What is it like to be an immigrant teacher in the U.S. schools?
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In spite of the increasing need for more teachers from similar cultural and linguistic backgrounds with English Language Learners in the U.S. schools, there has been little research on the experiences of immigrant teachers. Moreover, the majority of existing research studies of immigrant teachers were conducted outside the United States such as Australia, Canada, Great Britain, and Israel. Compared to these other countries, however, the United States has not been active in producing research on immigrant teachers and exploring the implications of this line of research for the field of teacher education. The purpose of this study is to examine the lived experiences of three multilingual and multicultural immigrant teachers as they work as certified teachers in the U.S. public schools. A phenomenological research methodology was used as a philosophical approach for this dissertation study. Phenomenology studies these experiences as experienced from the first person point of view. Phenomenological interviews, initial bridling statement and bridling journal entries were used for data collection of the study. For data analysis, the whole-part-whole analysis was used. This study found that the immigrant teachers experienced sociocultural challenges due to the cultural differences, prejudices, and their lack of cultural capital of the host society. The immigrant teachers coped with their challenges using educational resources (e.g., professional learning), religion, social networks, and personal dispositions (e.g., dealing with angry parents, conflicts with colleagues, and the lack of instructional support). The immigrant teachers demonstrated strengths such as multilingual ability, international teaching experiences, professionalism, continuing self-improvement, keeping good relationships with school administrators, leadership, passion for teaching, and tenacity. The immigrant teachers had positive experiences when they were appreciated and recognized as a competent teacher by their colleagues, school administrators, students’ parents, and their students. This study highlighted the immigrant teachers’ qualities using the Yosso’s six forms of capital and also suggested “leadership capital” to be added onto Yosso’s six forms of capital. The study concludes with implications for school administrators, professional development, teacher education programs at university, parents/students/teachers, and immigrant teachers.
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