Developing an Understanding of Cultural Diversity: How an Experience Living in a Multicultural Nation and an Experience Teaching Abroad Contribute to Southern Ontario Teachers' Identities
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This is a narrative design study focusing on the understandings that a group of 6 Southern Ontario teachers have of cultural diversity and how these understandings integrated into their development of teacher identity. Given the high culturally diverse population of Canada and its national multicultural values, conducting this study on Canadian pre-service and in-service teachers offers an interesting contribution to the field. In efforts to explore the participants’ understandings, the research examined a teaching abroad experience. The aim was to investigate how these participants gained insight from their experiences with cultural diversity and whether these insights stimulated a greater culturally conscious teacher identity. Narratives provided a description of the lived experiences of these 6 teachers and identified meanings made from these experiences. Participants included 2 pre-service teachers who were in a teacher education program at the time of the interview, and 4 certified teachers who graduated from a teacher education program within the past 5 years. One on one interviews focused on lived experiences within a participant’s home, school community, and teaching abroad. The researcher used grounded theory during the data analysis to assist in identifying themes, and then compared these themes among participants. Overall, this study suggests that even though these participants live in a multicultural nation, experiences varied greatly based on contributing factors such as heritage and exposure to cultural diversity through their home and school life. Despite their varying level of cultural competence, all participants gained insight from their teaching abroad experience, contributing to a teacher identity that considered inclusive practices. This study suggests that there are some important factors to consider when preparing teachers to teach in a multicultural society.