A Hard-Learned Lesson

Nearing the end of 3 satisfying years at my current school I eagerly & naively signed on for a fourth. Not surprisingly, it came as a shock when a couple of months later our beloved Director announced he would not be returning.

My future had been cast into limbo. I would have to live with whoever showed up to take our Director’s place. The Board assured us they had made an excellent choice. I could only hope for the best.

As the new school year got underway the “excellent choice” quickly revealed himself to be everything I loathed in a leader. I classify him as an arrogant, insecure, under-qualified, know-it-all who views those ideas contrary to his own as personal assaults, especially if those ideas are coming from a woman. This character turned out to be 180 degrees opposite of our previous Director, for whom we all had the utmost respect.

From the git-go Mr. Excellent Choice went around singling out returning teachers. He gave us extra lunch & after-school duties & nixed most all our supply orders. He scrutinized & called us out on every insignificant thing. He even sent “coaches” in to observe our classes. These “coaches” came from his group of 10 hand-picked sycophants he had recruited on his own. It was clear he was working towards getting rid of those of us who had been here for years.

I like change, don’t get me wrong. But change for the better. Change instituted with no rhyme nor reason is nothing more than a frustrating exercise in stupidity. From day one Mr. Excellent Choice began altering each & every procedure without first observing what was already in place. School life became stressful. It was in a continuous state of flux for no apparent reason, except, of course, to stroke this little man’s ego.

One afternoon I chanced to enter the office of Mr. Excellent Choice. The new dismissal procedure for middle school was causing considerable confusion & I had an idea how we could remedy this. He told me “don’t bother.” His plan was not the problem but rather my inability to institute it. As such, he would be entering that specific “failure” into my employment file. No discussion, no clarification, no nothing. Just an ignorant, insecure bastard who held all the cards.

If the Board had had the decency to announce our former A+ Director was leaving, & if they had had the moral/ethical fiber to have done so prior to asking us to sign on for another year, I would not be here! Feels like they actually planned it this way. I feel completely screwed as do other staff who signed on for another year. And let’s not forget those teachers in the second year of their contract!

All in all, this experience has been a hard-learned lesson. The takeaway for me is that when things are good, even great, don’t take it for granted that they will continue as such. International Schools are in a constant state of personnel turnover. Here today, gone tomorrow. School Boards & owners often see teachers as mere pawns in the game, & are more than willing to sacrifice our well-being for the good of the kingdom, so to speak.

The lesson learned? Look out for Number One & always protect yourself in the International School game. We’re talking about your career here, your future. Take nothing for granted! Ask questions! Rock the boat if you have to. Just be sure you get all the information you need to make an informed decision.

(Name withheld)

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