Mom, I just can’t understand my teacher! 

As an “inclusive” teacher educator I have worked hard within my institution to diversity the teacher candidates admitted to our programs. In addition, I have advocated for new program supports to ensure that this more diverse group of future teachers could be successful. As a result, when each of my three children came home on different days, from different schools and grades announcing they could not understand a particular teacher, I tried to deconstruct the situation. I wanted to find out if their struggle to understand a “new” variety of French or English was really the issue or if it was something else more insidious connected to having a teacher from a cultural, religious,  or racial background different from their own.

In each case, I followed up with a face-to-face meeting with these teachers. I was saddened to discover that in one case, I also struggled to comprehend what the teacher was telling me about my child and the curriculum – and this, in spite of more than 30 years of experience as a language teacher working with students from many language backgrounds.

I felt torn in my role as parent and advocate for my children and my role as teacher educator and advocate for immigrant teachers trying to establish themselves in Canadian schools.


To learn more about this scenario, including the author’s own response, please attend the Intersections of Diverse Teachers and Diverse Learners at CSSE 2013, or stay tuned to the DiT website because we will be posting those details in the near future.

Until then, please leave a comment so that we can read your responses to this scenario. Here are some questions to consider interacting with each other and the author (Dr. Antoinette Gagne, from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, at the University of Toronto) about:

  1. How could I ensure my children’s success at school while not endangering the job of an internationally educated teacher?
  2. How could I work with my children to make them aware of the many forms that discrimination can take?
  3. How could I discuss these issues with my colleagues in elementary and secondary schools to ensure a safe and inclusive environment for diverse teachers and learners?



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