Leading with love : a qualitative case study exploring preservice teachers’ developing understanding and implementation of culturally responsive teaching in a literacy-centric field experience.


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Culturally responsive teaching (CRT) has been a contemporary buzzword within the field of education; however, the reality in most K-12 schools across the United States is that teachers are not employing CRT in students’ everyday school experiences. Consequently, culturally diverse students continue to experience unequal educational opportunities in school, as their learning needs are not being met in the classroom. In order to effectively meet the needs of culturally diverse students, culturally responsive teachers validate students and encourage their academic success through positive student-teacher relationships, culturally congruent instructional practices, culturally relevant content, and culturally affirming and empowering language practices (Gay, 2018). For this study, a multiple case study was conducted to explore four preservice teachers developing understanding and implementation of CRT through their participation in Freedom Schools, a literacy field experience that utilized a multicultural curriculum. A follow-up study was also conducted to explore preservice teachers’ ability to implement CRT in a subsequent public-school field experience. Multiple sources of data, including interviews and observations, were collected and analyzed to triangulate the study findings. Constant comparative analysis, pattern matching, and cross-case analysis were methods used to analyze the data. The data revealed the following prominent themes: training in cultural awareness deepened preservice teachers’ understanding and implementation of CRT, a field experience that challenges preservice teachers out of their comfort zone breeds personal and professional growth, education in cultural awareness and a single field experience alone were not sufficient in transforming preservice teachers’ perceptions of culturally diverse students or their implementation of CRT, and preservice teachers faced challenges implementing CRT in a subsequent field experience within a public-school classroom due to school practices that impeded their ability to meet the needs of culturally diverse students. The study findings pointed to important implications for teacher educators to consider in preparing and equipping prospective educators to become culturally responsive teachers. Additionally, the study indicated recommendations for schools to change current policies and practices in order to better serve and meet the learning needs of culturally diverse students.



Culturally responsive teaching. Teacher preparation. Learning needs. Culturally diverse students. K-12 schools.