Sue Romas

Publication Date



Professional development is a main strategy that schools use to change educator practice (Darling-Hammond et al., 2017; Desimone, 2009), which has increasingly become a focus because of community pressure to ensure educational equity (Ahebee, 2020; Graves, 2020; Miller, 2022; Vegas & Winthrop, 2020). Yet there is little consensus about how to pursue professional development related to equity practice, especially outside of administrator leadership (Bottiani et al., 2018; Ishimaru & Galloway, 2014; Kezar et al., 2021; Theoharis, 2007; 2010). Teacher leaders, equity directors, and educators in the non-profit space are uniquely positioned to provide new insight into professional development for equity. This qualitative study utilized grounded theory (Charmaz, 2014) and included intensive interviews, document analysis, and a community circle with nine participants (Boyes-Watson & Pranis, 2020; Charmaz, 2014). Analysis utilized in vivo and process coding methods throughout four phases of analysis (Charmaz, 2014; Saldaña, 2016). Findings include that emotional discomfort with the content of equity learning emerges in many forms. Skilled equity leaders expect, plan for, and prepare learners for emotional discomfort and transformative learning in their professional development by using strategies such as story sharing and slowing down to build trust, and using social and emotional learning for adults. They also create custom frameworks for practice for their schools that combine approaches to equity, including culturally responsive teaching, anti-racism, restorative practice, trauma informed care, and social and emotional learning. A proposed framework for professional development for equity integrates best practice in professional development with attention to emotions and transformative learning.


Career development--Evaluation; Career development--Research; Career development--Psychological aspects; Culturally relevant pedagogy; Transformative learning

Publication Information

Copyright for this work is retained by the author.

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation