Investigating Elementary School Teachers' Interactions Relating to Newcomer Emergent Bilingual Students
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Early Childhood Education
Caitlin McMunn Dooley
Five of the top 16 counties in the United States with the fastest growth in the Latino population from 2000 to 2007 are in Georgia (Pew Hispanic Research Center, 2015). The Georgia metropolitan area where the study occurred has more Latinos than Austin, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, or Tucson (Pew Hispanic Research Center, 2015). Particularly following the New Latino Diaspora (Hamann, Wortham, & Murillo, 2002; Murillo, 2002; and Villenas, 2002) schools in the Southeastern United States have more and more Spanish-speaking students (Pew Hispanic Research Center, 2015). However, most classroom teachers have not received specialized training or professional development relating to these students (Ballantyne, Sanderman, & Levy, 2008; Barrera & Jiménez, 2000; Carrasquillo & Rodríguez, 2002; Dove & Honigsfeld, 2010; Echevarria, Short, & Powers, 2006; Kim, 2010; Walker, Shafer, & Iiams, 2004). My study’s purpose was to explore the interactions between an English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher (myself) and classroom teachers in my school relating to newcomer emergent bilingual students. The main research question guiding this study was: What happens when an ESOL teacher and classroom teachers intentionally gather to focus on newcomer emergent bilingual students? Teachers attended 12 weekly gatherings which were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed. This study exemplifies practitioner research and thematic analysis of the data. Sociocultural theory (Vygotsky, 1978, 1986) and critical pedagogy (Freire, 1970) frame this study and were used as interpretive lenses for data analysis. Five major themes emerged: newcomers, resources, connections with classroom experiences, perceptions, and professional development. Findings related to teachers’ sense of self-efficacy relating to newcomers, their awareness of linguistic and cultural issues, and the importance of the social-emotional climate. A kit for classroom teachers of newcomers was prepared. Recommendations include support for classroom teachers who receive newcomer students—resources for the first days with a newcomer and ongoing interaction with other teachers for discussing strategies and reflecting on classroom experiences. Additional research is needed to increase awareness of the transition for classroom teachers and students when a newcomer arrives.
Cain, Amelia A., "Investigating Elementary School Teachers' Interactions Relating to Newcomer Emergent Bilingual Students." Dissertation, Georgia State University, 2016.