Publication Date


Degree Granted


Institution Granting Degree

University of Virginia


Regardless of increased standards created by policymakers, urban schools which serve higher populations of diverse and / or at risk students have continued to achieve at lower levels than national norms. The purpose of this study was to solicit the wisdom of exemplary teachers, recognized for their success in urban settings, to assess their perceptions of what teachers should know and do in order to positively impact student achievement within urban schools. The fundamental questions which guided this study were: 1.) What do exemplary teachers perceive teachers should know and be able to do in order to provide instruction in urban elementary classrooms? And, 2.) What curricula and practices do exemplary teachers perceive teacher preparation programs should employ in order to prepare teachers for service in urban elementary classrooms?

Ten exemplary teachers, identified as recipients of prestigious teaching awards, were interviewed for the study. According to the findings, factors that are widely known to be important for good teaching are absolutely critical for effective urban teaching.

Successful urban teachers are competent in the content they teach and utilize current educational literature, especially research relating to diversity in culture and learning theory, to improve their practice. Because urban children are more diverse in their ethnicity, race, wealth, life experiences, and other learning needs, urban teachers must be able to assess their students and differentiate instruction accordingly. Successful urban teachers possess extraordinary managerial skills because they do not solely rely on direct instruction; they have articulate procedures and routines in place so students can be working on different engaging tasks at the same time.

Successful urban teachers have the ability to seek support systems for themselves and their students. They collaborate with colleagues and ascertain community resources to form a network of support, consistency, and safety for their students.

Preparation for the complex work of serving in urban schools must begin the first year of college with candidates receiving numerous dissimilar field experiences supervised by master teachers. They must be able to reflect on their own personal values and, in turn, how to work with people who hold very different values.