“I Feel Like I’m Safe Again:” A Discussion of Middle Grades Organizational Structures from the Perspective of Immigrant Youth and Their Teachers

As the number of immigrants and refugees grows in the United States, the linguistic and cultural diversity that comprises the middle grades classroom continues to increase. Given the need for resources and specific attention to linguistic and cultural strategies for these populations, this three-year ethnographic study examined the schooling experiences of young adolescent immigrant and refugee students in a small town located in a rural state. Historically a homogeneous area, in the last decade this community became a multilingual/multicultural setting. This study documented the schooling experiences of participants using ethnographic methods including participant observation, interviews, and document analysis. The data describe how immigrant and refugee students internalized middle grades organizational structures such as teaming and multiage grouping. The findings suggest much variability among the students’ experiences. Implications for researchers center on expanding the current research base in middle grades practice to include a new set of voices, while implications for practitioners focus on creating a safe environment in which immigrants can express themselves and feel comfortable asking for the level of support needed.

Complete Article

Published in Research in Middle Level Education Online, 2010