Date of Award

Fall 8-24-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Amy Seely Flint

Second Advisor

Joel Meyers

Third Advisor

Diane Truscott

Fourth Advisor

Teri Holbrook

Abstract

Preparing all teachers to work with culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) populations is essential in teacher education (Banks, Cochran-Smith, Moll, Richert, Zeichner, LePage, Darling-Hammond, Duffy, & MacDonald, 2005). Simultaneously, current literacy policy serves to dictate how teachers teach literacy; requiring specific curricula and assessments, particularly in urban and low performing school districts (Woodside-Jiron & Gehsmann, 2009). As new teachers enter classrooms, they are forced to negotiate the realities of teaching in urban, diverse schools with what they learned in their preparation programs (Achinstein & Ogawa, 2006). The purpose of this study was to understand the literacy teaching experiences of three beginning teachers, graduates of an alternative teacher preparation program, who teach at the same CLD, Professional Development School. This naturalistic inquiry explored the intersection of these constructs through the questions; (1)What instructional decisions, resources, and strategies do alternatively certified beginning teachers enact when teaching CLD students? and (2) What are the contextual factors that influence beginning teachers’ literacy pedagogy? Luke and Freebody’s (1999) Four Resources Model, critical theory (McLaren, 1995), sociocultural views of literacy (Street, 1995), and constructivism (Savery & Duffy, 2001) served as theoretical lenses. Data collection took place over nine months and included interviews, observations, questionnaires, and teacher debriefs. The data was analyzed using a constant comparative approach (Merriam, 1998) and elements of Grounded Theory methodology (Strauss & Corbin, 1998). These beginning teachers struggled to negotiate the prescriptive literacy mandates from the county and school. The context of the school challenged many of the theories and strategies teachers learned in their preparation program and caused tension between what they espoused about literacy and their enacted practices. Teachers felt that they were not adequately prepared to work with English Language Learners in particular, thus, they chose to adhere closely to the prescriptive curriculum. Decontextualized literacy activities dominated instruction and constrained CLD students’ opportunities for critical literacy learning. These findings suggest that teachers should be better prepared to work with ELLs and educated about the research behind current literacy policies. A Professional Development School model offers opportunities for continued learning in these areas.

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