Bilingual elementary teachers : examining pedagogy and literacy practices




Garza, Irene Valles

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This study is significant because U.S. schools are continuously being transformed due to the increasing numbers of linguistically and culturally diverse students, in particular Latina/o youths. Therefore, this qualitative dissertation study explored and described ways three Latina Tejana Maestras utilized Culturally Responsive Pedagogy (CRP) during literacy learning as they integrated students’ knowledge about their social and cultural environment, including their native language repertoire, while developing and implementing instruction. This study used sociocultural and borderlands theoretical construct to explore and describe ways the Maestras enacted and sustained CRP during literacy events. The sociocultural perspective is a fitting lens because it takes into account how knowledge is constructed in and through social interaction. Borderlands is also a fitting lens because it takes into account the Tejana Maestras borderlands identity of straddling simultaneous worlds — two languages, two cultures. Sociocultural theory and Borderlands theoretical lenses were complemented by CRP, a teaching approach that not only fits the school culture to the students’ culture, but uses the students’ culture as the basis for students to understand themselves and guiding them to becoming academically successful. The two questions used to guide this dissertation were: What culturally responsive pedagogical knowledge and practices do Tejana Maestras enact in bilingual classrooms? Second: How do Tejana Maestras acquire knowledge about the culture, language, and background experience of their students when planning and implementing instruction? The research revealed three themes, a) the presence of Building a Bilingual Classroom Community (BBCC) that was continuously evolving, and seamlessly functioning, as a system was clearly evident in each of the three classrooms, b) the Tejana Maestras notion of agents of change that guided their pedagogical literacy practices, and c) the notion of centering Mexican American students’ values, beliefs, and norms into the pedagogy and curriculum responsive to emergent bilinguals was recognizable. Six findings developed from the data; a) Tejana Maestras foster cultural awareness, b) embrace Latina/o bilingualism, c) employ a menu of culturally responsive literacy practices, d) learn from their students e) are conscious of their identity, and f) teaching philosophy. Due to U.S. schools being transformed by the increasing numbers of linguistically and culturally diverse students, the study demonstrated that it is important to conduct research about Tejana Maestras to learn the ways they are effectively meeting the needs of bilingual students by using CRP to promote academic success.



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