1 By MELISSA PRUE SINGLETON A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOC TOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2012
2 2012 Melissa Prue Singleton
3 To my amazing husband Chris who never let me give up, our miracle little girl Alexandria, and my loving and supportive family and friends. May this dissertation represe nt all of the unconditional love and support you gave to me throughout this great journey.
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank my husband Chris. He has traveled alongside me throughout this entire journey, insisting that I grow personally and profes sionally; he celebrated with me during each step forward and held my hand during the setbacks. Our amazing little girl, Alexandria, reminds me everyday to be thankful and to strive to be the best at everything I do. My mother, Jennifer, father, Stephen, st ep mother, Jane, and step father, Robert provided me with the support systems that enabled me to focus on my study and persevere to bring my goal to fruition. My big sister, Kristie, helped me navigate the entire process and provided me with tools to make my experience be as powerful as her own. She was my sounding board and voice of reason when I did not think I could finish. I would like to thank my entire dissertation committee. They stayed with me even when I was not sure I would be able to finish. I a m grateful to Dr. Cirecie West Olatunji and Dr. Maria Coady for being willing to be a part of my committee and for all of their feedback, guidance, and expertise. I would like to thank Dr. Bernard Oliver for hours of insight and information that supported support me on my journey to understanding more about my study. I must give special thanks to Dr. Linda Behar Horenstein for her immeasurable dedication and guidance. Without her, I know that I would not have been able to complete this program. She enabled me to complete my study through her willingness to stand by me and support me when factors outside of school prohibited me from advancing. She knew when to give me time and when to push me to the edge of my comfort zone. I will be forever grateful to her a nd will always hold her in the highest regard both professionally and personally. I would like to thank several friends of mine, Brigid, Diane, Jennie, Joanne, Sherry, Stella, Susana, and Tiffany. Brigid and Diane provided me with insight about the entire doctoral process. They encouraged me and reassured me that I could finish. Diane was an integral part of
5 my growth professionally and personally with my topic. She gave me precious insight and countless pep talks to help me keep at it. Jennie gave me an am azing opportunity professionally and with that I was blessed with an amazing mentor and friend. She immediately supported my goal and gave me the needed encouragement and time to see this process through. Joanne, Sherry, Stella, Susana, and Tiffany have st ood by my side through it all, academically, personally, and professionally. Each one has motivated me and helped me to accomplish a great many things in my life. They each have a special gift and have helped me to be a better person. All of these women ar e amazing blessings in my life. I must give the ultimate thanks to God, for without His grace, this extremely rigorous and enlightening process would not have been completed. He gave me the invaluable gifts of an amazing husband, a miracle in our daughter Alexandria, as well as extraordinary family and the path I travelled.
6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................... 8 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 9 LIST OF DEFINITIONS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 10 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 11 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 12 Purpose ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 12 Research Questions ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 13 Significance of Study ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 13 Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 14 2 LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 16 Factors Affecting Blacks in Education ................................ ................................ ................... 16 School based Issues ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 16 Disciplinary Action and Placement in Special Education ................................ ............... 19 Academic Performance and Social Impact ................................ ................................ ............. 22 Marginalization of Blacks ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 24 Theoretical Framework ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 25 3 METHODOLOGY ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 29 Research Method ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 29 Gaining Access ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 29 The Site ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................ 29 Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... 30 Participant Descriptions ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 31 Instrumentation ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 32 Data Collection Procedures ................................ ................................ ............................. 33 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ .......................... 34 ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 37 4 RESULTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................... 42 Research Question 1) How Do High School Black Males Perceive School Success? ........... 42
7 Resea Perceptions of School Success? ................................ ................................ .......................... 46 ................................ ................ 48 Research Question 1 c) How Do Peer Based Social Interactions Influence High School ................................ ................................ ..... 54 Summary of Results ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 57 5 DISCUSSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 61 Research Question 1: How Do Hig h School Black Males Perceive School Success? ........... 61 Definition of School Success ................................ ................................ ........................... 61 Research Question 1a) How Do External Factors I Perceptions of School Success? ................................ ................................ .......................... 61 hool Success? ................................ ............... 62 Research Question 1 c) How Do Peer Based Social Interactions Influence High School ................................ ................................ .... 64 Theoretical Implications ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 65 Implications for Practice ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 68 1. Evaluate Teacher Preparation Programs ................................ ................................ ..... 69 2. Review School Based Hiring Practices and Professional Development for Current Teachers ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 69 3. Encourage Black Males to Strive for Acad emic Excellence ................................ ....... 70 4. Preparation for School Administrators ................................ ................................ ........ 71 Implications for Further Research ................................ ................................ .......................... 72 Limitations of this Study ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 72 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ 73 ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 74 APPENDIX A UF IRB SOCIAL & BEHAVIORAL RESEARCH PROTOCOL SUBMISSION ................ 81 B PARENT LETTER OF CONSENT ................................ ................................ ....................... 83 C STUDENT LETTER OF ASSENT ................................ ................................ ........................ 84 D INDIVIDUAL INTERVIEW ................................ ................................ ................................ 85 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 97 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 103
8 LIST OF TABLES Table page 3 1 Lakeview High School Demographic Statistics ................................ ................................ 39 3 2 Grade Level and Cumulative GPA of the Participants* ................................ .................... 39 3 3 Individual Interview Questions ................................ ................................ .......................... 39 3 4 Foc us Group Questions ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 40 5 1 Findings of study based on theoretical framework. ................................ ........................... 79
9 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 4 1 School Success and Supporting Themes ................................ ................................ ............ 59 4 2 NVivo Tree Map of Four Major Themes and Supporting Subthemes. .............................. 60
10 LIST OF DEFINITIONS Black used interchangeably with African American. This term includes individuals of African, non Hispanic/non Latino descent (NCES, 2012). Career ready diploma a certificate awarded by the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) which allows graduates to seek c ompetitive employment and/or enroll in a community college. High school credits earnings for individual courses in public high schools. Junior /11th grader a student who has earned between 10 15.5 credits and is in his third year of high school. School Success serves as a proxy for academic performance, as defined by participants. The cumulative grade point average (GPA) that a student has earned. The GPA is calculated on a 4.0 grade scale (where an A is equal to 4 points, a B is equal to 3 points, a C is equal to 2 points, a D is equal to 1 point, and an F is equal to 0 points). Senior /12th grader a student who has earned at least 16 credits and is in his fourth year of high school. Sophomore /10th grader a student who has earned between 4 9.5 cre dits and is in his second year of high school. White used interchangeably with European American. This term includes individuals of European, non Hispanic/non Latino origin (NCES, 2012)
11 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the Un iversity of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy By Melissa Prue Singleton May 2012 Chair: Linda S. Behar Horenstein Major: Educati onal Leadership The purpose of this study was to examine various factors that influenced high school Black s. Giving voice to this group of students provided the researcher with insight to the factors that they believed influenced their school success. The data was analyzed through constant comparative qualitative research methods. From the data, the researcher identified four major themes. The themes were School Success, Family Relationships, Educational Relationships, and Peer Relationships. Each of these contributed to The findings of this study support many of the tenants found in Gloria Ladson Billings (1994) Culturally Relevant Pedagogy. An overview of these findings and how they could potentially impact future professional development for administrators, teachers, and teacher preparation prog instructional pedagogy are critical in order for these Black males to achieve the greatest level of academic success.
12 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION On the first day of school, Molly, a 22 year old White female, walked in to her classroom. She was filled with excitement while anticipating the ways that she could help her students learn to their broadest potential. The school she entered was not entirely unfamiliar to her. She had grown up in an upper middle class predominantly White neighborhood and attended the local high school comprised of a similar population. Her desire to become a highly effective teacher never came to fruition that semester. Instead, she faced unremitting challenges as she worked to throughout the day; one White female and 97 Black males and females. Day to day interactions were difficult because she did not understand the sl styles were diffe rent from those that she knew. Overall, Molly could not connect with her students through classroom interactions. This situation is not uncommon. The majority of United States teachers are White. Often, they do not share the ethnic, racial, social, or lin guistic backgrounds of their students (Cross, 2003). Researchers have shown that sharing a common culture or other background & Green, 2006; Cross, 2003; Mack, 2005; Tucker, Porter, Reinke, Herman, Ivery, Mack, & Jackson, 2005; Ware, 2006). This is especially true for Black males. Purpose Several studies have quantified the achievement gap between Black students and their non minority peers. Data from the 201
13 eighth graders scored at or above grade level in Reading, whereas only 13% of Blacks and 16% statistics were si milarly disproportionate for twelfth graders; 43% of White twelfth graders scored at or above grade level in Reading, while only 16% of Blacks and 20% of Hispanics 80% of Black students in fourth, eighth, and twelfth grade lacked grade level proficiency in performance and academic achievement, studies that draw upon the beliefs of Bla ck males have not been prominent. Listening to their voices may provide insight about factors that influence their school success. The purpose of this study is to describe how external, school, and peer related factors influence the school success of high school Black males who are earning a grade Research Questions 1. a. hool success? b. characteristic school success? c. How do peer success? Significance of Study Up to this point, the majori provide an opportunity for this student group to be the focus of inquiry (Bennet, 2006; Blanchet Mumford, & Beachum, 2005; Gay, 2002; Freeman, 2006; Smith, 2005). By directly seeking input from high school Black males, theoretical propositions might emerge to explain how
14 ell, 2005). The findings might also guide future teacher interactions with students. By acquiring a better educational programs teach their students how to use those pedagogies that are responsive to By developing an understanding [of the] multiple external factors (e.g., social, cultural, economic, political, school, neighborhood, family, parent) [that may] impact the academic and social behaviors of children, teachers can come to appreciate that each child must be taught to achieve under whatever condition exist. Teachers and other school personnel can accomplish this by empowering their student s with the skills necessary to become successful in school (p. 32). situations in an appropriate and effective manner (Bondy & Ross, 2008; Brand, Glasson, & Gr een, 2006; Cross, 2003; Mack, 2005; Ware, 2006). Teachers who are able to understand and respect the cultural behaviors and norms of their minority students, may also help students learn appropriate interaction styles as well as how to thrive and survive in the majority culture (Ladson Billings, 1994; Mack, 2005; Neal, 2001; Tucker et al., 2005). Studying the factors that well as society. By conducting int erviews and focus group meetings with Black males in a local high school, this study will invite these participants to share how factors outside and inside the school affect their performance. Limitations Engaging adolescents in focus groups may cause st udents to feel vulnerable (Morgan, 1996/1997). As a result, they may be unable or unwilling to discuss or share their feelings regarding their school experiences openly or honestly. Because this study will be conducted at a single site, the generalizabil ity of the findings was limited to the context where the study was
15 conducted (Creswell, 2005). The data collected relied upon the interpersonal skills of the resp onses.
16 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW This chapter presents an overview of research studies regarding the factors that affect Blacks in education. The topics presented are school based issues, disciplinary action and placement in Special Education. In addi tion, their school success and its social impact are reviewed. Social impacts include drop out, employment, and incarceration rates among Blacks. An overview of research that described the marginalization of Blacks precedes a description of the theory that served as the foundation for this study, Culturally Relevant Pedagogy (Ladson Billings, 1994). Factors Affecting Blacks in Education School based Issues Data from the U.S. Department of Education (2011a/2011b) has shown that the combined proportion of ei ght grade and twelfth grade Blacks and Hispanics who scored at or above grade level, was less than or equal to one third respectively. However, 39% of White eighth graders and 42% of White twelfth grades scored at or above grade level (U.S. DOE 2011a/2011b ). This information highlights the differences in academic achievement between minorities and their non minority peers. The U.S. DOE (2011a/2011b) findings also revealed that over 80% of Black students in the fourth, eighth, and twelfth grades failed to ac quire grade level skills in reading and math when evaluated. Approximately 25% of all first time ninth grade teenagers fail to graduate from high school within four years; that figure climbs to nearly 40% for Black students (U.S. DOE, 2010). According to H owell (2006), minority students have demonstrated academic gains in reading and mathematics over the past 20 years. However, these gains have not minority peers. Natio nally, schools that enroll predominately minority students frequently have
17 lower scores on standardized educational achievement tests (Sheppard, 2006). Lower test scores usually results in the designating these schools as academically unacceptable. High st akes testing and academic achievement tests also illuminate the achievement gap between minority and non minority students. Low achievement scores have also been correlated with the dropout rates among Blacks, which consequently reduces the number of oppor tunities afforded them in the future (Sheppard, 2006). Black males historically have scored lower on these tests, thus tracking them in to lower level courses of study (Sheppard, 2006). Studies have shown that when compared to White students, there is of a chievement among minority students (FLDOE, 2011; Gewertz, 2004; House, 2006; Jackson & Moore, 2006). In addition, research has shown that socioeconomic status (SES) is a key indicator of lack of success in school. However, it is erroneous to assert that S ES accounts for the achievement gap within specific ethnic/racial student groups (Olneck, 2005). Because the findings have shown that the school success among Blacks lags behind other regarding minority groups, educators and policy makers have suggested th at teachers need to empower all students. Weinstein, Curran, & Tomlinson Clarke (2003) supported this pedagogical need. When teachers and students come from different cultural backgrounds, planned efforts to cross social borders and develop caring, respect ful relationships are essential to remember that caring also involves communicating high expectations and holding students accountable for high quality work (p. 273). In addition, researchers have found that teachers need to use particular methods du ring teachers build positive interpersonal relationships that are culturally sensitive and demonstrate reciprocal respect (Bondy & Ross, 2008; Booker, 2006; Chism & Satcheer, 1998; Love & ethnically diverse students is as much culturally responsive as it is developmentally appropriate
18 which means using their cultural orienta tions, background experiences, and ethnic identities as conduits to facilitate their teaching and learning (p. 614). Allowing all students to find academic success means that some teachers may need to critically evaluate their own beliefs, teaching practic es, personal views and misconceptions about cultures/races outside of their own (Freeman, 2006; Weiner, 2006). Teaching so that all students can learn requires that teachers learn to teach in culturally relevant ways ( Weinstein, Curran, & Tomlinson Clarke, 2003 ). Researchers have reported that minority students found academic success in classrooms when based interactions (Bondy & Ross, 2008; House, 2006; Tucker, et al., 20 05). Schools intent on closing the achievement gap need teachers to foster culturally consistent communication with students and their families, create challenges, provide supportive academic opportunities, and advise students about how they can be academi cally, socially, and behaviorally successful (Booker, 2006; House, 2006; Weinstein, Curran, & Tomlinson Clarke, 2003). Students who have positive school experiences both socially and academically are more likely to find success in post secondary life exper iences (Bennet, 2006). misconceptions or societal beliefs about racial or ethnic factors that only perpetuate negative experiences among Black students who attend public sc hools. Compounding this problem is that field certification or a college degree in the subject area they are teaching (Freeman, 2006). Inadequate college education and teacher training decrease the potential of teacher effectiveness in providing instruction to students at higher academic levels. Harry and Klinger (2006) found that teachers with advanced instructional skills had better classroom management and used
19 academically focused instructional practices more frequently. These findings suggest that many of the academic problems experienced by Black students are as much a result of instructional practices. Rossi Ray often, such discussions take on a tenor that blames students for performing poorly, rather than looking instructions that is provided. Disciplinary Action and Placeme nt in Special Education A clear and logical correlation exists between student discipline and academic achievement. Throughout the US, there is evidence that students who are disproportionately targeted for disciplin ary action are the same pupils who perform times more likely to be suspended than their non minority peers (Monroe, 2005; Neal, 2001). The discipline statistics f Black males comprise approximately 22% of the students who are expelled from school and 23% of the students who are suspended out of school even though they only make up approximately eig Studies about the current educational system issues, show that all too often Black students who are on the low end of academic achievement are also on the high end of both disciplinary action and placement in Exceptional Student Education (ESE) programs (Livingston & Nahimana, 2006; Monroe, 2005; Neal, 2001; Skiba, Poloni Staudinger, Simmons, Feggins Azziz, & Choong Geun, 2005). Perhaps educators misunderstand culturally appropriate behavior amon g Americans interject motion, movement, and emotional energy into their thinking, communication, social relations, and variability in the formats of their self presentations may be misdiagnosed as hyperactivity, attention deficit, irritability, attention
20 be better served in ESE. Sen (2006) note (p. 3). Some researchers argue that socio economic status (SES) is the greatest factor in determining their l ack of success in school and identification for ESE services. Nonetheless, the majority of students in ESE classrooms are Black. Heward and Cavanaugh in Gay (2002) stated that: A disproportionate number of students from culturally diverse groups have been inaccurately labeled disabled. This happens because some of the attitudes, values, and behaviors that cause students from non mainstream racial, ethnic, and cultural groups to be diagnosed and assigned to special education stem from misunderstood incongrue nces between their home and school cultural standards, rather than some biological malfunctions or intellectual limitations. (p. 616) investigated the overrepresenta tion of Blacks in the high incidence categories multiple times (Harry & Klinger, 2006). Many Black students exhibit behaviors that are commonplace within their culture. Yet, some of these behaviors are the same behaviors that teachers believe are indicativ Nahimana, 2006; Monroe, 2005; Neal, 2001; Weinstein, Curran, Tomlinson Clarke, 2003;). These behaviors may include emotionally energetic body movements and communication st yles. Some teachers respond by referring students to other classroom settings, while others respond by taking punitive disciplinary actions (Monroe, 2005; Neal, 2001). As a result of teachers who respond in castigatory ways, a disparate number of Black stu dents receive disciplinary action when compared to their White and other minority groups (Monroe, 2005; Neal, 2001; Skiba, Poloni Staudinger, Simmons, Feggins Azziz, & Choong Guen, 2005; Weinstein, Curran, &
21 Tomlinson Clarke, 2003). Monroe (2005) postulate affirming identities in adverse environments, behaviors among African American youths often Researchers have sugge sted that it is important to raise an awareness among teachers and to help them recognize cultural differences among students, and to analyze their own beliefs and prejudices so they can experience and respond to situations in an appropriate and effective manner (Brand, Glasson, & Green; 2006; Cartledge & Dukes, 2009; Cross, 2003; Gay, 2002; Mack, 2005; Milner, 2009). The majority of teachers in the United States are White and do not share the same ethnic, racial, social, or linguistic backgrounds as their students (Cartledge & Dukes, 2009; Cross, 2003; Freeman, 2006; Milner, 2009). In addition, many of the methods used to place students in ESE programs are subjective and have been deemed unreliable (Harry & Klinger, 2006). For example, in the case of Larr y P. v Riles (1979/1984) the court upheld that the disproportionate placement of students in special education was innately unfair for Black students. The court ruled that the IQ tests used to place children in the Educable Mentally Retarded (EMR) category were biased against Black children. Thus, it was more difficult for Black children to score adequately in academic ability and those findings only highlighted their lower academic achievement levels (Harry & Klinger, 2006). Neal (2001) reiterated these fi American children as targets for special education. Research shows that over identification is related to ethnicity, poverty, inappropriate assessment tools used by schools, and teacher
22 Academic Performance and Social Impact Drop Out, Employment, and Incarceration Rates Among Blacks Young Black males have the highest incidence among individuals who choose to drop out; they are the most fr equently suspended and/or expelled. They are overrepresented in special education and underrepresented in gifted programs (Jackson & Moore, 2006; Whiting, 2006). That Black students, especially males, are subjected to disproportionately high and more sever e disciplinary action as well as over identification for special education services has been well documented. Approximately 25 to 30% of teenagers in the United States do not graduate from high school with a standard diploma. Also, approximately 50% of Bla ck males fail to acquire a standard diploma (House, 2006). Across the United States, only 40% of Black males graduate from high school, compared to 70% of White males (Gewertz, 2004; Sen, 2006). The state of Florida most closely mirrors these averages. Acc ording to a recent Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) Report, only 68.4% of Black, non Hispanic students, compared to 89.3% of White, non Hispanic students graduate from high school (FLDOE, 2011). These statistics raise concerns when one considers a w orldwide Junior Achievement poll, in which 89% of Black youths planned to attend college (Smith, 2005). Data show that these aspirations are often American males in particular surrender their dreams, goals, and aspirations, to a system that Olatunji, Baker, & Brooks, 2006, p. 8). Employment opportunities are significantly determined by an individua their acquiring the skills to proceed to the labor market and also can impact on their experiences Students who drop out of school are often
23 faced with the harsh reality that lacking an education places them at a disadvantage in the labor market. Typically they must accept lower paying jobs or they are denied positions altogether (Foster Bey, 2004; Lan & Lanthier, 2003; Legters & Balfanz, 2010). Statistics for the United States show that the unemployment rate among Black men is approximately twice that of White men (Freeman, 2006; Livingston & Nahimana, 2006). A significant reduction in employment opport unities is only one of the implications of dropping out of school. Incarceration rates who drop out from school experience lower income, greater unemployment, are significantly overrepresented in the adult corrections population, and are more likely to require social services p. 128 129). The dropout rate for Black studen ts is 9.3%, which is nearly twice that of the 5.2% of White students (US DOE, 2011a/2011b) Criminal activity and dependence on social services are often attributed to the low or insufficient income among high school dropouts (Lan & Lanthier, 2003; Legters & Balfanz, 2010). These findings impact Black males because while they only make up six percent of the US population, they make up over 50% of the prison assumpti teachers often do not possess the cultural tools necessary to reach students of different races and/or religions (Cartledge & Dukes, 2009; Cross, 2003; Milner, 2009; Neal, 2001; Tatum, 2000; Tucker et al., 2005; West Olatunji, Baker, & Brooks, 2006). Because of this deficiency, Black students are frequently punished for culturally learned behaviors that are misconstrued as defiant, disruptive, or quarrelsome (Gay, 2002; Monr oe, 2005; Smith, 2005). Black males suffer the most. They develop their own perceptions and/or misperceptions about the value of education;
24 these views can negatively impact how they strive to perform in school (Booker, 2006; Livingston & Nahimana, 2006; W hiting, 2006). Marginalization of Blacks apparent, based on the dismal national statistics on unemployment, education, incarceration, and mental and physical health, that African American males face numerous challenges in American public school system (Smith, 2005). Low teacher expectations, overrepresentation in special educat ion, under representation in gifted programs, unequal disciplinary actions, high drop out rates, low graduation rates, and poorly qualified teachers perpetuate the marginalization of Blacks (Bennet, 2006; Brown, 2004; Freeman, 2006; Harry & Klinger, 2006; Mandara, 2006). School failure has the most significant impact on Black males (Smith, 2005). They are the most likely to face a culture of exclusion created in and by the school system (Freeman, 2006). mic achievement and low school engagement among African American youths, are thought by some to be related to the alienation p. 198). The members within school s ystems fail to accept responsibility for the role they play in the lack of academic success that Black students experience (Blanchet, Mumford, & Beachum, 2005). Low academic achievement among Blacks has historically and prospectively is an issue that impa cts the individuals and society as well. Students who are unsuccessful in developing a sense of connectedness with school are significantly more likely to drop out. Many Black students are unable to find a sense of belongingness within schools and their st aff because the majority of schools in the United States do not represent or connect with their cultural, racial, or
25 ethnic backgrounds (Gay, 2002). The under achievement of Blacks, throughout all levels of public schooling, translates to problems within t he work force. Freeman said, At the point of entrance to schooling the culture of Black populations undergoes a process of being discounted, whether through alienation or annihilation. This in turn leads to a culture of exclusion, where students are turned off from schooling, which limits labor market opportunities. (Freeman, 2006, p. 55) The lack of higher level educational experiences and subsequently restricted work force opportunities further perpetuates the societal and economic marginalization of Blacks (Bennet, 2006; Brown, 2004; Foster Bey, 2004; Freeman, 2006). Fewer opportunities in the work force (Bennet, 2006; Foster Bey, 2004). Theoretical Framework The theoretical framework was used in this the study was Culturally Relevant Pedagogy (CRP), initially posited by Gloria Ladson Billings (1994). Gay (2002) explains CRP stating, d in all This instructional pedagogy encourages all teachers to loo k beyond their own culture and experience and to understand and utilize the cultural diversity and strengths among their students (Howard, 2003a/b; Livingston & Nahimana, 2006; Mack, 2005; Milner, 2009; Weinstein, Curran, & Tomlinson Clark, 2003). By using CRP teaching, researchers postulate that Black males will be given the skills and motivations necessary to fully reach their academic and social potential (Cartledge & Dukes, 2009; Love & Kruger, 2005; Mack, 2005; Milner, 2009; Neal, 2001; Tatum, 2000). C RP encourages Black males to not only be actively engaged academically, but also communally (Ladson
26 believed to promote greater success in post secondary academic settings as well as workplace settings (Gay, 2002; Neal, 2001). Culturally Sensitive Research Framework The Culturally Sensitive Research Framework (CSRF) of Tillman, guided the methods that the researcher used. S asserted that using the Cult urally Sensitive Research Framework (CSRF) permitted both the researcher and the group being studied to use their cultural views to guide the development of the research design, data collection and analysis (Tillman, 2002/2006). She has asserted that when research is conducted looking both at its history and present day experiences. CSRF allows researchers to show the difficulties that Blacks have suffered, as well as their successes. Tillman utilizes four typologies for cross cultural researchers that Banks (1998) developed. These typologies identify a the indigenous i nsider, the indigenous outsider, the external insider, and the external outsider. The indigenous insider is a member of the community being studied who shares the same values and beliefs; s/he is viewed by the community as a legitimate member. The indigeno us outsider is one who is a member of the group being studied, but shares the values and beliefs of someone outside community. In this instance, the researcher is viewed as an outsider by the community. The third typology, the external insider is an indivi dual who is not a member of the community, match those of the community. The least effective researcher to conduct culturally sensitive research is the external outs ider. This researcher is not a member of the community being studied, nor does s/he share the same beliefs and values. Therefore, many of his/her interpretations of the community are inaccurate. In order to successfully perform culturally
27 sensitive researc h, the researcher must be able to accurately identify and represent the values and beliefs of the community being studied. Black culture has been described in a variety of ways. Tillman (2002/2006) describes Black culture as: (a) differing from European Am erican culture(s) in various ways that include individual and collective value orientations, language patterns, and worldviews; (b) having a shared orientation based on similar cultural, historical, and political of behaviors that undergird cultural distinctiveness (p. 3 4/p. 266). These descriptions must be acknowledged if cultural research situated within Black communities is going to be conducted. CSRF uses culturally congruent research methods, culturally specific knowledge, cultural resistance to theoretical dominance, culturally sensitive data interpretations, and culturally informed theory and practice. Culturally congruent research methods ena ble the researcher to develop a holistic view of the everyday existence of Blacks. This may include social, political, economic, and educational situations experienced by individuals within the community. Researchers utilize culturally specific knowledge b y using the self reported experiences of Blacks. In addition, they take into consideration their own experiences within or outside of that community. CSRF attempts to identify, understand, and refute power relations that relegate Blacks to subordinate powe r positions. Regardless if the researcher is an indigenous insider or external outsider, s/he must acknowledge the standpoints of the individuals who experience the unequal power relationships. The use of storytelling, narrative analysis, biographies, and family histories are frequently used to ensure culturally throughout the data analysis process (Tillman, 2002/ 2006). By using culturally sensitive research meth ods, researchers are able to generate theories and practices designed to take into
28 ally Sensitive Research Framework places African Americans at the center, rather than on the margin of the inquiry and allows researchers to situate themselves based on their own cultural ically evaluate their own studying can provide rich information which may be used to impact theory and educational practices. Summary Research shows that Black males ha ve had less academic success than their non minority peers (Brand, Glasson, & Green, 2006; Mack, 2005). Lower academic performance has been attributed to an overrepresentation of Black males in ESE and excessive disciplinary action (Cartledge & Dukes, 2009 ; Gay, 2002; Harry & Klinger, 2006; Livingston & Nahimana, 2006; Monroe, 2005; Neal, 2001). Poor academic performance only exacerbates this already marginalized group. Black males who are not successful academically suffer higher dropout rates, which resul t in lower income, higher rate of poverty, and increased incarceration rates (Blanchet, Mumford & Beachum, 2005; Bennet, 2006; Booker, 2006; Freeman, 2006; Smith, 2005). To portray the experiences of Black males, a researcher must fully understand their cu lture as the individuals see it as well as the culture of their non minority peers (Ogbu & Simons, 1998; Tillman, 2002/2006).
29 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY Research Method per formance in high school. The information gathered from the participants will be used to give voice to an at risk and frequently marginalized group of adolescent males (Bennet, 2006; Freeman, 2006). Qualitative research methods were used to collect and anal yze data. This experiences in their high school. The Culturally Sensitive Research Framework was the theoretical research perspective used to guide the data analysis in this study. Gaining Access Institutional Review Board (UFIRB). Next, the researcher obtained permission from the Director of Research, Assessment, and Student Infor mation at a local school board. Forms that meet the Director, the researcher contacted the Assistant Principal for Student Services (APSS) at a local high school. The AP SS provided the researcher with a list of students who met the eligibility th 12 th grade, and no documented disability. Seventy one Black males met these criteria. The Site The site for the study is a local high school in North Central Florida (NCF). Lakeview High School (pseudonym) is the third largest, out of seven high schools, in the NCF Public School District (pseudonym name used for the school district to ensure confidentiality). T his school houses three unique programs that are geared to the academic needs of the student
30 population. The racial makeup of classrooms varies dependent upon the program in which the students study. The magnet program houses a racially diverse group of s tudents. The major program and the ESE program are predominately Black students. The administration and guidance department are representative of the overall student population. The faculty is predominately White with a significantly smaller number of Bla ck teachers. The population of Lakeview High is shown in Table 3 1. The site is located near a major research university. The development for local school personnel. T he site houses twelve of the fourteen recognized gangs in the county. In addition, approximately fifty percent of the students qualify for free and reduced lunch. This site was selected by the researcher because of its large population of Black males and t staff, and administration. Participants The researcher randomly selected ten potential participants who met the designated study criteria by using a random numbers table (Creswell, 2005). Of the potential participants, seven were willing to participate in the study. The researcher met with each of the potential participants to discuss the study and to provide them with the parental consent and student assent letters. The r esearcher explained the purpose of the study and answered questions that the potential ts and the parents/guardians that they would be able to read the completed study and that their teachers would not be given access to their interviews and that their identities would be remain anonymous. The participants submitted both parent consent and s tudent assent/consent forms.
31 Each participant was asked to select a pseudonym to maintain confidentiality. Table 3 2 outlines the researcher elected to use one f ocus group. Participant Descriptions Sean is one of three children living with his mother and stepfather. He does not participate in any sports or extracurricular activities. He likes to hang out with his friends. Both time and are gone from the home prior to Sean leaving for school. His mother works in childcare; his stepfather works in corrections. Both are enrolled at a local community college. Junior is the only child currently living with his mother and father. He plays va rsity period of time, but did not finish. He is a custodian at Lakeview High School (pseudonym). Taylor is an only child, living with his mother and father. He works part time at a local fast food restaurant and enjoys hanging out with his friends when he is not working. When he is eligible, he plays football and ru ns track. His mom is a paralegal and attends a local community college. His father graduated from high school and is working full time as a mechanic. Tom is living with his 21 year old sister. He participates in Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp children. Tom cares for her children on a regular basis. His mother is incarcerated and did not finish high school. His sister completed high school and works full time. T ray lives at home with his mother, stepfather, and younger brother. He prefers to hang out with his friends. He has wanted to play football, but he is ineligible due to grades. His mom
32 graduated from high school; she started at a community college, but did not finish. She works full time in retail. His stepfather completed high school and is currently managing a group home. Billy is the older of two children living with his mother and stepfather. He enjoys hanging out with his friends and playing basketba ll. For the past two years, he was selected for the varsity basketball team, but was determined to be ineligible due to his grades. His mother works as an insurance customer service representative. She attends a local community college at epfather graduated from high school and enlisted in the military. Dee is an only child. He lives at home with his mother. His father resides in town, but has very little contact with him. Dee spends the majority of his free time hanging out with his frie nds. His mom graduated from high school and works full time. His father graduated from high school. Dee does not know what his father does for a living. Instrumentation to gain insight in to their past academic performance. The rationale behind reviewing the cumulative folders was aptly stated by Glesne (2006), To understand phenomenon, you need to know its history. Think historically, you will seek documents (minutes, le tters, memoirs, wills, etc.) and photos or other artifacts that you might not access otherwise And having gathered historical data, you might see differently the patterns of behavior that were evident from current data and you might perceive a relati onship of ideas or events previously assumed unconnected (p. 65). s and grades when analyzing their statements regarding the significant impact their teachers had on their academic performance.
33 beliefs and experiences as high school st udents. Formal interview methods guided these procedures. Thus, questions, times, and locations were selected prior to the interviews (Glesne, 2006). Table 3 3 provides a schedule of individual interview questions. Appendix D provides a complete transcribe d individual interview with one of the participants. The researcher met with each of the participants individually to verify that the dates and times of the interviews were acceptable to them. A small, quiet conference room, within the school, was used for the individual interviews. This provided an appropriate and convenient location for the students. Interview questions were carefully developed to garner an understanding based on the goals of the research questions (Glesne, 2006). A larger, quiet conferen ce room, within the school, was used for the focus group. Table 3 4 provides a list of focus group questions. Data Collection Procedures The researcher conducted individual interviews during times that were selected and agreed upon by the researcher, par ticipant, and parent/guardian. Each interview lasted between 45 and 65 minutes (Table 3 3). The researcher maintained open communication with parents/guardians throughout the data collections process. This purpose of this communication was to inform th e parents/guardians when their child would be individually interviewed and when their child would participate in the focus group. Prior to beginning the individual interviews, the researcher reiterated to the participants that if at any time they did not w ish to answer a question and/or wanted to opt out of the study, they were free to do so. In addition, the researcher thanked the participants for working with her and encouraged them to ask questions/seek clarification at any time during the data collectio n process. Individual interviews were audio recorded. The tapes were transcribed verbatim.
34 In addition to the individual interviews, the researcher used a single focus group to gather additional data as well as conduct member checking (Table 3 4 for f ocus group questions). The decision to use a single focus group was made based on the final number of participants involved in the study. During the focus group session, participants were asked to: 1) describe the external factors that affect academic perf ormance, 2) discuss how peer based social interactions affect characteristic s and teaching styles affect academic performance. The researcher also utilized the focus group to review the data collected dur ing the individual interviews and to ensure that the findings were an adequate representation of their voices (Creswell, 2005; Morgan, 1996/1997). All of the participants were involved in the focus group. To ensure the accuracy of transcribing the data, th e focus group session was recorded with permission of the participants and their parent(s)/guardian(s). The recorded sessions were transcribed verbatim after the focus group session. In addition, a peer graduate student observed two of the individual inter views and the focus group. The peer recorded the non verbal behaviors of the participants and the researcher as well as the process of the focus group. The peer observer is a graduate student working on her doctorate. She has completed all of her coursewor k for her doctorate and is working on her dissertation. She has extensive experience with qualitative studies, including but not limited to working directly with tenured professors at the local university. A professional transcriptionist transcribed all of the interviews and the focus group session. The researcher reviewed each of the transcripts to ensure their accuracy. Data Analysis comparison is an inductive (from s researcher is] generating and connecting categories by comparing incidents in the data to other
35 proc edure, the researcher was able to create and connect themes throughout the data by identifying specific factors/characteristics and placing them in to broader categories (Behar Horenstein & Ganet Sigel, 1999; Spradley, 1980). Categories were delimited duri ng the coding analyst has coded incidents for the same category a number of times; he learns to see quickly whether or not the next applicable incident points comparative method enabled the researcher to code and analyze the data while considering the while being mindful of th eir past school experiences and historical documents (Creswell, 2005; Glaser & Strauss, 1995; Morgan, 1996/1997; Spradley, 1980). The analysis was completed using NVivo 9.2. The research imported all of the individual interview and focus group transcriptio ns utilized to document patterns as they arose in the data. The open codes were then organized in to nodes or central themes. The researcher constantly compared and re viewed the classification of data in to various themes and reorganized when appropriate. Subsequent analyses resulted in categories and themes coalescing. During the final data analysis, four major themes emerged: School Success, Family Relationships, Educ ational Relationships, and Peer Relationships. themselves as well as descriptions of peers who they deemed to be successful and unsuccessful study habits, and participant accountability. Family relationships is comprised of the subthemes: parent/guardian education and type of work, household members, parent/guardian involvement, parent/guardian rules, and daily routines/responsibilities.
36 Educat positive teacher student interactions. Peer relationships include the s ubthemes: peer interactions, positive peer influences, and negative peer influences. Validity & Limitations Using the culturally sensitive research methods, the risk of misinterpreting information is minimized. According to Spradley (1980), this type of r esearch allows people to learn from the experiences of others, not merely study them. Creswell (2005) and Lincoln and Guba (1985) support the use of several techniques to validate qualitative research findings. Four of the techniques are triangulation, pee r review and debriefing, clarification of research bias/subjectivity, and member checking. All of these techniques were utilized throughout the research process in this study. Triangulation, the use of a variety of data collection methods, sources of data collection, or multiple analysts was used. For example, the researcher reviewed The interviews and focus group were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Peer revi ews and debriefing were utilized during the first two individual interviews and the focus group. A graduate student observed the first two individual interviews and the focus group. She provided the researcher with feedback after their completion. The peer graduate student reported that researcher used appropriate pacing and participant appropriate language during the interviews. In addition, the peer graduate student provided the researcher with an outside perspective and reflection. Personal reflection an d evaluation of the researchers subjectivity is essential on all aspects of the research process and data collected (Glesne, 2006). Glesne (2006) said, Subjectivity, once recognized, can be monitored for more trustworthy research and subjectivity, in it self, can contribute to the research being attuned to your subjective lenses is being attuned to your emotions to reduce the risk of
37 incorrect data analysis, a clarification focus group was conducted to ensure that the researcher had accurately 120). beliefs, and needs, as well as those of the group being researched. The researcher also used reflective memos to track her thoughts and feelings throughout the process as well as open her to new thoughts, viewpoints, and/or biases (Glesne, 2006). Finally, the member checking was in which the researcher asks one or more participants in the study to check the accuracy of the concentration on culturally sensitive research methods (Ogbu & Simons, 1 998; Tillman, 2002/2006) as well as with a focus on the major tenants of CRP. The researcher is in her twelfth year of teaching at a public high school in Alachua County, Florida. She taught Exceptional Student Education (ESE) m athematics and science for five years. She left Gainesville for one year to teach at a private school in Orlando, Florida. Upon her return to her former school in Alachua County, she taught ESE English and was responsible for the ESE consultation for three years. For the past two and a half years, she served as the Activities Director and a dean while working with high school students. During her time at the local high school, she has participated in numerous professional development programs (e.g., partici pated in clinical educational training, served as a mentor for interns, and worked on her graduate degrees). Her teaching and professional development experiences have provided her with a wealth of insight and understanding about working with diverse popul ations and the struggles that many students experience navigating high school.
38 Her experience working with high school students in particular have heightened her awareness about some of the behaviors and nuances that are common among students. These exper iences contributed to making her an external insider. It is from this perspective, the third typology, that the researcher collected and analyzed data. However, her passion for the topic and desire to see these students succeed could create researcher bias The researcher employed several techniques to prevent researcher bias. She used memos to track her feelings and opinions during the research process (Glesne, 2006). In addition, a graduate student observed the focus groups. The researcher and the graduat e student compared observations to check for agreement while they reviewed the data collection process and analysis. Additionally, the researcher utilized the theories and methodologies she studied in her graduate coursework. From her graduate coursework, she has acquired the skills that are necessary to conduct qualitative research, such as: interviewing, questionnaire/survey development, participant observation, transcription, and data analysis. The researcher employed these skills prior to conducting thi s study during coursework and while assisting professors. These experiences helped the researcher gain the requisite experiences to use the qualitative techniques in this study. the site where she observed a high frequency of Black males performing below grade level and failing high school. Her curiosity led her to develop a better understanding of what factors accounted for this. Also in her role as the ESE Department Chair, tea cher and ESE staffing specialist she had numerous interactions with this population and as a result began to see that several students were improving their academic performance. The students were willing to accept her feedback however, often rejected the s ame feedback from other teachers.
39 Table 3 1. Lakeview High School Demographic Statistics Source: Lakeview High School (pseudonym) 2008 2009 database& Florida Department of Education Database (FLDOE) At this time, families were not required to select race/ethnicity at the school level. Florida Department of Education database indicated Lakeview High School population was 73% minority students.) Table 3 2. Grade Level and Cumulative GPA of the Participants* Denotes pseudonyms used to protect identity of participants. Table 3 3. Individual Interview Questions Interview Questions External Factors 1. Who lives with you in your hom e? Please tell me a little about them. 2. What level of school did your parent(s)/guardian(s) complete? Older siblings? 3. Tell me about your typical school day from the time you get up in the morning until when you go to sleep at night. 4. What responsibilities do you have when you get home after school? 5. Tell me about how your family helps you with your schoolwork. (Would you like to have them help you more?) 6. How much time do you spend after school on your homework? How much time do you spend on your homework d uring the weekend? Teacher characteristic s 1. What does the teacher need to do to help you be successful in a class? 2. What is your favorite class? Why? 3. Which class are you the most successful in? What leads to that success? 4. Which class are you the least su ccessful in? What leads to that lack of success? 5. For you to like a class, what are the qualities that a teacher must have? 6. What are the qualities that a teacher has that cause you to dislike the class? Ethnicity Male/Female/Total Percentage Black 333/362/695 42.9% White 143/187/330 20.4% Asian/Pacific Islander 55/54/109 6.7% American Indian/Alaskan 0/1/1 <.1% Hispanic 23/25/48 3% Multiracial 9/10/19 1.2% Undefined* 177/240/417 25.8% Participants* Grade Level Cumulative GPA Sean 10 1.63 Juni or 11 2.00 Taylor 11 2.23 Tom 10 1.63 Tray 10 1.94 Billy 11 2.07 Dee 12 2.00
40 Table 3 3. Continued Peer based Social Interaction s 1. Describe some of the people that you socialize with in school. 2. What kind of activities do you do with your friends at school? 3. What kind of activities do you do with your friends outside of school? 4. How would you define being successful in school? 5. Describe one of your friends who you think is successful in school. Tell me why you think s/he is successful. 6. Describe one of your friends who you think is not successful in school. Tell me why you think s/he is not successful. Table 3 4. Focus Group Questions Focus Group Questions Home/Family 1. Describe the support your parents provide you for homework. Do you feel like you need more help at home? 2. For participants who live with their father/stepfather: Who is more involved with your education? For participants education? If so, how is he involved? If not, how does this impact your performance in school? 3. How many of your parents went to open house/parent teacher night? 4. Does mom/dad/anyon e at home help your homework? How do they help? Do they check report cards/progress reports, meet with teachers? Describe 5. How do the things outside of school/at home impact your ability to focus at school and complete your work? Peers 1. Several of you stat ed that you have two different groups of friends, one group who is successful of friends has a bigger influence on what you do at school? 2. Have any of you had an exp erience where your peers have teased you for doing well in school? Please describe. 3. Re check peer influence: Do your friends impact your academic performance? Explain Teachers 1. Discuss teacher personality/teaching styles. Review key traits that participa nts listed: positive attitude, strict, know kids and where they come from, good relationship with kids, know their material and how to teach it. Are there any other traits that are important to you? Describe. 2. classroom behavior impacts your ability to learn/be successful and/or you opinion of the teacher. 3. Describe what happens when you do not understand material being taught in class and the teacher will not re teach it. 4. Is it more common to not like a class be cause you do not understand the material or because you do not like the teacher? Explain.
41 Table 3 4. Continued 5. What types of things do teachers do to motivate/encourage you? Is it more important to have teacher praise your hard work/accomplishments? Exp lain. School 1. Reiterate your definition of being successful in school to ensure accurate definition. 2. When did you start doing poorly in school? What happened at that time that caused your grades to drop? 3. What kind of support do you need at school? What would help you more? 4. have skills/easier to give up) 5. If you know what you want to do and what you want to achieve (i.e., success in school), why r goals? 6. Tell me how the subject matter in the class impacts how well you do or do not do in the class. 7. Several of you said that there was not anything else that people could do for you in school that you had to want it yourself. Do you want to be successf ul in school? Why or why not? 8. Tell me about whether or not you have gotten in trouble in school. Describe what happened and how it impacted your grades. 9. Tell me how the school that you attend impacts how you do in school. Do you think that you would do b etter if you attended a different school? Explain.
42 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS The purpose of this chapter is to present the findings related to the research questions. These themes were School Success, Family Relationships, Educational Relationships, and Peer Relationships. Research Q uestion 1) How D o H igh S chool Black Males Perceive School Success ? The first theme, School Success, refers to the way in which participan ts defined how a student could be successful in school. They stated that one characteristic of school success was having a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5. However, many students said that they personally would prefer to have a higher GPA than that. The part icipants said that if they were successful in school, they would be earning A and B letter grade averages. To the participants, a C letter grade a C+ is aver et you being nothing. You would want to be the best in the world at whatever you do. Many of the participants had developed their definition of success based on their personal goals. C) and/or athletics and icular activities averages of a least a C or higher. Tom said, ROTC is my personal goal, so when I say grades, that comes with the grades too because ROTC you have t o get grades before the after school you have to do part of it.
43 For Tom, ROTC and school were the only place s in his life that allowed him to occasionally escape f rom the drama and chaos. The participants agreed that their behavior in class impact ed their final grades. Junior, an 11 th grader said, Being su ccessful in school would include As and Bs [and] a few Cs here and there, but only if you were struggling in the classes. Really no Ds, no Fs. And behavior would be good, but periodically a little playful but your teachers would kind of keep you in line. They also explained that another characteristic of school success depended upon interactions with teachers and specified that relationship should be positive. Tray stated, then uh, it depends on your behavior too. Behavior has a lot to do with your grade. When the researcher asked the participants to describe a friend of theirs who they cons idered to be successful in school, the participants provided the same definition of success. When asked to talk more about friends who they considered to be successful in school, the participants described friends who were maintaining A and B letter grade averages. They reported that these likes to sit in the front, and always paying attention to the teacher and answering questions and The participants reiterated that their classroom behavior was also an important factor in their success in school. Each of the participants expressed the need to exhibit classroom behaviors that were positive and respectful toward their teachers. They believed that their behavior was related in part to their ability to achieve school success. Junior summarized the taught me if you act up in the class and you don
44 teacher but if you act right and help yourself then when that time comes they can probably help you out. This type of behavior helped t stated, All these students in ISD missing like three and four days of class, .you might as we ll go ahead and suspend them because there is no way that you can make up all classes I can mi ss two days and I can drop from a B to a D. Several of the participants said that they too struggled at Lakeview because of what they believed about school policies regarding class work and school based consequences for behavior infractions. Dee commented would think, from anybody, teachers, guidance counselor, anything. My first year I think I just When the participants were a sked to describe friends that they believed were unsuccessful in school, they frequently talked about classroom behavior along with letter grade averages. Sean described one friend who he believed was unsuccessful in school, because he earned D and F lette class while the teacher is talking, throwing stuff around, um, like cussing out people, yelling out of school success, they were not currently experiencing success in school. However, all of the participants stated during their individual interviews and during the focus group that they did want to achieve school success. After establishing their definit ion of success in school, the participants stated that they were somewhat responsible for their lack of school success. Taylor, an 11 th grader stated:
45 blame it on the teach During the focus group, all of the participants agreed that they were not doing everything that they needed to do in order to reach their des ired level of success. Their lack of success was partially attributable to poor study habits and failure to submit assignments in a timely manner. They acknowledged that these behaviors impacted their grades. Billy stated, I did my work really in that cla in, it that was just my fault. I forgot to turn it in or left it in my backpack or left my stuff at home or whatever. All of the participants stated that they did not spend a significant or consistent amount of time doing homework. Dee, Billy, Sean and Tray said they spent about 30 minutes to one hour on of time that Junior spent on his homework was based on his grades. He said, at least 1:30 and 2 hours. Tom struggled to get any homework done with the added responsibility of caring for his niece and nephew. He said, affinity for their school. Some of the participant s struggled to find school success because they come to Lakeview because the environment I knew that if I was to come here that I was going to
46 Research Q uestion 1a) How D o E xternal Fac tors Influence High School Black Perceptions of School Success ? The second major theme was Family Relationships. These relationships influenced their beliefs about school success and how they worked toward that. Five of the participants lived in a two parent home that included the biological mother and either the biological father or a stepfather. One of the participants lived alone with his biological mother. However, his biological father who lived in town rarely made contact with him. The remaini ng participant lived with his older sister. She was designated as his legal guardian because his biological mother was incarcerated. He has never had any contact with his biological father. The participants described what they deemed to be enough support a t home. Taylor summarized the I think that good support at home would be your mom or your dad interested in whatnot, always checking up on you, ma make sure you have all your credits. Tray added, then anything else should come along and your people like your folks and friends, th ey help you out and try to encourage you and stuff, that will keep you right. lved. He said, Both of them are like real involved in my education, like both of them come out to the school like every, like about once a month and talking to my guidance All bu t one of the participants felt that their parent(s) gave them what they believed was an adequate amount of support with school. They defined adequate support as: checking nine weeks
47 and semester grades; helping with homework when able; and having expectati ons of A, B, or C letter grade averages. D and F letter grade averages were not acceptable among any of the th grader, stated: Yeah, if I need help with something, she (mom) usually helps me out. Like she, I on ly most part. Although they stated that they received adequate support from their families, their responses to additional questions did not match their definitions of familial support Again, their definition was: checking nine weeks and semester grades; helping with homework when able; and having expectations of A, B, or C letter grade averages During the focus group, Shawn, a 10 th grader sch ty much do it diplomas and several were attending community colle ge for academic advancement. Many of the be playing about no s These students described their daily household/job responsibilities in depth. Three of the seven participants had jobs and/or participated in extracurricular activities. One of the three
48 participants, To chore directly impacted his ability to complete assigned work. He described his daily routine as: I watch them (nieces and nephews) every day from Monday through Friday, Saturday her back, es off of him every night. Tom struggled for several years to find a balance between his desire for school success and the stressful responsibilities from his family. He work. The remaining participants stated that they had a significant amount of free time after school. All of the participants had daily chores that they were asked to complete by their parents/guardians. These chores consisted of tasks such as cleaning dishes, their rooms, and bathrooms. Four of the seven participants did not have a curfew and were allowed to return home great deal of unstructured time compared to the majority of the other participants. Many of students were also home alone in the morning and/or in the evening while their parent(s)/guardian worked. Research Question 1 b) How / C haracteristics Influence High School Black Perception of School Success ? As the third theme, Educational Relationships emerged, participants repeatedly spoke characteristic s impacted their desire and willingness to work in a class. As stated in research question 1, the participants agreed that
49 they were partially accountable for their current lack of success in school. They stated that they did not spend much time on homework or studying fo studying and completing homew ork impacted his grades. He stated: homework. These patterns of inadequate time spent studying and completing assignments did not hold true in all of their classes though. The most significant factors that seemed to influence the ional methods and interactions with ctions with teachers significantly deterred participants from attending they are here group that, was like somebody stomped on her foot or something every time I had seen her.
50 with his English teacher that he opted to skip her class in lieu of attending and interacting with her. He explained: I never really went to that class I went sometimes, but most of the time I never really went because I like the 1 st quarter, when I was going to her class, I was doing all my work ever y day but she was grading it. But she never gave it back so I never knew what my grade was and then when my report card came out for the 1 st report card I had an F her class. characteristic s in class could make them want to give up and not work in the class. Tray said, teach ing style so you kind of gave up in that class Like, ruin your day, say something to hurt you or make you not want to do it anymore and just give up. All of the participants agreed with Tray stating that negative interactions with their teachers sign ificantly reduced the likelihood that they would be successful in that class. However, Taylor spoke for the entire group of participants when he described one of his favorite teachers. The qualities that he described are the same qualities that the other participants believed their ideal teacher would possess. He said, you are slow or something, decide to raise your hand about nothing because The positive relationships with their teachers and the engaging methods that the teachers employed t o instruct, according to the participants was directly related to their success in that
51 dents as individuals. The participants agreed that a teacher who knew them as individuals were more effective. Dee stated: The perfect teacher is down to earth, knows how to talk to people and like knowing where other people come from and stuff like that. people differently. instructiona l methods impacted their success. Sean struggled with teachers who were unable to teach concepts in different ways; this made him give up in those classes. He said, If they did, they would probably give us like one example but after that we had to figure it out someone who utilized instructional methods such as teaching: (a ) the material in several different ways so that all students understood, (b) with solid understanding/knowledge of the subject matter, (c) with joy and passion for the material, (d) in a variety of different ways (lecture, note taking, hands on activities labs, etc.), and (e) with creativity and flexibility while using solid classroom management strategies. Sean described this type of teacher as: kind of a well rounded teacher that was strict, she really knew her material, she not only knew it but she kne w how to teach it to other people and teach it in a bunch of different ways but was also kind of nurturing kind of almost like a mommy kind of a friend, kind of mentor type that would kind of guide you and help Additionally, Junior described his ideal tea cher as: in it to you. Again, during the focus group, the participants restated the traits of their ideal teacher. These traits included: positive attitude, strict but fair, know their students (not just know them
52 academically but if there were personal things going on that a really good teacher would know relationships with their students, they listen to some of the same music, they understand the culture (the things that the participants were excited about), they knew their material that they were teaching and could actually teach it to you and make you understand it. Tom was clear about the importance of a teacher having a solid understanding of the content and more important ly he/she is able to teach it so that his/her students grasp the concepts. He said, Someone who knows their material and not just knows it but can actually teach it teach why I love teachers. The participants had clear opinions regarding various instructional me thods that they did and did not like. All of the participants wanted teachers that would teach and reteach the material until teach the eaching because he actually should be able to go over the work with teach the material that will piss me off because I feel like if I want to Taylor expressed very strong feelings toward a teacher who would be unwilling to reteach class material. He said, person that I might just put my head down and go to sleep or something like that. Because I feel like
53 All of the participants wanted teachers who were able to teach the subject matter in a variety of different ways. Teachers who stood at the f ront of the class and lectured were not effective for One of my teachers this year she was like, when she teach to us, she like she put notes on the b oard and talked to us and told us like ok this is who we are learning about. She would read the notes. She would ask us if we understood it. She would like go into depth and tell us it might not have been up there on notes. But if we were writing about a k ing or whatever then she would tell us, 'ok he did this' and she would like tell us about him, but she would help us further understand the person while we were writing notes about them. Several of the participants were very frustrated with large classes t hat were taught mostly using a computer. They agreed that the teachers were not able to give them adequate instruction and because it was the computer sessions stud management. Tom said, Behavior management is a great skill for teachers, but I feel like as long as they once the teacher gets mad or aggravated, they been doing anything. do in a classroom they want the class to be quiet so they can pass or be learning the skills th at
54 how a teacher impacted their success in school. All of the participants had a C grade letter average or higher in the classes in which th instructional methods and interactions with students. The only exception to this was Tom; he was frequently checked out early from school to care for his niece and nephew and therefore had excessive absence s in one of his favorite classes. In addition, the classes that the participants described negative interactions with teachers, they all had D and/or F grade letter averages. you know if they talk to me in a rude way, then that will make me mad and then talk back t their sc hool performance. Research Question 1 c) How Do Peer Based Social Interactions Influence High School Black of School Success ? The fourth theme was Peer Relationships. Each of the participants described the friends that they interacted w ith in and/or outside of school. Dee associated with different friends outside I try to stay away from school did not talk much about school and grades. However, his friends at school played multiple roles. He described them as, If anything was to ever pop off or anything or go down I believe they have my back like they were standing there, if I ever need help with anything Like say it I was
55 somebody else then th ey know this person or something they can probably who I spend most of my time with. They have a big influence on me and whatnot s so everybody I hang around with plays ball, plays football and track so I say that they have a big influence on me because I see them doing good and I want to do good too. The other participants also tended to associate with other students who were inter ested in similar of the participants had friends that they described as being successful in school, as well as friends who they identified as being unsucces sful. In addition, the participants all had friends who what h friends regarding school success were extremely fun and encouraging. He said: done to encourage them like you know you can do better just stay focused, you know, take you r time Three of the participants noted that they had friends who were not successful in school and engaged in illegal activities. Instead of allowing their friends to negatively influence them, the participants stated they tried to steer those friends in the direction of school success. Junior the participants said that they would opt to not hang out with them when they engaged in illegal Dee added to this during the focus group stating:
56 they al good and do well. Dee struggled at Lakeview when he first arrived because of the lack of solid friendships. He they found their interactions with friends to be motivating. Junior, in particular explained how the death of a close friend i nspired him to do better and become successful in school. He expressed this desire, stating: Another reason why I try to do good in school and go to college is for Darius I wanted to see him play. So every time I know when I go in a classroom or I go on the All of the participants considered their friends to be influential in their desire to be successful in school. They worked on doing wel l and encouraged each other to stay on track and strive for success in school. In addition, none of their friends teased them for doing well academically. When asked during the focus group about being teased for doing well participants, they continued to make positive choices even when their friends did not. During the focus group, Dee stated, th think will be successful. But they all are my friends and I feel like neither one has influence over me because I influence myself to do good and do well. The majority o f the participants reiterated these beliefs during the focus group. One participant,
57 spend more time with the more successful group. Um, I kind of dropped off t he other people that Summary of Results behaviors, and peer interactions played a role in them achievin g what they defined as school characteristic s, and interactions with them had the most significant impact on their success. Success in school was something that all of the particip ants acknowledged they had not achieved, but desired to do so. The majority of the participants did not spend substantial amounts of time completing homework. Very few of the participants took ownership of their learning. Participants did not seek assista nce from teachers when they were unclear about concepts and/or assignments. The participants stated that they had adequate support at home. Their descriptions of that support did ts/guardians did not assist with homework, did not check in daily regarding academic progress, and only checked report cards to monitor grades. In addition, multiple participants did not have curfews. Again, culturally established definitions of parental s upport vary and thus must be considered when among the primary causes of discontinuity between the culture of the school and those of West Olatunji, Sanders, Mehta, and Behar Horenstein, 2010, p. 138). The site was located in one of the highest poverty areas of this county, with approximately half of the students receiving free and reduced lunch services. The major university located wi thin the county provided minimal support for students and faculty. Several of the participants lacked any feeling of connectedness with their school. The participants who
58 expressed some level of connectedness were involved in extracurricular activities. Th e researcher noted a lack of school pride among all of the participants. In addition, the researcher experienced a lack of acknowledgement from the participants regarding the purpose of their education and how it would drive their future. Many of the par ticipants had positive interactions with at least one or two of their teachers. Each participant worked with six teachers throughout the day. Having solid relationships with less than thirty percent of their teachers proved to be detrimental for the parti cipants. The four major themes that emerged from the data were found in the interviews with the individual participants as well as in the focus group. The researcher was able to substantiate the data found in their cumulative folders. The School Success theme was influenced by the other three themes, Family Relationships, Educational Relationships and Peer Relationships. The impact of these themes on School Success is illustrated in Figure 4 1 Figure 4 2 illustrates the frequency of the subthemes and depicts proportionally the occurrence of each theme in relationship to the others.
59 Figure 4 1. School Success and Supporting Themes
60 Figure 4 2. NVivo Tree Map of Four Major Themes and Support ing Subthemes.
61 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION academic performance. The findings and implications of the study will be summarized in this chapter. This chapter concludes w ith suggestions for future research. Research Question 1: How Do High School Black Males Perceive School Success ? Definition of School Success There was broad agreement among the participants in their definition of school success. They described school su ccess as earning good grade letter averages and demonstrating respectful classroom behavior. They reported that A and B grade letter averages with one or two C grade letters were indicative of academic success. Overall success in school included these grad es as well as positive interactions with their teachers. All of the participants expressed that in spite of their current lack of success in school, they were longing to find their defined level of success in school. There were different reasons for the pa rticipants. Several of the participants 2.0. Other participants stated that they wanted to be able to graduate from high school and attend a local community co llege. Perceptions of School Success? The theme of Family Relationships encompassed several factors that influenced the ips included parent/guardian involvement with school, household members and responsibilities, and parent/guardian academic of academic achievement has been pa amount of time their parents/guardians spent was adequate for them to become successful in
62 advancement fur ther motivated them to do well in school. Parent/guardians have the ability to social success, as well as positive attitudes and behaviors (Brandon, 2007; Manda ra, 2006). Although research shows that academic performance increases with parent involvement, the parents checked with him regularly to monitor his daily and weekly progress. None of the participants stated that their parents checked in with them daily or weekly regarding homework, time spent studying, upcoming projects, or current academic performanc e. It should be understood that the studies referenced above were conducted through a Eurocentric definition of family support. West Olatunji, C., Sanders, T., Mehta, S., and Behar African American p arenting and student achievement has been deficit oriented and has frequently misinterpreted cultural mores and assumptions that characterize the African American seen as adequate by the participants. In addition, none of the participants made reference to teachers encouraging them to conduct self assessments or record keeping in order to monitor their grades and progress in class (Stiggins & Chappuis, 2005). All of the participants stated that the teachers that they had positive interactions with would frequently encourage them to complete their assignments and work hard in class. Research Question 1 b) How / Characteristics Influence Hi gh School Black of School Success ? Participants repeatedly referred to the impact that the classroom teacher had on their ability to be successful. Within the Educational Relationship theme, the impact of both teacher
63 characteristics an d student behaviors/skills on their success become clearer However, regardless classroom teacher seemed to be most influential in their academic perform ance. The characteristics of the teachers (Table 5 1) that were most effective in motivating the participants to achieve academic success were consistent with those found in Culturally Relevant Pedagogy (CRP). Gay (2002) explained the significant impac t of a teacher who is culturally responsive in his/her instructional pedagogy. She said: There are strong correlations between culturally responsive teaching and the school achievement of students of color. The higher the one, the greater the other on all measures including academic performance, social adjustment, school satisfaction, self When Black males are able to relate to their teachers both on an individual and an academic level, they are mo re likely to be actively involved in their academic achievement (Booker, 2006; Cartledge & Dukes, 2009; Gay, 2002; House, 2006; Ladson Billings, 1994; Love & Kruger, 2005; Milner, 2009; Neal, 2001; West Olatunji, Baker & Brooks, 2006). The participants sta ted that their ideal teacher would exhibit the following traits: know the students as individuals, love what s/he is teaching, have a solid knowledge of the material, be able to teach the material in many different ways, interact positively with students (strict, but fair), encourage students, and be able to manage classroom behaviors. This description of their ideal teacher mirrored many of the tenants in CRP; these findings give cause for current teachers to review their own instructional pedagogy. Utili zing these tenants in instructional methods enables Black students to feel connected with and validated by their teachers, thus increasing academic performance (Booker, 2006; Cartledge & Dukes, 2009; Cholewa & West Olatunji, 2008; Gay, 2002; House, 2006; L adson Billings, 1994; Love & Kruger, 2005; Milner, 2009; Neal, 2001; West Olatunji, Baker, & Brooks, 2006). Along with the tenants found in CRP, Ware (2006) and Bondy and
64 ts found in CRP and further elaborated on the teacher characteristic s and instructional methods. Warm demanders care enough to relentlessly insist on two things: that students treat the teacher and one another respectfully and that they complete the academic characteristic were essential in their ideal teacher. school success sho uld not be mistaken for learned helplessness. Shutting down and/or resisting academic/school success can be attributed to the marginalization that Black males are subjected to in public education. All too often, the academic expectations for Black males ar e lower than those for their White peers (Stinson, 2006; West Olatunji, Sanders, Mehta, and Behar are argued to be coping strategies employed by African Americans in managing the negative effects of racism of success for Black males. Research Question 1 c) How Do Peer Based Social Interactions Influence High School Black s of School Success ? Peer Relationships emerged as the third subtheme under School Success. The participants indicated that their friends were much like themselves. They shared similar criteria for school success. One theory in the literature described th e propensity for Blacks to avoid academic success due to the social stigma by their peers (Ogbu, 2004; Ogbu & Simmons, 1998; Peterson performance in school was a result o f having chosen academic failure in lieu of being teased for However, n one of the participants expressed these beliefs during the interviews or focus group. Instead, the participants indicated that they attempted to
65 mo tivate each other to be more successful in school. West Olatunji, Baker, & Brooks (2006) (p. 7). Some believe that Black males evaluate other Black males based on athleticism and more culturally based standards (Harper, 2006). Much of the standard K 12 instructional methods violate these studies sugges t strongly that rethinking the emphasis that teachers and schools place on individual achievement, competition, and status differentiation may be a critical first step in improving the academic achievement of Black students. By adopting cooperative learnin g activities congruent with the group ethos of the Black community, institutions can and do actually build on its strength (p. 27). These methods would encourage Black males to work together for mutual opportunities for success in school, while maintaining the integrity of their social norms. Theoretical Implications Ladson intellectually, socially, emotionally, and politically by using cultural referents to impart knowledge, skills, and analysis were: School Success, Family Relationships, Educational Relationships, and Peer Rel ationships. Family relationships and peer relationships were important to each of the participants. The positive and negative influences of peers, although important to the structional methods and student interactions. None of the participants expressed the concern of being ridiculed by peers for being successful in school (Peterson Lewis & Bratton, 2004; Ogbu, 2004). Family relationships were another factor that influenced t
66 them be successful (Mandara, 2006) although it was not. However, one of participants stated that they needed more from the ir parents. Participants did not identify any use of self assessment for monitoring their own academic performance. Each participant desired to be successful; yet, none utilized self assessment or record keeping (Stiggins & Chappuis, 2005). The findings i n this study supported the majority of the tenants in CRP (Ladson Billings, 1994). The school. A review of their nine week grades supported their beliefs. N either the race nor the helping them master academic concepts (Ga y, 2002; Howard, 2003a/b, Mack, Love & Kruger, 2005; Milner, 2009; Weinstein, Curran, & Tomlinson Clark, 2003). Even if a student struggled interactions motivat master their world, if they are not held back. Our job is simply to do whatever it takes to help d by the ideal teacher would be passionate about and have a solid knowledge of their subject matter. They would be able to teach in a variety of different ways, ensuring that all students understand the concepts. Their ideal teacher would be confident and would be able to manage their classrooms wanted a teacher who would not give up on them; one who would work with them until they teacher is the ability to know each student as an individual and take their diversity in to account
67 when developing their instructional methods. The participants respected teachers who encouraged a sense of collaboration within the classroom and among the students, allowing them each student were essential. The participants stated that they wanted a teacher who would speak to them with respect and genuine concern for them as individuals and as students. All of the participants believed that a teacher, who was able to relate to eac h and every student and consider their life experiences when teaching, would be highly effective for them. Although these views of the participants supported b eliefs about their high school performance. For example, none of the participants referenced the desire to have a teacher who enabled them to see a connection between themselves, the curriculum, and the community/world around them. None of the participant s viewed the In addition to the tenants found in CRP, the participants described and overarching theme or teachers listen and are responsive caring teachers hear th whether those needs are expressed verbally or in some other way Roberts (2010) supported this stating: This kind of caring is something that African American students need in order to experience more success with realistic challenges that they face in and outside of American schools due to the prevalence of racism and hegemonic influences in American society (p. 462). Black students will find greater success in environments that are congruent with their cultural no rms and expectations (Foster, 1989; Milner, 2005; Noddings, 2005/2006; Roberts, 2010;
68 West Olatunji, Sanders, Mehta, and Behar Horenstein, 2010). Foster (1989) supported these findings stating: studies suggest strongly that rethinking the emphasis that te achers and schools place on individual achievement, competition, and status differentiation may be a critical first step in improving the academic achievement of Black students. By adopting cooperative learning activities congruent with the group ethos of the Black community, institutions can and do actually build on its strength. Teachers need to be able to care for students and meet their needs academically, socially, and culturally. Implications for Practice The findings from the study provide many sug gestions for teachers, preparation programs, and school administrators. For example, all of the participants stated that their their school success. Partici rning manage their classrooms, and instruct in challenging, yet differentiated manners, motivated them to work to their fullest potential. Clearly there are mu success. Tucker et al. (2005) pointed out: Teachers who believe that student learning can be influenced by effective teaching despite home and peer influence and who have confidence in their ability to teach persist longer in their teaching efforts, provide greater academic focus in the classroom, give different types of feedback, and ultimately improve student performance (p. 29 30). Based on the findings of this study the following suggestions are made to guide pr actice.
69 1. Evaluate Teacher Preparation Programs educational institutions should review their teacher preparation programs. Programs should provide prospective teachers with opp ortunities to learn about culturally diverse student populations and the teaching practices that are most effective. Weinstein, Curran, & Tomlinson planned effor (p. 273). In order to help students reach their fullest potential, teachers must first understand them individually and culturally (Freeman, 2006; Gay, 2002; Ladson Bill ings, 1994). Bondy and Ross (2008) supported this, stating, Although classroom teachers have little control over many factors that affect student engagement, they do have the means to create a supportive climate that fosters engagement among high poverty students. Warm demanders do so by approaching their students with unconditional positive regard, knowing students and their cultures well, and insisting that students perform to a high standard (p. 58). Many teacher preparation programs do not provide stud ent teachers with adequate classroom time that would enable them to learn about students as individuals (Ladson Billings, 1994). In addition to developing cultural awareness, beginning teachers need to receive considerable training opportunities to develop the skills necessary to effectively differentiate instructional various learning styles, while enabling them to acquire skills, concepts, and content knowled ge. 2. Review School Based Hiring Practices and Professional Development for Current Teachers When hiring teachers for culturally diverse classrooms, administrators need to probe potential candidates for culturally relevant teaching practices. Prospective teachers should express an interest in working with culturally diverse populations and a willingness to meet the
70 academic needs of this group of students (Gay, 2002; Howard, 2003a/b; Ladson Billings, 1994; Milner, 2009). Professional development opportuni ties need to be afforded to current teachers. Opportunities to develop culturally relevant teaching practices are valuable at any stage of a beliefs impact their in academic performance (Bondy & Ross, 2008; Howard, 2003a/b; Love & Kruger, 2005; Milner, 2009; Tatum, 2000; Ware, 2006). Opportunities to directly observe culturally relevant teaching sho uld be afforded to all teachers of culturally diverse populations. Additionally, teachers would benefit from opportunities to develop knowledge and understanding of common vernacular used among their students as well as current social trends. Having the ab ility to relate to students and sense of connectedness with their teachers. This includes, but is not limited to music genres, dance styles, hairstyles, clothin g, and sports. Small learning communities may be established for multitude of instructional practices that are available to increase academic performance. Bondy a (p. 54). Current and future teachers must be skilled academically an classroom management and pedagogical approach are grounded in a history and a reality that is 3. Encourage Black Males to Strive for Academic Excellence Scho ol communities, administrators, and teachers need to encourage Black males to embrace and identify with the advantages that come with successful academic performance. Black males need to be encouraged to see the benefit from obtaining a quality education a nd
71 advancing themselves socially and academically (Freeman, 2006; Jackson & Moore, 2006). Without this encouragement to achieve academic excellence and continual exposure to teachers who lack culturally relevant practices, Black males will continue to fail to achieve as their non minority peers. Booker (2006) indicated that culturally relevant teaching practices increased secondary education and the work force. Black males must be given multiple opportunities to develop a strong sense of value for education and the impact that their education has on their future academic, educational, and social endeavors. Giving students opportunities to discuss goals/aspirations and then actively plan ways to monitor their own progress would enable them to actively strive for those goals. Self monitoring/assessment has proven to be effective in increasing academic success; these same strategies should be utilized to encourage Black m ales to develop a strong value regarding the importance of school success and its relatedness to their goals (Stiggins & Chappuis, 2005). 4. Preparation for School Administrators School administrators are the leaders of the school. Their cultural and educational beliefs their fullest potential, the leaders of the school must encourage faculty and staff to teach in ways that are culturally relevant to the sch provide prospective school based administrators with the training necessary to lead their y must advocate different pedagogical approaches that achieve
72 teach through culturally relevant practices in order to ensure their teachers are able to do the same. Implications for Further Research The following recommendations for further research are shown below. 1. Explore factors that influence academic success of Black males in high schools. 2. Review methods for increasing Culturally Relevant Pedagogy in teacher preparation programs and in current classroom settings. 3. believe impact the 4. Encourage teachers to evaluate and/or modify their teaching practices to further encourage Black males to be successful in school. 5. academic performance. 6. Develop professional development opportunities that could be provided to local school teachers and administrators; include opportunities to observe teachers who use culturally relevant teaching methods. 7. Review district/school polici es for hiring teachers who will be working with Black males. Limitations of this Study The purpose of this study was to give voice to a small group of high school Black males, in high school. The The number of participants involved in the study was limited by the willingness of the Black males, who met the study criteria, to participate In addition, the number of participants willingness to openly respond may have been limited with a single interview and single focus group. The use of single in terviews with the participants and a single focus group could have
73 limited the information available to the researcher. The participants may have provided the researcher with further findings had additional interviews been conducted over a period of time. The lack of corroboration of the findings and supplemental information by peers, Therefore, the findings may only be applicable to the context of this study. Never theless, the findings may be meaningful for Black males in similar school settings and for teachers working with similar populations. Summary from interviews and the focus group. The participants clearly defined what they considered being school. Although the participants indicated that Family Relationships and Peer Relationship s methods and interactions with students were far more significant in determining school failure or success. The voice of these participants provides a fou ndation for additional research and opportunities to improve current educational practices. Teachers, who are given the exciting task of educating Black males and increasing their opportunities for success, must incorporate culturally relevant teaching in to their instructional pedagogies (Freeman, 2006; Gay, 2002; Howard, 2003a/b; Ladson Billings, 1994; Love & Kruger, 2005; Mack, 2005; Milner, 2009; Monroe, 2005; Neal, 2001; Tatum, 2000; Weinstein, Curran, & Tomlinson Clarke, 2003; West Olatunji, Baker, & Brooks, 2006). The potential that teachers possess to increase Black males academic performance is significant when instructional pedagogy recognizes and embraces
74 The researcher chose this study to help fin d an explanation for the significant number of Black males failing to find school success. Her sixteen years of experience in working with this population created a passion for and a need to understand this marginalized population. The researcher found su ccess while working with students similar to the participants in this study. She was fortunate enough to speak with a number of Black males that she had worked with in the past, as well as one of the participants after the completion of this study She did this to garner a greater understanding of what it was that enabled her to be succ essful, as well as what skills could and should be taught to other educators. The researcher when working with this group of students believed in ruthless consistency. One o f the young men she spoke with stated that he knew regardless of if he liked it or not, he knew that she would always do what she had told him that she would do. This included providing praise, constructive feedback, and even disciplinary consequences. The participant from this study stated that he knew that the researcher would always have his back and that if she said she was going to do something, she would. The researcher found that her background gave her no clear understanding of what her students liv ed through each and every day. Therefore, she spent significant amounts of time learning; she learned everything she possibly could about her students and their lives outside of school. The ir parents as often as possible, attend school functions and interact with the students there, served as a labor coach through labor and a cesarean section delivery, and attend funerals as well as celebrations. The researcher brought extra food for student s, found people to sponsor them to go on field trips, helped pay for graduation photos, provided clothing, and anything else she was able to provide. Learning about her students lives outside of school was an absolutely critical piece of her finding succes s. There was absolutely no way that once she had opened up her mind and her heart to these students that
75 she would ever be able to turn back. The researcher cared about and cared for her students. the greatest compliment she ever received. Even when having to correct behaviors, she tried to reassure her student that she still cared for them and had higher expectations for them. She strived every day to push her students beyond what they had ever ima gined. She fully accepted each and every one of her students as individuals; yet, she fostered a sense of family in her classroom. Teasing/chastising/ridiculing each other was not tolerated; her rule was that you could never pick on someone for things that were out of his/her control. This included, but was not limited to body shape/size, clothing, physical appearance, and academic ability. The researcher held all of her students to the same expectations. Regardless of the relationship with the student, he/ she would be interacted with in the same way. She would go to their classes and check on them. If they were not being successful, she would work with them to help them find success with their other teachers. This was done both academically and behaviorally The researcher believed in giving her students tools to navigate society in ways that would ultimately benefit them. This included asking them to speak in standard written English while in her class. The researcher never used the phrase as she believed this to be terribly offensive to the students and their families. Instead, she used standard written English to teach those skills they would need for writing and communication in various settings. In addition, the researcher built a signif icant support system students. Several of the students she spoke with laughed about all of the people she would have The rese archer utilized any and every resource she could secure
76 Though the researcher found success with many students who were similar to the participants in this study, she also recognized the disproportionate number of Black males not achieving school success students beyond the curriculum was absolutely essential in fostering school success. The ability to teach conceptually and creatively alone is not adequate. Understanding what enco urages students and equally as important, what discourages students must be respected and utilized. The participants all agreed that they needed teachers who understood them as individuals. They wanted to be more important to the teacher than just a payche ck. The teachers that the (Bondy & Ross, 2008; Ware, 2006). These teachers expect their students to perform at their highest ability and constantly encourage them to rise to those expectations. Having high expectations alone will not suffice. They must be combined with the nurturing yet firm interactions between teachers and students. The participants had very strong negative feelings regarding their interactions w ith teachers who acted like they were merely there for a paycheck, not to help the students. They needed to have a sense of trust and a strong belief that their teachers would not give up on them, even when they gave up on themselves. Passing a class becau se they completed worksheets or viewed movies violated their right to quality instruction which would lead to school success. The participants expressed the need for teachers who are able to differentiate their instructional methods, ensuring that all stud ents grasped concepts. Participants craved differentiation such as hands on activities, student led instruction, direct instruction, and real world applications. All of the participants not only enjoyed their classes but also were successful when teachers utilized differentiated instruction methods. Science, history, and math were commonly enjoyed subjects among the participants. Consequently, several of the
77 participants expressed that they disliked the math courses that were completed on a computer. This f ormat further blocked the participants from developing a connection with their teachers and decreased their opportunities for skill acquisition. Very few of them expressed that reading and writing were among their preferred subjects. Although the participa nts were able to give clear definitions of school success, none of them were achieving it. Only a few of the participants actually stated that they had long term goals; these goals necessitated school success. All of the participants expressed that they ha d adequate support at home. However, their description of the support did not uphold their statements. None of their parents/guardians checked with them regularly or monitored their progress. Only a few of the participants acknowledged the importance of th eir school success and how it would impact their future. The participants did not speak to personal accountability that went beyond stating they needed to do more in order to be successful. They did not track their progress, independently seek assistance f rom their teachers, nor did they invest a significant amount of time in studying/homework. The county where the study took place is home to a major research university. The university has not to date created enough programs that would work to reduce the ma rginalization of the participants. Programs developing teaching practices have an awesome opportunity and obligation to explicitly train future teachers in the tenants of CRP. Beginning teachers who possess the ability to teach in culturally responsive met hods along with quality differentiated instructional practices could increase the likelihood of success for many marginalized students in this and surrounding counties. By increasing the success of Black students in K 12 education, this university serves t o increase its own enrollment of Black students.
78 Many studies have addressed the marginalization of Black males and the propensity for their lack of school success. Teachers need clear descriptions of instructional methods and interpersonal interactions t o increase their efficacy with at risk populations. The findings of this study, through the voices of the participants, give teachers this needed information. There is a clear difference between the intimacy, involvement, and differentiation of teachers th at these students like versus the ones they did not like. The lack of these things puts the latter group of teachers at risk of perpetuating or at worst extending the sense of marginalization these students already feel. Because of the connection establish ed between the researcher and the participants, the researcher worked with the participants beyond the official scope of the study. She was able to, but most importantly, wanted to continue to monitor their progress and celebrate the success that several o f the subjects achieved. To truly understand and serve the needs of these marginalized populations, researchers have an obligation to use research methodologies that give us the greatest depth of appreciation and motivation to find strong solutions. Resear ch has to do justice to the issues themselves; it must honor their nature and complexity. Researchers need to make sure that our research and research methodologies do not perpetuate the marginalization that the teaching methods and systems have already cr eated.
79 Table 5 1. Findings of study based on theoretical framework. Key Points of Theory Findings Theory Supported or Unsupported Culturally relevant pedagogy (Ladson Billings, 1994) Teacher has high self esteem and high regard for others. Particip ants believed that teachers who were confident in both the subject matter and managing their classrooms were more effective. Supported Teacher sees herself as an artist, teaching as an art. None of the participants identified these characteristic s in those of an effective teacher. Unsupported Teacher sees her/himself as part of a community and teaching as giving something back to the community, encourages students to do the same. None of the participants identified being encouraged to give back to their community. Unsupported Teacher believes all students can succeed. Participants believed that teachers, who were willing to teach and reteach until students grasped the concepts, helped them to be successful. Supported Teacher helps studen ts make connections between their community, national, and global identities. There were no findings in the study to support or not support this tenant. Not Applicable Teacher Participants believed that teachers, who understood their background and got to know them, were more effective. Supported Teacher student relationships is fluid, humanely equitable, extends to interactions beyond the classroom and into the community. Participants found suc cess in classes where teachers encouraged interaction with the students and among the students. Supported Participants worked harder for teachers who encouraged their entire class and ensured everyone lea rned. Supported Teacher encourages students to learn collaboratively. Students are expected to teach each other and be responsible for each other. Participants believed that teachers who supported students teaching and helping each other were more ef fective. Supported
80 Table 5 1. Continued Teacher is passionate about content. Participants believed that they learned better from a teacher who was knowledgeable about and loved what they taught. Supported Teacher helps students develop necessary s kills. Participants believed that teachers who were willing to work with them until the understood concepts helped them to be successful. Supported Teacher sees excellence as a complex standard that may involve some postulates but takes students diver sity and individual differences in to account. Participants were motivated by teachers who were able to find their individual strengths and build on them. Supported Teacher is careful to demonstrate a connectedness with each of his/her students. Parti cipants believed that it was essential for teachers to understand them as individuals in order to teach them effectively. Supported
81 APPENDIX A UF IRB SOCIAL & BEHAVIORAL RESEARCH PROTOCOL SUBMISSION UFIRB 02 Social & Behavioral Research Protocol Subm ission Title of Protocol: Doctoral dissertation studying African Principal Investigator: Melissa P. Singleton UFID #: 2891 0970 Degree / Title: Doctoral candidate Department: Educational Administration & Po licy Mailing Address: 1505 Fort Clarke Blvd Apt. 6 302 Gainesville, FL 32606 Email Address & Telephone Number: email@example.com (352) 332 2542 (home) (352) 284 8858 (cell) Co Investigator(s): N/A UFID#: Supervisor: Dr. Linda Behar Horenstein UFID# : Degree / Title: Ph.D. / Distinguished Teaching Scholar and Professor Department: Educational Administration & Policy Mailing Address: PO Box 117049 Gainesville, FL 32611 7409 Email Address & Telephone Number: firstname.lastname@example.org (352) 392 2391, ext. 2 99 Date of Proposed Research: August 2007 December 2007 Source of Funding (A copy of the grant proposal must be submitted with this protocol if funding is involved): None Scientific Purpose of the Study: The purpose of this study is to give voic e to a marginalized group of students. A group of African American males in a single site will be asked to share their perspectives of high school. Describe the Research Methodology in Non Technical Language: ( Explain what will be done with or to the re search participant. )
82 A pilot study will be conducted with two African American males similar to the study participants. The interview schoo l experiences. They are as follows: 1) peer based social interactions, 2) external factors, and 3) teacher behaviors. (see attached) After the pilot study is completed, necessary revisions to questions will be made. Ten African American males, who are 1 0 th 11 th or 12 th graders, who have voluntarily agreed to participate in the study will be interviewed individually. A follow up interview will be conducted with each of the 10 participants to ensure that the researcher has adequately represented the part to request any further information and/or perspectives that the participants would like to share. Describe Potential Benefits and Anticipated Risks: ( If risk of physical, psychological or economic harm may be involved, describe the steps taken to protect participant.) The potential benefits of this study are that the researcher will be able t o give voice to a marginalized group of students and the findings may provide common themes that would enable teachers to better serve these students. The anticipated risk of this study is no more than minimal risk. Describe How Participant(s) Will Be Rec ruited, the Number and AGE of the Participants, and Proposed Compensation: The participants will be recruited from a single site, a local high school. All of the participants will need to meet select criteria which are: classified as a 10 th 11 th or 12 th grader (ages 15 19), enrolled in a career ready diploma track, and have a cumulative GPA less than or equal to a 2.5. Ten African American males, who meet the designated criteria, will be asked to participate in this study. If the student is under the age of 18, a parent/guardian will be asked to give consent along with the student in order for him to participate in the study. Describe the Informed Consent Process. Include a Copy of the Informed Consent Document: Informed consent will be obtained from each participant and his parent/guardian. Because the participants are students in a local public high school, parent/guardian consent will be obtained from each student regardless of his age. A written letter of informed consent will be presented to the p articipant. The researcher will verbally explain all of the information contained in the letter. If the student is willing to participate in the study, he will be asked to obtain parent/guardian consent. If the parent/guardian has any questions/concerns re garding the study, s/he will be provided with contact information for the researcher. See attached written Informed Consent letter Principal Investigator(s) Signature: Supervisor Signature: Department Chair/Center Director Signature: Date:
83 APPENDI X B PARENT LETTER OF CONSENT Dear Parent/Guardian, I am a graduate student in the Department of Educational Administration and Policy at the University of Florida, conducting research on Low of high school under the supervision of Dr. Linda Behar Horenstein. The purpose of this study is school. The results of the study may help give voice to this group of students and help teachers better understand how African American males feel about their high school experiences. These results may not directly help your child today, but may benefit future students. With your permission, I would like to ask your child to volunteer for this research. Each of the students participating in this study will be asked to participate in an individual interview. The interview will take 30 45 minutes. The individual interview will consist of questions that focus on three different aspects of t three areas are their relationships with their peers, activities they participate in outside of school, to answer. After the individual interview is completed, your child will be asked to participate in a focus group (small group interview) consisting of five students, including your child. The purposes of the focus group are to ensure that I have correctly documented perceptions of high school and to ask the group to share any additional information regarding their perceptions of high school. The focus group will take 45 60 minutes. With your permission, your child will be audio taped during the individ ual interviews and focus group. The audiotape will be available only to the research team for verification purposes. The information shared during the interview will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law. To further ensure confidentiality, I only be reported in the form of group data. Participation or non participation in this study will You and your child have the right to withdraw consent for your child's participation at any time without consequence. There are no known risks or immediate benefits to the participants. No compensation is offered for participation. Group results of this study will be available in August upon request. If y ou have any questions about this research procedure, please contact me at 955 6704, ext 275 or my faculty supervisor, Dr. Behar Horenstein, at (352) 392 2391, ext 299. Questions or concerns about your child's rights as research participant may be directed to the UFIRB office, University of Florida, Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392 0433. Melissa P. Singleton I have read the procedures described above. I voluntarily give my consent for my child, ____________________________, to participate in Mel issa Singleton's study of African Yes / No ___________________________ ____________________________ ___________ Parent/Guardian Signature 2nd Parent/Witness Signature Date
84 APPENDIX C STUDENT LETTER OF ASSENT Dear Student, I am a graduate student in the Department of Educational Administration and Policy at the Univ ersity of Florida, conducting research on Low Achieving African of high school under the supervision of Dr. Linda Behar Horenstein. The purpose of this study is to gather African r experiences in high school. The results of the study may help give voice to this group of students and help teachers better understand how African American males feel about their high school experiences. These results may not directly help your child t oday, but may benefit future students. With your permission, I would like to ask your child to volunteer for this research. In this study, you will be asked to participate in an individual interview. The interview will take 30 45 minutes. The individua l interview will consist of questions that focus on three different areas of your high school experiences. The three areas are as follows: how you interact with o not have to answer any questions that you do not wish to answer. After all of the students have been interviewed, you will be asked to participate in focus group (small group interview) consisting of five students, including yourself to make sure that I have correctly understood your perceptions of high school and you will be asked to share any additional information regarding taped during the individual interview s and the focus group. The focus group will take 45 60 minutes. The audiotape will be accessible only to the research team for verification purposes. The information shared during the interview will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law. T o further ensure confidentiality, I will replace you name with another random name. Results will only be reported in the form of group data. Participation or non participation in this study will not affect your grades. You have the right to discontinue y our participation at any time without consequence. There are no known risks or immediate benefits to you. No compensation is offered for participation. Group results of this study will be available in August upon request. If you have any questions about this research procedure, please contact me at 955 6704, ext 275 or my faculty supervisor, Dr. Behar Horenstein, at (352) 392 2391, ext 299. Questions or concerns about your child's rights as research participant may be directed to the UFIRB office, Unive rsity of Florida, Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 392 0433. American thi s description. ______ I am willing to participate in this study. ______ I am unwilling to participate in this study. ____________________________ ____________________________ ___________ Student Name (printed) Student Signature Date
85 APPENDIX D INDIVIDUAL INTERVIEW Q: questions that we have in regards to your schooling and your ideas and your beliefs about school. If at any time if any of the questions are unclear or you have a question for me, feel free to go ahead and ask and stop me and let me know and I will either rephrase the question or explain the you may or may not be involved in at school. Can you describe to me some of the people that you interact with at school? A: really good friends, they are like there when you need them like most of them have great grades like their academics, some of them play sports like basketball and football, some of them are in Q: And when you say they excel in academics or they have really good grades in your mind, what are good grades? To you what is a good grade? A: Like when I say good grades I mean by grade point average, like most of my friends they have like a 3.0 or higher. Q: their idea? A: the IB program and like they get a B o r something their like dang I should have gotten an A, you the best of what they do. Q: Ok, does that go for grades and other things or is that mostly their focus at school? A: course you have to have a 2.0 to you know do any after school activities. Q: Well speaking of after school activities, what kind of things do you do with your friends things are you involved in with friends outside of school? A: the bowling alley sometimes and to the movies, sometimes we go play pranks on people, we do a lot, we do like what teenagers do. Q: in school. Describe what that would be m ean to you. A: would mean that all my teachers like back me up whic Q: And when you say student body running for student government, being involved in that? A: Yes Q: So for your success at school does it only include your grades or with your ROTC does school?
86 A: because ROTC you have to get grades before the after school activities so if like, you have to like your studies in ROTC you have to learn your chain of command and g eneral order to Q: Ok, now you told me most of your friends are good in school and that they would be wha t you consider to be successful and what they consider to be successful, can you pick one of your friends who you think is very successful in school and tell me about him or her? A: I would use (name) because he was a good friend at first, but when it come s down to doing school and all that, he would put school before like going out and having fun with friends and like when I look at him at the time that he was crazy for doing that but then when you think college want to say at the top of his class so he did good and when I look at him and then like I almost compare myself Q: It sounds like you kind of have an idea of where you want to be. Now on the opposite side of that, do you have a friend who has not bee n successful in school and if so could you describe him or her to me. A: conseq grades are like very poor, they have like Fs and Ds, they pre th and are still 9 th way they inspire me th grader. Q: you where you want to fit in those. Um, based on your last two years of school, where do you see yourself falling? A: th grade year like b elieve if or not almost everybody blew off their 9 th all of that, so my 9 th grade y ear I kind of blew it off, but then again it was not all my fault because you know personal problems and me not coming to school on time or not coming at all, it had got to a point that it was a truancy problem, um, but my 10 th grade year I dragged a littl e not going to work. Q: It makes it hard for you to do well in school. Um, well with that in mind, tell me a little bit about your home life, like where do you stay, who do you stay with, tell me a little bit about that. A: Ok, um, I stay with my godmother um, she recently became my godmother like 6 years ago my mom was going through all these things we stayed at this place called (inaudible) and
87 like she was like one of my best friends moms and she like took it upon herself to like take care of me when my mom was going through her problems and going to jail, in and out of jail and all that, so like she just was like made up to herself that she was going to take care of me no matter alous and it started a lot of things and then that like added more stress to me and like the people that was around me, stressed, but um, I stay on a better part of to Q: Why do you consider it a better part of town? What do you mean by that. A: to worry about locking your doors, like if you was on like this thing (inaudible) you would have to lock your doors, you would have to have deadlocks and all that because people try to break in. I left my doors open, windows open, I left my moped in the y house even though you know they are nosey neighbors but they actually help out and they will happen several times. So they are like very helpful. Q: So it seems that you have more of a community, there are people that are looking out for A: No Q: Why not? A: Um, she is incarcerated because sh and my mom was out of town and it was just me and my brothers and his girlfriend there and like I came in the the authorities was called and my mom was out of town but like when they questioned my sister e and like they ran with that and they charged her with involuntary manslaughter. Q: Wow that must be tough on you guys. A: violated her probation by driving with no license a nd not appearing to her own probation officer to be clean and like the second time she was like I have to violate you and you have 24 hours and she got caught driving with no license and she already had an outstanding Q: A: Yeah she got 7 years in the correcti onal facility. Q: siblings do you have? Brothers and sisters? A: Including me 5, it was six but my sister had died. Q: Ok. Do they all stay with you and your godmother? A: No. Q: Where does everybody else stay? A: nephews, (inaudible name), she has her own place, I have no idea
88 Q: All of the values that you have about doing w ell in school, how does your family play that was recent, right? So living actually with your mother and you said with her boyfriend, right? You call Dad? A: Yes Q: Tell me about how they were with school. Did they help instill these values? A: My mom, she was always like that, she wanted me to be better than her, but then she had one day I had ditched school and it was m y first time skipping school with my friends, peer pressure, and like they called and the speak phone came on, I was like Oh Lord, and they were then she started telling me how I was going to be like everybody else. Q: Everybody else in your family? Or in the neighborhood? A: putting me down it brings me up, it makes me want to do more. Q: A: No. Q: What about your other siblings? A: what happened to her, she had transferred to Lofton because she was pregnant and um, I actually was there when it happened, she missed a lot of days and she had a whole credit to do and she had this packet, you know making up the credit and the lady threw it in the garbage and um, like my family was there and went crazy and all kind of stuff like that and my sister was dropping out of school so she was pretty much crazy to do that. That should have pushed her into doing it more, like to actually come and attend school, but she Q: A: My dad he wanted me to go to school, he was lik e you should go to school every time I like actually push me to go do school. I mean nobody should make you do anything that you up a t the same time. Q: Tell me a little bit about your day, like from the morning to night and like using this last about your day from the time you wake up to th e time you go to bed, what is your day like. A: I wake up 5:30am, I take a shower, brush my teeth, put on my clothes, wait for the 6:27 bus, get on the bus, get on another bus to go down town which is like at 6:40am get in town at at Lakeview at 7:23 and I just walk around until school starts. Q: Which was like an hour, so you had an hour on campus.
89 A: Yes, doing nothing and then like, Ok I go through school 1 st period was English2, then 2 nd period was biology, 3 rd period was ROTC, 4 th period French, 5 th period was college and careers, 6 th Q: Why not? A: Because I was being checked out by my older sister to watch her kids. Q: So you would be taken out of school to go h ome and help with your niece and nephew? A: Yes. Q; How frequently did that happen? A: Almost every day of the school year. Q: And was that only during 6 th period or did you miss other classes too? A: I missed half of 5 th period. Q: Which was your computer s class. A; hool. Q: So she would come get you before you even got A: And then I started having problems because my teachers, they would see me in the Like one time I got s out of class. Q: Because she called you to go watch her kids? Why were you watching her kids? A: Because she took them out of day care and because she would like to use people. Q: A: hew, they are a handful you are just misunderstood and like he do es some crazy things like he would like literally like climb k 6am and go to sleep at 2 am, he will not close his eyes, he will not, he will fight against that. Q; How many days a week, Monday through Friday, during the school year were you taking care of your niece and nephew after school? A; Um, Monday through Friday pretty much because Wednesdays and Thursdays Melinda is off but she wants to do stuff so she comes check me out anyways. Q: And then what about on the weekends? A : I watch them every day from Friday, Saturday through Sunday and it starts over Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday and it keeps going. Q: A: Nope. Q; At all when it came to school? Do you think that you would have been able to do better had you had more support at home? A:
90 all everyday checking me out of school and like you had me like scramblin made me fail mid terms, she checked me out during mid terms. I was like literally crying and I wait. She literally made me fail mid terms and from that point on I just knew I was not going to pass that class. Q: That was your geometry class? A: Yes. Q: And at one point you were in geometry honors? A; Yes. Q: And got bumped down to the regular geometry because your grades dropped. Did any of your teachers know what was going on? A: get to know you real good and right at home, they tell that and say Is everything all right at home, Sure. Q: none of them knew r eally what was happening with you. A: know. Q: h your godmother, when did you move in with your godmother? A: Like May something. Q: bring up any grades at that point, it was already pretty well the end of the ye ar. Um, you clearly defined it very clearly for yourself, what things do you need in order for you to reach that goal? To be successful in school? And it can be things at school, it can be things at home. What in your idea of the perfect situation that would allow you to get those straight As? A: Stability. Q: Ok. And what does that mean for you? A: t want to be left alone, that all left alone. And I beli eve if I was like in a stable environment, when I say stable do better because I have somebody actually encouraging me instead of putting me down. Q; Does your god mother do that? A; Encourage me? Q: Yes. A: Q: So for her idea of providing for you is the physical environment, that you h ave shelter,
91 A: Q: Does having that stable environment help you and give you some of the stability that A: ere too, like you have all arguing, people are always just bickering Q: Do you have your own room there? Somewhere that you can go? A; Yeah. Q: Does that help? A: No. Q: No, because you still hear it? Or do they involve you? A: They pull me in like Q: school environment, tell me what your favorite class is this year? A: Oh my gosh, even though I failed the subject, Q: Is that your geometry class? A: Yes. I just love math pe riod, and science like biology. I love science, I love math, with science. Q; So you like the actual content of those two classes. Does the teacher make a differen ce for you? A: but Ms. West was like an all around She gave me all me. Q; Meaning your sister, taking care of the kids and that. So your responsibilities outside of home kept you from being able to do what you wanted to do in school. So even though you failed that class would that be one of the classes that you would consider to be the most idea, because you have your idea of success at school. A: Ms. W est talk me a lot, I mean I passed the FCAT like it was a wonderful score as you udied and all that. It was about the only thing like when you try to pick up a pen and write, (inaudible) ripping up your math book which she helped me on that too, um, she was just like the closest I can get to have a teacher being a friend. Q: Is that y our idea of a good teacher? A: Yes. Q: That would be the kind of teacher if you could pick a type of teacher you would have all day long?
92 A: Q: What do you mean by that? A: She was like, she wa Q: Tell me a little about how she teaches, like give me an example of what you like about her teacher style? A: the beginning of the year we were learning about a little of algebra 1 because you know it carries over to geometry, we were talking (inaudible) form was but I knew and l ike she was the type of teacher, Oh you know so get up there and teach it, like so she would actually let you teach like the students (inaudible) she would help you with the prime numbers and like she let us teach each other. Q: And what if you guys couldn A: Q: So she would take it back a step, make it easier and show you guys how to do it and then encourage you to build on that knowledge? A: Like she would teach the short way first and then like after that, if she did it the short way she would break it down and actually do it the correct way and the long way and like it really helped. It help ed on the FCAT. Q: you the hard way and then show you the short cuts later. A: It was really um, it really helped on the FCAT math, it was like I was over taught on math Ok on math I got a 4 because I (inaudible) and then like some of the problems I was so but she told me if Q: w her material, she not only knew it but she knew how to teach it to other people and teach it in a bunch of different ways but was also kind of nurturing kind of almost like a mommy kind of a friend, kind of mentor type that would kind of guide you and he lp. A: She would help anybody that needed help or wanted help. Q: So would this be a teacher that you would feel safe going in the classroom, feel you. So there is a positive teacher. Tell me about your class that you liked the least, not because ng style, I mean A: get to know that teacher and you actually start learning in his or her class like t his man was (inaudible) and I disliked that man with a passion, I really did until like he started to make sense classroom with like 9 th hey did that, they mixed 9 th grade and 10 th
93 actually broke it down to o, but in the beginning of the year we just bumped heads. Q; What was it about his personality that you guys bumped heads? What were some of the things that caused you to bump heads? A; He always thought he was right. He um, like even when he got proved wrong, he would Q: Did you feel like he listened to you guys? A: Q: A: No. He wanted it his way. Q: Set in his ways and that was it even if he was wrong. A: Yeah, it was still his way. Q: Ok. A: Q: to you? A: you know how most teachers ask rhetorical questions, So you want a Q: And that was it? A: Yes that was it. Q: So what did that do for you when you would go back to his class the next day. A: (inau dible) Q: Did you? A: affect the way he acted on you, like if one person (inaudible) angry at you, (inaudible) what are you being rude and then I was like (inaudible) you what did you say and I was like nothing. It repeats every day until like I (inaudible) Q: What about during 9 th grade? Did you have any teachers that you really did not like? Or any classes that you really did n ot like? A: th grade. My favorite teacher (inaudible) AP World History, I loved that man to death that was a bright teacher, he was a real if it was because he was so Q: So if you were to list some qualities of a teacher that you would want a teacher to have so into your head first, that you would want in a teacher. A: Tolerance, they have to have a high tolerance level. You have to be able to teach. Some frustrated re
94 their buttons like you have to learn how to ignore that, probably with a smile like well if you what are you talking and then that Q: knows their material and not just knows it but can actually teach it. A: you got your doctorate at UF, but do you know how to teach your ot way I can come to high school every day and teach to these rude students like I picture myself in front of me like teaching me every day Q: Ok with you saying that thought, but you continue to still do some of those things in classes. A: I stopped, it your moments you just want to try a teach Q: See what you can get away with A: that moment t ectful, like I would be funny you know if I got almost through but I would never like actually disrespect the that way even though I went through hell I wou I mean (inaudible) be grey all your life, I mean there can be some funny times. I mean I have a lot of t eachers that would laugh if you say something like you know like big head or ride on each other, I mean talking about each other. So I mean you can have fun with a teach er point of how much fun are you having. Q: Meaning boundaries. That actually want a teacher with a sense of humor as well, someone who can kind of play and banter back and forth but also knows how to keep you in check. A: Yes, pretty much. Q: Because it sounds like y ou know that you need someone that can keep you in check. Like Ms West. A; Q: She would laugh with you but when you did get too far she would remind you that you were taking it too far and make you feel bad about it. A: and like just be a puppet. You have to have fun sometimes too and like you can do that but still be professional at the same time like you can teach in a fun way but then when it gets too much you have to know how to Hey stop, this is serious now. Do yo Q; A time and a place?
95 A: Thank you. Q: Now I wanted to just clarify one thing, we had talked about your schedule during the da y and that at the end of the day we got to your after school part, can you tell me the rest of you day, what the rest of your afternoon was like? A; Ok, when I dodge my sister, sometimes I did dodge her, I told them in the front office o leave her all the time like this, ROTC I loved it like I hated it last year when I was in it but this year I loved it and like nothing is going to stop me from doing what I want to do like in the ROTC so like I used to have, you know we go right there fo r drill practice and I was on the basic drill team (inaudible) drill team and the (inaudible) is where you flip the rifles and all, and basic is when you do the basic rifle movements, but like I was getting more involved and (inaudible) commander they were up. I had the best improved cadet, most improved out of the whole unit. Q: recognize and see your hard work and to praise you for it? A: Yeah I mean Q; Not necessarily publicly, but you wanted it privately. A: Q: doing well, you want someone who actually says after school until about what time? A; ould probably start right after school like 3pm. But usually it would start at 3:30pm and then we leave. Q: 5, 6pm? A: was until 8pm. And that was because of an awards ceremony. The latest I stayed for drill practice was like 5:30 I think. Q: pretty much your normal routine, what was th e rest of the day like for you? A: carried my nephew, pick up my niece from Riverside Q: What time was that? A: Usually when s her back, pull her blinds down, clean up most days he rips up my books and stuff so laundry and I came back he was about to pull the TV on him. Now the TV is like this big and the TV on him and if that would have fell on him he would have been dead, like seriously.
96 Q: So what time did you feed them dinner? A: I feed them dinner, like they go to sleep at 9pm every night, at least I put them to go to Q: And t hen when did you get to go home? A: Q: A: Q: And then be back up the next day at 5:30 to catch the bus because you ride the city bus to get to school. A: Yes. Q: A: Not to mention all the drama in between like them fighting and all kinds of crap. Like one day I was ther e with my niece and nephew and um, like I see like my sister in this car and I see this SUV like chasing her around and they were like sliding, they were actually getting chased and they almost like hit my niece and I had to like grab her and like I was ho lding her and (inaudible). It was crazy. Q: And you dealt with this everyday pretty much during the school year until May, until you moved in with your godmother. A: Yes. Until school was over she was like taking me home Q: A: Yeah they are. Q: Is there anything else you want to add about school, good or bad? A: Sometimes school is the only place that I can clear my head without all the drama. ROTC pretty much. Q: How hard was it for you to come to school and do school work when you had all of that stuff going on at home? A: and stare at the (inaudible) to clear my head. And like I wanted to do it so bad I just Q: Because you had so much going on and so tired? A: Q: Get th e giggles? A: Q: Do you have any questions for me or anything that you would like to ask? A: No. Q: Ok, thank you very much.
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103 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Florida in 1994. She specialized in students with learning disabilities and emotional and behaviora special education at the University of Florida; she graduated the following spring. In August of 1995, the researcher began her full time teaching career at Eastside High School. She taught exceptional student education in a varying exceptionalities classroom. During the 2003 2004 school year, the researcher was selected as the Teacher of the Year for Eastside High School. She earned her specialist degree in educat ional leadership, in May 2005, from the University of Florida. The following summer, she began working on her doctorate. In June of 2005, the researcher became the Activities Director at Eastside High School. In addition, she taught a leadership skills co urse and served as the student government and senior class sponsors. While working on her doctorate in education leadership, the researcher became the Exceptional Student Education staffing specialist. After working in this position for two years, the res earcher earned a promotion. She currently serves as the Assistant Principal for Curriculum at a local middle school.