Identifying transformative teaching practices for Chican@/Latin@ community college students

Efforts to improve student outcomes for Chican@/Latin@ students in community colleges have focused on fixing perceived student problems with little attention and accountability directed specifically towards the institutions and the educators who teach them (Huber et al., 2014/2015). This qualitative study challenged that norm by focusing specifically on teachers and their teaching practices. Given that community college students spend more time in the classroom than any other place on campus, it made sense to assume that students are greatly influenced by the teacher’s teaching approaches and student-teacher interactions. The goal of this study was to analyze transformative ways of teaching and learn what works in the classroom for the most marginalized students on campus. For this study transformative teaching is defined as teaching grounded in social justice purpose that incorporates responsive teaching and learning approaches, and is focused on building strong meaningful relationships with students (Duncan-Andrade, 2007; Ladson-Billings, 1995; Valenzuela, 1999). This study was completed by utilizing the Extended Case Study methodology, which chooses specific cases because of their theoretical relevance and uses participant observation to find counter-instances to theory resulting in the augmentation and reconstruction of current theory (Burawoy, 1991). Three transformative teachers identified through community nomination were selected to participate in this research. Data were gathered through classrooms observations, semi-structured interviews of the teachers and their students, review of classroom artifacts, and a detailed field journal. The findings showed that transformative teachers in addition to having a social justice purpose for teaching, a responsive curriculum, and the ability to build strong meaningful relationships with students, also demonstrated urgency for their teaching, checked in frequently with their students, and built supportive communities in the classroom.