Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation


Educational Studies


Foundations of Education

First Advisor

Michelle Bryan


The stories of students and teacher candidates of Color hold powerful lessons and tremendous insight for educational reform efforts. Yet, rarely do educators and policymakers solicit or critically engage the educational narratives of students of Color. Indeed, despite resurgence in a four-decade long conversation regarding the shortage of teachers and preservice teachers of Color in the United States, public and academic discourses have failed to reflect a genuine understanding of their school experiences. In particular, research confirms that we know little about how their educational experiences are impacted by race(ism) and culture, or how those experiences subsequently inform their motivations to enter the teaching field, their developing educational philosophies, and their views of themselves as future teachers. I argue that there is much to be gained through deepening our understanding of African American preservice teachers' past and present educational experiences, particularly around race. Thus, guided by critical race theory, critical race methodology, and critical incident narrative inquiry, this qualitative study examined the "counternarratives" (Solórzano & Yosso, 2002) of four African American teacher candidates. Specifically, this study centered race as an analytical lens to interrogate the ways in which race, racism, and culture played a role in the teacher candidates' school experiences and their current views of themselves as future teachers. The study's findings revealed that the teacher candidates drew on their racialized school experiences, as well as their cultural ways of knowing (King, 1994), in developing their current teaching philosophies. Moreover, the candidates tied their motivations to enter the teaching profession to their meaningful relationships with their K-12 teachers and to the witnessing of their African American peers' negative school experiences around race and racism. Importantly, the study findings illuminate critical past-present-future connections embedded within their educational narratives. I subsequently address implications for teacher education, future research, and educational policy, demonstrating the necessity and value of soliciting and incorporating students' experiences into our assessment and evaluation of current educational issues. I conclude that teacher candidates' of Color educational stories contain critical insights that can lead to the development of tangible policies and practices to move us beyond the equal opportunity rhetoric that has long dominated educational discourse.


© 2012, Brandy S Wilson