Using Case Methods in Online Teacher Education to Develop Culturally Sustaining Educators

Using Case Methods in Online Teacher Education to Develop Culturally Sustaining Educators

Amber N. Warren (University of Nevada, Reno, USA) and Natalia A. Ward (East Tennessee State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0206-8.ch007
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This chapter describes how case methods, namely discussion and reflection on published case studies, were used in online courses to promote the development of linguistically responsive and culturally sustaining practices. Participants included pre- and inservice teachers enrolled in courses for add-on licensure preparing them to work with English learners (ELs) as literacy and language teachers in Pre-K through 12 settings. Content analysis showed that cases (1) served as a catalyst for recognizing educational inequality preventing ELs from succeeding academically, (2) led participants to reflect on their beliefs and practices and make personal connections, and (3) prompted participants to offer practical classroom-level and broader structural solutions to address inequities in education of ELs. Reflections on what worked and considerations for using case methods in online literacy and language teacher preparation are described.
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Goal Statement

The International Literacy Association (ILA) Standards for the Preparation of Literacy Professionals (2018) state:

STANDARD 4: DIVERSITY AND EQUITY Candidates examine their own culture and beliefs; set high expectations for their students; learn about and appreciate the cultures of their students, families, and communities to inform instruction.

4.3 Candidates situate diversity as a core asset in instructional planning, teaching, and selecting texts and materials (p. 72).

To support developing teachers’ ability to locate “diversity as a core asset” in their planning and instruction, each author built into their online classrooms opportunities for pre- and inservice teachers to read published case studies focused on EL students and/or teachers of ELs to examine them for equity-centered instructional practices and classroom orientations such as valuing linguistic diversity. To do this, participants were encouraged to (a) engage in ongoing dialogue about practices associated with “culturally sustaining” or “linguistically responsive” teaching; (b) evaluate their responses to specific classroom interactions against colleagues’ interpretations in order to deepen their understanding of appropriate practice; and, (c) reflect on the readings and discussions to develop connections between their personal experiences and the theories underlined in the readings.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Advocacy: Noticing issues of equity and acting on them in small and large ways to support traditionally marginalized student populations.

Asynchronous Online Discussion: Computer-mediated, usually text-based communication, such as in a message board or forum, where participants may contribute individually to a topic or discussion on their own time. In online education, this usually occurs within an assigned time-frame, such as a week.

Case Methods: Any of a number of practices used to support learning, such as individual reflection on cases, group discussions of cases, role playing suggested by cases, and the creation and writing of cases.

English Learners (ELs): The term designated by the United States Department of Education for students who speak two or more languages, and for whom English is a second or additional language.

Equity-Centered Instruction: Pedagogical stance that places issues of equity, such as cultural appropriateness, linguistic diversity, and social justice at the heart of teaching and teacher preparation.

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