Impact of Teachers’ Perceptions and Pedagogical Practices on the Educational Experiences of Immigrant Students From the Commonwealth Caribbean

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This book is significant to the work of educators who work with diverse student populations. For many educators including administrators, principals, and teachers the greatest challenge is that of meeting the educational goals of society while responding to the needs of the growing numbers of diverse students within the classroom. As a result, the current emphasis on meeting the needs of all students in the multicultural inclusive classroom require the extension of the conversation beyond multiculturalism, multiple intelligences and learning styles to include the social and political realities that influence students' learning and success. This book offers educators who are increasingly faced with diverse, multi-cultural inclusive classrooms an opportunity to find a place to start the process of revisionary pedagogical practices that validate and affirm the experiences of their students.

To this end, teacher education programs provide a relevant context for revision and rethinking of both the content and processes of teaching to benefit all students in a diverse, multicultural, inclusive classroom, as possibilities are inherent to prepare and equip prospective teachers with the knowledge that will shape and develop their philosophy of teaching and learning to include reflective practices in addressing the needs of diverse learners. As a result, this book calls attention to the central role of culture on the work of teachers; the development of methods by which culture and ethnicity are made vital components of the classroom experience; an examination of the best practices of teachers who work with students from diverse backgrounds; an understanding of the social, linguistic and cultural backgrounds of the communities they serve; and exploration of the ways in which collaboration with the communities they serve can be fostered The inclusion of these focused areas in teacher preparation programs as well as ongoing professional development will engage teachers in reflective teaching, through an examination of their assumptions, perceptions, beliefs and instructional practices that influence the pedagogical decisions and practices they employ when working with diverse students.


“During the 1960's the United States immigration laws were changed from one based on a quota system to a method that allowed for persons from virtually every country in the world to enter the United States as immigrants. One of the by-products of such a change in the laws was the increased numbers of persons entering the United States from the Caribbean. Within this category a significant number of persons originated from the British Commonwealth Islands of Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados, among others. Upon entrance into American schools, these newly arrived immigrants have been often treated in the same manner as African American students. There have been few accommodations made for culture or language differences despite the linguistic distance existing between the language they speak and that used in American schools, as well as the cultural differences between the culture of home and school. In essence, they have been lumped under the category of "African American". This mishandling and incorrect assessment of immigrants from the British Commonwealth Islands is most likely due to false assumptions made about the language they speak. Since English is the official language of these islands, the population of persons originating from them is assumed to consist of English speakers. Such assumptions do not reflect an understanding regarding the linguistic situation of the British West Indies … It is this population of students in a school located in Brooklyn New York that the study of teachers' beliefs, perceptions and pedagogical practices and their impact on the educational experiences of newly arrived immigrant students from the Commonwealth Caribbean focuses upon. This is an insightful and thought provoking examination of middle school students in the Buxton Intermediate School. The purpose of this study as stated by the author is "to examine teachers' practices in working with immigrant students from the Commonwealth Caribbean in New York City public schools". Nonetheless, the study goes beyond its goal. It provides the reader with a wealth of information that is not only informative, but also necessary for every educator who is teaching in a community with a significant population of immigrants from the British West Indies, or is teaching in a linguistically diverse environment. To reach its goal, Dr. Wendy Hope studied a class of newly arrived students from Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados as well as other Caribbean islands … [This study shows] we cannot continue to teach with blinders thinking that all children learn in the same way. Without such an effort, there is little hope in a school system that has become more racially and ethnically diverse than ever before.” – (from the Commendatory Preface) Alma Rubal-Lopez Professor, Undergraduate Deputy and Program Coordinator of Bilingual Education, Brooklyn College, City University of New York

“This work is an examination of teachers' work with newly arrived immigrant students from the Commonwealth Caribbean. The purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions and pedagogical practices of teachers who work with newly arrived students from the Commonwealth Caribbean. Through an extensive investigation into the education setting of students enrolled in a New York City public school, Dr. Hope has underscored the importance of teachers' understanding of the cultural background of pupils' whose education they influence. In addition, this study substantiates the belief that teachers need to enact roles as cultural workers to create opportunities for themselves and students to cross and crisscross borders of dissimilarity in developing new ideas and spheres of meanings based on issues of democracy and freedom. From a multicultural perspective, Professor Hope's work is a worthy contribution as it emphasizes how important it is for teachers to become border crossers, as when this transpires a positive effect on individuals' learning occurs. Particularly, this work also is a valuable source for those interested in the Caribbean culture … Hence, as our schools have become even more accountable for providing equality in the classroom, and as academic and ethnic diversity within the school population continues to correlate with the degree of success or failure an individual may realize, Dr. Hope's examination of the importance of education stakeholders as border crossers is an essential source for those responsible for the reformation of schools, and for those responsible in imparting knowledge to all individuals.” – Laura Shea Doolan, ED.D., Assistant Professor, St. Joseph’s College

“For the particular Caribbean culture examined in this book it makes a valuable contribution. It discusses communication styles, learning styles, child- rearing practices, language heritage, and general cultural issues in chapters that look at cultural background, motivation, the impact of culture on learning, and how the classroom can become a welcoming environment. Written as a research study, this work has all the expected aspects of educational research. But it's content demands unique treatment and the author organizes and presents the material in an understandable and easy to use fashion. The need for teachers able to teach in diverse classrooms and communities is evident and not going away in the near future. In this book, Hope explores the experiences of students in a New York City classroom. While presenting to the reader her personal background as an educator, as well as her motivation behind this research, the author offers a fine blend of observation and storytelling. This book is a valuable read for those interested in changing the way that teacher education is accomplished, as well as for those teachers interested in teaching in diverse communities. All readers should take away information about what may and may not work in teacher education reform.” – Karen Burke, Ed.D., Associate Professor, St. John’s University

Table of Contents

List of Tables
1. Teachers’ Work with Immigrant Students from the Commonwealth Caribbean: The Design of the Study
2. The Commonwealth Caribbean: A Review of the Literature
3. Participant’s Perspective: Ms. Jackson – A Key Player
4. Teachers Speak about their Experiences in Teaching New Immigrant Students from the Commonwealth Caribbean
5. How Teachers See Students and Their Families
6. Teaching Approaches: Analysis of Data
7. Summary and Conclusions

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