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Brilliant Teaching

Using Culture and Artful Thinking to Close Equity Gaps
Adeyemi Stembridge(Autor*in)
Wiley (Verlag)
1. Auflage
Erschienen am 5. Juli 2023
288 Seiten
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978-1-119-90114-3 (ISBN)
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Think like an artist and design a classroom that works--well--for everyone

In Brilliant Teaching, you will come to understand that equity--when we view it from an informed, multi-layered, and artistic perspective--is the essential purpose of teaching. As education thought leader Dr. Adeyemi Stembridge argues, true equity does not need to defend or justify itself against detractors. Teaching for equity means creating student-centered opportunities that match the social, political, and economic context of the learning environment. Informed by both theory and extensive collaboration with K-12 teachers, Brilliant Teaching will help you develop a deep understanding of culture, one that you can leverage in order to be responsive to students.

This book draws from a range of disciplines, including but going well beyond the post-modern and critical-theory-based discourse that dominate conversations today. Brilliant Teaching also pulls from art theory, cultural psychology, cognitive science, and learning theory, as well as classic historical texts within education. With this broad foundation, Dr. Stembridge offers an empowering, engaging approach that educators can use to help learners reach their own goals, and to move society onward and upward.
* Discover practices that you can use to provide vulnerable students with high quality, effective, and meaningful learning opportunities
* Learn to empathize with and respond to your students in a way that will engage and empower them in rigorous learning experiences
* Embrace artful thinking and an integrated understanding of culture in your approach to equity in the classroom
* View the K-12 classroom with a more expansive mindset and fresh ideas from an expert educator

For K-12 educators, preservice teachers, parents, school board members, and policymakers, this book is a breath of fresh air and inspiration in a world where culturally responsive teaching is increasingly recognized as a must.
Dr. Adeyemi Stembridge is an educational consultant specializing in equity-focused school improvement. He works with districts around the country to identify root causes of achievement gaps and formulate pedagogy and policy-based efforts to redress the underperformance of vulnerable student populations. Dr. Stembridge holds a PhD in Educational Leadership from the School of Education, Teaching, and Health at American University, a Master of Arts degree in Literature from Old Dominion University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Norfolk State University.
Preface xiii Do I, or Do I Not, Take This Picture? xiv What Is This Book About? xvi To Whom Am I Speaking? xx Part One Culturally Responsive Artmaking Teaching 1 One What Does It Mean to Think Like an Artist? 5 What Is Artmaking? 7 Social Learning 15 Notes on Artmaking: Influence and Inspiration 29 Chapter Notes 31 Two Defining Equity and the Problem of Fairness 35 A Problem of Fairness 37 Measured by Outputs 39 Quality and Effective 44 Difference <> Deficits 50 What Schools Can Do 60 Notes on Artmaking: The Heart of Equity 61 Chapter Notes 64 Three Shifting Paradigms 69 Equity Problems of Practice 71 Race 76 Nonstarters 83 Notes on Artmaking: Layered Methodologies 88 Chapter Notes 92 Four Artmaking-- As an Equity Issue 95 What Does It Mean to Understand? 97 The Role of Culture Relative to Achievement 108 Notes on Artmaking: Composition 127 Chapter Notes 128 Part Two The Culturally Responsive Artmaking Teacher (In) You 131 Five 12 Days of Instruction 135 Seating Charts, Volcanoes, and Different Glimpses of Themselves 137 Week 1: Planning (Structure and Process) 142 Week 2: Superpowers, Not Hacks 149 Week 3: From Compliance to Agency 160 "Something Has to Work Better ." 167 Notes on Artmaking: Ordinary Resurrections 169 Six Improvisation 173 Make It into a Melody 175 Uncertainty 177 Imprint the Memory 179 Notes on Artmaking: Have Students Translate the Melody 181 Chapter Notes 182 Seven Story 183 Our Job Is to Be a Storyteller 185 The Star of the Show 186 The Story Unfolds as a Question 188 Notes on Artmaking: The Power of Story 189 Chapter Note 190 Eight Audience 193 A Captive Audience 195 A Good Classroom Is Supportive of New Ideas 197 In Defense of Incentives 199 Notes on Artmaking: Incentives Are Not the Reward 208 Chapter Notes 210 Nine The Art of Culturally Responsive Assessments 211 A Culture of Responsive Assessments 213 Why Are Performative Assessments More Equitable Than Traditional "Standardized" Assessments? 215 Measure It Performatively 221 Notes on Artmaking: "They Weren't Taking Cues Off of Me." 228 Afterword 231 Brilliance 232 Brilliant Teaching is Philosophizing 234 References 237 Index 255


Source: Adeyemi Stembridge (Author)


In every direction, as far as I could see, nothing was left untouched by the destruction.

It was June 9, 2007. I was a freshly minted PhD embarking on the first research project of my academic career in which I was the lead investigator. Along with two exceptionally bright and committed graduate students, Thanh Ly and Ebony Duncan, our task was to spend time with a reconstituting Upward Bound program in New Orleans. We were interested in learning more about how an education program with a successful track record for preparing students for college would rebuild nearly two years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita had effectively wiped out the Lower Ninth Ward, the district that was home to most of its student participants.

In order to understand the story of this program's rebuilding, we wanted to first know what it was that made it successful before the storms. In other words, what was the essence and ethos of this Upward Bound program that was worth reviving-even as the students, most returning to New Orleans for the first time in more than 18 months, had endured trauma beyond the comprehension of most Americans.

Upon arrival, I had thought of myself as disconnected to New Orleans. Like most, I watched closely on the national news networks as the hurricanes narrowly avoided a direct hit of the city, but leaving behind instead failed levees, a more insidious anguish. My disconnectedness served me well, I thought. I could conduct my research with the distanced objectivity of a well-trained social scientist. I was unburdened by the personal need to redeem anything lost to me.

My colleagues and I decided to see the Lower Ninth Ward for ourselves in advance of our first visit to our research site in order to gain some perspective and context for the conditions in which this rebuild was being attempted. How do you restore something that is extraordinary when the staff and students have, in many cases, quite literally lost every physical possession that couldn't be tucked into a backpack upon evacuation?

I wouldn't have been able to comprehend the devastation in the Lower Ninth Ward until I was there to see it for myself. The water had lifted homes from their foundations, moving some of them hundreds of feet out of place. There, in the thick, stifling Louisiana heat, we soon came across a house that had been floated on top of a car, a surreal image that forces the observer into recognition of the havoc wrought by the flooding. I saw the car first, and my mind flooded with calculations for how this could have happened. Exactly how much water was flowing through these neighborhood streets? I wondered aloud. . This was someone's home. I could only imagine the stories and memories, the lived experiences that had accumulated inside of this structure.

I think it's important to take pictures in research. Photographs can record details and insights that language struggles to convey. As I positioned myself to capture a clear and compelling image of this home mangled by the disaster, I noticed writing across the front of the house. I was confronted by a message left for curious onlookers.

1600 People Died 4 U 2 take this picture

It felt like I was being called out. Challenged. And though there were only three of us out there on that sweltering swamp-hot afternoon, it felt like I was spotlighted on a stage in front of millions.

Do I, or Do I Not, Take This Picture?

I decided to document the image-but not without some soul-searching. The question at hand in that moment for me was more philosophical than technical, more existential than methodological. Why am I doing this? What are my intentions? Who am I in this moment? Why am I here?

Many years later, I continue to interrogate myself and my intentions as I deepen and extend my understanding of why some classrooms work better for our most vulnerable learners than others. I still have more questions than answers. In fact, I now understand that the brilliance that I most admire is that which values the questions . because the capacity for generating thoughtful and well-constructed questions is unlikely to become stale, or worse, certain. It is the uncertainty of the inquiring mind that is the source of its brilliance because uncertainty is necessary for understanding.

Research, like teaching and also much like making art, is a kind of philosophizing. The philosopher seeks answers to the questions of personhood. . As in: Who am I? and How have I come to be? We were there to study an educational program's effort to rebuild its former efficacy. We were asking of the program and the people of it: Who are you? And how have you come to be? But to pose those questions, I was reminded that I must first engage in the deliberation of those questions of myself . or the entire episode would be a farce based on the false pretense of certainty-and a farce is not what I would consciously choose to be.

In the end, I took the picture because it was part of the story I was hoping to tell, and I wanted to honor the participants of my study by telling their story in the most honest and informed way possible. I interpreted the author's intent of the writing across the front of the house, whoever they were, as a personal exhortation to me in that moment to be clear about my intentions because there were consequences for ambiguity. I felt then, as I do now, that I am accountable to any who would pay attention to my words and ideas to present the full story, ugly parts included, because only the full story is truly worth telling. All else is ultimately folly.


In this book, I am making the case that Equity is the historical heir in the legacy tracing all the way back to the origin story of American public education. Hence, Equity is to be centered as the essential purpose of teaching, and teaching for Equity is a function of creating opportunities that match the social, political, and economic context in which teaching occurs. And further, the craft of creating these opportunities is what we call pedagogy, and pedagogy in the interest of Equity is a lot like making art. Most importantly, I am making the case that Equity in education that isn't responsive to or doesn't empower learners to reach their own goals is neither responsive nor empowering but more likely manipulating. Worse yet, teaching that isn't responsive underserves vulnerable student populations by compromising their preparedness for the forthcoming tasks and challenges of life. Until the artmaking sensibilities for teaching are normalized and supported by education systems, the Equity gaps we see currently will persist because our prevailing models do not empower learners, and neither the policy nor practice environments are designed to be responsive.

This book is divided into two parts. In Part 1, I define Equity as the quintessential purpose of education. The goal of Equity in education is to remove educational disparities as a hindrance to the ethos of individual freedoms, "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Equity is not the same as equality, though they are conceptually related. A primary difference between the two is a matter of measurement. Equality is measured by sameness of inputs whereas Equity is measured by outputs. We will know that we have achieved Equity when neither race, nor class, nor income, nor gender, nor language background, nor physical (dis)ability-when no social disparity or measure of identity-is a barrier to or predictor of educational achievement. In the sense of Equity, fairness is a differentiating process through which opportunity is mediated. I am further building on the argument I make in Culturally Responsive Education in the Classroom: An Equity Framework for Pedagogy (2019) that culturally responsive teaching is useful for closing Equity gaps.

In Chapter 1, I offer guidelines for how to think about teaching as an artmaking endeavor-particularly in such a way that prioritizes student empowerment as both a process and outcome goal for instruction. In Chapter 2, I revisit the definition of Equity-which is to say that Equity in Education is broadly concerned with the extent to which students are effectively prepared through quality learning opportunities for the social and economic world beyond school. But there is a terrible flaw in our logic in terms of how districts and schools have largely attempted to solve the problems of Equity through top-down driven approaches to reform and innovation. As a former classroom teacher, this has always struck me as agonizingly inadequate in addressing the inequities that persist in American education.

There is a troublesome disconnect among the analytical perspectives taken to understand the Equity problems that yield fragmented solutions that rarely ever solve much of anything. These disjunctured perspectives prevent the collective systems of American education to move schools, teaching, and learning forward beyond the woefully outdated factory models of the past.

The fracture in perspectives I refer to can be summarized in terms of people groups and people. Administrators in school systems are responsible for tracking the data of students' performance and achievement across classrooms and even school buildings, and sometimes much larger...

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