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ERIC Number: ED515829
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 295
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1097-0992-6
Teach for St. Louis: Cross-Cultural Challenges and Successes of New Teachers
Tao, Sarah A.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Saint Louis University
Teach For America (TFA) teachers are placed in urban, impoverished, and highly diverse schools. The purpose of this study was to examine the challenges faced by TFA teachers (or corps members) in culturally and linguistically diverse schools in urban St. Louis. In examining how TFA teachers perceive and navigate these challenges, educators will more clearly understand the racial, socio-economic, gender-specific, and linguistic challenges in urban classrooms, and how culturally responsive instruction is related to student achievement. In this qualitative study, twelve TFA teachers in the St. Louis region participated in semi-structured interviews. Three domains of inquiry included: (1) Cross-Cultural Challenges in the Classroom, (2) Culturally Responsive Teaching and Academic Achievement, and (3) Social and Structural Challenges in the Cross-Cultural Classroom. In Domain One, data revealed both positive and negative multicultural experiences. Higher teacher expectations led to stronger academic achievement. Results from Domain Two included evidence of cultural competence through knowledge of communities, access to multicultural resources, and culturally responsive instruction. Document analysis of TFA's diversity curriculum also contributed to the study. TFA teachers demonstrated low levels of incoming knowledge of community or family, had limited abilities to describe social problems, and demonstrated minimal personal involvement. Most TFA teachers had very limited resources, few linkages to the community, and little support from faculty or administration regarding cultural issues. Results showed that TFA teachers demonstrated high levels of resourcefulness, modification of curriculum, and evidence of culturally responsive pedagogy. In Domain Three, the eight challenges most frequently mentioned by TFA teachers included: school leadership, high mobility rates, racial inequality, standardized testing or AYP pressures, poverty or class division, lack of resources, families and home life, and community or housing issues. Exposing racial prejudice, inequities of wealth and class, and gender-specific and linguistic challenges in the classroom allows educators to better understand the sociopolitical and cultural context in which their students live and learn. Skillfully navigating these cross-challenges enables teachers to help their students achieve social, personal, and academic success. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Missouri