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Finding Joy in Teaching Students of Diverse Backgrounds: Culturally Responsive and Socially Just Practices in U.S. Classrooms

Finding Joy in Teaching Students of Diverse Backgrounds: Culturally Responsive and Socially Just Practices in U.S. Classrooms

by Sonia Nieto


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Finding Joy in Teaching Students of Diverse Backgrounds: Culturally Responsive and Socially Just Practices in U.S. Classrooms

"While no check-list of attitudes, dispositions, behaviors, or actions can define what thriving teachers look like, the teachers interviewed here give us powerful examples of what it takes to face their profession with courage, their content with enthusiasm, and their students with love."
-Sonia Nieto

One in four public school students in the U.S. now speaks a language other than English at home, and the number of emergent bilingual and immigrant children in our schools continues to grow daily. What does it mean to be a teacher today, when students are more diverse in language, culture, race, and social class than ever before? What does it take to thrive, when the demands of teaching have never been greater? Sonia Nieto found and interviewed 22 teachers of varying backgrounds and school settings who help answer the question of what effective, culturally responsive teaching looks like in the real world. Their stories of success, failure, frustration and hope will resonate with everyone who has struggled to meet the needs of diverse students in our current sociopolitical context.

Nieto explores the common themes that arose throughout the interviews, of teaching with a social justice perspective, the moral dimensions of teaching, advocating for students, and challenging the status quo. She raises a persuasive argument that teaching is an ethical endeavor, that we must honor students' identities and believe in their futures, and that ultimately teaching is an act of love. The stories of Nieto's passionate teachers will inspire and motivate you to find joy in teaching students of diverse backgrounds.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780325027159
Publisher: Heinemann
Publication date: 09/25/2013
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 200
Sales rank: 106,301
Product dimensions: 7.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Educator, researcher, writer, and teacher, Sonia Nieto is Professor Emerita of Language, Literacy, and Culture, School of Education, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In her career, she has taught students from elementary school through doctoral studies and her research has focused on multicultural education, teacher education, and the education of Latinos, immigrants, and other students of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. With many journal articles, book chapters, and several books to her credit, she has received numerous awards for her scholarship, teaching, and advocacy, including four honorary doctorates. She was selected as a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association and as a Laureate for Kappa Delta Pi in 2011, and in 2012 she served as the Wits-Claude Distinguished Scholar at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction xiii

Thriving Teachers, Diversity, and Change xiii

The Interviews xiv

Part I Recognizing the Current Context of Public Education

Chapter 1 Surviving in Today's Schools: Taking Stock of Where We Are 3

Federal Policy and the Marketization of Schooling 5

Sociopolitical Issues in Schools and Society 9

Societal Barriers 9

School Conditions 11

The Ideological Barrier 12

Students and Teachers in U.S. Public Schools 13

Teachers: Between a Rock and a Hard Place 14

Students in U.S. Public Schools: Change and Diversity 15

Conclusion: Context Always Influences Teaching 17

Chapter 2 Professional Development: Preparing for the Real World 19

Learning to Teach Students of Diverse Backgrounds 20

Teaching from a Social Justice Perspective 20

Defining Social Justice in Education 21

The Political Nature of Social Justice Teaching 21

Social Justice Pedagogy 22

Professional Development 23

Teacher Preparation Programs 24

Inservice Professional Development 25

Mentoring and Induction Programs 26

Teacher Collaboration 26

The Problem of Assessing Teacher Quality 27

Conclusion: What Does Professional Development Mean to Teachers? 29

Part II Profiles of Thriving Teachers

Chapter 3 It's Whom You Teach, Not Just What You Teach 33

Starting Where Kids Are At 34

Bringing Your Identity into the Classroom 35

Two Models of Caring 36

Angeles Pérez 36

Angeles's Approach 38

Roger Wallace 40

Roger's Approach 42

Conclusion: Teaching Is an Act of Love 44

Chapter 4 "If I Haven't Taught Them How to Be Good People, That's Failure": Teachers' Perspectives on the Moral Dimensions of Teaching 47

Instilling Values of Empathy and Responsibility 48

Carmen Tisdale 48

Adam Heenan 49

Amber Bechard 51

Culturally Responsive Pedagogy 53

Carmen Tisdale 53

Amber Bechard 56

Adam Heenan 57

Conclusion: Teaching Is an Ethical Endeavor 59

Chapter 5 The Quest for Knowledge: Teacher Learning In and Out of the Classroom 60

Learning as a Lifelong Journey 61

John Nguyen 63

Self-Initiated Learning 64

Creating Curriculum Through Learning 64

Passing on a Passion for Learning 65

Alicia López 66

On-the-Job Learning 67

Learning Through Professional Organizations 69

Learning from and About Students 71

Conclusion: Teachers Thrive When They Keep Learning 73

Chapter 6 "I Hope I Can Become That Teacher": Teaching to Honor Language and Culture 75

What's in a Name? Emergent Bilingual Students 76

Emergent Bilingual Students in the United States 77

The Loyola Marymount University Teachers 77

Replicating or Rewriting Their Autobiography 78

Making a Difference for Emergent Bilingual Students 80

Affirming Family and Community Resources 86

Disillusionment with the Current State of Public Education 88

Conclusion: Teaching Is Honoring Students' Identities and Believing in Their Futures 90

Chapter 7 Teaching to Nurture Students' Dreams 92

Yolanda Harris 92

Maria Ramírez Acevedo 94

John Gunderson 96

Common Values in Diverse Settings 97

A Life of Service 97

Connecting with Students Through Shared Identities and Experiences 98

Questioning Conventions 102

Conclusion: Teaching Is Challenging the Status Quo 104

Chapter 8 Teaching as Social Justice and Advocacy 106

Social Justice Education: Different Contexts, Diverse Strategies 107

Stories of Social Justice Teachers 109

Geoffrey Winikur 109

María Federico Brummer 110

Hyung Nam 113

Social Justice in Practice 115

Social Justice and Curriculum 115

Social Justice and Pedagogy 117

Social Justice and Relationships 119

Social Justice and Courage 121

Conclusion: Teaching Is Advocacy 122

Part III Lessons Learned

Chapter 9 Teaching Students of Diverse Backgrounds: What Does It Take? 125

Teaching Is an Act of Love 126

Teaching Is an Ethical Endeavor 127

Teachers Thrive When They Keep Learning 128

Teaching Is Honoring Students' Identities and Believing in Their Futures 130

Teaching Is Challenging the Status Quo 132

Teaching Is Advocacy 134

Conclusion: Teachers Make a Difference 136

Chapter 10 From Dispositions to Actions: Becoming Culturally Responsive Teachers 137

Enacting Values in the Classroom 138

Engaging in Critical Self-Reflection 139

Valuing Language and Culture 140

Insisting on High-Quality, Excellent Work from All Students 141

Honoring Families 142

Exemplifying a Commitment to Lifelong Learning 143

Conclusion: Living the Values of Social Justice 144

Chapter 11 From Surviving to Thriving: The Role of Hope in Teaching 145

What Does It Mean to Thrive? 146

Thriving Despite Anxiety, Insecurity, and Frustration 146

Diverse Perspectives on Thriving 147

Thriving as Learning and Renewal 148

Bringing Feeling Back into the Teaching Profession 148

Four Pieces of Advice 150

Learn About Yourself 150

Learn About Your Students 151

Cultivate Allies 152

Have a Life 154

Final Thoughts 155

Additional Resources 157

References 163

Index 173

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