Monday 27 Mar 2023

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Becoming an International Educator

By Karen Taylor, PhD., Director of Education and of the Institute of Learning and Teaching, Ecole Internationale de Genève

In recent years there has been an explosion in the number of UK universities offering a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education PGCE (International) in-person or online and in 2022 the UK Department for Education piloted a new international teaching qualification (iQTS) after a lengthy period of public consultation, the results of which were published in 2021. Like many of my colleagues in the UK and internationally, I found the approach disturbing. Somehow the fact that the “i” is lowercase appears significant, as if the very title suggests how un-international the content of the programme is. In fact, this widely publicised programme reinforces one of the major problems in international education today - the overwhelmingly anglophone influence in school leadership, teaching staff and pedagogical approaches. The irony in making this statement does not escape me. Rather I find it a compelling reason to challenge my own assumptions about learning and teaching in plurilingual and pluricultural contexts.

When I say international, I don’t necessarily mean the “traditional” international school offering an international qualification like the IB to globally mobile expatriate families, nor even the many new internationalised schools emerging across the globe that cater to local elites. When I speak of international education I am thinking of the kinds of highly diverse student populations one may find in public and private schools anywhere in the world and our obligation as educators to meet those students’ needs in ways that reflect current understandings of how learning takes place and that are respectful of who those students are. What it all comes down to in the end is an understanding of what it means to create an inclusive classroom and how we may prepare international educators to do so. 

Ecolint offers a full-time, intensive, school-based initial teacher training programme in collaboration with Durham University (UK), and a part-time professional development pathway for those with prior pedagogical experience in conjunction with Oxford Brookes University. In both instances what Ecolint brings to the table in our professional practice certificate are forward-thinking, innovative approaches to teaching and learning grounded in a firm commitment to and a deep understanding of what it means to be a reflective practitioner in an inclusive classroom. This means not only preparing future teachers with the tools they will need to integrate content and skills, to develop conceptual understanding in their students, to manage a classroom, or to be creative in their approach to assessment - all things that we associate with any high quality teacher education programme. We also, and most importantly, provide aspiring and early career classroom practitioners with an understanding of what it means to have developed concrete pedagogical practices that are culturally and linguistically responsive and sensitive to neurodiversity, identity and difference. In other words, at the heart of our teacher training programmes is what has been at the core of Ecolint since its inception, a commitment to education for peace and social justice.