Research Spotlight: Carla-Ann Brown

Q & A with Carla-Ann Brown, Ed. D., University School Assistant Professor at the P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School

What research are you currently working on?

My primary research areas are equitable teaching and learning and Culturally Sustaining (CS) practices. Currently, my research focuses on promoting an anti-racist and CS school culture through advancing systems and structures that increase opportunities for faculty of color (FoC). More specifically, as repercussions of the pandemic and racially targeted state laws continue to negatively impact Black educators, research on the simultaneous impact of both external stressors (COVID-19 and racially targeted state laws) is lacking Black educator insights critical to improving educational systems. My goal is to develop robust representation in this research field by creating opportunities for Black K-12 educators to share their authentic experiences and personal truths, including acknowledging the consequences of these challenges on Black educator well-being, efficacy, and tenure. With this goal in mind, if awarded the 23-24 Spencer Postdoctoral fellowship, I intend to continue a cross-cultural and international analysis of how Black educators experience racialized school climates amidst a global COVID-19 pandemic that will begin during my Fulbright experience in the U.K. during the 2023 Spring semester.

What is the broader impact of your research?

Previously as a 6th-grade educator, I facilitated CS and universally designed environments and experiences that helped students apply their skills and knowledge beyond the classroom, as I provided grade-level experiences that created a sense of community among all teachers, students, and families. My work has aligned with the P.K. school mission of disseminating best practices, including standards-based grading and rubrics, student agency, self-regulated learning, and critical thinking and thought-provoking dialogue. Not only has my work influenced other educators and professionals at my school, but I have also had multiple opportunities to host and collaborate with educators from across the country and worldwide. As a practitioner-researcher, my work has afforded me opportunities to present at over twenty professional presentations (international, national, and state), lead professional learning opportunities for faculty and administration, and craft several publications in peer-reviewed journals.

What other research topics are you interested in?

Amplifying the experiences of underrepresented groups in educational research is consistent throughout my work. During the first half of my career, I completed a series of practitioner research studies to inform schoolwide commitments to transforming systems to better serve all students through creating CS and equitable learning environments. I have engaged in inquiry that focused on using a Standards-Based Grading model to facilitate a more equitable and well-balanced learning environment for all students built around the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and creating systems of dialogue and communication where students could reflect on their growth throughout a unit/semester. Over the past couple of years, I have also investigated the design and implementation of curricula comprised of the study of difficult history and the power of human voice used by minoritized communities to gain power and leverage democratic structures to achieve justice. This work was significant because it encouraged students to problematize the ideal of citizenship in a diverse and inclusive democracy, analyze the diversity in human perspectives, and interrogate historical decisions made, particularly those that impacted the experiences of historically marginalized groups.