Central to this inquiry are three international teachers’ stories of changing relationships during times of conflict with other teachers, school administration, members of the parent body and, in one case, with extended members of government in the host country of the International School. Each of the three stories occurred during a time of intense political change in the out of classroom places on the school landscape; the change involved school or governmental administrators. In at least one of these stories, the shifting politics extended to a changing governmental position that placed the teacher in physical jeopardy. In each of the three cases, the teachers turned to the International Schools Review to assist them with their conflict.
In one case, the International Schools Review became highly politically involved, contacting government officials in many countries, as well as the media for assistance. Additionally, ISR used its web site to mobilize its its 40,000 monthly readers in order to ensure some measure of safety for the teacher involved. The stories told by the teachers are the focus of this inquiry. It has been my intention in conducting this inquiry to add to our understanding of the landscape of schools, as it pertains to teachers’ relationships. In particular, the relationships explored existed before, during and after the conflict that occurred.
Much of our understanding about teachers’ relationships in schools may be found in specific stories told by narrative researchers (Bateson, 1989; Chase, 1995; Clandinin, 1995; Greene, 1994; Qoyawayma, 1992). Information about relationships can also be found in research that describes the characteristics of what encompasses a good relationship (Morgan, 1997; Sergiovanni, 1992; Strike, Haller and Soltis, 1988; Wheatley & Kellner-Rogers, 1996; Witherell and Noddings, 1991). I found no research, however, that focuses upon teachers’ relationships during times of conflict, particularly as it applies to International Schools. This inquiry may offer possibilities for enhanced understanding within this area. How teachers feel during conflict that affects them is another area that has not been widely researched.
The stories in this inquiry explore the feelings of three teachers caught in conflictual situations. Their stories are about how they made sense of and chose to respond to those situations. By understanding more about the people in educational organizations, it may be possible to come to some greater understanding of the nature of human life as lived to bear on educational experience as lived” (Clandinin & Connelly 1990:3).