Culturally Responsible Mentoring: Exploring the Impact of an Alternative Approach for Preparing Student Teachers for Diversity

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Apr. 15, 2010

Source: The Teacher Educator, Volume 45, Issue 2 (April 2010), pages 137–151.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

Teacher education is challenged with preparing teachers to work effectively with culturally diverse students. Gaps in the research literature demonstrate that more bridging is needed between teacher education coursework and student teaching experiences, particularly in terms of supervision approaches that consider multicultural issues.

This study argues that culturally responsible mentoring (CRM) is one way to help student teachers put multicultural education into practice. This study examines the impact CRM has on preservice teachers learning to teach in diverse classrooms.
 

Research Questions

This study focused on investigating the following research questions:
How does culturally responsible mentoring impact preservice teachers in the field?
For preservice teachers, how is culturally responsible mentoring helpful in the learning to teach process?
 

Participants

The participating preservice teachers were enrolled in a teacher education program located in the southwest of the United States. Given that each case involves a preservice teacher who was committed to issues of diversity, this sampling is biased.

The first case, Sydney, was a White, English-speaking woman who grew up in a White middle-class area. Sydney's fourth-grade classroom of 30 students was half White and half Students of Color.

The second case, Dana, was also a White, English-speaking woman with a middle class/upper class background. Her fourth-grade placement was in a Title I school that served a high poverty community; 90% of students received free lunch. Her classroom was predominantly Students of Color.
 

Discussion of Findings

Impact of CRM on Preservice Teachers in the Field
The analysis of the data across case studies resulted in the emergence of several themes that demonstrated positive impacts on the preservice teachers' practices of multicultural education in the field:
1. Improved teaching practices to better address diverse students' learning needs.
2. Improved communication and interaction with students across difference.

Role of CRM in the Learning to Teach Process
Two themes emerged from the preservice teachers' perspectives about what was helpful in working with a culturally responsible mentor:
(a) Keeping multicultural education issues central; and
(b) sharing suggestions and examples of multicultural practices.
 

Implications

Evidence demonstrated that CRM improved curricular and pedagogical practices in meeting the needs of diverse learners, and enhanced interactions with students across differences.
Findings also demonstrated that having a culturally responsible mentor was beneficial because multicultural issues and suggestions for practices remained central throughout the student teaching experience.

It seems that without culturally responsible mentors, multicultural issues will continue to have a small probability of making it from teacher education programs into student teaching classrooms. Therefore, teacher education needs to refocus student teaching on diversity and better prepare supervisors to be culturally responsible.

The author argues that such a mentoring approach needs to be implemented across programs and studied on a larger scale to further investigate its potential for helping preservice teachers become effective teachers of diverse students.

Updated: Jun. 22, 2010
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