Teaching in Indonesia May Be Out Next Year!

In 2013 an alarming education policy will take effect in Indonesia. The new legislation, Peraturan Pemerintah Republik Indonesia Nomor 17 tahun 2010, has far-reaching implications for international educators wishing to teach in Indonesia. Here are the basics of the legislation as explained to ISR:

1. “National Plus Schools” [nat’l curriculum + internat’l curriculum, eg: Cambridge] will now be called “International Schools.” This means that for every foreign teacher there must be 3 local Indonesian teachers. Foreign teachers will only be allowed to teach English and NOthing more, as all other subjects will be taught by locals.

2. Schools currently called “International Schools” will become “Foreign Schools.” NO Indonesian citizens will be allowed to attend these schools.

It appears international teachers in Indonesia will be relegated to teaching ESL. If this bill affects your plans, please join us here on the Indonesia Education Legislation Blog to share information and ideas on this topic with other international educators.

I was Happy Until I found ISR

“I recently accepted a post at a school and start in August. I’m beginning to sell house, car, everything. But now, two weeks later, I am really worried…I just discovered ISR! Ouch! There’s one bad review after another about “my” new school! I wish I knew whether these reviews were teachers just letting off steam after a bad day, or if I should be seriously concerned. I am giving up my whole life here at home for this post abroad. Now I’m just not sure what to do. I was happy until I found your web site! Now? Any suggestions on what to do next?”

Would You Stick It Out? Or Run?

When you find yourself in an intolerable school situation do you stick it out or run for your life? Opinions vary, with each side of the dilemma adamant about its position:

I’D RUN FOR IT: “There is no honor in suffering. The idea that working at a rotten school in a lousy country, educating a do-nothing population with no interest in academics will somehow make you a better teacher or a better person is pure malarkey! Suffering is suffering no matter how you cut it & the less time of your professional life you can spend doing it, the better. Some schools are so god-awful, shifty, & immoral, the most honorable thing to do is to call it a day & RUN!”

I’D STICK IT OUT: “I could have run away from the job, but I felt the experience would actually serve me well in the future & that as a professional I could learn from what was happening in the school. My colleagues thought that if I left without notice & the school could not find a replacement, the children’s education would ultimately suffer. As an educator first & foremost, I could not leave the students.”


Could A Confidential Reference be Killing Your Career?

“Dear ISR, I’ve received some positive responses to my applications for international teaching positions. But, in 3 instances after the recruiter contacted my confidential referees, interest cooled down, making me wonder what the problem might be.

I am absolutely sure referees 2 and 3 are very positive and complimentary. But I’m less certain about my current employer for whom I have worked for almost 5 years, and under whom I really feel I have been poorly and disrespectfully treated.

The fact is, I’ve only listed my present Director (with permission) on the basis that it is usually expected the current employer be included. I am, however, beginning to think he is damaging my prospects. This is pure speculation but a distinct pattern is emerging that leads me clearly to this conclusion.

I do know he almost certainly scuppered another potential appointment 3 years ago when the head of the school I was applying to informed me that my Director said I was under contract and therefore not eligible to apply. This was not true because the new contract being offered for the next term had not yet been presented to me.

This is really a bad situation. How about some advice…..anybody?”

“What Do YOU Want in Your Letter of Reference?”

“Dear ISR: Asking for a letter of reference seemed like a standard request. The expectation was that my principal would actually be flattered to reflect on my work at the school. So, when my request was met with, “Why don’t you write your own letter and put it in my box? I’ll rework it and get back to you,” I was disappointed that my years here had gone completely unrecognized by my boss.

Perhaps he lacks the knowledge/time/interest to compose an insightful, professional letter of reference. Or maybe I’m too sensitive. But once I got past my initial reaction, I could see I had been presented the perfect opportunity to promote myself and (hopefully) land a job in a better, more academic and exciting school. I want to make the very best of this!

Being a newbie to the international teaching circuit (this being my first position) I’d like to ask seasoned overseas educators to offer some advice on what sort of things I should include in this letter of reference.

My current school has no curriculum–it’s an ‘everyone does their own thing’ sort of school. I don’t think I want that in my letter of recommendation! Nor the fact that most of the students cannot speak enough English to follow simple instructions or commands. I want to make my contributions and time here shine, while not pointing out the obvious flaws of the school. Any advice? It would be greatly appreciated. And once again, Thanks ISR!!”

Skype Your Way to an International Teaching Position

Skype is quickly becoming a popular recruiting venue for international teaching candidates. And rightly so! Last recruiting season, schools and teachers reported successfully filling many positions relying on Skype internet interviews. Here’s what candidates and recruiters had to say last recruiting season:

“We have been using the telephone versions of Skype for some years now to interview our supply teachers. We are slowly moving to Video Skype as more teachers have access to faster internet connections and web cams.”

“I only did Skype interviews this year. Got a great job at an excellent school! Personal interviews are a crapshoot at best. What an administrator can learn about an applicant at a 25-minute job fair interview I can only guess. I will never again spend three thousand dollars to fly halfway ’round the world for a 40k a year job.”

“I got my current job via Skype and the new one for next year involved a phone interview. I just don’t see spending money to fly to a fair, pay a high premium and taking days off from my students.”

“I’ve had successful Skype interviews that I felt gave both parties a good sense of the other. I can see that many schools feel the job fairs provide a valuable source of quality teachers, but I DO question the motivation of some schools that seem to go on an endless world tour of job fairs to hire someone.”

We’re certain that this year many more schools and candidates are relying on Skype. Have you had experience with Skype interviews this recruiting season? Did you find a teaching position through Skype? What do you predict the future holds for international teachers recruiting using the Skype medium? Maybe you have questions and/or advice about using Skype for recruiting. Here’s the place to share information and ask questions.

Being Sick of Home is Hard to Cure

After the Holiday, I Don’t Want to Go Back (our previous Blog  topic) attracted insightful responses packed with sound advice. One provocative response really hit home with us at ISR. We would like to solicit your comments:

“I’m relatively new to the teaching profession (certified in ’07) and have a question for the author of last week’s Blog Topic: What great thing do you have waiting for you in the United States that would keep you here? I’d say, if you really want to meet the most miserable, dejected people on Earth, visit the teachers’ lounge in any U.S. public school! Corporatists have the man-on-the-street believing teachers are at fault for all of America’s social problems, and that they’re overpaid to boot!”

Another ISR Blogger wholeheartedly concurred:
“Brilliantly stated! Once you get out of the USA, you find a whole world of teaching and learning that is thriving and — while imperfect to varying degrees — honoring the very educational values that American culture is rejecting.”

ISR agrees — we as teachers are infinitely more free to teach and develop our craft overseas. Teaching abroad offers small class sizes, supportive parents, a violence-free environment, a high percentage of motivated students, and no political mandates such as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). What’s your opinion? Would you rather be a bit homesick OR sick of home?

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?

Recruiting Fairs: A-Z Strategies that WORK!

Recruiting Fairs are pressure cookers. Educators currently teaching in schools around the world will have invested thousands of dollars to fly to, and attend recruiting fairs. These teachers have resigned their current positions, making them highly motivated with a proven track record. Does this make them the most desirable candidates?

For those new to recruiting fairs, you quickly learn that competition is intense. If you arrive unprepared, chances are you’ll be leaving empty-handed! Our Tips to Make Recruiting Season a Success is specifically designed to help you navigate your recruiting fair experience and potentially walk out with a contract in hand! Seasoned overseas educators will find plenty here to refresh the memory and some new ideas as well.

Ever wonder what Directors are looking for in a candidate? Wouldn’t it be nice to know in advance of finding yourself engaged in an interview? To keep you informed, ISR asked School Directors to tell us what they look for in an international teaching candidate and then posted the top 3 responses. The bar is much higher than you might suspect! What Directors Look for in International Teaching Candidates.

Do you have a personal favorite approach to the recruiting process we would all benefit from knowing about? Or, do you have a question about the recruiting process? This is the place!

“Do You Have Any Questions for Us?” asked the Recruiter.

You’ve nearly wrapped up the interview and things seem to have gone well. The recruiter reacted positively to all you had to say about yourself and it feels like you may have the job. Then, the recruiter asks that all-important question, “Do you have any questions for us?”

Certainly you’ve given the school’s web site a thorough read, and have clear insight into what the school thinks is important enough to share with the world. Your questions could focus on topics gleaned from the web site, but would the shallow depth of these questions really portray you as ‘the’ candidate to hire?

Are you wondering about a hot-button issue at this school? How in-depth should questions go regarding visas and health care, class sizes and holiday time off? Are there questions that are an absolute must, and others far too specific to be asked during initial interviews?

What questions can be asked that make a candidate shine with an innate understanding of kids and international schools? In other words, what are the questions that will help YOU land the job? We invite you to Share your Ideas on this topic.

What Was Your Ah-Ha Moment?

Hindsight is 20/20, and when you’re smack in the middle of a situation you may not realize that your present actions may open unforeseen doors in the future. You might not reap the fruits of your actions for years to come, and it may be only in retrospect that you put 2 & 2 together and say, “ah-ha”…it’s that which led to this. If only I had known back then.

Yes, we grow from our mistakes, or at least I’ve been told, but I think I’ve grown the most from realizations that took place in those few and far-between “ah-ha” moments. We’ve all had such moments as international educators, the moments when a light comes on and suddenly we’re wiser, more savvy and more worldly concerning our chosen career.

Have you had an “ah-ha” moment in regards to some aspect of your international teaching career that you would like to share with colleagues? We can all learn from each others’ experiences. We invite you to share your experiences and realizations..

Recruiting Season Starts Now!

Every year, school directors give teachers a deadline by which to decided if they will return for another academic year or make the current year their last. And every recruiting season the decision-making deadline seems to be pushed earlier & earlier.

This season, ISS/Lisbon is slated for Nov 18th, followed by AASSA/Atlanta on Dec first.  ISS/Atlanta follows in quick succession on Dec 4th, with Search/Johannesburg on Dec ninth.  When we first viewed the ISS recruiting fair schedule we thought the list was incomplete. Their web site shows the last ISS fair of the season to be ISS/San Francisco on Feb thirteenth.

Last year, teachers were concerned because many schools were requiring them to submit their intentions to stay or leave early in the school year. It appears the recruiting organizations have followed suit, putting pressure on international educators to make a stay-or-go decision within the first month or two of school. How will this affect schools and teachers?

For educators entering international teaching for the first time the earlier dates could be advantageous. But, for teachers currently overseas & completing their present contract these dates could prove frustrating at best. As a result of competition between recruiters to be the “first” conference, we can see fairs possibly as early as Sept/Oct in the years to come. What is your opinion on this situation? Join us on this ISR Blog.

Do Meaningless Mission Statements = Poor Schools?

To our way of thinking, a school’s mission statement should contain measurable goals. After all, if you cannot measure progress towards a set of goals, there’s no way to prove whether or not they are being met. Schools with the poorest reviews on the ISR web site seem to expound the most lofty, unmeasurable goals. Read these actual International School mission statements, for example:

  • The Mission of ___ School is to provide high quality holistic education in an inspiring learning environment that maximizes the potential of each individual to become a responsible global citizen.
  • The American International School of ___ prepares its students to be responsible global citizens and inspires in each a passion for knowledge and lifelong learning. We are a nurturing and diverse community that instills respect for self and others, develops the whole child, and strives for academic excellence.
  • The goal of The ___ School is to liberate the joy of learning within every child and nurture them as citizens of the world. We believe that global education is the key to continued success.

What, if anything above, is quantifiable or measurable? Are goals being met? Maybe, or maybe not. Who really knows? And maybe no one in administration really cares! In fact, the reviews of these schools tell the real story beyond the mission statement.

In contrast to the statements above, here is a mission statement from a school with many strong, outstanding reviews:

  • ABC Academy challenges its students to academic excellence through the medium of a college preparatory curriculum and U.S. academic standards, with instruction in English language. ABC Academy values community service and responsible global citizenship and promotes the integral development of each student within a multicultural setting.

What has your experience been with school mission statements? With the ever growing number of “for profit” schools springing up, a school’s mission statement could be a good indicator of what you may be signing up for!

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?

Turn Your Idea into a New ISR Web Site Feature!

It’s the continued support  of the International Teaching community that makes ISR possible & helps the ISR web site continually evolve into an ever more useful recruiting tool.

Do YOU have something in mind that would make a strong addition to the ISR web site? We hope you’ll take a few minutes to share your idea with us and we invite you to post your ideas anonymously on this blog. If you prefer, you can contact us directly with the option to include your email address. Teachers Keeping Each Other Informed is what International Schools Review is All About. Your support is much appreciated.

Guilt Trips From Home – Taking the Grand Kids Overseas

Leaving to teach overseas can negatively impact your relationship with parents and grandparents who question the soundness of your motives. Add grand kids to the mix and WATCH OUT! Feelings can intensify and confrontations are sure to escalate. And should the country you’re working in be featured on international news, your reasons for moving the children overseas are sure to come under additional intense scrutiny. Sometimes, family members get just plain mad—mad because you’ve taken away grandchildren and theoretically placed them at risk of alienation to their nation and family. Read more…

Laid-Off Public School Teachers May Flood the Fairs

It’s no secret the world is in an economic downturn. But did you know as result the US, UK and Canada have been laying off public school teachers at an alarming rate? These cuts even include science and math teachers. A Chicago-based educator reports his school opened up a position (due to increased enrollment) and had 170 applicants in two hours.

An option for unemployed public school teachers may be to turn to international education in search of employment. If this happens, will the job market become saturated? Will recruiting fairs become flooded with available educators? More importantly, will schools feeling the effects of countless poor reviews suddenly have their pick of previously “out of reach” educators now in dire need of a paycheck?

Not many years ago organizations such as the American Academy of School Heads expressed concern over the dwindling pool of international teaching candidates. At a New York recruiting fair it was noted that there were 3 to 4 available jobs per each applicant. In response, a task force was formed to solve the problem. It appears the problem may have solved itself but, through no one’s fault, to the detriment of current international educators.

What is your take on the situation? Will fired public school teachers go international or will they stay home to gut it out? If they go international, will schools scoop them up at a reduced rate? Or will schools continue to give priority to seasoned overseas educators? We invite you to weigh in on this topic.

How Do YOU Use International Schools Review?

“I’m new to international teaching and just recently became an ISR member. I’m frankly shocked at the number of negative school reviews on the web site. The truth is, I just completed an awful year overseas and had I seen the ISR reviews for my school I would never have come here. My question for veteran members of ISR is: How do teachers use the ISR web site to make informed decisions about a school? For example, my current school has a few very good reviews smattered in among the reviews that more accurately reflect my experience here. I could use some help with clearly reading beyond the words.”

The author of this post received a complimentary one-year ISR membership. Do YOU  have  a Blog topic you’d like to share with colleagues around the world? – Click here

Is International Teaching a Career or an Adventure

The recent blog topic of whether or not teaching overseas is a good career decision prompted me to reflect more on my own desires and motivations to continue teaching overseas. A few people posted on this thread that teaching overseas was “just a job, not a career,” at least not a long-term one.  Among other worries, some expressed concern about the lack of job security, a pension, or a plan for retirement.
Like many other people who posted, I share a love for travel, adventure, and learning about other cultures. While many of my stateside friends might not understand this love for adventure (note their eyes glazing over as you tell them about your recent safari or hiking in the Andes), I would not trade my experiences for anything. Well…maybe until now. I DO have fears about whether I will face age discrimination, whether professional opportunities and growth will be limited, and whether I am doing the right thing for our family and young child.
My wife, also a teacher, and I are in our early 40s. We are at a stage in our careers where we don’t plan to ‘bounce’ around the world teaching at different international or American schools every 2-3 years. We have been at our current school for over six years, but plan to recruit next year. While international teaching has become more popular and while schools have grown and multiplied, I feel there are far too many schools that are “international” or “American” in name only.
This all leads to my never-ending reflection and stress when I weigh adventure, lifestyle, and happiness with job security, pension, and retirement. What would life would be like if we returned to the U.S. to teach? How would our international experience be perceived by potential employers in the U.S. and would it be valued? Most importantly, would we be happy and would we miss our lifestyle?
I am living my dream NOW – touring world-famous museums, hiking in the Himalayas, relaxing on beaches in Southeast Asia, learning new languages, and seeing things the average citizen of my own country could only dream of seeing – all things I am very grateful for!  How long can this go on though and is this idea of teaching overseas a career, an adventure, or a pipe dream?
The author of this post received a complimentary one-year ISR membership. Do YOU  have  a Blog topic you’d like to share with colleagues around the world? – Click here

Working in International Schools – a Good Career Move?

I am considering leaving a well paid 9-5 office job (in which I can also travel and work abroad) to retrain as a teacher, all with the intention of working in international schools as a career.

I was excited at the prospect until I came across the ISR web site and found extremely bad reviews for almost every school featured, usually relating to bad management, bullying of staff, corruption, poor pay and unfair dismissals.

I can assume that most people on this site are international teachers and I would therefore love to hear your opinions on the career in general. Is it a worthwhile career? Have you regretted your decision? What would you do if you were me?

Also, is it easy to find a good school or is it pot luck? Would you want to do it long term or only for a few years?

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Many thanks!