Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education and Human Development

Committee Member

Phillip Wilder

Committee Member

Mikel W. Cole

Committee Member

Jacquelynn Malloy

Committee Member

Luke Rapa


Immediately following the 2016 election, teachers reported a previously-unseen level of animosity from their students mimicking the rhetoric of President Trump, often verbatim. The combination of racial, ethnic, religious, and bias-motivated bullying and language has been referred to as the “Trump Effect” in the media and among educators (Nygreen, Lazdowski, & Bialostok, 2017). While teachers in all subject areas may have the potential to address this dehumanizing rhetoric, this study focused on foreign/world language (FL) and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), which are areas that have not been thoroughly explored as a particularly important and relevant site for change in which to address the problem.

Following a mixed methods explanatory sequential design (Creswell & Plano Clark, 2017), the first phase employed a nationwide survey of K-12 FL and ESOL teachers from a variety of teaching contexts and demographics. The results show that teachers’ experiences with sociopolitical hostility in their school combined with their beliefs in a social justice pedagogy were significant predictors of taking action in the classroom. Then, qualitative follow-up interviews shed light on the actions that were ultimately taken. These actions were labeled: Classroom permeability and possibility; curricula as safe harbor; and discursive approach to social justice pedagogy. Key implications of the study include the need to dismiss the notion of “neutrality” in teaching and, instead, embrace teaching as a form of resistance.



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