Early childhood educators' culturally responsive teaching self-efficacy and teaching practices in classrooms with refugee students: A mixed methods study
Meka, Jennifer A.
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As the population of refugee students continues to increase in the United States, it is increasingly important for teachers to be better prepared and have confidence in providing these students with instruction that is more culturally responsive. Because of the lack of minority and diverse teachers in classrooms in the U.S., teachers' ability to implement such practices may be beneficial in meeting the unique needs of refugee students. Despite the rapidly changing demographics of today's classrooms, however, limited research focuses on the extent to which teachers feel prepared to support refugee children through culturally responsive teaching (CRT). This study was designed to advance our knowledge regarding early childhood educators' Culturally Responsive Teaching Self-Efficacy (CRTSE) with refugee student populations and factors that might impact teachers' perceived readiness for supporting the needs of refugee students. This study used a mixed-methods explanatory sequential design. The quantitative portion of the study utilized a sample of 43 teachers employed in 15 elementary schools from Western New York and Central Pennsylvania. By revising Sarker's CRTSE Scale-Extended (Siwatu, 2007; Sarker, 2012) to address the unique needs of teachers of refugee students, this study investigated teachers' CRTSE and explored how demographic, academic, and experiential factors might be related to CRTSE and teacher practice in classrooms with refugee children. The qualitative phase of the study examined the extent to which teachers of refugee children implement CRT in their classrooms and the factors that may impact teachers' CRTSE. Three teachers were selected for follow-up interviews and classroom observations for this phase of the study. The findings from the quantitative phase of the study suggest that there is great variability in teacher self-efficacy for culturally responsive teaching. There were few statistically significant correlations found when examining the participants' demographic, academic, and experiential factors in relation to their CRTSE scores. Teachers' ratings for their preparation to teach culturally diverse, linguistically diverse, and refugee students were correlated with their scores on the CRTSE Scale and the sub-sets of the Scale. The results suggest that the ability to implement culturally responsive teaching involves strong teacher preparation programs that are comprised of rigorous pedagogy in meeting the needs of culturally diverse, linguistically diverse, and refugee students. The qualitative analysis of classroom observations and interviews led to the identification of several themes that address the factors that may play a role in teachers' ability to implement CRT. These themes are: 1) the impact of experiences on implementing culturally responsive teaching, (2) the difference in teacher skills and training and its impact on teachers' CRTSE, and (3) the importance of curiosity and inquiry in teachers' CRTSE. A framework that expands on the work of Shulman (1986) is presented for interpreting and responding to the results of this study.