Teacher Researcher Center Fellows

Darby Delane Biography

 Darby Delane


Darby Delane is a public school teacher, teacher educator, activist-researcher engaged in leveraging the democratic purpose of public education in the American South. As a border-crossing teacher and teacher educator, she positions her daily work between K-12 and higher education to keep her research and practice responsive and relevant at a time in history when rapid change is the only reliable constant. 


In 2013 Darby stepped out of the Academy to return to the middle school classroom. 7th graders in her Civics courses inspired her to create the Emancipated Teacher Project in order to help her improve her culturally responsive pedagogy.  The work has since been renamed the Emancipated School Project, and has developed as an ongoing participatory action research endeavor led by some of the most chronically disciplined K-12 students in her school district.  Borrowing from the practitioner inquiry framework, students partner with their teachers and administrators to untangle the impossibilities of “one size fits all” accountability policies and how they are further complicated by the ever-growing gap between the cultures of the American teaching force and the students they teach. 


Darby’s research interests focus on the power of institutionalized social identities that are socially constructed and kept intact by dominant discourses focused on “school failure.” She also studies theoretical and practical frameworks that hold promise both for growing public school cultures of inquiry and innovation, and for helping our nation relax its grip on outdated, harmful, and deficit-driven perspectives that reward the very few while punishing far too many children, their educators, and their schools.  Some of these frameworks include participatory action research, practitioner inquiry, school-university partnerships, the middle school concept, feminisms, critical race theory, multiliteracies, dialogism, communities of practice, and third space theory. 


Emancipated School Project: 







Emancipated School Project Video by Olivia Schneider:






Darby Delane and Friends

"Teachers want to change the world"