Project Information

The research project “Teachers Close to Borders: Uncovering Teachers’ Practices as they Work to Enact Equitable Teaching with Refugee Children” aimed to understand the perspectives and practices of a small group of highly engaged teachers, previously identified in an earlier research project GÖÇ-MAT, as holding potentials to enact equitable teaching practices in their work with refugee children and families. The two-year project was funded by TÜBİTAK 2236 the European Commission Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Cofund program “Co-Funded Brain Circulation2 Scheme (CoCirculation2)”.

This ethnographically oriented research included data collection methods such as fieldwork, classroom observations, video recordings, and interviews in schools in Şanlıurfa and Gaziantep in Turkey. The teacher interviews mainly focused on their current experiences with refugee children and families, the influence of the pandemic, their take-aways from the previous GÖÇ-MAT project and the current discourses on refugees in Turkey and their connections to education, and gender issues (i.e. refugee girls’ experiences in school contexts).

The project was carried out between 2021 and 2023.

Project Team
Doç. Dr. Elif Karslı Çalamak

Doç. Dr. Elif Karslı Çalamak

Principal Investigator

Prof. Dr. Feyza Tantekin Erden

Prof. Dr. Feyza Tantekin Erden

Project Advisor

Elif Naz Altaş

Elif Naz Altaş

Research Assistant (Volunteer)

Teacher Professional Development

During the project, teachers were provided with PD opportunities on topics such as culturally responsive education and gender issues in refugee education.

We created a teacher training with gender-sensitive content in refugee education. The project mentor Dr. Feyza Erden provided teachers with the knowledge to contribute to the effective implementation of gender equity strategies in their multicultural classrooms. The specific content of the module was as follows: What do we know about gender and education? What does the term “gender” signify? Introducing gender equity. Basic principles of gender equity. Gender socialization. Teaching methods: Language, activities, organization Books & Toys. Challenges and obstacles in multicultural schools when it comes down to gender equity. How do we achieve gender equity in multicultural classrooms?

Main Findings

In this research, the teachers working with refugee children and families (a) convey an openness to deconstructing their stereotypes; (b) have an interest in creating space for play and (c) engage in altruistic acts that manifest themselves in culturally embedded teaching practices. (d) Some of their shared practices include the use of technology-based tools. Another finding is that although the teachers work on fostering two-way communication with and between families, they report that there is a lack of interaction and communication among refugee and local families.

The teachers see themselves as becoming more competent in teaching refugee children over time. However, the latest analysis demonstrates that the teachers’ experiences and notions about teaching refugee children are impacted by the current political shifts, anti- immigrant discourses and the recent earthquake and flooding experienced in the region in early 2023.  The detailed research findings can be accessed through the project publications listed below.


Conference Presentations

  • Karslı-Çalamak, E. & Valencia-Mazzanti, C. (2023, May 17-21). Interruptions in Context: Teachers Working with Refugee Children and Families [Conference presentation]. 19th International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry. Chicago, IL, United States.
  • Karslı-Çalamak, E.& Erden F. (2022, August 29-31). Family Engagement Practices of Teachers Who Work on Building Equitable Teaching with Refugee Children [Conference presentation]. 13th Biennial Conference European Network of Parents About Education (ERNAPE), Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
  • Karslı-Çalamak, E., Tantekin-Erden F. & Altaş E. N. (2022, August 23-26). What Distinguishes Teachers Who Enact Equitable Teaching with Refugee Children? [Conference presentation]. 30st European Early Childhood Education Research Conference (EECERA), Glasgow, Scotland.


  • Karslı-Çalamak, E., Tantekin-Erden F. & Altaş E. N. (in preparation). Teachers’ Perceptions of Gender Influence and the Dynamics of How Gender Affects Refugee Children’s School Experiences
  • Karslı-Çalamak, E. & Valencia-Mazzanti, C. (in preparation). Teachers of Refugee Children Opening up Dialogic Spaces through Interruptions and Change
  • Karslı-Çalamak, E. (2022). Mültecilik deneyimi olan çocukların eğitimi [Education of Children with Refugee Experiences]. İ. Gürgah-Oğul (eds.). In Erken çocukluk döneminde risk altındaki çocukların eğitimi [Education of Children at Risk in Early Childhood].  (pp. 221-244). Ankara: Nobel Press.

Outreach Activities Carried Out as Part of the Project

Talks & Seminars

  • Issues related to Time, Focus, and Depth in Research: Field Notes from Refugee Education Studies by Dr. Elif Karslı Çalamak

Seminar offered to graduate students at the Department of Early and Elementary Education, Middle East Technical University

  • Culturally Responsive Education by Dr. Elif Karslı Çalamak

Seminar offered to students and academics at the METU Faculty of Education 4oth Anniversary Event Series

  • Practical Aspects of Culturally Responsive Education by Dr. Elif Karslı Çalamak

Seminar offered to 30 teachers from 30 different cities in Turkey for the 20th Summer Science School event of İLK-YAR, which is an NGO aiming to support educators and students from the disadvantaged regions

  • Ethnographic and Visual Methods in Educational Research by Dr. Elif Karslı Çalamak

Seminar offered to graduate students at the Department of Early and Elementary Education, Middle East Technical University

  • A Good Practice on Family Engagement from Teachers Working with Refugee Children: Multilingual Family Mathematics Workshops

Submission to 19th Good Practices in Education Conference with the participating teachers, organized by the Education Reform Initiative (ERG)

Invited Talks & Workshops

  • Social Justice and Cultural Diversity in Education by Dr. Elif Karslı Çalamak
    Invited by Turkish Ministry of National Education, Tekirdağ City Brach to offer this talk
  • Reaching Each and Every Child: Cultural and Linguistic Diversity by Dr. Elif Karslı Çalamak

Invited by Turkish Intelligence Foundation (Türk Zeka Vakfı) to offer this workshop for educators


The Course Designed and Offered

  • ECE 368 Culturally Responsive Early Childhood Education

The course offered at METU College of Education during Fall 2021 and Fall 2022

Supporting Teachers Working With Refugee and Immigrant Children in Mathematics Education.
The Project MIGRA-MATH (215K478) is Supported by The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK).



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