This study was designed to investigate school district administrators’ perceptions and hiring practices of teachers who participated in international student teaching experiences. Thirty central office administrators from 12 states across the United States were interviewed. Administrators included superintendents, assistant superintendents and human resource directors who were directly involved in the hiring process and ultimate decision to hire teachers. The responses and practices of these administrators and the districts that they represent were compared with the perceptions of student teachers and teachers from previous studies who had student taught abroad.
Analysis of the participant administrator narratives provide a holistic picture of ways in which they reflect on the impact of international and diverse student teaching experience. Furthermore, administrator participants concurred that international student teaching experience specifically helps teachers to develop increased personal confidence, cultural awareness, ability to self-reflect on their professional practice and implement change, and ability to differentiate instruction for diverse learners. They also believed that teachers who student taught abroad possess these skills at a greater level than teachers who only student taught in the United States even if those placements were in areas with diversity.
While the student teachers and teachers in previous studies opined that their international student teaching experience was a distinct advantage for them in the hiring process, 29 of the 30 administrators interviewed in this study indicated that their districts have no formal way of accounting for international student teaching experience any differently than student teaching experience in the United States. When asked why their districts do not account specifically for international student teaching experience in the hiring process, all but two struggled to answer the question. However, all indicated that their hiring practices do account for diverse student teaching or diverse teaching experiences that are similar to the diversity currently existing in their districts, but not in a way that differentiates for international placements.