Professional development focused on cultural responsivity : a multiple case study investigating the impact on teachers’ perception and practice.


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Although the cultural differences in K‒12 classrooms increase yearly, most educators find themselves unprepared to meet the academic needs of this diverse population of students. A one size fits all approach to teaching has proven ineffective. In classrooms that are composed of students with a mixture of cultures, beliefs, values, gender, religions, and economic backgrounds, teachers often struggle to cultivate educational equity. Teachers have an influential academic impact on the students they teach, and they have the responsibility to align standards and curriculum to meet the needs of all students. Guided by the theoretical framework of Brown-Jeffy and Copper (2011), this multiple case study explored the thinking and practice of five teachers who participated in professional development centered on culturally responsive teaching. Data generated was one questionnaire, a 45-minute interview, two 45-minute observations with each participant, and three brown bag luncheons. This data was then coded and analyzed for each of the five individual cases, followed by a cross-case analysis which produced three emerging themes. This study’s findings revealed an awareness of teachers’ implicit bias, a change in teachers’ practices due to incorporating cultural connections, and teachers’ building positive relationships in the classroom. This study’s findings provided four implications for teachers, Hasborough School District, teacher education programs, and student impact. First, every teacher should participate in professional development focused on culturally responsive teaching to prepare for the increased diversity in 21st-century classrooms. The second implication is directed to Hasborough School District to conduct culturally responsive onboarding professional development throughout all schools and to ensure sustainability. The third implication focuses on teacher education programs. Teachers must be prepared to meet culturally diverse students’ needs before entering the classroom. Classes focused on culturally responsive teaching should be mandatory in every teacher education program. The last implication focuses on student impact and achievement. The incongruence of students of color from White-dominated classroom content and state standards is evident in academic performance. Teachers must be taught to use students’ culture to foster learning, experiences, perspectives, and connection to content in the classroom.