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  • Writer's pictureJ. Mallais

Three Reasons to Leave your School and One Reason to Stay

The beginning of a new school year might seem like a strange time to start thinking about renewing your contract or not for the following school year, but this is EXACTLY the right time to do it.

Examining the pros and cons of staying at your present school should happen before Letters of intent* get sent out. In some cases, schools could be sending these out as early as October, but definitely by December/January.

*Letter of intent: around October-January of your last contracted year, international schools will ask you either by letter or email if you want to make a commitment to another year or two, thus renewing your contract. Your request to stay plus the school's desire to keep you will result in your getting an extension of your contract. Some schools offer signing bonuses to entice you to stay for more than your initial contract.

So how do you make this important decision - Should you stay or should you go? Consider these three reasons to leave and one reason to stay:

#1 - Your Teaching Assignment Doesn’t Match your Expertise

You signed on to be a middle school English Language Arts teacher and taught grade 7 happily for one year. You returned after the summer to learn that you’re now a High School Algebra teacher, with no warning and no previous experience, not to mention your degree being English and not Mathematics! There are times when teaching assignments will change due to scheduling conflicts, an increase or decrease in student population, a sudden illness or maternity leave of a colleague, and so on. This could result in your getting an extra class outside your expertise. But when your entire teaching assignment changes without prior warning, and to something for which you have neither the background nor experience, this is a huge red flag.

#2 - Your School has Changed your Contract’s Benefits without Warning

Whether you’re in your second year or more at your school, the school should always notify you before making changes to your present contract’s benefits. Changes could include a salary reduction, a decrease in medical insurance coverage, or even a complete removal of previous benefits such as housing, utilities, flights, etc. If a school is reducing or removing your benefits in some way, you should always be notified and provided an explanation well in advance.

#3 - Your Safety is in Jeopardy

In this day and age, situations can change quickly in a country, affecting the personal safety of international teachers. These situations could be political upheaval, pandemic outbreak concerns, natural disasters, or economic collapse that ultimately forces the repatriation of the international communities located in these regions. Or it might be a temporary situation where you need to consider a move out of the country for your own safety, such as a spike in expat-targeted crime. Whether voluntary or not, your removal from the dangerous situation could result in your need to cancel any further years at your school.

What would be one reason for staying, even when facing the three issues above?

The fact is when you feel 100% supported by your school community and that you’re making a difference in the lives of your students - this could make the ultimate difference in your decision to leave or stay.

Yes, staying and facing any one of those three issues would be far from an ideal situation and will likely be one of the most challenging years in your professional and personal life. But knowing that what you’re doing is valued and essential for your students’ future is largely the reason many educators head overseas to teach in the first place. As an international teacher, you offer perspectives and experiences that can open the minds of your students to an exciting world of possibilities. And dealing with any of these three difficult situations above, it is guaranteed that your students won’t be the only ones to learn and grow.

Trying to decide if you should stay or go? Want someone with 20+ years of overseas experience to listen to your pros & cons and help you weigh your options? I am here to help. Working for you, we will discuss your current situation confidentially and, should you decide to move on, I will help you prepare for your job search: resume and cover letter editing, interview prep, contract review, and one-on-one video consultations are among the many services on offer at - feel free to contact me for more information.

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