Large life changes are always an interesting mix of emotions. Even on a path teeming with excitement and possibilities, the rattling of what’s new and different competes with what was and has been. This provides an opportunity for deep reflection on what we loved about the past and what we hope for the future.
I am thrilled to be starting this next chapter of my professional life in a leadership role for The International Educator (TIE). I find myself a little surprised that I have accepted a position that means for the foreseeable future, I will not be based in a school environment. And to be honest, as I was making this decision I struggled with this idea. Though I have been in leadership in schools for more than a decade, the identity I hold is “teacher.” It’s always what I put on visa forms for my profession, it shapes the decisions and outcomes I advocate for in my work with schools, and it has defined me professionally for almost three decades. I am proud to be a teacher and to be in schools, so it’s strange to be taking a step outside of those doors.
Before accepting this new position I asked myself, “Why TIE? Why now?” I cherish the life I have as an international educator, the work we do with kids, how I have grown as an educator, and the opportunities living abroad has given me both personally and professionally. The pull of the past forced me to reflect on if this new change would bring me the same professional satisfaction. Could I still maintain what I cherish about being a teacher? Does this new opportunity reflect what I want from the future? The answer was clear-yes.
My goal moving forward is to support others in entering the profession of international teaching, highlighting and sharing opportunities. I want to ensure that we have more diverse representation in our schools. I want to engage in conversations about how schools can help to build healthy, broad, and globally representative pipelines into our schools. I want to delve into the deep questions that will help improve our schools. Ultimately, I found my core values to align with my new professional opportunity. I am not stepping away from my identity as “teacher.” I am finding a new way to assist and advance my goals. I am moving into a position that values bringing high quality teachers to schools, that elevates the profession of teaching, and that always puts students at the forefront of why we do what we do.
In the role of Director, my hope and my mission is to utilize the tools of TIE to provide the international school community with resources to advocate for doing things differently, providing new and innovative ways to approach education. When we create ways to uplift the profession and give teachers tools to put their best self forward in finding their first or next international teaching position, kids win. Schools win when we change our recruiting practices to be more inclusive and evidence-based. One of the most expensive enterprises of international schools is hiring new teachers. We can and should do it better. TIE believes this and so do l. One step is to align our assessments with our mission, student learning. For example, the Standards of Practice for International Teachers now used in TIE’s resume tool, allows recruiters to evaluate candidates based on qualities and practices that have the greatest positive impact.
When I reflect back on my journey through the landscape of international education, there is a lot that I can take from what I’ve learned. The past has so much to offer. But moving forward, I want to be a part of something that looks to the future of education, that strives to make a better and more impactful stance on the profession that is not just my job, but my identity. I am incredibly excited to be on this journey with an organization whose mission so aligns with my own.
Stacy Stephens is the Director of The International Educator.