Symposium: Working Toward Teacher Ownership and Meaningful School Improvement

Schedule Information

April 30, 12:25 – 1:55 pm, Grand Hyatt San Antonio, Third Floor, Bonham E

Panel Abstract

Currently, in education reform, where one idea, program or innovation is quickly replaced with another, teacher ownership is critical. Teacher ownership encompasses how a school improvement effort is implemented by teachers – by those individuals engaged with and influencing students’ learning. Additionally, teacher ownership recognizes that those responsible for change must have a voice in creating and directing that change. Teacher ownership recognizes the power of the collective – it is a cultural construct that necessitates a shared understanding and commitment among those implementing the effort. The papers in this symposium explore teachers’ understanding of the construct of ownership, provide a better understanding of the opportunities, structures, practices that lead to teacher ownership, and the critical outcomes of ownership.

Panel Chair

Barnett Berry, Center for Teaching Quality


1534 Marisa SaundersChristian Quintero (Los Angeles Unified School District) and Marisa Saunders (AISR), “Teacher Collective Leadership to Ensure Equal Access to High-Quality Education”

Ways of thinking about teacher leadership have evolved and expanded over time. Currently, teacher leadership is viewed in as the process of “reculturing” schools so that they can maximize teachers’ instructional expertise, and change can be realized. Also, there is a relationship between opportunities to lead and a sense of ownership. Teacher who report more “control” over the policies in their school, greater degrees of autonomy within their school settings are more likely to remain in teaching, feel invested in their profession, in their schools, and in students’ learning.

In this paper, the authors explore how Linked Learning, Promise Neighborhoods, and community school approaches provide a vehicle for collective leadership and an increased sense of ownership. Across participating sites, teachers indicated that they were provided opportunities to take on leadership roles. that enabled them to integrate principles of the initiatives into the purpose and mission of the school. The authors identify institutionalized processes and conditions for collective leadership wherein “everyone has a voice.” Teachers’ perceptions of their opportunity to share in decision-making and leadership were associated with greater teacher satisfaction as evidenced through survey responses, teacher attendance and turnover.

1531 Wendy PerezMichelle Renée Valladares (University of Colorado Boulder) and Wendy Y. Perez (AISR), “Co-Constructed Knowledge for Collective Teacher Action”

Whereas teacher knowledge was once defined narrowly as expertise in classroom content, pedagogy, and skills, this paper discusses the value of expanding it to include an understanding of how students learn, and the context in which students and teachers learn. We further explore how co-constructed knowledge – knowledge that is comprehensive and collaborative – is a significant contributor to the development of teacher ownership. The paper uses survey and case study data to highlight the existence of co-constructed knowledge and its relationship to ownership. Teachers across case study sites demonstrated a need to go beyond traditional models of knowledge to fulfill the schools’ goals and purpose. This practice-oriented view underscores what is learned through the practice of teaching, the practice of developing relationships with a range of stakeholders within the school setting, and the practice of learning from individuals who are provided the responsibility of sharing knowledge.

1530 Vianna AlcantaraRuth Maria Lopez (University of Houston) and Vianna Alcantara (AISR), “Critical Teacher Agency: Transformative Teaching and Learning”

This paper examines the relationship between a culture of teacher ownership and teacher agency. Specifically, we explored the conditions necessary to create an environment that supports teachers’ agency and strengthens teachers’ voice in order to sustain a culture of ownership. We further explore the concept of critical teacher agency that we define as an agency that aims to transform the classroom and school oppressive practices in addition to working in solidarity with students to change structures of domination outside of the school walls. Teachers use their agency at their schools to set an agenda that results in students who think critically of their world and seek out ways to transform it for the better.

In a time when popular discourse around teachers is centered on effectiveness (based largely on test scores), we found that teachers within this school site are challenging the dominant narrative and providing a transformative experience for the school community as a whole. Supported through a vision and purpose of self-actualization, teachers were able to practice critical teacher agency in their classrooms, as leaders in their school, and as members of the larger community.

1529 Jaime Del RazoJaime Del Razo (AISR) and Laura A. Cervantes (Brown University), “Measuring Teacher Ownership, Knowledge, and Leadership”

Like many other components of a school’s culture, the concept of teacher ownership can feel ambiguous and perhaps immeasurable. This paper focuses on the development of a survey instrument aimed to measure teacher perspectives about how they gain knowledge, to what extent they feel they can influence practice and shape improvement strategies, and to what extent they feel their own values, beliefs and norms about education and students’ learning are reflected in and aligned with those established by the school: teacher ownership. 

This paper identifies ownership as a critical component of a school’s culture. We explore opportunities for modification and further use. The survey can assist in the exploration of conditions and practices that support and foster teacher ownership of education reform initiatives, as well as the conditions for collaboration that lead to teachers expanded knowledge and understanding of improvement efforts. In the current climate of education reform, where school reform efforts have largely failed to influence student achievement or to impact the ever-widening achievement gap, teacher ownership is critical.


Roundtable Session 4: Child Protection? Engaging the Politics of Childhood in a Carceral Landscape

Schedule Information

April 27, 2:15 – 3:45 pm, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom Level, Hemisfair Ballroom 3

1528 Elise HarrisAnnenberg Institute Presenters/Authors

Elise M. Harris, “The ‘Child’ in Child Study: Disrupting the Boundaries of Race and Gender in the Field” [research conducted as part of doctoral work at Tufts University]

Other Participants

Co-presenter: Sabina Elena Vaught, Tufts University
Chair: Michael Wilson, Teachers College, Columbia University


In this paper, we consider the ostensibly apolitical educational processes by which “the child” is differentially and politically produced across race, legal status, and gender. Specifically, we attend to two different educational contexts: one state, juvenile prison school; and, one private, trade school on the Outside. Drawing on qualitative data, we consider how “students” in these school sites are subjects of pre-professional curricular practices that appear apolitical and uniform. We argue that these consistent approaches across dramatically different sites produce outcomes seemingly located in the differences (and imagined attendant deficiencies or resources) in the students rather than in the systems that produced the varying locations of the students. In particular, we consider how the mechanisms of pre-professional curriculum serve to mask state and societal reproduction of racial labor and citizenship inequity in young men. 

This paper considers this curricular mechanism in the larger context of the field of Child Study and Human Development, which contributes significantly to the scholarly and commonsense understandings of the child in U.S. society. The field of Child Study understands the development of the child as derived from the dynamic and mutually constitutive and influential relationship between the person and context. For instance, some resilience theories suggest that adversity can be promotive for children and their families depending on how the child and the family perceive adversity. Focusing on the perception of adversity rather than the sources that produce adversity, places the responsibility for outcomes on the child and family. This approach not only allows for blaming youth for their own incarceration, but also fails to account for systemic and systematic violence against groups of youth and their families. 

Symposium: Co-Designing Family and Community Wellness and Educational Justice: Findings from the Family Leadership Design Collaborative

Schedule Information

April 29, 10:35 am – 12:05 pm, Grand Hyatt San Antonio, Second Floor, Lone Star Ballroom Salon F

1527 Vianna AlcantaraAnnenberg Institute Presenters/Authors

Vianna Alcantara, “Designing for Culturally Responsive Family Engagement: The Seeds of a Participatory Action Research Project”

Other Participants

Chair: Megan Bang, University of Washington


The purpose of this research is to conduct a participatory action research project with families to understand how families in a small Northeastern city with a high population of Latino@s and immigrants can contribute to developing more culturally responsive family engagement practices in the district’s schools. This research, which began with three design circles in August 2016 to set our collective research agenda for a a year-long participatory action research (PAR) project, builds upon several years of existing research our team has conducted on family engagement in this city.

We have found that despite the many inclusive family engagement practices the school district employs, many teachers, and some school leaders, continue to view families through a cultural deficit lens. In contrast to the cultural deficit lens, the framework of community cultural wealth highlights the specific strengths that families of color gain as a result of surviving and thriving in a racist and xenophobic society. Through this lens, educators can implement “culturally responsive family engagement,” integrating the funds of knowledge of culturally and linguistically diverse families into curriculum, pedagogy, and school governance. Culturally responsive family engagement is an extension of culturally responsive teaching; to better understand their students, teachers must better understand their families. Our goal is to collaborate with parents to learn how these strengths-based frameworks can become normative throughout district schools. We anticipate that because we are employing a PAR process, this research will result in tangible changes that are driven by strong public will. 

Symposium: Expanding Educational Opportunities for Black and Latino Male Students: Lessons from Four Urban School Districts

Schedule Information

April 30, 4:05 – 5:35 pm, Grand Hyatt San Antonio, Fourth Floor, Crockett B

1526 Rosann TungAnnenberg Institute Presenters/Authors

Rosann Tung, “District-Researcher Partnership for Closing the Black and Latino Male Opportunity Gap”

Other Participants

Chair: Paul Forbes, New York City Department of Education


Boston Public Schools leaders commissioned two studies of Black and Latino males to: 1) examine patterns of enrollment, access, and performance; and 2) conduct case studies of four schools doing comparatively well by them. The research findings were a call to action for the district and community, and spurred systemic practice and policy changes. This paper documents the research findings, highlight the actions taken by the district in response to the findings, and suggest areas for further improvement in supporting young men of color in schools. Instead of focusing on achievement gaps, the first study used an opportunity gap framework to move beyond limited notions of achievement towards policy recommendations that focus on the opportunities and conditions critical to Black and Latino male success. The theories that informed the second study include critical race theory, critical pedagogy, multicultural education, empowering education, and equity. 

The quantitative study revealed increasing diversity of Black and Latino males, particularly from Africa and the Caribbean, as well as striking disparities in access to educational opportunities. The case studies identified several generic themes, not focused on Black and Latino males, about effective practices: strong school cultures, professional collaboration, differentiated instruction, and family engagement. But none of the case study schools had an intentional and comprehensive schoolwide approach to educating Black and Latino males. Teaching and learning practices did not place value on students’ cultural and linguistic backgrounds; took a colorblind approach to instruction; and were not culturally responsive.

Symposium: Pondering Pedagogies of Teacher Activism: Purpose, Power, and Possibility

Schedule Information

May 1, 8:15 – 9:45 am, Grand Hyatt San Antonio, Second Floor, Mission B

1525 Keith CatoneAnnenberg Institute Presenters/Authors

Keith C. Catone, “AAH! Apprehension, Agency, and Hope Make Me a Teacher Activist”

Other Participants

Chair: Rita Kohli, University of California – Riverside
Discussants: Bree Picower, Montclair State Univesity; Christopher Emdin, Teachers College, Columbia University


Attempts to codify teaching practices into step-by-step methodologies oversimplify the nuanced work of education. Reformers searching for technical solutions to the challenges of education look for methodological approaches that prescribe particular, often rigid, teaching practices. However, Grumet stresses the importance of “body knowledge,” pedagogy that stems from lived experience and life history. Treating teaching merely as a technical enterprise also obfuscates the sociocultural and political realities that give rise and shape to the challenges that many educators seek to address. This paper does not seek to codify a methodology of teacher activism, rather it seeks to understand the pedagogy that undergirds the work.

Drawing from data collected, the author develops a pedagogy of teacher activism focused on three areas: 1) purpose; 2) power; and 3) possibility. The life journeys of each teacher activist move them from moments of anxious apprehension to more critical understandings of the world that precipitate an angry apprehension to inform purpose. Teacher activist purpose is then fulfilled by an engagement with power in attempts to challenge and shift dominant power relations through forms of creative, resistive, and relational agency. The agency of teacher activism is sustained by a sense of critical hope that a new world is possible. This hope and possibility, in turn, help teacher activists renew their purpose.

Sadly, in recent years mainstream education reform has underscored an increasingly technical focus on teaching and learning that ignores the fluidity and dynamism that the pedagogy for teacher activism relies upon. The pedagogies stemming from such a focus will not be transformative, engaged, creative, critical, or humanizing. Prevailing pedagogies that align with the current reforms lack the imagination for what might be possible if we pursue education for freedom, justice, and liberation. Teacher activists offer an alternative to the tide of reform that has left so many educators, students, families, and communities dissatisfied in its wake.

Roundtable Session 32: Undocumented and First-Generation Youth Experiences

Schedule Information

May 1, 12:25 – 1:55 pm; Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom Level, Hemisfair Ballroom 3

1533 Rosann Tung, Sara McAlister and Vianna AlcantaraAnnenberg Institute Presenters/Authors

Rosann Tung, Sara McAlister, and Vianna Alcantara, “An Equity Perspective on Out-of-School Enrichment for Newcomer and Immigrant Youth”

Other Participants

Co-authors: Ruth Maria Lopez, University of Houston; Kerri A. Ullucci, Roger Williams University; and Jaein Lee, Harvard University


This paper is based on a study of English Language Learner (ELL) Enrichment Academies in New England that supported English language fluency and comprehension of middle and high school ELLs through summer programming. In 2014, twenty school districts implemented four-week summer academies serving a total of 1679 middle- and high school students – many of whom were newcomers, refugees, or immigrants. Focusing on the qualitative findings from six site visits, we highlight how these summer academies created successful learning environments for ELLs through culturally responsive curricula, community partnerships, and other enrichment programming. In this paper we discuss cross-cutting themes and implications for how school districts around the country could serve these populations of students in equitable ways.