“Walking on Eggshells” a Critical Reflection on Racial Tension at a Predominantly White Independent High School

Daniel P Morrison, University of Pennsylvania


This ethnographic, practitioner research used a racial literacy framework and a critical analysis of discourse to explicate a tension between the institutional norms and values of our predominantly white independent school community and our expressed desire to build a sense of shared understanding and partnership among all stakeholders. As a cisgendered white man who teaches students in grades 9-12, I chose to create a space for other white faculty who also work with students in the high school to reflect on the role teachers play in the creation of a more equitable and inclusive school environment. Selecting for participants who identify as white allowed for both a more focused data analysis and positions this study to contribute to the body of literature concerning the strategic allyship of white educators. This practitioner inquiry was guided by the following research question: How do white faculty navigate and negotiate conversations about race and racism in our predominantly white independent school community? The first phase of this study consisted of fifteen, one-on-one semi-structured interviews in which participants shared the patterns of racial inequity and interpersonal racism they observed in our community, as well as their thoughts about the role teachers play in disrupting these patterns. In the second phase of the study, the participants were invited back in pairs to read and discuss excerpts from the first round of participant interviews. The audio from these conversations was recorded, transcribed and analyzed. The findings focus on how we -- white faculty who teach at a predominantly white independent high school -- discursively frame our understanding of ourselves, our classrooms, and our students. Implications for current and future community building initiatives are discussed.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Pedagogy|Teacher education

Recommended Citation

Morrison, Daniel P, "“Walking on Eggshells” a Critical Reflection on Racial Tension at a Predominantly White Independent High School" (2019). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI27544946.