ers nightmare no common threads to pull their practice together in order to

Ers nightmare no common threads to pull their

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er's nightmare-no common threads to pull their practice together in order to relate it to others. The thought of their pedagogy as merely idiosyncratic, a product of their personalities and individual perspec- tives, left me both frustrated and dismayed. Howev- er, when I was able to go back over their interviews and later when we met together as a group to discuss their practice, I could see that in order to understand their practice it was necessary to go beyond the sur- face features of teaching "strategies" (Bartolome, 1994). The philosophical and ideological underpin- nings of their practice, i.e. how they thought about themselves as teachers and how they thought about others (their students, the students' parents, and other 162 This content downloaded from 152.20.173.78 on Wed, 19 Jun 2019 13:36:30 UTC All use subject to
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Ladson-Billings But That's Just Good Teaching! community members), how they structured social relations within and outside of the classroom, and how they conceived of knowledge, revealed their similarities and points of congruence.9 All of the teachers identified strongly with teach- ing. They were not ashamed or embarrassed about their professions. Each had chosen to teach and, more importantly, had chosen to teach in this low-income, largely African American school district. The teach- ers saw themselves as a part of the community and teaching as a way to give back to the community. They encouraged their students to do the same. They believed their work was artistry, not a technical task that could be accomplished in a recipe-like fashion. Fundamental to their beliefs about teaching was that all of the students could and must succeed. Conse- quently, they saw their responsibility as working to guarantee the success of each student. The students who seemed furthest behind received plenty of indi- vidual attention and encouragement. The teachers kept the relations between them- selves and their students fluid and equitable. They encouraged the students to act as teachers, and they, themselves, often functioned as learners in the class- room. These fluid relationships extended beyond the classroom and into the community. Thus, it was com- mon for the teachers to be seen attending community functions (e.g., churches, students' sports events) and using community services (e.g., beauty parlors, stores). The teachers attempted to create a bond with all of the students, rather than an idiosyncratic, indi- vidualistic connection that might foster an unhealthy competitiveness. This bond was nurtured by the teachers' insistence on creating a community of learn- ers as a priority. They encouraged the students to learn collaboratively, teach each other, and be re- sponsible for each other's learning. As teachers in the same district, the teachers in this study were responsible for meeting the same state and local curriculum guidelines.10 However, the way they met and challenged those guidelines helped to define them as culturally relevant teachers. For these teachers, knowledge is continuously recreated,
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