Term of Award

Fall 2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Julie Maudlin

Committee Member 1

Wendy Chambers

Committee Member 2

Ming Fang He

Committee Member 3

Brian Schultz

Abstract

This study explores the experiences of four White teachers teaching in a high-minority school in Macon, Georgia. Emily, Deanna, Richard, and I have crossed racial boundaries to establish successful teaching careers as White teachers working with Black students. Using a curriculum of place (Casemore, 2008; Kincheloe & Pinar, 1991; Whitlock, 2007) and the combined methodologies of personal-passionate-participatory inquiry (He & Phillion, 2008) and portraiture (Lawrence-Lightfoot & Davis, 1997) I explore these experiences. The key research issues are: why do these teachers remain at this school and why are they successful when other White teachers are not. This inquiry draws upon several bodies of literature: the social construction of race (Apple, 2004; Frankenberg, 1993; Tatum, 2007), Whiteness (Apple, 2004; Frankenberg, 1993; Mills, 1997), White Privilege (McIntosh, 1988/1998), race's impact on education (Howard, 2006; Kunjufu, 2002; McLaren, 2007), characteristics of high poverty schools (Kozol, 1992; Kozol, 2005), teacher attrition (Ingersoll, 2001; Ingersoll, 2003), and culturally relevant pedagogy (Delpit, 2006; Gay, 2002; Gay, 2010; Howard, 2006; Ladson-Billings, 2010; Perry, 2000). Six utterances emerged from the research. White teachers who crossed the racial boundaries and established successful teaching careers chose to stay in that assignment because of a feeling of belonging and their role at Ocmulgee. To be a successful White teacher of Black students a teacher must develop meaningful relationships with students. These successful teachers relinquish their place as members of the ruling social class and become part of the children's culture rather than expecting the children to reflect their culture. All four participants worked to maintain high expectations for student performance in regards to behavior and academic success that were reflective of culturally relevant teaching practices. Developing relationships with students of a different race is easier to negotiate than the relationships of trust with their parents. The teachers in the study did not consider the race of their students as an important factor when thinking about their job at Ocmulgee Elementary School. This utterance is of particular importance since race is the primary focus of my inquiry. Teachers at Ocmulgee, and beyond, need to work to ensure that they are addressing the issue of race in productive ways so that racial problems are not perpetuated. The implications of this study extend beyond the walls of Ocmulgee Elementary School. All teachers regardless of their teaching assignment need to engage in conversations about race with their students, consider how the curriculum of place affects their experiences, build meaningful relationships with their students, and hold high expectations for all students.

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