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Advice on References

Advice on References

Postby jjbombard » Sun Feb 10, 2019 2:08 pm

As I prepare for the end of a contract I am getting my references in order. I need to add three new references to the search agency I am using. I have one from my first international position. My issue is this, at my current school neither the head of school or principal has ever observed me in the classroom for more than 5 minutes (I've been at the school almost 3 years now). I know I could get good, accurate references from my IB coordinator and the assistant principal but how does that look not having a more senior administrator write the letter? Do I ask anyway knowing that it will be vague on specifics relating to teaching style? Suggestions?
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Re: Advice on References

Postby shadowjack » Sun Feb 10, 2019 3:18 pm

Most agencies use a questionnaire and there is not a lot of anecdotal reporting. It is better, if you are on good terms with your director, to have her or him do a reference, along with your principal. Observation isn't necessary, although at a good school you ARE observed.
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Response

Postby PsyGuy » Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:14 pm

Agencies generally use a survey method for gathering reference data (its makes the data easier to store and manage), but youre going to want traditional letters anyway and you have to ask for one from your executive leadership (whether the title is HOS, or director, etc.). if you dont than: 1) It may convey that your trying to hide something. 2) Executive leadership is going to know whatever is going on, even the scandalous stuff, and thats what an IS has to be cautious about, they need to know there isnt anything horrid that happened. If there isnt a reference from executive leadership someone has to call or send an email asking. 3) Even if your executive leadership has only seen you for 5 minutes they either know the aggregate of your performance from other sources, or they can put them together relatively quickly to get a picture of what type of employee and IT you were.
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Re: Advice on References

Postby expatscot » Thu Feb 21, 2019 2:23 am

Speak to the principal / head of school. If they are any good, and they have to provide the reference, then they will talk to the people who actually know what you're like in the classroom (your HoD, for example) before they write it - or might actually get the HoD to write it for them. Then you can ask the IB Director / Assistant Head to write another reference, which should support the Principal's one.
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Re: Advice on References

Postby dexts » Thu Feb 21, 2019 10:01 pm

What do you do in the case of a director (who has hardly ever interacted with you) writes negative comments about you? I have had two promising job applications terminated unexpectedly. Upon investigation, it turns out that the director from my last school has been including inaccurate details from my personal life that he feels makes me unsuitable to work with young people. Aside from being completely untrue, this has the potential to completely destroy my career. Attempts to reason with the director have gone unanswered.
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Reply

Postby PsyGuy » Fri Feb 22, 2019 2:02 am

@dexts

Ghost the experience and the IS.
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Re: Advice on References

Postby shadowjack » Fri Feb 22, 2019 1:29 pm

Or, if you can get a copy of his libel, do so. Then launch a lawsuit in his home country. Have the papers delivered by DHL to him personally at his school. Then have your lawyer contact him and arrange to correct his libel.
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Re: Advice on References

Postby dexts » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:56 am

Thanks for the advice. I could try get a copy, but that may prove difficult. I am hesitant to ghost the experience as that would mean I would have an unexplained gap in my resume. Also, I put a lot of time into that posting, and it would be a pity to lose that.
While I understand the reason for needing the reference to come from a director, often this does not make any sense in terms of the way schools are run. In most of my experience, the people best qualified to give me a reference are never asked. Instead they rely on a person who has limited, if any, knowledge of you or the work you have done. This is very frustrating, and I wish hiring committees would understand this and seek references from people qualified to give such references.
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Re: Advice on References

Postby sid » Sat Feb 23, 2019 5:24 am

I get your frustration and sympathize with your predicament.
To provide some context on why agencies and schools want to hear from the director...
It’s because the director is the only one who definitely knows certain relevant things. Things that might not be relevant to most applicants, but which are really relevant when they do exist. Like that a certain teacher was arrested for domestic assault and spent a night in custody until the police and the partner decided that if he agreed to leave the country in June, they would not pursue charges. That sort of thing. That a good admin team would keep confidential from your hod. Etc.
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Reply

Postby PsyGuy » Sat Feb 23, 2019 8:16 pm

@dexts

How big of a gap is it? 2 years, you can explain anything up to a year and two years could just be anything from a sick family member to going back to Uni, etc. What do you mean "would be", you have lost it already, its costing you opportunities.

ISs want to talk to the HOS (Executive leadership) because:
1)Without doing so may convey that your trying to hide something.
2) Executive leadership is going to know whatever is going on, even the scandalous stuff, and thats what an IS has to be cautious about, they need to know there isnt anything horrid that happened. If there isnt a reference from executive leadership someone has to call or send an email asking. Only executive leadership is going to know the stuff, such as the example @Sid provided.
3) Even if your executive leadership has only seen you for 5 minutes they either know the aggregate of your performance from other sources such as your senior leadership and junior leadership, or they can put them together relatively quickly to get a picture of what type of employee and IT you were.
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Re: Advice on References

Postby dexts » Sat Feb 23, 2019 10:51 pm

Thanks Sid and Psyguy. That makes sense. Maybe it would be worthwhile getting two references? In my experience, references from people I have actually worked with are far more representative of the actual work I have done, whereas directors are more likely to give formulaic responses and do not give a good sense of what kind of teacher I am. So, one reference to clear me of any dodgy stuff, and another to see what kind of teacher I am?
Or maybe I have misunderstood the point of a reference? Maybe the primary concern is clearing the candidate in terms of safety. My problem with this is that it relies on the word of the person giving the reference, and often there is little protection internationally for libel. But I guess it is better than the alternative. It just really sucks to give up the investment of a couple years of experience due to a capricious director, but you are right that I have no choice.
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Reply

Postby PsyGuy » Sat Feb 23, 2019 11:16 pm

@dexts

I always get three, one from executive leadership (HOS, Director, etc.) one from senior leadership (Principal, etc.) and one from junior leadership (HOD, Coordinator, etc.)

The point of references though isnt to indicate what kind of IT you are, but what kind of employee you are.

A fair issue, but what would the alternative be, some international evaluation team, and then they would want provide ITs and DTs with some kind of certificate like some kind of international IT teacher certificate and then if a IT has an issue with the evaluator theres some form of grievance mechanism. That type of system is a long way off.
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Re: Advice on References

Postby expatscot » Mon Feb 25, 2019 7:46 pm

@dexts Have you tried getting references from your HoD or direct line manager? If they contradict the director, then there are questions to be asked by the recruiting school (if they can be bothered.)

Libel also depends where the reference was written. Suppose you're based in Thailand, but the director goes back to the UK at Christmas where he writes your reference and sends it out (even only once.) The libel is then committed in the UK, so the UK's severe libel laws apply - it's why celebs love it when "The Sun" publishes something untrue about them. Of course, given he still has to give you a reference, this course of action might not necessarily be wise.

Eventually, though, the director will leave the school. After that, you can use the "unable to contact Director as he has left the school" line, so someone else can slot in.
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Re: Advice on References

Postby dexts » Tue Feb 26, 2019 12:14 am

@expatscot The thing is, I have excellent references from HODs and managers. But in the world of education, one report that might cast suspicion on the suitability of someone to work with kids is enough to scuttle their career. It's a liability issue. Schools would rather go with someone less qualified but safe, than someone who may or may not put them at risk of a scandal. I don't blame the schools at all.
The reference was written in a country where I think I would have very little protection from libel unfortunately. You are right that I can wait it out, but I kinda need a job now :) I am sure that in a few years this will not be a problem for me.
If anything, I am just frustrated at the ease with which this can happen, and the poor protection that teachers have from unscrupulous or bigoted directors. But as others have pointed out, there is very little that can be done without adding even more layers of bureaucracy to an already overly bureaucratic system.
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Comment

Postby PsyGuy » Thu Feb 28, 2019 11:43 pm

@dexts

You dont have to ghost it forever, ghost if for a few years a contract or two and then you can add the experience back but buried under your current and more recent experience.
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