Article – Teacher Shortage Solutions2018-03-27T11:19:29+00:00

Teachers Share Their Solutions

to International Teaching Candidate Shortage

As a follow up to our last two articles, ISR invited readers to submit ideas on how to remedy the International Teaching Candidate shortage. We have posted these solutions below and wish to thank the many teachers who took the time to send their ideas.

On the 28th of May, we invited Search Associates, TIE, ISS, AISH, COIS, and more, to review comments found in this article, and our two previous articles. We also invited these organizations to comment on the situation and to share any solutions they may have in the workst. You’ll find a link to the email we sent at the close of this article.

Teachers’ Solutions

There are several ways to increase the number of teachers applying to teach overseas.

1) Get the word out. When I tell my fellow teachers about my working overseas they get excited. Several have asked me for information about various recruitment fairs. I actually went to one with a friend who was interested in what I was doing, and she took a job in China.

2) The benefits packages are not what they once were at many schools. Pay has stayed steady when inflation and cost of living have gone up. This year I used most of my relocation money on a plane ticket (sky high airfares out of my home terminal) and have little left to ship my personal belongings and will have to just bite the bullet on that one and pay out of pocket. It is important for schools to keep up with the times when it comes to contracts or those schools will have difficulty getting and retaining staff.

3) Our Media portrays some countries as more dangerous than they are. Many people are afraid to travel right now. I interviewed with a school in a country many feel is not safe. I asked about the safety and was not given any concrete information. It would help recruiters to offer statistics and demonstrate what they are doing to keep their staff safe.

4) Many schools are attempting to cater to the needs of parents and students with out adjusting to the current concerns and needs of staff. The Board of Directors of many schools need to pay closer attention to the needs of their staff, or they won’t have much to choose from.


I suspect that if administrators were evaluated by their teaching staff, and this had an impact on administrator salary and school funding/standing, things would change in a hurry. Continued operation of sites like ISR at least gets the word out there, and if “schools of ill repute” do not want to change then they can simply grumble and groan at the high proportion of inexperienced and young faculty they recruit relative to the better schools who have “figured it out”. As an earlier post said–they understand their part of the “game”, for many of us it is not a game, but you need to play by the rules if you are going to survive–so until something changes and business becomes more fair and equitable–inform yourself and always have a “plan b ” if you want to live and teach overseas.


There needs to be a system of accountability in place where genuine complaints and concerns can be dealt with by an objective individual. While schools should have committees to deal with in-house issues, the parameters should be specific. There are concerns/complaints that fall outside of those parameters. I suggest some of the recruiting and accrediting organizations have an ombudsperson to deal with those issues relevant to their organizations.

One of the most significant problems I see is that school administration/leadership/management is not held accountable. They should be accountable to the stakeholders in the organization but this simply is not realistic in many cases. I do not believe that the international system should mirror the accountability in place in Australia, Canada, the US or the UK, but something should be in place. Recruiting agencies are supposed to screen applicants, including administrators and directors, and should therefore bear some of the responsibility for addressing problems; CIS, NEASC, WASC and Middle States as well as others accredit the schools and should also bear some responsibility when relevant issues emerge. If the sole source of information is the head of the school but it is that individual who is the problem, how can teachers move forward positively if at all? For example, if a director has the power to manipulate contracts or working conditions, to suggest that the host country has jurisdiction is misleading and in some cases dangerous. It seems as though in many cases one person has the power to morale and school culture as well as the management and direction of the school. Should the school community be forced to accept this without recourse? I cannot imagine that any effective organization functions like this regardless of its location.


International schools do themselves a vast disservice when they enforce unrealistic retirement ages, as many in the middle east and Asia seem to do. As one correspondent mentioned there is a large group of retirees out there who are seasoned, professional,and willing and ready for an international experience. Since we are already drawing pensions from our retirement plans back home we are even willing to work for less, simply to have the opportunity to live and travel overseas. Year after year I see rookie teachers hired, and they always seem to put in their two years, and then go back home. The older teachers are much more willing to stay on, but are often forced to leave due to an unrealistic “retirement age” policy. Certainly it might mean more expense in insurance coverage for the schools, but the tradeoff would be worth it. Very few of the older teachers I work with are “burned out”. Most would love to continue working. 


There are schools that are businesses, not schools. There are teachers who are there for travel, not teaching. Administrators are making whopping huge salaries with benefits only dreamed of in the US without accountability, and we wonder why there is a shortage of overseas teachers.

Please someone start a recruiting fair that is fair. Keep the wacko schools and teachers without licenses away. Publish the real data on the schools, not funky teacher/student ratios that somehow reduce class size to a fictional number that is enticing. Publish real salary and benefit information. (What is a competitive salary?)Arrange interviews that allow for discussion. Make it professional, not grueling.

Don’t make me get letters of reference from former administrators, most of whom have passed away or were criminally inept, or jump through dozens of hoops that have nothing to do with teaching students. Working teachers don’t have time to fill out endless paperwork. Where’s the real recruiting fair? That’s where the teachers will be.


Schools need an accreditation system teachers can trust. Schools claim to have any number of accreditations but these do not assure teachers of any trusted form of expected working conditions. 


My husband and I were at the NY job fair also. It turned out to be a VERY expensive venture. Before we got there we new what jobs were available and had read all the available reviews for the schools involved.

The job fair turned out to be a total waste of time, money and energy for us because the job opportunities that suited us came from the schools that had questionable records. We declined 2 positions because of what we had read about the admin and then were confirmed in the interview.

We did notice that the rookie teachers were being snapped up. The more experienced international teachers seemed to be very depressed about the quality of the schools and the administrators. I guess I would have to agree that there are plenty of teachers out there – but who willingly wants to be treated badly.ISR does a great job of providing information to the International teacher and as a result a lot are looking twice instead of jumping on the plane. Maybe the administrators will eventually figure this out and then act to do a better job! I also wonder if some schools are staying out of the job fairs because they realize they are now dealing with applicants who may know a fair bit about their school already.

As for my husband and I, our ISS file is inactive for a year. I can’t see us ever doing this again unless a LOT changes.

Index to Articles in Series
ISR Writes Major Recruiters