Breaking Outside the Walls: Teachers of Gifted and Talented African American Males in a Texas Urban Middle School
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Education and its associated resources continue to be unequally administered and delivered in the United States. All stakeholders in the education of the nation‘s children—parents, teachers, unions, school administrators, principals, community members and students, should be concerned with the inequities which abound in the country‘s education system African American male cohorts are particularly vulnerable in the US population as they face a series of challenges that continue to threaten their achievement, including those students who are academically gifted. The purpose of this study was to examine and interpret the philosophy, ideology, and educational practices of five teachers of African American males in gifted and talented programs in an urban secondary school. The following research questions guided the study: (a) How do teachers describe factors that promote achievement with African American males in Gifted and Talented Programs? (b) How do the life experiences of teachers influence their advocacy for African American males in Gifted and Talented Programs? (c) How do Gifted and Talented teachers of African American males participate in and influence identification and referrals of African American males in Gifted and Talented Programs? The naturalistic paradigm of inquiry guided the study to collect and analyze data. The participant sample consisted of five teachers of African American males in gifted and talented programs in an urban secondary school. In addition to a detailed review of the literature related to this population, data came from in-depth interviews and classroom observations. Data from the audio recorded and transcribed (verbatim) were analyzed using a thematic analysis. Some of the major findings reveal that the educational demographic landscape in the US and in Texas in particular highlights an underrepresentation of African Americans, and especially African American males in gifted and talented education. The themes that emerged from the study reveal that valuable insight can be gained from teachers of this cohort which can inform educational practice and policy. The teachers reported to be working hard for the success of all students and not just those from minoritized backgrounds. Nonetheless, all five teachers were committed to believing that all of their students had the potential to be successful, albeit some with more challenges than others. Their experiences and backgrounds frame their ideologies and in turn the way in which they teach and interact with these learners. It is important to note that despite these differences and diversity in their racial/ethnic backgrounds, each teacher reflects deep commitment and passion for these learners. The overall goal reported by the participants is to encourage creative problem solving, to develop content mastery, to serve as a role model for their students, regardless of racial or ethnic background. Ultimately, they believe that these are the keys to the success of all students, and particularly for African American male gifted and talented middle school students.
Testing and Identification
Henderson, Sowanda Nimmer (2013). Breaking Outside the Walls: Teachers of Gifted and Talented African American Males in a Texas Urban Middle School. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from