An Exploration of Culturally Responsive Leadership in Canadian Overseas Schools in China

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Thompson, Jennifer
Canadian overseas schools , Canadian curriculum , China , Internationalized schools , Translanguaging , Leadership , Culturally responsive pedagogy , Educational , Culturally responsive
In an era of increasing diversity and globalization, overseas internationalized schools offering Western (including Canadian) curriculum have proliferated to unprecedented levels. However, with this growth, comes the added complication of negotiating not only transplanted curricula, but multiple intersecting cultures, values, and priorities. To adequately support the students and staff at Canadian Overseas Schools (COS), it is the responsibility of leaders to consider and employ strategies to integrate the various ways of knowing of the school population, and purposefully include diverse practices and perspectives to enhance learning and create systems to dismantle inequities, supporting success for all students. This study focused on Culturally Responsive Leadership (CRL) at Canadian Overseas schools in China, and sought to answer the following questions: (1) In what ways do the beliefs, attitudes and practices of leaders align with the infusion of CRL in schools?; (2) What kinds of challenges and successes do leaders experience when navigating CRL in COS in China?; and (3) What supports, resources and recommendations can be identified to further CRL practices? Using semi-structured interviews as part of a multi-site qualitative analysis approach, data were collected from nine leaders at four different COS in China, then analysed in a four-phased approach utilizing open coding and thematic analysis to organize results according to emerging themes related to leadership roles and qualities, engagement, cultural proficiency, mentorship and contextual considerations. Findings were consistently aligned with existing literature on CRL but served to highlight the complexity of the role of the COS leader. Discussion surrounded the importance of developing dedicated cultural knowledge, actively promoting shared decision-making to overcome emerging challenges, and infusing multiple perspectives into the school’s planning and implementation of procedures and curriculum to promote relevant and meaningful engagement with the whole school, and wider community.
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