Culturally Responsive Teaching

Ashley Taylor’s research has brought her into four Social Studies classrooms in newcomer schools across New York City. Through her interviews with teachers and observations of classes comprised of English Language Learners, Taylor has sought to investigate how Social Studies and citizenship education is conceptualized and implemented to culturally and linguistically diverse students.

A doctoral student in the Social Studies Education program, Ms. Taylor is interested in the pedagogical approaches teachers use with newcomer populations, specifically Latino youth, and how they work through a framework of culturally relevant pedagogy. She examines how teachers use the students’ culture and linguistic background within the Social Studies environment. Because these educators are working with a very specific population, Taylor hopes to gain insight on how they frame their lessons and curricula particularly for students who are navigating between learning English alongside the content.

“I think that Social Studies is a very interdisciplinary subject matter that can encapsulate a lot of interesting, critical social issues, like immigration, the economy, language, and citizenship.” Ms. Taylor’s dissertation, with the working title “Pedagogy for Latino/a Newcomer Students: A Study of Four Secondary Social Studies Teachers in New York City Urban Newcomer Schools,” seeks to understand how teachers conceptualize teaching Latino newcomer students through culturally and linguistically responsive teaching, as well as what it means to teach a population that is growing steadily and significantly in the U.S.

“What I would like to do is not only offer pedagogical implications for people who are experiencing demographic shifts and growing newcomer populations in their communities, but also provide some theoretical implications around using students’ language and cultural background in content area classrooms, as well as policy implications around how to meet the needs of Latino/a newcomer youth.” Taylor hopes to shine a light on the importance of focusing on these students’ needs, interests, and desires as a way to engage them in the content, encouraging them to be active citizens in their community, as well as U.S. and global society.

Through her observations in these classrooms, Taylor has identified a bridge between academic knowledge and community-based knowledge. Because of their journeys and richly diverse backgrounds, newcomer students bring much experience into the classroom. Their knowledge of their community is interrelated with the content knowledge. “These types of experiences can be tapped into in the classroom, and these teachers are showing that. There’s so much richness there. I’m excited to see that teachers are using it and pulling things out to make the learning relevant to their students.”