Beyond ‘little miss international’: exploring the shaping of professional identities of Australian female mobile educators working in foreign contexts

Year: 2013

Author: Pitt, Penelope, Arber, Ruth

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


The phenomenon of educators working outside their home country has grown in recent decades and yet there has been limited in depth consideration of the impact of mobility on the professional identities of these educators. This paper explores how three Australian women working in Asia and the Middle East in the field of education both engage with common imaginaries of transnational educators from the ‘global North’ and draw on their personal situated histories of mobility in developing their professional identities within their new work contexts. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with three female educators. These interviews constitute part of the initial data from an ongoing project with a larger cohort of mobile educators. Within their respective interviews, each of the three female educators discussed in this paper narrated a critical incident or episode involving a colleague or school community member. The women used these critical incidents to illustrate the shaping of their identities as mobile educators and the development of their understanding within their new context of what a good educator is/does. We draw on this data to conceptualise working as an educator outside one’s home country as a transnational practice that is steeped in complex imaginaries about travel, culture and identity. We explore how incidents occurring in mobile educators working lives can cause their relation to these imaginaries to be interrupted and reconfigured to varying extents, and what this means for their ongoing work as educators.