Date

2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Teaching, Learning, and Technology

First Adviser

Sawyer, Laura B.

Other advisers/committee members

Gorski, Paul C.; Beachum, Floyd D.; Hammond, Thomas C.

Abstract

Historically, students of color, learners with special needs, non-English speakers, etc. are at risk for underperforming academically and behaviorally in school. To meet the needs of these marginalized populations and ensure academic and behavioral success for all students, it is necessary for teachers to develop equity literacy (EL). Equity literacy is the knowledge, skills, and awareness needed to provide equitable opportunities in the school setting. A great body of research has linked teacher efficacy with improved student performance. Yet little is known about how teachers develop efficacy regarding equity concepts. In this case study, a group of four teacher-leaders worked within a hybrid Community of Practice (CoP) and Professional Learning Community (PLC) called an Equity Council (EC) to develop their abilities to address inequities in school. Qualitative methods were utilized to determine a) how participation in an EC affected teachers’ understanding and application of EL concepts, b) the degree of self-efficacy (SE) teacher leaders felt after participating in an EC and c) what processes of the EC promoted EL development. Results suggested that participants experienced EL growth in their abilities to recognize some barriers to equity but their ability to respond to and redress school-wide inequities was impacted by their inability to recognize other barriers. Additionally, participants’ SE was generally related to perceptions of other colleagues’ (i.e., non-EC members) receptivity. The processes of the EC format that enabled EL development were a) opportunities to work in small-groups to promote trust and sharing of ideas, b) storytelling to enable perspective-taking and inform problem-solving and c) face-to-face communication. Implications for utilizing ECs as methods for increasing teachers’ EL in practice included a) disrupting deficit thinking, b) engaging in long-term EC dialogue, and c) providing support systems to build the efficacy, knowledge, and skills for EC members take on leadership roles promoting EL concepts outside the EC.

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