Estonian Teachers Self-efficacy in Multicultural Classrooms

Conference: The Barcelona Conference on Education (BCE2022)
Title: Estonian Teachers Self-efficacy in Multicultural Classrooms
Stream: Teaching Experiences, Pedagogy, Practice & Praxis
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Karolin Mae, Tallinn University, Estonia
Meril Ümarik, Tallinn University, Estonia


With the increasing diversity in Estonian classrooms (Tammaru et al., 2021), teachers are expected to engage students from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds and cultivate open attitudes among learners (e.g. Gay, 2002; Ladson -Billings, 2020; Irvine, 2003; Sleeter, 2012; Nieto 2017). However, several reports highlight that teachers feel ill-prepared to cater for diversity (OECD, 2016, Eurydice, Different researchers have posited that such differences come from teachers' incapability to engage students from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds (Irvine, 2003; Crawford, 2000). The focus of the study is the teacher's self-efficacy in a multicultural classroom, that is, the teacher's perceived ability to use various strategies and activities to influence learners and achieve the desired outcome in a multicultural classroom (Choi & Lee, 2020). The analysis is based on semi-structured interviews with Estonian basic school teachers (N = 20) who have previous experience teaching students from different cultural backgrounds. The thematic analysis shows that teachers with higher self-efficacy use several culturally sensitive teaching strategies, such as creating an open classroom environment, introducing multiple perspectives in the classroom, taking the student's individuality into account and building good relationships with learners. The study shows that factors supporting self-efficacy include previous experience with a diverse student body, a collaborative school culture, competence building through training, foreign language skills, an open attitude and experience of living abroad. The biggest challenges for teachers are finding a common language with learners from another cultural space, lack of time or materials, lack of psychological skills and burnout.

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