Three Teachers’ Language, Gender, and Racial Ideologies in Practice in the English Learner Classroom

2017-07-22T00:00:00Z (GMT) by Zayoni Torres
The purpose of my research study was twofold: (1) through a qualitative multiple-case study design, to examine three teachers’ (of ELs) explicit construction, awareness, or overt talk about language, gender, and race and (2) to explore how these ideological stances mediate curriculum and instructional practices. Teachers’ ideologies—“tacit, often unconsciously held assumptions about students, classrooms and the academic materials to be taught” (Kagan, 1992, p. 65), and the stances they take built upon these assumptions—most often are created, reinforced, and maintained within schools (Thorne, 1993). The intersection of ideologies of language, gender, and race are complex and need further exploration. A key aspect of teachers as reflexive and critical thinkers is for them to build awareness of these ideological stances. This research study is situated within a larger long-term professional development program—PROJECT. PROJECT sets out to develop K-8 teachers of ELs as teacher-researchers (Razfar, 2007). Teachers conduct an action research project over the course of one school year, where they develop three curricular units that draw on students’ funds of knowledge (FoK) and integrate mathematics, science, and literacy. Research questions guiding this study are: How do teachers explicitly construct language, gender, and race in relation to mathematics and science learning? and How do teachers’ language, gender, and racial ideological stances mediate curriculum and instructional practices? Through participant observation and narrative and discourse analysis, I found the indexing of various frames and storylines based on language, gender, and racial ideological stances in moment-to-moment instances. For curriculum (i.e., academic subject areas and instructional materials), I found: (1) the varying shifts between male centric to more inclusive curricular characters; (2) attempts to find culturally responsive curriculum; and (3) curricular choices that allow for multiple discourses. For instructional practices (i.e., the organization of learning and language use), I found: (1) the tensions in building solidarity with students versus maintaining distance; (2) the reorganization of learning around gender dynamics; and (3) the creation of a transformative learning environment. Implications for educators, teacher professional development, and future research are explored.