Brings Learning to Life: Exploring Teacher Learning in an International School Context
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This study explored the lived learning experiences of six teachers at Czech International School (CIS). Taking a social, situated, and distributed (Putnam & Borko, 2000) view of learning, it sought teachers’ perspectives on learning and the factors that shaped it. The study was informed by research literature on teacher learning, responses to professional changes, intercultural competence and international mindedness. Participants were nominated by the school’s director, based on the criteria synthesized from literature. This study collected three types of data: 1) director interview, 2) teacher interviews, and 3) teachers’ written reflections. Influenced by a phenomenological approach, all interviews were modeled after Seidman’s (2006) in-depth interview structure, with one important adaptation: prior to each interview, participants were asked to engage in reflective writing exercises. Data were analyzed inductively and spirally by creation of emergent codes and themes. Four themes emerged from the data: 1) Learning to live in the host country, 2) Learning to teach diverse students, 3) Learning to navigate curricular differences, and 4) Learning to contribute to the school community. In summary, the key findings of this study are that teacher learning is complex, multifaceted, and embedded in everyday experiences inside and outside of the school context. Personal factors permeate all aspects of teacher learning and incur conscious choice. The schools’ ethos and support structures set the conditions for learning and frame how and what teachers learn. This study is crucial because it contributes a layered, in-depth teacher perspective on the source and nature of teacher learning in international schools to better understand and support it.