August 30, 2022 – 1:00 pm EST (10:00 am PT)          

Dr. Rebecca Stroud Stasel

certified K-12 teacher and a researcher of comparative and international education and educational policy and leadership

Rebecca Evans

PhD student at Queen’s University in Canada. Her doctoral work focuses on how civil society organizations function as civic educators


Mentoring matters: Harnessing the power of early career failures in overseas international schools

Opportunities for teaching positions overseas abound. The global demand for teachers outstrips its supply (Brummitt & Keeling, 2013; UNESCO, 2016). Through effective mentorship, leaders help newcomers cope with challenges and build pathways to longer term success (Mancuso, et al., 2010). We argue for a re-examination of the concept of failure in the context of educator acculturation overseas, and the self-leadership and school leadership mentoring activities that support new teachers. Oberg (1960, p. 177) first described culture shock as “an occupational disease” that can lead to sudden personal breakdown and departure. Since the onset of the pandemic, sudden teacher departures have risen sharply (Author1, in press). To mitigate the issue, strategic planning of K-12 international school leadership includes improving teacher retention. Sudden unannounced teacher departure has been viewed as expatriate failure (Stephenson, 2015). In this presentation, we problematize notions of failure. We examine a subset of a qualitative study on educator acculturation involving 17 educators (teachers, school counselors, and educational leaders) who were sojourning, meaning they were not from the host country and were living between cultures. Participants were educators living in five regions in Southeast and East Asia. They were found to utilize an arsenal of self-leadership strategies (Houghton et al., 2011) to mitigate acculturative challenges. Most of the participants recalled an early career sojourning experience that they described as shocking and stressful. Participants had initially viewed their experiences as failures; however, the participants described that these earlier experiences led to beneficial outcomes: increased capacity for future successful overseas teaching experiences, evidenced by reduced acculturative stress (Berry, 2006). We posit that the initial “fail” when coupled with self-leadership strategies and mentorship, has a beneficial long-term effect.

The global demand for teachers outstrips its supply and teacher retention in K-12 international schools remains a challenge. Through effective mentorship, school leaders aid newcomers in coping with challenges, which can help turn early career failures into long-term career success. In this presentation, we problematize notions of failure by examining a subset of a qualitative study on educator acculturation involving 17 educators.

If you are interested in sharing your knowledge and practices in the mentoring field with others, consider presenting an IMA Webinar. The platform used is Zoom and the webinars are 45-60 minutes in length.The networking, resources, and professional interconnections support leadership, professional development, and ‘giving back’ to the profession and to those you serve as a mentor!

Email imawebinars@mentoringassociation.org for more information.