Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Education, Educational Leadership & Policy Studies

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Carl Hoagland EdD


Phyllis Balcerzak PhD

Thomasina Hassler PhD

Thomas Hoer PhD


As a White teacher in public education, I have had the great pleasure of educating students from all over the globe. My career began in a district that served predominantly White students from middle class families. The only Black students I interacted with were those bused in from the city while participating in the desegregation program. There were noticeable biases and beliefs teachers held toward those students. However, since I was early on in my career with little experience, I was unaware of damage being done to these students. Once I began working for an extremely diverse district, in a building with a population of approximately 80% Black students and 90% free and reduced lunch, I began to notice discrepancies in the attitudes other teachers in our districts had about our specific student population. After the building closed and the students were dispersed into majority White populated schools, it became apparent that students of color did not academically perform as well as their White counterparts. The students suffered from both academic and discipline disparities. Further research showed students of color and those in special education are at the highest risk of being suspended and expelled because of the unequal discipline strategies White teachers enacted (Gonzalez, 2015). I believe this disparity can be attributed to bias and racism, which leads to low interest in school and higher dropout rates, directly correlating to jail time and keeps the school-to-prison pipeline open (Schiff, 2013).

Through autoethnography I used reflexive journaling of my personal experiences, noting points of inflection or potential change in my awareness, by interrogating my racial biases. I shared my reflections on my own narratives to attempt to see my Whiteness through the theoretical framework of Critical Whiteness Studies so that I may gain an understanding on how my teaching pedagogy impacts students of color. Analytical reflection created fundamental understanding on how I, as a White teacher, can combat inequity in discipline strategies used against Black students, advocate for equitable curriculum instruction that is culturally relevant, and diminish racial biases in myself and other White teachers in the hopes of promoting anti-racist teaching in public education.