Date of Award

Winter 1-10-2020

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Middle and Secondary Education

First Advisor

Dr. Gholnecsar Muhammad

Second Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Wurzburg

Third Advisor

Dr. Michelle Zoss

Abstract

While student diversity is increasing in the United States, teachers in the field are still largely White, female, and monolingual (Zumwalt & Craig, 2005). Despite this reality, Black women have always worked as teachers (Royster, 2000), however, their voices are often silenced or omitted from narratives told about schooling (Carver-Thomas & Darling-Hammond, 2017). With the increasing pressures on principals and district leaders to both recruit and retain teachers of color, especially Black teachers, the narratives of Black women teachers in schools must be told. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to understand the experiences of Black women teachers in secondary schools in order to shatter traditional—and often problematic and incorrect—perceptions of Black womanhood and Black women in professional spaces. Thus, I performed a qualitative study framed by the theories of Black feminist thought and Womanism, to center the narratives of six Black women teachers and examine how they experienced stereotypes of Black womanhood and oppression, and how they deconstruct and/or negotiate those stereotypes while working in schools.

While some may argue that the experiences of Black women teachers are no different from their peers, their experiences do differ due to the marginalization of their raced, classed, and gendered identities. By employing tenets from both Black feminist thought and Womanism, I centered Black women’s standpoints and acknowledged that their experiences are both unique and valuable in educational discourse (Collins, 2000). To investigate and examine their experiences, I used narrative inquiry methods to transform traditional sister circles into a sista circle methodology that allowed me as the researcher to take a participatory role in the interview cycle, while being both inclusive and aware of my subjectivities. In completing this study, I aimed to create a space for Black women teachers to speak freely about their experiences with stereotypes and oppression to develop better ways to both recruit and maintain them in the field.

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