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Is it worth he $29 joining fee?

Discussion in 'Teaching overseas' started by v12, Apr 19, 2012.

  1. v12

    v12

    Hello.
    I keep getting badgered by the International Schools Review who would really like me to join.
    In fact, they recommend that I join! (Bit like a Readers' Digest offer, I suppose).
    Am I likely to benefit from lashing out $29 to read a review of a school I've already accepted a job at? Are there any useful areas in the review which might turn out to be valuable? Perhaps local customs or street maps or other bits and bobs?
    Any advice (or the loan of a password) gratefully received.

     
  2. v12

    v12

    Hello.
    I keep getting badgered by the International Schools Review who would really like me to join.
    In fact, they recommend that I join! (Bit like a Readers' Digest offer, I suppose).
    Am I likely to benefit from lashing out $29 to read a review of a school I've already accepted a job at? Are there any useful areas in the review which might turn out to be valuable? Perhaps local customs or street maps or other bits and bobs?
    Any advice (or the loan of a password) gratefully received.

     
  3. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    I was a member for a year, and after a brief period of looking at schools that I would never apply to ( it became a mission to find the worst reviewed school ) I lost interest and didn't look at the site for nearly 9 months or so. I never bothered to renew.
    There are not really that many schools on it, and it is not offering much to experienced teachers.
    There are other voices that do believe in it though.
     
  4. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    Yes, Karvol is surely right when he (or is it she?) says that there are many absolutely horrible and negative reviews on the ISR. I do not think that anyone would really argue with that. However, it could well be the case that there are loads of dreadful reviews because there are lots of awful schools. Well, there certainly seem to be quite a few in the Gulf, which is the region I know best.
    Karvol says that there are "not really that many schools on it", but the ISR is supposed to have more than 5000 reviews, so the ISR must cover quite a few.
    Yes, some teachers might be very experienced, as Karvol suggests, but on the other hand there are always heaps of new teachers who have never taught in an international school before. Also a teacher may have had quite a lot of experience of teaching in Spain, but he or she knows nothing about the schools in India or Japan.
    Some of the ISR reviews are definitely poison pen jobs, written by some pretty bitter and vindictive individuals. On the other hand, some reviews are more balanced and try to give the reader enough information to make up their own mind.
    I have to be honest and say that I have written no less than four ISR reviews of different schools, so you might well be right in thinking that I am a little biased in defending the ISR.
     
  5. Diddysan

    Diddysan New commenter

    I found reading reviews on ISR in addition to the info on forums like this one very helpful in deciding which offer to accept. I think it is a valuable resource, but like anything else, do not rely on it solely.
     
  6. Of course, absolutely agree with hippo.
    Before you really know your way around teaching internationally, it could be helpful. Think of it like insurance: you have it so you can say you do, so you don't kick yourself for not having it, but you know it is very possible it won't cover you when you need it and for which you bought it.

    After accepting the job, I would say, NO. Don't get a subscription. There are no maps, bits or bobs and you run the risk of reading an awful review that will sour you on something before you have even given it a chance. And if your new school really is awful… are you prepared to back out of an agreement, with all its consequences? You've given your word. Do it next time around.
    I still remember, years ago, talking to a teacher (in person) about her experiences in country X. I hadn't really had any opinion of country X before, hadn't really ever thought of it. She told me many things about what it was like to live there. Suffice it to say, she has no career ahead of her in being a spokesperson for the splendors of country X. I won't go into some of the things she said, but they got pretty appalling. When I realized my thoughts about country x and its people were being colored by her, I knew that was the point at which I didn't want to be anywhere near her any more. There are people in real life who you would never take their advice about anything, too. And some of them can type.

    Having said that, I do think ISR has value before accepting a position, roughly as insurance: you don't really believe it is going to absolutely save you from disaster, it's just one way you hope to hedge your bets, out of a few.
     
  7. v12

    v12

    Thank you, Penelopefish. I shall take your wise advice!
    I am really excited about going and working in India - very excited.
    I've just spent a pleasant hour investigating the area on t'internet - it looks amazing - especially the wildlife sanctuaries and other sights.
    All I need to do now is get some linen suits and nice shirts made and I'll be ready! (Or should I be in Bangkok for those?).
    Roll on August 5th
     
  8. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    examples:
    School A = true rotten apple, contracts will be worthless and conditions awful. Pay lowest in the region and resources non existent
    School B = middle ranked school, pay covers for a decent lifestyle, school honours contracts. Teachers new to the game will find it tough, old hands enjoy their time.
    School C = well established school with good rep amongst old expats, pays well, high expectations for all staff.
    Typical ISR reviews:
    School A = Shte hole to be avoided. I worked here for two months / years and couldn't wait to get out. Owners were &^$%£ and the head was insane.
    School B = Shte hole to be avoided. I worked here for two months /years and couldn't wait to get out. Owners were &^$%£ and the head was insane.
    School C = Shte hole to be avoided. I worked here for two months /years and couldn't wait to get out. Owners were &^$%£ and the head was insane.
    Yes, I made the mistake of paying the fee about six years ago - one time thing and I'll never do it again. Waste of money. The forum is free and perhaps worth a peek, but still very much a lot of nonsense so that it is difficult to distinguish the good from the bad.
     
  9. v12

    v12

    Excellent précis, MisterMaker. Very succinct, very clear.
    I shall not be forking out £29.
     
  10. Rhysboy

    Rhysboy New commenter

    On the other hand, we are only talking about 29 dollars (20 pounds?) for a year.
    This is my second year of subscribing and the only reason I won't be renewing is because I have found a new job.
    Some reviews may be overly negative, but there are some honest and accurate reviews on there. Use your common sense and you'll be fine.
     
  11. ISR should be approached with a bit of caution - yes, there is a tremendous amount of negativity on there and it can become quite difficult to read through many of the reviews. However, the reviews of the 5 international schools I have worked at are in line with my experiences at each one.
     
  12. Just wanted to make 2 points.
    Positive reviews can be found on ISR that do have an authentic voice to them and no apparent agenda.
    Not all schools have owners, therefore, not every school could be reviewed talking about one.
    But I do want to say that a false positive review on ISR is the biggest red flag of all possible to me and the most disturbing to read. You get a true insight as to the climate of working at a really awful school from those. When an admin has written a review and not signed as themselves, there is nothing that would convince me to go to that school. That one is the kiss of death.
    I guess that's 3, but math's not my strong suit.
    MM, I am impressed that you were willing to try it once. (not being facetious there)
     
  13. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    Penelope, whilst I'm flattered you took the time to read and respond, you seem to have missed the point.
    I'm not trying to give examples of each and every type of school, but demondstrating that it is impossible to tell the good from the bad. There are false positives, but mostly false negatives. Most teachers who go on to such places are there to moan. Without being at a school (and even then there will be various points of view) it is not possible to know how reliable the moans are.[​IMG]
    Waste your $28 if you wish, but I can think of many more pleasurable ways of spending my time and money.
    Additionally:
    I would also caution teachers not to write reviews unless you have clear evidence to back up what you are saying and you are prepared to lose everything. Litigation is more common place now and more owners of various types of school are more aware of such sites. If they see their school listed they would find it worthwhile spending the money to see what is written about them. Whilst it may seem possible for a review to be written anonymously in the first instance, a legal challenge from a school owner would force the web site operator to disclose information such mac addresses and IPs. They'd be stupid not to keep such records as they may be sued by the schools directly if they can't give answer when asked by a court to disclose information.
    Thinking about the type of information on there, I'm surprised that ISR has lasted so long. [​IMG]
     
  14. Good point. I fell for one of those. Out of the four reviews, three of them were written by the Head (who was also the owner). Let's just say that the reviews did not really reflect accurately what it was like working there.
    I would also advice teachers to be as factual as possible and to avoid getting personal at all costs. As a reader, I am more likely to be swayed by a somewhat negative but impartial sounding review than a pure rant full of venom.
    I wouldn't, however, worry too much about possible litigations. First, most reviews are written by the time the teachers have left and therefore in another country, so the likelihood of someone sueing you, though not impossible, is rather unlikely. What's more, all you would need to do in order to cover your **** is to write your review from an internet cafe using a proxy server.
    So am I, MM. But think of websites like 'Rate My Teacher' which have been around for a long time using the same principle of anonymous reviews. Anonymous criticism, whether it falls into the realm of slander or not, seems difficult to prosecute.
    It's only 20 quids, and it may save you from two years of atrocious hell. I say go for it. Like somebody said, it's like an insurance. You probably won't need it, but if it can help you avoiding a disaster you will have been damn glad you spent the money.

     
  15. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    In these troubled times there's no 'only' to twenty quid. That's a big greasy pub lunch with three pints of Old Peculiar on my next 'recruiting' trip to Won Don.
    Personally of course I have loads and loads of money to waste, and do so energetically: but have never joined. I do have a copy of the only review of our school which is treasured rather as a Renaissance scholar would keep a grinning skull on his desk as a memento mori.
    An American friend at a neighbour school told me he forked out his thirty bucks last year and enjoyed a long weekend spent reading every single one of the reviews. He said that it was all quite fun but that he would not dream of using it as a resource, only as entertainment.
    He also remarked that if anyone still thinks the British are the world's wettest whiniest whingers, they should immerse themesleves in ISR and think again, for according to him, his own countrymen and women put up a world-beating showing in the Groan and Gripe Olympics.
    Further, he remarked on an interesting cultural difference. Brits were more likely to want their nest well feathered and to moan about housing, cost-of-living etc., while Yanks were more likely to get browned off by a school if someone in authority failed to be impressed by their unique personal qualitiers.
     
  16. v12

    v12

    I am really grateful to the responses to what I thought would be a fairly simple question!
    I can't wait for answers to my question on luggage allowances on aeroplanes if they're going to be this amusing and informative!
     
  17. wrldtrvlr123

    wrldtrvlr123 Occasional commenter

    Two things:
    1. Don't take it personally.
    2. They've only reviewed 3 of your schools? Pity.
    [​IMG]
     
  18. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    Let us hope they are indeed informative... but if there is a subject less fruitful for the comedian than luggage allowances, I cannot think of it this morning...
     
  19. SMT dude

    SMT dude New commenter

    ... and if anyone else makes me laugh out loud as wldtrv123 just did, then it will be one of the forum's vintage days. [​IMG]
     
  20. Oh come on, Dude. If 20 quids is really stretching someone's wallet, then they are likely so desperate that they will take any jobs, in which case they are a lost cause. I stand by the argument that twenty pounds is a sound investment. The chances of ISR preventing you from taking a job you will regret are on a par with the likelihood of your house being on fire or having a car accident, that is to say, fairly low. But that doesn't stop you or me from having house or car insurance. And it usually costs a lot more than 20 pounds a year.
    I hope you have duly chastised him for spending such a ludicrous amount of money in these 'troubled times'. Is your friend also SMT? Whenever ISR is mentined, it seems that on the whole 90%
    of SMT would advise against it and 90% of teacher would recommend it.I
    don't begrudge SMT for not liking the site, but since it is
    aimed at teachers than I would argue that in that situation their
    opinions have a bit more weight.
    True. Brits favour the material, Yanks the personal and Ozzies don't care provided beer is widely available.
     

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