What happens when science teachers come together with Latino families in a science learning context
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Researchers have begun addressing ways to prepare pre-service and in-service teachers to partner with culturally and linguistically diverse families. However, studies examining teacher preparation regarding family-school interactions in the context of school science remain limited. Building upon the Freirean notion of dialogic education, the study’s purpose was to explore what happened when secondary science teachers came together with Latino families for their children’s science learning during a three-year long program. The overarching research question was: How did secondary science teachers conceptualize the ways in which their participation in family workshops affected their perspectives and practices about working with their Latino students and their families? For this case study, I recruited five in-service secondary science teachers with extensive experience in working with Latino students and families in the Steps to College through Science program. Data sources included individual and focus group interviews, participant observations, and extended field notes and researcher-generated documents. I engaged with a mode of categorical thinking incorporating Charmaz’s constant comparative method and used a Qualitative Data Analysis Software program, ATLAS.ti 8.0, to analyze the data for four European American teachers. Analysis of the data for an individual case study of one Latino bilingual teacher involved a mode of narrative thinking and developing connected narrative accounts. My findings showed that in-depth and long-term exposure to content-based cultural immersion programs with parents and children supported teachers in cultivating a broader vision of science teaching linked to students’ lives and communities. My findings also demonstrated that the power of teacher learning was enhanced when the program required active involvement of students’ families in science inquiry practices, contrary to typical school programs that mostly position families as passive actors who watch their children being involved with learning activities or listen to school agendas. The findings also indicated that the possibilities or impossibilities of transformation in teachers’ practices with culturally and linguistically diverse students and families are influenced by powerful discourses linked to standards-based curriculum and assessment policies, as well as by individual school administrators and individual teacher backgrounds. This dissertation concludes with implications for research and practice to unite schools, communities, and curricula.