a Diary from the Recruiting Fair Front


In this one-of-a-kind recruiting fair diary by an ISR reader and seasoned International Educator, “Shadowjack” gets up-front and personal relating his experiences at the 2013 Search (Bangkok) Recruiting Fair.

    From personal impressions and well-honed strategies, to insightful reflections and lessons learned, this author captures the emotional turbulence he and other candidates experience as they navigate towards an International teaching position. If you’re searching for information on how to prepare for an upcoming recruiting fair, this is as close as you’re going to get without sweating it out, literally, at the recruiting fair itself.

    So here we go! The plane has touched down at Dong Muang Airport in Bangkok and we’ll hit the ground running! After all, we have an 11-hour flight behind us and thousands of dollars already invested in our efforts to land a teaching position! Let the adventure begin!  Read more…

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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.

WARNING!! Signs that Tell You Not to Take the Job

“Looking back on my interview, there were definite warning signs I should have heeded, not the least of which was the director dozing off intermittently. Okay…he was tired from the flight. Beyond that, the fact that the contract was not ready should have been a clear-cut indication to decline the job. Why hadn’t he taken 10 minutes to jot down everything he just offered me verbally? Was he making it up as he went along? Was there any validity to what he was promising?

I recall that during the interview the director said, ‘Our kids are great, just a bit chatty.’  Translation? The kids turned out to be completely in control and they knew it. But, I really should have been suspicious when the interview became a sales pitch, focusing on the beauty of the country and the wonderfully supportive school community. In reality, the school was a hot bed of gossip with powerful parents, an inept principal and a director shaking in his boots.

I broke contract at the end of the first year and was soon thereafter blackballed everywhere by the vindictive director and principal. Hindsight is 20/20 — I should have heeded the warning signs flashing in my head, but I needed the job and took it against my better judgment.”

Have YOU had a similar experience? Or were you astute enough to turn down the job? ISR invites you to contribute to  our Interview Warning Signs Blog and share insights and experiences. Teachers Keeping Each Other Informed is what ISR is All About!

International Teachers Are Not Educational Revolutionaries!

Our ten years teaching overseas have been wonderful and enriching. My wife and I have had the pleasure to met warm, interesting people, visit exciting, exotic locales and enjoy our years in Turkey, Poland and the Bahamas.

While our experiences have been overwhelmingly positive, one negative aspect regularly surfaces that pertains to a mistake foreign-hire teachers frequently make, and often without even realizing they are making it. This mistake can make such a strong impact on host country nationals that your tenure may depend on how you approach this sensitive topic.

As a teacher with extensive experience in Canadian classrooms, I am always motivated to share my knowledge and practices with local-hire teachers in my new host-country school. In many cases these teachers are receptive to my alternative teaching suggestions and methodologies. For the most part, local teachers are thrilled to learn from their foreign colleagues.

The owners or directors of the schools, however, did not always share the same enthusiasm. More than once I heard the concern stated that foreign hires may be overstepping their roles when they begin suggesting changes to local school practices, curriculum, discipline and methodology.

Local educators and owners of local schools are sensitive to foreign criticism of their educational system. Most of these people graduated from the very school system the foreign hire has determined is inadequate and in need of major overhaul. While a foreigner’s observations reflect their pride in the North American system, other countries are equally proud of their local educational systems.

A common topic of discussion among foreign staff was, for example, How the Turkish educational system could/should be improved. Finding considerable consensus among themselves, the foreign staff would lobby to make the local school more “North American”. Their progressive and endless suggestions were often received by those in authority with a polite smile, and then discretely buried, almost immediately.

It’s easy to understand the disregard for our wonderful suggestions. As a one-time Canadian school administrator, I knew that if a few Turkish teachers on my Canadian staff suggested we utilize Turkish discipline techniques and a more rote learning style curriculum, I would be insulted. Just who do they think they are?

Suffice it to say, foreign teachers are hired to teach. They are not hired to restructure or reorganize the local educational community or be critical of local practices and curriculum. Foreign hires are temporary guest teachers who will soon move on to another adventure.

In the meantime, try not to offend your host country by attempting to change it drastically during your two-year contract! An international teacher is a good-will ambassador, not an educational revolutionary!

Can You Afford to Take This Job?

The Answer May be NO

I just returned from Spain and I’m still spinning from sticker shock. Okay, I can live with high prices, but the global decline in the value of the US dollar, along with the resulting poor exchange rate, meant goods and services in Spain were costing me 50% more than the already pricey sticker-price.

The exchange rate last week was $1.50 US to €1.00 Euro. This bumped an €8 burger up to $12 and a €70 hotel room up to $105.00. Get the picture? A coke and burger at McDonalds came to $10.50. Ouch! For a short trip to visit friends I could deal with the expense. The idea of living and teaching in Western Europe, however, didn’t make financial sense. Unless, of course, I was paid in Euros and at a figure I could live with.

Who’s to blame for the sinking US dollar? I’ll avoid that topic but will say schools that capitalize on the situation at their teachers’ expense are without conscience. Such schools require parents to pay tuitions in Euros, (a strong currency) while teachers’ contracts specify a salary based on the weakening US dollar. As the dollar becomes worth less and less against the Euro, these schools are spending fewer Euros to purchase the dollars needed to meet teachers’ salaries. This means bigger profits. Of course, teachers are suffering while school owners get rich. Remember, teachers need to purchase local currency with their dollars and their dollar is buying less of it.

The Euro is not the only currency rising against the dollar. In some parts of the world the dollar buys 50% less of the local currency than it did a year ago. Imagine your salary staying the same but your rent doubling along with food and gas; all because it takes more dollars to buy the local currency. Exchange rates have a profound impact on International Educators and failure to research the economic realities of a particular location can and will have devastating consequences on your financial well-being.

If direction and momentum are reliable indicators, the forecast for the future of the US dollar is poor. In January of ’09 it took $1.28 to purchase €1.00 Euro. By December of ‘09 it took $1.51. This may not seem like a big increase but consider that in January ‘09, $1000 bought €781, by December the same $1000 bought only €662. A more startling way to view the change is to see that the cost to buy €781 rose from $1000 to $1179.68. At one time the dollar was stronger than the Euro, but that’s just a sinking memory, now.

For Americans at home in the United States, the weakening of the dollar is having a very positive effect. As the dollar becomes worth less it makes our goods cheaper overseas. Cheaper goods mean stronger exports and stronger exports equal more jobs. Does the US government want to see the devaluating trend reversed? Probably not! So keep your eyes open, do the research and make sure you can afford to accept a job offer that comes your way.


Do International Teachers Need a Termination Protection Clause in Their Contracts?

Teachers at International School Anaco Venezuela, International School of Port of Spain Trinidad, and other schools around the world, have reported their contracts were terminated during the last weeks of school due to “budgetary cut backs”. Termination came without warning and left these teachers, some of which are teaching families,  jobless for the upcoming school year. Continue reading