Each One, Teach One: Elementary Teachers and Their Perceptions of Their Implementation of Culturally Responsive Pedagogy



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Background: Cultural awareness is a skill that we should all pursue in order to be compassionate, conscientious citizens of the world. A culturally diverse student population is the norm in large, urban school districts and it is the responsibility of educators to ensure that a culturally responsive pedagogy is implemented. Research has shown that many teacher education programs spend very little time on culturally responsive instructional issues that often arise in low-income, urban educational settings. With pre-service teachers often lacking adequate preparation for culturally responsive teaching, in-service teachers need to receive professional development to ensure that they are teaching in a manner that connects the curriculum to their students’ experiences and cultures. Purpose: Previous research has revealed a positive correlation between a teacher’s understanding of culturally responsive pedagogy and its transference into the actual classroom. The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore the perceptions of elementary teachers about their capability to implement culturally responsive pedagogy . Research Question: The proposed study will address the following research question: What are the perceptions of elementary teachers related to their capacity to teach from the lens of a culturally responsive pedagogy? Methods: This qualitative study used semi-structured interviews, member-check interviews and a focus group to determine the perceptions of five urban elementary teachers in regards to their implementation and practice of culturally responsive pedagogy in their classrooms. Both convenience and criterion based sampling were used to select a sample from the researcher’s social and professional network of teachers who had taught for at least one full school year. The researcher initially conducted the individual semi-structured interviews using questions designed by the researcher and reviewed by an educator familiar with the components of culturally responsive pedagogy. After interviews were conducted, participants engaged in a member check interview to comment upon the validity and accuracy of the content obtained. Finally, participants engaged in a focus group interview to generate information on the collective views of the group. Transcribed data from the interview responses and focus group were analyzed using Braun and Clark’s (2006), six-step protol to establish emerging themes found in evidence from the interviews. Findings: The study added to the body of literature on culturally responsive pedagogy as it relates to teacher perceptions of their instructional practices. Three major themes emerged: 1. Teachers are frustrated by a lack of pre-service and in-service culturally responsive pedagogy trainings; 2. Teachers find their practices enhanced when they have experience with diverse backgrounds; and, 3. Teaching culturally diverse students requires the teacher to think creatively to reach students due to limited curriculum. The findings suggested that teachers may not be teaching in a culturally responsive way due to a lack of classroom models. Conclusion: As a result of a deficit in professional developments dedicated to culturally responsive teaching, achievement gaps between diverse and non-diverse student populations are widening, and the frustration levels of teachers of diverse student populations are growing. Teachers of diverse student populations need more support and training both on campus and district-wide to support them in reaching students and helping them convey the standard curriculum successfully.



culturally responsive teaching, culturally responsive pedagogy, multicultural education, culturally sustaining pedagogy