Theses Doctoral

Border Lives: Exploring the Experiences of Immigrant Teachers Teaching and Caring for Young Immigrant Children and Families

McDevitt, Seung Eun

The field of early childhood education and care (ECEC) is facing one of the most rapid changes as one in four children under the age of six in the United States are immigrant children or children of immigrants (Woods, Hanson, Saxton, & Simms, 2016). With this demographic shift along with the current political climate towards immigrants, teaching immigrant children has become more complex and challenging than ever before. Further, the evidence in the existing literature consistently reflects immigrant children’s narratives of their experiences in schools as alienated, excluded, and othered, attesting to this challenging task for educators (e.g. Igoa, 1995; Kirova, 2001).

Amid these challenges, what stories are there yet to be told when immigrants with such experiences and backgrounds become teachers and teach immigrant students? Grounded in a funds of knowledge (Moll, Amanti, Neff, & González, 1992) and borderlands (Anzaldúa, 1987) framework, this study seeks to bring the voices of immigrant teachers to the forefront and to examine their immigration and schooling experiences, first as immigrant students and now teaching and caring for young immigrant students and families in ECEC settings. Using the methods of multi-case study, I highlight the intimate and nuanced teaching and learning experiences of immigrant teachers by delving deeper into a borderland space, where their lives mesh with their immigrant students and their families.

Looking deeply at the experiences of immigrant teachers straddling between multiple worlds, remembering being newcomers while working as welcomers, proposes that we re-think and ask new questions about the complex realities of immigrants in schooling. This work highlights the heart of teaching and caring for young immigrants as contingent upon understanding the nuances of their daily experiences as border crossers within the self, among others, and in multiple cultural worlds.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Recchia, Susan L.
Paula Ghiso, Maria Paula
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
June 5, 2018