Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Early Childhood and Elementary Education

Degree Program

Curriculum and Instruction, PhD

Committee Chair

Whitmore, Kathryn

Committee Member

Chisholm, James

Committee Member

Laman, Tasha

Committee Member

Horner, Bruce

Author's Keywords

ESL teaching; Congolese refugees; d/Discourses; ideological becoming


In this qualitative case study, I examine the ideological becoming—the ways individuals develop their beliefs and ways of viewing the world—of an English as a Second Language (ESL) newcomer literacy teacher and her four Congolese students. These individuals developed beliefs about their identities as a teacher of culturally and linguistically diverse children and students in U.S. schools. I situate my study in Bakhtinian sociocultural theory and draw on translanguaging theory to account for language learners’ creative and flexible uses of their language knowledge in different contexts. Ideological becoming occurs between the tension of authoritative and internally persuasive Discourses (Gee, 2014)—ways of being, acting, thinking, believing and more in order to be recognized as a socially significant identity. I employed ethnographic data collection methods of observations, interviews, and document collection to illuminate the environment in which the teacher’s and students’ ideological becoming took place. I identified the authoritative and internally persuasive Discourses, the English Literacy and Language Teaching Discourse (ELLT) and the Discourse about Refugees respectively, and viewed the ESL teacher’s classroom as a “contact zone” where the two came together. The data show the ESL newcomer literacy teacher adapted her instruction in various ways from the conflict or tension between the two Discourses as she enacted ways of being, acting, thinking, believing, etc. to be recognized as an ESL literacy teacher. These instructional manifestations— her choice of materials and activities, using Swahili and English, grouping Swahili-speaking children, and meeting reading goals—were manifestations of her emerging beliefs about literacy and language teaching. Her instructional adaptations influenced how the Congolese students drew upon their culturally and linguistically diverse ways of being and knowing to learn English literacy and language in her classroom lessons. Additionally, the Congolese students’ ways of being, knowing, and more dialectically influenced her instructional decisions as becoming an ESL newcomer literacy teacher. These processes that took place as part of her and her students’ ideological becoming reflected a larger phenomenon taking place across the U.S. as more teachers welcome increasingly diverse learners in their classrooms.