You say yes, I say no
You say stop and I say go, go, go, oh no
You say goodbye and I say hello
Have lyrics ever been so perfect for job seeking? In the last week, I turned down an opportunity from an interested school administrator. And then, I was keeping my fingers and toes crossed for another posted opportunity, and today they said goodbye. Back and forth, like a yoyo and this rollercoaster has just started chugging down the tracks. Prepare your hearts, my friends, for battle. The scar tissue is beginning to thicken. People sometimes ask me, “Anita, where do you want to go?” Are you kidding? Once you choose this path, there is just no telling where you will end up. You have to embrace this great unknown as a blessing and cast it off to the universe to decide.
The world is a big place and there are many schools in it! These schools are filled with people: administrators, teachers, support staff, students and their families. What are they like? What is the facility like? What is the principal’s reputation like? It’s nerve-wracking when you try to imagine. How do you know what it’s like if you’ve never been there and don’t know anyone who ever has?
Obviously, the first place you go to find out information is the school website. Most reputable schools have beautiful sites with tons of information and photographs for you to look through. These colorful, well designed sites make schools look fantastic with pictures of happy students, computer labs, fun and activities, but what do the teachers really think?
On the International Schools Review (ISR) website you will quickly see their tagline, “International Educators Keeping Each Other Informed”. This website hosts an online community of educators and administrators that provide personal, anonymous opinions about many schools in the world.
The ISR website has much to offer that is free, but they also offer a $29/annual membership which allows further inquiry into the approximately 160 schools that have been reviewed. The website is free to browse until you want to post comments or look up specific school reviews. The fee is well worth it when you are researching various schools around the world.
On the home page of the ISR website is a tab called, “Forums”. These open forums are offered by ISR and they have great information. Simply by reading what others have posted you can learn a lot. When you click the Forums tab you will see two open forums. One is free; one is not. When you click the free, non-member forum, and after reading and agreeing to the Terms of Conduct and Posting Rules, you will see two FREE forums that you may read:
- Questions About International Schools Services (ISS) and Search Associates (SA) to Anything and Everything About International Teaching
- Ask Recruiting Questions, Share Information. What’s on Your Mind?
Both of these FREE forums have valuable information. In 2012-13, when I was searching for my first international teaching job, I read almost every entry, in both forums, from 2010-2013! This took months to do! I am currently reading all entries from 2015 and 2016.
The advantage of paying the $29 membership fee is that you are allowed to look up specific schools and read reviews. Approximately 160 schools are listed. Furthermore, you can also look up Director and Principal Reports. Even if you cannot find reviews on the specific school you are looking for, you can read and educate yourself about the city and the country that a potential school is in. Not only do people comment about a specific schools and administrators, they comment on how currency works, VISAs, taxes, cost of living expenses, recruiting job fairs and everything you can imagine!
One very important thing to consider is that many reviewers have been angry about something or someone at their school when they’ve written. There are often many more negative reviews than positive. Although this is important to take note of, it is also important to understand that when things are going well, people usually don’t write. People, in general, like to complain.
Another important tab on the ISR website is the Articles/Info tab. This will lead you to the International Teachers’ Bill of Rights. This is good to review before signing any contracts.
What are you curious about? Who else has used the ISR website?
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