Culturally Responsive Pedagogy: A Study of Implementation

In public education we are faced with three realities: (1) our student population is diverse and growing in children of color; (2) children of color are the students most at risk of being caught on the negative end of the achievement gap; and (3) the adopted curriculum and instructional practices are predominately Eurocentric. There is a need to integrate culturally responsive practices to engage and promote success for our increasingly diverse student population. Critical race theory, equity pedagogy, culturally responsive pedagogy and liberation education inform the conceptual framework for this study. There is a plethora of theoretical work on culturally responsive pedagogy and a lack of work on how to implement pedagogies. The study examined the experiences of teachers attempting to implement culturally responsive practices and the role of the administrator, both as instructional leader and a co-constructor of knowledge. The participatory action research method allowed teachers to serve as co-researchers actively examining a current problem to effect change. Teachers and the administrator engaged in dynamic discourse about pedagogy, practice, and support. The data includes school district documents, surveys, classroom observations, and dialogues. The district's culturally responsive practice model included one day training and a walk-through checklist. School site staffs were asked to select two checklist areas to implement. The administrator and teachers participated in the district-mandated equity walkthroughs while simultaneously engaging in additional site-based sharing, developing and refining of culturally responsive practice.Analysis of dialogues, classroom observations and surveys revealed phases of development of culturally responsive practices at the school site. Teachers integrated students' cultural background and experience into curriculum and instruction. Teachers evaluated their ability to engage all students in learning. District leaders recognized increased student achievement scores at this site. Surveys indicated the majority of teachers did not find the District equity walkthroughs to be supportive, yet the majority of teachers indicate a high interest in continuing to implement culturally responsive pedagogy. Teachers recommend a model for culturally responsive pedagogy implementation that values teacher knowledge, teacher practices, teacher questions, teacher reflections, and co-construction of knowledge.