Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

William Black, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Howard Johnston, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Shaunessy Dedrick, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Judith Ponticel, Ph.D.


Culturally Relevant Teaching, Teacher Care, Teacher Reflection


A variety of educational reform literature discusses the “ethic of care” and “building relationships,” along with culturally relevant/responsive pedagogy (Gorski, 2013; Guajardo, M., Guajardo F., & Casaperalta, 2008; Ladson-Billings, 1992, 1995). In addition, “Appreciative Organizing in Education (AOE)” (Barrett & Fry, 2008; Burello, Beitz, & Mann, 2015; Cooperrider, Whitney, & Stavros, 2008) with its emphasis on strengths-based analysis of organizational change shaped my perception that a “Culture of Care” in our schools and with our teachers, administrators, and most importantly students, is necessary.

The notion of “culturally appropriate” (Au & Jordan, 1981, p. 139) pedagogy began over 35 years ago and incorporated aspects of “students’ cultural backgrounds into their reading instruction” (Ladson-Billings, 1992, 1995). However, today’s context magnifies the importance of providing culturally relevant (Ladson-Billings, 1992, 1995) instruction and curriculum for our black and brown children, reflected in the body of work that is read and studied in schools, as well as culturally responsive teaching, defined as “using the cultural knowledge, prior experiences, frames of reference, and performance styles of ethnically diverse students to make learning encounters more relevant to and effective for [students]” (Gay, 2010, p. 31).

Despite the literature that suggests schools will struggle to overcome the societal barriers that students bring with them every day (Berliner & Glass, 2014, 2015), there are teachers who are capable of excellent teaching for all students (Ladson-Billings, 1995), by “demonstrating understanding of who students are (and who we are, as teachers), how, and why they operate in the world, and then making decisions about what will be learned based on this information” (Walter, 2018, p. 25)