Toward an intersectional learning community : a hermeneutic phenomenology describing K–12 educator’s experiences with school discipline.


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Recent research indicates a critical factor in prosperous and equitable learning experiences is to limit or eliminate exclusionary discipline practices (Gregory et al., 2017; Gregory & Fergus, 2017). Educators may choose to meet students with relational and research-based approaches in building community relationships or respond with outdated punitive and retributive systems when negative classroom or school behaviors arise. These retributive responses to discipline historically and disproportionately impact students of color. This qualitative study describes the lived experiences of in-service educators concerning their choice of discipline methods. The goal is to accurately describe the nuances of teacher decision-making when those decisions involve whether to employ an integration of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy/practices (CRP) and Restorative Justice, Discipline, and Dialogue (RDP) as elements of a Professional Learning Community (PLC). This study also explores in-service teacher metacognition, the intersections of cultural consciousness, and the successful use of restorative discipline practices. The goal is to advocate for an integrated approach to CRP and RDP that considers teacher metacognitive strategies and skills to improve in-service teacher development within PLCs. This approach promotes the development of an intersectional learning community and ultimately seeks to eradicate social and emotional inequities that disproportionately impact children of color. Critical race, transformative learning theories, and restorative dialogue are the principle lenses for this study (Armour, 2016; Bell, 1995; Christie et al., 2015a; Delgado, 2012; Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995; Mezirow, 2003; Payne & Welch, 2015; Taylor, 2008). This study’s primary focus is educators’ lived experiences, understanding that knowledge is not neutral and echoes the power and social relationships (Johnson et al., 2018). This study utilizes a hermeneutic phenomenological methodology. Data collection includes three participants and three semi-structured interviews with teachers from a small charter school in Houston, TX. The results indicate three findings, including teacher experiences directly impacting their responses, the importance of critical consciousness, and the need for intersectional learning communities. The research details the findings, derived implications, and recommendations for future research. This study promotes a shift in the collective dialogue around teachers building critical consciousness, leading to more humanizing teaching and learning.



Intersectionality. Hermeneutic phenomenology.