Bi-directional Learning Through Relationship Building.
Teacher Preparation for Working With Families New to the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area.
Now, more than ever, immigrants are arriving in the United States from many different countries (Clabaugh, 2000). In California, one in five residents are immigrants; one third of New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of City's population has emigrated from outside the United States (Perkins, 2000). Given the diversity and numbers of immigrant families, prospective teachers need preparation to understand those practices, belief systems, and life experiences that may run counter to what teacher candidates traditionally have been taught about children and families (Bhavnagri & Gonzalez-Mena, 1997). To help partnerships with immigrant parents succeed, prospective teachers need cross-cultural skills (Simich-Dudgeon, 1993). This article describes one teacher education program's effort to help early childhood students learn about working with families who are new to the United States.
Immigrant Families and Teacher Preparation
Immigrants arrive in the United States for a variety of reasons. Many come to improve their economic situation, while others are political and/or religious refugees Individuals who leave their native country for social, political, or religious reasons, or who are forced to leave as a result of any type of disaster, including war, political upheaval, and famine. . Families immigrate im·mi·grate
v. im·mi·grat·ed, im·mi·grat·ing, im·mi·grates
To enter and settle in a country or region to which one is not native. See Usage Note at migrate.
v.tr. to gain more freedom, more material goods, more knowledge, and better living conditions living conditions npl → condiciones fpl de vida
living conditions npl → conditions fpl de vie
living conditions living (Trueba, Cheng, & Ima, 1993). As a result, many immigrant family members have multiple obligations and long working hours. Adults also may need to devote time to their own schooling. Teacher preparation programs should help future teachers understand these aspects of many immigrant families' situations, and have realistic expectations.
Immigrant families experience a cultural transition that may include adjusting to new perceptions of children and schools. Inherent in this transition is a process of accepting some new values, adhering ADHERING. Cleaving to, or joining; as, adhering to the enemies of the United States.
2. The constitution of the United States, art. 3, s 3, defines treason against the United States, to consist only in levying war against them or in adhering to their enemies, to some long-held ones, and modifying others (Bhavnagri & Gonzalez-Mena, 1997). School personnel, with their own ideas about children and schooling, can facilitate immigrant parents' entry into the school culture, or exacerbate their problems. Because images of schooling and children are socially constructed, parents who have grown up in a culture outside of the United States may find that their views of schools and children differ significantly from those of a teacher (Clabaugh, 2000; Valdes, 1996). For example, schools may ask parents to participate in their children's schooling in ways that seem incongruous in·con·gru·ous
1. Lacking in harmony; incompatible: a joke that was incongruous with polite conversation.
2. to recent immigrants (Trueba et al., 1993; Valdes, 1996). Therefore, teacher preparation programs should help future teachers examine their images of children and schooling, and become aware of and respect images that differ from their own.
To establish and maintain communication with families who have immigrated to the United States, teachers can learn to combine information, assistance, and English language English language, member of the West Germanic group of the Germanic subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Germanic languages). Spoken by about 470 million people throughout the world, English is the official language of about 45 nations. instruction--if the family comes from a country where English is not spoken--with a respect for the family's home language and culture (Perkins, 2000). This requires teachers to recognize the family's rich cultural context and to validate To prove something to be sound or logical. Also to certify conformance to a standard. Contrast with "verify," which means to prove something to be correct.
For example, data entry validity checking determines whether the data make sense (numbers fall within a range, numeric data its strengths, while acknowledging differences. Teachers have to recognize, for example, that some families lack formal education (Holman, 1997), and help parents find ways to use their strengths to become part of their children's formal schooling. From the beginning, in their teacher preparation programs, teachers can learn to simultaneously assist and learn from immigrant families.
A general appreciation of cultural diversity, however, is not enough. Teachers and future teachers who do not know a family's experiences prior to arrival in a new country cannot guess how those experiences affect the child's and parents' reactions to school (Perkins, 2000). Teachers can educate themselves and lessen less·en
v. less·ened, less·en·ing, less·ens
1. To make less; reduce.
2. Archaic To make little of; belittle.
To become less; decrease. "the intimidation factor" (Holman, 1997, p. 37) by extending themselves to form personal, warm, and non-judgmental relationships with immigrant parents. Teachers can listen carefully for what is important to the parents; recognizing, for example, that economic survival is often a family's primary, immediate concern, or that there may be a culture clash Culture Clash is the name of:
Teacher preparation programs can help future teachers develop relationship-building skills. Unfortunately, they often are unsuccessful in preparing students to work with families (Brown & Brown, 1992; Foster & Loven, 1992). One successful strategy has been clinical experiences (Bermudez & Padron, 1987; Greenwood Greenwood.
1 City (1990 pop. 26,265), Johnson co., central Ind.; settled 1822, inc. as a city 1960. A residential suburb of Indianapolis, Greenwood is in a retail shopping area. Manufactures include motor vehicle parts and metal products. & Hickmann, 1991; Patton, Silva sil·va also syl·va
n. pl. sil·vas or sil·vae
1. The trees or forests of a region.
2. A written work on the trees or forests of a region. , & Myers, 1999). What follows is a description and discussion of a program one community college used to provide prospective teachers with a clinical experience with immigrants from Puerto Rico Puerto Rico (pwār`tō rē`kō), island (2005 est. pop. 3,917,000), 3,508 sq mi (9,086 sq km), West Indies, c.1,000 mi (1,610 km) SE of Miami, Fla. , the Dominican Republic Dominican Republic (dəmĭn`ĭkən), republic (2005 est. pop. 8,950,000), 18,700 sq mi (48,442 sq km), West Indies, on the eastern two thirds of the island of Hispaniola. The capital and largest city is Santo Domingo. , Haiti, China, Hong Kong Hong Kong (hŏng kŏng), Mandarin Xianggang, special administrative region of China, formerly a British crown colony (2005 est. pop. 6,899,000), land area 422 sq mi (1,092 sq km), adjacent to Guangdong prov. , India, Italy, Egypt, and the former Soviet Union. In this program, students began to:
* Communicate with immigrant families and share perspectives
* Replace stereotypes of immigrant families with an understanding of individuals' experiences
* Question the "imbalance imbalance /im·bal·ance/ (im-bal´ans)
1. lack of balance, such as between two opposing muscles or between electrolytes in the body.
2. dysequilibrium (2). of power in favor of upon the side of; favorable to; for the advantage of.
See also: favor the professionals" (Vincent & Warren, 1999, p. 10) that can exist between immigrant families and schools.
The program, based on social constructivist con·struc·tiv·ism
A movement in modern art originating in Moscow in 1920 and characterized by the use of industrial materials such as glass, sheet metal, and plastic to create nonrepresentational, often geometric objects. principles, resulted in bi-directionality on two levels. First, the early childhood majors learned from immigrant students at the same time that the immigrant students learned from them. Second, the faculty adviser to the early childhood majors gained insights from the early childhood majors as they pooled their resources, learning from her and from one another. Some of those insights are shared here.
Early childhood majors at a community college convened weekly groups for fellow students who were immigrants. In these groups, the early childhood majors shared children's books, which served several functions. Books such as
The Snowman (Briggs, 1989) stimulated conversation about the immigrants' experiences before and after arriving in the United States. Others, such as Who Is the Beast? (Baker, 1991), provoked pro·voke
tr.v. pro·voked, pro·vok·ing, pro·vokes
1. To incite to anger or resentment.
2. To stir to action or feeling.
3. To give rise to; evoke: provoke laughter. discussions about values and beliefs. The Little Red Hen Hen, in the Bible, man who was to have a memorial in the temple. (Galdone, 1985), for example, prompted an early childhood major to write:
We also discussed the meaning of the story.... actually, her meaning and interpretation. We spoke about family traditions--when mommy stayed home and did all of the hard work--and her role as a mommy and concerns of teaching her son to do chores around the house and participate and cooperate at home as well as in school. We also discussed family in today's society. For instance, how parents are too permissive permissive adj. 1) referring to any act which is allowed by court order, legal procedure, or agreement. 2) tolerant or allowing of others' behavior, suggesting contrary to others' standards.
PERMISSIVE. with their children, and also because of this permissiveness we end up with children [who] want things done for them, not cooperative, and not wanting to participate at home. Because of this book, The Little Red Hen, a lot of issues were discussed.
As the early childhood students and the immigrant students read aloud to each other, they talked about language and pronunciation pronunciation: see phonetics; phonology.
Pronunciation - In this dictionary slashes (/../) bracket phonetic pronunciations of words not found in a standard English dictionary. and other issues related to the experience of being immigrants who speak a language other than the majority one. After the immigrant students took the books home and read them aloud to children, they reported to their groups about that experience and about raising children in a new country. Meanwhile, the early childhood majors, most of whom were born in the United States, learned about working with adults who were new to the country.
Once a week, the early childhood majors met with a faculty adviser, and discussed what they were learning. Field notes kept during these sessions and the early childhood majors' reflective writing samples provided data sources that could be triangulated to understand this teacher preparation effort better. The discussion below draws examples from these sources.
Communicating and Sharing Perspectives
Through their talks over children's books, the early childhood majors and immigrant students listened to each other and shared parts of their lives. As they shared experiences and feelings, the immigrant students provided the early childhood majors with perspectives to which they otherwise had no access. One early childhood major, for example, reported, "I've found out information on how it feels to work in a supermarket and [not have] English [be] your first language."
One early childhood major wrote about an immigrant mother's experience reading Tell Me a Story, Mama (Johnson, 1992) to her son. Typical of many immigrant family members' busy lives, this mother was a student and a worker, as well. Her son wished she could spend more time with him, and she felt the same. After listening to the immigrant student, the early childhood major wrote:
Isabel's son took this opportunity to tell his mom that she does not spend a lot of time with him. He also told her that the mother in the story was a better mom than she because the mom in the story seemed to spend more time with her daughter. As you can see, Isabel's son was always linking the stories to his life and his mom. I also remembered that Isabel was afraid to read this story to him because she knew he was going to bring it up. She felt bad for not spending enough time with him.
The issue that arose here--an immigrant who is juggling many roles and has too little time--is one that early childhood teachers will often encounter. The communication that developed with Isabel enabled this early childhood major to understand and support her, instead of jumping to conclusions about Isabel's use of her time. In fact, this early childhood major wrote often about listening to Isabel and providing an outlet for her to express her feelings.
Using the books as conversation starters gave the immigrant students a chance to share some of their experiences, and gain the respect and admiration of the early childhood majors. One student, after using Bread, Bread, Bread (Morris, 1993) with his group, wrote:
Since she had traveled to more than one place the book spoke of, she really enjoyed it and found it to be very interesting. And [she] felt that her daughter would also be very enthusiastic about reading the book because she, the student, said she had always told her daughter about these places that she had been and she had pictures, "Oh, what beautiful pictures," to show her of the places she had been.
Through their work with immigrant students and through group reflection, the early childhood students in this program began to uncover and dispel some of the stereotypes they held about immigrants. In some cases, an immigrant student was able to correct misconceptions Misconceptions is an American sitcom television series for The WB Network for the 2005-2006 season that never aired. It features Jane Leeves, formerly of Frasier, and French Stewart, formerly of 3rd Rock From the Sun. an early childhood major held about the immigrant's country of origin. In other cases, they told of the discrimination they endured upon arrival to their new country, revealing some similarities between their experiences and those of native-born early childhood majors of color not of the white race; - commonly meaning, esp. in the United States, of negro blood, pure or mixed.
See also: Color .
At the beginning of the semester se·mes·ter
One of two divisions of 15 to 18 weeks each of an academic year.
[German, from Latin (cursus) s , one student questioned how he could work with immigrants who spoke languages other than English LOTE or Languages Other Than English is the name given to language subjects at Australian schools. LOTEs have often historically been related to the policy of multiculturalism, and tend to reflect the predominant non-English languages spoken in a school's local area, the . As he asked his faculty adviser and his peers more and more questions, his anxiety was obvious. He worried that there might be no common language in the group and that members would refuse to participate. His questions persisted until he met with his group. Later in the semester, he argued against correcting students' pronunciation by telling a peer that an immigrant's accent is a reflection of his or her culture and part of freedom of expression. By the end of the semester, he told another student in an interview that he had "learned that regardless of any language barrier that may exist between two people ... they will find some way to communicate."
Another student, who ended up working with only one immigrant student, wrote in a final reflective journal, "Thinking back, I realized that the sessions [with other early childhood majors] helped me deal with the negative expectations that I may have had back then. I was able to get along with my student, understand her, and get my ideas across smoothly."
Questioning the "Imbalance of Power"
The early childhood majors consistently said they joined the project because they wanted to help immigrant families. As the project progressed, however, and they began to replace stereotypes of immigrants with truer images based on relationships, the early childhood majors' views of their role as the teacher changed, too. They began to regard themselves less as experts who could dispense dispense /dis·pense/ (-pens´) to prepare medicines for and distribute them to their users.
To prepare and give out medicines. advice to the immigrant students in their groups and more as members of a team, all of them working on behalf of children. At the end of the semester, one student wrote:
[The project] also met my expectations because I've learned what I expected from my students (they have taught me to read slower and made me feel more comfortable reading aloud). It was different than what I expected because I felt part of the time that I was not just the leader, but more of a puzzle piece making it complete. Well, the reason I was successful in the leadership role is because the students made me feel comfortable.... I've learned so many things that I'll never forget.
Through the experience of getting to know people from different backgrounds, the early childhood majors learned about working as equals with immigrant parents. They achieved these understandings in part through their direct work with the students, but that was not enough. The early childhood major who conducted Isabel's group wrote:
The experience with Isabel was wonderful and I would not change a thing. In the process of listening to her problems and discussing the reading strategies I was able to focus on myself as a professional and [on] my limits as a professional. I also learned that as ... professional[s], we must talk about our work so that we may obtain different ideas and gain a lot of information and know some resources.
In addition to their discussions with the immigrant students about children's books and children's reactions to them, the early childhood majors needed to talk with each other and their faculty adviser. It was in these weekly sessions that they raised questions, argued, disagreed, and came to new conclusions themselves.
Implications for Other Teacher Preparation Programs
In this particular program, early childhood majors read children's books with (and lent children's books to) immigrant students from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, China, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Egypt, and the former Soviet Union. The lessons the program offers are applicable to other teacher preparation programs, even if they use different means to teach prospective teachers about working with immigrant families.
Children's books are one effective vehicle for generating conversations that can lead prospective teachers to understand different practices, belief systems, and life experiences--especially those that may run counter to what teacher candidates traditionally have been taught about children and families (Bhavnagri & Gonzalez-Mena, 1997). What was important to this program--and will be to others--is the opportunity for future teachers to generate conversations about such issues and then analyze them with each other, so that they can develop the cross-cultural skills that make for successful partnerships with immigrant parents (Simich-Dudgeon, 1993). Early childhood majors in this program, in talking to Noun 1. talking to - a lengthy rebuke; "a good lecture was my father's idea of discipline"; "the teacher gave him a talking to"
rebuke, reprehension, reprimand, reproof, reproval - an act or expression of criticism and censure; "he had to each other about their groups, learned that they could not generalize generalize /gen·er·al·ize/ (-iz)
1. to spread throughout the body, as when local disease becomes systemic.
2. to form a general principle; to reason inductively. about the immigrant experience, given the great variety of backgrounds and experiences of the students in their groups (Clabaugh, 2000).
In this program, early childhood majors came to understand some of the pressures on immigrant families, as well as something about their cultural transitions: accepting some new values, adhering to some long-held ones, and modifying others (Bhavnagri & Gonzalez-Mena, 1997). This process occurred as they interacted authentically with immigrant students. Two-way relationships, such as those formed in this program, can be developed in a variety of ways in teacher education programs. The essence is bi-directionality, a learning from and about each other that results from relationships that are sincerely warm and nonjudgmental non·judg·men·tal
Refraining from judgment, especially one based on personal ethical standards.
Adj. 1. nonjudgmental (Holman, 1997). Then, when perceptions and expectations of children and schooling differ (Clabaugh, 2000; Valdes, 1996), communication can lead to mutual understanding, if not agreement.
With the opportunity to develop real relationships with immigrants, students in teacher preparation programs can learn to question an imbalance of power between teachers and families that places teachers in the position of experts. They can, instead (as the early childhood majors in this program did), try to offer assistance and information while developing their understanding of immigrant families' situations and respect for their strengths (Perkins, 2000).
Since many teacher preparation programs are unsuccessful in readying their students to work with families (Brown & Brown, 1992; Foster & Loven, 1992), a program such as the one described here has implications worth noting. It involves a clinical experience: a strategy that has been effective elsewhere in helping prospective teachers learn about families (Bermudez & Padron, 1987; Greenwood & Hickmann, 1991; Patton, Silva, & Myers, 1999). It specifically addresses immigrant families by creating two forums, one in which early childhood majors developed relationships with immigrants where they could communicate and share perspectives. The second forum allowed them to think together about those relationships. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the early childhood majors, talking with each other and a faculty adviser helped them to replace stereotypes of immigrant families with an understanding of individuals: In the reflective writing they did in conjunction with their discussions, the preservice students began to question the "imbalance of power in favor of the professionals" (Vincent & Warren, 1999, p. 10) that can exist between immigrant families and schools.
Clearly, the relationships that formed between the early childhood majors and the immigrant students were at the core of this program's success. The early childhood majors' bi-directional relationships with immigrant students were nested in the context of their bi-directional interactions with each other and their faculty adviser. As a result, the early childhood majors learned about immigrant families. They also learned about themselves as future teachers.
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* Its factual accuracy is disputed.
* It needs additional references or sources for verification.
* Very few or no other articles link to this one. : Bridging theory to practice. Journal of Teacher Education, 50(20), 140-146. has multiple issues:
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1. Of or relating to social or philosophical pluralism.
2. Having multiple aspects or parts: "the idea that intelligence is a pluralistic quality that ... society (pp. 189-203). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press The State University of New York Press (or SUNY Press), founded in 1966, is a university press that is part of State University of New York system. External link
Trueba, H. T., Cheng, L., & Ima, K. (1993). Myth or reality: Adaptive strategies The expression adaptive strategies is used by anthropologist Yehudi Cohen to describe a society’s system of economic production. Cohen argued that the most important reason for similarities between two (or more) unrelated societies is their possession of a similar of Asian Americans This page is a list of Asian Americans. Politics
Valdes, G. (1996). Con respeto: Bridging the distance between culturally diverse families and schools: An ethnographic eth·nog·ra·phy
The branch of anthropology that deals with the scientific description of specific human cultures.
eth·nog portrait. New York: Teachers College Press.
Vincent, C., & Warren, S. (1999, April). Responding to diversity? Refugee families and schools. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association The American Educational Research Association, or AERA, was founded in 1916 as a professional organization representing educational researchers in the United States and around the world. Annual Meeting, Montreal, Canada.
Author's Note: The project described in this article was made possible by funding from the Bowne Foundation and the Astor Foundation, and by a gift of books from Barnes and Noble. Many people were important to the success of the project, particularly the students who participated in it over the five years of its duration, as well as faculty members Elizabeth Upton, Althea Hall, and Lillian Oxtoby, who helped to conceptualize con·cep·tu·al·ize
v. con·cep·tu·al·ized, con·cep·tu·al·iz·ing, con·cep·tu·al·iz·es
To form a concept or concepts of, and especially to interpret in a conceptual way: and reconceptualize the project. Ellen Goldsmith provided invaluable consultation. Special thanks to Christopher Brown Christopher Brown (born August 15, 1978) is a Bahamian athlete who mainly competes in the 400 metres. In addition to winning medals in individual contests, he has been a successful relay runner with three World Championships medals. and Kate Puckett for research assistance. The author also thanks Navaz Bhavnagri for her thoughtful editorial assistance and kind support.
Rachel Theilheimer is Associate Professor, Early Childhood Education, Borough of Manhattan Community College Founded in 1963, Borough of Manhattan Community College, or BMCC is one of six two-year colleges within the City University of New York (CUNY) system and the only one in Manhattan. , New York, New York.