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Considering Gentle Teaching and Equitable Reading Practices

Lindsey Scheinost, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


I began noticing a perplexing pattern in my practice: capable male students were displaying behaviors that interfered with connection to my literacy-based classroom. I began to wonder why and my journey led me to consider my own beliefs and practices in order to establish what a classroom might look like where all students (not just male) could thrive. This self-reflection was the impetus for considering this apparent pattern more formally. I began to intentionally consider my own place within systems and practices related to reading and adaptations to my teaching necessary to create more equitable access by keeping students in the learning. My conclusions frequently return to my belief in “gentle classroom methods”—where positive climate (places) and positive learning experiences (spaces) are at the foundation of engaging students in equitable literacy practices. This dissertation focuses on my autoethnographic efforts to formalize and systematize how as a scholarly practitioner and design researcher, I consider my own teaching practices and the classroom literacy experiences of middle school students prior to and then influenced by the adaptations made during the COVID-19 global pandemic. The iterative ways that teachers can reflect on and respond to their classroom have the power to bring new insights from the teacher-practitioner standpoint, while at the same time allowing the voices and stories of students in the classroom to shape the understanding of those practices. If we worry about engaging all students in our classes and helping all of them advance—then we need to marry our expertise and responsibilities as practitioners with the chance as scholars to systematically document, examine, and then hone what we do to make classrooms more welcoming and effective.

Subject Area

Secondary education|Reading instruction|Language arts|Middle School education

Recommended Citation

Scheinost, Lindsey, "Considering Gentle Teaching and Equitable Reading Practices" (2021). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI28419739.