There is growing interest in the role of schools in supporting children facing adversity, including children with refugee and immigrant backgrounds. Based on six months of ethnographic fieldwork (December 2018 to June 2019) and interviews with teachers in two classes for adolescent newcomer refugee and immigrant learners in Denmark, this paper explores teacher responses to everyday dilemmas in supporting and caring for refugee and immigrant learners at school with a focus on three key areas: 1) in relation to teaching while safeguarding the adolescents’ self-image, 2) in caring for the adolescents emotionally, socially and physically, and 3) in building trust and being the adolescents’ confidants. Based on the findings, we argue that caring for newcomer adolescents cannot be reduced to questions of formal training and technical skills. Rather, it is intimately linked to attentiveness, experimentation and sensitivity to learners’ needs. Furthermore, we discuss how scholarly analysis of teacher responses to care-related dilemmas can help generate contextualised insights into the broader support needs of teachers engaging in care work in specific social contexts.

DOI: 10.1080/02643944.2023.2214913
ISSN: 0264-3944