What Happens After the Trip? Using Teacher Inquiry Groups to Extend a Cross-Border Experience in Mexico into U.S. School Contexts
Language, Reading & Culture
Short, Kathy G.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractCross-border programs are often cited as having transformative effects on educators, claiming increased cultural awareness, intercultural understanding and culturally responsive practices. However, these shifts are most commonly evaluated in the days and weeks after teachers return to the U.S. and rarely allow for a long-term, in-depth understanding of the impacts. This dissertation outlines findings from a collaborative action research study that attempted to document the experiences of a small group of K-12 teachers before, during and after their participation in a cross-border experience in Mexico. My overarching questions examined the U.S. school contexts to which four White teachers returned as the under-theorized "next step" to their cross-border experience, specifically seeking to make sense of how new understandings of Mexico influenced their perceptions of, and engagement with Mexican immigrant families. Ongoing inquiry groups were implemented as part of this study; over the course of eighteen months, teachers used this space to critically reflect on their experiences abroad and to plan how they would incorporate new knowledge and understandings into their teaching contexts. Through this process, teachers conceptualized, planned and engaged in three dialogues with Mexican immigrant parents in which they purposefully created a new, "third space" for cross-border narratives, or the mutual sharing of life stories, as they related to their own educational experiences in Mexico and/or the U.S. Utilizing an ethnographic approach, data was collected via field notes and digital recordings of interviews, inquiry group meetings and parent-teacher dialogues. Narrative methods were also used as a principal tool for inquiry and analysis. My findings suggest that the transformative effects of cross-border programs are not solely a result of time spent abroad, but an ongoing process of inquiry, reflection and action once teachers return to the U.S. It was through the transaction of the cross-border experiences, inquiry group meetings, and the powerful narratives that emerged during the parent-teacher dialogues that teachers were able to acknowledge, revisit and rewrite scripts of deficit pertaining to Mexican families at their school site.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Language, Reading & Culture