Contexts That Inform Racial Awareness and Affect Teaching Practice: A Study of White Bilingual Teachers
Shank, Renee A.
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This qualitative study examines the varying contexts that inform racial awareness and teaching practice for White bilingual teachers. These contexts include the teacher education program in which the teachers were trained, the personal experiences of the participants, and the schools in which they teach. This study also investigates the impact that racial awareness has on teaching practice given the large number of constraints under which teachers practice. There are several studies that examine racial discourse in teacher education and White teachers. During the past 20 years there has been increased attention to the implementation of culturally relevant teaching and multicultural education. Although these bodies of literature have contributed tremendously to the field, there is little research that connects White teachers’ racial awareness to their teaching practice. There is also little research on how bilingual teachers are prepared for work in classrooms that consist predominantly of students of color. The participants in this study included four White bilingual teachers and six instructors at the university where the participants received their certification. The four teachers in this study were White bilingual women who had been teaching for the last two to five years. The instructors at Northern California University taught courses on teaching in diverse classrooms, theories of second language acquisition, teaching and learning theory, and the required courses for a bilingual teaching certificate. Data collection included semi-structured interviews and observations. Through the use of Bourdieu’s theories of habitus and field, qualitative analysis focused on the influences that contribute to the racial awareness of the four teachers in the study, racial discourse at the teacher education level, and the implementation of culturally responsive and multicultural teaching practices in bilingual classrooms. Many of the instructors at Northern California University addressed race from a historical perspective, which included an emphasis on racism at the institutional level. Although all instructors addressed issues of race in their courses, White teacher candidates in the required courses for the bilingual certificate engaged in deeper conversations on issues of race than their peers in other courses. The four teachers in the study also demonstrated a strong level of racial awareness as well as culturally responsive and multicultural teaching practices such as pedagogy that ensure equity for students, multicultural content integration. They also acknowledged the socioemotional needs of students in their classrooms. Additionally, the four participants were heavily influenced by the school context, which was either congruent or incongruent with the participants’ teaching philosophies. This dissertation explores the effects that racial awareness has on teaching practice within different school contexts. It also explores racial discourse in bilingual teacher preparation, which has been under-researched and can inform efforts to better prepare all teachers for work in diverse classrooms.
- Education - Seattle