07 SES 07 B, Culturally Diverse Teachers and their Resources in Dealing with Cultural Diversity: Complex Findings from Iceland, Germany and Switzerland
There is a growing number of teachers with an international background in the Icelandic school system (Ragnarsdóttir, 2010). Each teacher brings different resources to the educational setting and thus the purpose of our study was to develop a better understanding of how they draw on their cultural resources in their teaching, develop their professional identities and respond to the diverse social and cultural backgrounds of their students (Day & Gu, 2010). The research questions that guided the inquiry were: Who are the teachers of immigrant backgrounds in the Icelandic school system? And how do they draw upon their resources in the crafting of their professional identity? Our research was qualitative and we used the methodology of interviews and narrative inquiry to learn about 13 teachers who teach in pre-, primary and secondary schools in Iceland. The focus was on the opportunities and challenges inherent in the Icelandic school system, as they become teachers in a new society. Narrative inquiry allowed us to understand the teachers’ representations of their educational settings and their actions within those settings (Clandinin, 2013). Teachers craft their professional identity through daily interactions with administrators, colleagues, students and parents. These interactions, however, are further influenced by the educational discourses surrounding their work, which either facilitate or hinder them in drawing on the resources they bring to the classroom (González, Moll & Amanti, 2005; Ladson-Billings, 2001). Findings from the study draw attention to successes and challenges the teachers have met in their schools and illustrate differences between school cultures in Iceland and their home countries. By exploring teachers stories‘ we have learned about the positive experiences they have had in their work and their freedom to shape their identities and teaching practices according to their beliefs. We have also learned about their challenges and how they have overcome them.
Clandinin, D. J. (2013). Engaging in narrative inquiry. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press Day, C., & Gu, Q. (2010). The new lives of teachers. London: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. González, N., Moll, L.C., & Amanti, C. (Eds.). (2005). Funds of knowledge: Theorizing practices in households, communities, and classrooms. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Ladson-Billings, G. (2001). Crossing over to Canaan: The journey of new teachers in diverse classrooms. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Ragnarsdóttir, H. (2010). Internationally educated teachers and student teachers in Iceland: Two qualitative studies. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, 100 (Special Issue: Educational policy and internationally educated teachers). Retrieved from http://www.umanitoba.ca/publications/cjeap/articles/Ragnarsdottir-iet.html
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