Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Leadership and Policies


Early Childhood Education

First Advisor

Susi Long


Year after year, children of Color, speakers of languages other than English, and children of poverty are served less well in public schools then their White, middle-class peers. The lives of children from White, middle-class homes are regularly normalized as they are described by teachers, administrators, policy makers, and educational programs as those with the most worth and knowledge. In all too many settings, cultures and languages outside this narrowly-defined norm are perceived from deficit perspectives. This hierarchy perpetuates a status quo that privileges and therefore supports the success of some, while devaluing and contributing to the failure of others. Altering these outcomes requires an understanding of issues related to race, culture and language marginalization, and how classroom practices impact children's identities in schools. It is generally acknowledged that administrators are ultimately responsible for creating cultures in their schools that encourage and support teachers' professional growth while deepening their own knowledge. However, there has been little in this work that focuses on the nature of the administrator's role particularly in early childhood settings when changes in curricula and impact on student identity are also documented.

In an attempt to fill this gap, utilizing tenets of ethnography, critical ethnography and autoethnography and a pattern analysis for examining data, I sought to understand: What happens when a school administrator and teachers of three- four- and five-year-old children engage in long-term professional study designed to explore issues of culture, race, language? What challenges are met? How are those challenges negotiated? How is the experience reflected in day-to-day life in the classrooms, particularly as it relates to supporting children's positive literate identities? What is the role of the administrator in this process? Grounded in sociocultural, critical race, linguistic and cultural marginalization, and identity development theories, data analysis led me to findings that shed light on the inherent challenges in this work as well as strategies that worked in overcoming challenges. Fundamentally, however, I found that a range of administratively-facilitated and theoretically connected professional development experiences that are intentionally focused on issues of race, language and culture can be highly supportive of teachers abilities to recognize and challenge deficit, racist views and discriminatory practices and to make changes in classroom practice supportive of students' positive literate identities. Implications are provided to help administrators and other educators seeking to engage in this critical process.