Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Absent from the Research, Present in Our Classrooms: Preparing Culturally Responsive Chinese American Teachers

Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Absent from the Research, Present in Our Classrooms: Preparing Culturally Responsive Chinese American Teachers

Article excerpt

In the summer of 2000, the Title VII Chinese Bilingual Cross-Cultural Teacher Preparation Program, (1) known as the ABC Project (A Bilingual Cantonese Project), completed the 2nd year of a 5-year program at San Francisco State University (SFSU). The ABC Project was designed to address the critical shortage of credentialed bilingual Cantonese/English teachers. Its immediate goals were to increase the availability of culturally responsive credentialed teachers for the growing numbers of Cantonese-speaking Chinese American children in the San Francisco Bay area, provide inservice for Cantonese/English bilingual teachers, and sustain a collaborative partnership between San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) and SFSU. Through this partnership, SFSU proposed to prepare 80 fully credentialed Cantonese / English bilingual teachers by fall 2004 and conduct four yearly Chinese Bilingual Summer Institutes for teachers. Credential candidates would be encouraged to apply for positions in SFUSD, and summer institute teachers would serve as mentors to the new Chinese American bilingual teacher candidates. It was expected that this school-university connection, involving scholarship, application, and reflection, would provide valuable insights to improve SFSU's Chinese bilingual cross-cultural teacher preparation program and Chinese bilingual cross-cultural K-8 schooling.

A goal of our study is to gain information to make substantive changes in program design, course content, and contextual conditions in which Cantonese / English Chinese American credential candidates (CACC) in the ABC Project experience their teacher preparation program. The research reported in this article begins with a review of the literature documenting the severity and scarcity of research on Chinese American teachers. We use demographic data to demonstrate the need for qualified Cantonese bilingual teachers. A discussion of how the CACC experienced a multicultural course and an analysis of the diversity content and context of this course follows. The article concludes with the issues involved in the preparation of culturally responsive bilingual Chinese American teachers.

THE DEARTH OF RESEARCH ON ASIAN/ CHINESE AMERICAN TEACHERS

The research on teachers of color often points out the need to attract, recruit, and retain this population to teach children from groups of color (Boyer & Baptiste, 1996; Gonzalez, 1997; Villegas & Clewell, 1998). Generally, this body of literature is published in ERIC documents or monographs originating from conference paper presentations, program assessments, surveys, and state task force reports (Sheets, 2001). These publications address the shortage and attrition of such teachers and explain alternative teacher preparation models. Although there is a considerable quantity of scholarship on issues related to recruitment, role models, program models, teacher perception, and mentoring needs of teachers from particular groups of color such as African Americans, Latino Americans, and American Indians (see Irvine, 1989; Jones, Young, & Rodriguez, 1999; Swisher, 1995), the paucity of research on Asian American teachers and/or Chinese American teachers is troubling.

An extensive search of the literature using the following database selections--Books in Print A-Z, ERIC Database 1966-2000, Education Abstracts FTX 6/83-12/99, PsycINFO 1984-2000/02, Sociological Abstracts 1963-1999/12, and Social Sciences Abst FTX 2/83-12/99--generated 11,712 records on bilingual education (see Table 1), yet only 2 conference papers addressed Chinese and/or Asian bilingual teachers. Searches on teacher preparation produced 5,604 listings with 0 relating to Chinese/Asian teachers. Whereas the multicultural education search produced 12,768 entries, 0 focused on Chinese/Asian American teachers. The descriptor "Asian teachers" had 30 entries; however, only 9 were applicable to Asian American teachers; the other entries examined Asian teachers from other countries. …

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