What makes a truly international School teacher

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By Education Today

Posted on April 5, 2022


5 min read

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What makes a truly international School teacher

In the last two decades, there has been a sustained growth in International Schools being set up across the country – both small and big, chains of school, franchises and their affiliations to various boards from National boards – CBSE and ICSE to International Boards like Cambridge Assessments International Education(CAIE) and the International Baccalaureate Organisation(IBO). In recent times, there are other additions like the Finland education system, the Waldorf schools and the others, when we speak about International Schooling. There are schools which adopt the tag ‘International’ to their names even if they are following the National Curriculum like ICSE or CBSE. This growth has led to a diffusion in understanding ‘International’ and a lack of clarity about their purpose and cause.

The world has changed in the last two decades more than in the last century. Schools are a cultural melting pots and there are no longer neat lines between nationality, cultures and ethnicity. Growing diversity needs have risen in the classrooms and the question we need to ask ourselves as teachers – Is there a moral responsibility for teachers to help us adapt to diversity?

So, the question here arises what makes schools truly international? What makes Teachers truly International school teachers? To answer both these questions lets delve into – What is International mindedness and how do schools’ practice international mindedness? Schools that promote International mindedness are multicultural and have students and faculty from different backgrounds. There is a lot of emphasis on both the faculty and students demonstrating the ability to:

  • Understand different cultures and being sensitive to their viewpoints
  • Being open minded and respecting different cultures, religions and people
  • Demonstrating strong communication skills

This needs to be practiced and demonstrated by every individual in the school and all its stakeholders. The teachers and the school leadership need to imbibe this in every student, parent and individual in the school. In order to do so, teachers need to sensitize students towards cultural differences, individual needs, and global citizenship. Teachers must make students realise that there is a big world out there and just not their own countries.

In the true sense, schools that are multicultural and practice International curriculums are International schools.

In a globalised world which is fast evolving and technology playing an integral part, what defines a teacher who is International in her approach?  With the National Education Policy 2020 clearly outlining a holistic approach to learning along with emphasis on mother tongue and removing of cultural barriers, some of the attributes that teachers can imbibe in their students are:

1) Cognitive competencies: The word 21st century skills are so loosely translated and understood – this needs to be broken down as cognitive competencies such as critical thinking, problem solving, reasoning analysis, active oral and written communication skills

2) Intra-personal competencies such as flexibility, open-mindedness to appreciate other cultures, social responsibility to understand other people’s needs, integrity

3) Inter-personal competencies like teamwork, collaboration, negotiation skills

In order to develop the above skills and have schools as a more holistic place – it is important that we shift focus from a grade-oriented system and rote learning and an extremely competitive environment. Here is where I would like to modify the adage “Maslow’s before Bloom’s” to “Maslow’s  Bloom’s” where one will need to look at developing the Student well -being and social and emotional quotient along with the skills, attitudes and competency. Any competent teacher is aware that emotions and feelings impact students’ performance and learning.

Teachers who truly practice Internationalism are the ones who walk the talk, they

1) Model behaviour for students, have a mature yet professional relationship with students wherein students feel the connect and are able to approach the teacher at any point in time with their apprehensions and feel supported

2) Flexible teachers who are ready to adapt and ready to accept new ways

3) Teachers who want to be completely involved with the students and everything around the school and students’ life. When teachers are completely involved in the academic space and beyond academics as pastoral teachers, they are able to bring about positive influences within their students and foster a spirit of community amongst them.

4) Teachers who are able to lead their students learning beyond the curriculum and plan for Inter-disciplinary teaching and bring in connections with the real world. Teachers who are able to see connections with the subject knowledge with the varied things happening around the world and are able to get students to see relevant and meaningful connections through their teaching,

5) Teachers who demonstrate high level of professionalism by treating their students with respect, building relationships based on trust and maintaining distance appropriately as professionalism demands.

6) Teachers must uphold the school’s policies and always must act in accordance with their professional duties and responsibilities.

There are schools that do follow the National Curricula and do imbibe International mindedness amongst their students. What makes these schools and teachers truly International? Schools that promote our own culture and celebrate diversity. They celebrate differences and value contributions from every individual. This is easier said than done. As I mentioned earlier – it needs to come in through Intercultural school activities and events, collaboration with organisations that promote multicultural ethos – sending students for student exchange programs and more than anything promotes our own culture and diversity. Teachers and schools need to promote student well-being in an overall manner which supports inclusivity, diversity along with academic rigour and skill development.

We can hope to achieve International mindedness in a true sense and more if we make such practices visible in the way we model practices in schools and it is time we do so!