Developing culturally relevant pedagogy: a meaning making process

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Developing culturally relevant pedagogy: a meaning making process

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Guided by my own practice as an elementary teacher, literacy coach and teacher educator, I sought what Erickson (1986) describes as " divulging the journey of the participants from the actors point of view " (p.119) to understand the lived experience of nine preservice teachers who actively sought wide, deep, and thoughtful engagement with what it means to practice culturally relevant pedagogy at the intersection of three distinctly unique and different locations: a Midwestern university setting, an urban elementary school setting and the community in which their field experience took place. This qualitative study uses what Gloria Ladson-Billings (1994) calls culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP). Participants Focused on the three criteria of CRP: (a) Students must experience academic success; (b) students must develop and/or maintain cultural competence; and (c) students must develop a critical consciousness through which they challenge the status quo of the current social order, as well as, Gonzalez, Moll & Amanti's (2005) Funds of Knowledge as an anchor for seeking more equitable spaces within the elementary classroom. In an attempt to engage in ethnography that Fetterman (2010) calls telling a credible, rigorous, and authentic story I collected the following data: fieldnotes, students' writings (i.e., journal writings, lesson plans, essays), video and audio recordings of university course work, video recordings of participants teaching, and unstructured interviews. My findings give us new stories to consider when thinking about what it means to become a teacher and the uneven workings of power between the preservice teachers, their cooperating teachers, and their university instructors. Furthermore, engagement in this study had revealed to the preservice teachers the unequal power structures within a racialized society and how it is enacted in schooling. The findings suggested that the preservice teachers, within this study, were discovering their human selves at the intersection between what they brought to their social roles and the testimonies of their pupils, families, and the community. This study also explains how using story as a metaphor brought the preservice teachers' racialization stories and the stories of their pupils, families, and the community within the urban school setting to the forefront.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. April 2014. Major: Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisors: Dr. Timothy J. Lensmire and Dr. Thom Swiss. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 154 pages.

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Kruizenga, Teresa M.. (2014). Developing culturally relevant pedagogy: a meaning making process. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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