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“If You Want to Go Far”: A Case Study of Culturally Sustaining Co-teaching

Abstract

Researchers have often focused on weaknesses in the instruction offered to Black and Latinx students with dis/abilities, and not on what it looks like when teachers seem to get it right. The purpose of this case study was to understand the instruction and co-teaching partnership in one inclusive, urban high school classroom where the teachers sought to deliver responsive, empowering instruction. Working together, the teachers supported students’ academic success, demonstrated cultural competence, and infused sociopolitical consciousness into lessons while being responsive to students’ dis/abilities. They balanced teaching practices known to be culturally sustaining with those that were responsive to students’ dis/abilities. The findings have implications for how we prepare and support teachers of Black and Latinx students with dis/abilities.

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Acknowledgements

The author thanks the Education and Human Development Doctoral Student Dissertation IDEAs program at the University of Virginia for providing financial support for this research.

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Correspondence to Rose Sebastian.

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Appendix

Appendix

Codebook

Code Definition
Socio-political consciousness
Creating change Observations and interview comments that focus on impacting students’ lives outside of the classroom or giving them opportunities to have an impact outside of the classroom, including discussion of college, empowerment in personal lives, and academic projects with a community focus or impact
Identifying inequity and resistance Observations and interview comments relating to teachers’ discussion of misogyny, racism, or structural inequalities and any discussion of historical figures who resisted misogyny, racism, or other structural inequalities or who broke barries/created change
Academic success
Caring Observations and interview comments pertaining to emotional support for individual students including mentoring, providing counselling, out of class supports for students, building relationships with and knowledge of individual students, and positive reinforcement offered to students
Classroom environment Observations and interview comments pertaining to the classroom environment including the physical space, how students are greeted, the establishment and maintenance of classroom norms, student participation, and peer to peer relationships in the classroom
Expectations for students Observations and interview comments about being a warm demander, including expectations for students, feedback given to students, or partnerships built with home and community, including references made during class to students’ families
Academic skills Observations and interview comments on the explicit teaching of academic skills including academic language, metacognitive skills, writing skills, and reading strategies
Instructional formats Observations and interview comments on the format of the instruction including instructional modality, activities, and structure. Includes strategies to build comprehension of content such as spiral review, connections to earlier content, and first language supports
Cultural competence
Relevance Observations and interview comments about the relevance of the academic content to students’ lived experiences and to current events, including the use of students in examples, connections made by students, students’ comments on relevance, and attempts by the instructors to highlight the importance of the content
Student leadership and voice Observations and interview comments about ways in which students’ voices and power are elevated or suppressed in the classroom, including freedoms offered/not offered to students, extent of student choice in activities, ways in which power is shared or maintained by the instructor, and instructional activities that offer students’ leadership
Co-teaching partnership
Roles Observations and interview comments about the roles each co-teacher takes in instruction, planning, assessing students, and interacting with students. Includes discussion and observation of challenges with co-teaching and in their partnership
Relationship Observations and interview comments about the relationship between the two teachers including time spent together outside of co-teaching times, personal conversations between the teachers, non-verbal interactions like smiles/frowns/high-fives, and references to the other co-teacher made during interviews
Communication Observations and interview comments about communication between the two co-teachers including the value of communication, non-verbal communication between the teachers, and conversations between the teachers about students or the course
Beliefs and characteristics Observations and interview comments about the individual teachers’ own backgrounds, beliefs about education, students, classroom management, and society, and experiences with co-teaching
School environment Observations, document analysis, and interview comments about the school context including state records on student achievement at the school, observation of the school structure and schedule, and comments made by the teachers or students during class about the school or district. Includes the history of the program and constraints or supports perceived by the teachers

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Sebastian, R. “If You Want to Go Far”: A Case Study of Culturally Sustaining Co-teaching. Urban Rev (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11256-022-00639-0

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Keywords

  • Co-teaching
  • Culturally sustaining pedagogy
  • Special education
  • Critical disability studies