Lessons from exemplary teachers: A study of the lives of teachers who are making a difference in diverse classrooms

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Cultural Foundations of Education


Gerald Grant


Teachers, Exemplary teachers, Diverse classrooms

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Teacher Education and Professional Development


In response to a question about the factors that allow some teachers and thus their students to be successful in diverse settings, this study examines the practice of ten teachers who have been identified as exemplary. The study allows teachers, in their own voices to reflect on experiences that have shaped their professional development and guided their learning.

The reflections take the reader back to the teachers, childhood experiences...with parents, family, and early schooling...through their teacher preparation and evolution as professionals. Through this process, the teachers learned more about themselves and their students. I examined how these teachers developed from novices to experts and what they considered to be the real work of teachers. I found that teachers wisdom was shaped by their experiences both in and out of the classroom, by their interactions with children, parents and their colleagues. I came to understand the significance the teachers placed on the social and moral development of their students. The importance of knowing about and understanding the culture and community of students influences how teachers interact with children in the classroom.

This study has implications for both preservice and inservice teacher education programs. The recommendations are directed at what both school systems and teacher preparation institutions can do, both individually and collectively to ensure that teachers are prepared on a personal and professional level for the rigors of teaching in today's diverse classrooms and those of the future. The caring aspects of the profession and the importance of teachers reflecting on their work cannot be underestimated. It is the teachers' reflections on various aspects of their personal and professional lives that have implications for growth and change.


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