Theses Doctoral

“But What if You Just Listened to the Experience of an Immigrant Teacher?”: Learning From Immigrant/transnational Teachers of Color in Early Childhood Teacher Education

Rabadi-Raol, Ayesha

Despite pervasive arguments for diversifying the teaching profession, as teachers of color have shown improved outcomes for children of color, immigrant and transnational teachers of color have largely been left out of possible solutions for diversifying the teaching workforce. In this context, I inquired into the experiences of immigrant and transnational teachers, seeking to (re)position them as part of the much-needed diversity in the teacher workforce in solidarity with U.S. teachers of color.

Combining Critical Race Theory and Nepantla, I sought to learn from the experiences of six immigrant and transnational teachers of color as they negotiated, navigated, and reconciled differences across their home countries and the U.S. I conducted my study in New York City due to its high percentage of immigrants in schools, asking: How do immigrant and transnational teachers of color with prior early childhood teaching experience in their home contexts experience and negotiate the process of (re)learning what it means to teach in the U.S. through teacher education programs in New York City?

I employed a qualitative research design, focusing on nuanced and complex individual experiences without generalizing or essentializing a whole population. I used Seidman’s (2013) three interview series of in-depth interviews to gain information about my participants and their experiences and situate my study within and between the realms of counter-stories and testimonios.

Analytically, I engaged axial coding, built trans/scripts (compressed renderings of original transcript) that captured emotional qualities, and presented trans/scripts to participants. I asked them to identify important themes and name their own truths and stories. This methodology enhanced the meanings of the interviews by interpreting them through poetic counter-stories, and poetic testimonio with my participants.

I synthesized and re-presented findings as co-constructed poetic counter-stories, offering insights into participants’ experiences regarding early childhood classrooms and teacher education programs as spaces of (be)longing, learning about race and racism, access to teacher certification requirements, expectations of being an early childhood educator, and seeing children’s strengths. Implications point toward the need to listen and learn from immigrant and transnational teachers of color in justly transforming early childhood teacher education practices, programs, and policy.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Souto-Manning, Mariana V.
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
July 27, 2020