Investigating the liberation mindset: A phenomenological study of the practices and mindsets of effective teachers working with underserved student populations
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This qualitative study was designed to investigate the practices, motivations, and mindsets of teachers creating academic success for underserved student populations, specifically students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and students of color. The study used Dr. Anthony Muhammad’s Mindset Framework as the theoretical framework and identified, using Muhammad’s mindset survey, specific teachers who possessed the liberation mindset and were demonstrating academic achievement with students based on value-added data. The teachers were then interviewed by the researcher to further explore and reflect on their experiences, practices, and motivations in their classrooms that led to increased student achievement. The teachers were also asked to reflect on what educational leaders do to foster an environment that grows the liberation mindset in teachers. The findings of the study identified four specific practices that each of the teachers utilized or experienced in their classrooms. The practices were the building of positive relationships, setting of high expectations, providing a structured learning environment, and intentionally choosing to be positive. The study was also able to identify three specific motivations held by all the teachers which was their care for children, their excitement when they see student success, and their view of teaching as their calling or purpose in life. Finally, the study was able to identify specific way in which educational leaders can foster the liberation mindset specifically through support of teachers, modeling for teachers and providing them opportunities to share with one another, providing mentoring opportunities, and making connections with parents.