Unlocking the Doors: Opening Spaces for Inclusive Pedagogy – The Implementation of Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy+ in Teacher Education

Unlocking the Doors: Opening Spaces for Inclusive Pedagogy – The Implementation of Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy+ in Teacher Education

Mary Kelly (Marist College, USA) and Christina Wright Fields (Marist College, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-5098-4.ch001
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This chapter will explore how teacher educators support and create social justice-infused spaces with their respective programs. The authors explain how they re-centered equity and diversity by reframing and repositioning culturally sustaining pedagogy (CSP) in teacher education programs. A possible programmatic approach is shared to explain the different phases of integrating a culturally sustaining pedagogy, referred to as CSP+, with attention to intersectional subjectivities and a privileging of both ability and gender within equity frameworks. Alongside practical activities, and a step-by-step guide towards re-designing for CSP+, the authors consider both where and how to begin reconceptualizing teacher education towards justice, arguing for a department-wide approach.
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The development of teacher educators has garnered recent attention in the literature on social justice teaching and practice (e.g., Borg, Clifford, & Htut, 2018; Kelchtermans, Smith, & Vanderlinde, 2018). With teacher education programs and teacher educators charged with preparing pre-service teachers to develop and teach their content knowledge, to create effective well-managed classrooms, and to iteratively reflect on their practice (Darling-Hammond, 2010), being a teacher educator is easily viewed as a complex and ever-changing task. For instance, alongside developing practice and pedagogy, teacher educators must also support pre-service teachers to challenge oppressive structures and pedagogies within education, and to examine their own participation within these systems. Thus, with a litany of expectations facing teacher education programs and teacher educators, it comes as no surprise that the recent focus on teacher educators is in response to the reality that many are failing to adequately prepare teachers to enact social justice practice in the classroom.

In this chapter, we argue that to address this concern within teacher preparation and to engage in conversation with recent scholarship, we must first accept where many programs are in terms of their ability to support social justice teacher development. For example, rather than positioning teacher educator programs and educators from a deficit perspective, encouraging them to reinvent the wheel, this chapter explores a potential framework and approach to programmatically address how teacher educators develop social justice dispositions and in turn incrementally shape and reshape a teacher educator program. We suggest that one consideration in addressing the shortcomings of teacher education programs in relation to social justice is to first consider how teacher educators are positioned and prepared to support the social justice development of teacher candidates. In other words, to adequately design equity-based coursework and experiences for teacher candidates, we believe that teacher educators must also examine their own teaching and perspectives; this often means unraveling their own complicity within oppressive structures and practice.

Like many teacher education programs across the nation, this chapter was a response to our programmatic struggle to provide our teachers with a critical praxis that incorporated the many diverse perspectives of students in K-12 classrooms. Yet, unlike many programs, our response represents a shift in perspective. Rather than starting with teacher candidates, measuring their dispositions or approaches to equity-oriented practice, we focused on collectively addressing teacher educators, considering their role in designing curriculum but also in developing future teachers.

In this chapter, we present a critical framework to support a paradigm shift in teacher education, considering the development of teacher educators as a starting point in creating programmatic change. Drawing on Loughran’s (2014) professional development framework for teacher educator development and Waitoller and Thorius (2016) call for cross-pollinating Universal Design (UDL) with Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy (CSP), we offer insights into who is and who should possibly be viewed as a teacher educator for social justice. Like Rust (2010), we argue that making transformative change in teacher education will require that teacher educators engage in professional development around social justice terminology and approaches. Powerful, sustainable reform must be driven by inquiry among teacher educators themselves and it must be active, collaborative, embedded in a teacher education context, and a central part of school and university cultures.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Professional Development: Engaging in learning to further one’s skills, knowledge, or learning.

Diversity: Refers to the differences and similarities that exist in individuals and groups.

Oppression: Occurs when a person or group is in a position of power to control or treat unfairly another person or group.

Universal Design of Learning: An educational framework that recognizes the individual nature of learning, with a set of principles that ask teachers to create flexible and accommodating environments; encourages multiple means of representation, expression and engagement.

Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy: Schools become sites for sustaining and affirming diverse cultures instead of sites that eradicate or ignore the experiences, backgrounds, and knowledge of historically marginalized communities.

Social Justice: Actively acknowledging and addressing oppression, power, and privilege within society.

Equity: Understood as the concept of providing individuals with what they need (e.g., skills, resources, etc.) to be successful.

Teacher Educators: Educational professionals tasked with teaching and mentoring of student teachers and teachers.

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