Portraits of culturally relevant pedagogical practices enacted by educators serving Latino music students
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The growing population of Latino students in the United States requires a focus on culturally relevant practices for teaching Latino students. The purpose of this study was to investigate music educators’ Latino cultural knowledge and their use of that knowledge for teaching Latino students. Ladson-Billings’ (1995b) theory of culturally relevant pedagogy frames this study. Three questions guided this study. First, what cultural knowledge do music educators hold about Latino students and the communities in which they teach? Second, how do music educators use cultural knowledge to inform their pedagogical practice with Latino students? Finally, what specific culturally relevant pedagogical practices are enacted by music educators for teaching Latino students? To address the research questions, I interviewed three music teachers and observed their teaching practices. Interviews with a sample of the teachers’ Latino students also informed the study. I utilized elements of portraiture to present the data through vignettes followed by discussions and personal reflections. An analysis of the data through the lens of culturally relevant pedagogy revealed numerous methods that music educators frequently used when teaching Latino students. After I categorized those methods and aligned them with current research on core instructional practices, a list emerged of 12 culturally relevant core instructional practices that facilitate learning for Latino students. Based on the findings of this study, I recommend that teachers take an asset-based approach when working with Latino students and families, understand and make distinctions between Latino cultures, find ways to communicate effectively with Latino students and families, implement Latino language and culture into class curriculum, and enact characteristics of caring for Latino students. In addition, teacher education programs may benefit from developing courses in culturally relevant pedagogy specifically for working with Latino students.