Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Cultural Humility: A Foundational Disposition that Enables White Teachers to Build Mutually Caring, Respectful & Trusting Relationships Across Difference
by Hodgin, Erica R., Ed.D., Mills College, 2014, 261; 3641387
Abstract (Summary)

Only 39% of new teachers reported in a national teacher survey that they felt prepared to address the needs of students from diverse cultural backgrounds (Rochkind, Ott, Immerwahr, Doble & Johnson, 2008). Teel (2008) argues that one of the most significant factors facing schools is ill-prepared White teachers who do not know the culture of the students they teach and have not explored their own racial identity and privilege. Although there is a significant amount of research regarding preparing teachers to work in racially diverse schools, a majority of the research focuses on preservice teachers' change of beliefs or development of competencies while still in their teacher education program (Coffey, 2010; Finney & Orr, 1995; Howell & Arrington, 2008; LaDuke, 2009; Lawrence & Bunche, 1996; Mazzei, 2008). Very few studies have followed new White teachers into the classroom to truly see the longer-term impact of teacher preparation efforts on actual practice (Sleeter, 2001).

My study explored the practices of six White middle and high school teachers from an urban school in California whom students of color nominated for having mutually caring, respectful, and trusting relationships. Through survey data, interviews, and classroom observations, I analyzed how these teachers developed mutually caring, respectful, and trusting relationships with students across racial and cultural differences. I also examined the foundational disposition of cultural humility that these teachers possessed to varying degrees and sought to understand the role pre-service teacher preparation programs and in-service teacher development played in these teachers' journeys.

Student and teacher data clearly indicated the importance of building mutually caring, respectful, and trusting relationships in a context where challenges, such as teacher turnover, distrust, struggles to build classroom community, and high stakes demands, are difficult to surmount. Students were keenly aware of and adversely impacted by misconceptions and deficit thinking that teachers brought into the classroom. And yet, despite this, there were many instances where teachers were able to develop and sustain mutually caring, respectful, and trusting relationships with students by drawing on the foundational disposition of cultural humility. Cultural humility was a foundation from which teachers built a commitment to ongoing reflection and critique; prioritized intercultural learning, understanding, and caring; fostered respectful intercultural communication; and provided trustworthy and consistent student-centered support. The results of the study raise important questions for teacher educators about how White teachers develop and sustain cultural humility through opportunities to question themselves and be pushed out of their comfort zones, to realize and critique inequities in schools and society, to talk about differences and in mixed racial and cultural settings, and to learn from and work with diverse youth and communities. By following White teachers into the classroom and exploring current practices of new and veteran teachers, this study highlights the need for more robust teacher preparation, especially for White teachers, focused on how to build the disposition of cultural humility.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Donahue, David
Commitee: Galguera, Tomas, Richardson, Nikole, Richert, Anna
School: Mills College
Department: Education - Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 76/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, School administration, Educational psychology, Teacher education, Ethnic studies
Keywords: Cultural humility, Cultural mismatch, Dispositions, Teacher preparation, Teacher-student relationships, White teachers
Publication Number: 3641387
ISBN: 978-1-321-27543-8
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