07 SES 11 A, Minority Teachers Part 2
Paper Session continued from 07 SES 09 A
Existing research points to the potential for strong positive impacts resulting from the presence of teachers from minority ethnic backgrounds in schools (Schmidt and Schneider, 2016). Notwithstanding problematic discourses and practices surrounding ‘minority teachers’ (Santoro 2015), benefits identified include improved academic, social and personal outcomes for students from minority ethnic backgrounds, as well as better intercultural awareness and education (Goldhaber et al, 2015, Bense 2016).
Successive intercultural and integration strategies at national and European level name the recruitment and integration of migrant or minority ethnic teachers as an important policy objective (Department of Education and Skills, 2010; European Commission 2016). Yet despite increasing ethnic diversity in the wider population, and these clear policy aims, available data point to a lack of diversity in the teaching profession in many European contexts (Schmidt and Schneider 2016), and especially in Ireland (Devine, 2011; Keane & Heinz, 2016). This is particularly stark in Ireland, where the teaching profession has been characterised as White, Heterosexual, Irish-born, Settled and Catholic, or WHISCs (Tracy, 2000).
Minority ethnic teachers are scarce in Ireland not just in schools but also in programmes of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) (Keane & Heinz 2016). Although only 81% of the population of Ireland now identify as ‘white Irish’ (CSO 2017), 99% of applicants to primary, and 98% of entrants to post-primary ITE programmes identified in this way in 2014.
Census data, in addition to other sources, suggest that there is a significant number of Immigrant Internationally Educated Teachers (IIETs) in Ireland (CSO, 2016; Feldman et al, 2004). However, available data suggest that these teachers are not currently teaching in schools, despite increasing issues of teacher supply in key areas (Teaching Council of Ireland, 2015).
Initial scoping identifies some potential barriers to employment for IIETs, notably the requirement to achieve a high standard of proficiency in the Irish language (Schmidt and Mc Daid, 2015). However, as yet little is known about these teachers, and a comprehensive analysis of any perceived or actual barriers to their employment has not been carried out.
This paper draws on important new research, funded by the Irish Department of Justice and Equality through the Migrant Teacher Project. The research is aimed at achieving better understanding of the backgrounds, qualifications and perspectives of migrant teachers, and of the perceptions of teacher recruiters to them, and to identify any gaps in IIET’s knowledge or skills, as perceived by IIETs themselves or employers. The research also explores the benefits of the employment of IIETs from the perspectives of IIETs and employers, although these findings are not the main focus of this paper.
The paper draws broadly on Bourdieu and Passeron’s (1977) work in exploring the processes which lead to these migrant teachers’ exclusion from schools. Teachers can be understood as pedagogic agents, imbued with pedagogic authority through formal processes of accreditation and selection, and through notions of the legitimate conduct of the profession (p11-31). These processes involve the (possibly arbitrary) imposition of cultural arbitraries which legitimate certain languages, content or stances over others.
In their work on elimination, Bourdieu and Passeron refer to the mortality rate of different social classes through processes such as these (p154). This paper extends this analysis to consider the role of cultural arbitraries in the accreditation and selection of migrant teachers, and links this to mortality rates in this sub-set of migrants.
This study builds on previous research in the area of immigrant teachers in Ireland and elsewhere (Santoro, 2015; Schmidt and Mc Daid, 2015; Mc Daid and Walsh, 2016), but is the first to explore the profile of IIETs in Ireland, or the perceptions of school employers in relation to migrant teachers. A review of relevant literature along with analysis of relevant Irish and European policy documents frames the empirical element, which employs a sequential explanatory mixed method strategy that recognises methods as an integral part of the entire research process (Creswell, 2009). Quantitative data are generated through an online survey of IIETs. Utilising traditional and social media, migrant support and other community groups, as well as complementary language schools, a target of 250 primary and post-primary IIETs is expected to generate a sample of at least 120 responses. Focus groups are conducted to probe in more depth the perceptions of a sub-sample of IIETs. Through careful design - semi-structured with reference to data generated in the survey, but also flexible, in order to allow research questions to shift and evolve throughout the process (Luttrell 2010) - participants are facilitated to discuss their experiences and perceptions of being teachers in Ireland. This focus group format enables then to build upon the responses of other group members, with a view to eliciting more elaborated and considered accounts of experiences and perceptions (Wilkinson and Silverman 2004). Focus groups are to be similarly utilised to explore the experiences and perceptions of employers (school principals and selection panel members) in relation to the employment of IIETs. Empirical data are analysed with a view to identifying emerging themes. Teacher focus group data are triangulated with teacher survey data, employer focus group data and previous literature to maximise validity. The motivations of the researchers to increase diversity in the teaching population are recognised and acknowledged throughout the design, data generation and analysis phases of the research. A vigilant and hyper-reflexive approach (Hammersley and Atkinson 1995) is taken throughout the research process to ensure that data and conclusions are grounded in participants' life experiences and take full account of their perspectives and contexts, and of their social relations and positioning.
While the research is ongoing at time of submission, initial scoping indicates a high level of interest among Immigrant Internationally Educated Teachers (IIETs). Reasonable response rates are therefore anticipated, which should provide breadth of data in the survey element, allowing for the generalizability of findings. The paper will therefore provide important information about the demographic and qualifications profile of a sample of IIETs in Ireland - including those who are in employment in schools as well as those who are not. It will provide important insights into their perspectives on and experiences of the teacher registration process in Ireland and on seeking and gaining employment in schools. This will include information about any reported perceived or actual shortfalls in the qualifications or skills of IIETs as perceived by IIETs themselves or employers, and this will be presented with reference to current policy and practice in teacher accreditation and employment. The paper will provide an analysis of these data with reference to the theoretical framework outlined. The extent to which IIETs are facilitated or prevented - through the processes of registration and selection - to become pedagogic agents, legitimately involved in pedagogic action will be explored. Analysis will also consider whether elements of these processes operate as cultural arbitraries, whose imposition works to exclude migrant teachers from the teaching profession. Recommendations for future policy and practice will also be presented.
Bense, K. "International teacher mobility and migration: A review and synthesis of the current empirical research and literature." Educational Research Review 17 (2016): 37-49. Bourdieu, P. and Passeron, J.C., 1977. Reproduction in education, culture and society. Central Statistics Office (CSO). Census 2016, accessed November 2017 Creswell, J.W., 2009. Mapping the field of mixed methods research. Devine, D., 2011. Immigration and schooling in the republic of Ireland: Making a difference?. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Department of Education and Skills (with the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration), 2010. Intercultural Education Strategy. European Commission, 2016. Action Plan on the integration of third country nationals, Brussels, 7.6.2016 COM(2016) 377 Feldman, Alice and Gilmartin, Mary and Loyal, Steven and Migge, Bettina, 2008. Getting On: From Migration to Integration - Chinese, Indian, Lithuanian and Nigerian Migrants' Experiences in Ireland. Technical Report. Immigrant Council of Ireland, Dublin. Goldhaber, D., Theobald, R. and Tien, C., 2015. The theoretical and empirical arguments for diversifying the teacher workforce: A review of the evidence. The Center for Education Data & Research, University of Washington Bothell. Hammersley, M., Atkinson. P., 1995. Ethnography: Principles in practice. Keane, E. and Heinz, M., 2016. Excavating an injustice?: nationality/ies, ethnicity/ies and experiences with diversity of initial teacher education applicants and entrants in Ireland in 2014. European Journal of Teacher Education, 39(4), pp.507-527. Luttrell, W. ed., 2010. Qualitative educational research: Readings in reflexive methodology and transformative practice. Routledge. Mc Daid, R. and Walsh, T. 2016. Challenging the homogeneity of the elementary school teaching force in Ireland. In Schmidt, C and Schneider, J. (Eds.), Diversifying the teaching force in transnational contexts: Critical perspectives. Sense Publishers: Rotterdam, The Netherlands, pp. 153-164. Santoro, N., 2015. The drive to diversify the teaching profession: narrow assumptions, hidden complexities. Race Ethnicity and Education, 18(6), pp.858-876. Schmidt, C. and Mc Daid, R. 2015. Linguistic barriers among internationally educated teachers in Ireland and Canada: A critical comparative analysis. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, 38(3), 172-183. Schmidt, C. and Schneider, J. eds., 2016. Diversifying the teaching force in transnational contexts: Critical perspectives. Springer. Teaching Council of Ireland, 2015. Striking the Balance - Teacher Supply in Ireland: Technical Working Group Report. Wilkinson, S. and Silverman, D., 2004. 10 Focus Group Research. Qualitative research: Theory, method and practice, pp.177-199.
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