As educators, we often choose to see the good in people and give them the benefit of the doubt. This is admirable but not always practical. Unfortunately, not all International Schools are honest and as a result they may not honour what they promise in an interview, or even in a contract. Here are 5 things you can do to help safeguard yourself against falling in with the ‘wrong crowd’ in International Teaching.
1. Sign-up to International Schools Review (ISR)
This invaluable website offers a platform for international educators to write reviews on Schools and Principals. As this is an open and anonymous platform, teachers often provide stern warnings against as well as warm encouragements towards joining certain schools. The site asks a reasonable fee of $29 (USD) per year for all-access membership. This is a small price to pay to avoid a potential disaster!
2. Asking for email addresses of existing staff
A simple step but possibly the easiest way for you to avoid joining an undesirable school. By emailing a teacher already working at the school, you can ask the frank questions you may otherwise be too shy to broach in an interview, such as questions about workload, the general atmosphere of the school and the management team, etc. Hearing the insights and honesty of teachers currently working in the school environment will surely tell you all you need to know about your prospective employer.
3. Speak to a Recruitment Agency candidly about the schools they represent
While this may seem like asking a salesman whether his product is good or not, sometimes recruiters will be honest and tell you what they know about particular schools. It is definitely worth a shot.
4. Read your contract carefully & ask for clarification
During the interview process schools will often promise you the world but when it comes to your actual contract, do not be surprised if not all those promises appear in writing! You should read the contract several times and analyse it very carefully. If promises made are not in the written contract, you need to question the school about it. In addition, always ask for clarification on any aspects of the contract that are confusing or unclear.
5. Enlist the help of a third party
Contracts should always be read thoroughly before signing but sometimes it is wise to enlist a third-party’s help. He or she can help talk you through some of the more vague clauses and highlight some of the risks these may pose, depending of course on the intent of the employer. Be informed rather than sorry.