Diversity in the Faculty Room: Constraints and Affordances of Minority Teachers’ Professional Action in Germany

By Josef Strasser.

Published by The International Journal of Diversity in Education

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Increasing cultural diversity in classrooms leads to new professional demands for the educational staff in Germany (Strasser 2011). One of these challenges is to find effective ways to educate minority children. A promising way to deal with this situation is seen in engaging more teachers with migration background. The hope that is associated with the call for more minority teachers is that they entail a more adequate and professional dealing with diversity issues. Not only students, but also the faculty and the school as a whole are believed to benefit from the employment of minority teachers (Vbe 2006). Research on minority teachers in Germany is just as hard to find as minority teachers themselves. Hence, there is no or little evidence that supports this hope. The paper focuses on the experiences of minority teachers within their faculty rooms. The main research questions are how teachers perceive the role that is ascribed to them by their colleagues and how these ascriptions influence their professional action. 12 in-depth biographical interviews with minority teachers were conducted. Results reveal that teachers’ professional action seems to be highly dependent on their experiences within the faculty room. Faculties that embrace diversity are open to professional impulses of minority teachers and give them space to develop a “diversity agenda”, whereas those teachers who report experiences of marginalization have difficulties in contributing their specific expertise.

Keywords: Minority Teacher, Professional Action, Student Diversity, Germany

The International Journal of Diversity in Education, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp.131-141. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 381.818KB).

Dr. Josef Strasser

Department of Teacher Education, University of Augsburg, Augsburg, -- Bitte auswählen (nur für USA / Kan. / Aus.), Germany

Researcher at the Department of Teacher Education at the University of Augsburg. After studies in educational science and psychology at the Universities of Bamberg and Regensburg he earned a master degree and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Regensburg. His research focuses on the challenges for professionals that go along with an increasing cultural diversity in the educational domain. Current research projects examine minority teachers in Germany, the role of stereotypes in the educational careers of migrant children and multicultural competencies of school counselors.