Teacher Perceptions on the Social Justice Impact of Saeed's Skits in American History Classrooms
Background: A plethora of research exists to support arts integration, such as Saeed’s skits. However, public school teachers who desire to implement activities like Saeed’s skits face an ever-increasing loss of autonomy and pressure to conform. Some teachers find ways to continue teaching in ways that they feel are effective for their own classrooms. Purpose: The researcher, an author of numerous content-rich, humor-infused history skits (“Saeed’s skits”), sought to illuminate teacher perceptions about their social justice impact (student engagement and sense of community) in American History classrooms. Methods: The researcher utilized narrative self-inquiry as well as narrative and focus group interviews with two teacher participants who had utilized Saeed’s skits in their classrooms. All interviews were transcribed, then narratives (stories) were created for each participant. The stories facilitated the data analysis (coding) process. A flexible coding scheme was used to isolate recurring themes in the narratives for analysis. Results: The researcher and two teacher participants shared many similarities in background and preferred teaching strategies. All participants reported perceptions of Saeed’s skits as having increased the social justice climate in their history classrooms. Emergent themes included the increasing loss of teacher autonomy (focus on testing, district-mandated materials, micromanagement, and a need for coping/system-bucking behaviors) and the influence of teacher mentoring upon feelings about arts integration, including Saeed’s skits. Conclusion: The researcher and both teacher participants provided evidence that Saeed’s skits were effective in promoting social justice in history classrooms. Concurrently, all three reported increasing district encroachment upon teacher autonomy and had devised many short-term coping behaviors as they navigated ways to continue using activities of their own choosing. Ideas were generated for possible long-term social action on this problem.