07 SES 08 A, Internationalisation of Teacher Education and Teachers' Lounge
In this study, we try to explore the aspirations of a specific group of refugee professionals who were teachers in their country of origin and are seeking the opportunity of regaining their profession in the host country. The study reached refugee teachers in Austria and Turkey and made it possible to have a comparative focus. Along with the many other European countries, the demographics of Austria is changing due to internal European mobility as well as the mobility because of refugee movements. Turkey, on the other hand, has faced an abrupt demographic change in some cities due to the Syria crisis. In both of these countries, the people arriving from conflict zones have been an important topic to discuss in the educational context.
Our focus was to depict a picture of the aspirations of refugee teachers about regaining their profession. Research on the topic (Kirk, 2010; Symth & Kum, 2010) shows how important but at the same time, difficult regaining the teaching profession could be for refugee teachers. Refugees with teaching experience should be considered as a qualified group who can contribute to the learning of pupils and at the same time become a part of society through their own competences. Tackling the lack of teachers in many European countries, refugee teachers can respond to that need and also can enhance the diversity among the still homogenous group of teachers. Teachers who have skills and experience would create a diverse teaching force that can respond to the needs of a diverse population (Lee & Stevenson, 2016). A refugee with teaching experience can contribute to the curriculum, enable linkage to communities, developing a vision of pupils, and parent-school collaboration. The existence of refugee teachers in the education workforce would definitely extend the cultural base and the understanding for culture, which would create a positive image about diversity in the society through schools (Kum, Menter, & Smyth, 2010). However, there is still limited knowledge about the experiences of refugee teachers in the host countries (Karam et al. 2017).
The global understanding about the relationship between the success of education and the quality, motivation, and performance of teachers (Kennedy, 2008; Tatto, 2007) led the educational research to the topics such as teachers motivations, teachers’ expectations or the reasons for choosing a teaching career. The necessity of personal commitment to the teaching profession (Saul, 1992) and the increasing demand for responsibilities to respond to the needs of diverse learners had effects on the expectations and motivation of teachers. How the teachers see their future in teaching work and how they see their opportunities in this field is important and requires research as suggested by many (Manuel & Hughes, 2006; Reeves & Lowenhaupt, 2016; York-Barr & Duke, 2004; Yüce et al, 2013).
In this study, we attended to focus on how the experiences in the respective countries affect the professional aspirations of internationally trained teachers. We recruited refugee teachers and surveyed them about their aspirations and motivation for the teaching profession in the host country. By surveying refugee teachers and examining the present conditions, opportunities and offers made for them, we tried to explore individual-level factors as well as the organizational level factors that affect their thoughts.
In the study, semi-structured interviews were the main data collection instruments. Refugee teachers from Syria were our data sources in both countries. The study could reach 11 Syrian refugee teachers in Turkey two of whom are female. The average age of these refugee teachers was found to be 27, 2, which meant that the refugee teachers in Turkey were in their early or mid-career in the teaching profession. The teaching experience in the country of origin ranged from three to eleven years. Seven of the eleven refugee teachers were trained primary school teachers with minimum four years of teaching experience in Syria. Another two of them were Arabic teachers in Syria and both had three years of teaching experience while the other two were math teachers with longer years of experience than the rest. In Austria 2 male and 2 female teachers were interviewed at two points in the course of a requalification program. Three of them were language teachers and one from a STEM background, all from secondary school settings. Age and teaching experience are more diverse ranging from the early thirties to mid-fifties and periods between 3 terms and more than 20 years. Interview data were analyzed to develop themes rather than smaller chunks or codes. Larger categories, in other words, domains (Spradley, 1980) were generated with a holistic perspective. The data was not quantified with frequencies. The reached domains were semantically related to each other and were grouped under a theme. At the end of the analysis, these themes were compared by discussing the background of the participants. Several quotes of the participants were kept and used in the findings.
At the end of data analysis, the themes are discussed for both groups of refugee teachers from Turkey and Austria. The findings showed that the refugee teachers in Turkey and Austria differ from each other in terms of their aspirations and motivation depending on the country context. However, the similarities abound. Refugee teachers in Turkey showed their deep trust in their personal characteristics as well as their pedagogical skills to go on the teaching profession. For them being a refugee and having migration background are positive factors to appeal to cultural diversity in their classes. Altruistic motivations such as inspiring students with refugee background or students from low socioeconomic status, and assisting kids in their academic success were visible goals for the refugee teachers in Turkey. On the other hand, their intrinsic motivation centered themselves on the joy of working with children and the feeling of being appreciated. Their motivation, however, gets negatively affected by the instability of working conditions. The abrupt changes made by Turkish state about the employability of Syrian refugee teachers create fluctuations in their ambitions and goals. The teachers in Austria report a lack of pedagogical knowledge but perceived superiority in the area of subject knowledge compared to locally trained teachers. Especially, a lack of knowledge in didactic variety and of command of teaching technologies was mentioned as worrisome. Openness and willingness to learn these and also expand psychological competence to support children beyond teaching. Language and cultural knowledge were mentioned as advantages. Similarly to Turkey, the teachers perceived themselves as important role models.
Karam, F. J., Kibler, A. K., & Yoder, P. J. (2017): Because even us Arabs, now speak English: Syrian refugee teachers’ investment in English as a foreign language. In: International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 60, 169-182. Kennedy, M. M. (2008). Sorting out teacher quality. Phi Delta Kappan, 90, 59–63. Kirk, J. (2010): Gender, forced migration and education: identities and experiences of refugee women teachers. In: Gender and Education, 22 (2), 161.176. Lee, J. & Stevenson, J. (2016). Employing refugee teachers. A guide for education employers and initial teacher training providers. Refugee Council Kum, H., Menter, I., & Smyth, G. (2010). Changing the face of the Scottish teaching profession? The experiences of refugee teachers. Irish Educational Studies, 29(3), 321-338. Manuel, J. & Hughes, J. (2006). It has always been my dream’: exploring pre‐service teachers’ motivations for choosing to teach. Teacher Development, 10 (1), 5-24. Ralston Saul, J. (1992) Voltaire’s bastards: the dictatorship of reason in the West (New York, The Free Press). Reeves, T. & Lowenhaupt, R. (2016). Teachers as leaders: Pre-service teachers' aspirations and motivations. Teaching and Teacher Education, 57, 176-187. Spradley, J. P. (1980): Participant observation, Long Groove. Symth, G., & Kum, H. (2010): When They don’t Use it They will Lose it’: Professionals, Deprofessionalization and Reprofessionalization: the Case of Refugee Teachers. In: Scotland Journal of Refugee Studies, 23 (4), 503-522 Tatto, M. T. (2007). Reforming teaching globally. Oxford: Symposium Books. York-Barr, J., & Duke, K. (2004). What do we know about teacher leadership? Findings from two decades of scholarship. Review of Educational Research, 74(3), 255-316. Yüce, K., Sahin, E.Y., Kocer, O., & Kana, F. (2013). Motivations for choosing teaching as a career: a perspective of pre-service teachers from a Turkish context. Asia Pacific Education Review, 14, 295-306.
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