First Presenter's Institution

Tennessee Tech

Second Presenter's Institution

University of South Florida

Third Presenter's Institution

NA

Fourth Presenter's Institution

NA

Fifth Presenter's Institution

NA

Location

Westbrook

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Strand #2

Social & Emotional Skills

Relevance

This presentation addresses the “Head” and “Heart” strand of the conference. We will address the need for teachers to develop funds of knowledge of diverse at-risk adolescent populations in order to become culturally responsive educators. We will describe how this can be accomplished through the reading of young adult (YA) literature and how this experience can help educators support the diverse at-risk adolescent academically, but also create opportunities for educators to help these diverse at-risk students thrive personally.

Brief Program Description

If teachers want to be successful in reaching and teaching all learners, the development of funds of knowledge must continue throughout an entire teacher’s career, as classroom demographics are continually changing. In this session we spotlight the reading of YA literature to develop teachers’ funds of knowledge of diverse at-risk adolescents and how this experience can lead to culturally relevant pedagogies.

Summary

Students enter our classrooms differing from us in age, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and even socioeconomic status (Tileston & Darling, 2008). The growing cultural and generational gaps between teachers and students, and the potential for negative consequences for diverse students it brings (Reyes, Da Silva Iddings & Feller, 2016), suggest that all teachers be responsible for the continued development of funds of knowledge of the populations they serve in order to become culturally responsive educators.

While most school districts offer professional development (PD) on diversity and the at-risk student, they fall short in several areas. First, educators are presented with a narrow definition of “diverse”, usually equating it to only race. Diversity encompasses so much more: ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, SES, learning styles, physical and cognitive abilities, etc. Second, when preparing teachers to address diversity in the classroom, programs often draw on adult voices, ignoring the importance of the diverse adolescent voice and experience. Third, programs designed to assist educators with the teaching of at-risk students, also often draw on a narrow definition of “at-risk” - those who failed a state-mandated assessment. But at-risk students are more than test scores; they are also students in which the school day becomes more about survival than learning, often as a direct result of their diversity.

Given the paucity of research in the field, we conducted an inquiry to discover the potential impact of reading YA literature as PD on the development of teachers’ funds of knowledge of diverse at-risk adolescents. Our findings revealed that reading YA literature can develop teacher’s funds of knowledge of diverse at-risk adolescents (funds were not limited to race, gender, orientation, ethnicity, or SES, but included the experiences of adolescents who may be dealing with a mental illness, a learning disability, a physical disability, a traumatic event, a family issue, etc. that can place them at-risk). We also discovered that reading YA literature can reconnect teachers to the adolescent – in all their dimensions - including the “stuff” they contend with on a daily basis that potentially can place them at-risk.

Through the intersection of these benefits, teachers can begin to provide culturally relevant pedagogies that not only support the diverse at-risk adolescent academically, but create opportunities for these diverse at-risk students to thrive personally.

References:

Reyes, I., Da Silva Iddings, A., & Feller, N. (2016). Building relationships with diverse students and families: Afunds of knowledge perspective. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 16(1), 8–33.

Tileston, D. & Darling, S. (2008). Why Culture Counts: Teaching Children of Poverty. Bloomington, IN: SolutionTree Press.

Evidence

Data were collected both quantitatively and qualitatively. Quantitative data were analyzed through Q Factor Analysis, identifying typologies of teachers in relation to their attitudes toward teaching and discussing diverse texts in the classroom. Preliminary findings identified three typologies of teachers: 1) those that believe YA literature offers an access point to study and examine diversity issues in the classroom, 2) those that believe it is extremely important for students to read diverse texts and are comfortable teaching and discussing diverse texts that spotlight race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and disabilities (mental, physical, learning, etc.), and 3) those that believe it is extremely important for students to read diverse texts and are only comfortable teaching and discussing some diverse texts but not others.

Qualitative data were analyzed through open coding methods of analysis (Corbin & Strauss, 2008). Several themes emerged from the data: 1) YA as a window into the diverse at-risk adolescent, 2) development of funds of knowledge that can lead to culturally responsive pedagogies, and 3) appreciation of YA literature as an access point for students to discuss diversity. However, responses to the open-ended survey questions also revealed a reluctance to teach or include some culturally themed texts in a classroom setting – more specifically the LGBT culture. These findings reveal a need to continue to help teachers reach our at-risk adolescent lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender population. Given that our LGBT student population is among those highest at-risk (Kosciw, Greytak, Giga, Villenas, & Danischewski, 2016), these findings offer us an access point to begin the conversation on ways in which YA literature can assist with this undertaking.

References:

Corbin, J., & Strauss, A. (2008). Basics of qualitative research (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Kosciw, J., Greytak, E., Giga, N., Villenas, C. & Danischewski, D. (2016). The 2015 National School Climate Survey: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth in our nation’s schools. New York, NY: GLSEN.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Paula Greathouse is an assistant professor of English Education at Tennessee Tech University. She was a secondary English and remedial reading teacher for 16 years. She was the recipient of the 2012 NCTE Teacher of Excellence Award. Greathouse is published in several national and international journals and has edited two series of textbooks and a handbook for AERA. She is a reviewer for the National At-Risk Youth Journal and has reviewed proposals for the NYAR conference for the past three years. Greathouse strongly believes that teacher quality is still the most powerful influence on students’ academic performance. As such, teachers have an obligation to develop practices that support the creation of empowering classroom interactions with diverse students.

Dr. Joan F. Kaywell has served as professor of English education at the University of South Florida (USF) for nearly three decades. She was appointed as director of the SunCoast Area Teacher Training & Education Research (SCATTER), USF’s COEDU’s Honors Program summer 2013. She is past president of NCTE’s Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN), has completed two terms serving as ALAN’s membership secretary, and was the recipient of the 2012 Hipple Award for outstanding service. Kaywell is a past president of FCTE twice and served almost two decades on its Board of Directors. In 2012, FCTE created the “Joan F. Kaywell Books Save Lives Award” in her honor. Kaywell is published in several journals; she regularly reviews YA novels, has edited two series of textbooks, and written one trade book. Kaywell fervently believes that teachers and authors are often the unsung heroes of children on the brink of self-destruction. By offering books to children to help them momentarily escape the pain of growing up, teachers offer teenagers a constructive way to survive the crisis, and hope, and know that they are not alone.

Keyword Descriptors

Young Adult Literature, Professional Development, Diverse At-Risk Adolescents, Culturally Responsive Teaching, Funds of Knowledge.

Presentation Year

2018

Start Date

3-6-2018 10:15 AM

End Date

3-6-2018 11:30 AM

One True Way PD.pdf (149 kB)
One True Way PD

LGBTQ PD - My Mixed-up Berry Blue Summer-2.docx (45 kB)
My Mixed-up Berry Blue Summer

LGBTQ PD - George-3.docx (25 kB)
George

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Mar 6th, 10:15 AM Mar 6th, 11:30 AM

Developing teachers’ funds of knowledge of diverse at-risk adolescents through young adult literature.

Westbrook

If teachers want to be successful in reaching and teaching all learners, the development of funds of knowledge must continue throughout an entire teacher’s career, as classroom demographics are continually changing. In this session we spotlight the reading of YA literature to develop teachers’ funds of knowledge of diverse at-risk adolescents and how this experience can lead to culturally relevant pedagogies.