Creating a Critical Professional Development Space at TechBoston Academy for Anti-Racist Transformation

Teacher Development Grant

 2019-2020 Project Summary

Casey Andrews

TechBoston Academy • Boston, MA

As educators, it is a primary aim that all of our students be provided a safe, rigorous learning experience that supports them to expand their thinking skills, creative capacities, and strategies for greater self-awareness. Many barriers make this task difficult, especially the oppressive systems governing American society, like white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, and heterosexism, among others.
TechBoston Academy (TBA) is a school working tirelessly to support their students, the majority of whom are low-income young people of color. Compared to district or state schools,students struggle to meet standardized expectations. Even within their school, male students, students with identified learning disabilities, and English language learner students (ELLs) all graduate at lower rates than their peers within the school. These disparities, only briefly mentioned here, have galvanized the project team to take action to improve our school culture by addressing the beliefs, behaviors, and pedagogical choices of the professionals at TBA. In this effort, they are developing curriculum for a “critical professional development” collective of teachers to work together during spring and summer to develop whole-staff professional development.
CPD provides a useful model for educators to build an anti-racist movement within their institution by harnessing communal expertise and energy through a collaborative process. In particular, CPD provides a way for adults to develop critical thinking about their own ways of knowing in order to move towards producing both personal and institutional growth.
Traditional professional development, as articulated by Kohli et al., is “top-down” and “antidialogical,” yielding little change in thinking or behavior for participants. In contrast, CPD is proposed as a model that allows teachers to collectively design and facilitate experiences for their peers using lived experience and political awareness as a foundation. At TBA, their mixed-race, mixed-gender group of faculty will leverage previous experience with anti-racist training and facilitation to design a curriculum for their colleagues that will help our institution move towards becoming more explicitly anti-racist on many layers. Through several meetings this spring and final, longer meetings in the summer, the CPD collective at TBA will be able to initiate their own personal anti-racist growth while collaboratively reimagining what professional development can look like at our school. It is their hope to facilitate larger scale anti-racist change at our school through this process.
1. “TechBoston Academy 2017 Performance Data Overview,” Boston Public Schools Office of Data and Accountability, Boston Public Schools, Accessed 1/31/2019,
2. Rita Kohli et al., “Critical Professional Development: Centering the Social Justice Needs of Teachers.” International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, 6, no. 2 (2015): 7.

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