The Global Educator: The implications of teacher mobility on teacher education, professionalism and practice

Year: 2012

Author: Arber, Ruth, Morrow, Athena Vongales

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


In 2011 the US Department of Education reported that in 2008-2009 up to 2.5% of teachers could be defined as 'movers', many of them to destinations abroad.  Although similar research is scarce in Australia, there is evidence to suggest that Australian teachers show similar career mobility.  Surveys data suggests that in 2006 nearly one third of Victorian teachers have teaching experience abroad (Arber & Blackmore, 2006- 2010). Increasing numbers of Australian teachers are teaching secondary school contexts world wide – in international school contexts, as language teachers and subject teachers in secondary schools and in commercially run education centres. However the impact on the teaching profession has received little attention.

Appandurai (1996) argues that international education may lead to the formation of a new 'diasporic, transnational 'revolutionary'.  A small number of recent literatures explore changes which challenge the current status of education (Vongalis-Macrow, 2007,2008) and examine the impact of mobility and internationalisation of teachers, the impacts of teacher travel experiences as spouse support, marketers, student guides, overseas practitioners and exchange participants and the implications of these experiences for teacher education, professionalism and practice. However, teachers' mobility, as part of the mobile workforce, has barely been researched.

This paper reports on research which investigates how the movement of local teachers into international teaching contexts is shaping the teaching profession locally and globally. It explores teachers' mobility: the motivations that drive Australian teachers to teach in locations outside of Australia and the meanings that shape their knowledge and practices as they negotiate those contexts. The movement of teachers from a local system to international education systems has repercussions on local notions and practices of professionalism, professional development, teachers work and conditions and on professional identities. This paper to theorises the concept of mobility from different methodological perspectives and applies the emergent theoretical frame to pilot data taken from the larger survey and case study

While analysis of transnational  workers has focussed on academic scholars, this paper contributes to the understanding of mobility  from the perspectives of teachers.  The paper is an exploratory study of mobility documenting and analysing events in the biographical trajectory of local teachers currently teaching overseas. The paper suggests that teacher mobility will have impact on local systems, and local understandings of teachers' work and professionalism with consequences for professional education, professional organisations, policy and practice.