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The Way We Were: Voices of Three African American Female Teachers Before, During, and After Desegregation in a Southern Rural District
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Limited research addresses African American teachers’ perspectives of race and diversity in rural educational settings or in schools dominated by students of color in rural school communities. The purpose of this study was to examine the experiences of three African American female teachers in a southern rural school district related to their stories and perceptions of teaching before, during, and after desegregation, the characteristics of resiliency and self-determination, and the validation and elaboration of an emerging research model. For this study, African American teachers’ voices and experiences were investigated through the lens of resiliency and self-determination theories. Resiliency theory is constructed by the following characteristics – religion, flexible locus of control, optimistic bias, autonomy, commitment, change, positive relationship, education, and efficacy. Self-determination characteristics include autonomous functioning, self-regulation, psychological empowerment and self-realization. This narrative and oral history inquiry technique provided and shared evidence of the lived experiences of three African American female educators whose voices told their stories and their perceptions of resilience and self-determination in multicultural learning environments before, during and after desegregation. Three African American female teachers from a rural Texas school district participated in the study. A 37-interview question protocol was modified from the two original studies was used to answer the following three research questions. Interview data was transcribed and triangulated from the three individual interview sessions with the participants. Cross-case analysis was used to compare and contrast the individual participants’ cases that was grounded and authenticated in the context of the resiliency and self-determination theoretical frameworks. The findings from this study confirmed research findings and results from the previous studies that indicated several factors linked to teacher resiliency could be generalizable to a larger population of elementary teachers. Therefore, research findings indicated similarities in the previous research studies as well as new constructs that correlate with the research literature on self-determination as a factor that contribute to teacher retention and career longevity. An emerging Theoretical Model of a Holistic Approach to Adaptation and a Unified Sense of Self was results of the data. The study suggested that this model could assist in educational learning environments for the recruitment, training, and retention of teachers as well as model for parents and teachers to imitate resilience and self-determination themes as a coping mechanism for life’s challenges.
SubjectAfrican American teachers
Johnson, Detra DeVerne (2015). The Way We Were: Voices of Three African American Female Teachers Before, During, and After Desegregation in a Southern Rural District. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from