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New intake of teachers

August 18, 2005

Hello again. Many new teachers will be preparing to set off for exciting new locations to take up teaching positions in September. I have already posted some entries about culture shock and how the teachers need support during their period of adapting to a new way of life. But the truth is that a proportion of teachers will have accepted posts from schools they know little about and they run the risk of being exploited by unscrupulous employers who know that they are vulnerable.

So what should a reputable school do to reassure its new recruits that they have nothing to fear? This is essentially a communications and contractual issue. First the school needs to communicate as fully as possible with the teacher, providing as much information in adavnce as possible.

Let's suppose a teacher has been recrutied by an employment agency. The teachers will have had no direct contact with the school and so could be taking an enormous risk. But the school should send the teacher full documentation to allay any doubts.

Send the school brochure, testimonials from other teachers and students and information about the area and its customs and facilities. If possible send contact details for existing or former teachers so that the prospective teacher can talk to somebody with experience of the school. If accommodation is provided, send photographs and a map showing its location and distance from the school. Include a letter of introduction that explains the process fro receiving the teacher and gives any special information the teacher should have.

On the contractual side, it is important to allow the teacher a get-out clause. It really isn't in anybody's interest to try to hold teachers to a long contractual period if they are unhappy. The sensible approach is to have a one-month probationary period after which the contract can be cancelled by either side. Of course, the majority of new recruits will settle into their jobs and have a rewarding experience of a different culture. But unfortunately some will not. If teachers take care to find out about the employer and if schools are careful in sending out good information and drawing up fair contracts, many bad experiences can be avoided.

Bye for now.

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