The Tale of Three Cultures: Identifying Minority Teachers' Culture and Its Influence in the Classroom
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Background: Culture plays a large role in the classroom and is mostly spoken of in recognition of diversity amongst students but not often as part of the teacher’s identity. This study closely examined the “lived stories” of three minority teachers, their culture and identity. It delved into who they were personally and professionally, illuminating how teacher identity influenced their relationships with students, curriculum and classroom. Purpose: With more emphasis placed on culturally responsive teaching, the field has become aware of recognizing the cultural capital students bring into the classroom. This study explored the teaching of three minority women seeking to answer the questions: How do minority teachers identify themselves and their culture? How does their cultural identity influence their teaching in regards to classroom curriculum, environment and relationships with students? How are critical pedagogy and culturally responsive teaching evidenced in their classroom? Methods: With three participants, the researcher included, the main method of research was narrative inquiry, using interviews to gain insight on their background, teaching, and experiences with culture in the classroom. In addition to interviews, journals were employed to evidence researcher experiences. Participants also reflected on their classroom using designated prompts. After a clean transcription, all data was then coded to reveal major themes. Results: After researching the cultural identity of minority teachers, there was an awareness of their culture influencing their classroom. Major themes to emerge from the data were: minority teachers as role models, teaching students more than the curriculum, building a positive classroom atmosphere and culturally responsive teaching. Conclusion: Although not obvious to participants but only through reflection, minority teachers had something more to offer students. They provided a unique perspective to which some students might relate. With an ever-changing demographic, it is advantageous to have diversity among educators that mirrors that of the student population.