Every day, millions of American students rely on teachers to provide them with robust and engaging learning experiences that support them in developing and pursuing their dreams. Teachers are expected to enter the classroom with both strong content knowledge (a body of conceptual and factual knowledge) and pedagogical content knowledge (understanding of how learners acquire knowledge in a given subject) (National Research Council [NRC], 2010b). And their work involves connecting new learning experiences to the previous knowledge and experiences of the learner. Therefore, teachers need to understand who their students are, where they come from, and the ideas and experiences they bring into the classroom. Whereas this has been a long-standing expectation for the teaching profession, many other aspects of that profession have shifted dramatically over the past 20 years. Chapter 2 examined key factors contributing to this changing landscape and concurrent shifts in expectations for teaching and learning: federal legislation, national standards, and changing student demographics. This chapter looks at some aspects of those areas in further detail, elaborating on content area standards, especially their promotion of deeper learning; examining the increasing emphasis on the role of culture in learning; and considering ways in which technological advances have changed expectations about how teachers communicate with students and families.
Since the early standards-based reform effort of various states and professional organizations during the 1980s and 1990s, teachers in the United States have seen numerous cycles of federal initiatives to revise and further standardize content standards indicating what students should know and
be able to do (see Chapter 2). As standards change (with variations noted across states), so do curriculum, assessments, instruction, and support services. And, so too does the work of the teacher in the classroom. The first section in this chapter looks closely at pedagogies for deeper learning as recommended by recent standards (both general and discipline-specific). Through this analysis the committee highlights the shift from an emphasis on simply acquiring knowledge to engaging in disciplinary practices that require learners to use knowledge in the context of discipline-specific activities and tasks (National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine [NASEM], 2018b). This shift requires a corresponding change in the role of the teacher from one who transmits knowledge to one who helps students build deep understanding.
The second section examines the role of culture in learning and teaching. With the expansion of the types of support services provided to students (i.e., special education services, English learner supports, and social and emotional supports), classroom teachers are being asked to change the way they support learning for all students in their classrooms. As highlighted in Chapter 2 and discussed throughout this report, central to the work of teachers is an appreciation for what their students know. Experiential differences (e.g., race, ethnicity, home language, culture, disability) between teachers and students may have implications for teachers use of pedagogical approaches when implementing new standards.
Finally, this chapter discusses advancements in technology from the perspective of expectations for teachers. Such advancements present a steady wave of changes for classroom teachers as they incorporate new educational technologies for instruction and engage in new ways of communicating assignments, grades, and other classroom activities to students and families. The use of new technologies may increase the amount of time teachers need to spend communicating with both students and families.
In each of these sections, this chapter views changing expectations for teachers through the lens of changing expectations for students learning, considering the ways new standards and tools for learning require new ways of teaching.
Well into the first quarter of the 21st century, there continues to be much thought and discussion as to what skills individuals will need to possess to actively engage in their communities and be successful in the workforce. NRC’s 2010 report Exploring the Intersection of Science Edu-
cation and 21st Century Skills identified five skill sets important to the success of individuals of the present: (1) adaptability, (2) complex communications, (3) nonroutine problem solving, (4) self-management, and (5) systems thinking.
In 2016, the American Institutes for Research report Does Deeper Learning Improve Student Outcomes suggested that these 21st century skills were achieved through “deeper learning” (Bitter and Loney, 2015). That report characterized deeper learning as including a deeper understanding of core academic content; the ability to apply that understanding to novel problems and situations; and the development of a range of competencies, including people skills and self-control. The same report identified six dimensions of deeper learning that, collectively, have become the focus of national initiatives to promote deeper learning in K–12 schools: (1) mastery of core academic content; (2) critical thinking and problem solving; (3) effective communication; (4) ability to work collaboratively; (5) learning how to learn; and (6) academic mindsets.
Table 3-1 below showcases the differences between deeper learning classroom practices and traditional classroom practices. As briefly described above, the shift to student-centered approaches requires teachers to optimize learning environments to achieve the goals of deeper learning. To ensure that students with disabilities have access to these optimized learning experiences, teachers may need additional guidance on accommodations and assistive technologies, strategies for differentiating instruction and
TABLE 3-1 Deeper Learning Versus Traditional Classroom Practices
|Role of Learner in Deeper Learning||Role of Learner in Traditional Classroom Practices|
|Connect new ideas and concepts to previous knowledge and experience.||Course material treated as disconnected from what already know.|
|Integrate knowledge into interrelated conceptual systems.||Course material treated as disconnected bits of knowledge.|
|Look for patterns and underlying principles.||Memorize facts and carry out procedures without understanding how or why.|
|Evaluate new ideas and relate them to conclusions.||Difficulty in making sense of new ideas that differ from what is in the textbook.|
|Understand process of dialogue and examine the logic of an argument critically.||Facts and procedures treated as static knowledge, handed down from an all-knowing authority.|
|Reflect on own understanding and process of learning.||Memorize without reflecting on purpose or own learning strategies.|
SOURCE: Adapted from Sawyer (2006).
classroom management, as well as procedures for ensuring students have the appropriate Individualized Education Program.1
High school graduates today require a deep conceptual understanding of complex concepts, and the ability to work with them creatively to generate new ideas, new theories, new products, and new knowledge. However, many schools today continue to design learning around acquisition of compartmentalized and decontextualized facts. As evidence continues to emerge demonstrating that effective classroom instruction incorporates the deeper learning practices articulated in Table 3-1 (Sawyer, 2006) and as American businesses, industries, and policy makers continue to demand a comprehensive education system that prepares students for the 21st century workforce needs (Burrus et al., 2013), the urgency for schools and teachers to provide learning experiences that meet these needs will continue to grow. Below, the committee analyzes the changing demands on teachers, who are increasingly asked to provide deeper learning experiences and environments that function differently from traditional classrooms.
The report A Nation at Risk (National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983) inspired a new emphasis on standards-based educational reform. This era of standards reform included the development of several national reform documents (described below) that identified broad goals for mathematics, science, English language arts (ELA), and social studies education; some states have begun to adopt (or adapt) these content standards and are in varying phases of implementation (see Chapter 2). Because some states are still in the process of implementation, it is challenging to assess how well schools can demonstrate that all students are well served by instruction that is geared to deeper learning.
More recently, guiding documents for various standards-based reform efforts emphasize engagement in disciplinary practices or activities similar to those undertaken by people doing that work in a professional capacity as a way to promote deeper learning (Moje, 2015; Shanahan and Shanahan, 2008).2 The following sections explore the shifts in teaching and learning of individual disciplines over the past 20 years toward approaches that incorporate disciplinary practices.
1 The IRIS Center, supported by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, develops and disseminates online resources to support the education of all students, particularly struggling learners with disabilities. More information and access to resources are available at https://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu.
2 The August 2018 volume of Science and Children published by the National Science Teachers Association was devoted to focusing on the practices of the Next Generation Science Standards.
During the 1990s and 2000s, several key national documents identified goals for science teaching and learning that were eventually used by states to develop state standards that would guide instruction, curriculum and assessment decisions. NRC’s National Science Education Standards (NSES) focused on science literacy for all students and proposed standards for high school students designed to help them develop (1) abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry and (2) understanding about scientific inquiry (NRC, 1996, p. 173). The standards also conveyed that high school students “must actively participate in scientific investigations,” emphasizing that students should engage in using evidence, applying logic, and constructing arguments and explanations for observations made during investigations. The NSES recommendations described an approach to laboratory investigations that centered on student engagement in practices mirroring what scientists do as they investigate and explain events in the natural world, rather than investigations built on a set of prescribed steps to be followed to achieve an expected outcome.
Taking Science to School (NRC, 2007) later continued to examine how students learn science and provided recommendations for how science should be taught in K–8 classrooms, declaring that students who are proficient in science (1) know, use, and interpret scientific explanations of the natural world; (2) generate and evaluate scientific evidence and explanations; (3) understand the nature and development of scientific knowledge; and (4) participate productively in scientific practices and discourse. While the four proficiency strands were informed by scientific practices found in previous national science education documents, they also represented a departure from previous recommendations in that they indicated that the practices of science were inextricably linked to content knowledge.
In 2012, NRC published A Framework for K–12 Science Education (the Framework), intended as a framework of unifying guidance for K–12 science education, which articulated three dimensions for science teaching and learning: (1) Disciplinary Core Ideas (big ideas in science); (2) Science and Engineering Practices (what scientists and engineers do); and (3) Crosscutting Concepts (how scientists and engineers think). The Framework states a need for all three dimensions to be integrated in standards, curricula, instruction, and assessment to support science learning for all students. There are eight disciplinary practices: (1) asking questions and defining problems; (2) developing and using models; (3) planning and carrying out investigations; (4) analyzing and interpreting data; (5) using mathematics and computational thinking; (6) constructing explanations and designing solutions; (7) engaging in argument from evidence; and (8) obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information (NRC, 2012).
The Framework provided the basis for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which has been adopted by 20 states as of 2019 and informed the development of science standards in 24 other states. A recent study of teachers who were implementing instruction aligned to the NGSS found shifts from “simply presenting information to supporting students building explanations of phenomena and proposing
solutions to problems” to requiring students to “develop explanatory models, show chains of reasoning that provide explanations, and use evidence to justify their” ideas (Krajcik et al., 2014, p. 173). An example of a three-dimensional performance expectation and students engaging in instruction aligned to the performance expectation can be found in Box 3-1.
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) was the first North American professional association to publish a set of research-based principles and standards for student learning and for the teaching of mathematics. Published first in 1989 and then revised in 2000, the Principles and Standards for School Mathematics included two kinds of standards: content standards in a number of mathematical domains (i.e., what students should learn) and process standards (i.e., how students should be supported to learn mathematics with understanding).
Historically, mathematics had been treated in schools as a set of discrete ideas. Students were asked to memorize procedures for solving predictable sets of problems, often without attention to understanding why procedures work, or when it makes sense to apply one procedure over another (Stigler and Hiebert, 1999). In contrast, the NCTM Standards suggested that students should develop understandings and capabilities much more akin to those of mathematicians, for example, posing and solving novel problems, engaging flexibly with numbers, making sense of why procedures work, and treating mathematics as a set of connected ideas. As such, the learning goals and vision of high-quality instruction represented in the 2000 Standards (and more currently, the 2014 Principles to Actions) marked a significant shift from typical expectations in math classrooms.
In addition to the Standards, another important foundational text for teaching and learning of mathematics is NRC’s 2001 report on the state of U.S. math education, Adding It Up. Drawing on contemporary research, the report identified five strands that together comprise mathematical proficiency:
- Conceptual understanding: comprehension of mathematical concepts, operations, and relations
- Procedural fluency: skill in carrying out procedures flexibly, accurately, efficiently, and appropriately
- Strategic competence: ability to formulate, represent, and solve mathematical problems
- Adaptive reasoning: capacity for logical thought, reflection, explanation, and justification
- Productive disposition: habitual inclination to see mathematics as sensible, useful, and worthwhile, coupled with a belief in diligence and one’s own efficacy (NRC, 2001, p. 5)
In the first decade of the 21st century, these seminal documents informed state and districts’ development of standards, curriculum, instruction, as well as of classroom-, district-, and state-level assessment tools.
However, there was still variation from state to state. The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSS-M) released in 2010 began a national initiative to make math education standards across various states more uniform with the CCSS-M. The Standards were the result of a collaboration between the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CSSO). Like the Standards, CCSS-M included content standards in core mathematical domains and process standards, referred to as the Standards for Mathematical Practice (SMP). CCSS-M content standards recommended that teachers focus on fewer topics in order to have time for students to develop proficiency—that is, to build stronger and deeper foundations in the underlying concepts of mathematics. In doing so, CCSS-M stressed coherence within and across grade levels through learning progressions with an emphasis on rigor.3
Supporting these shifts in math instruction relies on the integration of the content and process standards. The practices highlight the importance of making sense of and being able to explain why a particular strategy makes sense, and the ability to use various representations to support reasoning; they suggest that learning and doing mathematics is fundamentally a sense-making enterprise. While the ideas behind the SMP are not new, requiring them as standards to be taught and assessed was (Mateas, 2016). The role of the teacher is to create a learning environment that is conducive to allowing students to engage in meaningful discourse. An example of students engaging in the practices of mathematics as a means to deeper understanding of mathematical concepts can be found in Box 3-2.
In the 1990s, states were writing their own standards for literacy; in 1996, the National Council for Teachers of English and the International Reading Association produced content standards for English language arts. In 2010, the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects (CCSS-ELA) were published. As in mathematics, they were developed through a collaboration between the NGA and the CSSO. Like other standards, they are not curriculum; they describe grade-level expectations in the areas of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. They are grounded in research, built on the strengths of several state standards published at the time,
3 Rigor does not refer to making math harder; rather, it refers to deep, authentic understanding of mathematical concepts. For more information on Key Shifts in Mathematics, see http://www.corestandards.org/other-resources/key-shifts-in-mathematics.
internationally benchmarked, based on rigorous content, and they entail higher-order thinking skills (NGA and CCSSO, 2010).
The CCSS-ELA changed the landscape of ELA curriculum across many states across the country. In particular, they include a wider range of literacy practices, such as digital literacies, attention to cultural influences on all literacy practices, and disciplinary literacy in history/social studies and science. They describe what it means to be “a literate person in the 21st century:”
Students who meet the Standards readily undertake the close, attentive reading that is at the heart of understanding and enjoying complex works of literature. They habitually perform the critical reading necessary to pick carefully through the staggering amount of information available today in print and digitally. They actively seek the wide, deep, and thoughtful engagement with high-quality literary and informational texts that builds knowledge, enlarges experience, and broadens worldviews. They reflexively demonstrate the cogent reasoning and use of evidence that is essential to both private deliberation and responsible citizenship in a democratic republic. (NGA and CCSSO, 2010, p. 3)
The CCSS-ELA emphasize three major areas: regular practice with complex texts and their academic language; reading, writing, and speaking grounded in evidence from texts, both literary and informational; and building knowledge through content-rich nonfiction.4 This last practice indicates an increased attention to informational text—nonfiction text that provides information about the natural and social world (Duke and Bennett-Armistead, 2003). These shifts in standards for reading, writing, speaking, and listening require changes in instruction for all students, including English learners.5
Figure 3-1 shows the practices of the CCSS-M and CCSS-ELA and the science and engineering practices from the NGSS. There are strong similarities between the disciplinary practices in Figure 3-1 and five skill sets important to the success of individuals in the 21st century (NRC, 2010) and the deeper learning practices (Sawyer, 2006).
4 For more information for shifts, see https://achievethecore.org/page/2727/college-and-career-ready-shifts-in-ela-literacy.
5 For more information on language development in English learners within content instruction, see the recent NASEM (2018a) report, Supporting English learners in STEM Subjects: Transforming Classrooms, Schools, and Lives. The report identifies promising practices for facilitating content learning and content development (Chapter 4).
Recommendations for effective social studies teaching and learning, along with the development of social studies standards, occurred roughly concurrently with reforms developed within the other three major academic subject areas. Social studies comprises a broad range of disciplines; the four major ones are economics, geography, history, and political science (known as civics and government in K–12 settings). Throughout the 1990s, experts from organizations representing these four disciplines produced voluntary content standards (see Center for Civic Education, 1994; National Center for History in the Schools, 1996; National Council for Geographic Education, 1994; National Council on Economic Education, 1997).
In 1994, the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), the leading national organization for social studies education, published its Curriculum Standards for Social Studies, which it revised slightly in 2010. The standards are based on NCSS’s “Ten Themes of Social Studies:” (1) culture; (2) time, continuity, and change; (3) people, places, and environment; (4) individual development and identity; (5) individuals, groups, and institutions; (6) power, authority, and governance; (7) production, distribution, and consumption; (8) science, technology, and society; (9) global connections;
and (10) civic ideals and practices. The Ten Themes served as a framework for curriculum and instruction design with broader goals for how students should interact meaningfully with state-identified disciplinary standards for civics and government, economics, geography, and history.
States then began developing their own standards, based in part on the NCSS standards and the voluntary disciplinary content standards. There were some commonalities across states; for example, most elementary grades used the “expanding communities” framework to organize standards (Halvorsen, 2013) and most standards were organized around the four major disciplines: civics and government, economics, geography, and history. However, in important ways, the standards varied widely state by state, and as states revised them in the next decade, such variations persisted.
In 2013, NCSS published the College, Career & Civic Life: C3 Framework for Social Studies Standards (the C3 Framework). As with previous guidance documents for state social studies standards, the C3 Framework focused on broader concepts that underlie a rich program for social studies education, but did not include recommendations for specific content to be covered, leaving those decisions to states as they develop standards. However, the C3 Framework outlines four dimensions of learning that together represent an informed and greatly expanded view of the ways students should engage with social studies content. The four dimensions comprise an Inquiry Arc whereby students: (1) develop questions and plan inquiries; (2) apply disciplinary concepts and tools; (3) evaluate sources and use evidence; and (4) communicate conclusions and take informed action (NCSS, 2013, p. x). See Table 3-2 below.
In the past 20 years, expectations for social studies learning have increased in intellectual rigor. Standards now emphasize skills such as developing questions, conducting inquiry, evaluating both primary and secondary sources, and communicating conclusions. (See Box 3-3 for differences in the
TABLE 3-2 C3 Framework Organization
|DIMENSION 1: Developing Questions and Planning Inquiries||DIMENSION 2: Applying Disciplinary Tools and Concepts||DIMENSION 3: Evaluating Sources and Using Evidence||DIMENSION 4: Communicating Conclusions and Taking Informed Action|
SOURCE: Recreated from NCSS (2013, p. x).
ways that states have incorporated these practices into standards documents.) Simultaneously, expectations for social studies teaching have increased: teachers are expected to be able to integrate social studies with other subject areas (namely language arts), to move beyond lecture and rote learning and instead conduct collaborative activities and to help students engage in deeper learning.
Shifting instruction to meet the demands of deeper learning and 21st century skills called for in current standards requires shifts in instruction, curriculum, and assessment. For some teachers these shifts may be slight, whereas for others they may be considerable if their instruction emphasis is on telling and explaining concepts to students. Moreover, these shifts and practices for students with disabilities and English learners have not kept up; the research in these areas is limited and outdated practices may still be in use. Chapters 5 and 6 will further explore the changes needed in preservice and inservice teacher preparation to meet the shifting expectations for teaching and learning called for in recent disciplinary standards.
As teachers make changes in instructional approach and pedagogical goals, they can be supported through the provision of standards-aligned instructional materials. However, a lack of standards-aligned instructional
materials and limited instructional time are perceived by many teachers to be significant barriers to the implementation of new standards (Trygstad et al., 2013). Some of this lack is due to states’ and districts’ decisions about curricular materials, which may or may not be aligned with new standards; when the existing purchased materials are not aligned, teachers are then left to modify these materials so as to align them with new standards.
Research has shown the lack of standards-aligned instructional materials extend across disciplines. According to a recent RAND report on math education, “Most of the materials that teachers reported using regularly for their instruction during the 2015–2016 school year were not highly aligned with Common Core” (Opfer et al., 2018, p. 1). Only “16 percent of elementary mathematics teachers and 5 percent of secondary teachers reporting regularly using material with a high degree of alignment” (p. 2). The report also revealed that “teachers using at least one aligned main material more frequently reported their students engaging ‘to a great extent’ in standards-aligned practices than teacher not using at least one aligned main material” (Opfer et al., 2018, p. 3). This finding suggests that well-aligned instructional materials play a critical role in providing students with opportunities to engage in the disciplinary practices for mathematics that correlate with deeper learning.
Lack of well-aligned instructional materials remains a challenge for science teachers across the nation as well. Recently, EdReports,6 an independent nonprofit organization that conducts standards-based reviews of curriculum, published reviews of six middle school science curricula, deeming only one as meeting the expectations for alignment to the GSS. Successful implementation of the vision of the Framework and NGSS often requires making substantive shifts in school curriculum to support teachers as they work to implement the new standards (NRC, 2012).
In the absence of well-aligned instructional materials teachers are left to adapt existing materials or develop or download materials. For example, since the adoption of CCSS-M by several states, 97 percent of elementary and 98 percent of secondary mathematics teachers reported that they use materials that they developed or selected themselves (Opfer et al., 2018). Eighty-two percent of elementary and 91 percent of secondary teachers reported using the materials they developed or selected themselves at least once a month (Opfer et al., 2018). Researchers have also looked in more detail at where teachers are finding materials online. The most common sources (Opfer et al., 2018) were Google (elementary 94%; secondary 95%), Pinterest (elementary 87%; secondary 62%) and Teacherspayteachers.com (elementary 87%; secondary 51%). The availability of instructional materials accessible online for free has especially
changed the mechanism by which teachers gain instructional resources and, in many ways, has shifted the expectation for instructional material acquisition or development to the classroom teacher, rather than the school or district.
In addition to spending time seeking out instructional materials, teachers are also spending time modifying materials to align with state standards. Which is to say, although teachers have increased access to online materials, not all of these materials have been rigorously aligned with state standards. Creating well-aligned materials, even ones based on online resources, demands time. On average, teachers are spending 12 hours a week creating instructional materials that align with the standards they teach (Goldberg, 2016). Without concentrated efforts to support teachers with high-quality, well-aligned instructional materials, teachers will continue to utilize valuable planning time to search for lessons or units, which may lead to inconsistencies in the quality of materials and impact student performance (Opfer et al., 2018). This could lead to less time analyzing student learning to inform instruction or considering how to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population of students. They will also continue to spend time outside of school developing curricula, thereby reducing time they might otherwise spend on self-care or with their families (McCarthy et al., 2016).
Research on student learning has shown that students’ unique lived experiences and communities are inextricably linked to learning and intellectual development and growth. The recent National Academies report How People Learn II (2018b) concluded that “each learner develops a unique array of knowledge and cognitive resources in the course of life that are molded by the interplay of that learner’s cultural, social, cognitive, and biological contexts” (p. 3). That report points out that understanding the culture of learners is central to understanding how they learn (NASEM, 2018b). It also characterizes learning as the product of a dynamic system of social activities; from this perspective, learning happens through practices that cultural communities develop, enact, and refine, and that serve contemporary and historical purposes valued by the community (Lave and Wenger, 1991; NASEM, 2018a; NRC, 2012; Rogoff, 2003, 2016).
This deeper understanding of the role of culture in student learning changes expectations for teachers. Paris and Alim (2017) argue that “we can no longer assume that the White, middle-class linguistic, literate, and cultural skills and ways of being that were considered the sole gatekeepers to
the opportunity structure in the past will remain so as our society changes” (p. 89). The student population is growing increasingly diverse and the demographics in the United States are moving, in general, toward a majority multilingual, multicultural society of color; this is in contrast to the teaching population, which has remained relatively consistent in terms of racial and linguistic backgrounds (see Chapter 2). As teachers embark on instruction based on changing standards, they must also consider how they will foster instruction that is responsive to the multicultural and multilingual diversity represented in their classrooms and look for opportunities to center cultural knowledge, practices, and worldviews in ways that address inequities in the classroom.
Research from the broader field of inclusive education7 may offer insights into the variety of approaches that can successfully involve students from a wide range of diverse backgrounds and abilities learning alongside their peers in school settings. Adoption of these approaches can help teachers to better meet the needs of all students (Loreman, 1999). These inclusive pedagogies recognize culture, identity, language, literacy, and community as valuable assets in the classroom that can be aligned to standards-based instruction to make it more culturally and socially relevant. There are a variety of ways of thinking about inclusive pedagogies; though they are distinctive, they share a framing in their potential to make teaching and learning more inclusive to all students (NASEM, 2019).
Descriptive studies documenting the ways culture influences how people learn have given rise to efforts to promote pedagogies that embrace cultural differences in an effort to promote equity. Culturally responsive pedagogy is an approach whereby teaching is made relevant to the languages, literacies, and cultural practices of students leading with the goal of promoting academic success, cultural competency, and critical consciousness that understands and challenges the status quo (Gay, 2010; Ladson-Billings, 1995). However, as suggested by Paris (2012), although CRP-based approaches made progress against deficit approaches that drove teaching and learning prior to the 1990s, it did not go far enough toward ensuring that a multiethnic and multilingual society was encouraged and valued. Culturally sustaining pedagogy highlights the value of supporting “young people in sustaining the cultural and linguistic competence of their communities while simultaneously offering access to dominant cultural competence” (Paris, 2012, p. 95). It extends the frame of culturally responsive pedagogy by replacing previous educational goals of creating a monocultural
7Mensah and Larson (2017) define inclusive education as “a broad field [that] involves students from a wide range of diverse backgrounds and abilities learning with their peers in schools settings that have adapted and changed the way they work in order to meet the needs of all students” (Loreman, 1999).
and monolingual society, to instead “perpetuate and foster—to sustain—linguistic, literate and cultural pluralism as part of the democratic project of schooling” (Paris, 2012, p. 93). Working toward cultural pluralism via culturally sustaining pedagogy involves: (1) acknowledging the historically rooted power dynamics between particular cultural worldviews (e.g., Western academic knowledge vs. Indigenous knowledge); (2) working to revitalize the cultural knowledge systems of non-dominant communities (e.g., promoting Indigenous resurgence in the face of colonialism); and (3) attending to community-based accountability (e.g., enacting responsibilities such as supporting the teaching of Indigenous knowledge) (Lee and McCarty, 2017).
Contemporary views on teaching and learning in mathematics, science, ELA, and social studies support more expansive ways of knowing by engaging students in a variety of sense-making opportunities and encourage teachers to allow students to exhibit their sense-making in diverse ways (i.e., discourse, writing, drawing). In many ways, current standards and disciplinary practices support culturally sustaining pedagogies. However, together the practices and pedagogies alone are not enough to ensure classrooms are responsive to the learning of individual students. Teachers must also ensure that classrooms serve as equitable learning communities, fostering trusting and caring relationships among students, teachers, and the community at large (Antrop-Gonzalez and DeJesus, 2006; Bang et al., 2017; Garza, 2009; Khalil and Kier, 2018; Yeager et al., 2017). Developing and sustaining equitable communities of learning involves (1) disrupting adverse stereotypes, storylines, and practices; (2) engaging in classroom talk that frames the diverse communicative resources of learners as assets; and (3) engaging in ongoing instructional feedback to expand understanding of students (Morrison and Bell, 2018).
Creating classrooms and school environments that prompt and allow all students to feel safe, express their feelings, learn to communicate respectfully, learn to set boundaries and be guided by boundaries, as well as learn and grow socioemotionally and academically adds to the challenge of being a teacher (Hamilton, Doss, and Steiner, 2019). However, this challenge is made more difficult by the lack of diversity in the teacher workforce. While teachers from a particular race or ethnicity should not be presumed to represent or understand an entire culture, teachers from a particular race/ethnicity are more likely to be familiar with the culture of students who share a similar background. Embracing cultural pluralism and cultural equity should extend beyond the students but to include the teachers and administrators who shape the goals and environments of today’s schools.
Preservice and inservice teachers may require training that facilitates the acquisition of expertise with instructional practices that are inclusive
of and responsive to all students and the development of a classroom environment that supports culturally sustaining pedagogies (see Chapters 5 through 7 for further discussion). As teachers gain the skills and knowledge necessary to incorporate culturally responsive and sustaining pedagogies into instruction, they also need sufficient planning and preparation time to frame curriculum and instruction around the interests and identities of their students.
Alongside changes in expectations for teaching precipitated by emphases on deeper learning and culturally responsive pedagogies, changes in technology are shaping the work of teachers and expectations about what happens in and outside of the classroom. Across schools, districts, and states, disparities and inequities related to learning technologies can take different forms; two important ones include access (learning technologies available to some schools and their students, but not others), and teachers’ abilities or capacity to use the available technologies efficiently. More specifically, with the exponential rise of technology, teachers are tasked both with using technology as a tool for teaching and also developing students’ technological literacy (Uerz, Volman, and Kral, 2018). However, the use of technology in the classroom varies widely within and between schools and its use overall is lagging (Tondeur et al., 2013); as such, there is limited research on implementation and promising strategies for use.
Communication between teachers and the families of their students is an essential component for providing a well-rounded, successful education for all students (Jerome, 2006; Kilgore, 2010; Oostdam and Hooge, 2013). Technology has evolved dramatically over the past 20 years, better facilitating communication and enhancing relationships between teachers and their students’ families (Barrera and Warner, 2006; Flowers, 2015; Kraft and Rogers, 2015). Advance in technology allow families and teachers to connect instantly through a variety of digital applications allowing teachers to post daily homework, upcoming events, and due dates for projects, and to request meetings through school-based digital platforms. Technology also allows families to easily access information from their child’s teacher using their phone, tablet, or computer. All of these applications have features that allow students and their families to respond or ask questions at a time that is convenient for them; such features also allow for immediate responses or feedback from teachers. However, it should be noted that not all families have access to or are comfortable with the use of technology as a communication tool. As a result, teachers need to understand not only how to manage expectations and how to use technology for communications with families, but also the economic, experiential, and cultural factors
Digital communication can be an effective tool when used appropriately to communicate with families, but they can also increase expectations for teachers and add to the demands on them. Many teachers today are expected to post assignments and grades online and respond to digital communication with families and students. The mode of communication also creates expectations about the speed and frequency of response. A recent study of parent-teacher communication revealed an increase in parents’ preference for frequent email, text messages, and messages via social media (Thomas, Mazer, and Grady, 2015). An expectation of frequent communication includes an expectation of immediate feedback, which can make teachers feel like they are working 24 hours a day (Thomas, Mazer, and Grady, 2015). Like many people, teachers feel guilty if they have to wait to respond to an e-mail sent to them (Myres, 2006). Teachers may need support from schools and districts in the form of professional development on using digital communication, creating boundaries, and managing expectations of families regarding communication response time. Additional studies on expectations and pressures felt by teachers in an era of technology-rich communication would benefit policy makers and school leaders in understanding changing expectations of teachers.
A number of significant changes in U.S. education policies and practices, student demographics, and technologies have led to changing expectations for instruction and curriculum that have translated into changing expectations for teachers. Some of these changes in education are aimed at engaging students in deeper learning. Teachers have seen recommendations for teaching and learning shift as cognitive and learning scientists learn more about how students learn. They have also seen changes in the standards whereby disciplinary practices are given equal weight to disciplinary content knowledge, with a strengthened emphasis on the integration of content standards and disciplinary practices. For some teachers, these shifts may be slight; for teachers whose instructional approach is telling and explaining concepts to students, these shifts may be considerable. Often, instructional resources needed to support these changing expectations are absent or unavailable to teachers, requiring many to search for or develop the instructional materials on their own; this adds to the already-increasing expectations being placed on teachers.
Differentiating instruction and connecting instruction to student interests and identities are essential aspects of instructional preparation and implementation required for all students to have access to deeper learning
experiences. As student populations are becoming increasingly diverse while the teacher workforce remains relatively consistent in terms of racial and linguistic backgrounds, there are growing expectations for teachers to learn about and utilize culturally sustaining pedagogies to promote equity across racial and ethnic communities. In addition to changing expectations for teaching and learning, advances in technology may introduce pressure for teachers to spend more time communicating with their students’ families.
This and the previous chapter have focused on changes to the education landscape at large that have resulted in changing expectations for teachers in particular. Chapters 5, 6, and 7 examine some ways that preservice education (Chapter 5), inservice professional development (Chapter 6), and the workplace (Chapter 7) might support teachers as they navigate this changing landscape and find ways to best teach all students.
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