Author

Mariola Krol

Date of Award

2020

Document Type

Dissertation

Copyright Status for Dissertations

All Rights Reserved

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership for Diverse Learning Communities

Department

Education

Abstract

Due to an increasingly diverse student population in U.S. public schools, there has been a pertinent need for teachers to enact culturally sustaining pedagogy (CSP) when educating children from racially and linguistically diverse backgrounds. CSP is an asset-based approach that uses the cultural capital of communities of color to guide curriculum development, classroom climates, instructional strategies, and relationships with students. Although much is known about CSP, less work has explored how teachers enact CSP in diverse classrooms and how their background knowledge, lived experiences, pre-service preparation, and in-service professional learning may facilitate this process. Therefore, this case study examines the factors that teachers believe contribute to the development of CSP and how these factors help them enact CSP skills in the process of teaching and learning. Data collection included 15 teachers from a suburban high school district in Northeastern United States who participated in in-depth semi-structured interviews and classroom visits. The findings indicated that “diversity” is a multifaceted and evolving construct and that all stakeholders, including the administration, faculty, staff, students, and parents, are responsible for shaping perceptions of diversity in the school community. Several key elements of CSP were identified in how the participants presented themselves: as mindful individuals trying to embrace a whole-child philosophy, ready to learn alongside their students, and eager to establish relationships with students and engage students’ families in the educational process. However, the findings also showed that some participants lacked culturally sustaining pedagogical beliefs and skills and perpetuated biases and color-evasive attitudes. Despite these challenges, all participants made an effort to become culturally proficient, although their journeys are an ongoing process of self-reflection and vulnerability. Implications of this study include (a) creating professional learning programs to help teachers acquire and enact CSP skills in their diverse classrooms and (b) taking actions to provide more equitable access to challenging classes for all students and to detrack the curriculum. Further research is needed to uncover the impact of CSP on student achievement and how various stakeholders (i.e., administration, students, families, and social support staff) perceive diversity in a school environment.

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