Background/Purpose Urban schools are beset by a host of unique and powerful social, educational and youth health challenges, which position health education (HE) as critical. However, health educators, especially in urban schools, cite significant barriers to offering optimal HE, thus exposing the importance of effective and contextually sensitive professional development (PD). The purpose of this study was to use a cultural competence theoretical framework (Flory & McCaughtry, in press) to examine urban HE teachers' perspectives on effective nutrition and tobacco education PD.
Method We used ethnographic methods (LeCompte & Schensul, 1999), which included: observations of PD planning (2), PD workshops (2); interviews of PD specialists (2) and HE teachers (36); and document collection (e.g., curricula, teacher workshop evaluations, workshop materials) with 23 urban middle school HE teachers over two school years. Data were analyzed using constant comparison and trustworthiness strategies included: triangulation, negative case analyses, and member checks.
Analysis/Results HE teachers cited four main themes regarding their perceptions of effective PD: (1) diverse and credible PD staff (e.g., racial diversity, knowledge and experience in the community, past teaching in urban schools); (2) culturally competent curricula (e.g., contextually relevant topics, examples, scenarios, images, and tone); (3) flexible implementation expectations (e.g., merging with other topics, few top-down mandates, understanding urban dilemmas, modified lessons to fit instructional window); (4) the need for follow-up support beyond workshops (e.g., facilitate better understanding, solve implementation obstacles, modeling, feedback).
Conclusions The discussion focuses on the unique ways that urban health educators perceive and experience PD.