Cultivating Culturally Responsive Teachers with Professional Development that is Unequivocally Personal

Speaker: Maria Savva
Institution: UCL, Institute of Education/Doctoral School, Cyprus

It is not particularly illuminating to say that an overseas context lends itself to the intercultural development of educators. Besides exposing educators to new cultures that are different from their own, the overseas context is also likely to attract individuals who are appreciative of cultural diversity. In theory, therefore, ideal conditions for intercultural development exist in many international schools, with key ‘ingredients’ in place and ready for easy use. However, some educators who show a keen interest in learning about other cultures have difficulty connecting this learning to the classroom setting. This results in what some might describe as unresponsive teaching, lacking in cultural sensitivity. This session uses research-based evidence to explore this and similar conditions that leaders in international schools find themselves grappling with.

Although personal and professional development are often treated as operating in two separate spheres, recent research indicates that long-term changes in professional practice are significantly influenced by personal change. Furthermore, whilst some educators demonstrate the emotional intelligence and inclination to make important connections between the personal and professional domains, this cannot be assumed to be the case for all educators.

Given this, an institutional-level commitment aimed at facilitating such connections becomes central to successful outcomes. Participants in this session will learn how personal experiences outside of the school building can be used as important catalysts for developing culturally responsive relationships within the school building (including culturally responsive teaching in the classroom). In doing so, participants will also be encouraged to re-think the types of professional development offered in their institutions to better harness the powerful personal experiences of international educators for meaningful professional growth. 

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