Hispanic and white teachers teaching Hispanic youth: are we culturally responsive to our students?
This study explores the implications of a cultural and language match/mismatch between teachers and their Hispanic students. The study is particularly relevant given the disproportionate percentage of Hispanic students enrolled in Arizona schools who speak Spanish compared to a majority of teachers who are white and speak English. The purpose of the study was to learn how the experiences of matched/mismatched teachers differed in their efforts to connect with Hispanic students and families. The framework for this study relies on culturally responsive practice which suggests that maintaining both cultural and academic excellence for our Hispanic students and families promotes positive learning outcomes in schools. The research is based on case studies of eight teachers at an elementary school with a predominately Hispanic student and parent population. The data included surveys, interviews and lesson observations to assess culturally responsive practices. The results of this study indicated that teachers who share common cultural and language characteristics exhibit significantly more behaviors associated with culturally responsive practice than their mismatched counterparts. Mismatched teachers, however, were able to draw on specific school wide and pedagogical resources associated with culturally responsive practice to help support their students' learning.