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How White Literacy Teachers Committed to Racial Justice Perceive Relationships Between Race, Expectations for Classroom Talk and Behavior, and Student Learning

Dale, Meghan (2022) How White Literacy Teachers Committed to Racial Justice Perceive Relationships Between Race, Expectations for Classroom Talk and Behavior, and Student Learning. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation documents the beliefs and practices of four White in-service English Language Arts (ELA) teachers who identified as dedicated to racial justice. Teacher participants were recruited using the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Urban Education Summer Educator Forum’s (CUESEF) listserv, as well as word of mouth recruitment. Teachers were asked to complete a pre-study questionnaire and engage in a series of three interviews. The first two interviews asked teachers to describe their schools, classrooms and students, while the third interview asked teachers to respond to four hypothetical classroom scenarios intended to simulate teachers’ real-world classroom interactions. Drawing on research about racially inequitable classroom discipline, raciolinguistics, and race-centered teaching practices, I analyzed participants’ talk and beliefs about race, racism, literacy teaching and learning, and expectations for classroom talk and behavior. My findings show that teachers were critically aware of broader systemic issues, were developing their race-consciousness through reading and listening practices, encouraged race-talk in their classrooms, diversified their instructional materials, and were engaged in non-punitive classroom management practices. My findings also indicated that White teachers dedicated to racial justice can and do still hold colorblind ideologies and racial biases, including teachers’ understanding of dialect diversity, discomfort with critically discussing their own White racial identity, and racialized perceptions of students’ talk and behavior. While many studies have investigated the ways in which White teachers can perpetuate racial inequities in schools, or the ways in which White teachers can and do engage in effective race-conscious practices, this study found that White teachers’ race-conscious work is an ongoing and complex process. Ultimately, while the teachers shared critical examinations of race and racism, teachers also indicated areas that might benefit from further critical self-reflection. In other words, the themes in my study show the nuance of this work and how White teachers’ race-conscious pedagogy can include critical and race-conscious practice, as well as beliefs and practices linked to structural racism. Implications for this study include professional development and research that considers the complex nature of White teachers’ race-conscious development, particularly when engaging with White teachers who identify as dedicated to racial justice.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Dale, Meghanmed78@pitt.edumed780000-0001-9095-6468
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGodley,
Committee MemberCunningham,
Committee MemberBartow-Jacobs,
Committee MemberGoodkind,
Committee MemberThompson-Dorsey,
Date: 2 September 2022
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 22 June 2022
Approval Date: 2 September 2022
Submission Date: 4 August 2022
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 221
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Instruction and Learning
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Literacy Teaching and Learning, Race, Anti-Racism, White Teachers
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2022 18:03
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2022 15:23


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