A Diverse Teaching Workforce: 4 ways it benefits international school students

Michelle Dickinson
Updated on
March 30, 2021

International schools in major cities around the world often promote their commitment to diversity. Unfortunately, teacher diversity in international schools does not reflect this commitment, and this situation needs to change.

Our children gain a well-rounded education thanks to a variety of teachers. In fact, teacher diversity creates informed and successful global citizens in four ways.

1. Teacher Diversity Promotes Inclusion

Many international schools seek to attract a diverse student body, but adversely, they hire few non-Caucasian teachers. The teachers of colour they do hire simply create an illusion of diversity for the school.

People of colour agree that they typically do not receive access to equal opportunities in the international education community. They note that some international schools advertise for only native English speaking teachers, and some schools only hire teachers with passports from certain countries, such as the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Canada, and strangely South Africa. These discriminatory practices do not model or teach inclusion.

2. Teacher Diversity Develops International Mindedness

International schools around the world use the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme, which is dedicated to creating a better world through education. One main IB goal is to develop young people who promote intercultural understanding and respect.

It stands to reason that international schools that implement IB shall also employ teachers with the same character traits they wish to instil in students. It’s not enough to teach diversity. Schools with integrity must hire teachers who model diversity and practise international mindedness, too. Diversity in cultures and a commitment to world citizenry are two essential traits for teachers in a thriving international school.

3. Teacher Diversity Represents Subcultures

Diversity includes countless subcultures. For example, teachers from a single country may speak different dialects, wear different clothing and follow different traditions. India is one country that has close to 30 different states, each with its own language or multiple languages.

With so many subcultures, it’s important for international schools to embrace diversity.

Diversity in international schools recognises the uniqueness of subcultures. Like OWIS, they will actively recruit and hire teachers who have lived and worked in a variety of different countries, have earned advanced degrees from various leading global institutions and have travelled extensively throughout the world. Teachers who have taught in international locations and model international mindedness bring a unique perspective to a school and demonstrate the beauty, value and importance of all subcultures.

4. Teacher Diversity Provides Role Models

Children in an international school may come from many countries and cultures. For example, the global student body at the OWIS Nanyang campus represents 70 nationalities.

Children can and do learn every day from teachers who look different from them. But the diversity of teachers in international schools increases a child's access to relevant role models. Children feel included when their teacher looks like them, and students appreciate connecting with teachers who understand their unique cultural practices,  beliefs and history. A diverse faculty also shows all children that it is possible to succeed no matter what nationality they belong to.

If a school promotes itself as internationally minded, it should also employ teachers who represent the students in the school and serve as role models. Diversity in international schools includes a student body and a staff body that work together to create a better world.

Teacher Diversity Thrives at OWIS

Teacher diversity in international schools is demonstrated at OWIS. Our diverse community includes representatives from many nations and subcultures, and our extraordinary teachers contribute to the vibrancy of our school as they shape and nurture future global citizens.

To establish a diversity of teachers in international schools, educational institutions must practise hiring equality and recruit teachers of varying nationalities, subcultures and experiences. Parents confidently choose these diverse international schools because they know that their children will receive an inclusive and multicultural education that prepares them to appreciate, promote and thrive in today’s global economy.

‘One with the World’ is a core principle of the OWIS learning model that’s evident throughout our campus. Visit us to see all the ways our staff and students prioritise diversity and become global citizens in an intentional environment where we practise what we promote.

About Author

Michelle Dickinson

Head of School

Michelle has a BA (Hons) in History and South Asian Studies from North London University and PGCE from Middlesex University. She began teaching across all three primary key stages. Michelle began her school leadership career in 2002, when she became the Deputy Head Teacher of a large primary school in North London and spent four wonderful years there before relocating to India in 2005.

Her first international position was the Head of Primary of a local/international school in Bangalore in Southern India, where she introduced the Cambridge International Primary Programme and Checkpoint. Michelle then spent 6 years in China and 3 years in Ethiopia developing curriculum and assessment practices.

Michelle believes that children learn best when they are having fun and are engaged in practical, real life activities. While she recognises that outstanding academic achievement is the ultimate goal, she feels it is just as important to build self-esteem, instill character and encourage a global outlook in every child. Michelle believes that learning transcends the classroom environment and is passionate about educational visits and extra-curricular experiences.

Michelle is married with four children - Ana, Hindya, Bille and Markos. The Dickinson family have a sense of adventure and love of life. They particularly enjoy the outdoors, family holidays, making friends, good weather, camping and exploring and are delighted to be at OWIS.

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