Network Conference on Internationalization in Teacher Education
The Network Conference on Internationalization in Teacher Education provided me space, time, structure and impetus to critically consider what it means to prepare preservice teachers to be globally competent. One significant benefit of the Network Conference was the time to engage with colleagues from diverse institutions. While all who attended the conference prepare and support teachers, our approaches to that work differ.
The Network Conference provided opportunities to consider together what teacher preparation looks like across different institutions guided by different objectives, national and state level policies, challenges, etc.
What’s particularly valuable is that in many ways, we experienced the sort of learning that we hope our preservice teachers experience as they participate in Tricontinental Teacher Training (TTT), for example. We learned with and from each other, engaging in rich discussion and collegial debate. As we sought to explain and describe our approaches to teacher preparation to our international colleagues, we were inspired to think critically about practices that have become engrained for us over time. Being asked by colleagues not simply how we did things but also why we did them prompted us to (re)consider practices that we hold nearly sacrosanct. These conversations—some organized by the conference, some happening on walks between the hotel and the conference site, some happening over meals—furthered our collective thinking about transformative teacher preparation.
The Network Conference solidified and extended my collaborations with members of the Faculty of Education at UHH.
On a concrete level, my participation with UHH colleagues led to specific conversations about my applying for a visiting faculty position at UHH. Also, because I attended the conference with one of my doctoral advisees who coordinates the TTT activities for UNC, we were able to begin substantive conversations about cross-institutional doctoral mentorship possibilities and potential dissertation research initiatives.
During the conference week, we TTT colleagues met to further flesh out details of our research on uncertainty. The synergy we experienced during these face-to-face research discussions—after many meetings mediated through often-messy virtual platforms—was palpable. Discussion was rich, rapid and rejuvenating. In addition, since this was the first opportunity we had to meet our Winneba colleagues in person, we began to consider ways of extending the TTT triangle so that UNC students might have the opportunity to visit Ghana and UEW students, UNC.
Having the uninterrupted time and space to think aloud together with a small group of colleagues invested in preparing globally competent teachers was invaluable. I can honestly say that I have never been to a conference where I have felt so well cared for and looked after as at the Network Conference! One of the strengths of the conference was that every person there was invested in our collective learning. Essentially—and humbly—we made the conference. At the formal level, each participant at the conference had an allotted time to share their work with colleagues. We were all invested. On the informal level, long walks and even longer conversations over meals, were all sparks of deep joy across the week and provided opportunities for personal and professional learning, both with colleagues I had known long before the conference and those I had just met.
One of my favorite experiences during the week was my visit to a Hamburg school. While much of ‘school’ looked and sounded familiar, there were many nuanced differences.
This experience allowed me to move out of what had been a theoretical understanding of Hamburg schools/education to a more practical one.
This brief glimpse into the lives of students and teachers provided me with additional questions to take home to consider with my own MAT students, particularly the students engaged in TTT.