Connections and Contradictions in Teacher Practices for Preparing Globally Minded Citizens in Two IB Public Schools
by Laura Quaynor — 2015
Background/Context: With 13 million immigrants arriving in the United States between 2000 and 2010, immigration is at its highest level in a century. At the same time, there has been an exponential increase in the number of IB PYP and MYP schools in the United States, from 88 registered in 1997 to 1,470 in 2013. Much of this increase has been in Title I schools serving diverse populations. This work examines classroom practice at the intersection of these phenomena.
Purpose: Within two different schools that offer IB programs and serve substantial numbers of immigrant and refugee youth, how do teachers prepare youth for citizenship?
Setting: This study took place at two public middle schools in suburban neighborhoods in the southeastern United States.
Population: Participants included seven middle school teachers, two administrators, and 27 sixth-grade students from 11 different countries.
Intervention/Program/Practice: Both schools were registered as IB World Schools.
Research Design: This paper reports on a comparative case study of six classrooms in two International Baccalaureate schools.
Data Collection and Analysis: The author shares findings based on 65 classroom observations over the course of one semester, nine interviews with adult teachers and administrators.
Data was analyzed using a phenomenological approach, beginning with analyzing data from each classroom, then from each school, and finally comparing themes between classrooms and students in the two schools. Data analysis began with codes based on theoretical frameworks for citizenship.
Findings/Results: A wide divergence in teacher practice was observed, with some practices exemplifying a flexible teacher orientation towards global education, acknowledging the global experiences, multiple languages, and variety of viewpoints that students brought into the classroom. Other practices exemplified a fixed teacher orientation towards global education, ignoring the variety of student experiences, languages, and viewpoints in the classroom.
Conclusions/Recommendations: Based on the differences in implemented curricula in the two schools across classrooms, the author proposes expanding frameworks for understanding global education. Global education can be implemented with a flexible or fixed orientation, as educators design activities and present content in ways that recognize or disregard students’ identities and experiences. The study suggests that the use of International Baccalaureate programs is no guarantee of a global education connected to the experiences of immigrant and refugee youth. Modifications in teacher practice and school structures are necessary in order to make global education relevant to diverse youth.
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