Brianna L. Kennedy-Lewis

University of Florida
School of Teaching and Learning

P.O. Box 117048
2423 Norman Hall
Gainesville, FL
32611 |  Visit Personal Website

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Dr. Brianna L. Kennedy-Lewis is an Assistant Professor in the School of Teaching and Learning. Her research centers on underserved public school students who do not demonstrate traditionally defined academic and social success. Her broader research interests include alternative education; assessment and evaluation; policy implementation; early adolescence and middle grades education; alienation and resilience; philosophy of education; and qualitative research methods. She has taught both online and on-campus courses on the social context of urban education, human differences and teaching special populations, and teacher leadership for school change. Dr. Kennedy-Lewis comes to the University of Florida as a former middle school teacher who worked primarily in the Los Angeles Unified School District. During her teaching career, she gravitated toward the most marginalized students in her classes and chose to teach for several years in a community day school with expelled students. Her current research investigates the personal, social, and institutional factors that lead to students being pushed out of school. She takes a special interest in examining the ideological assumptions, policy implementations, and daily classroom practices that result in inequitable educational experiences.

Kennedy, B. L. 2011. "The Importance of Student and Teacher Interactions for Disaffected Middle School Students: A Grounded Theory Study of Community Day Schools." Urban Education 46 (1):4-33.
Abstract: Students who are expelled from school often demonstrate the need for alternative learning environments that respond to their academic disengagement as well as their behavioral challenges.Teachers in such environments contend with a variety of student needs while attempting to engage students in the learning process.This grounded theory study examines student and teacher interactions in community day school (CDS) classrooms in one large, urban school district in the southwest. Through semistructured interviews and observations, the researcher develops an emerging theory that describes the interactions between teachers and students. Interactions vary in nature depending on student and teacher characteristics, their self-definitions and beliefs, and the influence of support staff.Various interactions precede specific student outcomes, which can be both intended and unintended. This article explains the interplay between the categories listed above and gives concrete examples from classrooms about how student and teacher interactions can lead to, or impede, growth for both students and teachers.
DOI: 10.1177/0042085910377305
Kennedy, B. L. 2011. "Teaching Disaffected Middle School Students: How Classroom Dynamics Shape Students’ Experiences." Middle School Journal 42 (4):32-42.
Abstract: Zero tolerance policies have proliferated nationwide with little attention being paid to the education of student offenders after expulsion. The dearth of knowledge regarding the school experiences of this population disproportionately affects early adolescents because they are most frequently subjected to exclusionary discipline. This case study examines classroom practices at one alternative middle school in California designed to serve this population of students. Findings show that teachers' implementation of instructional practices, classroom management, and rapport building mutually reinforced each other to either facilitate or hinder teachers' daily goals. Furthermore, a focus on punitive discipline in this context reinforced ineffective teacher practices.
Kennedy, B. L. In Press. "What Happens After Students Are Expelled? Understanding Teachers’ Successes and Failures at One Alternative Middle School." Teachers College Record.
Abstract: Background Federal zero tolerance policies require the exclusion of students exhibiting violent behaviors, with the intent of maintaining a safe school environment for other students to learn. In California, legislation has been passed which provides for the placement of expelled students in community day schools (CDSs). This study examines the daily practices of teachers in one CDS in order to begin to build a literature base about these contexts. Drawing from the theory of pastoral care, the study examines the way teachers implement casework, classroom management, and curriculum and instruction. Data collection for this study occurred at Vista Hermosa Community Day School (VHCDS), which serves at least 100 district students throughout the course of a given school year and represents a typical urban CDS. During the semester that data collection occurred, enrollment ranged from 21 to 52 students. All of the teachers, administrators, counselors, and support staff at Vista Hermosa agreed to participate. In comparison with the district and state, students at Vista Hermosa are disproportionately male and from low-income, ethnic minority backgrounds. Conversely, teachers are disproportionately Caucasian, though also disproportionately male. This study utilized a multiple case study approach by first analyzing individual teachers' practices at one urban CDS and then generalizing across classrooms to draw conclusions. Seventy-five hours of school-based observations, semi-structured interviews with nine teachers, 17 students, 14 counselors and administrators, and relevant documents provided data for analysis. Codes for this study drew directly from the theoretical framework of pastoral care. Case reports for each teacher provided material for interpretive analyses. The creation of narrative case summaries finalized the data reduction process and then became material for cross case analyses. Data show that casework, curriculum, and classroom management mutually reinforce each other in educating persistently disciplined students at this school. This finding is significant because it suggests that teachers' success or failure in CDS contexts depends on their attention to, and successful implementation of, all three areas of practice. Typically, each of these constructs stands alone in discussions regarding teaching and learning. This study suggests that CDS teachers need access to high quality, relevant professional development tailored to the CDS context. Providing such support as a prevention strategy to teachers in comprehensive schools rather than after students commit disciplinary offenses may successfully preclude their exclusion from comprehensive schools.

Substantive Focus:
Education Policy PRIMARY

Theoretical Focus:
Agenda-Setting, Adoption, and Implementation PRIMARY
Policy Analysis and Evaluation SECONDARY