Working with Difficult Colleagues, Promoting Social Justice, Addressing Deficit Thinking

1st: Citation
2nd: Quotations from article
3rd: Quotation from classmate

Mac Donald, E. (2011). When nice won't suffice: honest discourse is the key towards shifting school culture. SD, 32(3), 45-51. Retrieved from http://www.learningforward.org/news/get Document.cfm?articleID=2282
  • “Teachers must be willing to expose their struggles and failures with their colleagues and colleagues must be willing to tell the truth, or teams will go through the motions of collaborative inquiry but never see results.”
  • If we, as educators, stay in the “culture of nice” we won’t ever make any progress.

Alemán, E. (2009). "Leveraging Conflict for Social Justice: How "Leadable" Moments Can Transform School Culture." Journal of Cases in Educational Leadership 12(4) 1-16
  • "Leaders cannot make social justice happen by their passion and will alone. The huge shifts in cultural understandings and societal and school expectations will happen only with the shared values, coalitions, networking and mutual support that come with the power of engaging groups of people in social movements, which results in the building of social capital, and, eventually, political power (pp. 13)."
  • This is interesting to consider as many of us have already had the experience of being put down for our social justice ideology in our placements. This article left me thinking however, how exhausting it do these "teachable moments" and to what extent should we invest our energy in "teaching" our colleagues?
  • “However, the deficiency in bilingual faculty and staff is not the most troubling aspect of this for Mrs. Pitt [the principal]. Rather, it is the underlying tension that she encountered when trying to have broader faculty and staff discussions on educating all children, utilizing the school’s diversity to their advantage, and engaging parents not historically included in the school. The resistance she senses, especially from her most senior teachers, has been a point of contention since arriving at the school” (Pg. 4).
  • You find allies not just at the school but in the school district as well and that sometimes, the trouble lies in the teachers who refuse to reflect on their practices and think of ways to include students of color. I think that going to the district would help because it’s hard for the senior teachers to not change if their bosses are telling them they have to.

Solorzano, Daniel and Yosso, Tara. (2002) “Critical Race Methodology: Counter-Storytelling as an Analytical Framework for Education Research.” Qualitative Inquiry; 8 (23) 23-44
  • In addressing deficit-thinking “A method of telling the stories of those people whose experiences are not often told (i.e., those on the margins of society). The counter-story is also a tool for exposing, analyzing, and challenging the majoritarian stories of racial privilege. Counter-stories can shatter complacency, challenge the dominant discourse on race, and further the struggle for racial reform. Yet, counter-stories need not be created only as a direct response to majoritarian stories” (p. 32)”

Stolp, S. (1991, June). Leadership for school culture. ERIC Digest
  • School culture as," values, beliefs, ceremonies, rituals, traditions, and myths understood, maybe in varying degrees, by members of the school community (Stolp and Smith 1994). This system of meaning often shapes what people think and how they act" (p. 1).

MacDonald, H. (2011). Communicating Effectively with All Colleagues, Even "Difficult" Ones. National Association of School Psychologists. Communique, 39(5), 22-23.
  • "The ability to communicate effectively becomes particularly critical when faced with an oppositional, unsupportive, or adversarial colleague." (p.1)
  • We can’t be confrontational or try to enact change on the first day. With everything that we do, and have been talking about in previous articles, things take time. I think that building and earning trust and letting people know who you are is very important. After all you almost never accept advice from a stranger!


Hatton, N. & Smith, D. (1995). Reflection in teacher education: Towards definition and implementation. Sydney, Australia: The University of Sydney, School of Teaching and Curriculum Studies. Available online at http://alex. edfac.usyd.edu.au/LocalResource/Study1/hattonart.html
  • "The next step in deconstructing deficit thinking is to understand the origins of such beliefs. Ask purposeful questions to help group members identify assumptions governing their behavior, how they developed these assumptions, and how these assumptions are related to expectations for student and parent behavior."

Hoerr, T. R. (2004). Valuing Conflict. Educational Leadership, 62(4), 89.
  • "Good teachers are passionate about their jobs, their students, their curriculum, and their pedagogy, but their passion can easily wane if they don t have the opportunity to communicate their perspectives to others. And we kid ourselves when we assume that substantive issues will resolve themselves or just go away if we ignore them." (Hoerr, p. 1)

Levinson, M. (2007). Common Schools and Multicultural Education. Journal of philosophy of education, 41(4), 625-642.
  • “Because [multicultural education] uses critical pedagogy as its underlying philosophy and focuses on knowledge, reflection, and action (praxis) as the basis for social change, multicultural education promotes democratic principles of social justice.”

Shields, Carolyn. (2004) Dialogic Leadership for Social Justice: Overcoming Pathologies of Silence. Educational Administration Quarterly. 40 (1) February 2004. 109-132
  • Bakhtin suggests that entering into a relationship and participating in dialogue with another person is the means by which one may overcome ‘closedness’ and achieve understanding. For Bakhtin (1986), depth of understanding only occurs when we encounter difference and deal with it in ways that address its meanings”. (128)
  • “Bogotch (2000) has defined educational leadership as a ‘deliberate intervention that requires the moral use of power’ (p. 2). I take up this definition and suggest that rather than trying to balance numerous competing programs and demands, one of the central interventions of educational leaders must be the facilitation of moral dialogue.” (110)
  • "Educators often find it difficult to acknowledge difference, in part, I think, because we have not learned to distinguish between recognizing differences in legitimate ways and using a single characteristic or factors as a way of labeling and consequently of essentializing others. Sometimes we are afraid of being politically incorrect..." (Shields, 2004, pg. 117

Cochran-Smith, M., Shakman, K., Jong, C., Terrell, D.G., Barnatt, J., McQuillan, P. (2009): Good and Just Teaching: The Case for Social Justice in Teacher Education. American Journal of Education 115(3), 347-377.
  • “We use these analyses to challenge contemporary critiques of social justice agendas in teaching education, suggesting that the critiques are largely based on false dichotomies between social justice and knowledge/learning, on one hand, and flawed assumptions about teacher education as a neural and value-free enterprise, on the other. Instead we point out that teacher education for social justice is an agenda that not only does not shortchange attention to students’ learning but in fact it makes enhancing students’ learning and their life chances its core commitment. We argue that teaching for social justice or what we title here ‘good and just teaching’ reflects a central and essential purpose of teaching in a democratic society, wherein the teacher is an advocate for students whose work supports larger efforts for social chance.” (349)

Jupp, J C. (2010). White male teachers on difference: Narratives of contact and tensions. QSE. International journal of qualitative studies in education, 23(2), 199-215.
  • “By way of definition, narratives of contact refer to participants’ narratives about students and communities that differ from their own social or cultural background regarding race, class, culture, and language” (205). The research finds that many white male teachers have contradictory sentiments about their students of color. While recognizing that there are structures that keep students of color from achievement, these teachers still exhibit deficit thinking

Ritchie, S. (2012). Incubating and Sustaining: How Teacher Networks Enable and Support Social Justice Education. Journal of teacher education, 63(2), 120-131.
  • "Critical pedagogy operates from a vision of how society could be, simultaneously denouncing oppressive structures and announcing more humane, democratic, and other just possibilities. Teachers who enact critical pedagogy listen to their students and build their teaching and learners' interests and experiences rather than seeing curriculum as something to be 'deposited' or 'delivered' into their empty heads" (p. 121).

Shields, C.M. (2004) "Dialogic leadership for social justice: overcoming pathologies of silence." Educational Administration Quarterly 40 (1): 109-132.
  • "Bishop and colleagues (2002b) report that when educators begin to overcome deficit thinking, take responsibility for student outcomes, relate to students in positive and encouraging ways, and introduce more interactive pedagogical strategies, student achievement soars remarkably quickly."


Houghton, P. (2001). Finding Allies: Sustaining Teachers' Health and Well-being. Phi Delta Kappan, 82(9), 706-11.
  • "We as teachers tend to isolate ourselves. But the job of teaching is too big and too complex to be done alone. We need one another...The first step to bolding communities of teachers as allies may be just to be honest...We cannot support one another if we feel the need to hide behind a facade." (p. 707)

Milner IV, H. R. (2007). Disrupting deficit notions of difference: Counter-narratives of teachers and community in urban education. Teaching and Teacher Education 24 (2008) 1573–1598
  • "For instance, what does a teacher’s racial and cultural background and narrative have to do with how he or she develops the curriculum and implements it? How do students’ stories (and counter-stories) influence their engagement and learning in urban schools? Teachers and students are texts themselves—they are, in a sense, living narratives and counter-narratives. Their pages are inundated with life experiences and histories of racism, sexism, oppression, and classism along with those of strengths, perseverance, and success. Consequently, teachers’ and students’ texts are rich and empowering—they have the potential to change and improve the world."

Murray, Olivia. (2011) A Call for K-12 Schools to Invest in Social Justice Education. Education Digest; January 2011, Vol. 16 Issue 5, p 60-65.
  • "An equity team can also explore the respect for different cultures represented in the curriculum by asking how the content and access to textbooks and library resources affects marginalized students".

Collay, M. Retracing the roots of teacher activism in urban schools. Education, Citizenship and Social Justice. v.5,3. 221-233.2010
  • “Teachers who are fully committed to student learning take action on students’ behalf within flawed organizational structures whether they consider themselves formal leaders. Taking action requires both commitment to students and the capacity to enact change within and beyond the classroom. Such leadership actions not only create greater opportunities for student learning, they can only be conducted within an equitable and democratic adult learning community (230)."

Richie, Scott (2012). Incubating and Sustaining: How Teacher Networks Enable and Support Social Justice Education. Journal of Teacher Education, 63 (2), 120-131, Print.
  • "these critical educators discussed the importance of being a part of social and professional networks after they started to teach. These networks helped sustain their work as teachers, especially considering how for many teachers, critical work can become lonely or isolating" (Richie 126).

James Wilson, S. (2011). 5 stages on the path to equity: Framework challenges urban teachers' deficit thinking. Journal of Staff Development, 32(3), 26-28.
  • "The challenge of low expectations resonated for one school administrator who worked with teacher leaders to examine ways in which belief systems and attitudes influenced the staffs daily interaction with students and parents. 'We were nailing the instruction, becoming better educators, but (closing the achievement gap) was really about our attitudes. I was compelled to take a closer look at data and realized that any gap is really about low expectations,' she said" (Wilson, 2011, p.3).