Dear Dr. Spilchuk,
Can you tell us all where this teacher is? Then veterans of that school can respond and let her know whether to bug out or do the right thing. In TACC in Egypt, the teachers learned fast to cut loose and tell everyone after you had gotten back home. (We actually stuck it out for our contract.) Maybe as a teacher that teaches a subject that is difficult to fill, I don’t have to worry as much as others, but I would still recommend blackballing over suffering, and nowadays teachers can get hired without going through any agency.
Thanks very much Barb,
I cannot tell you where she is, but I can say that she and her husband have already approached veterans for their advice. Unfortunately, advice is not the same as support and when controversy happens in an international School, many teachers go behind closed doors for fear of being implicated in any punishments, blackballing.or bullying behaviors that the teacher may receive for questioning the status quo.
Good for you, Wilson! I would agree with you that blackballing is preferable to continued suffering! And I also agree that Search Associates are not the only method to being hired. LiveTeacherRecruiting.com, Dave’s ESL Café and Tie-online are three ways to get around the blackballing issue.
Thanks for your response. Support across the world from International teachers to international teachers in distress goes a long way to make the community seem smaller!
In your column you mention: “This young fellow was so devastated by the retaliation of the director that he simply collected his paycheck for the month he had completed and flew home one Monday morning, telling no one of his plans.” I hope that someone mentions to the “young man” who walked out of his job, to consider the effect it had on his students. I realize some work situations are hard, but we had a teacher in a similar situation flee in the night (literally) from our school, to ‘get back’ at the director for the penalty exacted on him for breaking his contract. The story you tell sounds like it could even be his side of the story. The only people who really suffered in this case were the kids. He thought he was really sticking it to the director (who held him accountable to the contract he had signed- yes, it was harsh but he signed it!), but really, she wasn’t affected. His classes, left without any grades, teacher, or direction, with 6 weeks until finals got the worst of it, and it was not their fault at all. Nice thing to do to seniors right before they graduate, isn’t it? Our “nice young man” threw out the essays he was supposed to be grading, and trashed his grade book before he left too.
Perhaps you can help with your advice columns, and remind international teachers of the whole reason for teaching in this picture: the students whom you are educating. I can’t imagine people who go into teaching being so selfish in the end. Really, would it kill them to stay to the end of the year? If the answer is a legitimate yes, then, by all means leave. But leaving suddenly doesn’t hurt the senior administration as much as the students and possibly other colleagues who have to scramble and cover, often with no extra compensation, because they do feel morally and ethically committed to making sure the students aren’t damaged as a result of a teacher abandoning an overseas post.
Just a thought.
I absolutely agree with you. There are many things to consider when an international teacher decides to leave a post. The example given in my response was generated by a member of the ISR editing team. I don’t know the particulars, but certainly the children must be considered.
Thank you for your caring input,
Dear Dr. Spilchuck,
I disagree with Liz. Imminent death is not the only reason to break a contract. It is possible, in trying to fulfill a contract in a difficult situation, to completely burn-out and leave teaching completely. What is worse, for 20 students to suffer for 6 weeks, or for the teaching profession to lose an individual forever, when just a little step away might have let them recharge and gain perspective?
Now, in no way do I support the vindictive and destructive acts Liz described, but it is very easy to say that the students come first, and that those who aren’t willing to put them first shouldn’t be in teaching. But I can tell you from personal experience that a sacrifice for the students doesn’t always work.
I was teaching in the states, and I was desperately unhappy. I knew that no matter what I was never going to work for that principal again. I also knew that the last time the school lost a music teacher it took 10 months to find a replacement. I felt I owed it to my students to give the school as much time as possible to replace me, so in March I chose not to renew my contract, even though I did not yet have another position.
Unfortunately, I didn’t remember that March is also budget time. Instead of giving the school plenty of time to find a replacement, I gave them the opportunity to eliminate my position, which they did. My “sacrifice”, my attempt to act ethically and honorably, caused more harm to those students than my breaking my contract ever would have.
This behavior is not limited to stateside schools. In our current school, an IT teacher left. My husband offered to step in temporarily and do the job in addition to his own. So the school figured if he could do that for three weeks, he could do it for two years, and cut the position.
So I am sorry, but I don’t believe in the “sacrifice anything for the students” mentality. There just isn’t the support for the attitude, and too many people take advantage of it. Take care of yourself and your sanity first.
Liz (Please not that this is a second person with the name of Liz)
I have to say that also I agree with you. Healthy teachers will, in turn, breed healthy attitudes in students. If a teacher is desperately unhappy in a situation, that is not good for kids. I also agree that sometimes kids are burned in the process of administration looking for ways to cut back overhead. Schools should be first and foremost about kids, but this does not always happen.
Thank you for your input. Best wishes for a happy future in your career and for a safe and peaceful holiday season.