Perspectives and practices of successful teachers in diverse rural South Texas high-performing high-needs elementary schools
Pate, Roberta Simnacher
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Texas rural schools, educating more than half a million students annually, and rural schools across the nation have been under scrutiny for the inability to provide quality education through course offerings, facilities, and qualified teachers. To address this issue, the investigator utilized Spradley’s (1980) seminal work, Participant Observation, as a guide to examine two third-grade and two fourth-grade effective teachers within two high-performing, high-needs rural South Texas elementary campuses. Data collection included interviews of principals and teachers as well as classroom observations focused on classroom management, instructional approach/style, reading/writing instruction, and assessment over a five-week period during reading and writing class instruction. The application of Spradley’s 12-step method, Developmental Research Sequence, revealed that effective rural reading/writing teachers used motivational techniques, scaffolded and extended lessons beyond the scripted curriculum prompting critical thinking skills, authentic reading/writing literature and experiences to promote student success, and data analysis and self-reflection to meet the diverse needs of their students while maintaining the place of community. Implications from the study are relevant to administrators, educators, and community members, as these successful rural schools with vested and effective teachers are models of how rural education can meet and exceed the needs of its students.
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction