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The Bridge from Teacher Preparation to Beginning Teacher: Helping NESB Beginning Teachers Enter a Community of Teaching Practice.

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Australia is a multicultural country. In the ten years to November 2007, there were 647,000 migrants who entered Australia (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008). Of these migrants 76% were born in countries other than those identified by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS, 2008) as main English speaking countries (the United Kingdom, The United States of America, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and South Africa) (ABS, 2008). The composition of the teaching workforce in Australia reflects this multiculturalism. Communities of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1997) provide a clear and logical space for assisting those who are from a non-dominant culture to transition into and develop knowledge and identities within a workplace. Little research has been conducted into teachers of a non-English speaking background (NESB) teaching in an English speaking context. While some research related to overseas-trained teachers working in Australia (see for example Kamler, Santoro & Reid, 1998; Seah & Bishop, 2001), and NESB pre-service teachers during their practicum in Australia (see for example, Han, 2005; Han & Singh, 2007; Hartley, 2003) has been carried out there is little evidence of research into beginning NESB teachers who qualified as teachers through universities in Australia. This paper focuses on this specific group of beginning teachers. Social interaction in the community of practice provides opportunity for the sharing of tacit knowledge between established members and those who are new to that community of practice. It also allows for new members to develop their practice. Therefore, the sociocultural theoretical framework of communities of practice was used to determine the positioning of new members of the teaching profession, specifically those of non-English speaking backgrounds, in their respective communities of practice. This paper presents outcomes from a qualitative study involving beginning teachers from non-English speaking backgrounds which investigated the positioning of these teachers with respect to their communities of teaching practice. The teachers in the study were prepared as teachers in an Australian university. Participants' accounts were collected through focus groups, interviews and electronic diaries. These accounts generated the data used in the study. The major theme of "interaction" emerged as the macroproposition in the data. Five sub-themes were identified as recurring across the accounts: skin colour, appearance, worldliness, conversational participation and acceptance. Each of these sub-themes affected the interactions of the beginning teachers with their colleagues. The accounts were interrogated using critical discourse analysis adapted from van Dijk (2001) and Titscher, Meyer, Wodak and Vetter (2000). Critical discourse analysis was supported by positioning theory in the analysis of the data (Davies& Harre, 1990). The positioning of the beginning teachers either by themselves or by others impacts on the provision of access to the professional learning opportunities through their communities of teaching practice. In many cases, this positioning was found to be at the edge of the community of practice. The implications that emerged from the research impact not only the workplace (school environments) but also the teacher preparation programs. In both instances the need for provision of opportunities for beginning teachers of a non-English speaking background to develop confidence in interacting with established members of communities of teaching practice in which they are professionally located must be made. This can begin at the university stage during the teacher preparation program. A participant table is appended.
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Title Annotation:non-English speaking background
Author:McCluskey, Kerryn
Publication:ERIC: Reports
Article Type:Abstract
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Jun 1, 2009
Words:616
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