Photo of Monica Sandlund

Monica Sandlund

Associate Professor

Immigrant teachers – how do the Swedish primary, secondary and upper secondary school use them?

When teachers decides to go along with their profession in another country than their own home context, it demands a very strong belief that you really want to continue as teacher. 

To teach in another language than the mother tongue language is demanding and the leadership in the classroom needs to be extremely well planned. What the immigrant teacher want to achieve as a very central experience is the good interaction with the students.

To meet a new school context as the Swedish can mean that you have to change your demands on the students. You can be forced to lower the expectations on your students to levels you don’t think is reasonable. As a teacher you also can need to defend your own professional identity against colleagues and the student’s parents. If you manage all this you can call yourself a Swedish teacher.

My research area is teacher’s identity performances. With my thesis I wanted to contribute to an understanding of how immigrant teachers define and construct their identities in a new school context. In the thesis, seven immigrant teachers and their life stories about professional practices in the Swedish multicultural education system are focused. The study is based on a social constructional theory with the understanding that purpose is created through interaction with others. I see narratives as action and a dominating form of expression for identity. The life story approach of studying teachers´ practices has inspired analysis of the following issues: What kind of professional identities do the teachers perform in their narratives about encounters and relationships in school? How do they position themselves in the stories and how do others position them? How is legitimacy constructed in their stories? Conclusions from their professional life experiences are situated in Swedish school contexts and are discussed together with theories and discourses about teaching as a profession, multicultural intentions, schools and social structures. The study shows diverse identity performances concerning legitimacy. In the life stories, various positions of acceptance and resistance appear as answers to the demands of conformity.

Professional experiences as teacher and researcher

I have been a teacher in different compulsory schools in Mjölby and Linköping for the first twenty years of my career. I am a primary school teacher who have continued with academic studies in sociology, pedagogy and pedagogical practices. The last twenty years I have been a teacher in the teacher education at Linköping University.

Research interests

  • Immigrant teachers’ establishments in Swedish school contexts
  • Values and norms in the schools
  • Teachers’ identity performances
  • Teachers’ leaderships
  • Colleagues resistances



Monica Sandlund (2014) Och medan vi jobbade sålde man ut vår skola! Dynamiska och komplexa miljöer: refektioner över pedagogiska praktiker : vänbok till Glenn Hultman, p. 105-113


Monica Sandlund (2011) Jag är till för alla elever - inte bara invandrarelever All världens lärare i Sverige: Utländska lärares vidareutbildning
Monica Sandlund (2011) Inblickar i skolan: Lärare med utländsk bakgrund berättar Läraryrkets interkulturella dimensioner, p. 43-49
Monica Sandlund, Ingrid Andersson (2011) Immigrant Teachers' Struggle for Legitimacy at the Crossroads of Global Change


Monica Sandlund (2010) Lärare med utländsk bakgrund: Sju yrkeslivsberättelser om möten med nya skolsammanhang