Transformative Black Teachers and their Use of Computer Related Technologies in Urban Schools

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Over the last decade, the Internet and other computer-related technologies have become ubiquitous to many U.S. schools. However, little is known about the ways Black educators working in urban schools integrate computer technology into their classroom practice. Although studies have been conducted on successful urban schoolteachers and their pedagogical philosophies, few explore how instructional computers are used to meet diverse students' personal and cultural needs. Furthermore, rarely do reports seek to highlight the stories of exemplary Black urban schoolteachers who use technology in spite of limited and out-dated resources. In response, this research, utilizing interpretive case study methodology, examined how four Black teachers integrated the Internet and computer-related technologies into their teaching practices in ways that transformed the thinking and lives of their Black students. Tenets of Critical Race Theory, an analysis of race and racism in the law and in society, was used to examine these Black teachers' classroom practices.

This research occurred in two phases. First, I situated the historical, social and political context of Roosevelt City and the emergence of its Black schooling system. This account provided a context for understanding the historical struggle of its Black community to access knowledge within a city based on racial domination and subordination. I analyzed archival data, newspapers and articles, to capture the historical and current atmosphere of Roosevelt City Public Schools. During the second phase, I chose four "transformative" Black teachers to participate in 1) a formal interview about their life story and their teaching philosophies using computer technology; 2) a series of on-going classroom observations in which I examined the classroom dynamics, discourse patterns, activities and the physical setting; and, 3) a series of informal interviews about specific interactions in the classroom. Through the use of ngona, counter-storying, I documented their teaching practice over the course of one thematic unit. Overall, the findings suggest that computers and related technologies 1) assisted teachers in engaging in meaningful instruction about the Black experience, 2) served as an intellectual partner where Black students constructed knowledge; and, 3) became a medium for legitimizing Black student' real life experiences in the "official curriculum."