Frequently Disciplined Students' Perceptions of Exclusionary Discipline and Caring Teacher Behaviors

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Frequently Disciplined Students' Perceptions of Exclusionary Discipline and Caring Teacher Behaviors
Phaup, Courtney M
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University of Florida
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Doctorate ( Ed.D.)
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University of Florida
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Curriculum and Instruction
Teaching and Learning
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care -- discipline
Teaching and Learning -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
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The purpose of this dissertation research was to analyze frequently disciplined students perceptions of exclusionary discipline and caring teacher behaviors ( en )
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Thesis (Ed.D.)--University of Florida, 2017.
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by Courtney M Phaup.

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2017 Courtney M Phaup


To my husband, Stephen, and my children, Carly, Lydia and Pal mer and to my parents, Denny and Becky, with my gratitude for their support, tolerance and inspiration throughout my study


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank everyone who helped and supported me during this research project. Foremost, I want to express my gratitude towards my family and friends for their continued encouragement. I am most grateful to my parents who have instilled in me a love for learning and a desire to achieve. My mother held the strongest belief that I could achieve this deg ree. Like always, her unwavering support always pres ented itself when it was most needed. My dad never grew weary of listening to me t hink aloud on our morning walks and always offered a quiet place for me to work. I thank my husband, Stephen, whose sel flessness and encouragement played the most crucial role able to finish this dissertation. I must thank my th ree precious children whose sacrifice has been more than my own. Carly and Lydia, it is my hope that the memories made in Gainesvill e will always overshadow the times when writing this paper took precedent over everything else. Palmer, you were only one when I began this journey, so life as you know it consist s of me always studying or writing. I hope your witnessing of my love for learning will show you that perseverance will allow you to achieve your dreams. I would like to acknowledge the support given to me by Dr. Brianna L. Kennedy, the chair of my disse rtation committee. with me as a novice researcher and her belief in my potential to become a practitioner researcher. Your confidence in my ability far surpassed my own belief. I also thank the other members o f my committee: Drs. Elizabeth Bondy, Pavlo Antonenko, and Larry Forthun. Your gracious comments pushed my thinking and helped guide the direction of this dissertation in its early stages. You are all very much appreciated.


Finally shared their voices with me for this research. Your willingness to participate in this study highlights just one of the many ways you have helped me become a better teacher.


6 TABLE OF CONTENTS P age ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION, LITERATURE REVIEW, AND METHODOLOGY ...................... 10 Background and Significance of the Problem ................................ ......................... 12 Purpose of the Study and Research Questions ................................ ...................... 16 Co nceptual Framework ................................ ................................ ........................... 18 Relevant Literature ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 19 School a nd District Policies That Perpetuate the Discipline Gap ...................... 20 Teacher Beliefs and Practices that Contribute to the Discipline Gap ............... 21 Teacher Beliefs and Practices that Reduce the Discipline Gap ........................ 25 Conclusion of Literature Review ................................ ................................ ............. 32 Methodology ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 32 Research Context ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 34 Selection of Participants ................................ ................................ ......................... 34 Data Collection ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 35 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 37 Researcher Positionality ................................ ................................ ......................... 38 Trustworthiness ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 39 S ummary and Overview ................................ ................................ .......................... 39 2 FINDINGS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 41 Exclusionary Disci pline Was Ineffective in Changing Student Behavior ................. 42 Fut ures ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 43 ...................... 47 Caring Teacher Behaviors Included Pedagogical Care and Nurturing Care ........... 48 Certain Teacher Behaviors Escalated Disciplinary Interactions .............................. 52 Calm Discussions Were Essential During Disciplinary Interactions ........................ 55 Perceptions of Respect and Disrespect Were Important in Disciplinary Interactions ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 56 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 59 3 DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS ................................ ................................ ....... 60 Perceptions of Teacher Care ................................ ................................ .................. 61 Perceptions of Exclusionary Discipline ................................ ................................ ... 64 Alternatives to Exclusionary Discipline ................................ ................................ .... 67 Limitations of the Study ................................ ................................ ........................... 70


7 Impl ications ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 71 ................................ ............................... 72 Addressing School Discipline Practices ................................ ............................ 73 Caring Teacher Behaviors ................................ ................................ ................ 74 Auth entic, Caring Teacher Student Relationships ................................ ............ 75 Using Practitioner Research to Improve Practice ................................ ............. 75 APPENDIX A RECRUITMENT SCRIPT ................................ ................................ ........................ 81 B PARENT CONSENT FORM ................................ ................................ ................... 82 C STUD ENT ASSENT SCRIPT ................................ ................................ ................. 84 D INITIAL STUDENT INTERVIEW PROTOCOL ................................ ........................ 86 E ADDITIONAL INTERVIEW PROTOCOL ................................ ................................ 88 F DISCIPLINE REFLECTION FORM ................................ ................................ ......... 89 G CODE BOOK ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 90 H THEME DEVELOPMENT SAMPLE ................................ ................................ ........ 91 REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 92 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETC H ................................ ................................ .......................... 103


8 Abstract of the Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Education FREQUENTLY DISCIPLINED STUDENTS PERCEPTIONS OF EXCLUSIONARY DISCIPLINE AND CARING TEACHER BEHAVIORS By Courtney M. Phaup December 2017 Chair: Brianna L. Kennedy Co chair: Elizabeth Bondy Major: Curriculum and Instruction The purpose of this dissertation research was to analyze frequently disciplined research focuse d on dispropo rtionate discipline practices that result in Black students experiencing exclusionary discipline at a higher rate than their White p eers. P ractitioner research was utilized to address the disproportionate discipline practices at the school where I teach. Data collection included interviews with six of my frequently disciplined students, written discipline reflec tion forms and my participant journal. Data analysis resulted in the following s ix themes: (1) Exclusionary discipline was ineffective in changing student behavior; (2) exclusionary discipline was harmful to exclusionary discipline; (4) c ertain teacher behaviors escal ated disciplinary interactions; (5) calm discussions between educators and students were essential during disciplinary interactions; and (6 ) important in disciplinary interactions.


9 By understanding the perceptions of students, educators gai n knowledge of Attention should be paid to implementing alternatives to exclusionary discipline practices, such as restorative practices and p ositive behavioral interventions and supports. As indicated by this study, practitioner research provides a systematic approach for examining problems of practice. Future research on the impact practitioner research may have on reducing the discipline ga p would be of value to combating the disproportionate disciplinary practices that negatively impact the educational experiences of Black students.


10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION LITERATURE REVIEW, AND METHODOLOGY Schools should be equalizers of opportunity fo r students from diverse sociodemographic groups but educational outcomes of different groups tell a different story in districts across our nation. Disparities in test scores and other academic outcomes between White students and their marginalized peers continuously show that students have different educational experiences based on race and social class (Gregory, Skiba, & Nogu e ra, 2010). In addition to the frequently discussed gap in achievement between Black students and their White peers, there is also a gap in the disciplinary experiences of Black and White students. Black students are punished more frequently and more harshly at school than White students, even when exhibiting the same types of behaviors (Milner, 2013; Skiba Nardo & Peterson 2002). The disproportionate representation of Black students in school discipline, specifically in the areas of suspensions and expulsions, is a phenomenon often referred to as the suspension gap (Gregory, Cornell, & Fann, 2011). The suspension gap between Bla ck students and White students widened from 2.9% in 1973 to 8.17% in 2010 (Wald & Losen, 2010). The Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) biennial report, released in June 2016 from the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights that analyzes scho ol and district level suspension data from the Elementary and Secondary Education Civil Rights Compliance Survey showed that during the 2013 2014 school year Black students were 3.8 times more likely to receive a discipline referral, out of school suspen sion or expulsion than White students. Black male students are especially at risk for receiving a school suspension. Using the 2006 CRDC report Losen and Skiba (2010) analyzed suspension rates of more than 9,000 middle schools


11 and found that 28.3% of B lack males we re suspended at least once during a school year compared to only 10% of White males (Losen & Skiba, 2010). School discipline often includes measures that exclude students from the learning environment, such as suspensions and expulsions, which result in students missing classroom instruction (Brown, 2007) The 2016 CRDC report included new data regarding student suspensions at the preschool level. According to the report, Black children we re less likely to be enrolled in public preschool prog rams, but Black children that we re enrolled in these preschool programs we re 3.6 times more likely to be suspended than their W hite peers. The use of school suspensions as a primary disciplinary response could be a contributing factor to the well document ed gaps in academic achievement (Gregory, Skiba & Noguera, 2010). The 2016 CRDC report also indicated that the number of US students suspended for misbehavior almost tripled from 1.7 million in 1974 to more than 5 million in 2011. Factors identified as possible contributors to the racial discipline gap include: cultural bias in school and teacher practices (Gregory et al., 2010 ; Gregory & Thompson, 2010 ), cultural differences between students and teachers (Bradshaw, nd poor relationships between Black students and the adults they encounter in the school setting (Carter, Fine & Russell, 2014; Gregory & Weinstein, 2008). There has been little research done on these potential student and classroom level factors that may contribute to the racial disparities in school discipline outcomes (Bradshaw et. al, 2010). My o wn classroom and school context reflect these national trends regarding racial disparities in exclusionary discipline. For this study, I utilized practitioner research


12 caring teacher behaviors. Practitioner research is a reflective and systematic approach to studying problems of practice. Th is embedded approach to studying a problem of practice empowers the researcher to generate new knowledge that is relevant to her context, which ultimately leads to improved teaching and student learning. Practitioner research allowed me to serve as both pr actitioner and researcher as I examined the discipline gap, an educational inequity that highly impacts the students I teach. During the study, I critically examine d my own thinking and practice s and ma d e changes to ensure I was not contributing to th e problem of disproportionate disciplining of the Black students at my school. At the time of this study I was teaching 7 th and 8 th grade special education classes. I taught 24 different students a day, including two W hite students and 22 Black students. Of these 22 Black students, 16 had received at least one day of suspension within the first three months of school. Many of these suspensions resulted from teachers sending students to their administrator with office discipline referrals. My r esearch is intended to help teachers at my school, and potentially educators in other schools, gain an understanding of how their interactions with students can potentially play a role in the inequitable suspension rates of our Black students. Background and Significance of the Problem data regarding racial disparit ies in school discipline practices over four decades ago. In recent years, the federal government has issued their guidance to schools on decr easing disproportionalities in school discipline The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has collected and disaggregated discipline data and reported on disproportionalities and some


13 schools have started adopting evidence based interventions such as restorative justice and social emotional learning curricula in response to disproportionate disciplin e rates (Gonzalea, 2012; Morrison & Vaandering, 2012). However, despite all that has been done, and is being done, the discipline gap still exists. Regardless of whe ther teachers are knowingly addressing student behavior using a lens that is more critical of the behavior of Black students, inequitable actions by teachers have proven to have a negative impact on the futures of students subjected to exclusionary discipl ine. The negative impact of school suspensions is not confined within the walls of the predictor of future involvement in the prison system. Commonly referred to as the school to prison pipeline (Wald & Losen, 2010), this is a phenomenon where many Black students who experience repeated disciplinary interactions at school also experience an increased risk of being incarcerated ( Aud et al 2010 ). A student who is expelled or suspended is two times more likely to be arrested within the same month than a child who ha s not been expelled or suspended (Monahan, VanDerhei, Bechtold & Cauffman, 2014). Chronic absenteeism, including school days miss ed due to suspensions, can greatly impact th grade chronic absenteeism is the leading predictor that a student will later drop out of high school (Balfanz, 2016). In their analysis of the interrelationships between suspensions, attendance, and course performance being key indicators of high school dropout, Balfanz, Byrnes and Fox (2012) state d : Here there is clear evidence that for students who are otherwise regularly attending school and passing their courses in t he 9th grade, being


14 suspended can lead to more suspensions, lowered attendance and course failure in later years, and as such act as the trigger mechanism which puts them on the path to ultimately dropping out. (p. 11) Research has shown that each addition 2012; Gregory et al., 2015). Black students are more likely to receive multiple out of school suspensions compared to thei r W hite peers. During the 2011 2012 school year Black students made up 16 % of school enrollments nationwide, yet they made up 42 % of those who received multiple out of school suspensions. White students made up 51 % of school enrollment and 31 % of students who received multiple suspensions (Office of Civil Rights Data Collection, 2014). The inequitable treatment of Black for far longer than the school age years ( Losen & Skiba, 2010). Not only is there a discrepancy between actions with Black and White students there is also a discrepancy in the type of misbehavior assigned disciplinary consequences by teachers at the classr oom level (Skiba et al., 2002 ) Misbehavior that is subjective consists of offenses that require teacher interpretation of what constitutes a violation. Objective misbehavior is easy to identify and requires little interpretation to determine if a violati on has occurred. Black students are more often given negative disciplinary referrals for subjective ly defined misbehavior, such as disrespect and defiance White students are most often given disciplinary referrals for objective ly defined misbehavior such as using profanity, fighting, or skipping class (Monroe, 2009; Skiba et al., 2002 ; Staats, 2016). Evidence shows that racial disparities exist in the type s of infractions that result in disciplinary consequences across our n ation, but in Arkansas where I teach, these


15 disparities are larger than the national average. A statewide report on school discipline practices and outcomes stated that on average, 76 minor non violent infractions are reported for every 100 Black students, while only 23 infractions ar e reported for every 100 Hispanic or White students (Office for Educational Policy, 2017) Th e s e data show that Black students in the state are three times more likely to be cited for subjective infractions than their non Black peers (Office for Education al Policy, 2017). These disparities also exist across the district and at the school where this study took place A report released during the school board meeting on November 17, 2016 grade, race and gender for the period of October 1, 2016 to October 31, 2016. According to this report Black students made up 60% of our school enrollment and White students made up 30%. During the 21 school days included in the report, there were 75 students assigned to in school suspension (ISS) and 25 students assigned to out of school suspension (OSS) Ninety one percent of the 75 students assigned to ISS were Black and 9% were White. Of the 25 students assigned to OSS 92% were Black and 8% were White. These numbers showed that Black students in my district had been assigned school suspensions at a much higher rate than their White peers. In the spring of the 2015 2016 school year I gave the students in my English class a writing prompt asking t hem to write down anything they wish ed they could tell daily teacher student interactions that I witness ed and information my students share d with me during informal conversations, I believed


16 that my school was lacking widespread caring teacher student relationships and that the lack of these relationships c ould be contributing to punitive exclusionary discipline practices It is important to note that the discipline gap has been found in all grades K 12, but it becomes more prevalent in the middle school grades where students are subject to more exclusionary discipline than they were in elementary school (Arcia, 2007; Kennedy Lewis, 2013). Research suggests that suspension during the middle years may have significant long term repercussions (Losen & Skiba, 2010). Listening to the perspectives of middle school aged students provided me a chance to examine the views of the students most a ffected by the disparities in discipline pra ctices. Purpose of the Study and Research Questions I addressed this pressing problem that was occurring within my context by using practitioner research The purpose of my study was to provide an in depth account of decided to listen to the perceptions of frequently disciplined students because of their multiple experiences with exclusionary discipline. At the time of the study, 85% of my students experienced exclusionary discipline in the form of either ISS or OSS For this study, I defined frequently disciplined students as those that ha d received three or more suspension s since the start of th e school year when data were collected Exclusionary discipline disproportionately harms Black students. Not only is it important that we recognize the discipline gap between Black and White students, but it is essential that we wo rk to identify and eliminate possible contributing factors. Much of


17 causes of the discipline gap without adequately considering the perspectives of the students that ar e frequently suspended. The national trend of disproportionality in discipline rates between Black and White students was also occurring in the urban middle school where I was a special education teacher. Overall, the school was composed of 60% Black stu dents, yet my classes were composed of 92% Black students, of which a majority were male. M any of my students experienced punitive exclusionary discipline, and it was impacting the quality of education for a large population of the student body. I was con cerned about the long term effects exclusionary discipline would have on my students and wanted to adjust my practice so that I would not be contributing to these effects. For this study, I recruited my students who were experiencing exclusionary discip line at the school. By providing my fellow educators and myself an opportunity to of view, this study raised consciousness within my school about the impact disciplinary actions ha d on our students. In addition, we gain ed student relationships As a faculty, we were able to begin the work needed to address discipline in more appropriate and equitable way s The insights gained from this research improved my own practice and were of disproportionate disciplinary practices The following research questions guided the study: 1. What discipline practices? 2. How do my frequently disciplined students perceive the influence of teacher behaviors on student behaviors?


18 3. What teacher behaviors do my frequently discipl ined students identify as caring? Conceptual Framework This study was guided by two theories : ethic of care, and culturally relevant critical teacher care (CRCTC). Ethic of care was used as a part of the conceptual framework for this study to highlight t he importance of care in the relationship between students and their teachers. Noddings (2001) describe d care in the educational setting as a basic need grounded in relationships, including relationships between teachers and students. Care occurs within relationships and involves reciprocity between the giver and receiver of care (Noddings, 1992). Caring r elationships between teacher and student only exist if the student believes the teacher cares for them. Many perspectives of care fail to acknowledge that the perception of care is not universal and varies among cultural groups ( Garza, 2009 ; Noddings, 199 2 200 1 ). Race should not be overlooked as an important aspect of of care (Tosolt, 2010). Roberts (2010) concept of CRCTC (2001) discussion of care by extending beyond the traditional notion of care and considering the roles of culture s and social conditions in their perce ptions of care. CRCTC brings together the main ideas of CRT and the ethic of care by positioning teacher care as a tool for disrupt ing systemic racism. Teacher care for Black students should include preparing students to address the realities of racism in their lives and dispel the dominant colorblind ideology (Roberts, 2010 ) This approach to care advocates the consider ation of the effects of cultural and socioeconomic conditions in show ing care to all learners, especially historically marginalized students (Hambacher & Bondy, 2016). Teachers who enact CRCTC demonstrate political clarity, critical hope and asset based thinking


19 (Hambacher & Bondy, 2016). Teachers demonstrate political clarity when they recognize societal injustice, acknowledge that societal injustice is reproduced in schools and aim to prepare students to confront societal injustice. Critical hope is aimed at creating a more just and equitable society when one possesses an unrelenting belief that she can produce positive change to improve the well being of humanity. Teachers that exhibit asset based thinking have respect for knowledge and resources st udents bring with them, rather than viewing students as being deficient. Bondy and Hambacher (2016) conducted research where they interviewed and observed two elementary teachers to investigate the enactment of CRCTC. Their findings showed that CRCTC ena cted by the teachers provided them with knowledge that allowed them Ending the racial disparities found in the discipl inary practices at the school where I was teaching was an overarching goal of this study. The concepts of ethic of care informed this study by providing a lens to explore characteristics of teacher care, as perceived by frequently disciplined students. The inclusion of CRCTC as part of the conceptual framework for this study helped to highlight the role culture plays in the perception of teacher care and in the development of caring teacher student relationships. The development of caring relationships with students is one way teachers can work towards reducing racial disparities found in school disciplinary practices. Relevant Literature The purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions of frequently disciplined students regarding their experienc es with classroom behavior, the influence


20 perceptions of teacher care. This section will begin with a synthesis of research regarding the role s of school and district policies in the racial discipl ine gap which will be followed by a review of literature on teacher beliefs and practices that are contributors to the gap. The chapter will then explore teacher beliefs and practices that have been identified as being able to help diminish the disciplin e gap. School and District Policies That Perpetuate the Discipline Gap School wide and district level policies play a role in perpetuating the discipline gap (Skiba et al., 2002 ). Zero tolerance policies include the use of punitive disciplinary measures, such as out of school suspensions and mandatory expulsions. As mandated by federal law, many schools across the United States use zero tolerance policies requiring mandatory student expulsion for students that sell, furnish or possess a firearm. Schools have extended their zero tolerance policies to include other student misbehavior including possession of other weapons, selling of narcotics or over the counter drugs and other prohibited behaviors (Gregory & Cornell, 2009). Zero tolerance pol icies, which could be thought of as a way to rid the influence of bias by providing predetermined consequences to all perpetrators regardless of circumstances or backgrounds have been shown to differentially affect students of color (Curran, 2016; Gregory & Cornell, 2009; Hoffman, 2012). Hoffman (2012) conducted a study designed to estimate the effect of expanded zero tolerance policies on racial disparities and data o btain ed from the State Department of Education, the researchers found that percentage of Black students being recommended for expulsion. Although less than


21 25% of of the increase in recommendation for expulsion under the expanded zero tolerance policy. Zero tolerance policies have not improved the discipline gap, but rather resulted in harsher penalties being placed on the more frequently disciplined Black students. Disparities in discipline resulting from district or school level policies may contribute to racial disparities in discipline at the classroom level (Rocque & Paternoster, 2011). School disciplinary policies put in place to make schools safe for students are consequently resulting in inequitable discipline practices and the exclusion of Black students from the learning environment (Skiba et al., 2002). In addition to distr ict and school level policies driving racial disparities in discipline, individual student teacher interactions at the classroom level have also been identified as contributors to the discipline gap (Noguera & Akom, 2000 ; Skiba et al., 2002). Teacher Beli efs and Practices that Contribute to the Discipline Gap As schools attempt to address the issue of disproportionate rates in disciplinary actions between Black and White students, educators should acknowledge the role of teacher beliefs and practices. Any effort that fails to practices will likely be unsuccessful in producing change (Gregory & Mosely, 2004). Teachers have the power to determine which students are punished and how discipline problems are addressed. For exampl e, by responding with exclusionary discipline unsympathetic teachers consistently alienate students who present tough fronts closing the racial discipline gap. Gregory and regarding the reasons for discipline problems as they relate to race and culture at a large urban high school. After thematic analyses of transcribed interviews with 19


22 teachers, teacher beliefs and practices w ere i dentified as playing a role in teachers descriptions about why students have discipline problems. as well as their values, beliefs and perceptions inform their teaching practices, which in turn impac t student achievement (Cross, 2003). T knowledge and beliefs about race have implications for their teaching practice and the expectations they hold for the students discipline. Many choices teachers make in the classroom are shaped by their cultural background s and individual beliefs Cultural disparities between students and teachers Gregory et al., 2010; Staats, 2016) and negative teacher student relationships (Anyan, Zhang & Hazel, 2016; Toshalis, 2015) have all been identified as contributors to the disproportionate disciplinary actions taken by educators against Black students. Cultural differences between student s and teachers. student population is becoming more diverse, educators are still predominately White (Zumwalt & Craig, 2005 ) Many Black students are being taught by White female teachers. According to a 2016 report conducted by the US Department of Education, during the 2011 2012 school year 82 % of public school teachers were W hite compared to 51 % of public school students (USDOE, 2016). Teaching materials, policies and behavioral expectations often align with the norms of the Whit e middle class population (Monroe, 2005). The cultural norms of a teacher may be at odds with the cultural norms of their students resulting in the misinterpretation of student actions. For example, White teachers may misinterpret culturally normal forms of play between Black males as


23 being aggressive behavior (Monroe, 2005 ). In their article arguing for the need of schools to utilize culturally relevant classroom management as a way to address classroom management issues, Weinstein et al (2004) discuss ed how culture and race encountered by a White teacher who misinterpreted the behavior of two Black students as being aggressive when in actuality the two students were engaged in a culturally based linguistic exchange. T ensions can arise between Black students and their White teachers due to differences in communication styles (Gregory et al., 2010). White teachers may be unfamiliar and even uncomfortable with the more active and physical style of communications common among Black adolescent students (Monroe, 2005). The common communication style of White teachers, which typically discourages emotion (Weinst ei n, Curran, & Tomlinson Clarke, 2003), clashes with the communicatio n style of Black students, which includes considerable body language, eye movement and positioning ( Gay, 2002 ; communication style s as being rude, disrespectful or disruptive. In a study of seven and how their interactions with educators shaped their perceptions, Murphy, Acosta and Kennedy Lewis (2013) found that miscommunication s with educators alienated young B la ck girls from the learning process. Implicit biases Black students are also suspended more frequently than their White peers when committing the same offenses ( Milner, 2013 ; Skiba, et al., 2002). Although well intentioned, educators may experience discrepancies between their


24 conscious ideals and unconscious associations (Staats, 201 6 ). Implicit biases are attitudes or stereotypes that result in prejudiced judgment s in a sub c onscious manner that can lead to actions that are not aligned The prevalence of implicit bias es including racial bias es against B lacks is well supported in psychological research (Kang & L ane 2010). Such bias es may affect disciplinary decisions made by individual teachers or administrators. Okon o fua and Eberhard (2015) conducted a study to examine the influence of student race s on s Participants in their study were given school discipline infraction records for a group of students who misbehaved twice. Stereotypical White and Black names were used as the names on the student records. After reading the first infraction record for each student, the participants were asked questions related to their view of the severity of the infraction and how they felt the student should be disciplined. The results of their study showed that for Black students the first infraction influenced how t eachers regarded the second infraction. Teachers were more likely to view multiple infractions as a connected pattern when the perpetrators were given stereotypical Black names as opposed to stereotypical White names. individual discipline dec isions cumulatively add up to create the large racial disparities found in school discipline. Students may experience discrepancies between conscious ideals and sub conscious associations. The discrimination against Black students in schools is an extension of inequities found in our broader society (Weinstein, Tomlinson & Curran, 2004). The criminalization of Black males by the media has been identified as a contributor to the negative ste reotypes formed by teachers about Black male students (Gregory &


25 Thompson, 2010; Kunesh & Noltemeyer, 2015). The media often portray Black culture as commonly including illicit drug sales and use, violence, and anti authoritarianism (Monroe, 2005). Many teachers may be unaware of how their negative, stereotypical perceptions of Black males are impacting disciplinary actions (Gregory & Mosely, 20 04 ; Monroe, 2005). Teachers may approach classes with a majority of low income and Black students wit h an emphasis on controlling student behavior ( Haberman, 1991 ; Howard, 2013 ). Teachers may also react to perceived misbehavior more harshly than necessary when the student misbehaving is a Black male due to the stereotype that Black students are troublemakers in school contexts (Monroe, 2005; Okonofua & Eberhardt, 2015; Staats, 2016). It is important that teachers stay consciously aware of how their discipli nary mindset s and implicit associations may be contributing to their daily decisions about student behavior. Teacher Beliefs and Practices that Reduce the Discipline Gap Teachers may be unaware of the role they play in perpetuating the discipline gap. B y evaluating and adjusting their current practice, teachers have the power to reduce the discipline gap (Gregory, Skiba, & Noguera, 2010). The use of culturally relevant teaching practices and development of positive teacher student relationships can both aid in reducing the gap (Monroe, 2009). Culturally relevant practices Educators that use culturally relevant teaching practices develop disciplinary styles that environments (Monroe, 2005). Ladson Billings (1995) defines culturally relevant teaching as a pedagogy of opposition committed to collective empowerment which rests on three criteria: (a) students must experience academic success ; (b) students must


26 develop and/or maintain cultural competence ; and (c) students must develop a critical consciousness through which they challenge the current social order. Culturally relevant practices stem from a teacher mindset that honors and respects the variety of cultures and experiences that students bring to the c lassroom responsive classroom management has been identified as a pressing need to comba t racial disparities in school discipline ( Bryan, 2017; Griner & Stewart, 2012; Skiba et al., 2002). Monroe (2009) describe d how culturally relevant practices can help close the discipline gap when she state d : Gathering deliberate and measured information about the lived and evolving journeys of the young people in their charge strengthens Teachers may especially glean insight into displays that may be misinterpreted as inappropriate conduct and unnecessarily penalized. (p. 325) relevant teaching. Teachers who lack experience with the cultures of their students will particularly profit from making a concerted effort to learn more about cultures (Monroe, 2009). Teacher education programs fail to adequately prepare their students to work with children from varying backgrounds ( Bryan, 2017; Matsko & Hammerness, 2014; Sleeter, 2001). This failure to prepare teachers is seen by some scholars as an act of supporting and cont inuing the systematic privileging of Whiteness (Gillborn, 200 5 ). It pays to be a member of the dominant racial group because institutions within our society provide White people with undue privileges ( Bell, Funk, Joshi, & Valdivia, 2016;


27 McIntosh, 198 9, 2015) Preparing White pre service teachers with the knowledge and skills to see and think about their Whiteness, in a way tha t benefits marginalized students, may prepare them to teach for social justice (Hill Jackson, 2007). T eachers may not see the value of culturally relevant practices due to their claims of colorblindness, or failure to see and recognize racial differences in their classrooms (Gay, 2000). Race most often impacts social perception when information is ambiguous, which may lead to use of stereotypes to fill in the gaps and guide inferences. This use of stereotypes could help explain the high rate of Black students being disciplined for offenses that rely on subjective interpretation (Okonofua Walton, & Eberhardt 2016). Teacher s tudent r elationships. The quality of teacher student relationships greatly influences student behavior (Okonofua, Paunesku & Walton, 2016). Crosnoe, Johnson and Elder (2004) examined data collected from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to examine whether teacher student relationships predicted mes. Their findings indicated that stronger bonds between teachers and in schools were associated with a lower likelihood of student disciplinary problems. The ways students perceive their relationship s with their teachers are important to their experience s of school and impacts their involvement in disciplinary interactions. Gregory and Weinstein (2008) compared the classroom experiences of the same students in two different classrooms. The first cla ssroom was with the teacher that had most recently submitted an office referral for a defiance related offense. The second classroom was with a teacher with who m the student had identified having a good relationship. Analysis of observation


28 data along wi th student reports and school records indicated that the teachers with whom the students thought they go t along best treated them with care and high expectations and that students were more willing to comply with the authority of teachers who had earned t heir trust. The findings from this study indicate that positive teacher student relationships positively impact student behavior and reduce involvement with exclusionary school discipline. In contrast, n egative teacher student relationships have been identified as possible contributors to racial disparities in discipline outcomes (Gregory & Weinstein, 2008; Okonofua et al., 2016). Handling school discipline through restorative practices has been shown to help transform teacher student relations hips so that teachers rely less on suspensions to address student behavior (Gregory et al., 2015). Restorative practices include strategies that educators can use to prevent rule infractions before they occur and intervene after an infraction has occurred ( Gregory et al., 2015). In the use of restorative practices there is less emphasis on punishment and more emphasis on accountability, healing, and addressing the needs of all impacted individuals. All parties affected by an infraction come t ogether to identify how those involved were impacted and how to repair the harm after an infraction has occurred. The belief is that students are more likely to make positive changes in their behavior when school authority figures involve students in the process of handling discipline issues (Wachtel, 2005). The authoritative school climate created by the use of restorative practices elicits trusting teacher student interactions in which students feel supported and treated fairly and teachers are perceive d as more respectful ( Gregory et al., 2015). Schools that have implemented restorative practices on a school wide scale have seen decreases in the


29 number of school suspensions issued to students (Owen, Wettach, & Hoffman, 2015). In a study analyzing survey data from 412 high school students from two small cities on the East Coast of the United States, Gregory et al. (2015) found that teachers who used more restorative practices issued fewer discipline referrals to marginalized students and had more po sitive relationships with diverse students compared to teachers who used restorative practices less frequently. Empathic discipline mindset. Teachers who are ill prepared to handle disruptive classroom behavior will often adopt authoritarian disciplinary practices where they engage students in power struggles that serve only to escalate the disruption (Skiba et al., 2002). Punitive discipline mindsets are mindsets held by teachers who believe that students must be punished to learn how to behave (Okonofua et al., 2016) This type of mindset undermines the relationships of trust and respect between teacher and student that has been shown to be beneficial for student success. Teachers with an empathic discipline mindset address student behavior with the a In a study of 39 randomized kindergarten through twelfth grade teachers, from various locations across the nation Okonofua et al. (2016) examined whether the use of an empathic mindset intervention for teachers would change teacher practices and student responses to discipline, and ultimately lower student suspension rates. The empathic mindset intervention used for the study consisted of teacher participants reading an article promoting an empathic mindset and then participating in a discussion of how the use of an empathic mindset could lead to changes in the way teachers interact with


30 Results showed that students whose teacher received the empathic mindset intervention were half as likely to be suspended over the course of a school year. When teachers possess ed an empathic mindset, they tend ed to have characteristics identified as be ing successful when working with diverse student populations (McAllister & Irvine, 2002). Teachers with empathic mindsets d id not respond to student misbehavior by attempting to change the student, rather they attempt ed to adjust the context that contribu ted to the misbehavior (Okonofua et al., 2016). Addressing student misbehavior in this manner could shift the blame for the misbehavior from the student to the context. This type of response to misbehavior could nurture relationships with students and cr eate positive student attitudes about school An empathic mindset is of crucial importance for teachers to form authentic, caring relationships with their students (Warren, 2015). Educators often operate under the false assumpt ion that the effectiveness of schools can be shaped by adult views alone. It is often assumed that teachers and administrators can accurately understand the views of students without engaging students in dialogue but teachers and school administrators ca students and perspectives to directly improve educational practice s (Cook Sather, 2002 ; Kennedy & Datnow, 2011 ). Carefully listening to students provides educators with new insights into what students are thinking and feeling, and these insights in turn provide educators a new lens through which to examine the education they are providing their students ( Noguera, 2009 ; Storz, 2008).


3 1 insights, including an understanding of the value students place on respect, trust, fairness ( Cushman, 2003 ; Storz, 2008) and caring teacher student re lationships (Noguera, 2009). Jansen & Bartell (2013) math teachers and 22 middle school students from a distric t in the Mid At lantic region of the United States participated in the study. After interviewing participants, the researchers discovered that caring teachers were described as teaching in a way that shows every student s learning matters, communicating high expectations for students and creating a welcoming classroom community. Studies such as the one conducted by Jansen & Bartell (2013) provide students with a safe space to voice their perceptions and beliefs and can enable educators to develop s hare and build upon a more accurate understanding of (Hayes et al., 1994) N ie to (2008) described how educators may unintentionally cause harm to Black students in the ir attempts to demonstrate care: Caring within a structure plagued by inequality takes multiple forms, and at some moments when we think we are caring for students of color we actually are harming them because we are failing to counter a social structure t hat treats them unequally. . Teachers can participate in practices of racism that is, practices that deny students of color equal opportunities along racial lines even when they think they are erspectives of teacher care can help prevent the unintentional harm described by N ie to. Tosolt (2010) surveyed 50 5 8 grade students to investigate their perceptions of caring teacher behaviors. The study results showed that Black students were more like ly to success than were White students.


32 Conclusion of Literature Review The review of literature identified the role of school district policies in producing the discipline gap, different ways in whic h teachers can positively and negatively impact the disproportionate discipline rates of Black students and the importance of educators validating the views of students. Synthesizing the literature enabled me to gain a stronger understanding of what the contributing factor s may be for the disproportionate punitive discipline practices at my school. In the next section I will describe the methodology of my study. Methodology Research has show n that the use of exclusionary discipline with students has the potential to create long term negative consequences (Gregory et al., 2010; Losen & Skiba, 2010). As a teacher, I worr ied about the long term consequences of suspension for the 85% of my Black students who receive d these punishments in an average year. Caring teacher student relationships, where respect, empathy and trust are common practice, have been shown to lower school suspension rates (Okonofua et al., 2016). At my school, assistant pri ncipals reported receiving multiple disciplinary forms from teachers daily. These referrals we re what led to the high suspension rate found at my school. According to the monthly discipline report for the month of October, 2016, there were 383 referrals written by teachers. Of these 383 referrals, 180 of them resulted in either ISS or OSS These data indicated that almost half of all disciplinary referrals resulted in the student being suspended. Based on interactions that I saw between students and te achers believe that many of the teachers at my school had caring relationships with their students.


33 practices and how students describe d caring teachers that cultivate d positive teacher student relationships, I chose to engage in practitioner research. This context based research methodology was chosen because it best suit ed my desire to gain a deeper understandi ng of how my students interpret ed actions when handling student behaviors that we perceive d as challenging Practitioner gain a bett er understanding of the impact exclusionary discipline ha d on my students. In addition, at the conclusion of the study, I knew what I could do to create caring relationships with my students to help prevent punitive disciplinary interactions from occurrin g. As with other research methods, practitioner research aims to generate new knowledge. What makes practitioner research different than other forms of research is the scope of knowledge generated and the role of the researcher in the study. Practitione where the researcher is embedded in the study itself (Dana, 2016). Educators can use practitioner research to address problems of practice identified in their school environment. The f ocus of knowledge gained from practitioner research is to improve specific concerns of practice in a local context (Ravitch, 2014). The use of practitioner research provides the opportunity for educators to play a direct role in the improvement of their o wn practice and potentially the practice of other teachers at their school As a practitioner researcher in this study, I had prior knowledge of the context, a deep understanding of the current discipline practices at the school, established relationships


34 to assist in the recruitment of participants, but, most importantly, familiarity with the problem of practic e and motivation to address it. Research Context This study took place at a middle school in Arkansas that enrolled over 1500 students The district where the study was conducted ha d multiple neighborhood elementary schools whose students matriculated in to this one middle school. The 2016 showed the student racial demographics to be about 6 0 % Black, 30% White, 5 % Hispanic and 5 % Asian, Native American or multiple race (Arkansas Departmen t of Education, 2016). Selection of Participants Due to my dual role as a teacher and a researcher, I removed myself from the Designee to recruit students for this study. The Due Process Designee obtained parental consent before discussing the study with students. Removing myself from the recruitment process helped to ensure that my students did not feel pressured or intimidated into participating in the study. I provided our Designee with a neutral third party recruitment script to read to students (Appendix A), and I was not present during the recruitment process. Our Designee wa s responsible for Special Education paperwork and wa s someone who had an established relationshi p with my students. The 24 students that I had in my resource classes were all recruited to participate in this study. Our Designee visited each of my five resource classes to recruit students for the study. After reading the recruitment script, the Des ignee provided student s with consent form s (Appendix B) and instructed them to return the forms to her, signed by a parent, if they were interested in participating in the study.


35 There were 14 consent forms returned to the Designee. My target number of pa rticipants was six to eight, so I looked at student disciplinary records to determine which students had experienced exclusionary discipline. Eleven of the 14 students who returned consent forms had experienced exclusionary discipline during that school y ear. From those 11 students, I chose the six students that I felt I had the best rapport with to participate in the study. After obtaining parent consent, I then used an assent script to Duri ng the initial recruitment process conducted by the Designee, students were made aware of the purpose of the research and informed that participation was voluntary and the decision not to participate or to opt out of participation during the study would no t impact their grade or the current teacher student relationship. Since the participants of this study were my students at the time, this recruitment process helped address the power dynamic that existed between my students, as potential study participant s, and me, as their teacher. Data Collection Data were collected through student discipline reflection forms, individual student interviews, and my personal journal which allowed me to record thoughts about my own practice during the study These method s of data collection were chosen because they were the most effective in allowing me to clarify my own thoughts as I handled discipline issues involving my students. Data were collected over the last nine weeks of the 2016 2017 school year. During this st udy, I wanted to listen to the voices of the most marginalized student population so that I could share their stories, which often go unheard by educators from racially and socioeconomically dominant societal groups. During the


36 initial, semi structured ind ividual interviews (Appendix D), participants were asked about their perceptions of their disciplinary experiences, teacher behaviors that positively and negatively influence d their disciplinary interactions and relationships with their students, and what from occurring. A second interview was conducted with one participant when she returned from a suspension that occurred during the time of the study. This additional interview allo exclusionary discipline (Appendix E). All interviews were audio recorded and later transcribed. The audio recordings and transcriptions were stored on a password protected external memory drive as well as on my personal laptop which is also password protected. asked them to fill out a discipline reflection form when they were sent to their was provided with the reflection forms and a roster of all of my students so they could assist me by distributing the forms. Students returned the discipline reflection forms to their assistant principal when they finished filling it out. To address the potential risks of which students were participating in the study, I had all my students fill out the reflection forms regardless of whether or not they were study participants Although participants were sent to their administrators often during the time of the study, I only received six forms back from the assistant principals. These six discipline reflection forms were scanned and used for analysis


37 Data Analysis D ata analysis for this study consist ed of identifying themes to answer the research questions based on a systematic look at the data collected (Dana, Thomas, & Boynton, 2011). Once the interviews were conducted, the recordings of the interviews were transcribed. The entire set of data was read through multiple times and I made notes to gather initial insights into the similarities and differe nces between student responses. With my research questions and conceptual framework in mind, the notes helped me create my initial codes. A code book was created that list ed the codes used and their meanings ( Appendix G ). I then read all data slices that were similarly coded looking for emergent themes related to my research questions. Creswell (2013) define d direct result of an analysis of the initial codes (Appendix H). Also, while reading through the similarly coded data I made notes when the data within a code had common aspects with ideas found in the conceptual framework. For example, while examining c odes related to students perceptions of positive teacher behaviors I noted that many of the students descriptions related to the ideas found in ethic of care theory. I dentified themes reflected my and caring teacher behaviors, and how they th ought teacher behaviors impact ed student behaviors. A critical component of practitioner research is the sharing of research findings with others (Dana & Yendol Hoppey, 2009). My principal approved my request for sharing my findings with my fellow teachers during one of our regularly scheduled staff meetings. I hoped that by my sharing the study results teachers w ould adjust their practice in a way that result ed in fewer punitive disciplinary interactions with st udents.


38 Researcher Positionality As I aimed to gain a better understanding of how frequently disciplined students perceive d disciplinary interactions, it was imperative that I considered my own biases, limitations and views and how they impacted the research process. My experiences shaped how I view ed myself in relationship to others, how I view ed education, and my interest i n this particular research topic. As the researcher, I was the primary instrument used for data collection and interpretation. During grades 4 12, I attended school in the same district where the study was conducted. Throughout my schooling, many of my c lasses were composed of middle class White students. The elementary and middle schools that I attended were neighborhood schools located in neighborhoods where most residents were White. Although all of the students in the city attended the same high sch ool, I was in courses tracked primarily with White middle class students. It i s important to note that I experienced virtually no punitive disciplin ary interactions as a student. I am a White female educator who studied a phenomenon that primarily impact e d Black male students. When conducting research, matters of race and culture are important considerations in the process (Milner, 2007). My experiences with education, and life in general, differed from those of my students. For this study, I was attempt ing to accurately interpret and validate the experiences of my student participants. I worked to remain aware of my own experiences and cultural assumptions and how they may have differed from the students participating in the study. Through my graduat e studies I ha d developed a deep desire to work toward a socially just society and I strive to view the world through a social justice lens. This perspective has impact ed every aspect of my teaching, including my view on exclusionary discipline practices. During this study I str o ve to understand the


39 perspectives of others although I ha d not lived the same experiences as the participants. I recognize that th ese difference s between my participants and me ha d implications for the ways in which I analyzed and interpreted data. My lived experiences form ed the filter through which the data were examined. I ha d no personal experiences with exclusionary discipline and ha d not li ved as a member of a racially marginalized group, therefore I kn o w that I was perspectives. Trustworthiness To enhance trustworthiness, I enlisted the help of my doctoral advisor to serve as a peer debriefer dur ing the data analysis process (Creswell, 2013) My doctoral advisor provided a sounding board for me to test developing ideas and interpretations. Through our discussions, I widened and deepened my view of the data, which helped enhance credibility. Whil e developing codes and themes, I was able to use data collected from student interviews, the researcher journal and discipline reflection forms. This use of data triangulation also enhance d trustworthiness (Creswell, 2013) S ummary and Overview Listening to my students to understand how they perceive d exclusionary discipline and what they believe d ha d the potential to serve as a catalyst for a much needed school wide discussion on this topic. One of the key elements of practitioner research and a main r eason for choosing practitioner research as the methodology for this study, wa s my ability to utilize the findings of the study to improve my current practice and potentially the practice of my fellow teachers. The data show that Black students are discip lined at a disproportionate rate (Skiba et al., 2002). It is my hope that the findings of this study have allow ed me to develop a deeper understanding of what


40 can be done to put the educators at my school on a path toward enacting more equitable disciplin ary practices


41 CHAPTER 2 FINDINGS The purpose of my study was to allow me the opportunity to improve my current discipline practices and caring teacher behavior s. Student participants were interviewed and interview data were analyzed to answer the following research questions: 1. What are discipline practices? 2. How do my frequently disciplined students perceive the influence of teacher behaviors on student behaviors? 3. What teacher behaviors do my frequently disciplined students identify as caring? The racially disproportionate punitive discipline practices at my school, the frequent suspensions of my students, and my desire to better understand how my students perceive caring teacher behaviors prompted me to conduct this study. A review of the data collected from participant interviews, discipline reflection forms, and my personal journal revealed si x emergent themes. These themes were: (1) Exclusionary discipline wa s ineffective in changing student behavior; (2) e xclusionary discipline wa s and future s ; (3) participants ipline ; ( 4 ) c ertain teacher behaviors escalate d disciplinary interactions; (5 ) c alm discussions we re essential during disciplinary interactions; and ( 6 ) s disrespect we re important in disciplinary interactio ns.


42 Exclusionary Discipline Wa s Ineffective in Changing Student Behavior This first theme describes how participants perceived the effectiveness of exclusionary discipline in preventing future suspensions from occurring. All six of the participants indica ted that they felt suspensions were not effective because there were no changes in student behavior after returning from a suspension. For example, I had the following exchange with Bree: Interviewer: How do you think that being suspended might impact how people act? Is there a change in behavior when people come back from being suspended? Bree: No, they act the same. always get suspended, or is it kind of a variety of students? Bree: The same students over and over again get suspended. Bree indicated that exclusionary discipline wa s ineffective because if it were effective then the same students would not be the ones continuously suspended. Participants viewed the purpose of sc hool suspensions as either a time for students to reflect on their behavior or to provide students with an experience that was undesirable so that students would n o t want to experience it again. Regardless of its purpose, all participants felt that suspen sions were unsuccessful in solving discipline problems. Participants not only viewed exclusionary discipline as ineffective, but they also felt that it could potentially worsen discipline problems by aggravating students and causing them to develop a n apathetic attitude. Interviewer: Why do you think schools use suspensions as punishment? Ramona: I think they use punishment so we can go home to think about what we done and how we can make ourself better. But so


43 Interviewer: So when they come back are they any different? Ramona: I think they need to do something a little bit mor not going to be able to do our work saying. One portion of the discipline reflection form asked st udents to indicate how they felt when their teacher sent them to their assistant principal. On all six forms In addition to these responses, four of hen I asked Makale how he thought ed to the classroom he gave the following response: Sometimes students come back and they focus better, but sometimes they come get i t influenced them, I think that it just sometimes they think that because they get suspended, Although Makale stated that students may have come back after a suspension and focus ed better, he, like other participants felt that students could have potentially return ed from a suspension with a n apathetic attitude that result ed in behavior that was wo rse than before. Exclusionary Discipline Negatively Impact ed s and Future s All six participants viewed exclusionary discipline negatively, and four of the participants emphasized the negative impact exclusionary discipline had on stu educations and futures. Students noted that when they were removed from class due to


44 a suspension, they were missing teacher instruction and not receiving work to complete for their classes. In the following interaction I had with Andre, who had b een suspended 31 days since enrolling in the school in late November, he spoke about his experience with school suspensions: Interviewer: Pretend you are a teacher and there are students acting up in your class. Would you send them to the ISS room? Andr e: No. Interviewer: Why? Andre: Because they not learning Interviewer: What do you do in there? Andre: Not doing nothing Interviewer: Just sitting there? Andre: Sitting there not doing their work. Interviewer: How does it make you feel? Andre: I feel a certain type of way. Interviewer: What way? Andre: Mad. Interviewer: Mad? Andre: Yeah, I just call my momma and tell her to come get me. Andre responded that he would n o t use suspensio n as a punishment if he were a teacher. He recognized that when students we re not in class due to a suspension, they we re missing out on the opportunity to learn. Not only did he speak about the loss of instructional time, Andre also expressed how he wou ISS room doing work that he felt was of no importance.


45 staffed with a certified teacher and a common practice for the ISS supervisor was to supply students with work that kept them busy bu t may not have been relevant to their learning. Bree had her own experiences with being suspended from school, but on one occasion it was a different type of suspension that resulted in her not attending her classes. Bree was suspended from the bus for fi ghting. Receiving this type of suspension meant that she could still attend school, but she was not allowed to ride the bus for a certain amount of time. I asked her how she got to school when this event she still missed her classes because she had no transportation to school. Ramona, who had spent the previous school year attendi ng the Academy, the Interviewer: Let me ask you this, do you think had you stayed at the Ramona: Yes, I do. I do. Interviewer: In what ways? Ramona: like, if you go not good for your future because the work there is very hard. They give you how do you say it? Okay, grade work over there. Interviewer: Because it goes up through 12 th grade, right? Ramona: Mm hmm. Interviewer: Academy and in this school, you think that your future looks better? Ramona: Yes, I do.


46 i alternative school serve d students from grades 6 12 Ramona attended the Academy during her sixth grade year. Her description indicate d that she felt that she was not receiving the same instruction that sixth grade students in the traditional school setting were receiving. d an immediate the negative impact exclusionary discipline c ould school. For example, Makale stated the reason he felt suspension s could influence a wa look at what you did. s future could be negatively impacted due to exclusionary discipline: Interviewer: So, when your administrator says , what are your thoughts right then? Maya: Interviewer: Do you t e learned my lesson Maya: Interviewer: Why? Interviewer: Do you think when people get suspended it can impact their future in any way? Maya: If they keep getting in trouble over and over, they probably not going to be nothing [in life].


47 Maya believed that students who were repeatedly suspended would eventually drop out of school and not succeed with their lives. Like Maya, Bree also felt that being s and their future s When asked high school and you do bad stuff that can ge because my cousin my cousin was doing bad stuff [and got suspended] and it got on school suspensions led them to believe that school s uspensions we re both ineffective and harmful to their educations and futures. Although students viewed exclusionary discipline as being ineffective and detrimental to their academic success and future s all participants expressed the view that when students misbehaved they were deserving of being suspended. Participants viewed exclusionary discipline as a necessity because they felt something had to happen when students got into trouble and that removing students from the classroom setting was the only viable option. Throughout our interview, Andre made multiple statements explaining the When asked why he thought schools sent students to ISS or OSS He later justified teachers removing students from class as As we discussed whether he felt teachers and adm inistrators at our school treated all students fairly, I believe they do.


48 they give us. i Andre felt that schools had no choice but to suspend students. Bree also re ferred to exclusionary discipline as something that wa s necessary at school. She expressed her view of school suspensions when I asked her why she children. We have a lot of backwards groups, so we have to if they get in trouble, then we have to have a place to send them Makale and Ramona defended the students a lesson. Makale, Ramona and Maya all felt that exclusionary discipline was not effective, but they justified the suspension of students by stating that the school was trying to teach students a lesson. their responses indi cating that they felt exclusionary discipline was ineffective in changing student behavior. because students continue d to get into trouble and educators d id not know what else to do with them so they just suspend ed them or sen t them home. The participants had the overall attitude that since students misbehaved, the school had no other option but to utilize exclusionary discipline measures. Caring Teacher Behaviors Include d Pedagogical Care and Nu rturing Care Teachers that showed their students that they wanted them to be academically successful, and teachers that provided the appropriate support for students to be successful in the classroom, were viewed by participants as caring. Participants st ated that they wanted to be viewed as capable learners that could handle challenging work. While discussing her experience at the Academy, I asked Ramona if she felt that the teachers cared about their students. She associated a challenging academic


49 atmo because they were really trying to make us work to our potential. make us slack off Not only did the participants want to be viewed as capable learners, they also felt that when teachers provided academic support to help them be successful they were showing that they cared about them. encouragement in the classroom made him feel that they cared about hi m during the following exchange: for their students. When I say care, I mean they want them to succeed, they are considered nice, I guess. So how do teachers at our school show t hat they care about you, or other students? Interviewer: Through your work or through the hallway? Makale: Through our work. Interviewer: Oh, okay. Mak al keep up the when hey try new things with you. They try other methods and stuff with you. Here Makale wa s describing how academic support, which include d academic encouragement and individualized instruction, show ed him that they care d about him. Like Makale, Bree that they care d for their students. She associated teachers who care d with behaviors that provided a safe learning environment where all students were valued as individual


50 learners. academic challenges. Bree expressed this view in the following statement: e gossip really. make fun of you because of how to talk and stuff like that. Because I get bullied for how I talk. Bree thought that caring teache rs were nonjudgmental and protected students from being embarrassed due to their academic deficiencies. Ramona compared the behaviors of uncaring and caring teachers in the following description: I think teachers that don't care -let me describe them. The teachers that don't care, they don't care if you're doing work or you're not doing your work. Teachers that don't care, they don't care if you're playing with someone else. They don't care if you're like -okay, like if they said -I'm going to walk because they get mad because a kid was bothering them and they didn't pay attention. "I'm walking out of the classroom," and they're like, "Go ahead, that's you. If you want to get writ up, go ahead." A teacher that did care, they would say, "Get your butt back i n here and get to work [laughter]." Ramona, and the other participants, had an overarching belief that teachers who cared about them wanted them to be successful in the classroom. Participants also believed that teachers who always sent students out for d iscipline reasons did not care about their students. teachers that helped with their personal needs as caring teachers. Makale described a time when one of his teachers interve ned and took care of his needs when his mother was unable to: She was She actually helped us with our life problems, even w hen I was getting bullied,


51 care. her for the rest of my life I will respect her and love her for my life. My m om was going through a process where she found out that she had a shoes. And she literally stopped in the middle of her class and told somebody to watch her class S he went to Wal Mart and bought me shirts, school pants, school clothes. She bought me shoes, socks and she bought me soap and stuff like that and then she told me to go in the bathroom and wash up, get cleaned up, stuff like that. Whether or not the teacher actually left school during the middle of class to go to Wal Mart, it is important to recognize that Makale felt this way. He remembered this teacher as someone who dropped everything to ensure that he was being cared for. Nurt uring Maya explained how she knew her favorite elementary school teacher cared about her: rite us up, discussed how they viewed teachers that supported them during discipline interactions as caring. Andre stated that he knew teachers cared about him when they tr ied to help him and keep him out of trouble. Participants described uncaring teachers as those that did not support their academic and personal needs. Makale described uncaring teachers as those that gave up on their students. He described a teacher he felt did not care about him: I had a teacher named Mrs. X. She was a teacher that was very strict. She's very strict. And she used to give up on students like that. Like the first two days, if you weren't comprehending what was going on in her class, you' re out. You're either moved to a new class, or either she's not going to help you for the rest of the year, whatever, stuff like that. So she was very strict to the point where her strictness start making her give up on students. Makale viewed this teacher had given up on them. He went on to discuss how he felt that teachers d id not care


52 ies to complete assignments as their unwillingness to complete the assignment. A lack of academic support was viewed as uncaring P articipants also described teachers that were always sending students out as uncaring teachers. Teachers that wished to show their students that they care d about them needed to do everything they could to support their physical needs were not being met, and avoid sending students out of class because of behavioral issues. Certain Teacher Behaviors Escalate d Disciplinary Int eractions Participants also discussed teacher behaviors that made them mad when they were being disciplined. All participants voiced a strong dislike for teachers yelling at them when disciplining them. Makale stated his preference of teachers talking cal mly to students stating : I think that we should actually instead of there being a lot of mouth and yelling at each other, I think that we should go our separate ways. Come back, we sit down as people, and we talk about it. But if you want to get loud, a to you now," and you're yelling then why is the point of me talking to you? Participants were adamant about their dislike of teachers yelling at them. Makale described a situation w here he was trying to talk calmly to a teacher and the teacher continued to yell at him. He felt that students should not have to remain calm if teachers continuously yelled at them. Maya stated her dislike for teachers yelling at her: Interviewer: What do teachers do to make you angry? M aya: Interviewer: No yelling, yeah? Maya: At all


53 Interviewer: Maya: We be right there in the same room. Why do they yell? Bree expressed her dislike for teachers y elling at her as she discussed what teacher behaviors made her angry when she is being disciplined: Just because some teachers, The y just need a peppermint. Interviewer: So do they get close to you? Bree: need a peppermint. Interviewer: in your face? Bree: Yes. Yelling, and then they spit in my face. The spit on my lips. Interviewer: Bree: Yeah. As shown in the above response by Bree, an invasion of personal space was also viewed as having the potential to escalate disciplinar y interactions. Andre reported that he would get upset during discipline interactions when he felt teachers were intentionally trying to aggravate him : Interviewer: What do teachers do that could make you angrier as they are getting on to you? Andre: Ju st keep talking about it. Ignoring the person when they say something. Interviewer: Right. Just kind of trying to Andre: Egg you on. Andre perceived that teachers encouraged students to misbehave when they engaged students in power struggles, refused t o stop discussing the discipline issue, insisted on


54 having the last word, or when they would not listen to the students who were being disciplined. Two weeks before my interview with Andre, an incident occurred between a teacher and him while he was with my class attending a school wide assembly. This incident resulted in Andre being suspended for ten days. I spoke to Andre about this during his interview: Interviewer: What happened between you and Miss Y, you fell out of your seat, right? Andre: Yeah, I was trying to tie my shoe. Interviewer: And then what happened? Andre: Interviewer: Now, do you think that could have been handled differently? Andre: Yeah. Interviewer: If you were Miss Y, what would you have done differently? Andre: I would have never said nothing to me. Let the teacher handle it. They was in the classroom. She always got to do stuff, so. During this incident, the other teacher and I had asked Andre several times to take his hood off a nd sit up in his seat. He would comply and then revert back to putting his hood on and slouching in his seat. I decided to not push the issue with Andre, but the other teacher had Andre get up and stand by her. She removed his hood when he walked up to her. Andre leaned on a door while standing next to her and the door opened. At this point Andre and the teacher began arguing. I witnessed the teacher and Andre speaking loudly toward each other and Andre eventually telling the teacher to shut up. Andr assembly, she did not have the right to discipline him. He felt that she was picking on him. Based on their responses, participants felt that teacher behaviors played a role in


55 escala ting disciplinary actions. Those behaviors include d yelling at the students, not allowing the students to talk or ignoring them, invading their personal space, and engaging in power struggles with students. Calm Discussions W e re Essential During Disciplin ary Interactions When asked, study participants indicated that they preferred for discipline to be handled through calm discussions where all participants worked together to solve discipline issues when they arose. When asked how teachers could help calm students down during disciplinary interactions, Makale stated that he preferred that students and teachers take time to calm down during discipline interactions and then come together to work jointly toward iscipline included teachers getting upset with him, yelling at him and not allowing him to share his thoughts on the situation. Andre agreed that it was important for teacher s to allow students time to calm down during discipline interactions. He felt th at students would not minute break by themselves discipline should be handled in the following exchange: Interviewe r: I want you to put on your hat as if you were a teacher, and the students in class were misbehaving. Talk to me about what you would do. What's the process you would go through? Ramona: Well, if it was at this school and I knew these students, I would probably just tell them to go outside and calm down, and if they're not calmed down, I would probably talk to them. Or if they're still going wild and kind of roaming the halls, I would probably beep the front office. Interviewer: Yeah. So when you beep t he office, you have somebody come and get them? Ramona: Mm hmm


56 Interviewer: And then would you write them up, or would you call the parents? Ramona: I would tell one of the administrators to talk to them, because they need someone that they know, and that they talk to, to talk to them. So that's why I would beep the front office. Ramona believed it was important to provide students with time to calm down before any further action occurred. If students were not able to calm down, then she believed they shou to someone else that the student already had a relationship with. She emphasized the need for students to be able to talk to someone they knew. Maya also described her favorite teacher as someone that calmed students down when they got into trouble instead of writing them up using disciplinary referrals. When discussing one of her favorite teachers, Ramona elaborated on how that teacher handled student behavior. She stated: She was the most sweetest teacher I've ever met whenever someone got mad, she would -b ecause there would be two teachers in there so whenever a teacher was mad or something, she would bring them out in the hallway and talk to them about their issue about the other student. And then when s he got done that student got done telling their story, she would get the other student and see what the other student said happened. See if they were both telling the truth, and then she would try to fix it for the both of them so they wouldn't be arguing She was the best teacher. Ramona appreciated that when two students were arguing her teacher would talk to both parties and work toward fixing the problem with the students. Participants felt that discipline could be handled effectively using calm discu ssions between teachers and students. Perceptions of Respect and Disrespect W e re Important in Disciplinary Interactions The three male participants spoke the most about respect and disrespect and they emphasized the importance of showing their teachers respect. They felt that to get


57 respect from teachers, students first had to show respect. Andre brought this up when he was discussing a teacher that he had a good relationship with. I asked him if he thought this teacher cared for her students and Andre believed a teacher was justified in not showing a student respect if the student had not shown respect first. Chris was the particip ant that spoke about respect the most. He was disrespectful first. When asked if he thought all students at our school were treated and s ometimes not. But if you give [teachers] respect showed respect were treated fairly and those that d id not show respect were not. Chris then went on to answer: Interviewer: Have you ever had a teacher you felt like you were giving Chris: One time. You probably giving respect to a teacher, and then they bably not giving you respect at all. But if you respect them sometimes teachers respect other kids in like an ungrateful way or in a certain way, but I know some Interviewer: You know Chris: Oh, I would say some teachers do it but not a lot of teachers. But Andre and C hris both stressed the importance of students showing teachers respect and that if students showed teachers respect, then they would avoid being disciplined. Chris shared his perception of the importance of showing teachers respect when he


58 you the respect, or a warning, or a consequence. But if you give them respect they just a Although participants viewed respe ct as being important, they varied in their perspectives about what was considered to be respectful behavior. Makale believed respectful behavior toward teachers included not talking back, imitating the teacher and refusing to do what the teacher sa id. Chris described respectful student behavior as not talking back, not having an attitude, not getting up out of your seat, and raising your hand. When asked about how teachers could show respect toward their students, described a teacher as being respectful if she talked calmly to students and helped students out. Bree believed teachers were respectful if they treated all students the same. Makale discussed an incident he was involved in where he was falsely accused o f being disrespectful toward a teacher As no logos and were solid red or blue in color. The policy stated that students had to remove their jackets when they were in the building, but jackets could be worn outside. Mikale explained how a campus supervisor incorrectly assumed that he was intentionally violating these policies: I was in the hallway with a campus supervisor, and she told me -I had on this Arizona Eagles jacket and it was red and blue, and she told me to take it off. And I said at the time, I had to walk from my second period class to my gym, and it was raining outside. So I knew that it was going to rain. And she told me to take it off, and I said, "No." And she was like, "Oh, you're disrespecting me because you said no." And I'm like, "It's not a term of disrespect. I'm telling you that I can't take it off, because it's raining outside and I don't want to get wet," something like that. As a result of this removing his jacket, when he was actually not removing his jacket because he had to


59 go outside to get to his next class, Makale was required to miss recess for three days. Student respons es showed that the idea of respect is subjective and open to interpretation. The subjectivity of what is considered respectful or disrespectful create d the opportunity for misperceptions to be developed about student behavior. Conclusion The topic for this study developed from my desire to work toward disrupting ctives on exclusionary discipline and caring teacher behaviors. In this section, I discussed the s ix themes that emerged from the analysis of data. Participants in this study described and at the same time negatively impact ed ucations and futures. Other fin were important, students preferred calm discussions as a way of handling discipline issues and that certain teacher behaviors escalated disci plinary interactions. In the next chapter I will discuss they findings and the implications they have for educational practices.


60 CHAPTER 3 DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS The purpose of this practitioner research was to address the disproportionate use of punitive disciplinary practices shown to be harmful for the Black students at my school. This study provided me with insight about six frequently discipline d teacher behavior. The knowledge gained from this study help ed me in my attempt to ensure that I d id not contribute to the disparities in discipline practices at my school It also help ed me as I str o ve to create authentic, caring relationships with my students. The research questions in the study were: 1. exclusionary discipline practices? 2. How do my frequently disciplined students percei ve the influence of teacher behaviors on student behaviors? 3. What teacher behaviors do my frequently disciplined students identify as caring? students, but readers may transfer impo rtant concepts to their own contexts. In addition to building on the existing literature concerning exclusionary discipline and caring teacher behaviors, this study also has implications f or school leaders, classroom teachers and my own practice. In thi s final chapter, I discuss the as they re late to current literature a s well as limitations of th e study. I conclude this chapter with a discussion of specific implications for teacher practice, for my own practice and for future research


61 Perceptions of Teacher Care when involved in a disciplinary interaction. The participants of this study thought that teachers provoked and aggravated them during disciplinary interact ions when they yelled at them, invaded their personal space, did not allow them to talk or ignored them during disciplinary interactions, and engaged in power struggles with them. Skiba (2002) noted that authoritarian disciplinary practices, such as the o nes described by the participants where teachers engage d students in power struggles made disciplinary interactions worse The teacher behaviors noted by the participants as those that escalat e disciplinary interactions are also behaviors associated wit h attempts to gain power. The notion of power is important when examining teacher student interactions and disparities in school discipline. Depending on the context, different forms of power are used by teachers and students (Toshalis, 2015). Teachers and students are consistently negotiating and resisting power structures related to normalized beliefs about race, culture and schooling. Pane et al. (2014) examined the classroom interactions and exclusionary discipline practices in four secondary classrooms in a southeastern United States disciplinary alternative school They found that teachers who exhibited more power and domination over cultur al elements of the classroom such as failing to allow student s to maintain their own identity within cl assroom expectations, were more likely to implement exclusionary discipline measures. Th e connection between teachers use s of power and exclusionary discipline practices showed that culturally informed ideologies and beliefs influenced the powe r


62 relations in the classroom. Teachers that unconsciously reinforced the behavioral expectations of the dominant culture such as raising your hand to talk in class and not interrupting the teacher when she is talking, failed to show care and concern for all of their students cultural identities. The importance of how students perceive caring teacher behaviors has been identified in the literature (Perlman, 2015) When students view their teachers as caring they are more willing to trust and cooperate with those teachers (Gregory & Weinstein, 2008). Participants in this study identified caring teacher behaviors to include pedagogical care and nurturing care. Specific pedagogical care that was valued by the participants was when teachers would provide challenging lear ning environments where teachers valued academic success. This finding supports previous research that found students described academic support as a caring teacher behavior (Muller, 2001). Research conducted on successful schoo ls for Black students indicated that educators in these school s balance d respect and care with high expectations and strict discipline (Gregory et al. 2011 ). It was noted by participants that caring teachers not only supported them and challenged them academically, but they did so without judgment This description of pedagogical care aligns with the asset based thinking of CRCTC. Teachers that possess asset based thinking have respect for knowledge and resources students bri ng with them, rather than viewing students as being deficien assets, rather than deficits, it results in increased student success (Comber & Kamler, 2004; Rios Aguilar, 2010). Students whos e teachers exhibit caring


63 behaviors are more likely to internalize the value of succeeding in school (Danielson, Wiium, Whilhelmsen, & Wold, 2010). s that teachers who care about them support their academic success. The y spoke specifically of teacher high expectations, verbal confirm ations of their belie fs that students were capable of being successful and support to help students achieve success in the classroom and life after school. Nurturing care, su ch as helping students with basic necessities was also described as a characteristic of a caring teacher. These characteristics of teacher care mimic the characteristics of ca re that are found in warm deman d ing teaching styles. Authoritarian teaching a nd discipline styles through which both warmth and demandingness are communicated ha ve been identified as positively Bondy & Ross, 2008; Gregory & Weinstein, 2008). Warm demanders show care and concern while also communicating clear, high expectations and holding students accountable for their performance. The warm demanding teaching style supports a culture of achievement for Black students who are often underrepresented among high achieving students. Ware (2006) conducted a comparative case study in an inner city school distric t in the southern United States. In her study she co mpared the teaching strategies of two Black teachers with the strategies noted in the literature on Black teache r indings indicated that the teaching style s of the participants aligned with the warm demander teaching style and like warm demanders they incorporated culturally relevant pedagogy in their practice. Ware (2006) propose d that the intersection of the cultural ly


64 relevant pedagogy and warm demander pedagogy facilitate the creation of a culture of achievement for students of color (p. 452) In addition to understanding students perceptions of teacher care, it is also val uable to Perceptions of Exclusionary Discipline The participants discussed how students would return from a suspension and there would be no positive cha nge in their behavior, but at t imes th ey would Previous studies support participants perceptions that exclusionary discipline was ineffective. are d ue to repeat Not only are suspensions ineffective in changing stude nt behavior, but being suspended also leads to more frequent future suspensions (Balfanz et al., 2012). As reported by study participants the loss of teacher instruction caused by suspensions from school negatively impacts student learning. Participants described times when they were assigned to ISS and teachers would fail to send their work and they would sit in ISS all day doing nothing. Suspensions result ed in students exper iencing a lack of instruction that cause d them to fall behind on their school work, which in turn result ed in receiving lower grades (Lewis Butler, Bonner & Joubert 2010). The link between the achievement gap and the discipline gap has been highlighted in previous research (Gregory, Skiba & Noguera, 2010; Lee, 2002; Vincent Tobin, Hawken, & Frank 2012). A study that exclusionary discipline negatively impac t ed their learning. Examining data from


65 the Kentucky School Discipline Study and school records of 16,248 students in grades 6 8 Morris and Perry (2016) found that students who had been suspended scored significantly lower on end of year math and reading exams. Their study was conducted over the course of three years, allowing them the opportunity to examine test scores for students who received suspensions during one school year, but not during one of the other two years of the study. They found that s tudents did worse on the exam during the year they received suspensions compared to the years that they did not receive a suspension. When a student is excluded from a learning environment to address discipline and that student recognizes that schools ar e making the decision to take that opportunity away from them, it sends a message that their education is not valued. Although t he participants in this study had multiple experiences with school suspensions, their responses indicated that they still value d their education and h e ld a strong desir e for educators to do the same. Multiple times throughout the interviews conducted for this study, for support is indicative of the negative views participants held of themselves and the belief s that they we re problems for schools and deserving of pu negative self images we re likely a product of repeated negative labeling by that hold negative beliefs about a student are more likely to react more harsh ly to Kennedy Lewis and Murphy (2016)


66 conducted research where they examined 11 middle school experiences with possible labeling due to their frequent involvement with school disciplinary interactions. After analyzing participant interviews, the researchers found that although the participants did not see themselves as being bad, their descriptio ns of schooling indicated labeling had occurred and that students felt labeling led educators to presume Educators that allow their beliefs about students to be shaped by prior disciplinary interactions develop d eficit perspectives of those students positioning them as problematic (Collins, 2011 ; Kennedy & Soutullo, In Press ). Toshalis (201 6 ) argue d for the need for educators to recast the blame for perceived student misbehaviors away from students and to approac h disciplin ary solutions as lying within teacher student relationship s Approaching disciplin ary conflicts as indicative of a problem in a teacher student relationship could help teachers focus on the positive development of those relationships and make t heir classrooms and schools as dynamic and welcoming as possible. Participants viewed exclusionary discipline as ineffective and harmful for student learning and future outcomes of exclusionary discipline becaus e that was the only method of handling discipline they had experienced. Although exclusionary discipline practices we re the most common form of handling discipline issues at my school, research indicates that these practices are ineffective and negatively impact students (Maag 2012; Skiba, Arredondo & Rausch, 2014) Perry and Morris (2014) conducted a three year study about the consequences of exclusionary discipline that included the examination of school records for 16,897 middle school and


67 high school age students. This study examined the relationship between the and math. The findings indicated that high levels of OSS in a school over time we re associated with declining test scores for both suspended and non suspended students. The researchers attributed the decline in scores for non suspended students to the effect s of the constant threat of punishment which created a highly punitive environment that hindered the acade mic performance of typically well behaved students. There is a need for schools to consider more successful, proactive methods of approaching discipline instead of relying upon exclusionary discipline practices (Osher, Bear, Sprague & Doyle, 2010). Exam ples of proactive approaches to discipline include restorative practic es (McCluskey et al., 2008 ), School Wide Positive Behavioral Supports (SWPBS) ( Eber, Upreti & Rose, 2010; Sugai & Horner, 2002 ; Vincent et al., 201 2 ) and Social Emotional Learning (SEL) ( Durlak Weissberg, Dymnicki, Taylor, & Schellinger, 2011; Taylor, Durlak Oberle, & Weissberg 2017 ; Zins, 2001 ) Alternatives to Exclusionary Discipline Restorative practices provide an approach to handling discipline that offers students models of care and constructive conflict resolution. Restorative practices developed from restorative justice, which is a way of addressing crime by focusing on repairing harm between offenders and victim s rather than just punishing the offender s In the school setting restorative practices serve as methods to address student behavior using a supportive process where students take responsibility for their behavior and the harm it may have caused to others. All parties involved in the incident work together to discuss what occurred and


68 what should be done to repair any harm that was created. Restorative practices place less emphasis on punishment and more emphasis on accountability, healing and meeting the needs of all impacted par ties (Gregory et al., 2015). Rather th an constantly approaching discipline in a manner where students view themselves as the problem, educators using restorative practices give students the opportunity to be involved in a positive solution to discipline. Restorative approaches to discipline c an work to dismantle the discipline gap found within schools (Gregory, 2013). uses of restorative practices are supported by the belief that students are more likely to make positive change when they work alongside educators to handle discipline issues (Wachtel, 2005). Several of when discipline interactions occur red in the classroom so that they c ould work with the teacher to solve the problem rather than the teacher immediately sending them out of the room and to their administrator. The participants wanted a chance to participate in finding solutions to problems and the use of restorative practices would allow for this participation to occu r. The use of SWPBS has also been noted as an effective alternative to exclusionary discipline practices. SWPBS is the application of a schoo l wide behavior management system that includes proactive strategies for defining, teaching and supporting approp riate school behaviors. The ke y features for SWPBS include : effective administrat iv e leadership ; team based implementation ; the explicit defining and teaching of behavioral expectations ; the acknowledgement of, and rewards for, appropriate behavior ; the m onitoring and correction of behavioral errors ; and family and community collaboration ( Lewis,


69 Mitchell, Trussell & Newcomber, 2014 ). Students such as the participants in this s tudy may be most positively affected by the aspect of SWPBS that acknowledges and rewards positive behaviors. SEL practices vary greatly, but SEL in general seek s skills to recognize and manage their emotions, establish positive goals, make responsible decisions, appreciate perspectives of others, a nd handle interpersonal situations effectively ( Emmer & Sabornie, 2015 ; Zins, 2001 ). In addition to improving student behaviors without the overuse of suspensions, SEL achievement tests and grades Findings from a meta analysis of 213 school based, universal SEL programs involving 270,034 kindergarten through high school students indicated that compared to a control group students participating i n a SEL program demonstrated a n 11% gain in achievement scores (Durlak et al., 2011). When implemented with high fidelity, SWPBS, r estorative practices, and SEL reduce overall behavioral issues in schools of exclusionary discipline practices (Solomon et al., 2012 ). These alternatives mainly focus on altering student behaviors, but the effective implementation of these practices also requires teachers to alter their beliefs and behaviors Once teachers alter their belief s about how they view and address student b ehavior they are capable of creating a shift in their perceptions of and responses to student s Educators may also release their dependence upon exclusionary discipline strategies and experiment with these more positive, inclusive techniques. Teacher be liefs play a key role in the way they perceive and respond


70 to student behavior. Research shows that the disproportionate rates of discipline with Black students is a result of educators subjective judgments of student behaviors (Gregory & Weinstein, 2008 ; Skiba et al., 2002). Limitations of the Study Although this study served the purpose it was intended to serve, there were limitations. First, the decision to narrow the selection of study participants based on students with who m I had a good rapport might have precluded the collection of data from a more diverse group of students Had a different method for narrowing the participant group been used, participants m ight have given different responses that might have led to different findings and conclu sions. Second, the low return rate of discipline reflection forms was a limitation of the study I was able to obtain discipline reflection forms from students that asked their assistant principal for a form when they were sent to the office and also when I was aware of a student being sent to their assistant principal, but overall there was a very low return rate for these forms. The low return r ate led to the interviews with the participants serving as the primary technique for gathering data. There is a risk that during the interviews students responded to the interview questions with what they thought would be desirable answers Had I been ab le to collect forms from students every time they were sent to their data from more time points and in different circumstances (e.g. during discipline moments themselves) to triangulate with the data collected f ro m the interviews. An additional limitation stems from the differences in race and culture between myself and the study participants. Matters of race and culture are


71 important considerations in the process of conducting research. I a m a White teacher studying the perceptions of my marginalized students Since my race this study began with the limitation that I may have lack ed the cultural knowledge to accurately interpret and validate the experiences students shared with me during the interviews. To address this limitation, I utilized an interpretative lens that allowed me to critically examine data to expose race and racism in the broader context. T his research provided me with ins exclusionary discipline and caring teacher behaviors a s well as implications for practice. There are implications for future research also. I have discovered through this research process that practitioner research is an effective tool for addressing problems in teacher practice. Future research on the impact practitioner research may have on reducing the discipline gap would be of value to combating the disproportionate disciplinary practices that negatively impac t the educational experiences of Black students. Implications Despite the limitations, this study provided me with insight into my students perceptions of exclusionary discipline and caring teacher behaviors. Decisions about school practices are continuously being made without student input, although students are the most impacted by the consequences of those decisions (Angus, 2006 ; Kennedy & Datnow, 2011 ). By conducting this study, I acher practice and education research the importance of schools utilizing approaches to addressing discipline issues that do not exclude students from learning, the significance of


72 teachers developing caring relationships with their students and the role practitioner research can play in improving teacher practice practi ces because when educators agree to listen to and learn from students they can th en begin to see the world from perspectives (Clark, 1995 ; Cook Sather, 2002 ). Previous research suggests that the interpretation of disciplinary interactions between disciplined students and the teachers disciplining them vary greatly. By liste change to teaching practices. When educators rely upon students as sources of information, they gain a clearer understanding of what s tudents need and how to best meet those needs. U nderstanding, and basing policies and practices upon, could help educators eliminate practices that alienate students Educators should incorporate methods for understanding the perspectives of their students. Asking students their opinions about curriculum or involving students in the creation of classroom norms are ways that educators can involve their students in their education. This perspective sharing can be done thro ugh informal conversations with students or through a more formal method, such as student surveys or student interviews To address school wide issues, schools can cre ate student panels that meet regularly to work together to address issues when they aris e. Teachers should position students as experts to address


73 identified problems of teaching practice, particularly when the students are most strongly impacted by the pro blem. Addressing School Discipline Practices Educators ne as the main response to perceived student misbehavior has not proven to be effective and often results in the same group of students being repeatedly removed f rom the learning environment. Educators should move away from using discipline practices that exclude students from learning The use of restorative practices and SWPBS have been proven to be effective strateg ies to frequent use of exclusionary discipline Making the change from an exclusionary discipline approach to an appro ach that utilizes restorative practices requires a sustained effort from both teachers and administrators. School administrators can support the implementation of restorative practices by model ing daily reflection on school interactions creating school w ide norms that support restorative practices, and providing teacher training related to restorative practices (McCluskey et al., 2008). Schools that utilize restorative practices respond to problems with students rather than push students away from schools. When restorative practices are implemented school wide, it can result in d ecreased misbehavior and lowered suspension rates (Owen et al., 2015). The application of a school wide behavior management system that includes proactive strategies for defining, teaching and supporting appropriate student behaviors can help reduce educ use s of exclusionary discipline practices.


74 Since most disciplinary issues originate in the classroom, teachers play an important role in addressing disparities in discipline pra ctices. Teachers decide which students are considered discipline prob lems and how to intervene when these problems occur. Participants in this study indicated that teacher behavior such as yelling, invading students during disciplinary interactions frequently occurred at our school and often escalated discipline interactions. Teachers have described this type of disciplinary interactions. Teachers and administrators should be provided with pr ofessional development, such as during staff meetings, regarding how students perceive this type of behavior and how it can potentially escalate disciplinary interactions. Caring Teacher Behaviors Participants identified caring teacher behaviors to includ e supporting the academic success of all students, creating challenging learning environments, physical needs. teache rs should communicate care to their students through the use of a warm demander stance to teaching that is characterized by CRCTC A teacher that wishes to operate as a warm demander must provide rigorous instruction with engaging lessons where all studen ts are expected and supported to succeed. In experiences and identities are valued. Frequent conversations need to be held


75 and the specific supports teachers will provide students so that they can meet the expectations. Teachers who enact this type of care must be aware of, and prepared to address, the societal injustices that are reproduced in schools ( Bondy et al., 2013 ). By acknowledging and addressing school inequities teachers demonstrate a commitment to care for students . Authentic, Caring Teacher Student Relationships The development of authentic caring teacher student re lationships could serve as a way to improve disciplinary interactions between teachers and students. One key characteristic of an effective teacher repeated throughout the literature is the ability to develop and maintain strong interpersonal relationship s with students (Good & Brophy, 2000; Ladson Billings, 1994; Noddings, 1992). Impro ved teach er student relationships reduce distrust and cultural misunderstandings (Gregory et al 2011) The development of caring relationships between teachers and studen ts requires teachers to have a deep understanding of their students and the ability to care for students According to the findings of this study, teachers at my school can demonstrate care for their students by holding high academic expectations for stud ents along w ith strong academic support where students do not feel that they are being judged for any academic deficiencies. Teachers can also demonstrate care by recognizing times when students lack basic necessities and then working to find a way to hel p provide students with those things Using Practitioner Research to Improve Practice The findings of this study indicate there is a need for teachers to frequently reflect upon their practices. The use of critical reflection can


76 potentially improve teacher practice in a variety of areas. For example, t he participants in this study described how certain teacher behaviors would escalate disciplinary interactions. The use of critical reflection would allow teachers the opportunity to examine their dec ision making process and pedagogy used when addressing student behaviors. The use of practitioner research provides teachers with the opportunity to critically reflect upon their practice. There are a variety of supports needed for teachers to be able to conduct practitioner research as a method for improving practice. School administration will need to provide time for teachers to conduct their research along with incentives for the teachers willing to incorporate research into their practice. One way to achieve this is by counting the time teachers use for practitioner research as required yearly professional development hours. Professional l earning c ommunities can be used to as a method for teachers to work collaboratively to conduct practitioner res earch. Since a n essential component of practitioner research is the sharing of findings, school administration should develop a method for teachers to share their findings with their peers. The use of practitioner research as the methodology for t his study helped me discover the value of being a learner and observer within my own classroom. The reflective aspect of practitioner research provided me with in depth knowledge about my own practices. I gained a keen awareness of my own interpretations of student behavior and my actions when handling student discipline. In addition to improving my own practice, I shared the knowledge I


77 believe no other methodology would have pr ovided me findings with such relevance to my own practice. teaching profession, and models the importance of self studies for future teachers (Simms, 2013). actice can result in professional growth and provide a progressive approach to staff development resulting in meaningful change for children (Dana & Yendol Hoppey, 2014). When teachers engage in practitioner research they develop a sense of ownership of t he changes in policy and practices, decreasing their potential resistance to change (Kershner, 1999). There is also an increased likelihood that findings will be used effectively. The use of practitioner research for this study allowed me to gain a better make a shift in thinking about my teaching practices. Prior to interviewing my students, I would justify the use of exclusionary discipline as being necessary so that the education of other students in the class would not be jeopardized. Although embarrassing to admit, there were times when I would breathe a sigh of relief when certain students were suspended because it meant that my job as a teacher would be made a little bit easier. All it took was for me to listen to how negatively my students viewed exclusionary discipline and I became a lot more tolerant of student behavior during my class My view of exclusionary discipline shifted from it being necessary to it being unnecessary. I started handling all discipline issues on my own without the use of discipline referrals or


78 ll them from the ISS suspension room to attend my class so that they would not miss instruction. I also worked toward making sure that they were able to make up missed work in their other classes. Recognizing that my idea of caring teacher behavior may no t have be en knowledge of how my students describe d caring teacher behaviors. As I listened how my colleagues and I interacted with students. I saw the importance of incorporating more of the behaviors that participants described as caring into my practice. Becoming aware of my perceptions that caring teachers provided them with academica lly challenging work resulted in a substantial change in practice for me. As a special education teacher, I was aware of my ed toward supporting my students to accommodate those deficits. After reflecting upon what students were saying in and my desire to protect them from academic frustration to dominate my pedagogical decisions. I began to incorporate more challenging work along with a unique balance of independence and support to ensure student success. Teacher expectations play an important role in student success A study conducted by Rubie 84 teachers who were randomly assigned to either a control group or an intervention group where teachers receiv ed training on the instructional


79 strategies and practices of high expectation teachers. The findings of their study indicated that students whose teachers received the training on practices of high expectation teachers had a higher increase in their math scores compared to the controlled group. Tyler and Boelter (2008) showed that s tudents perceptions of teachers expectations are associated with self efficacy, which positively influence s their academic performance Th is study measured 262 Bla expectations along with the and behavior al engagement and found that perceived teacher expectation emerged as a significant predictor of stude The participants of this study linked caring teacher behavior to their academic success. s for teacher s to provide support when they were having trouble not to judge them as academic ally deficien t, and to hold high expectations for them showed me it was important that I created a culture of success in my classroom (Cushman, 2003) My mindset about my teaching and learning has evolved and I now provide a more rigorous learnin g environment where I am sure to convey to my students my beliefs and expectations for them to be successful. This new mindset along with my relentless pursuit to handle all disciplinary issues myself to prevent my contribution to the placement of student s in ISS or OSS lead me to believe that I am a better teacher now than I was before conducting this study. As I continuously reflect upon the findings of this study, I expect my practices to continue to change for the better. As a practitioner scholar, I will continue to examine my discipline practices to ensure that this improvement occurs.


80 Conclusion This was a practitioner research study designed to examine my frequently caring teacher behavi ors as a way to address the disproportional disciplinary practices identified at my school. The research questions that guided the study were: 1. exclusionary discipline practic es? 2. How do my freq uently disciplined students perceive the influence of teacher behaviors on student behaviors? 3. What teacher behaviors do my frequently disciplined students identify as caring? By giving voice to the students most strongly impacted by the discipline practices at my school, I have gained insight and provided direction on ways that I can work towards dismantling this problem These new behaviors include: working to implement discipline practices that do not exclude students from learning ; incorporating more of the teacher behaviors that my students identified as caring ; and creating a learning environment that includes both high expectations for students as well as support from me to help students meet those expectations. Since this is a s chool wide problem, I have shared the findings with my colleagues and we will continue to work together to address the changes needed to improve the learning experiences for all of our students.


81 APPENDIX A RECRUITMENT SCRIPT Mrs. Phaup is looking f or students who are willing to be participants in a study that she is conducting. Through her study, she will be talking to her students to gain an understanding of their thoughts about discipline at our school and what teachers can do to help reduce the amount of discipline that occurs at our school. I have already contacted your parents/guardians and received verbal consent for you to participate in this study. If you are interested in being a rent/guardian sign the consent form and return it to me. If at any time you wish to stop participating in the study, then you can come to me and I will let Mrs. Phaup know. If you do not wish to participate, then simply discard the consent form. Partici pation or non participation in this study will not impact your grade in any way.


82 APPENDIX B PARENT CONSENT FORM Dear Parent/Guardian, I am a graduate student in the College of Education at the University of Florida, conducting research on exclusionary discipline practices under the supervision of Dr. Brianna Kennedy. The purpose of this study is to gain ons of exclusionary discipline practices and caring teacher student relationships. The results of the study may help me and disciplinary practices. In addition, we may gain ins ight into how to better form caring relationships with our students. These results may not directly help your child today, but may benefit future students. There are no anticipated risks associated with participating in this study. With your permission, I would like to ask your child to volunteer for this research. The research will take place during the 3 rd nine weeks of this school year. I will be conducting an initial interview with participants after school. Participants will be provided transportat ion home via the activities bus that runs after school. CAT time. During all interviews, participants will be asked to talk freely as well as answer questions about their academ ic and behavioral progress in school, but they will not have to answer any question they do not wish to answer. With your permission, your child will be audio taped during the interviews. Recordings will be heard, seen, and used only by the researcher in the research process. These recordings will be transcribed and all identifying information will be removed from


83 the transcripts and replaced with pseudonyms or masked information. The audio files will be deleted after they are transcribed and the transcri pts will be stored on a password protected server for three years after the conclusion of the study and then destroyed. Participants will also be asked to fill out reflection forms if they are sent to administrators will be given a list of participants so that they can provide them with the reflection form. Although the participants will be asked to write their names on the reflection forms, their identity will be kept confidential to the extent provid ed by law. I will replace their names with code names. At the end of the study, all data will be destroyed. Participation or non or placement in any programs. You and your child have the right to withdraw Participants will receive no compensation for participating in this study. There are no known risks or immediate benefits to the participants. If you have any quest ions about this research protocol, please contact me Questions or concerns about your child's rights as a research participant may be directed to the IRB02 office, University of Florida, Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392 0433. I have read the p rocedure described above. I voluntarily give my consent for my child, _________________, to participate in this study. I have received a copy of this description. ____________________________ ___________ Parent/Guardian Date


84 APPENDIX C STUDENT ASSENT SCRIPT As you already know, I am in graduate school at the University of Florida so that I can learn how to make education and teaching better for all students. One thing that I am in my eliminate the amount of suspensions we use. I am hoping that you will help me answer that question. If you choose to participate, I will ask you to answer questions abo ut your experiences with discipline during middle school and your opinions about what teachers do to show you that they care about their students. I will ask you to meet with me for an initial interview that will last around an hour. If you are suspended during any time during the study, I will want to meet with you when you return from your suspension. These meetings will take place on Wednesdays, during Cat Time. If at any time during ll be asked to fill out a form about what occurred for you to be sent there. Your assistant principal will know that you are participating in the study and will be in possession of any Discipline Reflection forms you fill out, but he will not have access to any other data that is collected. You do not have to answer any questions you do not want to answer, and even if you agree to participate now, you can change your mind at any time. The study will begin in the next couple of weeks and will last until th e end of the school year. I will also ask to audio record our interviews. I will be the only person to listen to these recordings. The recordings will be kept safe and destroyed after the study. Your names will never be used and all data will be de id entified, meaning a process will be used to prevent your identity from being connected with any study information. Your


85 choice to participate will not affect your grades in any way. The study will begin in the next couple of weeks and will last until the end of the school year. Would you be willing to participate?


86 APPENDIX D INITIAL STUDENT INTERVIEW PROTOCOL 1. Describe a teacher that you have had in middle school that you liked? How did behavior in the classroom? 2. What kind of consequences are used by teachers and administrators, at our school, for students that misbehave? 3. What types of student behavior usually result in a student being sent to ISS? 4. Why do you think schools use suspensions as punishment? 5. Have you ever been assigned to In School Suspension (ISS)? If yes, what happened that led to you being suspended. 6. How do you think your own behavior might have contributed to you being sent to ISS? 7. How does it make you feel w hen you are assigned to ISS? 8. Do you think being suspended will influence your future? If yes, how? 9. Have you ever been assigned to ASAC? If yes, what happened that led to you being suspended? 10. when they return to school? 11. If you were a teacher how would you respond to students that you think are misbehaving in class? 12. How do teachers at our school show that they care about you and other students? 13. How would you describe a teacher that treats students with respect? 14. Have you ever had a teacher that you felt saw things from your point of view? If yes, what did they do to make you feel this way? 15. Do you feel that all of your teachers care about you and other students in their classes? Explain. 16. How did s/he deal with


87 17. Have there been times when you felt that one of your teachers did not care about you or other students? If yes, explain. 18. Do you think teachers, administrators and other adults at our school treat students fairly? Explain. 19. Do you ever get mad at teachers when they discipline you? If yes, what can teachers do to help you calm down? What do teachers do that make you angrier? 20. Is there a nything else you would like to share with me?


88 APPENDIX E ADDITIONAL INTERVIEW PROTOCOL 1. Will you describe what happened that resulted in you being suspended? 2. Can you describe how your teacher acted during the incident that led to you being suspended? 3. D o you think your teacher could have handled the situation differently? If yes, explain. 4. Do you think that you could have handled the situation differently? If yes, explain. 5. What were your thoughts when your administrator told you that you were going to be suspended?


89 APPENDIX F DISCIPLINE REFLECTION FORM Student Name: ____________________________ Date:___________ Today I got in trouble during: 1 st Period 2 nd Period 3 rd Period 4 th Period 5 th Period 6 th Period 7 th Period Lunch I got in trouble because my teacher (or another adult) said I was: Talking too much Not doing my work. Being disrespectful Using profanity Fighting Other: ___________ I think I should or s hould not : I did do what he/she said I did. Other: _______________________________ Angry Sad Betrayed Happy Other: __________ If y ou were treated fairly, what did the teacher /other adult do that felt fair? ________________________________________________________________________ ______ ______________________________________________________________________________ _____________________ _________________________________________ ____________ ___. If you were treated unfairly, what did the teacher /other adult do that felt unfair? ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________ __________________ _______________.


90 APPENDIX G CODE BOOK CODE MEANING Preferred Method of Handling Discipline be handled; if these opinions also relate to fairness, the segment T reated Fairly Impact of Exclusionary Discipline of exclusionary discipline. Respect and Disrespect respectful or disrespectful teacher behavior. S tudents opinions about the role respect plays in teacher student interactions. Behaviors that Warrant Exclusionary Discipline Students explicit opinions about behaviors that warrant exclusionary discipline. Positive Teacher Behaviors Students describe teachers positively, but are not talking about respect, discipline or fairness. Negative Teacher Behaviors Students describe teachers negatively, but are not talking about unfairness or disrespect. All Treated Fairly ions about fairness are expressed, if these opinions also relate to a preferred method of Method of Handling Discipline Teacher Behaviors that Impact Student Behaviors How students perceive a behavior.


91 APPENDIX H THEME DEVELOPMENT SAMPLE D ATA S AMPLE F INAL C ODES T HEME I think that we should actually, instead of there being a lot of mouth and yelling at each other, I think that we should go our separate ways. Come back, we sit down as people, and we talk about it. But if you want to get loud, and I'm sitting here and now," and you're yelling then why is the point of me talking to you? P referred Metho d for Handling D iscipline Calm discussions were essential during disciplinary interactions She was the most sweetest teacher I've ever -because there would be two teachers in there so whenever a teacher was mad or s omething, she would bring them out in the hallway and talk to them about their issue about the other student. And then when she got done, that student got done telling their story, she would get the other student and see what the other student said happene d. See if they were both telling the truth, and then she would try to fix it for the both of them so they wouldn't be arguing. She was the best teacher. Positive Teacher B ehaviors ...because if they really did care then they would sit and talk with us instead of making us more frustrated and mad, and making us get mad so that we would get written up Teacher Behaviors That Impact Student B ehaviors Well, if it was at this school and I knew these outside a nd calm down, and if they're not calmed Preferred Method for Handling D iscipline Neg ative Teacher B ehaviors


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103 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Courtney Phaup completed her undergraduate degree in dietetics at the University of Central Arkansas and later r eturned to the University of Arkansas to earn a She began her teaching career in 2002 teaching high school Family and Consumer Science classes. In 2007 she began working on her teaching special education classes the same year. In 2015 she began teaching middle school level special education and dyslexia intervention class.