International School Community is full of thousands of useful, informative comments,43153 comments (20 Feb. 2022) to be exact.
Members are recommended to keep their comments objective on our website, and sometimes they need to share how it really is working at their international school.
Back in 2015, we put out the top 12 most controversial comments in this article. However, we scoured our database of comments now in 2022, and we found 12 new comments that stood out to us as being some of the most concerning.
12. Housing Issues
“Document everything in your assigned apartment. Housing seems to be a major issue and both the director and the principals seem to think it’s adequate (which of course, as their housing is way higher quality than teacher housing). When things break or don’t work, it usually takes a long time to have them repaired. Patience is key here…” – International Community School of Abidjan – 82 Total Comments
11. Concerns About Getting Your Full Benefits
“Faculty are wondering if the ‘flights home’ portion of our contracts will be honoured, and that only USD 1,000 will be given as of this date. Financial issues have continued…” – American International School Vietnam (AISVN) – 264 Total Comments
10. Child Protection Firings
“There have been 3 child protection firings in the last 5 years, yet no new trainings or reporting procedures for teachers (just new documents created). There was a massive firing done over COVID when teachers couldn’t get back to school. Most of us believe the compassionate thing to do would have been to keep people on as long as they were supporting students or curriculum. The majority of administrators are leaving this year. Not a controversy, but it’s unusual. The candidates recruited for the Head of School position included 2 white men and one BIPOC man who currently only had experience as a principal. It was a huge controversy that 1 of the white men had overseen a child-protection scandal at his last school and that he was being presented as a top 3 option to us by the board. Luckily, they selected the white male who had head of school experience and no child protection scandal, but it has been a lingering issue for the staff…” – Shanghai American School (Pudong) – 197 Total Comments
9. People Resigning Because of Covid Restrictions
“Covid related issues – teachers resigning as they wanted to be able to see families outside of China. Not too much the school could have done…” – Utahloy International School Guangzhou – 70 Total Comments
8. Not Getting Accredited
“The school hopes to become CIS accredited this academic year. The previous attempt at CIS accreditation was unsuccessful due to issues with the management structure of the school and the frequent changes in Head Master…” – The English School (Bogota) – 67 Total Comments
7. Problems with Changing the Contract After Signing
“The teaching contract is a bit of a touchy subject-be sure to KNOW and see which contract is passed from HR to Foreign expert bureau when you are taken to complete your visa-mention any anomalies that you may notice. Some people had issues with the terms that had changed on the contract itself AFTER signing-but really, it was nothing of consequence unless you are a ship jumper…” – Guangzhou Huamei International School – 65 Total Comments
6. No Raises on Teacher Salaries
“No raise last year and I believe no raise this year as well…. Makes you wonder if the school is having some issues…” – Seoul Foreign School – 220 Total Comments
5. School Climate Survey
“A recent school climate survey was administered to the staff. It was supposed to be useful and anonymous. One issue that arose immediately, was that in order to complete the survey, staff had to log into Microsoft Forms, which automatically attached name and email address to every response. Second, the majority of the questions, written by a staff member, were too broad to provide any useable data from which to develop a plan of action to address them. Even with the lack of confidentiality, a number of staff added specific and direct comments about the state of affairs, and one shocking statistic was that approximately 40% of the staff had considered leaving at some point in the year. In the final weeks of school, Board members met with staff who were leaving this year, in part, to determine their reasons for leaving. It would seem that this would be a pointless effort at that point because nothing had been done during the year to address staff morale issues…” – Oeiras International School – 214 Total Comments
4. Tech Issues
“Sadly, technology is a bit of a joke. From one day to the next, and depending on where your classroom is located, you might have great wi-fi … or none at all. If you had been part of the last day of school this year, you’d know the issues we face. It was a joke; videos wouldn’t play or they were super laggy, people couldn’t hear on Zoom, etc. It felt like all of the crying, heartfelt “Goodbye!” moments were nothing but faces and voices on your Zoom screen, trying to get anything to work…” – Concordia International School Hanoi – 32 Total Comments
3. New Teacher Orientation Concerns
“The induction program for new teachers remains a challenge area for the school. The administration is aware of the issue, however, it seems to be cultural ingrained…” – Santiago College – 74 Total Comments
2. Unqualified Teachers & LGBT Teachers Getting Fired
“The majority of teachers at this school are Georgian and do not have a background in education (no formal schooling in education and no teacher qualifications). This school is absolutely not LGBT-friendly for staff or students. Teachers are explicitly told not to discuss LGBT issues in the classroom and staff are reminded regularly that the school will not support such discussions and that staff have been fired for being members of the LGBT community.” – European School Tbilisi – 54 Total Comments
1. Toxic Positivity
“My first impression of the school was that it was warm, welcoming, and compassionate. I thought I would truly matter as an employee – I was eager to find a school with a family-like atmosphere that I could make home. The family-like atmosphere is a total illusion. Employees are expendable. HR put out a health survey to prepare for Covid-19. Anyone (local staff and teaching assistants) seen as expendable that marked that they were at a higher risk of Covid on that survey was fired at the end of the school year. The motto for the year was “We Are One.” The irony was not lost on the foreign staff with this. Generally, the moment you have a differing opinion, an issue, or a criticism, you are treated like garbage. This school is the epitome of the term “toxic positivity…” – School of the Nations (Brasilia) – 41 Total Comments
If you have a concerning story at your international school that you would like to share, log in to International School Community and submit your comments. For every 10 submitted comments, you will get one month of free premium membership added to your account!continue reading
Nobody wants to be worked to the bone. And then not have any time to enjoy life outside of work.
Many of us left our home countries to escape being worked too much at our home country schools.
Teachers want to do their best and have time, inspiration and encouragement to do just that.
Just like the schools located in your home country, there is also a wide range of work-life balance situations at international schools.
Sometimes the work-life balance is affected by the norms of the host country’s laws and culture. Other times it is more influenced by the school itself and its admin.
But luckily, there are some international schools out there striving to have the best possible work-life balance for their teachers. As they say, teachers are more able to keep their focus and do their best if they are not so stressed at work.
So which international schools then have some good work-life balance conditions? Can you guess which countries/schools around the world would make for the best conditions for a good work-life balance?
Luckily, ISC was designed to help international school teachers find the information they are looking for. Using the Comment Search feature (premium membership needed), we found 30 comments that had the keyword “Life balance” in them. Here are 11 of them:
“There is a good work-life balance at the school. Teachers are required to lead an after school activity (1 hour/8 weeks) each semester…” – Khartoum American School (44 total comments)
“Expectations are high and teachers work hard. There is very reasonable non-contact time and staff gets paid if they do extracurricular activities. The workload is not excessive and there is a good work/life balance…” – Lanna International School (LIST) (18 total comments)
“The expectation of quality is very high, but this is reflected in giving ample prep-time. One can also request a “retreat” morning/afternoon/day if you would like to spend some extra time planning with a team. I find this to be one of the best places for work/life balance, without sacrificing quality…” – International School Hannover Region (38 total comments)
“Reasons to stay:
– Amman is pretty easy to live in – most things are available in stores
– The staff is a lot of fun and friendly and enjoyable to work and play with
– Jordan has a lot of amazing things to see and do, especially if you enjoy an outdoor life
– The school program is strong but the expectations on staff are realistic
– The school values a healthy work-life balance, there is not a workaholic mentality here…” – American Community School (Amman) (55 total comments)
“It is a great place to work at and the work-life balance is good too…” – Norlights International School Oslo (122 total comments)
“In general people stay because they feel supported, welcome and have a good quality of work/life balance…” – The English Modern School (Doha) (99 total comments)
“There are pros and cons but I think it depends on what you value. If you want a good work-life balance you can find that here. You don’t need to bring work home with you once you are established. The school also has great kids and the lack of structure means you have a lot of creative freedom…” – The Canadian International School Vietnam (147 total comments)
“KAS is the best international school in Kaohsiung as far as school resources, work/life balance, collegiality among staff, pay, vacation time, and students who work hard. As of yet, it is not the best in Taiwan (those would probably be TAS or TES in Taipei), but it’s working towards it…” – Kaohsiung American School (43 total comments)
“There is a good work-life balance at the school. Teachers are required to lead an after school activity 2 out of 3 trimesters…” – International Community School of Abidjan (68 total comments)
“There are many couples at our school, mainly young couples that are actively having children. There are so many staff having children each year! It is a great place to have children because of the long maternity and paternity leave, etc. What I’m trying to say is that if you are a couple and want to work at our school, it is a great match because couples really enjoy their work/life balance here…” – Copenhagen International School (391 total comments)
“There is a lot of work, but everyone can maintain their work-life balance. The school is supportive of on-campus wellness activities before and after school…” – International School Manila (110 total comments)continue reading