(Co)constructing identities in urban classrooms

Cheryl Jones-Walker, University of Pennsylvania


This year long ethnographic study explores the relationship that exists between teacher identity and beliefs, classroom practice and discourse, and how these dynamics inform students' sense of themselves and their engagement school learning. The examination of teacher and student identity focuses on the ways individuals demonstrate and understand who they are through interactions. Data collection included analysis of critical incidents gathered through participant observation, interviews, and focus groups, in neighboring urban K-8 schools. Teacher beliefs regarding their role and their views on teaching across difference influenced decision-making about curricular content and classroom structures. When teachers integrated discussion of inequity into curriculum their intended meanings were better understood by their students. Findings from this study also point to the fact that collaborative professional development that takes into account the identity of teacher and student is a critical component of shifting teacher beliefs and supporting authentic change in teacher practice. In order to design more appropriate strategies for improving contexts for learning we must understand more about the identities and beliefs of teachers and concurrently identify new ways to understand students' identities and beliefs.

Subject Area

School administration|Ethnic studies|Curriculum development

Recommended Citation

Jones-Walker, Cheryl, "(Co)constructing identities in urban classrooms" (2008). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3309448.