A Culture-Focused Study with Accomplished Black Educators on Pedagogical Excellence for African American Children

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A Culture-Focused Study with Accomplished Black Educators on Pedagogical Excellence for African American Children
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english
Creator:
Acosta, Melanie Moore
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University of Florida
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Thesis/Dissertation Information

Degree:
Doctorate ( Ph.D.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Curriculum and Instruction, Teaching and Learning
Committee Chair:
ROSS,DORENE D
Committee Co-Chair:
BONDY,ELIZABETH
Committee Members:
RUSSELL-BROWN,KATHERYN
KORO-LJUNGBERG,MIRKA ELINA
LANE,HOLLY BARNES

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Subjects / Keywords:
african-americans -- black -- collaborative-inquiry -- culture -- emancipatory -- pedagogy -- students -- teacher-education -- teachers
Teaching and Learning -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
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Curriculum and Instruction thesis, Ph.D.
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theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

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Abstract:
In recent years, discussion over teacher quality has gained unprecedented attention considering the significant influence of teachers on the educational outcomes of African Americans and reports that point to the pervasive underachievement of Black students (Darling-Hammond, 2010). To address the pedagogical needs of African American learners, some educational researchers have rejected the seductive tendency to document damage, but rather intentionally showcase excellence in Black education. They have studied highly successful teachers of African American students, their teaching practices, beliefs, and self-efficacy. What emerged were rich descriptions, characterizations and interpretive frameworks of effective pedagogy, which constantly remind us that there are exceptional educators doing great things in African American education (Delpit, 2012; Hilliard, 2003). However, the strength of this work, which lies in its theoretical and philosophical core, is often underemphasized in many preparation programs (Gordon, 1997; Murrell, 2002) and even less well represented in the majority of classrooms across the country. This dissertation presents a conception of pedagogical excellence for African American learners as a way to help teachers and teacher educators understand the comprehensive nature of good teaching for Black children in America.  It builds on the effective pedagogy literature as well as research on effective Black educators, and is grounded in the cultural knowledge and perspectives of a group of community-nominated, accomplished African American educators. Results show that pedagogical excellence for African American students was more expansively understood when African American cultural knowledge is employed as a basis for analysis and interpretation of teacher perspectives and practice. Specifically, an expansive vision of pedagogical excellence emerged in which the successfully educator’s abiding sense of urgency was understood in political and cultural contexts and was situated as an active tool to promote student success. Explicitly connecting African American community perspectives and cultural knowledge to our understanding and articulation of effective pedagogy in many ways. The kind of pedagogical excellence described in this dissertation can be used to guide teacher educators who are working with prospective African American teachers, pre- and in-service teachers who are working to enact a pedagogy of excellence, and administrators and policy-makers who promote equity.
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In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
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Includes vita.
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Includes bibliographical references.
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Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
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This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Melanie Moore Acosta.
Thesis:
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2013.
Local:
Adviser: ROSS,DORENE D.
Local:
Co-adviser: BONDY,ELIZABETH.
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RESTRICTED TO UF STUDENTS, STAFF, FACULTY, AND ON-CAMPUS USE UNTIL 2014-06-30

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1 A CULTURE FOCUSED STUDY WITH ACCOMPLISHED BLACK EDUC ATORS ON PEDAGOGICAL EXCELLENCE FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN CHILDREN By MELANIE M. ACOSTA A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2013

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2 2013 Melanie M. Acosta

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3 To m y f amily

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The writing of this dissertation comes at a time of great transition in my life. I am forever grateful to God for his goodness, grace and mercy that has sustained me. I can recall many instances where the word of God specifically his pr omise that he would never leave nor forsake me, was the only thing about this dissertation that I was sure of. I am eternally thankful to my husband Antione. Words cannot express the level of love and admiration I have for you. I appreciate your patienc time doctoral studies in light of the fact that we have four children and are in a looming economic recession. This dissertation is as much yours as it is mine! I am also thankful to my amazing children Joseph, Jocelynn, Joshua and Julian. Your love and respect, as well as your inquisitive nature continually brothers, and a host of aunts, uncles, and cousins for your prayers and words of encouragement E specially to my brother Johnny thank you feeding me when I was too drained to cook, checking my work when I was too tired to focus, and listening to me when I thought no one else was. I would also like dissertation chair and also mentors who have been pivotal in my professional journey Finally, I must express my thanks to my community and the dynamic group of Black educators that worked with me in this project. Had it not been for your shared commitment to African American children, families, and communities this project would not have come to fruition. I am most thankful that this project is only the beginning of our relationship of commitment and service.

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5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 9 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 10 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 11 CHAPTER 1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM ................................ ................................ ......... 13 The State Of Black Education: An Urgent Crisis ................................ ..................... 13 Teacher Education: A Promising Strategy to Help End the Crisis in Black Education ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 19 Purpose of the Study ................................ ................................ .............................. 20 Research Question ................................ ................................ ................................ 21 Significance of the Study ................................ ................................ ........................ 21 Definition of Terms ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 23 Organization of the Study ................................ ................................ ....................... 24 2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE ................................ ................................ .................... 26 Ideological and Theoretical Shifts in Conceptualizing Improvement in African American Education ................................ ................................ ............................ 29 Discourse of Inferiority, Deficit, and Deprivation ................................ ............... 30 Discourse of Effective Schools ................................ ................................ ......... 32 Discourse of Effective Teaching ................................ ................................ ....... 34 Effective Teaching of African American Learners ................................ ................... 37 ................................ ................................ ...................... 38 Interpretive Frameworks ................................ ................................ ......................... 40 Culturally Relevant Pedagogy ................................ ................................ .......... 41 Warm Demander Pedagogy ................................ ................................ ............. 42 Effective Black Educators of African American Children ................................ ......... 46 Interpretive Frameworks ................................ ................................ ......................... 47 Historical Research on African American Schooling and Pedagogy ................ 47 Research on Black Educators ................................ ................................ .......... 48 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 52 3 METHODOLOGY ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 55 Theoretical Perspective ................................ ................................ .......................... 58 Phil osophical Influences on Epistemology ................................ ........................ 58 Philosophical Influences on Methodology ................................ ......................... 60

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6 Research Design ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 63 Rationale for Collaborative Inquiry ................................ ................................ ... 63 Description of Context ................................ ................................ ...................... 66 Participant Selection ................................ ................................ ......................... 68 Biographical Sketch ................................ ................................ .......................... 72 Data Collection ................................ ................................ ................................ 73 Processes ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 74 Tools research mee tings. ................................ ................................ ........... 75 Interactions ................................ ................................ ................................ 77 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 78 Phase one ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 79 Phase three ................................ ................................ ................................ 82 Research Validit y and Credibility ................................ ................................ ...... 84 Subjectivity ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 87 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 90 4 JOURNAL ARTICLE 1 ................................ ................................ ............................ 91 Summary of the Findings ................................ ................................ ........................ 91 Manuscript 1 ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 94 Through Our Ebony Eyes: African American Educator Perspectives on Pedagogical Excellence for African American Children ................................ ....... 94 Review of Related Literature ................................ ................................ ................... 96 Culturally Relevant Pedagogy ................................ ................................ .......... 97 Historical Research on African American Schooling ................................ ........ 99 Research on Black Educators ................................ ................................ ........ 101 Theoretical Framework ................................ ................................ ......................... 103 Methodology ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 104 Research Design ................................ ................................ ............................ 104 Participant Selection ................................ ................................ ....................... 105 Data Collection ................................ ................................ ............................... 108 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ 110 Phase one ................................ ................................ ................................ 110 Phase two ................................ ................................ ................................ 111 Phase three ................................ ................................ .............................. 113 Findings ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 114 ................................ ................................ ....... 116 Serving the Community by Teaching ................................ .............................. 122 There are No Excuses ................................ ................................ .................... 126 Discussion and Implications ................................ ................................ .................. 130 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 138 5 JOURNAL ARTICL E 2 ................................ ................................ .......................... 139 Implications for the Preparation of Urban Educators ................................ ......... 139 African American Pedagogy ................................ ................................ ................. 141

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7 ................................ ..................... 142 ................................ .................... 144 African American Cultural Knowledge ................................ ................................ .. 147 A Brief Note about Criteria for Effectiveness ................................ ......................... 148 Methodology ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 149 Participant Selection ................................ ................................ ....................... 152 Research Context ................................ ................................ ........................... 154 Data Collection ................................ ................................ ............................... 156 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ 157 Phase one ................................ ................................ ................................ 157 Phase two ................................ ................................ ................................ 158 Phase three ................................ ................................ .............................. 159 Validity and Credibility ................................ ................................ .................... 160 Findings ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 161 Purpose for Urgency ................................ ................................ ...................... 161 Valuing Education ................................ ................................ .......................... 162 Factors Contributing to Urgency ................................ ................................ ..... 166 The miseducation of Black children ................................ ......................... 166 .............................. 170 Discussion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 174 6 CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 180 Review of the Study ................................ ................................ .............................. 182 Summary of the Articles ................................ ................................ ........................ 186 Cultural Complexities of Teaching ................................ ................................ ..... 187 ct the Language of Difference to Allow Students to Culture in Teacher Education ................................ ................................ ............ 191 Considerations ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 194 Implications ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 196 School Leaders ................................ ................................ .............................. 196 Teacher Educators ................................ ................................ ......................... 198 Educational Researchers ................................ ................................ ............... 203 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 2 04 APPENDIX A INVITATION TO COMMUNITY GROUPS ................................ ............................ 206 B COMMUNITY FOCUS GROUP PROTOCOL ................................ ....................... 207 C LETTER TO POTENTIAL PARTICIPANTS ................................ .......................... 208 D SAMPLE RESEARCH MEETING AGENDA ................................ ......................... 209

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8 E VISUAL FRAMING ANALYSIS TOOL ................................ ................................ .. 210 F SUMMARY OF FINDINGS CHART ................................ ................................ ...... 211 G SAMPLE FRAMES FROM FRAMING ANALYSIS ................................ ................ 213 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 215 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 231

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9 LIST OF TABLES Table page 3 1 Demographics of the collective ................................ ................................ ........... 71 3 2 Data analysis procedures ................................ ................................ ................... 84 4 2 Demographics of the collective ................................ ................................ ......... 107 5 1 Demographics of the collective ................................ ................................ ......... 154

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10 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 2 1 Documented features of effective teaching of African American children ........... 45 2 2 Documented pedagogical characteristics of effective Black educators. ............. 51 2 3 Framework of pedagogical excellence for African American learners. ............... 52 3 1 Emancipatory theoretical perspective ................................ ................................ 64 3 2 Data collection processes implemented in the collaborative inquiry. .................. 76 3 3 Research collective ecology ................................ ................................ ............... 79 3 4 Data analysis knowledge flow. ................................ ................................ ............ 89

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11 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy A CULTURE FOCUSED STUDY WITH ACCOMPLISHED BLACK EDUCATORS ON PEDAGOGICAL EXCELLENCE FOR AFRICAN AMERICAN CHILDREN By Melanie M. Acosta December 2013 Chair: Dorene Ross Major: Curriculum and Instruction To address the pedagogical needs of African Ameri can learners, some educational researchers have rejected the seductive tendency to document damage, but rather intentionally showcase excellence in Black education. They have studied highly successful teachers of African American students, their teaching p ractices, beliefs, and self efficacy. What emerged were rich descriptions, characterizations and interpretive frameworks of effective pedagogy, which constantly remind us that there are exceptional educators doing great things in African American education (Delpit, 2012; Hilliard, 2003). However, the strength of this work, which lies in its theoretical and philosophical core, is often underemphasized in many preparation programs (Gordon, 1997; Murrell, 2002) and even less well represented in the majority of classrooms across the country This dissertation presents a conception of pedagogical excellence for African American learners as a way to help teachers and teacher educators understand the comprehensive nature of good teaching for Black children in Ameri ca. It builds on the effective pedagogy literature as well as research on effective Black educators, and is

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12 grounded in the cultural knowledge and perspectives of a group of community nominated, accomplished African American educators. Results show that pedagogical excellence for African American students is more expansively understood when African American cultural knowledge is employed as a basis for analysis and interpretation of teacher perspectives and practice. Specifically, an expansive vision of p edagogical excellence e merged in which the successful and was situated as an active tool to promote student success. Explicitly connecting African American community pers pectives and cultural knowledge enhances our understanding and articulation of effective pedagogy in many ways. The kind of pedagogical excellence described in this dissertation can be used to guide teacher educators who are working with prospective Africa n American teachers, pre and in service teachers who are working to enact a pedagogy of excellence, and administrators and policy makers who promote equity.

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13 CHAPTER 1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM The State Of Black Education: An Urgent Crisis The human potential of the Black population is underutilized (Freeman, 2005; Freeman, Camoy, Findlay, Joiner, Magyair Beck, 1999). As defined by Freeman et al., atching of abilities with tasks (underemployment) or the lack of use of talents (unemployment), which prevents Freeman (2005) further indicates that the underutilization of human potential for Black people occurs in education across four distinct periods; the transition to school, experiences within school, transition into the workforce, and experiences in the workforce. To illustrate this concept, consider the following example. Jamal is a five year old Black boy entering kindergarten for the first time in a midsized city with a large Black population. Jamal is excited and eager to do all the f school, Jamal is repeatedly reminded to raise his hand before he moves; he is discouraged from helping his classmates; and every time he speaks his language is corrected. As the school year progresses, the reminders turn into reprimands, and the reprima nds turn into behavior referrals. Jamal no longer wakes up excited to go to school. He carries this new dislike for school throughout his scholastic career, fueling disengagement and been placed in intensive remediation classes, which prevent him from pursuing his real passion for science and technology. After his third attempt on the latest high school

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14 competency exam, he drops out, finds a job at a local restaurant, and dreams of inventions and cures for diseases of which the world will never benefit. Unfortunately, the fictitious account above is the reality for many children of African descent across the United States (Boykin & Nougera, 2011). That schooling experiences are complicit in the Black underutilization of human potential is not surprising given the tenuous history of Black education in the United States and abroad (Anderson, 1988; Tyack, 1974; Woodson, 1933). As Darling Hammond (2005) writes, oric of education as the great equalizer, the school experiences of African American students in the United States continues to be substantially separate in dicative of the consequences of the crisis in Black education. Pervasive and debilitating, this crisis affects Black populations on the North American continent and abroad (Freeman, 2005). Reports on Black education confirm that neither Black boys nor gir ls fare well in American public schools (Boykin & Nougera, 2011). Black students are almost twice as likely as their White classmates to leave school before obtaining a high school diploma (Aud et al., 2010). In fact, in 2005, 52% of high school aged Black males dropped out of school as compared with 29% of White high schoolers (Education Week, 2008). Furthermore, Black children are disproportionately represented in lower academic tracks and special education classes. Corbett (2006) found that less than 4% of Black boys as compared to 21% of White boys are enrolled in gifted and talented

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15 exam ple, my 4th grade African American daughter has been in the gifted program at her school sin ce 2nd grade ( we have yet to see another Black female in the program despite the fact that Black students are 29.4% of the school population). Standardized assessm ent data from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) document similar results in underachievement. Reading assessment reports for 2009 indicate that nationally, U.S. Black fourth and eighth graders read below basic levels of proficiency (53% and 44% respectively as contrasted with 23% and 17% of White fourth and eighth graders). Math assessment results show that about half of the U.S. population of Black students in fourth and eighth grade score below basic levels of achievement. In contrast, about one fourth of White students in the same grade levels score below the basic level of achievement in math. These data warrant critical study of the educational experiences of African American students. The crisis in Black education is also evidenced in analysis of school infrastructure (resources, finance, hiring policies) and curricular factors (access to rigorous curriculum, delivery of curriculum, curriculum quality) Jonathan Kozol and Linda Darling Hammond, as well as others, provide provocative descriptions and examinations of the disparate conditions of predominantly Black and Hispanic urban schools and predominantly expressed outrage at inequities in school spending. Examining the state of New York, he pointed out that while New York City spent $11,627 on the education of each child in 2002 2003, the suburban towns of Manhasset spent $22,311, and Great Neck $19,705. pening right now in the poorest communities

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16 of America In turn, Darling Hammond (2010, 2005) addresses in equities in public s chools' most valuable resource, teachers. Her work reveals that schools serving large populations of Black children are least likely to offer the kind of curriculum and teaching needed to meet the new standards, have fewer qualified and experienced teachers, and the least amount of funds and resources to accommodate a school population with likely to find themselves in classrooms staffed by inadequately pre pared, inexperienced, and ill qualified teachers because funding inequities, distributions of local power, labor market conditions, and dysfunctional hiring practices conspire to produce teacher ack students receive a significantly lower quality of education in many school systems and are being victimized by substandard practices in American classrooms (Darling Hammond, 2010, 2005; King, 2005; Kozol, 2005; Murrell, 2003). Such conclusions are not aberrant, but reflect a worsening pattern of disinvestment in Black education. Further complicating academic challenges is the pervasive use of exclusionary discipline practices with Black students. In March 2012, the Office for Civil Rights found that Bla ck students are three and a half times more likely than their White peers to get suspended from school. Across the nation nearly one out of every six Black students (17%) was suspended at least once in 2009 10, compared to one in 20 White students (5%) (Ce nter for Civil Rights Remedies, 2011). Recent research notes the dangerous connection between use of exclusionary discipline practices and academic

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17 underachievement (Arcia, 2006; Davis & Jordan, 1994; Gregory, Skiba, & Noguera, 2010). Arcia (2006) followe d two demographically similar groups of children (matched on gender, race, grade level, family poverty, and limited English proficiency) for two years. The groups differed in the number of suspensions received by students in each group (one group received at least one suspension and the other group received no suspensions). He found that within two years, the suspended cohort was five years behind their nonsuspended peers in reading skills. He notes that though other risk factors may have contributed to di fferences between the suspended and nonsuspended groups, school suspensions may have initiated or maintained a process of alienation from the classroom and the learning process. Recently, Russell, Skiba, and Noguera (2010) concluded that over the course of time, school suspensions are a moderate to strong predictor of subsequent (high school dropout) and may contribute to the racial gaps in academic achievement between Black and White school children. Undoubtedly, these policies and practices as well as the disproportionate use of these practices with African American learners, constrain the efforts of many Black students who are seeking education through the public school system. g acceptance of Black student underachievement as a universal, unquestionable fact. For elementary school. At our first meeting, the principal shared results from the previo us ended her spiel by sharing that the school did not make adequate yearly progress

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18 m about ways to help students improve their achievement in those areas. There was no sense of outrage or concern, but rather a sense of emotional detachment from the situation al on to the next item of business. Similarly, I recently attended a forum where local politicians vied for the support of the Black community in a mid sized Florida city. One community member asked the school board incumbent to share what she would do to improve the education of Black children in the city. The incumbent, a two term member of the school beca use the school board was already doing an excellent job and what was really needed was more parent involvement and mentoring programs (keep in mind that elementary schools in this district that serve predominantly Black students have been cited as in need of improvement by the Florida Department of Education for the last eight years. This rating is based on student performance on the statewide Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test). Instances of racial ajustice such as these are all too common in the schoo ling experiences of Black youth. Russell Brown (2006) defines ajustice is hardly recognize d without careful examination (Russell Brown, 2006). Left unchecked these acts of ajustice do not disappear; their impact is far reaching and limit the capacity for educational reform designed to significantly improve the educational success of Black scho ol children the world over.

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19 The education of Black people is in a state of crisis, yet there are some who remain oblivious. There are those who choose not to get involved, and there are those who ignore it altogether. Academic underachievement, structural inequities, subjective disciplinary measures, and disregard are but outward manifestations of a deeper, ideological emergency that outlines and continues to characterize Black education in dehumanizing ways. Under these circumstances, the education of Bla ck school children will never fulfill its historic purpose (Perry, 2003), and the world will never come to benefit from the invaluable contributions of the Black population. Teacher Education: A Promising Strategy to Help End the Crisis in Black Education Some researchers have given considerable attention to the education and schooling experiences of African American children. They have studied success in Black education, which has produced culture centered perspectives on improving educational outcomes fo r Black children. For example, in the field of Psychology, notable Black psychologists, challenge behaviorist theories of learning and articulate the connections between sociocultural contexts and human cognition; now widely recognized in brain based learn ing (Lee, 2005). These scholars call attention to the influential role that prior knowledge, cultural artifacts, belief systems, and social interactions play in teaching and learning processes. Similarly, researchers such as Irvine (1990), Ladson Billing s (1994), Lee (1993), Tate (1996), and others, have studied teacher pedagogy and revealed the insights and wisdoms of practice used by exemplary teachers of African American students. Conclusively, the idea that good teaching for Black children is predicat ed on a cultural connection emerges. This perspective suggests that the intentional implementation of pedagogy connected to the

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20 cultural integrity, cultural history, and political context of Black people offers the most productive solution to end the perva sive trend in Black educational underachievement. Though this literature is widely available, it is not widely used by teacher educators or in teacher education programs. Moreover, when teacher educators do attempt to incorporate the elements of this rese arch into their courses, most skim from the top and leave their students swimming in the shallow end of the knowledge pool. That is, many teacher educators do not explicitly connect culture to pedagogy holistically in ways that build on the cultural ethos that shapes teaching and learning. As a result, prospective and practicing teachers have limited knowledge of how to demonstrate pedagogical excellence for their African American students. Purpose of the Study The purpose of this research project is to work with community nominated, accomplished African American educators of African American children to understand the cultural influences on their teaching of Black children. Previous studies of successful teaching of African American children (Ladson Bil lings, 2009), the history of African American schooling and pedagogy (Siddle Walker, 1996) and of Black teachers (Foster, 1997) provide a basis for the current study in its implications about the role of culture in teaching Black American children well. T he present study is distinctive because it foregrounds African American cultural knowledge as a significant factor in effective pedagogy for African American children. It seeks to use African American culture to provide the necessary context for descriptio ns and perspectives of African American accomplished practice. Enabling these African American perspectives to frame the current study is important for adding to the existing literature of effective pedagogy for Black children throughout the Diaspora. More importantly, centering this study on the

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21 views, beliefs, and values in some African American communities dislodges dominant perspectives about effective teaching that omit cultural considerations. Making cultural connections explicit in teaching also cre ates much needed space for the articulation of theories and philosophies about education that are grounded in social justice perspectives Research Question This research study will address the following question: 1) How do African American teachers collec tively describe and analyze the cultural influences on their pedagogy with African American children? Significance of the Study In order to promote learning, inquiry, and achievement in classrooms populated by Black children, teachers must understand Afr ican American culture, history, and experience so as to build on it in the classroom learning environment (King, Hollins, & Hayman, 1996; Ladson Billings, 2004; Murrell, 2003). Those of us bold enough to declare our concern about the education of Black chi ldren must recognize the transformative potential of research by working alongside African American people and building on their philosophical perspectives in Black educational studies (King, 2008; Smith, 1999; Tuck, 2009 ). This research project employed a qualitative, culture focused approach in thinking about effective teaching for African American children. Research continues to document the critical role of classroom teachers in the education and schooling of children, particularly African American chil dren. Therefore, researchers must act responsively by shaping and refining the knowledge and literature base. It is also the hope that this work will continue the examination of the ways that culture significantly influences the work of good teachers at the level of consciousness

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22 and ideology. In this way, the educational community can reconstruct models of culturally influenced teaching that are comprehensive and offer teachers expansive interpretive frameworks that account for the complexity and psych ological depth involved in educating African American children well. While this study alone is hardly capable of such outcomes, it may help to direct more attention towards culture in teaching and learning and furthering our understanding of the philosoph ical attributes of effective pedagogy for African American children. This approach to education reform has the potential to actualize the dream of educational excellence for all children of African descent. Finally, it is hoped that this work will reiterate the invaluable impact of African American educators, teacher educators, and scholars in ending the crisis in Black education. Siddle educators into the story of educational equity in the U quite accurately that adding Black educators back into the story would complicate our simplistic understanding of education for African American children. She stated this is so because African American teachers have an expans ive vision of educational quality and equity for African American children, which includes an educational equity and pedagogy agenda. The present study builds on Siddle importance of African American educator knowledge and perspe ctives and seeks to highlight some of the cultural insights that undergird successful pedagogical enactment. Such a project is indeed an ambitious task, and I readily admit my shortcomings. However, it may well be that through efforts such as this that we can begin to bring the crisis in Black education to an end.

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23 Definition of Terms African American cultural heritage : The history of the African American experience that documents how African American people have persistently challenged and transformed mains tream cultural norms and practices that devalue and dehumanize people (King, 1994). African American cultural knowledge: Includes the skills, awareness, and competence that permit Black people to participate meaningfully in their culture in all of its cha nging regional and socioeconomic variations. Can also be referred to as cultural competence (King, 1994). Axiology: values or value system. Also defined as the study of the nature of values and value judgments or the branch of philosophy dealing with values, as those of ethics, aesthetics, or religion (Lincoln & Guba, 2005). Black : The use of the term Black in this study refers to persons of African ancestry throughout the Diaspora includi ng the Caribbean, the United States, and European countries. It will be used interchangeably with terms such as African American, Black American, of African descent, and of African ancestry. Culture that emerges from their grappling with nature and living with other humans in a collective group (King, 1994). Culture centered perspectives/pedagogy/research: Repre sents perspectives that suggest educational approaches to transform the society and/or the educational process in honor community and cultural integrity. Pedagogy and research that incorporate an indigenous conception of cultural knowledge that reflects, values, and respects the integrity of indi genous African American culture must include socia l criticism as an important academic skill (King, 1994). Cultural Knowledge : refers to those learned behaviors, beliefs, and ways of relating to people and the environment that members of a cultural group acquire through normal processes of enculturation ( King, 1994). Process building Methodology: Providing multiple opportunities to engage, participate, share, affirm, and produce knowledge and the generation of theory from everyday shared realities by allowing participants to reflect on their own individual experience, and thereby, make connections with the shared experiences of other through dialogue for the purpose of making society m ore just for future generations ( Hill & King, 2005) Teacher effectiveness (literature based): Includes helping African Ameri can students master academic standards (including high performance on standardized testing). Also includes helping students develop cultural

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24 competence (includes knowledge if heritage, knowledge of self, and sense of purpose). The word effectiveness will be used interchangeably with the terms successful, accomplished, exemplary, exceptional, and good in describing teachers who help African American students achieve educational excellence (Dubois, 1935; Ladson Billings, 1995; Woodson, 1933). Teacher effectiveness (parent generated): Good teachers of African American children are those who challenge my child ( ren) to do the best they can everyday. They show my child ( ren) how to complete their work and provide one on one support for my child ( ren ) when necessary. Good teachers are tough with my child (ren) but are always caring, fair and honest. They listen to me and maintain open communication with me whether it is good or bad news. Good teachers believe that my child ( ren) can be successful a child ( ren) slide child ( ren) will grown up and live in. Good teachers are an extension of my family and my community. Western/Ethnocentric Research Paradigms: Dominant research establish ment perspectives, beliefs, or practices of the mainstream culture that adhere to supposedly scientific, objective, and politically neutral practice, which constitute, by contrast, non culturally affirming knowledge production practices, methods, and theor ies (King, 2005). Organization of the Study This dissertation is divided into six chapters. Chapter 1 describes the current situation of Black education and established the need for the current study. Chapter 2 details the relevant research related to effe ctive pedagogy for African Amer ican learners. The purpose of C hapter 2 is to situate the study in the literature and reveal the distinctive qualities of this study. Chapter 3 explains the research methodology t hat led to my findings. Chapter 4 and Chapte r 5 include journal articles that describe those findings. Chapter 4 presents an expansive vision of effective pedagogy for African American students, or pedagogical excellence, connected to the unique African American cultural heritage, while Chapter 5 ad dresses one particular ideological influence on African American pedagogical excellence. Finally, Chapter 6 is a discussion of the findings and its implications for research and practice. At its heart, this study is a detailed account of how culture and c ommunity can be used as tools in a

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25 transformative Black education agenda (King, 2005) and the larger social justice project. This dissertation serves the additional purpose of making the connections between culture and pedagogy more explicit and promoting community empowerment and action. The outcomes are dependent on the cultural knowledge embedded an African American community conception of teacher quality and reflect its concerns and interests.

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26 CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE What does it mean to te ach African American children well? How do African American teachers instruct black children in ways that enable them to achieve excellence in education? These two enduring questions define my focus as an emerging scholar. I have long recognized the cont radiction between the way school officials typically define the role of Yet, I never dedicated much thought to critically studying these differences or why they matt ered for the children I ser ve until I started mentoring other teachers. Shortly after I took leave from my position as a third grade teacher in a predominantly African American elementary school in Florida to nurture my then infant son, I began my doctoral studies. The previous school year I had served as a mentor teacher to a young, white female student teacher, Rebecca, 1 from the local university. She was a very diligent student who did not mind staying late and working hard, and we quite easily developed a friendship. We obse constructive feedback. We planned lessons together and she had numerous opportunities to experiment under my careful supervision and guidance. I comforted and encouraged her when her first formal teaching observation by the university supervisor did not go as well as she had hoped, and she helped me refine the way I used technology in the classroom. We talked every day after school, reflecting on the day and making plans for the next. Our third graders excelled in so man y ways and so did she. I do not share this to boast about my abilities as a mentor teacher (because I made 1 Name has been changed

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27 many mistakes), but to merely describe the environment in which Rebecca was situated. She did so well as an intern she was offered a full time, fourt h grade teaching position with same group of third graders she had taught in my classroom. As she taught her first year, we talked a lot, either by telephone or email. She shared how things were going in the classroom and provided me with updates about t he children. so different and pleaded for my help and advice on how to get the students to behave the way they had just a few months before as third graders. I liste ned intently and responded with what I thought were sure fire tips and strategies to improve the situation these same students and they worked beautifully. Unfortunat ely nothing I suggested worked, and we were both clueless as to why the things I recommended were unsuccessful for her. The more Rebecca questioned, the less I could explain or offer. I had no coherent way to explain why I taught the way I did, why my stud ents performed with me the way they did, or even how I went about making those in the moment was just in my nature and I had a special gift that she obviously didn was certainly not the case). I bega n to question my own practice, in ways that Rebecca could replicate, or at the least understand reduced my pedagogy to proverbial wisdoms with no theoretical and intellectual backbone. I never believed for a moment that Rebecca was not capable of enacting the same kind of pedagogy I demonstrated in the classroom. She was able to observe me

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28 in action and ask me questions, but she, and I, needed more. What was missing was an explicit metacognitive deconstruction, on my part, of the ideological and theoretical underpinnings of the pedagogy that appeared simple in observation. We both needed to be able to connect pedagogy to larger cultural, social, and political tene ts in order for me to fully explicate theory and in order for her to understand the scope of the critical elements needed to successfully teach African American students. Not fully understanding the bounds of my own teaching was my greatest error as a mentor teacher, and one that bears explicit attention from the educational community. My intern finished out the year as best she could, but moved to a different school the next school year. She is still teaching, and we still keep in touch. This past summer Rebecca sent me a text message sharing that she was awarded Teacher of the Year at her school, and she thanked me. She said my way of teaching influenced her as a teacher in more study of African American pedagogy. What are the ways that African American teachers teach that move children of African descent to success? How does the current literature base describe this pedagogy and is it consistent with African American community standards of educational excellence? In Chapter 2 I will examine the literature on effect ive pedagogy for African American students. This analysis involves studying different and overlapping literature bases. First, I trace the paradigmatic shifts in the way Black student improvement has been conceptualized. Next, I discuss the literature on effective teaching of African American children, synthesizing the characteristics across different interpretive

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29 frameworks. Finally, I will end with an in depth review of the literature on successful African American teachers of African American students, outlining salient conceptual features. Taken together, some of the literature on effective teaching of African American children and the research on effective African American teachers present a distinctive way of teaching that I recognize as pedagogica l excellence. This review of connections to, extensions of, and distinctions from the research presented. Ideological and Theoretical Shifts in Conceptualizing Improvement in African American Education Since the emancipation of enslaved Africans from legalized slavery, many have concerned themselves with Black education (Anderson, 1988). In the early years, northern philant hropists and missionary groups endeavored to provide means for educating Black people; and in more recent years, educational researchers and school leaders have theorized frameworks to improve the education of minorities, including Blacks. Systemic improve ments in African American education are intricately connected to the dominating theories about the intellectual capacity and life condition of African American individuals and communities. This section will provide a brief history of the shifting ways educ ators and researchers have conceptualized the challenges in educating African American children. This historical overview is necessary to understand why significant emphasis is placed on the classroom teacher in the present study. This examination is organ ized chronologically and identified by the educational discourse (labels) dominating the era.

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30 Discourse of Inferiority, Deficit, and Deprivation As early as the 1800s, theories regarding the educability of enslaved Africans were circumscribed by a discour se of genetic or biological inferiority (Anderson, 1988; Kaestle, 1983; Woods, 1998). It was theorized that African American people were mentally inferior by nature, and, as such, attempts to improve the mental capacity of Black people through formal tra ining were of little use. This ideology had grave implications for the education of African Americans, and empiricism was used as a mechanism to justify slavery and educational exclusion (Woods, 1998). Researchers sought to provide evidence supporting a b iological based racial hierarchy, in which people of African descent were at the bottom not as a result of racial discrimination, but as the result of nature (Wynter, 2003). This view of African American people as a biological tumor on an otherwise health (Myrdal, 1944). Though this was during the time before the advent of free public schooling, it is still significant in the history of African American education because it characterizes the ideological discourse of intellectual inferiority, in which the challenges of educating African American people were viewed as inherent in the individual. Tyack (1974) figuratively cap black was normally t o have been labeled a failure, an inferiority all too often justified by as a catalys t for the Eugenics movement of the early 1900s, and the proliferation of intelligence testing in education, which made it easy to locate the cause of school failure in the child (Tyack, 2007, 1974).

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31 As demands for civil rights and democracy created more ed ucational opportunities for African Americans, so too did the disciplines of anthropology, sociology, and linguistics shift the ideological discourse about how to improve the educational achievement of African Americans (Hollins, 1994). Around the 1960s, the ideological discourse shifted from biological or genetic deficiency to cultural depravity in thinking about the challenges to be addressed in educating Black American children. These theories were fueled by sociological and linguistic research, which p roduced a number of models characterizing African American families and communities as abnormal, and culturally void (Hollins, 1994). In these models, the cultural and experiential backgrounds of African American, and other low income children were measur ed by their proximity to European American socialization, and were subsequently regarded as inadequate. For example, Orr (1987) employed the linguistic deficit approach in her study of African American language and math performance. Her work posited a cor relation between African American English and difficulties in English lacks some necessary linguistic content that is essential to educational success. Within this discourse descent were connected to theories about the life condition and experiences of African American children. Thus educational improvement was rooted in programs designed to compensate for the Blac 1994; King, 1994). The deficit discourse pervasive at this time also represents another shift in African American education, which validated the existence of a sociocultural context of lear ning. Through the intertwining of sociological and linguistic research,

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32 scholars advanced the perspective that culture influences how children learn, which led to a growth of studies about different learning styles (Hollins, 1994). Discourse of Effectiv e Schools Prior to 1971, efforts aimed at positively changing the education and life course of African American children were grounded in ideological theories suggesting that the gical inferiority) and the family and community (cultural deprivation and cultural deficit). Though the idea that culture somehow influenced learning was part of the latter discussion, improvement was connected to a focus on identifying deficiencies in Af rican Americans and communities and providing compensatory supports. Beginning in the 1970s, notable studies were conducted which changed the conception of improving educational achievement of Black children from a discourse of deficit to a discourse of e ffective schools. inner city children. Examination included four public elementary schools in the U.S., all of which had a high population of low income children of color (t wo African American, one Puerto Rican, and one Mexican American). The findings concluded that children could become proficient readers if their public schools offered encouragement. Findings further identified eight variables which seemed to contribute to the success of these programs, which included: strong leadership, high expectations, a good atmosphere, strong emphasis on reading, additional personnel, use of phonics, individualization and careful evaluation of pupil progress. Edmonds (1979) study foll owed this ideological shift and specified characteristics of effective schools and school leadership for low income learners in urban schools. He

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33 highlighted strong administrative leadership, high expectations for student learning, discipline and school o rder, basic skill acquisition, and monitoring of student progress through measured benchmarks of standards as key factors in effective schools. nature of the school in which they are sent than it derives from the nature of the family Since these findings, research has continued to demonstrate that given the appropriate school environment and climate, African American children are capable of high a cademic success (Alston, 2004; Bell, 2001; Milner, 2006; Scheurich, 1998). These findings echo arguments made by countless African American parents, community members, and intellectuals currently and in previous decades, and led W.E.B. Dubois in 1935 to d eclare, Does the Negro need separate schools? God knows he does. But what he needs more than separate schools is a firm and unshakable belief that twelve million American Negroes have the inborn capacity to accomplish just as much as any nation of twelve million anywhere in the world ever accomplished, and that this is not because they are Negroes but because they are human. (Dubois, 1935, p. 333) While these studies do not directly discuss classroom instruction and practice, they are important because the y mark the theoretical shift in how educators and researchers approached improving African American education. The discourse of effective schools offered a more expansive ecological view of student success, in which the school played a critical role. Eq ually important, the discourse on effective schools shifted the focus from pinpointing the challenges in educating Black children, to identifying and documenting places of educational success for Black children. This change is important because it implicit ly suggests that African American students are

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34 not deviant and inferior, as once understood, but are capable of high levels of performance (Ladson Billings, 2009). Discourse of Effective Teaching The final discourse discussed in this section is a contin uation of the effective schools discourse that states that African American educational outcomes are significantly enhanced by restructuring schools to better meet their needs. However, it shines a light on one particular school factor teachers. The disc ourse of effective teachers is based on the assumption that individual teachers, as well as schools, are implicated in the educational success or failure of African American children. This discourse also assumes that it is more promising to identify avenue s of success in African American education, examine those successes, and then replicate them on a larger scale (Hilliard, 2003, 1995). In the following section, brief discussion will be given to those key studies that serve as benchmarks in the expansion o f the discourse on effective schools to include effective teachers. Studies from the Institute of Research on Teaching (IRE) ushered in a new paradigm of educational research using ethnographic methods to study teaching. These approaches specifically atte nded to the ways teacher thinking shaped instruction and student outcomes as well as its connection to the work of effective teachers. This is important because prior to this, educational policymakers and scholars concerned about educational equity and imp rovement did not see much need for research on teaching or a need to upgrade the quality of the teaching profession. Teachers were either viewed as weak links in the educational process to be circumvented or as technicians to be programmed. In the late 19 80s, perspectives about teaching and needed improvements in the education of urban, low income children changed. It was now thought that the

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35 key to success in low income and urban diverse schools was the creation of a profession of well educated teachers prepared to assume new responsibilities and redesign schools for the future (Porter & Brophy, 1988). Additionally, examining the work of teachers gained increasing popularity as the view of teaching as a highly complex process was added to this discourse ( Hollins, 1994; Porter & Brophy, 1988) Studies by Brophy (1981), Brophy and Good (1986/1987), Porter (1986), and others helped to move the profession of teaching and the education of low income children, which included African American learners, in a direct ion that heavily considered the work of teachers as critical to student outcomes. Through this work, a comprehensive set of characteristics and dispositions emerged which characterized effective teaching (Porter & Brophy, 1988). Effective teachers were p professionals who: Are clear about their instructional goals Are knowledgeable about their content and the strategies for teaching it Communicate to their students what is expected of them and why Make expert use of existing in structional materials in order to devote more time to practices that enrich and clarify the content Are knowledgeable about their students, adapting instruction to their need and anticipating misconceptions in their existing knowledge Teach students metaco gnitive strategies and give them opportunities to master them Address higher as well as lower level cognitive objectives Integrate their instruction with that in other subject areas A ccept responsibility for student outcomes

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36 Are thoughtful and reflective about their practice. (Porter & Brophy, 1988, p.75) The work of IRE, led by Jere Brophy, characterizes the discourse of effective teaching in that it suggests that the challenges posed in educating African American children can be met through the development of a cadre of teachers with the necessary disposi tions and skills to teach them well (Hollins, 1994). In other words, the discourse of effective teaching is predicated on a theory of educational excellence for African American children, in which success is an obtainable expectation. To be sure, many Af rican American communities have historically been guided by a belief in the innate capacity for high performance by African American school children given the proper environment and instruction (Anderson, 1988; Perry, 2003; Tyack, 2007). This is evidenced throughout the history of African American education, in the determined and self reliant efforts of ex slaves to educate their own children (Anderson, 1988; Gordon, 1994), in the demand for equitable resources as part of the school desegregation movement (Horsford, 2011), and in the surge of independent, African centered schools (Shujaa, 1994; Lomotey, 1992). Examination of the discourse about African American education over time captures how the thinking and approaches to improving African American educ ation have shifted. While the discourse of effective schools and effective teaching provided a more productive and promising context for devising meaningful reforms in Black education, this work is incomplete in at least two ways. First, it fails to outli ne the features that characterize the effective teaching of African American children specifically in ways that particularize Afrocultural influences (Ladson Billings, 2009). Teaching

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37 Essentializing pedagogy in this way perpetuates a White middle class standard to which all others groups are measured to determine competence. This is harmful becau se it creates a surface view of culturally influenced practice that may disable educators from developing an adaptive practice tailored to the students in their specific classroom (Grant & Gibson, 2011). Second, this discourse is partial because it is miss ing the perspectives, knowledge, and theories embedded in many African American cultural groups, particularly African American educators (Delpit, 2005; Foster, 1994; Gordon, 1994; Ladson Billings 2011 ; Siddle Walker, 2012). To offer a more robust understa nding of what it means to teach Black children well, the remainder of this review will highlight the central features and characteristics of effective pedagogy for African American youth. Effective Teaching of African American Learners In 2003, Asa Hilli ard proclaimed there was no mystery to successfully teaching African American children. His observations stemmed from several eyewitness accounts of effective teachers and schools that consistently help Black children achieve academic and cultural excellen ce He asserted It is clear that ordinary public school teachers can move students [African American] to the highest academic levels in a short period of time. It is not the children or their parents, poverty, culture or bilingual status that determine ac factor in school improvement for African Americans (Milner, 2009). It also derives from the assumption that all teachers have the capacity to teach African American children well. Hilliard recognized that the pedagogical knowledge, exemplary practices, and perspectives of successful teachers of African American children are resources, which

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38 must be recogniz ed, legitimized, and supported as essential components of transforming schools. This way of thinking, along with a surge of African centered scholarship, led education researchers, mostly African Americans, to intensely study teachers who were recognized a s effective in teaching learners of African descent. Before moving to analysis of this literature, it is critical to define the notion of effectiveness as it relates to Black education and to this study. No examination of eff ectiveness in African American education is complete adjective used to assess the teaching of African American children. Cooper (2002) notes that defining effective from an emic perspective is in line with African centered models of teaching black students. The emic perspective captures the values and norms from those within the group or community with regard to a particular condition or situation. In this sense, definiti ons of effective are culturally specific and reflect the larger goals and purpose of education for the community. African Americans have historically valued education and perceived it to be a critical tool in the struggle for equity and liberation (Anderson, 1988; Perry, 2003; Watkins, 1996). Many African Americans have constructed a standard of success in education t hat takes into account the psychological demands placed on Black people given their particular status in the United States (Dubois, 1903). These standards include mastery of academic content, including the hidden curriculum. It also includes self knowledge and cultural competence, which means that children are able to positively exemplify attributes reflective of African American culture and work for liberation (Hale Benson, 1986; King, 1991a; Ladson Billings, 2009). The report, Saving

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39 the African American Child, produced by the National Association of Black School Educators (NABSE) in 1984 accurately summarizes the criteria for success and excellence in education and teaching of African American children. It stated, Quality and excellence in education for African Americans includes: and spiritual education. But it includes, in addition, excellence in ridding our people of all vestiges of miseducation. This means that we must know ourselves and our condition. This means that the reclamation and restoration of our history and recognition and respect for our rich culture are priorities that are equal in importance to all other priorities. (NABSE, 1984, p.14) The report identified cul tural excellence in addition to academic excellence as standards of effectiveness in teaching African American school children. Additionally, Hale Benson (1986) stated that black parents want the sociopolitical status of Black people to be conveyed to thei r children in school. She added that parents wanted this conveyed through teacher attentiveness to helping students develop a frame of reference in which they had a positive self concept a black identity, and a commitment to their people. These are cert (1935) analysis of separate schools for African American children in the early part of the twentieth century. He wrote, Theoretically, the Negro needs neither segregated schools nor mixed school s. What he needs is Education. What he must remember is that there is no magic, either in mixed schools or in segregated schools. A mixed school with poor and unsympathetic teachers, with hostile public opinion, and no teaching of truth concerning black fo lk, is bad. A segregated school with inadequate equipment, poor salaries, and wretched housing, is equally bad. Other things being equal, the mixed school is the broader, more natural basis for the education of all youth. But other things seldom are equal, and in that case, Sympathy, Knowledge, and the Truth, outweigh all that the mixed school can offer. (Dubois, 1935, p. 335)

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40 The criteria included by Dubois, NABSE, and Hale Benson are consistent with how many Blacks in African American communities currentl y view teaching excellence (Ladson Billings, 1991). In essence, a successful education for African American children must equip them with academic competency (including high performance on standardized tests) but equally must endow them with a high level o f cultural knowledge. This means they should be able to identify with African American culture and have a firm understanding of their cultural legacy. African American success criteria also specified political consciousness related to the station of Afric an Americans as a racial class in society (Hale Benson 1986 ; NABSE 1984 ; King, 2005; Ladson Billings 1994 ). An education that fails to prepare children of African descent according to these standards is inadequate and inappropriate, and reflects the mis education theorized by Carter G. Woodson almost 60 years ago (Woodson, 1933). Interpretive Frameworks What researchers have revealed about the pedagogy of exemplary teachers of African American children is that teachers orchestrate a highly complex and sop histicated practice in ways that are implicitly and explicitly consistent with African American culture. In an effort to make this pedagogy accessible to a broad audience, researchers developed interpretive frameworks, which inc lude culturally relevant ped agogy (Ladson Billings, 2009) and warm demanding (Irvine & Fraser, 1998; Ware, 2006). In the next section, I discuss each interpretive framework, noting its contributions to a comprehensive view of pedagogical excellence. I then present Figure 2 1 which synthesizes the characteristics of effective teaching as documented in numerous studies of culturally relevant teaching and warm demanding. This kind of analysis is

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41 important because it serves as a catalyst for deeper discussion and examination of the prac tice of exemplary teachers of Black youth. Culturally Relevant P edagogy Ladson extended previous research validating the salience of culture in teaching, learning and achievement. Her wor k was a critical departure from earlier studies focused on sociolinguistics in its recognition of community defined cultural standards of excellence in teaching as relevant to the achievement for Black students. In her theoretical argument, Ladson Billings (1995) proclaimed culturally relevant pedagogy as a made this critical assertio n after she found that the teaching factor most significant in choose academic Billings, 2009, p. 476). Observations and interviews demonstrated that the teachers worked dialecticall y between the dominant European American ideology and one consistent with many Black cultures by validating student knowledge and making the standard academic content accessible to students. Furthermore, the culturally relevant teachers in Ladson Billings Billings & Henry, 1990, p. 82).

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42 The theory of culturally relevant ped agogy is important for the present study because it embraces the inherently political nature of education and schooling. By employing African American cultural standard of excellence as a basis for her examination, Ladson Billings brings attention to the different meanings of success and the politics that shape the prevailing definition of teacher effectiveness as it relates to African American education. Another way this research validates the political is in its appropriation of African American culture as an attribute central to good teaching. Culturally relevant pedagogy counters a pejorative definition of African American culture and instead argues that cultural identification with Blackness can be a cornerstone of good teaching. In this way, Ladson Billings explicitly includes the political terrain because historically, negative constructions of Blackness have been implicated in the political subordination of African descent people living in America. Conclusively, culturally relevant pedagogy contrib utes the political perspective to the vision of pedagogical excellence for African American students. It does not attempt to de politicize teaching and learning, but rather implicates the political in the vision of what it means to teach African American c hildren well. Warm Demander Pedagogy Initially conceptualized by Klei nfield (1975) in the context of Native American education, the concept of warm demanding has provided a useful framework for illuminating the distinctive nature and characteristics of A frican American pedagogy, since the late 1990s. First explained as a cross cultural teaching strategy that balances nfield, 1975), warm demanding has evolved to represent an approach to teaching African Ame rican children heavily guided by culturally relevant teacher care and insistence (Bondy, Ross, Hambacher, & Acosta,

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43 2013; Roberts, 2010; Ware, 2002, 2006). Ware (2006) offered the most extensive construct for examining the features of warm demanding as i t relates to the instruction of African American school children. Warm demander pedagogy, according to Ware (2006), is identified across three distinct teacher roles; caregiver, pedagogue, and authority figure. As caregiver, the warm demanding teacher is d edicated to meeting attribute of a warm demanding teacher. These teachers teach with authority, and insist that students meet high expectations for behavior and academ ics. Finally, as pedagogue, Ware (2006) characterized the warm demanders in her study as educators who used culturally responsive teaching, African American communication patterns such as call and response, direct instruction, and inquiry based learning te chniques. The literature on warm demanding in African American educational contexts is central to thinking about the pedagogical needs of Black children because it begins to address critical aspects of good teaching that specifically target the psychologi cal complexity of African American pedagogy. Or rather those features of good teaching that are difficult to identify by mere observation of teaching practice (Irvine, 2003). ly influenced by the cultural knowledge and cultural values embedded in many African American communities. Though this view of the exemplary teacher is encased in Ladson examined or o mitted in subsequent investigations of culturally relevant teaching. The construct of warm demanding explicitly emphasizes the ideological principles at work in the teaching of successful educators of Black students. Furthermore, it demonstrates how these

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44 principles, characterized as care and authority, shape and manifest themselves in the practices of good teachers. It bears noting that the African American cultural connections that undergird warm demanding principles have seldom been explored. However, this pedagogical framework is important to the definition of teacher quality from an African American perspective given its ability to describe culture specific perceptions of teacher effectiveness. Over the years, several researchers have used these fram eworks to further outline to contours of effective teaching practice for African American, and other culturally and economically diverse students. The bulk of this work provided vivid descriptions of the instructional practices and beliefs of successful teachers and is essential to a comprehensive picture of pedagogical excellence F igure 2 1 below offers a synthesis of many of the salient features of effective teaching of African American learners as documented by researchers. The research on successful teaching of African American children finds that good educators integrate a specific set of beliefs and culturally centered practices into a comprehensive approach to educating African American students. This pedagogy includes a set of beliefs and perspec tives and instructional practices that function to benefit African American learners. This literature has made a valuable contribution towards identifying what works in improving education for African American children from a perspectiv e that values Africa n American culture. Outlining the perspectives and practices of exemplary teachers for teacher educators and practitioners remains a promising approach to ending the crisis in Black education.

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45 Figure 2 1 Documented features of effective teaching of Afri can American children However, more is needed to fully understand the breadth and depth of a pedagogy that is effective with African American children, given the specific criteria of effectiveness set by the African American community. The specific beliefs and instructional st rategies used by effective teachers of African American children are connected to a larger set of ideological and theoretical views and dispositions that are linked to the particular cultural, political, and historical status of African descent people in A merica. These deeper perspectives function as the abiding source of pedagogical and instructional decision making. Therefore another literature base, research on effective Black educators, can be examined because it often provides an insider view of addit ional elements critical to teaching African American children well in which the links between ideology and practice are included. Expanding the analysis of effective teaching of African American students to the level of ideology, axiology and

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46 consciousness is important because it provides a more nuanced view of culture and how it influences teaching and offers a more holistic account of African American pedagogy. It is also important because as King (1991) asserts, without intentional explication of ideolog y, teachers may remain dysconsious, which refers to an uncritical state of mind with regard to social inequalities. The consequences of dysconsciousness are compl icit in the persistent and wors ening crisis in Black education. In the next section I will exp licitly draw on the literature describing successful African American educators. Effective Black Educators of African American Children achievement of black students with their unique ped agogy that affirms the importance of education and the relationship of education to academic, political, social, and economic conclusion that African American teachers a re more than role models for Black students. Black teachers often serve as mentors and counselors, who hold higher expectations for African American students and help them meet those expectations Given this, understanding the pedagogy of exemplary African American teachers is critical to teacher education and African American student success. In the next section, I will present the research on pedagogical frameworks that specifically build on the teaching of Black educators, highlighting the contributions each framework makes to the conceptualization of African American pedagogical excellence. These include historical research on African American schooling and pedagogy and the research on effective Black educators.

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47 Interpretive Frameworks Historical Resea rch on African American Schooling and Pedagogy Educational historian Vanessa Siddle Walker has written extensively about the nature of schooling for African American children during the period of legalized public school segregation (2000, 1996). From this in depth examination she concluded that the cultural form of teaching and learning th (Siddle Walker, 2000, p. 255). This conclusion challenged the prevailing assumption that early Black educational efforts were axiomatically inferior. One of her most notable findings was related to the many ways eff ective teachers of this era cared for African American school children. Siddle sociological and academic needs of another individual or individuals (1993, p.65). She found that good teachers during this time demonstrated a deep commitment to student learning and success, and a demanding nature guided by an unflinching belief in the intellectual ability of students. According to her participants, the good teachers were the one who would not let students perform poorly nor let students give up on themselves. Instead, they were classroom leaders who embraced their authoritative role and used it to increase student achievement an d self respect promote a sense of community, and mitigate an often oppressive educational system. To students, these good teachers Walker & Tompkins, 2004). They were empath etic, yet expressed a sense of urgency and necessity in their teaching. Through her analysis of teacher care, Siddle Walker

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48 (1993) documented the psychological stance, or disposition of exemplary educators. ropriate enactment of care and authority, and is also referred to as warm demanding (Bondy, Ross, Hambacher & Acosta, 2013; Ford & Sassi, 2013; Ware, 2006). Siddle Walker undoubtedly revealed the history of pedagogical excellence for Black students, which according to her teacher, student, and community research participants, was connected to social, economic, and political status of the African American masse s. This historical documentation is relevant to the current study because it validates the existence and enduring nature of excellence in teaching African American children. In tracing the history of exceptional teaching in African American communities, th is work also highlights the thoughtful and intentional manner in which effective teachers of African American children used their sensibilities and skills to orchestrate a powerful, purposeful pedagogy. This is important because it helps debunk the myth th Billings, 2009, p. 14). The history of African American schooling provides the necessary historical layer to a community centered vision of excellence in pedagogy. Through this work we can gather that pedagogical excellence for African American students necessitates a distinctive teaching disposition connected to an enduring African American consciousness. Research on Black E ducators The research on Bl ack educators has grown exponentially over the last two decades. The work of Michele Foster (1997, 1994 1993 ) features prominently within this literature and offer s insight about the pedagogy of Black educators relevant to any discussion of exemplary teac hing of Black children. Foster challenged the negative

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49 depiction of Black educators as uncaring individuals who perpetuated the status quo. She argued, quite convincingly, that effective Black educators were a positive force in African American education a nd they enacted a culturally distinctive pedagogy relevant to their students. In this, Foster presented a cogent argument for the cultural study of teaching that emphasized African American axiology, or cultural values. hesis, she revealed that the dominant Black teachers maintained cultural solida rity with the African American community at large, which was explicitly and implicitly reinforced through classroom interactions and expressed obligation and responsibility for the academic and social growth of students. highlighted in studies of Black teachers (Case, 1997; Collins, 2000). This demandingness, Foster explained was inherent in th e kinship role they assumed in of kin, they embrace a complex set of behaviors that demand appropriate doses of ation she noted was that good Black teachers emphatically and insistently demanded that students put forth maximum effort to achieve at high levels. She described this bond between teacher and students erican cultural values of communalism, self determination, mutuality in relationships and social equality (Foster, 1994, 1993).

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50 The inclusion of Black educator voices highlights the significance of African American cultural values on good teaching. These values were developed from a common African heritage and a distinctive American social location (Franklin, 1984). This inclusion moves the dialogue about teacher quality for African American children beyond the strategies conversation to a more critical a nalysis of the abiding cultural formations that give rise to a nuanced view of teaching excellence. In 2012, Black educational historian Vanessa Siddle Walker commented on her analysis of the collective efforts and contributions of African American educato rs in the South during the school desegregation movement. Her conclusion accurately summarizes the impact of Black educators on the lives of many African American serio educators were active and present throughout the equity agenda in this country and were more so equipped because they had an expansi ve child centered perspective, Walker, 2012). Her most recent work comes almost 25 years after Delpit (1988) admonished the educational community for silencing Black teachers in curriculum development discussions, and after an increase in scholarly contributions which focus on the pedagogical expertise of African American educators working with African American children (Foster, 1993 1997 ; Ladson Billings, 2011; Milner, 2006; Mitchell, 1998; Roberts, 2010; Stanford, 1997; Siddle Walker, 1996, 2000). Because the literature on African American teachers expands the conceptua lization of effective teaching of African American children, it is necessary to continually work with Black educators to understand how their deep cultural traits are leveraged in the classroom with students. This literature base rounds

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51 out the research on successful teaching of African American students. More importantly, it reinforces the existence of a systematic pedagogy grounded in African American cultural knowledge. Figure 2 2 below presents a graphic summary of the salient features highlighted acro ss the research involving exemplary Black educators. Figure 2 2 Documented pedagogical characteristics of effective Black educators. The lines of research discussed above are reflective of a specific and systematic effort to successfully educate African American children. The confluence of this work creates a robust context for understanding the parameters of teaching for excellence. Th e underlying concepts that guide these frameworks are rooted in traditional African American perspectives and values that have supported many generations of Black people in their desire for education and demand for educational quality (Gordon, 1993; Perry, 2003). The convergence of these perspectives and values creates a culture centered vision of teaching African American students that localizes educational excellence within the African American community. The current study builds on the

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52 foundations of ex cellence in teaching established above by explicitly attending to the social, political, and cultural underpinnings of pedagogical excellence for African American learners and making them more explicit. It departs from the psychological foundations of teac hing and learning and instead, draws from a rich foundation of sociological and anthropological research guided by African American interests in ways that employ culture as a systemic tool for educational equity, social justice and humanity ( Gordon, 1997; King, 2005). Figure 2 3 F ramework of pedagogical excellence for African American learners. Conclusion This review of successful teaching of African American children demonstrates that African American pedagogy is highly complex and encompasses a specifi c theoretical foundation. As discussed in the present review, the conceptual foundations for improving African American education have shifted, or expanded over time moving from a micro level focus to macro level emphasis in which the school and educators play prominent roles in the educational success of African American children. The

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53 current study of African American educators is grounded in the ideological discourse of effective teachers and maintains the assumption that one of the greatest educational needs of the African American child is a teacher who enacts the kind of pedagogy that will facilitate their development and success. The description of African American pedagogy drawn from this research illustrates the interconnectedness between culture an d teacher practice, both of which must be specifically aligned to support children of African descent in achieving academic and cultural excellence. It also illustrates the potency of the Black educator perspective in designing sustainable and meaningful reforms for African American children, families, and communities. Collections of studies of effective teaching of African American children and successful black educators inform the current study. Each body of work contributes a part in fully understandin g African American pedagogy. That is, the current literature on African American pedagogy mainly draws on studies that examine separate aspects of good teaching. There is a dearth of research studying all of the pieces together in the pedagogy of good ed ucators. This is particularly troubling given the persistent patterns of underachievement among African American learners. The current study addresses this gap by working with African American teachers to describe and analyze the cultural symbiotic relat ionship between teacher consciousness and perspectives on practice. Methodologically, some of the studies that contribute to a description of African American pedagogy are largely designed and analyzed by researchers. The researcher proposes and designs th e study, teachers are interviewed and/or observed, and then the researcher independently analyzes the data and delivers the written interpretation.

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54 While these kinds of studies have increased our knowledge of what African American children need in a teach er and what Black teachers have to offer, they may underemphasize the specialized knowledge teachers hold. King (2008) argues that using the specialized knowledge of marginalized peoples as a liberating educational tool is missing from educational research She further posits that teachers too need spaces for social science inquiry where they can better understand pedagogy, theirs and others, in order to challenge deficit perspectives and distorted views of African American people. Addressing this methodolo gical gap is another aim of this study. Methodological choices enable researcher and participants to work collaboratively in a co constructive effort. In this collaborative project, the traditional lines between researcher and researched were blurred as we work ed together to understand how culture influences the pedagogical work of good African American educators.

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55 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY In 2008, my great aunt, Carrie Moore Porter died. My auntie Carrie was a gentle giant; a source of silent strength whose life was one of service to the community. My A untie Carrie had a special gift, an invaluable ability to nurture and guide the development of young black children. They say she loved each child in her care just like her own and that she never turned any family away who needed her to their chil the end of the day and that they would constantly call her mama or grandma As an African American female, a teacher of African American children, and her nie ce, I am left w ondering about her pedagogy and what she would say about her teaching. What were her perspectives about what is needed to teach African American children well? What cultural guideposts influenced her teaching? Why did she teach the way she did? When my au nt died her views, experiences, and knowledge, as with many incredible African American educators, remained sealed in memories, never rising to a level of empirical abstraction. The brief epitaph about my great aunt Carrie illustrates one of the pressing issues in educational research. The issue, which King (2008) describes as refers to the absence foundation of knowledge for teacher learning and for teaching. Research has evolved to encompass a variety of formulations, frameworks, and theories. However, those paradigms indigenous to the African and African American life world remain on the academic fringe or a re ignored (Gordon, 1994). Despite normative obscurity, several

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56 Black researchers continue to make significant empirical contributions (Gordon, 1994, 1993; Tillman, 2006). Conclusively, these researchers employ culturally specific theoretical and empiri cal process es and offer several guiding questions for researchers. These questions probe the epistemic and ideological foundations of research and include; what counts as knowledge? How is knowledge constructed? From where does the knowledge emanate? Who se interests does the knowledge serve? Whose knowledge is privileged in societal institutions? (Carroll, 2008; Gordon, 1993; King, 2005 2008 ; Tillman, 2002). King (2008) submits an insightful summary in her analysis of research paradigms in teacher educ matter is whose social vision prevails in racial social justice oriented research and how can this research be a liberating resource for social change (p. 708)? Qualitative research, given its philosophical assumptions and naturalistic methods offers a promising approach for addressing the epistemic and ideological concerns that constrain research in the Black interest. This research approach can encourage social change and liberation through the co construction of knowl edge and the centering of culture throughout the investigative process (Tillman, 2006). This is so because often, qualitative methods emphasize the socially constructed nature of reality, in depth understanding, the relationship between researcher and the researched and a Lincoln, 2005, p. 37). Linda T. Smith (2005) an Indigenous theorist, emphasizes the prospective advantages of using qualitative methods to produce culturally nurturin g transformative research and action. She elaborates: Qualitative research is an important tool for indigenous researchers because it is the tool that seems most able to wage the battle of

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57 representation, to weave and unravel competing storylines, to situ ate, place, and contextualize; to create spaces for decolonizing, to provide frameworks for hearing silence and listening to the voices of the silenced, to create spaces for dialogue across difference, to analyze and make sense of complex and shifting expe riences, identities, and realities, and to understand little and big changes that affect our lives. Qualitative research approaches have the potential to respond to epistemic challenges and crises, to unravel and weave, to fold in and unmask the layers of the social life and depth of human experience (p. 103) Although the field of qualitative inquiry is laden with theoretical and methodological contentions, Denzin and Douglas (2000) note that qualitative research has the capacity to accurately address issu es of racial social justice and lead to social transformation and greater human consciousness. Because I was interested in understanding a Black educator standpoint in ways that could use culture to spark positive collective action in Black education, I em ployed a qualitative approach. Additionally, given the emphasis on ethnicity in this study, a qualitative approach was used because of its potential to position culture as central to the research process (Tillman, 2006). The primary res earch question addre ssed was: How do African American teachers collectively describe and analyze the cultural influences on their pedagogy with African American children? Chapter 3 begins with an explanation of the theoretical foundation for this dissertation research project. This includes a brief discussion of the philosophical constructs that influenced my ways of thinking about and working with the data. Then I will describe the methodological procedures tak en in this study, which include an explanation of the research design, a social, histo geographical description, participant selection, data collection, and data analysis. Finally, I will explicitly declare my subjectivities r egarding this research and address research validity and credibility

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58 Theoretical Perspective An emancipatory perspective served as theoretical guide for this study of African American educator pedagogy. Aspects from key philosophical constructs informed the perspective advanced in this research project in ways that align with my epistemological assumptions and methodological choices. In the next section I will briefly discuss the philosophical undercurrents of this study as they represent my own ways of knowing, and as they inform the methodology carried out in this work. Philosophical I nfluences on Epistemology African American epistemology. The emancipatory theory employed in this study derives from an African American cultural mode of rationality (Gor don, 1985). p. 331 ). Modes of rationality are reflective of the interests that sha pe how the world is perceived by individuals and groups. Any mode of rationality can be readily identified by e questions that are raised in that particular kind of reasoning as well as the questions that are incapable of being rais ed in a particular mode of rationality. From this perspective, Giroux (1980) writes, modes of rationality can be considere d theoretical frameworks that can be understood by analyzing the depths and boundaries of their critique It is this theoretical view that makes the emancipatory theoretical framework distinctive and appropriate for the present study. According to Gordon (1985) African American epistemology, as a mode of rationality, is distinctive because of its ability to critique the epistemic fou ndations of knowledge, deconstruct society from an ideological perspective and merge critique and self reflection with action in ways that are not exploitative or alienating (Giroux, 1980). It

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59 reco gnizes that meaning is constantly negotiated as subjects in teract with objects in the world However, it locates such meaning and action within the societal context in order to examine how human actions might constrain or advance humanity. model of meaning making attends to human experiences in ways that account for the workings of ideology, power, and consciousness in individual and group realities (Giroux, 1980). In other words, African American cultural theorizing, or epistemology, attempts to explain how human behavior, within societal macro structures, negotiates, resists and transforms the effects of structures and systems of oppression. This perspective offers a new social framework based on cognitive autonomy from the existing social race based classification system, which can result in li beration and greater humanity (King, 1995, 2005). African American epistemology and th e culture centered knowledge it produces can be considered emancipatory because it is born out of the lived experiences, historical and contemporary, of African America n people (King, 2008, 1995). (1985) thesis intricately traced the legacy of a distinctive African American epistemology as reflected in the writings of early Black intellectuals and in African American inspired art, music, and literature. In particular, Gordon (1985) extols (1933) thesis as central to the understanding of the emancipatory potential of African experience, and to our own the existence of a broader culture systemic epistemology which she organized around several overarching themes. These themes include service, self help, political power, nation alism, economic autonomy, and self

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60 determination. These themes coalesce into a powerful frame of reference through which many African American people interpret their existence, decipher dominant ideology, and organize for change (Gordon, 1990, 1985). Afri can American epistemology was appropriate for my research for at least three reasons. First, this framework is culturally sensitive given that the themes that emerge from it are based on the lived experiences of people of African descent. This sensitivity is important because it can reduce the likelihood for misinterpretation and misrepresentation that has stifled educational improvement for African Americans many cul ture dislodges the dominant view that sees diversity and culture as hindrances to educational achievement (Cochran Smith & Fries, 2011) In place of this deficit view of diversity and culture, African American epistemology facilitates the creation of a vis ion of pedagogical excellence for students of African descent in America explicitly connected to it abiding cultural epicenter. Third, African American epistemology as a theoretical framework enabled the group to interrogate the idea of effective pedagogy at the level of consciousness and ideology. Philosophical Influences on Methodology Social constructionism Constructionism posits the view that all meaningful reality is socially constructed and verified. Meaning is not inherent in the objects of the wo rld waiting to be discovered. Rather, humans construct meanings as they interact with the objects in the world. Crotty (1998) affirms the intimate relationship between object and subject mediated by consciousness in his theorization of constructionism. He

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61 nscious being experiencing it nor can any experience be adequately described in isolation from its The subject and the object are always united. A social constructionist perspective places the social dimension of knowledge co nstruction center stage. It emerges as we acknowledge the role of culture in the shaping o f our consciousness Culture is not restricted to surface traditions, customs rat behaviors, shapes our perspectives, and endows us with a lens with which to focus and direct our consciousness. Social constructionists try to reveal and understand the ways in which communities participate in the creation of their reality. This constitutes a dynamic, ongoing process; where reality is produced by our collective interactions with the objects in the world (Crotty, 1998). Black feminist epistemology This study of African American educator perspectives was also influenced by Black feminist epistemology as articulated by Patricia Hill Collins in the year 2000. In a precise articulation of Black womanist thought, Hill Collins (2000) analyzes that for Black wo men, knowledge is rarely constructed in isolation but is largely facilitated through the dialogue they have with each other in inclusive groups. It is in these collaborative, participatory spaces that African American adversarial ways (Hill Collins, 2000, p. 280). Collins further explains that the use of dialogue to share personal experiences represents another assertion of Black women theor izing. For many African American women,

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62 living through experiences affords them a level of recognized credibility as one who has knowledge and, more importantly, wis dom. Thus experiential wisdom functions as a criteria for meaning. These ways of meaning m aking underscore two epistemological assumptions. to Black feminist epistemology, rests in the women themselves and is subjectively understood. their perspectives and experiences, are situated as intellectuals capable of sophisticated thought and critique. The second assumption addresses the ways in which knowledge is made and validate d Collins (2000) concludes that the importance of dialogue and exp erience in knowledge construction and validation underscores the perspective Therefore, dialogue through which personal experiences are ren dered as sources of wisdom, facilitates the kind of connectednes s in which people become more empowered and invested in one another. Emancipatory educational research Emancipatory educational research is designed to produce transformative knowledge generated through collective research with groups and individuals functioning as agents of their own change (Emancipatory Educational Re search, 2012; Tyson, 2003). Emancipatory Educational research paradigms take methodological direction from the cultural frameworks noted above and present a potential paradigm for culture centered research. These paradigms bring transparency to the research process by demanding a move away from positions of sclo sure and self reflexivity.

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63 In essence, the researcher is able to function transubjectively, which means he or she is encouraged to not only recognize subjectivity, but use these personal interests and commitments in the research process to further communi ty aims. The emancipatory theoretical perspective situated in this study is representative of some of the philosophical themes embedded in Black feminist epistemology, social constructionism and emancipatory education research. These themes (connectedness in research, culture as a mediator for meaning making, and researcher tools and processes and ways of approaching data analysis. Figure 3 1 below summarizes the epis temic and methodological influences on the theoretical perspective employed in this study as well as the ways it influenced the research process Research Design Rationale for Collaborative Inquiry This study of African American educator perspectives employ ed a collaborative inquiry methodology. Collaborative inquiry methodology emphasizes a view of inquiry, which (Heron & Reason, 1997, p .2). The principles embedded in collaborative inquiry emphasize inclusive participation, mutuality, and the co construction of knowledge through deep interpretive processes (Bridges & McGee, 2011). Underlying these principles is a participatory perspective that privileges experiential knowledge, critical subjectivity and critical intersubjectivity. Experiential knowledge is knowing through participative resonance with a being, so that the knower feels both connected with the knowledge and distinct from it.

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64 Figure 3 1 Emancip atory theoretical p erspective

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65 of sense making and the ability to demonstrate this awareness in communication with others (Heron & Reason, 1997). From this, critical intersubjectivity emerges in which the knower embraces personal subjectivities and also understands how this personal experiential conte xt may be consistent with and different from the reality of others. Critical intersubjectivity is enhanced through shared experience, dialogue, and feedback and exchange with others (Heron & Reason, 1997). The goals of collaborative inquiry projects are t o create conditions of self empowerment among co researchers through active engagement in an iterative process of understanding, knowledge production, and action (Bridges & McGee, 2011). In practice, collaborative inquiry operates as a process of cycling b etween four overlapping elements; (1) reflection, (2) the collective construction of knowledge fostered through dialogue with peers, (3) action, and (4) further group decision making (Heron & Reason, 1997). Knowledge is produced and validated in a shared s pace and grounded in the perspectives, experiences, and practices of the group. Researcher and participants function as co researchers; thinking and generating ideas, designing and managing the project and analyzing and interpreting the data. Collaborative inquirers also operate as co subjects, each individual participating fully in every step in the inquiry process and contributing to a collective view, theory or perspective. While full reciprocity is the envisioned premise of a collaborative inquiry meth odology, co researchers are not expected to participate in identical ways (Heron & Reason, 1997). What is demanded is the full inclusion of all voices, perspectives, and knowledge, from the beginning and throughout the entire research process. Hyland and Meacham

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66 (2004) lament that what is missing in teacher education research and practice are educational tool for cultural well orative inquiry methodology advanced in this study was well suited to enable the research group to meet this need. Description of Context This study was conducted with a group of African American educators currently working in a small city located in Flor ida in which 23% of city residents identify as Black or African American. The majority of African Americans live in the east quadrant of this city, which includes five elementary schools, two middle schools, two high schools (all of which are public schools), five charter schools and four alternative schools or centers. The educator researchers participating in this study are currently teaching in one of these schools serving a large population of African Ame rican school children. Historically, Black education in the South is unique given how it developed within an overtly racist and oppressive social context (Anderson, 1988). Though Blacks were emancipated from slavery in 1863, they were subsequently force d into a new social system from which they were virtually denied citizenship. However, as Anderson (1988) persistent struggle to fashion a system of formal education that pr efigured their liberati 3). This theme is embedded in the geographic region in which the educators in the present study live and work, and is reflected in the development of schooling for African American children in the area. For example, this

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67 city is home to Weldon Academy 1 the first Negro school built in the a rea. The school came about as a result of support from the African American community and the the intellectual heart of the African American community [in this city and surrounding area] for almost 60 years. Black teachers were groomed for their professions within the community and engaged children in a robust curriculum taught with full citizenship and freedom for all Negro people in mind (Laurie, 1986). Weldon Academy set a remarkable precedent for Bl ack education in the city, which was carried on by Carter G. Woodson High School, the segregated African American school that served this community for over 50 years. It was one of the two African American schools in the state to obtain full accreditation by the state governing agency. In a conversation with J. Moore, a student at Weldon Academy, he stated that within the school, teachers committed themselves to the development of their students into future leaders and social transformers ( personal communi cation August 17, 2012). Though obscured from plain view, the high level of educational quality inherent in American schools today. In the early years of the new millenni um, one of the elementary schools serving a 99% African American population reclaimed the legacy of excellence in Black education intrinsic to this city. Under the leadership of an African American female principal, Duncan Elementary 2 School established itself as a community school dedicated to the educational achievement of its children. In a private 1 Pseudonyms used in the description of the context 2 Name has been changed

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68 interview, one teacher at Duncan Elementary during this time shared that t eachers, this time Black and White, wanted to be at Duncan and they, along with s taff, worked relentlessly to create an environment that made students want to be there too (personal communication, A. Terrell, April 23, 2012 ; Bondy, Mayne, Langley, Williamson, 2005 ). n the specific meanings, traditions, customs, and community relations that operate in each Localizing the present study of Black educator urgency within the cultural geographical history of Black education is important because it mitigates the assumption that a account s for his or her success or failure with Black children. Instead it connects the past and present under a deeper, more syst ematic set of abiding principles and perspectives, which are important to understand in order change the course of African American education towards excellence. Participant Selection To create the collaborative inquiry group, community nomination was used as a purposive sampling technique. In using this process in a similar study of Black educators, Foster (1993) defined community nomination as a process by which research com Am erican children and use this culturally generated knowledge as the basis of inquiry. For the current study obtaining African American community perspectives on good teaching for Black children was important because it recognized the knowledge and

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69 experien ce embedded in African American communities as salient in the content it produces and the process us ed to gather such information. In other words, it represents a culturally affirmative research method informed by indigenous experiences (King, 2008). By using community nomination, I was able to validate community knowledge about education and use this knowledge as the foundation for analyzing and understanding African American schooling experiences. Using community nomination as an empirical tool was an e ural well (King, 2008). In this case, researching for cultural well being references examining cultural practices, as a basis for understanding African American community and student needs related to e ducation. For example, all of the parents I interviewed stated that good teachers for their children are those who cared enough to demand that students teacher quality exp ressed a vision of pedagogical excellence located in an African American historical view of schooling (Siddle view transcended prevailing conceptions of educator quality focused on teacher point average and mastery of academic content. Centering collective perspectives in the research process is a way to honor and preserve community perspecti ves, which is essential in for conducting research with the community in mind Ensuring collective w ell being is a critical element of emancipatory educational research It was important to this study because it linked teaching and teacher education with an enduring African American struggle for social justice and humanity in ways that spark action and c oalition building (King, 2008).

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70 To carry out this process, I visited a predominantly African American church, afterschool program, and community organization on separate occasions. All of the community members identified as African American and had one or more children attending schools within the local school district. At each site, I invited community members to participate in a structured conversation in which I asked overarching kinds of things would a teacher say or do that give you affirmation that he/she is a good a collective definition of teacher quality was constructed. The groups developed very similar definitions of good teachers. Across the groups, community members noted that good teachers: challenge children to do their best everyday show children how to complete their work listen to parents and maintain open communicat ion with them. are tough follow through grow up and live in are fair and honest provide one on one support for my child when necessary. I then asked families to identify in writing the names and schools of any teacher whom they believed met the characteristics produced in our discussion. Their nominations were collected at the end of the meeting. These focus group sessions

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71 lasted approximat ely one hour at each site and I took extensive field notes to capture key ideas. A total of 12 educators were identified and invited through email to an introductory luncheon to celebrate their community nomination and solicit their participation in the study (Appendix C). Six of the nominated teachers attended the luncheon, and four educators plus myself elected to participa te in the research collective. The other two teachers who attended the luncheon consented to participate, but were subsequently unable to continue due to extenuating circumstances. The collective. As T able 3 1 ind icates, each of the educators self identified as African American and had a range of teaching experience from seven to thirty five years. All of the educators were born, raised, and attended schools in the South. Three of the educators were native to the area, while two had relocated with their families, one three years ago, the other 12 years ago. Table 3 1 Demographics of the collective Name Ethnicity Edu. Level Teaching Exp (No. of years) Grade level School size % of African A merican students % of students free or reduced lunch Antionette AA M 9 Elem. 365 88% 95% Jalonda AA S 13 Elem. 692 55% 82% Harriett AA M 36 Elem. 692 55% 82% Geneva AA M 22 Elem. 353 98% 96% Monica AA M 7 N/A N/A N/A N/A Two of the teachers knew each other because they were co workers. Four of the educators were working in elementary schools at the time of the study, though further

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72 conversations revealed that three had experience teaching at the secondary level and two wer experience was in predominantly African American, high poverty schools. Biographical Sketch Antionette. Antionette was born in Mi ami, Florida in the early 1970s and raised by her moth er and father, both African American educators. After graduating high school, Antionette attended a local culturally diverse community college in Miami for two years then transferred to a large, predominantly White teacher education program in North central Florida to complete her bachelor s and master s degree in special education. Jalonda. Jalonda was born in Immokalee, Florida in the late 1960s, and raised by her mother, an African American educator, and her father, a n African American farm er. Jalonda spent eight years in the United States military after graduating high school, then attended a midsized predominantly White teacher education program in South Florida to complete her bachelor s degree in sp ecial education. After relocating wi th her family to a city in North Florida, Jalonda earned her master s degree and education specialist degree in educational leadership from a small, predominantly White college of education in North central Florida. Harriett. Harriett was born in Gainesville, Florida in the early 1950s, and raised by her African American mother, a homemaker, and her father, a n African American skilled laborer. Harriett attended a segregated, all Black high school in Gainesville, then later rec eived her bachelor s degree in elementary education from a large, predominantly White teacher education program in North central Florida. After teaching

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73 for about 10 years, Harriett returned to her college alma mater and earned a master s degree in elemen tary education. Geneva. Geneva was born in the early 1960s in the state of Tennessee and was raised by her African American mother and grandmother, both community teachers at the church Geneva attended while growing up. Geneva spent some years in the Unit ed States military, and then later attended a historically Black college in the state of Tennessee where she earned her bachelor s degree in elementary education. After teaching for some time in Tennessee, Geneva relocated to north central Florida to be closer to her daughter and granddaughter and continues teaching elementary school. Monica. Monica was born in Gainesville, Florida at the start of the year 1980 and was raised by her African American mother and father, an office manager and educator respe ctively. After graduating from a predominantly Black high school in Gainesville, Monica attended a large, predominantly White university in north central Florida where she earned her bachelors degree from the College of Journalism. She later returned to her college alma mater and earned her master s degree in special education and is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction from the same institution. Data Collection This section describes the processes and methods used to gather data for this study. First I will discuss two specific structures, or processes implemented to create conditions conducive to culture focused research. This description of data collection processes will also include the actions taken, to logistically fo ld these processes into the inqui ry and establish them as part of the Then I will describe the primary data collection tool used engag e in this collaborative inquiry.

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74 Both data collection processes were employed und er my direction and can be viewed as an external layer wrapped a round the research collective. I also designed the data collection tool to be used within the research group. In the final part of this section I intimately describ or, research collective interactions that may have resulted from the data collection processes and tool used. Processes There were two processes implemented in this study at the time of data collection. These processes were conscious attempts on the part of the lead researcher to structure the research meetings and norms of interaction in ways that aligned with the theoretical premises of collaborative inquiry methodology. These two processes were inspired by the guiding principles of reciprocity and auth enticity noted in collaborative inquiry research (Bridges & McGee, 2012) In writing on collaborative inquiry research, Donna Bridges and Sharyn Mcgee expound on the social benefits of reciprocal and authentic inquiry. They argue that the two principles of authenticity and reciprocity can help individuals and groups to, become empowered to understand, produce knowledge 213). Below each process is explained in greater detail, which includes a description of the specific actions I took to cultivate each process. I developed and appropriated these action steps in ways that were culturally appropriate for the research collective. Reciprocit y. A process for cultivating reciprocity was one implemented in this study. In collaborative inquiry, reciprocity refers to relationship building and attentiveness to participants as human beings. It is strengthened through the deliberate formation of non hierarchical, mutually beneficial interactio ns and partnerships (Bridges

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75 and McGee, 2011). This means collaborative inquirers must acknowledge and respond to the sociopolitical dimension of all research rooted in power and knowledge. Authenticity. The second concept that guided the research meeting s, authenticity, refers to truth and validity in research. Written research is viewed as of those In this sense, tr uth means trustworthiness and cultural representation. This connects authenticity directly with the ethical, inclusive, and fair treatment of co researchers, the value of research and reciprocity, and the catalytic or generative potential of research. In this study of Afric an American pedagogy, Figure 3 2 below displays the specif ic actions taken to cultivate an ethos of authenticity and reciprocity i n the inquiry process. Implementing processes to create a reciprocal, authentic research space discussed above created the conditions necessary for the group to function in ways that genuinely built on the collective knowledge, experience, and perspectives of African American ed ucators. Additionally it structured an environment that enabled the collective to move fluidly between the different elements of collaborative inquiry Tools research m eetings. Partially structured research meetings provided the conditions necessary for t he research collective to engage in the inquiry process. Here partially structured means that our conversations were organized and guided by common meeting objectives. For example, an agenda was collaboratively prepared for each meeting and I prepared a se t of questions and topics to be discussed in each meeting. Yet, the meetings were flexible. This allowed the group to make connections between participant experiences and ideas. It also encouraged authentic expressions of ideas and elaboration. Five

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76 resear ch meetings occurred over the course of a three month period. Meetings were held on weekday evenings at a local eating establishment frequented by many in the group. Duration of the meetings ranged from 90 to 120 minutes. Figure 3 2: Data collectio n processes implemented in the collaborative inquiry. Throughout the research meetings, I served as lead researcher; leadership in this respect meant facilitating the meeting and using my knowledge of research methods to assist in group decision making. Pr ior to each meeting, I sent out a reminder email to all participants that included a rough draft of the upcoming agenda. After group members added, modified, and deleted agenda items, I sent a revised agenda, which was used during the meeting (Appendix D). Each meeting followed a similar format: Negotiation: Welcoming discussion about data collection tools. Questioning ideas and knowledge claims. Situating conflict as part of the inquiry process (i.e. it's okay to disagree with others). Enabling voice: Allowing testimonies. Blending personal and professional experiences. Using African American Vernacular English (AAVE). Ignoring coventional question/answer conversation protocols. Shared decision making: Group developed working principles for research. Group developed objectives for the project. Explaining procedures then allowing group to make descisions (mutuality & inclusivity). Reciprocity Time & Space: Structuring meeting to allow for reflection and engagement. Conducting meetings in a comfortable, unrestricted space. Working with group to develop a convenient meeting schedule. Prolonged engagement. Collective validation: Encouraging collaboration in constructing knowledge. Seeking help in explaining and building ideas. Asking for group confirmation regarding ideas. Member checking and spiral discourse. Expressivism: Allowing group to determine mode of communication. Encouraging members to "reenact" or "recreate" experiences using voice, facial expressions, and gestures. Authenticity

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77 Reflection: We re read notes generated from introductory luncheon where we provided oral accounts and descriptions of our teaching (Example: group members revisited previously stated ideas and offered clarifica tion by further elaborating on ideas, providing examples or describing memories of personal events). Debriefing: We elaborated, contested, changed, and refined our ideas. Text & visual elicitation: We re read selected segments of transcripts I selected portions of transcripts from previous meetings prior to each upcoming research session. I selected segments that would allow each participant to elaborate on ideas, statements and phrases. In meetings four and five, we examined a visual representation I drew based on previous conversations about the ways we described our teaching. New theorizing: Based on steps 1 3, we engaged in continued collective oral analysis of our pedagog y. Group decision making: We negotiated aspects of the research project such as upcoming meetings and new ideas and activities to explore. Interactions As the meetings progressed, the group moved through three phases, or ways of interacting very similar to how Lawrence Lightfoote & Davis (1997) describe the use of voice in portraiture methodology. The first phase was characterized by congeniality. We were uncontested or were not probed for further clarification. We seemed to be voices (Lawrence Lightfoote & Davis, 1997, p. 108 ). In the second phase, we began to develop a collective standpoint regarding our teaching. This phase was characterized by solidarity in that we perceived that a set of shared beliefs and practices existed within the group, which allow ed us to delve into deeper analysis and interpretation of

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78 their views and together define meaning making Lawrence Lightfoote & Davis, 1997, p. 103). In the third phase, which was characterized as collective theorizing, we emerged into a non hierarchical research collective. This was most noticeable in meetings four and five as we began to express ideas as representative of the entire group using words conversation patterns referenced attempts to support one another in description and explanations of pedagogy. Our interactions were mediated by negotiation, in which we used facial expressions, verbal and non verbal cues, gestures, and reenactments to probe, challenge, and refine presented ideas. As the lead researcher, I was careful not to let my comments assume sole authority or dictate the discussions. That is, I used voice simila (Lawrence Lightfoote & Davis, 1997, p. 85). Conversations of this nature enabled the group to gather thick descriptions and detailed analysis of teaching from our collective cultural standpoint. All group meetings were audio recorded and I took extensive observational field notes. Figure 3 3 below presents a view of the research collective from an ecolog ical perspective, which shows the environment in which research collective was nested and the subsequent interactions that may have been produced. Data Analysis Audio taped interviews were transcribed verbatim and tra nscripts were analyzed in two phases The term phase is used in this sense to characterize the different

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79 Figure 3 3. Research collective ecology kinds of analysis done and does not suggest that data analysis proceeded in a sequ ential or logical progression. On the contrary, some phases of data analysis were overlapping, while other s flowed from one to the other Phase o ne The first level of data analysis, or framing analysis occurred as data were collected. Grbich (2007) explained that this kind of analysis is a process not intended for critique, but as a method for gaining a deeper understanding of the values and meanings that exist within the data. I conducted a framing analysis during data collection for three reasons: (1) to gain a sense of the emerging themes and key ideas (2) to use this analysis as an elicitation tool during subsequent research meetings. The preliminary analysis enabled the research group to surface the cultural perspectives on

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80 teaching that might otherwise remain tacit. (3) To organize the data in ways that would m ake collective analysis in the next phases manageable for the research team. how the data was approached (Hatch, 2002, p. 164). Example frames from this step analysis was presented to group members as both an elicitation tool and as text for analysis. I also developed a visual depiction of our thinking (Grbich, 2007) after research meeting three based on these frames, which was presented to the group in resea rch meeting four (appendix E). The conceptual map provided a visual representation of the made modifications to the conceptual map, which was then presented again in re search meeting five. By compiling this list of frames, I was able to organize the data in such a way that the entire research team could access and understand it. More importantly, this led the collective analysis to be more focused on addressing the resea rch question because I was able to examine the topical direction of group Phase t wo Phase two involved collective analysis of the data, which overlapped with the framing analysis conducted in phase one. We used domain analysis in this phase to make sense o f the data collected. In the collective phase, an inductive approach was used which, according to Hatch (2002) means organizing and interrogating data in ways that that allow researchers to see patterns, identify themes, discover relationships,

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81 develop ex 148). Analytical procedures were carried out in a series of systematic steps that across the collective phase. The purpose of analyzing the data with the community nominated Afric an American educators involved was to ground the analysis in the cultural ways of thinking and knowing of the group. An additional underlying purpose was to provide an opportunity for the group of Black educators to crystallize their own understandings ab out the ways their lived experiences and cultural practices influence their teaching, which can be an emancipating experience in itself (Gordon, 1985). First, I provided the team with a brief overview and explanation of the inductive analytical approach, using Hatch (2002) as a guide. Next, the group collectively read data segments organized according to the frames of analysis developed in the preliminary analysis. We then created an initial list of possible domains to describe group perspectives on the wa ys that culture influenced pedagogy. According to Hatch teachers are unsuccessful with Afr These domains emerged from our discussions about the data and I organized them by listing each, along with examples that supported them, in a separate document. During this step, I asked clarifying and probing questions as a way to guide the group in ident ifying the semantic relationship between included terms and cover terms. For

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82 example, as we read the transcripts, the group noticed that we frequently spoke about maintaining high expectations for performance despite the challenges that may come with teach ing African American students experiencing the negative impact of poverty. I example highlights my role during this phase. I served to demystify the research process as an analytical guide in addition to maintaining a participatory presence in the study. In the next step, we read the domain sheets in order to identify and refine salient codes. Through this we developed interpretations and found examples from the data to support our thinking. Wolcott (1994) states that researchers should connect their inte rpretations to the research questions. Thus, the guiding questions we asked in this combined with others or dropped altogether. The collective analysis was a significant discour in teaching (Ladson Billings, 2000). Additionally, it was important because it provided a culturally specific proxy for the subsequent independent analysis of data. Phase th ree In this last phase, I worked with the data independently. I applied African American epistemology (Gordon, 1990) as a theoretical lens to better understand how

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83 the domains were connected to dominant African American cultural themes encapsulated in Afri can American epistemology. To review, the themes embedded in African American epistemology include service, self help, political power, economic autonomy, self determination, and nationalism. Another purpose of this phase was to American and other communities of color is the crisis of representation (King, 2008; Smith, 1999; Tuck, 2009). For some Blacks in America, social science inquiry has damage. While an in depth exploration of this is beyond the scope of this dissertation, the result, according to T deprivation singularly defines Blacks as a cultural group. African American epistemology was appropriate because it enabled me to function as a researcher sensitive to the local complexities inhere nt in the phenomenon under study. Through this culture focused approach to theoretical interpretation, the potential for misinterpretation and distortion of To carry this refining analysis out, I read the emergent themes from the collective analysis. I then searched for similarities, and relevant distinctions between the with data produced overarching themes that represented bot h the thinking of the group and some of the dominant perspectives encapsulated in African American cultural knowledge. These were the themes used to organize and report the findings in Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 Table 3 2 below presents a summary of the thr ee phases of data

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84 analysis and Figure 3 4 (end of Chapter 3 ) captures the flow of knowledge throughout the data analysis phases. Table 3 2. Data analysis procedures Framing Analysis Transcripts from research meetings 1 4 After each research meeting Framin g analysis (Hatch, 2002) Lead researcher( me) More focused collective analysis. Manageable data sets. Collective Analysis Data sets developed during framing analysis process Graphic organizers During research meetings 2, 3, & 4 During research meetings 4 & 5 Inductive analysis (Hatch, 2002) Entire research team (5 researcher) Identification of themes related to effective pedagogy Generation of ideas for action Refining Analysis Data analysis record generated by the collective. Transcripts from research meetings 1 5 After all five research meetings have been conducted Inductive analysis (Hatch, 2002) Insertion of AA epistemology (Gordon, 1990, 1985) Lead researcher (me) Examination of data for examples that represent philosophical featur es of AA epistemology Research Validity and Credibility Lather (1980) points out that researchers with openly identified interests in democracy and social justice must raise the level of empiricism of our work by reducing the ambiguity of what we do by using tools that will substantiate the validity and authenticity of this research within its own context. Therefore, in this section I provide a brief methodological epilogue that provides a descriptive definition of validity, credibility and trustworthi ness as used in this study. The methodological epilogue also describes the subsequent action that has resulted from this research study. After the epilogue, I provide insight into the additional steps taken to create a high level of research validity and c redibility in the study.

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85 Methodological epilogue The methodological choices made in this study were not chosen randomly. Rather, my choices represent thoughtful decisions that reflect the political nature of social science inquiry, by embracing the politi cs of research from a position of democracy (Lather, 1980). Furthermore, my own commitments to Black education and experiences as a Black teacher, parent, and community member significantly shape the way I think about the purposes of research as well as th e design of this study. African American studies research such as this maintains explicit emphasis on the cultural well being of the community. Therefore, validity and credibility in research are defined catalytically by the ability to produce meaningful o utcomes that Therefore one way validity and credibility in this study was determi ned was in consideration of the following two aspects : 1. Conversations about the research project: During the research meetings, group statements are evidence of research validity be cause they highlight the impact or 2. Ongoing activity: One of the collectively agreed upon outcomes of this research was the creation of a Black education organization focused on meeting some of the educational needs in the African American community. We spoke about this possibility explicitly in session 4, and have since met on two subsequent occasions after data collection to further consider and organize ourselves for positive action. As o f August 2013, we have established a group identity (The Black Educator Action Team), a short list of goals and a plan of action aimed at meeting our stated objectives. The development and movements of this action group highlight the way research can be a strategically designed to positively impact communities of color, and increase the catalytic validity of the study.

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86 Additional steps were taken to appraise the validity and authenticity of the study. As stated above, a focus on Black studies demand a commi tment to community well being (King, 2008; Tillman, 2002). In research this means configuring inquiry spaces that are equitable, privileging the interests, knowledge, and experiences of the community and using power in ways that promote inclusivity and act ion. In this study, member checking, spiral discourse (Bishop, 1997) and prolonged engagement were tools used to increase the authenticity and validity of the research in ways that honored community interests. Additionally, when researchers observe ethica l standards in qualitative research it obligates them to acknowledge the historic and existing forms of inequity and oppression, recognize the limitations of their own understandings and commit to action (Koro Ljungberg, 2010). The process of memo writing enabled me to maintain a reflexive and reflective stance, which encouraged the kind of critical inter subjectivity I needed to carry out this inquiry (Bridges & McGee, 2012). On a final note, responsible, rigorous research inspires (e)pistemological aware ness and methodological instantiation (Koro Ljungberg, 2010; Koro ljungberg, Yendol Hoppey, Smith, & Hayes 2009). This means reporting research in ways that reveal researcher theoretical positionality and evidence of methodological consistency. Koro Ljung berg and colleagues (2009) report that when researchers are not explicit about their (e)pistemological and theoretical perspectives and methodological and may be indic 670). Specifically, I pursued (e)pistemological awareness spatially, in which research design choices were

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87 highlighted the congr uence of methods, theory and epistemology, thus increasing research rigor and credibility. Subjectivity As an emerging scholar, I approached this research from an openly ideological position of human freedom, citizenship, and transformation of the existin g social order. My interests are in improving the education of African American children through teacher education curriculum and pedagogy. As a former elementary teacher working with predominantly African American children and families, my teaching caree r is a constant contradiction, a counter narrative to the theories of deficit and depravity that pervade discussions about the education of African American and other marginalized children. Theories of deficit and depravity suggest that most African Americ an children are not intellectually capable of educational excellence and therefore, instruction need that these deficits are biological and inherent in the culture and social ization of people of African descent. In contrast, my reality is, in part, based on many interactions with intellectually curious, and capable African American children and their families who value education and understand its power. These rich teaching e xperiences serve as an experiential foundation for my development of theory and research in teacher education. My teaching experiences and interests in educational excellence (NABSE, 1984) for African American children influence the present study because t hey compel me to transcend dominant conceptions of effective pedagogy for African American learners and to search for more accurate and holistic descriptions, demonstrations, and analysis. More importantly, these experiences enable me to recognize the trul y transformative potential of teaching and teacher education. Every time I run into a

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88 former student or parent of a former student, I am reminded of the power of a good educator in the lives of Black children, and I am encouraged to search for ways to unde rstand and describe this specialized power within the teacher education community. My concerns are in the ways that orthodox ideology and episteme circumscribe the education of African Americans within a discourse of inferiority, blame, and deprivation. I am a married, professional African American mother of four amazing African American children in the public school system. Three of my children are boys. These experiences are not as comforting as my teaching experiences, yet they are catalytic and trans formative just the same. In my own personal quest for quality the form of cultural ignorance as in the case when a potential teacher of my then four year old son remar n the form of color blindness, generalizatio ns as in the case when the director of a prestigious preschool I was subsidized child c are for low income families). These instances serve as constant reminders that my education, income, and professional level do not shield my family or myself from the impact of the elitist and discriminatory structure of knowledge deeply woven into the so cial fabric of American society. These epistemic and ideological concerns and experiences as an African American parent also shape this study in that

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89 they force me to recognize the contradictions that exist between normative and African centered construct ions of good, successful, or effective teaching of learners of African descent and privilege those perspectives that maintain the cultural integrity of the African American community. With this being noted, I make no claims for objectivity in this work. I nstead, I welcome the subjective nature of collaborative inquiry as it has encouraged me to contribute with participants in data collection, analysis and interpretation. I own my subjectivities and by owning them I will become aware of the depth of their i mpact. Figure 3 4. Data analysis knowledge flow.

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90 Conclusion In Chapter 3, I have outlined the theoretical underpinnings and methodological collective perspectives of the cultural influences on their practice. This study used collaborative inquiry methodology grounded in an emancipatory perspective inspired by an African American epistemic framework, social constructionism, Black feminist epistemology and an emancipatory e ducational research paradigm. I worked with a group of community nominated, successful African American educators. As demanded by this form of collaborative inquiry and culture focused research, all participants were connected and involved in most aspects of the inquiry process. This kind of inclusivity and mutuality was cultivated by the careful implementation of data collection process designed to establish a research space where reciprocity and authenticity were normalized. Overall, Chapter 3 of my disse rtation project reports on the aspects of a process building methodology for community and culture focused researc h.

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91 CHAPTER 4 JOURNAL ARTICLE 1 Summary of the Findings precocious eight year old son Joshua as we piled out of the minivan into the large crowd that gathered around the Martin Luther King memorial garden in downtown Gainesville. We had missed the beginning of the ceremony, so all Joshua heard as we walked towards the crowd wa s a very emotional speaker at the podium. It was the end of the summer 2013 and my family and I were attending an event to commemorate the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Immediately, my mind began searching for answers that would satisfy J the middle of Sunday morning worsh ip service. Being his mother, I should have known that his questions were coming. one of the things I adore about him most. My children are growing up in a very peculiar time in America. It is a time where it would seem they are free from exclusiona ry practices that limit their opportunities. They enjoy the right to a free public education and access to many services and resources. The advancement of technology and industry has created for them unlimited opportunities to think creatively and innovat ively about what they will become and what they will do. There are no men in white sheets terrorizing their community and there are no public signs on water fountains or restroom doors that code them as inferior and less human. The y attend multicultural sc hools and enjoy public friendships with children of different nationalities and ethnicities. Simultaneously, my children are growing up in a

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92 time of confusion and contradiction. With one eye they watch Americans celebrate the 150 th anniversary of the Eman cipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington in the year 2013, yet with the other they witness encroachments on their freedom and assaults on their Blackness. They are witness to the federal he lives of thousands of poor Blacks in the aftermath of a devastating natural disaster. They hear of White men in control of the airwaves who call Black women out of their names as a matter of fact rather than opinion. They live in an era where non racist individuals can gun down innocent young, Black boys with full legal impunity. The attend schools where culture has been erased from the curriculum or locates their cultural origins in oppression and subo rdination. So I believe their questions are valid an d are indicative of a necessary psychological struggle to make sense of these conflicting forces in their lives (Dubois, 1903). ay African Americans have always worked positi I c annot say that this was the best answer to give, nor can I describe any noticeable reactions Joshua had to my remarks. What I can say educators all the more important be cause it tells me that our children, our community and the entire nation must be reminded of the goodness and capacity for excellence embedded in African American spaces.

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93 The purpose of this study was to understand the cultural influences on the pedagogy of exemplary African American educators as they teach in predominantly African American schools. I worked collaboratively with a group of community nominated African American educators over the course of a three month period to o a group of exemplary African American educators describe and analyze the cultural influences on their pedagogy with African American array of findings that reveal the cu ltural underpinnings of the practice of a group of African American educators nominated as effective with childre n of African descent. Table 4 1 (appendix F) represents a summary of the full spectrum of domains developed in the manuscripts presented in Ch apter 4 and Chapter 5 The findings will be presented as two manuscripts, one in the remaining part of Chapter 4 and the other in C hapter 5 The article in Chapter 4 employs African American epistemology to emphasize the distinctive vision of teaching excellence as articulated by the group of African American educators involved in the study. It also highlights the ways that the group perceives the connections between their instruction and interaction with African American students and their African American cultural heritage. The article is targeted at journals that specifically report on issues in Black education, such as The Journal of Negro Education and The Journal of Black Studies. The article in Chapter 5 reveals similar cultural connections but focuses more specifically on illuminating the guiding perspectives that influence one characteristic of effective pedagogy of African American learners. This article pose s implications for all urban educators and is therefore aimed at journals focused on education and schooling

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94 in urban classrooms such as The Urban Review, Urban Education and Education and Urban Society. Manuscript 1 Through Our Ebony Eyes: African America n Educator Perspectives on Pedagogical Excellence for African American Children In recent years, discussion over the quality of teaching has gained unprecedented attention in the educational community in response to the persistent underachievement of diver se student groups, particularly African American 1 compared to their European American peers. These conversations are warranted given reports indicating that as early as third grade, African American students demonstrate significantly lower achievement tha n any other U.S. ethnic group in reading, math, science, and problem solving (Darling Hammond, 2010), are disproportionally represented in remedial and special education (Blanchette, 2006), and are two times more likely than White students to be suspended or expelled from school (Skiba et al., 2002). These findings have spurred a much needed resurgence in demands for educational equality; however, as Siddle Walker (2012) contends, we must not lose sight of the importance of the pedagogy agenda in obtaining educational equity for Black school children. 1 African American is the term used to represent people of African descent dually socialized in American cultural norms. In this paper, it will be used interchangeably with Black, Black American to provide cultural descriptions of individuals, groups, and communities.

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95 Her comments remind us that while there are exceptional educators doing great things in African American education (Delpit, 2012; Hilliard, 2003), their perspectives and practices are not in widespread use. T his does not suggest neglect on the part of educational researchers. On the contrary, several researchers have studied the professional and personal lives of accomplished teachers of African American children, their teaching practices, beliefs, and self ef ficacy (Bondy, Ross, Hambacher, & Acosta, 2013; Foster, 1997; Hilliard, 2003; Hollins, 1982; King, 1991a; Ladson Billings, 2009). What have emerged are rich descriptions, characterizations and interpretive frameworks of pedagogical excellence for student s of African American ancestry. However, the strength of this work, which lies in its theoretical and philosophical core, is underemphasized in many preparation programs (Gordon, 1997; Murrell, 2002) and even less well represented in the majority of class rooms across the country. Perhaps, programs for teacher candidates would fare better in understanding and promoting pedagogical excellence for Black children by crystallizing existing knowledge and linking it to dominant African American cultural and his torical traditions. For example approaches such as culturally relevant pedagogy (Ladson Billings, 2009) and warm demanding (Irvine & Fraser, 1998) have been designated as successful teaching frameworks for African American youth. The significance of thes e practices can be understood when examined through the lens of African American epistemology, and give rise to a common vision of teaching African American children well. In this paper I present the collective descriptions and analysis of what I identify as pedagogical excellence for African American children, to argue for more culture centered articulation of exemplary teaching for Black children in teacher education curriculum. From this

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96 cultural viewpoint, exceptional teaching of African American chil dren builds on the documented history of excellence in Black education and takes seriously the social location of African Americans (Perry, 2003). Thus, examination of pedagogy for African American youth must simultaneously attend to perspectives, practice s, and the social and cultural history of African Americans in the US. I also argue that the fullness of this pedagogical vision can be richly understood and explained when interpreted using the cultural epistemology indi genous to many African Americans This kind of examination suggests that many African Americans view, interpret, and evaluate teaching based on expectations and standards relative to the experiences of African Americans as a social group (Gordon, 1990). It also implies that pedagogical fea tures more profound than personal charisma and singing rap songs with students account for the success many teachers experience when teaching African American learners. The primary purpose of this research project was to investigate the influence of cultu re on the pedagogy of African American educators. More specifically, I wondered, te aching and learning, and makes connections between culture and excellence in pedagogy for African American children more explicit. Review of Related Literature A host of research focused on describing pedagogical excellence for African American children e xists, providing much needed visibility to the perspectives and practices of highly accomplished educators (Foster, 1993; Ladson Billings, 2009; Ladson Billings & Henry, 1990; King, 1991a; Mitchell, 1998; Stanford, 1996) Within this work are three overlapp ing research agendas explicitly focused on African American

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97 schooling experiences. These include culturally relevant pedagogy, historical research on African American schooling prior to the desegregation of public schools and research on Black educators. E ach offers critical insights into the nature and characteristics of excellence in teaching for African American school children that need to be explicitly linked to one another. Zeichner (2011) writes that teacher education researchers studying diversity must find ways to develop commonality in how we define key ideas and concepts that explicitly bui ld upon research on similar issues in order to draw meaningful conclusions about what we know about a given topic. In the following review of literature, I w ill examine these agendas to highlight what each has contributed to the vision of exemplary teaching for African American students. I will then analyze the commonalities across literature bases in terms of constructing an overall framework of pedagogical e xcellence. Culturally Relevant P edagogy Ladson previous research validating the salience of culture in teaching, learning and achievement (2009/1994). Her work was a critical departure f rom earlier studies focused on sociolinguistics in its recognition of community defined cultural standards of excellence in teaching as relevant to the achievement for Black students. In her theoretical argument, Ladson Billings (1995) proclaimed culturall y relevant pedagogy as heir own terms. Ladson Billing s made this critical assertion after she found that the te aching factor most significant in

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98 choose academic excellence and still identif Billings, 2009, p. 476). Observations and interviews demonstrated that the teachers worked dialectically between the dominant Europe an American ideology and one consistent with many Black cultures by validating student knowledge and making the standard academic content accessible to students. Furthermore, the culturally relevant teachers in Ladson g African American students was Billings & Henry, 1990, p. 82). The theory of culturally relevant pedagogy as an example of pedago gical excellence for African American learners is important for the present study because it embraces the inherently political nature of education and schooling. By employing African American cultural standard of excellence as a basis for her examination, Ladson Billings brings attention to the different meanings of success and the politics that shape the prevailing definition of teacher effectiveness as it relates to African American education. Another way this research validates the political is in its appropriation of African American culture as central to good teaching. Culturally relevant pedagogy counters a pejorative definition of African American culture and instead argues that cultural identification with Blackness can be a cornerstone of good tea ching. In this way, Ladson Billings explicitly includes the political terrain because historically, negative constructions of Blackness have been implicated in the political subordination of African descent peoples living in America. Conclusively, cultura lly relevant pedagogy contributes the political perspective to the vision of pedagogical excellence for African

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99 American students. It does not attempt to de politicize teaching and learning, but rather implicates the political in the vision of what it mean s to teach African American children well. Historical Research on African American S chooling Educational historian Vanessa Siddle Walker has written extensively about the nature of schooling for African American children during the period of legalized public school segregation (2005, 2000, 1996). From this in depth examination she concluded ans valued the cultural form of teaching and learning that developed in the segregated Walker, 2000, p. 255).This conclusion challenged the prevailing assumption that early Black educational efforts were axiomatically inferior in its recog nition of African American standards of exemplary teaching. One of her most notable findings was related to the many ways effective teachers of this era cared for African American school children. Siddle which sh sociological and academic needs of another individu al or individuals (1993, p.65). She found that good teachers during this time demonstrated a deep commitment to student l earning and success, and a demanding nature guided by an unflinching belief in the intellectual ability of students. According to her participants, the good teachers were the one s who would not let students perform poorly or let students give up on themsel ves. Instead, they were classroom leaders who embraced their authoritative role and used it to increase student achievement and self respect promote a sense of community, and mitigate an often oppressive educational system. To students, these good teachers

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100 Walker & Tompkins, 2004). They were empathetic, yet expr essed a sense of urgency and necessity in their teaching. Through her analysis of teacher care, Siddle Walker documented the psychological stance, or disposition of exemplary educators. This care and authority, and is also referred to as warm demanding (Bondy, Ross, Hambacher & Acosta, 2013; Ford & Sassi, 2013; Ware, 2006). Siddle Walker undoubtedly revealed the history of pedagogical excellence for Black students, which according to her t eacher, student, and community research participants, was connected to social, economic, and political status of the African American masses. This historical documentation is relevant to the current study because it validates the existence and enduring nat ure of excellence in teaching African American children. In tracing the history of exceptional teaching in African American communities, this work also highlights the thoughtful and intentional manner in which effective teachers of African American childre n used their sensibilities and skills to orchestrate a powerful, purposeful pedagogy. This is important because it helps debunk Billings, 2009, p. 14). The history of African American schooling provides the necessary historical layer to a community centered vision of excellence in pedagogy. Through this work we can gather that pedagogical excellence for African American students necessitates a distinctive teaching disposition connected to an enduring African American consciousness

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101 Research on Black E ducators The research on Black educators has grown exponentially over the last two decades. The work of Michele Foster (1997, 1994 1993 ) features prominently among this literature and offer insight about the work of Black educators relevant to any discussion of exemplary teaching of Black children. Foster challenged the negative depiction of Black as uncaring individuals who perpetuated the status quo. She argued, quite convincingly, that effective Black educators were a positive force in African American education and they enacted a culturally distinctive pedagogy relevant to their students. In this, Foster presented a cogent argument f or the cultural study of teaching that emphasized African American axiology, or cultural values. cial Black teachers maintain cultural solidarity with the Afri can American community at large. This, she stated is explicitly and implicitly reinforced through classroom interactions, community recognition shared responsibility for the academic and social growth of students. Foster (1994) then ghlighted in studies of Black teachers (Case, 1997; Collins, 2000). This demandingness, Foster explained was inherent in the kinship role they assumed in relation to students (1994). She stated, embrace a complex set of practical implication she noted was that good Black teachers Black teachers emphatically and insistently demanded that students put forth maximum eff ort to

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102 achieve at high levels. She described this bond between teacher and students as a communalism, self determination, mutuality in relationships and social equality (Foster, 199 4, 1993). The inclusion of Black voices highlights the significance of Af rican American cultural values i n good teaching. These values were developed from a common African heritage and a distinctive American social location (Franklin, 1984). T his inclusion moves the dialogue about teacher quality for African American children beyond the strategies conversation to a more critical analysis of the abiding cultural formations that give rise to a nuanced view of teaching excellence. The lines of res earch discussed above are reflective of a specific and systematic effort to successfully educate African American children. The confluence of this work creates a robust context for understanding the parameters of teaching for excellence. The underlying con cepts that guide these frameworks are rooted in traditional African American perspectives and values that assisted generations of Black people in their desire for education and subsequent demand of educational quality (Gordon, 1993; Perry, 2003). The conve rgence of these perspectives and values creates a culture centered vision of teaching African American students that localizes educational excellence within the African American community. The current study builds on the foundations of excellence in teach ing established above by explicitly attending to the social, political, and cultural underpinnings of pedagogical excellence for African American learners and making them more explicit. It departs from the psychological foundations of teaching and learning and instead, draws from a rich foundation of

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103 sociological and anthropological research guided by African American interests in ways that employ culture as a systemic tool for educational equity, social justice and humanity ( Gordon, 1997; King, 2005). The oretical Framework This study relies on the philosop hical stance conceptualized by Gordon ( 1990, 1985 ), which argues that African American epistemology is critical to educational theory, policy, and practice because it produces a mode of social theorizing about education in the public interest. As such, it creates a context for understanding the teaching of African American children that is both liberatory and democratic. From my position as an African American teacher educator and researcher committed to the education of Black children, a former school teacher of Black children and a mother of African American school aged children, Gordon's theory is appropriate for my research for at least two reasons First, this framework is culturally sensitive given t hat the themes that emerge from it are based on the lived experiences of people of African descent. This sensitivity is important because it can reduce the likelihood for misinterpretation and misrepresentation that has stifled educational improvement for African Americans many culture dislodges the dominant view that sees diversity and culture as hindrances to educational achievement (Cochran Smith & Fries, 2011) In place of this deficit view of diversity and culture, African American epistemology facilitates the creation of a vision of pedagogical excellence for students of African descent in America explicitly connected to it s abiding cultural epicenter.

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104 Methodolo gy This qualitative study employed a collaborative inquiry methodology situated within an emancipatory educational research perspective (EER). Emancipatory educational research is designed to produce transformative knowledge generated through collaborative research with groups and individuals functioning as agents of their own change (Emancipatory Educational Research, 2012). EER maintains a focus on cultural, historical, and contemporary experiences with full regard for local complexities, power relations, and life experiences. Methodologically, emancipatory educational or value such, bri ngs transparency in the research process by demanding a move away from positions of objectivity and neutrality. Instead, EER insists on researcher disclosure and self reflexivity throughout the research process. Thus the researcher is able to function tran s subjectively as a fully invested partner in the project (West Olatunji, 2005; Tyson, 2003). EER serves as methodological guide for researchers, such as myself, who operate from the ideological positions of democracy and uni versal human freedom. W ho, li ke me, engage in research as action in the public interest (Ladson Billings & Tate, 2006; Tyson, 2003) and who seek as I do to blur the boundaries between academic scholarship and activism in ways that are productive and healthy. Research Design The colla borative inquiry employed in this study preserves emancipatory human persons to know that we are part of the whole, rather than separated as mind Heron & Reason, 1997, p.2). This view of inquiry emphasizes

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105 inclusive participation, mutuality, and the co construction of knowledge (Bridges & McGee, 2011). In practice, collaborative inquiry operates as a process of cycling between four overlapping eleme nts; (1) reflection, (2) the collective construction of knowledge fostered through dialogue with peers, (3) action, and (4) further group decision making (Heron & Reason, 1997). Knowledge is produced and validated in a shared space and grounded in the pers pectives, experiences, and practices of the group. Researcher and participants function as co researchers; thinking and generating ideas, designing and managing the project and analyzing and interpreting the data. Collaborative inquirers also operate as co subjects, each individual participating fully in every step in the inquiry process and contributing to a collective view, theory or perspective. Hyland and Meacham (2004) lament that what is missing in teacher e ways to use the subjugated knowledge of the dispossessed as a liberating educational tool for cultural well being and human suited to meet this need. Participant Sel ection To create the collaborative inquiry group, community nomination was used as a purposive sampling technique. In using this process in a similar study of Black educators, Foster (1993) defined community nomination as a process by which research partic in this study wa American children and use this culturally generated knowledge as the basis of inquiry.

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106 In this study, I visited a predominantly African American church, afterschool program, and commu nity organization on separate occasions. At each site, I engaged in a say or do that g this, a collective definition of teacher quality was constructed. The groups developed very similar definitions of good teachers. Across the groups, community members noted that good teachers: challenge children to do their best every day show children how to complete their work listen to parents and maintain open communication with them. are tough follow through child will grow up and live in are fair and honest provide one on one support for my child when necessary. I then asked families to identify in writing the names and schools of any teacher whom they believed met the char acteristics produced in our discussion. Their nominations were collected at the end of the meeting. These focus group sessions lasted approximately one hour at each site and I took extensive field notes to capture key ideas.

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107 A total of 12 educators were identified and invited through email to an introductory luncheon to recognize and celebrate their community nomination and solicit their participation in the study. Six of the nominated teachers attended the luncheon, and four educators plus myself volunteered to participate in the research collective. The other two teachers who attended the introductory luncheon consented to participate, but were subsequently unable to continue due to extenuating circumstances The collective As Table 4 2 indicates, each of the educators self identified as African American and had a range of teaching experience from seven to thirty five years. All of the educators were born, raised, and attended schools in the South. Table 4 2 Demographics of the collective Name Ethnicity Edu. Level Teaching Exp (No. of years) Grade level School size % of African American students % of students free or reduced lunch A ntionette AA M 9 Elem. 365 88% 95% J alonda AA S 13 Elem. 692 55% 82% H arriett AA M 36 Elem. 692 55% 82% G eneva AA M 22 Elem. 353 98% 96% M onica AA M 7 N/A N/A N/A N/A Three of the educators were native to the area, while two had relocated with their families, one three years ago, the other 12 years ago. Two of the teachers knew each other because they were co workers. Four of the educators were working in elementary schools at the time of the study, though further conversations revealed that three had experience teaching at the secondary level and two were experienced special

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108 African American, high poverty schools. Data Collection Partially structured research meetings provided the conditions necessary for the research collective to engage in the inquiry process. Five research meetings occurred over the course of a three month period. Meetings we re held on weekday evenings at a local eating establishment frequented by many in the group. Duration of the meetings ranged from 90 to 120 minutes. Throughout the research meetings, I served as lead researcher; leadership in this respect meant facilitati ng the meeting and using my knowledge of research methods to assist in group decision making. Prior to each meeting, I sent out a reminder email to all participants that included a rough draft of the upcoming agenda. After group members added, modified, an d deleted agenda items, I sent a revised agenda which was used during the meeting. Each meeting followed a similar format: Reflection: We re read notes generated from introductory luncheon where we provided oral accounts and descriptions of our teaching. Debriefing: We elaborated, contested, changed, and refined our ideas. Text & visual elicitation: We re read selected segments of transcripts I selected portions of transcripts from previous meetings prior to each upcoming research session. I selected segm ents that would allow each participant to elaborate on ideas, statements and phrases. In meetings four and five, we examined a visual representation I drew based on previous conversations about the ways we described our teaching. New theorizing: Based o n steps 1 3, we engaged in continued collective oral analysis of our pedagogy. Group decision making: We negotiated aspects of the research project such as upcoming meetings and new ideas and activities to explore.

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109 As the meetings progressed, the group mov ed through three phases, or ways of interacting very similar to how Lawrence Lightfoote & Davis (1997) describe the use of voice in portraiture methodology. The first phase was characterized by congeniality. We eference to our individual pedagogy using were uncontested or were not probed for further clarification. We seemed to be voices (Lawrence Lightfoote & Davis, 1997, p.). In the second phase, we began to develop a collective standpoint regarding our teaching. This phase was characterized by solidarity in that we perceived that a set of shared beliefs and practices existed within the group, which allowed us to delve into deeper analysis and interpretation of their views and together define meaning making ( Lawrence Lightfoote & Davis, 1997, p. 103). In the third phase, which was characterized as collective theorizing, we emerged into a non hierarchical research collective. This was most noticeable in meetings four and five as we began to express ideas a s representative of the entire group using words conversation patterns referenced attempts to support one another in description and explanations of pedagogy. Our interactions were mediated by negotiation, in which we used facial expressions, verbal and non verbal cues, gestures, and reenactments to probe, challenge, and refine presented ideas. As the lead researcher, I was careful not to let my comments assume sole authority or dict ate the discussions. That is, I used

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110 (Lawrence Lightfoote & Davis, 1997, p. 85). Conversa tions of this nature enabled the group to gather thick descriptions and detailed analysis of teaching from our collective cultural standpoint. All group meetings were audio recorded and I took extensive observational field notes. Data Analysis Audio taped interviews were transcribed verbatim and transcripts were analyzed kinds of analysis done and does not suggest that data analysis proceeded in a sequential or logical pro gression. On the contrary, some phases of data analysis were overlapping, while others flowed from one to the other. In the upcoming sections, I describe the methodological steps taken to analyze the data. Phase o ne Framing analysis. In the first phase, I conducted a framing analysis during data collection for three reasons: (1) to gain a sense of the emerging themes and key ideas (2) to use this analysis as an elicitation tool during subsequent research meetings. The framing analysis enabled the research group to surface the cultural perspectives on teaching that might otherwise remain tacit. (3) To organize the data in ways would make collective analysis in the next phases manageable for the research team. Conducting the preliminary a how the data were a pproached (Hatch, 2002, p. 164)

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111 Phase t wo Collective analysis Phase two involved collective analysis of the data. Domain analysis was in this process (Spradley, 198 0). The collective analysis followed an inductive approach as described by Hatch (2002). According to Hatch (2002), inductive analysis involves organizing and interrogating data in ways that allow researchers to see patterns, identify themes, discover relationships, develop explanations, make interpretations, mount critiques, The purpose of analyzing the data with t he community nominated African American educators involved was to ground the analysis in the cultural ways of thinking and knowing of the group. An additional underlying purpose was to provide an opportunity for the group of Black educators to crystallize their own understandings about the ways their lived experiences and cultural practices influence their teaching, which can be an emanci pating experience in itself. First, I provided the team with a brief overview and explanation of the inductive analyti cal approach using Hatch (2002) as a guide. Next, the group collectively read data segments organized according to the frames of analysis developed in the preliminary analysis. We then created an initial list of possible domains to describe group perspecti ves on the ways that culture influenced pedagogy. According to Hatch

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112 domains emerged from our discussions about the data and I organized them by listing each, along with examples that supported them, in a separate document. During this step, I asked clarifying and probing questions as a way to guide the group in identifying the semantic relationship between included terms and cover terms. For example, as we read the transcripts, the group noticed that we frequently spoke about maintaining high expectations for performance d espite the challenges that may come with teaching African American students experiencing the negative impact of good teaching of African American children se led to the formulation of This example highlights my role during this phase. I served to demystify the research process as an analytical guide in addition to maintainin g a participatory presence in the study. In the next step, we read the domain sheets in order to identify and refine salient codes. Through this we developed interpretations and found examples from the data to support our thinking. Wolcott (1994) states t hat researchers should connect their interpretations to the research questions. Thus, the guiding questions we asked combined with others or dropped altogether The collective analysis was a significant analytical step because it enabled us to make sense of

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113 in teaching (Ladson Billings, 2000). Additionally, it was important because it provided a culturally specific proxy for the subsequen t independent analysis of data Phase three Refining analysis I independently applied African American epistemology (Gordon, 1990) as a theoretical lens to better understand how the domains were connected to dominant African American cultural themes enca psulated in African American epistemology. These themes include; service, nationalism, political power, self determination/self help and economic autonomy. As an initial step, I read the emergent themes from the collective analysis. I searched for simila rities, differences, cultural theme. This merging of theory with data produced overarching themes that represented both the thinking of the group and some of the dominan t perspectives encapsulated in African American cultural knowledge. These were the themes used to organize and report the findings and include purposes of urgency and factors contributing to urgency. Each larger theme has subthemes, which will be shared i n the next section. This layer of analysis was used to provide theoretical language as a Methodological epilogue The methodological choices made in this study were not chosen randomly. Rather, my choices represent thoughtful decisions that do not ignore the political nature of social science inquiry, but instead embrace the politics of research from a position of democracy (Lather, 1980). Furthermore, my own commitments to Black education and expe riences as a Black teacher, parent, and community member significantly shape the way I think about the purposes of research as well as the design of this study. African American studies research such as this

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114 maintains explicit emphasis on the cultural well being of the community. Therefore, validity and credibility in research are defined catalytically by the ability to produce meaningful outcomes that will improve African American life conditions. In other words, 1904; Woodson, 1933). Therefore one way validity and credibility in this study was determined was in consideration of the following two activities : 1. Conversations about the research project: During the researc h meetings, group These statements are evidence of research validity because they highlight the 2. Ongoing activit y: One of the collectively agreed upon outcomes of this research was the creation of a Black education organization focused on meeting some of the educational needs in the African American community. We spoke about this possibility explicitly in session 4 and have since met on two subsequent occasions after data collection to further consider and organize ourselves for positive action. As of August 2013, we have established a group identity (The Black Educator Action Team), a short list of goals and a pl an of action aimed at meeting our stated objectives. The development and movements of this action group highlight the way research can be a strategically designed to positively impact communities of color, and increase the catalytic validity of the study. Findings There is no shortage of scholarship representative of African American social theorizing (Gordon, 1993). Within African American epistemology, themes reveal p p. 449 450). Such work is located in the cultural artifacts produced by African American scholars and intellectuals throughout various academic disciplines and pop culture genres. Embedded in these cultural

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115 artif acts are themes which, taken together, represent the major philosophical premises of an African American standpoint (Franklin, 1984). The currents of thought inherent in African America n epistemology include self help, self determination, service, nationa lism, economic autonomy, and political power, and coalesce into a powerful frame of reference upon which many African American people interpret their existence, decipher dominant ideology, and organize for change (Gordon, 1990, 1985). Gordon (1993) found t hat the abiding African American epistemological guideposts speak to an overarching worldview and specifically inform the development of a distinctive educational perspective and practice rooted in African American experiential knowledge. In short, as Gord 1990, p. 90). Fully understanding any explanatory framework or theory of achievement for African American children necessitates an examination of the ways that such paradigms function in relation to African American thought. These theoretical themes were the ideological foundation upon which many Black educators envisioned, designed, and organized the kind of teaching they perceived to serve the interest of students and the community (Gordon, 1985; Perry, 2003). As such, African American epistemology provided a powerful analytical tool in the current study to understand the education and schooling experiences of African American learners, which i ncludes the kind of pedagogy that facilitates academic and cultural excellence. The findings presented substantiate this argument. The collective theorizing produced knowledge about pedagogical excellence for African American children consistent with them es embedded in an African American mode of rationality. Analysis

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116 of t he data revealed three themes community by teaching, and there are no excuses which emphasize such connections. ation In 1960, African American educator Septima P. Clark wrote an essay extolling the work of the citizenship education schools which flourished in the American South amid a publicly contested battle for racial equality. In her essay entitled, Literacy a nd successful initiatives of the citizenship schools. Such a pronouncement is indicative of an enduring African American perspective inextricably linking literacy, or education with freedom, which is embedded in the themes of political power and economic autonomy pervasive in African American epistemology (Anderson, 1988; Anderson & Kharem, 2009; Perry, 2003; Richards & Lemelle, 2005). Analysis of the data revealed that this cultural theme was also embedded in the discourse and group thinking about what teaching excellence means for African American children. This was evident in the repeated emphasis of the idea that, the only way to do better is through education [session 4] We 2 frequently used phrases such about the overarching purpose of education for African Americans: to overcome a persistent inequitable social context as a form of resistance. As the conversation cycled, our collective voice mirrored this same commitment to educate for freedom and uplift. 2 The plural first person noun is used throughout the findings to highlight the co constructive design of the study in that my participation was as both participant and researcher as with all group members.

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117 J alonda re black they [teach ers] know where you got to go, around this is an opportunity culture is that how you get ahead in this world is through education. [session 3]. The comment above points to the shared understanding among some African Americans that education is still the most viable way to improve the African American social condition. It also underscores the sense of urgency felt by accomplished Black educators w ho link the value of education directly to the knowledge that education was not always a universal right or guarantee for African American people (Anderson, 1988). As conversation moved further into pedagogical analysis, we noted how this political agenda served as a key characteristic of African American exemplary teaching. Geneva: When we say that we have these high expectations and that they [teachers who are not successful with Black students] may not have that, H arriett: They Jalonda: Harriett: Geneva: more. We still have to do more. Jalon da: And then to look at where we came from, we understand on another level Geneva: exactly Antionette: it is the only way that is gonna somewhat level the playing field amongst you and a White kid or an Asian kid or whatever. You know I think deep down we know that this is the truth, but for them education is education everybody goes to school, everybody goes to college everybody is doing Monica: Harriett: we hold a different value to education because it is something that, once

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118 Antionette: Yes. Jalonda: Exactly. [session 5] Note that group mem bers affirm their agreement and validation of ideas and The idea the educators expressed above is that obtaining an education has culturally specific meanings es the perspective that education serves larger purposes connected to increasing African American political African American people to demand racial social injustice and assert their claim to citizenship. In this way, this conversation also highlights the moral and political imp expansive vision of teaching excellence. These findings suggest that rather than attempt to depoliticize educati on by ignoring the political aspect of conceptions of pedagogical excellence, teacher educators should embrace the political implications of teaching and learning on ethical grounds as a way to scaffold teacher education students towards demonstrating exce llence when teaching Black students. The group agreed that this political perspective was critical for African American students. Furthermore they believed that the pervasive underachievement of Black children was a consequence of the lack of transference of this perspective to younger generations of African American students. They lamented, [everyone agrees and laughs]. Monica: And YOU had to tell him that

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119 Antionette: exactly! Black ain t got to do nothing world right here today is perfect, great and wonderful and they don to worry about a Monica: slapped in the face with it. Antionette; B ut coming [ session 4 ] As we continued in dialogue, the group readily used this political backdrop as a way to describe and make sense of specific kinds of interactions they had with students. Often in the conversation, we linked our thinking about student interactions to descriptions of interactions we had with our biological children. Though the following dialogue is le ngthy, it captures the ways that the pedagogy was linked to the theme of political power embedded in African American epistemology. Jalonda: I had to tell my son right now today, he got in trouble cause he raised his voice at a teacher. He was trying to get his point across and of course he was getting louder and louder. And I just sat down and talked to him and H arriett & Geneva: Umhmm. Antionette: not feel that you were raising your voice, you were talking to a white Monica: Antionette: the conversations that we have to have with our children. For them to understand, that just because we have a bl ack president does not mean Jalonda: And you have to work twice as hard to get the same results, you have to be twice as good. So I have them [conversations], and there is no other way.

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120 Monica: al to their success? Like do they have to know it? Antionette: Oh yes, oh yes, it is extremely critical Jalonda: So we have these conversations and I would just hope that at some point if I tell them in kindergarten, tell them again in first grade then tell them again in second grade at some point I hope they will start to get it. Because at some point they gonna face that situation and hopefully they will remember oh, this is what Ms. J. was talking about. [session 3] It must be noted that while the gro up agreed that these kinds of talks with African American students were critical, they realized that their shared cultural standpoint made it easier for them than other teachers to engage in this kind of conversation. However, in keeping with the guiding ssed sense of agency, in which they each described occasions where they were advocates for Black students, demanding that they be provided every opportunity to be successful. ly bound philosophy of education by insisting that other educators avoid using prior conceptions of students to limit their possibilities. Jalonda: When all my kids are black and half of them male and 90% of ause they got in trouble in transition meetings for students transitioning from middle school to high school, I used to see kids that were on that S pecial Ed track. They [other school perso nnel] wanted t o automatically put them in S pecial E I was like, classroom 2]

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121 times, placement in special education does not lead to educational success. This educator, along with the other special educator perceived that a special education In this it is evident that through the eyes of the research group, education was as much about African American uplift and advancement as it was about academic achievement and individual economic prosperity. The same educator continues offering a rationale for her resistance to the unchallenged special education placement of African American students. S he shares: Jalonda: you; if you put them [ Black students] in ESE there is no going back. There is no going back to regular ed. You spend one year in ESE and there are so many credits that you are gonna have to make up that going to start here [in regular ed]. [session 1] Interesti ngly, the fact that this educator fought so hard to keep African American students out of special education demonstrates her solidarity with students and community against a flawed system of education. In sum, Perry (2003) questioned For what groups of African Americans is this [African American] philosophy of education still compelling ? How would it be manifested, ritualized, and represented in the post (p. 51). The educators in the When analyzed through the lens of African American epistemology, it becomes apparent that they maintained a historic African American philosophy of education, which dramatically influenced their teaching. It may be that African American epistemology as a n

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122 interpretive framework facilitated this more nuanced vision of pedagogical excellence because it recognized the sociopolitical dynamics of teaching. Serving the Community by T eaching The idea of service and its link to education as a vehicle for group fr eedom and social reform has been a rallying call embraced by many people of African descent tunate enough Throughout the research meetings, the pedagogical rationale we described was consistent with an African American epistemological theme of service. Such servi ce oriented perspectives are evident in the dialogue about our purposes for pursuing a career in education highlighted below. Antionette: The Jalonda: If it was abou Harriett: My reason for coming into teaching was I saw what needed to be done Monica: So you said y ou saw what needed to be done what did you see? Harriett: matter what side of town you come from. What matters is the kind of do the best th Jalonda: American] cause these kids need someone who is going to advocate for them and put them to the wall and say Monica: Antionette:

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123 Jalonda: right, exactly. Antionette: mak e an impact in the community. [ session 5] In addition, this line of thought seemed to contribute to the understanding that service work as educators was not limited to teaching academic content only. As expressed in each conversation, the group understood the challenges that might prevent some poor African American children from a cademic achievement, but they did not cower before them. Instead, they took an expansive approach to meeting the needs th 5]. Whereas other t eachers might draw clear lines of demarcation to limit their duties and responsibilities in educating poor Black children, on academic and social subjects because th ey believed they were meeting critical student and community needs. In other words, they willingly assumed responsibility for helping students master academic content as well as the hidden school curriculum as part of their reason able service to the commun ity. Each participant reasoned that it was knowledge of the implicit cultural practices of schools that prevented many African American students form succeeding educationally. Therefore they described how they acted with urgency to help students understan d and navigate the dominant culture embedded in many schools. Harriett: classroom management. Geneva: Antionette: and not just behavior as in misbehavior, but just knowing how to come to school and sit in a seat and just not talk when the teacher is talking and

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124 listen just basic things that you would think children would come to Harriett: respec Antionette: Monica: so not is it respect in terms of communication knowing when to talk is it talking back, getting an attitude? A ntionette G eneva & Harriett: Monica: Is it not u nderstanding how the game of school is played? Harriett: G eneva & Antionette: Monica: H arriett A ntionette & Geneva: Teach Them! Geneva: You have to. You have to teach the whole child, not just A B,Cs and Harriett: overnight and you start telling yourself prepared to deal wi Antionette: you stop and fix it right then. Monica: right then? Antionette: As demonstrated in the above conversation, when teachers are connected to the communities in which they work in ways that promote the view of their role as community servant, they might be more willing to stand in the gap for Black kids and act with expedi ency to meet their unique needs. Finally, this service oriented perspective seemed to create a more comprehensive view of the teaching profession, one inclusive of social reconstruction as

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125 an overall educational objective. In other words, the view of teach ing as service demanded active participation in building a new social order (Counts, 1932; Dubois, 1930). This link between service and action appeared constantly as we described the ways we interacted with children, families and other educators and in our explanations for those actions. The following comment from one educator is reflective of this action oriented perspective. She recounted a recent instance in which she had to speak out in support of the community against her co workers who wanted to organ ize a school wide event at a time when most families would be unable to attend. Geneva: [referencing the school carnival] Monica: have it? Geneva: They wanna have it during school hours. This is a community thing. Girl you know I showed up and showed out! [laughter] Monica: Geneva: t know Antionette: yeah Geneva: Harriett: Geneva: You know, we need to do something [session 2] As a member of the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) at her school, this teacher challenged the pervasive disregard for African Americans families, which possibly changed an inequitable practice at her school. Her actions demonstrate agency, or her belief that she possessed the power to challenge and change unfair

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126 practices. From an educational perspective, this is indicative of a social reconstructionist demand that teachers lead in the social change movement. Historically, many Black educators saw it as t heir duty to teach the masses of illiterate Blacks within the community as a form of collective survival, resistance, and liberation (Franklin, 1984; Perry, 2003). As illustrated in the collective perspectives above, some African American educators have ke education is not just for personal advancement, but for the purpose of Black community more purpose driven vision of teaching excellence conne cted to a broader social justice agenda. The social justice objectives inherent in the service theme may otherwise be obscured, but it is highlighted as a standard of pedagogical excellence from an African American theoretical perspective. There are No E x cuses One of the recurrent phrases said by each group member as we described our kind of pedagogy we enacted with Black school children would best be called no excuse s teaching [session 3]. To the group, no excuses teaching reflected the view that it was essential for Black children to direct their own educational future. It also highlighted the oppositional, or subversive pedagogical stance to create the conditions n ecessary for students, with or without help from the educational system. The values of self help and self determination evident in the independent organizational effo rts of ex slaves as well as in the scholarship of many early and contemporary Black educators and leaders (Anderson & Kharem, 2009; Anderson, 1988; Franklin, 1984;

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127 Gordon, 1985). To put it simply, the collective reasoned that in the US educational system a chievement would only come to African Americans through their own persistence, ingenuity, and solidarity. A prevalent finding connected to the no excuses approach was the unwavering belief we had in the ability and capabilities of African American students The group expressed a view that African American children possessed an innate capacit y for reflection on her experience teaching African American kids in special education vividly captures this belief in students. Jalonda: I had so many black kids that were in ESE that were gonna get a special diploma and I would look at these kids and say baby why you in here? [I realized] they put all these black kids into my classroom not because Monica: Jalonda: yeah, it was because they were bad. Dumped them all in an ESE class. you might as well have me in a regular education classroom. Because these kids are smart kno to show them [session 1] Instructionally, the no excuses philosophy, guided by self help and self determination served as the catalyst for subversive practices and pedagogical risk ed to an understanding that in an educational system designed to maintain race and class inequity, these

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128 trative. Jalonda: would need to work on so they could take their GED and pass it I wanted to give my students a GED class cause [I knew and wanted them to et your GED baby gonn They [school administrators] said I under the table laughter] Monica: so is that something we have to be willing to do? Antionette: We have to be willing to do it before hours or after hours or whenever you Jalonda: I did it in the middle of the day honey Monica: Antionette: Jalonda: teachers are afraid to take chances. And rig htly so rightly so because there is no tenure or anything and they can fire you at any moment. But you got to be able to get some chances in there you got to be able to sneak some chances in there. Antionette: got to be a risk taker right, [sessi on 1] Similarly, the teachers were guided by this self determining, no excuses philosophical value as they taught in hyper vigilant school contexts. One of the educators described her experience of teaching in a school taken over by the state educational g sharing "This is my house, my domain, my environment you gotta deal with it. I will teach what you tell me to teach but do not tell me how to teach it [session 1]. Interestingly, this s elf described no excuses view of teaching was also guided by a profound connectedness with students. As educators, when we looked at our

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129 [Black kids] because we were these k from reflection on our own educational experiences. Group members remembered the people in their lives who pushed and demanded excellence of them. All seemed to understand the importance of this role i n their own lives and were compelled to act similarly with their students as a way to pass down the philosophy and values of self help and self determination, which had been inculcated in them. In talking about how educators explained: Geneva: Well my students know where I came from I tell em. Harriett: Jalonda: Umhmm. Man I lived in a house where one room that was the whole s, cucumbers, tomatoes, and I'm out there in the field with my daddy and I'm November I was not supposed to make it so if I can make it you? I'm no different than you, I am no bette r than you are. I had my education, education education is important, but you have me important pushing education, say difference? There is no difference. There are no excuses [for student academic failure] Monica: Antionette: There are no excuses [session 3] Subsequently, the group described the impact this had on their students, stating that sharing their perspectives with students let them know, and there because they could, [session 3] The group agreed that while some teachers carried perspectives about African Americans cemented in assumed intellectual and cultural deficits, they labeled such

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130 views every onl y [session3]. Furthermore, they explained the potential consequences for Black children who do not have teachers to help them develop a no excuses, self help mentality. They noted: Monica: So do you think it does a disservice to our kids if teachers buy into [negative] assumptions about our kids? Geneva: Yes, because [they will think] everyone is gonna feel sorry for me gonna play that, self pity Monica: So what happens to our kids in the long run when they go Geneva: they are gonna continue to have that concept about Antio nette : just look at mug shots. There you go. T happen to them. [session3] Self determination seemed to be an African American value deeply embedded in the pedagogy of this collective. It functioned implicitly providing focus to their instruct ion, framing their interactions with students, and fueling their oppositional educational stance. Some may describe this style as harsh and uncaring, but when viewed through an African American epistemology framework, it represents a systematic mode of ca re, urgently expressed and shaped by the African American existential condition. Discussion and Implications To date, a number of educational policymakers and practitioners have initiated changes in teacher education aimed at preparing teachers for an incr easingly diverse public school population. Many of these changes have been made without consideration of the cultural influence on pedagogical excellence or the history of

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131 educational excellence embedded in African American communities. As a result, margi nal improvements have occurred in educational outcomes for African American school children and a discourse of hopelessness within the educational community grows (Delpit, 2005; Elderman, 2011; Ladson Billings, 2005). The present study speaks back to this sense of hopelessness by presenting the perspectives of African American educators who continue the search for goodness in Black education. Guided by the emic view of good teaching, the research presented in this paper incites necessary discussion about wh at vision of pedagogy has the greatest potential to restore excellence as standard in teaching African American students, and how this pedagogy might be framed in teacher education in ways that honor and validate that vision. As the findings in this study demonstrate, when pedagogical excellence for distinctive purpose and orientation. The collective theorizing of the educators in this study was consistent with three pr evalent themes inherent in African American epistemology: political power, self help/self determination, and service. These themes emerged after we collectively explored our thinking about specific pedagogical decisions made in predominantly African Ameri can educational settings. From this angle, it is the sense that teaching expresses our commitment to community advancement, and the determination to help Black child ren succeed are deeply situated within an African American liberatory consciousness. At the core of this liberatory perspective are African American cultural formations which speak to an ethical, rather than capitalist, social agenda (Anderson & Kharem,

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132 2 009). Each conversation was framed against this philosophical backdrop and converged to form a powerful, emancipatory pedagogy (Gordon, 1982; King, 1991a; Ladson Billings & Henry, 1990). Emancipatory pedagogy uses cultural knowledge to formulate interpreta tions of African American experiences and generate relevant learning experiences for students. For the educators in the present study, this emancipatory perspective functioned as a pedagogical organizer through which instructional practices were designed, interpreted, and enacted. Thus, when we interacted with and taught Black children, we did so with an ever present sense of the specialized needs of African American school children as a social group. This produced a distinctive kind of pedagogical responsi veness connected to an abiding African American cultural consciousness in which pedagogy became an act of thoughtful and strategic resistance. This aspect of the cultural context of teaching and learning may hold great promise for improving the education of African American children, yet it is this link that is most often missing from the teacher education curriculum (Ladson Billings, 2007, 2000). In my own experiences as an African American teacher educator, I have found that without this cultural contex t, some teacher education students struggle to develop habits of mind necessary to demonstrate pedagogical excellence for African American students, particularly those experiencing the negative impact of poverty. Duncan Andrade (2011), King (1991b) and Mu rrell (2002) confirm my emerging speculations in their argument that without a deeper analysis of culture that moves beyond awareness of cultural traits, most teachers remain dysconscious, maintaining an uncritical

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133 disposition with regard to sociocultural inequality. Thus they are unable to develop any kind of transformative pedagogical project. Designing teacher preparation around this emancipatory approach may offer teachers opportunities to develop a critical perspective and intellectual awareness that can be converted into instructional strategies (Gordon, 1997). More research is needed to accompany existing approaches of emancipatory perspectives in teacher education such as those provided by (King, 1997), Gordon (1997), Ladson Billings, (2000). How ever one possible suggestion for teacher educators involves explicit examination of African American theories of achievement with teacher education students These theories are often based on some of the cultural politics, history and values involved in educating African Americans (Murrell, 2003; Perry, 2003). Including these theories of achievement into the framework of effective teac hing might help teachers develop a body of relevant cul tural knowledge in which to situate their conceptualization of pedagogical excellence. Likewise, use of such theories might help to dislodge the preeminence of competing theories that locate the source of African American achievement, or underachievement, within the child, family or environment. In the present study, educators in the research group maintained a historical perspective on educational success for Black children that linked their teaching and the achievement of their students with political, ec onomic and social gains. This perspective seemed to compel these educators to enact an emancipatory pedagogy that demonstrated their solidarity with the community. Restructuring the curriculum in ways that build on African American indigenous theories may help teacher educators construct a more cohesive, asset based approach to educating Black children. This

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134 approach can be considered more cohesive, or more sound, because it uproots the flawed, deficit based structure of knowledge that seems to pervert ev en the most sincere attempts at cultural relevance in teaching (King, 1991). These theories might encourage teachers to assume an anthropocentric stance in their examination of instructional practices. This stance encourages teachers to question the exten t to which teaching practices align with the specific goals of education for some African American groups. It also demands teachers to interrogate the potential of teaching practices to meet larger community needs. Findings from of the current study sugges t that the enabled them to critically As a result, the educators were able to make critical instruction al decisions that more expansively met student needs. While it is uncertain the extent to which the group was driven by other social factors, such as gender, it is reasonable to suggest that these educators were better suited to meet student needs given th e cultural influences on their teaching The outcomes of a more theoretically consistent, culture focused approach to preparing teachers for African American children are promising. Teacher educators might find that they have a curriculum that truly refle cts an asset based approach to educating Black children from theory to practice. Teachers might find that they are better prepared to enter predominantly African American schools and teach in ways that promote educational excellence for students. Additiona lly, the findings from this study provide a scaffold to support our thinking on how to best meet the professional development needs of novice African American

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135 teachers Researchers have documented that while some teacher education programs are approaching issues of diversity and equity in progressive ways, most of these efforts overwhelmingly cater to young, white females at the expense of teachers of color (Cochran Smith, 2004; Cook, 2013; Sleeter, 2008). To be sure, the rapidly changing demographics of A mer ican public schools, in which most urban schools teachers are White females while students are African American, Hispanic, or Asian Pacific Islander, creates a need to ensure that young White women in teacher education are prepared to teach for excellen ce. However, as Cook (2013) argues, the tendency to situate Whiteness at the center of teaching implies that Black teachers intrinsically know how to teach Black students, which ignores their pedagogical needs as education professionals. Therefore there is a need to reconsider the pedagogy and curriculum used in teacher education in ways that recognize diverse needs, voices and perspectives. As an example close to home, I taught in a predominantly African American, high poverty elementary school for six years and had achieved a level of confidence and success such that my principal recommended that I become a mentor teacher for prospective tea chers. My final experience as a mentor teacher is my most memorable because in it I realized my own inability to clearly articulate my perspectives and rationalize my practice to my young white female student teacher in ways that were productive for her a nd accurate for me. I needed a framework to explain and rationalize what I now can articulate as features of pedagogical excellence My inability to communicate my knowledge and perspectives in ways that my intern could replicate, or at the least understa nd, significantly underestimated the power and potential of the

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136 ways I strategically taught my African American third graders, an issue of tremendous consideration in the area of preservice teacher clinical experiences I never believed for a moment that my intern was incapable of enacting the same kind of pedagogy I demonstrated in the classroom. She was able to observe me in action and we talked frequently, but she, and I needed more. What was missing was an explicit metacognitive deconstruction, on my part, of the ideological and theoretical underpinnings of the pedagogy that appeared simple in observation. We both needed to be able to connect pedagogy to larger cultural, social, and political tenants in order for me to fully explicate theory and in or der for her to understand the scope of the critical elements needed to successfully teach African American students. My own experience highlights significant pedagogical needs of African American teachers that might be nurtured through their exposure and understanding of the work of exemplary African American educators. First, as my experience highlights, African American teachers need a language of excellence in pedagogy that positively accounts for the ways they may be thinking and teaching. Second, Afr ican American teachers, prospective and practicing, need ways to make sense of how some of their own perspectives and experiences with education, which often contradict Western theories based on psychological models (Gordon, 1997; Ladson Billings, 2007), m ay be connected to exemplary models of excellent teaching. That is, they need ways to help them associate, rather than disassociate, their culturally influenced views of education with good teaching. Third, African American teachers need ways to help the m enact pedagogical strategies that build on their views.

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137 The African American educators involved in this research project constantly connected their knowledge and values, which were situated in the larger political, economic, and social milieu, to descri ptions and rationale s of instructional decision making. It seemed that without making an explicit connection to an emancipatory framework, the educators perceived that their characterizations of good teaching would be superficially understood at best and m isinterpreted or denigrated at worst. Therefore, it is possible that African American epistemology as an educational theory may offer a context for the kind of pedagogical interpretation necessary to help prospective Black teachers identify consistencies between some of their own values and perspectives and those endemic to teaching Black students well. I am not suggesting that African American teacher candidates need a separate preparation curriculum ; because an emancipatory pedagogical framework is need ed for all prospective and practicing teachers. What I am attempting to address is a critical need to attend to the pedagogical needs of African American educators given that research continues to document their significant impact on the achievement of Af rican American learners (Foster, 1997; Irvine, 1989). Finally, examining the pedagogy of exemplary African American teachers as a guide for understanding and interpreting the depths and bounds of good teaching might provide a way for these teachers to leve rage their cultural resources in the classroom in powerful ways. Inside the teacher education classroom it may help them better describe and explain their perspectives about teaching and learning in ways that do not situate them as class outcasts and help them maintain their sense of professionalism and sovereignty. Thus, as with the exceptional educators in the present study, future African

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138 American teachers may more easily convert their critical perspectives into social activist pedagogy. Conclusion Excel lence in education has always been a cornerstone of the African American education movement (National Association of Black School Educators, 1984). Essential to their efforts, particularly among Black educators, was a shared vision of the kind of teaching Black students needed to prepare them to survive and to work for freedom (Foster, 1994; Siddle Walker, 2013). According to Siddle Walker (2013), teaching Black children ci 208). Such a transformative pedagogical objective was powerful enough to create conditions for African American students to demonstrate academic and cultural excellence despite a tens e and chaotic social environment (Perry, 2003). As such, this African American pedagogical vision bears great promise in developing a generation of teachers committed to educational excellence for African American children as a function of human freedom.

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139 CHAPTER 5 JOURNAL ARTICLE 2 round rgency : Implications for the Preparation of Urban Educators We are now f aced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. ..We must move past indecision to action." Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Jalonda: they know where you got to go around this is an opportunity how you get ahead in this world is through education. Harriett: Back then the ancestors really wanted an education they were risking life to get it, and here we just got it its free and you [stu dents] Antionette: Jalonda: Exactly African American educators, [ session 3 ] Within the last two decades, educational researchers have generated rich descriptions of the work of educat ors who assist African American 1 learners in demonstrating high educational achievement (Gay, 2010; Ladson Billings, 2009; Ross, Bondy, Gallingane, Hambacher, 2008; Ware, 2006). The bulk of this work provides snapshots of how educators persist in their ef standards of achievement. Within these descriptions researchers attribute this 1 African American is the term us ed to represent people of African descent dually socialized in American cultural norms. In this paper, it will be used interchangeably with Black to provide cultural descriptions of individuals, groups, and communities.

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140 Simultaneously, a growing number of studies on effective B lack educators authoritative, insistent manner of exemplary African American teachers. Researchers note that this sense of urgency stems from an understanding that Af rican American children not only can learn, but must learn (Foster, 1993; Irvine & Fraser, 1998; Milner, 2006; Siddle Walker, 2000). The research is clear that many accomplished Black rely on their heightened sociocultural consciousness to push students towards high achievement (Irvine & Fraser, 1998; Ware, 2006, 2002). Thus, what can we learn from the perspectives of exceptional Black educators about their sense of urgency that can be nefit all teachers of African American school children? In this paper I argue that understanding the reasons and factors that contribute to the urgency of some Black educators provides a powerful explanatory backdrop for expanding what we know about insis tence as it relates to African American student achievement. I also argue that teacher educators must redesign their pedagogy in ways that legitimately build on African American philosophies and perspectives if they are to be leaders in the effort to impr ove education for Black students in urban schools. I describe findings from a study of African American educators teaching in predominantly Black elementary schools located in the southern region of the United States. These findings were part of a larger c ollaborative inquiry research project in which four community nominated educators were involved with me in a study of the cultural influences on their pedagogy with African American learners. The purpose of this particular manuscript is to describe the fac tors that contribute to the sense of urgency

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141 these educators expressed and the ways it shaped their insistent posture in the classroom. The guiding question was: How do effective Black educators understand and make sense of their insistent stance as they s hare their perspectives on the cultural influences on their pedagogy? Given the data from national standardized tests of achievement that show a persistent trend in African American educational underachievement at the primary and secondary level, understan ding more about the sense of urgency that guides good teachers of African American children is important. African A merican P edagogy I situated this study of Black educator urgency within the literature on African American pedagogy because this work is int ended to reinforce the cultural context of teaching and learning which is relevant to any discussion of the education and schooling experiences of African American children (Irvine, 1989; Ladson Billings, 2009). This is not to say that other research focus ed on successful teaching of African American youth lacks a cultural emphasis. To be sure, others such as Ladson Billings (1994), Le e (1995), Milner (2012), Bondy and Ross (2008), and Ware (2006) have written extensively about successful teaching approache s for African American learners. This cannon of scholarship is also predicated on the central role culture plays in teaching and learning for Black children and has been essential in helping teachers and teacher educators understand the theoretical and pra ctical foundations of successful teaching in diverse, urban, and/or high poverty contexts. The present study builds on this literature in that it reiterates the necessity of foregrounding culture as a critical factor in improving the preparation of teache rs in ways that might yield more promising results for school aged African American youth. To provide a conceptual background for the study of the concept of Black educator urgency, two bodies of literature are reviewed:

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142 African American Care has come to signify a quintessential feature of good teaching, not just for African American learners, but for all students (Irvine, 2002; Robe rts, 2010; Siddle Walker & Snary, 2004; Thompson, 2004). Noddings (2002, 1992, 1984,) seminal work on care theory emphasized the complexity of teacher care. She defined care as d for in order to be fully considered as caring behavior. Noddings concluded that establishing caring relationships in which students are viewed as more important than subject matter should be at the center of the educational system. Now educational resea rchers and teacher educators alike urge prospective and practicing teachers to enact a pedagogy mediated by care as an observable act, which includes positive relationships with children and a student centered curriculum. However, many teacher practices ba sed on care theory are uncomplicated by the cultural filter through which care is perceived and understood (Roberts, 2010). This lack of cultural synchronization can create challenges to the educational achievement of African American students (Irvine, 199 0). Therefore, it is important to examine the perspectives of care as is understood by cultural groups. From the literature on exemplary African American teachers, a culturally based African American teachers this care ethos includes assuming a maternal role in relation Beauboeuf Lafontant (2002) captured this dynamic in her analys is of the traditions of caring noted in studies of African American female educators. In quoting Carrie Morris,

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143 an African American teacher featured in one of the studies, Beauboeuf Lafontant (2002) writes Parents have an urgency about their own children We need to feel the same 74). In this case, urgency is grounded any parents have a heightened sense of the needs of their children, the potential their children have and the possible dangers their children might face. Because of this they act with urgency to ensure that children to work to their potential and do their best to protect them from harm. Beauboeuf Lafontant (2002) revealed that exemplary African American educators express similar commitments and activism on behalf of all their students, and that their sense o f urgency emanated from their ability to view and care for children as though they were biologically related. Foster (1997), Roberts (2010), Siddle Walker, (2000), and Thompson (2005) provide more insight into an African American ethic of care. The resea rchers linked the ways African American teachers cared for students to an abiding urgent consciousness steeped in an awareness of the many potential dangers awaiting Black students if they life history narratives of Black teachers, educators expressed the realization that if they did not teach or if students did not learn, Black students might be more likely to engage in activities that had lethal consequences such as drug abuse, prison, or death. Teachers in Siddle like intensity driven by the ever present recognition of what the world had in store for uneducated Black youth. Concomitantly, Roberts (2010) maint

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144 caring behaviors and views were designed to promote academic achievement and societal survival in a racially hostile world. These findings, which reveal the sociocultural perspectives that influence teacher pedagogy, are consiste nt with both Foster (1994) noted that successful teachers of African American students almost always maintained critical race perspectives on education in which they recogni zed how race and racism their care reflected love born out of a keen understanding of h ow and why society marginalizes some and privileges others. This critical care perspective was central to nsistent approach (Beauboeuf Laf ontant, 2002). African American African American perspectives on authority also are relevant to the discussion of inherent in the differing perceptions of authority between teacher and students. In her essay, she explained that many African Americans view authority as something constantly earned by personal effort and demonstrated in personal characteristics. first view themselves as an authority figure, and then demonstrate their authority in ways that are recognized by their students. Within the research on African American pedagogy, researchers note that effective Black teachers demonstrate a profound willingness and s ense of duty to lead the class with authority in ways that facilitate student academic and cultural success.

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145 Siddle Walker (1993) reported that many African American teachers possessed a conscious authoritative presence and willingness to use power and au thority judiciously in their teaching. She cautioned that the kind of authority these educators displayed was not to be confused with authoritarianism, in which authority stems from self serving interests. In contrast, Siddle Walker reported that Black ed ucators used authority to increase student achievement and self respect promote a sense of community, and mitigate an often comparative analysis reached similar conclusions about effective Black e of authority. She reported that effective Black teachers of African American students style was firm, demanding and authority based. Black educators perc eived that their authoritative ethic was fundamentally connected to student learning and development and therefore they were committed to providing students with the kind of structure and authority necessary for their educational success (Cooper, 2003). Mi explanation is helpful here because it illuminates the perspectives that may fuel the encourage students to reach their full potential because they understand that accepting empower and emancipate t hemselves and their communities (p.93). In describing the tough, no nonsense stance of Irene Washington, an African American veteran sociocultural views in the ways she insisted that students meet her standards of

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146 the realization that she mus with moral authority p. 37). In his case study of an African American teacher, he reported that the teacher perception that she and her students were kin related; and like in many African necessary to keep Black children safe (Thompson, 2004). African American teacher pedagogy embodies a distinct ive set of professional, political, cultural and ideological dispositions centered in fundamental beliefs about education, schooling, teaching, and learning; and an unyielding commitment to see students succeed. The work of many successful African American teachers is situated in a framework that validates the cultural knowledge, experiences, and thinking of Black children are able to successfully pursue education despit e the myriad of challenges embedded in an inequitable system of schooling (Perry, 2003). This figured universe counters the dominant ideology of Black intellectual inferiority and instead inculcates a counternarrative of excellence for self and community. Among teachers, such a perspective invoke s an intense desire, or urgency to create the schooling conditions necessary for African American youth to learn and make sense of the world in order to change it.

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147 To develop strong and clear support for the achievement of African American students we nee d studies that underscore the significance of culture in the schooling experiences of all students, research that links African American pedagogy to positive outcomes for Black students, and continued research into the sociocultural factors that shape the pedagogy of exemplary teachers of African American students. Research about the work of Black educators is critical given the documented positive influence Black teachers can have on Black students (Irvine, 1989, Meier, Stewart, & England, 1989; Milner, 2 006; Villegas & Davis, 2008; Ware, 2002). This does not imply that all Black educators possess the same perspectives, or that culture is predictive of behavior. It does, however, acknowledge the specialized knowledge and perspectives of good Black teachers as it relates to excellence in education for African American school children. Noblit (1993) urged the educational community to learn with and from African American educators given their sophisticated method of demonstrating authority and care in ways tha t promote community and achievement. In this spirit, I pursued this research to understand the factors that underscore the sense of urgency expressed by exceptional Black educators. African American Cultural Knowledge This study is grounded in the social theorizing of African American people, which produces cultural knowledge that has implications for education, schooling, and society (Gordon, 1990). This body of knowledge, produced by African Americans in academic disciplines and in genres of popular cul ture, is representative of the ways in which people of African descent in America produce, validate, and express knowledge in ways that help them make sense of their reality (King, 2008; Woods, 1998). Gordon (1990)

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148 found that African American cultural know ledge includes specific themes such as self help, self determination, service, nationalism, economic autonomy, and political power, and provides a rich analytical lens for understanding the schooling experiences of African American learners as well as the kinds of pedagogy that promote educational excellence. Examining any aspect of pedagogical excellence for African American students from an African American purview adds important depth to the analysis because such perspectives encompass an expansive educ ational agenda connected to the realities of the African American existential condition (Gordon, 1990; Siddle Walker, 2013). King (1994) writes that understanding African American cultural knowledge in terms of its integrity and distinctiveness provides mu ch needed clarity about the factors critical to s The current study employs the themes embedded in African American cultural knowledge as a theoretical heur istic to explain the characteristics of pedagogical excellence for African American youth. It specifically examines the views of exemplary African American educators about the sociocultural factors that influence their sense of urgency. A Brief Note about Criteria for Effectiveness This study is intentionally grounded in criteria for effectiveness set by African American community members. Many African Americans have constructed standards of success in education for Black children that include mastery of a cademic content, including the hidden curriculum. More importantly, these standards includes self knowledge and cultural competence so that children are able to positively identify with African and African American culture and contribute to social reconstr uction (King,

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149 1994; Ladson Billings, 2009). The report, Saving the African American Child, produced by the National Association of Black School Educators (NABSE) in 1984 accurately summarizes the criteria for success and excellence of African American chil dren. It asserts, Quality and excellence in education for African Americans includes: excellence in includes, in addition, excellence in ridding our people of all vestiges of miseducation. This means that we must know ourselves and our condition. This means that the reclamation and restoration of our history and recognition and respect for our rich culture are priorities that are equal in importance to all othe r priorities (p.14) In essence, a successful education for African American children must equip them with academic competency (including high performance on standardized tests) but equally they must be culturally competent and politically conscious (Ladso n Billings, 2009). An education that fails to prepare children of African descent according to these standards is inadequate and reflects the miseducation theorized by Carter G. Woodson more than 60 years ago (Woodson, 1933). Methodology Throughout the sev en years I spent as an elementary school teacher of predominantly African American children, I participated in conversations about teaching with other Black teachers (mostly female) on several occasions. Many times, these conversations were forms of mental recovery from the barrage of mandatory workshops and curriculum guides that seemed to contradict or omit the wisdoms of practice that enabled us to move students towards high educational achievement. In these conversations, some formal and others more org anically organized, we collaboratively

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150 constructed our own truth regarding good teaching with full regard for our own multiple identities as Black, female, college degree holders, and the social location of African American people. We rejected notions of t ruth rooted in neutrality and objectivity and instead produced knowledge dependent on our individual and shared subjective experiences, lived reality and cultural values. The epistemic undercurrents that shaped these conversations represent my own perspect ives about knowledge and truth and are reflected in a social constructionist philosophical paradigm. Social constructionism acknowledges the role of culture in the shaping of our consciousness; and the subsequent impact it has on our experiences and inter actions with objects (Crotty, 1998). Culture, defined here is not restricted to surface traditions, customs and practices that emanate from a collective, but is best understood as the 73, p.44). It guides our behaviors, shapes our perspectives, and endows us with a lens with which to focus and direct our consciousness. I chose a qualitative approach because it recognizes the socially constructed nature of reality and because of its pot ential to bring about social change (Jeffries, 1997 ; Tillman 2002). In further reflecting on the pedagogical conversations I had with my African American teacher colleagues, one of the things I remember most is the power our collective theorizing had on my teaching. I was a relatively new, alternatively certified teacher who experienced success in the classroom, but I had difficulty contextualizing my teaching practices in ways that validated my social experiences and knowledge. However as a participan t in these conversations with other teachers, I was able to begin developing a professional identity as an educator that resonated with me. I believe this

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151 occurred because I was able to contribute to a larger theoretical project that encompassed my own ind ividual thoughts and I was able to lend support and be supported by others in the construction of a relevant body of knowledge. Thus, thinking in solidarity with other educators was central to my professional development. The idea of collective modes of kn owledge generation reflected in this example is another central aspect of social constructionism substantiated in Hill epistemology. In her precise explication of Black womanist thought, Hill Collins (2000) analyzed that fo r Black women, knowledge is rarely constructed in isolation but is largely facilitated through the dialogue we have with each other in inclusive groups. It is in knowledg adversarial ways (Hill Collins, 2000, p. 280). The experience of participating in these conversations influenced my decision to employ a collaborative inquiry design for this research project. This methodology emphasizes inclusive particip ation, mutuality, and the co construction of knowledge (Bridges & McGee, 2011). There are four elements involved in collaborative inquiry: (1) reflection, (2) the collective construction of knowledge fostered through dialogue with peers, (3) action, and (4) further group decision making (Heron & Reason, 1997). However, collaborative inquiry does not unfold as a linear progression of steps, but as overlapping cycles between each element. Collaborative inquirers are both researchers and participants. They share decision making power in terms of research goals and inquirers are invested as full participants in each aspect of the study.

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152 The collaborative inquiry employed in this study preserves the philosophical tenants of emancipatory educational research ( EER). Emancipatory educational research is designed to produce transformative knowledge generated through collective research with groups and individuals functioning as agents of their own change (Emancipatory Educational Research, 2012; Tyson, 2003). EER draws together a range dislodge racist and hegemonic practices, policies and structures of knowledge such as critical race theory (Bell 1992; Crenshaw, Gotanda, Pelle r, & Thomas, 1995), culture systemic theory (King, 2005, 1995; Wynter, 2005). Additionally, EER takes direction from non Western research paradigms, which include blues epistemology (Woods, 1998), black feminist thought (Collins, 2000) and desire based resear ch (Lawrence Lightfoote, 1997; Tuck, 2009). These paradigms bring transparency to the research process by demanding a move away from positions of objectivity and neutrality and reflexivity. Methodological ly, emancipatory educational research EER serves as methodological guide for researchers, such as myself, who operate from the ideological positions of democracy and universal human freedom, engage in research as action in the public interest (Ladson Billi ngs & Tate, 2006; Tyson, 2003) and who seek to blur the boundaries between academic scholarship and activism in ways that are productive and healthy. Participant Selection I used community nomination to identify study participants. Building on the concept

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153 current study obtaining African American community perspectives on good teaching for Black childr en was important because it recognized the knowledge and experience embedded in African American communities as salient in the content it produces and the process used to gather such information. By using community nomination, I was able to validate commu nity knowledge about education and use this knowledge as the foundation for African American schooling experiences. For example, all of the parents I interviewed stated that good teachers for their children are those who cared enough to demand that student s teacher quality expressed a vision of pedagogical excellence for African American children located in the history of African American schooling (Siddle Walker, 1996). Fu content. Using community nomination as an empirical tool was an explicit attempt on my cultural well being references examining cultural practices, as a basis for understanding African American community and student needs related to education. This form o f community mindfulness is a critical element of emancipatory educational research because it links teaching and teacher education with the African American struggle for social justice and humanity in ways that spark action and coalition building (King, 20 08). In this study, I visited a predominantly African American church, an afterschool program, and a community organization. At each location, I engaged in a one hour focus group with parents or guardians of school aged children where the topic of

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154 convers ation centered on unearthing community views of good teachers and good teaching of their children. All of the community members identified as African American and had one or more children attending schools within the local school district. At the end of t he conversation, each person provided the names of educators he or she believed were good teachers and the name of the school where the teacher taught. The collective. Parents nominated 12 teachers whom I then contacted through email to solicit their part icipation in the study. A total of six nominated teachers consented to participate however two teachers were unable to participate due to extenuating circumstances. As a result, a total of four educators plus myself comprised the research collective. Table 5 1. Demographics of the collective Name Ethnicity Edu. Level Teaching Exp (No. of years) Grade level School size % of African American students % of students free or reduced lunch Antionette AA M 9 Elem. 365 88% 95% Jalonda AA S 13 Elem. 692 55% 82% Harriett AA M 36 Elem. 692 55% 82% Geneva AA M 22 Elem. 353 98% 96% Monica AA M 7 N/A N/A N/A N/A Research Context This study was conducted with a group of African American educators currently working in a small city located in Florida in which 23% of city residents identify as Black or African American. The majority of African Americans live in the east quadrant of this city, which includes five elementary

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155 schools, two middle schools, two high schools (all of which are public schools), five charter schools and four alternative schools or centers. The educator researchers participating in this study are currently teaching in one of these schools serving a large population of African Americ an school children. Black education in the South is unique given how it developed within an overtly racist and oppressive social context (Anderson, 1988). Though Blacks were emancipated from slavery in 1863, they were subsequently forced into a new soci al system from which they were virtually denied citizenship. However, as Anderson (1988) persistent struggle to fashion a system of formal education that prefigured their li 3). This theme is embedded in the geographic region in which the educators in the present study live and work, and is reflected in the development of schooling for African American children in the area. For example, the c ity is home to Weldon Academy 2 the first Negro school built as a result of support According to media sources, Weldon Academy was the intellectual heart of the African American community [in this city and surrounding area] for almost 60 years. Black teachers were groomed for their professions within the community and engaged children in a robust curriculum taught with full citizenship and freedom for all Negro people in mind (Lau rie, 1986; Moore, personal communication, August, 2012). Weldon Academy set a remarkable precedent for Black education in the city, which was carried on by Carter G. Woodson High School, the segregated African 2 Pseudonyms used in the descript ion of the context

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156 American school that served the community for over 50 years. It was one of the two African American schools in the state to obtain full accreditation by the state governing agency. Within the school, teachers committed themselves to the development of their students into future leaders and social tra nsformers (Moore, personal communication August 2012). specific meanings, traditions, customs, and community relations that operate in each tical praxis and promote social change (p.229). Localizing the present study of Black educator urgency within the cultural geographical (Ladson Billings, 2009) explanati characteristics account for their success or failure with Black children. Instead it connects the past and present under a deeper, more systematic set of abiding principles and perspectives, which are important to understand in order change the course of African American education towards excellence. Data Collection Five partially structured research meetings were used to gather pertinent data. Here partially structured means that our conversations were organized and guided by common meeting objectives. For example, an agenda was collaboratively prepared for each meeting and I prepared a set of questions and topics to be discussed in each meeting. Yet, the meetings were flexible. This allowed the group to make con nections between participant experiences and ideas. It also encouraged authentic expressions of ideas and elaboration. Over the course of three months, each meeting was held on a

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157 weekday evening at a local restaurant for approximately 90 to 120 minutes. E ach meeting followed a similar format: Reflection: We re read notes generated from introductory luncheon where we provided oral accounts and descriptions of our teaching. (Example: group members revisited previously stated ideas and offered clarification b y further elaborating on ideas, providing examples or describing memories of personal events. Debriefing: We elaborated, contested, changed, and refined our ideas. Text & visual elicitation: We re read selected segments of transcripts I selected portions of transcripts from previous meetings prior to each upcoming research session. I selected segments that would allow each participant to elaborate on ideas, statements and phrases. In meetings four and five, we examined a visual representation I drew bas ed on previous conversations about the ways we described our teaching. New theorizing: Based on steps 1 3, we engaged in continued collective oral analysis of our pedagogy. Group decision making: We negotiated aspects of the research project such as upco ming meetings and new ideas and activities to explore. Data Analysis Audio taped interviews were transcribed verbatim and transcripts were analyzed in three phases. The term phase is used in this sense to characterize the different kinds of analysis done a nd does not suggest that data analysis proceeded in a sequential or logical progression. On the contrary, some phases of data analysis were overlapping, while others flowed from one to the other. In the following section, I describe the analytical proced ures followed in the analysis of data. Phase o ne Framing analysis. The first level of data analysis, or framing data analysis occurred as data were collected. Grbich (2007) explained that this kind of analysis is a process not intended for critique, but as a method for gaining a deeper understanding of

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158 the values and meanings that exist within the data. In this phase, I read the transcript from the previous meeting prior to the next. I identified emerging themes and patterns and noted issues requiring follo w up. This initial analysis was presented to group members as both an elicitation tool and as text for analysis. Figure 5 1 provides a sample data sheet from one frame developed in this phase of analysis. Phase t wo Collective analysis. Phase two involved c ollective analysis of the data. We used domain analysis to make sense of the data collected. In this phase, an inductive approach was used which, according to Hatch (2002) means organizing and interrogating data in ways that that allow researchers to see patterns, identify themes, discover relationships, develop explanations, make interpretations, mount critiques, or systematic steps that spanned across the second and third phase of data analysis. In step one, we (all research team members) collectively read data segments from the first research meeting and created an initial list of possible domains to describe group perspectives on the ways that culture influenced pedagogy The purpose of this inds of influences ; we read the domain sheets to identify and refine salient domains. This resulted in the elimination of some domains while others were collapsed into larger categories. We analyzed the

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159 data within the domains in step three. Hatch (2002) argues that this c ritical step in identify complexity, richness and depth of the data. Some of the codes that emerged know where we analyze the data helped to ensure that the community perspectives and collective descriptions were prioritized above my individual interpretations. This kind of analysis can enable community members to be self determining and empowered (Bishop, 2005). Phase t hree Refining analysis In step four, I independently conducted a comparative analysis to examine the similarities between the collective theorizing of the group and the dominant themes within African American epistemology: service, political power, nationalism, self determinatio n/self help and economic autonomy. The purpose of this in African American and ot her communities of color is the crisis of representation (King, 2008; Smith, 1999; Tuck, 2009). For Blacks in America, social science inquiry in many document damage and d eficiency in our lives and communities. While an in depth exploration of this is beyond the scope of this article, the result, according to Tuck Blacks as a cultural grou p. African American epistemology was appropriate because it enabled me to function as a researcher sensitive to the local complexities inherent in the phenomenon under study. Through this approach to theoretical interpretation, which

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16 0 reduces the potential In other words, I was able to stand in solidarity with African American communities in the struggle for self definition and representation, which meets fundamental requirements for Bl ack existence in American society (King, 2008). Validity and Credibility Research standards that recognize ethical and moral objectives of responsible research were used to appraise the validity and authenticity of the study. This first entails a commit ment to community well being (King, 2008; Tillman, 2002). In research this means configuring inquiry spaces that are equitable, privileging the interests, knowledge, and experiences of the community and using power in ways that promote inclusivity and acti on. In this study, member checking, spiral discourse (Bishop, 2003) and prolonged engagement were tools used to increase the authenticity and validity of the research in ways that honored community interests. Additionally, when researchers observe ethical standards in qualitative research it obligates them to acknowledge the historic and existing forms of inequity and oppression, recognize the limitations of their own understandings and commit to action (Koro Ljungberg, 2010). The process of memo writing a nd enabled me to maintain a reflexive and reflective stance which encouraged the kind of critical inter subjectivity I needed to carry out this inquiry (Bridges & McGee, 2012). On a final note, responsible, rigorous research inspires (e)pistemological awa reness and methodological instantiation (Koro Ljungberg, 2010; Koro ljungberg, Yendol Hoppey, Smith, & Hayes 2009). This means reporting research in ways that reveal researcher theoretical positionality and evidence of methodological consistency. Koro Lju ngberg and colleagues (2009) report that when researchers are not explicit

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161 about their (e)pistemological and theoretical perspectives and methodological and may be ind 670). Specifically, I pursued (e)pistemological awareness spatially, in which research design choices were highlighted the con gruence of methods, theory and epistemology, thus increasing research rigor and credibility. Findings The findings in this study provide insight into how a group of African American educators understand the abiding sense of urgency that compels them to teach in ways that promote student success. As the data were analyzed, two major themes emerged, one related to the purpose the teachers perceive for their determined approach, and the other associated with factors that contributed to their expressed sense of urgency. The first theme, purpose of urgency, has one subtheme and the latter, factors contributing to urgency, and has two relevant subthemes. Purpose for Urgency The educators explained their teaching approach in terms of how it serves their predomi nantly Black students. There was little disagreement over their stated reasons for insisting that students do their best and be the best they could be. One central perspective on purpose fueled their sense of urgency and guided their development as insist ent, no excuses educators. This perspective focused on their understanding of the value of education for African American people.

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162 Valuing E ducation The sense of urgency expressed by the group was connected to the idea of teaching for real world purposes. These real world purposes were rooted in social justice and consistent with an African American vision of education as a strategy for liberation (Anderson & Kharem, 2009; Perry, 2003). These educators viewed their job as larger than teaching academic cont ent. In fact, across the five research meetings there was very seldom talk about specific academic content as a necessity in helping African American children succeed. This is not to say that the educators thought academic success was unimportant given t [session 3]. Rather it re situates their urgency and their drive for academic achievement for Black students as radical strategies for social transformation (Mirza 2004). Their pedagogy reflected the understanding that there was much to be gained and lost, not just for African American students but also for the entire community of African descent people living in America. This liberatory value and purpose for educa tion is illustrated in the dialogue below. Jalonda : When you look at where we came from, we understand on another level that education is the only way that we are going to get ahead in life Geneva : Antionette : it is the only way that is gonna som ewhat level the playing field You know I think deep down we know that this is the truth, but for them [other teachers] education is education everybody goes to school, everybody goes to college everybody is doing fine, it i Monica : Harriett : we hold a different value to education because it is something that, Antionette : Yes.

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163 Jalonda : Exactly. [session 5] As a result, which referenced the African American experience of oppression and resistance. As they pu t it, every day they stood in front of students was an opportunity to share life opp ortunities [to teach Black kids what they need to know] pass by cause we might not session 5]. The embedde d in an African American ethics of care and moral authority in that they realized the critical implications of a quality education for African American children. They perceived that it was their duty as educators to make sure that students were competent a nd conscious. Furthermore, the group knew their purposes were not the same as many other teachers, and in fact, they perceived that these ideological and theoretical differences separated their teaching from that of other teach ers. In the dialog below, the group revealed their distinctive purpose for education as they thought about their goals for African American students. In the following exchange, the term FCAT refers to the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test, the high stakes standardized examination

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164 implemented to comply with the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) federal education legislation enacted in 2002. Monica : What goals do we have for our Black students? I know we mentioned to getting ahead and making it to the next level, but what does that mean for African American children? Antionette : we want to let them know that no one can tell them otherwise. Harriett : You gotta want them to be well rounded [pause] an d want them to have a positive self image Antionette : to know that education is power Jalonda : so they realize that they have to work harder than the n ext person Monica : that too but [pause] when we talk about our goals for our students Antionette : which other teachers may not have Geneva : it may separate them from being the kind of no excuses teachers (Ladson Billings, 2009) by inculcating in students an ethic of self determination and an oppositional consciousness. The group perceived that Black children needed this psychological outlook to be successful in both school and life given the enduring prese nce of racism in America and the daily assaults on Blackness, both of which pervade society and linger in educational settings (King, 2005; Ladson Billings & Tate, 199*). These themes are rooted in an African American epistemological view and frame African American ethics of care and moral authority. In the following segment, the

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165 group elaborates more on their stated goals as they discuss contrasting definitions of Monica : I read something recently that said that African American t definitions of care are different from what others think care is because to them care is shielding kids from realities, whereas care for us means we have to [everyone says together] prepare them for the realities Jalonda : I think they definitely see it that way. Their idea of care for our kids may be Antionette : Jalonda : exactly. They [African American kids] are not growing up in this perfect gonna at some point miss out on an opportunity because they are Black. They [some teachers] think the best way for them to make sure our kids are successful is to get them to pass the FCAT and for us about life the FCAT is only one small portion of life that you have to conquer, but day to day life; g them for [session 5] The point is that if African American children are to demonstrate excellence in the American educational system, then according to the collective standpoint of these educators, then they need teachers who understand the part and par cel of the purpose of education. That is, they have a firm understanding of the sociopolitical and sociocultural, as well as the academic and socioeconomic implications of educational achievement. When one considers the enormity of the task of educating B lack children from the was guided by a transformative social agenda in which a well educated Black youth is central. The sense of urgency characteristic of effective Blac k teachers, and expressed by the African American educators in this study was produced by cultural perspectives and thinking about the specific educational goals and needs of African American

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166 y reflects an expansive African American students in urban classrooms. Factors Contributing to Urgency Analysis of the data revealed that not only did the group express their thoughts about the specific purpose for their urgent thinking; they also shared their perspectives on the kinds of sociocultural factors that converged to create this urgent consciousn ess. These can be described within two subthemes: (1) the miseducation of Black children and (2) the rejection of Western conceptions of blackness. The miseducation of Black children One idea reiterated several times throughout the research meetings foc used on younger generations, were far removed from an understanding of African American oppression and resistance and the cultural values that emerged from this experience. which they live (Bonila Silva, 2009). This kind of dialogue emerged as they explained the reasons behind their intense and demanding teaching approach. For example, when t he group talked about making sure students completed their assignments or shared stories about discussions they had with students about their behavior, conversations always went back to their view that students did not and yet needed to know the racial rea lities of the social world in which they live. This is highlighted in the following conversation: Antionette : I think the perception is t hat with all the civil rights, we have come a long way but But I think on the other side, t hey

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167 Jalonda : Monica : Jalond a : yeah, but, we became more visible in the main stream so people think Geneva : now up understand that they have to do better than the next person or have to be better than the other to do better is through education [said with H] Antionette : And not being passe d down. climbing up the hill [session 4] job as teach ers (Collins, 2000). This perspective was part of the maternal ethic of care they embodied in the way they assumed responsibility for the holistic education of their students. Because the educators in the present study were conscious of the maintenance o f racial social injustice, it seems they too maintained this metaphor of an d to rationalize the urgent nature of their teaching. Their critique also extended to thinking about the consequences of public school desegregation. They shared, Antionette: Sometimes I reflect on segregation versus desegregation. Jalonda: Hum treated equally. But notice the breakdown of the community, of the family when desegregation came into effect and now.. look a t us now we all about you

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168 Antionette: right! And the focus is not on education and going somewhere in life and excelling to higher heights. Harriett: See before integration we had our own community is what I think. We stayed within our communities we all talked the same talk, we all kinda had the same type of ideas, same values, same morals. But then we crossed that integration line and that made us kind of loose our focus We just wanna forget where we come from and who we are it just broke up Antionette: Harriett: yes! not there. I ts [education] is not a communal responsibility [session 5] was the cultural dislocation of A frican A merican students. They theorized that many Black school children had a kind of cultural amnesia in which they had no knowledge of their history not just the struggle, but the sacrifices, the contributions, the values, and the strength. They perceived that a strong sense of identity, or cultural competence, which meant having a firm grasp of their cultural heritage would promote s achievement motivation and desire to pursue education seriously. The following conversation is illustrative Harriett : American history. Jalonda : begin with slavery; you have to go way back to find our beginnings. So you know if you look at it in that perspect ive that we came from slavery, heck they got back to the level where we were. How do you teach kids when they they just think everything is peaches and cream. You know they think the its okay that they Antionette : Right, right. [session 4]

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169 ly, what an indication of the kind of cultural knowledge they perceived young Black children did not have, but sorely needed to demonstrate educational excellence. As a result, the discussion segment below highlights the ways the educators made sense of their urgent and passionate mission to demand that Black children demonstrate academic and cultural excellence. Jalonda : I remember it was Dr. Asa Hilliard. I heard him speak one time and this is Antionette : Jalonda : and not from kings and queens. Monica : Jalonda : saying that, and from that point on I was focused on teaching Black kids where they came from [session 2] To be sure, Jalonda shared that she heard the late Dr. Asa Hilliard speak in 2006 at a community event and not in her teacher preparation courses or in any teacher professional development workshop she attended. teachers develop the capacity to teach for excellence. Restructuring teacher preparation in ways that build on cultural epistemologies and include African American theories and perspectives may provide the link missing in African American educational reform. In The Miseducation of the Negro elevated he must be educated in the sense of being

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170 (pp. 67, 69). With similar convictions, the collective of Black educators in this study expressed urgency in intent and action as they taught scores of young African American school children. Rejection o Previous studies of pedagogical excellence for African American learners indicate that good teachers consciously and consistently use their professional positions to reject pervasive views that defame African American culture and question the intellectual ability of African American students (King, 1991a; Ladson Billings, 2009; Lipman, 1996; Mitchell, 1998; Stanford, 1996). Throughout the five in depth co nversations, similar acts of resistance were described and explained as the educators collectively made sense of their pedagogy. Every member of the group expressed a sense of urgency that was connected to a need to challenge negative assumptions about Bla American people and communities. From this vantage point, resistance to assaults on conceptions of blackness contributed to the underlying sense of urgency that compelled these educato rs to push their students towards exemplary social and scholastic performance. This finding emerged as the educators shared their own experiences in an educational system in which they witnessed some of their students get pushed to the educational margins The teachers described instances where Black students had been

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171 ent behavior or academic performance [session 3, 4]. These experiences functioned as cautionary tales and provided an explanatory backdrop for subsequent descriptions of the underlying contributors to their sense of urgency and the ways they responded ped agogically. Sharing these experiences also enabled the group to understand and interpret their teaching as an act of resistance. They agreed that teaching African American children well demanded an epistemic and ideological change in the way Black childre n are viewed. Jalonda: if you come into the situation with these notions that the black kids th inking is you can be the best actress in the world there is no way you are gonna be able to convey love to those children. the classro At different points during the sessions, a couple of group members expressed reportedly failing urban schools. Th is demonstrates the oppositional aspect of their urgency, which also was conveyed in their descriptions of their instructional practices. group members linked this opposi tional stance to the urgency of their practice. Jalonda : I had so many black kids that were in ESE that were gonna get a special diploma and I would look at these kids and say baby why you in here? [I realized] they put all these black kids into my class room not because Monica :

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172 Jalonda : yeah, it was because they were bad. Dumped them all in an ESE class. you might as well have me in a regular education cla ssroom. Because these kids are smart know. Because if you in ESE you're thinking I must be dumb. So you know they had that mentality. So I had to show them that 1]. Moreover, rejecting the dominant perspective that assumes Black intellectual inferiority is a requirement of asserting African Amer beings (Ladson Billings, 1995; Ladson Billings & Henry, 1990). Assumptions about mental ability and educability have traditionally been used to deny African Americans citizenship, maintain their subordination and designat e their status as less human (Anderson, 1988; King, 2005). Thus promoting educational achievement for African demand that they be treated as such. For the educators in this study, this meant taking corrective action when other educators attempted to dehumanize Black children through about one of her former Black students highlights how the challenge societal assumptions influences their agency and activism as well as their instruction. Geneva : I went to check on one of the little boys I had last year. And his new teacher was like he I looked at her and said I directly across the st almost like they are afraid of us Jalonda: [session 3]

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173 From this exchange we get a sense that the educators had to continually reject the negative assumption that Black children and their families. It also demonstrates that they had to demand from thei r colleagues that they provide Black students with care and attention, things they felt all children need from their teachers. As conveyed above, b uilding strong relationships with students and families seemed to be connected to their drive to reject the d ehumanization of their students. This was also highlighted in their critique of unsuccessful teaching approaches with African American students. kid may not know but you make them[students] start to think about what they are doing, get them to understand that process so the next time they might do something they stop and think (mimics kids thinking about things)[AAteachers,session1, 8/32] Antionette: Teache rs need to do a little research Harriett : Jalonda: because you get a lot from a kid. Sometimes kids are just m ad a t the world. And you have to be the one to break through that barrier [session3] also demonstrated their sense of urgency as a rejection of pejorative characterizations of African American school children. Specifically, in their reenactment of conversations with students, the focus of conversation was on helping students realize the good inside themselves as an impetus to make better decisions. They proclaimed that they re minded students that they were better than their current situation and that there was someone at school who believed in their abilities, believed they were better than how they were acting, and would not accept anything otherwise.

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174 Antionette : I fuss and love at the same time. I sit right there and tell them know that you are not dumb, so why are you acting the way that you are me a hug in the cafeteria at 11:05. Monica : So you say to them Antionette : oh yeah As the findings show, the African American educato rs collectively expressed a sense of urgency in their thinking about educating Black children. Their urgency was guided by their awareness of negative perceptions about people of African descent in America, and more importantly, their need to reject such h armful depictions. Their urgency, in effect, fostered a strategically subversive character in which they subverted, renamed, and reclaimed educational opportunities for each of their African American students. Indeed, the educators in this study did more t han resist. Their descriptions of students suggest that their urgent sensibilities enabled them to create transformative possibilities for their Black students and commu nities. Discussion The findings from this collaborative inquiry revealed that the community nominated educators expressed a sense of urgency in their teaching guided by the liberatory value they place on education for Black students and shaped by their re cognition of key sociocultural factors. This urgent consciousness seemed to permeate the ways they think about and describe their teaching. Their collective theorizing offers much for teacher educators to consider as we search for ways to improve teacher quality in the public interest (Ladson Billings & Tate, 2006).

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175 Most clearly, the findings from this study expand emerging perspectives on insistence. To date, the concept of Black educator urgency is nestled within the literature on insistence as a criti cal feature of pedagogical excellence for African American students. Used interchangeably with words and phrases such as authority, tough, no unwavering commitment to student educational su ccess. Seldom addressed however, Ross, Bondy Galingane, & Hambacher (2008) shed some light on the nature of insistence in their observation of effective novice teachers in high poverty, predominantly African American element ary schools. Their work draws from the literature on classroom management, culturally responsive teaching and positive and tone. The researchers shared that effecti ve teachers use insistence to create a psychologically safe environment that promotes high student engagement, motivation, and high achievement. Ross and colleagues (2008) highlighted the connection between insistence and achievement for African American students. Their work offered novice teachers a framework for exemplary teaching that included a culturally defined conception of teacher authority, however the cultural connections between insistence and African American student achievement were underexpl ored and thus not explicitly conveyed. In this study, I situate insistence within the larger African American sociocultural context to expand Ross make insistence a powerful pedagog ical approach in Black education. Connecting the perspectives of community nominated Black educators to the themes embedded in a

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176 traditional African American way of thinking facilitates this more nuanced explanation of insistence. It emphasizes the ethica l and moral aspects of insistence, which repositions insistence as a demonstration of care, a declaration of opposition to cultural hegemony and a strategy for liberation. As the findings demonstrate, these emancipatory perspectives undergird Black educat or urgency and are the kind of cultural insights that can support urban education professionals in ways that promote academic and cultural excellence for African American learners. Additionally, localizing the framework of insistence within an African Amer ican cultural context, which includes examination of African American cultural values, cultural knowledge and ways of knowing, can help teacher educators articulate a vision of pedagogical excellence for African American school children that transcends the narrow focus on surface cultural traits and characteristics. This is a pervasive trend in many teacher education programs, even in those that purport a focus on social justice and equity (Ladson Billings, 2007; Murrell, 2002; Sleeter, 2012). In my own ex periences as an African American teacher educator, I have found that some teacher education students struggle to make sense of the complexities involved in teaching African American students for excellence given their limited understandings of the symbioti c relationship between culture and learning (Lee, 2005). To illustrate, many of the preservice teachers I teach are young, white females who understand care in a literal e of abstract, justice oriented views of care (Thompson, 2004). Thus, their concept of teacher care is constrained to the teacher as a docile caretaker. As a result, they often nvey care

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177 together with their students can analyze perspectives on care and authority indigenous to many African Americans. Both emphasize the relationship between care and insistence in ways that can promote critical discussions about the facets of culture and cultural socialization that have a clearer link to student success. As another personal example, I often find that teachers in urban schools perceive an either/or binary exists with regard to culture centered instruction. They state that because o f high academic demands and curricular mandates that make implementing culturally relevant pedagogy nearly impossible. In essence, they believe that they have to choose between culturally relevant teaching and high academic achievement that meets state st andards. Their frustrations are valid when one considers that it is highly probable that they have been prepared in teacher education programs that limit analysis of culture in teaching to cultural celebrations and a focus on culturally salient instruction al strategies. Or they have graduated from preparation programs that structure examination of the cultural context of teaching as something to supplement their existing practice so that they can get the African American kids to comply and perform well on s tandardized tests. Such practices in teacher education foster a narrow view of the significance of culture in teaching and learning and do not enable teachers to engage in the kind of cultural critique necessary to insist with the urgency of Black educator s. What the findings in the present study reiterate is that helping teachers make sense of the connections between culture and academic achievement necessitates

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178 explicit attention to the aspects of culture that have the most profound impact on student lear ning. Through this kind of analysis teachers can develop the kind of sociocultural knowledge that can be converted into culturally relevant practices such as insistence (Gordon, 1997). In this way, teachers might come to view culture as essential to learn ing and understand its transformative potential in the lives of African American children. Employing an explicitly cultural lens in this way can assist support the development of urban educators who have the psychological capacity to teach Black children for excellence because they understand, appreciate and can articulate how their pedagogy benefits African American children and is inherently connected to restructuring the social order. Finally, using African American cultural knowledge as an interpretiv e and theoretical guide reveals how Black educator urgency and insistence can be considered culturally systemic features of African American schooling and pedagogy. Based on the driven by an expansive sense of the necessity and utility of education for people of African descent in America and the need to challenge pervasive theories of Black academic inferiority and student miseducation. They expressed a value of education connect ed to its liberatory potential, which included political power and self determination as well as economic security. In other words, they recognized the liberatory power of education to help African American youth empower themselves and their communities in ways that foster social change. This perspective cultivated the sense of urgency that led to their relentless, authoritative approach. However, this view is not an eccentric characteristic of these teachers nor is it a knee jerk response to increases in urban poverty.

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179 Traditional African American perspectives intricately link educational achievement to issues of political and economic empowerment for individuals and the entire African American community (Lee, 2005). Perry (2003) posits that the view and value of education held by many African American people in the years prior to desegregation was powerful enough to sustain their desire to pursue excellence in education despite the lack of any indication that education would lead to occupational security or economic prosperity. While I am not suggesting that including the African American community perspectives or the perspectives of Black educators is a panacea for all of the issues involved in educating teachers to teach African American youth. Rather, I am arguing that it is quite plausible to suggest that restructuring teacher education in ways that honor and build on community knowledge could improve teacher quality in ways meaningful and relevant to improving education for children of African descent in American urban schools.

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180 CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSION In 1986, famed songstress Whitney Houston clinched her title as a rhythm and ed the song to the top of the Billboard musical masterpiece loved by millions. I wa s eight years old when I first heard the son g in 1988 and was immediately enamored with it I was a longtime fan of Whitney Houston, often imitating the flavor of her voice as I sang into the hairbrush in front of my bedroom mirror. But this song was extra special. It was more than just a tune to hum on long car rides to church or randomly request from the radio deejay Though I was a young child, I was always very observant and I noticed the differences in the kinds of react ions this song brought out of the people I knew and the kinds of interactions my family had around this one musical piece. From my eight year old observations, this song seemed to transcend the divide between the old and the young the rich and the poor, t he religious and the heathen, the educated and the uneducated Despite the differenc es between the groups, I saw that everyone I knew could agree on this song and what it ultimately came to represent for Black people. While I might have taken note of the give in to thinking about what was so special about this song. Actually, b ack then what I cherished most was the sultry blend of the keyboard and soft instrumental background matched against the way Whitney s ang the words with such conviction and determination. It was uplifting and flavorful all at once

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181 one of my all time favorite R&B songs, though I have much more to appreciate about it as I think about my work as an Afric an American female educator, parent and community member. Indeed I am still captivated by the keyboard, the instrumentals, e the actual lyrics of the song She sings, I believe the c hildren are our future Teach them well and let them lead the way Show them all the beauty they possess inside Give them a sense of pride, to make it easier Let the children's laughter Remind us how we used to be (Creed & Masser 1977) 3 In these first six lines, Whitney conveys what I believe is the enduring legacy of pedagogical excellence embedded in many African American communities. What I poetic manifesto about what matters most in developing the mind, body and spirit of young people based on African American community standards Though my dissertation research took a different form of presentation, the key themes that emerged from this study teac her practice are alive and well in the ethos of this song. The purpose of my dissertation was to understand the links between African American cultural influences and the pedagogy of exemplary Black educators teaching in predominantly African American se ttings. Another objective of the study was to design and employ an inquiry process that would promote a sense of collective empowerment and spark social action among the inquiry group. The community nominated African American educators involved in this col laborative inquiry provided an 3 The lyrics of the song were actually written by Linda Creed, a white woman whose African American cultural competence enabled her to write several African American R&B songs.

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182 example of how cultural values and consciousness come to bear upon the perspectives and practices of exceptional teachers of African American students in ways that facilitate educational excellence. Through rich descriptions and analysis of the inquiry Chapter 4 and Chapter African American learners (Foster, 1997). Chapter 6 provi des a brief summary of the research study and a thematic synthesis of the manuscripts presented in Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 The summary situates the study within the existing literature relevant to the topic and offers directions for future research. Chap ter 6 will conclude with implications for school leaders, teacher educators and researchers Review of the Study The literature presented thus far revealed three pressing issues in Black education. First, there is a wealth of research that highlights the elements of effective pedagogy for African American students pedagogy that meets the standards of academic and cultural excellence embedded in many African American communities. Successful teaching in this respect is based on a set of fundamental beliefs about education and schooling, teaching and learning, children and families. (Bondy & Ross, 2008; Foster, 1997; Howard, 2001; Irvine, 2003; King, 1991b; Ladson Billings, 1995; Lipman, 1996; Mitchell, 1998; Stanford, 1996; Ware, 2006). These beliefs reject deficit perspectives of Black intellectual inferiority and degeneracy and instead, create a powerful narrative of African American educational excellence (Ladson Billings, 2009; Perry, 2003). This research also indicate s that successful teaching of Africa n American youth encompasses a wide array of instructional strategies, which employ culture (implicitly and explicitly) as a necessary vehicle to help students access academic

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183 content while maintaining their cultural integrity (Bondy, Ross, Hambacher, & Ac osta, 2013; Goodman, 2000; Howard, 2001; Ladson Billings, 2009; Foster, 1994; Lee, 1995; Milner, 2003). Finally, the literature on African American education and schooling present s a compelling portrait of accomplished teachers of African American students These teachers are characterized by their particular views on the profession, by their empathetic and demanding approach with students, and by their affiliation with the African American community (Foster, 2003; Ladson Billings, 2009; Siddle Walker, 199 6). They can also be identified by their demonstrated activism and advocacy on behalf of their students. Overall, we recognize these teachers by their expansive vision of education for Black children and their high level of personal accountability for stu dent development and success. From this cannon of scholarship, African American pedagogical knowledge emerge s as a promising framework to prepare all teachers, regardless of race, to teach for excellence Yet, the bulk of this literature is missing from th e teacher education curriculum. In fact, Foster (200 4 ) posits that many teacher educators include only the literature that presents perspectives that are palatable to the young, White female student population, leaving the theoretical thrust of this knowle dge base untouched. In many cases, the result is that some teachers enter classrooms each day unprepared to successfully serve the African American students under their care. Closely related to the first issue, the second issue highlighted in the litera ture is the marginalization of culture centered teaching approaches in teacher education (Sleeter, 2012). Some teacher educators (and schools and colleges of education in Black children, implicitly perpetuating the assumption of cultural deficiency (Foster,

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184 200 4 ) In practice this can amount to a narrow focus on helping novice teachers develop instructional strategies they can add to their teaching. Yet this kind of preparation is not powerful enough to help educators develop the capacity to demonstrate excellence in teaching African American students, or any other ethnic group for that matter. In fact, educational inequity because they do not attempt to deconstruct and dismantle and flawed structure of knowledge from which inequity in education originates (Banks, 2 000; Delpit, 1995; King, 1991; Ladson Billings, 2004; Murrell, 2006; Sleeter, 2012). As a result, some teachers graduate from their preparation programs without a comprehensive vision of what it means to teach African American children in meaningful and re levant ways. The third issue is connected to the second in that the marginalization of this knowledge base has resulted in the omission of Black perspectives and voices in debates about teacher quality and effective teaching. As the literature indicates, some African American educators have different standards of excellence in education, which emphasize community solidarity, political clarity and nationalism ( Irvine, 2003; Foster, 1997; Ladson Billings, 2009; Siddle Walker, 1996). These standards often re sult in a drastically different vision of education for African American children than that held by educational decision makers at all levels. Thus, the issue within the overall literature on teaching and learning for African American children is one focu sed on the control and direction of the vision of Black education.

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185 Driven by these three issues, I designed a research study to understand and describe the connections between African American values and consciousness and effective teaching in ways that m ake these connections more explicit for educators at all levels. It was also designed to privilege the educational vision, knowledge, and perspectives of exemplary African American educators and mobilize this group for action. This study contributes to ou r understanding of the nature of effective pedagogy for African American students by using African American cultural knowledge to make theoretical links between existing frameworks. This study also offers a nuanced, cultural perspective on the views and th inking that underscore what I have come to define as pedagogical excellence for African American children. For this collaborative, emancipatory research project, I surrounded myself with community scholars and together we made sense of the cultural influe nces on our teaching of Black children. This participatory structure included a group of African American females who were currently working in schools with a large percentage of Black children, had a range of teaching experience, and were college educate d. The emancipatory philosophical undercurrents of the methodology dictated data collectio n and data analysis procedures grounded in mutua lity and reciprocity. The collaborative design of the study directed the defined research objectives and outcomes, wh ich privileged community interests and praxis. The methodological decisions follow in a rich tradition of African American research and offer teacher educators a promising approach to using the specialized knowledge of African Americans as a basis for rese arch and practice in educator preparation.

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186 To understand how a group of community nominated, exemplary African American teachers thought about and made sense of the cultural specificity of their w does a group of successful African American educators describe and analyze the cultural influences on their pedagogy with African American children? This question was addressed in two ways. First, the research group collectively made sense of the data by analyzing the semantic relationships that emerged from careful reading of the transcripts. This perspectives on teaching. Second, I independently examined the data searching across and within domains to analyze the consistencies between the collective perspectives and the themes embedded in African American epistemology. This independent ther to merge theory with data in ways that validated and honored indigenous knowledge. To ensure that the perspectives of the research group were prioritized ahead of my individual thoughts, a summary of the findings from the independent analysis was pre sented to participants for review. The result was a process building methodology for in depth study of African American pedagogical excellence. Summary of the Articles In a critical race theory analysis of teacher preparation, Ladson Billings (1999) expose d the philosophical complexity of educating teachers for diversity in America as she problematized the notions of quality, excellence and difference prevalent in educational discourse. She asked, How are we to determine teaching excellence? Is a teacher deemed excellent in a suburban, middle income white community able to

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187 demonstrate similar excellence in an urban, poor community? How do we educate teacher educators to meet the challenges and opportunities diversity presents? How do we deconstruct the language of difference to 242). These questions have been at the heart of debates over teacher qualit y and African American achievement and schooling since formal public schooling came into existence in the United States (Anderson, 1988; Kaestle, 1983; Tyack, 1974). Therefore, it is no surprise that in this study of African American teacher pedagogy, thin king about these questions featured prominently in the findings that emerged from analysis of the data. In light of their enduring nature, I have chosen to use these questions as a guide in thinking about the significance of this research and the implicat ions of the study. In the next section, I summarize the articles in Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 and present methodological considerations framed around these enduring questions. What Cultur al Complexities of Teaching The articles complicate our thinking about what it means to teach African American children well by foregrounding culture in the descriptions of and perspectives on pedagogical excellence. These articles follow a legacy of Black education research for African American students (i.e. care, authority, high expectations) that have become normalized in some teacher education programs (Foster, 1997; Ir vine, 2003; Ladson Billings, 2009; Roberts & Irvine, 2009; Siddle Walker, 2000). This does not suggest that these elements are inaccurate or ineffective with Black students. The intent here is to

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188 highlight the significance of cultural specificity in arti culating the facets of effective teaching for cultural groups, particularly African Americans. The articles presented in this dissertation reinforce many of the essential features of effective teaching that populate the literature on teacher effectivenes s. As the educators in this study indicated, high expectations, or a no excuses philosophy, was a central aspect of their pedagogy. They expressed a belief that all children can learn and a commitment to helping students succeed. They also described the actions they took to demonstrate caring behaviors with their students. However, the articles extend the conversation about traits of effective teachers of African American children in ways that reveal the distinctive ways of thinking and knowing that influ enced the decisions of these accomplished educators. The research group reasoned that it was the confluence of their cultural knowledge and cultural values that shaped the manner in which they demonstrated pedagogical excellence with Black children. In C hapter 4 the educators spoke about how African American cultural values such as self determination and communalism framed their consciousness and led them to assume a more expansive role for themselves as educators, and hold an expansive vision of educati on for their students. In Chapter 5 the educators highlight the ways that their depth of African American cultural knowledge shaped their sensibilities, which led them to consistently push students towards educational excellence. Murrell (2002) argues th (p. xxvii). This means investigating the ways that culture functions as a philosophical and pedagogical organizer. Many studies of African American teaching styles have

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189 already provided a theoretical foundation for understanding the cultural links between teacher pedagogy and African American student success. Several researchers note that effective Black teachers enact a un ique pedagogy firmly connected to their African American cultural heritage (Beauboeuf Lafontant, 2002; Dixson, 2003; Foster, 1997; Irvine, 2002; King, 1991a; Ladson Billings, 2011; Roberts, 2010; Siddle Walker, 1996; Ware, 2006). The present study adds to this literature by exploring the connections that exist between African American cultural formations, Black educators, and pedagogical excellence. That is, it builds on the documented existence of these cultural connections and attempts to highlight these connections through collective descriptions and analysis. This kind of cultural examination of teacher pedagogy renders the connections documented in previous research more explicit, which can be a powerful tool for teacher educators. My study also links the work of exemplary African American educators with the literature on effective pedagogy for African American students. To date, researchers have written extensively about the pedagogy of good Black teachers, highlighting their perspectives and practice s that appear to significantly impact educational outcomes for African American children (Irvine, 2002). However, African American teacher pedagogy is seldom referenced as an interpretive framework for understanding successful teaching of African American students, nor is it frequently included in the research and practice of teacher educators in positive ways (Ladson Billings, 2011). The group of African American educators involved in this study conveyed a distinctive vision of education for Black childr en. Their teaching was nestled within a larger social justice project connected to the enduring struggle for African American

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190 freedom and equity. Education, in their eyes, was a necessary tool to help Black children develop the capacity to revitalize and sustain their communities. This is not to say that the educators were not interested in the individual economic benefits of a quality education. In fact, they viewed economic stability as major outcome of their the vision of education projected by the research group was rooted in their mission to teach as a way to fulfill the African American dream of democracy and citizenship. My dissertation complements the li terature on Black educators by presenting another account of the work of effective Black educators that showcases their value beyond that of role models for Black children (Irvine, 1989). It supports the documented validation of African American teacher p edagogy as a thoughtful, unique and sophisticated approach to educating children not based on folklore, but based on the wisdoms of practice embedded in African American communities and educators. In this way, this dissertation also contributes to the lite rature on Black educators by continuing communities and, more importantly, build on these pers pectives in teacher education. (Irvine, 2003). Continued investigation into the ways that race and ethnicity influence the views of good teachers will continue to create powerful linkages between who good teachers are, what they know and what they do. Similar studies of situated pedagogies should be co nducted with different ethnic groups and across economic categories as a way to avoid the seductive tendency to generalize across entire ethnic groups. In addition,

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191 similar studies across gender lines should be conducted. Future studies should explore th e pedagogy of Black male teachers to understand the ways that gender influences African American pedagogy. How Do We Deconstruct the Language of Difference to Allow Students to Move The Location of Cultur e in Teacher Education As the articles show, empirical investigations that attempt to render culture a visible and viable presence in schooling are made possible by the designation of culture as a facilitator, rather than an inhibitor of good teaching (Gor don, 1997). In each manuscript, the findings reflected a collective reconstruction of excellence in African American teaching based on a culture systemic theoretical perspective (King, 2005, 1995). This perspective did not render culture as an additive or supplemental element of teaching, nor did it encapsulate the definition of culture in essentialist terms. Instead, culture was located as an inherent source from which powerful descriptions and analysis of pedagogy originated, and referenced the abiding va lues, ideology, and consciousness that influence socialization and reality in its definition of culture. As a result, the findings are a demonstration of the transformative potential of culture in teaching, with implications for teacher education The educators involved were able to engage in an ideological analysis and critique of pedagogy through this culture systemic approach. Both manuscripts capture the ways the group members thought about key differences between the ways they taught and the ways some of their teacher colleagues approached their craft. While they noted that some of these teachers were characterized as successful with Black children and some were not, the group described fundamental differences between their form of pedagogy a t the level of epistemology and ideology. This form of epistemic

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192 critique emerged in Chapter 5 as the research group questioned and challenged the definitions of success and effectiveness in teaching African American students. As they explained, successf ul teaching of Black children was about preparing students for academic and life success not just passing the latest high stakes standardized test. Research on successful teaching of African American students as well as on effective Black educators pointed out that good teaching necessitates an expansive focus that includes student social and emotional development. This is necessary because it prepares African American youth to develop strategies for survival and resistance to assaults on Blackness and ine quity (Perry, 2003). Analysis of the philosophical dimensions of good teaching also emerged in C hapter 4 as the group thought about the utility of education for Black students. They explained that their view of education as vehicle for individual and gro up advancement was a distinguishing characteristic of their vision of pedagogical excellence. This was further reiterated in the findings in Chapter 5 The educators explained that the particular value they placed on education for Black children as a tool for self and community empowerment made their kind of teaching unique because it encouraged a sense of urgency to act on behalf of indigenous African American communities. In Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 finding s indicated that the group members conveyed th e sense that education meant something remarkably different to them than to their professional colleagues. They viewed education as a decisive strategy to bring about improvements in economic stability, political power, and an increased sense of racial pri de. These examples highlight the kind of pedagogical analysis the group thought necessary in order to learn how to teach African American children well. They

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193 conveyed a belief that examining effective pedagogy for African American youth necessitated a rud imentary explication of the epistemologies, ideologies and theories that undergird teaching. Irvine (2003) argues that accurately researching the pedagogy of African American educators demands a search for what may not be apparent on the surface. Other re searchers have drawn similar conclusions in studies of exemplary teachers, which combined with the present study, present a clear argument for more cultural analyses of the epistemic, ideological and theoretical perspectives of accomplished teachers of Afr ican American students. In Ladson seminal study, she noted the difficulty she experienced in trying to make sense of her wrote that it was at the lev el of epistemology and ideology, or consciousness, that she researchers follow in this Black intellectual tradition of inquiry, which probes the foundations of knowledge upon whic h the social world is organized (Gordon, 1985; King, 1995; Ladson Billings, 2000; Woodson, 1932). These researchers pinpoint teacher thinking, values, and beliefs as the most salient features that characterize successful teachers of African American learne rs. This study continues this mode of intellectual critique by explicitly examining the ways in which African American social consciousness enters into the way good Black teachers think about, enact and explain their practice. Further studies of pedagogic al excellence for African American children should be conducted using a culture systemic critique. In particular, a culture systemic analysis is needed in studies designed to understand how efforts to better link theory and

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194 practice in teacher preparation teaching African American students. The debate over theory and practice in teacher preparation is certainly not a new one. Yet given the research presented here, as well as in previous studies that doc ument a heavy emphasis on the theoretical aspects of successful teaching of Black students, we may need to reinvestigate different ways to bridge this divide. Have we swung the pendulum so far towards practice that we are limiting our ability to help teach ers fully understand the breadth and depth of prospect of teaching African American children have we lowered our expectation of these teachers such that we implicitly underest imate their capacity to understand and embrace educational theories indigenous to cultural groups other than European of effective pedagogy imply that we must continue to em pirically grapple with the concepts of theory and practice to find ways that build on the strength that each brings to the teacher education curriculum for the sake of Black children in American schools. Metho dological Considerations As stated in Chapter 1 the crisis in Black education is, at its core, a crisis of knowledge. This does not mean that there is no sound knowledge base about Black education. The comment references the fact that while there are co mpeting kinds of knowledge relevant to Black education, there has been little recognition of the potency of alternative epistemologies, or the effort to build upon them for educational improvement (King, 2005). As a result, the prevailing determination of teacher quality many not capture some of the most important aspects of effective teaching. The process of inquiry used in this study attempted to use research to address this issue

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195 This first required a methodology that would reframe the relationship bet ween the in research. That is, I needed methods built on the assumption that knowledge making and disseminating was not exclusive to a few As subject, the fullness and complexity of the experiences of some Black community members was imported into the inquiry space and used to help the research collective define for itself the scope of pedagogical excellence. In particular, the use of community nomination was helpful in designating community as the subject rather than the object of study. The c ollaborative inquiry methodology used was also helpful in this respect because it further situated the research collect ive as knowledge producers. In these way s, members of the research team were able to bring all of their experiences, identities and consciousness to the research process and claim it as part of their knowledge claims This enabled the group was able to see Black children, families an d communities as whole entities and more than broken and damaged commodities This was important because it represented a break from the eithe r/or paradigm Black people often find themselves in from a Western perspective. By intentionally seeking community perspectives on quality teaching, I implicitly departed from the assumption of a monocultural or universal knowledge base. This opened the d oor for the recognition of indigenous ways of knowledge and thinking related to effective pedagogy and the use of such perspectives in building a concept of pedagogical excellence for African American learners.

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196 Another way I used research to address the cr isis of knowledge in Black education was the careful implementation of processes to create a reciprocal and authentic research context. This proved to be critical in devising a culture focused research approach because it demanded attention to the interpe rsonal dimensions of research and the overarching objectives and outcomes of the study. Building on community knowledge in this study reinforced an inclusive view of teaching excellence. It also required a collaborative research context mediated by reciprocity, mutuality, and personal investment. In the future, research should be conducted to offer additional methodologies that intentionally recognize and build on community knowledge. Education researchers should work across the disciplines in fields such as anthropology to investigate the impact of methods designed to capture the emic pers pective Implications Based on analysis of the findings as well as the related literature, this study suggests implications for school leaders teacher educators and educational researchers The implications are discussed below School Leaders Create posit ions of leaderships for exemplary Black teachers within the school. Black voices have been marginalized from education reform movements large and small for quite some time (Delpit, 2012; Irvine, 2002; Ladson Billings, 2011; Siddle Walker, 2000) Consequently, there has been a long history of reform efforts directed at teachers that lack an expansive vision of education that includes cultural influences (Ladson Billings, 2005). School leaders who have the accomplished African American educators on staff should create a school culture in which the knowledge and values these teachers can be critically explored by the entire

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197 through careful observation and more impor tantly, open dialogue about teacher practice. Additionally, as school leaders, Black educators should be able to use their culture centered knowledge and perspectives to shape school wide policies and practices Form positive alliances with African Americ an community action groups. Securing high quality education for Black children and promoting educational excellence are two foundational parts of an African American demand for social justice and human freedom (Anderson & Kharem, 2010; Franklin, 1984). T his educational agenda spans the growing intergroup diversity within the African American community and functions as a part of a commonly held philosophy of African American community advancement (Perry, 2003). The far reaching spread of this agenda is ev ident upon observation of and interaction with Black civil society. Many African American founded social and community organizations cite education as a primary focal point and employ action plans that align well with the standards of educational excel lenc e (academic and cultural) embedded in many African American communities. School leaders should make a concerted effort to form alliances with such organizations under a shared goal of improving African American educational achievement. These alliances s hould be structured in ways that promote shared decision making and a healthy distribution o f power. This means that school leaders must recognize community knowledge as relevant, legitimate this knowledge by learning from community members, and be willing to negotiate the terms school wide initiatives so that they represent community interests and meet federal, state, and

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198 district demands. The benefit s of this kind of partnership are significant and could possibly include: 1) a rekindled sense of connectedness (Foster, 1993) between school and community, 2) new, innovative approaches to forming parent partnerships and increasing academic ac hievement, 3) a view of the school as a n ally in Black education rather than something Blacks must endure in order to be successful and 4) a movement away from exclusive, top down, school administration towards democratic and egalitarian ways of schooling children. Teacher Educators Re define culture as a fundamental element of the teaching and learning process. Here actions speak louder than words. Teacher educators should make the cultural context of education visible throughout the curriculum. More imp ortantly, careful explanation of the powerful connections between the cultural context teaching and learning should be included in meaningful ways. The cultural context referenced here emphasizes the social, historical, political and economic factors that taken together offer a more comprehensive explication of the conscious and sub conscious pedagogical processes of good teachers. In addition, teacher educators should re think how they name pedagogical excellence for African American students. This kin d of teaching is predicated on emancipatory, culturally relevant perspectives. Naming pedagogical excellence in ways that emphasize these critical, cultural and liberatory foundations could help teachers pose their own questions about the necessity, value and utility of teaching African American children in the ways specified in Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 and in t he related bodies of literature Finally, it is imperative that teachers understand that they are not necessarily bringing culture into the their te aching as much as they are restructuring the

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199 existing culture of their teaching towards the emancipatory and democratic principles upon which education was first designed by formerly enslaved African in the American South (Anderson, 1988). Therefore, teac her educators must work with students to unearth the existing culture embedded in schools. This includes analysis of the shifts in this culture over time, the differences between the prevailing orientation towards educating children in Western society and other civilizations and the impact of these cultural contexts on the education of groups of students. Emphasize a range of educational theories, philosophies, and ways of thinking about education and teaching. Cultural groups have designed and implemente d educational programs for their children for centuries. The perspectives that guided these efforts have endured over time and are alive and well in many communities today (Gordon, 1990; Perry, 2003). Understanding these culturally specific explanatory t heories can help teacher educators dislodge the dominance of orthodox paradigms in preparation programs that perpetuate racism and inequity. Along cultural groups, particula rly African Americans make sense of education and achievement for African American children. Teacher educators and students can locate the cultural epistemologies and theoretical frameworks of African American people in the academic and literary work as w ell as in creative genres of music, dance, and art produced by African American people. This emphasis can also help teachers recognize the education of its children. Many teacher educators assign projects designed to help

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200 teachers to understand the totality of Afrocentric educational perspectives, they must see the collective imprint on group s of people. Therefore, these assignments should be expanded to include the specialized knowledge whole communities possess and how these communities have transformed this knowledge into powerful pedagogical practices. Take an interdisciplinary approach to the study of African American education In order to completely understand the issues involved in the educative experiences of African American children, educators (teacher educators and classroom teachers) must develop a robust knowledge of African A merican culture and experiences. Building this knowledge base demands that we begin to collaborate outside our respective education departments. Collaborating with Black Studies, African American Studies, and Ethnic Studies departments can support teache r educators in expanding their cultural knowledge and in building a culture centered curriculum designed to promote academic and cultural excellence in education. Working with departments of sociology and anthropology can also support teacher educators in reconstructing a curriculum in teacher education that honors the sociological and cultural influences on education and schooling experiences. To be sure, while some teacher educators address culture and diversity in the curriculum, many of their approach es further cement negative assumptions and perceptions about ethnic groups given the fragmented way culture is approached in coursework and field experiences. Working across disciplines will most certainly represent a critical departure from orthodox teach er preparation paradigms rooted in the psychological and biological sciences (Gordon, 1997; Ladson Billings, 2004). With this

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201 expansive knowledge base, teacher educators can offer culturally specific explanations and frameworks to prospective and practicin g teachers that can support their professional development in ways that recognize and build on the strength in African American communities. Explicitly emphasize the political aspects of the schooling process in ways that expand the purpose and function of education to include moral and ethical imperatives. Schooling in the United States is inherently political. This is evident upon examination of American systems of formal schooling dating back to the origins of European colonization of the Americas in which religious missionaries sought to communities through schooling. This constitutes one aspect of the political motives were the driving forc es behind the suppression of African American education prior to Reconstruction, the explicit racial segregation of schools in the South during the early part of the 20 th century and the current movement of educational privatization, high stakes accountability and standardization. Just as powerful though, there are other aspects of educational politics that have assisted indigenous and historically oppressed groups in recl aiming their humanity, asserting their right to citizenship and promoting excellence in education. Many African American leaders (of whom a great many were educators) embraced the political element of education from a position of democracy and social just ice for all. Such a position helped these early Black educators make connections between their professional positions and the larger social totality that created a sense of agency and action within them. Additionally, viewing their work as teachers in a political

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202 sense enabled them to combine different educational agendas into a single expansive vision of education that included freedom and equity, as well as economic and he order for teachers, novice and experienced, to become social change agents, they must first make connections between education, schooling and politics, and the implicat ions these links hold for racial and cultural groups. Teacher educators and their students should examine the ways different groups have approached the political in education ling to the politics inherent in education in socially just ways. Expand the curricular focus beyond the needs of White, female teachers. Aside from approaches designed to recruit more students of color into teacher education programs, there has been l ittle effort to support the professional needs of African American teachers. A dangerous assumption lingers which suggests that Black teachers will automatically be successful in predominantly Black schools regardless of the kind of preparation they recei ve (Cook, 2013). This has left novice and experienced African American teachers to invent and reconstruct pedagogy on their own terms, which often contradicts what is expected in their preparation programs. Meeting the professional development needs of A frican American teachers means examining the cultural and historical perspectives embedded in dominant African American epistemological themes throughout the teacher education program. It also includes critical emphasis on the ways race shapes the life an d educational experiences of all people. Finally, it means de centering whiteness as the standard for understanding and

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203 analyzing the pedagogical excellence. These methods are not suggestive of a separate curriculum for Black teachers because all teacher s would benefit from this more emancipatory approach to teacher education. However, they do emphasize the symbiotic relationship between meeting the needs of prospective Black teachers and improving teacher education in ways that benefit teachers of all et hnicities. Educational Researchers Make explicit use of culture focused empirical models and theoretical frameworks to guide research approaches. All researchers, like all teachers, use a direct their professional activities (Irvine, 2003 ; Lather, 1986 ). This is hardly troublesome, but becomes problematic when researchers fail to recognize the influence of culture on inquiry It is important to acknowledge that culture is a critical component of the conscious and subconsciou s self and become manifest in research (Irvine, 2003). However, the cultural impress on research need not be construed as a hindrance to good research, but rather should be viewed as a promising way to use research productively in improving outcomes for African American and other cultural groups. That is, researchers, particularly those interested in African American educational experiences, should find ways for culture to work as a transformative element in social science inquiry process This und oubtedly means researchers will need to situate cultural theoretical and epistemic frameworks as inquiry guideposts and do so boldly. This culturalist stance can help researchers to recognize the liberatory potential of culture as opposed to perpetuating t he dominant designation of culture as the source of educational failure for African Americans. On a more p ractical note, using culturally specific research tools can support the educational community in better

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204 understanding the situated pedagogy of except ional teachers of African American children (Irvine, 2003). Take a collaborative approach to African American educational studies. There should be more authentic collaboration between teachers, students, community and researchers. As Irvine (2003) notes, Researching with the cultural eye will produce research questions that are jointly constructed by researchers, teachers, teacher educators, school administrators, and parents who employ new and improved methodologies, collect data in different places, and establish maintain collegial research relationships (p. 35) The relationships we create through these collaborative efforts should be established in ways that blur the boundaries between researcher and researched. Meaning making should occur through a process of negotiation predicated on mutuality and reciprocity. role (Ladson Billings & Donner, 2005) In this role researchers descend from the ivory experiences and develop strategies to improve their own social condition. Research no longer benefits the researcher exclusively, but is purposed for noticeable improvement in the lives of those involved in the study. In short, community centered studies of African American education can support efforts to research for community and cultural well being Conclusion This dissertation began with an urgent declaration of the challenges and issues involved in African Americ an education today. Yet it ends with a calming sense of one possible approach teachers and teacher educators can take to help end the crisis in Black education. This study contributes to the knowledge base that examines how

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205 educators facilitate the academ ic and social growth of African American children. The findings of the study demonstrated that some teachers who are successful with African American students possess a culture centered view of their pedagogy and vision of education for their students. Th e framework of pedagogical excellence that emerged from the findings of this study offer critical insight for the continual restructuring and refinement of teacher education that supports the achievement of children of African descent in American classroom s.

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206 APPENDIX A INVITATION TO COMMUNITY GROUPS ATTENTION: ALL AFRICAN AMERICAN PARENTS OF CHILDREN GRADES K 12 You are needed! I am interested in talking with you to understand your views on what Understanding your perspectives is important if we are to help African American children be successful in schools today! I am hosting a conversation about this topic right here at and your presence and participation is strongly needed. Who should p articipate? African American parents of school aged children (grades K 12). This also includes or female who is taking care of an African American school aged child. Where will it take place? When will it be? Thursday: March 7 2013 How long will it last? 6:00pm 7:15pm What will I be asked to do? Share your thoughts and opinions about what you believe ______________________________________________________________________ _______________ REFRESHMENTS WILL BE SERVED!!! Please RSVP by using the sign up sheet

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207 APPENDIX B COMMUNITY FOCUS GROUP PROTOCOL Briefly, tell us your name and the ages and gra des of your children 1. What are some of the educational goals you have for your child? You mentioned __________________ as one of the goals, why is this important for African American children specifically? What do you think your child needs to be successfu l in school? you mentioned ____________, why is that important for your child? What else is important your child to have as part of their education? how do you think teachers help or should help in obtaining those goals? Now, What does it take for a teacher do this as like a round robin. G o around the room and everyone say a describing word or phrase that helps to capture what you mean by good Stopping for clarification. W hat do you mean by that? Give me an example of that? Collective definition Okay, now think of some qualities of good teachers of successful African American kids? Again, can we do this as like a round robin? Stopping for clarification what do you mean by that? Give me an example of that? Collective definition What do good teachers do or say with your child? Why do you think they say these things? Is this important for Black children? Why? How does a good teacher interact with you as the parent/caregiver and your child? Why do you think they act this way? Do African American children need this? Why? How c an you tell that your child has a good teacher? Use the note card to write down the names of teachers who you would characterize as a good teacher for your child. Write their name and the school they taught at also write the grade they taught your child.

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208 APPENDIX C LETTER TO POTENTIAL PARTICIPANTS Dear Teacher, Congratulations! You have been nominated by parents in the Gainesville community as an outstanding teacher of African American children. How did this happen? I conducted a series focus group interviews with parents of African American school children in the Gainesville area, and I asked them to identify teachers, who, in their opinion, have or had previously been a good teacher for their children. So now what? on Wednesday, March 27, 2013 from 1:30pm 3:30pm. t 3 08 NW 5th Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601. Children and spouses are welcome to attend! At this lunch you will be celebrated for your work with African American school children. You will also be presented w ith an opportunity to share your knowledge and perspectives about your work with African American children with myself, other teachers, and more importantly, the teaching and learning community. Attending lunch does not obligate you to participate in th is project, but it will provide a much need opportunity for you to be recognized for the work you do. Participation in the project provides an opportunity for you to share your experiences and voice your thoughts on achieving educational excellence for Afr ican American children. Please RSVP to Melanie M. Acosta at 352 682 3945 or acos1460@ufl.edu by Tuesday, March 26. 2013. Additionally, please call or email Melanie M. Acosta with any questions you may have about this event. Thanks for the work you do and I look forward to lunch on Wednesday, March 27 th at 1:30. Sincerely, Melanie M. Acosta, Ph.D. Candidate, UF College of Education

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209 APPENDIX D SAMPLE RESEARCH MEETING AGENDA **Agendas sent to co researchers via email Hey everybody, Just sending out a reminder about our meeting tomorrow afternoon (4/19) at 4:45pm at Ruby's. So much has been on my mind since our last conversation! Here's what I've been wondering about and hoping we can do: Checking in Housekeeping business: select a time keeper, a note taker and a regulator Revisit lis t generated from first meeting: section on "what teachers need to know about teaching African American kids" Reflections on list: add things, change things, modify things Making sense and org anizing what we've shared with each other: Data analysis What are we thinking about our teaching of African American children now? What else do we want to explore? How might we go about studying this? Housekeeping business se lect next 2 meeting days/ti mes Maybe May 3rd, May 9th, May 10th? Feel free to add anything that you would l ike to talk about on the list See you all tomorrow!!

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210 APPENDIX E VISUAL FRAMING ANALYSIS TOOL Cultural Knowledge: Shaped by our experiences as Black people in America. Also shaped by our Black community experiences Racism still exists We are still perceived to be inferior We have to adapt to different situations for survival making do. Our communities lost something when integration happened We have to prove ourselves as teachers our students have to prove themselves too Education is a means of success and survival for Black people Our struggles as a people are valid We come from a legacy of kings and queens Not everything you read in a book or learn in a class is the best way to do things Cultural Values: Shaped by our shared ancestry passed down throughout the generations Depending on one another for survival Helping each other out Being connected with people Inclusive love Working things out together Determination Holistic education is key focus on the whole child Openness Extended fami ly Respect for all people No boundaries between individuals Why do we teach the way we do? What are the cultural influences on our teaching? Should one come before the other? Do they function together or separately when we teach? What else is missing? How can we show or describe the relationship between the two? These elements are with us always but in what ways do we draw on this foundation when we teach? Are these the foundations of our teaching? How do these elements inform

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211 APPENDIX F SUMMARY OF FINDINGS CHART Frames Domains AA Epistemology (interpretive lenses) Themes Instructional practices Characteristics of no excuses teaching. Ways cultural knowledge influences our instructional practices. Kinds of goals we have for Black children. Reasons some teachers are unsuccessful with Black children Political power Service Self determination/ self help education (article 1) There are no excuses (article 1) Serving the community through teaching (article 1) What work with African American students Why some teachers are unsuccessful with Black children Reasons we are frustrated with other teachers & administrators (how they position us) Reasons why we are frustrated (perceptions of Black children and families) Political power Self determination Factor contributing to urgency rejection of western conceptions of Blackness (article 2) Personal experiences (teacher) Reasons why we are frustrated (perceptions of Black children and families) Ways to describe our cultural knowledge Kinds of goals we have for Black children Characteristics of no excuses teaching Self determination Political power Nationalism There are no excuses (article 1) Purpose for urgency (article 2) What works with African American students Characteristics of no excuses teaching Ways cultural knowledge influences our instructional practices. Kinds of goals we have for Black children. Self determination/ self help Political power Economic autonomy Service Nationalism education (article 1) The re are no excuses (article 1) Serving the community through teaching (article 1) Cultural knowledge Kinds of goals we have for Black children. Ways to describe our cultural knowledge. Ways our cultural knowledge influences our instructional practices. Ways cultural knowledge influences our school Political power Self determination/ self help Economic autonomy Nationalism education (article 1) There are no excuses (article 1) Factor contributing to urgency ch allenging miseducation (article 2)

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212 interactions students Factor contributing to urgency rejection of western concept (article 2) Purpose for urgency (article 2) Cultural values Ways to describe cultural values. Reasons why some White teachers may teach the way we do. Ways cultural values influence interactions students Ways cultural values influence our school interactions colleagues Service Nationalism Self determination/ self help Serving the community through teaching (article 1) There are no excuses (article 1) Professional dispositions Characteristics of no excuses teaching Reasons why we are frustrated (perceptions of Black children and families) Political power Nationalism Self determination/ self help Factor contributing to urgency rejection of western conce ption of Blackness (article 2) Purpose for urgency (article 2) Oh

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213 APPENDIX G SAMPLE FRAMES FROM FRAMING ANALYSIS Professional Dispositions Pg2/Ln6 A: Making a kid feel loved how is that work? This is not work. That should be who you are as a teacher, as a person. Compliment them you know these are things that I did everyday with my kids they knew that as soon as they walked in the door from the first day when we had our litt le meeting and I said this is who I am and who are you. What works with African American students T1/Pg2/Ln30 J: Well, humm..in comparison with other schools I think the teachers at T* do a very ch them. They teach them what they need to know and how they need to know it in a loving manner, almost yall should have been black because yall get right down there with them kids M: Really? A: H umm J: Yes, just get right with them when it comes to the kids they do what they need to do. Especially with African American kids not every school this about T* because I work there but when I got there I immediately saw the difference in teachers. Where teachers genuinely cared for their students and teachers genuinely wanted to do everything in their power for kids to be successful you know T1/Pg7/Ln8 them feel bad but I want them to know that what they did was not proper and you or pat them I would say okay now what did you just do stop them right there and have them think about it? G: I mean even when we're walkin d own the hall ill stop and stand there and they will {mimics how the kids will correct them selves] A: and that goes to show that they know what to do but if no one has older kids that I taught that are now in the 4 th and 5 th grade, when they see me they t try that nonsense.

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214 This is what I expect so a few of these things might be things you have to work a little harder at like conducting workshops for parents A: Right, right oming from the aftertime J: Uhmm but how we deal with children on a daily basis this is what we should be T3/Pg1/Ln1 H: you walk in with authority. Confidence J: they have authority just on th e basis that they are the adult in the class [M: makes noise as if to question this]. H: you walk in with confidence they walk in saying I hope I can do this, I hope I can do this. You walk in sayin I know I can do this. J: that ticks me off because they make it seem like I'm do. T3/Pg2/Ln32 J: My internships were in these classrooms with all white teachers all doing their things I watched and see how they interact with the children, but ... M: and what did you see? J: No connection M: Or what did you take away from it? J: that they had this level ... M: tell me more about this this thing this line and you child go across this line T3/Pg7/Ln11 H: And you know what else I tell them is the judge is not gonna care that your dad left your family when you were a baby and mom was on crack or that your dad was in jail gonna take it either t elementary kids too quite frankly.

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231 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Melanie Acosta was born in Gainesville, Florida in 1980. She began her education at a public, neighborhood school about a mile from her childhood home in Alachua. After her family moved to Gainesville in 1988, Melanie attended Metcalfe Elementary School, Howard Bishop Middle School, and Eastside High School. In addition to these formal school settings, Gainesville was the place where Melanie participated in an African American cultural program sponsored by the Center of Excellence during the summer of her fourth, fifth, and sixth gra de academic year. It was here that Melanie was first expose to the rich cultural history of African American people and developed her own relevant Black identity. These cultural learning experiences her determination of succeed. Melanie graduated from Eastside High in June of 1998 In the summer of 1998, Melanie began college, attending The University of Florida in Gainesville. Here she majored in public relations with a minor in business administra tion, Though she had always wanted to teach children, Melanie graduated with a in public r elations in 2002, In the same year, Melanie relocated to Jacksonville, Florida with her husband and two small children. Here, Melanie was a stay at home mother until 2005 when Winn Dixie Corporate as an associate director of corporate brand development hired her Realizing after one year that her life served a different purpose, Melanie left Winn Dixie, completed the necessary requirements for Florid a teacher certification, and was hi red as a fifth grade teacher. Her first school was a large K 6th grade facility serving predominantly White, affluent boys and girls. Here she noticed the subpar treatment of the few African American students who attended the school. She also began to look at teachers and administrators differently in terms of

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232 their perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs about teaching Black children, children who were poor, and children with learning difficulties. After one year at Patterson Melanie and her family relocated back to Gainesville, where she specifically sought a teaching job at her alma mater, Metcalfe Elementary. She was hired there as a second grade teacher in January of 2006. The demographics of Metcalfe had changed since s he was a student there. No longer serving a mix of Black and White students of middle socioeconomic status, Metcalfe was now described as a predominantly Black, high poverty elementary school. Melanie worked at Metcalfe for five more years, where she taug ht fifth graders and third graders and was nominated for Teacher of the Year in October 2006. It was here, though, that Melanie realized that to be a master teacher, she needed to learn more about teaching. While continuing to work as a full time teacher, Melanie enrolled in the program in the Department of Special Education at The University of Florida in May 2008 and graduate with a in special education in December 2010. While teaching, she continued to note the substandard treatm student ability. She also she also realized the power and influence teachers had in shaping educational outcomes for African American learners. Both realizations served as the catalyst for Melanie to leave Metcalfe in 2010 and enroll in the doctoral program at The University of Florida As a doctoral student at UF, Melanie was involved in a multitude of projects, including teaching a culturally responsive teaching methods course for graduate level pre service elementary teachers, teaching a literacy focused practicum course for graduate level pre service teachers, working as the program director for an afterschool

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233 literacy tutoring and engagement program serving low income African American students, and assisting in the development of an early literacy curriculum designed to help first graders executive functioning systems. Melanie also became active in several professional organizations such as the American Educational Research Association, and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the Florida Association of Teacher Educat ors, and has been a presenter at each of these Melanie would like to continue working in the areas of African American Studies and teacher education. She would also like to continue her work with pre service and in service teac hers in demonstrating pedagogical excellence in teaching African American students