Discussion Topics

Exiting an international school and giving feedback: How honest should you be?

December 23, 2011

Sometimes things are difficult or slow to change at an international school, especially political things or things connected to the host country/culture.  If a group of teachers is leaving at the end of the same year, sometimes the group would like to take the opportunity to “voice their concerns” to the schools to let them know which school-related things should really change before a new group of teachers comes in and is subjected to those things as well.  Sometimes the feedback is requested, sometimes not.  Also, sometimes your voice has fallen upon deaf ears or is directed to the wrong person when the person with “the power to change things” is not physically at the school on most days.

Excerpts taken from The International School Teacher website:

“Some questions for the IST community about exiting a school and feedback.

Many schools conduct exit interviews for departing staff, and I understand that some could be more productive than others.  What are your experiences with this?

At my school, feedback is not universally accepted, and many staff are nervous about offering constructive feedback for fear of reprisals.  With that said, many board members and administration would like to hear constructive feedback.  Here is what I’m considering: inviting departing staff members to compose an open letter to the board and the administration with specific feedback as to the positive attributes of the school, and those that could be improved.  Feedback to any specific individual would not be part of this letter, that seems inappropriate, that kind of feedback should be asked for specifically from an individual who wants to receive it.  Rather, this letter would focus on policies, programs, etc.

I suppose the idea behind the letter is that it would demonstrate a more unified voice, and would therefore be harder to cast aside at an administrative level.

Is this appropriate?  Am I missing something?

As international teachers, we have a pretty unique situation in the employee-employer world; in most other places, the only time you would have a mass exodus of employees would be when they are being “pink slipped.”  But, as International Teachers, this attrition is normal and natural—speaking as one voice would seem to be an opportunity unique to us.


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