|dc.description.abstract||Problem: In 2011-12, 82.7% of K-12 teachers were White, yet 44% of all elementary and secondary students were minority (Ingersoll, Merrill, & Stuckey, 2014). Teachers raised and educated in predominantly White communities typically have limited knowledge of communities of color and culture (Tatum, 2007). The minority teacher shortage, in turn, is widely viewed as a key reason for the minority achievement gap and unequal occupational and life outcomes for minority students (Torres, Santos, Peck, & Cortes, 2004). There have been extensive efforts to recruit minorities into the education profession, yet turnover rates among minority teachers have been significantly higher than among White teachers. The underrepresentation of minority teachers in the U. S. school system leads to minority students lacking minority adult role models and creates less access to teachers who understand their racial and cultural background (LadsonBillings, 1995). Research has focused primarily on white educators and their ability to work effectively with diverse populations (Irvine, 2002). Limited studies have focused on the untold stories of African American teachers in our nation’s classrooms.
Procedures: This phenomenological study (Moustakas, 1994) explored the lived experiences of six elementary African American elementary teachers in one Midwest state. A single overarching question will guide this study: How do African American teachers make meaning of their teaching experiences? Using purposeful convenience sampling and snowball sampling (Creswell, 2014; Bogdan & Biklen, 2007), data was collected from participants through interviews, detailed field notes, written reflections, and reflexive journaling. Data analysis involved initial coding, recoding, and thematic analysis to derive the core of the lived experiences. Data was verified through triangulation, thick description, field notes and observations, reflexive journaling, and member checking. Written findings reflected the phenomenological tradition of narrative description to capture participants’ lived experiences.
Findings: Data analysis revealed the lived experience of an African American elementary teacher as influenced by mentorship, relationships, cultural differences, expectations, and job retention. Thematic analysis provided a way to show how the participants constructed and made meaning of the phenomenon and by recognizing and identifying the patterns that emerged within the data (Braun & Clarke, 2006). The essence of the experience was captured through the words of each participant in regards to working with students, professional colleagues, and parents. The combination of textural and structural descriptions with the use of verbatim examples was reflected in the context in which the phenomenon was experienced (Creswell, 2013).
Conclusions: Student successes, family support, and collegial support helped shape participants’ experiences. The additional pressure of being a minority educator in a Midwest state was evident as participants clearly communicated their lived experiences. African American teachers continue to stay in the classroom because of their dedication to students.
Recommendations: Human resource departments must work collaboratively with school leaders, community members, and colleges to provide a more comprehensive system to recruit minority teachers. School districts must provide ongoing professional development for all teachers to become more culturally competent. School leaders must work closely with minority educators in their schools to provide adequate support for them in the workplace.||en_US