Dear Dr. S.,
I’m a member of ISR and would like to comment on one of your responses. Your comments on the three Asian locations the teacher is considering for his next ‘trouble-free’ assignment do seem to reflect what I have read and heard about them. However, wouldn’t it be a good idea to add a few points like the following: you can be in the best school in the world with the greatest kids, curriculum, colleagues, country, salary and benefits but if the director is corrupt or just one of those spiteful ones that blackballs you, it can quickly turn into the worst school in the world for you. It can be a perfect position but if the kids are largely spoiled brats basically running the school that too can make you want to run as soon as you can.
What is the main point here? Do, as you indicate, your research, but never think that just because the reports are good or nonexistent that the school will work out for you. You do just have to get lucky, too. I have discovered this personally in The Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, the Middle East and in the US. The main reason the jobs at those locations sounded so good and turned out to be so bad was due to very poor directors that simply lied to you.
I have been happy at two schools (Holland and Portugal) but had to leave when nasty directors took over and either fired people they had not hired or made what made me happy at the school disappear. I think these matters are important to include in any advice given about how to pick the right school. Remember, we international teachers have just about no rights in these schools and we really need the best, well-balanced advice available.
Thanks so much for your very candid response. My focus in my April column was simply to put some of the measurables into perspective as briefly as I could for the readers of ISR and the letter writer. You are absolutely right, however, when you suggest that everything is relative in terms of the people factor. No matter how much research an international teacher does in advance of taking an assignment, the personality/relationship factors can take down the best of teacher in the best of location. The one unknown in every situation is the human factor…and there is no way to absolutely predict how this or that teacher will respond in this or that situation to this or that director.
Thank you so much for putting the issue of relationships in perspective!