“STRUGGLING TO FIND OUR WAY:” RURAL EDUCATORS’ EXPERIENCES WORKING WITH AND CARING FOR LATINX IMMIGRANT STUDENTS
Rural communities across the United States are experiencing a rapid increase in the number of immigrant students. While the number of culturally and linguistically diverse students continues to grow within midwestern states, the demographics of teachers remain white, female, and monolingual. Often teachers have little to no training working with students and their families whose backgrounds differ from their own. Thus, there is a greater urgency for teachers to develop culturally competent teaching practices that address the needs of all students. The purpose of this year-long, school-based narrative inquiry was to examine the beliefs, attitudes, and practices of rural educators as they described their work with Latinx immigrant, elementary students, negotiated the “space” between a professional and personal identity and demonstrated an ethic of care. This inquiry is arranged into “livings, tellings, retellings, and relivings” (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000, p. 70) and serves to shed light on the entwined lived experiences of myself, my participants, and the community in which we reside. Swanson’s Middle Range Theory of Care (1991, 1993) served as the conceptual framework that illuminated how my participants discussed working with and caring for their Latinx immigrant students. Findings from this study support teacher education by providing practical recommendations for promoting culturally responsive practices, grounded in care, for preservice (PST) and in-service teachers.