Relational intensities: the practices of education in international schools

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This paper focuses on practice architectures of international schools and the experiences of teachers' relational intensities during explicit and implicit professional learning. Empirical data are drawn from two case study schools located in countries that are significant locations for international education; one school is situated in China, the other in the United Arab Emirates. The data set comprises on-site observations and interviews with international and ‘local’ teachers, and school leadership. The analysis focuses on relational intensities experienced by teachers in these relatively newly established international schools. By extending the current understanding of the concept of precarious labour from a practice ontology perspective, we examine relational intensities and their effects on the professional learning of local-hire and international-hire teachers and school leaders. We argue that relational intensities are a critical part of the emotional labour one experiences while becoming a teacher in an international setting. The affective intensities experienced in the workplace contribute to mis/understandings of teachers’ professional being. In addition, the affective atmosphere of teachers’ workplaces, which often generates an oppressive sense of precariousness, is simultaneously influential in shaping the very conditions for their professional learning in these international workplaces. We argue, therefore, that taking a practice-ontological perspective allows for a recognition of the primacy of affect in the professional learning of teachers.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventInternational Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education 2022: Transforming the Future of Education: The Role of Research - University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 28 Nov 20221 Dec 2022


ConferenceInternational Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education 2022
Abbreviated titleAARE 2022
Internet address


  • teacher education
  • professional learning

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