: Everything on a Kerala houseboat
Strangest overseas food you’ve tried: Squiggly white African grubs
Best beer/spirits: German beer
Best festival/event: Munich’s birthday
Best place you went for vacation while overseas: Camera safari-India
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Now it’s YOUR Turn to Share YOUR Favorites!
Just copy the list with the yellow squares (above) into memory. Then paste it into your reply box –  next, supply the answers.

The Private Lives of International School Directors

May 31, 2012

Dear ISR, Teachers at my school are overly concerned and gossipy when it comes to our director’s private life. He may not exemplify how they choose to live, but he is honest, hard working, treats us all equally and fairly and has the students’ and teachers’ best interests at heart. Under his leadership our school has made giant strides in academics and technology. He’s a natural leader and knows what he’s doing. Yet there are teachers here who go out of their way to bad-mouth him and subvert his efforts because they say he leads a far from “Christian” lifestyle.

So, he likes to drink after school, smoke and frequent the local clubs. He dates local women, dresses a bit on the eccentric side and drives a sports car. But like I said, he is the most supportive, concerned leader I have had the privilege to work under. The students love him. He even got the board to approve better health insurance, WiFi in the classrooms and much needed supplies.

My question is this: Why should it be anyone’s concern how the school leader spends his time outside school? Are we educators or etiquette models? I personally think some of these teachers should get off their high horse and drop that holier-than-thou attitude and appreciate the fact they have an outstanding leader.

I’m curious how it is at other schools and would like to hear from other teachers on this topic. Thanks ISR.


How Do I Get Outta Here?

May 17, 2012

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.


Happiness Revealed

April 19, 2012

Today, on my way to school, I find myself caught in grid-lock traffic. I silently curse the local drivers and their lack of driving skill. Immersed in my own little world within the confines of my car, I am utterly detached from the wonders around me: The mahout teasing his elephant onward, the smiling woman veiled in colorful layers of fabric, hundreds of buzzy motor bikes transporting an endless cast of exotic characters, the imposing mountains in the distance, the low hanging clouds with rain on the horizon…..and where am I? I am someplace else in my mind, completely preoccupied with the minutiae of concerns that await me in the classroom, lesson plans for the benefit of students who may, or may not, wish to be educated.

The international teaching experience is life changing, exhilarating, and can even be termed a peak experience. So, how is it possible to become blind to the newness and wonder of all that surrounds us in our host countries? Sights, sounds, smells and people we once marveled at can slowly fade into the background, replaced by workplace stress and commitments which eventually become our all encompassing reality. We’ve all experienced episodes of disconnect. For some it’s a fleeting experience, for others it’s semi-permanent or worse, a type of spiritual death.

Gratitude, a film by Louis Schwartzberg on TED, is guaranteed to reinstall the sense of wonder so easily lost in our busy lives, refocusing us on the reality that counts. We encourage you to take a few minutes to enjoy this film, and welcome your impressions and realizations after you’ve seen Gratitude.


Going Home to Stay

March 15, 2012

With the school year coming to a conclusion, some of us are anticipating moving home for more than just the summer recess. This transition can be both exciting and most certainly, daunting. There’s so much to consider and so many tasks to accomplish. It’s just like staring over! Fortunately, advice and comradery is not far away.

Claudia: “For me, coming home was a brand new adventure, and it’s amazing how even though family tell you how much they want you back, they have all moved on with their own busy routines that don’t include you. Even my parents! My husband and I found out about gatherings and outings we used to be included in well after the fact and we felt like outcasts. It was a weird time.”

Russ: “None of my friends really wanted to hear about my trip, or see pictures and they REALLY got tired when I kept bringing up stories and situations about how another culture solves the problem so easily. This is especially true of other teachers who don’t want to hear how great my students were, or how much easier things were.”

Edmond: “We’ve been out long enough. We have money in the bank, seen a good chunk of the world and are thinking of trying life Stateside again. It just feels like time to go home. We find we miss the football games, seasonal celebrations and the myriad of family gatherings. If we do go home and find it’s not as wonderful as we are imagining we can always go back out again. This might be easier said than done.”

ISR invites you to participate in our GOING HOME Blog to share experiences and concerns, ask questions and offer advice on this very important topic.


To Yard Sale or Not?

March 8, 2012

“Dear ISR, I’m getting ready to move overseas for the first time. I’ve got an apartment full of furniture, bicycles, kids’ toys, clothes, kitchen stuff and well, the usual things people tend to collect. I’m trying to figure out what I should do with all this stuff! Our school offers a moderate shipping allowance but not enough to ship the big pieces.

I’m definitely in a quandary at this point: If I sell everything I’ll for sure have a wad of cash. If I keep it all, I’ll have to pay storage for at least 2 years and that’s about $1800. I’d really like to know what international teachers already overseas have done with their belongs and if they later wished they had done something different. Thanks for your help with this question, any advice is appreciated.”