A fourth-grade teacher's classroom perspective

Mildred Ruth Portney, Florida International University


Countless books have been written about what is good and what is bad about our educational system. No matter what the book or what the theory, all agree the classroom teacher is critical to the education process. Many influences affect classroom teaching, some of which are beyond her control, but a caring classroom teacher has a central role in the instruction of children The purpose of this case study was to inquire into the beliefs and behaviors of one elementary school teacher in a low socio-economic school and study her classroom perspective. This teacher of five years was a reading specialist and was teaching a full fourth grade curriculum for the first time. Because she suffered from math phobia, she was apprehensive about teaching mathematics. This qualitative study required intense, time-consuming interviews, long and frequent observations, critical journaling, field notes and artifacts provided by the teacher. The resulting descriptive data was coded into categories and reassembled into themes that captured the essence of the teacher's beliefs. The overarching themes found were: first, the teacher's caring attitude towards her students, cultivated by her affectionate family, her mother who is an elementary school teacher, and rich and rewarding elementary school experiences, second, her implementation of the curriculum, influenced by her passion for reading, her math phobia, and standardized tests and third, her attitudes toward her workplace, school administrators and collegiality among teachers. During the school year this teacher “owned” her classroom and was a full participant in its life! Her dedication to teaching was fostered by the satisfaction of knowing she has a profound impact and makes a significant difference in her students' lives. This study suggested areas for further research on the following topics: consideration of teachers with math phobia, the effect of standardized tests on areas of the curriculum and the value of computers in the elementary school classroom.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Elementary education|Teacher education

Recommended Citation

Portney, Mildred Ruth, "A fourth-grade teacher's classroom perspective" (1999). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI9952374.