International Journal of Social Policy & Education

ISSN 2689-4998 (print), 2689-5013 (online)

DOI: 10.61494/ijspe

More than Just “Filling a Bucket”: Inspiring Young Diverse Children to Grow and Thrive Through Culturally Sustaining Approaches

Beth Powers


This qualitative case study analyzes the perceptions and practices of a diverse group of three Head Start Teachers in relation to their work “managing” their classrooms and supporting Socio-Emotional learning development for their historically underserved young learners (i.e., nationality, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, language, etc.). To explore these areas, the author collected data through 1) surveys, 2) interviews, and 3) classroom observations using the Metropolitan Urban Education Culturally Responsive Classroom Management Model as a Conceptual Framework. Results indicate that although Head Start Teachers are required to use a behavioral classroom management method, they also engage in culturally relevant practices to facilitate social efficacy. While each teacher frames their own work differently, they do share a common sense of justice and commitment to supporting their students to grow socially and emotionally. From a liberatory perspective, this study emphasizes the critical role of the early childhood teacher in conversations on engendering justice, equity, and agency with young diverse children.