Author

DiAnna Sox

Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Studies

First Advisor

Elizabeth Currin

Abstract

While the student population in U.S. public schools is diversifying, the teacher population and curriculum remain monochromatic. This action research study grew from the observation that racial and cultural content and discourse were absent from the English classrooms in my suburban high school due to a perceived lack of teacher cultural competence. Through this convergent mixed-method study, grounded in critical race theory, whiteness, and cultural competence, I sought to examine the factors that contribute to racial silence and improve teacher cultural competence in order to transform our classrooms into more racially and culturally just spaces. Surveys, independent reflections, focus group discussions, and field notes yielded data in three phases over the course of 8 weeks, suggesting (a) targeted intervention can impact teacher cultural competence; (b) teachers desire more inclusive classroom practices; (c) yet that desire does not equate to action; because (d) the prevalence of fear engenders colormuteness and inhibits change. Recommended actions include committing to cultural proficiency alongside others; critically examining policies, practices, and support systems at the school and classroom level; engaging in intentional racial discourse; and providing prolonged antiracist professional development as teachers work toward dismantling racial and cultural inequities within the school.

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