Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version

Spring 2011


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Teaching, Learning & Teacher Education, Under the Supervision of Professor Ted Hamann. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2011
Copyright 2011 Cass Griffin


Using nine reflections as a centerpiece, this thesis aims is to inform readers about the power that an international travel experience and/or practica in dual-language environments can have in becoming a more effective teacher, a culturally responsive teacher. From personal experience in a both settings, I think I am now better able to relate to students with culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds because I have been in a similar situation. Students with diverse backgrounds (that are different from their teacher) may have extra difficulty communicating or expressing their thoughts and ideas. Teachers need to recognize these difficulties and respond appropriately and in a constructivist manner to encourage and promote student learning. If students’ needs are rejected, teachers could generate student resistance towards learning and lose the valuable opportunity to hear diverse perspectives on a variety of issues.

Throughout this paper, I will compare and share reflections I gathered from observations of mainstream and sheltered learning environments for ELLs (English language learners). These shared reflections will serve as an example of what it means to be a culturally responsive teacher (CRT) and why it is important to be a CRT in any teaching environment. I will also explore how teacher education programs could ensure pre- service teachers are exposed to the pedagogies and practices needed to become CRTs.

Adviser: Ted Hamann