Effective secondary mathematics teachers as warm demanders
Thomas, Sharren Michelle
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This study examined how four African American high school mathematics teachers described their instructional practices for African American students. This study also examined the role that race and culture played in their instructional decisions. Qualitative methods were used to collect data including semi-structured open-ended individual interviews, a group interview, and a lesson walk through. Two theoretical perspectives were helpful in guiding my data collection and analysis: culturally relevant pedagogy (Ladson-Billings, 1994, 1995) and the culturally sensitive framework (Tillman, 2002). The culturally sensitive research framework provided a framework for research design, data collection, and data interpretation. The theory of culturally relevant pedagogy and notions of warm demander pedagogy served as theoretical lens to evaluate the instructional practices as described by the participants. The analysis of data indicated three overarching themes to describe the four effective African American teachers’ instructional practices: They could best be described as teachers who (1) provided a structured classroom environment, (2) demonstrated an ethic of caring, and (3) implemented a culturally relevant pedagogy through culturally responsive teaching. Furthermore, the rationale for the instructional choices of these teachers revealed that knowing their students as learners of mathematics and knowing their students as African American were paramount to how they taught. It was found that African American students benefit from mathematics instruction that infused warm demander pedagogy, incorporated culturally relevant pedagogy through culturally responsive teaching, and included the principles and process standards outlined by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (2000).