Mentoring beginning immigrant teachers: How culture may impact the message

Giancarlo Mercado, Elise Trumbull
Published Online:
10 Dec 2018
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 53 Issue S2

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Beginning immigrant teachers may experience cross‐cultural conflicts because their home cultures may differ in important ways from U.S. school culture. In California, mentors are assigned to work with new teachers, many born in other countries, to solve a range of problems—often attributable to cross‐cultural conflicts between the culture of the school and the cultures of these teachers. Mentors are veteran teachers, but even those who receive special training as mentors are not educated in theories explaining how culture influences child‐rearing and schooling practices. In this study, 12 beginning immigrant high school math and science teachers born in Asia and Latin America participated in lengthy, semi‐structured interviews conducted by an experienced mentor specialist (not known to the participants). Conflicts reported by participants were analysed from the perspective of differences between the collectivistic cultures of the teachers and individualistic culture of the schools in which they teach. The conflicts reported, primed in part by the nature of interview questions, were categorised as having to do with differences in perceptions of the roles of parents, teachers and students and relations among those roles—particularly in terms of role hierarchy and regard for authority.

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