Culturally Responsive Pedagogy: A First-Year Teacher's Experience
The increase in cultural diversity within the K-12 U.S. student population has resulted in a greater focus on preparing future teachers to enact culturally responsive pedagogy (Villegas and Lucas, 2002). Over the past two decades, various scholars have studied the perceptions and dispositions of teachers in regard to topics of multiculturalism, diversity, and social justice education. However, there remains a limited number of studies which address beginning teachers' transitions from the conceptualization to the implementation of culturally responsive teaching. This study employs a qualitative approach to examining one first-year teacher's understandings of culturally responsive pedagogy and her experiences with implementing a culturally responsive curriculum unit. The researcher took on the role of a participant-observer to engage in-depth data collection and analysis through the use of a variety of data sources including: interviews, lesson planning sessions, classroom observations, field notes, analytic memos, and reflective journal entries. The findings of the study reveal the importance of coursework on culturally responsive pedagogy during teacher education and the need for increased support, through mentoring and modeling, to assist preservice and novice teachers in their efforts to translate culturally responsive theory into practice. Longitudinal studies which begin in teacher education and follow participants into their first year of teaching are needed to contribute further insight regarding the challenges faced by, and needs of, novice teachers who attempt to teach in culturally responsive ways.