Social media comment on leaders in International Schools: The causes of negative comments and the implications for leadership practices

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The diverse body of international schools continues to grow and develop. Yet, the realities of being a leader in such a school continue to be neglected by discussion and research. It is acknowledged that international schools are complex organizations to lead and manage, with numerous boundaries, transient stakeholders, and opposing priorities. They exist as very challenging arenas for leadership, ripe for conflict and tension. This article uses anonymized comments on the social media website ( to explore how and why teachers might post negative comments on school leaders. The framework of the “toxic triangle” is used as an instrument for presenting the comments. The article then discusses the implications for leadership practices. In particular, the comments on reveal how isolated international schools are, with seemingly few options for teachers to release the “pressure valve” if unhappy or unsatisfied by what they might deem to be unethical and immoral leadership behavior. Further, the comments show how loosely coupled and fragmented the schools are, and many of the teachers themselves exist in a precarious state of anxiety. Overall, the comments add substantial weight to the argument that international schools are complex and challenging leadership environments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-564
Number of pages14
JournalPeabody Journal of Education
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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