Validating culturally diverse students

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The participating teachers maintained relationships with their students that were “fluid and equitable” and often attended community events in order to demonstrate support for their students.

These teachers also believed in creating bonds with students and developing a “community of learners,” which means that all students worked collaboratively to become responsible for each others’ learning.

Culturally relevant teaching is a term created by Gloria Ladson-Billings (1994) to describe “a pedagogy that empowers students intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically by using cultural referents to impart knowledge, skills, and attitudes.” Participating in culturally relevant teaching essentially means that teachers create a bridge between students’ home and school lives, while still meeting the expectations of the district and state curricular requirements.

Culturally relevant teaching utilizes the backgrounds, knowledge, and experiences of the students to inform the teacher’s lessons and methodology.

Families uphold a spiritual faith that learning to read and write is directly relevant to leading a holistic spiritual life.

Families also tell stories of struggle and share hope-filled stories of how even in the face of adversity, members of their family were able to survive and succeed within the educational system that was not initially created to benefit Black families.

Others require more time and investment, like building curriculum around personal narratives or incorporating identity-based responses into the study of texts.

My research has uncovered the nuanced ways that families support their children’s education at home and how families teach their children to balance struggle with hope.

I refer to such home teaching strategies as “family pedagogy.” What might teachers learn from the Black family pedagogy used by families to survive and “succeed” within and outside of school?

By studying multiple generations of Black families in the Northeastern Albemarle region of North Carolina, I search for family knowledge that can transfer into teacher education.

I explore historical and contemporary family struggles and hopes regarding school desegregation.

First we take in the occurrence; then we think about it; react to it; and ultimately act upon it.

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