Culturally responsive teaching in the context of mathematics: a grounded theory case study

Abstract

In this grounded theory case study, four interconnected, foundational cornerstones of culturally responsive mathematics teaching (CRMT), communication, knowledge, trust/relationships, and constant reflection/revision, were systematically unearthed to develop an initial working theory of CRMT that directly informs classroom practice. These cornerstones were found to interact in unique ways. Results have implications for teachers of mathematics who aim to become more culturally responsive, mathematics teacher educators and supervisors, and school administrators who seek to promote equity in mathematics.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    A pseudonym has been used.

  2. 2.

    A pseudonym has been used.

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Correspondence to Emily P. Bonner.

Appendices

Appendix 1

Interview protocols

The following interview protocols were guides for interviews that occurred while Ms. Finley was still alive and teaching. Interviews between her and the researcher were long and semi-structured, meaning that they often veered off of the course provided by the protocols. As such, many questions that came up during interviews and subsequently impacted the data are not included in the lists. The following questions are provided as samples, however, to give the reader an idea of how theoretical sampling was used in the interview process. The protocol for interview #1 was designed from questions generated by a few observations and literature. Each successive interview protocol was constructed subsequently from perceived holes in the data at the time of the interview. Here, the reader can follow the progression of questions that were generated in this manner.

Interview #1

  1. 1.

    Tell me about your background. What was school like for you? When did you decide that you wanted to be a teacher? Where and how were you prepared to become a teacher?

  2. 2.

    How would you describe your way of teaching? Have you always taught this way?

  3. 3.

    Does your role in the community influence your teaching? How do you use what you know about students in the course of teaching?

  4. 4.

    What types of teaching methods have given you the most success with this population? As a group, what do you feel it is that they need from a teacher?

  5. 5.

    How do you handle the various ability levels of children in your classroom?

  6. 6.

    Can you tell me about a student who is struggling or has struggled in your class? How did you handle it?

  7. 7.

    How do you handle discipline in your classroom? What do you consider to be misbehavior in the classroom?

  8. 8.

    What types of support (from administration, parents, etc.) are key to your success as a teacher?

Interview #2

  1. 1.

    Can you tell me more about the math team?

  2. 2.

    Tell me more about the Evening of Elegance and the 5th grade Graduation. How do rites of passage events like these benefit kids?

  3. 3.

    You talked about cultural influences during our last interview. How does being in your class help students develop racially?

  4. 4.

    When a student acts up in your class or doesn’t participate, you sometimes take them out of the room, might have them call home, and always address them directly with a particular tone. Why does this work with this group of students?

  5. 5.

    You communicate with students in very specific ways. Can you talk about that?

  6. 6.

    You mentioned that as a product of this community, you understand where students are coming from. In what other ways does your background influence your teaching?

Interview #3

  1. 1.

    Last week a new student came into your classroom and was almost immediately sent out. Can you talk about why you handled the situation in this particular way?

  2. 2.

    You mentioned that you won’t teach your children to act white. What did you mean by this? How does that relate to your students’ racial identity development?

  3. 3.

    You have said several times that you believe that your teaching has an impact on generations and the entire community. How do you feel that the successes at East Elementary (pseudonym) have transformed the community?

  4. 4.

    What are the main outcomes of your teaching?

  5. 5.

    How can we better prepare teachers to work in schools like East Elementary (pseudonym)?

Appendix 2

See Table 1.

Table 1 Selective codes and cornerstones

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Bonner, E.P., Adams, T.L. Culturally responsive teaching in the context of mathematics: a grounded theory case study. J Math Teacher Educ 15, 25–38 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10857-011-9198-4

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Keywords

  • Culturally responsive mathematics teaching
  • Successful teachers of African American students
  • Grounded theory