As with all professions, international teaching has various types and levels of professional qualifications and professional standards that must be met and maintained. Unfortunately, there are times when these standards are met in name only because of visa purposes, without the intended knowledge and skills being passed along as well. As teachers, we hold an important duty to our students to be effective in our work. As international teachers this duty is compounded because we can oftentimes be our students’ first or only window into other parts of the world. It is compounded again because we are often representatives of our countries of origin to the people around us when we are in new countries. We are educators and ambassadors, and these responsibilities should not be taken lightly.
It only takes a short Google search to come across blog posts and articles about teachers in certain countries who are only qualified because of their country of origin or skin color, with no other teaching education or abilities. It is highly disrespectful to the students and people of the host country for one to not take the time to learn about the subject they intend to teach and being an effective teacher in general. If anything, one should hold themselves to an even higher standard when international teaching because of the cross cultural and globalized nature of the profession.
This is not to disparage those who go to other countries to volunteer or spend a gap year experience teaching, these programs and opportunities serve a very effective and beneficial purpose. However, the majority of these programs offer training prior to arrival. This post is intended to address those who view international teaching as a way to slack off, be lazy, and bring no true benefit to the students or society in which they live. Having the opportunity to be an international teacher and teach around the world while earning a good living is something to be respected and thankful for, not something to be taken advantage of.
I challenge each international teacher to participate in some form of professional development and make and effort to stay on top of recent research and studies regarding the industry or subject in which you teach. There are plenty of opportunities for professional development and self-growth year-round, both online and in person, and they should be used to become more effective. As international teachers we have unique lifestyle, professional, and personal opportunities that are not to be taken for granted, and we should hold ourselves to the highest standards we can, regardless of whether others hold us to them or not.