Teachers' Perspectives of Participation in an International Immersion Experience




Dalton, Kelly Mcgrath

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The urgent call to internationalize teacher education in response to the impact globalization presents in our nation’s classrooms, also calls for a fundamental shift in how the field of teacher education provides opportunities of professional learning for teachers. Traditional models of teacher education often fail to develop teachers with the types of international perspectives and skills that prepare them to teach in diverse school contexts. An extant body of research from the fields of study abroad, service-learning, and pre-service teacher education suggest the role of international immersion experiences as a potential viable pathway for developing cultural understanding, international mindedness, and globalized perspectives. What is missing from the literature is an understanding of how these types of immersion experiences relate to the professional learning of in-service teachers, particularly those who teach in culturally and linguistically diverse spaces. Therefore, the purpose of this qualitative case study was to investigate the perspectives of six U.S. teachers who participated in a weeklong immersion experience in Guatemala and how they made connections to their professional learning. Data were gathered primarily through semi-structured interviews and analyzed utilizing a constant comparative method. The findings suggest that participants viewed immersion as a vehicle for meaning making; reflected on surprises that emerged from the immersive experience; and developed globalized perspectives of teaching and learning. They also made connections to their teaching practice by developing empathy, challenging inequities in the classroom, and acknowledged gaps in professional learning opportunities. Implications for supporting the application of new knowledge to classroom practice are considered, and recommendations for future research are discussed.



Teacher education, Continuing education, Education, Cultural and linguistic diversity, Cultural immersion, Globalized perspectives, International teacher education, Teacher professional development, Transformative learning