Date of Conferral







Jeremy W. Grabbe


AbstractMost research on students with interrupted formal education (SIFE) and English language learners (ELLs) documents their struggle with higher attrition rates and behavioral issues in high school. This qualitative study was conducted to examine high school teachers’ perspectives working with SIFE/ELLs in the classroom. Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory (SCT) indicated that students benefit from classrooms with high social interaction among all classroom participants and appropriate scaffolding of learning materials. Although SCT and most research focused on the students’ perspectives, this research focused on teachers’ perspectives. Data were collected from semistructured, open-ended interviews with 20 participants who teach or work with SIFE/ELLs. Thematic coding was performed within the Quirkos platform and led to seven themes: (a) SIFE/ELLs face challenges and need additional resources and assistance to overcome language barriers; (b) SIFE/ELLs bring diversity, maturity, life experiences, and work ethic to the classroom; (c) teachers have a passion for teaching and a significant impact on students; (d) teaching experience or possessing worldly experience is helpful in working with SIFE/ELLs; (e) professional development focused on working with SIFE/ELLs is important but somewhat lacking; (f) a multilingual co-teacher and exposure to English are crucial needs; and (g) the approach to student learning should be balanced and fair in a mainstream classroom, but this comes with disadvantages. These themes support the idea that, with increased professional development and resources, teachers who work with SIFE/ELLs can create positive social change by building more collaborative and productive classrooms.