6 Red Flags to Look Out for When Searching for a New Teaching Position

1. The First Contact Feels Bad

From the first phone call or email you receive, you will get a sense of what the district, school or principal is all about. If first contact feels wrong, and persists throughout the interview process across multiple people and situations, get out while you can.

While time is limited for the personnel involved in the hiring process, you will want to pay attention to the courtesy that you are paid by both interviewers and those who help organize interviews. Interviewers and supporting staff can sometimes treat interviewees as if they are there to beg for a job — but this mindset reinforces a toxic work culture and forgets that perspective teachers are there to interview the school just as much as the school is there to interview them.

2. School Up-Keep Isn’t a Priority

International, Private, and charter schools typically excel in this area as there is a focus on brand and its value. Other schools might not always have funds to have the latest and greatest. Nonetheless, you can tell the difference between a school that cares about its up-keep given the facilities they have versus a leadership team that fails to acknowledge the importance of working and learning environments.

3. There is a High Attrition Rate

Good employees don’t leave companies, they leave bad managers and leaders. In the context of a school, this means that high staff turnover rates can relate to the principal’s capacity to lead and/or major flaws in the school’s organizational structure or culture. While it is normal for some teachers to come and go, high attrition rates should be considered a red flag if there is a great exodus at the end of the year leading to one of the numerous vacancies available for you to fill.

4. Salary is Below Market

Some international, private, and charter schools are notorious for attempting to replace salaries with “great” culture, having to prove your worth before making higher salary, or by skewing the way salary offers look by including non-liquid benefits that schools typically contribute to, such as health benefits or retirement. If you see this during the interview process or the final offer, take some time to reflect. Here’s why:

On Replacing Salary with 'Great' Culture

Every school should have a great culture (unfortunately, not all schools do). Any HR manager, school principal, or teacher trying to talk you into accepting the job offer by being paid in “culture” instead of dollars has no idea what the word “culture” truly means. On a similar note, schools looking to hire top-notch, excellent people are going to provide at least a respectable salary.

On Having to Prove Your Worth

Having to prove your worth before making a salary at the market rate seems a bit backwards, doesn’t it? If an employer is not convinced of your worth, then why hire at all? Unfortunately, this tends to happen the most when seeking employment at international schools abroad.

On the Way Salary Offers Look

Trying to decorate a salary with listing the value of each benefit and adding it to the final “salary offer” falsifies the cash-flow that a teacher will have paycheck to paycheck, confuses the decision-making process for the prospective teacher, and is outright unethical when leveraged to convince a teacher that they are getting a respectable offer. Unfortunately, the tactic of getting a teacher to accept a salary below market value tends to happen with charter and international schools the most.

5. The Job Offer Comes too Easy

Even if you have many years of experience and an amazing background, receiving a job offer should never feel as if positions are being given away like candy. Imagine who else you might be working with?

6. It Just Doesn’t Feel Right

Trust your gut. Sometimes you can’t put your finger on it but know that something is wrong. Don’t accept a job offer just because it was offered; accept it because you know it is a good fit for both you and the school you will work at. Otherwise, you might just find yourself going through the whole job search thing again the following year.

About Dr. Michael Lozano

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