Transforming School-Wide Professional Development Utilizing Culturally Relevant Pedagogy to Engage Black Boys

Rosalyn Selina Barnes, Fordham University


Research suggests that student achievement and performance in literacy become strong predictors for achievement and success in high school, college, and career. However, Black children have historically been denied equal educational opportunities. Black boys, in particular,are falling behind in reading achievement, creating a persistent and substantial performance gap. This mixed-research study used Improvement Science to understand the problem of underachieving and underperforming in literacy for middle school Black boys. Two primary drivers were identified: 1) professional development for high-quality literacy practices and 2) culturally relevant pedagogy. The study used two sequential PDSA (Plan, Do, Study, Act) cycles: 1) a schoolwide book study of Culturally Responsive Teaching for the Brain by Zaretta Hammond and 2) Japanese Lesson Study. Multiple data points were collected from key stakeholders (teachers, staff, students, and parents) through literacy assessments, surveys, classroom observations, and interviews. Four primary themes emerged: 1) lack of formal teacher training to incorporate student culture into the curriculum in spite of a teacher commitment to do so; 2) misalignment of professional development provided by the district; 3) a perception of lack of knowledge to engage in culturally relevant pedagogy; and 4) a reluctance by teachers to confront implicit bias in themselves, students, and colleagues. Multiple teacher practices proved effective in addressing the engagement, achievement, and performance of Black boys: addressing microaggressions and building relationships that foster a safe space for learning; incorporating student culture; use of mentor texts and storytelling; and distributive leadership for teachers and students.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Middle School education|Pedagogy|Teacher education|Black studies|Gender studies

Recommended Citation

Barnes, Rosalyn Selina, "Transforming School-Wide Professional Development Utilizing Culturally Relevant Pedagogy to Engage Black Boys" (2021). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28646347.