Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Education and Human Services


Teacher Education and Teacher Development

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Emily J. Klein

Committee Member

Monica Taylor

Committee Member

Reva Jaffe-Walter


This qualitative dissertation study explored what informed the pedagogical moves of four teacher activists of emergent bilingual learners (EBLs). Quijano’s (2000) theory of coloniality of power served as a theoretical lens to examine the historical underpinnings of current education language legislation and policies impacting EBLs. There is a growing body of literature on teacher activism, but very few studies center teacher activism for linguistic justice. Picower’s (2012) framework for teacher activism was used to create data sources, which included interviews, artifacts, field visits, and personal communication. Data were analyzed using open and axial coding strategies. Findings were presented in four separate portraits—detailing each teacher activist’s conceptions of teacher activism and rich examples of each educator’s activism enacted inside and outside of their classrooms. This study concluded that teacher activists of EBLs possess dispositions with unique composition, exhibit a keen critical awareness of deficit raciolinguistic ideologies, and employ the use of culturally sustaining pedagogies in their classrooms. Each teacher activist’s portrait evidenced a nonlinear and dynamic relationship between their in-classroom and out-of-classroom activism, and spaces of hybridity mediated by contextual factors. The anticolonial methodological approach to collecting and analyzing data in the study created authentic opportunities for critical dialogue and critical reflection between the researcher and the teacher activists. Implications for teacher education, education research, and conceptions of activism are presented.

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