To read this content please select one of the options below:

Books like me: an investigation of urban elementary teachers’ journey toward more culturally relevant pedagogy

Katia Ciampa (Widener University, Chester, Pennsylvania, USA)
Dana Reisboard (Widener University, Chester, Pennsylvania, USA)

Journal for Multicultural Education

ISSN: 2053-535X

Article publication date: 30 November 2020

Issue publication date: 4 June 2021

496

Abstract

Purpose

The single-site case study described herein is part of a two-year professional development (PD) initiative aimed at helping teachers from an urban elementary (K-8) school learn how to implement explicit, transactional comprehension strategy instruction across grades using culturally relevant books. This paper aims to describe the urban elementary teachers’ successes and challenges in their first-year implementation of providing culturally relevant literacy instruction.

Design/methodology/approach

Three types of qualitative data were collected: researchers’ anecdotal notes during the professional learning sessions; teacher focus groups; and teachers’ blog reflection entries.

Findings

The findings revealed that the PD for culturally relevant literacy instruction resulted in teachers’ heightened awareness of how identities and social subjectivities are negotiated in and through culturally relevant discourse, the implicit and explicit bias in the school curriculum. Finally, PD served as a catalyst for facilitating students’ and teachers’ racial and cultural identity development.

Research limitations/implications

The findings of this study suggest that culturally relevant books which incorporate the students’ background may aid in student engagement because students are able to draw upon their culturally acquired background knowledge to better comprehend texts. Thus, to engage, motivate, affirm and promote students’ literacy success, teachers need to possess knowledge of their students’ race and culture, as well as their background, language and life experiences.

Practical implications

The findings of this study suggest that culturally relevant books which incorporate the students’ background may aid in student engagement because students are able to draw upon their culturally acquired background knowledge to better comprehend texts. Thus, to engage, motivate, affirm and promote students’ literacy success, teachers need to possess knowledge of their students’ race and culture, as well as their background, language and life experiences.

Social implications

Teachers and teacher educators must reflect on, question and critique their own work in preparing teachers to enter today’s schools as critical, reflective educators. The types of children’s literature that are selected and introduced to students play an important role in dismantling technocratic approaches to literacy instruction and strengthen one’s understanding of one another. Teachers must select books that challenge assumptions and speak of possibilities for change.

Originality/value

Culturally relevant pedagogy that includes culturally relevant children’s literature holds promise for improving literacy instructional and assessment practices and school experiences for culturally and linguistically diverse students, especially in environments where high-stakes testing is emphasized. It is one way to imagine a better schooling experience for students that affirms identities and honors and sustains diversity. For culturally relevant pedagogy to be a reality in education, stakeholders must be on board, including students, parents, teachers, administrators and policymakers.

Keywords

Citation

Ciampa, K. and Reisboard, D. (2021), "Books like me: an investigation of urban elementary teachers’ journey toward more culturally relevant pedagogy", Journal for Multicultural Education, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 1-19. https://doi.org/10.1108/JME-09-2019-0069

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles