Book to explore creating equitable school environments

November 13, 2018

How can high school teachers make their classrooms more equitable and culturally relevant spaces? A forthcoming publication co-authored by Assistant Professor Joanne Marciano provides strategies (and real life examples) to support educators in establishing these spaces.

Classroom Cultures: Equitable Schooling for Racially Diverse Youth” (Teachers College Press, November 2018) has a practitioner focus but is grounded in theory, said Marciano, a scholar in the Michigan State University Department of Teacher Education.

Joanne Marciano headshot

“Connections between research and teaching are included throughout the book,” she said. “We share examples from educators’ experiences to assist teachers in considering how they may adjust their current practices to create more equitably learning opportunities for culturally and linguistically diverse students.”

The book connects issues of equity, race and culturally relevant pedagogies across contexts of classrooms, school culture and college access, while providing real-world, and sometimes even personal, examples about how to implement these strategies.

Grounded in research and practice

“Classroom Cultures” is the second collaboration for Marciano and Michelle G. Knight-Manuel, who serves as associate dean and professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University.

While Marciano was a doctoral student at Teachers College-Columbia University, and working full-time as a high school English teacher at a New York City public school, she and Knight-Manuel wrote: “College-Ready: Preparing Black and Latina/o Youth for Higher Education—A Culturally Relevant Approach” (Teachers College Press, 2013).

Knight-Manuel and Marciano book cover, featuring mutli-colored chairs.

The work led to an invitation by the New York City Department of Education to be a part of the Expanded Success Initiative (ESI), an effort to help increase educational outcomes and opportunities for Black and Latino young men enrolled in NYC public schools. Knight-Manuel and Marciano developed and facilitated Culturally Relevant Education Professional Development (CRE-PD) sessions for schools participating in ESI to support educators’ understandings of how to develop and implement more equitable practices in their classrooms and school communities.

Data, insight and feedback from more than 500 educators working in 28 schools who participated in CRE-PD sessions are examined in “Classroom Cultures,” another collaboration for Knight-Manuel and Marciano.

Marciano’s own experiences as a teacher are included in the book as part of the personal vignettes accompanying chapters. In one example, she described strategies she implemented for getting to know each student in the classes she taught, and how these personal connections can support educators in designing and enacting more equitable learning opportunities for students.

“The book is relevant to the everyday practices of teachers and school leaders in multiple contexts,” Marciano said. She joined the faculty at MSU in 2016, and currently serves as the coordinator for the online Master of Arts in Teaching and Curriculum program.  “Teachers tell us they want to create equitable opportunities for their students, but aren’t always sure of the steps they should take to do so. Our book supports educators in considering how to examine their teaching, and how to reflect upon and enact strengths-based perspectives of their students.”

Book signing

Marciano will be signing copies of the book at the National Council of Teachers of English Conference in Houston, Texas on Nov. 16. Stop by the Teachers College Press booth from 4:30 – 5:00 p.m. (CDT) to get your copy.

Related links

Knight-Manuel, Marciano and colleagues wrote about their work in the CRE-PD sessions in a 2016 piece for Urban Education.

Knight-Manuel co-authored another article on the same topic for the Journal of Teacher Education in 2018. Learn more about the journal through JTE Insider, a blog and social media effort coordinated by the editorial team at the MSU College of Education.