Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Walter H Gmelch

Second Advisor

Christopher Thomas

Third Advisor

Ursula S Aldana


The number of international schools and their student populations are increasing around the world. These schools are culturally diverse educational spaces, providing opportunities for cultural understanding but also cultural conflicts. Teachers working in international schools need to be able to provide culturally relevant and responsive curriculum as well as be able to communicate effectively and appropriately with students, other teachers, administrators and parents. Research shows that students do best academically when taught by teachers who are interculturally competent yet there is a gap in current research on how this skill is developed in international teachers, and identified by school leaders. School leaders of international schools seek to employ teachers who have a high level of intercultural competency, however, teachers rarely undergo formal training to develop this competency. This mixed methods inquiry enabled a comparison between data from teachers and school leaders to understand how the skill of intercultural competency was identified and developed in the international school environment.

Four international schools participated in the study from South East Asia, East Africa, Western Europe and South America. The teachers involved in the study reported that early intercultural experiences had an impact on their choice to live and work in another culture. School leaders identified intercultural competency as a necessary skill when interviewing candidates for teaching positions and all school leaders used similar questions during the teacher recruitment process to evaluate this skill in candidates. The qualitative data from both teachers and school leaders indicated that within schools, cultural differences between expatriate teachers and locally employed staff had caused some friction with school leaders reflecting that this is an area to be addressed within their schools. Further research in international schools should focus on assessing the effectiveness of cultural induction programs for expatriate and local staff, as well as planning ongoing professional development in intercultural competency for school leaders, teachers and support staff.