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Leveraging Classroom Research for Racial Equity Within Teacher Communities of Practice

Fri, April 5, 2:25 to 3:55pm, Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Floor: 800 Level, Hall F


I. Objectives or purpose
This paper examines how teacher communities of practice focused on culturally responsive teaching (CRT) in Seattle Public Schools can create systemic impact for racially equitable teaching and learning at the classroom level. As part of the overall strategy for equity advancement, CRT Leadership Communities of Practice utilize an improvement network design (Bryk, 2015) to provide strategic, coordinated support with school-based Racial Equity Teams (RETs).

II. Perspective(s) or theoretical framework
In order for teachers to understand and act on racialized school contexts, professional learning must facilitate the analysis of instruction to interrogate implicit bias and disrupt the “discretionary spaces” in which teaching practices sustain racial inequity (Ball, 2018). Teacher networks in this study therefore focus on developing practitioner research to develop a critical race lens from which to understand classroom contexts and interactions (Ladson-Billings, 2000), understand and learn from the strengths and cultural funds of knowledge students bring to the classroom (Gay, 2010 and 2002), and foster responsive teaching practices that disrupt, mitigate and transform racial inequities (Hammond, 2015; VanDerPloeg, 2012).

III. Methods, techniques, or modes of inquiry
Using a case study approach, data will be collected on four Communities of Practice working within cycles of inquiry to address critical practices to foster social and emotional safety, interdependent and collaborative classroom cultures, and conditions for shared inquiry and dialogue. A priority focus in data collection methods will be to support educators in fostering student voice and to engage students as collaborators in the research and solution-finding process. University and district partners will collect data on the processes of collaboration and implementation to inform improvements to the next cycle of work.

IV. Data sources, evidence, objects or materials
Data collected will include school climate survey data measuring students’ sense of safety and belonging, teacher implementation artifacts (including classroom video, lesson materials and student artifacts), and co-designed data and assessment tools to formatively assess the implementation of critical practices and the impact on students.

V. Results and/or substantiated conclusions or warrants for arguments/point of view
Initial results will focus on the role of Communities of Practice in creating school cultures and instructional systems for improving racial equity in classroom instruction. We anticipate the initial results to reflect shifts in teachers’ ability to discern issues of racial equity within the classroom context as well as improvement in student experiences of belonging and learning engagement.

VI. Scientific or scholarly significance of the study or work
While interest in culturally responsive pedagogy as a means to foster racial equity in education has grown, few studies describe or examine these practices in context or their potential to serve as drivers for systemic change. Using a co-design model for development and research, this case study will provide insight into the conditions needed for professional learning and practice as a critical lever for disrupting racial inequities in the classroom.


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