Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Shelby-Caffey, Crystal


This case study highlights the social-cultural relevant pedagogical impact a bilingual teacher has on the middle school ESL classroom through her Latina identity and lived experiences. Data gathering occurred over six months through the principal participant's in-depth interviews, classrooms observations, and document analysis of classroom materials. Through snowballing I conducted additional interviews with seven other participants including a former EL student, middle school teachers, a paraprofessional, and a program coordinator. All of the interviews (except the principal participant, which used both real time and in-depth interviews) and classroom observations were conducted in real time while at the school site and of the site during academic program field trips. The findings suggest that the efforts by the ESL teacher are solidifying ethnic-linguistic identity and creating opportunities for EL students through immeasurable success by stressing high achievement goals like less attrition, no in school suspension, attend leadership training events, strong desire to exit the ESL program and be ready academically for high school, willingness to maintain a specific grade point average in order to remain in Mrs. Gomez's academic program. Despite these successes in the ESL classroom the school needs greater support for the EL population, which might include greater awareness and celebration of the linguistic diversity in the school, inclusive parent-involvement, hiring more linguistic diverse teachers that match the school's minority teacher-student ratio, re-evaluate native-born ELs that do not exit ESL, establish an inclusive school wide academic program, re-evaluate the 45-minute block of ESL instruction, and finally create a communal (online) space where frustrations and concerns can be vetted by students and parents. Despite these challenges, the ESL instruction of Mrs. Gomez is showing that it is making a difference in the lives of ELs. I also discuss that efforts by a handful of ESL advocates is not sustainable and ultimately the academic program and student population might suffer.




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