How is teaching in an international school different from that of a regular school?

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Teaching in an international school is often an ambition for aspiring teachers. But how does this differ from other schools?

First, international schools promote international education in an international environment by adopting a curriculum different from the country it is situated in. For example, a school in India might follow the International Baccalaureate (IB), or the Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE). While many students are foreigners with parents working in international businesses/organisations or embassies, there are local children as well, whose parents wish them to learn in a holistic environment, obtain qualifications from an international board of education to help them study or work abroad. As a result, teaching in an international school differs in some aspects. Some of these are:

    An appreciation of education’s roles in developing international citizens

    An understanding of the qualification and curriculum requirements of international education providers and how to teach these effectively

    A sound grasp of teaching and learning in the language of the school (many teach in English, but some teach in the language of their sponsor country — French for example)

    A cultural awareness of children from diverse backgrounds

    An understanding of good learning and teaching in an active and engaging way that promotes independent, lifelong learning among students

      Earlier, an international school teacher had to handle students who came from other countries but this has changed and may not be pertinent any more. There is an expectation that teachers will be qualified from the host country of the school. Though the basics remain the same, teachers need to be trained in the requirements of an international syllabus — for example, IGCSE and IB diplomas — with the expectations that lessons are taught in the language of the school (often English).

      The hiring process for teachers could also be different. A qualification like the B.Ed. may not be necessary and schools often look for a person who has a passion to teach and can use creativity in the teaching-learning process.

      Student mobility is also high, with many moving between countries frequently, as their parents move jobs. Therefore, teachers in international schools need to be aware of the social needs of their students, and their well-being.


      Normally a degree in education or a relevant subject along with a postgraduate teaching qualification, and evidence of ability to work in the language of the school is essential. A qualification to teach English as an additional language (EAL) qualification may also be required. Evidence of qualifications like a postgraduate diploma with an emphasis on global or international education could be an advantage.

      In addition, teachers in international schools need to be aware of global issues and best practices and how these can impact learning. A willingness to learn and develop his/her own tool kit of skills to become a truly international education professional is equally important.

      The writer is Programme Director, Aditya Birla Education Academy

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      Printable version | May 8, 2021 3:21:16 AM |

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