International School Teachers' Professional Development in Response to the Needs of Third Culture Kids in the Classroom

International School Teachers' Professional Development in Response to the Needs of Third Culture Kids in the Classroom

Margaret Carter, Yvonne McNulty
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6551-4.ch017
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This chapter draws on an exploratory qualitative study of 20 teaching staff at an international school in Singapore to examine the professional development needs of international school teachers in response to the needs of Third Culture Kids (TCKs). It explores what the needs of TCKs are, whether teachers at an international school in Singapore have the skills and competencies to be responsive to these needs, and where gaps in professional development for international schoolteachers may exist. Evidence shows that no professional development training in relation to TCKs is provided specific to the international context in which teachers are employed. Issues that are poorly addressed include staff induction, student transitions and identity issues, language support, pastoral care, and curriculum training. Findings contribute to the educational leadership and management of international schoolteachers by contextualizing professional development as a facet of organizational leadership.
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Third Culture Kids (Tcks)

Third Culture Kids are the children of parents who live in a foreign country for their work (Peterson & Plamondon, 2009). Such ‘work’ may include occupations in the military, diplomatic corps, mission field, non-profit sector, education, and international business. TCKs spend a significant portion of their developmental years (birth to 18 years of age) outside their parents’ culture (Pollock & Van Reken, 2009). Useem (1973) defines three cultures that TCKs inhabit. The first is a child’s country of origin and/or parental culture, of which they hold a passport but in which they may or may not have been born. The second culture is the host country in which a child is currently living. The third culture is the community within the second culture that a TCK most identifies with in terms of a shared lifestyle and meaning (e.g., an expatriate compound or an international school). The TCK experience is marked by the continual process of living in and among different cultures, which Pollock and van Reken (2009) argue ‘affects the deeper rather than the more superficial parts of [TCKs] personal or cultural being’.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Pastoral Care: Looking after the emotional, personal and social wellbeing of children or students (and their parents) including emotional wellbeing, health, social and moral education, and behavior development.

Constructivist Approach: Persons deepening their knowledge and understanding by participating in shared discourse with others. Persons construct their knowledge through the transformation of experiences, linking new knowledge with existing knowledge. The learning takes place through the activity of the learner.

Re-Assignment: An international assignment that is undertaken at the immediate conclusion of a prior international assignment without an intervening period of repatriation.

Home-Country: Country of origin from where an expatriate has been recruited prior to undertaking an international assignment.

International Baccalaureate (IB): An international education foundation headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland that offers four educational programs for children aged 3–19. “IB” can refer to the organization itself, any of the four programs, or the diploma or certificates awarded at the end of the diploma program.

NVIVO: A qualitative analysis software program.

International School: A school that is independent of any national system of education and offers a curriculum that is different from that in the host country. The curriculum focuses on international education, while responding to requirements of the host country’s Ministry of Education. The school is usually, but not always, located overseas from a student’s country of citizenship. There is a multinational and multilingual student body, with English or bilingual being the language of instruction. Some international schools have local students from the host country whose parents pay high tuition fees so their children have exposure to an international education, learn in the language of the international school, and obtain qualifications necessary for applying for higher education studies overseas. Priority is given to developing an ‘international mindedness’ among its students.

Expatriate: An employee of an organization who voluntarily chooses to be sent from their country of origin and/or permanent residence to a foreign country to work temporarily but does not take up citizenship of that country.

Inter-Rater Reliability: A statistical term relating to the degree of agreement among raters, providing a score of how much consensus there is in the ratings given by each rater.

International Assignment: The project or temporary role in another country to which an expatriate is dispatched by his or her employing organization in service of corporate goals, typically for a period of 1 to 5 years.

Pedagogy: Linking the science and art of education, pedagogy combines the subject matter and the content being taught, with the method of teaching this content in such a way that engages students in the learning process.

Learner Profile: At the centre of the IB program is the “learner profile”, which defines the type of students the program is intended to develop, e.g., global citizens that are caring, balanced, open-minded, knowledgeable, communicative, risk-taking, principled, reflective, inquiring, and thinker.

Third Culture Kids: The children of parents who live in a foreign country for their work.

Collegial Reflective Dialogue: Purposeful and effective engagement in reflective thinking with others. Reflective thinking influences reflective practice, an integral part of analysing and evaluating professional action. Learning thus occurs through constructing knowledge in shared social communication with others.

International School Teacher: A qualified and suitable person employed in an international school, who is a registered teacher.

Focus Group: A qualitative research method in which an interactive group of people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes about a particular topic.

International Labour Market: An informal employment market that exists globally to meet the supply and demand of talent for multinational corporations.

Capacity Building: Enhancing and expanding existing knowledge, skills, competencies, and capabilities. Agency is an important element of capacity building, meaning that teachers are active in their own professional development.

Reflective Action: Reflecting on, constructing and integrating new knowledge within the context of existing knowledge, to build on and from experiences, and to be actively engaged in developing theories that can be used in practice.

Host-Country: Country to which an expatriate is temporarily assigned, but for which they do not usually have citizenship.

Professional Development: Authentic participation in professional learning sessions including training, reading, dialoguing, experimenting, reflecting, and collaborative activities, which can be both formally delivered and informally experienced as on-the-job work integrated learning.

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