This paper describes a study conducted in a school district that experienced a significant shift in student demographics. As this shift parallels a national increase of immigrants in public schools, the study explored teachers’ perceptions of students’ cultural differences and how these differences impact their own pedagogy. The authors propose a Cultural Lens Continuum as a metaphorical heuristic structure for making meaning of the differing participating teachers’ views (i.e., microscopic, telescopic, panoramic, and holographic). This continuum aligns with existing research on culturally relevant pedagogy, in that the type of lens one possesses indicates the level of responsiveness to and adoption of culturally relevant pedagogy.

Key Take Away Points

  • Teachers’ individual views of cultural differences can be explained through their own cultural lens.
  • Cultural lenses described in this paper are explained through a metaphorical, heuristic template that run a continuum from narrow or limited perspectives to more inclusive or expansive views.
  • Those views include: microscopic, telescopic, panoramic and holographic.
  • Teachers can assess their place on the continuum to strengthen their cultural adeptness and reflectively increase their culturally responsive teaching practices.

Author Biography

First Author: Dr. Constance Harris Russell, Ed.D. Adjunct Professor at Lone Star College, Houston, Texas. Dr. Harris Russell currently teaches various classes in the teacher education program at Lone Star College. Her research interests include multicultural education, culturally responsive teaching, and culturally relevant pedagogy. She is a qualitative methodologist who utilizes Life History. Second Author: Dr. Denise McDonald, Ed.D. Associate Professor, Program Coordinator of Teacher Education University of Houston – Clear Lake Dr. McDonald teaches curriculum and instruction courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Her research interests include reflective and relational pedagogy, and learner motivation. She is a qualitative methodologist who specializes in Critical Ethnography. Third Author: Dr. Lisa Jones, Ed.D. Associate Professor of Multicultural Education University of Houston – Clear Lake Dr. Jones teaches foundations of multicultural education courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Her research interests include minority student achievement, and school diversity. Fourth Author: Dr. Laurie Weaver, Ed.D. Professor of Bilingual and Multicultural Education Dr. Weaver teaches undergraduate and graduate courses focusing on bilingual and ESL education. Her research interests include preparing teachers to work with emerging bilinguals, dual language education, and biliteracy development. She is a qualitative researcher with a special interest in critical ethnography.