Go Farther Together: Culturally Relevant Teaching in a Co-Taught Classroom

Sebastian, Rose, Curriculum and Instruction - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Mintz, Susan, Curry School, University of Virginia

Instead of ameliorating inequalities in our society, American schools too often reproduce them (Hochschild & Scovronick, 2003). Culturally and linguistically diverse students and those with special needs graduate from high school, succeed on exams, and enroll in advanced courses at different rates than other students. These trends are true nationally, in Virginia, and at Washington High School ([WHS] Musu-Gillette et al., 2016; Newman, 2011; Sanford et al., 2011; Umansky, 2016; Virginia Department of Education [VDOE], 2018). WHS is a diverse high school that has struggled to provide all students with equitable academic opportunities. Three years ago the Synthesis program, which combines English and US History, began as a way to address the segregation of English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students within the high school. Coach Wilson, a special education teacher, and Dr. Sumner, an ESOL and history teacher, collaboratively taught Synthesis and offered their students an education for empowerment. In this single case study, I observed and interviewed these two teachers to understand the beliefs and practices that created this unique classroom. I discovered that their strong co-teaching partnership enabled the culturally relevant instruction in their classroom. The teachers worked together to make the content accessible for students, to support students, and to enhance students’ academic and career possibilities. Based on my observations, I developed a model of Culturally Relevant Teaching (CRT) in a co-taught classroom. While this model is rooted in the observations of one classroom, my findings have implications for other teachers at WHS and possibly at other schools as well.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
co-teaching, Culturally Relevant Teaching, empowerment, CRT, detracking
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