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The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children
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The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,200 ratings  ·  76 reviews
Education, like electricity, needs a conduit, a teacher, through which to transmit its power-- i.e., the discovery and continuity of information, knowledge, wisdom, experience, and culture. Through the stories and experiences of eight successful teacher-transmitters, The Dreamkeepers keeps hope alive for educating young African Americans.

--ReverAnd Jesse L. Jackson, presi
Paperback, 187 pages
Published January 29th 1997 by Jossey-Bass (first published January 29th 1993)
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 ·  1,200 ratings  ·  76 reviews

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Apr 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: teaching, non-fiction
Gloria Ladson-Billings spent two years observing highly effective teachers in an underprivileged, predominantly african-american district. She asked parents and administrators to list teachers they considered highly effective, then chose the names that appeared on both lists. She uses anecdotes from those observations, interwoven with her own memories, to distill several hallmarks of culturally relevant teaching. In brief, they come down to this: 1) Treat your students with respect. 2) Remember ...more
Craig Werner
Jun 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'll begin by saying that Gloria Ladson-Billings is a colleague whose work has had a major and constructive impact on the field of urban and multicultural education. Her notion of culturally relevant pedagogy works better than any other approach I've encountered in approaching the real life needs of diverse classrooms. Although the title emphasizes the relevance to African American children, culturally relevant pedagogy can be extended to all different sorts of classroom situations. Without mini ...more
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Mostly just shocked that it's taken me seven years in education-as-social-justice to read this cover to cover (id read many chapters and excerpts before). We're reading it as part of onboarding our 2016 teachers and it's SO good. Not sure how "possible" it would've felt as a brand new teacher, so that's why I'm reading Crossing Over Into Canaan next - also about culturally relevant teaching, but with a focus on new teachers. Definitely glad I read and recommend for all education peeps! ...more
I read the second edition. After participating in two professional development sessions with Dr. Billings between January and June this year, I finally got a chance to finish the book this week. It was excellent, and I learned a lot that I can take with me in my role as a library paraeducator. I can't stop thinking about the different ways the teachers highlighted in the book exhibited mastery in culturally relevant teaching. Many other reviewers said these were "just" examples of good teaching. ...more
Jan 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wonderfully written narratives about these dreamkeepers. The methodology was well grounded and very interesting for those engaged in researching educators. A lot to think about after this read.
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education
A wonderful exploration and analysis of what is needed to be a successful teacher of African American students. This text explores several case-studies but adds a meaningful organization of themes that helps the aspiring and practicing teacher recognize what areas of competency and understanding are needed. Strength-based, truthful, and inspirational; I wish I had found this earlier in my teaching career.
Jul 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: made-me-think
Ladson-Billings writes about eight teachers whose culturally relevant teaching practices have proven successful at helping African American children achieve excellence. I appreciated the structure of the chapters, as well as the snapshots of effective teaching demonstrated in creative ways. Although these observations were from 1988-1990, these approaches to teaching remain relevant today.
Jul 25, 2008 rated it really liked it
an easy yet powerful read. good for teachers, non -teachers, anyone remotely interested in social justice. from the beginning she works from the understanding that race is important. maybe we should all be "equal", but we're not, and pretending everything is balanced is a disservice to children, especially african american children. very good. there's hope. ...more
Aug 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent book for anyone who wants to understand what it means to be a teacher. There is so much more to education that teachers commit to; they must become allies and saviors, disciplinarians and nurturers, and do so while understanding that each child—no matter their race, gender, or family background—is different and deserves a chance to excel.
Meredith Martelli
Jun 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I write this review as a white woman who will be teaching in an African American school in the fall. I was recommended this book and I am generally pleased with what I learned. However, I think that taking time to really reflect and write about my reading experience is crucial. While reading, I actually started to feel pressure and anxiety. How can I be as good as these women the author highlights? I am not ready. I am not strong enough. I am not smart enough. My implicit bias is too blinding. W ...more
“No challenge has been more daunting than that of improving the academic achievement of African American students. Burdened with a history that includes the denial of education, separate and unequal education, and relegation to unsafe, substandard inner-city schools, the quest for quality education remains an elusive dream for the African American community. However, it does remain a dream—perhaps the most powerful for the people of African descent in this nation.”

Gloria Ladson-Billings is curr
Sep 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book highlights the stories of successful teachers of culturally relevant pedagogy, including the characteristics they embodied and the strategies they used with their students in their classrooms. I really appreciated the values and ideas of culturally relevant pedagogy put forth in these stories, especially as they are so important and still resonate for teachers in the field today. I think focusing on specific exemplary teachers and classroom experiences takes away from the bigger struct ...more
Maddie Carter
Jul 19, 2022 rated it really liked it
I was given this book at work, it’s a great eye opener for someone who has no ties to education. The book re iterates how important it is for a teacher to build their students confidence, demand excellence from ALL students (like a coach would to an athlete), and how a successful school runs on connection. It’s important for teachers to get to know their students interests & hobbies, and then combining these findings with their curriculum plans to create something called “culturally relevant tea ...more
Read for one of the worst education classes ever. (That may contribute to some negative feelings.) The book is definitely interesting, and is a great one for sparking discussion. (Something that was sorely lacking from my class.) I do think that it's a bit dated, and I would really like to see something more current assigned to help put it into context. Sadly, I don't think that much has improved systemically since Ladson-Billings' work was first published. ...more
Sep 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great read. For many it affirms what you're doing is right, for others it challenges how you practice teaching, you ask questions you will get answers, you will change some things and you'll understand your students better. Truly this book is written for all and all students can benefit from the knowledge gained from it. ...more
One of the better books I've had to read for class - it's a little dated at this point (I would love to see an updated study in a similar vein as this), but worth the read. Some of Ladson-Billing's tenets for successful teachers of African American children seem obviously, but they are worth saying, and so well-put. And her research argues her case nicely. ...more
Christopher Garrett
I have this book 3 stars just based on the old content. The teaching practices are great and I highly suggest this for anyone who teaches children of color. It opened my eyes to many things I wish I did while in the classroom to build a stronger community and establish stronger relationships with my scholars and families.
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such am important book. I’ll be weaving this content into my courses and looking for a way to get it in as a required reading. An ideal book for anyone who work in any capacity with African American students.
Sam Kiff
Nov 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
This was for EDC 404 - Intro to Teaching at my school! The book is great. I love the ideas behind culturally responsive teaching. It’s a sound teaching method, and Aladdin-Billings does a great job at showing that through numerous examples.
Kathleen Daley
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book and many of the classroom suggestions the author discussed. However, I felt most of the ideas are applicable to all students, rather than any one particular race.
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Especially poignant for teachers but a thoughtful for anybody who wants to understand more about cultural literacy in a charged climate. Well-written and full of humanity.
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was already excited to become a teacher, but after reading this book I'm inspired to work even harder to become a great teacher. ...more
Laura Mansfield
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This should be a required read for all teachers.
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I needed this for school. Very insightful and will hopefully help with my research.
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very informative! Great content!
Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Finally got to read this and really took a lot from her rich descriptions of effective teachers.
Teuta Selimi
Jul 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Every new teacher should read this book!
T Crockett
Aug 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
One of the more practically useful (and readable) education texts I've been assigned. ...more
Hope Willert
Would definitely recommend for any and all teachers!
Anna Heffron
May 24, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Incredible and useful work in thinking about how to teach students from marginalized backgrounds.
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