The perceptions and experiences of white special education teachers certified through an ACP program at a HBCU
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This research study explored and analyzed the perception and attitudes of first year White special education teachers’ experiences as they successfully matriculated through an alternative teacher certification program with a concentration in Special Education. The certifying entity for this teacher preparation program was a historically Black university (HBCU). It was the intent of this study to gather data on how White first year special education teachers view multiculturalism and diversity. This studied explored the rationale for why White pre-service teachers would select a HBCU to prepare them to enter the teaching field. This was a qualitative study using a naturalistic inquiry approach to learn about the perception of the participants. There were five participants selected to participant in this study. A set of guiding questions were used in order to maintain a focus, provide structure and give consistency to the interview process. The participants all were teaching in special education classrooms in large urban school districts. The classrooms they taught in were culturally and linguistically diverse. The data collection methods used included interviews, small group discussions and surveys. These interactions were audio taped then transcribed. The transcriptions were then reviewed by the participants to incorporate a member checking mechanism for the study. All five of the participants believed they benefitted from receiving their teaching certification from the HBCU. Their goal was to work in an urban setting and they agreed the certification program they attended helped them to become aware of the importance of celebrating diversity in their classes. All of the participants described an awakening to the challenges faced by students from low socio-economic, culturally and linguistically diverse students. Along with this epiphany the participants discussed the need to close the cultural gap between themselves and the students they teach. They all realized the importance of closing the gap in order to build mutual trust in their classrooms. The implications for future research include a broader study of the strategies used by White teachers to connect with culturally and linguistically diverse students in their classrooms.