Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2019

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Dr. Caroline C. Sullivan

Second Advisor

Dr. Yali Zhao

Third Advisor

Dr. Rhina Fernandes Williams

Abstract

The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine the phenomenon of a social justice-driven professional learning community. This study included 17 P-12 educators across several school districts and educational entities in a large southeastern city. The majority of the educators worked at schools with a predominant composition of students of color and students who were eligible for free or reduced lunch. Through both oral and written discussions, teachers responded to questions, prompts, and protocols as they examined teaching for social justice and equity. Data collection methods included: audio recordings of professional learning sessions, participant written reflections, documents, interviews, and the researcher’s journal and audio reflections. The significance of this study was to offer insight on how educators can be supported in developing instructional practices that engender a more just and democratic society. Departing from traditional teaching methods and approaches where the teacher is considered the expert and holder of knowledge and has all “the answers” is crucial to the work of the social justice educator. This study was grounded in critical pedagogy as educators expanded their critical consciousness and examined power structures, privilege and oppression. The following research questions guided this study: How can a social justice-driven professional learning community (PLC) influence P-12 educators? What understandings do educators develop about social justice and equity? What perceptions do educators cultivate about teaching for social justice and equity? What knowledge do educators construct about using multicultural children’s literature (MCL) to teach for social justice and equity? Findings from this study revealed that teaching for social justice and equity requires intentionality, multiple perspectives, and teaching strategies and resources.

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