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?


Philippines School Information Exchange

November 21, 2013

typhoon12116309Many International Educators are searching for information on the status of colleagues who were teaching in the Philippines when typhoon Yolanda hit. Additionally, teachers who have been recruited to teach in the Philippines in the upcoming school year have questions about the future of their  schools.

Focusing on the possible loss of a job is certainly trivial when compared to the magnitude of the catastrophic events that took place in the Philippines. ISR in no manner means to diminish in any way the tragedy that took place, however, for teachers whose livelihood is their job, this is a topic that merits attention.

To ask questions and share information with colleagues on all topics related to the Philippines Typhoon incident,  please scroll down to post.

Click here to visit web site of
International School Manilla, Philippines,
and contribute to their relief efforts

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Does Teaching Overseas Help or Hurt Your Career?

September 5, 2013

career42987091With the current academic year underway, many international schools will soon be asking teachers to declare if they intend to stay for the upcoming 2014-15 school year, or plan to move on.

Moving on can mean staying in the international circuit and advancing to a new school, or returning home to teach. From my perspective of having experienced both, I would say continuing to move within the international circuit is far less taxing than formulating plans to return home. The biggest hurdle I experienced moving home was securing employment in a public school after a decade overseas.

A colleague from the UK once told me that working overseas was a distinct plus for them when they returned home. They said employers there liked to see the overseas experience on an applicant’s CV. I did not found this to be the case in the U.S. As a matter of fact, I think to American employers, overseas experience makes you look a bit “flaky” or could this just be American provincialism? When I hear the words, “I’d love to hear about your experiences in Africa, Saudi Arabia, Romania, etc.”, I know I can say good bye to that job.

If you’ve experienced moving home after years of teaching overseas, ISR invites you to Share how the overseas teaching experience impacted your domestic career: Was it positive or negative, or of no consequence in the eyes of a potential employer back home?

If you’re contemplating leaving the international circuit and returning home for the first time, we encourage you to visit this Blog and pose your own questions as they may apply to your individual situation. Learning from colleagues who have already made the move will be most beneficial.

Teachers Keeping Teachers Informed is what ISR is All About

Scroll down to post your comments


School Daze in China

August 29, 2013

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!


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! 


Are International School Directors Above the Law?

March 7, 2013

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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Are Internat’l Recruiting Fairs the Place to Get a Job?

February 21, 2013

survey_red37427809

Note: This Article & Survey published on February 21, 2013


We  asked all of you who attended a Recruiting Fair this season to take our short Poll & respond about YOUR recruiting experiences.

We’re thrilled to say over 50% of International teachers report: . YES! I got a job!

This school finally decided to have a look at me after they considered my vast international experience & what I’d save them in airfares.

I had 8 interviews, 6 offers & accepted a great offer from an A-List school. Now that I have gone through one fair, I am much more confident about the process.

Equally exciting is the result from nearly one-fifth of those polled:

NO! I didn’t attend a Recruiting Fair. I got a job ON MY OWN! How exciting! Are we sensing a trend for recruiting teachers who wish to avoid the time, money, frustration, weather difficulties & overall complications of flying thousands of miles around the world to a Recruiting Fair where hundreds of colleagues are vying for the same small pool of jobs?

I did some research & applied directly at a small school where I am enjoying myself immensely–staying for another year!

The two International jobs I have had since 2010 I received via SKYPE interviews. My resolve was to NEVER again attend a Fair.

Others report they are disillusioned with traditional Recruiting Fairs:

I spent over $5000 of my own money & neither fair gave me a good job offer. Seriously, would you wager $5000 with no guarantee of return of investment? I am kicking myself, asking why I did!

These fairs are nothing more than a chance for Search, ISS & others to make a lot of money at our expense & for the chance for school administrators to network & enjoy the perks of traveling. Let’s reduce our carbon footprint & at the same time send Search & school administrators a message.

The Recruiting Fairs are ongoing for a few more months. Be sure to add YOUR Vote to the Poll & share observations /comments with your colleagues. What do YOU have to add about your Recruiting Fair experience?

survey-2013
This survey is closed

Click here for our 2015 Recruiting Fair Survey



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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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


Everything You Want to Know About Recruiting….. but didn’t know who to ask

September 13, 2012

Recruiting season is nearly upon us! We know you’re eager to get the jump on the knowledge that will bring you success in finding the best possible opportunity for your recruiting energies.

You surely have QUESTIONS: Which recruiting fairs have the most job listings to offer? Are there countries that have age restrictions that might limit your search? How early do the fairs begin in your part of the world? How late do they run? Is there a more family-friendly part of the world? Where should you NOT go if you’re a single teacher? What should, and should not, be included on your resume–coaching skills,  IB experience, your non-teaching spouse coming with you? Is it wise to contact a school prior to a recruiting fair? Is it just a dream that you may be hired early without attending a fair, and how secure, exactly, ARE those promised jobs?

ISR is the place to ask your recruiting questions. Many of your colleagues who frequent ISR are Recruiting Fair experts! So, whether you’re a newbie international teacher or a seasoned veteran with twenty years of international teaching under your belt, be sure to check into the Everything You Want to Know About Recruiting Blog and share in the wealth of  Recruiting information!


Telling Your School Goodbye

September 6, 2012

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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Just4Parents

July 19, 2012

For those of us who are international educators with children, picking a school can be less about our career needs & much more about the package that best meets our children’s educational, emotional & social needs while in lands far from home & family support.

As parents, we want to know which schools are academically solid? What art/music/drama/extra-curricular/counseling programs are considered outstanding? What team sports can my children play? Which schools offer a top-notch education? Is the school population diverse–will my child make friends & be accepted? These are pertinent questions for international parents of students. The big question is, where do you find the answers?

Our newest ISR Blog, Just4Parents, was created specifically with YOUR need-to-know in mind. If you’re looking for a place with open discussions on specific schools, or a focus on more broad-reaching concerns to international parents of students, ISR encourages you to take advantage of the Just4Parents Blog. As expat parents we want to pave the way for our children with wise decisions. After all, our children are our most precious resource!


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.


International Teacher Initiation

February 16, 2012

“I suppose I’ve now been initiated into the world of international teaching. I have been completely blindsided and deceived by my admin who informed me I will not be getting another contract. This, despite two glowing performance appraisals over the past two years at this school.

In the end, although I was praised for having a high level of competence and skill in the job, they pointed out a fuzzily-defined personality trait of mine as being the reason for non-renewal.

My question is this: What do I say to prospective employers when asked my reasons for “resigning” (as I was given the option to do) after the initial two-year contract

Also, should I make a case to my recruiting agency over this? Any help would be much appreciated!”


Guilt Trips From Home – Taking the Grand Kids Overseas

September 15, 2011

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…


How the Principal Affects YOUR International Experience

September 1, 2011

One of the most common comments ISR hears from teachers in International Schools is how Karma is hopefully going to rain down (hard!) upon their administrators. We all agree some  truly awful administrators are out there who treat students, parents, and teachers with complete disregard. But, do Principals of International Schools also deserve some of the blame? Read the rest of this entry »