Theses Doctoral

Early-Career Teacher Experiences in Urban Schools

Leathers, Lillian Sharon

Urban schools exist within everyday parlance as an ongoing quandary within American public schools. However, historical, social, cultural, and discursive meanings intersect and compose urban school contexts (re)producing what is known and understandable. Early–career teachers work within these intersections. How they work within and think about these intersections influence their teaching and classroom pedagogical practices. In other words, urban school discourses influence and impact curriculum, which is navigated and mediated by early–career teachers. Through Critical Race Theory and poststructural lenses, this research interrogates normative assumptions and interpretations undergirding these historical (re)productions which often constitute the families and students within these school communities.
I conducted this study through individual interviews and a focus group session with six teachers who graduated from a graduate–level, university–based Urban Teacher Residency teacher preparation program and who have worked completed between three to six years as teachers in urban school settings. By focusing on the lived experiences of these early–career teachers, this study contributes to teacher education programs and to in–service induction teaching. These early–career teachers navigate district– and school–level discourses, both professionally in how they conduct their classrooms and personally in how they process their emotional lives. They continuously seek ways in which to maintain their vision for social justice and equity within urban school settings and to maintain an ethic of care for their students. Therefore, the analysis includes my reading and interpretation of teacher and student discourses within these conversations. Throughout these interpretations, I write through, integrate, and interrogate my own experiences and positionalities as an African–American woman, former student, and educator in urban school contexts. Finally, I construct a counter–story in which the teachers grapple with and support an ethic of care for their students. Counter–stories center the voices and experiences of teachers of color as they attend to systemic school inequalities. This research provides a platform for examining and revising the oft–repeated stories of urban schools so that they might become vehicles for transforming structural and cultural norms that have subordinated access and equity for all students, and especially in the context of urban schools, students of color.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Paula Ghiso, Maria Paula
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
November 9, 2018