Penn State

Consortium forSocial Movements and Education
Research and Practice

Tiffany M. Nyachae

Tiffany M. Nyachae

Assistant Professor of Education
(814) 865-0069
Tiffany Nyachae

Professional Bio

Tiffany M. Nyachae, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at The Pennsylvania State University, College of Education. She is also host and creator of a podcast called The Evolving Education Project which centers the educational joys, passions, interests, and inquiries of people of Color. Tiffany researches and facilitates teacher professional development, social justice literacy workshops for youth of Color, and extracurricular programming and curriculum for Black girls. Her publications have appeared in journals such as Urban Education, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, Multicultural Learning and Teaching, Gender and Education, and Qualitative Inquiry. Finally, she also volunteers her service to various community and professional organizations.

Research Interests

Social Justice, Teacher Professional Development, Literacy, Social Justice Literacy Workshop, Racial Literacy, Black Feminism, Black Feminist Pedagogy, Black Girlhood, Curriculum, Cultural and Racialized Processes Of Learning, Students and Teachers Of Color

Related Materials

Millennial Black women teachers wrestle with two simultaneous burdens: disrupting the racist and sexist status quo of schooling through curriculum, and employing tactics to survive school politics among their majority White women colleagues. This article describes how the Sisters of Promise (SOP) curriculum aligned with Black feminism and Black feminist pedagogy, and how it did not. This curriculum was created for Black girls within the margins of school by a millennial Black woman teacher and other Black women teachers. Analysis of the SOP curriculum revealed that even with the best of intentions, and even for relatively self-aware millennial Black women teachers, it is possible to present Black girl students with contradictory messages, due to a lack of exposure to Black feminism, Black feminist pedagogy, and the work of Black women educational scholars, in their curriculum studies. Included are implications and recommendations for millennial Black women teachers creating curriculum for Black girls.

Ohito, E. O., & Nyachae, T. M. (2019). Poetically poking at language and power: Using Black feminist poetry to conduct rigorous feminist critical discourse analysis. Qualitative Inquiry25(9-10), 839-850.

Entanglements of power, language, identities, and ideologies perturb Black feminist poets and Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) scholars alike. Here, we detail our use of Black feminist poetry to address concerns with rigor in CDA. We marry Black feminist theorizing about language to feminist CDA to illuminate how—for qualitative data analysis—poetry can foster rigor. Poetry also illuminates the suitability of feminist CDA for the Black feminist project of unveiling Black women’s discursive subjugation. Through poetry, we deconstruct and reconstruct initial analysis of data, then construct new analyses from emerging insights. Black feminist poetry provided a pathway for us to demonstrate rigor by (a) engendering precise identification, distilling, and conveying of evidence substantiating findings; (b) enriching researcher triangulation by prompting deepened dialogue—about and with data—to occur for coresearchers; and (c) stimulating reflexivity. We conclude with questions useful for leveraging Black feminist poetry for rigorous, expressly political critical qualitative inquiry.

Nyachae, T. M., & Ohito, E. O. (2019). No disrespect: A womanist critique of respectability discourses in extracurricular programming for Black girls. Urban Education, 0042085919893733.

This article explores how extracurricular programs designed as interventions in the criminalization of Black girls may constrict their identities. Through a womanist theoretical framework, authors investigate the discourses about Black girlhood that permeate one extracurricular initiative which aims to counter the effects of exclusionary discipline practices on Black girls. The authors find that these discourses advance respectability politics, thus reinforcing an exclusive model of ideal Black girlhood as one aligned with White, Western, Judeo-Christian, patriarchal, heterosexist, and middle-class values. Authors conclude with suggestions for how extracurricular initiatives may develop programming and curricula that are inclusive of pluralized Black girlhoods.

Our Research

Nyachae, T. M. (2019). Social justice literacy workshop for critical dialogue. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy63(1), 106-110.

The authors featured in this department column share instructional practices that support transformative literacy teaching and disrupt “struggling reader” and “struggling writer” labels.

Our Research

Boyd, F. B., Ridgeway, M. L., & Nyachae, T. M. (2019). “Is There Lead in My Water?”: Employing a Culturally Compelling Instructional Perspective to Teach for Change. Multicultural Learning and Teaching14(1).

In this paper we build a conceptual framework to argue for culturally compelling instruction that leads to teaching for change. Culturally compelling instruction calls for a substantive shift in how teachers view their students, communities, and what the perspective might mean for students’ future when they have access to alternative learning opportunities. The framework encourages teachers to take a stance and assume responsibility and ownership for their own decisions about the curriculum and instructional delivery. Most prominent is to acquire a depth of understanding of their students’ identities and needs. To represent our vision for culturally compelling instruction we use the lead poisoned water crisis in Flint, Michigan, USA as an illustrative case. Our work provides an example of how a real-world circumstance such as Flint’s may be integrated into content area subjects to frame a culturally compelling instructional practice.

Ohito, E. O., & Nyachae, T. M. (2019). Conceptualizing and Enacting Sensational Currere: Attuning to the Embodied Essence in Autobiographical Curriculum Inquiry. In Provoking Curriculum Encounters Across Educational Experience (pp. 193-205). Routledge.

In this chapter, we begin by conceptualizing sensational currere as a method to explore both our racialized and gendered autobiographies and our embodied encounters with a set of curricular materials created within an extracurricular program for working-class Black schoolgirls in the United States. We theorize sensational currere as a method of curriculum inquiry that attends to the curriculum workers’ 1) racialized and gendered autobiographies, and 2) body at the moment(s) and site(s) of the curriculum encounter. We then employ this method by interrogating the sensorial experience of thinking, writing about and reading about the aforementioned curriculum, and then mapping the intensities borne of this process onto aspects of our autobiographies. A sensational currere brings to the fore our feelings about the troubling (respectability) discourses circulating in the curriculum while allowing us to contextualize those affective, curricular charges vis-ā-vis our autobiographies. This approach foregrounds embodied ways of knowing and being in an exploration of how curriculum workers’ particular bodies position them—and are positioned—in the world. Additionally, this inquiry process allows us to imagine how curriculum work might account for the complex contours of curricularists’ racialized and gendered multiplicities—contours through which we make sense of ourselves within the world.

The Literacy Futurisms Collective-in-the-Making (including Tiffany M. Nyachae))
Our Research

This article explores the concept of literacy futurisms as guided by the 2019–2021 Scholars of Color Transitioning into Academic Research Institutions cohort, who conceptualize themselves as part of an emergent literacy research collective. Drawing on the knowledges of our ancestors and children, we offer dimensions of a framework-in-the-making (grounded on intersectionality, translanguaging, decoloniality, ancestral, play, and collectivity) for reenvisioning and reclaiming the future(s) of literacy research. We invite readers to engage in multimodal play as co-conspirators in reclaiming literacy research.

Purpose – This chapter discusses youth participation in a Social Justice Literacy Workshop (SJLW). Participants were predominantly Black youth residing in an urban community with a rich history and important community resources such as libraries and churches. The SJLW used a variety of print texts, videos, artwork, documents, and other texts to explore the topic of police brutality and other justice-related topics.

Design/Methodology/Approach – This chapter uses the gradual release of responsibility (GRR) model as a lens to revisit the SJLW as designed and implemented by the first author Tiffany Nyachae. Nyachae designed and implemented the SJLW as space to inspire students to engage in critical thinking and analysis of authentic texts, and to use these textual interactions as an impetus for activism in their community. With the help of her co-authors, Nyachae reflects on the SJLW through a GRR lens to describe how students were scaffolded and supported as they moved toward activism.

Findings – Students brought their own understandings of police brutality and awareness of activism to the SJLW. These prior understandings were shaped both by their own lived experiences but also by their awareness of and interaction with social media. During the SJLW, youth read and discussed the novels All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely (2015) and Hush by Jacqueline Woodson (2002). The youth engaged in activities and discussions about how prevalent issues in each novel connected to larger social and political concerns. Students discussed the current events, engaged in reflective writing, read short pieces, and analyzed documents and videos. The SJLW was successful in such a way that all students felt comfortable voicing their opinions, even when opinions differed from their peers. Students demonstrated critical thinking about issues related to justice. All students completed an action plan to address injustice in their community. While applying the GRR to this context and reflecting, first author Nyachae began to consider the other scaffolds for youth that could have been included, particularly one youth, JaQuan, who was skeptical about what his community had done to support him. Nyachae revisits the SJLW to consider how the GRR helped to reveal the need for additional scaffolding that JaQuan or other youth may have needed from leaders in the SJLW. A literature review also revealed that very few literacy practices have brought together the GRR and social justice teaching or learning.

Research Limitations/Implications – This chapter demonstrates that the GRR framework can be effectively applied to a justice-centered teaching and learning context as a reflective tool. Since very little research exists on using the GRR framework with justice-centered teaching, there is a need for additional research in this area as the GRR model offers many affordances for researchers and teachers. There is also a need for literacy researchers to consider elements of justice even when applying the GRR framework to any classroom or out-of-school context with children and youth.

Practical Implications – The GRR can be a useful tool for reflecting the practices of literacy and justice-centered teaching. Just as the GRR can be a useful framework to help teachers think about teaching reading comprehension, it can be an effective tool to help teachers think about supporting students to grow from awareness to activism in justice-centered teaching and learning.

Originality/Value of Paper – This chapter is one of only a handful of published works that brings together a social justice perspective with the GRR.

Shetay Ashford, Jessica Wilson, Natalie King, Tiffany Nyachae
Our Research

Ashford, S. N., Wilson, J. A., King, N. S., & Nyachae, T. M. (2017). STEM SISTA spaces: Creating counterspaces for Black girls and women. In T. S. Renshaw and R. Majors (Eds.), Emerging issues and trends in education (pp. 3-37). Michigan University Press.  


Historically, in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, students of color and women, particularly black women, have been underrepresented in the United States. As a result, an onslaught of k-20 STEM intervention programs have been implemented to retain these student in the STEM fields (Valla & Williams, 2012). However, the goal, to increase participation in the STEM fields among students of color and women, is embedded in maintaining U.S. global competitiveness and economic prosperity (Palmer & Wood, 2013; National Academy of Sciences, 2007), which carries a parochial, informed self-serving initiative rather than sincere moral concern or commitment to the well-being of these students (Martin, 2009 ). Further, the Census Bureau projects that by 2042, people of color will represent the majority population in the United States (Vincent & Velkoff,2010 ), yet current trends in STEM education relative to achievement and persistence do not suggest that students of color will represent the majority population in the STEM fields (Fealing & Myers, 2012 ). The concern is that students of color endure a particular set of experiences in STEM fields as members of marginalized populations. Therefore, an evaluation of student STEM educational experiences, relative to their academic persistence and overall well-being, as contributors to the STEM fields, is significant in developing retention efforts that will influence students' interest in pursuing and persisting in STEM fields.

As a result, innovative solutions to broaden the participation of Black girls and women in the STEM fields must consider students' experiences, developing relevant interventions for members of marginalized racial and gender groups that challenge traditional power dynamics and seek to reclaim the voices of Black women and girls in STEM academic and institutional spaces.