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“I'm Just Kind of Winging It”: Preparing and Supporting Educators of Adult Refugee Learners


  • Kristen H. Perry,

  • Susan J. Hart


In this qualitative case study, we explore local adult educators’ preparation to teach refugees, along with their professional development needs. This analysis focuses on 10 tutors and instructors in a midsize Southeastern city. Data collection involved an open-ended questionnaire, semi-structured interviews, and observations; analysis involved open coding, theme generation, data matrices, and participant checking. Findings indicated that most participants had some level of preparation, although the amount and nature of this preparation varied widely; yet, even those with teaching certification felt un- or under-prepared to teach ESL and/or literacy to adult refugees. Participants needed relevant training, opportunities to connect with “people resources”, and other supports. We discuss implications for offering ongoing, targeted professional development for adult ESL educators.