Recasting the challenges of classroom management: Strengthening capacity of teacher-student interactions to engage diverse learners

How can professional development tools help teachers avoid racial disparities in their disciplinary practices?

This project draws on more than 10 years of research—including projects funded by the Foundation—focused on measuring and improving teacher-student interactions. This research has shown that when teachers’ observation skills and self-awareness of their interactions with students increases, the quality of these interactions improves. Because students of color experience punitive and exclusionary discipline at highly disproportionate rates, this Officers’ Research Grant addresses racial disparity in teachers’ use of exclusionary discipline in the classroom. The PI and his team will pilot and assess professional development resources that foster teachers’ skills to interact more effectively with students from different racial, ethnic, language, and economic backgrounds. These include online learning modules that focus on positive classroom management with racially and ethnically diverse students, and activities that build self-awareness of implicit biases. The focus is on reducing disproportionality in discipline, but the modules are intended to help teachers see and understand the impact of their behavior on all students. The modules will be tested with 50 pre-service and in-service teachers in Baltimore, Maryland and Hampton, Virginia.

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