10 SES 16 F, Research on Teacher Educators
Following the mass migration in the year 2015 from specific war zones to Europe, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Vienna approached the University of Vienna to inquire about possibilities of installing re-qualification measures for displaced teachers. Similar initiatives were taken in Sweden and Germany. A group of researchers at the Department of Education investigated and assessed the specific needs of displaced former secondary school teachers now residing in Vienna. The findings led to the project "Basics of Educational Studies for Displaced Teachers", which provides a certificate programme for re-qualification of displaced teachers to re-enter the teaching profession in their host country in Austria. At the same time the project is conceptualized as a research project to collect data on educational background and current professional needs of displaced teachers. The certificate course "Educational background for teachers with a refugee background" was launched in autumn 2017 at the Postgraduate Centre of the University of Vienna. The Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs funded the first year of the course and the associated research project. The second course cycle is mainly funded through donations. The certificate course is a one-year (2 semesters) programme consisting of 40 ECTS covering theory and practicum experience. 46 displaced teachers were qualified in the area of education as their former training as teachers lacked comparable portions. With little or no comparable programs (similar programs in Germany and Sweden targeted on enabling Alumni to act as teacher assistants) aiming at paving so-called 'refugee teachers' way into their former profession, teacher educators involved were to re-interpret the curriculum for that specific group.
This contribution presents teacher educators' first-hand accounts of requalifying teachers from Syria, Chechnya, Tadschikistan, Iran, Iraq, and Tibet in a specialized certificate program in Austria. It reports on teacher educators' reflections of teaching within the framework of the project "Basics of Educational Studies for Displaced Teachers", a certificate programme for requalification of displaced teachers to re-enter the teaching profession in their host country in Austria. The project is accompanied by a research component to collect and analyze data on professional needs of displaced teachers. The report draws on data from two course cycles since the launch of the certificate programme in 2017. The paper reports on teacher educators’ reflection on their practice of re-interpreting the Austrian national curriculum for specific group of recently arrived refugee teachers and their aims at paving so-called 'refugee' teachers' way into their former profession, teacher educators involved were to re-interpret the curriculum for that specific group.
An important factor that influences the agenda for preparing teachers for diversity relates to teacher demographics. Although classrooms have become increasingly more diverse in recent years, the teaching force has remained predominantly homogeneous (Egbo, 2011; Donlevy, Meierkord and Rajania, 2016). This "demographic divide" (Gay, 2000) varies by location. Teachers in many European countries come from the dominant cultures of their country and are frequently tasked with teaching students from diverse and/or non-dominant cultures (Cutri and Whiting, 2015).
Throughout the certificate program, regular exchanges were organized to bring together all 8 teacher trainers involved in 8 modules of the course. During these meetings, experiences were reflected and contents modulated. Documentation of these meetings were reflected upon among the four authors. Commented passages were used to develop cases of good re-qualification practice in higher education institutions.
The project responds to the need to receive, include and integrate newly arrived pupils in the Austrian school and education system, the necessity of engaging all stakeholders (refugee pupils, their parents and families, classmates and parents, teachers, management and administration), and recognizes the crucial role of teachers, who speak the native languages of the newly arrived students, in facilitating this process. Teachers qualified through the certificate program are in a position to support the school operation, facilitate communication with parents, and offer advice to immigrant families on relevant questions such as youth welfare, child and juvenile advocacy, further education, etc. The certificate program not only facilitates the inclusion of teachers with a refugee background in the Austrian labour market as trained specialists, but also contributes to prevention of radicalization, racisms and stereotypical biases. Re-qualified displaced teachers act as mediators and can contribute to raising awareness in this field.
Cutri, R. and E. Whiting (2015), “The emotional work of discomfort and vulnerability in multicultural teacher education”, Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, Vol. 21/8, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13540602.2015.1005869. Egbo, B. (2011), “What should preservice teachers know about race and diversity? Exploring a critical knowledge-base for teaching in 21st century Canadian classrooms”, Journal of Contemporary Issues in education, Vol. 6/2, http://dx.doi.org/10.20355/C5C30R. Donlevy, V., A. Meierkord and A. Rajania (2016), Study on the diversity within the teaching profession with particular focus on migrant and/or minority background: Final report – Study, European Union, Brussels, http://dx.doi.org/10.2766/873440. Gay, G. (2000), Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, research and practice, Teachers college press, New York. 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. Smyth, 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. UN (2019): Migration, displacement & education: Building bridges, not walls.https://en.unesco.org/gem-report/report/2019/migration
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