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You Can't Teach Us if You Don't Know Us and Care About Us

Becoming an Ubuntu, Responsive and Responsible Urban Teacher


Omiunota Nelly Ukpokodu

This book addresses the needs of diverse urban students for a new kind of teacher, classroom learning context, curriculum, and pedagogy in order to effectively learn, perform, and achieve. Drawing on the African concept of Ubuntu as a fundamental framework for enacting a humanizing pedagogy, the text invites teachers, students, and families to enter into an interdependent and interconnected relationship for education. This book is uniquely transformative as it elevates the centrality of student humanity and models the integration of emergent theories and practices, utilizing real-life stories to enlighten and illuminate. Emphasis is placed on Ubuntu pedagogy as a model to emulate, anchored on five ethical dimensions: humanism and Ubuntu competence, relationship and learning community, humanism in the curriculum, pedagogical and instructional excellence, and collaboration and partnership. Particularly valuable for teachers learning to cultivate the spirit of Ubuntu that undergirds their ability to be humane, responsive, socially- just, efficacious, and resilient, this book is a cutting-edge resource for effectively addressing the persistent academic achievement of diverse urban students.

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Chapter 7. Conclusion: On Being an Ubuntu Urban Teacher


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Chapter Overview

As discussed in the introduction to this book and in chapter 1, the effective education of diverse urban students is a top concern and challenge for leaders, educators, families, and communities across the U.S. As already documented, a majority of these students have been and continue to be underserved, shortchanged, and left behind. There is so much that has been written, said, and heard about the crisis that contributes to and exacerbates the underperformance and underachievement of urban students. Whether it is test scores, teacher quality, toxic school environment, violence, teacher and administrator turnover, or the revolving door syndrome, the list of crises goes on. These issues make teaching urban students difficult. While the long-standing belief is the deficit perspective that the problems of effective teaching of urban students are daunting and insurmountable because they reside within the students, their families, and communities, I contend throughout this book that effective urban teaching is not only possible but achievable. The focus on the students, families, and communities as the problem that requires fixing has been grossly misplaced. I agree with research conclusions that the teacher is the most significant and dominant factor impacting the academic outcomes of students. It is for this reason that my emphasis in this book has been on what teachers know, can do, and will do. After more than two and a half decades ← 199 | 200 → of extensive interactions with thousands...

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