Purposeful Teaching and Learning in Diverse Contexts

Edited by:
Darrell Hucks, Keene State College
Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, Teachers College, Columbia University
Victoria Showunmi, UCL Institute of Education, London
Suzanne C. Carothers, New York University
Chance W. Lewis, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

A volume in the series: Contemporary Perspectives on Access, Equity, and Achievement. Editor(s): Chance W. Lewis, University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Teachers have faced serious public critique regarding their effectiveness and professionalism in classrooms. At every level, their work is often measured solely against student achievement outcomes, often on standardized tests (Darling-Hammond & Youngs, 2002; Ravitch, 2010). Unfortunately, students who are coming from culturally, economically, and linguistically diverse backgrounds are often occupying the bottom rungs regarding academic achievement (Ladson-Billings, 1995; Milner,2010; Hucks, 2014). Ironically, this has not only placed a negative stigma onto these students, but their teachers as well. A popular belief regarding low student achievement places complete blame onto the students (Kunjufu, 2001; Howard, 2008; Thompson, Warren & Carter, 2004; Lewis& Moore, 2008). Another argument places blame solely on their teachers and schools (Ziechner, 2009; Grossman 2008; Toldson, 2008). Arguably, after decades of school reform initiatives and stagnant results for marginalized students, a stance of collective achievement is long overdue. Collective achievement (Hucks, 2014) requires that all stakeholders need to share responsibility and accountability for the academic achievement of all students and the cultivation of successful schools.

As educators, activists, and reformers we must begin to find solutions that push us beyond the circle of rhetoric of the achievement gap, standardized measures, and school-reform du jour. After more than a decade (since NCLB, 2001) of low test scores, poor teaching evaluations, school closings, and widespread failure, how do we identify and adopt successful teaching and learning strategies that sporadically exist in different contexts into systemic and sustainable methods? What’s more, when will we realize that what was once a moral question – how do we successfully educate all students – is now more than ever a moral imperative? How do we capture, analyze, recognize, and reproduce the work of successful and purposeful teachers and their successful and purposeful students—students who are motivated autonomous learners? What are the obstacles and challenges teachers and students face in their respective school settings and how do they grapple with and overcome them? Finally, what do these teachers and students know that motivates and informs their work? The scholars in this volume will take up these questions and share the findings of their research in the field of leadership and teacher education.

These concerns are not limited to the geographic boundaries of the United States of America. Engaging purposeful teaching is an imperative that concerns students, teachers, and educational leaders around the globe. There are many educators worldwide who are committed to delivering this type of teaching and promoting learning that is engaged and active. The four sections of the book capture the work of educators in teaching in diverse global settings such as the Australia, United Kingdom, Jamaica, Turkey, and across America. As diverse populations of students enter American classrooms, it is important for their teachers to have relatable examples of purposeful teaching that is culturally responsive and culturally relevant. In the recent past, research on effective teaching was confined and limited to formal assessments in the form of standardized tests.(Ravitch, 2010; Kohn, 1999).In today’s educational context of NCLB, Common Core, and value added evaluation systems, teacher education programs are charged with making sure their graduates are successfully prepared to face the challenges that come along with promoting the achievement of the linguistically, culturally, and economically diverse students in their classrooms (Ladson-Billings, 1994; Delpit, 1995).