Breaking a TEFL contract before starting?

Over the the ELT World forum, Naturegirl321, author of the excellent TEFL Tips blog, recently raised this issue:

‘So here’s the thing, After six years I’ve learned to have a backup plan. Something always goes wrong. For example, here are reasons I’ve backed out of contracts after I’ve signed.

1. They said that since I lived in China I would have to first be quarantineed in Thailand for 15 days before going to Taiwan. This was during SARS.

2. I was told that there were mandatory prayer sessions afterschool.

3. The school was closing because one of the partners was embezzling money.

4. Teachers decided to stay so they didn’t need me.

5. After 3 tries and 2 months, I finally got a CRC notarised by the state of IL, sent it to be notarised. My mom put it ontop of the microwave and promptly recycled it the next day.

6. After two months of waiting for my invitation letter, I decided that they were too unorganised and went with another school.

Now I’ve accepted three positions and signed three contracts. And so far, they all seem like really great schools.

Don’t get me wrong, my intention isn’t to play one school off the other and say, “well, X school offered me Y, unless you give me a higher salary, I won’t teach at your school. ”

Now obviously I can’t start at all three schools. I know that the truth is the best method, but who wants to hear that you’ve signed with other schools just in case things don’t work out?

Any ideas on how to get out of contracts without stepping on people’s toes?

Any suggestions? Feel free to comment here or join the chat on the forum.


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