The effects of a culturally responsive professional development series on the attitudes and beliefs of teachers of diverse students in a Missouri suburban school district
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Contrary to what supporters of the “No Child Left Behind” Act (P.L. 107-110, 2001) would have us believe about the effects of this legislation, the academic achievement gap between students of color and White students, and between economically disadvantaged students and students from higher socio-economic backgrounds is not closing. Given the demands and accountability standards required by NCLB legislation (P.L. 107-110, 2001), why aren't we closing the achievement gap and making better progress? It is my supposition that a culturally responsive approach to teaching diverse students is needed if we want our students to succeed. This heuristic, multiple case study examined the effects of a culturally responsive professional development series on the attitudes and beliefs of six teachers in a suburban Missouri school district. During eight, two-hour sessions, participants explored their beliefs about White Dominance, their own identity development, and teaching in a culturally responsive manner. Their cases were utilized to investigate the research questions: (a) How do teachers experience the implementation of a culturally responsive professional development series? (b) What changes in teacher attitudes and beliefs occur during the implementation of the culturally responsive professional development series? (c) What aspects of the culturally responsive professional development series (if any) influenced the attitudes and beliefs of teachers of diverse students as self-reported in journal prompts and interview questions? Pre- and post-attitudes surveys (Color Blind Racial Attitudes Scale, Neville, Lilly, Duran, Lee, & Browne, 2000), teacher interviews, and responses to reflective journal prompts were utilized for data collection and analysis. The primary method of data analysis was the heuristic method of phenomenological analysis (Moustakas, 1990). During the culturally responsive professional development series, teacher attitudes and beliefs towards teaching diverse students did change as evidenced by their pre- and post-attitudes surveys, teacher interviews, and reflective journal prompts. While each participant had their own unique personality and teaching style, the aspects of the course that were most powerful for one of the participants were also aspects that would be powerful for the other participants. Creating community by engaging in authentic, honest conversations regarding White Dominance and race and having opportunities to reflect and put into practice what they were learning became the avenue of effective change with this group of participants. Participants reflected about their own mental models, biases, and beliefs regarding racial bias, institutional racism, and White Dominance and how this affected their interactions with students, particularly their diverse students. Awareness of their own identity development promoted a better understanding of their diverse students' needs.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Literature review -- Methodology -- Findings and discussion -- Can you really change attitudes and beliefs regarding diversity? -- Appendix A. SSIRB approval -- Appendix B. COBRAS instrument -- Appendix C. Interview protocol -- Appendix D. SSIRB forms -- Appendix E. Ethical issues checklist -- Appendix F. Course syllabus