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The Experience of Acculturation from the Perspectives of Immigrant, West Indian, Female Educators Open Access

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Abstract of DissertationThe Experience of Acculturation from the Perspectives of Immigrant, West Indian, Female Educators An increasing number of foreign teachers is recruited to fill vacant positions in rural and inner city schools that are generally considered hard to staff. These settings are unfamiliar to the foreign teachers and they face numerous challenges in adapting to the new way of life and to the education system. A lack of understanding of the acculturation process of these educators and how it may manifest in American classrooms can lead to stereotyping, conflict, and misunderstanding. This qualitative research examined the experience of acculturation as lived by immigrant, West Indian, female educators in an urban setting on the East Coast of the United States. Eight immigrant, West Indian, female educators from five different countries in the West Indies were purposefully selected to participate in the study. Phenomenological hermeneutic interviews served as the primary data collection method. The data were analyzed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Seven important themes reoccurred throughout the interviews: (1) culture shock (2) determination of the immigrant educators to succeed; (3) adjusting the way of speaking (accent) as a strategy to fit in; (4) differences in methods of discipline; (5) positive impact of acculturation on teaching practices; (6) teachers are held in higher esteem in the West Indies than in the US and (7) high value placed on education in the West Indies. Moreover, all of the participants offered a similar description of acculturation. The findings of this study should be shared with teachers and education students in the West Indies who are considering coming to the United States to work as educators. Further, the findings of this study can support cultural competence training in schools and districts that hire educators internationally, including the West Indies. These findings can also be used as a starting point to supporting other immigrant educators through more deliberate orientation to facilitate their acculturation and success as educators.

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