“Stuck in the region”: the affective experiences of living as a mobile teacher

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    Governments are recognising the economic value associated with international schools and the growing ability of the emerging middle-class, local-national parents to pay for their children to attend such schools. This has resulted in an exponential rise of international schools in Asia and the Middle East, with governments lifting or taking away limits on local-national students’ attendance. The clientele of international schools now includes educational migrants, the emerging middle class of local-nationals and expatriate students. To fit the branding of “international”, and provide an international context within the school environment, teachers originating from English speaking countries such as Australia, Britain, Canada, and the United States are sought after. This is in addition to local-national and immigrant teachers from the region.
    The focus of this study is to explore the intersubjective spaces of teacher’s semantic, material and social arrangements (Kemmis, et al., 2013) in an International School situated in the United Arab Emirates. The focus of this case study rests with two women teachers who explain their divergent experiences; one international hire teacher and one local-hire teacher. Analysis directs attention to the varying affective atmospheres created and diverse affective responses that emerge over time in local and international schools.
    Emerging from analysis initial findings indicate that affective atmospheres develops differently. The international hire teacher feels miserable and constrained by the living and working arrangements with aspirations of returning to Australia to teach is not met, resulting in feelings of being “stuck in the region”. By contrast, the local hire teacher is met with a sense of freedom in her teaching and life as she no longer needs to seek permission to vary her teaching style or to travel.
    There are implications for teachers as professionals, opening opportunities for critical reflection on their narratives and other forthcoming opportunities. The paper provides broader implications for professional practice of international teachers in schools where their experience, curricula, languages, cultures, expectations and understandings often differ. In the context of a growing demand for international schooling worldwide, finding new ways of building teacher professionalism and establishing a school culture that moves beyond linguistic, cultural and religious differences to better understand the others’ experience becomes a priority. Working with practitioners to explore the intersubjective spaces and the affective atmosphere created, offers a promising direction towards broadening cultural understandings in an international context.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019
    EventInternational Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education 2019 - Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia
    Duration: 1 Dec 20195 Dec 2019


    ConferenceInternational Conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education 2019
    Abbreviated titleAARE 2019

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