Investigating practices of highly successful mathematics teachers of traditionally underserved students

Abstract

This article presents findings from an ongoing study focused on deconstructing pedagogical practices of successful mathematics teachers in classrooms with high populations of traditionally underserved students. Using grounded theory, the manuscript reports on general themes and specific practices of culturally responsive mathematics teaching (CRMT) that have been “unearthed” from data collected over several years in three diverse mathematics classrooms. The findings indicate that, regardless of cultural setting, relationships and trust are central to CRMT, while communication patterns and various forms of knowledge mediate these relationships. Ultimately, CRMT provides student access, which is mediated by culture and identity, to complex mathematical ideas. Common concrete practices, such as warm demander pedagogy and reflection, are discussed. These results speak to the complexity of the culturally responsive mathematics classroom and provide suggestions to educators, administrators, and teacher educators who aim to become more culturally responsive.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    “traditionally underserved” is defined here as students who are ethnic minorities and/or come from a low socioeconomic background, and who are educationally disadvantaged based on high-stakes test scores.

  2. 2.

    Title I was put in place to “improve the academic achievement of the disadvantaged.” These schools receive “extra” resources and are populated by students living in poverty. As such, “Title I” schools and districts are understood to be serving economically disadvantaged populations.

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Correspondence to Emily P. Bonner.

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Bonner, E.P. Investigating practices of highly successful mathematics teachers of traditionally underserved students. Educ Stud Math 86, 377–399 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10649-014-9533-7

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Keywords

  • Culturally responsive teaching
  • Classroom equity
  • Teacher practice
  • Teacher knowledge
  • Student access