Crossing Over to Canaan: The Journey of New Teachers in Diverse Classrooms by Gloria Ladson-Billings, 2001
As a Black teacher who often taught in multicultural environments, I never reflected on my race or ethnicity as an asset or a deficit when interacting with my students. I did however take in account the race and ethnicity of my students. I tried to craft lessons around their academic needs as well as tried to understand their cultural needs. The term cultural competency was not in vogue when I started teaching in 1983. I knew that racial politics were evident in the classrooms of South Carolina and North Carolina, but I was not taught what do to with this as a novice teacher. I simply relied on what I knew about Black families from my own cultural upbringing. I tried not to perpetuate the stereotypes based on what I have learned from my cultural background about White and Latino students. Asian students or American Indian students were non-existent in my classrooms.
Novice teachers today need more than notions to interact in multicultural teaching environments. They need blueprints that will guide them to be more culturally competent. Dr. Ladson-Billings provides the information necessary for successful navigation of diverse classroom. She details the real-life stories of eight novice teachers participating in an innovative teacher education program entitled Teach for Diversity. Through their experiences, she illustrates how good teachers can create opportunities to engage students from highly diverse backgrounds.