Dunn: Supporting international teachers is key to success
Dunn, who had just completed her master’s thesis on international teachers, befriended her colleague and learned firsthand the difficulties such teachers face when they make the decision to teach abroad.
“International teachers are often recruited by for-profit agencies to work in U.S. urban schools. They are presumed to be able to do so successfully and to be what the agencies call ‘global ambassadors’ without any preparation or support to understand urban contexts,” said Dunn, an assistant professor in the Department of Middle and Secondary Education. “I became very interested in looking at international teachers’ preparation, pedagogy, and support, as well as the policy contexts in which that recruitment unfolded. There are over 20,000 international teachers in U.S. schools right now, but no one is talking about it.”
This became the inspiration for her book, “Teachers Without Borders? The Hidden Consequences of International Teachers,” which, in addition to describing the international context of globalization and neoliberal policies that make recruitment possible, highlights four Indian teachers’ experiences teaching in a major metropolitan area in the southeastern United States.
Dunn observed these teachers in their classrooms and interviewed principals, school district administrators, recruitment agency employees and union representatives to get a better picture of how and why international teachers are recruited to work in the U.S., and how educators can address the challenges these teachers encounter – from limited professional support and cultural preparation to a fear of deportation and lack of sufficient pay and benefits.
She also believes colleges of education could be instrumental in developing professional development opportunities for both teachers and administrators in schools that want international educators on their faculty.
“Because international teachers are primarily recruited to teach in urban areas, it would help to establish partnerships with universities and colleges of education to support the teachers and give them the in-service education they need, as well as provide that support for their principals, who need some knowledge of intercultural communication,” she said.