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Staring down the barrel....

Discussion in 'Teaching overseas' started by sidinz, Nov 19, 2010.

  1. .....or, how do you get through?
    I am about 8 weeks into a new 2-year contract. Things are already bad, almost nothing is like what it was supposed to be and I feel very mislead. All of my reasons for coming here have been negated by either poor management decisions or misleading information and I feel that spending the remaining contract time will be a waste of two years of my life (at a stage in my life where I don't have a lot of time to waste).
    I can't get out and about - that's part of the problem - so most ususal 'get away from it all' outlets are denied me as this country has no public transport to speak of. Making social contacts is difficult as there is basically no one at the school at the same life stage as me and without transport meeting people from outside is just about a mission impossible scenario.
    The school is such that I fear the impact that staying will have on my future employability. I've been told that the local decent schools will not hire staff from my current school, for example. But equally, leaving would impact on my future employability as, though for very good reasons, my work history already looks inconsistent.
    So advice from other people - how do I get through? Right now the remaining contractual time seems like a life sentence. Thanks for any constructive guidance that people can give me.
     
  2. .....or, how do you get through?
    I am about 8 weeks into a new 2-year contract. Things are already bad, almost nothing is like what it was supposed to be and I feel very mislead. All of my reasons for coming here have been negated by either poor management decisions or misleading information and I feel that spending the remaining contract time will be a waste of two years of my life (at a stage in my life where I don't have a lot of time to waste).
    I can't get out and about - that's part of the problem - so most ususal 'get away from it all' outlets are denied me as this country has no public transport to speak of. Making social contacts is difficult as there is basically no one at the school at the same life stage as me and without transport meeting people from outside is just about a mission impossible scenario.
    The school is such that I fear the impact that staying will have on my future employability. I've been told that the local decent schools will not hire staff from my current school, for example. But equally, leaving would impact on my future employability as, though for very good reasons, my work history already looks inconsistent.
    So advice from other people - how do I get through? Right now the remaining contractual time seems like a life sentence. Thanks for any constructive guidance that people can give me.
     
  3. David Getling

    David Getling Senior commenter

    sidinz, it sounds as if you want/need to see out this 2-year contract so that you can put a substantial period of employment on your CV.

    If your school is that bad, what you must consider is how likely you are to last the two years. Also, the next school you apply to will almost certainly want a reference from your last school. So, depending on how bad things are you could be digging a really deep hole for yourself.

    Normally I would say that if you agree (even verbally) a contract you stick to it - I'm a bit old-school in this, having worked in the City when "my word is my bond" really meant something. However, if you have genuinely been misled, as opposed to things simply not being as rosy as you expected, then you agreed the contract under false pretenses and have every right (morally, though not necessarily legally) to walk away from it.

    The advantage of walking now is that at only 8 weeks it needn't go on your CV. It's short enough to be explained as a long holiday. But the longer you remain the harder it will be to bury if something goes wrong.

    I wish you the best of luck, as stories like yours are, unfortunately, not that uncommon.
     
  4. stopwatch

    stopwatch Occasional commenter

    The magic Kingdom (of Saudi Arabia)
     
  5. Hi Stoppers,
    I appreciate that I was a little scarce on detail. I was resisting the temptation to indulge in a whine-a-thon. You know how it goes, once you start.......
    Not KSA, but yes, in the Middle East. This is a country known for its happy campers, just not in this particular school. There are many things that go in the category "If I had known this, I wouldn't have come."
    This is a place where it's imperative to have a car to get out and about and a big part of the place's attraction is the weekend trips to beaches, deserts, wadis, forts and diving. Renting cars is VERY expensive and it's just not practical to take taxis to these places. Nor to take you and your diving gear to the other side of town to go on a diving trip, or small furniture shopping or various other things. I tried to take a taxi somewhere the other day, and apart from the tiresome haggling to set a price (for which you actually have to know the approximate distance of where you're going, which you often don't, when you're new to a place) you have to know where you're going to give the driver directions. Fine if it's a well-known location, but if you don't..... well on this particular occasion, I was trying to get to a sporting fixture for 6:30. At 7:00 after having failed to find a taxi that knew where it was, I gave up. (After feeling like a prostitute standing at the side of the road, in the dark, in my sports gear, with cars beeping at me for half an hour.)
    When I stated that others in the school are at a different life stage than me, I meant that I am single and in my 30s. The others tend to fall into two camps: older couples (in their 50s), or much older singles who already have grown children. I am slowly starting to meet some people but here you're absolutely hamstrung without a car, as you can't do what you want as you are reliant on other people and must fall in with their plans. I knew this and had planned to buy one, but when the school promised "assistance with a loan to buy a car" there were some VERY pertinent details left out. Basically it has to be a 2007 or newer model and a 20% deposit is required. If I had known this, I would have realised that I couldn't afford this and wouldn't have come.
    If I had known that the school was a profit-making one (again, misleading information) where there is no coloured paper or card or even A3 paper for making classroom resources, where getting printing or photocopying done is a miserable merry-go-round, I wouldn't have come.
    If I had known that I would be expected to teach a six-week unit of inquiry with NO resources while being pelted with complaints from the parents about a lack of homework, and accusations of teaching no maths, I wouldn't have come.
    If I had known that all my non-contact time was going to be taken up with seven duties, waste-of-time meetings and cover lessons for Arabic colleagues who have not left any cover work, I wouldn't have come.
    If I had known that I was going to be working at an extremely toxic place where backstabbing and undermining (of other staff, the school, and the new programme) were the order of the day and the admin gave the parents ammo to take pot-shots at the staff and Arabic staff (SMT, no less) go running to the Ministry to denounce the school and expat teachers, I wouldn't have come.
    If I had known that it would take seven weeks just to get hot water to take a shower in my flat and the same time frame to get a simple extension lead to be able to use my classroom computer, I wouldn't have come. (Other staff members give reports of up to a year for similar things and now that I have no usable water at my sink I am dreading to see how long that will take.)
    If I had known that the person who hired me was going to be the biggest
    obstacle to me doing the very job he hired me to do, I wouldn't have
    come.
    This person is basically on an ego-trip and doesn't want to hear what we teaching plebs have to say. We are all trying to tell him the same thing and that the current set-up isn't workable with what he wants to achieve but that would dislodge his lovely visions of future glory. Decisions made by the management team undermine the very programme he hired me to help bring in. Other SLT members sit on the committee to bring in this programme, yet they know nothing about this programme and work in secondary. Yet the coordinator, who was hired to bring things about, does not sit on this committee and is not part of the leadership team. Her recommendations and warnings are ignored. In a meeting last week, representatives for each grade level who were supposed to meet with him to discuss issues were made to feel very small - we felt like children being told off by the principal - for having the temerity to expect him to be at the meeting and hear our frustrations.
    I am trying very hard to do a half-decent teaching job, but without the resources to plan group maths or reading, not enough time to teach maths (these kids are VERY behind in this) and colleagues who have just learnt to go through the motions, collect their salaries and punch out right on home time, I'm fighting an uphill battle and am fearful of losing my teaching work ethics and professionalism, as so many long-timers here have done.
    I came here with the following objectives:
    1) Career enhancement (do a good job helping a school whose staff were struggling a bit with the new programme move forward and attain accreditation) Yes, maybe it appealed to my vanity a bit and I envisaged myself as a bit of a knight on a white charger. How the mighty are fallen?
    2) Send money home to chip away at a burdensome mortgage
    3) See something of the country, get out and about after three years without a life
    Number one is a no-go. Flogging a dusty corpse there. The suggestion has now been floated of doing away with this programme, the very one I came here to teach and help lead (by example, offering PD and model lessons, not as any kind of coordinator/leadership position). Well apart from the world economy's problems meaning that I've already lost 13% on any remittances, the whole car thing means that if I do two, I can't do three and vice versa.

    The other poster was right. Due to starting my career off in a country where, due to visa restrictions, I couldn't take on anything but temporary positions and another spate of temporary postions while I was waiting for the 'right' one and didn't want to let anyone down by taking on something long-term only to leave again, my CV does look a little patchy. I did want this job to either stay at beyond the two years, or use it as a springboard to moving onto better things. Now neither looks likely. So right now I feel, in terms of my career, that it's a case of 'damned if you do, damned if you don't.' And it seems like a long time to wait, heading towards 40, with my career and social life going nowhere.
    P.S. The above comments are the tip of the ice-berg as if I had laid it all out, it would have been like reading a gloomy, Gothic novel.
     
  6. I emphasized with you, if only because my current school has very very similar issues to yours (although maybe slightly not as many).
    Here's my piece of advice: if you are going to go (and I am not saying you should or shouldn't - it's your decision), try to leave once you have another job lined up. Contact your old references, explain the situation. There are always some schools who have some last minute vacancies (especially if you are teaching a shortage subject), It is absolutely correct that most schools (the decent ones at least) will ask for a current reference. Either be upfront and explain the direness of your situation, or (and I personally wouldn't recommend it) just plain lie and say you have been taking some time off travelling or whatever you feel like coming up with.

     
  7. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    Sorry, but you sound like an expat nubbie. Rant and rave, get it out your system, but at the end of the day - put up and shut up, or get out.
    Nothing in your long moan is new to an experienced expats, just part of the occassional frustrations of teaching outside the UK. Your long list of 'If I'd have known I wouldn't have come' include many trivial things. If you can't stand it leave at Christmas and do the honourable thing by letting the ownership / management know when you're back in the UK; if you don't you will quickly become known for the wrong reasons.
    There's nothing wrong with profit making schools as an idea - they're even taking off in the UK. The ownership and management are what will make it 'good' or not. I often give the 'modern' example in Cairo of how well a for-profit school can be run. Likewise, many have been the moans about state schools outside of the UK that expats have found themselves unhappy in.
     
  8. MM, you are rather an unpleasant individual, aren't you?
    If you read both posts, you will see that I originally tried to stay away from a moaning post but was then asked for more details. I obliged.
    This is far from my first international post. I have worked in various posts in three other countries prior to this one. I have worked at both profit-making and non-profit schools before and knowing the difference in resourcing, I would not knowingly have accepted a position in another one. Resourcing at non-UK state schools is far better that what I am currently getting where I have to beg and plead for standard items, much of which the school does/will not supply. At least one colleague prints class sets of stuff on his home computer, such are the issues with printing and photocopying.
    Yes, some of my points may have seemed trivial, but remember I was only touching on a few points, not going into gory detail and added up, it makes for a very unhappy picture. And what may seem trivial to one, may be another's dealbreaker.
    I am trying to keep out of it, but the power struggles, factions, ****-covering and licking are demoralising and do not help the situation.
    I know I'm not the only one to have experienced this - I've read others' posts and worse horror stories. I came on here to get a bit of 'chin up' solidarity and perhaps good advice, even from some of the past/present admins and recruiters who frequent these shores. You don't seem to be able to grasp the concept. Most of the newbies who started when I did are teaching couples who can rant to/hash things out with each other. Not having that luxury, I came to this forum, knowing that SOME people on here offer supportive and constructive comments.
     
  9. Hmm, that sounds just like a television school I've heard of on a small Arabian peninsula. I had friends who went to work at a place like the one you described, much against the advice of everyone who'd heard of it. They left by the end of the first term and are now working happily at a larger and more reputable school in another Arab country.

    I'd agree that leaving suddenly will look bad on your cv but there are other schools in the ME who will be happy to rescue a refugee from disaster; one particular school in Kuwait used to boast that its best recruiter was one of the worst schools in Kuwait, from which young, naive teachers fresh out of the UK would flee after the first year.

    How about telling the school or your manager that you feel let down by the misleading information you've been given and that they need to do something to rectify the situation?

    Failing that, if you're single and are able to drop the job and find another, do it. If a school has been so egregiously dishonest with you before employing you, they lose the right to hold you to your contract in my opinion.
     
  10. stopwatch

    stopwatch Occasional commenter

    Ignore Mn'M this is par for the course for them.
    You are righ to complain, right to ask for support and advice, and, if you leave your job, right to do that also.
    Make your decision and go with it.... [​IMG]
     
  11. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Hmm... The phrase is "newbie" or "n00b".
    Do you actually read your posts? You sound like someone who has finally reached the heady heights of being in charge of something and let it go to their head.
    How is the recruitment going for the new school in Malaysia then? Strange thing about the school, they don't seem to list a headmaster or headmistress of the secondary section yet. Perhaps you are the director of the place, so you are listed.
    The other curious thing is, that an earlier one of your posts
    really does make it sound like that you are not too sure of what you are doing. Is this really the case, and if so, is all this dutch courage for our purposes or for your own?
    I guess we will know soon enough if a particular school starts advertising for a head of secondary.
    Good luck with the recruitment, and I hope it is a great success for you, but I really would advise getting off the high horse. After being on it a while you will realise that in order to get anywhere, you actually have to walk with those who work with you.
     
  12. Hmmm..
    You're too kind..
    Pint anyone? [​IMG]

     
  13. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    Karvol, I must have really peeved you about something; did I sack you in the past?
    Can't understand your obsessive search for all my old posts - bit creepy and stalkish.
    Anyhow, I say it as I see it. This OP hasn't come up with any major issue other than general moans about taxis not being frequent and SMT that don't see life his way. Plus the anti-profit diatribe, which made him come across a noobie / nubbie / nube / noob / etc.
    If you feel the need to continue your obsession with me, go see a psychiatrist.
     
  14. stopwatch

    stopwatch Occasional commenter

    I don't think it is an obsession, merely checking the facts before making comment.
    I have commented before on the fact that your contributions aren't typically those I would expect of an SLT member. This opinion is based on the 8 Heads I have worked for.
    Your contribution to the minimalist thread highlights that.
    I haven't checked all of your contributions to back up may claims - wouldn't want to be accused of stalking or obsession!
    Now tell me I should check my facts before slating anybody .....[​IMG]
     
  15. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Judging by the type of school you are in charge of, it is not very likely that our paths would have crossed. The schools I teach in wouldn't find class sizes of 24 anything to boast about.
    Most people like to check their facts before they say things. I understand that such matters are beyond you now.
    I didn't realise I stood around looking like a stalk. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.
    I did. He wants to meet you.
     
  16. Mainwaring

    Mainwaring Occasional commenter

    Be fair. It's a big step from flogging cauli's and pot's to being in charge of the paperclips.
    Only a pony, I suspect. The kind of little woolly chap that pulls a barra. Altogther nah:
    'Granny Smiffs, tenpence a pahnd. Theyyyre lovely!
     
  17. I often post without thinking - usually because many, many units of man's greatest invention have passed my gullet.
    But I do I like to review them with a clear head and conclude that some people, completely lucid, come up with far more sh7t than I do after a couple of gallons of Egypt's oldest and finest.
    Like MM and my new friend, 'Obtuse' on another thread...
    [​IMG] pervert smiley.

     
  18. MisterMaker

    MisterMaker Occasional commenter

    [​IMG]
     
  19. If they lied to you at interview, you owe them nothing.
     

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