Date of Award

2002

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Curriculum and Instruction PhD

First Advisor

Judith A. Anderson

Second Advisor

Shirley A. Freed

Third Advisor

Louise Moon

Abstract

Problem. Within a context of inadequate pre-service training, insufficient administrative support, and an ambivalent social environment regarding the teaching of ESL in Puerto Rico, a number of conscientious bilingual teachers try to overcome the odds of the system and have an impact on students' ability to speak English. Some even become exemplary teachers. How do they learn to meet so many expectations successfully in spite of real short comings found in their job, and how do they acquire the skills and competencies necessary to be exemplary bilingual teachers in Puerto Rico?

Method. A qualitative multiple-case study design was used for this research. Two elementary and two intermediate bilingual teachers were observed and interviewed during the course of one school year. Their training, classroom practices, and life experiences are described in narrative form.

Results. All four teachers were found to have exemplary practice, according to NABE (1992) and the Puerto Rican Teachers Association (1976) standards, in spite of insufficient pre-service training in their area of specialization and inadequate administrative support. Further analysis of similarities and differences in the teachers' experiences led to the emergence of themes such as their moral sensibility and sense of calling to the teaching vocation that made them search for ways to make up for their limitations in terms of training and administrative support. Each of the four had substantiated learning experiences in the United States. While the local communities appeared to support bilingual education, the larger context of bilingual education in Puerto Rico is not supported by a unified national agenda.

Conclusions. The teachers in this study continue their personal and professional growth because they embrace it as a personal mission and as a moral act. Their life experiences strongly influence their ability to provide exemplary education to Puerto Ricans.

Subject Area

Education, Bilingual, English language--Study and teaching--Foreign speakers

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