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Terakki Foundation School (Sisli Terakki)

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Joined: 21 Dec 2009
Posts: 2
Location: Istanbul

PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 7:42 pm    Post subject: Terakki Foundation School (Sisli Terakki) Reply with quote

The previous string on this school was deleted. I'm not sure why, but there were probably some inappropriate comments. Hopefully, mine didn't fall into that category, because I decided to re-post it after I was informed that it was a useful description of what to expect at the Sisli Terakki school.

First, let me report the details that you will find out if you begin a hiring process with Terakki. The salary is roughly $3000 per month. There is no living stipend (in fact, this is included in the salary and equal to roughly $500). You get six weeks off in summer and about four weeks off over the year, plus some scattered random holidays. There is a private insurance program that covers 100% of inpatient care (it is very good, actually) and additionally, once your work visa is sorted (which took until Feb/March of the school year in some cases) you are eligible for the state insurance system as well. The school is clean and you get to live in Istanbul.

Let me preface the following by stating that Terakki loses from 50-100% of its foreign staff every year, and has experienced this turnover rate for the past 3 years. I can think of no clearer warning to prospective teachers than this fact. The place is a revolving door, despite offering one of the most competitive salary packages to foreign teachers. In short, this is because it is a horrifying place to work. I could tell lots of anecdotes illustrating why, but instead, I'll try to bullet them below:

- Deductions from teachers' salaries.
Last year, illegal (according to Turkish law) deductions from the salaries of foreign teachers totaled over $10,000 (from the 5 individuals that I know of). The contract states that deductions are OK for days missed, but in some cases these deductions were made to reprimand teachers. One teacher had her summer pay ($6000) and her severance package (another $6000) withheld. I do not know if she was able to recoup her $12,000 in personal losses, but she was hiring a lawyer at the end of the year.

- Administration.
Everybody hates their boss, so let's just say that the situation at Sisli Terakki is much worse in terms of management-teacher relations. It was not uncommon for discussions about curriculum to become the forum for personal attacks on teachers. The head of the foreign staff is a bully, and uses both his body language, as well as the tone and content of his voice to intimidate, particularly female staff members. It was neither uncommon for him to make exceedingly crude sexual remarks. The remainder of the administration is Turkish. Decisions were consistently made without consulting teachers, and as a result, things feel pretty chaotic. The bell-schedule changed three times in the first semester of last year, and on each occasion no one informed the teachers.

- Curriculum
There wasn't one. I'm not joking. When I began teaching (mid-year), I asked for a copy of the curriculum so that I could ensure my students were keeping up with the skills necessary for their level. I was told, by the head of the department: "Unfortunately, we don't have a curriculum." I don't know if they have fixed that.

- Students
For a long time, I described the classroom situation to Americans as similar to the situation facing Pryzbylewski (sp?) in The Wire; a white teacher in an all-black, inner-city Baltimore school. I have since met someone who has taught both at Terakki and in an inner-city DC school. He told me that the kids in DC were more respectful and generally more eager to learn than the students at Terakki. Terakki students generally come from a wealthy, entitled background that is not typical of Turks or Turkey. Accustomed to a no-discipline lifestyle, the classroom environment is difficult to control. The administration offers little support to teachers, and often interferes with efforts to enforce rule. When I requested a copy of the written rules last year, I was told that no such thing existed. There were 'rules' of a sort in effect, but it was often impossible to know what they were.

- Student retention/performance
The school has a strong reputation and one wonders why. Generally, the elementary and middle schools have better-performing students. Many of whom transfer to other high schools. Their grasp of the English language is OK, but rather disappointing considering they have been learning it since they were in kindergarden. For this age group, however, they are better-educated and more likely to succeed in the Turkish system than their peers.
The high school is a joke. The reputation there is made by scholarship students who are admitted into the school for free, and who generally out-perform their Terraki-lifer peers. In one English prep class, of 21 students on the year-end test to move into the tenth grade, all 10 of the scholarship students passed while 10 of the 11 Terakki-lifers failed.
Each semester, a student's performance is assessed on the basis of three tests. That's it. No homework, no project, just the tests. Students are largely unmotivated to practice what is taught, and since nothing but the tests are graded, student's ability to actually use the English language is very limited. I should mention also that test scores have been changed at the behest of outraged parents, or manipulated to improve the school's reputation.

I have lived in Turkey for some time, and will continue doing so. I like it here. However, if my impression of Turkey was governed by my workplace, colleagues, and students, then I would have left this country the year after I taught at Terakki believing very hateful things about Turkey and its people.

There are good schools, if you are sufficiently qualified. I recommend:
Uskudar American Academy
Robert College
Tev Inanc Turkes Ozel Lisesi
Ulus Ozel Musevi Lisesi

I have known teachers from each of these institutions. All of them were shocked by the experiences of myself and my colleagues. It was as if we taught in different worlds. I found their descriptions of these schools encouraging. For my part, I got out of teaching altogether, but hey, it is possible to have a positive experience teaching in Istanbul, and I hope you find one.
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Joined: 17 Jun 2005
Posts: 140
Location: Istanbul

PostPosted: Mon Jan 11, 2010 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for reposting this and I would very much like to know why the original thread was deleted...
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Joined: 04 Aug 2006
Posts: 182
Location: Europe

PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 2:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm, maybe it was because the gentleman in question was named in person several times either by full name or initials.

How is he going to attract quality teachers with such slanderous remarks. If I were him or represented his school I would certainly have been concerned.

Anyhow, I found all the posts extremely useful, I also spoke to people who have had direct contact with this person and the school and it seems the tales of misconduct and total lack of professionalism were and are based on fact.

Thanks to all the contributors who took the time to warn others who might have been interested in working there, as I was.

Hopefully, the person and or the school in question will take heed from all the negative feedback and take appropriate action to avoid such unwanted attention in the future.

Hopefully, advice against applying to this school will appear else where so we can be forewarned about such schools.

Incidentally, it's always a good idea to make contact with current employees at a school before deciding to work there as well getting feedback from sites like this.

Could we hear from the moderators as to why all these posts were deleted? If it was because a person was directly mentioned couldn't you simply have censored what you didn't want appearing on the site? but even that would be dubious.

I'm a little disappointed Dave. Isn't the purpose of this site to provide information to teachers which includes warning us about these institutions for better or worse? If these people feel unduly wronged they could always write a post themselves to set the record straight.I for one would have been interested to hear a response from the school. as it stands my perception is now entirely negative.
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Joined: 04 Apr 2003
Posts: 166
Location: Neither Here Nor There

PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 10:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I suspect it has to do with people "naming names". I suppose the rules forbid that sort of thing. However, I still think that the guy with the beard like a goat is more than self explanatory for who I mean. It doesnt surprise me that he bullies women at Terakki because I heard that he got fired from Fatih. Uni. for some of the same antics he's pulling there.
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PC Parrot

Joined: 11 Dec 2009
Posts: 447
Location: Moral Police Station

PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm surprised the 'elephant man' has lasted so long in the country.

He's an abomination.
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Joined: 22 Dec 2009
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2010 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let's not name names. Let's just say that it's not a surprising occurrence at Terakki when a female colleague returns from a meeting in tears (and not tears of joy).
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Joined: 02 Jul 2009
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 4:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Would you compare the working conditions at this school to a common language school in Istanbul or a Prep English program at a private university? It sounds like the students are similar to private uni. students but the admin. and curriculum (or lack there of) is similar to language schools. If you had the choice between these 3 options, which would you choose? Just out of curiosity. Thanks.
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Joined: 22 Dec 2009
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Fri Apr 09, 2010 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So the choices are 1) bad students, 2) bad administration, or 3) bad students AND bad administration?

If those were the only choices, I'd choose #1. Students can be handled, especially if the admin is supportive.
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Joined: 18 Apr 2011
Posts: 3
Location: NYC

PostPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 3:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am fresh out of grad school and Terakki is the only offer I got out of 8 or so schools I sent resumes to in Turkey. I'm inclined to take it just to get over there and get some experience, since that seems to be a prerequisite for most private schools in Turkey. (I don't want to teach at language schools or dershanes, and have been told it's nearly impossible for a foreigner to get into the public system.) To those who have experience with Terakki - is it tolerable for a year or so, in order to get more established in Istanbul? Do you have any advice on how to avoid provoking the 'gentleman' in question? Are the Turkish colleagues supportive?

I've been studying Turkish for years and really want to live in Turkey to improve my Turkish and get to know the culture more deeply while also gaining international teaching experience. Do you think 'toughing it out' might still be worth it, or am I really headed for a miserable year?
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Joined: 04 May 2003
Posts: 9041
Location: home sweet home

PostPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

this thread is a bit old, I think you'd get more rsponses if you posted on the Turkey forum.
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Joined: 13 Feb 2011
Posts: 8

PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2011 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It will no doubt be a tough year in every aspect. Your classroom management skills will be pushed every second of every class. You will be busy every second of every day. The stress level is high everyday. You will second guess your decision every day.

If you want to get involved with international school teaching the recruiting services like CIS or Search Associates can place you, especially because you have a Master degree. You might not get the most desirable location for your first two year contract, but after that you should be able to move back to Europe without too much problem. International schools will hire you without experience you'll just have to be willing to go to a different location.

In my opinion this school will not help your resume that much. You already have a Master. This school in no way resembles an international school. It's a true private school and you realize that from the first day.
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Joined: 13 Feb 2011
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2011 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just read the long post above and I agree with it. Take it for what you will and only you can make the final decision, but the above post is true to my knowledge.
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Joined: 03 Dec 2012
Posts: 63

PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 8:04 pm    Post subject: Sisli Terakki again Reply with quote

I can't help but notice that this school is advertising AGAIN. The salary and terms are all pretty good so they must really suck as employers to lose their English teaching staff each year.

Any updates on what the school is like to work at?
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Joined: 18 May 2007
Posts: 972
Location: UK

PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


I suggest you post this on the Turkey forum, where you are more likely to get responses from people either there now, or in the past.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 1:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that it is getting better. There are some new people in higher roles now.
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