Leaving Home, Teaching Abroad, Coming Home: a Narrative Journey of International Teaching

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Ingersoll, Marcea
International Schools , International Education , Canadian Teachers , Narrative , Teacher Identity
This dissertation tells a research story about Canadian educators and the journey of international teaching. In reading this work you will become familiar with dimensions of experience at what some international teachers call “education’s best kept secret”—international schools. Although international schools do not feature significantly in educational research, their impact on the lives of teachers who inhabit their classrooms is significant. In this dissertation you will discover how the Canadian teachers in this study narrate their reasons for considering international teaching, their experiences in obtaining overseas positions, their professional and personal perceptions of teaching abroad, their reasons for staying overseas, and what it means to come back to Canada. This metaphorical journey of international teaching encompasses three embedded narrative phases: leaving home, teaching abroad, and coming home. Along this journey of international teaching, Canadians share what it means to be a Canadian at global international institutions. This study addresses a gap in the literature on international education: the perspectives of 110 Canadian teachers at three different stages of the journey of international teaching: (a) those considering positions at international schools, (b) those currently working abroad, and (c) those who have returned to Canada after overseas appointments. The stages and the borderlands along the journey provide the opportunity to find home in places both imagined and unanticipated. Interpreting this metaphorical journey through the tensions and possibilities that occur in the borderlands offers insight for both teacher education and teacher identity in local and global contexts.
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