Peer impact and anxiety in the classroom

Coming from a small town, there was always an interesting dynamic in our school classrooms. Most of my classrooms were small, maybe 20-25 people total, which made for both an intimate learning experience but also one that could be challenging if you not only were a high performer but also suffered from social anxiety. Most people would think an intimate classroom would be a great opportunity for students but for me I felt it was more of a challenge for a different reason. I did well in school, being for the most part a solid “A” student. On the social side, I was far more on the geek end of the spectrum than the popular end. Standing out in a classroom as someone who understood their Shakespeare or excelled in biology could make life difficult outside the classroom. It was for that reason that I often held back in the classroom – why stand out in the crowd when it resulted in being made fun of? By drawing as little attention to myself as possible, I felt I could slide through school with ease. I could do my homework and excel that way and avoid the social stigma of being a “dork”.

Pivovarova (2014) in a recent article discussed the impact of peers on learning and environment, whether mixing levels of achievement in the classroom had negative/positive impacts on those individuals (p. 2). Besides the fact that Pivovarova (2014) looked at 6th graders from Ontario, Canada where I’m from, her findings were interesting in the ways in which peers influenced each other for good or bad, for example, in how a student who was a low achiever may perform better surrounded by high performers and how a high performer was somewhat of an “independent learner” (p. 19) in the classroom. This idea of “low” or “high” performers to me took on a different meaning. Why was someone performing lower than another student? I was performing at a high level despite my terror of what that performance would result in outside the classroom but what else could be going on within the other students lives.

Reading this article and with influence from recent discussions in my Doctoral classes, I began to wonder what other issues could be creating low versus high performance. Maybe these “low” performers had challenges not linked to the classroom that were impacting their lives in a way that made it hard to focus on school (family dynamics, money, health). Would putting them in a classroom with a “high” performer really help? What if there was a learning challenge (A.D.D., language barrier) that created issues and that student wasn’t receiving the support they needed. What if just the label of being a “low” performer created a perception that they couldn’t achieve success and created a ceiling that prevented development? My school was also a predominantly white school in a predominantly white farming community in Canada. For those few students of color, I began to wonder what challenges they may have faced in a white institution in a predominantly white town – were they getting fair treatment and access to the same resources or were they being marginalized within the school?

Looking back it makes me wonder about all the challenges and what “low” and “high” performance could really mean when it’s not such a cut and dry term. I realized that none of these ideas had crossed my mind as a child as I was too preoccupied in my own world. As I move forward in my educational journey, I find myself begin to question beyond just the surface issues of a situation to understand what other layers may exist that are far more pressing than was apparent. I hope that the courses continue to influence me towards a better understanding of all the dynamics a situation may hold, whether it be similar to this article in a classroom setting or within my own research pursuits and I hope that this understanding provides the fairness needed to represent all the individuals that may be impacted by that research.


Pivovarova, M (2014). Should We Track or Should We Mix Them? Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. Tempe: Arizona State University.

The Promise of Success

In the article, “Unveiling the Promise of Community Cultural Wealth to Sustaining Latina/o Students’ College-Going Information Networks” (Liou, Antrop-González, & Cooper, 2009) the authors described the elements necessary to propel students of color to succeed in high school and beyond. Additionally, they described how the action or in-actions of the schools studied and their local communities can affect the student success outcomes.

In my opinion, both of the career/college prep counselors (from separate schools) made similar comments that were biased and insensitive. To quote one of the counselors in the article, “I don’t believe that every kid should go to college. These kids are from families where they have little to live on and the best thing for many of them is to get a job” (Liou, Antrop-González, & Cooper, p. 541). This type of mentality is poisonous to a young adult. If a student has a true desire to go to school then this type of “guidance” will quash their dreams and a chance for a better future. What truly infuriated me was the worry that Miguel, one of the students referred to by one of the counselors, might not be able to fix their car. I am astounded that a professional who is counseling young adults is so self-absorbed that they would steer someone away from college. It is well documented that a college education will reap far more benefits than a high school diploma. “In 2002, the Census Bureau projected lifetime earnings of employees with a bachelor’s degree and those without. Non-degree holders could expect to earn 75% less than a bachelor’s degree holder, who could expect to earn $2.7 million over their lifetime” (Education Portal, n.d.). While I understand that some people are drawn to a career, one should never be categorized into a certain profession due to their color, race, etc. After recently reading the article, “Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: Ingredients for critical teacher reflection” (Howard, 2003) one might venture to guess that the counselors could stand for some self-reflection and work hard to rid themselves of any cultural or color biases in order to provide the best advice to students.

In the article, “Unveiling the Promise of Community Cultural Wealth to Sustaining Latina/o Students’ College-Going Information Networks” (Liou, Antrop-González, & Cooper, 2009) the authors discussed how community cultural wealth, which is a method used to gain a deeper understanding about how low income students of color enact their information seeking behaviors by developing alternative social networks that enable their academic success. In people of color, there are six forms of capital that comprise the community cultural wealth; they are: aspirational, linguistic, social, navigational, familial and resistance. In my opinion, these are the pillars of strength and guidance for any person trying to achieve a goal. The statements from the students demonstrated there is hope beyond their lack of support from some teachers and guidance counselors. The statement, “It takes a village” came to mind when reading about how the students found alternative ways to achieve their dreams.

I am sure there are studies that examine why a student drops out of school and the multitude of reasons why they would not pursue a college education upon high school graduation. It would be interesting to discover if these students would agree that if they had been exposed to various forms of community cultural wealth then their future would have had a different outcome. Additionally, it would be interesting to see if introducing a support system after dropping out of school would enable them to complete a GED or pursue a college education.


How Much More Do College Graduates Earn Than Non-College Graduates? (n.d.). Retrieved from

Howard, T. C. (2003). Culturally Relevant Pedagogy : Ingredients for Critical Teacher Reflection. Theory into Practice, 42(3), 195–202.

Liou, D. D., Antrop-González, R., & Cooper, R. (2009). Unveiling the Promise of Community Cultural Wealth to Sustaining Latina/o Students’ College-Going Information Networks. Educational Studies, 45(6), 534–555. doi:10.1080/00131940903311347

Students and the Power of their Voices

As I read the article Participatory Action Research and City Youth: Methodological Insights from the Council of Youth Research (Bautista, Bertrand, Morrell, Scorza, & Matthews), my mind was flooded with how many different ways the article appealed to me.


The main thrust of the article was about bringing Latino and African American youth into the process of action research.  In particular, giving a voice to minority students who, research has shown, have often become disenfranchised within the public school systems.  I think that is a phenomenal idea and read with intrigue about the steps taken and the results that occurred. Taking high school students and guiding them through the scientific methods of Participatory Action Research is an incredibly powerful learning experience.  The educational value of teaching students to be researchers, alone, is enormous.  Yet that was just the first part.  The students then took it to the next level by researching a question that impacted their lives: that of being able to access an equitable, quality based education.


What struck me almost immediately was how the article connected in my mind to a portion of the book Why Race and Culture Matter In Schools (Howard, 2010).  In chapter 5, Howard discusses some interviews that he conducted as part of a research team while he was also working with African American and Latino high school students. The interviews gave the students a chance to voice their perceptions and detail some of things that have happened to them over their years as students.  It focused on how teachers and counselors within the school system have made comments to them implying that, by virtue of their minority status alone, they may not be as capable or as qualified to take the more difficult course like their peers.


When I linked these two pieces of writing together in my mind, it seemed to make perfect sense.  First, both tackle the issue of the imbalance that happens in schools to minority students.  It addressed how some students are the recipients of the problems but so often they aren’t allowed to have a voice or a platform.  The opportunity to teach students how to become action researchers allows them do more than remain passively frustrated without an outlet.  It gives them a chance to learn about a situation, research it, and then hopefully acquire the skills to act on it in the future.


Second, it creates another proposal, in my mind, to the ideas of how schools can create change within their cultures.  Much of Howard’s book was dedicated to the premise of changing teachers’ perceptions.  One idea he strongly advocated was through teacher self-reflection.  He stated that value very succinctly and powerfully.  The thought, though, occurred to me that not all teachers are going to be good at self-reflective behavior.  Even those who are good may need a little more prodding to truly understand the impact–nee devastation– that their words are doing to those they are saying them to.  Words that, when they were spoken, may have been said with seemingly good intentions but that was not how those same words were heard in our students’ ears.  Those teachers may need a mirror in addition to their own journals.  The mirror of students’ voices and stories to propel them to change.  The mirror of research results from students who could be fortunate enough to be able to participate in a Youth Participatory Action Research program.


The last way that this article connected to me was in the ways that I might be able to try and empower my students within my own classroom.  I teach fifth graders and they are clearly not ready to tackle something of this magnitude.  One of the parts that made the research in the article so wonderful was the authentic nature of the research.  That leads me to ponder about opportunities that I can stay open for that might allow my students to engage in a very simplified version of an action research project of their own.  Not in any sense of it being “valid” but for the value that my students can learn about becoming active learners and engaged participants in society.



Bautista, M., Bertrand, M., Morrell, E., Scorza, D., & Matthews C. (2013). Participatory action research and city youth: methodological insights from the Council of Youth Research. Teachers College Record 15. Retrieved from


Howard, T. C. (2010).  Why race and culture matter in schools.  New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Technology…’s all about the Teacher

Howley, A., Wood, L., & Hough, B. (2011). Rural Elementary School Teachers’ Technology Integration. Journal of Research in Rural Education26, 1-13


In 2011, Howley, Wood, & Hough (2011) chose to survey the technology habits of teachers in the state of Ohio.  They wanted to address technology integration in rural areas.  They were specifically looking to evaluate three categories.  First, they wanted to learn if teacher attitude had an impact on technology integration.  Second, they looked at if the students’ ability to use technology made a difference. Finally, they wanted to determine how teacher preparedness factored into the equation.


The authors examined literature from all three areas they were evaluating.  Their findings concluded that most schools do have access to the basic technology, although the broadband connections are often unreliable.  Previous research showed that teacher attitude often drove the use of the technology that was available to them.  They also found that in some instances in rural schools, culture played an impact because some adults felt that technology use interferes with rural values and ways of life (Howley, A., Wood, L., & Hough, B., 2011 p.4).  They also provided examples of rural schools that felt the opposite of that and did want their students using technology.  When that was the case, the issue tended to focus on either obtaining the technology or on using the technology they did have.  This article also had a section dedicated to areas related to this topic where literature is lacking.  Based on their research, little has been done in regards with evaluating elementary schools.  They found more research in this area from middle school upwards; hence their desire to focus on third grader teachers.


For this study, the Ohio Department of Education was contacted for a list of third grade teachers.  Additional details regarding the responding teachers was provided in the literature (i.e. average age, gender, etc…).  Specials teachers such as art, music, and physical education were eliminated from the list.  A 56 largely closed-ended question survey was specifically developed for this research assessment and was mailed to these teachers.  Ground mail was chosen over email in order to eliminate a technological component purposefully in this survey. Letters ensuring teachers anonymity and stamped, self-addressed envelopes were also included in order to increase the chances of participation.  One thousand teacher names were randomly generated and of that, 514 usable responses were returned. Of those, 157 came from rural teachers and 357 from non-rural teachers.  The mailings occurred during a three week time period and care was taken to ensure that the survey was not sent during a period of time such as a high-stakes testing week.


The goal of the study was to tease out any potential differences, if they existed, between rural and non-rural teachers in regards to their use and attitudes of technology.  Since there were many different variances that could result from the survey, the research team used the one way analysis variance (ANOVA) as well as analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) to compare mean responses to scales constructed from cluster of related items (Howley, A., Wood, L., & Hough, B., 2011 p.6).   The findings of these results did show one significant difference, namely in the attitudes of teachers toward technology integration (Howley, A., Wood, L., & Hough, B., 2011 p.6).  Based on the results of this survey, teacher attitude towards technology appears to have the most influential determiner on usage.  The next two factors that the data did show in of having some impact (in decreasing order) were the amount of time that teachers needed to prepare in order to use the technology and the teachers’ views that they felt that they lacked technology in their schools.


The conclusions that the research leads to is that teacher attitude towards the use of technology within the classroom is the driving force.


This article was very comprehensive and definitely appeared to be able to be replicated. The literature review went to great lengths to provide thorough examples to back up its findings. Only one article was from 1999, the rest were from 2000 or newer with many citations coming from within the past five years.  They explained in detail how they got their research sample and provided an index with the technology questions that they asked.


A critique of the article would be that it would have been helpful if they had a breakdown available of the results to the specific questions.  Notable, the last question asks teachers to detail how they use technology with the classroom.  It would be interesting to view those results.  I believe that would give insight as to the type of teacher and comfort level and may provide additional insight.


The article was largely well written with almost only one grammatical or punctuation error (a missing period).  However, the headings and subheadings were the same font.  Although the headings were centered and the subheading were left justified, the subheadings in some sections were so long that it created some confusion as a reader.  It would have been helpful if the headings were either a little larger or bolder making the article easier to read and follow.


After reading this research, I would be very interested in finding out how the results of the question that asked teachers to delineate how they use technology within their classrooms bore out.  If teacher attitude has been determined to be such a deciding factor I would like to know how the teachers who are using the technology they have are putting it to use.  I would then like to create a professional development study to study the best way to move those teachers forward to maximize the benefits.


I chose this article to read because I want to explore integrating technology alongside critical thinking and solid pedagogy in order to create an optimal learning experience for my students. From this article I was looking for insight on technology and what I might learn with regards to classroom implementation.  I did come up with a few ideas but after reflecting on the results from the survey sent to 1000 third grade classroom teachers in Ohio about technology, the results all come down to…..the attitude of the classroom teacher.  At the end of the day, it all seems to boil down to that.  And what a valuable lesson that is.  In the classes I’m taking, the value of teachers to self-reflect has been discussed.  This is a perfect example of a situation where the teachers in this study might be shocked to learn that THEY are the ones standing in the way of their students having access to technology, not the other way around.  The power teachers have and how much could be done if they only realized how much control they have is limitless.  Imagine how much could be accomplished within classrooms if teachers harnessed that power every day and for every student.

Critical Teacher Reflection – Teaching Who We are

What does one see when they look in the mirror and is what they see a true reflection? One of the most powerful quotes in the article, “Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: Ingredients for Critical Teacher Reflection” by Tyrone C. Howard (2003) for me is, “effective reflection of race within a diverse cultural context requires teachers to engage in one of the more difficult processes for all individuals – honest reflection and critique of their own thoughts and behaviors. Critical reflection requires one to seek deeper levels of self-knowledge, and to acknowledge how one’s own worldview can shape students’ conceptions of self” (Howard, p. 198). The reason why I find myself in agreement with this passage is because I equated this to Palmer’s statement, “we teach who we are” (p. 198, Howard 2003).

I was raised in a culturally diverse home. My father is Hispanic and my mother is Irish, with family from the Kentucky/Tennessee border. Both of my parents have strong accents and were raised in vastly different homes. My father was born in 1940 and was raised by an aunt and uncle. His mother had passed away soon after childbirth. My father did not have any siblings and no possessions of his own as he moved around a lot. He entered the military soon after turning 18. My mother was the youngest of seven children. Being from a large family she could not wait to leave her family home. My parents met while working at a factory in Northern Illinois. Back when they fell in love, it was still “taboo” to be in a mixed-race relationship. However, they made it work and are still happily married and in love to this day.

The phrase, “We teach who we are” hits home for me. I was fortunate enough to have my multi-cultural training begin in my home at a very early age. The reflective process questions posed in the article by (Howard, 2003) can result in a terrifying journey if one does not prepare for what they may uncover. I believe the sooner a person takes the time to self-reflect, the better impact they will have personally and in the classroom, either as a teacher or a student.

One of my son’s closest friends, Casey, is about to complete his first year as an elementary school teacher for the Chicago public school (CPS) system. Recently, Casey and I were discussing his first year as a teacher. Some of the challenges that he spoke about was that he was raised in a small farming community that was 98 percent Caucasian and two percent “other” as the school district’s student body. He said that while he is not racist in the slightest way, he felt unprepared for the menagerie of race, ethnicity and culture. Even though he student-taught in the CPS system, he felt that once he was the teacher responsible for his own students, the stakes became much higher and the ability to make the largest impact became increasingly elusive.

One suggestion that the author makes is to, “avoid reductive notions of culture” (p. 201). In a story that Casey related to me during our discussion was when he assumed that he could make an impact on a student just as simply as he could the next. In one lesson he planned to introduce a subject using a pop culture reference. He said that he just assumed that all of the students watched this particular TV show because it was “popular.” He soon realized that some of the students did not know what he was referring to. He felt terrible that his exercise to learn something, but to also to have fun, highlighted the differences in home lives, culture, etc.

The author’s statement, “critical teacher reflection is essential to culturally relevant pedagogy because it can ultimately measure teachers’ levels of concern and care for their students. A teacher’s willingness to ask tough questions about his or her own attitudes toward diverse students can reflect a true commitment that the individual has toward students’ academic success and emotional well-being (Howard, 2003, p. 199). Because of this statement, it is my belief that if pre-service teachers are exposed to the practice of self-reflection they may have a greater likelihood of developing personally and professionally in a way that will greatly benefit the student and themselves.


Howard, T. C. (2003). Culturally Relevant Pedagogy : Ingredients for critical teacher reflection, 42(3), 195–202.

The Power of Believing in Cultural Capital

“If I am willing to look in that mirror and not run from what I see, I have a chance to gain self-knowledge – and knowing myself is as crucial to good teaching as knowing my students and my subject….In fact, knowing my students and my subject depends heavily on self-knowledge.  When I do not know myself, I cannot know who my students are.  I will see them through a glass darkly, in the shadows of my own unexamined life – and when I cannot see them clearly, I cannot teach them well.”  (Palmer, 1998 as cited in Howard, 2003)

Where has this article, “Culturally Relevant Pedagogy:  Ingredients for Critical Teacher Reflection” by Tyrone Howard (2003), been all of my professional career? This is critical information that I have tried to explain to my fellow colleagues over the years.  To the ones who simply do not understand the need for culturally relevant pedagogy and to those who do not understand that their own cultures often overrule the cultures of those they teach, both consciously and subconsciously.  If they aren’t going to listen to me, maybe they’ll listen to a peer-reviewed journal article…you know, since us teachers are more inclined to place more value in research data than one person’s opinion.

Research recognizes the need for culturally relevant pedagogy.  Research understands the importance of setting aside one’s own beliefs in an effort to understand the needs of another culture’s beliefs.  Research supports that the best way to teach a student is to know the student.

Howard (2003) stated “teacher educators must be able to help preservice teachers critically analyze important issues such as race, ethnicity, and culture, and recognize how these important concepts shape the learning experience for many students.”  It is important to note that this understanding cannot be superficial, as in being politically correct for the sake of being politically correct. It’s about having the desire to open your mind to new cultures, beliefs and lifestyles and a willingness to accept them as equally important as your own.  It’s about truly valuing the “cultural capital” that walks into your classroom each and every day (Howard, 2003). I love that phrase, “cultural capital.”  Absolutely looooove it!  Capital is an asset.  Cultural capital means that culture is seen as an asset.  What better way to think about the diversity of our classrooms?  A room filled with cultural capital…including our own!

It is also about getting to the core of who you are by engaging in the “critical reflection” that Howard (2003) talks extensively about.  As stated in the opening quote, if you cannot understand yourself, you cannot understand your students, which, in turn, means that you cannot achieve the success that you wish to achieve with your students.  Critical reflection requires us to dig deep within ourselves to shed light on our belief systems and to be honest about what we believe and why we believe in them.

This task can be very difficult, especially if you hold beliefs that you don’t want to admit.  And, really, that’s ok.  But, to get to the core of your being, you must acknowledge they exist.  Critical reflection isn’t used as a mean to criticize your beliefs, but is used to foster a deeper understanding of those beliefs.  We have all learned what we know and believe in from sources that are important to us and through our own life experiences. Whether or not you are comfortable speaking about them openly, self-reflection is not about letting the world know or attempting to change your beliefs, it’s about engaging in honest and in-depth reflection about how your “positionality” can influence your students, both positively and negatively, and how it “can shape students’ conceptions of self” (Howard, 2003).

I often joke with my students that I am just as much a part of their families as their parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins!  After all, I do see them all day, every day five days out of the week.  If we take a minute to think about that, this should speak volumes.  What kind of influence has our own families had on us?  What did they teach us and how has that molded us into the adults that we are today?  Have the people closest to us seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, yet, have continued to love us, believe in us and encourage us to achieve great things?

We have this type of influence on our students.  We can build up or break down any one of our students.  That’s how much power we have.  But, we also have to be careful that we preserve and appreciate each students’ individual cultural capital.

Once we have a full appreciation of who our students are and have reflected on how our own personal beliefs can impact our teaching, then we can truly begin to effectively teach them.  Howard (20030 stated that we must “construct pedagogical practices in ways that are culturally relevant, racially affirming, and socially meaningful.”  How motivated would our students be if they felt like their beliefs/culture/life experiences, etc. matter, are important and are worth learning about?  Just think about why you are in this program and what you hope to accomplish…


Howard, T. C. (2003). Culturally relevant pedagogy: Ingredients for critical teacher reflection. Theory into Practice, 42(3), 195–202.


Diversity in Virtual Classrooms

With more of our courses going online, I find myself struggling with creating programs and student experiences that have value across cultures, language, technology and curriculum.  From our week 1 reading, what stood out most in this area was the Howard (2003) reading. Of particular interest is the shifting perspective of the teaching population and the idea around better representing the cultural aspects of the classroom populations that the teachers teach in (p.195). This brought to mind many of the virtual programs that I manage with individuals who are across the world.

I currently run a certificate program for professional Supply Chain students who are dispersed around the world with individuals in countries like China, Egypt, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan. When working with these students, our professors have to find a balance within the virtual classroom that can work with such a diverse audience yet still maintain the educational standards of the program. This becomes an interesting balance for them but also for our staff as we work to assist the students with navigating through the courses and ensuring they have the tools needed for success.

One of the pieces that really stuck out to me is how much we may overlay our own ideas of the persons culture over their actions and let the stereotypes we know about the culture interfere with the students creating their own identity (Howard, 2003, p. 200). In some cases with my students, I assume the learning styles that I am used to and that our system of education will all work for them. I need to remind myself and the professors that the context that these individuals may be coming from could be quite different from what we are accustomed to. Getting a better sense of who these students are, how they learn and approach education will help us better serve these populations.

Garcia and Ortiz (2013) also forced me to pause and think through some of my actions and approaches to the virtual programs. Similar to above, the idea that intersectionality “makes possible the examination of the simultaneous interactions among race, class, gender, and (dis)ability for any individual child, family and community, as well as the interplay between these individual or group characteristics and organizational responses to them” stood out as an interesting dynamic that I had not looked at in this way (Garcia & Ortiz, 2013, p. 34).

What most stood out was this idea that there are so many interactions that go into not only who we are but how we perceive others and how our actions both take place and may be received. Within this, I was able to further draw parallels back to the work I do within higher education but also able to look across the W. P. Carey School of Business and think about how important this is in how we set up our courses, our processes for moving students through the system and the other interactions that play into graduate business student success.

I realize that I often get lost in my daily operations and interactions and forget to look more holistically at the actions and interactions within the day to day. Thinking through the research really put into perspective how we, as educational leaders, need to take a step back from time to time to see the full picture and how I can be more cognizant of my perceptions and how I present myself and my work to others.

Garcia, S.B. & Ortiz, A.A. (2013). Intersectionality as a framework for transformative research
in special education. Multiple Voices for Ethnically Diverse Exceptional Learners, 13(2),

Howard, T.C. (2003). Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: Ingredients for critical teacher reflection,
42(3), 195- 202.

Self-Reflection and Cultural Relevance

At what point will educators be mandated to assess their own personal biases before they assess the academic abilities of their students? Tyrone C. Howard’s 2003 article, Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: Ingredients for critical teacher reflection, truly resonates with me, as an assistant principal in a K-8 Title I elementary school. Throughout my years in the K-12 education system I have encountered the issue of educational inequity for my minority students and have often questioned what the school system can do to do create more culturally aware educators. In a diverse society we need to ensure that all of our students have access to education, which requires educators to be aware of the needs of their specific student population. I wholeheartedly believe that in order to create a school environment that meets the needs of our heterogeneous student population we must create “culturally relevant teaching practices” (Howard, 2013, p. 198). In order to make such an elaborate change we must ask our educators to go through a process of “critical reflection that challenges them to see how their positionality influences their students in either positive or negative ways” (Howard, 2013, p.198). This idea of self-reflection is required before we can begin to address an educator’s feelings about race, culture, and social class, which shape the ways they instruct their students.

As I have experienced in the past, teachers are capable of subconsciously projecting their negative concepts of culture and race onto their students on a daily basis, which can negatively impact a student’s level of academic achievement. Unfortunately, I have witnessed teachers who project personal biases onto their students leading to an awful crushing of young academic spirits. Stephen Jay Gould (1981) speaks to the idea that humans have battled with racism throughout history, in his book The Measure of Man. According to Gould, “racial prejudice may be as old as recorded human history” (p. 31). With this being said, educators need to be aware of their own possible prejudices and determine the best ways to adjust their ways of thinking as to not project any negative thoughts onto the students. As previously stated, the first step is self-reflection in order to first determine which prejudices each person possesses, allowing the educator to move towards lessening or even possibly eliminating such biases.

Although there is a clear necessity for teacher self- reflection, I continue to ask myself if teacher training programs can appropriately address the issue of honest, in-depth teacher self-reflection. Such reflection will require educators to come to terms with their own cultural identity and personal biases.Are we ready to have these difficult conversations? In order to see the change in teacher mentality, teachers will need to ask themselves challenging questions, discuss honest answers openly, and address any concerns discovered during this internal journey (Howard, 2003, p. 198). The question still remains, how will we integrate this critical self-reflection into our current teacher preparation programs and daily lives? Also, how do we determine if teachers are reflecting in an honest fashion that allows them to create teaching practices that are more culturally relevant? These are questions that we will have to address within our educational system immediately in order to ensure that our students are receiving an excellent and culturally relevant education.

In the United States we have a very diverse population, which affects our ability to give all students access an excellent education. We must devise ways to allow all students to access culturally relevant curriculum. In order for us to determine if a teacher is being effective in their classroom we need a way to appropriately assess a teacher’s efficacy. Leading to the question: How can we accurately assess a teacher’s value in our K-12 education system? According to Pauler and Amrein-Beardsley’s 2013 article, we must have random assignment of students in each classroom in order to analyze assessment scores by means of value-added analyses and interpretations. “Value added models (VAMs) are used to measure changes in student achievement on large-scaled standardized test scores from year to year” (Paufler and Amrein-Beardsley, 2013, p. 1). This measurement system depends on random assignment of students, which is not the case in the United States, so biases are inevitable in such a test score analysis technique. With this being said, do we need a better way to determine the quality of teachers or are we able to counteract the biases that exist?


Gould, S. J. (1981). The mismeasure of man. New York, NY: W.W. Norton and Company.

Howard, T. C. (2003). Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: Ingredients for critical teacher

                      reflection, 42(3), 195­202.

Paufler, N. A. & Amrein­Beardsley, A. (2013). The random assignment of students into

                   elementary classrooms: Implications for value­added analyses and interpretations.                                 

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