Latina teachers’ ethnolinguistic identities, sociocultural roles, and the possibility of culturally responsive practices
Colomer, Soria Elizabeth
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This multiple-case study of six Latina language teachers in a new Latino community demonstrates how factors other than race impact student-teacher relationships where racial congruency exists. To further the discussion on the recruitment of Latina/o teachers, this study asks, How do Latina teachers’ ethnolinguistic identities impact their relationship with students, their sociocultural roles, and their classroom practices? Conducted in the state of Georgia, where less than 2% of teachers self-identify as Latina/o, school personnel who worked with Latina teacher participants were also interviewed to better understand the context of the schools and the expectations others had of Latina teachers. Observation and interview data were collected over the course of an academic year, then coded and analyzed inductively and recursively. As teacher educators, administrators, and policy makers continue to recruit teachers of color to meet the needs of students of color, more information is needed to address how race affects the professional positioning of teachers of color and how social contexts impact student teacher relationships where racial congruency exists. To fill this gap, this study reveals that “Latina” teachers often contest the term “Latina” and other ethnic descriptors. Moreover, even though Latina/os are deliberately recruited for their linguistic lagniappe, administrators prioritize factors other than ethnicity when looking at teacher candidates to ensure their students have effective teachers to pass standardized tests. This study also draws attention to Latina teachers’ perceptions of their value added attributes, and considers Latina teachers’ roles as cultural and linguistic interpreters. This study calls for safe spaces and culturally responsive pedagogy in classrooms to promote student and teacher inquiry. Lastly, this study examines Latina teachers’ instructional methods through a culturally responsive lens, and asks if being Latina dictates whether or not a teacher employs culturally responsive methods. Results from this study may provide directions for ways to better support teachers of color, in particular, Latina teachers, as they negotiate both their ethnic identities and their emerging roles as bilingual and bicultural faculty in new Latino communities.
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