Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Highly Successful Outcomes: How Teachers at an African-Centered Independent School Structure Mathematics Curriculum and Instruction
by Lord-Walker, Janice, Ed.D., Mills College, 2015, 137; 3681370
Abstract (Summary)

Africans and people of African descent have always desired the best for their children and education has been seen as the key to success (Madhubuti & Madhubuti, 1994, p. 4). When conscious African American teachers respect for students' cultural heritage and families are demonstrated in the classroom, and seen as an asset then students' ability to develop self-esteem and self-pride needed to support self in the world that we live in improves (Alim, 2014 & Gay, 2010).

This study focused on how teachers at an African-centered school in East Oakland, California structure curriculum and instruction for pre-school-8 in a way that leads to highly successful outcomes for students especially in mathematics. The following research questions guided this case study of an African-centered school. First, what are the elements of an African-centered education and culturally responsive pedagogy that ensures the academic achievement of African-American students? Second, what occurs in teachers' classrooms where students strive for academic excellence? Third, what are the school practices that contribute to the academic success of all students?

The findings are as follows in this research is that school climate and culture set the tone and expectation for all students. When students and staff are respected and valued each contribute to the success of the students and school programs with strong support inside the school (staff) and outside (family and community). Students need to be able to identify who they are and be empowered to develop agency for themselves.

The start of the school day needs to focus and center students (for example breathing exercise, pouring libation and school pledge). The placement of mathematics at the beginning of the day is vital. The most challenging class is provided to students when most students have the most energy to focus, pay attention and stay on task. It is important for students to have extended time to think critically, to experience guided practice and independent practice.

In addition, teachers who check for understanding frequently throughout the lesson are better prepared to comprehend where students are in the learning cycle (engagement, explore, explanation, elaboration and evaluate). Cooperative learning is a communal process to learn and is beneficial to many students rather than working independently and/or competitively. Next, technology should be used in modern classes to prepare students for the real world. Finally, belonging is an essential part of this school. Students feel as if they are members of a team; the staff is the leader of the team and they ensure that all students feel connected to school through common routines and practices. There is success for all, students, staff, parents and community.

Key words: African-centered education; culturally responsive pedagogy, culturally sustaining pedagogy, mathematics acceleration program; African Americans; urban education, school practices, striving for excellence in education.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Zirkel, Sabrina
Commitee: Cooks, Jamal, Donahue, David, Richardson, Nikole, Zirkel, Sabrina
School: Mills College
Department: Education - Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 76/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Mathematics education, Educational leadership, Curriculum development
Keywords: African american, African-centered education, Culturally responsive pedagogy, Culturally sustaining pedagogy, Mathematics acceleration program, School practices
Publication Number: 3681370
ISBN: 978-1-321-54082-6
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