Newcomers Entering Teaching: A Program Created for Recent Immigrants and Refugees To Become Certified Teachers

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This paper describes a program that prepares recent immigrants and refugees, currently living in the community, to become certified classroom teachers. The Newcomers-Extended Teacher Education Program (ETEP) provides opportunities for recent immigrants and refugees who have completed a bachelor's degree in their home nation or the United States to become certified teachers through a rigorous, graduate level teacher certification program spread out over 2 years (which allows time for socialization to the U.S. schooling system and for developing English writing skills). It is designed around several core commitments: school-university partnerships for linking theory and practice, extended mentored internships, and embedded assessment system, and a cohort structure. After discussing the importance of a diverse teaching force, noting ways to recruit minority teachers, and describing program design, the paper focuses on a study of program successes and challenges. Data came from surveys of course instructors and mentor teachers, mentor interviews, and the author's experience as the ETEP program coordinator. Obstacles encountered included standardized teacher tests, hiring practices, cross-cultural communication, mentor-mentee expectations, and classroom management. Benefits included having minority teachers in the classrooms, which motivated both students and mentor teachers.