International Field Experiences

Practice teaching in classrooms outside the United States gives future teachers opportunities for cultural immersion and a chance to hone their teaching skills. These experiences may be referred to as international field experiences, global student teaching, or student teaching abroad, but all of these terms describe supervised practice teaching in another country to fulfill certification requirements.

In a book devoted to the topic titled Intercultural Student Teaching: A Bridge to Global Competence, the book's editors Sharon Brennan and Ken Cushner note:

One way to prepare teachers to address the challenges associated with teaching children in a global age is through carefully structured, intercultural field experiences where candidates are immersed in another culture.  Since student teaching requires candidates to show they can translate theory into practice over an extended period of time, this capstone event is ideally suited for strengthening candidates' intercultural understanding.  Placements in other cultures open tremendous opportunities for student teachers to learn about another's view of the world from an insider's perspective, and thus become more global in their thoughts and actions.

A growing number of institutions recognize the value of such experiences in helping new teachers develop relevant skills. These programs require many resources, not just to establish, but for student placement and supervision, host institution coordination, and post-program evaluation.  Despite the challenges, student teaching abroad is taking place in a variety of settings.

This section of the GTE website explores the several aspects of providing international field experiences.  The Getting Started article explores considerations for institutions interested in providing, changing, or adding to existing intercultural student teaching opportunities.  Barriers to Bridges examines common challenges faculty and administrators cite when considering these opportunities and how to address those challenges, while the Evidence section reviews research on the effects of these programs on participants.  Finally, the Program Provider and Resources pages provide organizations, institutions, and individuals with links to research and program providers in order to support and facilitate international field experiences for future educators. 

These resources and articles were developed with the input and expertise of GTE’s Advisory Committee on International Field Experiences.  Many of these articles are under development, so please check back periodically for updates, and register at GTE to receive notifications on new content.

References

Faculty and Campus Strategies: