Files in this item



application/pdfZACCOR-DISSERTATION-2015.pdf (902kB)
(no description provided)PDF


Title:Teaching as a means of participating in a movement for social change: critical care in practice
Author(s):Zaccor, Karla Mills
Director of Research:Dyson, Anne H
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Dyson, Anne H
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Trent, William; Lo, Adrienne; DeNicolo, Christina
Department / Program:Educ Policy, Orgzn & Leadrshp
Discipline:Educational Policy Studies
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):urban education
Abstract:In our current educational climate where high-stakes, standardized testing is a top priority, conversations around teaching and learning are often reduced to which practices will raise student test scores. This is especially true in many schools deemed failing under current education policy guidelines, and often students of color and poor students attend those “failing” schools. In the schools deemed failing, student compliance is emphasized and often teacher-student relationships or any other conversations about how schools should serve students are eliminated or pushed to the periphery. This dissertation looks into those peripheral issues of relationships between students and teachers. The central questions raised here are: how are relationships between students and teachers constructed in the classroom and how important are those relationships to the students and teachers involved? Qualitative, ethnographic methods were used in this 4-month study to observe in one 10th grade US History teacher’s classroom as well as interviews with the focal teacher, students, and other school staff in order to gain insight into their experiences and perspectives situated in the context of this particular research site. My focal teacher, Kurian Joseph, created and enacted a curriculum that was critical, relevant to students’ lived experiences, and participatory. This curriculum emerged out of Kurian’s personal beliefs that his purpose was to help give his students the tools so they could be the ones to transform an oppressive society. Kurian, along with the founding teachers of the school, arrived at teaching from an activist background, with a critical consciousness that informed his beliefs about teaching as well as his everyday interactions with his students. Students told me they felt as though Kurian was a teacher who understood where they came from, which he achieved through the framing of his curriculum and valuing students’ experiences. However, tensions around authority and student engagement still existed in the school. Kurian, along with other teachers in the school, had to negotiate the use of their authority in the classroom in order to achieve a balance between being respected as the authority (by students and administrators) and being “laid back” (something the students I interviewed placed a high value on). This research sheds light on how relationships can be constructed that acknowledge the socio-political realities of our students’ lives (Rolon-Dow, 2005; Valenzuela, 1999). This research argues that critical consciousness is key in terms of teachers understanding students’ lives in a way that is not paternalistic or deficit-oriented. Despite the existence of a relevant curriculum and caring teachers, not all students felt connected to school, however. Even the most relevant and participatory curriculum is not enacted in a vacuum—students and teachers are still negotiating with wider systems (e.g., school and society), and those systems are still sites where power and inequality are reproduced more often than they are disrupted.
Issue Date:2015-11-30
Rights Information:Copyright 2015 Karla Zaccor
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-03-02
Date Deposited:2015-12

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Item Statistics