“She’s all about her words”: one teacher’s efforts to sustain her students’ cultures through discourse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This study aims to illustrate how one-sixth grade language arts teacher transforms the theory of culturally sustaining pedagogy (CSP) into practice, an effort made visible through classroom discourse. Design/methodology/approach: This classroom discourse inquiry is guided by tools of reconstructive discourse analysis which encourage a complex consideration of communicative efforts with intent to deconstruct them in the process of uncovering how oppressive social power structures are maintained. Additionally, reconstructive discourse analysis drives attention to how the data analyzed can reveal both how discourse marks moments where justice is constructed as well as how unjust structures may be reshaped into those that are more equitable. Findings: In a setting where rapport and trust have been established, intentional teacher-driven classroom discourse influenced the ability of student cultures, namely, their languages, to be sustained in the classroom on their own merits and not merely as a conduit for accessing dominant academic material. Practical implications: The information presented in this manuscript in the form of analysis of discursive classroom moments provide examples for equity-driven practitioners to engage in similar critically reflective activities with the potential to expose instances of CSPs or to assist in the identification of instances where the taking up of CSPs should sought. Originality/value: One difficulty in transforming theoretical stances to practical actions stems from oversimplification of CSP and related asset-based pedagogical practices as “just good teaching.” By deconstructing classroom discourse, this study can subsequently reconstruct effective, generative, culturally sustaining approaches to community practice within a classroom learning space.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-44
Number of pages16
JournalEnglish Teaching
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 20 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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