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Literacy Voices Journal


Educators in our region of the country likely agree that although there is growing diversity in our public schools in terms of culture, race, ethnicity, gender-identification, primary language and other aspects of diversity, the diversity of practicing and developing teachers has remained relatively unchanged. According to a national report, 82% of all undergraduate degrees in education across the country were awarded to white students in 2009-10, three-quarters of whom were women (AACTE, 2013). In our region of the upper midwest, the statistics are closer to 96% white and 73% female (North Dakota State University, 2017). Although as a teacher workforce, there may be little visible diversity in our state and region, we have found varied and innovative ways in which new and practicing teachers work to be culturally responsive teachers. One of the ways good teachers work to build cultural competencies in our region is by building their capactity for empathy for their students. By taking the time to inquire further into the needs of one student, seeking out additional resources, and engaging in critical dialogue about the results of their inquiry, teachers build awareness, understanding, and empathy for students. In this paper, we will describe a self-study approach to teacher inquiry used in a professional development project to build cultural competencies for teaching. We will share two cases from the resulting efforts of the practicing teachers who, like many of us, work hard to address the needs of their students who struggle to find success in school, in a number of ways. We will also share our methods for conducting a self-study of teaching practice, and conclude with our recommendations for ways to use self-study as an equitable practice for educators at all levels.


First published in Literary Voices Journal.