Daryl Sinclair portrait

Written by Daryl Sinclair

Daryl completed his PGCE at UCLIOE and has worked in both the private and public sectors in the UK, Europe, and Asia since 2011. He completed a further MA in Development Education and Global Learning, receiving a Merit and received the 2014 Jack Petchey Award for Outstanding Leader due to Outstanding Service To Young People.

As the community of BAME international teachers grows, they need community support and I hope to support this progression – read on to learn how.

Navigating entry into international teaching is a challenging step to take. Combine that with the specific challenges faced both professionally and socially by the BAME community and you have something truly daunting.

A Wobbly First Step

From the beginning of my international teaching journey, I searched for a support network. Simple, generic advice was always easy to attain, but I needed answers specific to me. I needed a conversation with someone familiar with the challenges of navigating the space as a man racialised as black.

What I needed was a community that I could easily access which was populated by people who had seen international teaching through a BAME lens. At the very least, people who could speak with sensitivity and awareness to the questions I ask.

Unfortunately, I was not able to find it, but as many people do every year, I dove head first into an experience that I knew I wanted. This ‘into the deep end’ approach definitely led to additional challenges. Challenges I hope to help others avoid.

Identifying the Problem

Even when researching to ensure accuracy while writing this article, the results when trying to find a supportive community were not encouraging:

  • Promising forums lacking focus on international teaching such as r/teachersofcolor and dead links —  http://forum.expatteachernetwork.com/#home 
  • ‘Secret Groups’ and invite-only FB groups which are more trouble than they are worth to find and join. 
  • Communities which are ‘universal’ but heavily dominated by the experiences and expectations of US-based white teachers — r/internationalteachers 
  • Companies or organisations which prioritise training courses and paid services or membership fees

The formation of a community of BAME teachers is being prevented by low engagement triggered by a variety of barriers to entry and minimisation in more general forums.

Solutions to the Problems

We must ensure that there is visible and community-driven (constructivist) support available for BAME teachers which people can easily dip in and out of as necessary. 

This means:

  • No financial barriers to entry 
  • Publically visible and easy to find with simple searches online 
  • The group must be open to all with minor gatekeeping against spam, exploitation, and any suppression of the BAME voice 
  • If some ‘premium’ services are available, they should be secondary 
  • Resources, responses, stories, and guidance are generated by community interactions to ensure they directly represent their voice and knowledge base

A widely visible community with no barriers to entry is needed. Simple actions such as following accounts on Twitter, subscribing to people, and popping into forums and groups to occasionally share a response can make a world of difference.

The Dream

  • A broadly visible community where you can easily connect with real people on a variety of platforms and engage
  • A community which supports each other with relevant experience and sensitivity to the personal needs of the person asking. 
  • A community approach that protects from single stories and excessive generalisations. 
  • A community which organically increases the online visibility of BAME international teachers and makes it easier for others to connect.

We all have a story, and many of us are willing to share it. But we may not want that to become a full-time job or for our story to be a central one. If we follow the concept of Each One Teach One, we can become a community which supports the activity and success of BAME teachers.

The Market Importance of Forming a Community

The value of BAME teachers is becoming clearer and is expressed in changes to recruitment at major international recruiters. DEI initiatives are becoming common and more actively invoked rather than the simple lip-service they often represent even today. This has provided potential financial benefits to engaging with the BAME international teaching community for both recruiters and schools.

By forming a more visible community, BAME international teachers can protect themselves from being a resource exploited or excluded by the international teaching job market. Instead, they become a market which can safely and profitably engage with the resource of international teaching opportunities.

A community populated by people who recognise their value, help each other prepare for the reality of employment and life internationally, and support mentalities of ‘I am not alone, I am seen, I understand, and I do not simply have to accept’, is the most powerful market there can be.

Become part of this movement and support the change by joining and contributing to groups, resources, and forums that you come across such as:

Let us create and contribute to the community which will support so many and destabilise the current systemic issues faced by BAME international teachers.

You can connect with Daryl via @dsinclair17, dsinclairwriting@gmail.com, https://medium.com/@dsinclairwriting, https://www.linkedin.com/in/darylsinclairgeography/ and dsinclairwriting.com