What are the challenges faced by today's teachers in educating immigrant children?
Teachers in new immigrant destinations — places that are seeing rapidly increasing numbers of immigrants — often find themselves dealing with a host of unexpected issues: immigrant students’ unique socio-emotional needs, community conflict, a wider range of skills in English, lack of a common language for communication with parents, and more. Even cities like New York face dramatic shifts in the student population, as immigration patterns change. At first, it may seem as if immigrant youth are causing increased problems in the classroom, school, or district. However, the more that teachers can see their immigrant students as assets, the better off all students will be. Immigrant youth bring rich, diverse cultural backgrounds to the classroom and expose their peers and teachers to different ways of understanding the world. At the same time, immigrant youth force teachers to develop strategies that employ multiple forms of communication, and to think beyond the United States in the curriculum, from social studies lessons to examples used in math word problems. This broader outlook will serve all children well. Still, without the support of colleagues experienced in working with immigrant youth, and time in the day to rethink the curriculum and to reflect on teaching practices, teachers can feel ill-equipped to meet the needs of their changing student bodies.